I had the absolute pleasure of attending a Cheese Making Workshop at the Quillisascut Farm School in Rice, Washington. It could not have been any more perfect. It's about a 6hour drive north east of Seattle and the weather cooperated-I had the most gorgeous blue skies the entire way. To call the route scenic is an understatement. I watched Lenore Lake go by, then Blue Lake and then the grandest of all Lake Roosevelt. I had never been to this picture postcard area of Washington before and it was astounding-breathtaking doesn't do it justice. I kept my radio off and listened instead to the birds chirping and singing as I slowed for the sharp turns; watched a hawk's shadow cross the road and hood of my car; saw two little does peeking out from the pines and more deep blue lupine than I had seen in a very long time.
The smell of the pines in the high dessert brought back so many memories of a favorite camping spot outside of Flagstaff,Arizona. And then when I drove up the dirt road leading to the farm and spotted the red roof my heart was so happy. I felt so grateful for my good fortune and for being able to enjoy a trip like this in a place like this-it was magical. Everything was sparkling and glistening in the bright sun. Lora Lea Misterly and her husband Rick started the farm over thirty years ago and their spirit and love permeates every inch of the property. You feel so special that you are invited in to share a very special time with them.
Our class was taught by Lora Lea and was completely hands on. Our group consisted of a pastry chef from San Francisco; a landscaper from Driggs,ID; a wonderful local teacher; an incredibly traveled local husband and wife team; a wellness nurse and a woman who had gotten married on top of the Tetons. We all had one thing in common-we love cheese ! And we were not disappointed. We started with a little cheese tasting. Cheeses included several types of Chevre ,ricotta, mozzarella, Provolone,along with pickled jalapeno peppers,pickled mustard seeds,raisin bread and crackers with jam.
I never thought that by the end of the workshop I would be able to make all of the cheeses we tasted. Lora Lea has been doing this for over thirty years and she gently guided us through the process without making us feel that the recipe was what was driving us. The recipe was the guide-she wanted us to see and feel and smell what the cheese was like during every stage of the process-something you can't learn from recipe.
The time went by so quickly, between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon it was hard to believe we had learned how to make farmer's cheese; ricotta,cottage cheese,mascarpone,feta,provolone,cow's milk mozzarella; goat's milk mozzarella; Havarti and sweet cream butter. It truly was magical-we all came together,laughing and learning and sharing stories-time flew. And the meals we ate in between cheese making sessions was absolutely delicious.
Steen our chef,is a creative chef from Spokane. She cooked us some incredible meals. Even though I loved the chicken and roasted duck my favorite had to be the chili she made and the corn bread that she "threw together"-so very good. It was sad to say good bye to everyone, I felt like I was leaving friends behind . I was sent home with tomato plants along with the cheeses we made. When I got home I showed of my hand made cheeses like a small child at show and tell. While at the farmer's market today I saw some beautiful asparagus and started thinking about how I could use that with some of the cheese I brought home from the workshop. So I came up with the idea of combining the mozzarella,both the cow's milk and goat's milk along with a little ricotta, a little feta ,some basil,olive oil and prosciutto. I initially was going to make a pizza but decided to make little hand pies filled with the cheese goodness. It was heartwarming to combine Kate McDermott's recipe with the cheeses I learned to make from Lora Lea -it just felt right to bring the two together. The hand pies turned out very good and brought back the aromas of the kitchen at Quillisascut Farm and Kate's cottage kitchen in Port Angeles.
Goat Cheese,Asparagus and Prosciutto Pie
Kate McDermott's Pie Crust Recipe
16 pieces of Prosciutto
16 Asparagus tips-about 3" long
1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
4 -6 oz. mix of Feta,Ricotta and Goat Cheese
4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 - 1/3 cup fresh chopped basil leaves
ground black pepper
Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each Asparagus tip and set aside. Mix the mozzarella,goat cheese,olive oil,garlic and basil. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. When you roll the first piece of pie dough out use a 3-4 inch circle to cut out the pie base. Spoon on about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and top each with 2 of the wrapped asparagus slices. Then wet the outside edge of the dough just slightly and place the top dough layer over (like a ravioli). Press the edges together and seal with the tines of a fork. Brush on a little egg wash,sprinkle with some more ground black pepper and gently pierce the top of the pie with the tines of the fork. Place in the oven and bake at 400F for 10 minutes then lower oven to 350F and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until they turn that pretty pie crust golden brown shade. Serve immediately-especially delicious with a side salad of arugula.
The goats of Quillisascut Farm
Rick and Lora Lea on their wedding day -from a photo on their refrigerator
I put together a little slide show to share my trip with you -I'm going to watch it while I finish off the last hand pie !