Cheese, being a dairy product, naturally starts with milk; ideally, this milk comes from happy cows who graze outside in bright sunshine.
Once the milk is pasteurized, enzymes are added to convert lactose — milk sugar — into lactic acid. (Varying enzymes, otherwise known as starter cultures, vary the pH of the product and thus produce different types of cheeses. Low pH indicates a high acidity, as with Swiss cheese, for example.) Rennet — a complex of enzymes which usually comes from an animal, but can be vegetarian — is a coagulant which is then added to encourage the formation of solid curds in liquid whey.
At Henning‘s Cheese the curds and whey are poured into a vat, where the whey is drained off. At this point, the curds are very soft (reminiscent of cottage cheese) and have a very slight sweetness to them from lingering lactose. The curds are compressed into slabs, which are turned repeatedly and stacked up to five high in order to add pressure and further drain liquid. (Unnecessary whey makes cheese taste bitter, says Kert Henning, whose grandfather founded the family’s cheese factory.)
These pre-cheese slabs are then run through a mill and cut into smaller pieces for salting, with wayward larger pieces broken up by hand so that salt will be evenly distributed throughout the final product. The outer portion of these large curds is grainy from salting, while the center feels a bit like smooth string cheese because the salt hasn‘t reached it; it is essential that the salt be more evenly dispersed.
Once the curds are fully prepared with salt and optional flavoring, depending upon the type of cheese being made, they are weighed and placed into wheels for compression into discs. Subsequent cooling and drying ultimately create a beautiful cheese.
To learn more about the cheesemaking process, visit henningcheese.com
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup sliced shitake mushrooms
- 7 ounces firm tofu (about half of a 16-ounce package), drained and cubed
- 4 cups packed chopped kale (about 1 bunch)
Asian Shitake and Kale Bowl with Brown Rice
Cook the rice according to package directions.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
Add the soy sauce, sesame seeds, wasabi paste, red pepper flakes, mushrooms, and tofu and stir well. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup water and the kale and sauté until the kale is slightly wilted and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Spoon 1/2 cup cooked rice into each of four individual bowls and top with about 1½ cups of the shitake- kale mixture.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant-Powered Diet.
Oldways Zesty Brussels Sprouts & Collard Greens Sauté
- 1 bag of Brussels sprouts (roughly 12 sprouts), chopped into halves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-size red onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (minced) or ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup pecans
To soften the Brussels sprouts and greens, first steam them in 1 cup of water in a covered pan, until tender.
Drain water from pan, move Brussels and collards to the side, into a covered bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat in the pan
Add the onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
Add garlic, cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the mustard and oregano.
Add collards and Brussels to the pan and toss with your spoon, to coat.
Add a pinch of salt along with the pecans, and cook on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, roughly stirring once per minute so that the onions, garlic, mustard, and pecans cover all the vegetables.
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 medium sized Yuca Roots, peeled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Dried or fresh thyme
- Sea salt
- Ground black pepper
Peel the waxy brown skin from the yuca roots and chop each one in half, widthwise at the middle, to make 4 pieces.
Place yuca in a medium sized pot or saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil with a pinch of sea salt. Cook the yuca until you can pierce it with a fork (about 20-25 minutes).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
When cooked, drain water and lay the yuca on a paper towel.
When cool enough, pat the yuca dry and chop the pieces into “French fry” sticks.
Place the fries on a baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, and season with sea salt, pepper, and thyme. Use as much thyme as needed to dust each fry.
Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden, turning once.
Yield: 8 servings
- 2 English muffins
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/ 3 cup pizza sauce
- 1/ 2 cup shredded Italian cheese
- Dried oregano
Mini Breakfast Pizzas
Arrange the muffin halves on a baking sheet and toast for about 3 minutes under the oven broiler or in a toaster oven. Remove and set aside. Heat the oven or toaster oven to 450°F. Coat a large skillet lightly with olive oil and place over medium heat. Pour in the beaten eggs. As they begin to set, gently pull them across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large soft curds. Continue cooking – pulling, lifting, and folding eggs – until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly. Remove from the heat.
Spread the pizza sauce evenly on the toasted muffin halves. Top with the eggs and cheese, dividing evenly. Bake in the hot oven for about 5 minutes or in the toaster oven for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Dave Ellis, American Egg Board, courtesy of the Egg Nutrition Center.
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