Do you want to win friends and influence people? Do you want to seduce men and women alike? Do you want to feign modesty while people fawn over your culinary prowess? Of course you do; you’re only human.
A surefire way to impress is to show up somewhere (that you were invited to) with something homemade. Homemade baked goods (especially when they aren’t from a mix) always garner praise, doubly so if you are halfway decent at decorating, which I am not. Casseroles delight the hipster and southerner alike, as they are retro/kitschy, and usually involve a fair amount of dairy. But, if you really want to impress the pants off someone, make a staple from scratch.
Whipping up a staple (such as butter, bread, cheese) is impressive simply because people rarely think to make something they always buy at the grocery. Because few think to make them, few think about the effort that goes into making them, which is very little. This is wonderful news for you, as it means you will receive an amount of praise (sex) that is disproportionate to the amount of effort you put into your offering.
Today we shall focus on cheese, my favorite staple. I have rounded up three different cheese recipes at three different skill levels, one of which involves no cooking at all. I had never made cheese before (because who has the time to buy cheesecloth?) and they all turned out great, so you beautiful babies should have no trouble.
See how impressive and adorable I look presenting homemade pimento cheese?
Let’s start with the easiest.
I understand that pimento cheese isn’t technically a staple, but being from Mississippi makes it feel like one. My grandmother always had a container of it in her fridge, and we ate it on crackers, vegetables (haha, not really), in sandwiches (with white bread), and with spoons when we had no time for something so trivial as a vessel. Bring this to a party when you wish to impress (bone) an actual southerner or someone who collects civil war memorabilia and has seen every episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
I didn’t follow Martha Stewart’s recipe
exactly. I used 8 oz. of regular cream cheese and whipped it in my KitchenAid instead of the 12 oz. of recommended whipped and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, I used Sriracha instead of Tabasco because I don’t think Tabasco is really that awesome. I know it’s not southern but my dad is very southern and he loves it, so logic dictates I am right.
All things that are good.
Anyway, this “recipe” is super easy because all you do is dump everything into a food processor and pulse until it is “coarsely pureed”; there should still be discernible pieces of pimento in there.
Let’s take it up a notch.
This was my favorite. I didn’t even know that I liked ricotta this much, kittens; I just chose this recipe because it looked super easy. I followed these directions exactly, and it turned out great. I did have to use three tablespoons of lemon juice, as my lemons weren’t acidic enough I guess, but once I added that extra tablespoon all the magic started to happen. The best thing about this recipe is that you add everything all at once at the beginning and then just heat it until it starts boiling.
Then let it sit for 15 minutes (after which I added more lemon juice and let it sit for 5 more as I was unhappy with the number of curds I was seeing) and then spoon it into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and let it drain.
Drizzle with honey and prepare to have your mind blown. Serve this to some sexy Italians you wish to get to know better, or that cute but insufferable know-it-all who spent a semester in Italy and will not shut up about the time she got food poisoning from an oyster in Sicily (me, that’s me guys).
It’s all I want in this world.
This one is only slightly more complicated, as you have to monitor the temperature and add things in at different stages. The curds are also a lot smaller, so you have to use several layers of cheese cloth.
I used a candy thermometer.
Just like the author, I lost about half the curds the first time through. But, as she suggests, storing the curd/whey mixture overnight in the fridge lets everything separate out, and I was able to drain that and get even more goat cheese.
Also like the author, I set up a weird contraption to drain my cheese.
Unlike the author, I used ultra-pasteurized goat milk, but it seemed to come out okay.
Sean: “I look super creepy in that picture, Claire.”
I also used this cheese in my baked eggs.
One kind of annoying thing that happened in both the ricotta and goat cheese
Since you’re not supposed to stir anything, the milk on the bottom inevitably scorches, resulting in annoying but easy-to-pick-out pieces of burnt dairy. Neither recipe mentioned them though, so maybe it’s me? They don’t affect the flavor or anything, so if they happen to you, just pick them out and throw them away.
Now that I have armed you with a new and exciting culinary way to seduce you paramours, go forth my kittens, go forth and with your dairy-based delights and get ready for a lot of lovin’, or at least a lot of compliments. Let me know how it goes.
Tweet Claire all your cheese creations! @clairelizzie