Monthly Archives: July 2012

Making Fromage Blanc

I’m never really sure how to describe fromage blanc to my American friends. Literally, it’s “white cheese,” but that’s not quite the full picture. The consistency is similar to yogurt, although fromage blanc is creamier. It’s slightly less tart than most yogurt and thicker. There’s a subtle taste of cheese, but I don’t really consider it a soft cheese, like I would goat cheese. You usually serve fromage blanc with fruit for dessert (kind of like yogurt…only not quite. Again, tough to describe it). 
Anyway, it’s delicious. That’s the take home message. 
Since you can’t find it here in the US, I’ve taken to making my own (something else to DIY…yipee!). Unlike making your own yogurt, you can’t use fromage blanc from your previous batch to inoculate your next batch. You have to use a new packet of fromage blanc starter cultures each time you make it. But, one packet of fromage blanc cultures inoculates 1 gallon of milk. You lose some from straining, but you still get a lot of fromage blanc out of it. 
I get my cultures for all my cheesy creations from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Someday maybe I’ll be lucky enough to take a workshop from “Ricki the Cheese Queen,” but New England is just a bit too far from California to jaunt over to learn how to make cheese. Bummer. 
So, to make fromage blanc, you need a packet of fromage blanc starter culture and a gallon of milk (whole milk or 2% is good. You can use non-fat, but it wont be as good). You’ll also need a big pot with a cover, a cheese thermometer, a ladle, a colander, a large bowl and butter muslin
Once you’ve assembled your equipment and ingredients, make sure everything is very clean. This is important anytime you’re making cultured or fermented foods. 
Next, pour the entire gallon of milk into the pot. 

Heat it over low-medium heat to 86 degrees (in the picture, the thermometer had already cooled back down…don’t refer to the picture. 86 degrees is what you want). 

Mix in your fromage blanc starter culture.

Cover the pot, set it aside, and wait 12 hours. I always get this started at night before heading to bed.

The next morning, the fromage blanc will look like this. The milk has thickened up and separated from the sides of the pot.

This kind of colander is perfect for straining fromage blanc because it fits right inside my large bowl, which supports the bottom of the butter muslin over a large surface area and facilitates drainage.

Put the colander in your bowl.

Cover the bowl with butter muslin.

Ladle the cultured milk into the butter muslin.

This is halfway through ladling. A lot of the whey has mixed back into the curds, but that’s okay. It will drain out soon enough.

Now put the bowl in the refrigerator. Periodically remove it to drain out the whey at the bottom of the bowl. Early on, you need to do this every few minutes. After 15 or so minutes, you’ll be able to only check on it every 30 minutes or so. It will need to drain for 3-6 hours (depending on the kind of milk you used. I find that less fat= faster drainage, because there are less curds).

You’re almost done! I used 2% milk for this batch and it ended up draining a bit too much, which resulted in a not-smooth-enough-for-my-french-blood fromage blanc. I just threw it into my mixer with the whisk attachment. I whipped it on medium speed and added a bit of milk to help smooth it out.

Here is the finished fromage blanc! Serve with whatever fruit suits your fancy.

Note: This post brought to you by Bastille Day. Because what Bastille Day would be complete without a tasty French dessert like fromage blanc?

Happy Bastille Day!!

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A rainbow-themed first birthday party!

Yesterday was a long-anticipated day for our family- our son’s first birthday party! Marking the end of our first year as parents, we felt, needed to be done right. So months ago I set out searching pinterest for  ideas. Pinterest and I quickly developed a love-hate relationship, as I could not say no to all any of the cute decor and food ideas, but I felt completely in over my head. Luckily, with my trusty excel spreadsheet (along with some very helpful friends and family members) we made it, and I couldn’t have hoped for it to come together any better. Of course, the people who were there to celebrate with us were really the ones who made the day special. But I loved the liveliness that the food and decorations brought.

If you can’t tell from the pictures, we had a rainbow theme going.
Here is the banner I made with little man’s monthly photos. This is what people saw when they first walked in. 
Favors! 
 
I made rainbow-colored tissue paper pom poms that were hung around the house. The idea for the pom poms came from this pin
The spread of food. All made by my mom and me. 
Rainbow fruit kebabs. The idea was from this pin.
Little man’s smash cake. I realized later that I took a picture with the “1” backwards. Whoops!
 
Birthday cake for everyone else. Looks like a plain white cake, but just you wait…
Cupcakes, made by a sweet friend, because I was nervous that the “guest” cake wouldn’t be enough for 40 people. It was…
All the desserts together. I also made fromage blanc (the white yogurt-like stuff in the bowl). That’ll be it’s own post someday soon. 
Smash cake time!
Unsure about this “cake” thing…
You might recognize the onesie little man is wearing from my post about it. I painted the design with freezer paper stenciling. The rainbow was super time intensive, but I’m really happy with how it looked!It was finally time for cake for everyone else…

My very first rainbow cake!! I was nervous about it, but I actually pulled it off! The effect was so vibrant and beautiful. I loved it. The recipe is from Whisk Kid, who’s now-famous rainbow cake recipe is on Martha Stewart! 

In case you’re concerned about the waste involved in making the tissue paper pom poms, I already posted them on freecycle and someone is picking them up on Monday for their daughter’s birthday party. I love that someone else will enjoy them! Also, if you’re wondering about the cost of that much tissue paper, I got most of it at the dollar store. I think we spent a total of $10 on tissue paper. Not too shabby. 

AND, in much more exciting news than tissue paper prices, little man took his first steps after the birthday party! His 10 month old friend came back over after her nap to keep the party going. She surprised us all and took her first steps! I guess little man decided he didn’t want to be shown up by his younger friend, so he followed suit soon after. He really is growing up!