This Middle Eastern method of making fresh cheese out of yogurt is easy and fun. You simply place the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer and let it drip until the yogurt reaches the consistency you want; the longer it drips, the firmer it gets. To make a creamy dip let it drain for 1 hour; for a ricotta cheese (spread) consistency, 4 hours; and for a cream cheese consistency let it drain at least 12 hours or overnight. My recipe makes a tangy, creamy spread that is delicious on crackers or thin toasts. It doesn’t take long to prepare, although it must drain for at least 4 hours, then after it is mixed with the herbs it should sit a few hours to blend the flavors.

MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP

2 cups plain low-fat yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

ВЅ teaspoon fresh thyme, or Вј teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil, or Вј teaspoon dried

ВЅ teaspoon fresh oregano, or Вј teaspoon dried

Salt to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place the strainer over a large bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the center of the strainer and place the setup in the refrigerator. Let sit for 4 to 12 hours. Occasionally check the consistency. The cheese is ready when it has the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  2. Place the yogurt cheese in a small bowl. Mix in all of the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve as a spread on toasted French bread slices or crackers.