Inspired by the last week's local Matar Paneer over at One Size Fits All, I decided to copy her and make a vegetarian Indian dish for One Local Summer.
Making paneer is quite easy--easier even (and faster) than making goat cheese. I brought a gallon of whole milk to a hard boil. As the boiling milk began to rise, I took the pot off the burner and added about a quarter cup of lemon juice, whisking it in for a couple of minutes. I then let the tiny curds sit in the whey for about ten minutes, then drained the mixture through a cheesecloth. (I'm enjoying a cultural cheese game that can make your head spin by saving the whey to make mysost.) After it had drained for about fifteen minutes, I shaped it into a round (still in cheesecloth), put it on a tray, and weighted it down with a big pot filled with water for about a half an hour.
While the cheese was draining, I went out to the garden to help David do some weeding in the Three Sisters plot.
I brought in a handful of radish tops and a large bowl full of purslane--that plant that is ridiculously easy to grow (since it doesn't even need to be planted) but hard to get rid of. Yes, it is a weed--but a very tasty one full of great nutrition. Why not replace the spinach in saag paneer with this garden-fresh produce?
I sauteed a farmers market onion (on its very last legs) in some farm butter until it was soft. I added various Indian spices (cumin, coriander, ginger, red pepper, etc.), then stirred in the radish greens and the purslane. After a few minutes, I added the cubed paneer, then added some cream and some yogurt, both from the above-linked farm.
We served the meal over some non-local jasmine rice. How delicious!
* * *
I enjoyed the meal so much that we made Indian food for the next meal, too--with a lot more nonlocal ingredients--and equally iconoclastic and non-authentic, I fear.
While sipping a rhubarb martini...
...I put together a dish made with home-canned tomatoes, store-canned chickpeas, some leftover green beans brought home from a restaurant one evening, and some leftover radish tops. Assorted seasonings and some yogurt and cream rounded out the dish. Since we were out of rice, we served it over millet (one of my favorite grains).
For dessert, I chopped up some non-local almonds in the old family wooden bowl and mezzaluna given to us recently by David's parents. The grooves worn into the wooden by his ancestors made the tool fit just perfectly into my hand.
Inspired by the gorgeous pictures and great ideas over at Tea & Cookies, we sprinkled some of the leftover paneer with local honey and the almonds. Although folks who love sweets might not be completely satisfied with this dessert, I thought it was an absolutely perfect ending.