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From Scratch=Overrated

October 4, 2007

Last week, a couple of friends and I ventured into pasta and cheese making, using 99% local ingredients.  The flour was from Virginia.  The results:

Making cheese is not cute, it’s very very difficult.  Apparently, you cannot skimp on the water being non-chlorinated, your thermometer must function properly, and if you got a D or less in high school chemistry, it’s probably not even worth it. 

We were going for mozzarella and ended up with something like ricotta.  One direction in particular didn’t sit right with me.  “Knead cheese while at 125 degrees.”  Ouch!  That sounded painful, so we attempted to knead at a less scalding temp.  This decision must have doomed our product.  I honestly don’t know if we’ll try again in the future.  Has anyone else had more luck than I?

Pasta was more successful.  Together we rolled out linguini and spent hours on stuffings for cute little raviolis.  Butternut squash and roasted pine nuts were a tasty filling, as was ground beef and mint.  I haven’t yet tried the beet and gouda filling.  Taste was not the deterent here.  The problem was that when chilled, all the raviolis melded together and when boiled resembled a human brain.  I never could get them unstuck, so we went out for sushi instead.  I guess I would have starved during the pioneer days. 

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2007 5:53 pm

    I’ve tried the cheese before and has similar results (I used rubber gloves for the kneading), and while it was a little more solid than ricotta–it was more of a cheese spread– and it was rather bland in the taste department

    As a homebrewer I’ve pretty much got the chemistry stuff down, and have all the proper gadgets required for such things, a good water filter (like brita) works well for removing chlorine.

  2. October 5, 2007 10:08 pm

    I have witnessed paneer being made, it did not look very challenging. My brother-in-law, you know the one, can answer your questions about it.

    I’ve always thought that the endless, backbreaking laundry-doing would have killed me off in pioneer days. Laura Ingles I am certainly not.

  3. catma permalink
    October 8, 2007 11:15 am

    Everything I have ever made from scratch has taken equal parts precision, patience & perseverance. Or at least three words beginning with ‘p’ + love.
    In the end, it is rarely overrated. It is rarely a first, second or third time success. Which is why, perhaps, artists such as bread makers and pasta makers should be given due credit. ‘From scratch’ is not for the lover of the ‘hot and now’.

  4. October 8, 2007 11:54 am

    I hear you, Catma. Sometimes my current mood affects posts, and this was very true in this case. A dark mood can often lead to less than sunshiny post titles. Let the record show: I appreciate all chefs, chemists, and smart creative people in general. Part of the reason for my venture into foodmaking is to unlock the wonders of how these folks do what they do, and thus elevate my own apprecation of them and their product. I still want to eat food made from scratch, but leaving it to the experts allows me to do other stuff, like blog about it.

  5. October 12, 2007 8:25 am

    Two big metal spoons and tough hands is the best combination for stretching hot mozzarella!

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