Kanaki sent me some wonderful recipes for the Gimme Recipes! Contest on how to make your own yogurt cheese and some ideas for how to cook with it.  I’m listing them all together here, but they will be counted as separate entries.  I just didn’t want to break up the sequence since you need to make the yogurt cheese before going onto the other recipes.  Thanks, Kanaki!  I’m getting the yogurt out of the fridge right away!

Aloha!

We live in Hawaii on one of the outer islands, and are retired.  We changed our lifestyle a lot after moving from the mainland, and we feel better for it.  More fruits and vegetables and non-processed food.  We even grow some of our own food, as you can’t always depend on shipments arriving here in a timely or consistent manner.  A little creativity plus some good basic foods make for great meals, as you must know.  My latest idea is using yogurt cheese (no processing involved) in both sweet and savory ways.  Here goes:

                                                                    Basic Yogurt Cheese

6  cups plain (organic if possible) yogurt (with no gelatin added)

The usual method of straining the yogurt to make cheese is to put it in layers of cheesecloth, but I have never had cheesecloth laying around.  An easier and effective method is placing a coffee machine filter paper in a colander (I don’t drink coffee, but the filters work well in draining many items and are neat to have on hand).  Stir the yogurt well and place in on top of the filter paper.  Place the colander over a glass bowl (leave space between the colander and bottom of bowl for yogurt liquid to drain into).  Leave at room temperature  and ignore it overnight or a good 12 hours.  You can reserve the liquid (whey) for other uses if you have a need for it.  The yogurt should now resemble soft cream cheese, and you should have about 2 cups of it.  Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

                                                  Cheesy Sweet Potato-Orange Casserole

1-1/2   pounds (about 3 good medium size) sweet potatoes, baked until soft, peeled and mashed
1         teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2      teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4      teaspoon ground allspice
1         small navel orange, peeled and chopped
1         tablespoon orange zest (grated peel)
2         tablespoons orange juice
2         tablespoons pure maple syrup
3/4      cup yogurt cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Oil interior of a 9-inch square baking dish.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and blend gently but well.  Spread mixture evenly in dish.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until top is lightly browned.  Cut into 3-inch squares for service.  Serves 9. 

                                                  Savory Yogurt Cheese and Garden Greens Dip 

1-1/2   cups finely chopped fresh spinach*
1/2      cup finely chopped green onion*
1/2      cup finely chopped parsley*
1/4      teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1/2      teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1-1/4  cups yogurt cheese at room temperature

(* Do these in a food processor if possible for ease and time-saving).  In a medium mixing bowl, blend Italian seasoning, garlic and yogurt cheese.  Add spinach, onions and parsley.  Blend well.  Place in serving dish, cover and chill until time of service.  Serve with fresh vegetable sticks and slices, crisp romaine and lettuce leaves (to use as scoopers), etc.  Hard to estimate how many this will serve, as each individual may take different amounts of dip.

Best wishes,

Kanake