A Georgian Feast

A Christmas-Time Georgian Feast
(image by The Global Reader)

The cookbook I’ve relied for my visit to Georgia is The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein. Two thumbs way up for this one – the writing, the history, the recipes are all fantastic. It will indeed be on permanent rotation in this household from here on out.

I went big on one meal, and even invited company over to share! On a Monday night even! That’s super daring for me; but I didn’t need to worry. Georgian food is delicious, and not hard to cook at all. I just did most of the prep the day before, and I managed to get everything to the table hot, fully cooked and without freaking myself or any of my guests out. One mishap though: I was so focused on cooking and being a good hostess that I neglected to get many photographs. You’ll just have to trust me that everything was lovely.

(All of the recipes below are adapted from the The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein.)

Basturma of Beef

(Marinated Beef Kabobs)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/4 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • tomatoes, scallions

Instructions:

  1. Place the meat cubes in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the onion, salt, peppercorns, garlic, and herbs
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, and then mix into the onion mixture. Pour over the meat. Marinate overnight, preferably for 24 hours.
  4. Put the cubes on skewers and grill for about 10 minutes, turning once. The meat should still be pink inside.
  5. Optional garnishes: tomato wedges and scallions.

Pamidvris Satsebela

(Tomato Sauce)

This is a common accompaniment to Basturma.

Ingredients:
Makes One Quart

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup of corn oil
  • 3 pound of ripe tomatoes, cut into eights
  • 1/2 cup of pitted prunes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook on low heat, covered, for 45 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.
  3. Put through a food mill or strainer, pressing hard on the solids.
  4. Return the sauce to the pan and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. I made this the day before, stored in a mason jar and then reheated on low heat for about 20 minutes.
  6. Can be served hot or at room temperature.
Basturma and Tomato Sauce
(image by The Global Reader)

Chirbuli

(Cauliflower with Egg)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 small (1 pound) cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons or one stick of butter
  • 1/ 4 cup of minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of minced cilantro
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking,  saute onions until golden in 4 tablespoons of butter.
  3. Add the remaining butter and stir in the cauliflower, making sure florets are coated. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until tender.
  4. Stir in parsley, cilantro and eggs. Cook very briefly, just until the eggs are done.
  5. Remove from heat and season to taste.


Green Beans with Yogurt 

(Mtsvane Lobios Borani)

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 onion, peeled and minced
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, cilantro, parsley, dill, summer savory)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot of boiling water, parboil the beans for 4 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  2. Drain the beans and chop coarsely.
  3. Saute the onion in 4 tablespoons of butter until soft.
  4. Add the beans to the onion along with the remaining  butter. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves and pepper. Cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the beans are very soft.
  5. In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with salt to a paste. Whip the yogurt with the ice water and add it to the pounded garlic.
  6. Stir the fresh herbs into the beans and cook for 1 minute more. Pour the yogurt over the beans and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Georgian Veggies
(image by The Global Reader)

Khachapuri, version I

(Georgian Cheese Bread)

Serves 12 to 15

There are numerous types of Khachapuri. This one is flaky and very buttery.

  • 2 cups of unbleached white flour
  • 1/ 2 teaspoon of salt
  • 12 tablespoons or 1 1/ 2 sticks of cold butter, cut in pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/ 4 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 1/ 4 pounds of mixed Muenster and Havarti cheeses
  • egg yolk, beaten

Instructions:

  1. Put the flour and salt in a medium bowl and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg and stir in the yogurt, then add to the flour mixture. Form into a ball and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Grate the cheeses coarsely, beat the other egg, and stir it into the cheese. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven 350°F. Grease a large baking sheet. On a floured board roll the dough to a rectangle about 12 x 17 inches. Trim the edges. Spread the cheese mixture on half the dough and then fold the other half over to enclose it, sealing and crimping the edges.
  5. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet and brush with beaten egg yolk. Bake for 50 minutes or until browned. The bread is best served slightly warm, cut into small squares.
Khachapuri. A failed, yet still very tasty, attempt.
(image by The Global Reader)


Lemon Tea Cake

(Limnis Namtskhvari)

Serves 8

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind of large lemon
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream together the butter and confectioner’s sugar
  3. In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs lightly; stir in the yogurt. Add this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar and beat until light.
  4. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into the batter. Stir in the grated lemon rind and juice. Turn the batter into an ungreased 7 x 11 inch pan.
  5. Smooth the top of the batter and bake for 35 minutes, until golden. Allow the cake to cool in the pan.

MY NOTES: Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. The batter seemed like a mistake, but I trusted in the process and rightly so. I did not have the pan size indicated, so I just used a large loaf pan and it was perfect. Keeps incredibly well wrapped up tightly at room temperature. I’ll be making this often.

Success!

My noble husband, hearing my cries of distress, braved the elements of a scary Kroger’s parking lot in Norwood, Ohio and procured more meat. Georgian Beef Stew was made. And it was excellent.

Nothing particularly hard about the recipe – the meat is braised in a way that I had never tried before, but it was fun learning a new cooking technique. The only painful part for me was chopping up three onions – I love them but oh lordy do my eyes water. I probably should think about wearing swimming goggles or something.

(image by The Global Reader)

The recipe is adapted from an excellent cookbook, The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Foods of the Republic of Georgia by Darra Goldstein. Which is a Julia Child Cookbook Awards Book of the Year, by the way.

Vibrant is correct; I am absolutely in love with the exuberance Georgian culture has for food, drink, and celebration. They seem to like to have fun.

Georgian Beef Stew (Sousi)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
  • 3 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, diced (drained)
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 bays leaves
  • 4 cups chopped cilantro (1/4 pound)
  • 4 cups chopped basil (1/4 pound)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 hot red or green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.  In a dutch oven cook the meat, covered, over low heat until it begins to sweat
  2. Without adding any liquid, braise the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Uncover the pan and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the liquid evaporates.
  4. Add the butter at this point, and cook the meat over medium high heat for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until it browns. Next, add the onions and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
  5. Add the tomatoes along with the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with pepper. Mix well. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

I never peel potatoes unless I really, really have to.

Also, I used just half of a jalapeno (the only hot pepper I had on hand) due to my husband’s very sensitive palette. However, this stew can totally handle a whole pepper without becoming “too spicy”. I’ll go for the full deal next time.

I went simple and just served it with some crusty whole grain bread and some red wine. I haven’t had a chance to shop for Georgian wines yet, but from what I understand they are often a bit sweeter than what is consumed in my household. But we had a nice Cabernet Franc from Pelee Island Winery on hand, and it went very well.

Another winner all the way around!

Sousi – Georgian Beef Stew
(image by The Global Reader)