It doesn’t get much easier than this – try your hand at making Labneh this weekend.

Although Labneh is often referred to as Lebanese cream cheese, it is more of a soft “yogurt-cheese” in my book. You get the wonderful yogurt tang and all the healthy elements plus the benefit that it can withstand relatively high cooking temperatures. It also looks pretty on a plate, is super creamy and packed with protein.

It is such a wonderful, versatile  ingredient and sò simple to make – you should really give this middle eastern specialty a try!

Use it as a spread with honey and nuts, as an added protein element to salads, to brighten up your cheese- or antipasto platter or simply have it with fruit. It can also be stirred into curries / middle eastern dishes at the last minute for a creamy effect and is a perfect partner to almost any cooked greens and legumes.

You only need 2 ingredients:

  • 1L plain yogurt. I find that my home made yogurt takes longer to strain than shop bought, and prefer to use double cream (full fat) yogurt for this dish.
  • A large pinch of salt , preferably flaky salt like Maldon.

How you do it:

  • Stir the salt into the yogurt.
  • Place a large sieve over a container to catch up the liquids.
  • Line the sieve with cheesecloth / chux cloth / a tea towel with some cloth hanging over the sides.
  • Pour the yogurt into the cloth-lined sieve.
  • Gather the corners of the cloth together, give it a tight twist and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • **I do not discard the liquid, and use it in baking or smoothies**

Spoon the lovely fresh Labneh  into blows and crown with some good olive oil, fresh herbs and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

OR roll into small balls. Refrigerate the balls, uncovered for another two hours to dry out some more.

Place the balls in sterilised jar, add a few sprigs of herbs and a clove or  two of garlic,  cover with olive oil, seal and store for up to 4 months.

OR roll them in some Black pepper, Sumac, dried chilli flakes, Dukkah, finely grated lemon peel, chopped fresh herbs or nuts and store in the fridge for up to two days. Drizzled with some olive oil, this is my favourite way of serving these embellished beauties.

 

 

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“Raw butternut?” you ask. What makes you a happy camper?

 

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What is that ONE thing you can not go camping without?

You can ask this question to 100 people (even non-campers..ha-ha) and get 102 different answers.

I am quite a late bloomer when it comes to camping. Well, rather a really, really late bloomer. Growing up we did lots of wonderful things, but camping was simply not one of them.

Was I in for a ride when I met my then-soon-to-be husband!  It was more like “in for an expedition”. He came as the proprietor of a handsome 4×4, a well kitted camper-van (‘n karavaan)  and an equally handsome sense of adventure. Can you feel that something huge is about to happen?

He swayed me softly, introduced me to my first real camping holiday and got me hooked. Enough said. It was more glamping than camping that first holiday, but who’s counting? Lots and lots more of adventures followed and I am very proud to say that you can definitely take me to the proverbial “anywhere”,  except for meat- & fish markets or a slave museum- I do not fare very well at those .

Back to beautiful things – on one of these blissful trips I made a butternut slaw that soon became a camping staple. It simply goes with ..everything. It sits happily as a side for the carnivores at a braai and brightens up any vegetarian main. It travels well if you want to make it at home beforehand and lasts for as long as nobody finds out that it’s in the fridge.

This slaw is now a close second to THAT ONE THING that I cannot go camping without. It might just become yours too. Try it out.

Oh  – and PLEASE  DO go on that adventure – I promise you that it is worth it  ;- )

 

What you need:

  • 1 small red onion – peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 3 Tbl vinegar (I use white wine vinegar)
  • 2 Tbl sugar / sugar replacement like Xilytol
  • 1 small butternut
  • 3 Tbl olive oil
  • About 20 fresh curry leaves
  • A thumbsize of fresh ginger – grated
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste

How you do it:

  1. Combine the sliced onion, vinegar and sugar. Leave to marinate for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the butternut.
  2. Peel and grate the butternut. (or julienne with that nifty little julienne cutter if you have one)
  3. Warm the olive oil in a small pot until very hot.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the curry leaves. They will splatter for a few seconds and release their heavenly aroma.
  5. Pour the hot oil and leaves over the butternut, mix in the fresh ginger and set aside.
  6. Once the butternut have cooled down, mix in the onions and all of the marinating juices, add the salt and season with black pepper to taste.

That’s it!

The slaw makes a great filling for a wrap / toasted pita bread. I like to combine it with some toasted & spiced chickpeas; avo (obviously :- ); soft lettuce and thick yogurt.

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