A little over a week ago, I made some clotted cream for a bring-your-own-food afternoon tea. It was pretty easy, mostly requiring patience and a bain marie so there would be no cooking or burning. Most 'recipes' you find have you mix up mascarpone and sour cream for a surrogate. I was amused when I saw a girl at the Viva Magazine forum elect the surrogate because "...the whole lumps floating to to surface business sounds unsavoury". How does she think her other dairy products are made?
Making real clotted cream involves gently heating (slightly separated) whole milk or cream and waiting for the fat to surface. After you cool it down and let it sit, you can scoop off the clotted cream. The recipe I had said to scald the cream for two hours (I didn't sit next to the pot all the time, I went online and checked back every now and then), but the first 30 minutes seemed to do the trick, with not much of an extra yield after two hours.
Anyway, with the success of the clotted cream, I felt confident enough to try cheese. I didn't want to be too ambitious, so I went with something easy. At our last house, we had an Indian restaurant nearby. As a rare and special treat, we'd have some of their food delivered and that's how I first had paneer, an Indian fresh cheese. It's more of a texture than a flavour, but it makes a good foil for spices and veggies. The best thing about it is that you only need two easily acquired ingredients, so I was all over it:)
Basically, you need milk, preferably whole, and some sort of acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Of course I didn't plan this through all that well, so I had less than a litre of semi-skim, some leftover full fat Greek yoghurt and some white vinegar. I heated the milk and added the yoghurt to make it creamier. I was told to add 10ml of vinegar. I couldn't really be bothered to measure it, I wasn't really planning to use the whey and the cheese doesn't take on the acid, so I just put in a metric slosh and stood back. This is the bit that makes it fun, because the acid separates the whey from the curds pretty quickly and it's a bit like magic:)
I let it sit for a few minutes and then I poured everything into a wet clean dish towel (cheesecloth stand in) in a sieve. The whey leaked through into a bowl and the curds stayed behind. I pressed out some more whey by pressing the curds for another 20-30mins in my very high tech 'cheese press' (I put some dishes and a can of beans on top for weight). We ended up with a modest hamburger-sized bit of paneer, which I handed off to the kitchen prince to be made into pakora (spiced batter fried snacks). I think the taste and texture were reminiscent of mozzarella, not very exciting but a good base to start from. Overall, I would rate paneer as dead easy to make, slightly time consuming, easy on the wallet and vegetarian-friendly.