Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yogurt Cheese

Back in the 70's, a cocktail party wasn't a cocktail party unless you had some Boursin style cheese to go with that bottle of wine. Then there was the classic "California Onion Dip" to go with those rippled potato chips for parties. Now with football play offs as the center of social events and many of us worried about our jeans getting tighter as the weather gets colder, I have a tasty solution for you: plain yogurt.

Yep, I said it, plain yogurt my friends.

I discovered how to make cheese from yogurt in the late 80's/early 90's when I went to work and weight began to creep on. I was still young and social but wanted to keep an eye on the amount of fat I was consuming. So I learned that it was simple to use plain yogurt to make a sour cream or cream cheese style base for things. Something I hadn't thought about in years until I stumbled across a note as I've been cleaning the kitchen over the past week.

So give this simple solution a try when you're thinking about your next party.

Start with a container of plain yogurt, a coffee filter, strainer and bowl. Line the strainer with the coffee filter and pour the yogurt into the filter and sit the strainer over a bowl in the fridge. If you want something the consistency of sour cream for a healthier dip, let it sit for a day, drain off the liquid in the bowl. For a cream cheese consistency, let it sit for two days. When it's at the consistency you like, discard the drained liquid and place the yogurt in a large bowl for mixing.

For a dip:

Mix the drained yogurt with either a dry mix (onion soup mix, veggie soup mix, etc.) or finely dice some onion and grab your favorite herb mix and mix them all together. Use with a veggie tray or chips.

For a Boursin cheese:

Thoroughly mix the drained and thickened yogurt with chopped garlic, chopped chives and parmesan cheese. Then add dried thyme, marjoram, sage, parsley and black pepper, mix thoroughly. Adjust the seasoning for your tastes. For example, if you're having lasagna or an Italian themed main course, you may want to use Italian seasoning rather than individual seasonings. Another option is using Herbs de Provence if you're going to a more wine and cheese party.

Make both of these things a day in advance and store them covered in the fridge for the flavors to really blend.

If the fat argument doesn't sway you, check the difference in cost for pre-made dips (and all that yummy sodium) and the cost of a container of plain yogurt (particularly that rich, fat-free Greek yogurt). and using things you probably all ready have in your pantry and kitchen. But be a little bold going into the New Year and give it a try.


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