~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Marinated Yoghurt Cheese Balls(Labneh)...

Marinated Yoghurt Cheese Balls(Labneh)...a great Appetizer. I really enjoyed making this cheese as it wasn't hard to make at all. It did take some patience on my part. I don't know why, but I tend to get excited when I make homemade cheese or yoghurt.... or kefir for that matter. I guess I feel the results are worth it. This recipe, however, uses store-bought yoghurt... though I am sure you can make your own yoghurt. It would take a bit more time as it would involve a 2 step process...making the yoghurt and then making the cheese. This time around, I took the easy way out and used the ready-made yoghurt. I loved using the thicker Greek-style yoghurt...it has less whey and I think you get more cheese out of it. It was really simple to make and yet the outcome was so elegant and tasty. What I like about making my own marinated cheese is that I can easily vary the herbs and seasonings. I loved this delicious yoghurt cheese. The texture is similar to chevre... it has this tangy sort of flavor. My husband actually thought it was goat cheese:)... We loved spreading the cheese on toasted bread and drizzling some of the seasoned oil. It really was delicious. And, to think that I made it...that was even more rewarding!
Strained yoghurt cheese or Labneh is very popular in the Middle-Eastern cuisine. It is often eaten for breakfast with olive oil, bread, olives and other cheeses...The olive oil really enhances the flavor of the cheese....so, I always use some good extra-virgin olive oil. The cheese can easily be a part of a mezze platter or even used as a sandwich spread. Some people prefer to let the strained yoghurt dry out a bit before seasoning it with various herbs and storing it in olive oil....
This marinated cheese can be a great homemade hostess gift. It's also a great appetizer that you can bring to your next gathering....accompanied by various, crackers, crostini, pita wedges, etc. Do feel free to adjust herbs to your preference. Hope you enjoy...

You will need:

16-20 oz thick Greek-style yoghurt ( I used Fage)
kosher salt to taste(I used a pinch...and added some to the oil)

Seasonings to taste: can use any or a combination of the following fresh or dried
chile flakes*
dried onion
smoked paprika*
salt(if needed...since I didn't use too much in the cheese, I added some to the oil)*
*what I used this time around

Extra-virgin olive oil

Place yoghurt in a bowl with salt and stir to combine. Use a muslin cloth or coffee filters. Place yoghurt in center. If using coffee filters, divide yoghurt in several filters then gather up muslin/filter sides and tie with string/rubber band.
You can suspend the ball over a bowl by tying the string to a wooden spoon or if using coffee filters, slip a kebob skewer through the rubber band and suspend on top of a large bowl, allowing the ball to hang down. Leave to drain in the fridge for 3 days. Use the whey that has drained out in other dishes....I used some of the whey when I made some hummus, or in mashed potatoes. Remove the yoghurt cheese balls to a plate and form small balls of cheese (walnut or smaller size. Place on a flat plate.
You can refrigerate for 3 hours to dry out, if you like... I didn't. To a sterilized jar, add herbs/seasonings and most of the oil. Mix. Add the yoghurt balls and enough olive oil to cover.
Since most of the seasoning has the tendency to settle at the bottom , I like to "roll" the closed jar gently or turn upside down a few times to redistribute the seasonings. Leave to marinate for about 24 hours. Keep for up to 1 week or so.
Serve alongside a mezze platter with olives, roasted bell peppers, hummus, baba ganoush, etc. and some warm pita bread.
Serve as a tasty and classy appetizer with toasted bread/baguettes/crackers or with pita bread. Drizzle with some of the seasoned oil for even more flavor.

What to do with all the leftover oil?:
Use it to dress some boiled pasta dish...linguine, penne. Use it when sauteeing some shrimp or chicken...scampi style.
Use a bit of it in salad dressings. Try adding some balsamic vinegar and using it as a dip for crusty bread...yet, another appetizer.


Unknown said...

bookmarked - This is awesome thanks for sharing.

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Here's yet another Ellie recipe that is on my very very short list of must makes! Ellie I just love you and your blog, you make fantastic things that I love (and added bonus LOL) and challenge me to make better things for myself and my family! Thank you for this recipe along with many others of yours that I use often!!

Ellie said...

Jennifurla, You are most welcome:)...

Andrea, You are such a sweetheart!! Thanks for making my day...yet, again:).
I am so very happy that you are enjoying the blog. Thank you for taking the time to let me know. I really appreciate it. ~Ellie

Mihaela said...

Imi place ideea asta, arata superb! Ellie, imi plac foarte mult retetele tale :)

Ellie said...

Esti o scumpa!...Multumesc pentru vizita. Sa sti ca mi-a placut foarte mult branza asta....este usor de facut si mai ales ca poti sa le schimbi adaugand diferite erburi. Imi plac sa le rolez si prin nuci sau patrunjel, cilantro, basilm ... tocat marunt. Sper sa iti placa si tie si sant foarte impresionata de blogul tau:) ~Ellie

Speranta said...

Foarte bine arata ...ce sa mai zic ...esti de apreciat tot ce faci!!!

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Absolutely delicious - I love the tip for handing the yogurt to drain! Superb. I'll definitely be making this - maybe this weekend!

Ellie said...

Speranta Multumesc...branza este foarte buna:)!

Kitchen Butterfly, Thanks for stopping by...hope you like the cheese. The recipe is quite easy to tweak...just use your favorite spices and herbs. Enjoy!

Andrea said...

What a great little blog you have here. First of all, I love labneh. Secondly, you made it with Fage? I wish I had thought of that!!! I also love Fage. I want to lick the monitor!

melinda kumar said...

wow...i didn't realise this was so easy to make...my mama used to make this...can't wait to try it this weekend...

Pam @ Kitchen Cookware said...

Oh, I simply love greek yogurt, so making these cheese balls will be great! I love the step by step pictures too. Thanks.

Ellie said...

Andrea, Melinda, Pam....Thanks for the nice comments. I hope you can give this a try. It 's quite simple to make and delicious:)!~Ellie

Anonymous said...


I made these this week...thank you so much for the recipe. I love them! I didn't realize how soft the cheese was going to be (like cream cheese). It was a present surprise. I used the smoky paprika, chilly flakes salt and oregano to marinade. They have such a wonderful taste and they are fantastic on plain saltine crackers! I can't wait to use them on the mamaliga bites! Thanks again, take care and God bless!

PS: do you think you can reuse the marinade for the next round of cheese balls?


Ellie said...

Magdalene, Oh, I am so glad you liked the yoghurt cheese balls! Yes, you can re-use the oil if making another batch. I wouldn't keep it too long before re-using it,though. If I don't plan on making a new batch right away, I will usually use the oil marinade for:
1.salad dressings,
2.as a dressing for roasted/grilled vegetables
3.as a marinade for chicken, fish,
4.for stir-frying
5.as a pasta sauce(I will add some minced garlic to it)
and other ways:)...

If you want to try another alternative without(the oil), try rolling the cheese balls in various chopped herbs or nuts.

Again, I am glad you liked it...definitely a creamy cheese.

Thank you so much for your feedback and have a blessed day!~Ellie

Stephanie H. said...

Hi Ellie! Thanks for this fantastic recipe; I'm going to try it this weekend. It looks like you used dried herbs for the marinade; have you ever used fresh instead? Also, I'm considering a variable of adding fresh herbs mixed into the cheese itself. Have you ever tried it that way? I'm curious if I should add the herbs before or after draining... If you haven't tried the cheese that way, I may experiment and report back to you. I'm thinking cheesy good fun ahead!

Ellie said...

Stephanie, I'm hoping you will like your cheese project:).
Yes, in this post I used dried, but I have made it with fresh also... I've also skipped the marinade and rolled the cheese balls in minced fresh herbs. That's also a nice alternative. But I 've never actually mixed the cheese with the herbs... That sounds like a fantastic idea!
Would love to hear of your creations:)...btw, they are also good rolled in roasted nuts, in case you would like to try a different version.

Anonymous said...

we make this in middle east but with more salt and they leave it for more time another thing they make it out of goat milk

Ellie said...

Anon, Thank you for stopping by... That's good to know. I can see how adding more salt will make the cheese last longer. For mine, I didn't add too much salt, just because I made a small batch and knew it wouldn't last long:). And making it with goat milk sounds delicious! Should try that next time, though making it with raw goat's milk would be ideal.

Anonymous said...

Do you place the cheese in the fridge once it is marinated in oil? I have and the contents solidified? Any suggestions?

Ellie said...

Anon, Yes you place it in the fridge... and olive oils will solidify in the fridge at cold temperature. You can remove cheese from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature, before serving. The oil will become liquid once again.

I personally use olive oil, but you can substitute the olive oil with a vegetable oil and you shouldn't have the oil solidify on you while it is on the fridge.

Hope that helps....

Atika said...

Thanks for the recipe, I make this cheese a couple weeks ago and I eat it with home-made English muffin.


Ellie said...

You are welcome, Atika. I am so glad you are enjoying the cheese.... I am sure it's just wonderful with homemade english muffins! You can't beat homemade goodness:). Yum...

Thanks for stopping by ... and sharing your feedback. So appreciate it!

Julia@Imagelicious said...

I tried making these a few years ago. I made the cheese many times and continue making it, but I only marinated it like you once. For me it was the waste of oil. I know you mentioned in your post that you can use it for sauteeing and dipping, but does it go bad for you because of the leftover cheese bits? How long does it keep? I assume you need to keep it in the fridge, right?

Ellie said...

Julia, You know, I make a small batch and for me the oil doesn't last long. I do keep the oil in the fridge and every time I make a salad I use some of it. You will need to take it out a bit earlier so the oil becomes liquid again as it solidifies in the fridge. I also love to use is when making pasta, a great way to use it up! Before I know it, I've used all of it.

I, like you, do not like to waste oil, or any ingredient for that matter. So I place the jar in front somewhere in my fridge so I see it... and use it. I find this way there is no waste of oil and I get to use it right away.

I haven't kept the oil past, let's say, a week and a half? I'm guessing you could go a bit longer if need be... the oil acts as a preservative somewhat if you have bits of cheese in it.

You could make the cheese balls and just drizzle a bit of oil over them before serving... or roll them in herbs and nuts, if you like. It's another alternative if you don't want to use oil.

Hope this helps...

Emma said...

Thank you for your recipe! I've just made labneh for the first time and your tips for marinating were very handy. Can't wait to try my little labneh balls once they've infused the flavour! I love your photos too; they're beautiful.
Thanks again,
Emma (Australia)

Ellie said...

Hi Emma, You are most welcome! And thank you for your kind comment:). I'm thrilled that you made the labneh for the first time. It's delicious and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Glad the photos and tips were helpful. Makes my day when someone tries a recipe and enjoys it, so thank you for your feedback(all the way from Australia!).

Have a great day!

Unknown said...

Just made these today. So beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ellie said...

Beth, I'm so glad you enjoyed the labneh! Thank you kindly for your feedback, always makes my day:). Happy you tried the recipe.