Farm­house kitchen

Lit­tle pearls of boc­concini

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS JEAN MANS­FIELD

I’m writ­ing this col­umn

in a ho­tel room in Doha, Qatar at mid­night be­cause I am wide awake and so is ev­ery­one else.

The room looks out over a sparkling fu­tur­is­tic cityscape of ran­domly-shaped glow­ing build­ing blocks wrapped in neon rib­bons. It’s ab­so­lutely mes­meris­ing, and made all the more com­pelling be­cause mid­night through to dawn is when most peo­ple are out and about.

The rea­son is the de­bil­i­tat­ing day­time heat. We made the mis­take of walk­ing 100m out­side at 10am. It was 45°C and we were ex­hausted be­fore we reached the cool in­te­rior of a nearby mall. It was com­pletely empty. Ev­ery­one else knew not to shop at this time of day.

Even an evening out­ing is 30°C. The air is thick, the at­mos­phere ex­cit­ing,

with a mix­ture of lo­cal Qatari and tourists min­gling in the colour­ful, loud, spicy at­mos­phere. My hus­band Dave, weary and per­spir­ing, had to re­tire to the air-con­di­tioned at­mos­phere of a lo­cal res­tau­rant for a restora­tive drink and a sit-down.

One of the in­ter­est­ing places to visit in a city like this is the su­per­mar­ket. I’m al­ways keen to see what kind of dairy prod­ucts are avail­able in other coun­tries. Sur­pris­ingly, they have great milk for cheese­mak­ing, the pas­teurised whole fat milk com­pa­ra­ble in cost to the same kind of prod­uct in NZ.

The range of cheeses was im­pres­sive too, with a fo­cus on goat and sheep cheese, and huge ranges of im­ported French and Dutch cheeses.

There was a pro­fu­sion of labna (a cheese made from yo­ghurt), hal­loumi, and fresh mozzarella cheeses, es­pe­cially tiny mozzarella balls which looked like marsh­mal­lows in the dis­play cases.

Th­ese are called boc­concini, pro­nounced ‘boh-con-chee-knee’, mean­ing ‘lit­tle bites’ in Ital­ian. They look and taste fab­u­lous sprin­kled on a salad or melted in splodges on a cooked dish.

I took a few photos to re­mind me of the beauty of the dis­plays. Now, this sounds easy but pho­tograph­ing in a pub­lic place in Doha is al­ways dif­fi­cult. Ask­ing per­mis­sion is even more so when few peo­ple speak English, but with ges­tures and smiles I man­aged to get a few snaps.

Doha is def­i­nitely on my list of places to visit again, but next time I’ll go in their win­ter when it’s sim­i­lar to a balmy New Zealand spring.

Mozzarella pearls (boc­concini)

I have based this recipe on my 30-minute mozzarella recipe, but shap­ing the balls is eas­ier as they are the size of rolled mar­bles. You can use two litres of shop-bought, full fat, pas­teurised milk for this recipe (‘farm­house’ or yel­low top milk). Raw milk is fine too, as the high tem­per­a­ture pas­teurises the milk dur­ing the curd for­ma­tion. Use for sal­ads, for pizza and ke­babs, or as dec­o­ra­tion on any dish you choose. They can also be rolled in herbs or bread­crumbs and fried.

*You can use calf or veg­e­tar­ian ren­net, but check the veg­e­tar­ian ren­net pack­ag­ing for the dosage as it may be a dif­fer­ent strength and re­quire a dif­fer­ent amount for 2 litres of milk to what I have here (for calf ren­net).


2 litres milk ½ tsp cit­ric acid 0.5ml tsp calf ren­net,

or veg­e­tar­ian ren­net* ½ tsp plain salt Cooled, boiled wa­ter


1. Stir the cit­ric acid into cold milk in a saucepan and warm to 31°C over 5 min­utes. 2. Dis­solve the ren­net in 1 tbsp of cooled, boiled wa­ter, then add to the milk and stir slowly for 30 sec­onds. Push the stir­rer across and back, not in a cir­cle as this ag­i­tates the milk too much. 3. Add the ren­net so­lu­tion to the milk and stir gen­tly in the same man­ner for another 30 sec­onds. 4. In­crease the tem­per­a­ture slowly to 41°C over 2-3 min­utes. 5. Re­move from the heat, put a lid on the pot and leave to set for 20 min­utes. You will see a clear sep­a­ra­tion of curds and whey. 6. Line a colan­der with damp, ster­ilised but­ter muslin or wo­ven dish cloth. Pour the curds through the lined colan­der and leave to drain for 5 min­utes. 7. Trans­fer the curd to a large mi­crowave-proof bowl and mi­crowave on high for 1 minute. Use thick rub­ber gloves (this mix will get very hot dur­ing this process), press the curd down, and drain off the whey. 8. Keep re­peat­ing Step 7 un­til the curd is one melted mass. 9. Sprin­kle over the salt and knead the mix­ture, drain­ing off any ex­tra whey as you go. The curd must be re­ally hot while you do this or it will not stretch. If it gets cold, put it back in the mi­crowave un­til it melts again (20 sec­onds or so). It’s ready when it be­comes the tex­ture of taffy or chewed gum. 10. Use a tea­spoon to spoon out small amounts – about the size of a mar­ble – and roll un­til round. Place each ball into cooled, boiled wa­ter as you make them. 11. When you have made all the curd into balls, drain off the wa­ter and pack the pearls into ster­ilised jars with lids or vac­uum pack them. They are best eaten fresh but will keep for a week or more if stored in brine or olive oil.

Th­ese lit­tle pearls of cheese are great in sal­ads, for pizza, and ke­babs.

JEAN MANS­FIELD is an avid cook, cheese­maker and dairy farmer, who teaches en­thu­si­as­tic be­gin­ner cheese­mak­ers, and is the au­thor of How to Make Cheese.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.