The British artist Stanley Spencer once said rather ruefully that he wished ‘people would read my pictures.’ A book holds the reader in its own atmosphere, he argued, and ‘this same absorption is possible in pictures.’
This may take a little leap of faith and it’s altogether a more mundane, possibly even banal example. But I would like you to read my cheese. Cheese is one of the oldest foods in the world, dating back to before the Roman Empire. This dome of creamy deliciousness holds everything within it that is good about food and cooking. And I’ve just made it for the first time. So thrilled was I when it emerged from the fridge that I needed to invent a new word for thrilled. Fromagicated seemed about right.
Ancient alchemists who tried to turn base metals into gold were crazy. I can’t understand why they weren’t satisfied turning yoghurt alchemically into cheese. If I were to read my priceless cheese I would say that it is majestic, simple, exquisite, nourishing, satisfying, clever, ancient, unassuming, atmospheric, exotic, comical and historic. And the great thing about reading cheese is that you can eat it afterwards.
Fresh Cream Cheese
500g authentic Greek yoghurt
Three quarters teaspoon fine sea salt
Stir the salt into the yoghurt, then turn the mixture into a small sieve lined with muslin. Allow the yoghurt to drip into a bowl in the fridge overnight and the next morning you will have the most exquisite, creamy cheese as if by magic. That’s it. And this is what I did with it next.….
Home-Made Cheese, Ham and Peach Bruschetta
Toast slices of firm, chewy white bread. Spread thickly with cream cheese, lay a slice of Italian dry-cured, smoked ham on top, followed by thin slices of ripe peach and a handful of rocket leaves. I’ve just bought blackberry vinegar online from Womersley and once I’d reduced it a little in a pan, I spooned it over the bruschetta. The saltiness of the cheese and ham, combined with the sweet, fruity peaches and vinegar were sensational. The cheese would also work well with my black garlic and beetroot bruschetta.
If you make this and then read your cheese, let me know what it says.