Friday, September 17, 2010
I wanted to bake a loaf of bread and at the same time I realized I was overstocked with milk. So I decided I should make a bread that would use a lot of milk.
I put 1 1/2 cups of milk in a saucepan to scald it. Heat went on, milk barely started to bubble, and then it looked ... funny. I stirred it and there were great large lumps of curd in the whey.
Now, I know the milk wasn't bad. Not even starting to go off. This was the milk I had used in my coffee in the morning. It was fine. Except for some reason it wanted to separate when it was heated.
Okay, cheese then. I've made enough cheese. I can wing this. But 1 1/2 cups of milk is not nearly enough to make a sensible amount of cheese. So I tossed in the rest of the milk from that batch of milk, which was a bit over a quart. I stirred it around, kicked the heat back on and nothing was happening. Decided to add a bit of acid to move it along, and found 1/2 of a lemon that had been partially squeezed. Got the juice out of that and dumped the lemon juice into the water. Still no separation.
In fact, the curds that had been there before had now dissolved. I had hot lemony milk.
Sigh. And the bread was waiting to be made.
I figured that the lemon must not have been acidic enough, so I grabbed the True Lime off the shelf, shook a little (maybe a quarter-teaspoon) into a small glass and added about a quarter-cup of cool water to dissolve the powder. I dropped that into the milk and gave it a stir and got an immediate reaction.
Curds! Whey! Cheese!
I let it cool a while, then strained out the curds, added a sprinkle of salt, stirred that around, and put it in the refrigerator to chill. I considered squeezing it to get a shaped, compressed cheese, but I had a good use for it as it was.
The resulting cheese had small curds and a soft, creamy consistency with just a tiny hint of lime flavor. It was perfect served over the chicken mole tacos we had for dinner.
This isn't very precise recipe, but I don't expect anyone to follow it step-by-step. Because, after all, how often does it happen that you heat milk and it suddenly separates? And, if I hadn't used the milk just an hour before, I might have assumed the milk had gone bad and tossed it out. But no, it tasted fine in the coffee and was just as good in the cheese.
But it's a good example of salvaging something that would otherwise have gone to waste. And I managed to use up even more milk, which was even better.
And I'm saving the whey for breadmaking, of course.