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Reasons to Believe: All things Creme Fraiche, Mascarpone and Ricotta

by on February 21, 2012
 

Domestic goddess that I am. I’m in red raffia heels. OK….wedges. I feel like Nigella. Creme Fraiche on the go, 2 fruit cakes in the making (last Christmas’s success), this time the recipe is adjusted to include some Maltina and pureed lemon sugar. Its the creme fraiche that I’d like to start off with. Thankfully, my feet are not hurting…..and I admit, it is time to drop the charade and take off the shoes.

I am confused as to exactly what chemical reaction has gone on with my ultra-pasteurised whipped cream and reconstituted buttermilk.

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Something has definitely happened. The mixture is thick, thicker than the double cream consistency yesterday. It looks dollopable…… and at the bottom of  my glass some liquid has collected – whey to the initiated.

But the results are rather unpleasant – the creme fraiche smells sour. Looks weird and tastes….ok. Nothing close to the French or even remotely like forebearer. Considering I used ultra-pasteurised cream and sweet buttermilk powder when the recipe called for fresh, fresh, fresh, disaster was almost guaranteed – I hear you!

But one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Losing one battle doesn’t  mean you’ve lost the war. Doesn’t stop you from winning the war.

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That was just one test. And when I employed the dodgy creme fraiche in a sweet ‘quesadilla’ by Sasha of Global Table Adventure (the recipe is from El Salvador), it proved not bad at all. The quesadillas were to die for, perfect gluten-free treats, rich and buttery and perfumed with lemon zest. I enjoyed them best on the day, and continued eating them over three!

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The best part – the crunch around the edges and the beautifully browned ‘bottoms’.

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So what if the batter overflowed….a good reminder for next time though we did eat every nugget/foot of ‘cake’!

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My mascarpone turned out much better  and was very close to the Italian mascarpone – thick, creamy  with an almost sweet fragrance. I enjoyed it, with strawberries most especially! And will definitely make it again.

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Don't you like the food caps? They look like shower caps but are not!

But the absolute winner was the version of ‘ricotta’ I concocted. Adapted from a recipe by Jennifer Perillo on food52 that had only fresh ingredients on its list, sans lemon juice. Actually, I can’t make so bold to say ‘Ricotta’, which means ‘recooked’ because I didn’t actually ‘recook’ any mixture. Lets just describe it as making cheese curds!

Ricotta is Italian for “recooked” because it is made by “cooking” whey which is produced when the curds are separated for cheese

The end result not only looked good, it tasted the part too.  And all with a mixture of 4 cups of fresh pasteurised whole milk, 1 cup of powdered full cream milk and 1 cup of powdered buttermilk, (available at Wholefoods). Did I forget to say ‘and the juice of 3 lemons’? When the curds formed, I scooped them out into a cheesecloth lined sieve and waited for the whey to drain out! It was perfect – sweet, creamy and fully formed curds!

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With the ricotta I had, I enjoyed some strawberries in a pink cloud,

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Made with love, and eaten with the same!

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And a most delicious cake simply called Louisa’s cake. A very proud Italian. And I too am proud….of her! So good was it, that when I offered to make a cake for my boss who was leaving, he requested it, haven tried it the week before!

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So  why am I thankful? For three reasons:

  1. The fact that you think it can’t be done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done – I must keep my courage and continue to try. To this end, I will try to make another batch of creme fraiche, with said cream but ‘real’ buttermilk which I hope to concoct myself. We shall see.
  2. Ultra-pasteurised milk and cream can work for soft cheeses – both mascarpone and ricotta ruled.
  3. Never give up. Not now, not ever. Why should you? Hope is around the corner, standing on your doorstep, banging on your door. Never give up. I say NEVER!

What reasons do you have to believe today?

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  • March 14, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    Thanks. Krista, I LOVE your reasons to believe. We must find them….

    Sarah, its the geologist in me – hypotheses, experiment, present findings….:-)

    Oui Chef, Deb, Norma, Myriam – sweethearts you are. Thanks

    Reply

  • February 27, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    Must make my own cheese. It’s on my list of must try. Enjoyed this post very much…

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  • February 25, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Oz, you are unbelievable… Must be so much fun making your own ricotta! Well done..

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  • February 25, 2012 at 3:25 AM

    I am in awe, have not yet tried to make any type of cheese! Definitely want to make ricotta, it looks so lovely. I agree, never give up, never. And do the things in life that bring you joy!

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  • February 24, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    You are a domestic goddess indeed, trying your hand at the alchemy of cheese…good for you!

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  • February 23, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I’m always entertained by your science-y investigations! I made my own mascarpone for Daring Bakers a couple of years back but never tried again since.

    The little cakes look very tasty.

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  • Krista
    February 23, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    Love that you tried ALL of these things even when you didn’t have the “right” ingredients, dear Oz. :-) I’ve been making cheeses too – though I’ve never tried an uncooked version. You’ve got me intrigued now, and I will have to share your recipe with my Cheese Hero Friend. :-) Reasons to believe? Well, a friend from years and years ago coming back into my life with so much love and understanding and kindness. A double rainbow after a storm. Mastering flat bread all by myself. :-) xo

    Reply

  • February 23, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    Good for you! These are wonderful things to make in the home. I have to try the mascarpone but have been making ricotta and love it! I am converting friends to making their own. The creme fraiche does not require buttermilk. You can add a dollop of sour cream to whole cream and let it ferment for a couple of days. That is, if you have access to sour cream!

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    • February 23, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      Thanks for the sour cream tip Sarah – I haven’t seen any but will be on the look out! The mascarpone for me is the most delightful, I must confess – rich, thick and great on stewed fruit and compote

      Reply

  • February 23, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    If pictures could transmit flavors, the ricotta looks perfect, so similar to what I find here in the Appenines. Beautiful

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  • February 22, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Love this post — coincides with my latest Indian cheese (paneer) recipe. While I love making soft cheeses, homemade, paneer is by far the only slight firm cheese I’ve ever made.

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  • February 21, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Good for you persevering, “never give up the ship”! You are so adventurous in the kitchen. I’ve never purchased the food caps, but whenever I travel I always nab the provided shower caps (I don’t use them) and they become my food caps.

    Reply

    • February 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      Rhonda, thanks. I smile – adventurous? Hmmm….Sometimes I wonder how cake, flour and sugar can scare me so much, why I equate a failed recipe with failure in some aspect of life…..but when things succeed, I’m ecstatic and motivated to ‘step-out’ even more

      Reply

  • February 21, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    You are one tough cookie girl! Well done on your successes and best of luck with the creme fraiche, I have no doubt you’ll get there. And share when you do :)

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  • February 21, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I love making feta, ricotta, yoghurt, mascarpone. I haven’t yet got brave enough to venture into hard cheese yet. I’ve got a wine fridge that’s supposed to do the trick so maybe I’ll get my courage up and give it a try.

    I’ve never had a problem believing in myself :)

    Reply

  • February 21, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    you are amazing… trying to make creme fraiche and other tough pursuits at home:)
    Thank you for your comment dear Oz.. by the way i do have the book women food and god and it’s sitting on my piano… read the begging a while ago and left it… not sure why… Have you looked into her first book when food is love… is I remember right… it sounded like the the second one was a repeat?… maybe I ran into you cause universe telling me to reread….. you made me laugh about yr comment about ‘1 day of cabbage shopping” I certainly made it sound like that all I did that day:)

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    • February 23, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      :-), its all part of the plan Lara – cause if I don’t tackle them now, I may never!

      The only one of Geneen Roth’s books I’ve read is Women, Food and God. Though I have ordered ‘If you eat at the Refrigerator, pull up a chair!’ And what thrill it is to find someone who has heard about the book and actually has it! I found it ‘full on’ at times and when that happened, i put the book aside, wrote, cried, laughed, went for a swim….and then came back to it! It is a GREAT book in my opinion.

      Stay well and keep the music flowing

      Reply

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