Hello, have you missed me? You see, my dog ate my computer so all of those 20 posts I have backed up and ready to hit “publish” on disappeared down fido’s esophagus.
To tell the truth this has been a crazy start to the year. Some health stuff, starting a new job, a remodel. Lots of changes. The biggest right now is that my curing chambers are (and have been) out of commission, which I hope to rectify shortly.
Thankfully things have stopped being “mental” as I call them, and I have actually managed to pickup my camera again, after far too many months. The first thing I aimed it at was some cheese. Well, the first thing was my son in his pterodactyl costume, but that doesn’t work for this blog. The cheese however does. The cheese in question is Labne. Some might know it as strained yogurt, greek yogurt, yogurt cheese, or whatever else. Personally I prefer to call it Labne, purely because it makes it sound far more mystical and somehow trickier to make than it actually is.
The thing that I love about the stuff is just how much flavor it has, and how much extra flavor you can jam into it if that is the way your cookie crumbles. You make it by straining some salted yogurt, no nobel prize for guessing that. The fun happens after that, if you so wish. Once strained why not mash in some fresh herbs. Or, ohh, some spices and maybe citrus zest. Why not pinch off some of the cheese, roll it in to balls and cover with with some olive oil. Bung some stuff into said oil too if your little heart desires. Really the possibilities are endless.
My personal favorite however is to pair it with honeycomb. The gear can be hard to find however. Farmers markets are a good source for the lovely comb, but so too can be your independent well stocked fancy foods place. I found my stash at Madison Market in Seattle. Anna’s brand if memory serves. To make this even more awesome (not that fresh cheese and honeycomb needs it) I decided to toast up some hazelnuts, cumin, fennel and coriander seeds. Crush these up a good’un and mix with some dried mint and you have a pleasant coarse spice mix that is rather good on, well, just about anything (love it on fish).
I have been eating this dish with a side of flatbread and some rather nice arugula simply dressed. Makes for a lovely quick snack in the middle of the afternoon. Paired with a few more veggies and a glass of wine and you have lunch.
Homemade Labne Recipe
2 cups unsweetened yogurt (the best stuff you can find)
pinch of salt
small handful of hazelnuts
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 tablespoon cumin seed
1/2 tablespoon fennel seed
1/2 tablespoon dried mint
pinch of good sea salt
wet the cheesecloth, and line a fine small sieve with it. Mix the salt with the yogurt, and spoon in to the cheesecloth. Wrap the edges of the cloth over the top of the yogurt, and put the sieve in a bowl to collect all the whey that drips off. Best to suspend it over a bowl to be honest, since you can end up with quite a lot of liquid coming out, and you wouldn’t want the yogurt sitting in the whey – rather defeats the purpose of draining it.
Place a saucer on top of the yogurt and press it down a bit. Put a can on top of that, and put the whole thing in the fridge. Let it drain for 8 hours, or overnight.
Gently toast the hazelnuts in a heavy pan until the skins are starting to fall off. Rub them together with a towel to remove as much of the skins as possible. Chop finely. Toast the coriander, cumin and fennel seed in a pan until fragrant. Grind coarsely. Mix the hazelnuts, spices and mint together. Season the mix with a pinch of salt.
When ready to eat, carefully remove the yogurt cheese from the cheesecloth on to a plate. Place a jolly good helping of honeycomb on top, making sure to get some honey in there too. Sprinkle over the spice mix, and eat before anyone else wants some.