Thursday, October 31, 2013

Leftover Pork Stir Fry

We only ate about half that roast pork the other day so a stir fry is a great way to finish it off. I needed bean sprouts and mushrooms to complete the dish so I did quick shopping. 

I put rice on, plain white rice, the flavour will be in the sauce.  I started by sweating to golden a diced onion and a clove of garlic in rice oil with a bit of sesame oil added. Next I gave the mushrooms a sear. I took all that out of the pan and coated the thin slices of pork with flour.  They went in the pan with plenty of oil. When there was a nice sear on the meat I put all the carrot, celery,  bean sprouts and frozen mixed sweet peppers in. I added an ounce or two of chicken stock, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of molasses.  Toss and serve over the rice when the vegetables have softened. I also put extra soy sauce on my rice, Fern has his plain.

It doesn't look particularly special but the flavour is all there.  This is my favourite leftover meal.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Roast Pork Loin

It was a chicken or pork night. I found a nice pork loin to roast and potatoes were on sale, just when I needed some! The condiment is Fern's 'ketchup' from his French Canadian cookbook. I was home early enough to soak the roast in a brine of:

2 tbsp salt
2 tsp molasses
2 tsp sugar
2 cup water

for a few hours. I cut a sprig of rosemary and got a bay leaf from the back yard, my thyme seems to have become a victim of aggressive oregano, so I used dried. I peeled potatoes and carrots and tossed them with salt, mixed pepper, rice oil (or any cooking oil) and a little olive oil for flavour. 

Place the herbs on top of the roast. If I'd thought of it I would spray a little oil over the herbs so more flavour would carry down to the meat. I inserted a meat thermometer to the centre of the meat and put it in the oven at 300ºF for about 1.5 hours. When the roast was done I set it on the counter under foil to rest.  A roast has to cool before being cut or all it's moisture will escape as steam when it's carved.

I put some peas in the microwave and warmed some plates. These plates are too big because that is a little more food than I need but the plate isn't full. A smaller plate makes a smaller portion look bigger, which is good for my lost long ago boyish figure.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pressure Cooker Beef Short Ribs

Now that I stock red wine and have a pressure cooker I wanted to try short ribs. I read a few recipes to give an idea of what to put in them. First season the meat with salt and black pepper then brown with oil in the cooker. Once the meat is sealed all over the potatoes, onion and carrot go in to sweat.  I added nearly a cup of red wine and half a cup of water to the pot and put the pressure lid on. The recipe said to cook for 50 minutes but after 20 my pot was out of moisture so I opened it.  The ribs were cooked and fairly tender so I decided to stop there and see how it all turned out.

The flavour was pretty good but certainly had plenty of room for improvement.  The meat wasn't rubbery but wasn't tender either. If I had added more liquid and the vegetables at this point the results would have been better. Overall it was a very good meal and doesn't take too much effort in the pressure cooker. The broccoli was done in the microwave and seasoned with butter, salt and black pepper.  Short ribs aren't particularly cheap so I don't know if I'll make this a lot.

Breaded Pork Cutlet

I'm starting to trust those tenderized pork cutlets because they have less fat, they're cheap and they can be made to taste good. All I had for breading were a couple of old stale buns. Use what's on hand! So I ground them up in the blender and seasoned the crumbs with salt, mixed pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme. I first season the cutlet with salt and mixed pepper then coat the cutlet in corn flour. Dip it in a whipped egg and roll in the bread crumbs. I fry them in plenty of hot oil. It can help to slowly lower the cutlet into the pan, then shake the pan so the meat doesn't stick in one spot.

I was out of potatoes so we had rice. Fresh vegetables were pricey so I decided to go frozen, hence corn and peas.  The red stuff was an attempt at roasted red pepper pesto but the pepper's were old and sat in the fridge too long. A few other mistakes went into them so overall they were really, really bad.

The cutlet on the other hand was perfect! Delicious, moist and crunchy outside. It's messier dealing with egg dips but it sure makes a great coating. I think I'll buy those cutlets more often because this is just as good or better than tenderloin medallions.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Turkey a la King

It does look like a bit of a hodge podge, but it tasted good!  Those are store bought egg noodles, I thought about making my own but that didn't seem to happen. I started sweating a big diced shallot followed by a stick of celery and a carrot.  I also threw in some mixed sweet peppers from the freezer since fresh are done. A bay leaf went in while it all softened along with garlic powder and poultry seasoning. I removed everything from the pan, tossed the cubed turkey in flour and added it to the pan with plenty of oil.  I rolled it around, browning it a bit then added a quarter to half a cup of chicken stock.  Everything went back in the pan with some  milk, a cup or two until the level is visible.   Keep the heat high and boil off the liquid. I added half a cup of cream cheese that was supposed to be mozzarella. Gotta use it somehow. Entirely optional.

While it was reducing I added some frozen peas, salt, mixed pepper,  and paprika. When the sauce had thickened enough I plated it over the noodles. It tasted great! Fern doesn't like cream sauces a whole lot and he liked it, so it had to be pretty good.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Turkey Dinner

I went to the store for chicken but when I spied a turkey breast roast on sale I decided to have a tradition inspired meal. The thing that says Turkey Dinner better than anything else is, stuffing. Ryan was staying for dinner and he prefers StoveTop stuffing mix to anything else so that is easy to make! I had a turnip in the fridge so I only needed some broccoli to complete the meal. 

The roast was over 3 pounds and it took close to 3 hours to cook at 275-300ºF. It was wrapped in Turkey skin so there was enough drippings to make gravy, which I didn't expect. For some reason those 3 different vegetables didn't seem like too much before they were plated. The turnip was cooked for a full hour and that definitely produced a better result than 45 minutes they got last time. 

I over cooked the broccoli and carrots because my oven mitt brushed against the oven knob and lowered the setting so suddenly it was taking a lot longer to finish cooking. I have always hated my Kenmore stove, but now I just want it gone! All the thought and care that goes into an Apple product to make it function beautifully is missing in Kenmore poducts. The control panel hangs almost directly over the two back burners. A large pot on the large back burner won't fit, it has to perch on the edge because the knobs are in the way.  This is the way design choices were made by Kenmore. "Put some burners on a box, put some knobs on the back splash, spend no resources on the user interface and push it out to people because they don't deserve any better."
Overall the meal was a great success, it had some feast qualities so it did seem kind of special. I'll definitely try one of those breast roasts again. I'm really looking forward to turkey a la king too!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sirloin Tip Roast Beef

I was going to buy chicken breasts but I found this little roast on sale about 60% off. Couldn't resist that! I seasoned it with salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and garlic then put it in a 250ºF oven for an hour and a half. It actually took an extra 45 minutes so dinner was a little late.  I did get pan drippings for a gravy that was really nice.  I poured way too many peas into the pot. They were finished in olive oil so they tasted great.. 

This was a really tasty meal.  Plenty of meat left for a stew too.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pineapple Chicken Coconut Curry

I didn't decide on curry till I stood in front of the meat counter. Everything looked like too much work except a pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts. A curry looks like work but is actually pretty simple to put together.  I picked up a can of Coconut Milk and one of Pineapple Bits and headed home with dinner.

I put basmati rice on to cook, my microwave has a Rice button, so it's really easy to make. I cubed the chicken breasts and seasoned them with salt. Then I added flour and rolled the pieces to coat them. They went straight into a hot pan with plenty of oil. I just get a bit of browning all over then take them out of the pan before they are done through.

Into the pan went diced onion and garlic to sweat.  When it was translucent a carrot finely chopped went in. Shortly after that a chopped celery stick followed by a diced green/yellow pepper. Two tablespoons of Madras Curry Powder (or whatever type is on hand) tossed over everything. Cook the powder briefly. Add 1/4 cup chicken stock, one can coconut milk and a handful of pineapple pieces. Bring to a fast simmer and reduce the coconut milk. Add the chicken back in so it can finish cooking in the sauce.  I also threw in a few frozen green peas at this point. When it's nice and thick serve over rice.

Oh my goodness gracious it was veddy good, veddy good.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chardonnay Chanterelles with a Pork Cutlet

I had pork in mind when I went to the store but wasn't sure exactly what to get.  I felt like a loin roast but there weren't any so I settled on a couple of tenderized pork loins. They were very lean, which Fern likes. I had chanterelle mushrooms courtesy of our gardener Kevin. I planned to fry the mushrooms then take them out and fry the chops. Then I'd make sauce in the pan with white wine and mushrooms.

I started by blending the last of my chiabatta into bread crumbs to coat the cutlet and prepping the potatoes, vegetables and mushrooms. It is so much easier to cook when everything is ready to go before the first pan hits the stove. 

The potatoes started boiling and the steamer was warming up.  I fried the mushrooms in a little oil and butter with a pinch of salt then removed them from the pan. I seasoned the cutlet with salt and mixed pepper then coated it in corn flour. Dipped it in beaten egg and dredged in the bread crumbs then laid it in a hot frying pan. I used my 12 inch pan on a large burner at medium high heat on my electric stove.

I used to think food stuck to the pan because it was too hot, but it sticks when the pan isn't hot enough. The pan must be oily and hot enough to instantly cook the coating as it hits the pan. It can then float on the thin film of oil without sticking. Shaking the pan periodically keeps it from burning to one spot. 

I plated the pork when the second side was done and put a teaspoon of flour in the pan.  I fried it a bit in the oil to cook off the raw flour taste then added a quarter cup chicken stock and half a cup of white wine. While the wine reduced I strained the vegetables and put them in the pot with olive oil on a medium low burner to cook the bitterness off. Then I drained the potatoes and mashed and whipped them with a fork. 

Finally the mushrooms went in the sauce to warm up while I plated the potatoes and vegetables.  I placed the mushrooms between the pork and potato so both could benefit from the delicate flavour.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Home made frozen yoghurt with fried peaches

Some times I find it difficult to match the flavour of a store bought product. Usually I produce something better than it's commercial counterpart, but the commercial product is still acceptable.  I had to make it myself, no one could have told me how good home made yoghurt tastes. Now that I know, I'll never buy commercial yoghurt again, it's dreadful compared to what can be made fresh!

I've been wanting to make frozen yoghurt instead of ice cream but commercial yoghurt doesn't work too well.  On speculation I ordered a Yolife yoghurt maker because it comes with a tall dome that will make 3 1L mason jars of yoghurt at a time. I only make 1 litre at a time but it's nice to be able to use big jars.

I heat my milk in a double boiler to 180ºF then cool it down in cold water in the sink. When it's between 107ºF  and 113ºF stir in the yoghurt culture. Heating and cooling the milk gives it  a cooked taste that is really good so it's worth doing. It takes between 4 1/2 and 8 hours to make the yoghurt. The longer it works, the more tart it becomes. When it's done to your satisfaction, put it in the fridge. Home made yoghurt is not gelled like store bought so it's almost runny.

To make frozen yoghurt put two cups yoghurt in the bucket and one cup milk.  I have experimented a bit and this proportion works best. To give the product a smooth texture I use gelatin. I put out 1/4 cup hot water and 1/4 cup cold milk. I mix a gelatin package in the water and stir to dissolve. Mix the water into the milk then fill the milk to one cup plus a little. Add to yoghurt. Add 1 cup sugar and a teaspoon vanilla extract. Blend and churn.

I had a can of peaches open so I put a pad of butter in a pan and put the remainder of the peaches in.  When they had cooked a bit I added some juice and reduced it.  I put the hot peaches and sauce on the frozen yoghurt. Absolutely out of this world delicious!! 

The yoghurt is light and airy with a lemony taste. The peaches taste like peach pie but the yoghurt is the star of the dish.  A better product cannot be bought.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ham Steak with Ginger White Wine Peaches

This is my first attempt at more complex dishes.  It was more complex all right. To the point that I couldn't judge the seasoning. I think it just needed salt but some spice/heat would have been nice. The potatoes were properly seasoned and so was the steamed broccoli which was also perfectly cooked for a change. The peaches just didn't have the punch I was looking for. I simply reheated the ham slice in the sauce and plated them together.

The compote is half a can of sliced peaches chopped up. A pad of butter in a small pan and a little juice from the can along with all the peaches and 1/2 cup of white wine. I added 1/2 tsp powdered ginger and a dash of cinnamon then reduced to a sauce. It was unremarkable but promising so I'll experiment this way again. I'll add more salt and make it hotter next time. Fern doesn't like sweet components in his entrée so I probably only get one more shot at this dish. 

Yellow Split Pea Soup

I really like pea soup. I started with a large shallot diced and sweated.  Then added a finely chopped carrot, celery stick and a clove of garlic. 2 bay leaves. 2 slices of ham diced.  I also shook a tiny bit of nutmeg and cinnamon in too.  Not enough to be tasted, just a tiny hint. All my chicken stock, at least a litre or quart. 450 gm dried peas rinsed. Water to cover peas or add water as it cooks down so it doesn't thicken and burn. Simmer at least an hour, 2 is better.

Fern said it needed salt and pepper. It needed something. For lunch I'll add salt and pepper and see how it is.

I added a good pinch of salt and good grind of black pepper to a bowl of soup and it was much better. No longer bland. In the pot it would be at least 2 teaspoons of salt, proably more. I should know better. In every cooking competition I watch, at some point a judge mentions salt.

Ciabatta Bread

I'm going to detail the bread, soup and entre in separate blog posts for clarity. First the bread.

I can't remember where I got the recipe but it comes from a woman who made it up for her travelling husband.  It's easy to make by hand but I use the mixer to make the dough. I only stock All Purpose Flour which lacks gluten to make the best bread, so I add some Vital Wheat Gluten. I used less than 1/4 cup gluten substituted for the same amount of flour. 

Ciabatta Bread - 2 small loafs

500 gm  Flour = 1 litre  or a bit over 4 cups
2.5 ml sugar = 1/2 tsp
7.5 ml salt = 1  1/2 tsp

450 ml  water  = 2 cups
7.5 ml yeast =  1  1/2 tsp 

15 ml olive oil = 1  tbsp

I make it in the KitchenAid stand mixer with the dough hook but it's easy to make by hand with a fork. Put the dry ingredients in the bowl. Add half the water. Put 60 ml water (1/4  cup) in microwave for 10 seconds so it's lukewarm. Add yeast to warm water and stir till dissolved. Fill to 250 ml or 1 cup and add to bowl. Start mixer. When all the flour is picked up, increase the speed so the dough gets thrown off the hook into the side of bowl for a few minutes. This replaces kneeding. To make by hand, stir with a fork till flour is picked up then kneed 5 minutes. Scrape the dough onto a smooth surface.  It is quite sticky so remove any rings first.  Pull and stretch the dough out then quickly fold it over on itself with a slap.  This traps air inside the dough and gives it the big holes characteristic of the bread. Do that for a few minutes then brush olive oil over the inside of the bowl and put the dough back in.  Brush the dough with olive oil and put it in a warm 43ºC (110ºF) oven for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.

Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a metal sheet with optional parchment paper. Alternatively the dough can be cut in half and two smaller loaves made instead. Bake at 200ºC (400ºF) for 30 - 40 minutes. It's done when it's golden brown all over. A knock on the top should sound hollow if it's made right. Let it cool on a rack.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Snapper and Chips

We hadn't had fish in a while so I went out with snapper in mind.  I found a package of fresh small fillets, grabbed some Brussels sprouts on the way to the till and completely forgot about the mayonnaise for tartar sauce. Too bad because the fish really needed something. Any kind of sauce would have lifted this dish out of the doldrums.  I did give it a few drops of lemon juice so it wasn't bad, it just wasn't great.

I boned then salted and seasoned the fillets with my snapper rub, which I'll rework so I won't detail it here. I also decided to make fries.  I chose small potatoes with no defects, scrubbed them well and left the skins on. I ran them through the cheap plastic fry cutter that probably succeeds because of it's simplicity. I did the veggies in the steamer and finished them with olive oil on medium low heat. The snapper was fried in a pan.

This plate would have been a treat a year ago. Now it's just the same old snapper. I have noticed the last few meals I have had time when I'm just standing waiting so that is when I should be making a sauce or  other component. I have to perfect the basic steps before I'm ready to take on more so it's an important indication of where I am.  I should try to improve my plating with the new component, whatever it turns out to be.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chicken Marinated in White Wine, Oregano and garlic

My U-Vin white wine is ready and I decided to use it as a marinade for the chicken.  I had Greek flavours in mind so I collected fresh oregano from the garden. 

Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
3 cloves garlic smashed, chopped

An hour was all it got to marinate but it was enough to impart excellent flavour. I cooked the chicken on the BBQ.  Two minutes each side over high heat then 25-30 minutes roasting off the heat. Fern mentioned that reducing the marinade into a sauce would have been nice on the plate.  I didn't think of it but it might work, worth trying next time.

I did white rice in the microwave and carrots and broccoli in the steamer.  When the broccoli was done it was cooled under running water then reheated with olive oil.  Delicious once the bitterness is cooked off the oil.

The chicken was moist and I'm definitely happy with my wine.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Black Forest Ham with Brussels Sprouts and Cheese Sauce

Black Forest Ham was on special so I picked one up.  Usually this dish is made with cauliflower but I used sprouts instead.  I sliced the ham thinly and put a layer on the bottom of an 8"x12" pan.  Over that was a layer of thinly sliced potatoes.  A large shallot was laid over the potato and finally the Brussels sprouts.  I made a roux of two heaping teaspoons of flour and 1/4 cup butter.  I added 1/4 cup chicken stock to thin it then two cups of milk and finally 1/2 a pound of extra extra old grated cheddar. Amazing!

The cheese sauce was so good I didn't want to stop eating. Comfort food packed with flavour, I'm already anticipating a wonderful lunch!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Prawns and High Fibre Pasta

I didn't know Barilla made whole grain pasta so I was surprised by the funny colour of the rotini. The package only said PLUS! without much else to inform the consumer. Plus what? Probably fibre but it's hard to tell. I decided to try it. So I put some in water and got out a jar of Mezzetta Tomato Basil sauce, almost as good as making it from scratch. I also got the prawns out into a sieve sitting in cold water.

I smashed and chopped three cloves of garlic and put them in a pan with oil and butter.  Once the garlic was sweated a bit I added the prawns with some salt.  As soon as one side was done I turned them over. Before the centre was done I added the sauce. When the pasta was done I shook it in the colander longer to get as much water off as possible.  The water on the plate is still forming.  I'm not sure if it's water from the pasta or merely liquid strained out of the sauce.  It mixes back in easily enough so it might belong there. 

I find the white prawns lack flavour and I haven't found a source of tiger prawns yet so this dish isn't as good as it could be. It's still outstanding, but could be better. The pasta seemed to have a slightly different texture, not in a bad way, just different. It could be my imagination since this isn't a blind taste test. The fibre did seem to be doing it's job this morning, so I'll continue to buy it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Rib Steak

Well wouldn't you know it.  Fern missed the ferry and had to wait 4 hours for the next one, leaving me alone for dinner one more night.  Of course I bought a nice rib steak! I also picked up fresh Brussel Sprouts.  I did the potato in the microwave then put it in a warm oven.  Then I did the veggies in the microwave as well.  The steak I salted, black peppered and oiled both sides then put it on the BBQ on high heat in 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, 2 minutes rotate, 2 minutes and it's done with crossed grill marks on both sides. Butter, sour cream, fresh chives and bacon bits on the potato and butter, salt and black pepper on the veggies. Despite it's simplicity, the meal was packed with flavour.

One little note.  I bought Olympic sour cream this time, a premium brand. It's texture and taste is much better than the ordinary Dairyland sour cream I used to buy. From now on I'll pay more for Olympic because I know it's worth the extra money. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Pork, Orange Pepper and Chanterelle Mushroom Stir Fry

I'm by myself for dinner tonight which usually means a rib steak, but we just had beef tenderloin the other night so I just didn't feel like it. I found a nice pork loin chop for 30% off which I could make into a stir fry so I picked it up and headed home.

I chopped up an onion, carrot, celery stick, orange pepper and chanterelle mushrooms. Then cubed the chop and rolled it in flour and fried it in a large pan.  As soon as it had colour all around I added the onion and carrots. Once they softened I added the celery, quickly followed by the orange pepper and mushrooms.  I had managed to keep the pan hot enough that the pan wasn't getting soggy, everything was frying.  A lot of flavour gets cooked onto the bottom of the pan so I added soy sauce and a teaspoon or two of molasses and 1/4 cup chicken stock to marry the flavours. That formed a thick sauce so I plated the stir fry over white basmati rice and garnished with nothing because I'm by myself.

It was really good.  

Nine Grain Chicken

It was time for chicken again but this time I wanted to try something new.  A crunchy coating on the chicken and some kind of purée. Bread crumbs would be nice and I have a bag from that last loaf of bread. So I headed home breasts in hand. When it came down to preparing dinner the first thing I reached for was the bread crumbs. "Where is that bag?"

A little more searching and then I remembered using them on some other creation a while back. What to use instead? I still wanted a crunchy coating but not deep fried. How about the nine grain mix I bought to make cookies? That might be an interesting dish.  Or not.

So I tossed the breasts in some flour, dipped in egg and rolled in oats and whatever else is in that bag. I sprayed some oil on the coating so it had some chance of browning. Both breasts went straight into the oven at 350ºF for 35 minutes. 

I crushed and added a clove of garlic to the potatoes with some salt.  When they were done, they were drained, mashed and whipped with butter and milk. I cooked the carrots in a pot on the stove and finished with a little salt, pepper, butter and molasses. The peas were from frozen done in the microwave.  I added olive oil to the peas hoping it would cook and develop better flavour. It helped a bit.  When they were drained I added a little more olive oil and put the dish back in the microwave to cook the bitterness out of the oil.

I added a tablespoon of chicken stock to the peas to thin them a bit and used the immersion blender to purée them.  Unfortunately I didn't have enough for the hand blender to be effective so the peas look more like an accident than a purée.  Tasted not bad but weren't really appetizing.

The chicken was good but the nine grain crust was a complete failure. The best I could say for it is "high fibre". I thought the purée tasted good with the chicken and Fern initially agreed but found the appearance unappetizing so he didn't finish his. Overall it was an ok dinner but definitely don't try this at home. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Beef Tenderloin with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Kevin, our intrepid gardener, wandered the woods in search Chanterelle mushrooms.  He shared the bounty with us, what a nice man! I bought beef tenderloin for dinner. We had agreed on some kind of steak and I know Fern doesn't like fatty meat so, tenderloin is a good match. I seasoned the steaks with salt and black pepper and cooked them on the BBQ on High in 2 minutes, rotate, 2 minutes, turn over, two minutes rotate, two minutes and they're done with perfect grill marks.

The mushrooms were fried in oil and butter with salt and black pepper. The broccoli was done in the microwave and finished with salt, black pepper and butter.  The potato was microwaved till nearly done then wrapped in foil with butter, salt and fresh chives. The potatoes went on the bun rack in the BBQ to work up some flavour. 

I used sour cream, fresh chives and bacon bits on my potato.  This time I bought Olympic sour cream, the premium brand in these parts, instead of Dairyland. I think it was less than a dollar in price difference. For that price you get richer, thicker, better tasting product. Definitely worth the difference.

Fern said the steak was perfect. I thought so too. The mushrooms were nice but I think they needed some garlic and red wine.  By themselves, chanterelles aren't remarkable, but that's definitely my fault for not doing more with them. I loved that sour cream on the potato.  I don't know why wrapping and putting the potatoes on the BBQ after nuking them imparts so much flavour but it's definitely worth the trouble.

Yes those are artificial bacon bits. I like them but once they're gone I won't buy more. Probably.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lasagna with Home Made Mozzarella

I picked up a gallon/4 litres of milk with the goal of finally making some cheese.  I had citric acid to create the right conditions for coagulation and Junket Rennet tablets to curdle the cheese.  If you've made cheese you already know I ran into trouble. Junket Rennet isn't 'rennet' for cheese making purposes. It does contain some rennet but it won't make cheese like your  instructions describe. The box I bought did come with instructions on how to make a few different cheeses, mozzarella included. 

When my cheese wasn't coagulating as expected I went back to the box and it clearly said 'for custard and ice cream'.  The leaflet of instructions did have a recipe for mozzarella and I only had to add more tablet to follow it, then wait 2 hours instead of 5 minutes. So 2 hours later I had cheese curds in a kind of crumble texture like feta cheese.  I had some mosquito netting lining a sieve which I poured the whey and curds into.  I let the curds drain for half an hour then tipped them out into a bowl.  

The instructions said to put about 1 cup of curds into a two cup glass container and microwave on high for 45 seconds.  It should be hot but not too hot to handle.  Slowly press it into a ball and work it out of the container, squeezing whey out as you go. Once it is pressed into a ball and no more whey comes off, put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds or until it's almost too hot to handle. Take it out and kneed it, then stretch it out and fold it back on itself.  It needs to have the heat worked uniformly into the cheese and the cheese stretched out and folded back into mozzarella. The texture changes to smooth and glossy once it has been transformed. Once you have a ball of warm mozzarellla, drop it in a bowl of cold brine. (1/3 cup salt / quart or litre water) When it's cool take it out, wrap it or seal it in a container.  Use within 5 days.

I made spaghetti sauce with a pound of ground beef and two Italian sausages. I first sweated an onion, 2 garlic cloves, a carrot finely chopped and a diced pepper.  Then I salted and browned the meat and finally added a 16oz can of tomato sauce, 1 can Aylmer tomato soup(no substitutes) and half a can of tomato paste left in the fridge from the day before. I let the sauce simmer while I prepared the rest.

I grated the mozzarella. Mixed frozen spinach in with the ricotta cheese and laid the oven ready noodles out. I put a layer of noodles, spinach ricotta, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella. Repeat. Finish with layer of noodles, sauce and topping of mozzarella. Bake at 350ºF for 50 minutes or until browned.

The fresh mozzarella was wonderful, well worth the effort.  Next time I'll make my own noodles too. I can also make my own ricotta cheese too!