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Paneer and Yellow Indian Woman Beans

August 11, 2009

Well I have some successes and some failutes.  The paneer worked out fine–even though I tried coagulating it with whey which I had saved in the freezer from a previous batch.  It didn’t seem to be working, so I threw in half a quart of buttermilk that was left in the refrigerator, and then it separated into curds and whey as it should.  (I will go back to using yogurt in the recipe, as below.)

Curds and Whey

Curds and Whey

I’ve used two Indian cookbooks as my recipe source: Laxmi’s Vegetarian Kitchen by Laxmi Hiremath and The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra

Paneer–Fresh Homemade Cheese

1/2 gallon 2% milk, preferable organic

2 cups plain yogurt (I use Stonyfield Lowfat) *you could use 1 quart buttermilk  instead according to Batra but Hiremath’s proportions would call for just 2 cups buttermilk??

fine cheesecloth (muslin) to fit colander or sieve

Rinse a large saucepan with cold water (this helps prevent the milk from burning).  Bring the milk to a boil in the saucepan.  Add the yogurt (or buttermilk) and stir over high heat, until the milk curdles and separates into curds and whey.  (The whey will be a pale, translucent green liquid.)  Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Line a colander with muslin or 4 layers cheesecloth and place in the sink.  (If you want to save the whey place the colander in a bowl.)  Pour in the curds and let the whey drain.  Gather the four corners of the muslin and tie them to the faucet to hang and drain for about 5 minutes

Remove from the faucet and gently twist the muslin to extract as much whey as possible.  You will then want to weight the cheese, still in its muslin, between two flat surfaces.  I put my cheese in a small coeur a la creme mold and set something heavy on top.  Press it for about 10 minutes and then let it cool.  Cut it into whatever shapes/sizes you desire.

Yield: about 12 ounces

Use fresh paneer within 4 days.

It may be frozen and will keep for 3 to 4 months.  If you freeze it on a baking sheet in a single layer you can transfer it to plastic freezer bags and will be able to remove individual pieces as needed.

Less successful was my attempt to make Ricotta.  The method is similar to Paneer but I think I took it off the heat too soon before it had coagulated enough (I was following a recipe that used a temperature endpoint) and I ended up with only about a cup of ricotta (from a gallon of milk) instead of 4 cups.  Ah well…

The beans, heirlooms from Rancho Gordo ( were creamy and delicious as promised, especially served with Ugli tomatoes and roasted corn.  See the recipe at


My first day of blogging

August 10, 2009

IMG_0126The theme of my blog will be to focus on healthy vegetarian cooking. 

I’ve subscribed to Vegetarian Times for years and every month when it arrives I salivate over many of the recipes but end up making very few.  I’ve now set myself the task of cooking each month the FAB 5–the recipes that the VT editors think are terrific.

The FAB 5 from the July/August 2009 issue are:

1. Laotian Eggplant with Tomatoes, Onion, and Mint

2. Essence of Tomato Soup

3. Sweet Zucchini-Ricotta Pancakes with Raisins and Walnuts

4. Smoky Baby Portobello Sliders

5. Blackberry, Jicama, and Apple Salad

The Portabello Sliders sounded so enticing that I did make them last week and they were flavorful and “meaty” and even though they were slightly fussy (I had to prepare Classic BBQ Rub first, then cook onions till golden for a topping before grilling the mushrooms and warming the rolls) I would definitely make them again.  And indeed I shall have to because I didn’t take a photo of them.