Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sweet (and salty) sucess

Last night I was perhaps overly ambitious; not that I was feeling all that ambitious, it just happened that several food-centric projects converged on the same evening.

I had been planning to make mozzerella cheese for the first time (with sheep milk!), I ended up with an overabundance of cherries (via my folks tree) and have a boyfriend who was craving cherry pie for a week. Dairy and dessert being two of my favorite belly fillers, I couldn't say no to either.

This being my first attempt at making cheese on my own, I decided to start with a kit from Ricki Carroll, the New England Cheese Lady. The mozzarella is pretty simple and took 30 or 45 minutes (will probably go faster with practice). Sheep milk has almost 3 times the fat content compared to cow or goat milk, so some adjustments have to be made to the recipe, mainly using about a 3rd of the rennet.

Stretching the mozzarella
Salted cheese chunks; I've yet to learn how to make them prettier
For the pie, Matt had previously pitted all the cherries (proof of his committed craving), so I made the filling on my lunch break from work, then threw the crusts together while waiting for the milk to heat and the curd to separate from the whey.  This cherry pie was really simple and very yummy, so I included the recipe below.

Lovely little dessert plates are a must

Cherry Pie - from

4 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
1 to 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, to dot
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to sprinkle

Directions - Place cherries in medium saucepan over medium heat and cover. After cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat.  In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch. Pour this into the hot cherries until thickened, stirring frequently. Add almond extract if desired and mix. Return mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let cool. If filling is too thick, add a little water, to thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 pie crust (double for 2) - secret family recipe, makes a great crust every time

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening (such as Crisco)
Mix together until pea size chunks form
Add 3 tablespoons water, mix together to form a cohesive ball

If doing 2 crusts, divide the dough in 2, then roll out dough large enough to fit in a 8 or 9 inch pie pan. Pour cooled cherry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Moisten edge of bottom crust. Place top crust on and flute the edge of the pie. Make a slit in the the middle of the crust for steam to escape. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.  Drool while it cools, then enjoy!

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