Tag Archives: Labneh

Coeur a la Crème made with Labneh

Sometimes, when I do not have much time to make a dessert I prepare something very simple…below, savoiardi with rose liqueur and whipped ricotta (ricotta , honey, vanilla  and cream).

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for example something layered and made with savoiardi soaked in liqueur and crème anglaise or whipped ricotta (the real thing or a take on Zuppa Inglese and Cassata, like the deconstructed cassata below).

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Most times, I like something wet, like  poached fruit (nearly always poached with some sort alcohol) and present it with homemade mascarpone.( Stuffed peaches with amaretti with homemade mascarpone).

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These may be easy desserts but they are always enjoyed. (See links below for  some recipes)

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Another easy dessert is Coeur a la Crème (French for heart of cream) either made with cream cheese or with Labneh, an ingredient which over time has become a staple in my fridge. Labneh is a fresh cheese with the consistency of a cream cheese popular in the Middle East made by straining yoghurt.

Ten years ago I would have said that Italians would not have known about Labneh, but food culture evolves and some Italians are familiar with it. However, the Italian recipes that I have seen primarily suggest using Labneh as a savory dish dressed with extra virgin olive oil and herbs or spices such as fennel seeds, parsley, mint or paprika. In Australia because of our multi-cultural population we are more familiar with Labneh and with the spices we use.

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To make Labneh I use Greek yoghurt and the tubs of yoghurt I buy are sold in 1k containers.
I always buy what I consider to be good quality yoghurt without flavouring or added sugar and with descriptors such as: pot set, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, live and active cultures, biodynamic, organic…. the more of these the better the yoghurt.

1 tub full-fat Greek-style yoghurt and a colander with one layer of muslin.

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Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yogurt can drain. Empty the carton of yogurt into the lined colander and leave to drain 6-8 hours or longer. I usually place mine (covered) to drain in the fridge. You can use the drained yoghurt then or you can store the yoghurt in the muslin in a container in the fridge – it will keep for about 1 week and you may be surprised that wrapped in the muslin it will keep on draining.

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Different types of yoghurt will drain more liquid than others depending on their water content.  I weighed my last batch of Labneh and 1 kilo was reduced to 820g.

Coeur a la crème

Labneh 700g
250 gm cream cheese or ricotta or 200 ml double cream.
100 gm pure icing sugar or honey (to taste)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or pure vanilla essence or concentrate
grated lemon rind from 1lemon

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Coeur a la crème is made in a heart shaped special mold with a perforated bottom that allows the mixture to drain and compact properly.

A heart shaped baking tin lined with muslin will also keep draining but you will need to remove the liquid more often.

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Place all of the above ingredients in a bowl, incorporate the ingredients by hand before using an electric mixer to blend it till smooth (it will not take long). Taste it to see if you prefer it sweeter and adjust accordingly.
Line heart shaped mold with muslin and spoon the creamy mixture into the mold.  Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and place the mold into a container – it will drain some more. I usually place my mold in a large container with a lid so that I do not need to use plastic wrap.
Chill at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
Unwrap mold, invert onto a serving plate.
Surround it fruit of your choice and serve (fresh and macerated with a liqueur or poached fruit).
On this occasion I presented it with blood oranges (they have been in season)

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4 blood oranges
3 tbs honey
2- 4 tbs orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Work over a bowl to reserve any juice,  use a sharp knife to remove peel and as much pith as possible. Cut the top and bottom of the orange, slide your knife between the membrane and the segment, and then cut the segment out. Repeat with each segment and each orange.
In a saucepan, combine honey with 1tbsp of water and boil it vigorously till it looks caramelized.
Add oranges and reserved juice and cook (low heat for about 4-5 minutes). Add orange liqueur, and cool/ chill.

Garnish with mint sprigs (optional).

Other recipes:

CASSATA DECONSTRUCTED

ZUPPA INGLESE, a Famous Italian dessert

LABNEH and Watermelon salad

HOME MADE MASCARPONE

IL MIO FRUTTIVENDOLO, my fruit and vegetable stall at The Queen Victoria Market

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Carmel and Gus are my greengrocers. They are my fruttivendoli (plural as there are two of them). Frutti+ vendelo= fruit+ seller = fruttivendolo. Below are the grapes I bought from them.

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I have been shopping at their stall in The Queen Victoria Market throughout the thirteen years that I have been residing in Melbourne. Before that I lived close to the Adelaide Market.

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As you can see in the photos the range and quality of the vegetables and fruit is vast and I am able to purchase some produce that is not available anywhere else in the market. I love  Fichi d’India (prickly pears).

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My Fruttivendolo is open on Thursday to Saturday.

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Here are some of the dishes I have prepared with their produce:

Fichi d’india (prickly pears in a salad with pumpkin, purslane, labneh and black tahini).

Entry with Fici d%22india & pumpkin #2

Fig tart. I cannot resist figs. A layer of short sweet pastry, mascarpone and fresh figs with a drizzle of orange and dates whipped together with a little Cointreau .

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Salad of watercress, black grapes, beetroot etc.

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Prickly pears have prickles and need to be handled carefully. For how to peel prickly pears, see:

Prickly Pears Fichi D’india and A Paste Called Mostarda

Mascarpone:

Mascarpone and Its Many Uses. How to Make It at Home

Labneh:

WATERMELON, LABNEH and DUKKAH salad

 

SIMPLE SUMMER MEALS

Especially in summer, I like to prepare a number of small courses and always made with in season ingredients.

These were recent meals:

Feature Photo fried zucchini with roasted garlic.

Roasted baby tomatoes – very fragrant.

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Whole figs stuffed with walnuts and feta and topped with a sprig of mint – then the figs are cut in half.

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This was  followed by roasted summer vegetables (zucchini, eggplants, peppers, onion, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary) and topped with a layer of fresh breadcrumbs and a little grated Parmigiano added in the last 5-7 minutes of baking).  This dish is eaten cold.

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The roasted vegetable course was followed by a salad of lightly poached green prawns mixed with watercress, fresh peaches and a light dressing of homemade egg mayonnaise, a dash of fresh cream,  pepper and fresh, French tarragon.

Dessert is always simple in summer. I have an ice cream machine and this comes in handy.  Another constant old favourite is Zuppa Inglese; it is always appreciated especially if in summer it is topped with berries lightly marinaded with some Alchermes.

LONG LIVE ZUPPA INGLESE and its sisters

ZUPPA INGLESE, a famous, Italian dessert

ALCHERMES/ALKERMES (The liqueur used to make Zuppa Inglese)

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Another simple dessert that I enjoy making is a Coeur a la creme (cream cheese, crème fraîche). I bought two of these heart shaped, ceramic moulds in San Francisco. I top the heart (s) with fresh berries or fresh figs . Unfortunately I have not snapped a photo of this dessert.

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The last Cour  a la creme I made was with drained yogurt (Labneh) mixed with a little honey and topped with slices of mango.

Labna
500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yogurt can drain off naturally. Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine (covered) to drain in the fridge.
See  Watermelon, Labneh and Dukkah salad
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Poaching liquid for green prawns:

There must be sufficient liquid to cover the shelled green prawns.

Combine these ingredients to make a poaching liquid: a mixture of water, wine (more water 2/3 than wine 1/3), a few peppercorns, a little salt, fresh bay leaves, soft fresh celery leaves and fresh herbs  – usually thyme.

Bring the poaching liquid to below boiling and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the ingredients infuse for at least 20 minutes.

Bring  the poaching liquid to the boil, add the green prawns and make sure that they are covered by the liquid. Wait for a few minutes until the temperature of the poaching liquid is just below boiling. Turn off the the heat and leave the prawns to steep until they will change colour (to coral- orange) and are no longer translucent – this happens within minutes.

Drain the prawns and cool the quickly – I spread them out on a cold surface. Use the poaching liquid (stock) for another fish based dish (for example a risotto) or to poach your next batch of prawns or fish. Keep this stock in the freezer till you are ready to use it again.

Dress with one of your favourite dressings. How about ZOGGHIU (Sicilian pesto/dressing made with garlic, parsley and mint)..also good with grilled fish or squid.

 

Recipes:

Long Live Zuppa Inglese

Zuppa Inglese, A Famous, Italian Dessert

ALCHERMES/ALKERMES (The liqueur used to make Zuppa Inglese)

WATERMELON, LABNEH and DUKKAH salad

Sometimes the simplest things can be fabulous especially when revisited. Compliments time after time after time and great for summer! This is what I have presented as a starter – labneh, dukkah and watermelon with a sprinkling of fresh mint and a dressing made mainly with pomegranate molasses.

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It has been a while since I have made dukkah or Labneh (labna, lebnah, labne, labni,). Both are simple to make and are very versatile. I like having things on standby and both keep well in the fridge in a sealed glass container.

Dukkah is a dry spicy mix of sesame seeds, nuts (can be hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts) and spices – mainly cumin and coriander – but variations also include small quantities of black pepper, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Apart from dipping good quality bread into extra virgin olive oil and then into dukkah, I may use it as a topping for cooked vegetables and salads or a crumb coating for meats, fish, cheese or vegetables.

I use a heavy frypan to toast everything. I used a combination of pistachio, walnuts and pine nuts in mine. If you use pine nuts they will need very little toasting – they burn quickly.  I also added pepitas; this seemed appropriate because of the watermelon.

¾ cup sesame seeds
½ cup coriander seeds
1-2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp salt
1 cup of nuts
some white and black pepper corns
a pinch of or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, cloves and/or nutmeg
Place nuts in a frying pan and over medium-high heat toast them until they begin to colour. Remove from pan and set aside.
Toast coriander seeds and sesame seeds the same way as the nuts and when they are nearly golden add all of the spices, salt and pepper corns.
Let cool. Blend together. On this occasion I blended the nuts separately as I wanted them to be chopped in larger pieces.

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Labna is strained yoghurt and can be used in both in savoury and sweet dishes. It is popular in the Middle East and I mostly use Labneh as I do feta, for example to stuff figs or in dips.

Labneh

500 ml full-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Leave the yoghurt to drain about 8 hours or longer. I usually place mine to drain in the fridge.
Line a colander with one layer of muslin and place the colander on top of a bowl so that the whey of the yoghurt can drain off naturally.
Place the drained yoghurt in a bowl.
Coat hands with extra virgin olive oil and shape Labneh into egg shaped balls. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and store in the fridge until ready to use. If you intend to store the Labneh balls for more than a day cover with extra virgin olive oil.
When it is time to serve it, drain it and top with fresh herbs or dukkah.

Dressing for Watermelon, combine together:

3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 lemon: juiced + zest
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of sesame oil and of flower or orange water
1 fresh chilli, cut finely (optional)

 

To assemble

As you can see from the photo I assembled the balls of Labneh first on a plate coated with extra virgin olive oil.
I surrounded the watermelon pieces around the Labneh and sprinkled everything with some dukkah, mint leaves and the dressing.