Some people are born to cook and some discover their talent later on in life. Yaron is decidedly from the latter group. “I was always convinced that making food just comes naturally to some and that I simply wasn’t one of them”. The 36 years old, 5th generation “Helsinkian” explains as he carefully arranges the cheese platter with dry fruits and honey: “I am relatively new in the cooking scene and everything feels like a discovery to me, from the combination of flavors to the cooking time and sequencing of ingredients in a dish”. What used to be an intimidating art performed only by an elite few suddenly opened up to the amateur cook.
One day I will learn how to make hand-made pasta from scratch
When I ask him about his earliest food memory, he recalls Friday night dinners at his parents:
“I’m taking a bite of freshly baked Challah topped with pastrami cold cuts. The bread is right out from the oven and the contrasts of its warmth against the cold charcuterie is so comforting. The poppy seeds crunch under the teeth and roll around is a joyous multitude; little round proofs of the many slices you’ve already had!
For an amateur chef, khachapuri may seem pretty intimidating at first. I ask how he gathered the courage to make dough & filling from scratch?
“The first time I attempted to cook for my family wasn’t a raving success. I spent the whole day in a locked kitchen, to prepare my world famous Spanish tortilla”. He smiles: “a few hours later, the ceiling was dripping with eggs-yolk (don’t ask) , the kitchen was a cemetery for potato peels, towers of pots and pans were stacked on any visible surfaces, and nobody was in the mood to eat anymore. It took me a few years to resume cooking for someone else after this experience. But eventually I realized that I should tackle the process of cooking the same way I would any other: with careful planning, a trusted recipe and the knowledge that in the worst of cases it would be a good learning experience. No need to wait 5 years in between every failed attempts: when it comes to food making: research, plan, cook, taste a lot and research some more!”
Research, plan, cook, taste a lot and research some more!
3 Cheeses Khachapuri
This Georgian inspired recipe is a great basis for a starter or as a main. I strayed away from the original recipe by using a mild blue cheese, but you can substitute with feta or any other fatty cheese of your liking. Makes 4 individual or 2 large ones
For the Pastry
- 1.5 cup (~225g) of wholewheat flour (regular is ok too)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1.5 tablespoon of white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 150g full fat Greek yogurt (unsweetened)
- 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
For the Filling
- 1 egg
- ~100g creamy cottage cheese
- ~60g mild blue Stilton (or Feta cheese) crumbled
- ~60g grated mozzarella cheese (or cheddar)
- Sea salt & black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of mustard
- Prepare the pastry by mixing the flour, salt in a large bowl
- Add the vinegar and baking soda in a well in the middle and let it to bubble.
- Add the yogurt and olive oil, and knead consistently for 5 minutes until a soft dough is formed. then leave to rest with you prepare the filling
- Combine all the ingredients for the filling and gently fold them into a consistent mix, season and reserve
- Divide the dough into 4 equal balls. divide each ball in half (total is now 8) and flatten them with a rolling pin to form a thin circle of approximately 15 cm.
- On the bottom one, place a 2 to 3 spoons of cheese and cover with another circle.
- Seal the circles by pressing with your fingers on the edge.
- Don’t overfill so that the mixture doesn’t escape when cooking
- In a hot pan, add some butter or olive oil and cook the khachapuri on both side, until nice and golden.
- Serve immediately and enjoy while hot with a fresh salad and some more cheese!
The cheese is melting in a tantalizing movement, the dish is served with a simple tomato, cucumber and onion salad. The lemon juice, parsley and olive oil dressing create a sharp contrast of flavors and is such an efficient combination. In its absolute simplicity it is perfect.