Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Caprese My Way

This has been years in the making.

Mozzarella curd is not easy to find. I've looked online, but the minimum amounts and shipping prices have been crazy. I've called just about every cheese shop in Boston looking for it. In the best cases, I got a "Well, we could order 10 pounds, but you'd need to buy it all." In most cases, I got a "No way." That is until I asked, out of habit more than actually expecting an answer, at my local Whole Foods.

"We don't have any here, but give me your phone number, and I'll see what I can do."

Roughly 24 hours later, I got a call that the cheese guy at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods was holding 2 pounds of curd for me. Hallelujah!!

So I've wanted to try this recipe for a long time, and when I saw this posting for Blog Party 26 - "It's What's Inside," I longed to be able to make it. The stars aligned, though, with that call from Whole Foods, and I raced over to the store as soon as I could.

I've never worked with mozzarella before, and I think that shows in the final presentation. I mean, they taste great, but they lack the polished quality of fresh mozzarella you buy in the store. Now that I have a source, I can practice as much as I want!

Those look like your typical mozzarella balls, seasoned with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. I wanted them to be a little different, though. Just pop one in your mouth and you'll see what's inside...

Each ball is stuffed with a cherry tomato and a piece of basil. It's like a portable Caprese salad! Just serve with some prosecco, and you have a lovely appetizer... or top a salad with them, and you have something more like a meal.

Caprese My Way
1/2 pound mozzarella curd
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (the smaller the better)
handful of basil leaves
1 Tablespoon salt

Fill a large bowl with cold water; add salt and stir to dissolve before setting this aside.

Cut mozzarella into small chunks and put in a two-cup microwavable bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted together. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir contents until they become shiny. Pour out the liquid, carefully holding back the cheese. Working quickly, wrap a tomato in a basil leaf, then wrap that in a section of cheese. The more you work the cheese, the tougher it will get, so if you want very soft cheese, don't mess with it too much. As you finish each ball, drop it in the salted water.

To serve, drizzle on olive oil or pesto and toss. To store in the fridge, place the balls in a sealed container, making sure they are covered with the salt water.

Note: Yep, still tasty the next day over a romaine and basil salad.


jef said...

What is different about the mozzarella curds than say boccatini? (the small mozzarella balls)

Is the flavor a little more mellow?

On another note, did you try Formaggio's Kitchen in Cambridge, they seem to carry everything cheese there.

Pam said...

The curd is what you need to make the cheese, like boccatini. After the curd is separated from the whey (mostly already done for me, although I had to pour a little off after I microwaved it), the cheese needs to be kneaded and salted (or otherwise flavored) to become what we're used to.

The curd actually has a very strong milky smell.

Yes, I called both Formaggio's, but they were one of the places that was going to have to special order for me, and then I would have ended up with 10 pounds of the stuff. There are lots of sources online, but again, you need to buy large amounts, and the shipping costs are crazy because they pack on dry ice and need to ship overnight.

Nic said...

These look beautiful - my kind of thing! Thanks for posting.

Brilynn said...

Those are so cute and look really really tasty!

Anonymous said...

you should have just made your own curds. It's incredibly easy. Google "Cheese Queen" and order a kit from her.

Anonymous said...

Those look fantastic. While I have made my own mozzarella (from scratch) before, I find it to take a bit on the long side.

Places like New England Cheesemaking (see the comment about Ricki Carroll, the Cheese Queen) sell a "30 minute" kit. They are so quick because they just add acid to the milk, rather than culturing it. The result is something particularly milky tasting.

The cultured recipe that I use (possibly from one of Carroll's books) tastes more like what you would expect. A more complex flavor since the acid was produced by consuming lactose (milk sugar). But it takes something like six hours from milk to curd, if memory serves.

This looks like it just might be the needed motivation to make up a batch of curd. Especially while the garden is still producing basil. Delicious.

Thanks for posting this.

Zooey53 said...

that is such a good idea!

Pam said...

Thanks for the details, Drew!

Ann, I've toyed around with making my own, but I didn't want to order a quantity of rennit and acid and then decide I hated the whole process and only use a little bit. But I didn't hate this, so if I make some more, I might end up buying the supplies.