Turkish cornbread (Misir Ekmegi)

I have a Turkish colleague and a few weeks ago, she was relishing some cornbread that her mother had made for her and couldn’t stop raving about it. As is my reaction in these situations, I set out to make some for myself.

Upon surveying the internet for some recipes, I came across one at Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook which looked simple enough  and so I decided to give it a go. Of course, I added a few of my own touches like fresh chives and chilli flakes to flavour the bread and really loved the end result. It was soft yet had a crunch to it, and tasted good warm and cold. Slather some butter on it or eat it with a dip or chutney. It’s absolutely delicious and what’s even better is that it is a one-pot dish and preparation time is less than 15 minutes !

I did go back to my Turkish friend and give her some of my cornbread to try. She liked the taste of it but said it was quite different to her mum’s. She said her mum’s version was made of  only cornmeal, corn oil and salt as corn grew abundantly in the region of Turkey where she came from. However, she did also say that in regions where wheat was available, people did add standard flour to the cornbread and so my recipe was also genuinely Turkish. Woo hoo!

Yellow corn meal
Yellow corn meal

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Mangoes, ricotta and toast – a simple pleasure

I was born in the country that gave common mangoes their scientific name – Mangifera indica. Come the Indian summer (April-June), dad would ride off on his LML Vespa to the local mango market and come back with bags and bags of golden, juicy, sweet deliciousness. He would bring us many varieties and always experimenting with new ones. Of them all, my favourite was “Banginapalle” (pronounced: Bung-in-a-pulse-lee) – thin skinned, juicy and sweet as nectar.

My years in New Zealand exposed me to nothing but disappointment in the form of green, peppery tasting (and smelling) Peruvian mangoes. However, when I moved to the more tropically inclined Australia, my longing for real mangoes was finally satisfied. I discovered the local varietal “Kensington Pride” which reminded me of my childhood favourite and boy did I gorge myself on them. Sticky mango fingers with pulp stains on one’s tee-shirt and chin may not be a very attractive look but the happiness on such a person’s face is priceless !

On our Christmas vacation in Australia, we once again got to indulge our mango cravings and I chose to do it in a simple yet highly satisfying way. The pepper on honey trick is one I learnt from a French colleague of mine. I thought it was weird until I tried it.

Finally, this recipe captures the very first images of food that I took with my DSLR. I will be eternally proud of them.

Do give this recipe a go – especially if you have fresh mangoes and fresh ricotta available. It is definitely healthier than an English breakfast!

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Hey Pesto!

The title was my husband’s idea so blame him for tackiness. It’s kinda cute that he has become more involved with the website. I like the joint-venture and so does he.

Pesto in the supermarket just doesn’t do it for me. Back in Australia, one could pay a little more to get fresh pesto to go with fresh pasta but not here. England’s supermarket pesto is oily, contains god-knows-what to keep it preserved and lacks the nuttiness that real pesto has. You might guess where this is going – that’s right, make your own pesto!

A friend of mine game me Anthony Carluccio’s Simple Cooking for my 30th birthday. This book has been a good friend for authentic yet simple and reliable Italian recipes. This pesto recipe comes from Anthony’s book. It is simple, easy and perfect for the lazy condiment makers such as myself. Hope you try it and like it.

Warning : This recipe isn’t vegetarian as there is calf rennet in the grana padano cheese used. You can try and substitute it with a vegetarian cheese such as vegetarian mature cheddar.

Pesto Genovese

Pesto Genovese

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Feta wrapped in vine leaves from the Moro Cookbook

I have posted recipes from “Moro The Cookbook” by Sam and Sam Clarke before. After Ottolenghi’s “Jerusalem”, this is one of my favourite collection of recipes from the Middle East. As the name “Moro” suggests, the recipes in this cookbook are a Spanish-Islamic fusion dating back to the Moors who came from Morocco and ruled the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal, Andorra, parts of Southern France and Gibraltar) for nearly 700 years.

Given I am a vegetarian, I have probably not used this book to its full capacity but the vegetarian recipes such as Aubergine and red pepper salad with caramelised butter, Carrot and cumin salad with coriander and fatayer that I have tried so far have been spectacular. This recipe is another one of Sam & Sam’s vegetarian gems – the sweet tartness of the orange, the salty-oiliness of the olives and the crispy-gooey-saltiness of the grilled feta are a match made in heaven.

Do give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Feta, orange salad and bread

Feta, orange salad and bread

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Semlor or awesome cardamom-spiced, almond paste and cream filled Scandanavian Lent buns

Semlor (singular : semla) is the Swedish name for these delectable little (OK my version was little) buns. I first saw them on a friend’s Fascebook page more than two years ago. Her Scandanavian partner had produced these around Easter time and from her pictures, they looked delicious. I remember reading at the time that the buns were full of cardamom and that’s all I needed to know. Buns with cardamom, almond and cream sounded like something that would be right up my alley.

All my semlor-related knowledge came from Wikipedia and from this page which is also the source of my recipe (s). Traditionally, these buns are meant to be eaten on Mardi-gras or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday – the day before the start of Lent. Apparently, in Sweden there are long queues at bakeries that specialise in making and selling semlor on Shrove Tuesday. Having made semlor once, I reckon they should be an all-year bun, not just Mardi-gras buns. Just make sure you don’t eat them like the old Swedish King Adolf Fredrik did. Fable says that he died after eating 14 servings of semla in hot milk.

With this post, I have provided links to the recipes I used and have demonstrated the methdolofy in pictures. Hope you find it useful and give it a try!

 

Whole cardamom pods in the background. In the foreground, from left to right (1) half-open pod (2) peels (3) seeds (4) ground cardamom

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Holiday lunch – Michelin stylz !

I think I will be disqualified from entering any Michelin star restaurants in the future for using the word “stylz” in my header. Soooo not on, but hopefully it conveys my excitement about having dined at a Michelin star restaurant for the very first time (possibly the last) in my/our life. ZOMG!

So, we were cruising through the Kentish countryside and a good friend had informed us of a “very affordable” Michelin star restaurant called “Apicius“.  Apicius refers to a collection of Roman cooking recipes though the word “apicius” was a common phrase for the Roman “foodie” back in 4-5 A.D. Intrigued by their name and under £30 lunch fare, I found out where they were (Cranbrook, Kent), their number and decided to call and ask if they’d have a table for Sunday lunchtime. This was about 6pm on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a table the following day. So began our Michelin dining adventure.

Did you know that the “Michelin Red Guide” which rates and lists all Michelin starred restaurants was an invention of the Michelin brothers of the Michelin tyre fame ?

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Garam Masala – the king of spice mixes

Garam is the Hindi word for “hot” and Masala stands for “spice”. Despite that, Garam masala is not hot like chilli is but is a warming, beautifully aromatic mixture of spices such as cumin, cardamom and nutmeg.

“Curry powder” is a common thing one finds in the Western supermarket but one you wouldn’t find in an Indian grocery shop. Masalas on the other hand are a lot more familiar to the Indian ear and let me assure you that each of them is a unique blend of spices and is used to flavour only certain dishes. Of these, garam masala, is in my opinion the king of all masalas as it is really versatile and can bring life to the most boring of vegetables. You can cook it into a dal or sprinkle it on top of one, you can use it to flavour savoury lassi or the mashed potato filling that goes into a samosa , and to add flavour to the bean mixture that goes into vegetarian nachos – it’s uses are endless.  Someone’s even written a page about the many avatars of garam masala.

I have given you the garam masala recipe from the book “How to Cook Indian” by my favourite chef Sanjeev Kapoor. I would highly recommend this book as would I it’s sister book “Mastering the Art of Indian Cuisine”. The garam masala recipe itself is really simple once you’ve assembled the raw ingredients. Being quite a strong flavouring, you only need to use a tiny amout to flavour any dish and so it lasts a fair while in a cool dry place in your pantry.

Hope you try making it and come up with new ways of using it!

Garam Masala

Garam Masala

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