Let’s be honest: you’re going to have the most fun with this week’s recipes if you’re making your own yogurt at home. You generate a fair amount of whey every time you make yogurt. The simple step of pouring yogurt, homemade or store bought, into a strainer and letting it sit creates thick, creamy Greek-style yogurt by separating out the watery whey. As you read last week’s post, you waste that whey by pouring it down the drain. Instead, use the whey left after draining yogurt as a replacement for buttermilk or even regular milk, like I do in this week’s recipes.
If you’re not yet making yogurt at home, you can still get in on the fun. My recipe for Fresh Yogurt and my tips for making better yogurt will set you on the right path. For a hands-on experience, bring me into your kitchen for a workshop. Once you discover how easy and affordable it is to make good yogurt at home, you’ll be all set to stir your leftover whey into amazing mashed potatoes or bake it into flavorful muffins.
Ready to give the muffins a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 main ingredients plus baking staples and spices.
1. Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately.
2. Combine everything into a batter with the fruit.
3. Bake and enjoy.
Yogurt Whey–Berry Muffins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup huckleberries, fresh or frozen but not defrosted
In a large glass measuring cup, combine the yogurt whey, melted butter, and vanilla; add the egg and stir until well mixed. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Fold in the berries until coated with the flour mixture. Pour the liquids into the flour mixture; stir with a fork until just combined.
Butter 12 muffin cups and fill each to the top with batter. Bake at 400°F for 15–20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Pull the muffins from the oven, and let them rest for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan. Makes 12 muffins.
Tips & Tricks
- Whole milk, with its higher butterfat, produces more yogurt and less whey than reduced fat milk. Draining the yogurt while it’s still warm releases more whey, but if you come up short, just add enough yogurt to equal 1-1/2 cups. Or skip to the next recipe, which uses less whey (see below).
- Want to go eggless? Just replace the egg with an extra 1/4 cup of yogurt whey. Baking powder gives plenty of lift to the muffins. Baking soda gives an extra boost and encourages browning.
- Huckleberries are the mini chocolate chips of the berry world: They pack a lot of flavor in a tiny package that fold beautifully into muffins and other quick breads. But plenty of other berries and fruits can be worked into these muffins. Dice large ones, like strawberries and peaches.
- Frozen berries and fruit pair perfectly with muffins and other quick breads because they hold their shape and their color. Add them straight from the freezer to the batter. Fresh fruits are even more delicious but need a gentle hand as you fold them in; otherwise, they bleed into the flour.
- You can also make these muffins as an excuse to use up homemade jam—sweet or savory. Fill each muffin cup halfway, add a teaspoon of jam in the center, and then spoon the remaining batter on top.
- Muffins keep a couple of days at room temperature. After that, move them to the fridge for up to week. To hoard them, freeze for a few months.
Twice as Tasty
Baked goods—from biscuits to sourdough pizza—easily absorb yogurt whey. It’s an excellent substitute for Cultured Buttermilk, which has a similar consistency and tang. Yogurt whey, which is both salty and sweet, can also slip into savory dishes.
The starch in potatoes readily soaks up yogurt whey. By swapping whey for milk in mashed potatoes, you get more bang for your buck and more tingle for your taste buds. Don’t take my word for it: just work the whey into your favorite recipe for mashers. Or you can jump straight to my upgrade. The sweet-tart bite of yogurt whey mellows enough that you can work salty anchovies, creamy roasted garlic, and onion caramelized on the grill or in the sauté pan into the steaming spuds.
Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 main ingredients plus the bonus flavors of onion, anchovy, and garlic to make amazing mashers.
1. Boil the potatoes.
2. Create the flavor blend.
3. Mash together and enjoy.
Mashed Potatoes with Yogurt Whey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium fresh or grilled and frozen onion, finely chopped
1 2-ounce can anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
4 cloves Roasted Garlic
1/2 cup Fresh Yogurt whey
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons minced scallions or onion tops (optional)
Clean the potatoes and cut them into 1- to 2-inch chunks. In a pot of cold water, bring them to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork, before draining.
In a large, nonreactive saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, over moderately low heat for 5–10 minutes, until softened and, if fresh, starting to brown. Stir in the anchovies and garlic, cooking for about 30 seconds, until melted. Stir in the yogurt whey, season with pepper, and bring to a simmer. Add the boiled potatoes; mash until smooth and warmed through. Serve hot, sprinkled with scallions or onion tops, if desired. Serves 6.
Tips & Tricks
- I give a quick-boil recipe here, but you can prepare the potatoes as I do for salad: Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and let sit covered for up to an hour. I love this technique when we’re sailing or camping.
- The type of potato you use seriously affects the texture of your mashers. Starchy russet potatoes easily break down, making them light and fluffy. Thin-skinned yellow and white potatoes have less starch, making them creamy and buttery when mashed. Waxy red and fingerling potatoes don’t entirely break down no matter how long you cook them. Rinsing the potato chucks under cold water before and after cooking will remove some of the starch, no matter what type of potato you use.
- I love rustic mashed potatoes: slightly chunky, full of skins, and rich in garlic. For smooth mashers, run the cooked potatoes, peel and all, through a ricer like you would for gnocchi. You can puree the other flavors—onion, anchovies, garlic—in a food processor before mashing them in.
- Compared with Yogurt Whey–Berry Muffins, you need little whey to make this dish. I mash up these potatoes when I lightly drain yogurt or put most of the whey to another use, like a smoothie or sauce.
- By all means, serve anchovy-laced mashers under your choice of gravy and meat. They also work well with vegetarian and fish dishes. I’ve paired them with Roasted Beets, Grilled Asparagus, Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Oil, and even basted farm-fresh eggs and Small-Batch Hollandaise. Top with a dollop of Green Tomato Chutney or Grilled Tomatillo Salsa for a fancier side.
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