{Savory} Yogurt Inspirations

I was 19 years old the summer I spent two weeks helping to build a wall around a schoolyard in a rural Turkish village.  During breaks, villagers expressed their gratitude (or maybe just entertained their own curiosities about us) by offering us a drink called Ayran.  It’s a salty yogurt drink that on those hot, sweaty days made some of my fellow travelers gag, but the taste stayed with me in a good way and I recently found myself wondering if I’d still like it.  I recently made a glass and found that I do not like Ayran, at least not the way I make it.  Despite this disappointment, I continued to have a curiosity about ways to use salted yogurt.  I found a recipe for cold yogurt soup that finally hit the spot.  For the same meal I also gave in and made a sweet yogurt treat for dessert.

But first, let me tell you that I make all my own yogurt now.  I always knew it was possible to make your own yogurt, because my mother had a yogurt-making machine when I was a child.  I assumed it was a complicated process, however, so I continued to spend the big bucks on farm-fresh or organic brands.  I was encouraged to take the leap of making my own yogurt at a From Scratch Club Cheese Making party we had last month, where a number of my cohorts insisted it was super easy.  I scanned the Internet and my own cookbooks and, after making yogurt several times now, have come up with a method that combines several different suggestions from a variety of sources.

First I heat a quart of milk, taking it off the heat as soon as it boils.  I wisk in a half cup of yogurt in to the milk once it has cooled to between 110 and 120 degrees.  I pour that mixture in to a glass jar and place the jar in a large bowl of warm water.  Then I wait and within a few hours I usually have deliciously fresh yogurt.  That’s it!  You can use milk with any amount of fat in it, but I prefer whole milk (go figure).  I have my method down so that I can make yogurt while I’m busy making dinner.

The cold yogurt soup I made, from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”, is a two layered delight.  The bottom layer is chopped tomatoes, thyme and orange juice, marinated for a couple hours.  Layered on top of that is the plain yogurt, mixed “vigorously” with chopped basil, salt and pepper.

Strain the basil out before pouring the yogurt on top of the tomato mixture.  The final product is very pretty, and I served mine in drinking glasses.  I’d recommend using some sort of nice glass bowl, if you have that sort of thing lying around your kitchen.  Sprinkle the final product with chopped toasted pine nuts.

There are a number of ways you could vary Bittman’s recipe, and he lists several suggestions of his own, but I can see experimenting with the salty yogurt flavor infinitely.  Liz uses garlic scapes and greek yogurt with cucumber to create a tzatsiki that sounds heavenly, and I bet could be transformed in to a cold yogurt soup as well.

Breaking away from the savory, a backyard plant overflowing with blueberries inspired me to follow Hanna’s recipe for Frozen Yogurt Popsicles.

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Categories: Dessert, DIY, How To, recipe, Recipe Link Love, Soup

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8 Comments on “{Savory} Yogurt Inspirations”

  1. Dianna
    August 23, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Aryan seems to be the same thing as the salt lassi sold in Indian restaurants. I love it and will try making it. I sometimes make mango lassi when I have extra mangos lying around: yogurt, peeled mango, a little water in the blender, no salt. You might like that better.

    • Alexis
      August 23, 2011 at 8:19 am #

      Yes, it’s very similar to the Indian salty lassi, although I think in Turkey they make it more watery. I absolutely love mango lassis. And funny you should mention them, because I just bought some frozen mangos at Trader Joes the other day without even thinking yogurt…

  2. Kathy Jones
    August 23, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    Here is the website that I use as a “bible” for all cultured dairy products…yogurt, all kinds of cheese, sour cream, etc…it is the most comprehensive and practical site I have found…it also has recipes for middle eastern yogurt based drinks.

    http://biology.clc.uc.edu/Fankhauser/Cheese/Cheese.html

    Give it a look…I’m sure you will find it useful.

    Best Regards,
    KJ

    • Alexis
      August 24, 2011 at 8:08 am #

      Kathy – I came across this website in my search for the best, and easiest way to make yogurt. Glad to know you have found it so helpful and I’m sure I’ll go back to it for future dairy adventures! Thanks!

  3. August 24, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    This is great ! I am inspired to experiment.

    Has anyone made kefir ?

  4. November 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    My mother uses the same method to make yoghurt, but I wonder if there is actually a way of making yoghurt without needing a bit of yoghurt first? It seems rather contradictory.

    • Alexis
      November 19, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

      I think if you had a way to supply the bacteria that makes milk in to yogurt you could make yogurt without yogurt, but I’m not sure exactly how to get that.

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