Saturday, July 2, 2011

For pizza and pie lovers

Even though we are sisters, we have a very different approach to food and photography. Each fortnight we are going to choose the same ingredient or theme and post the result. These are the results...of our 'cheese food fight'

Vanessa's handmade mozzarella turned into Sardine, mozzarella and tomato pizzettes

Handmade mozzarella - not bad for a first attempt but still needs refining

When we decided our next food fight was going to be cheese it was the perfect motivation to get stuck into using my cheese making kit. My friends bought it for my recent birthday on the proviso I make cheese and have a tasting party! It was a beginner Italian kit featuring Ricotta, Mozzarella and Marscapone. I decided to give the Mozzarella a try and follow up with handmade pizzas.

The first challenge was the cheese, I raced down to my local dairy to get full cream milk (who has that today?) and got chatting with the owner who hails from India. I told him what I was up to and he looked at my 2 litre and told me to buy at least double - how right was he. He makes Panneer, an Indian cheese often fried and added to curry.

Thanks to Mad Millie beginners' Italian cheese kit 
and the girl in the youtube clip these are the steps I followed to make my Mozzarella. 

Mine tasted fine, but was rough on the surface and quite dense.  I think the combination of homogenized milk and working it like play
doh rather than stretching it made it that way. If you know the reason why - please post us a message.   

Boutique cheese - worth every penny! (Homemade mozzarella)

Mozzarella cheese (recipe from the Mad Millie cheese kit)
What you need
4 litres of un-homogenized milk (I used homogenized so that may be where I went wrong?)
2ml calcium chloride 
2 tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup of cool water
1/2 tablet of rennet dissolved in 1/4 cup of un-chlorinated water (once again I used regular tap water and I think its chlorinated so maybe that's also where I went wrong?)
Salt to taste
    Large pot
    Slotted draining spoon
    Large knife
    Rubber gloves (I didn't  as the girl in the you tube clip didn't wear them!)
    2 large bowls
    Butter muslin

    How to make
    • Put milk into large pot and add calcium chloride.
    • Heat milk to 13 degrees C (55.5 F) before mixing in the diluted citric acid.
    • Heat the milk to 32 degrees C (89.5 F) whilst constantly stirring to prevent scolding the bottom.
    • Once the temperature is at 32 degrees C (89.5 F) remove the pot from the heat and stir in the diluted rennet.
    • Cover the pot and leave to sit for 25-30 minutes.
    • Check the curd. It should be firm with a clean break. If ready cut the curd with a knife into 3cm (1 inch) cubes. 
    • Place the pot back on the stove and heat the curds and whey to 42 degrees C ( 107.6 F) Stir the curds carefully while heating. 
    • Scoop out the curds and place into a butter muslin lined colander. Let it drip for 5 minutes. 
    • Prepare 2 bowls, one hot 70 degrees C (158 F) and one cool salty ice water.
    • Put rubber gloves on. 
    • Take a handful of Mozzarella curd and place it under the hot water for 20 seconds. I used the slotted spoon for this stage - like the girl in the you tube clip. 
    • Carefully stretch the curd until it is smooth and flexible. (I found this stage difficult)
    • Work the curd into a ball and plunge into the salty ice water. 
    • Continue with the rest of the curd. 
    • Eat fresh or put in the fridge in a sealed container.

    pizzette with red wine and spicy sauce
    Now what do I do with the stuff?

    Mozzarella isn't really my cup of tea, I like strong flavours like anchovies, the stinkiest blue around, spices and aged Cheddars. Mozzarella is rather bland. Its more of a cooking cheese and synonymous with pizza so problem solved. 
    Made from things in my cupboard and the dough made with help from my three year old! A perfect way to include your kids and they love the finished product.  

    Sardine, mozzarella and tomato pizzette 
    Pizza dough
    You will need
    2 tsp yeast (instant dried)
    1 tsp sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 tbsp Olive oil
    1 1/2 cups of plain flour
    1/2 cup warm water

    How to make
    • In a bowl add the warm water, yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil. Leave for about 10 minutes until its activated and a bit bubbly. 
    • Add the yeast mixture to the flour by making a well in the centre and mixing it with your hands to form a dough ball. 
    • Knead it until its smooth - this takes about 10 mins - using the heel of your hand works well and you get in to a rhythm. Great exercise!
    • Put into a bowl coated in a bit of Olive oil and place some where warm to let it prove (rise) to double its original size. I leave it for an hour or so. 
    • When ready punch the dough as its quite light and re-work it into a ball. 
    • Its now ready to use. 
    • Roll it out to the desired thinness/thickness - I always go thin.
    • Place on to a floured dish or pizza stone and add toppings. 
    • All I added was tomato sauce, tinned sardines broken up, cheese and a sprinkle of coriander once cooked. 
    • Bake at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes. 

    Once you have the dough made - its really quick and easy!
    Vanessa x

    Delicious -  sardines, mozzarella and tomato pizzette

    Ingrid's dish: How to turn leftovers into a simple puff pastry pie

    I really struggled with this post, as I felt a bit of competitiveness when Vanessa revealed she was going to make cheese. How could I top that! Its a bloody cheese post and she's going to make the stuff from scratch.

    So I began some research into what I could make that could topple her mozzarella off its cute pizzette. I had some asparagus and some Gruyere,and puff pastry in the freezer and I thought, I like the combo, could I make a really posh asparagus roll, with some homemade mustard, and flaky pastry. Could I wrap it in a fancy pancy way? Could I balance out the nuttiness of the Gruyere with a dash of homemade relish?

    Then I did my usual google search (my starting point for everything), and every chef around that used that combo seemed to have created a tart, they looked really good but I didn't want to copy. I even asked a colleague who was interviewing Julie Le Clerc for a story, if he could ask her what I could do with asparagus and Gruyere that wasn't a tart! (I forgot to tell him ...and puff pastry), and he came back to me, saying Julie would make a salad and toss some macadamia nuts in with it too. Nice one Julie, sounds delicious, however I don't have that on hand, and I wanted this to be simple, and straight from my cupboard.

    So I ended up going around in circles, stressing out about cheese all week long, (who does that?) only to end up whipping up a puff pastry Mexican pie using leftovers from the night before. Not quite the competitive edge I was hoping for, but never the less, I thought it was such a great idea for transforming last nights dinner into a completely different dish altogether.

    Avocados are in season, so make the most of them.

    So basically all it is, is take your leftover casserole, bolognese sauce, roasted vegetables, or even a stir fry, sprinkle some cheese and wrap it in puff pastry and bake it for 25-30 mins on 180C. Job done!

    I used leftover mince bolognese, added some kidney beans and made a mexican style pie. I picked rocket from my garden, grabbed a few avo's from my neighbour Johanna's tree (fellow food blogger for Continental Fresh Ideas) to make a guacamole and had a little winter picnic with my son Rhys in the backyard. 
    Enjoy. Ingrid

    Winter in Auckland sometimes feels just like summer.  

    Mexican puff pastry pie with guacamole 

    What you need
    Makes 6
    Leftover bolognese sauce 
    Store-bought puff pastry (defrosted)
    1 egg + tsp of water (lightly beaten with a fork)  
    1/2 can kidney beans
    1 cup of Gruyere cheese

    How to assemble:
    Defrost puff pastry. Set oven temp to 180C. Cut the pastry sheet into six even rectangle strips. Mix bolognese sauce with kidney beans. Spoon bolognese mixture into the middle of one side of the pastry strip, sprinkle grated cheese and fold over to meet the other side. Using a fork press down the edges on all three sides. Brush each side with egg wash (it helps it to go golden brown) and sprinkle some more cheese on top. Bake in oven for 25 - 30 mins. Serve with rocket and guacamole.


    1 red onion (chopped)
    2 soft avocados (mashed)
    1/2 tsp chilli (to taste)
    1 tablespoon lime or lemon (squeezed)

    Salt to taste 
    1 ripe tomato (diced finely)

    How to make
    Simply mix everything together to make a smooth dip. Fold diced tomato through just before serving.


    1. Yay your mozzarella looks amazing! I think homogonised milk might have been your issue, my book says to use full cream (silver top). Most supermarkets sell it.

      Also, this is going to sound weird but I think it's been too damp for cheese lately. I haven't had much luck with my last couple, so I'm blaming all the winter rain ;-)

      Anyway, pizzas look YUM, can't wait to read the next instalment of your cheesemaking adventures!

    2. Thanks Bex, Glad to know its not ME!!!
      I will give it ago again with good old fashioned silver top and choose a fine day ha ha.

      I would love to try the more complex cheeses such as blue or a hard cheese as they are more my cup of tea...
      Watch this space!

    3. Your texture issue has more to do with over-working it and the wrong water than homogonized milk. We recommend only distilled water, other water contains trace chemicals that adversely effect the rennet. Here is a link to our recipe and video.

    4. Thanks Crystal, I did over work it and did use tap rather than filtered. I appreciate your feedback and are now armed with tips for my next attempt!

    5. I thing it varitey of food and I going to try this...
      Pizza Equipment