HOW TO MAKE LABNEH
First line a sieve with muslin and place over a bowl.One kilogramme of natural yogurt will become 600g of labneh ¨C stir through 1tsp salt, then hang from a cupboard handle and let it drip into the bowl below overnight.If left for 8¨C14 hours you will have a smooth spread; 24¨C48 hours will give you a firm cream-cheese-like texture; while 48¨C72 hours, when pressed with a heavy weight such as a pan with tins in it, results in a harder crumbly cheese.Reserve the whey ¨C it can be used as the binding liquid to bake excellent bread.
THE RECIPE: PRESERVED LABNEH WITH ZA’ATAR AND OLIVE OIL
Put 600g labneh in a large bowl. Fill the jar with extra-virgin oil, making sure all the balls are completely covered.Add 2tbsp za¡¯atar to a plate.Take a piece of labneh the size of a walnut and shape into a ball; roll in the za¡¯atar until well-coated.Place in the bottom of a sterilised one-litre Kilner jar and repeat until the mix is finished.
[item]They can be eaten straight away or stored for up to three months in a cool, dark place. /item]Once open, use within two weeks.When ready to eat, scatter with more za¡¯atar and serve with fresh flatbread or lightly toasted pitta.
THE RECIPE: SWEET LABNEH
To make an almost instant pudding, tip 600g labneh into a serving bowl and beat in 3tbsp caster sugarprinkle over seeds from a large pomegranate and 1?tsp sumac.Finish by scattering 1tbsp chopped mint leaves on top and serve immediately.
THE INGREDIENT: LABNEH
BY CHEF AND FOOD WRITER, JO WEINBERG
One of the gifts (and frustrations) of living in the middle of nowhere in Somerset is that when I run out of an ingredient, I am forced to improvise. It is possible that the prevalence of labneh in our home is testament more to an inefficiency in list-making rather than to purposeful intent. We might have labneh with honey for breakfast, and labneh with fresh herbs and bread for lunch, labneh cheesecake for tea, and sometimes sweet labneh with crumble for pudding. Lucky us. For labneh is one of the great secrets of a versatile kitchen.
Labneh, also called lebni or labni, is a soft cheese, made from strained yogurt or kefir. There are many myths about how it came to be, but my favourite is that on his ark, Noah had nowhere to store all the excess milk, so used sewn-up bags made from animal stomachs. Disappointed when he found the milk had curdled, he was about to throw it away when he tasted it, and liked it. So yogurt, and its strained younger sibling, labneh, was born.
There¡¯s a myth that Noah stored milk on his ark but it curdled. he tasted it, and liked it. So labneh was born
In most early civilisations milk was not consumed fresh, but
fermented into butter or cheese for better storage ¨C a vital part of nomadic culture. Labneh remains a staple in the Levant, Greece, the Middle East and Central Asia. In many households today, yogurt-making is a regular occurrence, with the ¡®starter¡¯ often handed down from generation to generation. Making labneh is a way to preserve it, as it can be stored in olive oil.
Labneh is readily available in Middle Eastern food shops. To make it at home, follow the first recipe above. Sweet labneh is delicious served with honey and chopped roasted nuts ¨C?follow the recipe above. Or for a delicious savoury option, try the preserved labneh with za’atar and olive oil recipe above.
THE BEST WINE TO PAIR WITH PRESERVED LABNEH
BY MALCOLM GLUCK
During the 1940s and 1950s my mother made a version of labneh. It was fabricated by filling a nylon stocking with full-cream milk (ripened in the heat of the kitchen) and then pouring it into a (new) stocking. There the stocking hung, on a hook over the sink, as the whey slowly drained away, the result of which was a cream cheese ¨C more or less labneh. OK, Mrs Gluck wasn¡¯t Elizabeth David, but these were the days of food rationing, remember. I tell you all this because I have, naturally enough, a very soft spot for labneh. It grew up with me. I grew up with it.
So let¡¯s get on with the wines to accompany it. With a sweet labneh, a lovely end to any feast, the (well-chilled) bottle I recommend is the non-vintage Curatolo Marsala Superiore Dolce from Sicily. This is one of the greatest wine bargains on the planet because it is so desperately unfashionable. The label helps in this conspiracy by resembling something out of a Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood sketchbook. The liquid itself appeals particularly to those who remember Vera Lynn singing live, an angelically figgy voice with touches of roasted chestnuts, molasses and candied peaches. Or is that the Marsala?
This wine provides the aroma of the library of a gourmet who relaxes in a leather chair with a hound at his feet
Anyway, rush out and get some of this rococo masterpiece. Waitrose.com has it for ¡ê12 a bottle.
For the preserved labneh we cannot be conventional either. One¡¯s only dilemma is red wine or white? No normal bottle will suffice either way. My choice, if you prefer red, is Cantina Della Volta Rimosso Lambrusco di Sorbara 2016 (¡ê12.20 at Xtrawine.com). This is an unusual wine, Italy¡¯s most idiosyncratic red, for it tastes of roasted cherries and marzipan.
Furthermore, it is effervescent ¨C never still, in the glass or on the palate, being restless and eccentric and utterly scrumptious.
But what if you demand white wine? Then there is no option but Les Closiers Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2015 from Marks & Spencer (¡ê21). It must be decanted a full 24 hours for the Wildean wit of its vinosity to be revealed. Where other whites are fruity, this is moody and minerally. Where others have mere class, this has majesty. Where others offer the bouquet of the farmyard, this provides the aroma of the library of a seasoned gourmet who likes relaxing in an upholstered leather chair with a truffle-hound lying by his feet on an old Persian carpet. It is a wine of which memories are made. But then, the same can be said of labneh.
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