Sunday, March 11, 2012

A cheese-making Saturday

Sur la Table has a fantastic variety of cooking classes at their stores.  It's probably best I live an hour away to the closest one, which puts them in the same category as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  I would be poor if I lived any closer.

Anyway, the Homemade Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Workshop piqued my interest, mainly because I'd be learning something I know nothing about.  And I love cheese.  And my friend Abi wanted to go. And we had an excuse to stop at TJ's and WF first.

The classroom/kitchen was towards the back of the store.  It was well-equipped - so equipped I found myself just looking around the first 10 minutes of class just soaking it all in.  They also had a nice little snack station set up with cheese (not the kind we were making)/crackers, ginger tea and Nespresso.

First, we made Ricotta cheese.  It's quite simple actually. And I had no idea.  I'll be making it at home from know on.  Don't believe me? Scroll down, I just made some yesterday for stuffed shells tonight.

Boil milk, add buttermilk and salt. Let it strain. That's it!

Curds and Whey

Next we made the Mozzarella.  This was pretty simple as well, but a bit more involved and more temperamental.  There were a few spots you can mess up and your cheese is just awful.  I think mine was the best only because it was extra hot during the kneading process and I added a lot of salt :)

Abi and I with our cheese balls! See how her's looks a little scruffy? That's because it wasn't hot enough.

With all the Ricotta we had, we made ice cream.  Ricotta Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel. OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I will be making this again soon.  Then we made a pasta dish for the mozzarella and sat down to an amazing lunch.

Fettuccine with Fresh Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes and Chives
Fresh Mozzarella platter (salt flakes!)
Oh, the ice cream! It was incredible.

We also made a new friend.  Hi Chriselle!

So I took what I learned in class and made Ricotta for stuffed shells.  There really is no comparison. 

What I really enjoyed about the class is that not only did we learn to make the cheese, but we also made dishes that featured the cheese.  And I got to play in a professional kitchen!  I was thoroughly impressed with the instruction from the Chef, the setup and attention to details, the recipe packets to take home, and the 10% off coupon!  We can't wait for the next one.  Who's game?

Fresh Whole-Milk Ricotta
from Sur la Table

Yield: about 10-12 ounces

8 cups whole milk (don's use ultra pasteurized)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups buttermilk, whole milk (if you can find it)

Place the milk in a large heavy saucepan and set over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the milk comes to a frothing boil.  Turn off the heat and, as the bubbling subsides, stir in the salt and buttermilk.  Continue gently stirring in one direction until the curds and whey separate (the mixture will resemble thickened buttermilk.  The whey will still look milky and the curds will be very small).  Remove from the stove and let sit, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth.  Carefully pour the curds and whey through the cheesecloth.  The whey will drain into a bowl underneath.  Leave the curds in the strainer to drain for about 15-30 minutes depending on the desired consistency.  Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 


  1. What a fun Saturday! The mozzarella looks delicious.

  2. it was super fun! we have to pick a class to do next... and i'll happily leave the mozzarella-making to you ;)

  3. Lauren, I think my friend was in your class! I was supposed to go to this, I couldn't. I go to Sur La Table classes frequently, let me know if you ever need a "class buddy". Elizabeth

  4. Looks like a really fun class!