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Cooking with Yogurt

Cream with an Edge

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My standard breakfast is a cup of yogurt with fruit and a touch of honey. And lately I've been on a Greek yogurt binge. Of the three I've tried - Fage, Oikos, and Dannon - I like Oikos best, although all three are good. I also prefer the full-fat versions. The most distinctive characteristic of Greek yogurt is it's thickness. If you can't find Greek yogurt you can make your own by lining a sieve with cheesecloth, placing it over a bowl, and dumping a couple of cups of regular plain yogurt in it. Let it sit in the fridge for 4 to 12 hours, depending on how thick you want it, and then use as desired.

Not Just for Breakfast

Here in the US cooking with yogurt is uncommon, my breakfast of fruit and yogurt is typical. But in many cuisines it's a regular component of dishes. It's often used in marinades because yogurt tenderizes meat in addition to adding flavor. Yogurt also makes a good substitute for sour cream and try replacing part of the liquid in banana bread or pancakes with yogurt for a real treat.

Schawarma: A Lebanese Gyro

Schawarma
Copyright 2010 Kevin D Weeks
I first had a schawarma in Beirut, Lebanon during the Thanksgiving break of 1970. It was love at first bite. The schawarma is a Middle-Eastern version of the Greek gyro made with chicken, turkey, or lamb. It took me a while to figure out how to duplicate it without a vertical rotisserie but I did manage to nail it by using a marinade and cooking the meat low and slow in the oven until it was fork tender. This sandwich is worth making for just one meal, but even more worth making for two meals.

Spicy Moorish Chicken in Pita: Quick and Savory

Spiced Chicken in Pita
Kevin D Weeks
The thing I like about chicken is its flexibility. It readily adapts to the flavors it's combined with and so we find Coq au Vin, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Tandoori Chicken, and chicken fahitas. Last year my father and I spent a weekend at a cabin in the mountains. I knew we'd have a stove, but as for cooking equipment I had no idea what would be available, so I bought some chicken thighs, packed a good skillet, and planned this meal.

Lowfat Cole Slaw: Variation on a Theme

Cole Slaw
Copyright 2010 SteakPinball
I'm not a big cole slaw fan, but I make it two or three times a year for a change of pace. In the South it's a traditional side dish with barbequed pork - and in North Carolina they add slaw to pulled pork sandwiches. I also like it with chili (just as I like steamed cabbage with chili). Cabbage just seems to a good match for a bowl of red. This version substitutes yogurt for the usual mayonnaise and I add just a touch of honey for sweetness.

Yogurt Chicken: Middle-eastern Street Food

Yogurt Chicken
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
Yogurt chicken (chicken marinated in yogurt) is a popular dish throughout the middle-east. I first had it grilled and served on a skewer in Beirut, Lebanon and loved it. Then I had yogurt-marinated lamb on a skewer and loved that too. The marinated beef was as good as the chicken or lamb, but was still pretty good. This recipe calls for sumac, which I can find in the ethnic section of my local supermarket (and Knoxville is not the most cosmopolitan city in the world) so check before giving up on it.

Strawberry Trifle: Elegant Simplicity

Strawberry Trifle
Copyright 2009 Kevin D Weeks
My Strawberry Trifle is indeed trifling to make, but it neither tastes nor looks like a trifle - in fact it tastes and looks like a Trifle. Quick and easy, it's an excellent last-minute dessert suitable for just the two of you or for company. Serve it with a brunch or at the end of your first night of outdoor grilling, or just have it for breakfast some lazy Sunday morning.

Tzatziki Sauce: A Cooling Yogurt Sauce

Middle-Eastern Lamb Loaf
Copyright 2008 Kevin D Weeks
"Tzatziki" is the Greek name for this yogurt-based sauce recipe, but variants on it are found throughout the Middle East. My version uses roasted garlic, which gives it a milder flavor. If you want a bit more pungency, add a small clove of finely chopped garlic.

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