Category Archives: Recipes

Mixing it up

We have not done anything food related for a while. so.  Time to correct this.

We have a load of basil growing in pots.  Far more than we can eat or give away, and the locals do not seem keen on the idea of using it in food.  It is not the Italian variety, but a local broad leaved one, just as tasty but a little less sweet.  Ashley thought it a good idea to make pesto.  Pesto can of course be made with many things, here it gets called ezme whether made with basil and pine nuts, or black olives.  Tapenade = olive ezme.  Pesto = green ezme, or herb ezme, or something else similar.  A Mexican habenero salsa would probably be chilli ezme.    I am sure you get the idea.  Anyway, I digress.

Back to pesto.  Pine nuts are expensive.  So we hit on the idea of using pumpkin kernels.  Sunflower seeds were also considered but the local Migros did not have any and other options  were closed for bayram, so pumpkin kernels it was.  We briefly considered grinding the kernels and basil by hand, it is hot, 36C hot, grinding stuff by hand, no, way too much sweat and effort.  So the huge pile of basil leaves went into in a pot, along with loads of pumpkin kernels and olive oil, and out came the hand blender.  Blend, taste, blend, add more oil, a little salt, a few more kernels.  Blend, taste.  Until it seems right.

Adding cheese was considered, but, we had no Parmesan, and cheese can always be added at point of use.  Talking of point of use, and the theme of mixing things up, today we went out and bought some manti.  Manti is sometimes called Turkish ravioli.  It is little pinched together pieces of pasta with a filling, so yes, much like tiny ravioli.  Commonly in Turkey it is served topped with yoghurt and flavoured oil, which is of course delicious.

So we cooked manti, it is easy enough simply drop it in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Then we spooned over some of the home made pesto and pieces of local goat cheese, turned it all very gently to coat all the manti, and served.  Delicious. Perfect with a salad of tomatoes dressed in oil and balsamic vinegar.

Ashley adds. I need to learn to make pasta.  So many different fillings and sauces.  So many options to mix things up.  Ravioli, Manti, Dim Sum, Gyoza,

Advertisements

Something else to do with celeriac

celeriac-doneWe can’t get celery here but all winter long we get fantastic celeriac.  The leaves give soups and stews a celery flavour but the stems are too tough to use for anything that isn’t cooked for several hours.  The traditional way to cook it here is as a zeytinyağlı mezze which is, indeed, delicious, but we have also roasted it and used it in soup.  Recently, though we adapted a River Cottage recipe for celeriac and chilli gratin.  Well, we did try the original and found it a bit too richly creamy and not cheesy enough.  So we used bechamel instead of cream and, because fresh chilli is very expensive and difficult to come by now, pul biber or plain acı biber flakes.

celeriac-mixing-bechamelFirst you make a bechamel with flour, butter and milk.  For two people about 2/3 of one of those little cartons of milk is sufficient.  The quantity is not critical but it should be around the consistency of cream.  Grate some cheese (we use ordinary kaşar – you could use gruyere or cheddar).  Then peel and slice the celeriac thinly (the celeriac-layer-1original recipe says to the thickness of a 10p piece).  Mix the celeriac slices in a large bowl with enough oil to coat them and seasonings – also a finely chopped up chilli if you have one and/or some chilli flakes.  This is a hands-on job and quite messy.  Then mix in about half the bechamel.

celeriac-oven-readySpread about half the slices in a gratin dish (or anything shallow that will go in the oven), then put just over half the cheese on top.  Put in the rest of the celeriac and arrange it a bit, then pour on the rest of the bechamel and scatter with the rest of the cheese.  This goes in a hot oven for about 45 minutes and comes out done.  You  might want to put the cheese on top after it’s been in the oven a while – this depends how crispy you like your cheese.

Served with a julienned salad on a bed of rocket topped with chopped beetroot.

Seasonal Sauces

Last week we were invited to a Christmas dinner, nothing unusual, these things happen this time of year.  It was really nice, thanks Mike.  We contributed by making cranberry sauce which was appreciated and we were asked for the recipe.

Cranberries are known locally as yaban mersini, not to be confused with kizilcik which are something completely different or kuş burnu which are rosehips.  Fresh cranberries are generally not available but dried are so we bought a good Cranberry-saucequantity of dried cranberries on the market.  Unlike packet ones these do not contain added sugar.  Then Ashley poked around on the internet but did not find a good recipe for making cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.  Nothing looked really good, but it did serve to inspire some ideas.  The objective was to get the dried cranberries to swell up and then burst, achieving what is much easier when starting with fresh cranberries.

Method.  None of the quantities here are critical.

Take two good handfuls of dried cranberries and put into a bowl.  Add orange zest and sufficient orange juice to cover.  Put to one side for a few hours or overnight.  Then add a tablespoon of pomegranate sauce (Nar Eksili) – we used a village made sauce rather than the mass produced supermarket varieties.  If you like to spice cranberry sauce this would be a good time to add spices.  We added some finely chopped fresh ginger.  This really is a matter of personal taste, cinnamon or allspice would also in our view be good.  Transfer everything to a lidded saucepan and simmer as gently as possible.  To get the cranberries to really swell and burst may take a couple of hours, if the lid does not fit tightly you may need to add some water, check this from time to time.  Once they have burst gently reduce the sauce to desired thickness.

We have no idea how long it will keep for.  Essentially it is preserved fruit so should be OK in a bottle in a fridge for some time.  We don’t intend to try to find out, it is delicious and will be eaten within a day or two.

On the subject of condiments, especially those popular this time of season, we triffidhave fresh horseradish growing in a big pot – kept out of our limited garden space because it is really invasive.  At some stage we are going to try making chrane (horseradish and beetroot) with it, when we are brave enough to face the task of grating fresh horseradish.  Any tips on grating horseradish would be appreciated.

Sweet and Sour Aubergines from Claudia Roden

sweet-and-sour-aubergines

We’ve been wracking our brains for a blog post for a few days now, so Hilary thought, ‘why not do a recipe?’.  She was actually surprised to find we hadn’t posted this one before.  We make it constantly (and used to make it frequently in the UK where aubergines were higher in price and lower in quality).

It’s not Turkish but it does use ingredients readily available here year round.  Quantities are difficult as I tend to make it with the aubergines I have on hand and am not saving for something else…

Today I used two long, fairly thin aubergines (just under half a kilo), a medium to large sized onion, two cloves of garlic, a huge tomato, three dessertspoonsful of vinegar and one dessertspoonful of sugar (less in summer when the tomatoes are very sweet).  A good handfull of chopped parsley and a largish quantity of dried mint.  Salt and pepper.

First I cut the aubergines into chunks.  I quarter it lengthwise then chop the four pieces into wedges.  Then I put it in a colander with salt for twenty minutes to half an hour.  I don’t always do this with aubergines, but I do for this dish as it helps stop the aubergines from absorbing too much oil.  Whilst that is happening I chop the onions into half moon rings (piyazlık), chop the garlic up fairly small and put those to one side.  Then, in another bowl, I put the chopped up tomatoes (yes, in the UK I often used a can of plum tomatoes – usually a small can), along with the chopped parsley, dried mint, some pepper, the vinegar and the sugar.

onions-fryingHeat quite a lot of oil in a wide, shallow pan (I have an Ikea sautée pan which is absolutely ideal for this) and fry the onions till they are soft but not coloured.  Then add the garlic.

While this is happening I rinse the aubergine wedges, squeeze each handful and salted,-rinsed,-squeezed-andry on a towel.  As soon as the garlic has been stirred in, I throw in the aubergine wedges and stir, frying for about five minutes (or till they take on a bit of colour).  I then tip in the rest of the ingredients stir till it all combines, put on the lid and turn the heat down.

frying-nicelyThe time it takes from here on in depends a lot on the aubergines.  It should end up pretty mushy and combined and this usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.  It doesn’t need much attention, just the occasional stir to ensure it doesn’t burn.

I guess it could be eaten hot, but it’s much nicer if you allow it to cool down.  It keeps in the fridge for three to four days (much like any zeytinyağlı mezze).

Baking in autumn

StormsAfter a stormy autumn day and night we have had a few cooler days.  This has resulted in eating indoors and the doors and windows being closed.  It was chilly at night.  The new duvet has come out, Hilary made soup, we have started buying winter vegetables – the celeriac looked really good and the leaves go really well in lentil soup.

The temperatures are back on the rise, by mid-week the days should be really pleasant and the evenings cool rather than cold, but it is another reminder that the seasons are changing.  As they change so does what we eat.  There will be more soups for breakfast, less fresh fruit.  Soup is commonly lentil, usually with whatever else is around, beet leaves, celeriac leaves, cauliflower or broccoli stems, anything that might otherwise go to waste.

Swedish-Apple-CakeWe have also been experimenting with baking.  Today we have Swedish apple cake in the oven, made with local eating apples rather than Bramleys.  It was meant to be topped with a butter, sugar and cinnamon syrup which would soak into the cake, instead we ended up with toffee.  So we have toffee apple cake.

Recently we have discovered that caramelised onions, classically French, go really well with kaşar and yufka.  So a French / Turkish fusion, caramelised onion and cheese tarte tatin  borek.  Delicious.  One recipe for caramelising onions we have used in the past was was originally from Ainsley Herriot Meals in Minutes, has a cheat and fast method for caramelizing the onions.  This one does not cheat, being retired we have time not to cheat and to do a bit of experimenting to find the best shape for the actual borek….

The Recipe

For four borek you need one yufka, about 200 gm of butter, enough grated kaşar or similar yellow cheese to go round the perimeter of the yufka and as many onions as will sensibly fit in your frying pan when sliced.  I use 5-6 depending on size but it would be less if they were really big.  Slice the onions really thinly into half-moons (piyazlık) and put them in a frying pan on low heat with a slosh of oil (I use Riviera olive oil, not the virgin oil for this) and a bit of butter – maybe 15 gm.  Leave them there for a long time, stirring them occasionally.  Leave them until they are caramalised (it takes about an hour, sometimes more, and they need stirring more towards the end).  I put in a small slosh of balsamic vinegar (again, I would not use the good stuff for this, even if I had it) and stir it round till the onions are evenly brown.  Then take them off the heat and let them cool down a bit.

The yufka gets spread out on the counter and brushed all over with melted butter.  That’s what most of the butter is for.  Keep a little back for the top.  Cut the yufka into four segments (I use a pizza cutter which is perfect  for the job).  Now arrange the grated cheese and caramalised onion around the perimeter of your yufka.

Start rolling.  Take each segment separately and roll up from the perimeter to the centre, enclosing the filling.  Once you’ve done that, wind the sausage shapes into spirals, tucking the ends underneath and put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  When they are all done, brush them generously with butter and put in a preheated 200 degree oven where they should get nicely done in about forty minutes.

gul-boregi-cooked

Apricots

cake-and-cherriesMarket is now full of early summer fruit.  A couple of weeks ago there were  just strawberries and unripe plums, with a few cherries and apricots at ridiculous prices.  Now the market is full of strawberries, plums, cherries, apricots, melon and watermelon.  There are some peaches but these are not really anywhere near their best this early.

Cherry season does not last very long, and apricots have a very short season so we are making the most of them whilst they are plentiful and cheap.  We have not got around to preparing cherries in any way.  They simply get eaten.

Breakfast apricots and yogurt

Put a tablespoon of Suzme yogurt in a breakfast bowl. Top with chopped apricots (3 is about right depending on size).  Top with regular yogurt, we use sheep yogurt.  Drizzle with honey.  Eat.

Then there is the cake

This is a Turkish recipe so quantities come in glasses.  A water glass contains pretty much the same volume as a UK mug for coffee or tea.  A tea glass is half of that.  The oven should be at 170 degrees centigrade by the time you’ve finished mixing.

Chop up your fruit (removing any stones and inedible bits).  The original recipe said 6 peaches but I don’t think you could fit that in a sensibly sized cake tin.  I use what I have.  This one was about 8 apricots.  I’ve used apricots, peaches, plums and pears in various combinations and all of them have worked fine.

Whisk 4 eggs with a water glass of sugar.  We don’t get caster sugar here so I use the equivalent of granulated.  I also use the whisk attachment on my hand blender  but it’s not a very powerful one.  Whisk it till it looks like snow.  Put in a water glass of ordinary yoghurt, a couple of spoonfuls of really thick yoghurt and a tea glass of light olive oil.  Mix it a bit (not too much though I often use the electric mixer for a few seconds to get it all blended in, you don’t want to lose the air you whisked in originally).  Stir in two water glasses of flour with a sachet of baking powder and a sachet of vanilla sugar.  Just mix it so there’s no lumps of flour (again, I sometimes use the electric whisk, but carefully and not very much- this is the point at which I tend to get it down my t-shirt).  Then lightly stir in the prepared fruit.

This goes into a prepared cake tin,  it is a very soft mixture so I pour it  – I use a silicone ring mould which is brilliant as it doesn’t stick.  Recipe says 45 minutes.  But test it.  My oven always takes longer.

Artichokes, Broad Beans and Preserved Lemon

This is a very non-Turkish recipe taken from Claudia Roden and, as usual, vaguely adapted.  Preserved lemons are not generally used here in Turkey, are much more of a north Afrıcan thing.  The artichokes are finishing here now and the broad beans are starting to get too big for this recipe.  But we will be enjoying it again next year!

It starts with half a kilo of broad beans and two large artichokes.  Tartichokehe broad beans need to be big enough to be podded but not so big that they need their inner skins removing.  You pod the broad beans.  You reduce the artichokes to the bottoms (or hearts or whatever you call the ediblebroad-beans bits), cut those into sensibly sized pieces and put them in lemony water.  Slice up a quarter of preserved lemon peel (I can’t find this in Turkey – I make it myself).

Then you heat some good olive oil in a pan with a teaspoonful of cumin/jeera/kimyon.   Throw in the beans and the artichoke bits, stir them in the oil for a minute or so then almost cover with water, ram on a lid and simmer for about 40 mins.  The peel goes in towards the end (though I have put it in at the beginning with no discernible ill effect). The timing is not critical as long as the artichoke is tender and the beans are not burned.

It is not particularly photogenic but it is delicious.

beans-and-artichokes