Couscous on the Loose

6 December 2018

This week we’ll be making our take on couscous, that staple of North African cooking. Our version uses fine bulgur wheat in place of the more usual durum wheat semolina base as bulgur wheat is easier to find on the supermarket shelves where we are based.

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KCC’s couscous with chickpea chutney and roasted vegetables

In our opinion, bulgur works just as well as semolina as a base to soak up the juices from the roasted vegetables and our chickpea chutney. Purists may disagree, but our philosophy is more about adapting recipes by using the ingredients you have at hand.

Ingredients (serves 2)

Roasted vegetables:

  • 300 g pumpkin
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium courgettes
  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Chickpea chutney:

  • 25 ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small tomatoes
  • 50 g currants
  • 250 g chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Couscous:

  • 100 g fine bulgur wheat
  • 200 ml vegetable stock

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200c, cut the vegetables into large chunks and put into a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick and stir to coat the vegetable chunks. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the chickpea chutney. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a low heat for five minutes. Add the spices and the chopped tomato and cook for five more minutes. Then add the currants and chickpeas and cook for fifteen minutes or so.

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and then cover the bulgur wheat with it and leave it to soak up the liquid for 30 minutes or so, drain off the excess liquid (if there’s any) and than add a dash of olive oil and fluff up with a fork.

Put a layer of couscous on a warmed plate, arrange the roasted vegetables in a circular, wheel-spoke pattern and put a generous dollop of chickpea chutney in the centre and serve immediately.

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Bukharan Potato Powered Chutney

11 October 2018

Autumn is well and truly here now, so it’s time to start preserving that  seasonal abundance of fruit and vegetables. While looking around the net for something quick and easy to make, we came across some variations on the theme of plum chutney.

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It’s amazing what you can learn when researching recipes – did you know, for instance, that in the Indian sub-continent aloo is the word for potato, as in that curry house fave aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower).

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More surprisingly, it is also used for the humble plum – known as aloo bukhara, so called because the plum first appeared in the sub-continent via the fabled Central Asian city of Bukhara.

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Ingredients (makes around 880g – 1kg of chutney

1kg ripe plums

250 g red onion

200g light brown sugar

300 ml apple vinegar

100 g raisins

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons  red pepper flakes

One cinnamon stick

2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and diced

Glass jars for storage

Method

Wash and cut the plums in half, remove the stones then half again and half again so you have eight pieces of plum. Finely chop the onion and then mix all the ingredients together except for the sugar in a large stainless steel saucepan.

Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, and when it’s bubbling add the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar dissolves and then reduce the heat to low and keep it simmering for two hours or so, stirring every now and then so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

The mixture should thicken and turn a deep ruby red colour, as in the picture above. Allow the mix to cool a bit and then pour it into sterilised glass jars – wash them and leave in the oven at 50 c for 30 minutes. Put a lid on tightly and store the chutney for at least two weeks in a cool, dark place before eating.

 

 

 

Courgette Flower Power

4 May 2017

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’ve been busy stuffing courgette flowers, a popular starter all around the Aegean Sea. In Turkey, these delicate taste-bud ticklers, known as kabak çiçeği dolması, are stuffed with a rice mixture and baked, unlike their Italian cousins which are filled with ricotta cheese and deep fried.

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Succulent stuffed courgette flower power

The courgette, zucchini to our north American readers, is a really versatile vegetable – in the past we’ve used it in a tasty fritter mücverstuffed courgettes and in a creamy almond dip, and it’s great that we’ve found a use for its flowers as well.

If you’re growing your own courgettes, then you should have a ready supply of flowers, otherwise you may need to scour your local farmers’ market for these vivid orange blossoms.

Ingredients 

20-25 courgette flowers

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

250 ml vegetable stock

One medium-sized onion

One medium-sized tomato

One garlic clove

Pinches of dried thyme, oregano, black pepper, chili pepper flakes, cinnamon and salt

5 g fresh parsley

5 g fresh mint

25 g raisins

25 g  pine nuts

25 ml olive oil for frying

Juice of one lemon

One sliced lemon

100 ml natural yogurt

Method

Pour the 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 the chopped tomato, dried and fresh herbs, seasoning, dried fruit and pine nuts and cook for five minutes over a high heat.

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

Make sure that the courgette flowers are free from any green, leafy bits or stem and remove the stamen from the inside of the flower. Allow the rice mixture to cool and then fill each flower with a teaspoon of rice mix – don’t overfill them as the rice will continue to expand as it cooks.

Fold the end of the blossom together to seal the rice mix in and place the filled flowers into a heavy based frying pan or casserole dish. Pour water over the flowers to just cover them, add a generous glug of olive oil and the lemon juice, put a lid on the pan and cook over a low heat until all the water is absorbed.

Leaving the pan covered, let the cooked courgette flowers rest for 30 minutes or so with the heat turned off and then serve with lemon slices and a dollop of natural yogurt.

 

 

 

A Fiendishly Figgish Chutney

22 September 2016

As another summer slips into the history books with the autumn equinox almost upon us, there’s a tang of vinegar in the air. The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, and thoughts have started turning towards using the autumnal abundance of fruit and vegetables to make pickles and chutneys for the winter months.

In Turkey at this time of year people are busy preserving vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers, carrot, tomatoes, garlic, cauliflower and cabbage in vinegar and salt to make tursu, the ubiquitous pickle plate that adorns the dinner table.

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When Lord Venal was visiting Knidos in August he was very taken with the local fig crop and was inspired to knock up a jar or two of his Fiendish Fig Chutney.

He helpfully explained the difference between a pickle and a chutney; a pickle involves raw vegetables preserved in a liquid such as brine, oil or vinegar, whilst chutney cooks vegetables or fruits in a sugary vinegar base.

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Lord Venal hopes you’ll enjoy his spicy chutney with all types of cheeses and crackers.

Ingredients (Makes around 1.5 kg of chutney)

1 kg fresh figs

250 g raisins or currants

250 g onions

300 ml cider vinegar

200 g brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic

5 cm fresh ginger

one teaspoon coriander seeds

one cinnamon stick

one teaspoon cloves

one teaspoon turmeric

one teaspoon chili flakes

Assorted jam jars

Method

Chop the figs roughly and remove any stems. Throw them into a large stainless steel pan and add the vinegar, chopped onions, garlic and spices (remember to grind the coriander seeds, break up the cinnamon stick and peel and finely chop the ginger).

Bring to the boil and then allow the mix to simmer, stirring occasionally, for half an hour or so until the figs are softening. Now add the sugar and keep stirring until it’s dissolved. Cook for another 15 minutes or so until the mix starts to thicken. Unlike jam, as soon as you turn the chutney off it stops thickening, so turn the heat off when you reach your desired consistency.

While the chutney is bubbling away, sterilise the jam jars in the oven at 50°c for thirty minutes. Spoon the chutney into the jars while still hot and put a lid on when it’s cooled down a bit. It’s ready to eat straight away, but, like most things in life, it improves with age.