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The Vegetarian

Yogurt Makes Low-Calorie Cheese

August 20, 1987|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

When my mother fed me my first spoonful of yogurt, she might have expected that most of it would end up on her face. I was 5 years old, flat out with the measles and accustomed to eating a bowlful of vanilla ice cream at intervals necessary to soothe my aching throat. I don't know whether she meant well, as she claimed, or if there was some sadistic intent in hitting me straight off with the hard stuff: plain--not fruited or flavored--yogurt. She brought it to me in the ice cream bowl, which made it deceitful as well as disagreeable.

Plain yogurt has since become a staple for me. It shows up in some form at all of my meals. Recently I discovered this simple way to make a cream or Neufchatel-style cheese from yogurt. One benefit of this cheese, besides its smooth texture and mild flavor, is the fact that one tablespoon made from nonfat yogurt has 25 calories, versus 100 for cream cheese and 80 for Neufchatel.

YOGURT CHEESE

8 ounces plain yogurt

Dried or fresh herbs and spices of choice, such as chives, tarragon, basil, garlic, black caraway seeds, onion, parsley, optional

Line cone for drip coffee maker with coffee filter. Place yogurt in filter and let drain 5 hours or overnight. Season to taste with herbs. Makes 1/4 cup.

Note: For dessert cheese to spread on fruit, follow same procedure using rich lemon or vanilla yogurt. The higher the fat content of yogurt, the firmer the cheese.

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