Yes, my friends, I can now scratch off “Make my own cheese” off of my life’s bucket list. Gosh, that just does not sound right, does it?
Spring Break continues for me this week while the rest of the family is either at work or school. I am tired of doing laundry. I am not in the mood to do any cleaning. If I had any real motivation, I would go hiking or something. Nope. Not happening today. I am happy to admit that I did indeed accomplish something today. Taking a bit of a culinary adventure, I not only made my own cheese (some paneer), but I also made gluten-free dosas and palak paneer. Yay me!
I absolutely love paneer, and I have tried halfheartedly to find some in stores. I’ve tried regular grocery stores as well as places like Whole Foods, but no luck. Yes, I realize that there are more specialized grocery stores in the area, but I get totally overwhelmed and self-conscious asking for help (pathetic, I know). I had pretty much given up. It was going to have to be premade Indian cuisine for me. And it was…until I just happened to look up a recipe. Three cheers for the gods at Google! Looking at several links, I realized that making paneer wouldn’t be difficult at all. Paneer, it seems, is a cheese that does not require aging or bacterial cultures. There are just two basic ingredients: milk and yogurt (although, some recipes use lemon juice or buttermilk instead of the yogurt).
Yup, that’s it. Oh, and you also need some cheesecloth. Basically, all you need to do is heat up the milk just about to boiling while stirring often. I like to cook. You would think I would know what milk about to boil would look like. No. It’s not really in my major realm of experience. I don’t do much heating of milk. I know that if I don’t stir, it’s going to burn the bottom…and that’s just pretty icky. There are no little bubbles to let you know that it’s about to get to that critical point. I winged it.
When it got just about to where I imagined boiling might be, I stirred in the yogurt…some Stonyfield whole fat plain. Oh dear god. That stuff is a dessert on it’s own. Almost immediately, it started to curdle. Pretty gosh darn cool, I might add. It gets all chunky, and the liquid turns a funky kind of almost transparent. I suppose that doesn’t sound very appealing, but it’s cool. Trust me.
When the mixture stops curdling, you line a strainer with cheesecloth. Put the strainer on top of a large bowl (Save that whey…it’s good for you! Remind me to tell the rest of the family. I stashed mine in several margarine containers and put them in the fridge. That could be a bit of a rude awakening for someone expecting margarine. I am going to do what the recipe suggests and use the whey to cook some rice.)
You might think that I’m done. Nope. Not yet. Now comes the fun part. After you let the curds drain for a bit, you tie them up with the cheesecloth and hang it from the faucet in your sink. Good times.
That drains for a bit, and then you take it down and squeeze some more moisture out. You then put the cheesecloth bag onto a plate, put another plate on top, and then put something heavy on top of that. I used the bowl of whey, following the example done on the website. If you do this, I would highly recommend that you do this in your nice, clean sink. The recipe said that was necessary due to more draining of the cheese. Mine didn’t drain too much more. I just about knocked a large amount of whey all over the kitchen counters and floor when I tried to take a picture of it on the counter first. It’s better to knock the bowl of whey over in the sink, methinks.
After this sets for a bit, remove the bowl of whey, and the plate. Untie the cheesecloth bag and take the lovely paneer out. All that is left to do now is to cut them into cubes.
Oh gosh! These are really, really good! I fried some in a bit of ghee and used them to make palak paneer.
But that’s another story. I’ll try to get to that later. It’s just about time to go pick up the husband and boy.
The page that I found the recipe was the following:
I’m sure there is a link button somewhere here, but I haven’t found it yet. Haha.