Hi, chowhound chefs! I haven't posted in a while. I bet I missed a whole lot of good recipes - if I can figure out how to scan old posts I'll have to check. Anyhow, I've been sick, but I'm feeling better, and have a hot cooking tip to share. It's "Quark" and as a cooking ingredient, as opposed to also being some sort of sub-atomic particle, it's very versatile.
I've posted on various boards looking for a fine plain yogurt near SF, but never found one I really thought was outstanding (hello, Ruth Laffler). It's not like I ever just EAT yogurt with fruit or sweet the way many people do. (if I was going to discuss that it would mean posting this to a different board) - I was looking for a fine yogurt to use as a cooking ingredient. In the past, I have used plain yogurt or sour cream to cook with, in recipes, in mac n' cheese, on noodles with butter - that sort of thing. But often, sour cream or cream cheese are too fatty, rictta too grainy, creme fraiche too expensive, and yogurt just too darn sour tasting - there seemed to be no ideal dairy solution.
A couple of weeks ago I shopped the Berkeley Bowl for the first time and thought I was buying "Quark" brand plain yogurt. When I unpacked I was kind of unpleasantly surprised to find "Quark" is not yogurt at all. It is, according to the label, "A European style cheese." Soft but not watery - thicker than sour cream or yogurt but not as solid as cream cheese, smooth, white, made from cultured milk, lightly creamy - 160 calories for 1/2 cup.
So I used it just mixed in at the last moment in mac n' cheese with broccoli minced in, lasagna substituting for ricotta, with egg noodles/butter/minced scallions. It is absolutely fabulous! This Quark is some kind of perfect dairy product mutation! It's not too sweet, it's not too sour, it's not too fatty - it's just right...perfect. I can see where it would be a superior substitute for sour cream, yogurt, ricotta or cream cheese. The label says to substitute for any of those in sweet or savory recipes, even cheesecake, on a one to one ratio.