Have you noticed that a lot of people are moving away from cow’s milk at the moment? When I was doing the smoothie challenge nearly every recipe contained coconut milk, almond milk, nearly anything but cow. I know a lot of that is because people are either trying to eat a more plant based diet or trying to lower their saturated fat or whatever, but when St Helen’s Farm offered us the opportunity to take their ‘vary your dairy’ challenge and give goats’ milk products a go, I was keen to dive in and give them a try.
I’m quite confident in the kitchen and really happy making lots of things from scratch: pastry, cakes, pies, jams and more. But when Yeo Valley challenged me to make my own yogurt for their blog, I was slightly perturbed – I mean, the masters of organic yogurt production challenging little old me to play them at their own game?
First of all, I felt at a distinct disadvantage – I don’t have the beautiful herds of British Friesians (all Yeo Valley born and bred – they haven’t bought a cow for over 20 years), neither do I have acres of lush organic pasture or the sparkling little stainless steel factory in the Mendips of which Yeo Valley are so rightly proud. Still, they gave me a little pot of their own yogurt to get me going and, being a gung-ho sort of gal, I set to work.
Yogurt making (on a very small scale) is actually quite easy. In the Yeo Valley Cookbook (The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook – out now), Sarah Mayor describes the process step by step. It’s basically heating milk, mixing in bio yogurt and waiting, but everything must be scrupulously clean and you do really need a thermometer to get it right.
And then the fun really begins. We got to choose our flavourings from what we had in the fridge and cupboards: honey and cinnamon, cherry and banana, honey and almond, cherry and almond, and my own creation: cherry and basil yogurt (no, don’t laugh, really, it works).
By this time of course, we were very very full up, but it’s a fab thing to do at home (kids will love it, watching how the milk thickens is like magic) and you can carry on and strain the yogurt more to make it thicker, or add salt, herbs and all sorts of other things to make a lovely soft cream cheese too (more details are in the book). Plus, of course, once you’ve made it, you can repeat the process and make more – meaning that – in principal – you’d never have to buy yogurt again (except, of course, I’m addicted to Yeo Valley’s Lemon Curd yogurt so that would never happen).
Now if only I can sell my cherry and coriander yogurt idea to Yeo Valley…
So yesterday we went down to lovely Blagdon for our Yeo Valley meeting. There are lots of exciting things afoot at YVHQ, many of which I can’t tell you about because I’d have to kill you as they’re very top secret, but I CAN tell you that we ate lots and lots of yogurt and that you’re going to adore all the fabulous new products that they’re bringing out. I’ve got some brilliant new things to share with you over 2013 and some amazing giveaways coming up too, so don’t feel too bad.
The really thrilling news from yesterday, though, was that the refurbishment of YVHQ is finished, and darned fine it’s looking too. Designed by Sarah Mead, who also designed their gorgeous tea rooms, the interiors are fun, quirky and quintessentially Yeo Valley. Here’s a sneaky peak:
The lovely chaps at Yeo Valley are always coming up with nice ways to use their 100% yeoganic yogurts. Recently they’ve been dabbling in smoothies (ooer) and have come up with some fab yogurty recipes – perfect for breakfast times, especially if you’re in a hurry, trying to be a bit healthier, or even just not mad keen on eating breakfast.
Such is the SHEER EXCITEMENT at the new smoothies down in the Yeo Valley, they’ve decided that they want everyone making them and have teamed up with the wondrous KitchenAid. From this weekend, you’ll be able to find a special code on promotional pots of Yeo Valley’s Natural and Fruited Big Pot Yeogurts which can be entered into Yeo Valley’s website or Facebook page. 1,000 (I know, right? 1000!) lucky people will win KitchenAid artisan blenders, and there are 10,000 gadget sets (they include a whisk, peeler, can-opener, ice cream scoop and spatula) too.
If you’re not one of the lucky ones, I’ve snaffled an extra blender away for you, my dearest reader. Just leave a comment. Any comment (tell me what smoothies you like… what you have for breakfast, hell, you can even tell me what colour drawers you have on… whatever takes your fancy) and one lucky person will be chosen at random to win the blender.
The small print: This competition ends on Monday 9th July. Winner will be chosen at random after this date and will receive one Empire Red KitchenAid blender. UK only. No cash alternative.
************THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED – WELL DONE TO ‘ANONOMUM’!!****************
l love cream. But with double cream containing 48% fat, it’s not exactly your healthy option. Fine for the occasional treat, but not for every day. So how can we still make all the lovely creamy recipes and sauces that we love whilst reducing some of the calories and producing a lighter, fresher end result?
Well, last time I was there, the Yeo Valley chaps set me a bit of a challenge: have a go at substituting yogurt in some of my favourite creamy recipes. And you know me, I’m always up for a challenge in the kitchen.
In baking, dressings and marinades you can add yogurt straight from the fridge. If you’re cooking with the lower fat yogurt varieties, you do run the risk, as with single cream, that they will ‘split’ (ie curdle) if you place them straight into a very hot environment. You can counter this by using the ‘standard’ versions rather than the low fat (still much lower fat then cream) and bringing the yogurt up to room temperature before you cook with it.
I used Yeo Valley’s Greek Style Natural Yogurt which has 9.5% fat (plus a nice long sell-by date) so it’s still got a nice creamy finish and isn’t too sharp-tasting. I’ve taken to keeping a couple of pots in the fridge as I use them at breakfast time, with fruit and muesli, as well as for cooking.
I had a go at cooking some of my favourite creamy recipes, substituting yoghurt instead. Here’s how I got on:
Spaghetti carbonara (or yoghetti carbonara – see what I did there?)
Snip a pack of smoked streaky bacon (outdoor reared, please) or pancetta into strips and fry in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until nice and crisp. Set pan aside on a low heat (you can do this while the spaghetti cooks).
Cook 300g spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water.
Meanwhile, mix a large tablespoon of Greek yoghurt with two eggs and a splash of milk, then stir in a big handful of grated Parmigiano or Pecorino.
When the spaghetti’s cooked, drain and dump it into the bacon. Pour over the yogurt mixture and toss to combine.
To be honest, once we’d added Parmesan, we could hardly taste the difference. Slightly sharper in flavour but still yummy. Fussy Death Wish Dude didn’t even notice and hoovered it down, and the Prof said that he’d ‘noticed something a bit different’ when I told him afterwards. Success.
We also tried:
Ice Cream: AMAZING success here. We actually liked the flavour of the ice cream better with the yogurt. Especially good with fruity and citrussy flavours and the bonus is here that you don’t need an ice cream machine. Try folding lemon curd through Greek yogurt and adding a grating of fresh ginger for extra zing, or just fold through your favourite fruit compote (Yeo Valley do some lovely flavours) before freezing. Take the ‘ice cream’ out of the freezer to soften up a little before serving.
As a dressing: I mixed the yogurt half and half with mayonnaise, added a squeeze of lemon and a handful of herbs and served it with smoked haddock fishcakes. Delicious.
Scones – totally yummy and the yogurt keeps them lovely and tender.
‘Well go on, then’, they said, ‘feel free’.
So I did.
The thing that’s so appealing is that you get to MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESE. Yup, you read that right. It’s really simple (great fun to do with kids) and the end result is really quite magical! In 24 hours you have your very own ‘curd’ cheese, which cuts out the need for buying cream cheese (a big bonus) and uses fat free yogurt (an even bigger bonus). Obviously I then went and completely ruined it by making it into a chocolate version, but hey, you can use fruit too.
Basically, all you do is take one of their pots of fat free natural yogurt (the big 500g ones – soon to be in the pretty new packaging I showed you), stir in a pinch of salt, then just pour the whole tub into a sieve that’s been lined with a muslin or clean tea towel.
You sit it over a bowl and 24 hours later – hey presto – you’ve got a soft cheese curd just begging to be turned into a soft, velvety cheesecake!
I mixed the curd with double cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract as in the recipe, but then after it was whisked, I stirred in 100g melted dark chocolate (left to cool a little). The result is so easy and very lush, although we were a divided house… de brevren and I loved it, but English Dad thought the slight tartness didn’t go with chocolate, so next time it’ll be the fruity version.
For the full recipe of the fruity version, click on http://www.yeovalleyorganic.co.uk/recipes/jaimes-strawberry-rhubarb-cheesecake/
So this weekend is the big X Factor final. As you know I work with Yeo Valley and I’ve really enjoyed their ads this year – their ‘boy band’, The Churned, has frankly been better than a lot of the actual acts!
If you missed it (or just love The Churned), the advert will be playing during the X Factor ad break this Saturday. And on Sunday, the winner of the Yeo Valley singalong competition is going to be announced (it better be me or there’ll be trouble) during the ad break too.
Anyhoo, aside from creating boy bands for the X Factor, Yeo Valley are actually quite good at making yogurt as well (who knew?). Their most recent creation, the rather lovely and very seasonal Spiced Apple, is utterly gorgeous. I used it to very good effect in this simple yoghurt cake. You don’t have to use a posh bundt tin like this, but I think you’ll agree it does look rather nice and Christmassy. It would also be rather lush with one of their other flavours – they’ve got a new pear and butterscotch one too. Mmmmmmm.
To make the cake, you’ll need:
125ml rapeseed oil
450g self raising flour
300g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
250g Yeo Valley Spiced Apple yogurt
For the yogurt frosting:
4 tbsp Yeo Valley Spiced Apple yogurt
100g white chocolate
So to make the cake, just give the eggs a quick whisk. Add in the rapeseed oil and whisk again until combined. Then add in all the dry ingredients and finally stir in the yogurt.
If you’re using a bundt tin, make sure you give it a good spritz of cake release spray (Dr Oetker is very good) to make sure you can get it out afterwards. If you’re using a normal cake tin, just give the tin a quick rub with some oil.
Bake for around half an hour at gas 4/180 degrees.
To make the frosting, just melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, then just take it off the heat and mix in the yogurt. Pour all over the cake and stuff into face.