Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Georgian Cheesy Bread

Last summer we had a friend visiting for a long weekend. She had just returned from a trip to Georgia and wanted to thank us for the hospitality by cooking us a Georgian dinner. The whole visit she kept talking about rugs and I was very confused. What, do they make a lot of rugs with peaches on them or something? Later, I found out that she wasn't visiting the state of Georgia, but the country. This small fact made all of the little details suddenly make sense. Like why she was trying to find sour plums, not watermelon and fried chicken.

The meal was delicious. It consisted of a carrot/dill mixture, a green bean and walnut mixture (lobio), some sort of chicken dish, a tart plum sauce (tkemali) to be poured over the entire meal, and a fried bread filled with cheese (khachapuri). All of it was delicious, but sometimes I still dream of of that bread, nicely browned with cheese oozing out of the middle.

So a while back I asked for the recipe and bought the ingredients. I finally got around to making it last week and the results were just as delicious as I remembered.

Khachapuri: Georgian Cheese Bread
From Poppy

2 cups flour
3 Tbsp oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp bakign soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup feta OR 1/4 cup Roquefort cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella (or Georgian suluguni cheese)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp butter

In medium bowl, beat in 1/3 cup flour with oil.  Add yogurt and mix well. Stir in 1/3 cup more flour. Sift in cornstarch, baking soda and salt into flour mixture.  Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft but not sticky dough.  Lightly dust with flour and cover with a kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.

If using feta, soak in water 10 minutes and drain and crumble.  In medium bowl, mix feta or Roquefort  and mozzarella and egg.  Shape cheeses into 2 medium balls and set aside.

Divide dough into 2 portions and roal each into balls.  On floured surface, flatten each ball into a 7-inch round.  With floured hands, gently rotate dough and pull into a 10 inch circle, 1/4 inch thick.  Be careful not to tear dough.  Pat each cheese ball into a 5-inch circle on center of dough.  Gently pull up edge of dough, pleating and pinching to enclose cheese.  Pat into a 7-inch round.

Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over low heat for 3 minutes.  Lightly film skillet with melted butter.  Place bread seam side up into skillet.  Cover and cook for 12 minutes over very low heat, shaking pan occasionally.  Uncover and flip bread over, covering and cooking over low heat until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes.  Lightly brush top of bread with butter and let bread stand for 5 minutes.  Use serrated knife to cut bread and serve warm. 

If you don't have a large enough skillet, bread can be baked in the oven at 375 until golden brown.

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