Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lemon Fro-Yo

We finish our yogurt tangent with frozen yogurt. You already know the basics: culture milk to make yogurt, then drain to make yogurt cheese. If you add flavors and sweeten it, you can freeze it into a delicious treat! This lemony goodness is especially refreshing on hot summer days.

  • 1 whole batch (1/2 gallon) of homemade yogurt, thickened into cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons

Mix all ingredients. Churn according to your ice cream machine's directions. You can enjoy as soft-serve or you can put into an airtight container and freeze for 2 hours, or until desired hardness is achieved.

Check out my family blog for pictures of this process!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Yogurt Cheese

Yesterday, I promised you yogurt cheese. Now, this may seem strange and unusual to you, but if you don't think "yogurt cheese" but think "cream cheese" instead, it will not seem so strange. You could make this recipe plain, but I think adding herbs and other flavors makes a wonderful spread for crackers or a toasted bagel.

  • 1 quart homemade yogurt (half a batch of yesterday's recipe)
  • 1/2 to 1 whole head of roasted garlic, mashed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
  • kosher salt and pepper

Thoroughly mix the yogurt, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce in a mixing bowl. Pour into a large strainer or colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Set on top of a large bowl to catch the whey draining out (make sure there's enough space under the colander). Fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt and let drain for 8-12 hours (putting a wide weight on the top to press down on the yogurt will speed this up quite a bit). Drain the bowl several times during the first couple of hours, after which time the draining should slow down considerably. After the yogurt has set up into cheese, mix in salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.

Note: This possible variations of this recipe are limitless. The plain yogurt is basically a blank slate. If you substitute mint and cucumber for the thyme in this recipe, you've got Tzatziki sauce. Mix cumin, lime and cilantro into the plain yogurt, drain to a loose consistency (a couple of hours), season to taste, and you've got sauce for fish tacos. Add Tabasco sauce, celery salt, and paprika to top grilled catfish. Personally, I'd love to see your ideas posted here in the comments!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Happy Yogurt Day!

Did you know that today is Yogurt Day? Well, now you do. Many people think that you cannot make yogurt at home without a significant investment in time and money (and who really wants to buy a yogurt incubator?). Although it does take some time, making yogurt is actually very easy and requires very little attention. As far as the yogurt machine, save your money, since you probably have everything you need to make great yogurt at home.

  • 1/2 gallon of 2% or whole milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt "with active cultures" as a starter
  • That's it - yogurt is really simple!

Heat the milk to 180 degrees in a large saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently. If you don't have a thermometer, milk at 180 is just starting to steam but not bubbling. You do not want to overheat the milk, as this will scald it (not good). Carefully pour the milk into a very clean, large glass or plastic jar (it needs to be a least a cup or two bigger than 1/2 gallon, to allow for the expansion of the milk as it got hot). Let it cool on the counter to 115 degrees (this will take around 2 hours, depending on the ambient temperature). For the last half hour of cooling time, let the plain yogurt starter come up to room temperature.

Once the milk cools down, thin out the starter yogurt with some of the warm milk and than mix it back in. Cover and let thicken for 4-12 hours (the longer the culture time, the thicker and more tangy the yogurt). Keep the temperature as close to 115 degrees as possible (less than 105, nothing really happens, but if it gets over 120, you kill the starter cultures). I find that a heating pad set to medium keeps it just right - place the jar and the heating pad in a bucket and pack with towels to keep the pad tight to the jar. I also use plastic wrap to cover the jar and poke a probe thermometer through to constantly monitor the temperature.

Once the yogurt reaches the desired thickness, let cool (unwrapped) on the counter until it comes to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for 8 hours to let it fully set up (I said it was easy, not quick). Once your yogurt has fully set up, you may scoop out of the main curd to serve, but do not try to stir it up (or attempt to "mix in" any whey that weeps out of it). Any additions (such as fruit, granola, etc.) should be gently folded in at service time; the more you mix homemade yogurt, the runnier it gets. However, you can avoid this runniness by turning your yogurt into cheese - but that will have to wait until tomorrow!