Skyr, labné, ayran… dairy products from here and elsewhere are on the rise, but good old yoghurt (the first fermentations of milk date back to the Neolithic) are still popular. Made from cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk, yoghurts are ideal for breakfast or as a light and healthy dessert. Artisan cheese makers also offer yoghurt with very original flavours: with spices, with pumpkin, etc.
Memory of madzoune, the Armenian cousin of yogurt
A childhood memory comes to mind. Every three days my Armenian grandmother Payloun prepares madzun, a kind of yoghurt. After heating the milk, she poured it into a large stoneware bowl and she asked me to establish the precise moment in which to mix a glass of yogurt from the previous preparation. If this step occurred when the milk was too hot, the result was too runny. And if it was too cold, the chemistry didn’t work.
Then, courageously, I tremblingly plunged my little finger, the most sensitive of the five, into this sea of milk. Inevitably, the first two or three times didn’t go well and I lifted my little finger under a trickle of cool water. And, when the magic moment arrived, when my little finger withstood five seconds of immersion in hot milk, everything went very fast. My grandmother mixed the yogurt with the milk, put a lid on it and covered the big plate with an old wool sweater.
The next day, as the whole family was savoring the smooth madzoune, I glanced at the little redness on the tip of my little finger, evidence that I had tamed the milk to become yogurt.
Top tips for successful yoghurt
For a long time I have adopted the yogurt maker. The first models with very thick saucepans and metal lids to maintain heat date back to the 1930s. It was in 1974 that the famous Seb company invented the electric yogurt maker.
To find the right recipe, to obtain the desired consistency, still or whipped, follow the advice of Pierre Coulon and Adèle Desachy who sign an exciting book, I prepare my yoghurts, published by Eyrolles. The first opened the Laiterie de Paris, the only dairy in the capital located in the Goutte d’Or district. A large window allows you to discover the back room, its glittering machinery and all the gestures that allow meticulously elaborated cheeses and yoghurts; as for Adèle Desachy, she is a journalist and dairy products specialist at France Télévisions.
In addition to the historical anecdotes – Francesco Iumsuffering from intestinal disorders, he was treated by the personal physician of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who made him consume fermented sheep’s milk and cured him in a few weeks – the book details all the steps to make delicious yoghurt explaining the ferments, the necessary equipment, tips for adding ingredients (fruit, honey, etc.) and more than 30 recipes.
► Yogurt infused with lemon leaves
Recipe taken from I prepare my yoghurts, by Pierre Coulon and Adèle Desachy, photographs Nathalie Carnet, published by Eyrolles.
For 6-8 yoghurts
1 organic lemon
1 liter of milk
70 g of sugar
4 lemon leaves
Start by grating the lemon zest.
In a saucepan, mix the milk with the zest, sugar and lemon leaves. Heat everything to 90°C, then let it cool down to 45°C.
Remove the leaves. Mix with yogurt and pour into jars. Leave to ferment for 4 hours at 45°C or 6 hours if the fermentation temperature is lower.
Then put in the fridge. Wait a few hours and enjoy!
► Chicken meatballs, beetroot yogurt and sesame seeds
2 natural yoghurts mixed
500 g of chicken fillets
1 c. Flour
100 g of breadcrumbs
2 pinches of cumin
1 small cooked beetroot
1 c. Sesame seeds
3 cl of peanut oil
Chop the chicken fillets with the fine grate. In a salad bowl, mix the meat with the egg, breadcrumbs, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well and then form balls the size of a walnut. Sprinkle them with flour, roll them up to flavor them well then sauté them in a pan with peanut oil, turning them regularly so that they brown evenly.
In the meantime, blend the beetroot and pass it through a sieve. Mix this puree with the blended yoghurts. Salt and pepper to your liking. Put some of this puree in the center of the plates, arrange three or four meatballs and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
► Mango and white chocolate yogurt trifle
2 yoghurts mixed
250 g of very ripe mangoes
100 g of white chocolate
10 cl liquid fresh cream
10cl of milk
100g muesli (organic groceries)
4 sponge cake discs the size of the glass used
Cut each sponge disc in half horizontally to obtain two thinner discs. Insert a disc of sponge cake on the bottom of the glasses, sprinkle half of the granola in four glasses. Cover with the diced mango and creamed natural yoghurt.
Chop the white chocolate and melt it over very low heat with the milk, stirring constantly. With electric whisks, whip the liquid cream previously placed in the freezer for about ten minutes to make it easier to whip the cream. Gently fold in the melted white chocolate into the whipped cream with a spatula. Cover the mangoes and yoghurt with this foam, place another sponge cake disc, the creamed yoghurt then the white chocolate foam.
Refrigerate for at least an hour. Sprinkle with muesli and enjoy this creamy and fresh dessert.