Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Spring has Sprung

Right now is the perfect moment to embrace the seasonality of cheese. The explosion of spring brings delicious fresh cheeses back to centre stage. It’s easy to overlook the fact that our animals produce milk essentially to feed their young, so it follows that fresh sheep or goat milk cheeses are seasonal. Those skipping spring lambs and goats signify the best time to start eating fresh, un-aged goat and sheep milk cheeses. An urban spring is unlike a rural one in that the reality of these images is unlikely to frequent the lives of seasoned cityfolk, other than for a sporadic jaunt into the countryside. By cultivating and nurturing our own small parcel of shared land tucked away in our urban landscape, we’re connecting ourselves with our neighbors and immediate physical environment in the best way possible. It’s the 2nd growing season for Merchant Part Community Garden and we’ve added 6 new plots. Folks are busy planting seeds and anything incubated over our cold but milder-than-usual winter is bursting forth with gusto, akin to those little lambs after taking their first clumsy, tentative steps. Self seeded lettuces are popping up unexpectedly and plants usually categorised as annuals are making their second appearance on the spring stage. Nature has a way of taking taking us by surprise. Rather than meddle with these delicate cheeses, i have a simple suggestion. Choose a fresh cheese, serve it alongside hot toasted seeded bread oozing with melted salted butter and some pickled fennel to add a tangy anise crunch. I have used fresh Mozzarella for this recipe.

Makes 1 pint

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, split down the middle vertically and chopped into ¼ inch thick semi circles
2 cups of white wine vinegar
⅔ cups sugar
⅓ cup water
1 tspn salt
½ tspn each of fennel, caraway and mustard seeds

  1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, water and salt in a pan and bring to the boil
  2. Add the chopped fennel and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Toast the seeds in a dry frying pan and drop into the bottom of a sterilized jar
  4. Pour the pickling liquid and fennel over the seeds in the jar leaving ¼ inch at the top.
  5. Seal the jar and leave to cool.

This will keep for 1 month, if you want it to keep for longer then process the sealed jar in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

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