Who would've thought a loosely woven cotton cloth resembling gauze would be an essential tool in the kitchen? Ever use cheese cloth? Neither have I... until now. Cheesecloth is primarily used in some styles of cheese making in order to remove whey from cheese curds. It also helps hold the curds together as the cheese is formed, however it's also an excellent tool for straining water and capturing solid ingredients in many different culinary recipes. It can be used to make nut milks, strain homemade yogurt, tofu, infused oils, fruit and vegetable juices or bundle herbs into a bouquet garni. It can also give your baked goods a professional touch. Fill a mason jar (I like these) with powdered sugar or cocoa, place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the jar, pull the fabric taught and screw on the ring without the cap. Voila! Finish off your cakes or cookies with a dusting of sugar.
Regency Natural Cheesecloth, included in Brad Leone's box, is made of 100% natural bleach free cotton. This ultra fine grade is perfect for tackling a variety of tasks in the kitchen including straining, steaming, basting and canning. The large size (9 square feet) allows ample wiggle room depending on the task you're using it for. It can be cut to make multiples or doubled up on the layers for a thicker cloth.
I recently used my Regency Cheesecloth for a poached salmon recipe from Chef Anne Burrell. The instructions called for wrapping aromatics (garlic, thyme, lemon zest, coriander, bay leaves) in cheesecloth allowing the herbs to season olive oil without overpowering the dish. The result was perfectly seasoned fish that was moist and flavorful yet took very little time to make - win, win. Recipe below :)
Next, I'm making home made ricotta cheese with Brad's help. Give it a try with me. Comment below and tell us your favorite uses for cheese cloth.
Anne Burrell's Olive Oil Poached Salmon (Yield 4 Servings)
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