Aligot, khachapuri and spätzle: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Super Cheese Recipes |  Food

Aligot, khachapuri and spätzle: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Super Cheese Recipes | Food

BSaturday may or may not be the gloomiest day of the year, but it’s a good idea to have some preventative preparations in place both ways. For me, it always takes the form of food and its unfailing ability to comfort. From there, it tends to be a very short step to melted cheese: Grilled cheese sandwich, pizza, mac’n’cheese, tuna melted… it’s no coincidence that so many people’s favorite comfort food is basically an excuse to melt, stretch and eat cheese. No need to smile at the camera, but we can all still say, “Cheeeeese!

Adjaruli khachapuri with aleppo chili and spring onion butter (pictured above)

Khachapuri is a Georgian yeast bread filled with cheese, eggs and butter. It is usually served for breakfast, but do not limit yourself – it is welcome all day. The dough can be made a day in advance and refrigerated overnight, ready to be shaped before baking. Use medium-sized or even small eggs here, because the white from a large one will just slip off the already cheese-filled khachapuris.

Prepare 20 min
Prove 1 hour 30 min
Cook 20 min
Serving 4

1 teaspoon fast-acting dried yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
250 g plain flour
plus extra for dusting
100 g Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium-sized eggs, 2 beaten
¼ teaspoon caramel seeds
½ tsp nigella seeds
Salt and black pepper
, plus a teaspoon of cracked black pepper for the cheese mixture
80 g cream cheese
240 g mozzarella with reduced moisture, coarsely grated

For aleppo chili and spring onion butter
80 g unsalted butter
2½ tsp aleppo chili
3 spring onions
, trimmed and finely chopped

Put yeast, sugar and one and a half tablespoons of hot water in a small bowl, stir to combine and set aside for five minutes until it starts to bubble. Put flour, yogurt, oil and one beaten egg in the bowl of a mixer equipped with a dough hook, mix well, then add caramel seeds, half of the nigella seeds and three-quarters teaspoon of salt and mix on a medium-high speed for two minutes, until they are just mixed. Add the contents of the yeast bowl and mix for five minutes until the dough becomes smooth and begins to come off the sides of the bowl in one ball. Cover well, ideally with reusable kitchen wrapping, and then leave to rise in a warm place for an hour and a half until it is twice as large.

Meanwhile, mix the cream cheese and mozzarella in a small bowl with the cracked black pepper, then divide into four equal pieces, roll each into a ball, place on a plate and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 230C (220C fan) / 475F / gas 9, and place a large baking tray on the middle groove to heat up.

Once the dough has doubled in size, scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to knock the air out and assemble it into a smooth ball. Divide the dough into four equal balls and roll each one out into an oval of 22 cm x 17 cm. Brush the tops all over with the second beaten egg, then roll over the edges on the longer sides of each oval to make a cigar-like shape with a space of 8 cm in the middle. Squeeze the ends together so that each piece now looks like a boat, then place a cheese ball in the bare center of each boat. Brush the bare edges of the dough all over with the remaining beaten egg, then gently lift each khachapuri onto the hot plate in the oven and bake for 13 minutes until the cheese bubbles and the bread is golden brown.

Take the plate out of the oven, then flatten the hot cheese balls with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg on top of each flat cheese ball, top each egg with a pinch of salt and put back in the oven for five minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolk is still flowing.

Meanwhile, make chili and spring onion butter. Put a small saucepan on medium-high heat, add the butter and when it bubbles furiously, stir in the aleppo chili. Remove from the heat and stir in the spring onion and a pinch of salt.

Serve the khachapuri on a large platter and sprinkle the remaining quarter teaspoon of nigella seeds over. Pour a tablespoon of the warm butter mixture on top of each loaf, and serve with the rest next to it for dipping.

Herby käsespätzle with caramelized onions

Yotam's herby käsespätzle with caramelized onions.
Yotam Ottolenghis herby käsespätzle with caramelized onions.

Spätzle is an egg-based dumpling from southern Germany (the cheese part of the name of this dish refers to the cheese). It may get a little messy the first time you try to make them, but give yourself the challenge and have everything ready and within reach before you get started. The size of the dish you use is very important here, because the large surface means you get lots of tasty crispy chunks. Thanks to Christiane MacKenzie, sister of the test kitchen’s Verena Lochmuller, for sharing her recipe with us.

Prepare 20 min
Cook 40 min
Serving 4 as page

1 tablespoon olive oil
75 g butter

1 large onion
, peeled and cut into thin slices (220 g)
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons picked thyme leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (15 g)
1¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar
250 g plain flour
2 eggs
, beaten
160 ml sparkling water
½
tablespoons lemon juice
150 g gruyere, revet
7 tablespoons (20g) finely chopped chives
8 tablespoons (30 g) coarsely chopped parsley

Put a medium-sized, shallow, ovenproof sauté pan on medium-high heat, add oil, butter, onions and one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden. Add thyme, garlic and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, cook, stirring, for three more minutes until fragrant, then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, you’re making fun of them dough. Sift the flour into a medium bowl and stir in half a teaspoon of salt. Make a well in the middle, then whip with a wooden spoon strong egg and sparkling water for two minutes until large air bubbles appear and the dough is smooth and glossy; the bubbles will hold the dough lightly.

Fill a medium saucepan with one and a half liters of water, add one and a half tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. When it bubbles, turn down the heat to medium and let it simmer. Hold a large slotted spoon with medium or large perforations over the pan, pour a spoonful of the dough in, then tap the spoon on the side of the water pot (or use a smaller spoon to scrape the dough through the holes) so that it falls through the holes into the water . When spätzle float to the surface, after about 10 seconds they are done, then lift them out with another slotted spoon, transfer them to a colander for draining and repeat with the remaining dough.

Preheat the oven to 240C (220C hot air) / 475F / gas 9, and mix gruyere with chopped chives and parsley in a small bowl. Stir the cooked spätzle into the still hot onion mixture and add the lemon juice and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the gruyere mixture. Spread the remaining gruyere mixture, a quarter teaspoon of black pepper and the remaining quarter teaspoon of cumin seeds on top, then bake for 12 minutes until the cheese and spätzlen are crispy and bubbling. Serve hot directly from the pan.

Aligot with fried winter vegetables and chermoula

Yotam Ottolenghi's aligot cheese potatoes with fried evergreens.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s aligot with fried evergreens and chermoula.

I once read a description of aligot as “hold-to-your-ribs comfort food” that really stuck with me to tell it the way it is. This fondue-like mashed potato dish originates from the Midi-Pyrénées in France, and probably makes the most sense after a long day out in the mountains, but I’m sure a good tramp around the park will work just as well. Traditionally it is made with empty fraiche, but to facilitate the purchase I have used comté and mozzarella instead. Replace the root vegetables with fried cabbage or sprouts if you like.

Prepare 35 min
Cook 40 min
Serving 6

For the chermoula
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large green chilies, finely chopped, marrow and seeds removed if you do not like very hot (20g)
90 ml olive oil
60 g coriander
, leaves and soft stems, coarsely chopped
20 g flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted lightly and crushed finely in a mortar
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted lightly and crushed finely in a mortar
3 teaspoons lemon juice

For the fried vegetables
3 small carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2 cm thick slices (350 g)
3 small parsnips, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2 cm thick slices (350 g)
3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut at an angle into 2 cm thick slices (350 g)
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the aligoten
500 g red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 cm pieces
10 cloves garlic, peeled (50 g)
230 ml double cream
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Salt and black pepper

200g amt, severely removed and discarded, finely torn
150 g mozzarella, roughly torn

Make the chermoula first. Put garlic, chili and oil in the bowl of a large food processor and blend until almost smooth. Add coriander and parsley leaves and cumin and coriander seeds, then pulse four or five times until almost finely chopped but still green. Pour into a small bowl, stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 240C (220C fan) / 475F / gas 9. Put all the root vegetables in a medium bowl with two tablespoons of oil, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grinder of pepper, turn to coating and arrange in a single layer on a large oven plate lined with greaseproof paper. Shake for 20 to 25 minutes until softened, blistered and charred in places.

While the vegetables are frying, make the aligote. Put a liter of water and a tablespoon of salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and garlic, cook for 15 minutes until tender, then drain. Push the skewers and garlic through the finest setting of a potato grater (if you do not have a riser, pass them through a mouli or mash with a masher until very smooth). Return the bog to the hot pan, but off the heat, then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until it collects into a smooth ball. Put the pan on low heat, pour in the cream, mustard, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grinder of black pepper, and stir thoroughly until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a liquid mash. Whip the grated cheese vigorously for a third at a time until it is all melted in and the aligot mixture is shiny and pulls away from the sides of the pan in smooth threads when lifted up with the spoon. Turn down the heat to very low and keep the heat.

To assemble the dish, put a large ovenproof dish in the oven for five minutes until it is hot but not scorching hot. Take out of the oven, pour three quarters of the aligote over the dish and place the hot fried vegetables on top. Drizzle half of the chermoula and the remaining tablespoon of oil over, and serve hot with the remaining chermoula in a bowl and the remaining aligot to dip on the side.

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