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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

COUSIN HELEN . . . and KHACHAPURI, a Georgian Bread



As Bryan and I were passing by Alberton, Montana, in May, we spotted a sign for The Montana Valley Bookstore.   Used bookstores are so irresistible we just had to turn around. 

An old house fitted, even in the basement, with rows of floor to ceiling shelves has been a family business for almost 40 years.  Among the treasures lurking there I found this Time-Life book


Foods of the World RUSSIAN COOKING
by Helen and George Papashvily

George P., who was born in Georgia, declared that Khachapuri is “one of the most delightful of all Caucasian specialties”.  Despite the complicated looking pictures of it, I decided it had to be done . . . by Bryan J.  Luckily for him, our daughter informed us that she had another recipe for it . . . by Nigella Lawson! 

Since Nigella’s recipe appeared simpler, we went with it . . . and wow! 


Nigella’s HACHAPURI :  8 servings

from her book, FEAST, Food that Celebrates Life:

FOR THE DOUGH:
6 cups flour  
2 cups plain yogurt
2 eggs
3 tbsp very soft butter
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda

FOR THE FILLING:
475 g ricotta cheese
400 g feta cheese
200 g mozzarella
1 egg

FIRST PREPARE THE FILLING:
·        Crumble and mix together the ricotta and feta in a large bowl.
·        Grate the mozzarella and add to the ricotta.
·        Beat the egg and add to the cheeses.
·        Mix well and set aside in fridge.

PREPARE THE DOUGH:
·        Stir salt and soda into the flour in a medium bowl.
·        In a large mixing bowl, beat together yogurt, eggs, and butter.
·        Stir in about 2 cups of the flour.
·        Keep adding in flour until dough can be turned out onto the counter.
·         Gradually knead in the rest of the flour until smooth.
·        Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.   (It can stay much longer than that.  So you could actually make the dough in the morning and just do the final bit in the late afternoon.)
·        Oil a large pizza pan.
·        Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

FINAL PREP
·        Cut dough in half.  Shape each half into a ball.
·        Roll out one half on well-floured counter.
·        Transfer to pizza pan.
·        Put cheese filling on this dough, leaving about an inch bare all around the outside.
·        Roll out the other half dough.
·        Lay this half on top of the cheese-covered dough. 
·        Fold in the edges to seal the outside of the bread, curling them inwards.
·        Cook cheesebread for 15 to 20 minutes.  (Bryan did 20 and it was perfect.) 

It’s like a giant cheese calzone and the bread tastes just AMAZING.


Serve with a salad.  Yep, that’s all you need . . .  Really not hard at all.

******

I bet my cousin Helen would love Hachapuri.  Every time we visit her in Estevan, we always meet her at the Tower for a pizza.



We talked about Ukrainian food and the old days.  She said they had buckwheat cabbage rolls (one of Diana’s favourites).  Also, Helen said her mom made nachynka once.    


                Helen, on the right, and her sister, Marta

When she was young, Helen liked dancing and went to a lot of dances.
Helen enjoyed telling us about a trick she played on our dad just before a wedding.  Dad was getting worried they’d all be late so he clomped up the stairs and asked, “Aren’t you girls getting up yet?”  Helen leaped out of bed . . . already dressed in her bridesmaid gown. 

Helen never learned to sew but her sister, Lily, did. 

Mostly Helen likes to talk about farming.


Helen told us she liked horses.  At Rackham, they harnessed 6 horses across when plowing up new land.  Herself, she harnessed 4 across when harrowing and walked behind.

By the time she was 16, she only worked outside.  She shovelled out barns but they didn’t have pigs. 

They kept sheep mainly for food.  Once they paid a guy $3.00 per sheep for shearing but they only got $2.00 for the fleece so it wasn’t worth it.
The farmer they rented from was so impressed with her that he told her he would have rented his land to her because she was a good farmer.

Helen is 80 now and strong except for her lungs.  She used to be a smoker but gave it up 7 years ago.  She thinks the dust from grain and also working the fields took their toll.   “No sense complaining,” she always replies when we ask how she is.  “No one wants to listen to that.”