In Yogurt, Janet Fletcher explores the dishes and traditions that showcase yogurt, from savory dips to sweet cakes.
Slow-roasting concentrates the flavor of plum tomatoes and caramelizes their natural sugars. If you stop the roasting while the softened tomato halves still hold their shape, they will make a juicy topping perfectly sized to fit baguette toasts. A schmear of tangy yogurt cheese under the tomato balances the sweetness.
- Preheat an oven to 300°F. Put the tomatoes cut side up in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil. Season with the oregano, crumbling the dried herb between your fingers to release its fragrance. Dot the tomatoes with the minced garlic and season with salt. Bake until the tomatoes are very soft and beginning to caramelize but still hold their shape, 2 to 3 hours, depending on their size and ripeness. Using a pastry brush, baste the tomatoes with any pan juices—the tomatoes may not release much—every 45 minutes or so. Let cool slightly. The tomatoes are best warm, not hot.
- Preheat a broiler or toaster oven. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast on both sides until golden brown.
- Spread one side of each toast with 1 tablespoon yogurt cheese. Top with a warm roasted tomato half. (You can halve the tomatoes lengthwise first so they cover more of the toast surface.) Garnish with the basil leaves and serve immediately.
- I often drain yogurt, especially homemade yogurt, even if only for an hour. Draining dramatically improves the texture, making any yogurt thicker, creamier, and more mellow by removing whey. Draining also extends the yogurt’s life by removing water and lactose. Reducing the yogurt’s lactose deprives bacteria of their food source. And if you are lactose-sensitive, you should find drained yogurt more digestible.
- To drain homemade yogurt, chill it thoroughly first until it is firm. You can drain it as soon as it is cold. Store-bought yogurt has already been chilled, so you can drain it immediately after opening.
- Line a large sieve or colander with a triple thickness of dampened cheesecloth or—my preference—with Plyban, a reusable cheesecloth made from a food-grade resin. Plyban’s weave is tighter than cheesecloth, so you don’t need multiple layers, although with very thin yogurt I might use a double thickness.
- Set the sieve or colander over a bowl to collect the whey. Gently pour the yogurt into the lined sieve or colander. Cover with a plate or cloth—you’re just protecting the yogurt, not pressing it—and refrigerate.
- After 2 hours of draining, stir in ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt for every quart of yogurt that you started with. Return to the refrigerator and continue draining until the yogurt is as thick as cream cheese, about 24 hours total. From a quart of milk, you should yield 1½ to 1¾ cups of yogurt cheese.
Reprinted with permission from Yogurt, by Janet Fletcher, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.