Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mozzarella-Making and a Winter Garden Pesto

Yesterday, Gavin from Greening of Gavin came to my place to run a cheese-making workshop for some friends. 

Before they all arrived I dragged the poor fella down the back to inspect my chooks and their mites and to give his opinion. And he was very reassuring. Stop worrying, he said. Keep doing what you're doing. But Gavin doesn't know quite what a worry-wart I am.
"But they're not laying!" I squawked.
And then he reminded me that it is winter.

Yes. It is winter. Maybe they're not unhappy - just doing what comes naturally at this time of the year.

So we tromped back to the kitchen and started making cheese.

Now it's supposed to be a 30 minute mozzarella cheese-make but after the first group cracked open the bubbly we seemed to be on a bit of a go-slow-and-giggle. So it took longer. And not all of us turned out mozzarella. Some of us accidentally made ricotta. Gavin thought it was because of the not so good quality milk we used. He upped the rennet for the second bunch of cheese-makers and theirs all turned out to be mozzarella.

It's surprisingly exciting to watch a couple of litres of milk transform into stretchy, cheesy goodness. Even my friend J. who reckoned she only came along for the entertainment was heard shrieking in delight as she squeezed out little bocconcini balls.

I reckon I'll be making this again.

If you'd like to try mozzarella-making Gavin's got a video of the process here. Or if you're a local, you could get a bunch of friends together and ask him to come teach you all.

R. reckons her kids scoffed a couple of balls as soon as she got home and declared it to be the best cheese they'd ever tasted. We all had plans for pizza and lasagne and roast veggies with bubbling mozzarella toppings. But I decided that I had to eat some of that broccoli that I'd managed to grow in the garden and get some greeny goodness into my monkeys. So I made some pizza dough and a Winter Garden Pesto using silverbeet, broccoli and parsley from the garden. I spread the green atop a tomato base and finished with slices of the home made fresh mozzarella.

And I was all chuffed and waiting for songs of praise from my adoring family as I deposited the steaming pizza on the table. But a mother of a youngish child ought never to expect the expected at dinner time. The praise did come. But not from the Littlest Monkey. He decided to have a rather major hissy fit and declared the pizza to be DIS.GUS.TING. In fact it was the worst pizza he had ever tasted because of the horrible, horrible pesto.

Hmm.  So I do recommend the Winter Pesto Pizza - but only if you have an older monkey boy who is not averse to the colour green.

Winter Garden Pesto
• 4 big leaves of silverbeet, stems removed, chopped
• 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
• a handful of parsley
• juice from half a lemon
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 cup walnuts, toasted (or some other nuts you have in the cupboard)
• pinch salt
• 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
• extra virgin olive oil

Cook the broccoli in a pan with a bit of oil.  Don't cook it too much - just a wee bit 'til it changes colour and is still crunchy. Add the chopped silverbeet and wilt in the pan for a couple of seconds.
Transfer the broccoli and silverbeet to a bowl that's sitting in another bowl of cold water so that it doesn't keep cooking.
In a food processor add all the ingredients and whizz them up. While whizzing drizzle in olive oil. Now sorry, I'm not sure how much oil I used. Use your instincts - you're wanting a nice creamy pesto. 


  1. your boys hair is devine.. some of the chickens in one of the coops have mites and i use 1 teaspoon of kerosene into 2 cups of olive oil and i satrurate onto there feet and legs and its really working well(i know kero is extreme but i want the motes gone)

    1. Joyfulhomemaker- the use of kerosene is an old wives tale- how would you like to be covered in petrol- suggest you check out Back Yard Poultry for some more humane and effective mite treatment.

  2. I read about your lovely day in Gavin's blog. How great that you live in an area where you can do groups like that - it sounds like so much fun. I keep talking about making mozzarella,I relay must try it sometime.

  3. Great post VG, glad you had a good time and enjoyed the final product. I made some mozzarella yesterday using the same recipe as the second group, and it turned out great. Even flashed up the pizza oven to cook them in.

    Thanks for holding the course.

    Gav x

  4. I think you may have just explained why my mozzarella turned out a little less than perfect - verging on the ricotta, must try it again with a little more rennet perhaps.
    Mites are terrible, our chooks were infested badly over summer, we now have a very large stock of Diatomateous Earth which is a natural product, look for food-grade though.

  5. Hi Joyfulhomemaker I did end up doing the kero and oil on the coop. But I won't do it again - it just felt smelly and awful.
    Africanaussie do try mozzarella its good.
    Thanks Gavin a great day.
    Cabbage TF I've got some food grade diatomateous earth now and have spread it on the ground where they have dust baths. Is there something else I should do with it? Does it work for you? What have you done with your chook shed? Sigh.

  6. Your post reinforces what I feel about food and Foodie-ism - i.e. that it's best shared with other like-minded people. Sounds like you had a great time, whilst learning a new skill too.

  7. Sounds like a fun day V.G, always wanted to try making cheese.......
    wondering if your chooks have access to dry soil or sand to bathe in ? they love to keep clean and having a dust bath might help get rid of the mites.

    1. Silly me just read you got some diatomatous earth, good luck !

  8. That Gavin is one clever fellow, thoroughly enjoyed his mozzarella making class, awesome alchemy. that pesto sounds delicious


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