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HOMEMADE QUESO FRESCO

Queso Fresco is one of my all time favorite cheeses typically found on some Mexican/Latino dishes also known as Queso Blanco. You know that creamy, salty, and crumbly cheese shaped like a wheel you see at the store? It’s usually about $5.99. It’s kind of expensive for a cheese that has a short shelf life especially when you don’t have enough people to eat it up in time. Well, that’s just another reason to make homemade Queso Fresco, because it costs about half the price and fresh homemade cheese tastes ten times better. The key to this recipe is making sure you have the right tools ahead of time, which really require kitchen staples except for the lesser common kitchen thermometer and cheese cloth. Both of which you can easily find at your local grocery store today. Plus, making homemade cheese is kinda cool. It’s a lost art. It’s a fun sharing experience with friends and family. It makes for a great gift as well.


Print Recipe
HOMEMADE QUESO FRESCO
Servings
pound wheel
Ingredients
KITCHEN TOOLS
INGREDIENTS
Servings
pound wheel
Ingredients
KITCHEN TOOLS
INGREDIENTS
Instructions
  1. Heat the milk in a nonreactive stockpot over medium heat to 195 F degrees, stirring occasionally to keep the milk from burning. Use a kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature along the way. It will take about 25 minutes to get the milk to temperature. Turn off heat.
  2. Stir in the 1/3 cup vinegar using a whisk. Place the lid on and remove from heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes. The milk protein will coagulate into curds and the liquid whey will turn into a light green almost clear color. If the whey is still very cloudy and small pieces of curds then, add about another teaspoon of the distilled white vinegar. Stir with a rubber spatula.
  3. Place a strainer over an extra large bowl. Line the strainer with a clean and damp cheese cloth folded in half making sure it drapes over the sides of the strainer. Slowly ladle the curds into the strainer and let drain for about 5 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle the salt all over the top of the curds and using your hands gently toss the curds around to incorporate the salt evenly. Make sure to not break up the curds.
  5. You'll want to let everything drain for about 45 minutes to an hour. You can tie up the cheese cloth and let it sit in the strainer with the bowl underneath removed that way the excess whey can escape. Or you can tie the corners of the cheese cloth to your sink faucet letting it hang.
  6. Remove the mass of cheese from the cloth and place in an air tight container with a lid. Refrigerate for an hour.
  7. Feel free to remove the cheese from the container and store in plastic wrap for about a week.

SPICY GIARDINIERA

Here’s a fresh and tangy Italian “relish” so to speak with a twisted kick of spicy Thai chili peppers. I recently started growing Thai chilies out here in this intense Summer heat and clearly peppers thrive on extremely hot days because there’s a couple dozen chilies growing all at once. With so many harvested I was a little lost with what to do with them until a friend of mine came up with a brilliant idea to make a burn your mouth version of Giardiniera.

In Italy it’s called “sotto aceti” literally meaning “under vinegar.” It’s usually served with your antipasto just like olives are and in the U.S. you’ll find it either in its whole pieces or chopped fine put into a spicy beef sandwich. However you choose to enjoy it is entirely up to you. Personally, being the grazer that I am, I love picking the veggies out of the jar one by one munching away or thrown in a very elaborate salad.

In this particular version I added a few extra favorite things that I thought would be a great fit; lupini beans, radishes and garlic. You can’t go wrong with most veggies when it comes to making a brine and marinating in a jar of olive oil and vinegar. Let me know how yours turns out!

Print Recipe
SPICY GIARDINIERA
Servings
quart
Ingredients
Servings
quart
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the cauliflower, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, radishes, garlic, and salt in a large glass bowl and fill it with filtered water until all the veggies are covered. Use your hands to gently mix the veggies around until most of the salt dissolves. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and refrigerate overnight for at least 24 hours.
  2. Drain the glass bowl of veggies in a colander and rinse them with cold water then transfer back to the bowl. Add the lupini beans, Thai chilies, pepperoncinis, olive oil, vinegar, and water.
  3. Gently mix everything together with a large spoon. Lastly, transfer everything into the mason jar as much as you can.
  4. Refrigerate for a couple of days or longer to your desired taste.