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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Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi and inspired dinner

I have recently become addicted to three cookbooks I acquired from Amazon and our local library. They are, in order of favouritism,

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

2. Moro by Samuel and Samantha Clark

3. Ottolenghi also by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why the addiction – well these books respect vegetables like I have been taught to respect them as a life time vegetarian. Growing up in a South Indian household, my mother and grandma had endless ways of making vegetables exciting and I try and continue this tradition till today. However, I’m also a little more adventurous that mum and grandma and I cannot eat the same/similar things day in and day out. This is something I did quite gladly did when I was still dependent on my parents, but ever since I’ve moved out on my own, my kitchen has been a bit of a playground, as is this blog I host.

Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi, while laden with meat-based recipes are also quite generous with their coverage of vegetable/vegetarian dishes from Eastern Mediterranean regions, Israel, Palestine with influences from Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Overall, these vegetables are prepared quite differently (most of the time) to how I’d prepare them as a person of South Indian upbringing and I find that really really exciting. Sometimes, I find some similarities and start thinking about the origins of certain food and how recipes might have travelled from one region to another in ancient time.

To summarize it is food, vegetarian food, exciting vegetarian food and I love it! Food to me is most satisfying when I’ve made it and others are enjoying it 🙂 An opportunity presented itself when we decided to host a dinner and board games evening at our place. While I usually cook Indian food, I decided that I’d try recipes from my recently acquired books instead. There was a deathly silence as everyone sat eating until one of our friends spoke up and said , “You know the food is good when everyone is too busy eating and cannot stop to speak”. I’m going to call it a successful experiment based on this !

My menu and links to the recipes are presented below. I managed to take a lot of pictures for the first few dishes and then ran out of time and my guests arrived so I couldn’t keep clicking any more. Hope you try some of the recipes and like them !

Menu for board games night

Menu for board games night

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Weekend French toast

I’m pretty sure I’ve ranted before about the lack of places to go to for brunch where we are in England. Compared to the choice we had in Melbourne, this town is pretty dire. What we did try one Saturday morning is a chain restaurant called Bill’s. While Bill’s has the atmosphere of what a brunch place, the food itself was OK. My partner had the French toast and I the vegetarian breakfast stack with avocado, hummus and poached eggs. Just as he got though his French toast, my partner looked up and said – I’m sure you can make this a lot better!

Challenges like that never go unmet in our house. In many places, a breakfast order of French toast comes with a scoop of ice-cream in the centre but it was at  Cafe Arcadia in Melbourne that I first saw French toast being serves with yoghurt and a berry coulis and thought to myself – “Now there’s an idea worth stealing!”. Equipped with a challenge and a stolen idea from our former home, I set out to make the most delicious, yet slightly healthy French toast I ever did ( or so I thought). Turns out this isn’t the first time I tried to make French toast as in my folder of food photos, I found a whole lot more pictures of French toast as did I in my folder of photos from France.

The tastiest and most indulgent French toast is when a day old loaf of Brioche is used as the bread. However, I’ve gone for more generic bread that looked pretty. While slicing the bread, I sliced a little bit of my finger too and the bit of bread you find missing in the pictures are where my injury made itself obvious shall we say. Don’t be grossed out as indeed, the French toast was tasty and much better than Bill’s French toast. Though I will admit that their maple-flavoured syrup was tastier than my real maple syrup 🙂

Bon apetit!

French toast for breakfast anyone ?

French toast for breakfast anyone ?

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Easy-peasy Irish soda bread

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine took ill and had to go to the hospital. She was half Irish and half Dutch and was going through a bit of a tough time in hospital while doctors tried to work out what was wrong with her. I decided to go to visit her and thought I’d take her something that would remind her of her home(s). That was the first time I made Irish soda bread. I took her some fresh soda bread and Dutch Gouda amongst other things. She enjoyed it while the rest in her ward eyed the food basket with jealousy. I wish I could say the bread fixed her but unfortunately no, the doctors did 🙂

The recipe I use is this really lovely, easy and idiot-proof one from the website for the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda BreadI promise I’m not making the name up – scroll down to the “White Soda Bread” part for their recipe.

This recipe is so easy that I whipped it up in an hour before I left to work this morning. I was up at 7 am, the dough was ready by 7:15 am, the “closed-baking” was done by 7:45 am and the “open-baking” was done by 8:00 am and at 8:05 am, I was slathering a slice of bread with some Flora spread. Yummy, warm, soda bread!

Do try this recipe and tell me what you think at canwehavesomerasam@gmail.com!

Irish soda bread

Irish soda bread

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My take on a vegetarian moussaka

Those who have seen “My big fat Greek wedding” might remember the scene when the other kids in school mock Nia Vardalos’ lunch calling it “Mous-ka-ka”. I thought it was hilariously cruel (it’s easy to make me laugh at silly things shall we say). So I decide to run around the house on evening announcing that I was going to make a Vegetarian mous-ka-ka and my partner looked at me like I’d lost it. Clearly, he hasn’t watched the movie.

This Greek dish has forever eluded me as I can’t say I’ve come across any restaurant posing a vegetarian moussaka.So I decided to take matters into my own hands and create one for dinner. First stop – the interwebs. Thanks to my fellow wordpress-ers  or wordpress-ites, I found some rather good recipes. My recipe is mainly inspired by the following two recipes http://www.culinaryadventuresinthekitchen.com/2012/02/08/785/ and http://oolongrouge.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/my-big-fat-vegetarian-moussaka/. I’d made pizza for dinner the day before mousakka Sunday so I decided to salvage some of the leftover vegetables into the dish.

Hope you like it!

Vegetarian moussaka

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