The Paneer Stands Alone

“Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are cheese” – Luis Bunuel

In this case, the age would be ‘newborn’ because paneer is a fresh cheese. I stand to be corrected but to my knowledge, paneer is the only Indian cheese. Paneer is a lot like ricotta but made solely with milk and not cream. It’s light and creamy and my favourite way to eat it is with palaak (spinach) and the warm spiciness of garam masala.

I got into a frenzy about eating Indian food on Sunday. Because Even though I was a little muzzy from the night before, I have always believed that cooking for oneself is the way to nurture oneself and so I set off on making my Sunday lunch dreams come true.

paneer recipe

Paneer Recipe

Ingredients 

2L full cream milk

6 Himalayan salt crystals

1 lemon

Method

Bring milk to scalding point with salt. Thats the point when you can see bubbles at the edge of the pot, steam raising, but not boiling yet.

Take the pot off the heat and squeeze the lemon into the pot of hot milk. Be careful not to squeeze the lemon seeds into the milk. Stir the pot with a wooden spoon and set aside for 10-15minutes. In that time, the curds and whey (yes, intsy-wintsy-spider style) will separate. The curds will be the lumpy milk solids and the whey is a sour-looking liquid that will separate to the top of the pot.

Ready a strainer or sieve lined with muslin cloth or a new kitchen cloth. Cut your piece of string before you pour the curds and whey into the cloth.

Pour the liquid into the muslin. Tie the cloth closed with the string and suspend. The curds needs to hang to allow the excess liquid to drain off ±45minutes. Once most of the liquid has drain off, place the muslin cloth with the paneer in it between two flat surfaces – a dinner plate weighed down with a side plate and a pestle will do. Once the curds have drained dry, cut into squares and add to your curry sauce.

 

 

Sunflower Running Bread

If ever given the choice, I will always choose bread over cake. Warm, crisp-crusted and chewy with a slick of butter.

This morning worked out almost too perfectly. I weighed the ingredients out last night and tossed them all into my stand-up mixer with the dough hook attachment when I woke up. 15 minutes of kneading and then I left for my morning run. I cling-filmed the bowl and allowed the dough to raise. An hour later I got back and put the mixture into a greased cake tin and baked it while I readied myself for my day. As I flicked the last lash of mascara, my timer rang to end the 35minute baking time and tada – fresh bread.

I relished the fresh bake with butter and mature white cheddar (followed by yogurt and fruit because we aren’t animals). Because the bread was preceded by an almost-10KM run, I had zero reason to feel guilty. Two things about this subject – people who eat breakfast are more likely to maintain a healthy bodyweight throughout their lives. And 2) eat your carbs earlier on in the day. I’m not sure if a bowl of biriyani or pasta for breakfast quite makes the grade but the earlier the better.

“Eat breakfast like a king, and eat dinner like a pauper”

Use the bread:water ratio of 5:3. Weigh the ingredients

250g flour (I used half white and half brown bread flour)

150-200ml tepid water

7g dry yeast

1,5 T salt (I used the grey, natural salt I bought in Milan. It makes the loaf feel special)

1 tsp jaggery

½ T butter

Before baking at 220C for 35minutes, glaze with milk, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and some Maldon salt flakes.

Bread ratio so easy that you can make it while you run
Bread ratio so easy that you can make it while you run

 

Making Pasta

The first time I had ever made pasta was as a contestant on MasterChef SA. We had one day off a week and this happened to be one of the first Sundays that we got to do as we pleased. Being the garden variety food nerds that we were, we were all gathered in the kitchen testing the new gadgets out.

One of the dishes that helped me win the title was a hand cut fettuccine with West Coast Lobster (as of December 2016 The West Coast Lobster is on the SASSI red list – DO NOT EAT IT) in a tomato-based, lemongrass, chilli and sour cream sauce – the second time I had ever made pasta. And with self raising flour which was my only option! (For those of you who need an explanation, self-rising flour has baking powder in it which is a raising agent – not suitable for pasta making).

Since then I’ve made pasta with varying levels of success. The method that I would dare to call almost foolproof is by weighing, not measuring, the ingredients.

Use 1 egg per portion of pasta you wish to make. Use large eggs that are at room temperature. Each egg weighs about 50g. Multiply that by 1.5 to calculate the amount of flour you need to add. I used Millstone’s white bread flour. Then mix together and knead until the dough is springy. What I mean by that is – knead the dough until the gluten has been activated so that when you push a finger into the dough, it should spring back into shape.

Sometimes there isn’t enough time or effort for a pasta sauce so instead I roasted some rosa tomatoes with whole cloves of garlic, thyme and red chillies to be smooshed later and tossed through the warm pasta. Some pan-friends courgettes and a bit of goats milk Chevin and you’re ready for a light pasta lunch.

Home made pasta