RED WHITE AND BLUE ~CAPRESE SALADThe garden is beginning to reward our hard work. I should say, Richard's hard work since he's the gardener. We are having a dry spell, in fact this past June was the driest on record! It was supposed to rain last night but it went around us instead so we will have to do some pretty agressive watering. Fortuneately for us, we have a well that supplies us with all the water we need so the vegetables are going to get a good, long drink tonight!
CAPRESE WITH FRESH PICKED BASIL AND HOMEMADE MOZARELLAI was so excited to see how much the basil had grown this past week. I bought the ingredients I need to make pesto, and later today I'll be making big batches of pesto to freeze as well as basil cubes. For the cubes, I just run the basil in the food processor with a bit of water, pop them in an ice cube try until they are solid, then put them in a gallon sized freezer bag. I freeze about 3 bags like that to last us through until the next season. They are so easy to use for marinara or soups throughout the winter. The pesto is great on pizza, bread, and pasta.
BASIL PLANTS READY TO HARVEST
(lettuce on the right, tomatoe plants on the left)BUT, the real pi'ece de resistance is the Caprese Salad we had for lunch today! In my opinon, it is the highlight of gardening season to be able to use fresh basil from the garden for this salad. The only drawback is that the tomatoes are not in season here yet, so I have to resort to 'on the vine' tomatoes from the grocery. They aren't anything near as tasty as the home grown tomatoes we will have in another month or so, but they were a pretty good alternative.
Now, if you are going to have a Caprese Salad, you need not only fresh basil, but fresh mozarella! I have been making mozarella cheese for several years now and it's so delicious and easy to make. When I saw that basil this morning in the garden, I knew I wanted to make some fresh cheese to compliment it. You can see from the pictures how pretty this salad is. It's like eating a piece of summer sunshine!! It will transport you to Tuscany or Provence in an instant!
Making fresh mozarella cheese is not only easy but so much fun! It's like watching magic! The milk gradually curdles, and the cuds begin to get larger, until you have a pan full of curds and the whey sepeartes. The whey that is left after straining off the curds is great to use in breads or pizza dough. Since we'll be having fresh pizza on the grill tomorrow, I'm going to be using the whey in the dough recipe, and I'll save the rest and freeze it for future use. It adds nutrition and flavor to the dough. I use the same recipe for foccacia, too, and also use the why in that.
The only special equipment or ingredients needed to make the cheese is vegetable rennet, citric acid, and a thermometer. It takes 3 minutes from start to finish, so it really is easy for both the novice or the seasoned cook.
Step 1- gather the ingredients:citric acid, rennet, thermometer,salt, milk
Thoroughly mixing in the citric acid at 88 degrees
At 100 degrees the curds are ready to strain out
The final product, after kneading out all the whey .
The cheese can be stretched and made into balls or
formed into a log for easy slicing. I added kosher salt and
cracked black pepper (that's the flecks you see).
One recipe makes just a little over a pound!