Newsletter - June 2016
Cheese of the Month
To make our mozzarella we coagulate farm-fresh milk by adding selected bacteria (called cultures) and rennet (an enzyme that reacts with the lactic acid that is produced by the milk) so that our milk soon resembles a vat of white jello or yogurt. Once coagulated we manually pull cheese knives through the milk to cut the curd into soft, little pieces. Immediately upon being cut, a cloudy yellow liquid called whey begins to come out of the curds. Because milk is mostly liquid, eventually there is a lot of yellow whey and a smaller amount of curds. (In fact it takes one whole gallon of milk to make two half-pound balls of mozzarella.) When the curds are mature we stretch them in hot water using a paddle to become a smooth and satiny mass of fresh mozzarella. (This is where the art of cheesemaking comes into play because there is only a small window of opportunity during which the curd can be successfully stretched and formed since the development of the lactic acid cannot be stopped...if the cheese is stretched before the pH reaches 5.2, the cheese is tough and inferior. If the pH falls too low, we have lost the batch of cheese completely.) Next we pinch off balls of fresh mozzarella and toss them into cool water to chill. Once chilled the balls are either briefly immersed in a brine or packaged in governing liquid which keeps them very moist. Our mozzarella is a fabulous melting cheese and is great in salads, on sandwiches and pizzas, with meats, and just plain. Our fresh mozzarella stays fresh for about 3 weeks. It can also be frozen and later defrosted in the refrigerator.
Recipe of the Month
Involtini di Melanzana
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8 slices
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 to 6 leaves fresh basil, cut into thin strips
8 thin slices prosciutto
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 8 slices
¼ cup (1 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the broiler on high heat. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 8 slices. Sprinkle the eggplant lightly with salt and place in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. Clean the salt off the eggplant and dry the slices using paper towels.
While the eggplant is draining, make a simple tomato sauce: In a medium sauce pan, sauté the onion over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes in 2 tablespoons olive oil, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes and their juice into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with fresh basil and set aside.
Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with oil and place on a baking sheet. Place the pan several inches under broiler and broil until browned. Remove from oven and turn the slices over and broil until the other side is browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
On each eggplant slice, place a slice of prosciutto and a slice of mozzarella. Roll the pieces from the small end forward to form a rolled tube. Continue until all are done.
Slather the bottom of a 9 x 13 –inch baking dish with some of the tomato sauce, and arrange the involtini seam-side down in a row. Spread with more tomato sauce and sprinkle with the Parmigiano.
Just before serving, in a 350 oven, bake for about 15 to 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling everywhere. Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish.