I’ve always loved cheese, so when The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheesemaking came out, I jumped at the chance to take a look.
Author and cheesemonger James R. Leverentz is a master at putting the reader at ease and making the process of producing delicious cheese at home sound relatively easy and doable.
The first part of the book is really background — classifications of cheese, the basic ingredients (milk, cultures, coagulants), and the tools you’ll need. The second section, my personal favorite, is about making quick cheeses – crumbly queso blanco, creamy mascarpone, squeaky mozzarella, soft ricotta, and more. The author divides this section by how the cheeses are made – direct acidification, culture ripened, etc. The third section gets into cheeses that are a little more challenging, such as cottage cheese, hard cheeses, and washed curd and brined cheeses. All along the way, Leverentz offers up delicious recipes such as Fritatta with Tomato Canadian Bacon and Feta, Jalapeno Corn Muffins with Queso Fresco Crumbles, and Cauliflower Baby Swiss Soup.
While I’ve never been crazy about the “Complete Idiot’s” titles (who wants to be called an idiot?), I do appreciate the fact that the publisher finds real experts who are passionate about their subjects. And that’s true for the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheesemaking. Leverentz, as he tells us in the introduction, is a major lover of cheese whos has been making the stuff for 50 years.
Real bottom line: If you want to try your hand at making cheese at home (and why not?), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cheesemaking will get you happily on your way without making you feel like a complete idiot. — Reviewed by BH