Breakfast Labneh w. Pistachio, Honey & Rose
The preparation of food is far from a revolutionary act. Fishes and loaves gave way to la gourmandise; the gastronomic meal to home cooking and the agrarian to the locavore. From feasts to famine the art of eating has as though a pendulum swung back and forth from excess to scarcity. Food has sustained legions; generations of people, each with practises that are born of their time, culture, circumstance or ingenuity.
It's all together amusing, disheartening and humbling then that simple cookery so often bares the most savoured meal. Amusing in the irony that so much perseverance is ascribed to originality, disheartening in our own pursuit to be creative and humbling in the ages of reverence that have come before us. Given that we’ve arrived at place though where “lemonade is made from artificial flavours and furniture polish from real lemons” - Alfred Newman, I for one am glad that hands are once again the champion.
I would never advocate that modern revolutions in the kitchen be forsaken; even though I think that for all their betterment they’ve ironically made us into time poor creatures. No; all I encourage is introducing a slowness to your cookery. Examine the traditions of your heritage, family or culture. Explore those of others. Relish that good food is not always a convenient or extravagant endeavour. There is sustenance in simplicity, relief in its practise and beauty in it’s attainment. If ones care to butter bread is more diligent than anothers indifference to meal of convenience then who is the more thoughtful cook. I wager it’s the one wielding the knife.
The kitchen needn’t be a place of uncertainty. The beauty of cooking is in it’s indiscrimination - it’s attainable to any person. There are innumerable practises to easily understand; time worn methods that demand little genius and simple processes that can be tucked into the recesses of your mind. Labneh is one such preparation. Eaten for thousands of years its endurance comes from its simplicity. There are slight variations between families, countries and cultures though the essential premise is to strain fresh yoghurt in a cloth for twenty four hours to separate the whey and leave a thicker, creamier yoghurt. It can traverse both sweet and savoury, combine with herbs, spices, garlic, ginger or chilli, be preserved in olive oil or substitute for cream cheese.
This version marries with sweet, nutty tones from orange blossum, honey, pistachio and rose. It makes for a delightful plate on its own though also embellishes a stack of pancakes, granola or any number of other baked breakfast goods.
Breakfast Labneh w/ Pistachio, Honey and Rose / Serves 4
1kg of natural yoghurt
1 tbsp orange blossom water
1/4 cup of raw honey
1/4 cup of pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp of dried rose petals
Pomegranate arils to serve
Line a deep bowl with a cheesecloth or muslin and then pour in the yoghurt. Bring the edges together forming a tight bundle and tie firmly with string. Hang the bundle over a bowl and place in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours. After this time most of the whey should have drained and the yoghurt turned thick and creamy.
To serve, remove the labneh for its cloth placing it into a clean bowl. Gently fold through the orange blossom water and then make a slight well in its centre. Drizzle over the honey, pistachio nuts, rose petals and pomegranate arils.
Seasonal guide / temperate climates
Pomegranates, late spring through early autumn
Labneh will keep for at least a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It can be used as a condiment and spread on fresh bread or vegetables, stirred through soups, added to salads or served as part of a mezze platter. It is as versatile as it is straightforward to prepare.
Chopped walnuts, macadamia or almonds, dates, currants, cinnamon, toasted coconut, fresh berries