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Beer and Cheese night at The Roxbury Hotel, Glebe

June 22, 2010

Here’s a list of the beer and cheese we sampled when The Roxbury Hotel Beer Club got together on 21st June 2010. The tastiest matches, by far, were the goat’s cheese with Triple Karmeliet and the truffle cheese with the Rogue Chocolate Stout.

In order of tasting:

  1. Rouzaire Camembert matched with Mountain Goat Organic Steam Ale
  2. Munster & Morbier (2 cheeses) matched with Titje witbier
  3. Tronchetto Di Capra goat’s cheese matched with 3 Monts
  4. Pecorino Al Tartufo (ewe’s milk with truffles) matched with Rogue Chocolate Stout
  5. Cropwell Bishop stilton matched with Nogne O stout

The Roxbury Hotel
182 St Johns Road
Glebe NSW 2037



May 23, 2010

As Ricki Carroll states in her book, Home Cheese Making, “…healthy starter is the key to good quality cheese.” – of course, there are lots of other things to consider when making a good cheese but if you don’t get the starter right you may as well forget the whole exercise.

So what is a starter? Essentially it’s a particular culture or combination of cultures that have been identified for cheese making. When added to the milk it carries out a number of key processes that are essential for the creation of a cheese. The main thing it does is to convert milk sugar to lactic acid but this in itself causes a number of other processes to occur. Starter is also key to developing the taste, smell and texture of cheese. Converting the lactose in milk to lactic acid is called ‘Ripening’ and this also:

  • Causes a change to the acidity of the milk
  • Helps the milk coagulate – although this is the primary function of rennet
  • Promotes better separation of curds and whey
  • Aids in the preservation of the cheese
  • Keeps unwanted germs under control

The easiest way to use starter is by simply adding what’s called a Direct Vat Set (DVS) culture to your milk. This is a freeze-dried concentrate of frozen starter cultures available from commercial starter companies and cheese making suppliers that should be stored in a freezer. They are also sometimes referred to as Direct-to-Vat Inoculation cultures or DVI. A more traditional approach is to make a prepared starter which involves adding the culture to a small quantity of boiled then cooled milk and leaving it to sit for about a day during which time a prodigious number of bacteria will reproduce.

Another consideration when making cheese is whether to use a Thermophilic or Mesophilic starter – this comes down to what sort of temperature your milk is heated to during the making process. Thermophilic starter is used for cheeses that require a higher milk heating temperature such as Mozzarella, Parmesan and Pecorino. Mesophilic starter is for lower temperature cheeses such as Camembert, most blue-vein cheeses and Brie.


May 21, 2010

A cheese culture is essentially a specifically identified type of  bacteria used in the production of the cheese. One of the many factors that determine a cheese’s flavour, aroma and texture is down to the culture or combination of cultures used during the making and maturing process. Some cheeses owe their style and character very much to a particular type of culture although many other factors are involved.

Penicillium Roqueforti

P. roqueforti is responsible for the blue-green veins in some classic cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton and Gorgonzola. Said to have originated from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in Italy after the mold was discovered on some bread left in a local cave. Pretty much any any blue vein style cheese owes its existence to this particular culture.

Penicillium Camemberti

P. camemberti is a species of fungus predominantly used in Brie and Camembert style cheeses. This culture causes the formation of a distinctive white bloomy rind which usually develops within a few days after the cheese is made.

Penicillium Candidum

This is really a synonym of P. camemberti. Along with P. caseicolum, it is a trade name commonly used in the dairy industry for white variants of P. camemberti.

Geotrichum Candidum

G. candidum is a yeast culture that also causes the formation of bloomy white rinds – it is often used in conjunction with P. Camemberti. Surface ripened cheeses made from goat’s milk often use this culture as the rind that forms tends to attach itself to the cheese a lot better than P. Camemberti.

Brevibacterium Linens

B. linens is an orange-pigmented bacteria used in smear ripened cheeses. Cheeses washed in a B. linens solution develop a very distinctive aroma and orange / reddish rind. Munster-géromé and Port-du-Salut are two examples of washed orange rind cheeses.

Propionibacterium Shermanii

This is the bacteria that causes the distinctive holes to form in Swiss style cheeses such as Emmental. As part of a fermenting process that occurs, CO2 bubbles are formed creating the ‘eyes’ in the cheese but it’s also responsible for the development of nutty and sweet qualities. Its full name is a somewhat convoluted Propionobacteria freudenreichii subsp. shermanii

Cheese Night! III

May 10, 2010
Matthew, Alex, Cheese Night!

Sporting my Cheese Night! T-shirt with Alex

As part of the Festival of Mumford, I hosted the third Cheese Night! event on Sat. 8th May 2010. While the kitchen did take on a somewhat zoo like atmosphere at times, the evening was a great success. All 24 people who attended made fantastic contributions in the form of a tasty array of dishes and some great cheeses. Special mention must go to Giles Bourne who transported a Cabot cloth-bound cheddar all the way back from the US having purchased it at The Cowgirl Creamery. Also thanks to Alex and Troy for my fabulous Cheese Night! T-shirt – all in all a splendid evening of cheese related food and Tomme-foolery.

Cheese Night! III Menu

  • Broccoli and Stilton soup
  • Pear and Stilton Bruschetta
  • Chicken, Feta and Prosciutto Sausages
  • Prosciutto wrapped pan-fried Mozzarella
  • Deep fried Camembert with cranberry sauce
  • Mini pasties: White onion & Maffra Cheddar / Red onion, balsamic & Stilton
  • Breadcrumbed baby Bocconcini with Gorgonzola sauce
  • Rosemary and olive oil pan fried halloumi
  • Chilli cream cheese boats with paprika
  • Goat cheese pastry parcels
  • Ricotta and Fetta Pasta
  • Insalata Caprese


  • Gâteau Croquant au Fromage

Cheese Platter

  • FrenchPetit Munster, Gruyère de Comté, Fromager des Clarines, Saint Agur, Panache d’Aramits, Délice de Bourgogne
  • ItalianCasatica, Dolomiten König, Pecorino al Tartufo
  • BritishColston Bassett Stilton
  • AustralianOcello Jersey Brie, Pyengana Cheddar, Maffra Cheddar, Holy Goat La Luna, Heidi Gruyere, Adel Blue
  • North AmericanCabot Clothbound Cheddar
  • Home madeWashed orange rind, White mould goat/cow cheese, Boxed Camembert, Soft Calvados rind





Cheese Platter

Remnants of the Cheese Night! III Cheese Platter


Fondue Normande

March 29, 2010
Fondue Normande

Scooping out some Camembert from the Fondue Normande

This is a delicious fairly straight forward dish to create. I like the fact that it can turn a bland, mass produced supermarket Camembert into something quite special – of course, it will taste even better with a quality cheese like Camembert de Normandie or Camembert le Châtelain. The photo above shows the dish created with a home made Camembert.


  • 1 Camembert cheese
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 2 Teaspoons of fresh thyme
  • 2 Teaspoons fresh parsley
  • 1 Cup red wine
  • 1 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Break the garlic into segments and blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Make a few small slits in the Camembert and insert the pieces of blanched garlic into them. Pour half the red wine over the surface of the cheese; press very lightly to let it penetrate the surface. Sprinkle cheese with thyme and parsley then pour remaining red wine over the top and add pepper.

Place cheese, still in its wooden container or ramekin, on a baking dish and bake in oven for 10 minutes at 200ºC.



March 1, 2010

A wheel of home produced Camembert

Making a Camembert style cheese is a good next step once you’ve had some experience with easier cheeses like Paneer or Cream Cheese. Pay careful attention to the maturation conditions as you need a precise combination of humidity and temperature to achieve an impressive looking bloomy rind. Here’s all the equipment, ingredients and instructions you need:


  • 10L Pot / Double Boiler. A double boiler is ideal as it prevents the milk from scorching. A copper pot is also good as it maintains a good steady all over temperature.
  • 4 x PVC Camembert hoops 10-11cm in diameter and about 10cm high. Pieces of plastic drain-pipe with roughly 15 x 5mm holes drilled evenly around will suffice.
  • 2 x Bamboo mats for draining. They need to be big enough for the four hoops to sit on without hanging over the edge.
  • Good quality plastic ageing mat
  • Thermometer
  • Long blade knife or spatula for cutting curds
  • Slotted Serving Spoon
  • 2 x Wooden boards – again, big enough to accommodate all four Camembert hoops. These will be used to turn/flip the cheeses.


  • 6.5l of milk and another 200ml for the starter. Use full cream, organic, un-homogenised if available – the creamier the milk, the creamier your cheese will be.
  • ½  teaspoon of Camembert Culture / Mould Blend
  • 2ml of Rennet
  • 2ml of Calcium Chloride (this is optional – it’s not required if you’re using un-homogenised milk)
  • Cheese Salt (you can use salt flakes but it must be uniodised)


Step 1: Making A Prepared Starter

Note: This is an optional step that can be carried out the day before. An alternative is to skip this stage and add a DVS culture to the milk in Step 2

 Boil then cool 200ml of milk, once cool add ½ teaspoon of Camembert culture / mould blend and stir in thoroughly. Cover and leave for 12 – 24 hours at a temperature of 25 – 30ºC, a warm spot in the kitchen should be fine. The starter is ready once it has a consistency of yoghurt.

Step 2: Ripening The Milk

Using the pot / double boiler, heat 6.5 litres of milk to 32ºC – if you’re not using a double boiler it’s important to keep stirring the milk to prevent it from scorching. Once the milk has reached 32ºC you can optionally add 2ml of Calcium Chloride diluted in 20ml of water (you only need to do this if you’re using homogenised milk). Now add the 200ml starter prepared from the day before and stir thoroughly. Cover and leave for about 75 minutes to ripen. Keep the temperature of the milk at 32ºC during this time, this might be tricky if you’re not using a double boiler – an easy option is to fill a sink with hot water a couple of degrees above 32ºC and place the pot in it.

Keeping the milk at a steady temperature

Keeping the milk at a steady 32ºC

Step 3: Curd Formation

In 20ml of water dissolve 2ml of Rennet liquid then pour over the milk. You need to cover as much of the surface as possible – using a syringe is a good way to achieve this. Once your Rennet solution has been added gently stir the milk for a couple of minutes then cover and leave to sit for 60 minutes or until you get a clean break. Don’t stir the milk during this time as it will hinder the curd formation. Again, you need to ensure the milk maintains a temperature of 32ºC during this part of the process.

Step 4: Cutting then Stirring the Curd 

To test for a clean break, slide a knife into the curd at an angle then use your finger or the side of the blade to lift the curd slightly. If it breaks cleanly with the whey running back into the crack/split you made with the knife then you have a clean break.

Use a long knife or spatula to cut the curds into rough 2cm cubes. Keeping the blade at an angle at all times (you don’t want to cut straight down into the curd mass as you won’t end up with cubes) make some vertical cuts first 2cm apart from one side of the pot to the other. Now make some horizontal cuts 2cm apart again and inserting the blade at an angle. When done you’ll have a criss-cross pattern of cuts across the top of the curd mass at which point you need to let the curds sit for 30 minutes.

Cut Curds

Stirring the cut curds

Stir the curds by turning over gently for about 3 minutes – you can use your hand to do this but make sure it’s clean and sanitised. While doing this, keep an eye out for curds bigger than 2cm x 2cm – you can slice the larger curds at this stage if you find any. Now let the curds sit for 20 minutes maintaining a 32ºC temperature. Repeat this stage two more times.

Use a ladle to scoop out about half the whey then give the curds another gentle stir to stop them from matting together.

Step 5: Filling the Molds

Place one of the bamboo mats on a board and cover with greaseproof paper then place the four hoops on top. Use the slotted spoon to gradually transfer the curds from the pot to the hoops filling each one evenly. You should have enough curd matter to fill each hoop just short of the top. Once done, leave to drain for 20 minutes. – It’s a good idea to carry out this part of the process over the kitchen sink as a lot of whey will drain out from the moulds.

Filling Hoops

Filling the hoops with curds

Place another sheet of greaseproof paper on top of the hoops then the second bamboo mat and finally your second board. Hold the top and bottom boards firmly and flip over in one quick smooth motion then leave to sit for 1 hour. You will need to repeat this process 5 more time n.b. turn the cheese hourly for the next 5 hours. You can remove the greaseproof paper after the first and second turns as the bamboo mats will keep the cheese intact.

Leave to set overnight covered with a tea towel.

3 Wheels of Cheese

3 Wheels of Cheese fresh out of the moulds

The following morning, remove the cheeses from the hoops, place back on a bamboo mat then lightly sprinkle with the cheese salt and let stand for 15 – 20 minutes. Flip the cheeses over to sprinkle the other side with cheese salt and let stand for another 15 – 20 minutes. Cover the cheeses with paper towel and lave to dry at room temperature for the next 24 hours.

Place some paper towel in the bottom of your plastic containers then place the plastic aging mat (cut to size) on top of the paper towel. Place the cheeses inside the containers, evenly spaced – place the lid on the container but leave it ajar as air will need to flow into the ageing environment. The containers must now be left in ideal aging conditions which is essentially 12ºC and 95% humidity. A wine fridge is suitable as far as temperature is concerned – you can use a refrigerator but the colder temperature means the aging and development of the bloomy white rind will take a lot longer. You can increase the humidity inside the containers by placing some saturated paper towel next to the cheeses or even some slices of tomato – take care not to get drips of water on the cheese when doing this.

Leave the cheese for 8 – 10 days turning daily – you’ll notice that a white mould will gradually develop forming the rind of the cheese but it may take a few days before you begin to see this.

Once the cheese is completely covered in white mould, place each one in the centre of some cheese wrapping and fold each corner onto the cheese until it is completely covered. Place the wrapped cheeses back into the plastic container, folded side on the bottom, and leave to age for a further 3 – 4 weeks at 12ºC and 95% humidity.

Cream Cheese

December 31, 2009
Soverign Morsels Cream Cheese

Soverign Morsels, one of the first cheeses I ever made

One of my early forays into cheese making was in the form of Cream Cheese – it’s a good place to start as the method is very straightforward and there’s no call for hard to find cultures or rennet.

There are plenty of books and websites out there with a basic Cream Cheese recipe; I have a great book in my cheese library called The Cheese Room by Patricia Michelson and I used her recipe for my first attempt. Make it and eat it fresh, it’s delicious!

You’ll need:

  • 1.5 litres of milk. Go for full-fat, organic and un-homogenised if you can find it
  • 3 tablespoons of organic yoghurt
  • Ovenproof bowl or saucepan
  • Large ceramic jug or bowl, sterilized
  • Large piece of muslin, sterilized


Set oven at 150ºC/300ºF. Pour the milk into the jug and mix in the yoghurt, place in the oven and leave until the milk is warm. Take the milk from the oven, cover it with a clean cloth and leave it to sit for 48 hours in a warm spot in the house. Make sure you don’t leave it somewhere that’s too hot, the temperature needs to be a ‘comfortable warmth’.

Once you’ve let the milk sit for a couple of days the cream will have started to sour and thicken – you need to skim this off, place on a dish, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge. Now take the contents of the jug/bowl, pour into an ovenproof bowl or saucepan and place in the oven at 110ºC/225ºF. After about 15 to 30 minutes the curds and whey will have separated.

Place the muslin over a bowl and pour the contents of the bowl/saucepan into it. Gather up the ends of the muslin, tie with string then hang over a bowl and leave to drip.

After about 12 hours, the whey should have seeped through the muslin leaving you with a fresh lump of tasty Cream Cheese.