First- another quick reminder about The Second Tuesdays Déjà Food Event. You have 6 more days to get us your submissions. Pretty please?!? We can’t wait to be inspired by how you’re re-purposing your leftovers and reducing kitchen waste. No blog? No problem. Just email us the details and we’ll add you in. Shall I remind you that we have a yummy prize?
In keeping with this week’s theme of brevity I’m going to give you a quick tease of things to come… I’ll give you the recipe for these now, but check back in to see what I did with them. Believe me, it’s worth it!
Homemade goat’s milk mozzarella bocconcini marinated in fresh pesto!
Homemade Mozzarella Bocconcini
The process of making these is so easy that you’ll be hard press to fork out the mad cash needed to purchase fresh mozzarella balls at most stores. This simple method takes 30 minutes or less and is insanely easy. There are a couple specialty ingredients needed to make them, but they’re easily acquired via the internet or mail order. Once you have the items in your pantry and freezer you can make mozzarella on a whim. …And I speak the truth when I say that you will have those whims once you taste these!
(If you want the most super-duper authentic fresh mozzarella, you can move up to this kind of recipe after perfecting the fast mozzarella.) **Also- do not, under any circumstances, use ultra-pasteurized milk for this cheese. It will not work. Trust me.
Homemade Mozzarella and Pesto Marinated Bocconcini
For the Cheese:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid powder dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water. Available here.
- 1 gallon whole milk**- see note above you can use skim, but why? You can use goat milk or cow milk. Whatever floats your boat.
- 1/4 teaspoon regular strength rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water or 1/8 teaspoon double strength rennet OR 1/4 tablet vegetable rennet, crushed and dissolved in the 1/4 cup water. Available here
- 1 teaspoon cheese salt optional (cheese salt is just any salt that is not iodized or flavored.)
For the Pesto:
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves washed and drained, packed
- 5 cloves lightly smashed peeled garlic
- 1/2 cup almonds
- Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil This is a good time to use the good stuff!
- 1 1/4 cups fresh grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano cheese
- zest of one lemon optional
- Pour the gallon of milk into a large stainless steel or other non-reactive stockpot. Sprinkle the citric acid over the top and stir in gently. Heat milk to 88°F. Don’t panic when the milk starts to curdle. That’s the idea!
- While pot is still over heat, stir the diluted rennet in gently making sure to stir all of the milk (don’t just top-stir!) Once the milk reaches between 100-105ºF, kill the heat. WALK AWAY FROM THE PAN for about 5 minutes. I mean it. Do not touch that pan.
- When you come back, the curds (the white part) should’ve pulled away from the sides of the pot and you should see lots of whey (yellowish clear liquid) on top and around the sides. If the whey is still milky looking, wait a couple more minutes. This is not a bad thing… All milk is different.
- Now comes the fun part. Scoop the curds out of the pot with a slotted spoon and put them into a microwave safe 2 quart or larger sized bowl. Gently press the curd together against the side of the bowl with your hand. You’ll probably have lots of whey coming off the curd. Drain the whey off back into the stockpot and DON’T THROW IT AWHEY, er, AWAY, that is!***
- ***Whey is incredibly healthy for you. Use it in place of milk when baking bread to really improve both the health quotient and the texture of your loaves. I’ve heard it said that chilled whey, mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sugar makes a refreshing drink. Um, sure. I’m not quite there yet, but I do use it in my bread when it’s available and it is wonderful!
- Put the bowl of curds into the microwave and nuke on high for 1 minute. Use your hands to hold the cheese in the bowl, and drain the extra whey back into the stockpot. Make like you’re kneading delicate bread dough and use your impeccably clean hands to gently fold the cheese back on itself over and over. Again, drain any excess whey back into the pot.
- Return the bowl to the microwave and zap it for 35 seconds more. Knead the curds and drain the whey again.
- Return once more to the microwave and give it 25 more seconds. Drain off the whey, add salt, if using, and knead until the curds are shiny and stretchy like taffy. You can continue to microwave it in small 10-20 second bursts if the curds cool down to the point where they’re snapping or breaking rather than stretching. At this point you can either stretch it into a smooth ball and eat it warm, drop the ball in ice water to cool the curd quickly for storage OR…
- Pull off little pieces of mozzarella, between walnut size and golf ball size and stretch and roll it to form little balls. Drop little balls into an ice water bath and repeat with the remaining curd. While the bocconcini (’cause that’s what they are now) cool, move on to prepare the pesto.
- To Make the Pesto:
- To toast almonds, add them to a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Keep agitating them until they smell toasty and nutty and they’re taking on a delicate brown color.
- Remove the almonds from the heat immediately and throw into the food processor with the garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Pulse until the basil leaves are torn very small and the nuts and garlic have been minced. With food processor running, pour the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube.
- When olive oil is fully added, turn off food processor and add the grated cheese and lemon zest, if using. Pulse four or so more times to mix in the cheese and zest. Now you can use it for pasta, or as a filling in bread rolls OR…
My new favorite summer staple: Basil almond pesto marinated fresh mozzarella bocconcini.
How did we like this recipe?
Both of the components of this dish -the cheese and the pesto- got a resounding 14 thumbs up out of 14 possible. This included the “no cheese” guy and the “no green stuff in my food” guy. These inconsistencies in food preferences are a ray of hope for me. Some day I may not have to microscopically mince my onions (or leave them large enough to pick back out…) Ahhh. A girl can dream. In the meantime, I’ll serve this as often as possible to get some green stuff in ’em all.