Let's start with every one's favorite.....CHEESE!!!!
One of my favorite things to do is to make making mozzarella cheese. Making Mozzarella is usually a two part process. First making the curd which is made from fresh milk and cannot be made from the processed mild that we get from the stores today. You can buy the curd direct from some local dairies or on line like I do.
Traditionally once you have the curd you can begin by warming the curd with warm water so you can begin to stretch the curd and create the long strands that define good mozzarella. Once the curd is stretched you can begin to form the size ball you want. The name of the mozzarella is determined by the size of the ball. The word mozzarella actually refers to the tearing away of the ball from the curd.
Here is where I get a chance to play in the kitchen. Instead of using warm water and salt I like to use different flavors and herbs to not only enhance my cheese but to create something that no one else has. Playing with different combinations like:Vanilla Port, roasted garlic, ginger beer, and my most current tomato basil.
Replacing the warm water with fresh squeezed tomato water adding basil stems and salt I warm the liquid to 175 degrees and warm my curd in this before stretching the curd and forming the mozzarella balls. Creating flavored mozzarella with an unlimited palette of combinations. For all the Foodies out there this would make a great interactive wine party. If you plan it I just may have to see if i can come and help.
Playing with your food is not a bad thing anymore!
-Chef John Johnson is the Executive Chef for the restaurants at both the Lumiere Place and River City Casinos