Soft Cheese and Tofu

Two very simple recipes to make your own soft cheese or tofu, to use in baking and for dips and spreads.



This soft cheese is called Lebneh in the Middle East, where it is made with yoghurt, and Paneer in India where milk is used. In both recipes you can substitute soya products, with a soft tofu being the end product.

The flavour of this cheese can be slightly acidic, particularly when yoghurt is the base. This makes it suitable for savoury foods. Try adding it to vegetable, bean and meat dishes to provide a creamy texture. For sweet dishes add a little honey, maple syrup or stevia; or mix it with fruit, dried or fresh (recommended as a spread on toast).

Lebneh, the yoghurt based cheese, requires no cooking. To theyoghurt a little salt is added and it is left to strain for over 12 hours. Left longer, 24-36 hours, it will become firmer.

For Paneer the milk must be boiled and some acid is added (I use lemon juice although a mild vinegar is also suitable). A further 12-24 hours is then required for the separation of the solids (the cheese) from the liquid (the whey).

Both styles of cheese, when refrigerated, will last a couple of weeks.

Diets for which Soft Cheese and Tofu is suitable:

Diabetic, Dairy Free, Fodmap, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Nut Free and Vegetarian and Vegan. (Dairy based soft cheese is suitable for many on a Fodmap diet because the lactose is removed in the whey of the milk and yoghurt. It is preferable to strain the milk or yoghurt for 24 hrs to minimised the lactose present. Follow similar guidelines for making tofu.)

Ingredients – Lebneh

Preparation: 5 mins + 12-24 hrs | Serves: 1 cup

1 litre yoghurt*
1/2 tsp salt

Method

COMBINE the yoghurt and salt.
LINE a sieve with muslin (J cloth) and place over a bowl.
POUR the yoghurt into the lined sieve.
REFRIGERATE for 12-24 hours as the liquid drains. (If using a small bowl you may need to discard the liquid during this process.)
REMOVE the cheese and refrigerate. It remains fresh for a couple of weeks.

Notes

* Use dairy (not Dairy Free, Vegan) or soyayoghurt as appropriate.


Ingredients – Paneer

Preparation: 5 mins + 12-24 hrs | Cook: 5 mins | Serves: 1 cup

1 litre (4 cups or 34 fl oz) milk*
1/2 cup lemon juice**

Method

BOIL the milk. (Stir gently to prevent it scorching and to remove any ‘skin’ that may form.)
ADD the lemon juice, stir and allow it to stand for 5 minutes as the curds form.
LINE a sieve with muslin (J cloth) and place over a bowl.
POUR the curdled milk into the lined sieve.
REFRIGERATE for 12-24 hours as the liquid drains. (If using a small bowl you may need to discard the liquid during this process.)
REMOVE the cheese and refrigerate. It remains fresh for a couple of weeks.

Notes

* Use dairy (not Dairy Free, Vegan) or soya milk.
** Replace lemon juice with mild vinegar, although lemon is a softer flavour.


Serve

– Flavour with spices: crushed coriander or cumin seeds, citrus zest, pinch dried chilli or smoked paprika.
– Add to a salad.
– Add to vegetables to make them creamy.
– Spread on bread or biscuits and sprinkle with Dukkah.
– Make a savoury spread with chives or dill to accompany smoked salmon.
– Sweeten with vanilla, dried or fresh fruit and use as a spread; or add to a bowl of fruit and drizzle with honey (not Fodmap or Vegan) or maple syrup.

Dishes to serve Soft Cheese with:

Beetroot Riata
Marmalade d’Oignon Rouge
Fruit Crumble

3 thoughts on “Soft Cheese and Tofu

  1. Pingback: Sweet Potato Rosti

Leave a Reply