This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re taking advantage of some fresh, seasonal ingredients to make one of our favourite springtime salads, tabbouleh.
This winning combination of freshly-picked herbs, vegetables, lemon and olive oil with a grain such as couscous or bulgur wheat, that origianets on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, makes for a light, fresh-tasting dish that works well as part of a meze platter or alongside a selection of barbecued food.
It’s easy to prepare, giving you more time to lounge in the sun with a glass of chilled wine while making the most of the long evenings.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
100g grain – couscous or bulgur wheat (coarse or fine both work well here)
200 ml vegetable stock
One medium red onion
12 cherry tomatoes
One bunch of fresh parsley
One bunch of fresh mint
Juice of one lemon
25 ml olive oil
Heat the vegetable stock until it’s boiling and then pour it over the couscous or bulgur wheat. Cover and leave to stand for 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
While the couscous or bulgur wheat is soaking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Dice the onion, quarter the tomatoes, finely chop the mint and parsley and squeeze the lemon.
Mix all the ingredients together and then add the olive oil and stir well. Leave to stand in the fridge for 30 minutes and then serve.
You can serve this simple to prepare red Lentil Pâté alongside these other dishes for a great spread of mezeler for a light feast that’s perfect for sharing with friends on a balmy summer’s night.
Ingredients (makes around 200g)
125 g red lentils
300 ml cold water
Two tablespoons fine bulgur wheat
4 or 5 spring onions
10 g fresh parsley
25 ml olive oil
One teaspoon mustard seeds
One teaspoon cumin seeds
Two teaspoons paprika
One teaspoon ground coriander seeds
One teaspoon black pepper
Half a teaspoon turmeric
Clean the lentils in cold water and then put them in a pan with the bayleaf. Pour 300 ml of water over the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are beginning to go mushy and most of the water has been absorbed.
Remove the bayleaf and add the fine bulgur wheat to the lentils and mix well. Leave covered for 30 minutes. heat the oil in a heavy-based pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Fry for a few minutes and then add the paprika, coriander, black pepper and turmeric, cook for a minute stirring constantly and then add the finely chopped spring onion and parsley and cook for five more minutes over a medium heat.
Stir this into the lentil and bulgur mix and leave to stand for a few hours in the fridge. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve with crusty bread.
With Nikol Pashinyan, leader of the largest political protests in Armenia’s post-Soviet history, looking likely to become this impoverished Caucasus Mountains nation’s next prime minister, Knidos Cookery Club is celebrating this momentous event with an Armenian recipe cooked up by our friend Bagila.
This mountainous, landlocked country sandwiched between Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia, has a rich cuisine that draws on an array of fresh vegetables such as aubergines and peppers, pulses and beans and fruits and nuts.
Bagila’s recipe uses red peppers that are fried and then marinated overnight in her signature marinade and they taste amazing served alongside a platter of other dips and salads as in the picture above.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
500 gr red peppers, cut lengthwise in quarters
50 ml olive oil
For the marinade:
2 fresh tomatoes, skinned and grated
5 crushed/mashed garlic cloves
75 ml of lemon juice
1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
1.5 tablespoons of sugar
a little less than 1 tablespoon spoon of salt
black pepper to taste;
oil left over from frying
Fry the quartered peppers in hot olive oil until soft and then set aside. While they’re cooking, mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
Combine it all together: a layer of peppers, followed with a layer of marinade and so on.
Put something heavy on top for pressure (a saucer with a stone on top, or a jar of honey (jam), or whatever you can think of), and keep in the fridge for at least several hours (better one night/day) before eating. Enjoy!
This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be looking at a spice called sumac that is ubiquitous in Turkish cooking. Sumac comes from the flowering plants of the genus Rhus and its powdered purple-reddish berries give a tart but tangy boost to everything from soups and dips to grilled vegetables and kebabs. It also gives a rich dark burgundy hue to the dishes it flavours.
The secret to a successful acili ezme is to chop the ingredients as finely as you can with the sharpest knife you have and to chill it for a few hours before serving so the flavours have a chance to blend.
We’ve added red chilli flakes and sumac to give it a kick and used mint and parsley to balance out the flavours. If you like your dips hot, then use green chillies in place of green peppers in this recipe.
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
One medium-sized onion
Three medium-sized plum tomatoes
One medium-sized green pepper
One garlic clove
One bunch of parsley
One teaspoon dried mint
Three teaspoons red chilli flakes
Two teaspoons sumac
One teaspoon flavoured vinegar (such as apple or fig)
Three teaspoons pomegranate sauce
Peel the tomatoes and de-seed (to peel: plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds then place in cold water – the skin should now come off easily). Chop the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic and parsley as finely as you can.
Put all the ingredients into a bowl, add the herbs and spices, vinegar and pomegranate sauce and mix well. Leave to chill in the fridge for at least two hours before serving with flat bread.
Welcome to Knidos Cookery Club’s 50th post! To mark this momentous milestone, we’ve recreated a dish we discovered while visiting Ovabükü, a quiet beach on the Knidos peninsula – stuffed potato balls.
If you’ve enjoyed reading Knidos Cookery Club as much as we’ve enjoyed producing it, then could we ask a favour – please nominate us in the Saveur Blog Awards for 2017. This is a special award for food blogs and if you could spare a couple of minutes to nominate then enter our URL – https://knidoscookeryclub.wordpress.com – and choose the Best New Voice category. Your support would be much appreciated – thanks in advance!
For Knidos Cookery Club one of the most enjoyable things about the local food scene is finding a new restaurant and checking out the dishes in the vitrine. There are always some surprise dishes lurking in the glass display cabinets that are made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
In Ovabükü one of the dishes on the mixed meze plate was the aforementioned potato ball stuffed with cream cheese. We’ve put some delicious haydari, made from mint and strained yogurt, in our version, and spiced up the potato balls with some chili flakes. Strained yogurt is thicker than normal yogurt as the liquid whey and lactose has been strained off – it’s also known as Greek style yogurt in the UK.
200 ml strained yogurt
20 g crumbly white cheese
1 garlic clove
3 teaspoons dried mint
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Mix the yogurt, cheese, garlic and mint together and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. Decorate the haydari with walnut pieces and dust with chili flakes before serving.
Spicy Potato Balls
500 g baked or boiled potatoes
Handful of fresh parsley
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
50 ml unstrained yogurt
Mash the potato and mix in the other ingredients. Form into round, golf ball-sized shapes, make an indentation in the top with a teaspoon and fill the gap with haydari and top with a walnut half.
To celebrate this spring equinox festival, we’ll be serving up kok samsa, deep-fried pies filled with a selection of spring greens.
Originating in Persia some 3,000 years ago, Nowruz, or New Day, is a celebration of the end of winter and the start of a new year on the date when day and night are equal in the Northern Hemisphere. This date usually falls on or around 21 March.
The holiday is still widely celebrated in Iran and Iraq, across Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, in eastern Turkey and in parts of Syria, India, Pakistan and China. Food plays an important role in these celebrations – in Iran the table is set with seven items, as explained in this article from Iran Wire:
A few weeks before Nowruz, Iranians begin setting up their haft sin, or “seven Ss,” a ceremonial display of symbolic items whose names begin with the Persian letter “sin” or “s.” They include “sabzeh,” or green sprouts grown from lentils, which symbolize rebirth; “samanu,” a sweet pudding that represents affluence, “senjed,” or dried wild olives, which symbolize love; “seer,” or garlic, which symbolizes medicine; “seeb,” an apple, which represents health; “somaq” or sumac fruit, which symbolizes the color of sunrise, and “serkeh,” or vinegar, which symbolises maturity.
We’ve developed our own take on the kok samsa using the Iranian magic number of seven ingredients: parsley, spinach, coriander, celeriac leaves, spring onion, garlic and mint. As fully signed-up members of Dillwatch, we omitted that scurrilous weed, dill, from this recipe.
Ingredients (makes 8-10 pies)
For the Pastry
300 g plain flour
75 ml olive oil
Pinch of salt
Up to 75 ml cold water
Two – three teaspoons of sesame seeds
2. For the Filling
150 g spring onions
2 garlic cloves
50 g fresh coriander
50 g fresh parsley
150 g spinach
25 g the leafy bits from the top of a celeriac
15 g fresh mint
Two teaspoons of cumin seeds
25 ml olive oil
3. For Deep Frying
1 litre sunflower oil (for deep frying)
1.For the Pastry
Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt. Pour in the olive oil and stir with a fork. The mixture should form into small clumps of flour and oil. Pour some of the cold water and continue mixing. Continue adding water until the mixture forms into a large ball shape. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
2. For the Filling
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and add the chopped spring onions and minced garlic. Fry for five minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the coriander and parsley and cumin and fry for tw0 to three minutes. Add the torn up spinach leaves, chopped celeriac leaves and mint and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted, about 10 more minutes or so, stirring every now and then.
3. For Deep Frying
Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based pan. For deep frying you need to get the oil to between 350 and 360 c – to check the temperature use this tip from Delishably:
When the oil has preheated, dip the handle of a wooden spoon or a chopstick into the oil. If the oil starts steadily bubbling, then the oil is hot enough for frying. If the oil bubbles very very vigorously, then the oil is too hot and needs to cool off a touch. If no or very few bubbles pop up, then it’s not hot enough.
While the oil is heating, prepare the pies. Form the pastry into 8-10 walnut-sized balls. Put the pastry ball onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 1 mm thick circle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and turn the circle over.
Place three teaspoons of filling on half of the pastry round and then close the other half over the top of the filling. Use a fork to mould the edges of the pie together. Prick the pie’s top to allow air to escape.
Place two or three pies at a time in the hot oil and fry for around 8 minutes or until the pie is golden brown in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll. Serve the kok samsa either hot or cold.
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!)
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.
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)
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
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.