Hi luvs! It’s a cloudy day in Australia, perfect for staying indoors with a mug of coffee and a few homemade cookies to keep me going.
Thank you so much for the love and support you showered on me yesterday. It meant the world to me and I wish I could hug you so tight as we celebrate hope, life and love. xo
Last weekend I had dear friends come over to teach me something I’ve been wanting to learn for ages: how to make cheese.
My friend Ann is an absolute wonder. She not only runs a farm with her hubby Neil, so also mothers five awesome kids, teaches part-time and manages the local health food store. She gives the best hugs and is an absolute wealth of information for all things related to gardening, cooking, and taking care of animals.
Ann, Jess, Lizzy and I had the best time crowded into my little kitchen as they instructed me in how to turn raw milk into ricotta, white cheese, and halloumi.
They taught me when to use rennet and when cultures would be best, how to cut and care for cheesecloth, and how to tell when cheese is ready to drain.
I think the greatest surprise in the whole process was how simple it was. One moment we had a pail full of frothy whole milk and within a few hours we had glistening white cheeses in various forms ready to eat. It was such a thrill to see those wobbly chunks of cheese and an even greater one to bite into them and find them far and away tastier than any store-bought counterpart I’ve ever tasted.
The white cheese is slightly tart – perfect for pairing with tomatoes or spreading on sandwiches.
The ricotta is divinely cream, and I’m waiting to find some peaches, figs or pears to roast to go with it.
Last night I followed Ann’s advice and coated the halloumi with sesame seeds then fried it until the seeds were a lovely golden brown. Oh. My. Goodness. It was so delicious I had to have it again for lunch today.
Halloumi is an interesting cheese in that it doesn’t melt when fried. It retains its shape and has a splendid squeaky texture that feels oh-so-toothsome when you bite it. And it goes perfectly with a nice, cold Australian beer like Hahn’s.
Now that I know how to make halloumi, I can’t wait to try even more recipes. Joumana from A Taste of Beirut and Bethany from Dirty Kitchen Secrets both have fantastic Lebanese recipes that use this marvelous cheese.
Have you ever made cheese before?
4 1/2″ thick slices of halloumi
3-4 Tbsp sesame seeds
drizzle of sesame oil
salt to taste
- Dump sesame seeds onto small plate and press each side of halloumi into seeds to coat. NOTE: use a spatula to press the cheese down or all the seeds will stick to your hands.
- Heat oil in frying pan.
- Place halloumi slices in frying pan and fry 1-2 minutes on each side or until the seeds are toasted a nice golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Halloumi Cheese Recipe
(from Ann Hill)
8 litres/2 gallons of milk (fresh cows/goat/sheep milk if possible)
If you use homogenised milk you will need to use Calcium Chloride.
Rennet (amount needed depends on your brand)
2 to 50 mls Cooled boiled water
- Heat milk to 30 degrees C/86 degrees F. Add Calcium Chloride if using.
- Add Rennet (amount depends on your brand) to the cooled water. The amount of water varies, depending on the recipe. I use about 5mls. Now add the rennet mixture to the milk. Stir for 2 mins, in an up and down motion.
- Let sit for 45 mins. I sit my pot with lid on, in the sink and fill the sink with water that is at 30 degrees.
- Cut the curd in half inch/12 mm cuts – slice the curd with the knife straight up and down from one side of the pot to the other, turn the pot 90 degrees and cut again – making a grid. Cut along the previous cuts with the knife at a 45 degree angle. Let the curds rest for 10 mins. Put the curds into a cheese cloth, keep the whey. I dip my cloth in boiling water and wring out, place into a large colander over a clean pot.
- Press the curds at 14 kgs/31pounds for 1 hour. If you don’t have a press simply wrap the curds with the cheese cloth and either place a saucer over the curds and balance a heavy weight or place the curd parcel on a clean cutting board place another board on top and balance a weight on, do this on the sink so the whey drains away.
- Re-wrap and press at 23 kgs/51pounds for 30 mins. Don’t get too worried about the weights and times, if your curds are firm you will be right.
- Remove and cut into 3 inch/7.5cm blocks or pieces.
- Bring reserved whey to 82-93 degrees C/180-199.5 degrees F and add cheese blocks. Simmer for half an hour or until the blocks rise up.
- Let cool for 20 mins and sprinkle with salt. You should use Kosher or cheese salt. Cool for another 2-4 hours.
- Halloumi cam be eaten fresh or stored in brine for 60 days.