Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Greek Yoghurt Cheese Balls (Labne)

Our Christmas Day brunch is a little different to the traditional spreads you might see.

Growing up in a vegetarian household, I had never had the full Christmas roast lunch until I met Mr B. I've also never had your typical Aussie Christmas seafood spread.

Our families traditional Christmas brunch involves freshly dug new potatoes, cheeses, biscuits, my Mum's spinach dip that she only ever makes for Christmas Day, dolmades and marinated vegetables.....kind of like a cross between a mezze plate and a cheese platter.

Given all the cheese making Mr B and I have been doing over the last twelve months and the large part cheese plays in our Christmas brunch, I wanted to contribute something home made. Unfortunately I only made this decision about a week ago, which really narrowed my options in terms of what I could make.

Initially I was going with some lemon and thyme marinated ricotta.....but due to some technical issues, that went in the bin.

Next on my list was Greek Yoghurt Cheese Balls - I don't know why I didn't I think of this first, I have been waiting for an excuse to try these for AGES!

The only thing to keep in mind with this recipe is you need to let your yoghurt drain for 2-3 days, but aside from that, it really takes no time to throw together and the end result is incredible.

Greek Yoghurt Cheese Balls (Labne)

2 cups greek yoghurt (I used Jalna)
1/2 tspn salt
1/3 cup olive oil (I used a combination of lemon and basil infused olive oils)
Fresh or dried herbs such as chilli, basil and thyme

Line a colander with muslin / cheesecloth and sit in a larger bowl. (You want the colander to be suspended just a tiny bit so the whey can drain out of the yoghurt)

Mix the salt through the yoghurt.

Spoon the yoghurt into the middle of the cheesecloth / muslin and fold the edges over to cover. Press down and place something heavy on top (like a bowl full of water). Sit in the fridge for 2-3 days, flipping the yoghurt occasionally.

When the yoghurt is thick and has a cream cheese consistency, it's good to go. Use your hands to roll the yoghurt into balls roughly walnut size.

You can place the balls into a bowl with the oil, herbs and some salt, cover and place in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. They will last for about a week in the fridge but honestly they will be long gone before then!

Or, you could place the oil, herbs and some salt into a sterilised jar with the cheese balls and gently roll the jar to ensure everything is covered. This is a lovely idea especially if you are giving them as a gift.

If you use olive oil, it may solidify in the fridge but don't worry, allow them to come to room temperature and the oil will return to normal.

Serve as part of a mezze platter, with biscuits, on toast, or just eat them straight from the jar! And don't let that oil go to waste, once you have eaten all your cheese balls, use the oil as a dressing for salad or pasta.

As always, enjoy! And I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing Christmas spent with family and friends.

Mrs B xx

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