Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Israeli CousCous Salad

This dish is adapted from something we saw on America's test kitchen. We tried it with the usual tweak here and there. Took it to a party and it was pronounced very good. For a change, the ingredients are measured by volume.
The recipe is a bit fiddly with lots of steps, but well worth it.


3T olive oil
2 Cups Israeli Couscous
2 1/2 cups water
2 Shallots sliced finely
1/3 Cup red wine vinegar
1/3 Cup granulated sugar
1 t Dijon mustard
Juice of 2 Meyer lemons
4T Extra Virgin Olive oil
2 bunches of aarugula (rocket). Not terribly precise I am sorry to say
1 bunch fresh mint
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
5 oz crumbled Feta
1 pomegranate - arils only
6 oz chopped, toasted pistachios
Coarse sea salt to taste


Place the 3T olive oil and the couscous into a cold pan. Heat on medium until the coucous is lightly toasted.  Immediately add the water, stir and put the lid on. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes (could be a minute or 2 more or less) until the water has dissolved. Turn the heat off and leave covered for a few minutes
Combine the vinegar, sugar and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and leave until cool
Meanwhile make a dressing by combining the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and mustard in a large bowl.
When the couscous is cooked, lay out in a single layer on a sheet pan until completely cooled.
Wash the arugula and mint, remove the arugula stems. Place the couscous into the bowl with the dressing. Add the strained, pickled shallot. Toss quickly. Add the arugula and mint, toss again. Add the peas and pomegranate and toss again. Finally add the feta cheese and pistachios. Toss one final time. Shake some coarse sea salt over the salad and combine.
Serve after resting for a few mintes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

khachapuri - First attempt

A facebook friend had been traveling in Georgia (the country, not the US state) and mentioned that he had had a fabulous dish - called khachapuri. He suggested that I try making it. He knows that I am a sometime baker and so would relish the challenge.

This is the finished dish..

A small loaf of bread filled with gooey cheese and an egg baked in the hole. He was right, it is delicious - and pretty easy. The dough is a bit soft and wet, so it is tricky to handle, however.

Ingredients - Bread

1 t yeast
pinch of sugar
70 ml luke warm water
70 ml luke warm whole milk
15 ml olive oil
200 gm bread flour
5 gm kosher salt

Ingredients - Filling

200 gm queso fresco (or other soft crumbly cheese)
50 gm fresh goat cheese
a little milk to make the texture a paste
2 large eggs


This bread has a lot of yeast for the amount of flour, so it has a tendency to rise very quickly. I retarded mine by keeping it in the fridge. Partly because we didn't eat it the day we expected to. It had to sit for 24 hours longer than anticipated.

Dissolve the sugar in the milk/water and add the yeast. Allow to become foamy - about 10 minutes

Mix in the flour, oil and salt and knead for about 5 minutes by hand. You may find you need to add a little more flour to stop it being too sticky.

Allow to rise until about double original volume. This is largely a temperature thing. If you do it in the fridge at 37F (2C) it takes about 24 hours.

When ready to bake, set a pizza stone (or upside down baking sheet) in the oven and preheat to 500F - yes it really is that hot. Allow to heat for at least 45 minutes.

Make the cheese mixture by creaming the cheeses - adding a little milk if necessary.

Shape the dough into 2 equal sized balls and roll each out until it is 10 inches (25cm) in diameter. I did it on parchment (greaseproof) paper.

Put 1/4 of the filling on the first round, leaving a margin of about 1" (2.5 cm) all the way around.

Roll one side of the circle towards the center. You want to stop about an inch (2.5 cm) before the center. Roll from the other side so you have a center channel. Twist the ends to make small knobs. 

You will have made little boats.

Divide the rest of the cheese mixture between the boats

Repeat with the other round.

Bake the boats on the pizza stone or baking sheet for 15 minutes. The cheese mixture will be all bubbly and gooey.

After 15 minutes, crack an egg into each boat - you may need to poke the filling first to make room for the egg. Return to the oven and bake for 4:30 - until the white is set, but the yolk is still runny.

Serve with a green salad - and in our case a glass of pinot noir. I would imagine that a really nice 
Belgian Trippel would go well.