No Beef with the Beetburger

19 October 2017

The beet is back on Knidos Cookery Club and this time round we’ll be using our burgundy-coloured friend to tap into another zeitgeist treat in the form of the tasty beetburger.

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The stalls in Datça market last Saturday were overflowing with of bunches of beetroots so we picked up a bunch, chopped off the leaves and stems for sautéing, and wrapped the beets in foil and roasted them in the oven for an hour or so.

Beetroot burgers have been a bit of a barbecue craze in the UK over the summer, with supermarkets reporting soaring sales as people turn towards healthier options to meat.

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Turkey’s papatya, or daisy, loaf of bread

We’ve done some experimentation and come up with a patty that will hold together under the grill, on the barbie, in the oven or can be shallow-fried. Stuff it in a bun – we’ve used the papatya loaf as pictured above, and serve with chips and salad for a delicious yet healthy meal (the chips were roasted in the oven, not fried).

Ingredients (makes 6-8 burgers)

100 g red lentils

50 g fine bulgur wheat

150 g roasted beetroot, grated

One medium onion

One garlic clove

50 ml olive oil

Two teaspoons dried thyme

One teaspoon each of sumac, cumin and chilli flakes

Dash of soy sauce

Method

Heat 25 ml of the olive oil in a heavy-based pan, add the herbs and spices and the chopped onion and garlic and fry for five minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lentils and water, bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid is absorbed.

Add the bulgur wheat to the mix and allow to cool for 30 minutes – this should thicken the mixture. Then add the grated beetroot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Form into burger shapes (take a dollop of walnut-sized mix and flatten with a spatula and shallow fry in the rest of the olive oil on both sides until going crispy on the outside.

Alternatively, these burgers can be baked in the oven for 30-40 minutes at 200 c or grilled   or cooked on the barbecue until crispy on both sides. Serve in a burger bun with salad and chips.

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Lobiani Sausagiani

9 March 2017

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re off to Turkey’s far north-east corner and across the border into Georgia. This mountainous country shares some dishes in common with the people of Turkey’s Black Sea coast such as the bread and cheese concoction known as khachapuri in Georgia, pide in Turkey.

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Georgian dishes rely on both fresh and dried local ingredients. The diet is generally meat-heavy – this point was crudely pushed home last year when outraged sausage-wielding activists attacked Kiwi Café, a vegan café in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, throwing chunks of meat and fish at diners, but there are lots of options for non-carnivores as its cuisine also features a wide range of veggie dishes.

Georgia’s location on a number of east-west trade routes heading through the Caucasus Mountains has seen different influences make their mark on its  eating culture over the years, with spices playing a key role.

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KCC’s new brunch treat –lobiani sausagiani

Dried beans, or lobio, walnuts, pomegranates and spices like coriander and blue fenugreek give a distinctive taste to the local fare. Cheese also features strongly on the Georgian table, from the versatile sulguni, an elastic, brined cheese akin to mozzarella, that can be deep fried to the fresh white imeruli cheese.

Georgia’s dried red beans are made into a dish called lobio, that, depending on the region of the country it’s prepared in, can be like a soup, a stew or re-fried beans. It is usually cooked in a clay pot and sometimes comes with a thin layer of bread as a cover on top. Mashed red beans are also cooked inside bread in a dish called lobiani.

We’ve decided to do our own take on a lobio dish, and to get our own back on those meat-wielding activists, by making a Georgian-influenced veggie sausage, to be served as part of a brunch or main meal.

Ingredients (makes 8-10 sausages)

200 g dried red beans, soaked overnight

100 g red lentils (one cup)

150 g fine bulgur wheat (1.5 cups)

50 g chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

25 ml olive oil for frying the sausages

1 tablespoon plain flour

Method

Soak the beans overnight and then cook for an hour or so over a low heat until the beans are cooked and beginning to break up. Drain and reserve the cooking water , then mash the beans roughly.

Wash the lentils until the water goes clear and then place in a pan with the water from the cooked beans – add more water so the lentils are covered by 2 cm of liquid. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes or so. The lentils should be going mushy and there should be about 1 cm of water covering the lentils – add more water if necessary.

Add the washed bulgur wheat to the cooked lentils and blend well. Allow to stand for 30 minutes or so and then add the toasted, chopped walnuts and the mashed beans. Then grind the spices together and add to the mix. Leave overnight in the fridge to allow the flavours to blend.

Sprinkle some flour on a chopping board and roll lemon-sized portions of the mix  into sausage shapes, coating evenly with flour. Fry the sausages in the oil until browned on the outside and then serve with baked beans and a fried egg for a top brunch.

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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You Like Tomato, I Like Ntomato

23 June 2016

Knidos Cookery Club’s fact-finding mission to Greece continues with a look at the contribution of the tomato to local culinary culture.

It may be hard to believe, but it is only in the last two hundred years that the tomato has established itself as a key ingredient in Greek kitchens.

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A plate of tomato fritters from Kos, Greece

It’s found in the classic horiatiki salad that pairs it with cucumber, onion, green pepper, olives and feta cheese. It plays a key role in gemista, platters of vegetables stuffed with rice.

On the island of Kos the sweet local varieties of tomatoes are preserved in syrup or made into jam that makes an orange marmalade rival for a slice of toast.

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Tomatoes preserved in syrup with almonds from Kos, Greece

In Greece the tomato is called ντοματο, pronounced with a ‘d’ sound at the beginning. Modern Greek has no single letter for the ‘d’ sound and uses the letters for ‘n’ and ‘t’ to make this sound.

This week Knidos Cookery Club is serving up tomato fritters, a close cousin of Turkey’s mücver. We’ve used plum tomatoes as they tend to be a bit less juicy than other varieties. The mix needs to find a balance between not being too dry or too wet for the fritters to hold together in the pan.

Ingredients (makes 10-12 fritters)

500 g plum tomatoes

One medium-sized red onion

Fresh herbs – small bunches of parsley, basil and mint or a teaspoon of dried parsley, basil and mint

100 g plain flour

Seasoning mix – pinches of salt and pepper, one teaspoon of cinnamon and one of cumin

Olive oil for frying

Method

Grate the tomatoes and mix with the herbs and flour until you have a mix that is neither too dry nor too wet.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and when hot add fritters made into walnut-sized shapes and flatten with a fish slice or spatula.

Cook on both sides until golden brown in colour and serve with a sauce of natural yogurt, grated cucumber and garlic.

Head to the Islands

16 June, 2016

This week Knidos Cookery Club is on location in Greece, on the island of Kos, which is a short hop by boat from the ruins of the ancient Carian port city of Knidos.

Turkey and Greece have a lot of similarities when it comes to food with both cuisines drawing on herbs and vegetables common to the areas around the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Much of Greek cooking tends towards heartier fare, whereas the Ottoman influence on Turkish cooking lends it a more regal and refined air.

Historically, Greece’s islands have depended on what was grown and produced on the island. This sees the use of dried beans and pulses, olives, cheeses preserved in red wine and bread dried into rusks.

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Aegli restaurant, Kos Town

Knidos Cookery Club’s favourite restaurant in Kos Town is Aegli, glamour in Greek, which is a women’s cooperatve that employs single mothers and women over 50. It uses local recipes and serves dishes made from ingredients sourced only from the island.

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Aegli’s mixed starter plate

The excellent mixed starter plate came with fava, a mashed broad bean paste, a dip made from fresh aubergenes, a cheese and chili pepper blend, giant beans in a tomato sauce and two types of fritters – one made with mashed potato and onion, and the other with mashed chick peas.

This week, Knidos Cookery Club will serve up some revithokeftedes (ρεβυθοκεφτεδες), a chick pea fritter that is a mintier version of falafel.

Ingredients (for 10-12 fritters)

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

Two spring onions

A bunch of fresh mint, sprinkles of salt and pepper

100 g flour

25 g sesame seeds

100 ml olive oil for frying

Method

Mash the chick peas with a potato masher or blender. Add the chopped spring onion, mint and salt and pepper. Mix in the flour and then shape the mix into golf ball-sized fritters and roll them in sesame seeds.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan then cook the fritters, flattening them with a spatula. Fry until a golden brown colour on both sides.