kadai paneer for lina’s challenge

kadai paneerkadai paneerI haven’t been blogging too much for the past little while, but of course I had to make sure I posted in time for Lina‘s monthly March challenge of North Indian curries. I chose kadai paneer because I’ve wanted to try cooking with paneer for a while. Using a fresh cheese as the main component of a dish is something very new to me and I wasn’t sure what to expect. making paneermaking fresh paneerI really enjoyed it. The paneer has a very clean and fresh taste, and a firm texture that softens a bit once it is heated up. It’s like cooking with a very firm tofu–it’s not too strong tasting itself, but it provides texture, solidity, and a mellow taste.

Since I was at it, I thought I might as well make the paneer. The last time I made cheese was accidental (I was trying to make a goat cheese custard and curdled everything instead). This was essentially the same as that time, though now more purposeful: heat the milk with some acidic until it curdles. draining fresh paneersoda bread from wheyThat being said, I don’t believe I’ll be making paneer regularly–I did not get too much out of 1 L of milk (and in my head I was comparing it to 1 L of custard so it felt like such a waste!).

Despite that, it was quite fun and I also got a loaf of soda bread out of it–adapted from this recipe shared by Jenny of Dragonfly Home Recipes–which I made with the whey (it felt like too much of a waste to pour it out). The soda bread is a recipe that I’ve had my eye on for a little while, and ah, after all this sourdough, it’s so lovely and quick to make a bake a bread right away. The crumb is very dense and tender and just a bit sweet from the molasses. ingredients for kadai paneerkadai paneerThe kadai paneer is adapted from Veg Recipes of India‘s semi-dry kadai paneer and paneer, a very beautiful and comprehensive blog.

kadai paneerkadai paneer with riceThis is for Lina‘s monthly March challenge of North Indian curries. Parul and Sandhya have kindly offered to judge. I shall be visiting and commenting on some of the other beautiful and delicious submissions soon in a couple days, once this little busy streak subsides (for the moment, at least!).

kadai paneer with plenty of eggplant

Well, I wonder if I can still call it kadai paneer if it wasn’t made in a kadai. I used a sort-of wok (it has a flat bottom for ease of use on the electric stovetop, though that also seems to miss the point). It also has more eggplant than it does paneer. Adapted from Veg Recipes of India’s semi-dry kadai paneer and paneer

paneer

I ended up with 100 g of paneer out of 1 L of milk. 

1 L milk

lemon

kadai paneer

Makes quite a generous amount.

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 clove garlic, minced

1 generous knob ginger, finely chopped

2 small onions, chopped

2-3 tbsp red chile paste

1 Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 can diced tomatoes

1 capiscum, sliced thinly

1 tsp garam masala

1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

100 g paneer, cubed

handful cilantro

To make the paneer, put the milk into a saucepan and heat until it boils. Squeeze in lemon juice while continuing to cook until the milk curdles. Remove from the heat, pour into a strainer lined with cheese cloth and let drain. Squeeze out the excess liquid, keep the paneer wrapped tightly in the cheesecloth, and set a weight over the paneer until cooled.

For the kadai paneer: Toast and finely grind the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. Heat some oil in a pan (of some sort–perhaps a kadai, a wok, or a frypan) and cook the garlic and ginger for a few moments before adding the onions. Cook until translucent. Briefly fry the red chile paste (add more oil if needed), then add the eggplant and cook until everything is evenly coated.

Pour the tomatoes overtop and continue to cook (add water to keep things from drying out), stirring regularly, until the eggplant is softened. Add the sliced capsicum and cook until it is just tender, then the garam masala, fenugreek and paneer. Cook for a few minutes to warm up the paneer.

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with generous amounts of chopped cilantro leaves.

kadai paneer

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today is simple: poached persimmon and cream

This was not supposed to have a post. This was supposed to just be a bit of a side note on another persimmon recipe. An “oh look you can poach persimmons with vanilla and cardamom too” and then A photo. ONE photo.

But I didn’t end up with one photo did I? I never do!There is nothing very special about this. If we’re talking vanilla and cardamom poached fruit, that’s already happened before. In fact, I also used these persimmons while they were a bit underripe (this is because they were also a bit bruised) and so they didn’t have that lovely custardy-mango texture.

I still did enjoy it as I love the taste of persimmon. Photo inflation is a dangerous phenomenom. I’ve been going through my drafts pretty quickly as of late. I also haven’t been too visit-y lately (there is a better word I’m sure, but my brain slows to a halt after 3 pm). This combination is because I am hoping to work my way through some of these drafts and try to clean up a bit after myself! After all, it’s almost spring, so that means spring cleaning right?persimmon poached with vanilla and cardamom

1 persimmon, sliced

2-cm length of vanilla bean

~6 small green cardamom pods

1 1/2 c water (enough to sort of cover)

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

Simmer gently until fruit is just tender. Turn off heat and set sit in the poached liquid until cooled.

To serve, mix some of the poaching liquid with a bit of cream (I’ve realized that while I do love 36%, 18% cream with fruit is perfectly sufficient for my tastes) and pour over the pomelo slices.

chocolate walnut tart with pomegranate

Lately it’s been buckwheat (and well, pictures taken a bit too late in the evening). There have been these pancakes, this other tart and plenty more in the drafts. What I really love about buckwheat is how much you can taste it. It’s so satisfying to choose a certain flour because you want to taste said flour, and then actually be able to taste it.

My introduction to the taste of buckwheat was rather ambiguous. My sister made these cookies. They tasted so very very good but I couldn’t tell where the bitterness and earthyness of chocolate ended and the buckwheat began.

That might be the point–the flavours go together just so well that one can seamlessly slip into the other.I still really wanted to be able to taste the buckwheat. I’m not the most perceptive and sensitive when it comes to taste, but I also want to blame a bit of it on the particular batch of flour–at the time I had some one year-old buckwheat flour from Bulk Barn. I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill flour lately, and it is surprisingly different. Even the colour of the flour is darker, and once moistened, the it becomes hearty and deep grey compared to the slightly more pallid bulk flour. I think the taste comes out a bit more as well (though without a side-by-side I can’t say).

Edit: It turns out there is such a thing as “dark buckwheat” which most likely explains the difference I saw between the two flours, not the source.

Anyhow, I tried the chocolate-buckwheat combination again in the crust, and this time the buckwheat taste is quite a bit more apparent (though somewhat lost with the walnuts and the pomegranates). It turns out whipped cream and fruit is, as always, an infallible combination. Be generous with the pomegranate as it’s the only source of acidity and brightness against an otherwise rich dessert.

The tart is nice fresh, although I’m particularly fond of it after it’s been chilled in the fridge. The fragipane-like chocolate walnut cream takes on a bit of a fudge-y, brownie-y, ganache (I couldn’t quite make up my mind) type texture. However, the tart crust does loose some of its crumbly crispness.

I overbaked the tart a bit, and so the walnut cream came out a bit dry. To retain as much not-quite-but-almost-squidgyness as possible, it should be only baked until just cooked through and set. Luckily, after a day in the fridge the walnut cream was quite revived (moisture from the whipped cream? it suffered a bit from the time in the fridge).

So while buckwheat didn’t make it to the recipe title flavours, it did get a whole post dedicated to it…! This is being brought to Angie’s Fiesta Friday,

 

chocolate walnut tart with pomegranate

chocolate buckwheat pastry

Inspired by Bien Cuit’s chocolate buckwheat cookies. Enough pastry to thinly line a 9″ tart pan.

60 g soft butter

7 g sugar

1/8 tsp salt

20 g cocoa powder

45 g buckwheat

75 g all purpose flour

35 g beaten egg

Cream butter, sugar, and salt. Mix in the flours and cocoa powder. Finally squish in the egg until it forms a cohesive and well-mixed dough. Wrap in plastic and chill.

The dough is very delicate and not very strong, so I think the best way to handle it is to roll it out on a surface until fairly thin, and then using a metal bench scraper to help you transfer over the pastry, line the tart pan piece by piece, pressing the pieces together to seal. It’s more the consistency of the sort of crust you press into the pan, so you could also try doing that if you prefer, using the bottom of a glass to pack down the crust.

Blind bake at 375F for 15 minutes.

 

chocolate walnut cream

Adapted from the almond cream in Richard Bertinet’s Pastry.

70 g walnut

50 g soft butter

50 g sugar

1/8 tsp salt

37 g beaten egg

30 g extra dark chocolate

5 g cocoa powder

10 g flour

3/4 tsp vanilla

1/2 capful or so of Sambucca, if desired

Toast walnuts in a pan until fragrant. Let cool a bit before grinding in a food processor. The grind doesn’t have to be that fine, but there shouldn’t be any chunks of walnut.

Cream butter, sugar, salt with a wooden spoon until light. Mix in the egg a bit at a time. Beat in the walnuts.

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Pour into the mixture and stir until combined. Mix in the flour and cocoa powder, and, lastly, beat in the vanilla and some sambucca if you like.

Let it chill for around 15 minutes to slightly firm up, but not become hard. This can be done while the tart crust is baking.

Scrape into the baked tart crust and continue baking at 375F for another 20 minutes (perhaps less than that would be better) until it forms a nice crust on the top.

 

assembly

110 g heavy cream

1/2 pomegranate

Whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks. Pile onto the tart, and then top with the seeds of half a pomegranate.

persimmon and chestnut tart and haha

As promised, here is the haha. Otherwise, the topic of this post is going to be about humour (or, lack of).

The vast majority of my life (i.e. up until now) has been when I was younger. It seems there’s a bigger pool of things to talk about than more current occurrences (apart from the weather). And so, there was a time when I was younger that I liked drawing comics. The height of my comic career came when I was six or seven. There was this one comic that I was certain was actually funny (most of my comics were only strange conversations between circular blobs). It depicted a robot hairdresser cutting someone’s hair. Some ridiculous person nearby was drinking orange juice (in a hair salon, yes) and then put it down right in front of a bottle of hair product…and so as you might guess, the robot automatically picked up the orange juice and poured it all over their customers hair.

I was very proud of it and declared something like: HAHA. Humour! Funny! when I was finished.

My parents echoed me, with slightly less conviction, when I showed it to them. Sadly my comic career is now over. I’ve decided to finish on a great note–the orange juice comic–and leave it at that.

As you’re probably well aware, the subtlety and grace of my humour has not evolved much since then. Anyways, the point of this story is I really appreciate clever people because cleverness does not come naturally to me.

I also really appreciate funny people.

I have a friend who is fairly quiet (though depending on the context, I think I’m more quiet) but out of nowhere will say something so relevant and so funny. I’ve had the word pithy floating around in my head to describe them for the longest time.

I can’t really remember why this topic came up now. Maybe I’ve been feeling particularly unfunny recently? Or maybe I’ve just been feeling happy to have some funny people in my life.

There is not too much going on with this tart, but it is very much a winter tart. It’s really nothing more than fruit and cream and pastry, and well, it’s hard to go terribly wrong with that. Persimmon season may have passed, but as my blog always lives a month or a few in the past, there’ll be a short series of persimmon things upcoming (and by the way, I think this is the best one).

persimmon and chestnut tart

chestnut pastry

55 g butter

pinch salt

13 g brown sugar

100 g all purpose flour

20 g chestnut flour

35 g beaten egg

Cream the butter with the salt and sugar. Add the flours and mix until everything is crumbly. Lastly, add the beaten egg and mix until it just forms a cohesive dough.

Chill.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use to line a 7″ tart pan and four 4-cm diameter tart pans. Blind bake for 15 minutes, then bake for another 10 or until golden.

assembly

105 g smooth chestnut puree

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar

115 g heavy cream

2 persimmons

Beat the chestnut puree with vanilla extract and sugar until loosened. Whip the cream to medium peaks. Stir one spoonful of cream into the chestnut puree, then fold in the remaining cream.

Slice the persimmons in slices 1/8″ thick.

Spread the tart shells with cream, and then top with persimmon slices.

kimchijeon

It’s been very foggy lately in the mornings (enough to make your photos dark even in the middle of the day). It’s the sort of gentle fog that accumulates into a milky horizon obscuring everything across the river–you look across, see only a line of trees, and completely forget that you’re in the city. The bridges stretch over to nothing. I love it, it feels deliciously mysterious and novel-like.

While I seem to always partake in it, who really is a fan of weather small-talk when it focuses around the forecast? The highs and lows, the oh-it-will-be-sooo-much-nicer-on-Wednesday (whether or not it actually is nicer) and a strange fixation on that falsity that is the wind chill. I think it is understandable that we focus so much on the weather, but the qualitative aspects are so much more exciting. It is beautiful or it is horrendous or it is both, and it is always affecting our daily lives. Sometimes we have to plan around it, sometimes we need to just march through it, and sometimes we celebrate it. More than that, it’s incredible how one day to the next and then one month to another, everything in the surroundings can change.I understand the fog isn’t too good for those driving on the highways. But for short-sighted people like me, having fog obscure everything two blocks ahead isn’t too bad–it feels less like a fault of being imperceptive and more like an adventure.

Speaking of less figurative adventures, the kimchijeon. Okay, so making pancakes doesn’t exactly qualify as the best adventure, but I needed a nice segue to the topic. As I read from mykoreaneats, this is an example of anju, food for eating with alcohol (yes, now that is some good motivation to make it). Otherwise, it’s also fabulous for using up overfermented kimchi. I’m not well versed in kimchi, but I have noticed the colour changing a bit (we don’t go through it very quickly, so it’s been around for a while), so I appreciate this aspect as well.

I was convinced that the enoki would look pretty on the bottom of the pancake, as a sort of tree or leafy pattern. How I was wrong. Instead it came out looking like a veiny mass (I think it has to do with the red colour of the pancakes)–but quickly forget that horrible description. Lay out the enoki in straight parallel clumps on the pan instead and it will look nice. Possibly.The flavour is strong and spicy. They are best when crispy (and maybe even a bit charred) and then they become that triumvirate of spiciness + saltiness + crunchiness. Cook them until quite crisp, cut into pieces or pull it apart instead. We ate it with some soya for additional saltiness and some pickled vegetables on the side.

What I’ve written for the recipe is a bit vague because the whole thing was made with a generously free hand. The first pancake I cooked had a lower batter to kimchi ratio and came out very delicate. It’s the sort of pancake that is easily to pull small pieces off, which makes it quite fun to eat. I added more flour and water to the second pancake. It was still flavourful enough, but also held together a bit better, and I ended up preferring the texture and consistency of this pancake. The recipe below is roughly akin to pancake #2. These are being brought to Natascha’s Pancake Challenge. Natascha and Lina put the challenge together along with a list of different pancakes to demonstrate the wealth of cakes that can be cooked in a pan. It’s a broad definition that is, excitingly, able to encompass a wide variety of different foods, the kimchi pancake being just one of them. There are quite a few different types and exciting flavours that I’m excited to see other bloggers bring!

kimchijeon

Adapted from Maangchi and mykoreaneats. Makes 2 large pancakes.

~1 c kimchi

2 green onions

1 c flour (1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose)

salt

sugar

~3 tbsp kimchi juice

~ 1/2 a beaten egg

1 tsp sesame oil

water as needed

1 small bunch of enoki

Chop the kimchi and the green onions. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the kimchi, green onions, kimchi juice and sesame oil, as well as enough water to make a loose but thick batter.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Lay down some of the enoki. Dollop the batter on top of the mushrooms and allow to set before spreading out the batter into a thin layer (doing this should prevent the mushrooms from being disturbed). Cook until nicely set. Loosen the bottom of the pancake with a spatula and then flip over. Continue to cook on the other side until well browned.

Serve with soya sauce and with some daikon and cucumber (lightly pickled in rice vinegar, sugar, salt and a red chile overnight or a few hours).