I was invited recently by Greek yogurt brand Fage (the Greek word φάγε – pronounced “fa-yeh” is a singular imperative verb meaning “eat!”) through @MCConsulting to a crash cooking class using Greek yogurt to substitute or compliment other classic ingredients.
The reason I accepted is my son and his yogurt addiction. He could easily become a silent spokesman for Fage (silent because it’s tough to talk while spooning gobs of this stuff into your mouth) given the amount that he consumers per diem. I cannot even guesstimate the number of tubs of this Greek yogurt that he eats plain and with his favorite condiment: honey. “More yogurt with honey, please!” is his battle cry.
I will confess that I myself am not a big yogurt fan. My wife and son on the other hand love it and prefer the plain kind. When I say plain I mean no vanilla and no sugar – we are talking hardcore yogurt. This tends to be the norm in Italy where my wife grew up and where I spent my summers and my years after college. So Fage has been on our shopping list and in our refrigerator forever.
So I arrived at the International Culinary Center amongst a gaggle of moms and we donned aprons and chef hats (I had to abandon mine since it kept falling off my head – maybe it was a sign!), rolled up our sleeves and got to work. I will confess that most (if not all) of the prep work had been done earlier by the students and chefs, but we still got a chance to get our hands dirty.
We were shown how to use Fage in biscuits and Hollandaise sauce to add texture and thickness, we tackled a chicken marinade, a potato salad, cole slaw, Mac and Cheese and finally a parfait with honey, almonds and blueberries. I love cooking as does my wife so to get a rare chance of working in a prep kitchen like the one we were in at the International Culinary Center was quite a treat for me. I even took away the secret to never messing up homemade mayonnaise (no matter how fast you add the olive oil) thanks to some of the great tips and suggestions that the staff gave us while we were working on our dishes.
Two plates in particular I wanted to share with you since tomorrow is Independence Day and what would the Fourth of July be without some comfort food to go along with the grill.
The easiest of the two is certainly the cole slaw for which Fage was kind enough to share the recipe:
FAGE LEMON COLESLAW (Recipe created by Edward Magel for FAGE)
1/2 cup FAGE Total 2%
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
2 teaspoons Lemon Zest
2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Celery Seed
1/2 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl.
8 cups Green Cabbage, shredded (approximately 1 ½ pounds)
1/2 cup Green Pepper, small dice
1/2 cup Red Pepper, small dice
1 cup Scallion, green and white, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Parsley, chopped
Combine slaw ingredients and toss with dressing. Let chill for 30 minutes to an hour, adjust seasoning and serve.
This next recipe for the Mac and Cheese I loved making, but you have to take a little more care when making the roux (the tip we were given was that once the butter, flour and milk combine and thicken to stir the roux for an extra minute on the heat to make sure the taste of the flour is not overpowering). Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but too often the ingredients are so awful that it is inedible. The use of real white cheddar and the addition of the Fage Total Greek yogurt created such a rich, smooth and creamy sauce that we were all anxious to taste the final product. To try it at home here is what you need to do:
FAGE MACARONI & CHEESE (Recipe created by Edward Magel for FAGE)
8 ounces Elbow Macaroni
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Onion, fine
1 cup Red Pepper, finely diced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Butter
1 ½ cup Whole Milk
1/2 cup FAGE Total Classic
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Salt
10 ounces Cheddar Cheese, grated
1/2 cup FAGE Total Classic
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add elbow macaroni and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add red pepper and salt and continue cooking until vegetables soften. Remove from heat and reserve.
Preheat oven to 350*. Butter a 2 quart casserole.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, stir and continue to cook for 2 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in warm milk and yogurt, whisking constantly to keep smooth. Add nutmeg. Bring to a low simmer and remove from heat. Stir in 10 ounces of cheddar cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add remaining 1/2 cup yogurt and Tabasco.
Combine macaroni, onion mix and cheese sauce and transfer to prepared casserole. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
I hope you will enjoy preparing these recipes as much as I did. You can find tons of other ways to use Fage in the kitchen on their website’s Fage recipe page. We were fortunate enough to have some great teachers and hosts. When we were finished (and without having to do any of the dishes!) I got to sit down and try each dish and talk with some of my fellow temporary chefs. I was overall impressed at how versatile something as “plain” as yogurt could be. Buon appetito!