Ever wondered how to make those delicious soft cheeses with herbs and other flavors? I found out by combining three recipes by Food Network host Alton Brown. To view them, click on the links at the bottom of this article. To learn how I combined them, read on.
To make cheese, you start with yogurt. For the most home-crafted taste, make your own yogurt. An important tip: keep kitchen equipment sanitized so that other germs do not kill off the good germs in live cultured yogurt. Start by warming up the recipe’s milk, powdered milk and honey to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. After letting it cool to 115 F, add yogurt containing live cultures to start the process of converting the milk’s lactose into yogurt. It helps to add a little of the warm milk to the yogurt, mix that together, and then add it back to the rest the milk.
Instead of using the heating pad suggested by Alton Brown, I just used a large pot of water that I kept around 115 F, definitely not over 118 F. Monitoring temperature, let this sit over the lowest heat on your burner for 5 hours.
From there, move the resulting yogurt into a strainer with cheese cloth. Cover it and put a small amount of weight — a can of fruit, in my case — on the top to help push the whey out of the yogurt. This creates a soft and creamy cheese that’s slightly tangy. Want a wonderful flavored cheese for a holiday party? Add a little bit of salt and a pepper and whatever herbs you want.
If you don’t want to make your own yogurt, here’s a little cheat. Buy a container of Nancy’s yogurt at the grocery store. It does not have stabilizers, such as gelatin. Be aware, though, that you’ll probably lose half of the volume when removing the whey. After the straining process, fold in your different herbs, nuts and/or fruits.
Alton Brown’s recipes: