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As 2015 approached, I sat sipping wine at a friend’s New Years party discussing goals for the year ahead. The sentiments around the cheese platter covered everything from taking more photos, buying more hats, travelling to more places and taking more chances. It’s humbling to reflect on all of our goals being forward focused and creating more value. Keeping up the tradition, I’ve started to think about the experiences I want more of in 2016, one of which is to entertain more. More memories, more wine and more cheese.

Wine and cheese have always been such infamous companions. As a kid I was a silent observer to the era of Coollibah cask wine, Jatz and cheddar. Some hot Saturday afternoons as I sipped on my Cotties Coola cordial cup, my parents would indulge in a glass of dry white along with the fancy pate you would get in Woollies with the peppercorns on top. It was truly the quince paste of the nineties. Fast forward ten years and I found myself newly living out of home for the first time. Dinners often consisted solely of cheese and wine, unable to afford both ingredients for the appetizer and main meal. We felt incredibly fancy sitting on our grown up outdoor settling, sipping on a 10 bottle of cab sav and Gouda and perfect content with our balanced meal (that’s carbs, dairy and um, fruit).

Now, cheese and wine is something that is savored in our house before a lovely meal shared between friends. It can also be something which can be enjoyed for dessert or as part of an afternoon tea like the sweet version created here. Probably the easiest ‘cheese’ in existence, labneh is made by draining the whey out of full fat greek yogurt, leaving behind delicious creamy firm cheese. I’ve sweetened it slightly here with maple and vanilla bean and served it with high protein gluten free crackers and some fruit.

Vanilla and maple labneh
500g greek yogurt
1 vanilla bean, or 2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbs maple syrup, or to taste

  1. Spoon yogurt into the centre of a clean cheesecloth over a large mixing bowl
  2. Gather the cheesecloth together and tie with string or rubber band and secure onto the handle of a wooden spoon
  3. Let the yogurt drain over the bowl in the fridge overnight
  4. Combine labneh with vanilla bean seeds and maple and set aside

 Note: Don’t throw out your whey! You can use it for fermenting and making mayo. 

Chocolate and almond crackers 
(adapted from Loving Earth)
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup almonds
¼ cup coconut
¼ cup cacao
2 tbs honey or maple syrup
½ cup buckwheat flour
2 tbs chia seeds
6 tbs water
¼ cup coconut oil

  1. Combine chia and water in a small bowl and set aside
  2. In a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds, almonds and coconut until finely chopped
  3. Add remaining ingredients, including chia gel and pulse until well combined
  4. Roll out dough between two sheets of baking powder until 5mm thick, then score and place on a baking tray
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes (or until golden around the edges) at 180 degrees

 

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