LABNEH or "Oh baby, I made cheese! From yogurt!"
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Creamy, delectable, soft little orbs of cheesy, tangy, smooth goodness. Is it yogurt, or is it cheese?
It's magically delicious. And ridiculously simple, to turn plain yogurt into an addictively creamy, spreadable cheese, with a multitude of flavour, flavour options.
Get bodacious, adding teeny specks of Thai chile, or heady amounts of minced garlic. Or go a tich more subtle with fresh oregano and black pepper, or lemon zest and fresh chopped dillweed.
I've seen, but not tried yet, recipes that add very finely chopped fresh radish or red onion.
You can either add these flavour boosts right into the labneh itself, for a little more pow, or you can opt to sprinkle on the herbs and spices when you drizzle those lovely little cheese balls with your favorite olive oil.
This time I added earthy black truffle salt (Thanks, Mary!) right to my yogurt, before draining. Then once I had rolled the drained yogurt into balls, I drizzled with a fruity, almost pungent, extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with fresh cracked black pepper and stuck in a just-picked stem of purple basil for anyone who might want to amplify their labneh munching pleasures with a bit of garden fresh pizzazz.
Smear labneh on warm pita, chewy baguette slices, focaccia or crackers......and don't forget how a little dish of these buxom beauties can dress up a simple antipasto plate.
Oh my beautiful labneh, where have you been all my life?!
Turns out this delectable Middle Eastern delight, of straining yogurt through cloth, has been around awhile and is now gaining popularity the world over. There are a few different techniques and presentation variations, but I have fast become a die-hard fan of rolling the drained yogurt into balls, drizzling with a great quality, extra virgin olive oil and then whatever spices or herbs are the flavour of the day.
It usually takes 24 hours to properly drain the yogurt to the best consistency. But if you just MUST have some labneh, you know if it's what you want, if it's what you really, really want, like I did this time, it can be done in 4 hours.
I drained my yogurt in a cotton napkin lined strainer, weighing it down with a saucer and a big can of beans, in the fridge for 4 hours, then while still in the napkin, I squeezed the bedickens out of it, to get as much liquid out as I could, then rolled it up. The balls weren't quite as smooth, in appearance, as I can sometimes get them, but they were still pretty and just as yummy.
Just do it! Grab some yogurt and salt...................strain, drain, squeeze, roll, drizzle, sprinkle, spread, pop, munch, repeat. Abracadabra.
1 tub (750g) Greek or Balkan style Natural Plain Yogurt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Herbs and spices, (black pepper, hot chile, garlic, dillweed, oregano, basil, lemon zest), as you please
Pita, baguette, focaccia, crackers, to serve
Whisk or stir the salt into the yogurt until well combined. Line a colander or strainer with fine muslin, triple layer cheesecloth or a thin cotton dinner napkin. Place over deep bowl. Plop salted yogurt into lined strainer. Bring edges of cloth up over the top of the yogurt and weigh down with a small saucer and soup or other can. Place in refrigerator overnight, or about 24 hours.
You may want to check hourly, for the first two or three hours, and discard liquid from the bowl, so the yogurt is not touching or sitting in the drained liquid. Once fully drained, squeeze yogurt inside of cloth, for one last blast of removing the liquid. Roll tablespoonfuls of the labneh into nice little balls and place in bowl or serving dish. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper or your favorite herbs, or spices. Serve with warm pita, baguette, focaccia or crackers.