Happy Monday everyone! I am kickstarting my week right, doing everything under the sun (or eclipse) to see to it that I am listening to my body and doing right by it. You see, my body has been going through some not-so-fun heath issues pertaining to my ongoing battle with Crohn’s Disease. Just a minor flare-up due to stress and over-exhaustion, but it’s been a wake-up call to say the least! I need to remind myself to treat my body right, because as of now, technology doesn’t allow me the option to purchase a new one 😉 .
In an effort to clean up some of our eating habits, Liam and I decided to take a cooking class at Sur La Table to learn how to make non-processed or pasteurized cheese. You see, the Smith-Taylor home is one that LOVES all things cheese, especially artisan cheeses. So when the cooking class popped-up on the Sur La Table class schedule I immediately knew that I had to sign Liam and I up for a class.
One cheese that Liam and I learned how to make at our cooking class was mozzarella cheese, which is much simpler to make than I had anticipated! You see, it’s pretty simple when it comes to making cheese, all you really have to do is follow the instructions closely and pay special attention to the time and temperature of the specific cheese you’re making. We learned a few degrees of variation when making mozzarella can make a HUGE difference in the end product – luckily we didn’t have to learn that the hard way because we followed instructions to a perfect “t” and made the most delicious homemade mozzarella that you too will get to taste soon 😉 .
We paired our mozzarella with fresh arugula, grilled peaches and a tasty balsamic vinaigrette to act as dressing. The combo of sweet peaches with the savory vinaigrette is sure to make your mouth water when prepping to serve this salad at home!
To try out a cooking class at Sur La Table, check out their locations and class schedules here.
- ¼ teaspoon liquid rennet - **most rennet is now derived from vegetarian sources. If using a rennet tablet, in most cases 1 tablet is the equivalent to 1 teaspoon of rennet. For this recipe, you will need a quarter of the tablet.
- ¾ cup cool water, divided
- 1½ teaspoons of citric acid
- 1 gallon of whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
- Cheese salt or very fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinager
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 1 small shallot (minced0
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ cup EVOO
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 peaches (halved and pitted)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 cups arugula or hearty salad greens (stemmed)
- ½ pound of fresh mozzarella, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- Step 1 - Homemade Mozzarella:
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, add liquid rennet and ¼ cup cool water; stir to combine and set it aside.
- In another small bowl or measuring cup, add citric acid and remaining ½ cup cool water; stir well to dissolve and set it aside.
- Pour your milk into a heavy saucepan.
- Add your citric acid solution and stir vigorously to incorporate with the milk. Set the saucepan on high heat and continue to stir while the milk heats to 90 degrees F. When the milk reaches 90 degrees, remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the rennet solution. Stirring continuously in one direction for 15 seconds.
- Cover the pan and leave undisturbed for 5 min.
- After 5 min, check your curd; it should resemble firm custard, with a clear separation between the curd and the whey around the edges of the pan. If the curd is too soft or they whey is milky, let it set for a few more min.
- With a knife that is long enough to reach the bottom of your pan, cut the curd into 1-inch squares, creating a checkerboard pattern.
- Place the pan back over high heat and heat the mixture to 110 degrees F while slowly and gently moving the curds in one direction with a spoon. Once the mixture reaches 110 degrees F, remove from the heat and continue slowly stirring for 2 to 5 minutes. **Keep in mind, a longer stirring time produces a firmer cheese.
- Ladle your curds into a colander or strainer and set it over a larger bowl to reserve the whey.
- When ready to stretch, transfer reserved whey to a large pan and heat to 185 degrees F. The pan should be large enough to accommodate a colander or strainer, allowing the curds to be fully immersed.
- Place the curds in the colander or strainer, immerse in the hot whey or water, and let sit for 3 to 6 minutes.
- Remove the curds and, using rubber gloves if needed, fold and knead the curds until they start to become smooth, elastic and begin to stretch. Sometimes reheating your curds in the whey can help with not drying out your cheese.
- While stretching, taste and adjust seasoning with salt.
- Shape your mozzarella into one or more balls and place in ice water to cool.
- Step 2 - Salad:
- To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, add the vinegar, mustard, garlic, shallot, and honey.
- Whisk the ingredients above together. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Grab your peaches and cut it in half. Once halved; Cut each half into thirds.
- To grill the peaches: heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat - I like to use an grated iron skillet for this. Using a silicon pastry brush, lightly coat your grill grates and peaches with oil; season peaches with salt and pepper.
- Cook the peaches on each side for about 3 min until they are evenly grill marked and tender, using tongs to turn the peaches over once per side.
- transfer your grilled peaches onto a cutting board to cool slightly.
- Assemble your salad by placing your arugula into a large bowl and toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves.
- Arrange your dressed arugula on a chilled platter or divide among 4 salad plates. Arrange grilled peaches and fresh mozzarella over the arugula.
- Lastly, lightly season your salad with salt and pepper and serve immediately to enjoy!