Saturday, October 19, 2013

Three Little Halves Cheese Savories

I never had to think seriously about the name for my blog, it was always there, “three halves”, now largely forgotten phrase from Serbian epic poetry. Serbian epic ballads are dark tales of bygone ages, the poems of defeat and the kingdom lost, the stories of defiance, rebellion and the celebration of human spirit. They were mandatory read back in the elementary school, and I should say, oftentimes a tough one. Imposed on us way too early by the ambitious communist educators, the finesse of these verses was lost on a bunch of sixth graders; we ignored the subtlety of the decasyllabic poetic meter in favor of the action packed passages and heroic adventures.

By far the most popular character of all Serbian epics was Prince Marko (Краљевић Марко, pronounced Marko Kralyevich), a reluctant vassal to the Turks, with short temper, long mustache, Damascus sword, weird sense of humor, and a habit of breaking his opponents into three halves. I was always a little bit of a bookworm, and possibly among the very few who still remember the phrase, which served me just fine, since I ended up with a really lovely name for my blog, and an entitlement to all things three little halves around.

Come to think about it, I think the Heavens wanted me to have the name, since everything in my life is a little bit in three halves. I live in a perfect three little halves family. A man, a woman and a child. Dr. V, Queen Sashy and Miss Pain. One of the halves is Asian, one is from Europe and the third little half can one day be the President of the United States. One of us is coffee colored, one of us is milky with speckles, and the third little half is the color of caramel. One of us is Catholic, one of us is Eastern Orthodox, and the third little half currently worships Greek Gods. One of us is yogi, one of us grew up in Buddhist lands, and the third little half went to an Episcopalian preschool. One of us is atheist, one of us believes in karma, and the third little half is still undecided. I could continue for hours...

In addition to making sure that I got the name I deserved, the Heavens also wanted me to have a very special, signature three little halves recipe. I never had to search for it, it was with me since the earliest childhood, right there in my mom’s cookbook. It’s just that, back then, before I got preoccupied with all things three little halves, it was a nameless recipe for cheese pastry my mom used to make almost every week. It was yummy, convenient, easy, inexpensive, and as a result, it became an irreplaceable part of my lunchbox, our Sunday picnic basket and a regular companion on our July trips to the coast.

Have you ever seen a recipe where the perfect three little halves of ingredients combine themselves in a mouthwatering whole? If no, you are about to see one. If yes, please drop me a note and let me know of your recipe, because I am dying to know of all things three little halves in this world.

Three Little Halves Cheese Savories

* 1 lb all purpose flour
* 1 lb Greek feta cheese, grated
* 1 lb butter

1. Using mixer fitted with paddle, mix the butter until creamy. Add the feta and mix well. Add the flour and mix or knead until it forms smooth dough.

Roll the dough (or form it with your hands) into a square packet, wrap it in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and leave for about 90 minutes to come to a room temperature.

Place the dough into a bowl, and give it a nice knead for about five minutes.

Dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out to about 3/4” to 1” thick round. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out the cookies and arrange them one inch apart on the baking sheets. (Prepare a small bowl with flour, and before stamping each cookie, dip the cutter into the flour, to prevent the dough from sticking.) Leave the savories on the baking sheets for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 365F.

Bake the savories for about 23 minutes (that’s the magic number in my oven).

8. Remove the savories from the oven, leave them on the baking sheets for about five minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack or flat surface to cool completely.

Makes about 35-40 savories

p.s. The savories will be pale yellow, so be careful not to overbake. If you like them in the color of dark gold, mix one egg yolk with a tablespoon or two of milk and brush the savories before baking. Alternatively, you can also brush them with beaten egg white, and then sprinkle with sesame or caraway seeds.


  1. When I want to say to my son Luka " do not do that" I tend to say " More Marko ne ori drumove"....he does not get it, especially if my husband then adds the rest.."More Turci ne gaz'te oranje"...Anyhow, how importan it is for the dough to stay overnight in the refrigerator ? I do not tend to plan things day ahead, so would it make huge difference if I chill it fast in the freezer??

    1. I had many debates with my mom over that question. She thinks that making the dough a day ahead helps proof the dough and the savories rise better. It is true -- since I experimented with it trying to prove her wrong -- if you skip the overnight thing, the cookies will not be as tall, and will be denser, but in a really nice kind of way… Sometimes I like them better that way.

  2. I just don't get it or I don't remember that Serbian epic story. Anyway, I loooove your blog, you are so creative... ma daj, da pređem na srpski, mnogo slatka priča u članku. Da, to je Amerika, sveje tako izmešana, i potpuno van onog ustrojstva sveta na koji smo navikli u Srbiji. E, super za nominaciju, idem da vidim kako se glasa. Gde živiš?


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