Monday, December 29, 2008

And a Happy Paneer

Now that the round of family visits is over for the holidays, I'm happy to get back into my own kitchen and to jump into my usual year-end cooking projects.

It's been a while since I made paneer, and since I recently bought a copy of Home Cheese Making, I thought I'd prepare for more complicated recipes by revisiting an old favorite.

I used nearly half a gallon of good local whole milk and 2 cups of rich whole-milk yogurt to make the cheese this time, thinking that a big batch was just as easy to whip up as a smaller one.

After straining the whey through double-layered cheesecloth, I bunched the cloth together and hung the paneer up to drain before pressing it. And what came out of the wrappings was a beautiful creamy curd that sliced easily under my knife.

I set the paneer in the refrigerator until closer to dinner time, when I pulled together some good local vegetables and exotic spices to treat the Renaissance Man to an Indian dinner.

The paneer naturally went into a rich shahi paneer, made with a quart of my homemade tomato sauce, and I paired that dish with local sweet potatoes sauteed with garlic and onion and simmered in leftover whey (with some fresh kale tossed on top at the last). What a savory and satisfying meal!

Perhaps one of these days I'll get that book out and start thumbing through some other cheese recipes, maybe starting with homemade mozzarella (since I have a kit for that). And I'm still hoping to arrange a cheesemaking class with a farmer I met at the Northeast Ohio Food Congress.

Wouldn't that be a good way to start the New Year?

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At 1/02/2009 6:32 PM, Blogger Tara said...

Oh, this looks marvelous! I'm hoping to learn how to cook some decent Indian food in the coming year. Any suggestions for a good beginner cookbook?

At 1/05/2009 7:19 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Tara, the only Indian cookbook I have is The Indian Vegetarian (by Neelam Batra). I know others really rely on Madhur Jaffrey's books, but I've never actually used them. Batra's book does a really good job of introducing you to spices and provides recipes for the spice blends, and most of the vegetable recipes I've made are easier than they look and taste close to the Indian-restaurant taste. So, I keep going back to it over and over again.

Dear Readers, if you have other suggestions, please chime in! My knowledge of this area is woefully limited.


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