This is a very good spread made from yogurt. It is from Alton Brown's show, "Good Eats" on the Food Network. It has a tangy flavor, with the texture of a soft cream cheese. This spread is best on water crackers, but it works on any other cracker as well. It is a hit at parties and get-togethers.
Step 1: Get These Things:
For this spread, you'll only need 5 total ingredients, 4 of which you will find in your kitchen already.
The first is a tub of plain yogurt. I like to use a whole milk yogurt, such as Mountain High. You'll need a quart of it (yes, I know that's a lot, but it reduces quite a bit). I found that 1 quart of plain yogurt weighs about 2 pounds. Yogurt is sold by weight in the bigger containers, so you can just use a 2lb tub of it, and it will be plenty. (at Safeway, that size tub sells for about $3)
The other 4 ingredients that you need (the ones you should already have in your kitchen) are:
-1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
-2 Tbsp parsley (you can either use fresh or dried for this, it doesnt matter)
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
In terms of tools, you just need a colander, a bowl that the colander will fit into nicely, and cheesecloth. I found my cheesecloth at Fred Meyer, sold in a package in the cooking utensils area, sold for about $4.
Step 2: Assembling the Pieces
The way this spread is made is by essentially squeezing out all of the whey from the yogurt. As Alton Brown said on his show, the main difference between cheese and yogurt is that cheese has had the whey taken out of it; yogurt has not. Draining the whey from the yogurt makes it thicker, much like a soft cream cheese.
The first thing to do is to set up the draining system (this part is very easy). Put the colander on top of the bowl, so that it rests with most of the colander inside the bowl. Now line the colander with the cheesecloth.
*NOTE*: if you bought the same cheesecloth as I did, it comes in a long, narrow strip. Just fold the long strip in half, then in half again (lengthwise both times). With the second fold, you want to spread it out so that just an inch or so of it overlaps inside the colander.
Next, mix the yogurt and spices together thoroughly, so that everything's smooth. You'll notice that when you open the yogurt, there is already liquid on top. This is the whey, which you'll mix right back into the yogurt, only to drain it later.
Once everything's mixed, pour the yogurt mixture into the cloth-lined colander. Fold the excess cheesecloth over the top of the mixture, so that it is covered completely. To speed up the whey's separation, put a plate on top of the package, and then put some weight on that (a can of vegetables works well. The plate is to distribute the weight evenly across the yogurt. Without this weight, the process could take up to 2 days). Stick the entire assembly in the fridge to rest and drain overnight.
Step 3: Check It Out!
Because of the mixing, you will not have seen anything draining when you first put it in the fridge. However, when you go and open up the fridge the next morning, check inside the bowl. There should be a fair amount of liquid inside. Unwrap the cheesecloth, and you'll notice that it has turned much thicker. This is the yogurt cheese. It is fairly soft, just a bit softer than cream cheese (like if you had left cream cheese out on the counter for a few hours).
This cheese is very good on crackers at parties. is is very tasty, and slightly tangy.
If you want to present it, you can put it on a platter (it will flatten out) and put a ring of crackers around it (like I did). It looks good with some parsley sprinkled on top.
There are alternatives to the spices you put in the cheese. I found that it tastes very good with sliced pimentos instead of the parsley. Feel free to experiment with different combinations!
Feel free to ask if you have any questions.