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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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The Weekend Project: DIY Yogurt Parfait

May 22nd 06:05pm, 2014

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Take a walk down the dairy aisle, and it’s easy to see that yogurt has become an incredibly popular choice for healthy snacking, dietary supplements and cooking. But your favorite yogurt can last much longer than your morning breakfast. Making your own is easy and economical; all you need is milk and a container of freshest, youngest yogurt you can find.

Yogurt has been a staple in Turkish, central Asian and Balkan diets for centuries. Turkish immigrants brought it to the United States as early as mid-1700s, but it didn’t become popular in this country until the 1940s when Daniel Carasso took over a small yogurt factory in the Bronx and renamed it Dannon. They added fruit preserves and marketed their “sundae-style yogurt” with great success.

 

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Yogurt is made simply by inoculating milk in order to grow all that healthy bacteria. A starter of live active culture containing Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophiles – in other words, yogurt – is added to warm milk. These bacteria grow and multiply overnight in a warm water bath, and in the morning, that spa treatment has yielded yogurt magic.

 

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Granola is one of the most popular add-ins for yogurt, and it was a staple in my childhood. A twist on yet another boring bowl of oatmeal, this treat was dressed with varied sweeteners and mixed with a sundry of dried fruits, nuts or – if we were really lucky – coconut and chocolate. When I was pregnant with twins years later and craving copious amounts of the stuff, I was amused to learn one of my key ingredients – wheat germ – is a leading source of B vitamins and folic acid.

Once you master the individual elements, making a completely DIY parfait is a snap. The combination of homemade yogurt, granola and simple fruit compote tastes spectacular, provides a wealth of nutrition and energy, and is easy on the wallet. The best part: The elements will keep for weeks if properly stored – that is if you can hide them from your family!

 

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DIY Yogurt Parfait

The Game Plan
Day 1: Make the yogurt.
Day 2: Store the yogurt. Make the granola. Make the fruit compote.

The Shopping List*
10 oz. fresh or frozen berries
2 tsp. cornstarch
1¼ cup honey
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 lemon
10 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flax seed
2 cups raisins
½ gallon whole milk
4 to 5 oz. unopened, plain yogurt with live active cultures

* This list assumes you have vegetable oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon and kosher salt at hand in your kitchen. If not, you will need to purchase these items, too.

 

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Homemade Yogurt
Makes 2 quarts
Recipe from Dr. David Fankhauswer, courtesy of Saint Louis University chef Steve Jenkins

½ gallon whole milk
4 to 5 oz. plain, unopened yogurt containing live active cultures

Day 1: Sterilize 2 1-quart mason jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let cool on a clean towel. Fill a cooler with water and ice and place it near the stove.
• Pour the milk into a large stockpot and gently warm it over low heat to 180 degrees. Do not let the milk boil. Place the pot, uncovered, into the ice bath and let it chill until it reaches 120 degrees.
• Remove 1 cup of milk and pour it into a large bowl. Add the yogurt and mix well. Mix the thickened liquid into the large pot of milk to inoculate it, stirring until completely incorporated. Pour the inoculated milk into the sterile jars and seal.
• Discard the ice bath and place the jars of milk into the empty cooler. Heat a large pot of water to 120 degrees. Add the warm water just to the tops of the jars in the cooler. Close and let it sit at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
Day 2: Remove the quart jars from the cooler. The bacteria has done its work; they now contain yogurt. Yogurt will keep, sealed, in the refrigerator up to 2 months.

 

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Fruit Compote
Make 1 pint

10 oz. frozen or fresh berries
2 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup honey
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon

• Whisk the cornstarch into ½ cup water to create a slurry. Add it and the remaining ingredients to a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries release their juices and the sauce begins to gently boil. Continue cooking until the sauce is thick and all traces of cornstarch have dissolved.
• Remove from heat and let cool. Fruit compote will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for several weeks.

 

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Homemade Granola
Makes 1 gallon

½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
10 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup flax seed
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 cups raisins

• Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
• In a large stockpot, warm the oil, honey and vanilla extract over low heat, stirring until combined and viscous.
• Remove from the heat and add the rolled oats, wheat germ, flax seed cinnamon and salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, evenly coating the oat mixture with the oil-honey mixture.
• Divide the mixture between 2 sheet pans and spread it evenly. Bake 25 minutes, stirring and rotating the trays halfway through.
• Let cool, then stir in the raisins. Granola will keep at room temperature in zip-top bags for several weeks.

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky

By Anne Marie Lodholz

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