Cheese, cheese, is good for your heart.
Well… maybe it is. Actually, thinking about it… too much cheese is unfortunately not the best. But that never stops me!
There was a heavy snowfall. My mother was on her break, and WestConn was closed due to the weather. Doesn’t this just seem like the best time to do some family bonding? My mother and I always bond best by doing two things: Watching Netflix, and cooking.
As some of you may know, cheese just so happens to be our favourite thing in the entire world.
I kid you not! I was a vegan at one point in time… And I could do it. I really could… Except there was no way that I could give up cheese for more than a week. I digress…
We decided to open up Louella Hill’s book yet again, and decided to skip forward and challenge ourselves a tad. Instead of making simple yogurt (Lying: that wasn’t simple) or fromage blanc, we decided to challenge ourselves with a bit of a harder recipe…
Paneer is in the beginning of the book, so it couldn’t be too hard to make… right? Well… it still was a bit of a challenge, but all worth it in the end.
The recipe started with the usual: Get a gallon of milk and warm it up. Last time we did this, a large film of burnt milk coated the bottom of our pot… and unfortunately it occurred again. We were not going to let one small bump in the road faze us.
This recipe called for lemon juice as the acid to separate the whey and the curds. I was skeptical at first, but watching it happen right in front of my eyes was quite a shock. NEVER have I seen something so cool. I felt like a little kid doing a science experiment!
After the curds separated, it was time to strain it through a cheese cloth. This is where it got complicated… It just would not strain. And we had no idea why! Recipe called for straining for just a few minutes. I think we let the cheese strain for a few hours, going back every few minutes to potentially squeeze out whatever excess liquid we could.
Remember how I said it was snowing? Well, the kitchen was cold. My hands were cold. So holding and wringing out this cheese in the cheese cloth was no party on my hands. I could feel them get a little more dry every time I washed the excess liquid from my fingers.
So let’s fast forward now. It took so long to strain that we ended up actually letting our cheese sit and strain over night. It was cold, remember? I had no fear of it growing any creepy bacteria in below thirty degree weather.
So, next morning. We wrung it out as much as we could, then placed a plate on top of it with some weights. That made it so that the cheese would be a little firmer, which is just what we wanted.
And that was that. Afterwards we simply unwrapped the cheesecloth, and voila! Our masterpiece. Our first round of (decently) hard cheese.
It was pretty good. For the amount of time it took to make, I wish it was a little better. Especially a little harder. We let it press for three hours and the recipe said to let it sit for around two hours.
Friendly reminder that this is a VERY plain cheese. It almost reminded me of a soft tofu, but after using it an actual dish, I fell in love. I think I want to try making this again. Maybe next time it’ll be a little better.
We ended up using this batch for an easy butter paneer recipe. Find it here!