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Fast Fix | Cucumber Bites with Greek Yogurt and Lox

Cheryl Sternman Rule2 Comments
Cucumber Bites with Greek Yogurt and Lox

I'm a big fan of brunch. This is unfortunate, in some ways, as brunch can only be reasonably served twice a week rather than seven times, giving breakfast, lunch, and dinner far greater glory. 

Last month, I hosted a brunch in my home for three colleagues and friends. The event was potluck, and in anticipation of all the breads, cakes, muffins, and scones I knew others would (blessedly) contribute, I banged out these light, refreshing cucumber bites with Greek yogurt and lox to complement the heavier, more indulgent fare. 

I credit Team Yogurt contributor Maureen Abood for inspiring me to build an hors d'oeuvre on a cucumber rather than a cracker. Maureen's Cucumber Bites with Olives and Labneh planted the idea, which I then tweaked to showcase pleats of smoky lox. It's a twist on the classic bagel and lox combo, but with cucumber in lieu of the bagel.

Lighter? Yes. Serves more people? Yes, yes. Prettier? Yes, yes, yes.

That they're gluten-free doesn't much impact me, but it's nice for any guests for whom that's important. At brunch, in particular, everyone—gluten-free or not—will love this break from pastries and strata.


Recipe for Cucumber Bites with Greek Yogurt and Lox

Here's an elegant but dead simple hors d'oeuvre well-suited to a brunch or daytime buffet. If you're skilled with a pastry bag, fit one with a large round tip and use it to pipe the yogurt atop the cucumbers. If not, a small ice cream scoop or spoon will do just fine. I happen to have nigella seeds in my spice drawer, so I've deployed them here as a pretty garnish. (They taste faintly oniony and look dramatic against the whites, pinks, and greens.) Black sesame seeds, poppy seeds, lemon zest, or even minced herbs would sub in nicely.

Tip: You can make these up to 2 hours ahead and store them in the refrigerator. (Any longer and the yogurt may start to weep.) Garnish just before serving.

Makes as many as you like

Plain whole milk Greek yogurt
English cucumbers, unpeeled and cut into thick rounds
Kosher salt
Capers, drained
Nigella seeds, or other seeds, lemon zest, or minced soft herbs

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt vigorously until light and fluffy. Season to taste with salt (keeping in mind that both the lox and capers are salty) and whisk some more. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, if using. Otherwise, grab a small scoop or spoon.

Arrange the cucumber rounds on a serving platter. Pipe or smooth a generous dollop of yogurt atop each one, and top with a slice of lox folded in gentle pleats. Garnish each with a drained caper and a sprinkling of seeds, zest, or herbs. Keep cold, covered lightly, until ready to serve.

|| Print the Cucumber Bites with Greek Yogurt and Lox Recipe || 

Words, Photograph + Recipe © Cheryl Sternman Rule


Suzy's Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Parfaits

Suzy KaradshehComment
Suzy Karadsheh's 5-Minute Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Parfait Recipe

I've written before, in this peaches and yogurt post, about how my family was big on yogurt while I was growing up in Egypt. We ate yogurt daily, either freshly made by mother or purchased from the little family-owned dairy shop we often frequented.

Now that I'm an adult, yogurt (Greek yogurt especially) is a big part of my diet. Since I eat so much of it, I'm often inspired to invent new ways to make it fresh and exciting.

Enter parfait.

In my experience, “real” parfait desserts are made with layers of rich ice cream and different toppings. The healthier alternative, of course, is a simple yogurt parfait layered with granola and fruit.

This Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Parfait is a cross between the two. It's fairly healthy, since its main ingredients are Greek yogurt and pumpkin purée. But, it’s also a decadent treat, as I've added creamy Mascarpone, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and nuts.

Best part? It takes only 5 minutes, and you can make it ahead.

Recipe for Suzy Karadsheh's 5-Minute Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Parfait

Serve these parfaits as super-quick desserts, or even as a special post-Thanksgiving day breakfast. They happen to be gluten-free.

Makes 6 servings

One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (or scant 2 cups homemade pumpkin purée)
1-1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (2% is fine)
3­ to 4 tablespoons Mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons molasses, plus more for drizzling
2-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts or walnuts,  for garnish

Place the pumpkin, yogurt, Mascarpone, vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Using an electric hand-mixer or a whisk, beat until completely smooth. Taste, adding additional brown sugar or cinnamon if desired. 

Transfer to small (3­-ounce) serving goblets or small mason jars. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped nuts, drizzle lightly with molasses, and enjoy.

|| Print Suzy's 5-Minute Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Parfait Recipe || 

|| Visit Suzy's Website The Mediterranean Dish ||

|| Visit Suzy Here on Team Yogurt ||

Words, Recipe + Photographs by Suzy Karadsheh

Spherified Greek Yogurt

Cheryl Sternman Rule2 Comments
Spherified Greek Yogurt

We're no strangers to recognizing and appreciating others' creativity when it comes to using yogurt. In many ways, Team Yogurt started as a way to showcase, collaboratively, how those from diverse culinary backgrounds incorporate yogurt into the genres they know best. This is why our contributor base includes experts in Indian cuisine, in Persian cuisine, in Mediterranean cuisine, and in Lebanese cuisine, among many others. 

We've also learned plenty from those in our broader community. One especially avid supporter, Sheri Codiana, uses her professional culinary training and deep curiosity to inspire us regularly. She's the one who first told us about sous vide yogurtmaking.

Today, Codiana brought us spherified Greek yogurt to try. We popped the spheres in our mouth, and the delicate casings burst to release a cool, smooth flow of yogurt. We're already imagining how we can use this technique to impress future dinner party guests. Codiana suggests serving them on a Chinese soup spoon with a touch of olive oil and sprinkling of coarse salt.

To make them, she used a technique called reverse spherification.

According to Codiana: "Reverse spherification occurs when you place a calcium-rich liquid (in this case yogurt and heavy cream) in a sodium alginate bath." The spheres form, and after a few minutes, you scoop them out and transfer them to a water-filled container for storage. (Consume them within one day, she advises.)

If you'd like to learn more about this process, let us know, and we'll draft Codiana to give us a deeper tutorial...

We love our Team Yogurt community!


Words + Photograph © Cheryl Sternman Rule

Hatch Chile Labneh

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment
Hatch chile Greek yogurt dip

Some of you, no doubt, swim in deep chile waters, your comfort with peppers intimate and profound. My chile know-how is more like a wading pool: I tend to play it pretty safe. 

At heart, though, I'm a curious cook, so when my contact at Melissa's Produce offered me a box of Hatch chiles to play with, I accepted. (Disclosure: They were free. I've known the Melissa's folks for years.)

Hatch chiles are native to Hatch, New Mexico. Though their heat can vary, you can always slice out the veins and seeds to mute their impact. 

I blistered, skinned, and pureed them with grilled onion and roasted garlic, then spooned them over creamy labneh. Dip... done.

Recipe for Hatch Chile Labneh

With temperate heat from Hatch chiles and a full head of roasted garlic, this smooth, creamy dip has both sweet and spicy notes that play nicely against labneh. If you'd like to smoke the chiles, add a handful of soaked and drained wood chips to your grill's smoker box (or a foil pack) just before setting the chiles on the grill. 

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium head garlic, left intact
5 Hatch chiles
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Labneh or salted Greek yogurt, for serving
Cilantro, for garnish

Preheat a grill for direct and indirect cooking over high heat. Scrape the grates clean.

Coat the onion quarters lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Slice off the top quarter of the garlic head, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with a touch of oil, season lightly with salt, and wrap in foil.

Lay the chiles and onion on the grill over direct heat. Tuck the garlic on the coolest part of the grill. Blister the chiles until uniformly blackened, about 10 minutes total, turning occasionally. Char the onion as well, but move it to the indirect side of the grill once you get nice grill marks on both sides. Don't obliterate it. Let the garlic cook gently until thoroughly softened when you squeeze the foil-pack with tongs, about 1 hour.

While the garlic and onion finish cooking (take the onion off when it's tender), set the chiles in a covered bowl so the skins steam for 10 minutes. Slip off the skins, cut off the stem, and remove the seedpod, if desired, to mute the heat.

Once the garlic has finished cooking and is cool enough to handle, carefully squeeze the cloves from their skins. Transfer to a small food processor with the chiles, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and the lime juice. Puree until smooth. Correct the seasonings, if desired.

To serve: Spoon the Hatch chile puree over labneh or salted Greek yogurt, garnish with cilantro, and serve with tortilla chips.

|| Print the Hatch Chile Labneh recipe || 

Words, recipe, photograph © Cheryl Sternman Rule  



Maker Profile | Atanas Valev of Trimona Yogurt

Cheryl Sternman Rule2 Comments

Every time I talk about yogurt, I explain that it's made from several bacterial strains, citing s. thermophilus and l. bulgaricus as examples. Sure, there are others (Bifidus, L. acidophilus, L. casei, and more), but I’ve said s. thermophilus and l. bulgaricus so often I no longer trip over the words. (True: Spelling them is still really hard.)

L. bulgaricus was named for Bulgaria -- the country of its origin and the birthplace of Stamen Grigorov (d. 1945), its scientist-discoverer. Since Grigorov parted this world 71 years ago (RIP), landing an interview with him was unlikely. In his absence, it was a treat to speak with another yogurt-savvy Bulgarian: Atanas Valev.

Valev is the founder and CYO (Chief Yogurt Officer) of New York-based Trimona Yogurt, a quickly expanding brand moving towards nationwide distribution. 

Meet Atanas Valev

Atanas Valev was born in 1962 in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv, which he calls “the 6th oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, a crossroads of many cultures and religions.” His studies in agricultural engineering grounded him in the tenets of microbiology and plant and animal physiology, training that would serve him well years later as he turned toward yogurtmaking.

When he moved to the United States in 1991 through an exchange program for young agricultural college graduates, Valev brought two jars of Bulgarian yogurt with him. (Nowadays, this literally wouldn’t fly.) “I knew I’d want to make yogurt myself,” he says. “And I was right to bring it because when I came, I couldn’t find real Bulgarian yogurt.”

Many immigrants are partial to the foods of their native countries, so even though yogurt was everywhere in the 1990s, it’s not a huge surprise that Valev wanted to make his own to recapture the flavors of his homeland. To do this most effectively, using a Bulgarian culture made sense.

Valev was also attached to the folklore he’d grown up with. Back in Bulgaria, he told me, “Women would gather and taste each other’s yogurt, and whoever’s was the best they’d keep as the mother culture. Natural selection meant we’d always have the best.”

Survival of the fittest, bacteria-style.

By taking the culture with him, Valev could propagate the starter, and thus the flavor, he'd come to know and love.

Launching Trimona

Witnessing his passion, Valev's friends encouraged him to start a yogurt business.

He found a co-packer in the Catskill Mountains and taught them how to make yogurt to his specifications. “It was tart,” he says, “and when they tasted it they made a face.” He knew then that he’d gotten the flavor right.

In 2009, Trimona began selling its first cups of yogurt. Early locations included Valli Produce in Chicago and Zabar’s, The Health Nuts, and West Side Market in New York City.

Today, you can find Trimona Yogurt at 90 Wegmans stores in the Northeast and at 245 Sprouts markets in 13 states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah. In September, Whole Foods Market stores in the mid-Atlantic region will carry Trimona, bringing the product to Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Trimona is also available in New York and Connecticut.

The Milk and the Yogurt

Made with whole milk and certified organic by the USDA, Trimona Yogurt falls into the “Bulgarian-style” category, meaning it’s on the fluid side (since the whey hasn’t been strained out) and is therefore more pourable than the thick Greek yogurts that have proliferated in recent years.

Valev is also focusing on what’s known as A2 milk as much as he can. He's one of a growing group of dairy producers who believe that the milk protein, or casein, from A2 cows is more healthful and more easily digested than the far more common milk from A1 cows. He won’t guarantee that his yogurt is made exclusively from A2 milk (“I wouldn’t make such a claim,” he admits), but he’s leaning as far in that direction as he’s able. Based on his own experience and interactions with customers, he’s eager for those with the time and the interest to do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

Today, Trimona Yogurt’s milk is sourced from farms throughout Chenango County, NY, all within a 30 mile radius. The original plain flavor, which comes in both small (6-ounce) individual cups and quart-size (32-ounce) tubs, has just been joined by four new fruit varieties in 5.3-ounce dual-chamber containers: blueberry lavender, mango passion fruit, raspberry coconut, and honey ginger cinnamon. (Cinnamon is the secret word!)

According to Valev, the “cows are given a small amount of organic non-GMO supplements in the winter" to sustain them during the cold weather. The herds are therefore not 100 percent grass-fed, but the animals are grazing “approximately 8 months” of the year.

After years building and growing his brand, Valev is now ready for his yogurt to find a wider audience. Given Trimona's newly expanded geographical distribution, more people will soon get to taste yogurt made with l. bulgaricus... this time by a Bulgarian from Plovdiv.   


Our series of Maker Profiles is currently unsponsored. We received no compensation for writing about Trimona or profiling Atanas Valev.

All Photographs Courtesy Trimona Yogurt


Plum Balsamic Whey Sorbet

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment
PLUM BALSAMIC WHEY SORBET | A perfect use for leftover whey from yogurtmaking.

Mid-August in the Bay Area's a tease. The weather is breezy and cool, lending a tickle of fall to the early morning and early evening hours. Year after year, though, I forget the September heat to come, days when summer heaves its last hot, sloppy breath and I yearn for food that's slippery and cool.

Here's the antidote: a big-flavored, fruity sorbet that puts your jar of whey in the fridge to prime use. If you don't have whey, go ahead and substitute water, but the whey's acidic edge -- coupled with the punch of balsamic -- makes this sorbet an especially effective armor against hot weather. 

Recipe for Plum Balsamic Whey Sorbet

To achieve this vibrant color, look for plums with dark skins and deep red flesh. If you regularly make homemade yogurt and save the whey, this is a spectacular way (homophone alert) to use it. Finally, this sorbet won't get rock-hard like many others, which is one of its many pluses. Still, I recommend letting it sit out for a few minutes before scooping to yield the smoothest spheres.

Note: Though this no-cook method is exceptionally easy, start it one day ahead so the base has plenty of time to chill before churning.

Makes 1 quart

2 pounds dark-fleshed plums (about 9), pitted and rough-chopped
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup whey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Pinch salt

Puree the fruit in a high speed blender until nearly smooth. Add the sugar, whey, balsamic, and salt and puree again. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a metal loaf pan, press a sheet of parchment directly on the surface, and wrap the loaf pan in foil. Freeze for at least 6 hours before scooping.

|| Print the Plum Balsamic Whey Sorbet Recipe ||

Words, Photograph + Recipe by Cheryl Sternman Rule

(Need other ideas for how to use whey? Here's all the info on whey on this site.)

Nik Sharma's Chicken Tandoori Recipe

Nik SharmaComment
Nik Sharma's Tandoori Chicken | Recipe on

Tandoori is derived from the word tandoor, the large clay oven where long skewers of marinated meat and poultry are cooked and where doughs of naan get deliciously blistered. We never owned a tandoor at home (they can be pretty huge), so I’ve devised a few tricks to make this popular chicken more easily. 

Instead of using artificial food coloring to give the chicken its traditional red color, I used a beet. This works well and doesn’t impart a beety flavor. The marinade turns deep pink, and the assorted spices lend a heady fragrance. To cook the chicken in two stages, bake first and then broil to get those characteristic tandoor marks on the chicken. Or, in summer, use your grill. (See Grilling Alternative at end of recipe.)

Nik’s Homemade Chicken Tandoori Recipe

This recipe calls for a large amount of chicken. You can certainly cut the recipe in half, but if you make the whole thing, you can actually freeze half the chicken in its marinade (use a zip-top freezer bag) and defrost it later in the fridge. Freezing the chicken in batches is also a great way to save some time during the week. Serve your tandoori chicken with flatbreads such as naan, or with roti or rice, a refreshing salad, and either plain yogurt or my cucumber-mint raita.

Makes 8 servings

6 pounds chicken drumsticks
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup red onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup beet, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon green cardamom seed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons turmeric powder
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon paprika
12 whole cloves
4 dried red chilies (I used Kashmiri chilies but feel free to use any kind you like)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Extra lemons, for serving

Remove skin from the chicken, grabbing it with a paper towel and pulling it off. Make two deep slits across the flesh of each drumstick. Place in a large bowl.

Using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender, puree all the ingredients from the yogurt to the salt until completely smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours (up to overnight). (At this point you may divide the chicken and marinade into two portions and freeze one; see head note.)

Place one wire rack in the middle of the oven and another rack closest to the top. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange 6 drumsticks about an inch apart. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of the marinade over each drumstick. (Discard the remaining marinade.)

Working in batches, bake for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over midway through. The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Flip on the broiler and transfer the baking sheet to the top rack. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, watching carefully, until the drumsticks are slightly charred. Remove to a plate, cover lightly, and allow to rest a few minutes before serving with lemon wedges.


Editor’s note: Nik encouraged me to grill the chicken, so I did and it worked great. Here’s how: Prepare a grill for both direct and indirect cooking over medium-high heat (about 400°F). After draining away the marinade, coat the chicken pieces liberally on all sides with olive oil spray. Grill first over direct heat for five minutes to establish deep grill marks, then flip and transfer to indirect heat to finish cooking, 20 to 25 minutes longer, or until cooked through, turning occasionally. ~Cheryl

|| Print the Recipe for Nik's Homemade Chicken Tandoori ||

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Words, Recipe + Photography by Nik Sharma


Yogurt with Toasted Almonds, Muesli, and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment
Yogurt with Toasted Almonds, Muesli, and Strawberry Rhubarb Compote | 

Setting aside a few minutes in the evening to prep some basic yogurt add-ins can up your breakfast creativity significantly.

Here's just one combination. 

In the evening: Toast 2 cups of your favorite nuts (like the almonds shown here); cool and store in an airtight jar. Bake strawberries, thinly sliced rhubarb, and a generous scoop of sugar in a covered casserole until collapsed; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Combine oats and milk (and, if you like, a few sliced dates and some grated apple, too) in a jar; refrigerate for a super-quick muesli.

In the morning: Fill your favorite bowl with yogurt. Top with a spoonful of muesli, a spoonful of strawberry-rhubarb compote, and a scattering of toasted almonds. Serve. 

|| The ceramic yogurt bowl pictured above is available in our shop. ||

|| Want specific quantities for the strawberry-rhubarb compote and recipes for several other yogurt-friendly fruit compotes and mix-ins? Consider buying Yogurt Culture. ||

Fast Fix | Macerated Strawberries with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Amaretti Crush

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment
Macerated Strawberries with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Amaretti Crush

A super-simple combo to cap off a brunch, lunch, or al fresco dinner, this summertime finale will be your new go-to dessert. You can make the yogurt whipped cream up to three days ahead and store it, covered, in the fridge. 

To make: Whip 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream to soft peaks. Whip in 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract until set. (Don't overwhip.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days. An hour before you're ready to serve dessert: Toss strawberries with a few teaspoons sugar (to taste) and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Macerate at room temperature for one hour. To serve, top berries with a huge cloud of yogurt whipped cream and a handful of crushed amaretti cookies, or portion into individual dessert glasses or small bowls.

|| Print this Mini Recipe for Macerated Strawberries with Yogurt Whipped Cream and Amaretti Crush ||

Photograph + Recipe © Cheryl Sternman Rule

Check out these other mini-recipes in our Fast Fix series!

Shefaly's Mango Lassi

Maple-broiled grapefruit with yogurt + hempseed

Yogurt with warm honeyed figs, toasted nuts, granola + fennel seed

Yogurt with Pistachio Crush + Pomegranate Molasses

Garden Variety Cheese Photo Essay

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment

Please enjoy a virtual visit to Monkeyflower Ranch, a farm in Royal Oaks, California, where ewes, pigs, and chickens run about. There, farmer Rebecca King and her team making a killer sheep milk yogurt and a wide array of fresh and aged sheep milk cheeses under the Garden Variety Cheese name. All of Rebecca's cheeses and ewes are named for flowers, and the yogurt is sold in glass jars at select farmers markets. On the day of my visit (I took all the photos that follow), I asked Rebecca about her plans for future growth. Her reply? "I don't want to get bigger. I want to be able to know all the animals." Such refreshing simplicity. ~cheryl

Naz's Harissa Yogurt Stuffed Dates

Naz DeravianComment
Naz Deravian's Harissa Yogurt Stuffed Dates | 

Allow me to introduce my new favorite post-workout snack: sweet, juicy Medjool dates stuffed with tangy, creamy, harissa-spiked Greek yogurt. For the uninitiated, harissa is a complex-flavored, bright red chili-based paste available in Middle Eastern markets. The harissa’s subtle (or not so subtle) jolt will make you quickly forget the pain and drudgery of your workout and send you back for more… so you can justify another luscious bite. Workout or no workout, you can serve these sweet, savory, lightly spiced bites as an appetizer alongside a glass of cool, dry rosé. There’s no better way to celebrate the arrival of backyard barbecue and patio season. Happy Summer!

Recipe for Naz's Harissa Yogurt Stuffed Dates

I'm able to find gorgeous dates in the deli case at my local Iranian market. If you don't have access to an Iranian or other Middle Eastern or international market (which is where you'll also find the harissa and rose petals), head to your local natural foods store. Select the largest, juiciest-looking Medjool dates you can find.

These dates can be stuffed and garnished to varying degrees of fancy. To keep things simple, stuff them with plain yogurt. Or, dress them up with a little sprinkling of rose dust (powdered dried rose petals) as I’ve done here. Aleppo pepper, cayenne, or sumac would also be lovely, and equally elegant, garnishes.

Makes 8 portions

¼ cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
Harissa, to taste
8 large, juicy Medjool dates, pitted
2 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced, for garnish
Rose dust, for optional garnish

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with ¼ teaspoon of harissa, adding more harissa to taste. Generously fill each date with the harissa yogurt. Drape each stuffed date with the roasted red pepper and a sprinkling of rose dust, if using. Serve immediately, or chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. (These are fantastic served cold.) Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

|| Print Naz's Harissa Yogurt Stuffed Dates Recipe ||

|| Visit Naz Here on Team Yogurt ||

|| Visit Naz's Blog Bottom of the Pot ||

Words, Photograph + Recipe by Naz Deravian

Annelies Zijderveld's Mini Chocolate Cherry Cheesecakes

Annelies ZijderveldComment

Cherry season is about to explode, yielding crops flush with stone fruit. I can’t imagine a better time to get busy baking with my favorite farmer’s extra fancy Bing cherries –  so tangy and sweet, their flesh firm and juicy. A quick car ride to San Leandro’s cherry festival last weekend fueled my desire to concoct this cheery dessert. 

Baked in half-pint mason jars for easy transport to a picnic or potluck, these mini cheesecakes feature coarsely chopped cherries snaked through a yogurt and cream cheese custard. Mini semisweet chips add a hit of chocolate, and a quick cherry compote completes the decadence. If you prefer, you may bake them in 8-ounce ramekins instead of jars to cap off an indoor soiree on a sweet note. 

Recipe for Mini Chocolate Cherry Cheesecakes

The small bit of almond flour in the crust adds both flavor and texture, but if you’d like to omit it, you may. I pulse my cherries in a blender to coarsely chop them for the cheesecake, but you can always take the knife to the cutting board instead. To top with an optional cloud of cocoa whipped cream, whip 1 cup chilled heavy cream to soft peaks, then whip in 1 teaspoon sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder. Spoon a dollop onto the cheesecakes before drizzling with the cherry compote.

Makes 8 or 9 servings

For the crust:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
14 sheets honey graham crackers
2 tablespoons almond flour
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

For the filling:
2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk yogurt (traditional or Greek, just not too runny)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (about 16) fresh cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the cherry compote:
1/2 cup (about 13) cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a food processor, finely grind the graham crackers. Add the almond flour, salt, and melted butter. Process for about 30 seconds longer, or until the butter coats the crumbs and the whole mess resembles wet sand. Spoon the crumbs into the mason jars, about 2 tablespoons in each, pressing to compact the crumbs. Place the jars on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.

Make the filling. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sugar, yogurt, almond extract, and salt until well combined. Fold in the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips. Divide among the jars, placing roughly ½ cup filling in each. 

Bake the cheesecake jars. Place the jars in a 9 x 13 pan. Fill the pan with hot water so it reaches ¾ of the way up the jars. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops have set but still jiggle a bit when jostled. Remove the jars from the water bath and transfer to a rack. Cool on the counter for 20 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the cherry compote. Combine the cherries and sugar. Let macerate for 15 minutes. Scrape into a small skillet, and set over medium heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened and most of the liquid has cooked out, about 7 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool. Drizzle and spoon over each cheesecake (with or without the optional cocoa whipped cream referenced in the head note) just before serving.

|| Print the Mini Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Recipe ||

|| Learn More about Annelies Here on Team Yogurt ||

|| Visit Annelies on Her Website ||

Words, photograph + recipe by Annelies Zijderveld 

Garlicky Yogurt with Golden Beets and Dill

Cheryl Sternman RuleComment
Garlicky Yogurt with Golden Beets and Dill | 

Vibrant and versatile, this garlic-flecked, golden beet-sprinkled yogurt is just as good spooned over salmon (or lamb!) as it is scooped up with warm pita. Any variety of beets will do here, of course. Red beets will bleed their bold hue into the dip, turning it bright pink, and these golden gems -- once stirred through -- leave streaks of vivid yellow. Beautiful, tasty, fresh, adaptable, here's a sauce and a dip in one, a summery way to celebrate everything we love about yogurt.

Recipe for Garlicky Yogurt with Golden Beets and Dill

Once roasted and diced, beets last for a good five days in the refrigerator. Do yourself a favor and trim and roast them as soon as you bring them home from the market. If you prep them when they're impeccably fresh, you can sauté the greens with additional garlic to serve alongside.

Makes 4 servings

1-1/4 cups whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup diced, roasted golden beets (see below)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill, plus more for garnish
Olive oil, for drizzling, and flaky salt, for sprinkling
Warm pita, for serving

Combine all ingredients in a beautiful serving bowl (we're partial to our own Team Yogurt bowls, pictured above). Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a tuft of additional dill and some flaky salt. Serve with warm pita or as a sauce for grilled lamb or salmon.

Our favorite way to roast beets:

Lop off greens, leaving 1" stem attached to the beet root/bulb. (Sauté the greens with garlic, splashing to finish with a touch or vinegar or lemon, if desired. Season well.) 

Lightly scrub beets to remove surface grit. Place in an ovenproof glass dish. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Splash a bit of water into the dish. Cover tightly with foil. Transfer to a preheated 375°F oven until a skewer inserted straight through the foil into one of the beets (choose the largest) withdraws with little to no resistance. Timing depends completely on the beets' size, but count on 45 minutes for smaller beets to 75 minutes (or more) for the behemoths.

Carefully remove the foil and let the beets cool until you can handle them comfortably. With the aid of a paring knife, slip off the skins and dice. Cool completely. Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 5 days.

|| Print the Garlicky Yogurt with Golden Beets and Dill Recipe ||

|| Learn More about the Ceramic Bowl Pictured Above || 

Video | How to Make Mocha Crunch Yogurt Bowls

Cheryl Sternman Rule1 Comment

A 45-second video showing how to make a sweet, sophisticated yogurt bowl for dessert.

Want to make this Mocha Crunch Yogurt Bowl? Here's what you'll need:

Homemade or store-bought whole milk Greek yogurt
Melted milk chocolate
Espresso powder
Vanilla extract
Crushed chocolate meringue cookies
Cocoa powder

We're taking a departure from our formal recipe style here on Team Yogurt and keeping this one loose and flexible. In other words, quantities here are completely up to you. You can make the dessert as sweet as you like (by adding more chocolate), and keep the mocha flavor subtle (with a bare sprinkling of espresso powder) or make it more intense. If you can't find the chocolate meringues, use any crushed cookies you like. A dribble of vanilla extract rounds out the flavors and a final dusting of cocoa powder makes it pretty.


|| To purchase the handcrafted ceramic yogurt bowl pictured in the video, visit our shop. ||

|| Many thanks to our friends Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira at Full View Media, who created this video for us. ||

|| Watch Our 1st and 2nd Videos in this series: How to Make Homemade Yogurt and How to Turn Homemade Yogurt into Thick, Strained Greek Yogurt ||

|| Want to share this video? Please use this link: ||


Video | How to Turn Homemade Yogurt into Thick, Strained Greek Yogurt

Cheryl Sternman Rule7 Comments

A one-minute video showing how easy it is to transform loose, whey-filled yogurt into yogurt that's thick and ultrasmooth. 

Click here for a printable pdf of the step-by-step official Yogurt Culture Master Homemade Yogurt Recipe.

To purchase the items seen in the video, including the funnel, jars, and the handcrafted ceramic yogurt bowl seen in the final frame, visit our Shop.

Many thanks to our friends Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira at Full View Media, who created this video for us.

|| Want to share this video? Please use this link: ||

|| Check Out Our First Video in this Series: How to Make Homemade Yogurt ||

Video | How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Cheryl Sternman Rule10 Comments

We're thrilled to bring you this two-minute video showing how to make homemade yogurt from scratch. 

Click here for a printable pdf of the step-by-step, official Yogurt Culture Master Homemade Yogurt Recipe.

To purchase the items seen in the video, including the funnel, the jars, and the handcrafted ceramic yogurt bowls, visit our shop.

Many thanks to our friends Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira at Full View Media, who created this video for us.

|| Watch Our 2nd Video: How to Turn Homemade Yogurt into Thick, Strained Greek Yogurt ||

|| Want to share this video? Please use this link: ||

Maker Profile | Boston Potter Jeremy Ogusky

Cheryl Sternman Rule2 Comments

Why profile a ceramicist on an all-yogurt site? Because Jeremy Ogusky is the craftsman behind our co-branded Team Yogurt | Ogusky Ceramics Yogurt Bowls, currently available in our shop. Understanding a bit more about him may inspire you the way he and his work have inspired me. ~ Cheryl Sternman Rule, Founder, Team Yogurt

Boston Potter Jeremy Ogusky at the Wheel | Photograph © Patrick Daly

Jeremy Ogusky is a Boston-based potter who makes handcrafted bowls, mugs, plates, and fermentation crocks from his home studio in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. But he didn’t start his career as a professional potter.

In the Beginning, a Deep Interest in Health

Raised in Detroit, Ogusky completed his undergrad work at Michigan State, then earned a Master’s in Public Health from Boston University.

“When I used to think of ‘health’ I thought of medicine, because that’s just what I knew. But one day my dad took me to meet a distant cousin who was a public health practitioner. I’d never heard of ‘public health’ before.” Ogusky was intrigued.

Soon, his interests catalyzed around the concept of ‘population health,’ the idea of working towards large-scale change to improve not simply the health of individuals but of entire communities.

Master’s degree in hand, he applied to the Peace Corps, eager to put his graduate degree to practical use. He accepted a position in Lesotho, a small country bordering South Africa on all sides. The size of Maryland with a population just over two million, Lesotho became Ogusky’s home from 2002 to 2004 while he worked on HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives with local government officials.

“At that time,” Ogusky recalls, “mortality was really starting to peak. People were very sick and dying.” HIV and AIDS were “touching all different kinds of people throughout the country. Teachers, taxi drivers, young people, old people, government workers… they were all getting sick. In 2002, there were no doctors doing anti-retroviral treatment. There was testing, but it was limited, and the stigma was really high.”

He continues: “Despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people were living with HIV/AIDS, very few people were public about their status. My primary job was working with the local government to help build capacity and support local ministries to prevent and fight HIV/AIDS.”

By the time he left in 2004, things had improved slightly thanks, in large part, to a new treatment clinic sponsored by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. Even today, Lesotho still has over 300,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDS.

A New Continent

During his Peace Corps years, Ogusky met Siiri Morley, a fellow volunteer, and the two began dating. (They’ve since gotten married.) They stayed in Africa after their Peace Corps service ended. Then, the two relocated to South America, where they settled in Cuenca, Ecuador, for two more years, this time as college teachers. “It was the perfect thing for us to do between southern Africa and returning to the U.S.,” Ogusky says.

Ogusky remained focused on public health both in Ecuador and, later, when the pair moved to Washington, DC. “Siiri worked for a large international development contractor, and I worked for a local community-based nonprofit that did HIV/AIDS prevention.”

When Morley was accepted to a graduate program at Brandeis, the couple moved to the Boston area. Ogusky took a job at Harvard’s Institute for Global Health, but after a year, things changed.

Fully Embracing a Long-Term Love

Despite Ogusky’s consistent work in the public health sphere and deep, authentic interest in that field, he’d long been drawn to clay and found a way to integrate this hobby into his life.

Ogusky had taken a pottery class in high school, in college he was a member of a ceramics community, and even in Ecuador, he’d apprenticed with a third-generation potter. That said, his pursuit of the art always had always taken a backseat to other, more pressing commitments.

“I’d never considered becoming a potter,” he admits. “I always thought I’d remain a hobbyist.”

A year into his job at Harvard, in 2009, Ogusky was let go. And to paraphrase a common saying, when that door closed, a window opened. Wide.

“When I lost my job, my wife really encouraged me to think about ceramics and to take a class at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts on the coast of Maine. It was really beautiful. And even though the two-week class was for professional studio potters, I realized there really wasn’t a secret to becoming a professional potter.”

Ogusky returned from the course re-energized. Seeing this change, his wife encouraged him to make his passion a full-time career.

Jeremy Ogusky with a Collection of His Bowls | Photograph © Brian Samuels Photography 

Life as a Studio Potter

Ogusky spent the next three years at a cooperative studio, renting a 10’ by 10’ space and time at the potter’s wheel. He landed a contract creating fermentation crocks for Williams-Sonoma, bought his own wheel, and eventually moved into a rental space all his own.

Last summer, he and Siiri bought their first home, and Ogusky went all in: He outfitted their basement as his new, full-time potter’s studio. “It’s just me,” he says simply.

But he hardly works as a soloist. Ogusky is a team player in the grandest sense of the term.

A few years ago, he spearheaded the Boston Fermentation Festival, a full day of talks, demonstrations, and culture-swapping (think kefir grains, sourdough mothers, heirloom yogurt cultures) relating to fermentation, that ancient culinary form that has seen a huge renaissance in recent years. It’s an outgrowth of Boston Ferments, an all-volunteer collective that Ogusky helped found.

The Beauty of Collaboration

Collaboration is its own art form, in a way, and its own way of looking at the world. Jeremy Ogusky is a true collaborator, whether working with colleagues in Lesotho, Ecuador, and Washington, DC, with fellow fermenting die-hards in Boston, or with the chefs who commission his beautiful pottery.

Please visit the Team Yogurt | Ogusky Ceramics Yogurt Bowl page to learn about our joint venture.

|| Top Photograph © Patrick Daly Photography ||

|| Bottom Photograph © Brian Samuels Photography ||

Cherry Almond Yogurt Muffins with Semolina and Orange

Cheryl Sternman Rule2 Comments
Cherry Almond Yogurt Muffins with semolina and orange | 

For $6 (and change), you can buy a BodyJ4You® 14G Crystal Belly Button Ring Bling (?) from Amazon, or you can buy a pound of cherries, at least out here in California. I imagine the price may drop as the season progresses, but waiting is a fool's errand. The season is extremely short, and you're better off paying the extra buck or two than missing it altogether. 

That said, quality frozen cherries are nearly indistinguishable from their fresh counterparts in a muffin like this. If you choose to save your market haul for eating out of hand and opt for frozen here, no one will be the wiser. 

Find the semolina near the other flours in larger grocery stores, or grab it from the bulk bins if you're near a Whole Foods. If you end up with a little extra, here are two more spectacular ways for you to combine semolina with yogurt in baking.


Recipe for Cherry Almond Yogurt Muffins with Semolina and Orange

With sugar-crusted tops, these cherry-dappled muffins have a tender crumb thanks to a full cup of yogurt and the addition of both semolina and almond meal. Frozen cherries work just as well here as fresh, so don't hesitate to use the former during the off-season. And if you don't have demerara sugar for the tops, use granulated sugar in its place. Also: No mixer needed!

Makes 12

Soft butter, for greasing the muffin tin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup almond meal
Zest of 1 large orange
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup whole milk yogurt
1-1/2 cups pitted fresh or frozen (unthawed) cherries, rough-chopped
Coarse sugar (such as demerara) for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the upper third. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with soft butter. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the almond meal and orange zest. In a second large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar until smooth and uniform. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and then the almond extract. 

Whisk half the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until incorporated. Whisk in all the yogurt. Finish by folding in the remaining dry ingredients and, finally, the cherries. Do not overwork, but make sure no floury pockets or wet yogurty streaks remain. 

Divide among the greased muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until the muffins are risen, peaked, and good and brown. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring (with the aid of a spoon) to a wire rack to finish cooling.

|| Print the Recipe for Cherry Almond Yogurt Muffins with Semolina and Orange ||

|| More Semolina Recipes: Egyptian Basbousa Cake | Dark Chocolate Ginger Yogurt Scones ||

Annelies Zijderveld's Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits

Annelies ZijderveldComment

Team Yogurt is delighted to welcome Annelies Zijderveld on board as our newest contributor! ~Cheryl

Annelies Zijderveld's Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits | Photograph © Stephanie Shih

Picture the breakfast table. What do you see? 

If a mug of tea and a bowl of yogurt figure into your vision, you’re not alone.

And what happens if the tea and yogurt combine? That question prompted me to take my very real affection for yogurt (plain, whole cow’s milk or goat’s milk, please) and marry it to my unbridled fascination with tea when writing my first cookbook, Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea

I couldn't wait to see what might happen. And I was not disappointed.

If you’ve never tried inviting tea into your yogurt, now's the time. Start by thinking of tea as a spice to expand its possibilities. Here are three simple ways to meld this compatible pair:

  • Dunk, cover, and steep a tea bag in yogurt for several days to make a batch of tea-infused yogurt. 
  • Rip open a tea bag and sprinkle some of the crushed tea leaves into labneh with herbs and aromatics for a dip ideal for carrot sticks.
  • Make your own tea lassi in a blender.  

But here's my favorite way: in a simple tea-infused chia pudding starring matcha green tea, the Japanese tea powder that has reached cult status for its bright green color, bold personality, and zip of caffeine. Overnight, the loose liquids coalesce into pudding thanks to protein-packed chia seeds, which blossom and swell. It's an easy breakfast that can change its layers of fruit with the seasons. It also goes perfectly with yogurt and is especially well-suited to the warm months ahead.


Recipe for Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits 

Reprinted with permission from Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea by Annelies Zijderveld (Andrews McMeel, 2015).

Chia seeds in liquid take on a gelatinous texture perfect for puddings, as in this parfait. Serve the parfaits in juice glasses to show off their layers. 

Makes 4 servings

Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding:
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1 cup whole milk
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
6 teaspoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 fresh ripe peach, pureed or mashed
¾ cup fresh raspberries, pureed or mashed

To make the pudding: Place the matcha in a medium glass bowl. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over low heat to 175°F. Slowly pour in ¼ cup of the milk, whisking vigorously for 1 minute. When the matcha is completely dissolved, whisk in the remaining milk. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk the yogurt into the matcha milk. Stir in the maple syrup and chia seeds. Chia seeds tend to clump so make sure they are all separately immersed. Cover and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, until custardy.

To assemble: Layer in order 1 tablespoons peach, ½ cup chia pudding, 1 tablespoon raspberries.

|| Print the Recipe for Annelies Zijderveld's Matcha Chia Pudding Parfaits ||

|| Purchase Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea ||

|| Learn More About Annelies Here on Team Yogurt ||

|| Visit Annelies Online ||

Photography © Stephanie Shih