Make your own Cheese! Porcini Infused Brie
If you’ve made cheese before, just add chopped porcini to a Brie or Camembert.
If you haven’t – read on. ..
Just in case you think that making cheese is difficult, magic or, “you need to be born with cheese fingers,” making cheese is EASY.
If you can follow a simple recipe, you can make cheese. If you can’t follow a simple recipe, you can always give up before the going gets tough. And if you don’t know whether you can follow a simple recipe or not, say a brief prayer and dive in at the deep end. You might not end up with the cheese you intended to make, but you’ll get something interesting.
You can buy cheese moulds from Amazon, but, for this recipe, it’s just as easy to make your own.
You can make a mould out of more or less kind of tube, preferably polypropylene or stainless steel, with a length approximately two times the diameter, i.e. if the diameter of the tube is 7 cm, the length of the tube should be about 14 cm. The rest of the equipment is pretty standard kitchen stuff.
Two small pieces of clean, undyed cloth – preferably cheese cloth, but for some unfathomable reason, cheese cloth seems difficult to find in Japan. However, for this recipe, any piece of thin cotton will do. You can even use the bottoms of a pair of old nylon stockings – or new ones, if you feel like splashing out. However, if you use “second-foot” stockings (well, it wouldn’t be second-hand, would it?), there are two very important pieces of advice:
1) Ask your wife if you can use the stockings – the lovely surprise of a delicious Porcini Infused Brie to Die For is not likely to dampen her ire when she tries to put on a bottomless stocking. Women don’t like this.
2) Make sure that you wash the stockings THOROUGHLY. This probably goes without saying. Incidentally, the bacteria that makes smelly cheese, like Limburger, is called “Bacteria Linens” and is EXACTLY the same bacteria that makes sweaty feet smell! I was amused one day when my wife came home with a French Brie that she had found in the supermarket. The name of the (French) cheese was “Pie’d
To continue. Two rubber bands.
Don’t worry. All will become clear soon.
l’Angloys.” (Old French for “Englishman’s FOOT!”)
I’m going to get my own back and design a cheese called, “Frenchman’s morning breath!”
1. MILK: Don’t use cheap or skimmed milk, try to get full cream, preferably non- homogenized milk that has been pasteurized at a low temperature. Raw, full cream milk straight from the cows like the milk we use is best, if you can get hold of it, otherwise, good quality supermarket milk works well.
How much milk? It depends how much cheese you want to make. The final cheese will be just under a quarter of the size of your mould.
2. STARTER CULTURE: You should be able to find a mesophilic starter culture for cheese on the internet – try Amazon. Or ask me. I may be able to let you have a pinch or two, provided you don’t all rush at once!
If you don’t want to bother with this, buttermilk will work.
Although it’s not really essential, you should try to get some penicillium candidum and penicillium geotrichum moulds. The penicillium gives the cheese the snowy white cover and the geotrichum makes sure the snowy white cover doesn’t separate from the cheese and fall off.
3. RENNET: There is rennet for ice cream and rennet for cheese. The latter is what you want. Again, you can find this on Amazon or or buy the Cheese Guy a beer and ask him nicely.
4. PORCINI: The most important item! Dried porcini is surprisingly cheap. It’s the shipping that costs! However, dried porcini is such a wonderful ingredient for risotto that it would be a good investment. You can find this in good supermarkets, but the price might raise an eyelid. Try Amazon or iHerb.
1. Put the milk in a double boiler.
The point is that you don’t want to heat the milk directly, as milk burns very easily.
If you don’t have a double boiler, you don’t need to go out and buy one. Just find two saucepans, one larger than the other.
Fill the larger one with water and put the smaller one inside the larger one and push down so that excess water splashes out.
It’s best to do this in the sink, otherwise you’re going to have a rather wet floor and, if your spouse is anything like mine, you run the risk of a certain iciness of manner that’s better avoided. (See “stockings” above.)
2. Heat the milk to about 32C. If you don’t have a thermometer or can’t be bothered to translate C to F, take a small spoon and put a little in your mouth. If it’s still cold, you need more heat. If it feels hot, let it cool down a bit. It should be just under body temperature. So it should feel slightly cool.
3. Turn off the heat and add your starter culture. You only need a very small amount. For one litre of milk, I’d use a smidgen of starter culture.
For those who don’t know what a smidgen is – it’s a technical term for an amount roughly equivalent to one thirty-second of a teaspoon.
Try this to get used to the quantity.
Put a level teaspoon of sugar on a plate.
Spread it out a bit.
With the spoon, divide it in half.
Then divide one of the halves into half again. That will give you a quarter. Now, take one of these and divide that in half. That’ll give you one eighth.
Divide that in half again and then one of these into half again. That will give you, if my mathematics is correct, one sixteenth of a spoonful – and you will have made your first smidgen.
So, returning to the topic at hand. You need a smidgen, as I said, but supposing you use buttermilk? How many smidgens will you need? Try 32 smidgens per litre. What is 32 smidgens? Reverse the process described above and you should end up with ONE TEASPOON!
If you’re going to go for the whole hog and make the “Porcini Infused Brie to Die for,” and have managed to find penicillium candidum and penicillium geotrichum, add – oh – about half a smidgen of each per litre.
Stir the milk with the starter culture for a minute or so to get it thoroughly mixed in.
4. ADD YOUR RENNET. This will be either powder or liquid.
Add a smidgen of rennet (powder or liquid) per litre of milk to a small glass of water.
The water should be about the same temperature as your milk. Mix this
You could stick this to a piece of cardboard, frame it and title it “My First Smidgen,” or put it back in the sugar jar and get on with the recipe.
into the milk for another minute or so.
5. COVER & LEAVE IT. After an hour or so, it should have set.
NOTE: To test this, it’s NOT recommended that you upturn the bowl over your head. That works for whisked egg whites, and quick setting concrete, but very rarely with cheese curds.
The milk should look like soft tofu. If you don’t know what tofu looks like, ask someone. If you can’t find anyone who knows, and your milk still looks like milk, i.e. runny so that you could pour it into a glass, leave it for another hour.
IF IT STILL HASN’T SET
If it still hasn’t set by the time you go to bed, leave it overnight. And if it hasn’t set by the time you get up the next morning, something went wrong. If your other ingredients were fresh, it was probably the milk. Splash out and buy some good quality milk that has been pasteurized at a low temperature.
If it’s palatable, drink it or put it in your coffee. If it isn’t, throw it out and start again. Send me a nasty email if it makes you feel better.
IF IT HAS SET
What had been milk has now become curd. That’s what we cheesemakers call milk that’s been set. Read on.
6. Get your porcini ready. How much porcini? Probably a rough rule of thumb is to have more cheese than porcini, but that’s up to you. Chop the dried porcini. You don’t need to soak it.
(Optional) You might try soaking it in brandy. In which case, you add a small handful of porcini to a large glass of brandy and soak it for 30 seconds. Then, you put it through a sieve to remove the chopped porcini, chug the brandy down in one gulp and carry on – if you still have the strength.
Probably best to omit the brandy and just use the porcini dry.
7. Now for the interesting bit.
Take your tube.
Remember the tube?
You need this for your cheese mould.
And the two ends of stocking or pieces of cheese cloth. Oh yes, and the rubber bands.
Put a piece of cloth or end of stocking over the bottom of the tube and fix it in place with a rubber band. Stand the tube in a bowl.
Slide a large spoon into the curd and gently tip this into the tube.
Do this until you have a centimeter or so of curd at the bottom of the tube. The cloth or stocking bottom will make sure it stays there.
Sprinkle a layer of chopped porcini on the curd in the tube. Ladle some more curd into the tube, followed by a layer of porcini. Repeat this until you get to the top. If you don’t have enough curd to get to the top, or you have far more curd than will fit into the tube, chalk it up to experience and adjust your quantities next time.
8. Keep it in a fairly warm place for a few hours. Some watery fluid will leak from the bottom of the tube. This is called “whey,” and except for making ricotta (another recipe), there is nothing much you can do with this. Which is a shame, because it contains nutrients and some of the porcini juice. If you are a home baker, using it to make dough is an EXCELLENT idea.
9. From time to time, you will need to empty the bowl of whey. Pick up the tube – putting your hand around the tube and the cloth or stocking bottom so that the latter doesn’t slip off – and empty the bowl.
10. When the curd has drained down to roughly half of its original height, fasten the second stocking bottom or piece of cloth around the top of the tube with a rubber band.
Then, holding the tube by the cloth/stocking bottoms at both ends, rapidly turn it over, so that what had been the bottom now becomes the top and vice versa.
11. Leave it over night. By this time, the curd should have consolidated and it should be about one quarter to one fifth of its original height. Give it more time if it hasn’t firmed up enough, but if it looks like it will stand up by itself, take it out of the tube and place it on a plate.
It should look like this:
12. Sprinkle the top of the cheese with salt. Give it an hour or so to soak into the cheese. Turn it over and sprinkle the bottom of the cheese with salt.
13. Place the cheese in a plastic container. More whey will leak out of the cheese. Tip this out and turn the cheese over. Do this once or twice a day.
14. Now comes the hardest part. Waiting for the cheese to mature. Keep the cheese in the refrigerator for at least 10 days.