Friday, November 27, 2009

Brie and Cherry Kolaches

Before I moved to Texas, I didn't know anything about Czechoslovakian culture. Luckily, it just so happens that West, Texas, which is about 20 minutes north of Waco, is full of people with Czech heritage. People even speak Czech there frequently, and they have a big Czech celebration every year called Westfest where people dance polka and drink "pivo" (beer).
Beyond Westfest, West is most known for their famous pastries called kolaches. These are delicious treats that all use the same yeast, sweet bread, and the fillings range from fruit, to cream cheese, to sausage! You can get sweet or savory, but either way, they are still called kolaches. Anyone who is from Texas knows to stop by Czechstop as they are driving up I-35 and the line is usually out the door to get homemade kolaches.
This story has a point, I promise! I was given some Ile de France Brie cheese to enter their recipe contest. I was stumped about what to make with it that would be different than what everyone else is making, when I thought of it - Kolaches! Of course!
Hence, I looked around online until I found a satisfactory recipe for the dough, and then of course I adapted it to my own needs. But all credit goes to Homesick Texan for the base dough recipe. created some Brie and Cherry Kolaches. And they were delicious. I want you to try these right now and tell me you don't love them. Dan was nervous about the concept at first, but he gave them two strong thumbs up after trying them and has since eaten most of them. We also took them to Thanksgiving to snack on before the meal, and they were declared a success there as well.
I'm going to enter the Ile de France competition with these, so at some point I might be asking you to vote for me if you like this idea! I'm sure that there will be people with way cooler and fancier recipes, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?
Here I am, putting the jam on each of them.

This recipe isn't hard, but it does take time for all the different risings. I would recommend making these on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I would also recommend making them smaller than I did, particularly if you want them for appetizers. They rise more than you think they will in the oven!


1 package (or 2.25 teaspoons) yeast

1 cup warm milk (I used 1%)

1/4 cup sugar

4 cups flour (or more)

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 round Brie Cheese (I used Ile de France)

1 jar cherry preserves

Combine the yeast, milk, sugar, and 1 cup flour in a small bowl. Cover and let this rise until it's about doubled, maybe 20-30 minutes. While it's rising, beat together the eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and salt. Combine this mixture with the yeast mixture and beat again.

If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to use it. Stir in 2-3 cups of flour, while stirring continuously if you have a mixer. If not, add it about 1/2 cup at a time and then stir. You want the dough to be soft and pliable, but not too sticky. You should be able to knead it a bit without it being super sticky all over your fingers. If it's too sticky, add more flour. I used quite a bit, but a lot of it depends on the weather and humidity where you're cooking. I think I used about 4.5 cups of flour total. But don't freak out if you need to use a lot less than that, or even more - it's okay! Then knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or let your mixer do the needing for you. Let it rise, covered, for about an hour.

Once it's about doubled in size, punch the dough down. Grease two cookie sheets and start pulling off little balls of dough! I would recommend making these about the size of a small cookie. Roll each piece around in your hands a little until it's round, and then smoosh it down so it's a little flattened. Set them on the cookie sheet. You can put them kind of close to each other - traditionally, the kolaches are close together and end up shaped into sort of squares because they bump up against each other. Also, don't forget they will rise even bigger.

Next, use a spoon (or your fingers, whatever) and make an an indentation in the middle of each dough. You want to make this as wide as possible to fit in maximum possible toppings. Make it as deep as you can, but obviously not too deep, because you still need enough dough underneath to hold everything together.

Next, put in the Brie! Cut off a slice of cheese and press it into the indented part of the dough. Don't stress about how big or small it really doesn't matter. All I can tell you is the more cheese, the better it tastes. I tried to fit about a 1/4 inch thick piece in each kolache, and just tore them to be the correct length. Next, top it off with the cherry preserves! Add about a tablespoon of this to each kolache. Of course, you can try other flavors of preserves or jams...we tried grape, but everyone voted that cherry was way better. I think fig would be delicious too.

You're almost done! Bake the kolaches in an oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes, maybe a little longer, until they look done and are a little browned on top. They might be a little messy, as you can see from the pictures below. That's okay. And you can also add more preserves once they've baked if too much slides off during baking. Just reheat for 15 seconds in the microwave and no one will be the wiser. Obviously, mine were super messy and you're also seeing the lack of photography skills I have. Oh well - I guess you'll have to try them yourself!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Weekend in NYC

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! We will be celebrating with friends in Waco this year. We are so thankful for all of our family and friends that we get to share the holidays with. I hope you all have a restful, blessed Thanksgiving.
I went to New York last weekend for the conference. It was actually pretty fun - I got to talk to a lot of people about my research, and learn some new things about therapy too!

Here is a picture right in Times Square. See the big Kodak sign on the left side? Underneath that was the entrance to the hotel where the conference was. We were right in the middle of things!

The first night, we went to a hot dog stand and then got pizza - we wanted to get the full New York City experience.

The next day, Saturday, I presented my poster. Here is a more-than-slightly-awkward picture of me in front of it, before everyone else got in there.

And that was it! One more night in the big city and then it was back to Waco. Goodbye, New York!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I'm leaving for New York City tomorrow! It's going to be quite the short trip, because I'm not getting there until tomorrow afternoon and I'm leaving early Sunday morning. I'm going to the ABCT convention to present my research poster on Saturday. I wish I could figure out how to link the abstract here, but I can't. If you're interested, though, go to the site and click on Plan My Itinerary and then search for "Fogle" under presenters. My project should come up. It's very exciting but sort of a bad weekend...I have another test in my neuropsychology class on Tuesday, so there will be lots of studying on the plane for me.

In other news, Dan graduated wine tasting last night. He has taken four "semesters" over two years with his friend Matthew. Their final test was a blind tasting of four wines. Over the past years, only one person has ever gotten all four correct. Well, Dan became the second person to do so! (And another guy in his class did as well, so I don't know if that makes Dan the 2nd or 3rd, but whatever.) He tasted four wines and, not knowing anything about them, identified them as 1. Chardonnay 2. Riesling 3. Cabernet Sauvignon and 4. Pinot Noir. I know, right, there is no way in a million years I could get all those. Maybe if it were matching? So the next time Dan tries to downplay his supertaster abilities or his wine knowledge, don't trust him, because he is legit!

For Thanksgiving, we're staying in Waco and spending the day with Camden and Matthew. It should be fun although of course I'll miss spending the day with family, and all the fun that comes with it such as Left Right Center and Catchphrase. The four of us might even go spend a couple days in Hill Country though at a friend's I'm sure it will be a nice relaxing couple of days off.

I'll have my M.A. after this semester's can just call me Master.

Dan will still be closer to his final graduation than I am however. (He'll have 1.5 years, I'll have 2.5 years.)

How's this for a random stream of consciousness post?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best Birthday Present EVER

Sammie turned two last week. missed it! Again, for the second year in a row, she got no presents from any extended friends or family.

Except one.

Oh, and was it an amazing present.

Dad and Diane picked out something special for the Saminator.

And technically they didn't even know it was her birthday, they just thought it was cute, but that's okay too, because we saved it and gave it to her on her birthday.

Are you ready for this?

She got A SNUGGIE!!

And now it's keeping her nice and warm here in...err...Texas. Well, it has been getting a little chilly at night!

And that's all for tonight...