What better time than Shavout to write a dairy column? After watching Jamie Lee Curtis touting the benefits of regularity that comes with eating Activia(R) I was filled with some trepidation (and a few really good one-liners) as I approached this column about yogurt.
So what exactly is yogurt? The less-informed may immediately think of the creamy sweet stuff in little plastic tubs with fruit on the bottom or the frozen custard-like stuff with flavors like caramel crème and chocolate mousse. But plain yogurt is actually just milk that has had bacteria added to it.
This good-for-you bacteria causes the milk to ferment and thicken. The end result is a tangy, creamy mixture with the consistency of sour cream.
Besides being delicious, yogurt is also full of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Regular yogurt is strained once or twice; the new kid on the block, Greek yogurt, however, is strained three times (or more) making for a much thicker and denser consistency.
I prefer to use Greek yogurt to replace cream cheese, sour cream, or ricotta cheese in baking or cooking. The regular yogurt tends to curdle more than the Greek when you cook with it.
I gravitate toward regular yogurt when making dips, salad dressing, smoothies, desserts and sauces. When you add fresh fruit, either variety works great.
Yogurt Mashed Cauliflower
2 heads of cauliflower (florets only)
6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsps. butter
3 Tbsps. grated Parmesan
1/2-1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsps. chopped onion
2-3 chopped green onions for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium pot, bring the water to boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 8 minutes or until they are soft. Remove the florets from the heat and drain them in a colander.
In a food processor, combine the cauliflower with the yogurt, butter, garlic and minced onion, and process with pulses until you have a consistency you like. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Immediately spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and mix in the parmesan. Top with green onions and serve immediately.
Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Greek Yogurt Berry Pie
You can use a ready-made pie crust if you like.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter in the flour mixture. Add the water. Mix with a fork until the dough is just moistened.
Shape crust dough into a ball with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Roll out the dough into a 12- inch circle and then fold it in half, then in half again. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake at 400° for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the filling ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When ready to assemble the pie, spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the tart shell.
Sprinkle the berries over the top of the filling. In a glass bowl, heat the jam slightly and then drizzle the warm jam over the top of the berries. Serve immediately.
Zucchini Griddle Cakes With Yogurt Sauce
3-4 medium zucchini, shredded
salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill or 2 Tbsps. dried
1 tsp. baking powder
4-6 Tbsps. oil (or more as needed)
Place the shredded zucchini in a colander and mix it with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Drain for five to 10 minutes and then place the zucchini in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the eggs. Mix to combine. Add the flour, salt, olive oil, mozzarella, green onions, dill and pepper. Mix and add the baking powder. Heat the griddle and brush 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil on the surface.
Spoon heaping tablespoons of the batter several inches apart so they have room to spread (don't make them too big). They may need to be flattened slightly. Cook until they are golden on one side (3 to 4 minutes) and then flip them and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. The griddle cakes should be crispy. You can make them ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven. Serve hot.
To Make Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, cucumber and salt. Mix well, and serve on the side or on pancakes.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve.