As promised a few weeks back on Knidos Cookery Club, here’s another use for those tasty vine leaves. While jetting down to KCC HQ in Datça recently, we spotted a Cypriot recipe in an airline magazine for halloumi cheese wrapped in vine leaves and we decided to adapt it by using some of the Datça Peninsula’s key ingredients:
Yep, that’s almonds, olives, thyme, capers and lemon. We mixed all these up to make our 5-star Datça paste which we then used to coat slices of our favourite squeaky cheese. After applying the paste, wrap the cheese slices with the leaves and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so until they look like this:
Ingredients (makes four servings)
200 g halloumi
12 vine leaves
75 g almonds
150 g olives
two teaspoons dried thyme
25 g capers
Soak and wash the vine leaves to remove any taste of brine, and then cut the stalk from the bottom of the leaf. You’ll need about three vine leaves for each slice of halloumi.
Now prepare the paste – stone the olives and place the bits of olive in a small dish. Soak the almonds in hot water for a minute or so and then put in cold water and peel off the skin. Break and add to the olives.
Add the capers and lemon juice and the thyme and use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Cut the halloumi into four slices and smear each slice generously with the paste. Wrap the vine leaves around the cheese and then place in a baking dish or on a baking tray.
Bake in the oven at 180 c for thirty minutes or so and serve while hot with a seasonal salad and a selection of mezes.
This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re stuffing again to make one of favourite summertime snacks – dolma (stuffed vine leaves).
These stuffed vine leaves are great as part of a barbecue spread or to add some rice oomph to a selection of dips and mezes.
Rolling the leaves can be a bit fiddly at first, but you’ll soon find yourself getting into the rhythm. it’s best to make a big batch of these little stuffed marvels so you’ve got some ready-made snacks giving your more time at the beach.
If you have any vine leaves left over, then hang on to them as we’ll be featuring another vine leaf recipe next time round on KCC.
Ingredients (makes 48 dolmas)
200 g long grain rice
50 ml olive oil
750 ml water
One lemon (zested and juiced)
50 g chopped almonds
two teaspoons dried thyme
one teaspoon cinnamon
one teaspoon cumin
10 g fresh mint
Pack of preserved vine leaves (or fresh leaves if you can get them)
Fry the finely chopped onion in 25 ml of oil for five minute over a medium heat. While this is cooking, wash the rice until the water runs clear. Now soak the vine leaves for 30 minutes and then rinse well to remove any taste of brine or other preserving agents.
Add the thyme, cinnamon and cumin to the onion and stir. Now add the rice, mixing well to coat the grains. Cover with 375 ml of water and cook until the water is absorbed. The rice does not need to be fully cooked at this stage. When ready, add the chopped almonds, lemon zest and mint and mix well.
Now it’s time to stuff. Take a vine leaf, cut off the stalk and place a teaspoonful of rice mix on the leaf (see picture above). Tuck in the sides of the leaf and roll into a tight cylinder.
Put a layer of unstuffed vine leaves on the bottom of the pan to stop the stuffed ones sticking to the bottom. Layer the dolmas tightly in a heavy-based pan, putting another layer on top if you run out of space. Pour 25 ml of olive oil, the juice of the lemon and 375 ml of water over the vine leaf parcels.
Put a plate on top of the vine leaves and then put the lid on the pan and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool before serving. If left in the fridge for a few hours, the stiffed vine leaves will firm up nicely.
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.
Knidos Cookery Club recently entertained Professor Fox, that doyen of the Christchurch Antiquarians, who came over to Turkey to check out the ruins of Knidos and some archaeological sites in the Datça area such as Burgaz (Old Knidos).
Here’s a slideshow of our visit to Knidos:
After the trip we needed something quick and filling so this time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be cooking pasta in a tasty sauce using only one pan.
This one pot wonder saves time, energy and washing up, both important considerations in the world of KCC after a busy day on the archaeological trail.
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
Three medium-sized tomatoes (approx 150 g)
50 g olives (any you have handy will do, we used some green ones)
150 g cooked chick peas
200 g pasta (penne, fusilli or spaghetti works well)
500 ml hot water
15 g capers
One garlic clove
25 ml olive oil
One teaspoon dried thyme
One teaspoon sumac
One teaspoon chilli flakes
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large, heavy-based pan with the olives, chick peas, minced garlic, olive oil, thyme, sumac and chilli flakes. Pour the water over the top, add the pasta, stir and bring to a boil.
Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the pack over a medium to high heat – you need to keep it bubbling away and stir occasionally. Keep cooking until the most of the liquid is boiled off, leaving the cooked pasta in the sauce.
The type of pasta we used took around 15 minutes to cook – try it as you go to get the type of taste you prefer. Don’t forget to stir in the washed capers to the pasta and sauce when it is cooked.
Serve straight from the pan and garnish, if you want, with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese.
There are a lot of similarities between Turkish and Greek cuisine with both claiming baklava as their own and many other shared dishes, but there are also some striking differences. One variation we’ve noticed on our travels around Turkey and Greece has been with the dish known as fava in both countries.
Last week we featured Turkey’s take on fava, made with broad beans, so this week we’re going to balance things up and have a look at Greece’s take on this dish, which is made with yellow split peas.
These dried peas proved quite hard to track down in Turkey – most supermarkets don’t stock them, but we eventually found them on sale in Datça market, mixed in with a few lentils and whole grains for good measure!
Greece’s version of this dish is runnier than Turkey’s, more like a hummus consistency, so it’s more suitable to use as a dip or spread. We’ve added some sumac to bring together these two esteemed cuisines in a spirit of gastronomic entente cordiale!
Ingredients (makes 6-8 healthy servings)
250 g yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1-2 hours
One medium red onion
One garlic clove
One teaspoon dried thyme
25 ml olive oil
500 ml water
Juice of one lemon
Pinches of salt and black pepper
Use a pinch of sumac, slices of red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice to garnish the fava
Fry the finely chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil over a medium to high heat until the onions start to caramelise. Add the split peas and thyme, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Pour in the water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so until all the liquid is absorbed.
Allow the cooked mixture to cool for ten minutes and then use a hand blender to make it into a smooth paste. As you’re blending the mix, add the lemon juice to give it a creamier consistency.
Use a pinch of sumac, slices of red onion and a squeeze of lemon juice to garnish the fava and thenserve warm with crusty bread and a green salad.
This time on Knidos Cookery Club we’ll be looking at fava, a popular Turkish meze made from broad beans (we’ve used dried but use fresh if you have them). Greece also has a dish called fava, but its version uses split peas and is an all-together different beast to Turkey’s variant which is left in the fridge to firm up into a spread that can be sliced into chunks (more on the Greek variation next time round).
Our variation on the Turkish fava theme turned out a bit less smooth than the one served up in Turkish cafes but it still tasted great! Having cooked up the beans into a mush, we went for a swim while it cooled down. Apparently, it should have been pushed through a sieve while still warm, but no worries – it turned out all right on the night albeit a bit lumpier than expected!
In Turkey fava comes adorned with sprigs of dill (some recipes even put dill in the bean mix itself). Knidos Cookery Club is not a big fan of dill, so we’ve used some fresh mint leaves to adorn our take on this Turkish classic.
Ingredients (makes around 8-10 individual servings)
200 g dried broad beans (soaked overnight in cold water)
One small red onion
400 ml water
One teaspoon honey
25 ml olive oil
Pinch of salt
Mint leaves to garnish
Put the drained beans into a heavy-based pan with the finely chopped onion, olive oil, honey and salt and pour the water over the top. Bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for an hour or so until all the water is absorbed and the beans are breaking up to form a thick paste.
Allow the mix to cool and while still warm press through a metal sieve with a wooden spoon to remove any excess liquid. Oil a glass serving dish and pile the bean mix into the dish. Cover with clingfilm (clear plastic wrap) and leave overnight in the fridge.
Serve in cubes or diamond shapes, cutting the solid mass with a wet knife (to avoid it sticking). Garnish with mint leaves and a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil and serve with crusty bread as part of a meze platter.
Knidos Cookery Club is just back from a fact-finding mission to the Greek Islands and is bursting with new recipe ideas. Our main port of call was the island of Amorgos, the most easterly of the Cyclades group – a six-hour ferry trip from Piraeus, near Athens.
Our visit coincided with the Psimeni Raki festival, held annually on 26 July, a wild night of drinking and dancing (click here for video) fuelled by a local grappa-like spirit tempered with sugar, honey and herbs from the island to produce a drink that is around 20% alcohol by volume.
The drink is based on Rakomelo, which is served by monks to people visiting the amazing Panagia Hozoviotissa Monastery – a spectacular white building carved high onto the side of an imposing cliff face.
For a small island Amorgos produces a significant quantity of alcoholic beverages – check out the site of this local producer, Amorgion, to see what’s on offer. As well as Psimeni Raki and Rakomelo, they also make an interesting local version of tequila, known as Mekila, from prickly pears.
Another interesting place to visit on the island is the Amorgos Botanical Park, a great project that is reviving a traditional garden that had been left derelict for decades. Here’s a link to their Instagram page.
A group of volunteers are aiming to bring the garden, complete with its own cistern fed by a spring, back to life by cultivating herbs endemic to Amorgos. The project is funded by grants and by the proceeds from the sale of herbs such as their intensely-flavoured oregano, teas such as rockrose, and tinctures made from produce grown on the island and dried and processed by the volunteers.
One of the delicacies eaten during the Psimeni Raki festival to help soak up the booze are anevates, cheese pies baked with the aforementioned beverage. Unfortunately, Knidos Cookery Club couldn’t track down any of these pies but the use of Psimeni Raki has inspired us to make a boozy take on Greece’s spicy tirokefteri cheese dip.
Ingredients (serves 4-6 as part of a dip platter)
100 g feta cheese
100 ml Greek-style yogurt
25 ml Psimeni Raki
One teaspoon dried oregano
One teaspoon red chili flakes
Crumble the feta with a fork, add the yogurt, psimeni raki (use sherry or vermouth if you don’t have access to psimeni raki!)and herbs and spices. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly with the fork and chill for a couple of hours before serving with other dips such as tsatsiki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic) and a dip of roasted aubergines served with yogurt.
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.
The courgette, zucchini to our north American readers, is a really versatile vegetable – in the past we’ve used it in a tasty fritter mücver, stuffed 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.