We are just on the cusp of Spring, and the chives are up and robins are everywhere, tussling with worms and with one another. I love seeing the chives, because it means Spring really is here, and, as you may have noticed, it takes a while to get here. Seeing the chives reminded me that I had seen a recipe for “Fresh Cheese with Chives,” in a cookbook called “The Soul of a New Cuisine,” by Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson is a chef, and an Ethiopian who was raised in Sweden, and who now lives in New York, so he is truly cosmopolitan! The cheese is an Ethiopian specialty and sounded interesting, because you didn’t need a thermometer or any special cheese culture to make it–just milk and fresh lemon juice. So I laid in a supply of lemons and got going. Making this cheese to so much fun, and it’s truly delicious–creamy, fresh and lemony. Here is how to make it . . .
2 quarts whole milk (a half gallon)
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped chives
Bring the milk to a boil in a large pot over high heat Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the lemon juice. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly until curds begin to form. Remove from the heat.
By the way, I used two large lemons to make the lemon juice. I washed them, pierced them with the tip of a knife, and microwaved each of them for 30 seconds. Then I rolled them back and forth on the counter. This ensured getting the most juice out of each lemon. If you have smaller lemons, this might take 3 to 4 lemons.
The pan should be large enough to hold the two quarts of milk plus the lemon juice. This cast iron pot worked well.
What does the milk look like when it’s boiling? For one thing, it took about 12 to 15 minutes to come to a boil (stir occasionally), and it doesn’t need to be a full, rolling boil. See below.
The fun part is when you add the lemon juice! The curds start forming immediately, separately from the milky whey. The curds won’t be large.
Line a colander or sieve with cheesecloth. Spoon or ladle in the curdled milk. Take your time to allow the milk to drain through the sieve before ladling in more.
Rinse the curds gently under cool running water until the water runs clear. (I did this for about 3 minutes–my inner Ethiopian cheese maker wasn’t sure how long to do this!)
Place the colander or sieve over a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours to drain.
Discard any liquid, and stir the chives into the cheese. Chives are easy to snip with scissors. Season with salt to taste.
I packed the cheese into a shallow can to mold it, but you could use any recycled container or even a small flower pot. Then I held my breath and unmolded it.
Beautiful! And truly delicious. It’s so fresh tasting.
You could get fancy with it.
You can even make little hors d’oeuvres with the crackers. Well, that was fun!
Meanwhile, the little irises continue to bloom . . .
And the robins are everywhere! Take care. Fran
The snowdrops are already on their way out. These have bent over in the rain.