Back to basics


Tuesday (yesterday) was an exciting day as I took delivery of a parcel from Lewis Road Creamery. The good folk there had sent some product for my evening class. It would be fair to say that I was reasonably excited (work mates looking at my sideways) as I yelped in delight and hurriedly rearranged the fridge to fit in the precious contents.

Using a mix of double and single creams and milk, the students each whipped up crème brulee, which I’m sure they’ll be enjoying at home this evening. There were lots of, “this milk tastes like milk used to taste”, with one student thinking he’d invest in some for his favoured White Russian tipple. Good idea I say. As for the cream, we haven’t seen anything like the LRC double cream here in New Zealand. Exquisite. Yes, it is more expensive than ‘regular’ cream. But you’re not comparing apples with apples, you can’t as there is nothing quite like it on the market. And, as you need so little of it for something like brulee, I say it is worth the extra investment.

Luckily for me, there was a little extra product to test. The dilemma has been how to make the most of it and do it justice. What if something goes wrong? I don’t want to waste it. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to do a week of ideas/recipes – hopefully delivered to you on consecutive days. But, as life with a toddler goes, it might be every second day! Some will be via blog, others posted directly to facebook (be sure to like my page).

To be true to the product – old fashioned with nothing nasty added – I’ve gone back in my memory banks to think of my favourite full cream milk recipe. I can’t go past my Baba’s cheese.  Baba was Mum’s mum and lived at the top of our street. She would make cheese every Saturday and I’d pop up and devour a large portion of it each Saturday. I have so many happy memories of a chunk of cheese sitting on the Crown Lynn brown flower saucer, with a bone handle knife next to it. Like it was calling me. Sometimes we’d have it on fresh bread with salami that Dida had warmed through. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye.

Technically, the end product is probably somewhere between a cottage cheese, ricotta and paneer. It is not a robust super tasty cheese (it can’t be given how quickly it is made) and has that squeaky rubbery feel between your teeth. It takes me back to my childhood and makes me feel like home. In my teens and twenties, I used to experiment making it with trim milk. Of course it could be done, but, why would you?


So, in homage to Baba and given it is Cheese Week in New Zealand, I’m using one whole precious bottle of milk to make cheese. I’ve have made a slight variation to Baba’s recipe. Instead of rennet, I’m using lemon juice. It is very blustery here in Wellington and I’m not leaving the house for rennet when I’ve got a good alternative (plus, I’m having second thoughts about rennet these days) sitting here.

What you’ll need

750ml Lewis Road full cream milk (silver top) – a full bottle

1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp lemon juice – I made sure my lemons were at room temperature (or 5-10mls rennet)

To make it


Put the milk and salt in a heavy bottom saucepan (check out those cream globs!).


Warm over a low temperature, stirring with a wooden spoon so it doesn’t catch on the bottom. You will want to bring it to just below boiling point. You know that look – it feels as if a volcano is about to erupt. When you hit that point, take it off the heat.


Pour in the lemon juice and give it a stir.


Cover the pot and set aside for about 30 minutes. You can look at the mixture during this time, but resist the temptation to stir it. You will see the curds separating from the whey.


Meanwhile, prepare a bowl to pour the mixture into. I use a sieve lined with muslin, sitting above a bowl.


Carefully pour the mixture into the muslin. Let it sit and drain. I sat today’s batch for about 20 minutes, or so, and emptied the whey into another container part way through. You do not want the sieve sitting in whey (keep the discarded whey, you can use it later).


When most of the whey has drained, carefully gather up the edges of the muslin and tie (with string or a clip), then ‘hang’ it so that more whey can drain. To hang, you can tie it to a wooden spoon and hang the spoon over a bowl or I used a nifty old Tupperware measuring bowl, with a hole in the top. Either way, pop it into the fridge at this stage.


Leave in the fridge for six hours to drain. Remove from the muslin to a plate. Enjoy!

While still super simple, my cheese is a little more complex than Baba’s. She wasn’t one for letting it hang – rather, she would squeeze all the whey out by hand. And, because she usually used rennet (about 5-10ml), it did set harder more quickly. My version is a little softer (no squeak going on). It’s incredibly rich and creamy. Divine. I’m going to save it for toast tomorrow morning.

So there it is, Baba’s cheese made Marija’s way, with a little help from Lewis Road Creamery. Give it a go and pair with some freshly made bread. Then sit back and really enjoy it. Take some time out to reflect on days simpler.

6 thoughts on “Back to basics

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