In my cheese making, I like to alternate between fresh and aged cheeses. Fresh cheeses have the advantage of being ready for consumption within a short time frame and so they balance out the need for longer waiting periods required by aged cheeses.
A few days ago, after getting a quart of fresh goat milk, I decided it was time to use the chèvre direct-set packets I had in my freezer. I added to it a quart of cow milk and followed these instructions to make the cheese. This is as easy as it gets in terms of making cheese at home. The result is a creamy cheese that begs to be used in creative combination — besides enjoyed on its own, spread over homemade bread.
Being very familiar with this fresh chèvre, which comes also in delicious flavored versions, I decided to pick something from my small herb garden to flavor my product. A plant that is doing very well in it is lovage (levistico or sedano di monte, literally: mountain celery), an herb about which Deborah Madison recently wrote a nice article. The name lovage (Levisticum officinale) has an interesting etymology, as you can read on this page (Liguria is an Italian region). And here you can read a few more interesting pieces of information, like the fact that, as the title of the article says, "a little lovage goes a long way."
Lovage's flavor is indeed pronounced, so you want to use your taste buds to decide how much to add. I did not measure precisely my two ingredients: in a custard cup, I mixed with a fork about 1/4 cup of chèvre and a scant tablespoon of finely shredded young leaves of lovage. I then spread the flavored cheese over slices of my homemade sourdough olive bread (pane alle olive).
I am planning to devote a post to my sourdough bread baking activities, so you will read more about the bread in the photo soon.
This is another contribution to edition #236 of Weekend Herb Blogging, an event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now organized by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and hosted this week by yours truly. This post contains the roundup of the event.
Update (September 2012). Valerie of A Canadian Foodie has launched a year long event called Cheesepalooza, which encourages people to take up home cheese making via monthly challenges of increasing complexity. The cheese chosen for the second month is basic chèvre and I submitted my previous experience with this lovely simple fresh cheese. This post contains the roundup of the event.
Hear me pronounce the words on the chèvre fresco fatto in casa e levistico audio file [mp3] or go to the chèvre fresco fatto in casa e levistico audio page for more listening options.