Homemade Yogurt, Cheese, and Butter: Part II – Butter and Buttermilk

Leroy's Homemade Butter

Making butter is one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.  I got into making butter because we use ghee for cooking Indian food, and while you could make ghee from butter at the grocery store (or buy it), when I make my own butter, we get the bonus buttermilk and I make ghee later on.  I hear goat butter is pretty decadent, so I’m looking forward to experimenting with that soon!

stand mixer

1 pint heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt

1) Pour cream into mixing bowl.  Whip on medium speed until fluffy.  Add 1/2 tsp salt.  Continue whipping until butter and “water” separate.
2) Spoon out butter and squeeze out remaining moisture.  Now you have butter!
3) Pour remaining liquid (buttermilk) back into pint container (or other storage container) for later.

If you prefer unsalted butter (like me), omit the salt.  Easy peasy!


Yoga Challenge: Tripod Headstand to Crow

For me, the practice of yoga has become so much more than asana (postures).  My mat allows me the opportunity to challenge myself into trying something new.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail.  Sometimes I give up an try again in a few months.  For me, it really does create a metaphor for life.  My yoga mat provides a place for me to take out my frustrations, to celebrate my successes, to come to grips with my failures, and to feel confident in my mental, physical, and emotional capabilities.  For me, yoga does not simply focus on the physical but helps create a mental space for dealing with everyday situations. 

These mini-challenges are something that I look forward to each day.  Right now, I’m working on the transition from tripod headstand into bent arm crow.  Check out how flawlessly this woman demonstrates it!  I’ll let you know when I finally make it there!

Homemade Yogurt, Cheese, and Butter: Part I – Paneer

IMG_2791Ever since I discovered that I can make these things from scratch, I haven’t gone back to store bought.  We make enough Indian food, that it’s just not economical to buy paneer, yogurt, or ghee from the grocery store.  Not to mention that it takes so little time to make a large batch of paneer from scratch and then you can freeze it for later!

The keys to making good paneer are: 1) being careful not to overheat the milk, 2) being careful not to under heat the milk, and 3) pressing the cheese.

large stockpot
slotted spoon
cheese cloth
empty large mason jar or other heavy, clean object

1/2 gallon of whole milk (non-homogenized or raw milk, if you can find it!)
1/4 cup lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp salt

1) Line strainer with clean cheesecloth and place into clean sink.
2) Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the stock pot.  Begin warming on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Rest thermometer on the edge of the pot.
3) As the temperature rises to about 150F, the milk will start to become frothy.  This is good, but now is when you’re going to want to keep a better eye on the temperature.  Stir more frequently.
4) When the temperature reaches 200F, add the curdling agent of choice.  We use lemon juice because that’s what our Indian friends recommend!  Any will work, but the curdling agent will impart flavor into the cheese, so choose one that either you like the taste of or that will compliment the dish you are making.
5) Remove from heat and continue stirring about 2 minutes.
6) Pour curds into cheesecloth lined strainer.  Continue stirring for another minute.  Add salt and continue stirring for another minute.  Wind the top of the cheese cloth to release as much whey as possible, place into the strainer, then place the mason jar on top of the cheese.  Fill the mason jar with water, adding as much weight as possible to press the cheese.
7) Let cheese rest for at least 15 minutes, as much as 1 hour is better.
8) Unwrap the cheese and cut it in half.  Use half for dinner, and freeze the other half for later!

thetajTaj Mahal Reflecting Pool.  Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.  2012.

Leftover Night: Black Bean and Spaghetti Squash Burritos

IMG_1499This recipe is super simple and really quick.  You could always just use 1 or 2 cans of black beans without the squash, but we happened to have a little of both in the freezer, so I threw this together for a quick, mid-week meal.

2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1 medium chopped onion
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
~1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
~1 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
salt, to taste

1) Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add cumin, coriander, and chili powder and saute until aromatic (about 2-3 minutes), stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add chopped onion and bell pepper and saute until barely soft (less than 5 minutes).  Add black beans, spaghetti squash, and chipotle pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, until beans and squash are hot.  Add salt, to taste.

Serving Options
flour or corn tortilla wraps or tortilla chips
chopped fresh cilantro
yogurt or sour cream
guacamole or just plain avocado
shredded cheddar, Monterrey or pepper jack cheese or crumbled queso fresco

There are so many serving options here!  We served these inside flour burrito wraps, but you could easily put this on top of tortilla chips and a bed of lettuce for a “taco salad” option.  We garnished our burritos with chopped cilantro, homemade salsa (I’ll post this on a later date!), homemade yogurt (also for a later post!), slices of avocado, and shredded cheddar cheese.  Delicious!

Caramelized Onion, Roasted Garlic and Pink Potato Soup

Obviously, you don’t need to use pink potatoes, but they certainly made the soup rather pretty!  This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks by Mollie Katzen, The Moosewood Cookbook.

4 tbsp butter (or olive oil for vegans!)
4 large yellow onions (thinly sliced)
1 tsp salt
3-4 medium sized potatoes (halved length-wise and thinly sliced)
1 bulb garlic
1 large fennel bulb (chopped)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds
4-5 cups vegetable stock
chopped scallion (optional)
sprigs of fennel bulb (optional)

1) Roast the garlic a little bit ahead of time.  Cut of about the top 1/4 inch from the heads of the garlic bulb to expose cloves. Place garlic cut-side up in small baking dish. Drizzle oil over the exposed cloves. Bake until garlic skins are golden brown and cloves are tender, about 40-50 minutes. (Maybe a chance to prepare a nice arugula salad?) Cool the garlic. Squeeze garlic cloves from skins.
2) While the garlic finishes roasting, melt the butter or olive oil in a large pot. Cook the onions and add 1 tsp of salt over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are extremely soft and dark-colored. If you feel that the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan too much, add a very small amount of broth or dry white wine to the pan and stir vigorously.
3) Add the potatoes, the minced fennel bulb, the fennel seeds. Saute over medium heat for another 3-5 minutes, then add roasted garlic. Saute for another minute.  Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil, then partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender (at least 15 minutes).
4) Add pepper and salt, to taste.
5) Ladle into soup bowls and dress up with chopped scallions and springs from the fennel bulb.

I served this with a local hard garlic goat cheese from our favorite vendor’s at the farmer’s market (R&G Cheesemakers) and a loaf of “Paul’s” homemade sourdough bread.  Delicious!