Appetite for Instruction: Fromage Blanc and Strawberry Confiture from The Grape

Fromage Blanc and Strawberry Confiture Demonstrated by Brian Luscher of The Grape

You might know The Grape from its Texas Monthly fame for having the number one burger in Texas (which caused its burger sales to skyrocket, of course). Maybe you know the bistro from attending one of its wine dinners (The Grape will be hosting a Grgich Wine Dinner next Monday). Or perhaps a previous Appetite for Instruction led you to become a fan of the Greenville Avenue restaurant. Many reasons exist to be familiar with The Grape, and we're about to give you one more.

For today's AFI, chef and owner Brian Luscher chose to demonstrate the fromage blanc and strawberry confiture for a few reasons: It looks intimidating but is actually simple to do; he's on a major preserves kick; and it's a summery recipe. While discussing where our readers could purchase a cheese cloth, we discovered chef Luscher's dream retirement job would be a sales associate at a hardware store. Ours, on the other hand, would be owning a bar on a beach in Mexico and letting people do all the work for us. We do, however, have at least one thing in common: Pandora radio, which we listened to during the whole demonstration. Enough about us though, follow the jump for the step-by-step recipe with photos.

Fromage Blanc Ingredients:

2 qts whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cheese cloth (you can find this at Central Market or a hardware store)

Strawberry Preserves Ingredients:

2 lbs strawberries, washed, hulled, stemmed, quartered
1 qt sugar
¼ cup lemon juice

Fromage Blanc:

Step 1: Combine milk and cream in a non-reactive pan and heat to 185 degrees. Luscher recommends buying a thermometer to check the temperature and not using your finger for a guesstimate. He suggests buying a digital thermometer with a timer, which costs around $25.

Step 2: Combine buttermilk, lemon and salt in a non-reactive bowl and mix. Add to milk/cream mixture.

Step 3: Bring new mixture to 175 degrees and then remove from heat.

Step 4: Wait 10 minutes and then skim curd from whey and place into prepared cheese cloth. Stay tuned for the AFI slideshow tomorrow with a lot more cool photos of this process, plus more.

Step 5: Tie ends of cheesecloth together with string and hang in the refrigerator over a dish that is big enough to catch excess whey. It will be ready to use after hanging for 24 hours. Luscher recommends adding salt and pepper for taste.

Strawberry Preserves:

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive pan. Place over medium to medium-low heat.

Step 2: Stir occasionally and skim foam and impurities while cooking. Cook until it's 225 degrees. Do not, we repeat, do not stick your finger into this mixture. Once cooked, let the strawberries cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Final Product:

Step 1: Toast French bread slices in the oven, then spread the fromage blanc onto the toasted bread and top it off with the strawberry preserves. Warning: It's going to be a little sticky but definitely worth every bite.

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Sarah Johnson
Contact: Sarah Johnson

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