You may already know about my terrible addiction problem. It's not alcohol or drugs or gambling or shopping – it's cheese. It's true; not only has mountains upon mountains of cheese have somehow made their way to my palate over the years, but my obsession with lactose also occupies every centimetre of available space in my refrigerator. Not too long ago, I watched a BBC programme on addiction, and, low and behold, it seems I am displaying many of the classic symptoms of food abuse. Besides uncontrolled cravings and obsessive consumptions, there's overspending and paranoia to consider. All of these symptoms can be found chez moi, especially that of paranoia. It's reached the point where I have nightmares of waking up in the morning, only to find my brother eating my Camembert. Gruesome!
For a long time I was in denial, I suppose, like many who find themselves down the well-trodden path of enslavement, and it's just gotten worse over the years. My relationship with cheese can at best be compared with Ice Age's Scrat the squirrel's endless pursuit of his acorn, and at worst with Frodo's bond with the One True Ring. There are even days when my infatuation leads me to thinking I could live off cheese alone. I don't think this everyday, and even though I eat cheese everyday, I don't think much about the cheese on my bread at all, but on the days when I do, I find myself so memorised by cheese that I think I could really, truly eat nothing else. Yes, my addiction is turning nasty.
In my opinion, the best way to cure this addiction is to cease eating cheese. Now I know what you are thinking, and yes, I may very possibly be mad, but I've decided to fast during Lent this year, and that means quitting cheese as well. See, I've often wondered whether it isn't just a little hypocritical of me to stuff myself with fastelavnsbollar in preparation for the austere Lent, to then simply go on eating whatever I want. However, it would be equally hypocritical of me to pretend that I'm going to fast for religious reasons (I'm not even Catholic!). My choice has more to do with enjoying new types of food, rather than denying myself any. The fact is that I'm always in need of an encourager, a reason to try new recipes and cuisines and Lent seemed to fit the bill.
Yesterday I was desperate for some last-minute cheese intake, so naturally, I ended up making cheese bread. To be specific: Georgian cheese bread, or Khachapuri. First things first, though, let me ask you one question: How much do you know about Georgian food? Yeah, me neither. Maybe all you've heard of this country in the Caucasus is its name. Perhaps you roughly know its geographical location; squashed in between Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia. And if you haven't heard of its most famous citizen, you ought to return to school promptly. But I dare say few of you have heard/tasted/tried/cooked any of their food. I hadn't either. That's not to say I wouldn't like it. According to Wikipedia, my trusted source of absolutely everything, Georgian cuisine is rich in cheese, vegetables, pomegranates and fish. Sounds pretty perfect to me.
Khachapuri (lit. ''cheese bread'') are ubiquitous in Georgia, and every region has its own version. One version asks for additional grated cheese, another an extra raw egg; a third, potatoes. In one region, khachapuri is a multiple-layered bread, or, as Wikipedia rather wonderfully describes it, ''a sauceless lasagna''. In Nigella Lawson's original recipe, you're supposed to use three different cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella and feta), but Paula Wolfert – an expert in eastern Mediterranean cuisine, prefers to use equal weights of feta and mozzarella instead. Apparently this resembles the highly-regarded khachapuri from Mingrelia (western Georgia) more, which is made with suluguni cheese.
Me? I don't mind as long as it's cheese.
|Khachapuri :: Georgian Cheese Bread |
Recipe adapted from The Traveler's Lunchbox, which itself is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast
700 g. flour
500 g. plain yogurt
50 g. butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
450 g. fresh mozzarella (preferably buffalo milk mozzarella)
450 g. feta
1.Dough: In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, eggs, butter and salt. Begin adding the flour, a little at a time, stirring or working with your hands to form a silky, soft dough. Add as much flour as is necessary to bring the dough to a kneadable consistency - it should not be overly sticky. Knead in the baking soda.
2.On a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough lightly for 5-10 minutes. This activates the gluten in the flour and will make the dough less prone to tearing when you form the breads. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, or up to a day.
3.Filling: Chop or mash the two cheese together in a bowl. Stir in the egg.
4.Preheat the oven to 220 C. Divide the dough and the filling into six equal parts. Using your hands, press each piece of dough out into a rough circle about 20 cm. in diameter. Try leaving the centre slightly thicker than the sides. Mound a sixth of the cheese into a fat disc in the centre and start bringing the sides of the dough up around it, pleating them as you go (you can moisten the pleats with water to create a better seal). It should look like a calzone. Now pat this cheese-filled dough ball out until it is about 1.5 cm. thick. Bake for about 10-15 minutes.Cool the khachapuri slightly to let the cheese set, but eat warm.
|Khachapuri :: Georgiansk ostebrød |
Oppskrift tatt frå The Traveler's Lunchbox, av Nigella Lawson's Feast
700 g. mjøl
500 g. naturaljogurt
50 g. smør, ved romtemperatur
1 ts. salt
2 ts. natron
450 g. fersk mozzarella (helst bøffelmjølkmozzarella)
450 g. fetaost
1.Deig: Bland jogurten, egga, smøret og saltet saman i ein bolle. Ha i mjølet, og kna saman til ein deig. Deigen bør ikkje vera klissete, men elastisk. Kna i natronet.
2.Kna deigen i omlag 5-10 minutt på eit bakebord. Dette styrkjer glutenet som bind deigen saman. Legg deigen tilbake i bollen, dekk til med plastfolie og la stå i kjøleskapet i min. 20 minutt eller overnatta.
3.Fyll: Bland ostane saman i ein bolle. Ha i egget.
4.Varm opp omnen til 220 C. Del deigen og fyllet i seks jamnstore delar. Press og strekk kvar deigdel til ein sirkel à 20 cm i diameter. Legg ein sjettedel av osteblandinga i midten av sirkelen, og brett halvparten av sirkelen over den andre, slik som ein calzone eller ein halvsirkel. Press kantane mot kvarandre, slik at osten ikkje strøymer ut, og press halvsirkelen ned til han er omlag 1.5 cm tjukk. Steik i 10-15 minutt. La khachapurien kolne litt, men et lunka.