Labna - Yoghurt Cheese
I love eating cheese. I love eating things with cheese on it. I love eating things with cheese in it. I just love cheese.
I am strangely fascinated by the West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, probably the world's most famous cheese. It can be seen here in all it's cheesy glory. I have never seen anything actually happen to this cheddar. Sometimes the lights are on, sometimes they are off. The tag moves every now and then. The cheddar lives a sedate life. But I keep tuning in for some crazy reason.
I also love making cheese. People are always dead impressed when I mention this. But it's bit of a fraud really. There is simply nothing simpler than labna.
Labna is a traditional yoghurt cheese from the Middle East. It's basically yoghurt mixed with salt, drained, rolled into a ball and stored in oil. That's it. You have cheese.
For this tiny bit of effort I end up with something totally delicious. I add some bruised rosemary stems and garlic cloves to the oil to add additional flavour. The smell when you open the jar is heady. I generally have a jar sitting on the benchtop which gets munched through pretty much constantly.
The way I like to eat them is spread over crisped bread croutons. For an extra touch I sometimes sprinkle over some smoked prapika. I'm constantly experimenting - lemon pepper is good, so is a small dollop of tomato salsa or some finely chopped basil. Sometimes, I roll the yoghurt balls in dried herbs before placing them in the oil. It's all good.
(adapted from Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander)
Mix 1 tspn of salt into 600ml of greek yoghurt. Place in a double sheet of muslin. Gather muslin over the top of the yoghurt and twist to enclose. Place in a strainer resting over a bowl. Place in the refrigerator and leave to drain for 2-3 days. Scoop mixture into small balls and place in a glass jar and ensure they are covered with oil (I use either extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil if I want a milder taste). Add bruised peeled garlic cloves and bruised stems of rosemary. Leave overnight for flavours to develop. Use within two weeks.