Middle Eastern Starters

Last weekend we held a Middle Eastern dinner party. As a starter I made two favourite starters – labne and dukkah. 

I’ve never attempted to make any sort of cheese so I was very much looking forward to making labne. The recipe I used was fine, but I don’t think it called for the natural yoghurt, the main ingredient, to be left to separate for long enough, leaving the labne a little too moist. I’ve included below a much better recipe. The surprising part about making labne is the minimal ingredients involved. You just need time – most of which involves you doing nothing at all. And the dukkah was sooooo simple.  I can’t believe how easy it is – you’ll never buy it again once you’ve made your own!

from taste.com.au

1.5kg thick Greek yoghurt
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
2 garlic cloves
2 cups (500ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek

Place yoghurt in a bowl with 2 teaspoons sea salt and stir to combine. Lay muslin on a workbench, place yoghurt in centre, then gather up muslin sides and tie with string. Suspend the ball over a bowl – we found the best way to do this was to tie the ball to a wooden spoon, then rest the spoon on the top of a bowl, allowing the ball to hang down. Leave to drain in the fridge for 3 days. Discard the whey that has drained out, remove yoghurt to a bowl and discard muslin. Roll yoghurt into golf-sized balls, lay on a baking tray and refrigerate for 3 hours to dry out. Place in a sterilised preserving jar with herbs and garlic, cover with oil and seal. Leave to marinate for 24 hours. Keep for up to 1 week.

from taste.com.au

110g (2/3 cup) hazelnuts
80g (1/2 cup) sesame seeds
2 tbs coriander seeds
2 tbs cumin seeds
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp flaked sea salt (like Maldon brand)
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Crusty bread, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Spread the hazelnuts over a baking tray and cook in preheated oven for 3-4 minutes or until toasted. Rub the hazelnuts between a clean tea towel to remove as much skin as possible.

Place the toasted hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl.

Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Add to the bowl with the hazelnuts.

Place coriander seeds and cumin seeds in frying pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic and seeds begin to pop. Transfer seeds to a mortar and pestle. Pound until finely crushed (alternatively, use a coffee or spice grinder). Add the crushed spices, pepper and salt to the hazelnut mixture and mix well.

Serve dukkah with some extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread.

I love rolling the labne in the dukkah. Yum.

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