A Quark Evening with The Lake District Dairy Co.
Guest Feature by Natalie York:
Heading along to the rather swish Underground Cookery School I admit I had very little idea what Quark was! Apparently this low fat creamy cheese is hugely popular in Europe and is getting increasingly well known over here but after an evening trying out various dishes prepared with The Late District Dairy Co.’s range I was left wondering why on earth nobody had told be about this before!
First a bit on Quark for those, like me, who thought it was the sound a posh duck makes…
Quark is a spoonable cheese, high in protein, low in salt and sugar and, importantly, fat free. The trick to this apparently is in using skimmed milk to make the cheese which results in a smooth, very soft consistency that could easily be swapped into a recipe in place of cream cheese, mascarpone or double cream. The taste of plain Quark is creamy with a slightly yoghurty astringency and could easily be adapted to savoury or sweet dishes. Currently the available flavours certainly veer towards those with a sweet tooth with vanilla and lemon both for sale. I was lucky enough, however, to get an early taste of the Lake District Dairy Co.’s new savoury sauces (tikka, garlic and tomato and basil) and I can certainly say I’ve got a new addition to my shopping basket!
The new sauces, which can be adapted or stirred straight into a dish, formed the basis of our dinner along with the established vanilla and lemon flavours and we kicked straight off with some little canapés including blinis with smoked salmon and a generous dollop of lemon quark which tasted gorgeous and, at 75 calories per 100g, I felt entirely justified in scoffing six or seven!
As a starter we were treated to delicious fresh pasta filled with a basil and tomato quark filling and topped with the same. The sauce on its own would make a solid and virtuous addition to a bowl of creamy pasta but with a little sprinkle of black pepper, parmesan and good quality olive oil it really lifted into something very yummy indeed!
After this we tucked into chicken skewers marinaded in quark tikka sauce alongside a rocket salad dressed with garlic quark. Again what I really got here is the possibility of quark as an ingredient and as a base for some really great tasting dishes with the added benefit of being completely fat free!
For desert then something really exciting: freshly made ice cream! We tried two different flavours, vanilla and lemon, both made using Quark instead of cream and both tasting utterly gorgeous. The overall effect was sort of like a mix between sorbet and ice cream but, importantly, with all the creaminess of ice cream and none of the fat!
Overall it was great being introduced to Quark, having just started on the 5:2 diet its low calorie content is certainly going to pep up my fasting days and I’m now pretty excited about trying out a few new recipes for myself, Quark chocolate cheesecake anyone?