5-min Creamy Feta Dip

creamy feta dip spread

Hors d’oeuvre? Warm, a little to the East. Antipasto? You’re getting there, but further eastwards. Mezze – now there you are!

Mediterranean mezze or meze, typical in the Balkans and the Near East, is a selection of small appetizer dishes just like the more renowned French and Italian varieties. Hot or cold, spicy or savory, served at the beginning of a multi-course meal or a meal in its own right, meze is a social event – you are not expected to finish every dish, but rather share at ease.

The recipe I have for you today is meze at its best: not only it is a total no-brainer to make, but also ready in under 5 and full of flavor. You might even have all the ingredients at home as we speak, and hopefully also the wine to go with it!

Fact: I am a feta addict (but you already know that). And after careful and completely unscientific observation of people, I came to realize it’s not just me. So meet your new way to obsess over feta cheese: a smooth, tangy spread Greeks call Kopanisti.

Base your end-of-summer party formula around this dip and lots of complimentary fresh veggies (think zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, celery sticks) and freshly toasted baguette or crusty ciabatta. Seriously, eff those carbs! Just slather on.

So, without further ado, here it is. Because you can never have too many easy, cheesy recipes up your sleeve! 🙂

Creamy Feta Dip

  • Difficulty: easy
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The taste of the Mediterranean in a schmear that’s so so easy to make.

Ingredients

500 g feta or similar white cheese

1 cup sour cream

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil to garnish

optional: lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crushed garlic

Directions

  1. Use a food processor, or mash feta with a fork in a medium bowl.
  2. Season and mix in other ingredients.
  3. Garnish generously with olive oil.
  4. Serve with warm, toasted slices of baguette or ciabatta, or as a dip with raw vegetable chunks.

creamy feta dip spread

creamy feta dip spread

Love,

Fruzsi

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Baked Ricotta, the Appetizer You’re About to Fall For

baked ricotta

When I told you guys my plans for at-home cheesemaking and the culinary course I’ve attended, I said I’d report the results – if any – of my attempts. Well, I’m here to make good on that promise, and I’m topping it off with a recipe which defines easy entertaining.

So, ricotta. I was surprised to learn that behind the posh Italian name (simply meaning re-cooked by the way), you’ll find the very same dairy product we call orda, urda or vurda in Central-Eastern Europe. It’s a creamy, neutral tasting fresh cheese made from whey, the leftover of cheesemaking.

I don’t exactly know why, but only a few supermarkets carry it around here and it’s quite expensive for what it is. But good news! Ricotta is easy to make at home and a great secondary use for the whey which still has a lot of the goodness of milk in it, and would therefore be a waste to discard of.

For this fresh cheese, all you need to do is heat the whey from 5 litres (about 1.3 gallons) of milk to 85-92°C (right below boiling) and add 5 g (1 tsp) citric acid. Turn the heat off and wait for the proteins to coagulate: after a few minutes you’ll notice tiny “flakes” floating in the greenish-yellowish liquid. Pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth and wait a few hours for the curds to strain. This amount of whey yields around 1 cup of fresh ricotta.

I like eating it as-is, but you may find this dairy to be a little bland. That means it’s a blank page and you can flavor the sh*t out of it! Wether you make or buy your ricotta, the following cheese number is a hugely versatile dish you can whip up in a blink of an eye even ahead of time, and play around with spices and other additions to suit your fancy.

Rich, creamy and indulgent, baked ricotta will rise nicely in the baking dish. Like a fancy soufflé, just easier – no need to worry about your folding technique. Only a few ingredients, but a gourmet addition to your repertoire.

baked ricotta

baked ricotta

Your baked ricotta will somewhat collapse after taking it out the oven but this is only natural, the steam holding it up evaporates. Serve warm on fresh baguette or as a dip with crackers.

baked ricotta

Here I made it with basil and oregano, but since then a few other variations emerged from my oven: sage and lemon zest, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, rosemary and thyme… Can’t seem to get tired of this! 🙂

Baked Ricotta

  • Difficulty: easy
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A versatile, creamy cheese number. Makes 4 ramekins.

Ingredients

500 g (2 cups) fresh ricotta

2 medium eggs

½ cup grated parmesan

pinch of salt and black pepper

any variety of fresh or dried herbs to taste

Directions

  1. Grease a medium baking dish or 4 ramekins with a few drops of olive oil, preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ricotta with eggs, salt, pepper and parmesan until combined with a fork.
  3. Fold in herbs of your choice, fill ramekins 2/3 full.
  4. Bake until “soufflé” has risen and set, top starting to turn golden (about 40 min).

Love,

Fruzsi

Herb Marinated Feta

herb-marinated-feta-title

According to mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach Greeks the art of cheese making. This way or that, dating back to the 8th century BC, feta, a brined curd white cheese was born. It is a protected designation of origin product in the European Union, only cheeses produced in a traditional way in particular areas of Greece made from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk can be called feta. However, similar white cheeses are produced in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (made partly or wholly of cow’s milk). And I happen to be living around here! #luckygirl

herb-marinated-feta-cubes

Seriously, is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like feta? I think not. And if you have about 5 minutes, I’ll show you how to take your cheese-eating to the next level by marinating it in herb-infused, fruity olive oil. Again, this is a delectable treat you may have encountered in your supermarket before that looks incredibly fancy and comes with a slightly outrageous price tag. Once you try your hands at it though, there’s no turning back: it will leave the commercial kind for dead.

herb-marinated-feta-ingredients

A Mediterranean-inspired smooth and spreadable delight, this crowd pleaser is sure to bring rave reviews from family and friends. Marinated feta is an impressive dinner party appetizer, an elegant hostess gift or a great addition to your wine o’clock menu, making you look like a culinary star. Spread it on crusty artisan bread, crumble onto salads, scatter over pizza or stick a toothpick in the cubes to serve as it is. Oh, and please, please do not discard of the remainig oil! It is great to toss with pasta, as a marinade for olives, roasting potatoes or vegetables, and as base for a vinaigrette too.

So without further ado, here’s how you do it. Start with a clean, sterilized jar and add chunks of feta (or any other kind of white cheese, use what’s available), the size you prefer. Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and pour olive oil into the jar until the cheese is submerged. This is somewhere you don’t need to use the best, most expensive olive oil. Add dried herbs and/or spices (don’t be shy), seal jar and store in the fridge. Allow flavors to develop at least 24 hours, but patience is virtue – the longer the cheese is infusing the better. Refrigerated, marinated feta will keep for up to a month if completely covered with oil. The olive oil may thicken in the fridge, but will turn to liquid again at room temperature.

herb-marinated-feta-jar

To kick-start your imagination, here’s a not-at-all inclusive list of the wonderful things you can flavor the marinating oil with: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, chives, dill, bay leaves, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chili peppers, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, green olives. Mix and match as you like!

This works with mozzarella just as well. Just sayin’… 😉

Fruzsi

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