I love, love, love, love, love cheese. I crave it. I dream about it. And I savor every bite of my favorite cheeses like Cambozola and Humboldt Fog. I have wonderful friends who, for my birthday, brought me a trio of cheeses to enjoy, along with some champagne (I told you they were wonderful). One of the cheeses was Brunet, a luxurious, creamy cheese with a subtle tang, which made me weak in the knees. It’s made in Italy with goat milk from goats with dark hair, hence the name Brunet. Unlike most cheeses with a rind, Brunet has a very soft, very thin rind that just melts into the cheese, going unnoticed. I’ve only been able to find it at Whole Foods. Grab yourself a hunk of Brunet (and make sure it comes to room temperature) and a bottle of Pinot Grigio and enjoy the best cheese in the world.
I absolutely love the flavors of Indian food and have been wanting to unlock to mystery of cooking with Indian spices. I took an Indian cooking class a few months ago from Chef Amanda Cushman at Surfas (an awesome restaurant supply store with an amazing cafe). One of the dishes we made was Saag Paneer – a spinach dish with homemade cheese (called paneer). I know this might sound daunting, but it’s easier than you might think! (I apologize for not taking pics of the cheesemaking, but I’m new to this blogging stuff and am just getting into the habit of taking pics of my food). The basic process of making the cheese is bringing whole milk to a boil and then adding some lemon juice and voila! – you have curds and whey. Then you strain it through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth and in about half an hour you have fresh cheese – this process for Paneer is also similar to the mexican cheese Queso Fresco. I took a cheesemaking class last year at Surfas and we learned to make goat cheese (which I’ve done before and is easy and delicious) and fresh mozzarella (this was a little trickier).
Back to the Saag Paneer – basically some spices and aromatics with some fresh spinach wizzed in the food processor, then cooked with the fresh cheese, and you have deliciousness that even my toddlers love to eat. It’s a great way to make spinach taste amazing. I cannot give you the recipe as it is not mine to share, but you can find great Indian recipes from chef and author Julie Sahni and can probably find her books at the library.
Give cheesemaking and Indian cooking a try – you won’t be disappointed.
Next post: Mushroom Marsala Lasagna!