Friday, April 20, 2012

Paneer Makhani (Paneer Butter Masala)

As I've stated before, I really REALLY love Indian food. However, I often shy away from making it at home because many recipes use hard to find ingredients. Not to mention it often dirties quite a few dishes and involves more prep than I care to do. But when Costco had two 14 oz. packs of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for sale, I couldn't resist. Dirty dishes be damned, I was making some Paneer Makhani.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the dish, it's cubes of cheese simmered in a tomato and cream based curry with a multitude of delicious spices. If you add golden raisins and cashews to the curry it becomes a royal dish called Shahi Paneer, but I'm not into raisins so I went with the standard.

I checked out a bunch of recipes and made my own recipe based on personal preference and what I had on hand. I was amazed at how much easier it was than the Chicken Tikka Masala that I sometimes make. Cubing the cheese and cutting the onion was all the prep I needed to do and in the end, I only ended up with one cutting board and one skillet to clean. Plus it tasted amazing!

This one is a keeper for sure. I hope you try it out soon.

Notes: Most recipes call for 1/4-1/2 tsp. of fenugreek. I didn't have it on hand, but I would highly suggest adding it if it's in your spice pantry.

If you find paneer in a package with slightly more or less than 14 oz., that's totally fine. I prefer to fry mine in the same skillet I use to make the gravy, but you can also soak the paneer in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes if you don't like the fried texture. 

Paneer Makhani (or Paneer Butter Masala)

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
14 oz. paneer, cut into cubes
3 Tbs. butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 ½ Tbs. garlic ginger paste
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cloves
1 tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp. mace
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne
2 bay leaves
1 can of crushed tomatos
½ c water
½ c cream
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the paneer on all sides until golden brown. Set aside.

Wipe out the pan and heat 1 Tbs. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all the spices and bay leaves in a small bowl.

Add the garlic-ginger paste and spices to the skillet; cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add paneer and remaining 2 Tbs. butter to the gravy, cover and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and discard. Stir in cream and cilantro until warm, about 1 minute. Serve with basmati rice and/or naan (Indian flatbread).  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

The Best Make-Ahead Recipe from Cooks Illustrated is yet to fail me. These muffins are no exception. They are delicious, filling and have a variety of flavor variations which I am VERY excited to try out. Lemon poppy seed has always been a favorite flavor combination of mine, so I think these will probably remain the winner for me.

Aside from tasting wonderful, they are phenomenal because these babies cook straight from the freezer! When I don't feel like cooking breakfast and doing dishes all morning, these are a godsend. I can roll out of bed, turn on the oven, put some frozen batter balls into muffin tins and, what do you know, you've got breakfast.


Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 18 muffins

3 cups flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ Tbs. poppy seeds
1 ½ Tbs. grated lemon zest
10 Tbs. (1 ¼ sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups plain whole milk yogurt

Line muffin tins with 18 paper liners, set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest (be careful that the zest does not clump when mixing), set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce mixer speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the whole milk yogurt. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins.

If you don’t plan on baking right away, tightly wrap muffin tin with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with PAM. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or freeze for up to one month. (Once frozen the batter balls can be transferred to a plastic freezer bag for storage).

To bake preheat oven to 375°. Unwrap muffins and bake until golden brown, 25-30 minutes if refrigerated, 35-40 minutes if frozen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Would you believe that I had never eaten Key Lime Pie until now?

It's true.

I was doing that "100 Foods to Eat Before You Die" food list challenge on Facebook (what can I say, I was bored for a brief moment) and came to the conclusion that I'm failing pretty miserably in my food adventures. Key Lime Pie was on that list, and it seemed unreal to me that I had not only never made a Key Lime Pie, but I had never even TASTED a key lime pie. The closest I'd ever come was eating those Key Lime Pie truffles they have at Sees Candies (which are delicious, in case you're wondering).

For all intents and purposes, I could not fathom why I had never tried making a Key Lime Pie. It seemed much like the recipe for Lemon Ice Box Pie in Sweet Serendipity, but with zesty sweet limes. Now that I've made it, I found it was even easier to make than Lemon Ice Box Pie, and so so very tasty.

Don't be like me. Don't waste your life away wondering about Key Lime Pie. Just make it, and love it.

Key Lime Pie
adapted from Cook Eat Love

For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups of finely crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbs. butter, melted

For the Filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbs. grated lime zest
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

For the Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
 Preheat oven to 325.

Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar; add melted butter. Mix until there are no dry spots left. With your fingers (or using the back of a spoon) press the mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 9" spring-form pan.  Bake for ten minutes, set aside.

In a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and lime zest on high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Gradually add condensed milk and continue to beat on high until very thick, about 3-4 minutes longer. Reduce speed to low and add lime juice just until combined. Pour into prepared crust.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling is just set. Quickly run a knife around the edge to release the crust from the pan. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate overnight (or at least 3 hours).

For the topping, beat the whipping cream and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3-5 minutes. Add vanilla and beat just until combined. Serve chilled alongside the pie.

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