Friday, September 14, 2012

Blackberry Pie

Oh, did I mention I made blackberry pie a while back?  Yeah...

Made with fresh blackberries picked on Bainbridge Island, WA.

Halloween Sugar Cookies

In the realm of holiday enjoyment, my love of Halloween is unparalleled.  I freaking love Halloween! I love the costumes, I love the decorations (I'm partial to skulls and spiders), I love the candy and the parties and the tricks and OF COURSE the treats.   This sugar cookie recipe is a staple that can be used to make holiday treats year round.  It was originally featured on Alton Brown's show Good Eats.  (Oh man, you should watch the episode, The Cookie Clause, it's brilliant.  Santa's feeling merciful!)

This recipe uses the creaming method.  If you are unfamiliar with the creaming technique Alton gives a great explanation, or you can hop over to my post on it real quick.   Creaming the butter and sugar together properly will give your cookies the perfect texture.  


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
  • (optional) 1 teaspoon extract (vanilla, almond, lemon...whatever you like!)
  •  Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.  Beat together the egg, milk, and any extract you are using and set aside.  
  • Cream together the softened butter and sugar.  Beat together until the mix becomes a noticeably lighter color, bigger in volume and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Add the liquid ingredients to the butter and sugar and mix together.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and continue mixing until an evenly mixed dough forms. 
  • Divide the dough in two, shape into flat squares and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Once the dough is chilled, sprinkle your work area and rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out your shapes and move to a parchment covered cookie sheet (or a greased sheet). 
  • Bake for 7-9 minutes, turning halfway through.  When the cookies begin to turn golden brown on the bottoms and edges they are finished. Cool for two minutes on the cookie sheet, then move to a wire rack.

If you like look of the smooth, shiny, hard-drying frosting that is traditionally used on sugar cookies, you can use this recipe for your frosting.  (The frosting on the white cookies was made this way, the black frosting is Betty Crocker from a tube.)

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • (optional) 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • (optional) assorted food coloring

  • Mix it all up!  If your frosting comes out to dry add more milk, if it is to watery add more sugar.  
  • Spread a thin layer on your cookies and let it air dry for a few minutes. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Georgian Khachapuri (Cheese Filled Bread)

Georgian Khachapuri
 You won't find these scrumptious rolls anywhere in the deep south!   The khachapuri, meaning "cheese bread", is a filled bread dish hailing from the country of Georgia.   Georgia is a beautiful, mountainous country bordering the Black Sea, just north of Turkey and south of Russia.   While Georgia is known in the region to have amazing food, the khachapuri is known the world over as Georgia's national dish.   It can be found at food stands all over the country and can be made in a variety of ways.   Larger khachapuri are made for feasts and celebrations, while smaller khachapuris, called "beggars purses", are sold as snacks.   The choice of cheese is normally whatever is being locally produced, typically some kind of goat cheese.  The leavened dough is generally said to have a pizza-crust like texture and flavor, and the shapes and fillings vary from place to place.   The Adjarian Khachapuri is shaped like a boat, left open faced, and topped with butter and egg for extra artery clogging goodness.   Ossetian Khachapuri has potatoes in the filling as well as cheese.  

This recipe is from the book "The Bread Bible" by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter.   I originally picked it up because I admired Shapter's beautiful photographs.  What can I say, I am a sucker for good food photography.   Over 600 full color photographs are included in the book, and over 100 recipes and a wealth of baking info.  I snatched mine up at a used book store for a ridiculously low price, but now that I've read through it and used a few of the recipes I can heartily recommend picking it up - even at full price!

Georgian Khachapuri


  •  2 cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 oz fresh yeast (or 1/4 oz dry yeast, 1 packet)
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 cups grated mature (sharp) cheddar
  • 2 cups other cheese, grated or chunked depending on what you choose.  Recipe recommends Munster or Taleggio, but I used two different types of local aged goat cheese to try to capture some of what I imagined is the original flavor and texture.
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp water

  •  Lightly grease a Yorkshire pudding tin (or, if you don't have one, you can make them on a cookie sheet like I did). Preheat the oven to 350F/Gas 4.
  • Proof the dry yeast in the lukewarm milk.  Do not use hot milk as high temperatures will kill your yeast.
  • Sift together the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Create a well in the middle and add the yeast and milk mixture.  Mix together into a dough, then knead the butter in.   
  • Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (at least 10 minutes by hand).
  • Place in an oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise until doubled, about an hour depending on the temperature of the room.  
  • While the dough is rising, combine all the ingredients for the filling in a large mixing bowl.   Use the salt and pepper to suit your tastes, I think it is about perfect with a little less than a tspn of each. 
  • When the dough has risen, turn it out and knead for a few minutes, then divide into 4 equal pieces.
  • Roll out each piece to be an 8 inch circle,  place circle of dough in the pudding tin or on the cookie sheet.  Fill with a quarter of the cheese filling.  Gather the overhanging dough at the top and twist together.   Have care not to roll the dough to thin or stretch it to much while forming the rolls to prevent holes from forming. 
  • Cover  rolls with plastic wrap and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes. 
  • Just before placing the rolls in the oven, brush the tops with the egg yolk/water mix. Bake for 25-30 minutes until light golden.  Serve warm.