Oct 29, 2019

LET’S DISH! Let’s Talk about Yogurt

By MaryAnn Miano

When you think of yogurt, you might be thinking about enjoying it as a dessert sprinkled with chopped nuts, raisins, honey, berries or chopped fruits, seeds, or flavored with jams and jellies. Flavored yogurts are extremely popular, and frozen yogurt is a heavenly indulgence.

But the possibilities of cooking with yogurt are infinite. It is a good substitute for sour cream, and, in some cases, milk and buttermilk. Yogurt is cultured milk that combines readily with both robust foods and delicacies. It is an excellent marinade. Yogurt marries well with eggs, cheese, meats, seafood, poultry and grains. It can be used in making dishes of universal appeal, ranging from appetizers and soups to desserts and beverages.

The story of yogurt began thousands of years ago in the Middle East. A nomad traveling the desert with his camel packed some milk in a goatskin bag. Hours later, he found the milk had turned into a thick custard with a delicious, tart flavor. Eventually, yogurt was used by early Greek physicians to cure stomach ailments, by Turks to cure insomnia and by Persian women as a face cream. Long life has been associated with eating yogurt, and the Lactobacillus bulgaricus, or “good” bacteria in yogurt could be the reason why.

The resulting culinary creations amply demonstrate the rich inventiveness and deliciousness that yogurt adds to our gastronomic repertoire. Saturday, Nov. 9 is National Greek Yogurt Day. Try the following recipes to enjoy this wonderful health food:

OLD STYLE BEEF STEW – Kick up an old comfort food with yogurt!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 cups water

1 (10 ½ oz.) can beef consommé or beef broth

6 small onions, peeled

4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

6 (10-inch) pieces celery, cut in 2-inch lengths

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons water

1 cup plain yogurt, room temperature

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add meat and brown well on all sides. Add salt, pepper, water and beef consommé. Cover and cook 30 more minutes until vegetables are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove meat and vegetables to a warm serving platter. Mix flour and water. Stir into hot liquid in pot. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring until gravy is thickened. Stir yogurt until creamy. Slowly blend into hot gravy. Pour gravy over stew. Serves 4 to 6.

SUPPER SCALLOPED TURKEY AND PEAS – Use that leftover cooked turkey!

¼ cup minced green onions, with tops

¾ cup diced green pepper

3 tablespoons (approximately) butter

1 cup cooked green peas

1 cup turkey or beef gravy

¾ cup diced celery

2 cups chopped cooked turkey

½ cup plain yogurt at room temperature

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

Fine dry bread crumbs

Grated Parmesan cheese

Salt, pepper to taste

Sauté the onions, celery and green pepper in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender. Mix with the peas, gravy, turkey, yogurt and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and spoon into a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and cheese and dot with butter. Bake in a preheated moderate oven at 350 F for about 25 minutes, or until the ingredients are bubbly and the top is golden. Serves 4 to 6.