Making Homemade (Mutter) Paneer (cheese curds) with an Indian Mother

To my surprise, making homemade paneer from whole milk and vinegar or lemon juice is a very straightforward and fairly simple process. I will provide the detailed directions below that I was taught by a native Indian for making both the paneer itself and a sauce that goes along to make mutter (peas) paneer or similar dishes. Paneer is an Indian style cheese, similar to raw cheese curds or cottage cheese without the wet part. It resembles tofu in appearance.

Making the Paneer

Ingredients: Gallon whole milk, 2 teaspoons vinegar or 3 tsps lemon juice, 2 tsp salt. Yields about 2 cups paneer

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  • Bring the milk to a boil
  • When boiling, add 2 tsp vinegar and remove from heat
  • Let rest / curdle (visible separation should occur within 2-3 minutes, if not, put it back on the burner)
  • When it appears fully separated, strain through cheesecloth and press out excess moisture (be careful not to over squeeze, it will be very soft at this point)
  • Press the paneer in the cloth between heavy objects for 3-4 hours to remove moisture
  • When done pressing, cut the solid block into pieces
  • Put them in boiling water with 1 tsp salt for about 10 minutes, turning off the heat after 5 minutes.
  • Refrigerate over night and they are ready to go!

Making the Sauce or Making Mutter Paneer

Ingredients: 4 medium tomatoes yielding 2 cups grated, 2 tbs oil, 1 tsp cumin seed, 2 tbs grated fresh ginger, 2 tsp turmeric, 4 tsp coriander, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 bay leaves, 1 tbs yogurt /cream/ cashew paste, salt, 2 cups paneer, mutter/peas, extra tomato sauce as desired

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  • Use a grater on the tomatoes to separate the pulp from the skins, should yield about 2 cups
  • Peel and grate the fresh ginger, yield about 2 tbs
  • Heat the oil in a deep pot
  • When hot, add the cumin seeds. They should pop if it’s hot enough.
  • Add other spices and tomatoes. Mind the splatter.
  • Bring all to a boil and simmer 5 minutes before adding precooked peas, paneer and yogurt
  • Simmer together another 5 minutes
  • If not enough sauce add extra milk and 4 oz tomato img_6430sauce
  • When the oil starts to separate, it’s done. Remove bay leaves before serving with rice or roti

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Pictorials | Off CA13 or 3 in Northern Guatemala – market month photo 26

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Cooking roadside with company. 2014. Roadside CA13 or 3 in Northern Guatemala.

Arrival in Sydney, Australia – Harbour Bridge & Contemporary Art

The pilot announced the flight from San Francisco to Sydney would be about 14.5 hours. Luckily, United provides free beer and wine on this flight (I skipped the sleeping pills).

Flying into Sydney was quite a site with the beautiful harbor and trees everywhere. After arriving around 8am I chose to take a Redy2Go shuttle from the airport to my downtown hotel. Taxis run about AU $65, and there’s a fee for using the train through the airport station, so $17 USD for a 30-45 min ride with a handful of other travelers seemed like the best option. You can pay by credit card at the shuttle counter at the airport or book ahead online.

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The hotel room wasn’t ready upon arrival, so I enjoyed strolling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and snapping photos of the Opera House and harbor. Then I meandered through the historic Rocks district and checked out the free exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. The 20th Biennale of Sydney, on display from 18 March– 5 June 2016, featured some excellent photographs.

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20th Biennale of Sydney exhibit at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

I grabbed lunch nearby past Circular Quay at Yayoi Garden, a Japanese restaurant popular with business lunchers. The food was unique and service was great, but taste was a bit lacking in my Omaze Don and the sashimi.

After lunch, the day and a half of flying and jetlag were catching up to me, so I took a hot bath and tucked myself in for a quick nap that ended up lasting 12 hours, oops… Check out my next post about walking ten miles around Sydney to see all the sights in a day!

Book Review | Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook by Mary Bergin

book cover wisconsin supper club cookbook by mary berginIn Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, author Mary Bergin takes readers on a tour around approximately 40 local supper clubs. She addresses the question of what a supper club is and serves up historical facts in a very palatable manner, incorporating them within chapters on each restaurant. Added fact boxes at the end of select chapters serve to highlight other related notables. Bergin includes several recipes for most of the included establishments, spanning the whole meal from drinks and appetizers to main courses, sides and desserts. You won’t find many healthy or vegan recipes here though. These foods are more about tradition and include some heavy ingredients, but perhaps some at home tweaking will yield a family favorite. Although some great photos are included, an absence of captions make some images hard to decipher. The photo quality leaves many images visually less than appealing and many appear to be amateur shots. In the introduction the author mentions there being over a hundred supper clubs in Wisconsin, but only about 40 are included. A full list would have made for a treat of an appendix. Overall, the book was enjoyable and is recommended to Wisconsinites interested in local tradition and history or out-of-towners wanting to learn about supper club culture. Check out this book from a library near you.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries to Open in March – Manhattan, KS

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*As of April 9, Five Guys is OPEN. 

In August of 2015 Manhattan’s local paper, The Mercury, published an article about the new building next to Chick-fil-A by Sarber Lane at 518 Tuttle Creek Boulevard that will be housing Five Guys Burgers and Fries. In addition to burgers and fries, the menu includes hot dogs, grilled cheese and veggie sandwiches. The restaurant is proud to be freezer-free, using only fresh ground beef. They offer thousands of burger customizations and use only peanut oil. The Mercury article stated building construction was set to be finished last month, in December, with the Manhattan restaurant opening early this year. According to construction workers on-site, Five Guys is slated to open March 7, 2016.

With over a thousand locations nationwide, the chain has been successful since the first Five Guys opened in Arlington, VA in 1986. It’s popularity in Washington DC has continued and spread across the nation. In 2014 Five Guys opened a franchise in Topeka and they also have restaurants in Lawrence and Kansas City.

Food Review | Tallgrass Taphouse – Manhattan, KS

Most locals seem to know that Tallgrass Brewing Co. has opened a new Taphouse on Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan, KS. The Tallgrass brewery, which previously sat just of Highway 24 outside of Manhattan, is now operating in their new location near the airport.  They’ve been quite successful since opening in 2006 and are so far seeing a similar success with the new Taphouse.

The Taphouse opened in early June, about a month ago. A small group and I enjoyed a dinner there for the 4th of July. After a short wait for a table, we were seated in a large, comfortable booth in the main dining area where the full menu is served. Rooftop tables are first come, first served and feature a limited menu of appetizers and pizza. There are three bars (main, rooftop, neighborhood back bar) and rentable party spaces.

For an appetizer we tried the Fire Roasted Edamame. Though the portion was pretty small, they were cooked correctly. It was not completely clear how the ponzu sauce was supposed to be eaten with the edamame, since they come in a shell and pop out like peanuts right into your mouth. The House Salad was a good size and everything seemed fresh. The ingredients were listed out on the menu, with the exception of bacon – a surprise that vegetarians should be made aware of. I enjoyed three vegetable sides: Grilled Asparagus, Sautéed Green Beans and Sautéed Kale. The asparagus was very tasty and cooked perfectly – I wish there had been more of it. The green beans were fresh and crunchy, but not seasoned as well as the asparagus or kale. Some may prefer them to be cooked longer. The kale was excellent, well seasoned and very tasty. I would order each of these sides again.

The first entrée we tried was the Roasted Vegetable Quinoa. As mentioned above, the asparagus were tasty. There were portobello mushrooms atop the quinoa, but the amount of vegetables mixed into the quinoa was disappointing. The portion was generous enough to be filling, but more mixed in vegetables and more seasoning would perk up this dish. Our second dish, Classic Fish and Chips, was a winner. This cod was excellent. The batter breading was not overly greasy, but was a bit thick. There were lots of fries that were well seasoned, only one of us thought they were heavy on the salt. I stole many of these fries and enjoyed them. The Grilled KC Strip (10 oz) was our third plate. The steak was cooked as ordered and full of flavor. The green beans were plentiful, as were the potatoes. Though the green beans were cooked enough, the potatoes were not. The potatoes also lacked adequate seasoning. Overall, each diner was content with his meal. Our server was very attentive and friendly. We also sampled a few of the beers, but this review is about the food!

The Tallgrass Taphouse is located at 320 Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan, KS. They are open daily for lunch and dinner with a weekday happy hour from 3-6pm. Their tap beer selection is impressive and can be viewed on their webpage. Read more about the science behind Tallgrass Brewing in this previous post.

Food Review | Café Du Qvondeyz On The Garret – Manhattan, KS

Three months ago, on November 14th, a special new Creole and Cajun restaurant opened in Manhattan. Café Du Qvondeyz On The Garret is located at 3003 Anderson Ave, suite 953 (in the strip mall where the DMV used to be next to Rays West). Chef Que Purdy came from Louisiana to join her daughter who was attending K-State. The Qvondeyz Family has been successfully catering in Louisiana since 1992.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

After hearing great things about the food, I decided to give the place a try. I was also warned that the wait for the food might be longer than expected.

My partner and I split an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. These were very tasty. They were not at all greasy, the cornmeal breading was crispy and mostly adhered to the tomatoes, and the flavor of the tomatoes came through. The remoulade also had great flavor. I would definitely order these again.

As an entrée I ordered the fried Catfish Platter with sides of baked mac & cheese and green beans. The catfish was ok – it didn’t seem as fresh as I’d hoped, but at least did not taste fishy. The green beans were much more flavorful than I’d expected, but were rather cool. The mac & cheese was excellent, very creamy and hot. The toast was buttered and grilled and added to the dish. Maybe next time I would try the blackened catfish instead of the fried.

My partner ordered the Creole Jambalaya. This dish was well spiced and very flavorful. The serving contained a generous amount of chicken and sausage and was a hearty size. I managed to eat about a 1/3 of the rice and my partner still got enough to eat. I was glad that neither onion nor pepper flavor dominated this dish and I would certainly eat this again. Unfortunately, they had run out of corn bread at the time of our visit so we were unable to try it.

The food was the good news of our visit. As for the not so good news… At the time we dined, the kitchen exhaust fan was inoperable which caused a backup of cooking smoke in the dining area. Hopefully this will be fixed soon and will not affect future diners. The restaurant seems inadequately staffed and the waitstaff not yet fully trained. This, too, should improve with time. Because of this staffing issue, the wait for the food was longer than an average diner would consider acceptable. If you are prepared to wait for good southern food, it’s certainly worth a try.

Café du Qvondeyz On the Garret is open daily for lunch and dinner, but closed Sundays. Since I had issues finding the full menu online, I am providing photos below that I took of the menu in the restaurant.