Cheese Crazy in Zitsa

The Vagabond Cook has been quiet for a few months now, or so it would seem! Winter is a time for hibernation, and as it turns out…experimenting! And boy have I been doing that. 

I was staying with my friends Kostas and Anna in Zitsa, and they happen to own a bakery (lucky me!). And they happen to host travellers (Luckier me!). AND it just so happens that they also like cooking, creating and eating (jackpot!). So what better place to be for the Vagabond Cook?

Eric and Charlotte, a French couple travelling by bike (who just happen to be going East along the Silk Road towards China!) stopped by for 4 nights with warm showers, a website designed to give hospitality (and warm showers) to travelling cyclists. After 3 days of cooking they declared it was time for something French. E voila…Camembert Friday was born in celebration.

4 creamy camemberts, 2 French brains, 1 Greek, 1 English and 1 American – hmmm, what sort of recipes could we dream up?

First off we wrapped some whole Camembert in filo pastry. Here’s the basic recipe for the filo:

600g plain flour

350g water (room temperature)

20g Olive Oil

Put the flour in a bowl. add the Olive Oil and then half of the water. Bring together with your hands. Add the rest of the water little by little until you have a soft dough. You may need to add a little or less water. Place on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until elastic. Wrap and put in a warm place.

You can try adding different flavours to the filo – fresh herbs, spices etc. We added finely chopped rosemary during the mixing process which was divine!

Rosemary filo encrusted Camembert with Roasted Olive, Apple and Raisin

Creamy melting Camembert surrounded by a gooey sweet and sour chutney, encased in a crispy rosemary filo.

Melting cambert vovered in olive, apple and raisin chutney, inside a crispy rosemary filo case
Melting cambert vovered in olive, apple and raisin chutney, inside a crispy rosemary filo case

Ingredients

1 apple, a handful of olives and raisins, a splash of grape juice, 1 camembert, filo pastry

Chop the Olives (remove the stones) and apples into small pieces, add the raisins (or fresh grapes), and a splash of grape juice or even better grape or pomegranate molasses. Place in a baking dish, cover with cling film and bake in a hot oven for about an hour. Everything will cook down into a delicious sweet chutney.

Meanwhile, make the filo with the rosemary added. You will need about a quarter of the mix above. Divide into 4 balls and roll each one into a round thin shape. Put a little oil on the first layer, then place the second on top. Now in the centre spread the chutney and place the camembert on top. put the rest of the chutney on top and then a layer of filo. Fold the bottom layers up and cover with a final layer of filo. Transfer to a baking dish, brush with an egg wash and place in the oven at 200ºC for 40 – 45 minutes.

Whole Baked Camembert with Quince and Almond

Sweet quince marries with the creamy camembert and crunchy toasted almonds in a crisp filo crust

Ingredients

Quince jam (or other of your choice), flaked almonds, 1 Camembert, filo pastry

Similar to the recipe above but this time we’re using a normal filo pastry without rosemary and quince jam instead of the chutney.

Follow the instructions as above but put quince jam on the bottom, then the camembert, and then another layer of jam and top with the flaked almonds. Wrap and transfer to a baking dish, brush with an egg wash and place in the oven at 200ºC for 40 – 45 minutes.

Tipsy Whole Baked Camembert with Ouzo and Onions

Oozing Ouzo and onion stuffed baked camembert
Oozing Ouzo and onion stuffed baked camembert

Traditionally this would use Pastis, but when in Greece…! Perfect for dipping crusty bread

Ingredients

1 small onion, 1 camembert, a splash of Pasis or Ouzo

Place the Camembert inside its box. Chop an onion into small pieces and squash into the camembert. Put a good splash of the liqueur and bake until it begins to melt and bubble – 35 – 45 minutes.

Serve oozing straight out of the oven.

Camembert Triangles

Little cheesy triangles of goodness…depending on how you look at it!

Ingredients (makes 10)

Half a Camembert (!!!), half an onion, 1 sweet red pepper, filo pastry

Use a quarter of the amount of filo above and shape into 10 small balls. Roll into long lengths.

Using a fork, mix the Camembert, onions and peppers into a creamy paste and put a small spoonful at one end of each filo layer. Shape into triangles by folding the filo over and over. Brush with egg wash and bake for 25 – 30 minutes at 200ºC

Cheesy Rosemary Crispbread

Ok so this doesn’t actually have any camembert, but it’s so good I thought i’s add it anyway! And it’s super simple…

Roll out your rosemary filo dough into a sheet, crumble feta or any other cheese inside, clip back the filo, roll out again so that the cheese is inside all mushed into the dough. Then bake in the oven for about 12 minutes on a hot, slightly oiled baking tray, or better still directly on a hot stone. Turn halfway through to crisp up each side

When it comes out it is crispy and delicious, and perfect for dipping or with honey drizzled all over it!


I highly recommend trying a camembert Friday with a group of friends, and seeing what you come up with. Oh and one more thing…as Anna is a chocolate freak, she insisted that camembert friday was incomplete without a chocolate camembert creation. In the picture there are also therefore 2 chocolate and camembert filled filos. However, the vagabond cook is not convinced, and so i’m going to leave that challenge up to somebody else! I look forward to hearing about more cheesy fridays, or saturdays..or sundays! 🙂


2 thoughts on “Cheese Crazy in Zitsa

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