Local produce inspires home cook who loves to make cheese

Local produce inspires home cook who loves to make cheese

Karen A. Forman

Marie-Louise Ramsdale of Sullivan’s Island, an accomplished cook herself, praises her friend as “amazing” and “unbelievable” in a small downtown kitchen. So let’s find out more.

Name: Karen A. Forman

Age: 50

Residence: Downtown Charleston

Occupation: Law Guardian and Family Court Mediator

Family: Husband, Gregory, and daughters, Rebecca and Hannah

Q: We know you’re an avid cook who likes to entertain. Say you are planning a dinner party this spring. What would be on the menu?

A: I am inspired by the idea of spring being the season of rebirth and renewal. The vegetables, herbs, meats and seafoods are in abundance. I love a Mediterranean menu. For example:

Starters: Garlic white bean dip with Meyer lemon juice on crostini

Olives

Dinner: marinated grilled lamb chops (chops marinated overnight in fresh oregano, rosemary, olive oil, red wine, garlic)

Assorted grilled vegetables: asparagus, eggplant, red peppers, potatoes

Greek shrimp oregano with roasted artichoke hearts served on orzo

Greek salad with fresh feta

Dessert: baklava

Q: You make your own cheese. What kinds? It seems daunting; can it be challenging?

A: I make my own Italian soft cheeses, ricotta and mozzarella. It is very easy. The product is really so much better then store-bought. Although you can buy fresh mozzarella in most stores now, I haven’t seen ricotta.

Q: Where did you grow up, and who or what in your past made you interested in cooking?

A: I grew up on the Philadelphia Main Line in a town called Haverford. I have always loved to cook. I remember making homemade taffy with my grandmother when I was very young. I am self-taught, really. I became more interested in cooking after college when I was living on my own. I started by reading cookbooks and magazines. This was before the Cooking Channel.

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Q: You enjoying traveling. What’s the most interesting or unusual thing you’ve ever eaten while on a trip?

A: I absolutely love to travel. The most unusual thing I have ever eaten was probably camel tongue jerky in Jordan. I didn’t know what it was until after I had tried it. No, it wasn’t good.

Q: You say that being a locavore drives a lot of your cooking. What is your favorite item in your CSA box? Least favorite? What produce did you learn to have fun with?

A: I get a CSA box every week from Rosebank Farms. Being a locavore does drive my cooking because I always buy locally first. Always. It’s just so fresh! I even love the dirt and bugs because it reminds me where our food comes from. My favorite item? The strawberries in May. Candy jewels. Least favorite? Persimmons. I just don’t like them. Fun? Probably okra and corn.

Q: Name restaurants in Charleston that you like very much.

A: FIG, Hominy Grill, Edmund’s Oast, The Grocery.

Q: A kitchen tool that you couldn’t live without (and why):

A: My favorite knife. It’s a stainless Japanese knife that I hand sharpen and take very good care of.

A recipe to share:

Ingredients

1 gallon organic whole milk

1 pint organic buttermilk

Heavy cream

Salt

Directions

Put whole milk and buttermilk in a pot on medium heat. Heat until the solids start to rise to the top in the form of a white curd. Stir occasionally, lifting any solids off the bottom of the pot. This can take about 20-30 minutes. If this is not happening, you may need to turn up the heat another notch, but do not let the milk boil. Eventually, the solids will part with the liquid and leave a yellow liquid.

Strain the curd solids into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze the remaining water out of the curd. Refrigerate the curd until you are ready to use.

To make the curd into ricotta, add a few tablespoons of cream, a few pinches of salt and stir. If using the ricotta in a casserole, add an egg and a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese as well.

You can keep your cheese in the refrigerator for about 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Freezing does change the texture a little bit, though.

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