Wednesday, July 16, 2014

REVIEW: One-Hour Cheese: Fresh and Simple Cheeses You Can Make in Your Kitchen by Claudia Lucero


It’s a DIY cook’s dream come true: It’s pizza night, and you’ve made not only the crust and sauce but the mozzarella, too. Or you're whipping up quesadillas for a snack, using your homemade Triple Pepper Hack. Or the dinner party's in high gear and out comes the cheese plate—and yes, you've made all the cheeses on it. Even better—you made them all earlier that day.

In a cookbook whose results seem like magic but whose recipes and instructions are specific, easy-to-follow, and foolproof, Claudia Lucero shows step by step—with every step photographed—exactly how to make sixteen fresh cheeses at home, using easily available ingredients and tools, in an hour or less. The approach is basic and based on thousands of years of cheesemaking wisdom: Heat milk, add coagulant, drain, salt, and press. Simple variations produce delicious results across three categories—Creamy and Spreadable, Firm and Chewy, and Melty and Gooey. And just as delicious, the author shows the best ways to serve them, recipes included: Squeaky “Pasta” Primavera, Mozzarella Kebab Party, and Curry in a Hurry Lettuce Wraps.

ISBN-13: 9780761177487
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Publication date: 5/6/2014
Pages: 272

About the Author

Claudia Lucero is the entrepreneur behind and DIY Cheese Kits, which she sells through Etsy, specialty food shops, and select Whole Foods stores. She also developed the home cheesemaking kits for Williams-Sonoma’s Agrarian product line. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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My Thoughts

Claudia Lucero has a passion for cheese, and her passion shines through in this book. The author was first introduced to cheese making in her parent's Indian restaurant, where she'd made paneer (something I've never eaten!).

After she and her partner moved to Portland, she came across cheese recipes while seeking out ways to preserve the many veggies they were getting through their farm share, and that was the real beginning to it all. This sparked years of experimenting with different recipes, and not wanting to wait on cheeses to age in order to find out how successful she'd been, she gravitated toward soft cheeses that didn't require aging, like ricotta and mozzarella. 

Early on in the introduction, the author offers up an easy cheese recipe that you can make in under 30 minutes, and encourages you to take a break from reading to try your hand at making cheese!

First-Timer's Cheese in 5 Steps (20-30 minutes)

2-qt saucepan
Slotted spoon or small mesh strainer
1-qt bowl
4 cups (one quart) cow's milk, any type
1/4 cup vinegar, any basic variety OR 1/4 cup of lemon or lime juice
1/4 twp salt to taste (sea salt, flake salt, or any salt you like)
Ground pepper and/or herbs of your choice (dry or fresh will work)
  1. Pour the milk into the pot and heat it on medium as you stir. Look for foam around the inside edges of the pot as well as little simmer bubbles coming from the bottom-- not a rolling boil, but close.
  2. When you see the bubbles as described, start slowly pouring in the vinegar (you may not need it all) and stir gently to incorporate it until you see the clear separation of curds (white solids) and whey (clearish liquid). The separation you see is called coagulation.
  3. When you see coagulation and the liquid no longer looks like milk, turn the heat to low and stir the curds very, very gently as you cook them for 2 more minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and use the slotted spoon or strainer to scoop the curds into the bowl while leaving behind in the pot as much whey as possible. When you have all of the curds, drain any whey that has collected in the bowl.
  5. Add salt and pepper (and any additional herbs) to taste. Stir them into the curds evenly and...
Now as to my experience with this recipe, I wasn't sure what temp to turn the burner to for "medium", so I set it to exactly halfway on the dial. And after 20 minutes, I still wasn't at a simmering boil. So about 25 minutes in, I turned the heat up a notch. That did the trick! I finally got the foam and bubbles.

Then I added the small amount of vinegar needed, and the curds began to separate from the whey.

I strained out the curds, and I wound up with about a cup of this cheese. It was sort of a cross between cottage cheese and feta. And best of all, you flavor it however you wish! So it will be as salty as you wish, or flavored with whatever herbs you desire.

I was also left with several cups of whey. I still haven't figured out what to do with it, and I'm not sure how long whey stays "good".

I wound up eating my first taste of the cheese as the author recommended, which was on toasted bread with tomatoes. This was surprisingly good for something so simple!

This is a great little book, and a great introduction to making homemade cheese. The author talks about equipment needed and different techniques. She has a troubleshooting guide, for helping you figure out what went wrong in your batch, and she offers tons of encouragement! She even offers her email address, and says she loves a challenge. So you can email her with "problems" you've run into while exploring the world of cheese making! This is one of those books that I read through Netgalley, but I'll probably be buying it for my bookshelf. I found it that useful and well done!

Buy Now:

Barnes and Noble

My Rating:


I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.

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