Steampunk Dumpling

28 July 2016

This week in Knidos Cookery Club we’re cooking with steam. A few years back the Knidos Cookery Club kitchen inherited a dumpling steamer which has remained unused as expertise from the East was awaited.

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This week, two guest chefs have landed in the Knidos kitchen to provide a masterclass in steam dumplingology. The dumpling has taken many forms in its journey westwards for China, but the basic combo of filled dough and boiling water has remained constant.

In Central Asia, manti are steamed in a special pan, as in China. In Russia,Ukraine and Georgia, pelmeni, vareniki and khinkali are cooked in boiling water, like their Italian cousin ravioli and Turkey’s scaled-down take on manti.

Sticking with our vegetarian vibe, our guest chefs prepared some veggie-friendly versions of this usually meat-heavy treat. The version they cooked up was a large rolled dumpling known as orama in Uzbek and Kazakh (orama means ‘roll’).

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The first step was to make the dough and, while this was resting, the veggies were chopped up. The filling is cooked by steam so there’s no need to pre-cook the veggies. for the meaty version, use chopped mince (meat according to your taste and desire), sliced onions and grated potato as a filling.

Ingredients (for around 10 orama)

For the dough:

500 g flour (we used wholemeal for a thicker dough)

200 ml water

One egg

25 ml olive oil

For the filling:

Two medium-sized potatoes grated

Two medium-sized carrots grated

One onion finely sliced

One medium-sized aubergine cubed

100 g mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, basil, dill)

100 g spinach or rocket

Pinches of salt and pepper for seasoning

Method 

For the dough: Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour and crack the egg in. Slowly add the water and mix thoroughly. knead the dough until it goes spongy. Allow it to rest for 30 minutes or so.

For the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.

Ready to roll: Now take a golf-ball sized lump of dough and roll it out on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Keep on rolling it as thin as you can (until it starts to break up). Brush the inside with olive oil, pile filling on top and roll into a crescent shape. Place on the steamer tray, which has been greased with olive oil to prevent the dumplings from sticking.

Ready to steam: Fill the bottom of the dumpling steamer around one-third full with water and bring to the boil. Place the steamer trays on top of each other, put the lid on and steam over a low to medium heat, maintaining a rolling boil, for 45 minutes or so.

 

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Battle of the Beans 2: Land of the Giants

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Giant beans served up at Aigli restaurant, Kos Town, Greece

21 July 2016

When it comes to food, Turkey and Greece have more in common than they’ll often admit. They share a love for small cups of strong coffee and sweet tooths all around the Aegean Sea love baklava,  made from chopped nuts and layers of filo pastry drenched in honey.

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Baklava and coffee a la Turca

On the savoury side, no selection of starters is complete without that famous yogurt dip made with cucumber and garlic – known as cacık in Turkish, tzatziki in Greek. A Turk’s ıspanaklı börek is a spanakopita to a Greek.

Last week’s Knidos Cookery Club looked at Turkey’s signature bean dish, kuru fasulye, using haricot beans. This week, we will attempt to make the brasher Greek version, gigantes plaki, which uses the biggest beans you can get your hands on and bakes them in a thick tomato sauce in the oven

There’s something about the humble bean that makes it a great comfort food when your body craves something plain and wholesome. After a period of indulging in Greece’s myriad takes on feta cheese: a slab placed atop a horiatiki salad, deep fried in a honey and sesame seed coating or wrapped in layers of flaky filo pastry, feta fatigue can sometimes set in.  If this happens, then there’s nothing like a bowl of giant beans served with a light green salad to bring your appetite back to life.

Butter beans, also called lima beans, work well in this dish, with their insides going soft and mushy while the exterior remains firm. Reserve some of the liquid (around 200 ml) from cooking the dried beans to use for these baked beans with an edge. A secret ingredient that gives this dish it’s distinctive taste is celery.

Ingredients (serves 5-6 generous portions)

250 g dried butter (lima) beans soaked overnight

Two medium-sized red onions

Two small stalks of celery

One or two cloves of garlic

Three medium-sized plum tomatoes

A small bunch of parsley

Pinches of salt, pepper and cumin

One teaspoon of cinnamon

One teaspoon dried thyme

50 g olive oil

Method

Boil the butter beans over a low heat for an hour or so until they are tender but not falling apart. Stick around and every five minutes or so scoop off the foam that forms while the beans are cooking. Drain the beans, reserving 200 ml of the cooking water for use later.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add most of the finely diced onion (save some slices to sprinkle over the cooked beans) and the chopped garlic. Fry until translucent and then add the finely chopped celery. Cook for five minutes or so and then add the parsley, thyme and cinnamon and season with salt, pepper and cumin.

Peel the tomatoes (dunking them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then into cold water will help loosen the skins) and chop finely and add to the other ingredients in the frying pan and cook for ten minutes.

Pour the beans into a large baking dish, cover them with the sauce and add the reserved cooking liquid. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 °C (gas mark 5) for one hour. The beans should still be fairly firm on the outside but mushy and soft on the inside. Leave in the oven for longer if the insides are firm other than mushy.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes or so and then serve with a green salad and crusty bread to soak up the juices.

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Battle of the Beans 1: Small is Beautiful

14 July 2016

When it comes to food, Turkey and Greece have more in common than they’ll often admit. They share a love for small cups of strong coffee and sweet tooths all around the Aegean Sea love baklava,  made from chopped nuts and layers of filo pastry drenched in honey.

On the savoury side, no selection of starters is complete without that famous yogurt dip made with cucumber and garlic – known as cacık in Turkish, tzatziki in Greek. A Turk’s ıspanaklı börek is a spanakopita to a Greek.

One area where there is some clear water between the Greek and Turkish kitchen is the choice of which bean to combine with a rich tomato sauce. While the Greeks favour dried giant white beans to make the dish known as gigantes plaki, in Turkey this dish is made with the smaller haricot, or navy, bean and is called kuru fasulye. Greece also has a dish made from small white beans called fasolada, but this is more of a soup.

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Dried white beans awaiting a soaking

This week on Knidos Cookery Club, we’ll be looking at the Turkish version. When thinking about Turkey’s national dish the döner kebab or köfte, meatballs, generally spring to mind, but in fact it is the humble kuru fasulye that takes the honour. It’s the ultimate Turkish comfort food when served up with pilav, a portion of rice cooked with orzo pasta.

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Kindos Cookery Club’s take on the Turkish classic kuru fasulye and pilav

The version that came out of the Knidos Cookery Club kitchen was a bit drier than some found in Turkish cafes. For a saucier version of this dish, add more liquid during the cooking stage; perhaps 100 ml more of water or stock or reserved cooking liquid from the beans.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

250 g dried white beans (haricot or any small white beans you can find) soaked overnight

Four medium-sized plum tomatoes

One medium-sized red onion

One green pepper (the long, thin banana-shaped one)

3-4 teaspoons red pepper paste

200 ml cooking liquid reserved from the beans (use 100 ml more for a runnier sauce)

Seasoning: pinches  of salt and pepper, a teaspoon of cumin

Fresh parsley to garnish the finished dish

50 ml olive oil

100 g orzo pasta (pasta shaped like grains of rice)

300 g washed rice

Method 

Cook the beans in a pan of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a lower heat for up to 45 minutes or so until the beans are cooked but not going soft. Skim off the foam periodically.

Heat the 25 ml of oil in a heavy-based pan and then add the chopped onion. Cook until translucent over a medium heat. Add the diced green pepper and keep cooking for another 4-5 minutes.

Add  the tomatoes – grate them to remove the skins. Add the red pepper paste and season with salt, black pepper and cumin. Pour in the reserved cooking water from the beans and stir. Add the beans, give it a good stir and keep it bubbling away for 15 minutes or so. You want the beans to stay firm.

To make the rice, heat 25 ml olive oil in a heavy-based pan then add the orzo and stir. Cook until the orzo starts to turn a golden colour. Now add the drained, washed rice and keep stirring. When the rice is coated with oil, pour in water or stock so the rice is covered by about 1 cm of liquid. Add salt if required.

Turn the heat down and cook until all the water is absorbed. turn off the heat and allow it to stand for 10 minutes or so and cover with a clean tea towel or some kitchen roll and put the lid on.

Serve the rice and beans together, garnishing the beans with some chopped parsley. have some crusty bread like a baguette on hand to soak up the juices.

 

 

The Turk Brekkie Club

7 July 2016

Turkey has turned the first meal of the day into an art form with ever-more elaborate spreads of cheeses, jams, honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and egg dishes spilling across the table with different regions of the country bringing local additions to the mix.

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Turk Brekkie!

At the heart of the breakfast there is usually an egg dish – often a soft-boiled or fried egg, or a speciality dish such as menemen, a hearty scramble of eggs, onions peppers and tomatoes.

In Datça, the köy, or village, breakfast can come with lashings of local honey and gözleme, a pancake filled with  white cheese and fresh herbs. The Van Breakfast, originating in the east of the country, has conquered the rest of Turkey with its array of 20 or more dishes. It  includes otlu peynir, a herb-infused cheese, martuğa, made from flour, butter and egg, and kavut, a porridge made from cornmeal and ground barley.

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Menemen

This week on Knidos Cookery Club, we’ll be cooking up menemen. I first encountered this breakfast-time treat when staying in Izmir, on the Aegean coast. Walking out of my hotel, I was met be the mouth-watering aroma of eggs bubbling away with peppers and tomatoes.  Street hawkers, hunched over single-burner camping stoves, were busily whipping up pans of scrambled delight.

Ingredients (for one hearty serving)

Two eggs

One spring onion

One small red or green pepper (if you like it hot, use a chili pepper)

One small tomato

Seasoning: pinches of salt, black pepper, cumin and chill pepper flakes

Parsley for garnishing

Olive oil for frying

Method

Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the diced spring onion and cook over a medium heat until starting to brown. Add the diced tomato and diced pepper and season with salt, black pepper, cumin and chill pepper flakes.

Cook until the peppers begin to soften then reduce to a low heat and crack in the eggs. Keep stirring as you would for scrambled eggs. When the egg begins to set, remove from the heat – it’ll carry on cooking in the pan. Garnish with some chopped parsley.

Serve immediately with crusty bread and a plate of white cheese, honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for the full-on Turk brekkie effect.