I speak to people back home about the heat, and am met with cries (or 'types'!?) of "jealous!" and "give us a few degrees!". Natsubate is no fun, but I'm sure once winter sets in I will be yearning for 35degrees and 90% humidity (maybe not yearning...) So on Monday this week, a few friends and I tried to enjoy the heat by going for a picnic at Arashiyama 嵐山 (lit. Storm Mountain - sounds like a Disney ride or a supervillian's hideout!) Its one of my favourite places in Kyoto, with a beautiful bamboo forest, river, tree covered hills and a monkey park.
We enjoyed noodle salad, doughnuts, onigiri (rice balls), sandwiches... I contributed melted and messy NZ chocolates (Pineapple Lumps and Crunchie Bars), the dulcic tones of a ukulele... and Pizza Bread.
I made the base using the same recipe at the Pickled Plum Focaccia, then topped it with sweet chilli sauce, baby tomatoes, grated parmesan、herbs, rocksalt and... homemade cheese! My sister taught me how to make this simple recipe.
Its really satisfying to make - more like a mad science experiment than cooking!
2 litres milk
3 Tbsp lemon juice (fresh is better than presqueezed)
Cheesecloth/ peice of fabric, balanced in a sieve or colander
Salt/ herbs to taste
Heat milk in a large pot - this takes a fair while! Stir frequently to prevent the bottom from scalding or the top from forming a skin.
Once bubbles start forming, stir constantly for 10 minutes
Take of the heat and add lemon juice to seperate the milk. You may need slightly more, depending on the lemons. Its very obvious once the mixture seperates - there will be a light yellow clear liquid and creamy white cheese floating in it (incredibly unappetising to look at!)
Pour this mixture into a cheesecloth or clean thin teatowel. I use very thin paper/fabric bags used for throwing out food scraps. Squeeze out excess liquid. This is the best point to add any salt or herbs - I usually add a teaspoon of salt.
The longer you leave this to sit, the harder the end product will be. It can range anywhere from cream-cheese to crumbly feta texture - up to you! This picture shows the crumbly end of the spectrum - it hardens more in the fridge. Once it has drained to your liking, scoop into a container and refrigerate.
This cheese doesn't have a strong flavour, but I really like the texture. I eat it on toast with tomato, cooked on pizza bread, on and through pasta etc. Because of its delicate flavour, I'm sure it could easily be turned in to some kind of dessert! One of the best parts, though, is proclaiming "I made it myself!"