Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mozzarella and Dipping Herbs

March is the cruelest month.  I don't care what the poet says.   March is all about betrayal.    You start trusting that things are going to get warm and grow and bloom and then, Bam!, 50 mile an hour winds that are ripping trees out of the ground and cold weather again with snow.    March stinks.

It takes a lot of midwestern fortitude to survive the vagaries of March.   Fortitude and mozzarella.

Fortitude, mozzarella and olive oil.

Ok, maybe fortitude, mozzarella, olive oil and dipping herbs. 

Yeah.

Fresh Mozzarella with Olive Oil and Dipping Herbs
Fresh mozzarella is easy to make.    Do yourself a favor, fork out a few bucks and buy Ricki's 30 minute mozzarella kit from www.cheesemaking.com.    $24.95.   Enough to make 30 batches [30 lbs].   And it really only takes 30 minutes.    Really.   The best money I ever spent on cheese [so far...]  If K2 had her way, we'd have mama mozzarella every day, for every meal.  

Once you have your mozz made, you need something fabulous to eat it with.    Like some good quality olive oil and some dipping herbs.

We first encountered dipping herbs at a higher end restaurant in town.  When they brought the fancy bread to the table, they brought out little dishes of olive oil into which they put spoonfuls of herbs.   They told us it was for dipping.       

As we are very obliging folks, we dipped and it was love at first dip.  An enduring, everlasting kind of love.   The kind of love that causes one to weep with anguish when parted from the object of one's affection.   Obviously, there was only one thing to do.   One had to go home and concoct one's own recipe.

And so one did.  And now one is going to share it with you here.   Trust me, March will never be the same.    

Robin's Fabulous Dipping Herbs
1/4 C rosemary crushed [not powder]
1/4 C thyme
1/4 C oregano
1/4 C basil [optional]
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper, ground
1 Tb salt 
1 Tb red pepper flakes. 

Use dried herbs so you can mix a bunch up and store it.    If all you have is whole rosemary, then use 1/2 again as much rosemary and toss the whole mess into a grinder or food processor for a minute or two until the rosemary is crushed.

To use, put a teaspoon of dipping herbs into a tablespoon or so of olive oil.   Add more oil or herb to taste.

Experience will help you adjust the flavors in the next batch to suit you better - more or less salt, pepper, etc.

Tip:  If you love this enough to eat it all quickly, it's great if you make the mix and then add enough olive oil to cover it all.  Stir it in and let it sit.  The herb really infuses the oil, which helps meld the flavors.  It'll keep well for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Just add more oil when you're ready to serve it.

7 comments:

  1. Robin I have to tell you I have bought the kit you are talking about and taught myself to make that and other cheeses. These are great recipes. I will have to try yours as I now teach making fresh cheeses and will make mozzarella and mix the herbs and olive oil to go with the lunch I serve. That should be very good.
    Do you know you can make Farmer Cheese and it only takes 2 or 3 ingredients and less time than Mozzarella? See it on you tube.

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  2. Lisabeth - Farmer cheese is next on my list! I just got Ricki's cheese book. Thanks for the tip.

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  3. To make Farmer Cheese-
    to 1 gallon of milk add 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice. Bring to approximate 180 degrees stirring slowly constantly. If it doesn't make curds then add a couple of teaspoons of lime juice. It will curdle immediately. I don't know why I can't get it to make with just one or the other, but with a few teaspoons of both I can get it to curdle.

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  4. My apologies for the mess of that recipe.
    If you use lemon juice in the beginning, use like juice in the end or visaversa.

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  5. Do you grind this whole herb mix up, or do you leave it whole? And when you say "whole rosemary," are you referring to something other than the little rosemary blades?

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  6. Hi Janiel! We're talking just the rosemary blades. 'Crushed' means that they've been chopped up some, but not powder.

    I like seeing recognizable bits of herbs, so I don't grind it all up usually. This time I only had whole rosemary and since eating that is like eating splinters, I ground the rosemary up some in the food processor.

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