Who Ate All the Pies?

9 June 2016

This week, Knidos Cookery Club is going to have a look at a local take on the pie – börek. 

This member of the baked, filled pastry club is made from thin layers of filo pastry, known as yufka in Turkey. It comes with a variety of fillings including spinach, white cheese, potatoes, grated courgettes, swiss chard, leeks or combinations of these fillings.

IMG_0227
Individual spinach börek ready for the oven

There are two main ways of preparing börek – in a large pan and then sliced after baking, or as an individual serving in a cigar-shape. Either way, the börek is a moreish treat so always make more than you think you’ll need!

Kindos Cookery Club will tell you how to make the individual servings today. To make the pan version, layer 3-4 sheets of filo pastry in a large, greased dish, brushing glaze between the layers (as in this recipe for a zesty leek, goat cheese and walnut tart). Next add the filling of your choice and then top it off with 3-4 more sheets of filo and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Follow the baking instructions below for the individual pies to cook the pan version.

Follow these steps to make some tasty individual white cheese and spinach börek.

IMG_0225
Ready to roll…

 

Ingredients (To make 5 individual pies)

15 sheets of filo pastry

500 g spinach

One medium-sized onion

100 g white cheese

50 ml olive oil

50 ml natural yogurt or milk

Fresh mixed herbs (mint, oregano, thyme,dill)

Salt and pepper

Nigella seeds

Method

To make the filling, heat some olive oil in a heavy-based pan and cook the chopped onion over a medium heat until translucent. Add the chopped, fresh herbs and washed and shredded spinach. Season with dashes of salt and pepper.

Cook until the spinach wilts and then add the crumbled white cheese. Mix well and allow to cool.

Make a glaze for the filo pastry by blending equal parts of olive oil and natural yogurt (or milk). Brush the glaze over one 15 cm x 15 cm sheet of filo (or triangle shapes if you can find them), then place another layer of pastry, glaze and finally one more sheet and glaze.

Put two generous dollops of filling onto the bottom edge of the layered filo sheets, leaving about 2 cm at each end. Roll the pie into a cigar shape and press the ends down.

Brush with glaze and sprinkle nigella seeds over the cigar.

Place on a greased baking tray and put into a pre-heated oven and bake at 200 °C (gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or until the pies are golden brown in colour.

 

 

Sundowner Time

2 June 2016

Welcome to the tenth edition of Knidos Cookery Club! This calls for a celebration and this week we’ll be looking at some snacks and starters commonly associated with Turkey’s favourite alcoholic tipple, rakı.

IMG_0383
A classic sundowner set with rakı, white cheese and cucumber

Rakı is a member of the family of anise-flavoured drinks common to many countries with coastlines on the Mediterranean  Sea – ouzo in Greece, pastis in France, sambuca in Italy, arak in Lebanon and chinchón in Spain.

When rakı is diluted with water, it turns a milky white colour leading to its Turkish nickname, aslan sütü, or lion’s milk. It’s drunk as an aperitif and is accompanied by white cheese and cucumber. In spring and early summer, it’s often served with tart, sour green plums, known as can erik.

SAMSUNG CSC
Sour plums

Rakı also accompanies a long, lazy lunch or evening meal with the drink served alongside a selection of mezeler, or appetizers that include, among many others, a spicy tomato and chili paste, acılı ezme, yogurt, grated cucumber and crushed garlic, cacık, and semizotu, purslane mixed with yogurt. These starters are usually followed by a grilled fish course and the meal is finished with slices of fresh melon.

SAMSUNG CSC
The new season’s carrots have arrived!

We couldn’t resist these great carrots in the market last week, and they’ve inspired this meze to go with a glass or two of lion’s milk. This week’s recipe is for cezizli havuç tarator, a combo of walnuts, carrots and yogurt.

SAMSUNG CSC
Carrot and Walnut Tarator

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

200 g baby carrots

Eight walnuts

200 ml Greek (strained) yogurt

One or two garlic cloves

Splash of olive oil

Salt, black pepper, dried oregano, chili flakes, cumin and nigella seeds

Method

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Clean and grate the carrots (keep the carrot tops to make this pesto) then cook the grated carrot over a low heat for ten minutes or so to help release the natural sugars in the carrots. While it’s cooking, keep stirring and add pinches of salt, black pepper, dried oregano, chili flakes and cumin.

Allow the carrots to cool then add the crushed walnuts (use a blender or a rolling pin to crush them), as much garlic as you prefer and the yogurt. Blend together well and drizzle with nigella seeds.

Serve as a dip with crackers and slices of red pepper and cucumber along with a glass of rakı, water and ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swiss Chard: No Fence Sitting Allowed

26 May 2016

Swiss chard, a surprisingly divisive green leaf, is in the spotlight on Knidos Cookery Club this week.

SAMSUNG CSC
Swiss chard – friend or foe?

 

Swiss chard, pazı  in Turkish, is one of those love it or hate it vegetables. In a restaurant in Istanbul a few years ago, a Turkish friend was fine with the spinach order but when I suggested the pazı side dish he looked at me as if I had gone mad. He refused to countenance eating it, leaving these particular green leaves to the three foreigners he was with.

On the positive side, in Croatia last summer friends from HaMAS in the UK introduced me to blitva, a local take on this leafy green vegetable that sees it sautéed with potatoes and garlic.

Here at Knidos Cookery Club we love it, especially when the vitamin-packed leaves are combined with red peppers, added more for colour than heat, and topped off with a healthy dollop of natural yogurt, to re-create a dish that is a mainstay in Turkey’s home-cooking lokanta restaurants.

SAMSUNG CSC
Turkish-style Swiss chard with red pepper and yogurt

Try this recipe yourself to see which side of the Swiss chard fence you fall on.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

One bunch of Swiss chard (approx 500g)

Three spring onions

Two medium-sized red peppers

Dash of olive oil

Pinches of cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper

One bay leaf

Dollop of yogurt

Sprinkle of chili flakes and nigella seeds

Method

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and when hot add the finely chopped spring onions.

After a few minutes over a medium heat, add the finely chopped red pepper and the bay leaf. Season with pinches of cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper.

Clean the Swiss chard thoroughly, shake dry and then roughly chop the leaves and stalks. After cooking the red peppers for five minutes, add the Swiss chard to the pan and stir continuously. You shouldn’t need to add any extra water. Continue cooking and stirring until the Swiss chard begins to soften – 8-10 minutes or so.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle the chili flakes and nigella seeds over this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Passion for Purslane

19 May 2016

This week on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be looking at some ways of using purslane, our favourite weed. This highly-nutritious plant is called semizotu and is widely cultivated in Turkey, where it also grows wild. It’s used in salads, soups and stews.

IMG_0796
Freshly-picked purslane

Purslane has a crunchy texture and a lemony taste and can be used as a substitute for spinach and watercress. This superweed is packed with vitamins – it has the highest concentration of vitamin E of any plant and also contains a useful essential omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, reports motherearthnews.com.

In the Knidos area, it’s a mainstay of meze, or starter, combos when served with yogurt and a hint of garlic. The leaves and stems are also good as a simple but tasty salad dressed with a tahini sauce.

IMG_0776
Purslane in a tahini dressing

We’ve opted for a vitamin-packed spring stew, Semizotu Nohutlu Bulgur Pilavı with purslane, chick peas (garbanzo beans), tomato. carrot and bulgur wheat. Here’s what the finished dish should look like:

IMG_0807

Ingredients (serves3-4)

One bunch of purslane

One medium-sized onion

Two carrots

Four medium-sized tomatoes

100 g coarse bulgur wheat

One can chick peas or 150 g dried chick peas soaked overnight and boiled for an hour or so

One bay leaf

Fresh herbs – parsley and mint

A pinch of cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, red chili flakes, thyme and salt

250 ml warm water

25 ml olive oil

Method

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and add the chopped onion, the bay leaf and a sprinkle of dried thyme.

Slice the carrot into 50 mm rounds then chop up the tomatoes. When the onions are translucent, add the carrots to the mix and after five minutes or so add the tomatoes.

Cook for another five minutes then add the chick peas, bulgur wheat and water and season with the fresh herbs and spices.

Stir well and bring to the boil. Then turn the heat down, add the purslane and cook over a low heat for 20-25 minutes until the bulgur wheat is cooked but still a bit chewy.

Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes then serve with yogurt and garnish with mint.

Afiyet olsun!

 

 

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!)

IMG_0350

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.

IMG_0411

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 …

IMG_0192 copy 2

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.

IMG_0075

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:

IMG_0262

Thirty minutes later – the finished product:

IMG_0273

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.