This isn’t really a recipe, so much as a general how-to. Take any amount of plain yogurt. I prefer the full-fat kind, but this works fine with low-fat as well. Place a bit of cheese cloth or floursack towel with a rubberband over a bowl or cup, then spoon the yogurt on top. Let it sit for at least 2 hours, or overnight, in the fridge. Spoon the thickened yogurt into a separate container and use or store in the fridge. The longer you let it sit, the thicker it gets.
So what do you use it for? Anything that you can imagine using sour cream on, basically. You could dip vegetables in it, or stir it into Indian lentil dishes to give them that nice creaminess. Lately I’ve been spooning it on top of scrambled eggs in order to work a cultured or fermented food into our breakfast routine. You could use it to top nachos or tacos, or even stir a bit into some chili.
An added bonus is that you end up with a bunch of whey that has drained off the yogurt when you’re done making it. A couple of tablespoons of whey gets the fermentation process going nicely if you’re making sauerkraut, soaking grains, etc. I made this the other night so that I could use the whey to help with some bread dough that I was attempting to sour overnight. That bread was a giant fail, but that’s another story.
If you ever cook with the Nourishing Traditions cookbook it seems like every other recipe in there calls for whey, so this is an easy way to acquire some.
UPDATE March 16, 2010: Mark Bittman (my cooking hero!) talks about yogurt cheese in his “Minimalist” column in the NY Times today. Read it right here. He prefers a flour sack towel to cheesecloth, and he’s probably right. I will try that method next time. Silly him, though, for having absolutely no use whatsoever for whey.