It's Food Matters Project Monday and this weeks host is Jessica of Cheese Please. Jessica chose Mark Bittman's recipe for Cheese-Nut Balls. The recipe sounded great but I wanted something a little lighter, not only in consistency but also in calories. I decided to take the easy way out and make my own cheese for my cheese ball. What????? Labneh, a Middle Eastern soft cheese. Delicious and really easy to make. Labneh is strained yogurt with a little salt.. That's it!
You simply mix yogurt with some salt, let it strain in a coffee filter like I did to remove the whey ( or you can use muslin or cheese cloth and hang it to drain) and in 24-48 hours you have cheese.
What is sometimes referred to as Lebanese Cream Cheese the result is a soft, slightly tangy cheese, something between yogurt and cream cheese. I think it's tastier than cream cheese, lighter, and lower in calories.
You can flavor this cheese any way you want. Using spices such as zaatar or sumac, adding fresh herbs like mint, oregano, or chives. Sprinkled with chili flakes, or topped with olives. The possibilities are endless. You can form it into small balls, cover it with olive oil and it will keep for weeks.
I served mine on a plate with warm baguette slices. I surrounded it with chopped cucumber, chopped tomatoes, mixed chopped olives, and chopped pistachio nuts. Topped the whole thing with chopped fresh mint. This is awesome. I hope you try it and get creative with it. Take this cheese ball to your next party and tell everyone you made the cheese yourself. Now that's impressive :) :)
For the original recipe click here on Jessica's blog and for all the other creative takes on the recipe click here.
3 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp. salt
Mix yogurt and salt together. Place a coffee filter in a sieve over a bowl and let the whey drain out. Put in a cool place or the refrigerator and let set 24-48 hours. Change the coffee filter once during the process.
Form into small balls and cover with olive oil or make one large ball and get creative using the suggestions above or make it your own.