By James R. Leverentz, Alpha Books, $14.95, 193 pages
“First, cheese making, on any scale, is chemistry and biology, not cooking or baking. Second, cheese making requires artful skills born of attentive patience.”
Even the most daring home cooks leave certain kitchen tasks to professionals. Cheese making is one of these. Yet this book guides the readers through the steps of producing cheeses in their kitchen. Cheese making is not for the beginner cooks; there are many steps, specific equipment and ingredients that only the most enthusiastic would undertake.
The first 50 pages introduce the chemistry, physics and biology of cheese making, essential knowledge before the first simple cheeses are attempted. The book is in three parts: The Composition of Cheese; Making Quick Cheese; and Cultured Cheese and Conventional Cheese Making. The writing is good, easy to understand, and both fonts used and layout are reader-friendly. The chapters are broken up into small sections and descriptions are thorough. Unfortunately, in many recipes the reader needs to turn the page — an inconvenience. The four different sidebars the author included are confusing.
The book proceeds from easy to more complex cheeses with recipes that use cheeses as ingredients. The glossary is good and detailed, too bad it is not well cross-referenced (Easy Fruit Tart listed under E only). If you have time and interest to make cheese, this book is a useful addition to your kitchen library.