Yoghurt has long been recognised as a low-fat, nutrient-dense food. It's a breakfast staple in our household for its calcium and protein boost and the lactic cultures that fight unfriendly bacteria in the intestine.
We add a teaspoon or two of linseed oil and a tablespoon of ground linseed to add omega-3 essential fatty acids, said to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Therefore it was with great delight that I recently became the recipient of an EasiYo yoghurt-maker, together with a range of new flavours of powdered yoghurt.
Homemade yoghurt is simple - just combine a sachet of the powder with cold water in a jar, shake it well, then stand it overnight in the yoghurt maker (a flask) filled with boiling water.
A new vanilla bean yoghurt smoothie was a hit as an after-gym reviver but it was also excellent layered in a bowl with sponge cake and fruit as a quick trifle.
When yoghurt is heated it combines with the baking powder to emit carbon dioxide, providing additional raising power, one reason that yoghurt is often preferred to straight milk in some baking.
The Double Berry Yoghurt Cake recipe uses EasiYo's cranberry Greek yoghurt.
However, this could be replaced with something similar such as strawberry or mixed berry yoghurt.
One of my favourite fresh cheeses is labna or yoghurt cheese. It's excellent in salads, curries, chillies or just on its own drizzled with olive oil, flaky salt, black pepper and chopped mint.
Plain yoghurt is also a good base for a quick satay sauce: combine half a cup of plain Greek yoghurt with two cloves of crushed garlic, four tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter and one teaspoon each of soy sauce and finely grated root ginger. It's great over a crisp vege salad or grilled red meat and chicken.
GREEN CURRY COCONUT POTATOES
Different brands of Thai green curry paste have different strengths of (chilli) heat - so use according to taste.
4 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
25g butter, thinly sliced
1 cup EasiYo Greek'n' coconut yoghurt
1-2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1/2 cup cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped coriander
Set oven to 180C. Spray a 29cm x 21cm baking dish with oil. Pat potatoes dry with a paper towel. Layer in the baking dish, overlapping each slice a little and placing a little butter between each layer.
Combine yoghurt, green curry paste and cream. Pour evenly over potatoes. Sprinkle with black pepper. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove oil and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Sprinkle with coriander just before serving. Serves 6-8.
DOUBLE BERRY YOGHURT CAKE
A light, moist cake made in one bowl.
1 cup each: canola oil, caster sugar
1 cup cranberry Greek yoghurt
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup frozen raspberries
Cream cheese icing:
50g butter, softened
125g cream cheese softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
Set oven to 170C. Lightly oil and line the base of a 23cm springform cake pan.
Beat oil and sugar until light. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Mix in yoghurt. Fold in flour until just combined. It should still be a little lumpy, similar to a muffin mixture. Fold in raspberries.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for one hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan.
To prepare icing, beat butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, then beat in icing sugar. Spread over the top and sides of the cake. Best stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.
YOGHURT CHICKEN WITH FIVE-SPICE RICE
3/4 cup plain yoghurt
1 tbsp curry powder
2 large or 4 small skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp five-spice powder
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves and stalks
Combine yoghurt and curry powder.
Place chicken in a single layer in a shallow dish and cover with yoghurt mixture. Move it around so it is evenly covered.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan. Saute onion, until soft. Stir in rice and five-spice, mixing well. Add chicken stock.
Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the stock. You may need a little extra stock. Stir in the almonds and coriander just before serving.
Meanwhile, grill or pan-fry the chicken for about five minutes on each side, until cooked.
Slice each chicken breast into five pieces and serve on the rice. Serves 4.
1kg plain Greek-style yoghurt
1 tsp salt
Line a large sieve with muslin or a clean Chux cloth.
Drape it over a large bowl. Add yoghurt and sprinkle with salt. Cover and refrigerate for two days to allow liquid to drain from the yoghurt.
Store the yoghurt cheese for a day or so before using as: a nibble drizzled with olive oil and herbs; a small spoonful dotted on a curry or chilli just before serving; or formed into balls and put in a jar of olive oil, garlic cloves and rosemary for a snack in three to five days. Serves 6-8.