Every time I manage to create something delicious using leftovers, I think about my grandmas. Such resourceful women. They lived, worked, raised a family during such hard times, wars, depression, very little rights for women… and A LOT of hard work each and every day. I don’t think they ever went on a vacation. You just got to respect these women.
I feel sorry for not having the opportunity to learn from them how to cook (too late now) but I know that they inspire me. Although I have only a handful of blurry memories of times spent in the kitchen with them, every now and then a new episode comes to life inside my head. Like the other day, when we came back from the farmers market, I asked my son to help me shell the snow peas we just bought. It reminded me of going to the market with my grandma Tovah. I was a child, I believe not more then 10 years old. The market was very different then than today’s farmers markets. Chaotic, dirty, crowded, vendors shouting, the smell of fish swimming in water tubs and the blood of freshly dead chickens in the air. It excited and horrified me at the same time. I loved it and hated it.
Those markets were very unstylish and un-elite. People went there to buy fresh food for less money, unlike today’s markets which make me wonder who shops there besides affluent people and crazy foodies who are willing to spend a little fortune on little food. After grandma finished all her loud arguing and negotiating with the vendors and merchants and was done with all her shopping, we took a bus ride back to her tiny apartment. There she would sit in the small bathroom to clean the very recently killed chicken she bought, pulling off the feathers and all that stuff, and then she would start cooking on her little stovetop with only two burners in the tiny kitchen. No recipes, no cookbooks. She hardly knew how to read and write. But in some mysterious way, her food was magical. So full of flavor with only few basic ingredients and only salt for seasoning it was cooked to perfection. Gosh, she even cooked cakes on that tiny stovetop. On fire! No oven!
I wish I wasn’t too young to learn all that from her. But back then I was given little tasks to do like snap the ends off of green or yellow string beans, sort through rice, “help” knead a dough, polish the silver candleholders.
My grandmas, probably yours too, never threw food away. They would always come up with ways to use ingredients that were about to go bad. This is what today’s recipe is about (as well as the ricotta cheesecake or any cheesecake). Any cheese’s odds and ends and those about to expire can be put to good use here. But use only delicious cheeses like ones you like to eat as is. As they say about wine, don’t use wine you won’t drink in a recipe, same goes for cheese. Cooking is magical, but not to that extent…
(Yes, I use brown parchment paper. It’s unbleached.)
I don’t remember how and where the recipe came from besides that it was created by an Israeli chef who wrote about food from the Balkan countries in Southeastern Europe.
Boykus – Savory cheese cookies
Makes about 30-40 cookies
For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
14 tablespoons (200 grams) butter, room temperature
7 oz. (200 ml) plain yogurt (I use goat yogurt)
8 oz. (250 grams) feta (or another white, salty, a bit dry and firm) cheese, crumbled
7 oz. (200 grams) gruyere (or cheddar, fontina, etc), grated
5 oz. (150 grams) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
For egg wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Put all the dough ingredients in a bowl and mix well (you can do this by hand or in a mixer). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Line a 1-2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Make cookie shapes by creating golf-size* balls and then pressing them lightly to flatten a bit. Place on baking sheet/s. Brush each cookie with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame.
Bake for about 20 minute, or until golden browned.
NOTE: if you have leftover cookies, keep them in the fridge and reheat in the (toaster-) oven. They also freeze well in a freezer-friendly bag/container.
* I don’t play golf but I imagine that’s what they look like…
* * * * *
OK, time to announce the readers who will receive a copy of the book “Not becoming My Mother”.
But before that, I want you to to know that I loved reading your comments and feedback, ideas, and opinions. I appreciate the sharing of your personal stories. This is why I contacted Ruth Reichl’s publicist and she has generously sent me 4 additional copies of the book. I have a lot more goodies waiting to be given away, so if you didn’t get a book today, there will be other chances later on, OK?!
Thank you all for participating and for your support.
And, don’t forget to give someone a hug.
… and the SIGNED copy goes to………………….
Jennifer from Awakened aesthetic
Please send me an e-mail (nurit AT familyfriendlyfood DOT com) with the address where to send the book to.