Check out my new love.
I adore so many things about this book I don’t even know where to begin. I suppose the logical place would be with the author’s story of going from living in the U.S. with a career in broadcast production to starting all over on her husband’s family dairy farm in the southwest of Ireland. As she describes it herself on her blog, she is “finding my way around an Irish kitchen and becoming a bonafide cook in a world where traditional trumps quick or convenient.” Her book, The Farmette Cookbook is part novel, part recipe and DIY how-to book and an absolute delight to read from cover-to-cover. The book features a varied and interesting set of recipes from the very simple Farmer’s Cheese (below), to classics such as Classic Colcannon, holiday worthy like Little Christmas Roast Duck with Tarragon-Leek Bread Stuffing, and finally, the completely unexpected, such as Wild Garlic and Soft Irish Cheese Tamales. I love the author’s take on Irish food products and traditions and her respect for time-honored Irish kitchen skills as well as the high quality ingredients she has access to on the farm. The Farmette Cookbook took me far away from my own life and kitchen in the best way as I imagined myself making fresh cheese on an Irish dairy farm. For now my new farmehouse dining table (my other new love) will have to suffice.
Farmer’s Cheese from the Farmette Cookbook by Imen McDonnell
According to the book, the author learned to make this cheese at a food festival in an ecovillage in County Tipperary.
Makes 2 cups
1 gallon whole milk
½ cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Line a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth.
Pour the milk into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir frequently to keep the milk from scorching. When it comes to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to low, and stir in the vinegar. The milk should immediately separate into curds and whey. If it does not separate, add a little bit more vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you see the milk solids coagulate into curds swimming in greenish-blue whey.
Pour the curds and whey into the lined colander. Rinse gently with cool water and sprinkle the curds with salt. Tie up the cheesecloth and press it a bit with your hands to remove any excess whey. Let the cheesecloth hang for 1 to 2 hours; open it, remove the cheese and chop coarsley. Transfer and store in an airtight container.
This cheese will last up to a week in the refrigerator.
I’m super boring and eat the same breakfast almost every single day. Toasted brown bread topped with preserves, ricotta cheese and almonds. So I’ll be using this in place of the ricotta - a small but welcomed (and delicious) deviation. Yep, I was doing “toast” before it became trendy.
If you aren’t on the toast bandwagon, you could use this cheese in a million other ways:
Fold in chopped herbs and some olive oil and serve with bread, crackers, olives and cured meats as part of an appetizer plate.
To finish a pizza just as it comes out of the oven. Just dollop some on each slice and add a drizzle of olive oil and some sea salt.
In summer pasta dishes. I’m thinking bacon, corn and kale pasta with fresh herbs and grape tomatoes.