This is the second time I’ve made mozzarella, and the first time I’ve made it on my own. Taking a class took away some of the fear for me, but I was still a little nervous about making it. Although I’m not sure why – the worst that could happen is I waste a gallon of milk. Or maybe a cheese explosion.
I got all of my equipment and ingredients ready before I started. I decided to use raw milk since I can get it pretty easily (at my neighborhood grocery!). The other advantage of using raw milk is that it’s much more reliable than pasteurized milk. This was very apparent as I went through the steps to make the cheese – we used pasteurized milk in my class, and there was a ton of variation in the results for each of the four groups. But with the raw milk, everything just worked as expected.
It’s amazing to start with just milk and citric acid (and water), apply a bit of heat before adding a teeny amount of rennet (I used vegetable rennet), and ten minutes in a covered pot and the milk is completely transformed into a solid mass. I was off to a good start – the curd had good separation from the whey, which was pretty clear and not at all milky.
I cut the curds up and then stirred again over low heat until the curds had formed a large mass of cheese and was separated from the whey. At this point the cheese is drained, then cut into chunks before stretching. Stretching is the easiest and most fun part of making mozzarella if you ask me. The salted water is very hot in order to get the cheese soft enough to stretch (which is done using gravity and the weight of the cheese, not like stretching taffy), so gloves are needed. But I find that it’s easier to form nice balls of mozzarella without gloves so I remove them once it’s ready to be shaped.
I like the mozzarella plain or maybe with a little salt and pepper. It’s very milky and kind of sweet. Some of this went to make pizzas, though – which is another new thing in my kitchen.
Normally I just pick up dough at Trader Joe’s or a local pizza parlor. It’s good, cheap, and pizza dough has always seemed like too much work to me. But when my favorite bread cookbook authors from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day came out with a pizza book, I knew my days of buying dough were over.
The premise of this book, Zoe and Jeff’s third, is the same as the first two – make up a simple, wet dough and let it rise once, then stash it in the refrigerator, ready to take off chunks as needed. The best part of this book is that weight measurements are now included – it makes the process really easy. I just weigh everything into a big bucket and stir with a wooden spoon, so I don’t have to deal with measuring cups.
We love this dough. I need to practice getting it thinner, but it’s delicious and has just the right amount of chew. I made a simple tomato sauce using canned crushed tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil and crushed red pepper flakes. The only other things the pizza needed was mozzarella and some fresh basil. Larry got a bit of Italian sausage on his as well. And I’ve still got dough that is sitting in the refrigerator, developing flavor and ready for use over the next two weeks. Dinner can easily be made in a matter of minutes.
The great news is I’ve got a copy of Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day to give away, and it’s even signed by ZoÃ« and Jeff! And this isn’t just a one-recipe cookbook – there are recipes for different flatbreads, dips, sauces, and even desserts.
To enter the contest for the giveaway, just post a comment about pizza here – do you make it at home? What are your favorite toppings? A winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Here are contest rules:
- Only U.S. residents can enter, and I will only ship to a U.S. address. You must supply a valid e-mail address so that I can notify you if you are a winner (winners cannot be notified by U.S. mail).
- You must be 18 or over to enter.
- You must type your commentÂ€Â entry under the post announcing the contest (this one). Comments will be open until 11:59 PM PST on Monday, March 12, 2012.
- Only one entry in any single contest is allowed. If you post a comment more than once, you will be disqualified. But you can enter in any or all of my contests over time.
- Winner will be chosen randomly using Random.org.
- Prize is one brand new copy of Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.
- If selected, you will be notified by e-mail and you must respond by March 19, 2012 with a U.S. mailing address so I can ship your prize.
UPDATE March 13, 2012: Congratulations to Valerie (random.org results are here), the winner of a signed copy of Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day! Thanks to everyone for entering, and stay tuned – I have another copy to give away.
- Classic Pizza Margherita (Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, p. 59)