Fanny Cradock loves cheese. Don't we all? Fanny says that there is nothing more frustrating to a cook or hostess than reading about delicious items which people in other parts of the world can put on their tables and which are, for one reason or another, unobtainable in Britain. Naturally then, Fanny continues to give extensive lists of cheese which at the time of writing were only available from her very favourite shops in London. She rattles of the delights of English Cheese, French Cheese, Italian Cheese, Danish Cheese, Swiss Cheese, Dutch Cheese, German Cheese, Austrian Cheese, and even a limited supply of Scottish Cheese. So basically all the unavailable cheese.
We needed worry though, Fanny has an idea. She always does. This time her idea is, if we simply cannot buy the cheese that we want, why don't we make our own? She doesn't suggest we start with Blue Vinney. She doesn't suggest we start with Pont l'Evèque. She doesn't suggest we start with Osterola. She suggests we start with cream cheese.
Fanny being Fanny, gives us a choice. We can make a 'Basic Modest' version, which is made simply from milk. We can make a 'Basic Luxurious' version which is made from milk, single cream and double cream. Or, we can make a 'Basic Sweet' version which can be 'modest' or 'luxurious' but adds in sugar and a vanilla pod. I was hoping for an 'Advanced' version, which may still be to come later on the part-work, however I am happy to plump for luxury. This should always be the choice.
The only other ingredient is rennet. Fortunately for me, with the rise in home cheese making, vegetarian rennet is now fairly easy to source. I bought mine in Lakeland. The process of luxurious cream cheese making involves heating the milk and creams together over a 'mere thread' of heat until it is really hot. Blood heat, apparently. Add the rennet, allow to cool then transfer to an ordinary sieve lined with butter muslin. Tie knots in the top and hang it somewhere (over the sink for me) to drip for 48 hours, until it stops dripping, and then a further 24 hours in a draught to firm up a little. It's quite strange to have it hanging in the kitchen for days on end...
... but so worth it in the end! Fanny informs us now that we can serve this cheese with trimmed sticks of celery for hors d'oeuvres or canapés. We can use it instead of buying Ricotta, which we probably wouldn't be able to buy at the time anyway, in baked tartlets. We can add herbs, parmesan and celery salt to make it suitably savoury if we prefer our tartlets that way. We can make an Italian gateau which Fanny says is normally made with 'Mascherpone' from the Lombardy region. It's really like the creamiest, most delicious, best ever Philadelphia you've ever tasted. So, we can also serve it simply 'forked up' and decorated with fancy pretzels, for scooping and scoffing, to impress and amaze anyone at our buffet table.