Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Black olives flavoured with sage, garlic and lemon rind

Turkish cuisine offers a slew of marvelous ingredients that in the loving hands of a Turkish mama turn into exquisitely heart-warming treats.

Take for example salted olives, provocatively called in French à la mode grecoise. Those are black olives in salt, full stop. On their own, they are definitely an acquired taste: a complex mix of tart and salty, rich in flavour, lacking in fragrance, and somewhat on the dry skinny side.  

Now the task is to imagine oneself a Turkish mater familiae and think how to bring out olives' strengths and make good for their weaknesses. This is my take.

I peel and slice thinly one head of garlic, part a lemon with its rind and crush a handful of dried sage. I fold all that into a 200 ml olive oil, shake well and mix with 1 kg black salted olives in a glass jar. Let stay in a cool place, NOT in the fridge, for a couple of days, to allow all the flavours to fuse. Serve with Turkish bread, grilled halloumi cheese, sliced ripe tomatoes and whatever Mediterranean dainties you can get hold of.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Yukhoe - Korean steak tartare (육회)

ho would think that eating chopped raw beef mixed with raw egg yolk on a bed of sliced pears would make for a great culinary experience? Well it did! It comes flavoured in that characteristically subtle Korean way, just underlining the natural goodness of the ingredients. I figured that it must be just sesame oil with a wee sprinkle of toasted white sesame. So, that's pretty much the recipe! Mas-issge deu seyo, enjoy your food!

Turkish manti soup recipe

Of course, it is mantı, not manti, the vowel harmony! I am always inspired by Turkish cuisine, it is such a potentially wondrous fare that somehow all too oft ends up very über-meh in most Turkish restaurants, even those catering the local clientèle in Turkey. I suspect that real Turkish food must be made by Turkish mama's loving hands for her family.

In the absence of such in my social circles, I have no choice but to be a Turkish mama to myself. So I venture northwards, to Finsbury, where round-the-clock Turkish grocers beacon with mouth-watering displays of ripe fruit and fragrant bread and then rows upon rows of roast pepper paste jars, bags of crackly bulgur, packs of salted olives and huge trays of syrupy sweets. Slurp.

A pack of thumbnail-sized ravioli, mantı, costs 1.39 quid. It's enough for three pots of delightfully tangy and zesty soup. I also insist that you invest in a jar of proper Turkish acı biber salçası, spicy pepper paste. Don't let the word spicy confuse you, this is nothing like Thai or Jamaican spiciness, more like Basque piment d'Espellete.

So here's for the recipe:

Slowly roast some crushed garlic in olive oil. Fold in a full spoon of tomato passata and a full spoon of acı biber salçası and fry a couple of minutes more. Add some dry mint and sea salt. Add a litre or so cold water and bring to a gentle boil. Add mantı and a tin of boiled chick peas. Remove from the fire after 5 min and serve with lemon juice and chopped coriander.

Stale bread pudding recipe

Baking has always been exclusively my parents' remit. My Mum churns out pies, buns, cakes and the like on a nearly daily basis and even my very male supremacist Dad is highly apt at making that king of doughs, leavened one.

I only have started baking recently, inspired by Nigella's voluptuous poetics in her How To Become a Domestic Goddess. This recipe is a slight improvement on her "pudding made from rich man's leftovers".

Beat 2 eggs, a generous glug of rhum, 250 ml double cream and 3 tbsp demerara sugar. Fold in half a chopped stale baguette and let soak for half an hour. Mix in a handful of raspberries and a handful of black chocolate chips. Put in a buttered porcelain tray, sprinkle with a little demerara sugar and bake 40 min at 170 degrees.

Serve on your boyfriend's bubble butt.