Cooking with Yogurt Cheese


by Joanna White

Why Eat Yogurt Cheese?
Yogurt cheese has a greater portion of the nutrients in yogurt, because the whey has been removed, resulting in a higher concentration of calcium per volume than other dairy products. It is low in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and lactose and has a wonderful smooth texture with a flavor somewhere between cream cheese and sour cream.

How to Make Yogurt Cheese
1. Use natural regular, low-fat or nonfat yogurt THAT DOES NOT CONTAIN GELATIN. Gelatin becomes incorporated in the whey and prevents the whey from draining off. Plain or flavored yogurts can be used, but read the label carefully for gelatin. Avoid the extra-creamy yogurt‹it has a tendency not to separate very well. (Occasionally some brands that do not contain gelatin will not separate, and this is due to the processing temperature. It may be just that particular batch, but as a rule I would try to avoid that specific brand in the future.)

2. Place yogurt in a draining device over a bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. A large quantity of whey is released in the first 2 hours of draining, but at least 8 hours (or ideally 18 to 24 hours) is necessary if you want to reach the same consistency of cream cheese or sour cream for substitution purposes.

3. After the yogurt has drained, discard whey, cover and refrigerate yogurt cheese until ready to use. Sometimes a little whey will accumulate at the top of the stored yogurt cheese; pour off the excess whey before measuring. Yogurt cheese will usually last up to 2 weeks in a tightly covered container.

4. Generally, 1 cup yogurt yields 1/2 cup yogurt cheese. A 2-pound container of yogurt will yield approximately 13/4 to 2 cups yogurt cheese and an equal amount of whey. The quantities will vary slightly depending on the brand.

This creamy soup makes a great vegetarian meal. For fun, hollow out small round loaves of bread and use them as soup bowls. When you are done, eat the bowl!
10 large russet potatoes
6 large leeks
2 cups nonfat milk
2 Tbs. fresh dill weed
1 cup nonfat yogurt cheese
salt and pepper to taste
salted cold water to cover
Peel and dice potatoes and place in a large pot. Cut leeks in half lengthwise and wash all grit from between leaves. Cut into small 1/2-inch pieces, place in pot with potatoes and cover with salted water. Bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add milk, dill, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Add yogurt cheese and cook over low heat until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings; serve immediately. Serves 8-10.
Per serving: 375 calories, 12g protein, 82g carbo, 1g fat, NA sodium, 2% calories from fat.

It's easy to fix this low-fat recipe. Serve it either hot or cold-it's ideal for a picnic. If desired, add more herbs and flavorings to breadcrumbs, such as oregano, basil, garlic and/or onion powder.
8 chicken breast halves
1/4 cup Dijon mustard, or more if needed
1 cup nonfat yogurt cheese
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2-3 Tbs. melted butter
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Remove skin from chicken breasts and coat each breast with mustard. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using a knife, carefully coat breasts thickly with yogurt cheese. Roll in seasoned breadcrumbs. Place pieces on baking sheet a few inches apart. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and drip a little melted butter over each piece. Return to oven for an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Drain on paper towels. Serves 8.
Per serving: 327 calories, 45g protein, 15g carbo, 9g fat, NA sodium, 25% calories from fat.

This recipe makes a dense New York-style cheesecake that is served without a crust.
4 cups well-drained non-fat yogurt cheese
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites, or 3 eggs
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated fresh lemon peel (zest)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. sifted cake flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray the sides and bottom of a 2-quart soufflé dish with nonstick cooking spray. Whip yogurt cheese with sugar, egg whites, lemon juice, lemon peel, vanilla and cake flour; do not overbeat. Pour into prepared dish and set into a large pan of hot water. Bake for 11/2 hours or until cake is browned and cracked. Turn off oven and leave cake in oven for 1 hour longer. Remove cheesecake from water bath and allow to cool in dish on a wire rack for 1 hour. Place serving platter over dish and invert. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 10-12.
Per serving: 326 calories, 14g protein, 66g carbo, 1.5g fat, 266mg sodium, 4% calories from fat.

If desired, the sauce can be gently warmed and served as an accompaniment instead of baking it over the fish.
1/2 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1 cup nonfat yogurt cheese
12 salmon fillets, 8 oz. ea.
fresh dill sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a small saucepan, mix together vinegar, dill weed, pepper, and salt; simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes to reduce. Cool slightly, mix with milk and yogurt cheese and set aside. Place fish fillets in a single layer in baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour cheese mixture over top and return to oven to bake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Garnish with dill sprigs. Serves 12.
Per serving: 297 calories, 51g protein, 4g carbo, 8g fat, 362mg sodium, 24% calories from fat.

From Recipes for Yogurt Cheese, by Joanna White. Illustrations by James Balkovek. © 1996 by Bristol Publishing Enterprises, Inc. Excerpted by arrangement with Bristol Publishing Enterprises. $8.95. Available in local bookstores, or call 510-895-4461; outside California, call 800-346-4889.