Monday, April 12, 2010

All Things Rich and Creamy ... from Milk!

Most of us love all things rich and creamy made from milk. From cheeses to butter to crème fraîche, milk has long been a staple in many households and restaurants!

Do you know the difference between Ghee, Mascarpone, Yogurt, Buttermilk and Quark? See below the definitions of these and many other dairy products:

"European butter
This rich product has a slightly higher amount of butterfat (up to 84%) so you'll find it a bit richer than its American counterparts.
Essentially, ghee is just clarified butter. That is, it's been heated until all of the water has evaporated, leaving a concentrated flavor and texture. Ghee is most popular in India, where the climate necessitates having butter that can be kept at room temperature for a long time.
Historically, buttermilk was the liquid that remained after butter had been churned, which was then exposed to airborne bacteria and allowed to ferment, acquiring the slightly sour, acidic flavor that it's prized for. These days, the buttermilk available in supermarkets is actually a cultured product created from ordinary skim milk that's been fermented and pasteurized. Use buttermilk as a base for soups, salad dressings or marinades, mix it with sweet berries or peaches.
Where do we start? The list is way too long, and deserves another future posting!
Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is actually a cheese-curd product that still contains some whey; it's usually available in either large or small curd varieties. Cottage cheese, along with its cousins farmer's cheese and pot cheese, is usually served with fresh fruit and vegetables, but it has merit as a substitute for richer, high-calorie dairy products in lasagna, dips and desserts such as cheesecake.
This term is used to describe everything from heavy cream to half and half, whipping cream and double cream. (The fat levels range from roughly 12% to 48%.)
Crème Fraîche
With a fat content of about 30%, this rich specialty used in the regional cuisines of France is a delicious extravagance. It's slightly fermented with lactic bacteria which thickens it and gives it a distinctively sharp, not sour, flavor.
Clotted Cream (a.k.a. Devonshire cream)
With a 60% fat content, this cream is too thick to pour, but it's not as thick as butter either. Traditionally served with scones or fruit, it has a slightly cooked taste and a longer shelf life than ordinary cream.
Tiramisu wouldn't measure up without this sweet and flavorful cream cheese product of Italian origin that's made by adding citric acid to heavy cream. The final product is similar to a richer, smoother and denser clotted cream with a 75% fat content, just 5% away from butter. Delicious with fresh fruit, it can also be used as a substitute for heavy cream in savory recipes.

Quark can be classified as a sort of curd cheese somewhere between yogurt and small-curd cottage cheese. It's quite low in fat, versatile in the kitchen and, like yogurt, is sometimes sold blended with fruit.
Sour Cream
Did you know that sour cream is simply cream that's been soured by harmless bacterial cultures, giving it a piquant flavor that's perfect for topping potatoes or cooked in cheesecake?
Yogurt contains beneficial bacterial cultures that aid digestion of the product itself and promote healthy intestinal flora. Also look for kefir, a yogurt product that's one of the oldest cultured dairy products known."
Source: Wholefoods Market

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