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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cheese rolls

Eating is all about memories. You eat something and it reminds you of what your mother once made and you loved it. When you eat it some years afterwards it still rings the same bells. Memories come flooding in and even if the dish is not really great or even passable, for you it is, as you feed with the memories and not the actual food. 

My mother used to make this cheese stuffed bread rolls for us. She would buy dough from the bakery and she would stuff it with cheese and a few herbs, fry it in some olive oil and serve it as lunch or side dish for some legumes for dinner. And it goes even before her as her mother would make it and would have my uncle go and sell them in a textile factory opposite our house back in the 50's when Greece was starting to bloom again after war and people needed staple and easy food. So for me this food always had a big spot in my heart and belly. 

I like to bake. The magic that some flour, water and yeast can do when combined it is a great trick and even though it is considered by most people to be really hard or time consuming it really isn't. What it takes is just a little planning. And in this day and age the planning needs to be the most important aspect more than time itself. 

Anyway... Since my mother is gone and i do not exactly remember what she used in the filling i tried to do it many times but it never worked. The reason was that i was using an egg to bind the cheese together but what it did was to make the filling runny and spill out during frying making a whole mess in the kitchen and really i did not like that... So... today i tried it without the egg and it came out just great! In the days that my mother was making it she was using xinotiri a cheese we used to get from the village my father was born. Today i used some feta cheese together with a touch of katiki...


For the dough
500g bread or strong flour 
340 g tepid water.
7g of dried yeast
a teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast
a teaspoon of salt for taste

for the filling
150g of Feta cheese
50g of Katiki (or any other soft/creamy cheese
some pepper
some herbs fresh or dried crushed in the cheese mixture.

Makes about 12 rolls.. 

How you make it...
The planning comes to play. Dough needs about an hour and a half to rise. So.. you have to plan ahead depending when you want to serve it cause it is better when it comes out of the pan. 
If you want to make it for breakfast it is advisable to prepare the dough the previous night and let it stay in the fridge covered in a bowl. It will continue to rise but not so much and will be ready and mature the next morning. If you want it for a late night snack you can prepare it when you are back from work but think that is the last thing you want to do... Anyway...
Making the dough is easy. A few things to keep in mind. A dough is a living thing and as such you have to respect its needs. So.. what is dough and why it increases it's size.. Well, the yeast you use is actually little bugs that eat and eat and eat and excriment. What do they eat? well, the easy thing for them to eat in the beginning is the sugar that you add. Then they start eating the maltose from the flour.. And why the dough builds in size? well it is because the little buggers create carbon dioxide as a byproduct of their metabolism and that gas is what makes the dough expand. 
Now, as a living organism the yeast needs some optimal conditions to grow. And by that i mean the temperature and food. If the water used is too hot it will kill the bugs.. if too cold it will not help the bugs grow well.. so, best have the water at body temp... 
Take the tepid water, add the sugar and the yeast and let it bubble for a bit. In another container have the flour and the salt... Add the water/sugar/yeast mixture and start kneading..  Knead for 10 minutes, knocking, banging bashing the dough. Dough must come out looking elastic and shiny and ready.. 
Many people think that kneading is hard. Well, kneading 500g or flour is not hard and it takes little time and it is VERY theraputic. Also do not worry about how to knead. It is something that it is almost inherited in our DNA and pretty soon you will feel so natural about it. Just let yourself go... Get in a trans state almost and enjoy it all.. After the dough is ready and it may need a spoonful or two of extra four but not so much more, store it until it doubles it's size for 40 minutes or so. After that put it in the fridge and let it there all night. it will continue to grow more slowly. 
Next day remove the dough from the fridge for 30 minutes before frying. 
In a bowl mix the cheese and the herbs and cut little pieces of dough, flatten them in your hand and put some cheese in them. Close them and make sure the seal is tight... Then fry them in olive oil or any other cooking oil you use turning them over till they are golden brown in color.. put them on some kitchen paper to remove the exes oil and you are good to go... 

In Greek
Τυρόπιτες με ζυμάρι ψωμιού

Για τη ζύμη
500γρ αλεύρι κίτρινο για ψωμί

340γρ. νερό χλιαρό
7γρ. μαγιά ξερή
ένα κουταλάκι του γλυκού ζάχαρη
ένα κουταλάκι του γλυκού αλάτι

για τη γέμιση
150γρ φέτα σε κομματάκια 
50γρ κατίκι
μερικά βότανα όπως δυόσμος ή ότι άλλο σας φωτίσει η έμπνευσή σας

Ανακατεύουμε το χλιαρό νερό με τη ζάχαρη και την μαγιά.
Σε μπολ βάζουμε το αλεύρι με το αλάτι
Ανακατεύουμε το αλεύρι με το υγρό μείγμα και ζυμώνουμε για 10 λεπτά. Αφήνουμε σκεπασμένο σε ζεστό μέρος να διπλασιαστεί ο όγκος του. Βάζουμε στο ψυγείο τη ζύμη αν είναι να τις φτιάξουμε την επόμενη μέρα ή αφήνουμε τη ζύμη να ξεκουραστεί και να φουσκώσει ακόμα περισσότερο. Παίρνουμε κομμάτια της ζύμης, τα ανοίγουμε στο χέρι μας και βάζουμε με ένα κουτάλι από τη γέμιση. Τηγανίζουμε σε καυτό λάδι μέχρι να χρυσίσουν...
Καλή επιτυχία!

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