13 November 2008


Second in the brunch series.

I went to the library to study last week and one of the books on display caught my attention. It was a Joy of Cooking book about party foods and since I knew we were going to have people over, I grabbed it on the way out. A lot of the recipes were a little too fussy for what I was looking for but the Laban, homemade yogurt cheese rolled in paprika and mint, kept catching my attention every time I flipped through the book.

My grandma, who was perpetually watching her cholesterol, used to make yogurt cheese but I hadn't had it in years. It's really simple to make, just take plain yogurt and let it strain for a day on the counter, then transfer it to the fridge to firm up overnight. Then it's ready to use. Laban (at least my version of it) has the consistency of softer cream cheese with a creamy, tangy taste. It's yogurt, but it's not yogurt at the same time, as the flavor has deepened. The sweet paprika and mint coating made the laban look great on the plate and added an unusual but delicious flavor. The laban went over really well- I will be making another batch in the near future.

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Makes 18 grape sized balls

2 C. plain, lowfat yogurt
1.5 t. salt
1 T. sweet paprika
1 t. crushed dried mint
Equipment: bowl, mesh strainer, cheesecloth (or coffee filters)

- Line the mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or two layers of coffee filters. Place the strainer over the bowl. Mix the yogurt and salt and pour into the strainer. Fold the cheesecloth over the top, or place a coffee filter on top. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

- Place a few coffee filters or paper towels on a plate. Turn the cheese out onto the plate and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. The cheese will be slightly dry on the outside.

- Mix the paprika and mint. Form balls of the cheese (I did mine grape sized) and roll in the spice mix. Serve immediately.


kat said...

Oh what & interesting idea. Did you find you have to serve them right away or for a party could you prepare them a little ahead?

Lynn said...

These look amazing. I just love visiting different blogs to see all the things I have never ever thought of making. I do think I am going to give these a try. Excellent.

Fearless Kitchen said...

This looks great - I bet it would be perfect at a cocktail party.

Jen said...

Kat- after I made the Laban they sat at room temperature for a few hours while people were over. The only difference time made was that initially the spice coating was dry and a bit neater to pick up but eventually the moisture in the cheese made its way through and the paprika took on a darker color and was a bit messier... nothing that a few toothpicks wouldn't have fixed (had I had them)

Thanks for your comment Lynn- it is really great to see how much is out there.

Fearless Kitchen- these would be perfect at a cocktail party- I think that was the original intent of the cookbook although it did say that in the Middle East, Laban is usually served for breakfast.

Vera said...

Jen,how cute these little balls are! I'm totally in love with yogurt cheese! And this is a wonderful way to serve it.