Since the garden is coming up and the CSA boxes started coming, I have been more than happy with soft cheeses. They are so fresh and perfect on salads. This week I made three soft cheeses: Bondon, Fromage Blanc, and Neufchatel. All of these are spreadable cheeses with varying consistencies that could go sweet or savory. Additionally, all could easily replace cream cheese. I am not a huge fan of cream cheese (and have put off making it because the recipe is insanely complicated) so I don’t really understand how cream cheese won out against all of these other delicious and way easier to make cheeses.
BONDON: This cheese only uses a quart of milk, and the yield is about 6 oz. It is unusual in that it is a soft cheese that is lightly pressed. Additionally, the milk never gets warmer than 65 degrees so it ripens and coagulates at about room temperature (in my house at least). I made this in a mason jar and could not believe how easy, convenient, and tidy it was. The taste is a little yogurty.
FROMAGE BLANC: According to Ricki Carroll this cheese has a fraction of the calories of cream cheese. She also says it can be used as a substitute for either cream cheese or ricotta. If I had read her directions all the way through I would have seen she recommends making it at night so it can drain overnight. Instead, dripping whey made the sink inaccessible all day. It also has an insanely high yield: one gallon of milk makes two lbs of cheese. Is that even possible? Finally, it only has two ingredients: milk and fromage blanc starter.
NEUFCHATEL: “Originally from the town of Neufchatel in Normandy, France, this cheese is made from whole milk enriched with cream. Americans tend to eat it fresh, the French prefer it ripened with a white surface mold.” -Ricki Carroll. She also suggests seasoning it with savory things, or chopped pineapple. I am constantly amazed by the power of rennet. This recipe calls for 3 drops of rennet to be diluted in 1/3 cup of water. Then, only one teaspoon of that is used. The flavor is comparable to that of Bondon.
Poor John, I make him eat such weird food that he was SHOCKED by the idea that you could combine pineapple and cheese. He just kept saying, cheese and PINEAPPLE? Together? Really? I’m pretty sure FAGE invented that combination like 10 years ago, but I have just been cooking him lentils and keeping him in the dark. Imagine how it will be when I explain to him the idea of cottage doubles!