Monday, May 10, 2010

Labneh- Greek Yogurt Cheese

I met this Greek dude last Tuesday coming out of Nordea bank in Munkkiniemi. He came out grumbling about the fact that it was snowing in May and that they had charged him a 7 euro surcharge for making a deposit. I sympathized, clearly. I don't believe in charging people to deposit money into a savings account. I don't believe in snow in May! I don't believe in a lot of things, but I do believe this is pretty good cheese.

As it turned out, the guy was from Ohio, but his family was Greek and he had just visited them in Greece. I wanted to like him, I really did. I usually approach fellow Americans with a very hopeful attitude. But ya know, we can't all be awesome. This guy only wanted to complain about Finland, Finnish people, weather, and so forth. If you've been here as long or longer than me, those complaints are beaten into the ground with a mat-cleaning-whacker-thing by now. Old, hackneyed, frusterating. If you don't like it, go back to Greece and join the protests there. Or go back to Ohio and...... do whatever it is that they do in, Ohio.

This Greek cheese was not inspired by my ungrateful American compatriate turned expatriate. It was inspired by a lot of plain yogurt leftover from last week's Indian food frenzy. None-the-less, I just had to try it out. I would compare it to cream cheese in consistency and taste.

1 liter plain yogurt (full or fat free will both work fine- I used fat free)
good olive oil
rosemary, thyme and garlic

1. Season the yogurt with salt and pepper.
2. Simply pour the yogurt into a coffee filter, or double folded cheese cloth (I used a coffee filter)
3. Tie the ends of the bag/filter. Tie the strings to a knife, and lay the knife with the dangling bag over a deep dish, like a tall tupperware.
4. Leave the bag there for 2-3 days, draining the water from the tupperware if needed. I drained mine only for two days before I realized no more liquid was coming out.
5. Using teaspoons, make small balls from the cheese and put them in a container covered with the oil and spices.

This is better presented contained in a wide-necked glass jar, but since I didn't find any, I used the wine glass for the photo. Obviously the cheese will now taste of rosemary, thyme and garlic, but with a little imagination you can season it however you might like. I was thinking next time to make a sweet version with honey and the rind of an orange. The cheese is really soft, but the balls stay separate with the oil. This will make about 10 tbs size servings and lasts about 4-5 days in the fridge.

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