It’s a DIY cook’s dream come true: It’s pizza night, and you’ve made not only the crust and sauce but the mozzarella, too. Or you're whipping up quesadillas for a snack, using your homemade Triple Pepper Hack. Or the dinner party's in high gear and out comes the cheese plate—and yes, you've made all the cheeses on it. Even better—you made them all earlier that day.
In a cookbook whose results seem like magic but whose recipes and instructions are specific, easy-to-follow, and foolproof, Claudia Lucero shows step by step—with every step photographed—exactly how to make sixteen fresh cheeses at home, using easily available ingredients and tools, in an hour or less. The approach is basic and based on thousands of years of cheesemaking wisdom: Heat milk, add coagulant, drain, salt, and press. Simple variations produce delicious results across three categories—Creamy and Spreadable, Firm and Chewy, and Melty and Gooey. And just as delicious, the author shows the best ways to serve them, recipes included: Squeaky “Pasta” Primavera, Mozzarella Kebab Party, and Curry in a Hurry Lettuce Wraps.
According to Lucero (UrbanCheesecraft.com), every home cook has a "One-hour Cheese" kitchen. Lucero demystifies the ancient art of making fresh cheese, revealing simple, age-old methods for 16 basic varieties, all easily prepared on the stove top. Through her foolproof process, Lucero guides cooks, advising them how to prepare kitchen, pantry, and mind for cheese making and how key ingredients of acids, salts, milk, and rennet combine to "bring out the potential of a gallon of whole milk." Step-by-step photographs walk cooks through properly heating milk, stirring curds, molding, kneading, and stretching. Organized into three basic cheese styles (Creamy and Spreadables, Firm and Chewy, Melty and Gooey) and level of difficulty (Easy, Easier, and Easiest), recipes include variations for herbal mix-ins, edible flowers, nuts, fruits, olives, or honey. Molding techniques abound, and serving suggestions showcase cheese platters, grape leaf wrapping, and a splash of fruit and booze. A section on how to make butter, ghee, and low-tech yogurt as well as discussions about milk varieties (raw, pasteurized, goat) and the benefits/uses of fresh whey encourage home cheese makers to "think like a farmer." From a tangy Meyer lemon ricotta to a curried paneer, Lucero's recipes show home cooks that the art of crafting fresh cheese is accessible on their own stovetops.