Say Yes To Cheese

One of my favourite parts of travel is eating.

Actually, it’s probably my favourite. Specifically, eating cheese. This is Adam’s favourite too, and is one of the many reasons we work well as a couple. Seriously though, cheese and charcuterie are our things. If we’re eating at a restaurant that has a charcuterie platter, we automatically get it. If we don’t know what to cook, we make a charcuterie and cheese platter. So, when shopping for his birthday present I got him none other than:

A home cured bacon kit! 

We started it yesterday, and I haven’t tried the bacon yet, but it looks amazing. It’s pretty easy so far- you put the included Prague salt in with a pound of salt and a pound of sugar and then dredge 0.9kg of pork belly in it. It sits for a week, then you infuse it with liquid smoke. The amount of the base cure- the salt/sugar mix- that you get out of this is actually hella impressive. We have enough to make many a slab of bacon. We made this one plain without additives and we’re using the liquid smoke, then we’re going to make another additive free one in the smoker. After we compare that, we’ll get fancy with recipes from one of the books I got him…..

 

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Charcuterie!  Literally just a book with recipes for meat, salt, and accompaniments to them. We were looking through it and are super excited. On the book front I also got him…

 

Artisan Cheesemaking at Home. I’m not going to lie, I really don’t think we’ll be able to pull of the level of beauty in this book. I mean, there’s burrata recipes in here. BURRATA! If you’ve never had it, it’s literally a ball of mozzarella hiding a delicious, creamy centre. Also, it might be the most delicious thing in the world. The biggest problem is that one ball costs $16 at Whole Foods. I first encountered it while working in Taranto. My host family took me to this restaurant that was literally just all about mozarella. There were knots of it, balls of it… anything imaginable. But the star was burrata. I’ll keep you updated on my experiments. Speaking of experiments….

I also got him a 4 Cheese Making Kit!  Honestly, I think if you don’t know what to get someone, get them a cheesemaking kit. I’m going to start with a quarter review of this- it makes ricotta, paneer, chevre, and cream cheese. Since it was Adam’s birthday, we had a bunch of people over. We created a simple menu. We wanted to keep it delicious, easy and cheap since we had 9 people. Homemade pasta with a simple marinara, garlic bread, and homemade ricotta. We started with the sauce. I didn’t want a super fancy sauce because I wanted to really focus on the ricotta as the special area. So, I put in a stick of butter, 2 cans of tomatoes, and a quartered onion. I used one can of crushed tomato and one can of diced. There’s really no reason for it either, it’s just what I had. All the big bits broke down pretty well, so I think it’d even work with whole tomatoes.

This is it bubbling away after a few hours. It’s seriously as easy as bringing it to a boil and letting it simmer. I added a little salt and pepper at the end.

Then we started on the ricotta. Apparently it’s SO easy to make. You literally just heat the milk….

Then add lemon and strain. Why do we buy this stuff?! The kit came with cheesecloth, some cultures that I guess are for the cream cheese and chevre, and a cheese mold.

Yeah. We made this cheese. Like made it. Making cheese is seriously magical. When the curd separates it just looks… bewildering. I can’t wait to make the rest of this kit. So far, it’s a 10/10 would definitely buy again.

One of the best parts of cheesemaking? Whey. I read somewhere you could cook pasta in it, and man was this stuff amazing. It added a whole layer of flavour too it.

I forgot to take a picture of my first plate which would have been better and less pasta on a dirty plate, but man… I totally forgot because I got so into how amazing this pasta was.

Now fingers crossed that next time I’ll be making homemade carbonara with some amazing home-cured bacon….

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Say Yes To Cheese

Sick in Italy Soup

When I was studying abroad tragedy struck before I even got off the plane. I got infected with some sort of sickness. Here I was in Rome, supposed to be having the time of my life but I felt like hell. Luckily we had our own kitchens. Let’s be real here, when you’re sick there’s nothing better than soup. Lately I haven’t been feeling well. My dad had a cold and I don’t know if I got it or if I’ve just been super tough on my body lately, but today… I needed soup. Last night my cousin cooked for us and we had some chicken and vegetable stock left over. It was a sign.

So, this soup when I made it originally was inspired by how broke I was. Leftover shreded chicken or egg noodles would also taste amazing in this, as would any other vegetable. I bought premade stock and veggies for super cheap. I got dried herbs so I could carry them to the other cities with me.

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Start with the vegetables. I love garlic and onion, so I used the whole onion… and added 3 more cloves of garlic after taking this picture. I also did a carrot, three tomatoes, and 2 stalks of celery. Chop them all up- I diced the onion, sliced the garlic, cut the bottom of the carrot in half and sliced, quartered the top of the carrot and chopped, diced the tomato, and chopped the celery. Everything was super rough- it’s about feeling better, not looking pretty, and added them to a pot with a glug of olive oil as I chopped them.

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Oooooh, look at it all in the pot. By the time I got everything in there the veg was nicely cooked. I added a bay leaf, dried chili’s, lots of pepper, and oregano. I didn’t add salt. The stock I bought in Italy was a chicken meat stock mix and despite my only having vegetable and chicken stock I wanted that so I added a teaspoon of beef broth powder. I find that the salt content in stock powder or cubes is insane so I leave out any salt. I also made this pretty spicy to help me sweat out everything I’m feeling and clear up my sinuses. I let this cook for about 10 minutes to get everything flavourful.

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Then I added the leftover stock and a cup of water. I let this boil, then simmer for about a half hour. I added a bit of wine vinegar at the end. I love vinegar. My Nonna makes homemade wine vinegar that makes everything taste better.

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I popped like a ridic amount of crackers into this because I didn’t use any other carb. Like I said, this was a travel budget meal, so I didn’t put in extra meat and I bought a crazy loaf of bread so I didn’t bother with noodles.

Honestly, this soup is amazing and exactly what I needed both in Italy and now.

 

Sick in Italy Soup