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SCALLIONS & CILANTRO FRENCH TOAST


It is weird how childhood memories of food shape-up our stance towards a particular food. It came to me as a surprise when I first saw a recipe of French toast that was sweet! I couldn’t fathom how someone could have sweet French toast. That was because I have grown up eating savory version of it virtually all my life! And my mind believed that this was the only true way to consume the French toast. And it came as a shock when I realised that it was the indeed the ‘sweet version’ that was supposedly the ‘authentic’ version of making a true blue French toast.

Now, I wonder if it was a deliberate act by my Mum to make only savoury version knowing my liking for all foods savory or was it simply that she too wasn’t aware of it. It sounds extremely weird (it does, even to me now!) but I never used to enjoy eating a desserts after my meal till almost the end of my teens. I preferred the remnant flavours of the savoury meal lingering in my mouth than a sweet ending to my meals. My only favourites were Mum’s special Caramel Halwa and her Floating Island Pudding and once in a while a few spoons of her creamy Saffron Kheer.  
My ‘dessert status’ as on date is that I do enjoy them but always prefer using less sugar in not just my desserts but also cakes and cookies too. Contrary to the taste of my family, my husband’s family thankfully too prefers less sugar in their sweet treats. Last year my dad, who has a major sweet tooth, was visiting me and he would constantly complain of my desserts being ‘feeka’ (hindi for bland)!

This savory French toast is our favourite Sunday breakfast. Here is Mum’s recipe slightly tweaked by me. She served the french toast with ketchup or green chutney but I supplement it with crumbled home made cottage cheese to which I add cilantro, scallions, cumin powder, pepper and salt. It pairs beautifully with the french toast.  

1 loaf of day-old french loaf/ baguette (12 thick slices)
6 eggs 
2 – 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 whole scallions (chopped)
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 tbp milk (optional)
A few tsp oil for frying
Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper added. Add milk and whisk again for a few seconds. 
Slice the bread and dip it in the whisked egg. Ensure that both sides of the slices are well moist.
Grease a non-stick pan or skillet using a little oil. Place the egg soaked bread on the pan. Sprinkle the cilantro and scallions over the top side of the bread.
Cook for a half a minute on medium heat or till the bottom side is done.
Turn over the slice carefully and cook the other side till it is cooked. (The “done-ness” of the french toast can be checked by pressing each side slightly with your index finger. If the bread is some what firm, it is done and if your finger dents the bread, it needs a few more seconds in the pan)

Transfer to the serving plate and serve with the ketchup or sauce/chutney of your choice. I usually serve it with the green chutney or tomato ketchup. 


Serves 3-4 

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CHILI CILANTRO HOME MADE COTTAGE CHEESE (MASALA PANEER)

It is rare that I make cottage cheese at home. Not that it is difficult or cumbersome to make but cottage cheese, also popularly known as paneer, is so easily available in India that one seldom needs to make it at home. The easy availability ensures that one just needs to go and grab it from the local dairy. It’s moist and soft texture makes it a versatile ingredient for adding it to curries, vegetables or making it into tikka or kofta.



I often buy it from the local dairy for the paneer dishes that I make at home. But, how much as I may like paneer in a dish (read curry), I simply can’t eat it on its own. As a matter of fact, I started eating paneer much later in my life and despite relishing it in curry and as tikka, I still haven’t developed a taste for eating it in raw form. I guess my palate misses the punch of flavours that it has got accustomed to in curries or the spicy tikka avatar.


That is when I decided to make cottage cheese at home and add that spicy twist so that I could enjoy it as finger food. It turned out just as the dairy made one – soft, creamy and moist but loaded with flavour from the addition of spices and cilantro.

You will need the following:

1.6 L full-fat milk (for softer cheese, full fat milk – 6% – is recommended)
¾ tsp-1 tsp citric acid OR 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
Muslin or Cheese cloth
A heavy bottomed pot

2tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp dry roasted and crushed cumin
1 tbsp chopped cilantro (hara dhaniya)
Salt to taste

Boil the milk in a heavy bottomed pot. As it comes to a boil, switch off the heat and after about 3-4 minutes add which ever curdling agent you are using – citric acid (add ¾ tsp first and if required add a little more) OR lemon juice (add 2 tbsp and if required add more) and give a stir.
The milk will curdle leaving light greenish whey.
Add the red chilli flakes, crushed cumin and cilantro.


Carefully drain the contents into the muslin cloth to separate the curds from the whey. Wash the contents.
(You may keep the whey & use it to cook dal or knead dough for chapattis or discard it)
Add salt and stir the cheese with spoon to mix it well.
Hang the cloth to drain the excess water and once done, tie the muslin cloth around the cheese in a knot to prevent the curds from escaping.
Put some heavy weight over it. Keep it for 10-15 minutes (depending on the amount of weight you have used).
Remove the paneer from the muslin cloth and serve.
Snack on it or serve it as finger food.
Cut a thick slice of paneer and enjoy it with a buttered slice of toasted bread. Yumm… J

Yield: 300 grams approx.


Suggestion: Try this cottage cheese with cracked black pepper or jalapeno. Basil and sun dried tomatoes make for an interesting flavour too. Let your creativity guide you on this one.

Note: Keeping the weight for too long may release too much moisture and leave the paneer dry.
Note: If you do not have lemon juice or citric acid you can instead use yogurt as the curdling agent. 
Note: For use in curry and tikka, keep the paneer plain i.e. without condiments and herbs. 

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SOYA PANEER – SOY ‘COTTAGE’ CHEESE SPREAD

Soy Cottage CheeseI know, you might be thinking what in the world soy cottage cheese is?! It is not tofu in the truest sense. I took the liberty of calling it Soy Cottage Cheese since I made in a similar fashion to the way I make cottage cheese at home from milk. To me it looked like a close cousin to the traditional Indian cottage cheese hence the name! 

Tofu is made by coagulating the soy milk extracted from soy beans and then pressing the curds under weights. Depending on the time that it has been pressed, under weights, a soft or medium soft or hard tofu is attained.
For making the Soy Paneer, I deviated from the traditional way after following a few initial steps. Instead of separating the milk from the soy beans I kept the ground soy along with its milk and then boiled the two together, added lemon juices and let the milk split/curdle. And voila! Soy Paneer is what I got J
It goes without saying that this is an ideal substitute to milk for the vegans. Besides, this is a healthy and tasty option for those having lactose intolerance.


No, it doesn’t taste bad at all i.e. if that thought crossed your mind. Of course it won’t taste like the cottage cheese made from milk yet it tastes pretty good. The obvious way to find out how it tastes is of course to give it a try for yourself. My husband, who has a dislike for tofu, quite enjoys it in his sandwich filling. He thought I was kidding when I first told him that he just had a soy product for his breakfast!
So go ahead and allow your creativity devise ways to use it – for filling in parathas (stuffed flat bread) or as a topping for toasted bread or for making sandwich fillings or perhaps mixing it with potato or beet and making croquettes/ cutlets. I guess the possibilities are endless! I would eagerly wait to know how you made use of Soy Paneer in your meal J
The ingredients are few and the process is simple. I used:
For Soy Cheese:
½ cup soy beans
800 ml water+ sufficient for making soy paste
1tbsp+ ½ tsp lemon juice
Muslin cloth/ cheese cloth/ strainer

Soak the soy beans in water at night. Next day, gently remove the skin from the soy beans.
To remove the skin rub the beans gently between your fore finger and thumb (this process may take 10-15 minutes)
Rinse in water. The skin will rise to the surface; remove it and then repeat the process till you have soy bean without skin.
Pulse the soy bean in a blender or mixer-grinder adding just enough water to make a paste.
Transfer this to a heavy bottomed pot and add 800 ml water to it.
Stir well and put on the heat.
On medium flame heat the soy milk for two and a half to three minutes stirring all the while.
Add lemon juice mixed with a tbsp of water and add to the soy milk.
Stir the soy milk. You will notice the milk beginning to curdle.
Once the cheese separates from the whey, switch off the heat.
Transfer the cheese in a strainer or cheese cloth/ muslin cloth and wash it under water to remove the taste of lemon.
Drain all the water but ensure that cheese remains moist.
Note: While curdling the milk, if you feel that the juice is not enough, add a dash more of it.
For Cheese topping:

1 medium onion (finely chopped)
½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 green chilli (finely chopped)
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (dhaniya patta)
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper (freshly ground)
Salt to taste
1 tomato (finely chopped – pulp and seeds removed)- optional

In a frying pan heat the oil and add cumin and let it crackle.
Lower the heat to medium and carefully add onions and stir fry till the onion becomes translucent.
Add the green chillies and the soy cheese. Stir well.
Add salt and black pepper and stir again.
Cook the cheese till any visible amount of water evaporates. You can check this by pressing the back of the spoon against the cheese.
Add tomatoes and fresh cilantro and cook further for half a minute.
Switch off the heat and transfer the contents to serving bowl.
The soy cheese is ready to be used.
Note: I add tomato for the bright colour it adds to the topping/spread.

Note: A generous pinch of garam masala helps in pepping up the taste of soy cheese


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