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Archive for Yogurt

FOOD FUN: Make Beet Yogurt For Your Valentine

Beet Yogurt - Samin Nosrat

pita-wedges-thepioneerwoman-ps

Top: The secret ingredient is popped
mustard seeds. Photo courtesy Samin
Nosrat. Bottom: Serve either recipe with
homemade pita wedges. Photo courtesy
The Pioneer Woman
.

 

Our supermarkets are filled with cooked, packaged, ready-to-eat beets brought in for Valentine’s Day. While we love fresh-roasted beets, they’re the most time-consuming root vegetables to prepare.

We got the message. We’re using the pre-cooked beets to make Valentine dips and spreads. If you want to roast your own, we salute you.

This recipe, by California chef and author Samin Nosrat, is adapted from one published on BonAppetit.com (and further adapted by us). We received it from Good Eggs in San Francisco, an outstanding grocery delivery service.

Good Eggs recommends it as an addition to a composed salad, a spread for a cheese board or a tangy addition to a sandwich. “Once you start stirring popped mustard seeds into your savory cooking, you’ll never stop,” they assure us.

RECIPE #1: MASHED BEETS WITH MUSTARD SEEDS

Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 pound red beets (you can use other colors for other occasions)
  • Salt
  • Cooking oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a small pan over medium heat for a minute. Pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the mustard seeds. Swirl the pan until the mustard seeds begin to pop, cover the pan so the seeds don’t escape, and reduce the heat to low. After about 30 seconds, you’ll hear the popping slow down.

     

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool, uncovered, for a minute or two. Cut the beets into large chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. You can use a potato masher if you prefer it to a food processor: The mashed beets will be a much rougher texture (like hand-mashed potatoes) but still fine for all purposes.

    3. ADD the popped mustard seeds, yogurt, a big squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

     

    RECIPE #2: BEET YOGURT DIP, SPREAD OR TOPPING

    This is the yogurt to whip up for Valentine’s Day. You can make it with any color of beets, but save the orange and yellow for another occasion and use red beets. You can make the recipe a day in advance.

    Use beet yogurt as a dip, a spread, or as a topping—for baked potatoes, cottage cheese, grains, veggies, sandwiches, etc.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 pound beets (about 3 medium)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (your choice of 0%, 2% or full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon*
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Crudités: cucumber slices, carrots, anything good for scooping
  •  

    Beet Yogurt Recipe

    A very romantic dish of yogurt. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

  • Whole wheat pita, cut into triangles and toasted (recipe below, or substitute pita chips)
  • ____________________
    *If you don’t like the licorice notes in tarragon, substitute basil or chervil.
     

    Preparation

    If you want to roast your own beats, follow the first three steps. Otherwise, skip to Step 4.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    2. SCRUB and trim the beets, but leave the skins on. Place them in a small baking pan or casserole and fill it with 1/2″ hot water. Sprinkle with salt, cover with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover dish tightly with foil.

    3. ROAST the beets until tender, about 1 hour. Remove them from the baking pan and let them cool until they are comfortable to grasp. Then, using a paper towel, rub off the skins.
     
    4. GRATE the beets coarsely with a box grater, Microplane or the grating disc of a food processor. Blend with the yogurt, mint, tarragon, olive oil, and vinegar. Taste and season with salt and vinegar as desired.

    5. COVER and chill the yogurt for 3 hours or overnight for the flavors to meld.
     
    RECIPE: TOASTED PITA WEDGES

    Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT each pita round into 6 wedges and place them on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt as desired.

    2. BAKE for 5 minutes or until crisp.

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Fruit & Yogurt Or Smoked Salmon For Breakfast

    fruit_kabobs_siggis-230

    Smoked Salmon, Dill & Yogurt

    Valentine Toast

    Top: Yogurt and “Valentine fruit” for breakfast. Center: Smoked salmon for more sophisticated palates. Photos and recipes courtesy Siggi’s Dairy, producer of artisan yogurt. Bottom: “Valentine toast.” Photo courtesy SmellOfRosemary.Blogspot.com.

     

    Following our recent article on chocolate pancakes for Valentine’s Day, one reader tweeted, “Got anything for health-conscious eaters that fits into the schedule of a busy working mom?”

    Beth, this one’s for you and the kids. You can easily make one or both recipes.

    RECIPE #1: FRUIT SKEWERS WITH VANILLA YOGURT DIP

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 container (5.3 ounces) vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Fresh fruit (kiwi, melon, pineapple, etc.) sliced 3/4-inch thick
  • Optional: grapes or raspberries for “spacers”
  •  
    Plus

  • 1-inch heart cookie cutter
  • Ice pop sticks or skewers
  • Valentine toast (see below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the yogurt and honey in a bowl; mix well and set aside.

    2. CUT the fruit with a small heart-shaped cookie cutter. Assemble the skewers, using grapes and/or raspberries between the hearts as desired.
     

    RECIPE #2: SMOKED SALMON & DILLED YOGURT

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 container plain fat-free yogurt
  • 3 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt & fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: lemon zest or thin lemon quarter*
  •  
    Plus

  • Valentine toast (see photo)
  •  
    _________________________________
    *Cut a thin wheel of lemon, then cut the circle into quarters.
     
    Preparation

    1. CUT the smoked salmon into large but bite-size pieces.

    2. BLEND the yogurt and dill, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired.

    3. SCOOP the yogurt into a bowl and top with the smoked salmon.

    4. GARNISH as desired and serve.

     

    VALENTINE TOAST

    Make heart-shaped whole wheat toast with a heart-shaped cookie cutter of any size.

    Toast both the original slice of bread and the cut-out heart.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Kefir, Delicious & Very Healthy

    Strawberry Kefir

    Green Valley Lactose Free Kefir

    Lifeway Frozen Kefir

    Top: Kefir as a midday snack or even a better-for-you dessert. Photo © Viktorija | Fotolia. Middle: Green Valley Organics makes lactose-free dairy products, including kefir, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese. They’re a godsend to dairy lovers with lactose intolerance. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE. If you’re sensitive to cow’s milk, or simply prefer goat’s milk, turn to Redwood Hill Farms kefir. Photo courtesy LAFujimama.com. Bottom: Frozen kefir is an alternative to frozen yogurt with a higher probiotic content. Photo by River Soma | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Media attention is so interesting. In terms of “healthier options,” we’re blanketed with pitches for kale and quinoa, hummus and Greek yogurt, even juice bars.

    But we haven’t heard anything on probiotics in ages. In case you don’t remember: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help to promote digestive health and enhance the immune system. Five years ago, probiotics were the “it” food ingredient.

    Today’s tip is to take a look at kefir, a highly probiotic beverage that is also highly delicious.
     
    WHAT IS KEFIR

    Kefir, pronounced kuh-FEAR, is a tart fermented milk beverage. It is often called “drinkable yogurt,” although the recipes for yogurt and kefir vary (see below).

    In fact, kefir is even healthier than yogurt. It has been called “super yogurt,” since it is up to 36 times more probiotic than yogurt.

    Kefir is believed to have originated some 2,000 years ago among the shepherds of the Caucasus Mountains region—today’s Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In more modern times, it has long been enjoyed instead of milk, tea or other beverages in northern and middle Europe and the countries of the former USSR.

    As our “January Healthy Foods Month” winds down, we offer up kefir as a must-try. You can drink it at breakfast, lunch and snack time—or enjoy frozen kefir for dessert.
     
    MODERN KEFIR

    Kefir drinkers have benefited from the the explosion of the yogurt category over the last few decades. What was once only plain, rustic kefir is now a vibrant category of yummy, lowfat, probiotic smoothies, so satisfying that you can substitute them for milkshakes when you want a sweet treat.

  • You can find all the standard fruit flavors (banana, berry, peach and pomegranate, for example) as well as seasonal ones. Lifeway Kefir alone offers Cranberry, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice and Watermelon flavors.
  • There are veggie flavors, too. Lifeway makes vegetable kefirs in Beet, Cucumber and Tomato.
  • There are conventional lines and organic brands.
  • For frozen yogurt lovers, there’s Lifeway Frozen Kefir.
  •  
    KEFIR AS A HEALTH FOOD

    Kefir is not only delicious, it’s therapeutic. It contains millions of live and active probiotic cultures that clean and strengthen the intestines and help the body with healing and maintenance functions.

    People have been touting the numerous healing effects of kefir since the early 18th century. It has been used to treat allergies, atherosclerosis, cancer, candidiasis, digestive disorders, heart disease, hypertension, HIV, metabolic disorders, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis and tuberculosis.

    While kefir isn’t the panacea many believed it to be, it is a very healthy food, chock full of beneficial bacteria and yeast.

  • It contains numerous vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, including healthy doses of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B2, B12, D and K.
  • Kefir contains a substantial amount of tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids that is known for its relaxing effect on the nervous system. Some people see it as a “calming” drink.
  •  
    But the reason most people seek out kefir is for digestive health: help from the millions of probiotic bacteria in each serving.

    Probiotic bacteria, which are live and active cultures, occur naturally in the digestive tract, where they help promote a healthy balance, good digestion and overall intestinal vitality. People with digestive problems need more of these cultures than their systems naturally contain.
     
    KEFIR FOR THE LACTOSE-INTOLERANT

    Raw kefir. Some mildly lactose-intolerant people can enjoy kefir, as long as it is is raw and not cooked (cooking destroys the lactase enzyme, which digests the milk sugar, lactose). Read the labels, and if you can’t find raw kefir in your regular market, check the nearest health food store.

    Lactose-free kefir. There’s lactose-free kefir for people with a higher degree of lactose intolerance. Green Valley Organics, a brand of lactose-free dairy products we can’t live without, makes not just kefir and yogurt, but cream cheese and sour cream.

    Goat’s milk kefir. For those who prefer goat’s milk, there’s Redwood Hill goat kefir. People who are mildly lactose intolerant can often tolerate goat’s milk products. Lovers of fresh goat cheese may like the affinity.
     

    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN KEFIR & DRINKABLE YOGURT

    There are several differences between yogurt and kefir, including how each is made, the types of bacteria present in each, and the flavor and consistency.

    Of greatest interest to those who seek probiotics for digestive health, is that kefir and yogurt contain different types of probiotic bacteria, which perform differently. And, as noted earlier, kefir has up to 36 times more beneficial bacteria. Net net, kefir is better for digestion.

  • Yogurt. The beneficial bacteria in yogurt help keep the digestive tract clean and provide food for the friendly bacteria found in a healthy gut. They pass through the digestive tract and are called transient bacteria.
  • Kefir. The bacteria in milk kefir can actually colonize the intestinal tract and team up with the beneficial bacteria that live there. Kefir also contains contains some yeasts.
  •  
    If you’d like to drill down into the details of the differences, a great source is CulturesForHealth.com. The website can also guide you to making your own kefit, yogurt, and other cultured products at home.
     
    MORE TO DISCOVER

  • All about probiotics in our Probiotics Glossary.
  • All the different types of yogurt and kefir products in our Yogurt Glossary.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Labneh, Lebanese Yogurt Cheese

    Labneh

    The trick to plating labneh or yogurt dip: Use a shallow bowl or a plate and add the labneh. You can make a depression in the middle with a soup spoon and fill it with extra virgin olive oil, or drizzle the olive oil on top and around the edges. Then, sprinkle the entire surface with herbs and spices: chopped fresh mint leaves or thyme, paprika, sumac or za’atar. You can also garnish with Kalamata olives, ideally pitted.

     

    If you made the farmer cheese recipe we published last weekend, you probably had a lot of fun. So here’s cheese-making, part 2: Make labneh today, enjoy it this weekend.

    Prep time is just five minutes, plus 1-2 days to let the cheese drain. All you do is place Greek yogurt in a sieve (strainer or colander) lined with cheesecloth or paper towels, place the sieve over a bowl in the fridge and let the moisture (the whey) drain out.

    Once the whey is removed, the firm solids that remain (the curds) are called cheese. This is common to all cheese making, from fresh cheeses like cottage cheesed to aged cheeses, where the curds are pressed into a mold to age.

    Bonus: Labneh is low in calories, 40 per ounce when made with whole milk yogurt. And since the yogurt is not heated after incubation, the active yogurt cultures remain live.

    WHAT IS LABNEH?

    Labneh or labne (pronounced LOB-neh or LOB-nay) is a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S. Thicker than Greek yogurt, it’s considered the Lebanese version of cream cheese.

    Labneh is packed with live cultures (beneficial bacteria), calcium and protein. It isn’t made with vegetable gum and shaped into a brick like American cream cheese. Rather, it’s sold in a container the size of a large yogurt.

    A mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East, labneh is available in grocery stores here. But since it’s so easy to make, why not have the fun of making your own?

     
    USES FOR LABNEH

  • Bread spread. Plain or mixed with spices or herbs and a pinch of salt, labneh is delicious on bagels and toast. In the Middle East, the protein-rich spread is enjoyed for breakfast with pita. It’s especially good with whole wheat and multigrain breads and crusty rustic loaves. For a sweet take, drizzle honey over the labneh (we love it on toasted raisin bread), or first spread the bread with jam. For more protein, garnish with chopped walnuts. Labneh can also be used as a bread spread at dinner.
  • Dip. Season with chopped basil, garlic powder, green onion, mint, oregano and/or thyme. Add salt to taste and stir in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Garnished with coarsely chopped walnuts, a drizzle of olive oil and more herbs. You can also mix finely-chopped walnuts into the yogurt for more texture and flavor. Serve with crudités, toasted pita wedges, pita chips or crackers.
  • Vegetable garnish. Top sautéed greens or other veggies with labneh, a drizzle of olive oil, and za’atar (a mix of spices you already have) or sumac (ditto for a sumac substitute—see below).
  • Ingredient. Use labneh in cakes, frostings and other recipes instead of yogurt or fat-laden mascarpone or sour cream.
  • Side or condiment. Serve it topped with chopped fresh mint as a side to roast lamb or pork, lamb chops or pork chops, grilled or roasted chicken.
  • Base. Use instead of cream cheese or sour cream as a base for for canapés or crostini.
  • Garnish. It’s delightful in soups and salads.
  •  

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE LABNEH (YOGURT CHEESE)

    While the recipe for labneh couldn’t be more basic, we thank Good Eggs of San Francisco for inspiring this article.

    Note that straining yogurt can reduce the volume of the yogurt by 50% or more, depending on how long you strain it (how thick the finished cheese is). Save the drained liquid (the whey). It’s filled with nutrients and we enjoy drinking it, but it can be used as a milk substitute in many ways, including mac and cheese.

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • Whole milk plain Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of salt
  •  

    For Serving

  • Bread, crackers, crudités
  • Fresh herbs
  • Olive oil
  • Spices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the salt and yogurt. Line a bowl or plate with 3 layers of cheesecloth and add the yogurt. If you don’t have cheesecloth, you just place the yogurt in a sieve/strainer or colander. At this point, you can mix in herbs and spices, or use them as garnishes to the finished cheese.

    2. GATHER the edges of the cheesecloth around the yogurt and tie them with a string. Or, place the strainer over a bowl to catch the whey, and place it in the fridge. If you don’t have space in the fridge, in the cool weather you can use a cool spot in your home to let the yogurt drain; but you’ll want to wrap it in cheesecloth.

    3. LET STRAIN for 1-2 days, or until labneh reaches the desired consistency.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/labneh making goodeggs 230

    The joy of cheese making. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
     
    WHAT IS SUMAC?

    Sumac is ground from a red berry-like drupe that grows in clusters on bushes in subtropical and temperate regions. The dried drupes of some species are ground to produce a tangy, crimson spice. (One of the species not used is the poison sumac shrub.)

    The word “sumac” comes from the old Syriac Aramaic summaq, meaning red. In Middle Eastern cuisine, the spice is used to add a tangy, lemony taste to meats and salads; and to garnish hummus and rice. The spice is also a component of the popular spice blend, za’atar, below.

    An easy substitute for sumac: lemon zest plus salt. (In salads, use lemon juice or vinegar.)
     
    WHAT IS ZA’TAR?

    Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends.

    Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.
     
    WHAT IS FRESH CHEESE?

    Fresh cheese is a category of unaged cheeses with a high moisture content (whey). They are typically set by adding lactic acid cultures. The cheeses can be made from any type of milk.

    Uncomplicated in flavor, fresh cheeses have a creamy, soft texture and fresh, sweet flavor. They are often used in cooking and with fruit for dessert.

    Fresh cheeses include cottage cheese, cream cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc, mascarpone, Neufchâtel, panir, ricotta, queso blanco, queso fresco and quark.

    Fresh cheeses are not made to age, and should be consumed quickly.

    Here’s more about fresh cheeses.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Noosa Yoghurt

    To start with, Noosa is yoghurt, not yogurt. That’s the Australian spelling, and appropriate for a brand that originated Down Under.

    The original Noosa is a picturesque Australian resort town on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the home of golden beaches. The name Noosa comes from an Aboriginal word meaning shade or shadows, a probable reference to the tall forests behind the sunny coast.

    On a vacation to Noosa, company co-founder Koel Thomae—an Aussie ex-pat living in Colorado—came across a tub of creamy yoghurt and passionfruit purée.

    It took just one spoonful for her to decide that she must bring this celestial style of yogurt to the U.S. Back in Colorado she found a partner, fourth-generation dairy farmer Rob Graves, who milked happy, pasture-raised cows. He took one taste of the Australian yogurt and agreed with Koel. America needed Noosa.

    They began to make Noosa in small batches, from farm-fresh whole milk, local raw clover alfalfa honey and purées of the best fruits. The “Australian-style” texture is thick like Greek yogurt but oh-so-velvety, as elegant as any dessert. (Some of that texture comes from kosher bovine gelatin.)

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU, certified GMO free and made with rBGH-free milk from pastured cows.

       

    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Noosa Yoghurt is so silky, it’s like an elegant dessert. Photo courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    The four-ounce cups, for 140 calories or so, depending on the flavor, is a wonderful bit of fruity sweetness at the end of the meal, or as a snack anytime.

    And for breakfast or lunch, well: What a treat. It’s worth seeking out.

     

    Noosa Yoghurt

    Some of Noosa’s luscious yoghurt flavors. Photo courtesy Noosa.

     

    There are 4-, 8- and 24-ounce sizes (not all flavors in all sizes):

  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Cranberry Apple
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Plain
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry Rhubarb
  • Tart Cherry
  •  
    Not all flavors are made for each season; for example, Cranberry Apple and Pumpkin—both winners—are fall flavors,

    Here’s a store locator and the main website. Scroll to the bottom of the home page for a link to print a coupon.

      

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