I've always wanted to make yogurt cheese
Well, maybe not always, but it has been in my head for a few years and I just never got around to it until yesterday. Since my sister is apparently too busy being a domestic goddess to post on her blog (come on, entertain me!), I though I would share my yogurt cheese experience.
The point of the yogurt cheese making exercise is to remove water from plain yogurt, resulting in a thicker, cream cheese consistency, but tasting like yogurt. To achieve this, take some plain yogurt, preferably one with a higher fat content that separates a bit into solid and liquid if you leave it in the fridge for a while (I used Astro Balkan Style). Any natural yogurt would probably be good. The low fat ones probably have thickeners or something to keep them in a creamy-looking state so they might not drain. Take the yogurt and plop it into the middle of a square of double or more layered cheese cloth. Tie it up into a secure little package (I used a twist tie, worked great). Then put it in a colander over a bowl, put a small plate or other flat thing over it and lightly weigh it down with a small can of food or a fist sized rock or something. Light pressure is good, but you don't want your parcel to blow up from too much pressure. Stick it in the fridge and forget about it for a few hours. A surprising amount of fluid should drain off, and the longer you leave it, the more fluid you get out. After a few hours, take it out, unwrap the cheese cloth, and you should be left with a mooshy ball of white stuff, textured similar to cream cheese. Then you can use it however you please, in a similar manner that you might use cream cheese (i.e. spreadable dairy product that mixes well with other flavour ingredients). It would be a good base for bagel spread (savoury or sweet), a good dip base, or see what I did below...
Take some of your yogurt cheese (probably a quarter cup per person for appies or lunch)
Take an equal or slightly less amount of feta cheese (I think 3parts yogurt to 2 parts feta is good)
one small clove of garlic (per 1/2 cup of base)
Put the yogurt in a bowl, finely crumble in the feta. Mixy mixy. Squish the garlic clove to open it up, but leave it in one piece. Drop it in the mix and stir it gently around for a while. Then fish it out and toss it in the compost. Now you have lightly garlic accented spread, but the garlic is not overwhelming. If you wanted it to be, you could mince the garlic and add it in. You could also add herbs or spices - very versatile. The feta makes it salty, the yogurt makes it nice and tangy and not too heavy which cream cheese can be. I spread this on toasted bread and topped it with a fresh tomato/cucumber/olive salsa. Super good.
Chop up nice flavoured tomato into smallish dice - about 1/2 cup
Chop up some cucumber, same size dice (take out the seeds first) - about 1/4 cup
Chop up pitted kalamata or green olives - less than 1/4 cup depending on how much you like olives
Salt to taste
Big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
chopped mint or basil
Mix it all up and serve as a topping or, make the tomato and cucumber pieces larger and serve as a nice summer side salad. Lemon, tomato and mint make a surprisingly wonderful combo.