Labbneh, or little spicy herby cheese disks

Ok, the photo is not the greatest, I know.  You try taking an emergency photo of white balls of cheese in greenish olive oil and see how it turns out.

labbneh

Next time, I will remove a disk, put it on a plate with a cracker, you will see the difference.  You have to just trust me on this one and use the pic as a platform for improvement.  These little disks are delicious.  I can’t take full credit for them, but I take re-creation and improvement credit.  Last summer I was in Santa Fe NM for 48 hours.  I was headed back from Flagstaff AZ to Michigan and jumped off Amtrak for two days to visit my cousins.  Knowing we had limited time and wanted to maximize sight seeing and visiting, they went shopping for some groceries before my arrival.  As we picnicked overlooking a large lake, Abiquiu and Georgia O’Keefe’s playground Ghost Ranch,  we dined on mixed nuts, this cheese, Mary’s Gone Crackers and apples.  We ate every scrap of this cheese and the olive oil it was marinating in.  It was made locally and for sale in their Santa Fe Whole Foods.  I have yet to find any in Michigan.

So, I recreated it based on their list of ingredients.  It is so easy and so tasty.  I took some up to a “cottage on the beach weekend” with friends and they devoured it and wanted the recipe.  Almost 7 months later I am getting around to typing it up.

I might just be what is known as a recipe writing slacker, maybe.  Writing them up means I actually have to measure or give guidance some how when I used none and didn’t measure.  There is no point in keeping it all in my head though, is there? What if you wanted to make it and bring it over to my house for dinner?  You couldn’t could you?  Well, now you can.  As far as the name of these little tidbits, well, my understanding is that labbneh is really a yogurt cheese and this creation involves zero yogurt, so please comment with alternative names in the comments section – really, I mean it.

You will notice that I use all dried herbs and spices, this is because if you are not eating it all right away (and it gets better after a few days), it will hold better with dried ingredients than fresh and no one wants botulism from raw garlic and olive oil hanging out do they?  Of course you can use all fresh ingredients too, just don’t let this cheese dish hang around as long.

Labbneh

4 oz of Feta at room temp French or Greek feta, up to you.
4 oz of Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) at room temp
dried thyme
dried oregano (Turkish or Greek if you have it)
dried marjoram
ground rosemary (easier disbursement of flavor) or whole dried rosemary
dried garlic powder
dried shallots (Penzeys is an excellent source for dried)
dried basil (less of this herb, more of the others)
crushed red pepper
freshly cracked pepper
sea salt
good quality extra virgin olive oil

Cream the two cheeses together, add a bit of shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme to the cheese.
Form the cheese into little flattened disks.  Mine were about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  Place in a container that has a lid. Sprinkle the cheese disks with all of the herbs and spices listed above, including more shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme. Pour olive oil over the whole thing until the disks are submerged, the more you pack in, the closer they are, the less oil you will need. Let the cheese marinate for as long as you can, but at least a couple of minutes hours.  Then refrigerate, but let it the disks and olive oil come up to room temperature before serving. Goes great with a hearty crispy cracker and also with a cracker that will adsorb a bit of the oil.  I recommend a combo of Mary’s Gone Crackers and Glutino crackers for you gluten freers.  Take this to your next potluck!  Put the disks on a plate and pour the spiced olive oil over them and put a couple of little cheese spreaders around for cracker spreading.

Enjoy!

i’m out

Chaitini, cocktail of the week photos

Chaitini is the cocktail of the week.

Now, brown cocktails do not photograph well, but I will post the photo anyway.

I took chai spices and seeped them with vodka for many months (it doesn’t take that long, but I forgot about it in the fridge) then you have chai flavored vodka. I think the chai spices I used were ginger, cloves, allspice, anise, cinnamon and cardamom.

I mixed a little coconut milk with vodka (but I would really use coconut rum if you had some, I was out and wasn’t about to go to the store to make my cocktail, for once!) and then mixed some of the chai vodka with agave nectar or you could use simple syrup and then shook it over ice and poured it into a martini glass rimmed with sugar mixed with dried coconut. I used a cinnamon stick as a straw and voila: Chaitini!

chaitini Feb 08 food 073

I told you brown cocktails are not very pretty, oh well. They can be tasty though!

i’m out