The popularity of artisan cheese has spawned an ancillary movement: home cheesemaking. At least here in the Pacific Northwest, it seems that everywhere you turn someone is offering a home cheesemaking class (see my events calendar for a complete list of local events). And thus the proliferation of home cheesemaking books in the past several years, including this new one, 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes. What sets this book apart is that Amrein-Boyes is a professional cheesemaker - she's the genius behind The Farm House Natural Cheeses, one of British Columbia's most oustanding artisan cheesemakers. This is important information to know, because it tells you that the author knows what she's talking about...the recipes are written from a cheesemaker's perspective rather than a chef's or home cook's perspective. Indeed, this fact is evident right away, because Amrein-Boyes spends the first 40 pages of the book getting readers up to speed with background, a cheese style primer, equipment list and basic cheesemaking techniques.
The recipes, all 200 of them, run the gamut from fresh ricotta and mascarpone, to washed-rind Taleggio, to feta, to yogurt, buttermilk and kefir. Mixed in with cheesemaking recipes are accompanying recipes for dishes using the cheeses, like souffles and fondues. The recipes are presented concisely and simply with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of emphasis on technique, temperature and process, all elements crucial to successful cheesemaking. Helpful troubleshooting tips - something I've not seen before in a home cheesemaking book - will aid in the diagnosis of problems as they come up. This is critical because so often home cheesemakers run into troubles, somewhat mysterious in nature, and are left without resources to solve their problems.
This is one of the best cheesemaking books I've come across - Amrein-Boyes conveys the complexity and rigor of the practice of cheesemaking, while at the same time making the craft accessible to the masses. Where else to find recipes for cheeses like Ossau-Iraty or Stilton? Sure, some of the cheeses in this book will take time and dedicated practice to make, but as any cheese lover knows, a well made artisan cheese is a beautiful thing in its own right, and well worth the effort.
200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes by Debra Amrein-Boyes Robert Rose/Firefly Books $24.95 US/ $27.95 CDN 380 pages, paperback