Thursday, June 16, 2011

Za'atar Coated Marinated Labne

This is a delicious middle eastern style cheese made from yoghurt. It is so addictive and makes everything taste amzing! You can spread it on a sandwich, eat as a dip with some toasted flat bread or in a simple sald wiht tomato, mint and olives. I first discovered labne in Goa in India of all places. With so many Israli people there, there were quite a few cafes offering middle eastern style menus and that is where our relationship began.

Don't be put off by off by the lengthy process of making it. It is so easy. Obviously it is not a last minute thing and requires some thought in advance for preparation. Once you have bought yourself some muslin cloth you can make this time and time again. It makes a great gift at christmas or for a fellow foodie's birthday. Everyone loves home-made treats. It also keeps for quite a while in the fridge as long as it's covered with olive oil.

The basics
Muslin cloth
1kg organic natural yoghurt

1) Place yoghurt and salt in a bowl and mix together
2) Lay muslin cloth over an empty clean bowl and spoon yoghurt into centre of cloth
3) Securely tie opposite ends together.
4) If you have enough room you can tie the ends of the cloth over tap (preferrably one that isn't used often) and suspend over a bowl . You can also attach a piece of sting to the top of the muslin and tie using this
5) Leave for 24-72 hours to drain the water or 'whey' from the yoghurt. The longer you leave it the thicker the labne will be.
6) Open cloth and you can either spoon into a dish and eat as a dip drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with zataar or sumac OR you can roll into small balls and marinate (see below).

To Marinate
1) Roll labne into small golf sized balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper
2) Put tray in fridge for a few hours to dry out the labne a little more (this step isn't necessary but can make the edges of the cheese firmer)
3) *Gently place in a wide mouthed jar with a couple of cloves of roughly chopped garlic, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and a couple of bay leaves.
4) Fill jar with extra virgin olive oil until coated
5) Store in fridge

*You can also roll each ball in a small amount of za'atar for extra flavour.

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