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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent Blogging Day Eight- and Labneh!

A few days ago I posted a recipe using za'atar, which is a delicious spice blend typically used in middle-eastern dishes. One of my friends commented that her favorite way to use za'atar was to eat it with labne. Well, I had never heard of of course, I googled it..and found that it is a deliciously tangy type of yogurt cheese that is very easy to make.

That same day, I got an email from a cooking food site Food52 that featured...labneh. Wierd, right? Anyhow, as I read about it, I decided that it is the kind of flavor I would enjoy- a little salty, savory and tangy spreadable cheese goodness. It has several spellings but it's all basically the same...plain yogurt strained for several days until super thick. It can be used as a spread, or a dip, or if allowed to drain long enough, cheese balls. I am not a fan of yogurt unless it's in a dip or a salad dressing- I don't usually eat yogurt ...especially not the sweet kind or with fruit. *shudder* Bleah. But, I usually have a container in the fridge for homemade salad dressings or as an addition to a marinade or dip. I do, however, love cheese, and I always love salty, savory and sour-tangy flavors, so I made some.

I checked several recipes and decided to use the easiest one with the fewest ingredients. I figured I could add seasonings later.

I took a very clean white tea towel that I had rinsed very well and lined a strainer. Then, I placed it over a bowl to catch the whey. I used a 32 ounce container of Trader Joe's plain non-fat Greek yogurt and stirred in about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Then, I carefully spooned all of the yogurt into the tea towel and twisted the top. Lots of watery whey started to leak out from the tea towel right away! I placed it in the fridge and let it sit for 24 hours.

OK, yes, I forgot to take pictures.

I was really excited this afternoon when the labneh was ready...there was a lot of whey in the bottom of the bowl! I still don't quite know what to do with the whey, but it's in a jar in the fridge for the time being...until I figure out what to do with it.

I decided to make some cheese balls with the labneh since we are expecting company soon. I spooned the labneh out into a container, and then, I took a teaspoon to scoop out some of the cheese and rolled it into little balls. I placed the balls into a very clean, sterilized jar, covered them with extra virgin olive oil and placed them into the fridge. Supposedly they will actually last a month or so...unless I eat them all!

We had an afternoon football game appetizer while San Francisco beat Seattle (thank you, Colin Kaepernick for helping my fantasy team!) and I added some labneh.

As suggested by my friend Mayanne, I added some za'atar and a drizzle of olive oil.

I served it spread on a Trader Joe's Savory Thin rice & sesame cracker....heaven! It was tangy, creamy, very spreadable and delicious!
You have to make this!
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