Cheesemaking is very addictive and I have experimented with many different types of cheese. So far I’ve attempted to make Cheddar, Monterey Jack with chillies, Crowdie, Dunlop, Mozzarella, Derby, Caerphilly, Feta, Halloumi, Chèvre, Brie, Camembert, Romano and Ricotta and that’s just this week – only joking!
I have had varying degrees of success, some aren’t even ready to taste yet and I’m confused over mould – what is good and what is bad?
We have created a “cheese cave” in the larder which has a paving slab as a shelf to keep it cool and is situated on the cold side of the house. A recycled slatted wooden shoe rack is perfect for storage and air circulation.
What worries me is I’m making a couple of cheeses every week, so when we finally get to taste them after 6 months and they are inedible, what do I do with them all?
By far my biggest successes have been with the soft cheeses and one of my all-time favourite recipes is a savoury cheesecake which is perfect for using them all up. This cheesecake is lovely warm or cold and the perfect partner for this dish is a red pepper jam or if like me you like things a wee bit hotter, a chilli jam.
I base my chilli jam on a recipe by Nigella but make it with whatever I happen to have available at the time.
For a small quantity of chilli jam:
- 56g mixed chillies
- 1 medium pepper – any colour
- 330g jam sugar
- 150ml white wine vinegar
- Sterilise your jar(s).
- Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a largish pan
- De-seed and finely chop the chillies and pepper.
- Add the chillies and pepper to the pan and bring to the boil.
- Keep it boiling rapidly for at least 30 minutes until it turns syrupy.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Leave for approx 40 minutes until the bits of chilli and pepper are suspended in the thickened liquid.
- Ladle into jars and seal.
Last time I made this I had to rush to the hospital in the middle of it all (thanks to the finger incident) so it never really set into a jelly but was delicious all the same.
Making the savoury cheesecake couldn’t be easier:
- 500g soft cheese
- 250g grated cheddar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp chilli jam
- Seasoning to taste
- Beat together all the ingredients until well combined and then pour into a greased and lined baking tin.
- Bake for around 50 minutes in a hot oven until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to cool a little before turning out of the tin.
- You can either spread more of the chilli jam over the top like you would fruit on a sweet cheesecake or dollop the jam on the plate as an accompaniment.
- Serve with a rocket salad or jacket potato.