Bites and Booze

by Scott Figatner

Media Credit: Scott Figatner | Hatchet Photographer

Follow these simple recipes to add just the right amount of flavor to any celebration.

Improving an Indian favorite: palak paneer

While I have a healthy obsession with spinach and cheese, palak paneer tends to be a dish that often looks better on the menu than it tastes on most restaurants' plates. I found myself sloshing through the murky and over-pureed sauce to pick out the few cubes of paneer cheese oh so generously bestowed by the chef. I fixed these problems at home and found a way to make a palak paneer with a vibrant green sauce that still says “spinach.” The amped up flavor will excite your palate. And most of all, you won’t be searching for the cheese... well, at least not until you’ve finished it all.

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (Indian spice mix)
  • 1-2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 11 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoon goat cheese spread/ plain yogurt (optional)
  • 3 ounces of heavy cream
  • 5 ounces low-sodium paneer, cubed

Directions

In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in enough butter to coat the bottom of the pot and a drizzle of olive oil. Add a sizeable pinch of salt and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic, the garam masala, a shake or two of cinnamon and the ginger paste. Continue to cook while you make the spinach.

Heat a large sauté pan on high and coat with some water. Add the spinach and salt to taste. Cook down until the spinach is soft yet still bright green. In a blender or food processor, purée half the spinach from your pot. Add the purée to the onions.

Incorporate the goat cheese spread/yogurt (optional) and the cream until you are happy with the consistency and richness. It should be thick but not too chunky. Cook with paneer and salt to taste.


Media Credit: Scott Figatner | Hatchet Photographer

Mellow-Yellow Mango Lassi Cocktail

This popular Indian non-alcoholic beverage — wait, hold up. Something is wrong here because the mango lassi is perfect as a cocktail. Rich yogurt can soften the sharpness of liquor while mango provides natural sweetness. A clean-flavored liquor like vodka is ideal.

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped (leaving some for garnish)
  • 1 cup mango nectar
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1½-2 shots vodka

Directions
Pureé in a blender until smooth and slightly frothy. Serve with a mango garnish.

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