THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF COOKING WITH YOGURT

 

YOGURT3

To avoid congealey failure and maximize delicious success, follow these tips when cooking with yogurt:

Don’ts:

  • Don’t bake with it unless it’s thinned out and don’t heat it quickly or the concentrated milk proteins will separate from the remainder of the whey, never to unite again.
  • Don’t use aluminum cook or bake ware when dealing with yogurt, the acidity reacts unpleasantly to the metal.

Do’s:

  • Do bring it to room temperature before you add it to the dish, so that the temperature shock is not too great (otherwise it might curdle and separate), and add it to the dish spoon by spoon and at the very end of cooking.
  • Do substitute yogurt for buttermilk or heavy cream, two things you might not readily have in your fridge (who has buttermilk in their fridge?) Just water it down slightly, if needed to match the consistency.
  • Do put it in your ice cream maker with some fresh fruits, it freezes fast and creamy. Plus the healthy bacteria will even survive a freezing!
  • Do marinate! This is one instance where yogurt’s clinginess is a good thing. You can use less yogurt in a traditional marinade but still get the same tenderizing and moisture and flavor-enhancing effect.

MARINADE TEMPLATE:

2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Once you have all that in the blender, you can choose your own adventure:

Option 1 Lemon-Pepper: “The Classic”
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
Juice from two lemons
1 really nice squeeze of honey
Even more black pepper (about 10-15 grinds)

tandoori-shrimp

Option 2 Tandoori: “The Crowdpleaser” (from Bon Appetit)
1 cup cilantro leaves (no need to chop since it’s going in the blender)
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon garam masala (McCormick now sells this — it’s an Indian spice blend that’s kind of sweet)
1 2-inch piece ginger
juice of one lime

Option 3 Middle Eastern: “The Middle Easterner”
1/2 cup fresh oregano, stems removed
1 clove garlic
juice from one lemon
2 teaspoons cumin

Option 4 Mustard and Herb: “The Pantry Special”
½ cup Dijon mustard
leaves from a couple sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Option 5 Chutney: “The Cheater”
1/2 cup your favorite chutney (these are my favorite)
1/2 cup cilantro

Whichever direction you’ve chosen:

Give the ingredients a good whirl in the blender, then pour into a large freezer bag along with your meat — 2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs or breasts  (pounded flat between two pieces of wax paper), drumsticks, or…here’s some breaking news: SHRIMP! I’ve discovered that a good flavorful yogurt marinade is a great way to kick up the sometimes bland frozen shrimp we pick up in the Northeast. (The photo above was made with the tandoori marinade — the dipping sauce is chutney mixed with lime and…more yogurt!)

Marinate your chicken or shrimp (thawed if frozen) in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush grill grates with oil. Scrape excess marinade off chicken or shrimp. If you are making shrimp, thread them onto skewers. Grill chicken turning once, until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. The shrimp will take a little less time, about 2-3 minutes a side.

RELATED LINKS:

http://www.dinneralovestory.com/choose-your-own-adventure-yogurt-marinades/

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/yogurt

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/09/18/dos-and-donts-cooking-greek-yogurt

EASY SHRIMP PASTA

EASY SHRIMP PASTA (3)
1/2 cup light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 lb frozen shrimp
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 Tbsp fresh basil
8 oz cream cheese, cut up (I used the 1/3 less fat variety)*
12 oz fettuccini, cooked and drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Pour dressing over shrimp and marinate 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook fettuccini and set aside. In a large pan, heat shrimp and marinade about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, paste and basil and heat through. Add cream cheese and stir until blended. Serve over fettuccini with Parmesan on top!

*NEXT TIME I WILL TRY 1/2 OF THE CREAM CHEESE WITH 4 OZ OF GREEK YOGURT. REMEMBER THE YOGURT MUST BE TEMPERED AND ADDED AT THE VERY END! LOOK FOR MY POST ON USING GREEK YOGURT IN COOKING AND HOW TO TEMPER IT IN THE NEAR FUTURE!

HEALTHY RANCH DRESSING

ranch dressing

HEALTHY RANCH DRESSING  (I WAS SKEPTICAL BUT IT PROVED REALLY DELICIOUS!)

This whole jar (about 16 oz) of Ranch Dressing is only 1.75 grams of fat and 255 calories!

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 packet hidden valley ranch mix
1/2 cup 1% milk.

Whisk together, chill 1 hour before use.

Perfect consistency and tastes better than bottled!

2 TBSP OF MY FAVORITE BOTTLED BUTTERMILK RANCH DRESSING HAS 11 GRAMS OF FAT AND 110 CALORIES!