Thursday, April 8, 2010
Georgian Cheese Bread
Cheese. We all love it [well, except for you lactose intolerants, my bad] and I, for one, love cooking with it. Creamy, sharp, hard, crumbly, tangy, soft, holey, smooth, you name it, I like it. Maybe that’s a lie, I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat the kind with veins of fungi running through it, but one day I’ll get there.
If your refrigerator is anything like mine, then you usually have no less than five different kinds of cheese stashed away on any given day. Mostly made up of odds and ends, leftover bits that were very sorry to have not been needed in recipes, slices for sandwiches, bags of shredded cheese with barely enough to do anything with but still enough not to be thrown away. They sit stashed away in the deli drawer, sad – but not lonely – waiting for their turns, making me feel guilty while I avoid looking at them until they pile up enough for me to make khachapuri.
What, might you ask, is khachapuri? It’s a Georgian [as in the country, not the state] dish made up of cheese stuffed inside of a crust and baked until golden, tasty and oh-so-simple to make. While the traditional version calls for a pickled cheese called suluguni, which I have yet to find in any store, the recipe I have calls for a mix of several easy to find cheeses that you may already have in your fridge.
My picky little brother requested that I make it for him yesterday afternoon, and it’s easy enough that even he could do it by himself, not to say that he actually has, though.
Makes one 9x13 bread, 4 dozen mini tarts or 2 dozen muffin-sized tarts
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 sticks of softened butter
2 large eggs
1/3 pound each of muenster, havarti and mozzarella cheeses
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl whisk or sift together flour and salt. Using a fork, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles damp sand. Alternately you could do this in a food processor if you have one, but I don’t and the fork method literally takes under 5 minutes. Lightly beat an egg and mix with the yogurt, then add into the flour-butter mixture and stir until a dough forms. The dough should be slightly sticky. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for one hour.
Grate the cheeses. [I had a leftover bit of white cheddar from making pierogi a few weeks ago and added that into the mix, too.] Beat the other egg and stir into the cheese mixture. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape on a floured surface until the dough is just under 1/4 of an inch thick. Spread the cheese mixture onto one half of the rectangle and fold over the other half on top, pinching the ends shut. Transfer into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish and bake for one hour, or until golden brown. If you have a love of mini things like I do, then once the dough is rolled out use a biscuit cutter or a floured cup to cut out small rounds which you can then pat into a muffin tin. These usually take just under 20 minutes to bake.
The only way I know to credit this recipe is to clarify that it was given to me a few years ago in a Russian culture class by the professor. It was typed up on a piece of paper with no mention of where it came from, so my apologies for the lack of attribution.
With love, Anna Christie