Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cooking with Kitten: Yogurt Cheese

I don't like mayonnaise, either the texture or the flavor. That, and it's not very good for you. So, in search of a healthier alternative, I discovered yogurt cheese, and I often use that instead of mayonnaise or cream cheese. I think it's also tastier than either mayonnaise or cream cheese.

This recipe came from The Moosewood Cookbook. Yogurt cheese is very easy to make.

I've adapted the procedure from the original to fit my own needs.

Here's what you do:

1. When you make yogurt cheese, you drain all of the water out of the yogurt, so you need to start with double the amount of yogurt that you want to end up with. For example, if you want one cup of yogurt cheese, you need to start off with two cups of yogurt. For two cups of yogurt cheese, you need to start off with four cups of yogurt.

2. I use plain yogurt, any kind will do--whole, lowfat, or nonfat.

3. Take a small sieve or colander (small is the key word here) and line it with paper towels or cheesecloth. Put the colander over a clean bowl, and then put the bowl in the sink. Spoon the yogurt into the lining. Fully wrap the yogurt in the paper towels or cheesecloth.

4. Take a can of beans, vegetables, or any other heavy can and place it on top of the cheesecloth. This helps the water drip out of the yogurt.

5. Let the yogurt sit overnight. I get the yogurt started before I go to bed.

6. In the morning, unwrap the lining and spoon the cheese into another container. It will keep for about a week.

I have made a yogurt pie with yogurt cheese before, and it is quite yummy. When I make it, I use vanilla yogurt to make the yogurt cheese, as opposed to plain. I spoon it into a pre-made pie crust, then refrigerate it overnight. I take it out in the morning and will either spread blueberry preserves on top, or, if I'm feeling really creative, arrange fresh blueberries in concentric circles on top.

You can also use yogurt cheese in place of sour cream when you make Mexican layer dip, or when you serve quesadillas.

I'm sure there are other uses for yogurt cheese, but I can't think of them now. Leave your suggestions in the comments area if you think of any.

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