Wow everyone at holiday potlucks with homemade cheeses
If you'd like to bring something really special to your holiday potlucks, fresh cheese spreads are the way to go. Homemade cream cheese, chevre, Neufchatel, and fromage blanc can be made in 2 days with little hands-on time, and can then be dressed up with herbs and spices to make a yummy dip or spread for fresh bread or crudités. One of our favorite magazines, Culture, has a great recipe for a delicious homemade cream cheese. One of our customers made an amazing cheesecake with her homemade cream cheese!
Another quick fresh cheese to make is a "fresh ricotta". This cheese is not a true ricotta, which is made from the whey that is leftover after making a rennet-coagulated cheese (literally "ricotta" means "recooked" in Italian).
What you need:
1 gallon milk - whole or low fat, though you'll have better results with whole milk, just pasteurized milk from the grocery store is fine!
Vinegar (cider or white) or lemon juice
Large non-reactive pot - stainless steel is better than aluminum
Cheesecloth - fine cheesecloth or butter muslin is best, or a jelly bag if you have one
Slotted spoon or skimmer
Put the milk into the pot and heat to 200° F. Do NOT let it boil, keep stirring so it does not scorch on the bottom. When the milk reaches temperature, add ¼ cup of your acid of choice (vinegar or lemon juice). You should see white curds fall out and separate from the liquid whey. Do not stir too fast at this point to avoid breaking up the nice curds. Put the cheese cloth in the colander in a sink or large bowl and ladle the curds with the slotted spoon or skimmer into the cheesecloth. If you want to pour the curds into the cheesecloth, pour very slowly and make sure you have a very fine cheesecloth, or all of the curds will pour through. Let the curds drain for a few minutes, until cool enough to handle the cheesecloth. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth together or cinch with a string. Hang the bundle either over a sink or from a large chopstick or spoon laying across a large pot, so that the bundle can drip out more whey. Allow to drip for 1-2 hours, then put into a bowl. You can add fresh herbs and/or lemon zest to make a spread, or stuff into pasta shells and bake with a marinara sauce for dinner. Yum!
Limited Edition Wine Kits
We carry wine kits from Winexpert and Cellar Craft, and every year these companies release a special limited edition set of wine kits. These kits are made of specially selected grapes from distinct vineyards around the world. There are a limited number of kits available and they must be pre-ordered in December in order to get these kits. The kits are then released monthly January through April of the following year. We have more information about each wine here, or click on any wine below to find out more:
Pre-orders will be taken until Sunday, December 12th. You do not pay for your kit until you pick it up when it is released for sale, but you do need to sign up if you want one, there will not be many extras. If you would like to sign up for any of these kits, you can sign up online, or please call me at the store by December 12th!
"Fresh Cheeses" Techniques Demonstration on Saturday, December 11
On Saturday, December 11th we will show you just how easy it is to make the fresh cheeses described in the article above! We will show you how to make cream cheese, chevre, and fresh ricotta, and give you easy instructions to make creme fraiche and fromage blanc, too. We will have 2 demonstrations, one at 10:30 am and one at 1:30 pm. These demonstrations are free, but limited to 20 participants. You can sign up by clicking on the links for the time slots above, or you can click through the event calendar on "more details" at the bottom of the description. You can also call or email us which time slot you would like to join. When the groups are full, it will be noted on our calendar. You can watch for upcoming demonstrations through this calendar as well.
We have a great selection of accessories for enjoying your wine and cheese that make great hostess gifts for holiday gatherings, as well as gift bags and personalized labels for packaging your homemade wines and cheeses. If you're looking for some unique packaging for your gifts, we have some great recycled paper wine bottle tags that have wildflower seeds in the paper, so the gift recipient can plant the tag and have flowers in the spring! In addition, we are offering special Gift Certificate packages for you to give to your friends to inspire them to make wine: a wine kit of their choice, 30 bottles, and either an equipment set or winemaking at Curds and Wine for a special price! Check at the shop or see our gift package page for more details. You can also give a gift certificate for any amount, or you can get a great cheesemaking kit and cheese press to get your friends started. We just got several new items in stock for the holidays, including a broad selection of new cheese cultures, wine kits, 15-gallon demi-johns, cheese making equipment such as drying mats and cheese presses, as well as cheese making and wine making books. Stop in and we'll help you find a great gift -- and remember, we'll be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 10 am - 2 pm for last-minute shopping.