Tag Archives: Cheese

Pizzas on the grill

Pizzas on the grill

It’s (almost) summer time and that means lots of cooking on the grill.  I really enjoy using the grill to cook during the warmer weather because it keeps the house cooler and I love how everything tastes when they are grilled.  I decided to make pizzas on the grill.  It’s one of my fast go-to grill dishes because everything can be cooked outside without any prep in the “house” kitchen.  All you need is a grill basket for vegetables so smaller pieces don’t fall through and you’re good to go.

I have been using the no-knead artisan bread for my pizza crusts because they turn out beautifully and this bread dough is a dream.  You mix the thing up with a wooden spoon and stick it in your fridge, it’s sooooo easy! I usually have some in my fridge ready to go (each batch can keep in the fridge for almost 2 weeks).  The toppings for these pizzas are as varied as the person making them.  I hope you try some out and go crazy with the toppings.  When my basil is full-grown, I plan to make  home made mozzarella and have Margherita pizzas on the grill.  What’s not to love?

Place all the veggies on the grill basket on the grill to cook

Place pizza dough with a little olive oil on both sides directly on the grill and cook covered for 3 minutes

Flip crust over, top with veggies and chicken (or shrimp) if desired and a little mozzarella and parmesan cheese, cover and cook another 3-4 minutes. Enjoy!

Pizza on the grill

Pizza crust – No knead artisan bread

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or fresh mozarella

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Fresh cracked pepper

kosher salt

Cherry tomatoes cut in half (about 1 cup)

Assorted vegetables: red onion, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants etc.

If using chicken breasts, cut into strips and marinate in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar,salt, garlic and thyme and throw it on the grill to cook.

Cut vegetables into strips and the cherry tomatoes into halves.  Toss with salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil and olive oil and place in grill pan on the grill and let it cook.

Take a small portion of the dough and roll it out fairly thin (about 1/4 inch thick) and pat it lightly with olive oil on both sides.  I like to make it personal size – so about 6-8 inches “circles” or whatever shape they turn out to be. When vegetables are cooked, place  pizza directly on the grill and close the lid for 3 minutes (grill should be on high heat, 600 degrees or so).  Flip the dough over so the cooked side is on top and place some of the grilled cherry tomatoes on the dough along with other veggies and chicken (if using).  Sprinkle a little cheese (go easy)  less is better.  Close the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Pizza should be done with the cheese melted and the crust wonderfully crunchy and smoky.

Paneer 101 ~ how to make your own cheese for fun and profit

Paneer 101 ~ how to make your own cheese for fun and profit

For quite a while now I’ve been wanting to make my own paneer instead of paying $6 for a 12 oz package at my local ethnic grocery store.  So I decided I’d call a friend who’s really good at cooking all kinds of stuff and ask if she’s ever made paneer, no such luck.  Next, I called my mom (Ma or Amma).  She gave me some super vague directions, “get some milk and then curdle it.”  Then this last Saturday as I was sitting through an annual volunteer training at the State Penitentiary (I volunteer regularly at the State women’s prison) and the facilitator mentioned that there was an outbreak of prisoners making their own cheese and then bartering it for other valuables.  Whaaat?  So, I asked the facilitator “how did the inmate make cheese without a heat source or acid?” (I wanted answers, dang it)  ~ the answer?  “you don’t want to know, but I heard it was a pretty good Roquefort, why you want some?” then he launched into a side bar story of how two inmates got sick from homebrew made  with an old potato in the toilet….

Seriously, if prisoners can make underground cheese in their cells, I ought to be able to make paneer.  Turns out it’s really easy.  Maybe I can barter it for other valuables.

I did have some failures and here’s what I learned.  Don’t use whole milk or heavy cream because it makes the texture too soft.  It turns into a delightful ricotta that can be used for other things but not paneer.  Don’t use 1% or skim milk because the low-fat content makes a rubbery end product.  So like Goldilocks I found the milk that was just right.  Medium fat content or 2% milk is the perfect choice and although you can use buttermilk or a variety of vinegars as the source of acid, lemon juice still works the best.

Heat milk to boiling, make sure to stir often to avoid burning the milk

As soon as milk comes to a boil add lemon juice and water and stir in gently

Turn off heat and let the whey separate out by letting it rest about 8-10 minutes

Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander and rinse with cold water to get the lemony smell and taste out

Squeeze out all excess water from the paneer

Knead the paneer for about 3-4 minutes until smooth

It should come together into a nice smooth ball

Re-wrap the paneer in cheesecloth and place it on a cookie sheet with a heavy pan on top to take out any excess water (takes about an hour or two)

Here’s the recipe:

How to make Paneer

8 cups of 2% milk

5 tbsp lemon juice thinned with 2 tablespoons of water

Tools needed:  Cheese cloth and colander

In a heavy bottom pan heat milk until it boils.  Make sure to stir often so that the milk doesn’t stick or begin burning at the bottom.  As soon as it comes to a boil, slowly add in the lemon juice and water mixture and gently stir to incorporate.  Turn off heat.  Almost immediately you’ll see the curds separate out and a greenish liquid emerge.  Let it sit for about 8 minutes before pouring into a cheesecloth lined colander.  Gently rinse with cold water to get all the lemony smell out then squeeze the cheesecloth to get rid of as much liquid as possible.  Knead the paneer for about 3-4 minutes until smooth.  At this point you can use the paneer in a dessert dish like Rosgullas or Chumchums or make the paneer used for savory cooking.  If using for a savory dish you can get creative and add toasted cumin seeds or chopped cilantro or salt and fresh cracked pepper to the kneaded paneer.  Now you have “designer” paneer (which the Indian store wanted even more money for).  Flatten out the paneer inside the cheesecloth and put it in a cookie sheet.  Line the cookie sheet with several sheets of paper towel to absorb moisture and some on top of the paneer as well. Place a heavy pan (I used a cast iron skillet) or some other weight on top for about an hour or two this will take out any excess water and make a uniform size.  If you want to, you might even leave it in the fridge (with the skillet and all) overnight for some really firm paneer but I found that an hour on the counter works fine. Cut into cubes or strips and cook your favorite curry!

Macaroni Pie

Macaroni Pie

I was first introduced to Macaroni Pie when I met my husband.  It is one of those comfort foods that is part of most Sunday dinners and  holiday dinners in Barbados.  I fell in the love with the spicy undertones and the tangy bites of the cheese sauce and the firm yet tender texture of the pasta.  Its like snuggling into a quilt fresh and hot from the dryer on a cold, snowy day; heavenly!!  Over the last 26 years of our marriage, I’ve developed my own version of the Macaroni Pie.  Adding and tweaking things until it has become a family classic!

A mixture of olive oil and butter is a great combination that adds depth and flavor. It’s a great base for the vegetables to saute in and for the sauce!

After the vegetables are sauteed add flour to make a roux.  A roux is basically a way to thicken a sauce using a starch (in this case flour) Don’t worry if it looks slightly lumpy because as you add the milk and keep stirring it turns into a smooth thickened mixture.

Add the flour into the sauteed mixture and stir it in quickly to avoid lumps.

After the milk mixture begins to thicken add the cheeses and stir in.  It will melt and turn into an amazing and delicious sauce.

Add pasta into the sauce and pour into a 9″ x 13″  in pan and top with Parmesan cheese and Panko breading.  I love Panko because it becomes crunchy and delicious when baked without adding any additional fat.  If you decide to use regular bread crumbs add a couple of tablespoons of butter to the bread crumbs before spreading it over the top of the pasta.

Wish you could smell this.  It’s the perfect crunch on the top with cheesy goodness on the inside.

Nothing like the perfect comfort food!

Here’s the recipe:

Macaroni Pie

1 16 oz box of mini Fusicili or elbow macaroni

½  yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

5 green onions

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter

¼ cup olive oil

1 clove garlic , minced

1 tsp Chili ( like Shiracha)

1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

4 cups whole milk

1 cup grated Sharp cheddar

1 cup grated mozzarella

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Topping

¼ cup Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

In a large 6 quart pan bring water to boil.  Liberally salt the water (2-3 tablespoons) add pasta and cook about 7 minutes until pasta is al dente. Drain.

In a sauce pan heat butter and olive oil together.  Add green onion, yellow onion and red bell pepper and stir fry 2-3 minutes.  When onions are translucent, add the garlic and stir fry an additional minute.  Add salt, fresh cracked pepper, mustard and chili sauce. Stir together another minute or so and add flour to the mixture, quickly stir in all the flour, when its incorporated, slowly begin to pour in the milk and keep stirring.  Mixture should start to thicken.  Add Mozzarella, Sharp cheddar and Parmesan  stir until cheese is melted.  The sauce should be flavorful and smooth.  Add pasta to the mixture and pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan.  Sprinkle Panko and Parmesan cheese evenly over the pasta and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.