This weekend we learned everything you need to know in order to make homemade mozzarella, in only two hours, at The Grape Escape!
This 5,000 square foot Dayton winery hosts many types of classes besides mozzarella making all year long, from wine-making to wine and food pairings, as well as wine infused chocolate making. While these classes can be found on their website, they fill up fast, so register when they become available to secure your spot.
From the onset, we were really impressed with the wealth of knowledge that proprietor and winemaker, Tom Nye, was eager to share about getting the most out of your fresh mozzarella.
First, it is best served at room temperature. Remove it from fridge at least two hours prior to serving. Consume fresh mozzarella within the first week, or freeze it. Wrap tightly in clear plastic freezer wrap making sure not to leave any air bubbles. Freezing can preserve the cheese for up to six months, but you must defrost properly in order to restore the original flavor and texture. Thaw in fridge for 3-5 days, and then cover it with very warm (not hot) tap water. Wait five minutes and repeat the process by replacing the very warm water. Wait 15 minutes, unwrap and slice.
After going over these basics, he proceeded to demonstrate the Art of Mozzarella Making, using a starter curd from Lioni’s in Union (http://www.lionimozzarella.com/). It was fascinating to see how the hot water poured against the curd transformed it into a marshmallowy lump. Tom then stretched it until stringy and finally shaped the cheese into fist sized balls.
Now, it was our turn. All twenty two participants paired off to attempt to replicate the technique. If you are looking for a food exercise that builds your upper arms and shoulders, this is it! If it weren’t for the complimentary glass of vino while we worked, we might not have had the energy to complete our own batch!
In the end, The Grape Escape judged the Best and Worst Looking Balls. (I’m sorry, there’s no other way to say that.) And, yes, Wayne’s were the worst. Really. Not to worry though, we scored a bottle of their house EVOO for being the worst.
We all celebrated our new found skill by sipping a bit more wine and snacking on Tom’s favorite appetizer: Fresh mozzarella on cucumber slices, drizzled with 15 year old Modena Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Chiffonade. Very refreshing, and definitely a new favorite treat for us to share with our friends and family!
Peppers and Mozzarella
- 3 red bell peppers
- 3 yellow bell peppers
- 3 orange bell peppers
- 3T Grape Escape EVOO
- 3/4 t sea salt
- 3/4t freshly ground black pepper
- Italian or French Bread, thinly sliced and grilled
- 1lb Grape Escape mozzarella, cut into ¼” slices
- Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
Heat your grill to high. Brush bell peppers with 2T of the EVOO and season with 1/2t
salt and ½ t pepper; grill the peppers until charred on all sides.
Remove from grill, place in a brown bag, and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the skin from the peppers, brush them with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper, and place back on the grill and cook until slightly charred on all sides.
Slice peppers into quarters or to fit over bread slices. Place a slice of mozzarella over each pepper and drizzle with the (following) Caper-Basil Vinaigrette. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve at room temperature.
- 3T red wine vinegar
- 1t Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4t salt
- 1/4t freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4C Grape Escape EVOO
- 2T capers, drained
- 2T chopped fresh basil leaves
Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Stir in the capers and basil.
The Grape Escape
12 Stults Road
Dayton, NJ 08810
Anne Galya: Anne and Wayne Galya have found the recipe for a long and happy marriage…sharing a common interest, which in this case happens to be All Things Food. They began their early days exploring cookbooks and attempting to replicate the recipes in their tiny apartment kitchen (kind of like Julie’s in Julie & Julia). Date nights were visiting strategically chosen restaurants. Here they would sample, savor and critique what they each experienced. Turned out this is what they love to do best! So much so, that in retirement, their calendar is filled with proposed visits to ‘secret’ locations, in hopes of bringing those exceptional experiences to Food Lovers’ attention here at JerseyBites. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org