Tag Archives: paneer

Sweet Hungarian Farmer’s Cheese Dumplings (Turogomboc)

This should be the last dumpling post … for a while, anyway.

There are as many recipes for making these sweet cheese dumplings as there are Hungarian grandmothers (nagyanya, nagymama).

Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration but, net surfing, even just on Hungarian web sites, will reveal lots of variations. In some, you separate your eggs and beat the whites to hard peaks before you fold them into the sweetened egg yolks along with the rest of the ingredients. Lemon zest or no lemon zest. And then there’s the addition of raisins. Cinnamon or no cinnamon with the sugar at the end? There are even recipes where the only sugar added is in the bread crumb coating.

Since this dish wasn’t served in my Romanian home, I feel that I can pick and choose the ingredients that best appeal to me. The recipe below is a combination of those recipes, with options for personalizing the dumplings to your taste.

I made my own ‘farmer’s or dry curd cheese’, or as close as I can get, which is my paneer cheese.

Here’s a picture of the tester dumpling.

Sweet Hungarian Farmer’s Cheese Dumplings (Turogomboc) – makes 32-34 dumplings, enough to serve 6 to 8 people

For the dumplings:
1 lb/454 gm farmer’s or dry curd or paneer cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 oz/113 gm semolina
1 pinch salt

Optional additions to the dumpling mixture:
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp of raisins
2 tbsp granulated sugar

For the sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter, or vegetable oil
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

To serve: sour cream, your favourite jam or powdered sugar

If using commercially purchased farmer’s cheese, use a wooden spoon to press the farmer’s cheese through a medium sieve into a large bowl. For freshly made farmer’s cheese or paneer, as I used, a regular fork should allow you to break up the cheese into even crumbles.

Add the egg, the semolina, and the pinch of salt. (If using, this is the point at which you would add the lemon zest, sugar and raisins.). Mix with the spoon until the dumpling dough reaches a uniformly stiff consistency. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil, and add a teaspoon or so of salt.

Combine the granulated sugar with the cinnamon, if using.

While the dough chills, prepare the toasted breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a nonstick or cast iron pan. Add the bread crumbs, stirring and tossing until you get a golden brown colour. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. You can add the sugar (and cinnamon) at this point.

Reduce the heat so the water is not boiling furiously.

With a soup spoon, scoop out enough dough to form dumplings about one inch in diameter.  Shape them roughly into balls and drop gently into the water. Do not crowd the dumplings in the water so only use half the dough at a time.

Give your dumplings a gentle stir to make sure they don’t rest on the bottom of the pot and stick. When the dumplings float to the surface they are done. (Test  by removing one of the dumplings and cutting it in half. The interior should be uniform in colour. If the center appears paler, continue cooking for another minute or two.)

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked dumplings to the pan of sweetened bread crumbs.

Roll the dumplings around until they’re well coated.

Serve immediately with some powdered sugar or sour cream, thinned a bit with milk. Or your favourite jam.

Victoria Day Weekend and Palak (Spinach) Paneer

Between taking time off for a bad cold which started with the sore throat from …. well, you can guess, and a Friday without any calls, I’ve been home for six days. And doing very little cooking that I can post about.

So, this palak paneer is a stretch to be creative with very little energy.

Palak, means spinach, but the more broadly defined saag paneer, which refers to various ‘greens’ including spinach, mustard greens and fresh fenugreek leaves, is the more commonly served vegetarian dish found on Indian menus. Paneer refers to a fresh cheese which you can buy in Indian grocery stores but make, quite easily, at home.

I combined a couple of different recipes I found on line for the recipe below.

Palak (Spinach) Paneer – serves 3-4

250 grams / 8-9 oz cooked spinach*
250 grams / 8-9 oz fresh cottage cheese (paneer), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp vegetable oil

For the gravy or sauce:

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 bay leaf (medium to large)
1 onion, medium, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 or 2 fresh green chilies, finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
1 pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi), use 2 tsp if you want a more bitter taste
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/4 cup whipping cream or drained plain yogurt**
a pinch of sugar
salt as required
1-2 fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped (optional)

*  I used a 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and cooked according to package directions.
** I would have used the yogurt but I didn’t have any this time.

Blanch spinach leaves in boiling water for 3 minutes and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water with 1/2 cup of ice cubes in it and leave for 1 minutes to cold shock (stop the cooking). Drain the spinach well and puree in a food processor or blender if you want the spinach to be a fine puree. Otherwise, just chop as finely as possible.

Optional: Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Pan fry the paneer cubes until golden brown on several sides to add additional flavour and texture. Remove the paneer cubes and drain them on paper towels.

Making the gravy or sauce:

In the same oil in which you pan fried the paneer, add the cumin seeds and the bay leaf and saute over medium high heat until the cumin seeds crackle. Then add the finely chopped onions and stir well cooking until they turn a light golden colour.

Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and finely chopped green chilies, stir and saute till the raw aroma of the ginger-garlic goes away. (If using the tomatoes, add them now.) Now add the spice powders – turmeric powder, black pepper, and dry fenugreek leaves, crushing the leaves before adding.

Stir well, reduce the heat to medium and add the spinach puree. Season with salt and sugar. Stir well, simmering the gravy for 5 to 6 minutes or until it thickens slightly and the spinach is cooked well.

Add the whipping cream along with the garam masala powder and stir very well. The cream should be mixed thoroughly with the spinach gravy.

Turn off the heat, add the paneer cubes and stir them gently with the rest of the gravy so as not to break up the cubes.

Serve the palak paneer hot with various Indian breads ie. rotis, naan, chapatis, paratha or cumin basmati rice or biryani rice.

I had to eat even though I was sick so I made some other quick and easy dishes …

pan-fried boneless pork chops with leftover enchilada quinoa and

roasted chicken drumsticks which had been marinated in Italian salad dressing, steamed broccoli dressed with sweet Thai chili sauce, vanilla bean panna cotta topped with a compote made with frozen blackberries, blueberries, orange juice and some orange zest.

I even made another sourdough tartine loaf with dried dill weed and minced onion. Great as a snack with some butter or toasted and spread with cream cheese.

Oh, and there was a sourdough pizza and sourdough pancakes with macerated strawberries and strawberry coulis.

Pasca cu aluat de cozonac (Romanian Easter Bread)

There are several kinds of Easter bread or preparations called variously, pasca or pascha or paska. One is even a molded type of cheese. But this version, made with the same sweet yeast dough as cozonac, has a sweetened cheesecake filling. The cheese used is a dry curd cheese, though ricotta, drained cottage cheese or even cream cheese has been used in recipes I’ve seen on line. I had a bit of cottage cheese in the fridge but not enough for the recipe I wanted to try so I made a batch of paneer (cheese made from acid curdled milk) which I drained well and used instead.

I wanted a higher cheese to bread ratio so I only used 1 1/2 pounds of dough (instead of the full two pounds the dough recipe makes) for the pasca.

Paneer – freshly made curd and after being drained and pressed

 

The sponge for the dough was allowed to proof for 30 minutes and was then combined with the rest of the ingredients

Dough shaped into base and braided border – next time I have to press down the center area where the cheese is spooned in.

 

I made a braided bread cross with the remaining dough.

 

In Romania and other countries where the pasca is made, it has deeper religious meaning, but it’s also a very tasty bread enjoyed at this time of the year.