Welcome Greeks Bearing This Gift
Understanding Greek yogurt can be a Herculean task.
According to historians, the discovery of yogurt — native to the Mediterranean/Middle East — was yucky. Shepherd boys carried their lunch milk in pouches made from goat stomachs. The enzymes therein, aided by heat and movement, coagulated the contents into a tangy, creamy, nourishing food bearing no resemblance to key lime pie, strawberry cheesecake or Jamie Lee Curtis.
In this case, what happened in the Middle East, stayed in the Middle East. North Americans were slow to accept the yogurt introduced by Dannon, a Spanish company, in 1942. Only when Dannon added sugar and fruit did yogurt take off.
Since then, yogurt has been pulled in so many directions only one was left: the original, as Greeks do it, preferably in a blue-and-white container with a Greek font and a designation like Oikos, meaning family.
Dannon and Stoneyfield have co-opted this name. Stoneyfield’s product is organic. Dannon hired John Stamos as TV spokesperson, a wise decision given Anthony Quinn’s unavailability.
Best of all, even fat-free Greek yogurt is filling and satisfying, curtailing hunger for hours.
In the “Greek” process, more whey is drained off, leaving a firmer product with twice the milk solids, therefore twice the protein. This explains the higher price, about a dollar a cup, maybe less with the introduction of store brands, like Harris Teeter.
Since calories are a marketing factor, some brands reduced cup size by almost an ounce.
Proper Greek-style yogurt is firm, velvety and slightly tangy, not sour. Fruit flavors are creeping in but be brave; start with plain. Try savory add-ins: finely chopped cucumber, scallion and herbs spread on a thick slice of ripe garden tomato. Or swirled with chipotle-lime salsa and avocado, atop a burrito.
If sweet you must, make it confectioners’ sugar, honey, maple syrup or something interesting like bitter orange marmalade or ginger preserves. Fresh fruit is always good, especially crushed juicy peach or kiwi slices. Try stirring a teaspoon of undiluted lemonade concentrate into a cup.
For a moist zucchini bread, whisk 2 cups flour, ½ teaspoon, each, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together ¾ cup sugar, 2 eggs, ½ cup oil and ½ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt. Grate a small zucchini (about 1 cup) into wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry with a rubber spatula just until combined. Stir in ½ cup chopped walnuts, if desired. Bake in a greased loaf pan one hour and 10 minutes, at 325 degrees.
The trend gallops on; Yoplait and Activia have joined the party. New flavors are sure to appear, hopefully less sweet and more adult, like lemon, coffee, cinnamon-raisin, maybe dark chocolate.
In a word — Greek, of course — Opa!
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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