Sunday, March 29, 2009

Whey Good!

So last week I went to a cheese making workshop. I learned to make paneer and mozzarella. Really. No kidding! And guess what? It's super easy and costs about half as much as buying it, but the really cool part is you get to say, "I made the cheese" and everyone goes, "Ooooh" and "Ahhhh!"

Of course, I'm no good at pretending that it was terribly difficult. I had to tell everyone the truth - it took 30 minutes to make the mozzarella and it's really simple. I really had no choice but to admit the truth anyway since over the last 3 months, approximately 75 people here on the island have taken the course and undoubtedly one of them would know someone from Sunday Soup and blow my story if I said I am now a master cheese artisan.

Anyway, the byproduct of making mozzarella is you have about 4.5 quarts of whey (yes, as in Little Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey). There are a lot of things you can do with whey and it's full of vitamins and minerals and such, so you definitely want to do something with it, even though it looks a little scary. Apparently, and I did not try any of these things, you can mix it with orange juice and a sweetener for a lovely beverage, you can make lemonade with it, you can mix it into your pig slop or chicken feed and give it to your pigs/chickens respectively, you can give it to your dog (but not at night because it makes the dog have to pee a lot and you'll be up all night letting the dog in and out), you can use it to water your roses or other plants, and you can add it to bread dough instead of water. But guess what I did with it? Yep. I used it in my soup.

I read on the internet that you can use it in place of stock, so yesterday I roasted up a big pile of veggies - onion...hmmm...I was going to start with onion and then I just remembered that I totally forgot the onion! Anyway,'s the real list: red potatoes, yellow pepper, broccoli, parsnip, carrots, mushrooms, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and beets tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper and a few herbs. When they were done, I simply dumped them into the whey, mashed it all with a potato masher, and then I pureed it with my immersion blender.

By the way, it's really hard to chop up mushrooms with an immersion blender, so even though I attacked them individually, forcing them to the bottom of the pan, a few escaped and there were chunks of mushrooms in my roughly pureed soup. It added character. I seasoned it with French Thyme, Celery Salt, Cayenne, and a bit more salt and pepper.

And guess what? The verdict, after everyone got over their fascination with the fact that I made the mozzarella and it only takes thirty minutes, was that they loved the soup and that is why I'm calling it Whey Good Roasted Veggie Soup.

The bread was no-knead bread and kind of rolled it out flat and then added chunks of mozzarella (they just disappeared, so I don't recommend wasting good cheese this way - use a harder cheese) and sundried tomatoes and then rolled it up into a loaf. It was tasty enough that every scrap disappeared though, despite the vanishing mozz.

Attendance was good today and there were many people we don't see very often and a new guest. The only regular was The Neighbour. It was lots of fun, although we do hope the half of The Brits that isn't feeling well, gets better soon!

Oh, and I want to say that I am now on a major deadline and I seriously couldn't have made today's SS happen without my fabulous sous chef, The Southerner. I hereby promote him to Full Chef, at least until April 30th when I hand off the next draft of my book to my editor. As Full Chef, his duties include, but are not limited to: Tea, Coffee & Breakfast (which he does as a Sous Chef anyway), Morning Break Snack, Lunch, Afternoon Snack w/Tea & Dinner. Okay, stop laughing. It was worth a shot!

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