Recipe - Two Cheeses for the price of One

Here is a quick recipe for two of my favourite cheeses. I have said it's two for the price of one because it starts as one cheese, it then gets cut into two and eventually becomes two totally different cheeses. I make this Cheese to give me my version of Brin d'Amour (Chandlers Herb Choice) and my Grin and Bear it Cheese.

Start by putting 5 Litres of Cows milk and 5 Litres of Goats milk into your 10 Ltr. stainless steel pan, then take the temperature up to 86°F (30°C). Let it rest for 45 minutes at that temperature, then sprinkle over ½ teaspoon of Mesophilic starter. Stir that in, let the milk ripen for an hour, add ½ teaspoon of Calcium Chloride which has been diluted in a ¼ cup of cool, non chlorinated water. Leave for a further 15 minutes then add ½ teaspoon of already diluted Rennet (as per the Calcium Chloride)  stir in well and leave to rest until set (Figure 1). Note: The quantities can be reduced pro rata dependant on the pan you have.

Once set, cut into ½ inch thick cubes (15 mm) then leave to stand for 15 minutes. The Curd and Whey will, by then, be starting to split. Stir with a slotted spoon and stand for a further 15 minutes Try not to break up the curd too much. (Figure 2).

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Using the slotted spoon transfer the curd into a cheese cloth lined mould (Figure 3), and place in a cheese press. Folding over the ends of the cloth, place your follower on top and press at 10 lbs for two hours. Take out your cheese, turn over, put it back in the cloth and press at 15 lbs for a further two hours.

At this point, I take the cheese out of the cloth, return it to the mould and press without the cloth at 20 lbs for 12 hours. It should then come out of the mould looking like Figure 4.

I leave it to stand on a board for 12 hours, rub salt over it and let it drain for a further 24 hours. (Figure 5)

At this point, the cheese should be firm enough to cut in half (figures 6 and 7) which in turn will give you two cheese of equal size, I then salt them once again and stand for a further 24 hours in a ripening box (figure 8).

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Once this is done, I then decide which of the cheese I am going to turn into a Chandlers Herb Choice and which into the Grin and Bear It. This is done mainly on the look of the cheese; I take the better or rounder looking one for the Chandlers Herb Choice and the more craggy one for the Grin and Bear it. I do this because the former will not grow a skin whereas the latter will.

Once the decision has been made, I cover a dinner plate with a mixture of dried herbs. For a true Brin d' Amor they should be the herbs that grow wild in Corsica, I use the ones that grow in my allotment - I am sure they are fairly close to the Corsican Herbs. The herbs include Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Sage, Basil, I also add Onion Seeds and just a sprinkle of dried Chilli. (Figure 9).

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Dress the cheese with a little Olive Oil, (Figure 10 and 11), then roll the cheese into the herbs making sure both the sides and top and bottom are covered (Figure 12, 13 and 14).

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Wrap in cellophane, (Figure 15 and 16) once covered (Figure 17) place in the fridge for up to a month.

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For the Grin and Bear It, I paint the cheese with rehydrated Penicillium Candidum making sure it is fully covered (Figure 18), I then return the cheese to the ripening box (Figure 19) and let it stand turning once a day until it becomes covered in the white fur which is associated with Penicillium Candidum (Figure 20). At this point, which is totally optional, I inject the cheese with Penicillium Roqueforti, stand for a couple more days, then wrap and place in the fridge for over a month before eating (Figure 21).

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I now have an alternative approach to the second cheese, instead of coating with Penicilium Candidum and Penicilium Roqueforti and naming it ‘Grin and Bear it’, at times, I chose to cover the non-herbed cheese with Food Grade Activated Charcoal (Fig 22), I then leave it to form a white powder rather like the French Goats Cheese Valencay (Fig 23), then wrap and refrigerate it for maturation and storage. The end result after a month or so is a cheese which has a soft paste texture, slightly runny when warm (Fig 24), tasting more of Goats Cheese than the herb covered Chandlers Herb Choice. Jan loves this cheese, we have decided to call it Black Pearl because of the colour both outside and inside, plus its texture is smooth like a pearl.

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