Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Simple Snack

One of the coolest parts {for me, at least} about marrying a man with a Palestinian family is his mom's cooking. She makes a lot of really delicious Arabic dishes—hashweh, mjaddarah, mashi, kibbeh—that I absolutely love, but I don't know how to make almost any of them. There are recipes, of course, but the thing about these dishes—and it's what makes them really special—is that the food is made by women who "measure" by memory, sight, and taste, not with recipes. So to learn how to make these recipes the right way, I'll be spending some long afternoons in the kitchen with Jason's mom and grandma. And I can't wait.

In the meantime, when an Arabic "recipe" involves just one ingredient, I know I can handle it. Lebneh is thickened yogurt, and it's a breakfast staple. Jason's mom lightly salts hers, so I do, too. I absolutely adore lebneh, and lately I've been spreading it on my toast in the mornings. It's traditionally served more as a dip, but I find it's a perfect partner for whole-wheat bread. With a drizzle of olive oil, it's deeeelish.

Oh, and—if you like Greek yogurt, this is essentially the same thing, only when you make it yourself, it's about 1/3 the price. At my Publix, a big tub of plain yogurt costs almost the same as a single serving of Fage Greek yogurt. Sheesh.

Here's what you need

A smallish collander (I use a silicone strainer with a handle, not a stand-alone colander)
A bowl that the strainer can rest on without it touching the bottom
Paper towels
1 pint plain yogurt (I use low-fat, but the full-fat kind gives a slightly thicker end result)
Plastic wrap

Here's what you do

Place the strainer over the bowl, and line it with one layer of paper towel, covering the strainer's entire surface. Scoop out the yogurt into the paper-towel-lined strainer (wash, dry, and save the container). Smooth it out so it's even and flat on the top. Wrap with a layer or two of plastic wrap, and place in the fridge. Leave it alone for at least 8 hours, but 10 to 12 is even better.

Scoop the lebneh back into the cleaned yogurt container (or into a tupperware). When ready to serve, spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle over a healthy amount of extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt...or drizzle with honey and serve with berries...or use on tacos or baked potatoes instead of sour cream...or...

It's that good. :)

No comments: