Tag Archives: Recipe

Making organic paneer

7160310722_32905aa198Today I made myself some cheese! This recipe is easy peasy, there’s no rennet, and you don’t need anything but fresh organic whole milk and something acidic (vinegar, lemon or lime juice). I set out to make Paneer, but stopped before shaping the cheese curds to enjoy some ricotta-like cheese with chilli flakes, herbs and olive oil.

This Indian cheese (Paneer) isn’t mature or ‘cheesy’ tasting, it’s very plain and doesn’t melt, this is because with matured cheese, like cheddar, rennet is added which further breaks down the proteins in the curd, forming a single mass which matures over time and melts under heat. Paneer doesn’t include rennet (from India, this cheese can be consumed by the vegetarian hindu population of the country) so it doesn’t mature well and doesn’t melt. But it does make a great creamy fresh background for strong flavours like curry, chilli or oregano.

So what’s the advantage of making your own paneer? Well first of all it’s fun, secondly it’s cheap (4  pints of milk makes a good bit of paneer and at only £1.69 for 4 pints of organic wholemilk, I think it’s at least £1 cheaper than the same cheese in the shops), thirdly it means you can make your cheese organic- I’ve never seen organic paneer in the shops.

So here’s how you make it, AND how to use it straight away on tasty pizza slices!

So you need:

4 pints of whole organic milk

Between 100 and 140ml of acid (vinegar, lemon of lime juice- I recommend the most tasteless, so rice vinegar or similar is good).

Here’s what you do:

Put the milk in a large pan

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Heat the milk until boiling and then turn it down to a simmer.

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Add the lemon juice or vinegar,  in small amounts until the white cheese curds split away from the green whey, don’t add more acid than you need to, just because you don’t want the strong lemony or vinegary flavour. It’s worth mentioning it looks gross at this point but don’t let you put that off.

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Drain the curds through a cheesecloth or piece of muslin, squeeze out all the whey you can (don’t spend a lot of money, a clean teatowel or piece of sheet is fine). It’ll look like this…

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Rinse the cheese curds in the cheesecloth to get rid of any acidic flavour,  then tie the cheese cloth into a parcel and rinse the cheese again, or soak the cheese in cold water, just to get all the lemon/lime/vinegar out.

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Squeeze the cheese again to get out as much liquid as possible.

Now it should look like this, soft crumbly curds.

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At this point hang the cheese up to drip out the last of the liquid.

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When the cheese has been hanging for a few hours and most of the moisture is gone, cut open the parcels, shape the cheesecloths with the curds inside into a block shape and wrap in more cheesecloth if available. Then squash with something heavy to form the cheese into a block.

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My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

My version of something heavy- a cast iron pan filled with jars of garlic and coffee!

Before hanging it up, if you just can’t wait- nick a few of those curds out and add dried chilli flakes, dried herbs and olive oil, you can eat this smeared on bread or make into tasty pizza slices (see my post HERE 🙂 )

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Red Cabbage and Yogurt Salad

So Jamie Oliver made this as a coleslaw with finely grated mixed cabbages and mustard to have with bean burgers, I liked it so much I added more yogurt and made it a little chunkier to enjoy as a yogurty raita style accompaniment to have with curry.  The amazing thing about this salad is the colour of it and the point where it changes colour…amazing.

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ingredients for the cabbage raita/slaw:

-1/4 of a large red cabbage finely sliced in the food processor (or by hand) or grated with a box grater for a finer texture.

-1 small red onion, finely sliced

-A tablespoon of chopped, fresh coriander

-The juice of half a lemon

-A big pot of fat-free  Greek yogurt

So you dice up the cabbage and onion, place in a bowl and squeeze the lemon over, you’ll see the cabbage turn from almost blue-purple to BRIGHT RED. Red cabbage contains a natural litmus property which changes colour with different pHs, so this is pretty cool. Add yogurt to taste, more yogurty for Raita, less for slaw, mix in most of the coriander, mix together and then sprinkle the rest of the coriander on top. Voila! YUM!

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan.

Cabbage Raita, Brinjal Bahji with broad beans, tomato and onion pickle and coriander naan- and two tins of stella!

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

Brinjal Bhaji with Broad Beans

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Anyone for Tagine?

Vegetable Tagine, lentil salad and bread at Bab Bou Jeloud, Fes

James and I just got back from Morocco where we were travelling for 2 weeks from Fes to Marrakesh (through Ifrane, Azrou, Midelt, Er-Rachidia, Erfoud, Merzouga, Todra Gorge and Essouira).  Before going I was a little worried we would have a hard time getting vegetarian food, or encounter the awkward scenario of trying to explain in a foreign language that vegetarian really does mean ‘no chicken’.

However this was simply not the case, it was actually really easy to be vegetarian in Morocco, even in fairly small towns. We had a few dishes that tasted like they were likely cooked in meat broth, which wasn’t a nice surprise, but it was always really easy to find a menu with at least a couple of veggie options on- including tagine, couscous, pasta and pizza.

I thought I’d detail some of the places we ate in the nature of food tourism or for anyone looking for places to go:

We recommend

Le Kasbah, Fes

This place was right by Bab Bou Jeloud and served up some really tasty salad, veggie tagine with lemon peel and olives and couscous for a reasonable price, the veggie tagine tasted pretty “savoury” so for purists, I’d stick with the couscous!

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Riad Laayoun, Fes

We stayed at Riad Laayoun and it was truly excellent, the accommodation was unique and the meal there was very good, if a little more pricey than the medina, the top ups of mint tea and cookies during our stay were really nice too.

Ksar Sania, Merzouga

There were some things that weren’t so good about staying at Ksar Sania, like the crabby colonial french owner, the overpricing and the constant subtle pressure to buy excursions or extras (go for camels, avoid all lifts or excursions elsewhere), but the food was very good indeed.

Berber Omelette, with tomatoes and peppers at Ksar Sania

Auberge Le-Festival, Todra Gorge

Excellent people, excellent food in an amazing setting, this place rescued our diminishing faith in morocco being a nice place- what more can I say? It was GORGEous (get it, ‘cos it’s in a blummin massive gorge).

A candlelight meal for two! Enjoying a salad washed in bottled water (phew!)

Vegetable Moussaka- Maroc style!

Earth Cafe, Marrakesh

We ate twice at this vegetarian and vegan restaurant hidden in the souk,  just away from the central square. The lentil burger (despite sounding dull) was actually the best dish of the 2 nights we ate there.

Spring rolls and Lentil Burger

Spinach and Goats cheese parcel and lentil burger

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Asparagus Bread

 

Lots of people have signature dishes, one of mine is definitely Asparagus Bread. It’s a warm savoury accompaniment when baked fresh to go with pasta or pizza and just as good as a sandwich for munching on at lunch time the day after baking.

To make it I just make a normal 1/2 kilo white bread batch (500g flour, 300ml water, 5g dried yeast, 10g salt and a good slug of olive oil), knead, rise, knock back and shape the bread as normal and then push the dough into a roasting tray lined with baking paper, like focaccia. Rub all over with olive oil and garlic crushed and mixed with butter, then press in stalks of fresh asparagus, push them right into the dough, and sprinkle with grated parmesan (the cheap grated hard cheese in a canister is fine, the fine salty granules taste great and don’t melt in the oven). Bake at the highest temperature your oven will go (around 220C) until golden and makes a hollow sound when knocked. Lift out to cool on a wire rack…Voila!

I’ve found the best guide to getting perfect bread (with loads of great recipes) is the River Cottage  Handbook No.3 ‘Bread’  by Daniel Stevens- a beautiful and invaluable guide.

 

 

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Ghana Stew

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Pic by Natalie Maynor (flickr CCAL 3998726817)

I don’t know if this recipe is actually at all Ghanian, but my Grandma made it for me and she calls it Ghana Stew. I’m not sure if my recipe is the same as hers, but it’s mighty tasty and really easy to make.

I just fry a large thinly sliced onion, a thinly sliced red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic until soft in some olive oil.

Then add cumin, chilli and paprika to taste (I ground up last years home grown paprika peppers in a coffee grinder for extra tastiness!).

Add a couple of 400g cans of plum tomatoes, I smushed these up with a wooden spoon in the pot.

Let it bubble and get all soft and smushy, add as much peanut butter as you want. I use almost a whole small jar of wholenut (about 4ish heaped tablespoons)

Then add three parboiled (or par-microwaved) chopped sweet potatos.

Let it simmer until the sweet potatos are soft and serve with crunchy bread!

A thrifty protein-filled vegan treat!

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Not much to look at but very tasty! Excuse the messy bowl!

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Gnocchi with Chargrilled Marinated Aubergine

For tonight’s dinner I made gnocchi in a red wine tomato sauce with chargrilled marinated aubergine and green olives. I’ll put the gnocchi and ragu recipes up here shortly but wanted to write a quick post about the aubergine because it was pretty spectacular if I don’t say so myself!

So I sliced the aubergine into long strips then marinated it in a marinade of 4 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of chopped chillies and a good glug of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar (quite a lot of balsamic and soy is required to get a rich flavour) and olive oil, half a teaspoon of dried sage and half a teaspoon of dried basil. I then added some water to make this into a sloshy marinade, and poured over the aubergine strips. They didn’t marinade for long only about 15 mins as I was pottering around the kitchen preparing the other items.

I heated my cast iron chargrill pan and coated it in olive oil.

I seared the aubergine strips on each side before pouring over some of the marinade into the hot pan, letting is steam and bubble off then allowing the aubergine to sear again. I took the aubergine out of the pan as I cooked the gnocchi.

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Cooking off the marinade!

Very delicious!

The final dish!

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Eye Candy

Vegetarian food porn of the month (ahem, I mean photo of the month) is provided by Daniel Eizans, who has made this lip-smacking image of the humble Enchillada available on Creative Commons 2.0 (non-com, no derivs) on flickr.

Thanks for the Mexican Splendour Daniel! A tasty start to the New Year!

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