I’ve been wanting to make a flavored paneer for some time, and last night I finally got around to it. The obvious choice to season paneer would be Indian spices, but even though I didn’t yet have a specific plan for the cottage cheese I decided, on a whim, to use my Tex-Mex Chipotle Seasoning mix.
I brought about a quart and a half of 2% milk to a boil (195ºF – 200ºF) and mixed in a generous amount of the seasoning before adding the juice of a lime and a little rice vinegar to curdle the milk.
I poured the curdled milk into a sieve lined with cheesecloth. When the curds had drained but were still hot I gathered the corners of the cheesecloth and secured the bundle with a rubber band.
I placed the bundle of cheese curds between two plates and weighed it down with canned goods to get the curds to fuse together into a solid chunk of cheese. After an hour or so the cheese was ready to go into the refrigerator. (The pressing of the curds can also take place inside the refrigerator. I just didn’t have the space).
This morning I still hadn’t devised a plan for the paneer but went ahead and cubed the cheese and browned the cubes with a little olive oil in a skillet.
By the time our second meal of the day was approaching I had decided to use the paneer in a spinach and mushroom quesadilla. Trouble was, I forgot to pick up mushrooms when I was out this morning, but then, that’s why I keep dehydrated mushrooms and powdered mushrooms on hand.
I added a three finger pinch of cumin seeds into a heated and oiled skillet, then the chopped onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic.
When the onions had softened a bit I added a big pinch of ground coriander, salt, the cubes of paneer and dehydrated mushroom powder.
Where do I get mushroom powder? Some of it is from store-bought dried shiitake mushrooms which I ground to a powder and some is from mushrooms I have dehydrated myself.
When everything was well mixed and heated through I added a bunch of fresh washed spinach. It seemed like a lot of spinach with the skillet heaped and overflowing, but I put a lid on the skillet to trap the heat and steam, and stirred occasionally. All that spinach shrank down to not very much at all.
To make the quesadilla, I toasted one side of two whole wheat tortillas in a dry skillet. I spread the spinach / paneer filling on the toasted side of one tortilla and topped it with the other tortilla, toasted side down.
Note: I used to use a little oil for this sort of thing. I now know that the tortillas remain crisp much longer when toasted dry in a nonstick pan.
I didn’t originally intend to use any cheese in the quesadilla other than the paneer, but when it came time to flip the quesadilla in the pan, I realized a melting cheese would help hold everything together. I used shredded cheddar.
The quesadilla was served with avocado wedges, sour cream and cultured probiotic pico de gallo/salsa. I enjoyed this quesadilla
as much more than any I have had in a restaurant.