I sent all my non-lactating goats to a friend's house to clean up her yard, and so for the next week or so I will be collecting nearly three gallons of milk a day. Probably that means it's time to can the year's supply of cajeta (goat's milk caramel sauce). I am actually all out of cheese making supplies - culture and rennet - so I'm going to order some more. It will take three days for the supplies to arrive in the mail, but in the meanwhile I can always make paneer - vinegar soured cheese.
Most of you are probably familiar with paneer from your local Indian restaurant - Saag Paneer is the famous pureed spiced spinach with cubed cheese dish. However, Paneer is used in any number of ways in Indian cooking, both sweet and savory. I tend to be lazy, which means I simply toss cubed panner into whatever type of curry I am currently simmering on the stovetop - peas and potatoes are popular, as are tomato based curries or chickpea or lentil stews. In my wonderful cookbook "660 Curries" by Raghavan Iyer, there are some thirty recipes for Paneer utilizing everything from cashews to cabbage. Most of them call for the paneer to be fried in shallow oil until golden beore being added to the curries, but you can skip this step if you want. Paneer is also great tucked into a hot folded tortilla or crumbled into a pan full of scrambled eggs. In fact, Paneer can be used pretty much any way you would use a fresh farmer's cheese or queso fresco. It works in quesadillas, for example. Indians use it in desserts, but I can't offer any recipes because I've never tried that.
What I love about it is that Paneer is "easy cheese." It requires almost nothing in the way of equipment or supplies. If you have a colander and some clean cloth, you can make paneer.
1 gallon milk (fresh raw milk will have the most flavor, but plain store bought cow's milk will work as well)
2-4 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
Heat milk in a large pot to near boiling - about 180 degrees if you have a thermometer, or until it begins to rise up if you don't. Remove from heat. Drizzle in vinegar, stirring, until you see curds separate from whey - this will take about 1 minute.
Line a colander with a triple thickness of cheesecloth or with a section of plain cotton cloth cut from a pillowcase or sheet. Pour the contents of the pot into colander, slowly enough to let whey drain and curds be caught. Fold clean cloth over the top and let sit overnight.
In the morning, cut cheese into 1/2" cubes and salt heavily. Use in Indian or Mexican recipes or in grilled cheese sandwiches, or as you like.
Saturday, June 11, 2011