This is one of my favorite appetizer/maza dishes. Guests delight in its exotic yet familiar taste. To make it even prettier, when I have chives in blossom, I sprinkle some of their lavender flowers over the top along with the chives.—Victoria Jenanyan Wise
For the yogurt cheese
1 1/2 quarts yogurt
2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the marinated cheese balls
2 cups yogurt cheese (above)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Crackers, for serving
Make the yogurt cheese
1. Drain the yogurt by lining a colander with a double layer of cheesecloth, making sure to have a generous drape over the sides. Set the colander in a bowl that holds its bottom well above the bottom of the bowl. Place the yogurt in the colander and set aside at room temperature to drain until reduced to 4 cups, 2 to 4 hours, depending on the consistency of the yogurt to begin with. Use right away, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. Stir the salt into the drained yogurt in the colander. Cover and refrigerate to continue draining. Leave for 12 hours (overnight) to achieve a cream cheese texture. Leave for 24 hours to achieve a firmer, chevre-like texture. Be sure to pour off the whey accumulated in the bowl whenever it reaches up to the bottom of the colander.
Make the marinate cheese balls
1. Divide the cheese into 13 portions and roll each into a walnut-size ball. Set the balls, without touching, on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover loosely with paper towels and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours, until firm.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, dill, and Aleppo pepper. Transfer the balls to a deep dish or a high-lipped platter, all in one layer. Pour the oil mixture over the balls, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 1 week.
3. To serve, sprinkle the chives over the top and accompany with crackers.
Recipe © 2004 Victoria Jenanyan Wise.. All rights reserved.