A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quark (cheese)

An early European cheese still consumed daily in many European households.  Quark is a fresh soft cheese with a mild flavor and similar in texture to whipped butter or ricotta cheese. It is similar to yogurt, but more versatile and not as sour.  It can be used in baking (cheesecakes, souffles), as a filling or garnish (waffles, scones, raw veggies) or eaten fresh with herbs, fruit, jam or honey.  It keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
We enjoy it for breakfast with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey.
It's also nice with fresh herbs as a side or snack.

Quart is very easy to make, either with or without a culture.  I usually use a culture for consistent texture and flavor, but have also made it with my buttermilk left after making butter.  I like it as well either way.  Instructions for both ways follow.

Quark made with starter culture:  This makes 1 to 1-1/2 pounds.
1 gal. pasteurized milk
1 packet direct-set buttermilk starter (order @ www.cheesemaking.com)
2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream, H&H or milk
strainer or colander
cheesecloth or butter muslin
Directions:  Heat milk to 88 degrees in a non-aluminum pot.  Stir in culture and mix thoroughly.  Cover and let sit at room temp 24 hours.  The curd (solid) will partially separate from the whey (liquid).  Place the strainer in the sink (or over a large pot) and line it with the cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the pot into the cheesecloth and cover the cheese with the ends of the cloth.  Let it drain for 2-3 hours.  You can speed the drainage to 1-2 hours by weighting the cheese down.   Add cream, H&H or milk; a little at a time, until spreadable consistency.  Store, covered, in refrigerator 2 weeks.

Quark made without starter culture:  (this makes 1-2 cups)
1 quart cultured buttermilk (1% fat)
1/4 cup skim milk, as needed
kosher salt, to taste
glass baking dish
cheesecloth or butter muslin
strainer or colander
Preheat oven to 150.   Pour buttermilk into the baking dish and cover (lid or tinfoil).  Place the dish in the oven for 8-12 hours.  Remove the dish from the oven. The curd (solid) will have partially separated from the whey (liquid).  Place the strainer in the sink or a large pot and line it with the cheese cloth. Pour the contents of the baking dish into the strainer and cover the cheese with the ends of the cloth.  Let it drain for 2-3 hours. You can speed the drainage to 1-2 hours by weighting the cheese down. Add cream,  H&H or milk, a little at a time, until it is a spreadable texture.  Add salt to taste.  Store, covered, in refrigerator 2 weeks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grandma Lutzke's Sausage and Cabbage Stew

I am fortunate to be enjoying weekly dinners with my in-laws; Paul and Gen Lutzke.  Father-in-law Paul prepares the main dish using unscripted family recipes passed down from his mother.  Gen prepares fresh sides and sweet desserts.  I am the "go-fer".  There is much variety in Paul's weekly fare;  there is much consistency in the warmth and comfort of our meals.
One of my particular favorites is his Sausage and Cabbage Stew.  Like most traditional Upper Midwest food; it is simple, yet mouthwatering.
Sausage & Cabbage Stew
1 pound kielbasa (or other) ring sausage, cut in bite-size pieces
1 small head cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
hunk of butter
2 quarts chicken broth
heavy pinch of ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste
--Fry onion, cabbage and sausage over med-low heat just until cabbage wilted and sausage heated through.  Combine with chicken broth, cloves, salt and pepper in a pot and warm slowly over low heat 1-2 hours. Serve with crusty, thick-sliced bread
Caught in the act!