Friday, June 5, 2009

Forays into food

A few weeks ago I decided that I desperately, desperately needed to make delkalach for the summer holiday of Shavuot (Pentacost). Delkalach are a barely sweet, yeasty Hungarian cheese pastry that, courtesy of my grandmother, would always grace our tables for the holiday. I'd never made delkalach before, but I figured it was worth a try. Since I have not yet mastered the art of food writing, I'm just going to post some pictures (with comments) detailing my adventure in Hungarian pastry making.

The Cheese:

My grandmother uses farmer's cheese*, which doesn't exist here in Israel, so I decided to use a mix of equal parts ricotta and tuv tam (a soft, crumbly cheese with a bit of a tang, like farmer's), which needed to be drained overnight to get it dry enough to resemble the farmer's cheese my grandmother uses. I lined a strainer with some coffee filters, placed it over a bowl and left it to drain overnight in the fridge.
Mise en Place

I just really like using that term.

The Dough, pre-rise

What a nice, soft yeasty dough it was.

Strawberries, duh

While the dough was rising, I cleaned the oven (ugh) and quickly put these lovely strawberries (which my sister so nicely washed and hulled for me) up to stew with some sugar, a slice of ginger, a chili pepper and a few cinnamon sticks. Strawberry soup in the making. By then the dough had risen and was ready to be rolled out. By then I had also realized that I had lent out my rolling pin to a neighbor months ago. So I left the strawberries simmering and ran to retrieve my rolling pin, hoping that the dough would not over-rise and deflate, or anything else my overactive imagination could come up with as the consequences of not following my grandmother's very vague instructions to a tee. Upon my return I discovered that the strawberries had boiled over and my once clean range was now covered in sticky bright red ooze. Yum. The dough, however was just fine.



Cheese, a very little bit of sugar and an egg to bind it.

And here we go

Delkelach are a bother and a half to make. The dough has to be rolled out into a thin (but not too thin) rectangle and then cut into 3 inch squares. The squares are then filled- (I actually did not fill mine enough. My grandmother said to use a teaspoon full of filling and I ended up using about a half a teaspoon-full. The cheese was barely discernible in the end product, which is what happens when you don't follow your grandmother's instructions to a tee. In my defense though, this was the first time I was making them and I was having visions of exploded cheese pastry all over my clean oven.)- and folded into a cute little packet. It's fun the first 20 times you do it, but when you get to cute little packet number 35, you're slamming the little buggers into untidy square shaped things, all the while cursing yourself for every thinking that this was a good idea.

It was worth it in the end

Aren't they pretty, the little darlings?

So what did you think of this foray into food-writing. Good? Bad? Should I post more of the same (after all I have a running commentary going in my head every time I make dinner. All I need to do is take pictures). Should I start working on my photography skills?

Thesis watch: I gave a lecture. There were blank faces. My advisor liked it though

Book Rec: The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters

Cubbie Watch: 2 games over .500. 3.5 games back. Our bullpen sucks. I miss Kerry. Can we have our Kerry back now please?

*Ah, yes, the cheese. Evidently, farmer's cheese is actually a substitute for the traditional Hungarian soft cheese called tourosh (or something like that), which is found nowhere in the world except Hungary. Or at least that's what my uncle says, and my uncle knows all. So I don't feel all that bad about my lack of farmer's cheese.

**Also, I have been trying and trying to figure out how to create an expandable post, so that these ultra long posts don't take up so much space. If anyone can give me a tutorial on how to change my template please speak up. Thanks.


celine said...

Hi rogue!!

I LOVED your baking entry! and liked the pix also - no need for you to go to a photography class, darlin'!!
I can so sympathise with the fact that you have to make a recipe without the correct cheese - I have been trying to duplicate the cheesecake that I used to make back in the old country (where noomzie was born!) it was called KWARK - had ZERO % fat (!!!) and it made for a dynomite cheesecake!! and I can't find it here in this silly country (USA)
I'm gonna do a bit more research on that Hungarian bulkelach thing that you made - I wish I could taste it!!
Love, noomzie's mum

Rogue Unicorn said...

Thanks, Naomi's mom.
I'm glad you enjoyed. I'm not sure what the Hungarian name for this pastry is- I'm pretty sure delkalach is a Yiddish word. If you find out anything about their history please let me know.
Come back soon.