Saturday, February 4, 2012

Queso Blanco with The Cheesy Geek

That's George on the right, stretching his Mozzarella.
Even Geeks Make Cheese!

George FitzGerald explains on his blog, The Cheesy Geek that a geek is a nerd with personality.  (Of course, we think anyone who makes cheese has a great personality!) 

He works as a Director of Technology at the Vanguard School in Lake Wales, Florida.  Vanguard is a private, non-profit boarding school for students 5th - 12th grades with learning differences: Dyslexia, Aspergers, ADHD and other related issues.

I asked him how he got started making cheese:

I have always liked to cook. In recent years, the number of TV cooking shows has exploded and there is even a cooking channel devoted to, what else, cooking. (Go figure) In one episode of “Kitchen Nightmares”, Chef Ramsey taught a kitchen crew how to make mozzarella cheese for their Italian restaurant. While they didn’t show the actual process, I figured that if they were going to make fresh mozzarella everyday, it couldn’t be that hard or take very long. SOOOO, Geek George did what most geeks do and went to the Internet and started looking for recipes/instructions for making Mozz. 

I quickly learned that almost all roads to home cheese making lead to one place - The Cheese Queen, Rikki Carroll.  It seemed that no matter where I went to find a cheese making kit for Mozzarella on the Internet, Rikki Carroll’s name was there and her “30 Minute Mozzarella and Ricotta Kit” was the recommended path for beginning cheese makers. I ordered the kit and the rest is history.
The ironic thing is that I'm lactose intolerant and can't eat much cheese. So I give most of it away. I enjoy learning and attempting to perfect the recipes as well as seeing others enjoy the results.

In 2010, George made a lot of different cheeses - Farmhouse Cheddar, Feta, Parmesan, Gouda, Cream Cheese, Fromage Blanc, Greek Style Yogurt and 30 Minute Mozzarella.  Then, in 2011, he did a series of instructional articles for folks starting out.

This year, he began with the Queso Blanco post which he shared with us here.  He used the recipe from our book, Home Cheesemaking, (copy of page below).  (Note:  If you are looking for more help with this cheese, our most detailed recipe for Queso Blanco by Jim Wallace can be found in our recipe section.)

Ending the Year Making Cheese
By George FitzGerald at The Cheesy Geek

While I haven't posted in a very long time, I haven't stopped making cheese. Just haven't posted here. On Dec. 29th 2011, I made Queso Blanco with four delightful young ladies. In the picture above, I'm supervising 6 year old Lexi  putting a gallon of milk into the pot as 15 year old Kristi looks on.

Twelve year old Megan (little momma) is taking her turn stirring the milk to keep it from scalding.

Even three year old Lauren ("I'm almost four") takes a turn stirring with a little help from Nana.

Lexi hams it up for the camera but kept on stirring.

Finally, after 20 minutes of stirring, the milk hit the perfect temperature of 185F and the white vinegar was added to perform its magic on the milk. Megan scooped the curds out of the whey and into the butter muslin with a little salt.

After hanging around draining for a few hours, this is what half of it looked like. Half was made into a dip. (crumbled and mixed with some salsa and heated in the microwave).

Lexi and Kristi had no problem consuming this bowl, with a little help from Nana.

And Kristi showing what she liked most about the afternoon: a nice slice right off the block.

This was a fun afternoon making an easy cheese that gives the kids the chance to see the results of the help and eat it the same day. The Cheesy Geek had a great time and intends to do some more classes this year.

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