Thursday 18 December 2014

Buffalo Babes: The beefed up cousin of mozzarella

London restaurants like Nopi have become places of pilgrimage for the burrata, finds Susan Jane White

Published 04/08/2014 | 02:30

Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella
Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella
Susan Jane White

Burrata sounds like the bastard child of a Mexican tortilla and a Korean fungus, which couldn't be further from the truth.

This artisan cheese is, excusez-moi, a beefed-up cousin of buffalo mozzarella. It was born out of good Catholic frugality in Puglia at least 100 years ago when the Italians had to figure out what to do with the delicious scraps of leftover buffalo mozzarella.

During the process of burrata-making, the cheese is stretched into a cute pouch which is then filled with scraps of leftover buffalo mozzarella and topped off with thick, unpasteurised cream before closing. It ends up looking like regular mozzarella, but the treasure inside is decidedly creamier and sweeter.

Italy is a country where food trends understandably begin. My husband's belly is the little town where these same trends come and retire. Me? I gravitate towards Californian cuisine and superfood crazies, like iron filings to a magnet. So, to pacify both egos, I've added some outrageously trendy heirloom tomatoes to this dish. But cherry toms will do just fine.

Toonsbridge in west Cork are making fresh Irish mozzarella from their handsome herd of water buffalo. Sample some at Sheridan's Cheesemongers in Dublin's city centre or the English Market in Cork. Fleets of farmer's markets now stock it. Just follow the excited queue.

Fresh Burrata with Peaches, Basil and Black Pepper

Serves 4.

I know peaches might sound like a creepy addition to a salad, but their sweetness brings the creaminess of the mozzarella experience up an octave.

And did you know that freshly cracked black pepper has proven anti-angiogenic capabilities? That's Doctor Code for anti-cancer. Erm, it's science, innit? For more on this, I recommend visiting the fabulous site of EatToBeat.org.

You will need:

2 peaches

Handful of fresh basil leaves

300g (8oz) various coloured heirloom tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 small lime

A few turns of the black pepper mill

250g burrata or buffalo mozzarella

Start by cutting each peach in half. Discard the stone, and slice each half into wedges. Tumble into a large bowl with the basil leaves.

Chop the tomatoes into slim wedges. Cherry tomatoes are easier to serve, as you will only need to slice these chaps in half before adding to the peaches.

All you need now is gloss. Whisk the olive oil and the lime juice together.

Pour over your salad and finish with as much black pepper as your toes can handle. Gently coat everything, using your hands to turn the salad once or twice. Divide evenly across four plates.

Roughly tear the burrata or mozzarella, whichever you are using, into bite-sized chunks and parachute them over each dish.

Best to serve immediately, before the guests get too giddy.

www.susanjanewhite.com

Sunday Independent

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