Ever since the winners were announced for the first annual PA Cheese competition last month, we at Fair Food have been feeling mighty proud. Not only did three of our producers dominate the Best in Show category (The Farm at Doe Run's Seven Sisters won first place,Yellow Springs Farm's Cloud Nine won second place, and Birchrun Hills Farm's Tomme Molé won third place), but others also placed as finalists in 10 of the 16 categories of the competition.
In addition to their Best in Show awards, Doe Run brought home a blue ribbon for Seven Sisters and second place prizes for Hummingbird and Bathed in Victory; Yellow Springs received a blue ribbon for Cloud Nine; and Birchrun Hills cleaned up with three blue ribbons for Tomme Molé, Birchrun Blue, and Red Cat. Meanwhile, Keswick Creamery snagged a second place prize for Blue Suede Moo, Calkins Creamery won a blue ribbon for Noblette, Shellbark Hollow took home second for Sharp 2 Chevre, andHidden Hills took home three awards--first place for Allegheny, second for Boltonfeta, and third for Buttercup. Not bad, eh?
So this week, inspired by our cheese case full of winners, I decided to take home a tub of Caputo Brothers' frozen Cagliata Curds and try my hand at (semi) homemademozzarella. Caputo Brothers Creamery is one of the very few producers of cultured/fermented cheese curds that can be stretched into fresh mozzarella. In fact, their production process is so unique that it recently won them a spot in Samuel Adam's micro-lending and business coaching program.
The instructions are printed right on the tub, but I highly recommend watching Rynn Caputo's cheese stretching demo (available on their website) before you get started.You'll need a few stainless steel mixing bowls, a pot or kettle of hot (190°F) water, salt, and a spoon or spatula. That's it. And the whole process takes less than 10 minutes! In the end, I made an 8-ounce ball of the freshest mozzarella my kitchen has ever seen, which I then paired with garlic oil, preserved lemon, and basil for this week's pizza. (Check out the recipe atThursdayNightPizza.com.)
Note: Do not panic if your first ball of home-stretched mozzarella doesn't look quite as smooth and shiny as the one in Rynn's demo. It takes a few tries to get it right (as I discovered), but no matter what it looks like, the flavor will blow you away. Also, I'm pretty sure I'm hooked on these Cagliata Curds for life. Get yours before I buy them all myself!