How do you get everyone running to the buffet table? Serve a pipping hot bread laden with fresh mozzarella, minced garlic, butter, and parsley.
Hosting home parties, the Canadian Thanksgiving, the upcoming arrival of Halloween, followed by the American Thanksgiving, and after that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and insert-your-local-holiday-here. It is that time of year to start prepping your menu plan and finding the perfect party recipes. You can never start too soon!
For me, the perfect party food is one that requires a small number of ingredients, one that is easy and quick to prepare – preferably ahead of time -, and that once you put it in the oven your guest are swooning over the smells coming from the kitchen. This Cheesy Garlic Party Bread absolutely checked all these boxes. It truly was the ideal contribution for my 5th Food Film Marathon which took place a couple of weekends ago.
This Attack of the Killer Squashed Tomatoes Baguette is a fun take on the classic Caprese Italian combo of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, herbs, flavored with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Welcome to a very special edition for Food ‘n Flix because this month we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of this wonderful movie/food group. And we were allowed to revisit any movie from the past 5 years for September. I chose a movie that was played prior to my arrival, one that I knew was ultra silly but sounded like fun. The flic?
Do you sometimes re-watch a movie you just adored in your teen years to see if you still feel the same way? I do occasionally. Sometimes they are still good, sometimes not. There is one movie however that never fails to live up to my original satisfaction and it just so happens that this particular film is this month’s Food ‘n Flix choice. OK enough suspense, the movie is The Breakfast Club.
Now there are not many food references in the movie besides the title and the scene of the lunch break but inspiration came easy. What do teenagers like to eat? Junk food, especially pizza. What is the most important meal of the day? Breakfast of course. So I think this Breakfast Pizza would be a hit with all pre and post pubescents.
Here we are already at the 4th month of Cheesepalooza. This month we had to make mozzarella. Well the experience almost broke me. I’ll tell you more about it later but I required 4 attempts before I had success. I almost lost my desire to make cheese. Let me reassure you though I believe this was an isolated incident because I already made next month’s cheese and it is drying nicely on the counter. Come back in a month to find out what it is.
In the beginning I used the classic 30 minute mozzarella that one will find all over the Internet. Some find it easy but many people claim their mozzarella attempts failures. It is not the easiest cheese to make at all. 1st try I got tough ricotta like cheese. 2nd try I got nice ricotta so that was not a waste. 3rd try there was not solidification at all. No protein and no fat solid materialized…puff…gone???
I was at my wit’s end. I was freaking out, discouraged, upset, mad, and I used a lot of 4 letter words. I was almost too angry to give up. I had given up the night before. Then I came across this blog post where the author had an identical mozzarella crisis as mine and she found a recipe that worked! From a Korean website! I had to try and I also like the fact that it was half a batch. It worked! OK the milk almost curdled and I did not get a nice white gelatinous surface, but with the microwave heating it did melt and turn into mozzarella texture. I was so freaking excited. I was so happy I forgot to add the salt. So it was hardly the best mozzarella but I did it.
Recipe Type: Cheese and Dairy
1/8 teaspoon or tablet of rennet
1/2 teaspoon milk A at room temperature
900ml milk B
1/8 teaspoon citric Acid
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dissolve the rennet in milk A. Wait 30 minutes.
Pour milk B into a pot, and heat to 90°F.
Dissolve the acid in 1/4 cup water. When the milk is at 90°F pour in the citric acid. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in the rennet and milk A solution into milk B. Stir for two minutes.
Put the lid on and let it set for 30 minutes. You’re trying to achieve a “clean break” which is when the milk sets. Wait longer if need be (some people wait 3 hours).
Line a colander with a cheesecloth. Pour the curds and whey into the cheesecloth and let it drain.
Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and massage the bag to drain the whey until it resembles a solid mass of curds.
Microwave for 1 minute. Drain the whey
Microwave in 20-30 second increments 2-3 times until the cheese is no longer releasing whey. You want to get a reading of 135°F.
It’s time to knead the cheese a bit until you get the stretch texture of mozzarella. I recommend using gloves as it gets really hot. Add salt and knead a bit.
Shape and drop it into some cold water to “set” it.
So what did I learn and where may I have gone wrong?
Was it the milk? As far as I know we do not have ultra-pasteurized milk in Quebec. It is not indicated on the containers. I searched the websites of the local milks and the best information I got was that milk was pasteurized the standard way but still at a higher temperature. And I am in the city without a farmer connection. I tried 3 different milk companies. I don’t know if that was one of the issues. I did however come across this article that explains how to prepare milk ideal for cheese making from cream and milk powder. I did not use it for this cheese however but for next month’ s cheese. Here is the link but I will discuss it more in detail next month.
Was it the water? OK I admit the 2 first tries I forgot to use bottle water. City tap water with chlorine is a no no.
Was it the Citric acid? I think this was my main problem for 2 reasons. First I think the milk was over acidified with the quantity required in the recipe. That is why it curdled so fast but I have no acid measuring device. Second I read after 2 tries that I probably did not mix in the citric acid the right way. You have to pour the dissolved citric acid slowly while stirring vigorously. I really noticed the difference.
Special ingredients this month: Citric Acid and Rennet
I am glad in the end I stuck with it. My friends and colleagues definitely called me persistent. I won’t be making it again any time soon though. With my mozzarella finally in hand I made these lovely little Mozzarella Tomato and Black Olive Tarts. What a hit these were! Have you almost given up on a recipe after several attempts? Did you finally succeed?
If you want to learn more about cheese making check out my past posts on