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Saturday, February 11, 2012


Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Quark is a type of soft, fresh European cheese. It is easy to make comparisons with other dairy products, since it is similar to many other types of cheeses, but it's definitely unique. Quark is smooth and creamy, with a consistency similar to that of thick, greek-style yogurt or sour cream. Its flavor is somewhere between ricotta and sour cream, with a bit of a tang to it. It is probably most similar to the popular French fromage frais, although quark is of Eastern European origin and produced in a slightly different way. The exact consistency and flavor of quark will vary slightly from producer to producer.

The reason why quark is so popular in international cookbooks is that it is extremely versatile and low in fat. It holds up very well to heat (unlike yogurt) and can be used any number of ways. For instance, it can be substituted for sour cream, yogurt and even for cream cheese in many recipes, from baked goods to quiches to dips, and because of its consistency will add a richness to dishes even though it is low in fat. If you see it in your local specialty grocery store, it is worth picking up a container to experiment with and try incorporating it into some of your own recipes.

Some fun things to do with quark:
  • Mix it with honey and have it on fresh fruit
  • Substitute it for sour cream in coffee cakes and cheese cakes
  • My friend Helen uses it in all her German baking. Her Stollen is the best!
  • Makes a great dip base, mix in some fresh herbs and a little feta cheese
  • Marinate chicken in it, then top with some parmesan and breadcrumbs and bake
  • Stir it into some pasta to make a great lowfat cream sauce
  • It's really easy to make quark at home, find a recipe you like, and then let the games begin!