Mozzarella

Cooking Lesson: Fresh Mozzarella

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This week’s Italian Valley Café was a sell-out! The atmosphere was bustling and exciting as everyone enjoyed the tastes of southern Italy.

In addition, Chef Anthony was in the cabaret all afternoon turning fresh curd into a ball of stuffed mozzarella from which he was slicing pieces for customers drizzled in olive oil and garnished with a basil leaf. It was a great opportunity to see the fresh, local ingredients and kitchen’s culinary skills at work!

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But you don’t need to be a Chef to make your own mozzarella…just follow the Valley Café recipe!

1. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons citric acid to 1 cup cool water. Stir into 1 gallon of cold milk. Heat slowly to 90 degrees.

2. Remove pot from burner. Dilute a 1/4 tablet or 1/4 teaspoon of rennet in 1/4 cup cool water. Stir diluted rennet into pot for 30 seconds. Cover and leave for 5 minutes.

3. Check the curd. It should look like custard and the whey will be clear. If too soft, let set a few more minutes.

4. Now cut the curd into 1 inch squares with a knife that reaches to the bottom of the pot.

5. Place pot on stove and heat to 105 degrees while stirring slowly. If you will be stretching in water, heat to 110 degrees.

6. Take off the burner and continue stirring slowly for 2-5 minutes. Transfer curd to a colander or bowl using a slotted spoon.

7. Notice how the curd is beginning to get firmer at the whey drains. Continue separating the curd from the whey by gently pressing the curd to encourage the whey runoff.

8. Transfer curd to a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 1 minute on medium heat, then pour off the whey.

9. Knead and reheat for 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary until the curd reaches 135 degrees–almost too hot to handle.

10. Knead the curd as you would bread. If it is hot enough the curd will stretch. If it will not stretch, return it to the microwave as needed. Continue to pull and stretch. This will turn the curd into mozzarella.

11. Once the mozzarella appears smooth, form it into a ball and get ready to add it to your recipe or eat it as is.

Enjoy!

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Mezzogiorno and Plenty of Mozzarella

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Welcome back! Chef Anthony has designed a popular, mouth-watering menu to welcome everyone back to campus.

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On Tuesday, March 25th The Valley Café will explore southern Italy. Although as a whole the country is filled with an abundance of delicious meals, Italian cuisine differs from region to region. Southern Italy (or Mezzogiorno) is the end of the peninsula encompassing the regions of  Abruzzo, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Puglia, Molise, Sicily and Sardinia, with Lazio also considered a member by some. Tomatoes, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, oranges, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, capers and fish are common ingredients in the south. These flavors will be found at The Valley Café in a variety of dishes including a Caprese salad from the island of Capri and one of the most popular Sicilian recipes, Pasta alla Norma.

The shining star of the Mezzogiorno, however, is fresh mozzarella cheese. This semi-soft cheese traditionally made from buffalo milk is known for originating in Southern Italy. Eaten best on pizza and in a caprese sandwich with tomatoes and basil (my personal favorite), the cheese is a wonderful treat. Home made mozzarella will be found in the dishes at The Valley Café on Tuesday…and also in an added feature.

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For the first time ever, The Valley Café will be offering a live cooking lesson during your meal. Chef Anthony will bring his culinary and Italian background together to do a demo on making fresh mozzarella from fresh curd. DON’T MISS IT!

Looking forward to seeing everyone again on Tuesday from 11:30-1:30!

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(Photos courtesy of The Lonely Planet and walksofitaly.com)