I must admit that I’ve cheated slightly when it comes to the third round of the Weekend Cookbook Challenge hosted by Alicat of Something So Clever. You’re supposed to pick a new recipe from a book that’s been languishing in a corner of your home somewhere. Technically, this book has been languishing on The Overburdened Bookshelf. But I actually rescued it about a month ago from my cookbook jungle and flipped to a recipe that I’d wanted to try for a long time.

Which cookbook, you ask? The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

What recipe, you ask? Orange Yogurt.

Why haven’t I used this cookbook more often, you ask? Because every time I look at it I am reminded of Ina Garten’s kitchen and I am forced to suppress pangs of overwhelming jealousy.

What made me finally change my mind, you ask? A renewed interest in yogurt.

Lately, I’ve been reading an awful lot about the health benefits of yogurt. Apparently the "friendly" bacteria that live in yogurt, which is a form of fermented milk, are very good at protecting our intestinal tracts. It’s also an excellent source of important nutrients like calcium.

Oh yes … and it tastes good. I have always loved the slight tartness of yogurt. It’s versatility is also impressive. You can eat yogurt at any time of the day. You can use it in both savoury cooking and in baking. You can add a variety of foods to yogurt including fruit and nuts. It’s fairly inexpensive, and you can even make yogurt at home.

I’m not sure if it’s because my bones have been thirsting for more calcium lately, or maybe it’s because my tastes have changed, but I’ve really been craving yogurt of late. And every once in awhile my mind would flutter back to an episode of The Barefoot Contessa that I saw where She-of-the-Kitchen-That-I-Envy prepared a recipe for Orange Yogurt.

It was very simple. A container of plain low-fat yogurt was placed in a sieve lined with cheesecloth and allowed to drain overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, the thickened yogurt was mixed with the zest of an orange, freshly squeezed orange juice, nuts, raisins, honey and vanilla extract. How hard is that?

Not having any cheesecloth handy, I used paper towels, which worked just fine. While I’ve tried this recipe with many different types of yogurt, the one I use most often is a brand called Liberty, which is made in Quebec. I like to use the organic plain yogurt that contains 2.5 per cent milk fat. Granted that may not qualify as "low-fat", but we all have our little indulgences!

Dscn1232_1I am always surprised at how much liquid drains from the yogurt. This time around I decided to measure the liquid. I was surprised to see that 2/3 of a cup had drained from a container of 750 grams of yogurt. And just as soon as I finish marvelling at how much liquid drained from the yogurt, I begin salivating at the sight of the thick and creamy deliciousness that is left behind.

I add the zest and juice of an orange and about a 1/4 cup of honey. I also like to add nuts … lots of them. My current favourites are walnuts and slivered almonds. I omit the raisins, but do sometimes add chopped dried fruit. I’ve tried apricots and figs, but this time around I used dried prunes, which were delicious. While I have added vanilla extract in the past, coconut fiend that I am, I’ve been using a few drops of coconut extract recently. To further indulge my coconut tooth, I will add a bit of dried (or fresh) flaked coconut if I have some on hand. I love the contrast in flavours between the coconut and the orange. I give everything a good stir and for the next few days, I have the most delightful breakfast you can imagine. What a perfect way to start a weekend morning.

"Orange" you lovely? You bet you are!


Orange and Coconut Yogurt

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

  • Dscn1228_11 container of plain yogurt (750 grams;whichever brand you like; whatever level of fat content you like)
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup prunes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut (I use dried but if you can find fresh … be my guest!)
  1. Dscn1224_1Line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels. Spoon the yogurt into the sieve and place in a large pot in the refrigerator to drain overnight.
  2. Remove the yogurt from the sieve and place in a large bowl. Add the orange zest, orange juice and honey and mix well.
  3. Add the nuts and prunes, mix well.
  4. Finish by adding the coconut extract and flaked coconut. Mix well and cover and refrigerate for an hour before serving.
  5. Enjoy!

Note:  This recipe will yield approximately 3 cups of yogurt.