Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Featured Forger: Mirch Masala makes Paneer

Yesterday I came across a fabulous home cheese making post over at Mirch Masala...and the incredibly talented Superchef was kind enough to allow me to share it here at Forging Fromage!
Paneer / Cottage Cheese, the most versatile ingredient in Indian, especially vegetarian cooking is easily available in all Indian grocery stores. So, why bother making it at home??! Well, there are a couple of good reasons, at least for me. First of all, the ones that you get in stores has this rubbery texture to it. Even though you can live with it, the homemade paneer has a different fresh texture and taste and absorbs the flavour better than the store bought ones. Now especially with paneer, which doesn't have any particular taste to it, this is a very important factor. Second is the cost factor – you will easily spend 6-7 bucks for a block of paneer where as a similar quantity can be made at home with about a gallon of milk which is anywhere between 2-3 $. I know, I know its not a HUGE difference. But don't you feel good when you get better quality and better tasting product for lesser price and the best thing is the satisfaction of making paneer at home! Hope at least some of you agree with me :)You will need:
1/2 gallon 2% milk – whole milk will be better
2 oz (1/4 cup) distilled white vinegar ( you can use equal amount lime/lemon juice also)

A heavy bottomed pan
a colander
cheese cloth, to strain
heavy pans/canned food/other heavy things as weightsHeat the milk in a heavy bottomed pan/cast iron pan on medium heat. Keep stirring so that the milk doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Just when the milk starts steaming and just before it comes to a boil, add the vinegar to it. The milk will curdle and you will see something like whats shown in the photo below.Now strain this on a cheese cloth spread over a colander. If you want you can collect the whey (the liquid part) for later use. Wait for sometime till the water drains out completely and then take out the cheese cloth. Place a plate or a chopping board in the sink, place the cheesecloth folded on top it. Place another plate and put some cans of food or a heavy pan on top of it as weights. After about an hour – hour and a half, remove the plates and weights and take out the block of paneer. Chop into small pieces and store or store as it is in the refrigerator for later use. Here are some recipes using paneer :

Paneer Makhani / Paneer Butter Masala – An Easier Version
Paneer Butter Masala on a Pizza
Palak Paneer
Paneer Pulao
Um, yeah...awesome, right!? Thanks so much for sharing your Paneer making method with us, Manju! And believe me, if you don't visit Mirch Masala already...you will get lost in this fabulous world of spices n' more!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our Cheese Dairy-filled Adventure for the month of December is...

We figured since everybody is dealing with a little seasonal/holiday madness this time of year, it best to take it easy again. We chose Créme Fraîche this month...although it's not cheese, it is a dairy product, and we've decided to broaden our focus a bit to include other dairy gems such as this! Créme Fraîche translates to Fresh Cream. Are you familiar with it? It's thick, tangy and perfectly decadent! "It originated before the days of pasteurization, when refrigeration and fast transportation weren't available. The cream collected bacteria and fermented before it was able to make its way from French dairy farms to the markets. The French developed a taste for it and still enjoy the flavor today."* Um, me too. With an average of somewhere between 30-60% butterfat, is there any question why? I'm going to provide a recipe again, in hopes that we'll have a couple more people join us in our adventure this month...you don't have to use this recipe...but it's here if you need it! And who couldn't use a good container of this gorgeous cream to drizzle on their fish, poultry, vegetable and fruit on their holiday table? Finish a pan sauce with a blob for extra creamy richness. Throw in some herbs for savory dishes...or mix in some honey and vanilla to go with fruit! Top a baked potato or an omelet with a dab. Give it a go...you will be pleased!

Créme Fraîche
from The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley (see sidebar to get your own copy)

1-2 Tbs. cultured Buttermilk
2 c. (1 pint) heavy cream do not use ultra-pasteurized (needs that good bacteria!)

1. Combine buttermilk and cream in medium saucepan and heat only to tepid (not more than 85 degrees F). Pour mixture into a clean pint jar. Cover partially and let stand at room temp (between 65-75 degrees F) for 8-24 hours or until thickened. Don't be scared of leaving it out...it is an essential step and so worth it. I've made it before. Really.

2. Stir and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using. The cream will continue to thicken and develop flavor in fridge. It will keep for ~2 weeks.

We look forward to seeing your Créme Fraîche and what you've done with it this month! Once you've posted...or made and pictured...email us with a link or picture/text you'd like to be included in the roundup (by the end of the month). Forge!

*source The Home Creamery

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mascarpone RoundUp!

We had 2 takers this month...or should I say 2 makers? Hmmm. 2 takers who were Mascarpone makers. 2 part-time bakers, they ain't no fakers, Autumn leaf rakers, who may or may not like the Lakers...and occasionally walk around nakers and are both early wakers. Sorry. So, this simple Italian-style Creamier than creamy cream cheese...Mascarpone! 2 ingredients used by 2 makers were all that were required. Just look at the end results! As you may have guessed, Natashya and I were the ones who made the cheese...and I'll include the links to our original posts so you can check out the methods we used.

Just look at these beauties that Natashya made with her mascarpone. Wowza!
And now, feast your eyes upon my lovely creation.
Oh, that's right. I'm a slacker super-busy girli with no time to use her Mascarpone. Ugh. It's in the freezer...I'll post an update in the future.

Watch for next month's adventure to be announced soon! And don't forget that if you make a cheese ball or cheese dip or something cheesy this holiday season to send us a link or picture and we'll round 'em all up in the new year!