Saturday, 17 May 2008

ENERGY SPAGHETTI AND CURDLED MILK

I said in a previous post called Recovery Food that the best thing about going for a long run on a Sunday is the stuffing of your face afterwards. Whilst I stand by this, I would like to add that another very good thing about a long run on a Sunday (or in tomorrow's case, the Women's Resolution Asset Managment 10k race in Glasgow with Sylvie and Lindsay) is the stuffing of your face the day before. But not just stuffing your face - stuffing your face full of carbs. Lovely. Whilst I could never indulge in the whole Atkins movement, I do try not to go too over the score with the old carbohydrates simply because they can leave me feeling a bit bloated and sluggish. However, the day before race day I like to tell myself I'm taking action to prevent the onset of fatigue during said event. I'm sure you'll agree that this is very responsible of me and not a convenient excuse to load up on pasta and bread... ahem.

So today's feast was Spaghetti a la Carine as it's known in this household, or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with some other bits thrown in for good and tasty measure. The basic recipe, as I'm sure you're already aware, is garlic and chilli very gently cooked in olive oil, with chopped flat leaf parsley added at the end with al dente spaghetti. The result is easily one of the most deliciously more-ish pasta dishes you'll ever eat. I am always amazed that this simple dish isn't found on more Italian restaurant menus.

I often add some other bits and pieces - finely chopped Kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and some fresh crab adds an interesting dimension. Today though, instead of crab I added fleshy king prawns which did the job of soaking up the delicious garlicky flavours admirably. Tasty tasty tasty.

As I was so conscientiously preparing my body's glycaemic stores for tomorrow, I felt that it would be wise to have some bruschetta too - just to be on the safe side you understand. Whilst shopping for the basic ingredients of ciabatta, tomatoes etc, it came to mind that I've been meaning to try making paneer, the indian cheese, for ages ( - as you do. Trust me, this sounds like a bit of a tangent but it will all become clear in a minute). I had never even tasted paneer but I knew that it's a fairly gentle cheese, with a similar appearance to cottage cheese or even ricotta. I had also heard that it's very easy to make and so I got to thinking that this might a) be an interesting thing to do and b) be a novel addition to my bruschetta. There, I told you it'd make sense eventually.

So, it turns out that paneer is the easiest thing to make, ever. Well, I dare say there are easier things, but those things aren't cheese. This is me, making cheese. Oh yes, Alex James eat your heart out. In fact, this isn't just easy but it's fun too - if they're not squeamish wee bairns this would a great thing to do with your children.

All you need is full fat milk, a lemon and some muslin. And a cooker and a pot etc but you get the idea.


PANEER

Place the milk in a pan and heat gently until it just starts to boil.

When it reaches this point, turn off the heat and squeeze in the juice of a lemon teaspoon by teaspoon. Stir the milk until it starts to split. If it shows no sign of splitting carefully add more lemon juice until it does.

It will quickly curdle completely until it has separated into curds and whey:

At this point, line a sieve with a muslin cloth (or even a clean tea towel) and drain off the liquid:

The curds now need to be rinsed with water to remove any sourness from the lemon:

Let the water drain off and then wring the muslin cloth thoroughly (incidentally, I'm not sure this is quite what Liz Earle had in mind for this muslin cloth but not to worry...) and remove all the excess liquid until you are left with a little squashy bundle.

Weigh this down with something heavy (I used a cast iron Le Creuset casserole) and leave for half an hour for the cheese to firm up.

When you upwrap your now-slightly-flatter bundle, it will look something like this:

This can be used in various Indian recipes - it can be transferred to the fridge to firm up a bit more and then cut into chunks to be marinated, or it can be used in it's softer state. It has a delicate, milky flavour with a dense creamy texture which is precisely what I was looking for for my bruschetta.

I crumbled it into small chunks, and added it at the last minute to my bruschetta mix of tomatoes and parsley seasoned with salt and pepper.

It was then piled onto ciabatta slices which had been toasted and spread with fresh basil pesto (same method as Wild Garlic Pesto but using basil and a garlic clove instead of wild garlic).

I am now nicely bloated and sluggish and if I don't win that damn race tomorrow there'll be trouble.

2 comments:

Shazza said...

Who knew this was so easy! I have the fixins, and some spinach needing a tasty companion. Thanks for the tutorial. And good luck on your race!

Steven said...

paneer can be made perfectly well with 1 and 2% milk, although i usually substitute a half cup of yogurt (which can also be low fat) for the lemon juice to keep the end product from being too dry.

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