Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Handy Kitchen Hint - Yogurt Cheese

I don't believe in low-fat yogurt. Or worse, non-fat yogurt. It is a tool of the devil.

The only yogurt that enters my home is Straus Family Creamery Organic Whole Milk Yogurt or its not-so-secret cousin, Trader Joe's European-Style Thick & Creamy Oraganic Whole Milk Yogurt.

As a secret member of the amazing Margaret Fox's (Cafe Beaujolais Cookbook)Lily Gilder's Society, I can't leave my fabulous whole-milk yogurt alone, but must further creamify it by draining off the water.

You can do this any number of ways - tying it in cheesecloth and hanging it from the sink handle (bad in warm weather), or putting it into a cloth in a colander in a bowl in the fridge, but I have a super-easy tool for making labneh, or thick yogurt: the salad spinner.

I line the spinner basket with a clean cloth dishtowel, dump the yogurt in, and let it drain into the bottom of the salad spinner in the fridge. This has the advantage of fitting together well and having a lid.

6 to 12 hours later, yum, there's your yogurt "cheese." Now just add some thin-sliced cucumbers and snipped fresh dill and you have a tasty tzatziki.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

More specialized dishes - aceitunas

My love for olives is unbounded.

Nicoise, picholines, arbequinas, kalamatas, manzanillas...I love them all.

Knowing this, my friend Stacy got me this nifty snack dish at the Oakland Friends of the California Museum sale, an annual treasure bonanza.

The painting on the bottom says "Aceitunas," which means "olives" in Spanish. I had always thought it was "Olivos" because my dad is from Los Olivos, but that means "olive trees."

The larger vase-shaped thing on the side is labeled "Huesos" or "bones" for the pits. Ah, the wonderful economy of Spanish. The annoying hard thing in the middle of a fish is a bone, so why not call an olive pit a bone too? Makes sense to me.

The smaller thing says "palillos" or "little sticks" for used toothpicks. This is a party dish!

I don't have parties very often, but I eat olives all the time. I put them in the dish, toss some crackers and a few nuts and maybe a piece of cheese in, too. Then I have myself a little party and pretend I am watching the sunset in Spain.