Indian Cottage Cheese – Paneer

So this is something I am very proud about. That I can make cheese. Sure, you’ll soon see just how easy it is so much of this pride is largely misplaced, but come on, it’s early in the new year, cut me some slack.

Besides, you’re getting three recipes in one here – the paneer recipe; the marinated baked paneer recipe (paneer tikka) and the paneer with spinach recipe (palak paneer) – because

Ajoy Joshi, Indian Home Cooking

  • 4 litres full cream milk
  • 1 2/3 cups (400ml) double cream
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  1. Line a large flat-bottomed colander with a double layer of cheesecloth (muslin) and place the sieve inside another large bowl
  2. Bring the milk to a boil over a medium heat
  3. When the milk is almost boiling, stir in the cream and bring just to the boil (just as it begins to bubble and froth – and you can actually feel vibrations of the boil through the handle of a metal spoon held in the milk) once more
  4. Add the vinegar, remove from the heat, set aside for two minutes and do not stir
  5. Using a large slotted spoon gently lift the curds from the whey and place in the lined sieve
  6. Then carefully tie the loose ends of the muslin together to form the curds into a thick, round disk
  7. Return the whey that’s collected in the bowl underneath back to the saucepan and place the saucepan on top of the curds as a weight
  8. Set aside for about 25 mintues
  9. Remove the saucepan from the paneer, untie the cheesecloth and remove the paneer.
  10. Use as directed in recipes or if not using immediately, place in an airtight container, cover with whey and store in the fridge. It will keep for about a week.

Paneer tikka
Ajoy Joshi, Indian Home Cooking

  • 1 cup plain whole milk yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 2 fresh green chilli peppers, finely chopped
  • large pinch saffron threads, soaked in 1 1/2 tbsp hot milk for 10 minutes
  • 4 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 recipe paneer, cut into 2.5cmx7.5cm squares
  • pinch chat masala*
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander
  • juce of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 240C (475F)
  2. In a bowl combine the yoghurt, ginger, garlic, peppers, saffron milk mixture, oil and salt
  3. Add the paneer pieces and marinate for 10 minutes
  4. Brush a baking tray with oil and place paneer pieces on it in a single layer
  5. Bake without turning until it is golden around the edges, about 15 minutes
  6. Before serving sprinkle with coriander and chat masala and a squeeze of lemon juice.

* I didn’t have this.

Palak paneer
Ajoy Joshi, Indian Home Cooking
(no photo I’m afraid as I haven’t made this for a year or so… but man it’s good)

  • 2 bunches English spinach
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil and butter mix
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 brown onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 3 tomatoes, unpeeled and finely chopped
  • 1 recipe paneer, cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  1. Place spinach in a large saucepan
  2. In a small bowl combine 1/2 tsp tumeric with the water and add to the pan
  3. Cook on a medium-high heat, covered, turning the spinach occasionally until spinach has wilted – about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, drain excess water and let the spinach cool.
  5. Place in a food processor or blender and puree
  6. Heat the butter/oil and add the cumin seeds and cook until fragrant – about 30 seconds
  7. Add onions and salt and cook uncovered until onions are translucent – about 5 minutes
  8. Add the coriander seeds, ginger, chilli pepper, chilli powder and remaining tumeric and cook, stirring until fragrant – about 2-3 minutes
  9. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until soft – about 5 minutes
  10. Stir in the spinach and then add the paneer and cook until it’s warmed through – about 2-3 minutes
  11. Sprinkle over the fenugreek leaves and serve.

Ode to Nigella 2 – Mushy peas

OH MY. Swoon.
I seem to have started on a green theme which wasn’t entirely my intention. I actually thought it’d be a month of desserts, but there you have it. I can almost hear caution on the wind. These got me through the last few weeks of my Grover pregnancy. I was known to eat the following in one sitting. On my own. No wonder I’m now on Project Boombalardy.

Mushy peas

  • 300g frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 tbl creme fraiche
  • 3 tbl parmesan, finely grated
  • salt and pepper
  1. bring a saucepan of water to boil with the garlic clove in it
  2. cook peas, drain and discard garlic
  3. puree peas w/ the creme fraiche and parmesan
  4. season to taste

Ode to Nigella 1 – Petits Pois

Even the name is pretty. Let’s say it together Petits Pois. One of the reasons I heart Nigella until it hurts is that she reinvigorated my curiosity to try things I’d otherwise look at in a magazine or cookbook and curl my lips at. Just seeing her make these was enough to break my rule of never cook lettuce (which sits alongside the rule that cooking avocado is just.plain.wrong., apart from how foul avocado tastes when cooked. Bleuch.). The closest I would ever allow myself to cook lettuce was when it contains hot filling with sang chow bow. This has converted me completely.

Petits Pois a la Francaise(Baby peas and lettuce – it even sounds more appetising in French)

  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 45g butter
  • 1 baby cos lettuce, finely shredded
  • 250g frozen baby peas
  • 125ml chicken stock, hot
  1. Cook the onion in the butter until soft, then add the lettuce and cook until it has wilted.
  2. Add the peas and stock and cook over a robust simmer until the stock has reduced and everything is tender.

(on the TV episode she says to cook this for 20 minutes or so but I think 10 is ample.)

Thai chicken and almond stir fry

I have a love hate relationship with stir fries. The boys love them which means I should do them way more often than I do. I guess I find they always end up tasting the same. This is based on a Weight Watchers recipe I got in the ‘so you’re breastfeeding’ brochure. The hint of sweet chilli and the fish sauce give it a great flavour – very much on par with what you’d get in a Thai takeaway, only better.

Thai chicken and almond stir fry

  • 800g chicken breast, cut into thin slices
  • 1tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 300-500g green beans (this is personal preference, I know it sounds like a lot but it actually works*)
  • 4 tbs soy sauce
  • 4 tbs fish sauce
  • a dash of sesame oil
  • handful basil (or thai basil) leaves
  • blanched almonds (doing the WW thing I had allocated 8 almonds each – 2 points – but really, knock yourself out and put in 100g)
  1. Slice the chicken thinly then toss with the garlic and sweet chilli sauce
  2. Heat the oil in the wok and cook the chicken for two minutes (I did it in batches) and then remove
  3. Toss the beans into the wok (I added a dash of water to aid their cooking and the fact I wasn’t using anymore oil) and cook for about two minutes.
  4. Return the chicken to the wok
  5. Add the basil and almonds and sauces
  6. Toss until warmed through
  7. Serve with steamed rice

Now, for those fellow WWs, this was a 10point dinner (the bonus of breastfeeding, you get more points) but I couldn’t eat the whole serve (go figure).

* For some inexplicable reason Woollies didn’t have green beans today and I didn’t have time to get to my favourite fruit and veg shop at Terrey Hills so I used McCain frozen baby beans – they worked a treat.

Garlic Green Beans with Breadcrumbs

The first time I made these I was in Year 10 at school (15) and had never been kissed. I made them with the potatoes above and a stuffed loin of veal, which was sensational but I’ve never made since. The potatoes and beans however are on fairly high rotation.

Garlic Green Beans with Garlic

  • 750g green beans, topped and tailed
  • 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely topped and smooshed to a paste
  • 2 tblsp fresch breadcrumbs
  • 2 tblsp flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 25g butter
  1. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, cook the beans for 6-8 minutes
  2. Drain and drop into cold water
  3. Heat the oil in a frypan
  4. Add the garlic, breadcrumbs, parsley and seasonings, cook for 1 minute
  5. Add the butter
  6. Add the beans and toss to warm through