Heavenly Halloumi

13 September 2018

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:

20180805_211440

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:

20180802_133525(0)

Ingredients (makes four servings)

200 g halloumi

12 vine leaves

75 g almonds

150 g olives

One lemon

two teaspoons dried thyme

25 g capers

Method

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.

 

Vine Leaves Stuffed to Perfection

16 August 2018

This time round on Knidos Cookery Club we’re stuffing again to make one of favourite summertime snacks – dolma (stuffed vine leaves).

20180801_153038

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.

20180801_113236.jpg
Ready to roll…

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.

20180801_114836.jpg
Layer the cylinders tightly in the pan

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)

One onion

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)

Method

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.

Mezemania: Funky Lentil Pâté

26 July 2018

In our ongoing series on mezeler, or starters, we’ve come up with a funky little lentil spread to add to the collection.

20180712_135704
Funky Lentil Pâté

In the past on Knidos Cookery Club we’ve featured the following mezes: two types of fava (Turkish and Greek),  these little numbers (smoky aubergine dip, Psimeni Raki and feta dip and tsatsiki) inspired by the Greek island of Amorgos, fiery red pepper-fuelled muhammara and acili ezme and a creamy almond and courgette dip as part of our esteemed meze collection.

20170819_212721
Amorgoan Delight: smoky aubergine dip, Psimeni Raki and feta dip and tsatsiki

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

One bayleaf

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

Method

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.

One Pot Wonder: A Trip to Knidos

23 November 2017

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

20171025_214236
KCC’s one pot wonder in progress

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.

20171025_222310
KCC’s one pot wonder – the finished product

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

Method 

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.

Fava à la Grecque

12 October 2017

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.

20171006_134319
Fava à la Grecque

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.

20171006_131423
Ingredients for fava à la Grecque

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

Method

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 then serve warm with crusty bread and a green salad.

 

Fava a la Turca

5 October 2017

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).

20170929_122236.jpg
Knidos Cookery Club’s take on fava served with mint

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!

20171005_114611
Fava served with … dill in a restaurant in Akyaka, Turkey’s slow food capital

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

Method

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.

 

 

Amorgos, mon Amour!

 

31 August 2017

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.

IMG_3444
Dancing the night away in Amorgos

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.

20170727_002930
Working hard to keep the Psimeni raki flowing at the festival in Amorgos

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.

20170819_212721
Knidos Cookery Club’s Greek trio with (clockwise from the top) smoky aubergine dip, Psimeni Raki and feta dip and tsatsiki, yogurt and cucumber.

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

Method

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.

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.

IMG_1295
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.

 

 

 

Battle of the Beans 2: Land of the Giants

SAMSUNG CSC

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.

WP_20160720_23_55_39_Pro
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.

SAMSUNG CSC
SAMSUNG CSC

T

The Turk Brekkie Club

7 July 2016

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.

IMG_0964
Turk Brekkie!

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.

SAMSUNG CSC
Menemen

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)

Two eggs

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

Method

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.