• beautiful oil

    how-tos • Jun 25th, 2020

    A couple of how-tos for you this time, a fresh cheese and a salad dressing, both using the oil I mentioned on Instagram last week. We use this gorgeous organic oil from Provence  to dress dishes at the table; a drizzle over cheese and seasonal vegetables, simple and summery.

    The ingredients for these recipes do all the singing, so if you grow herbs and veg and you can buy organic milk and good oil you’re all set. I’ve put in a few measurements to show you the yield you can expect.

    To make the cheese, you’ll need about 1 litre (2 pints) of whole milk, raw or pasteurised but not homogenized, half a carton of buttermilk (140ml) a couple of spoons of lemon juice or cider vinegar, salt and herbs and a piece of muslin cloth.

    Heat the milk slowly and just before it starts to boil add a teaspoon of the vinegar or juice, stir gently with a draining spoon and the milk should start to split. Line a sieve with muslin and place over a bowl and lower the heat a little. Start spooning the curds into the sieve, and keep moving the milk with your spoon so it doesn’t catch at the bottom. You can add a little more vinegar to encourage all the cream to separate. In the top photo the milk is still white so there’s more cream to skim, keep going till the whey is translucent.

    Gather the corners of the muslin cloth and squeeze out a little more whey before putting your cheese in the fridge. You can add seasoning at any point, I prefer to add some salt to the milk and herbs and oil to the cheese just before serving.  You’ll see in the second photo I added pepper and tiny leaves of thyme before tying the cloth.

    There are variations; using a cheese basket and adding yoghurt or using goats or ewes milk. It all works and is fun to try.


    For the salad dressing use two parts oil to one part vinegar or lemon juice. The added flavours come from herbs, tarragon, thyme, rosemary and sage, plus two cloves of  garlic, a chilli and a few peppercorns. Leave the dressing to infuse for a few days and store it in the larder cupboard, olive oil keeps its flavour better in a cool, dark place. It also makes a good marinade for bbq meat and I just love it on pasta.

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