Much Ado about Courgettes

28 April 2016

Last time round, Knidos Cookery Club looked at stuffed courgettes and tomatoes and this week we’re going to find a use for some of the leftovers scooped out from the courgettes (zucchini to our North American friends!)

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Courgette fritters, Mücver in Turkish, offer a quick and easy solution as to what to do with the courgette middles. Mücver are a great comfort food that can be knocked up in no time and can be served as breakfast, as a burger for lunch, as part of a more substantial main meal or as an easy supper.

These versatile fritters take a few minutes to prepare and can be seasoned with whatever is to hand. They can be fried in next to no time or, for a healthier alternative, can be baked in the oven or even grilled on the barbecue for a smokier flavour.

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Afiyet olsun! (as they say in Turkish)

For a vegan version, omit the egg and yogurt topping. For more of a protein kick add some salty cheese such as feta or halloumi (hellim in Turkish) to the mix. For a more substantial veggie burger add one grated carrot and 100g of your preferred chopped nuts to the mix before frying.

Ingredients (for around 8 fried courgette fritters)

Two medium-sized courgettes

One small onion

One egg

50 g white cheese (feta, halloumi or similar)

Four-five dessert spoons of plain flour

Bunch of parsley, mint and/or dill (if you like that sort of thing)

Dried herbs to taste

A generous sprinkle of sesame seeds

An  optional dusting of chili flakes and grated cinnamon

Salt and pepper

A dash of olive oil for frying

Plain yogurt for serving

Method

Grate or chop up the courgettes finely and mix with the chopped onion. Add fresh parsley, mint and/or dill, dried herbs, chili flakes, cinnamon, sesame seeds salt and pepper and blend well.

Make a well in the centre of the mix and break the egg into it. Sprinkle in the crumbled white cheese. Mix well. (Vegan readers should skip the egg and cheese and jump straight to the adding flour phase!)

Gradually add  the dessert spoons of plain flour and blend  until the mixture has quite a thick consistency – you don’t want it to be too wet and sloppy.

Drizzle some olive oil in a frying pan and put over a medium heat.

Place golf ball-sized scoops of the courgette mixture into the pan and flatten with a spatula or fork.

After a few minutes turn the fritter. Keep cooking until both sided are a golden-brown colour.

Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dolma Dreaming

21 April 2016

This week, Knidos Cookery Club is turning its attention to stuffed vegetables – dolma in Turkish, from the verb dolmak which means to fill or stuff.

Any vegetable that can be hollowed out can be used to make dolma – aubergines, courgettes, peppers or tomatoes are great for this. The filling can consist of rice mixed with herbs and spices and sometimes dried fruit such as raisins or currants and pine nuts.

Knidos Cookery Club particularly likes the way tomatoes go all soft and mushy when baked and some perfect specimens were sourced from the market. Courgettes are beginning to re-appear after their winter break and a kilo were added to the shopping basket for subsequent stuffing. With spinach also in abundance, we picked up a few bunches to add to the rice for the dolma mix.

Here’s what the finished dish should look like …

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Ingredients (serves 3-4)

Two medium-sized courgettes

Four medium-sized tomatoes

250 g fresh spinach

One cup (approx. 100g) of short or long grain rice (We recommend brown rice for its nuttier flavour)

250 ml vegetable stock

One medium-sized onion

Mixed herbs and spices (thyme, parsley, mint, oregano, black pepper, chili pepper, salt)

A handful of dried fruit (currants and/or raisins) and a few pine nuts

Olive oil for cooking

Juice of two medium-sized lemons

A knob of garlic

For the cucumber sauce: one small cucumber, fresh chopped mint, 100ml thick natural yogurt

Method

Pour a generous glug of olive oil into a heavy-based pan and add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook over a medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add mixed herbs, seasoning, dried fruit and pine nuts.

Add the washed and soaked rice to the onion mix and stir to cover the grains with oil. Next add the stock and cook over a low heat until the liquid is absorbed.

While the rice is cooking, pre-heat the oven to 200 °C (gas mark 6) and soften the washed spinach in a frying pan with a little splash of olive oil until it starts to wilt.

Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the liquid from the middle. Top and tail the courgettes and scoop out the contents with a teaspoon in a drilling motion. (Keep the tomato liquid and courgette middles to cook with later).

When the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add the wilted spinach to the mixture, stirring it thoroughly into the cooked rice.

Stuff the tomatoes and courgettes with the rice mixture and arrange in a baking dish. Pour the lemon juice and a healthy dash of olive oil over the vegetables. Put the tops back on the tomatoes.

Place in the pre-heated oven and bake at 200 °C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or so or until the skin of the vegetables starts to go brown and bubbly. Add a small amount of water if the lemon juice is all absorbed.

While they’re cooking, make the cucumber sauce. Combine the grated cucumber with the yogurt and fresh mint. Add garlic to taste.

Serve immediately or allow to cool – it’s up to you. Don’t forget to pour the cucumber sauce over the dolma before eating.

A Nutty, Zesty Leekfest

14 April 2016

Welcome to leek week on Knidos Cookery Club. Last weekend, the market stalls in Datça, south-west Turkey, were laden with a selection of oversized leeks of proportions that would turn Welsh rugby fans green with envy. The last of the season’s plump lemons were also well represented, providing the inspiration for a lemony leeky fest.

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The leek, pırasa in Turkish, is a cousin of garlic and onion and the largest member of the Allium family. Leeks are used in a number of dishes in Turkey – braised in olive oil with rice, in a hearty vegetable stew, in a lighter, creamy soup or baked in something akin to a pasty.

In this week’s recipe, Knidos Cookery Club will combine the mild oniony flavour of sliced leek with other ingredients readily found in Turkey – tangy lemon juice and zest, some salty white cheese and fresh walnuts, and put it all in a filo pastry case to make a zesty leek, goat cheese and walnut tart.

All systems go on assembling the tart:

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Thirty minutes later – the finished product:

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Ingredients (3-4 servings)

One large leek, cleaned and sliced into 50 mm rounds

Zest of one lemon (use a grater or vegetable peeler to slice off the yellow outer layer of the lemon)

Juice of one lemon

100 g crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese

Ten walnuts chopped into small pieces

Ten sheets of filo pastry

50 ml olive oil blended with 50 ml of milk or natural yogurt to make a glaze for the filo pastry

A sprinkling of thyme and chili pepper flakes

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 °C (gas mark 6)

While the oven warms up, heat a dash of olive oil and a knob of butter in a heavy-based pan. Add the leeks and half the lemon zest and cook over a medium heat. When the leeks are softened, add the lemon juice and a sprinkle of thyme and raise the heat to reduce the liquid for a minute or so.

Now prepare the tart base. Layer sheets of filo pastry in a greased dish; as you go brush the glaze over each layer of filo pastry. (NB: If you can’t find filo pastry, any other sort of pastry will do the job).

Pour the leaks onto the tart base then crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle the walnuts pieces over the leeky layer. Add chili flakes, black pepper and thyme to taste – the salt from the cheese should be sufficient, but add more if you want. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over the tart.

Bake at 200 °C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.

Remove from the oven and garnish with the rest of the lemon zest and a few more sprigs of thyme.

Serve with a green salad or side dishes of your choice.

King Celeriac Meets the Olive Oil Uptown

7 April 2016

This week Knidos Cookery Club turns its attentions to celeriac – a knobbly root vegetable of the same family as celery. Celeriac bulbs impart an earthy, nutty flavour with a strident undernote of celery.

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Celeriac, kereviz in Turkish, is found all around the Mediterranean and grows in the cooler months of autumn and winter. It can be used raw and grated into a salad, roasted as a main course, boiled as a side dish, served as mash or in a tasty soup.

In Turkey it’s often served up as a cold side-dish in the zeytinyağlı style, which means it is braised in a generous portion of olive oil, a key ingredient of Turkish cooking.

Zeytinyağlı dishes can be made with any seasonal vegetables that are to hand – from green beans to leeks, and from artichokes to courgettes.

In this week’s recipe, based on Elizabeth Taviloğlu’s, we’ll show you how to get from this …

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… to this

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in a few easy steps using lemon and orange juice, and plenty of olive oil.

Ingredients

One celeriac bulb, peeled and cleaned, retain the stalks and leaves

Two medium carrots

One medium onion

Juice of half a lemon

Juice of two medium-sized oranges

125 ml good quality olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)

100 ml water

Method

Top and tail the celeriac then peel off all the dirt-covered hard outer skin to expose a white bulb. Wash the bulb to remove any lingering soil. Keep the stalks and leaves for later use.

Cut the celeriac in half and then into 0.5 cm slices. Place the slices in a heavy-based saucepan and cover with lemon and orange juice – this is to stop it discolouring.

Next cut the carrot into thin slices, and chop the onion and stalks from the celeriac roughly. Place the carrots, stalks and onion on top of the celeriac.

Pour 100 ml olive oil and 100 ml of water into the pan and bring to a boil.

After the mix boils, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender – 20-30 minutes or so.

Allow to cool and then arrange on a plate and sprinkle with more chopped celeriac stalks and leaves. Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and serve.