Versatile yoghurt healthy and tasty

JAN BILTON
Last updated 15:17 25/10/2012
Curry
Jan Bilton
Green curry coconut potatoes: Spud with a bit of punch.

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Yoghurt has long been recognised as a low-fat, nutrient-dense food.

It's a regular breakfast staple in our household, not only for its calcium and protein boost, but the lactic cultures that guard against unfriendly bacteria in the large intestine.

We stir in a teaspoon or two of linseed oil and a tablespoon of ground linseed that add omega-3 essential fatty acids - great for lowering blood cholesterol and blood pressure.

Therefore, it was with great delight that I recently became the recipient of an EasiYo yoghurt maker, together with a range of new flavours of powdered yoghurts.

Homemade yoghurt is simple - just combine a sachet of the powder with cold water in a jar, shake it well, then stand it overnight in the yoghurt maker (a flask) filled with boiling water.

A new vanilla bean yoghurt smoothie was a hit as an after-gym reviver, but it was also excellent layered in a bowl with sponge cake and fruit as a quick trifle.

When yoghurt is heated it combines with the baking powder in bakes to emit carbon dioxide, providing additional raising power, one reason that yoghurt is often preferred to straight milk in some baking.

The Double Berry Yoghurt Cake recipe uses EasiYo's Cranberry Greek yoghurt. However, this could be replaced with something similar, such as strawberry or mixed berry yoghurt.

One of my favourite fresh cheeses is Labna or yoghurt cheese. It's excellent in salads, curries, chillies or just on its own drizzled with olive oil, flaky salt, black pepper and chopped mint.

Plain yoghurt is also a good base for a quick satay sauce: Combine half a cup of plain Greek yoghurt with two cloves of crushed garlic, four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and one teaspoon each of soy sauce and finely grated root ginger. It's great over a crisp vege salad or grilled red meats or chicken.

GREEN CURRY COCONUT POTATOES

Different brands of Thai green curry paste have different strengths of (chilli) heat - so use according to taste.

Spray oil

4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

25g butter, thinly sliced

1 cup EasiYo Greek and coconut yoghurt

1-2 Tbsp Thai green curry paste

cup cream

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

cup chopped coriander leaves and stems

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spray a 29cm x 21cm baking dish with oil. Pat the potatoes dry with a paper towel. Layer in the baking dish, overlapping each slice a little and placing a little butter between each layer.

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Combine the yoghurt, green curry paste and cream. Pour evenly over the potatoes. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Sprinkle with the coriander just before serving. Serves 6-8.

DOUBLE BERRY YOGHURT CAKE

A light, moist cake made in one bowl.

1 cup each: canola oil, caster sugar

2 eggs

1 cup cranberry Greek yoghurt

2 cups self-raising flour

1 cup frozen raspberries

Cream cheese icing: 50g butter, softened

125g cream cheese softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 170C. Lightly oil and line the base of a 23cm springform cake pan.

Beat the oil and sugar until light. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the yoghurt.

Fold in the flour until just combined. It should still be a little lumpy, similar to a muffin mixture. Fold in the raspberries.

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan.

To prepare the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, then beat in the icing sugar.

Spread over the top and sides of the cake. Store in a container in the fridge.

YOGHURT CHICKEN WITH 5-SPICE RICE

Chicken

cup plain yoghurt

1 Tbsp curry powder

2 large or 4 small skinned and boned chicken breasts

Rice

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 onion, diced

1 cup basmati rice

1 tsp five-spice powder

2 cups chicken stock

2 Tbsp slivered almonds, lightly toasted

cup chopped coriander leaves and stalks

Combine the yoghurt and curry powder. Place the chicken in a single layer in a shallow dish and cover with the yoghurt mixture. Move it around so it is evenly covered.

Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Saute the onion, until soft. Stir in the rice and five-spice, mixing well.

Add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the stock. You may need a little extra stock.

Stir in the almonds and coriander just before serving.

Meanwhile, grill or pan-fry the chicken for about 5 minutes each side, until cooked.

Slice each chicken breast into 5 pieces and serve on the rice. Serves 4.

LABNA

1kg plain Greek-style yoghurt

1 tsp salt

Line a large sieve with muslin or a clean Chux cloth. Place it over a large bowl.

Add the yoghurt and sprinkle it with salt. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 days to allow the liquid to drain from the yoghurt.

Store the yoghurt cheese for a day or so before using as: A nibble drizzled with olive oil and herbs; or small spoonfuls dotted over a curry or chilli just before serving; or formed into balls and placed in a jar of olive oil, garlic cloves and rosemary to serve as a snack in 3-5 days. Serves about 6-8 as a snack.

Copyright Jan Bilton

- The Marlborough Express

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