Leeks in a lemon and tomato sauce

I still have some home-grown leeks and carrots from the garden, trying to eat them up before the weather totally trashes them. I also have a brand new Turkish recipe book to try, and so far, so good. It has a great index by ingredient, an informative forward describing the different culinary regions within Turkey, and it is massive. I’m thinking of adding it to the favourite book list. 

It is called ‘The Turkish Cookbook’ by Musa Dagdeviren.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 600g leeks, sliced (about 3 large leeks)
  • 150g carrot, diced (about 1 carrot)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red bell pepper paste (from Turkishop)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon or 2 tbsp grape vinegar
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 40 – 60g rice

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat
  • Add the chopped leeks, diced carrot, tomato paste, pepper paste, sugar and salt, and cook for around five minutes. 
  • Add the boiling water, lemon juice, and rice, turn the heat down low and cover the pan. Simmer for around 20 to 30 minutes, until the rice is cooked. 

This works well on its own, as a light supper or lunch. It is also glorious with goat’s cheese and brown bread. 

Circassian chicken salad

This salad is a rich paste made with chicken, walnuts, stock and breadcrumbs. It is delicious spread on bread, oatcakes and other savoury biscuits. I got this recipe from Cookistan, when we were on holiday in Istanbul. 

The Circassians were a tribal people who lived in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian sea, north east of modern Turkey. They were part of the Ottoman Empire, and the dish has made its way into modern Turkish cookery. 

INGREDIENTS:

 
  • 2 chicken breasts, poached in 1 litre of well-seasoned stock
  • 250g walnuts
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 200g panko breadcrumbs, or other dried breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 12 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • Chopped dill, optional
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 tsp sweet paprika, to taste
  • 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to taste (quite a lot of salt and pepper)
  • 6 teaspoons paprika (sweet)
  • Garnish: 1 tsp paprika in olive oil and whole walnut halves

METHOD:

  • Cool the poached chicken, and strain and reserve the stock. 
  • Shred the cooked chicken breast very finely. 
  • Roughly crush the walnuts and finely crush the garlic.
  • Soften the breadcrumbs with stock to make a soft paste.
  • Add the chicken, olive oil, mayonnaise, yoghurt, cumin, paprika dill, and salt and pepper to make a paste, and stir in the walnuts and garlic. Check the seasoning; this needs quite a bit of salt to bring out the flavour. 
  • Garnish with 1 tsp paprika fried in 1 tbsp olive oil, walnut halves, and chopped dill. 

Venison Curry

For Christmas, we had pot-roast venison, with a lemon and horseradish gravy. We had a lot of venison for two people, so I also made this curry. It is adapted from a very odd recipe from the BBC website – the quantities were mad, and didn’t match between imperial and metric, so I sort of made up the gaps. It was delicious, although rather hot. I’d like to make it again, so here is what I did. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg venison, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2cm of ginger root, grated
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp kashmir chilli powder, or 1 tbsp ordinary chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp crushed juniper seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp molasses sugar or other brown sugar or treacle
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • greek-style thick plain yoghurt
  • 500ml stock (I used the lemon gravy)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole dish, and fry the chopped onions over a medium heat. 
  • After around 5 minutes, add the crushed garlic, grated ginger and chopped chillies. 
  • When the onions are browning, add the venison, and stir in to cook and brown the meat.
  • Add the spices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring them in well. 
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer. 
  • Cook over a low heat on the hob or in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. If you are using left-overs, half an hour should be enough. 

To serve, stir in two tablespoons of yoghurt, and garnish with the chopped coriander. Serve with nan bread or rice, and with a side-dish of yoghurt. 

Venison casserole with red wine

I am lucky to live in a place where wild venison from red deer is readily available. This year I have bought my venison from South Uist Estates. We’ve now got rather a lot in the freezer, and the Christmas Day menu is sorted. 

Tonight I made a casserole using the recipe in The Game Cook by Norman Tebbit. I did add a few variations, couldn’t help myself. It was very very good. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g shoulder of venison, diced
  • 100g smoked pancetta, or streaky bacon cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 300ml stock
  • 150ml red wine
  • 100g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Bouquet garni (I used the mystery herbs with added bayleaves)
  • a couple of good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

MARINADE INGREDIENTS:

  • 150ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp brandy or rum
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Peel of 1/4 orange, shredded

METHOD:

  • Put all of the marinade ingredients in a plastic box with a secure lid. Add the venison, shake it all around to mix, and then leave overnight in the fridge. 
  • Preheat the oven to 170C
  • Take the venison out of the marinade, wipe off the chopped onion and orange, and set aside. Strain the marinade and save that as well. 
  • Heat the oil and butter together in a large casserole dish, and gently fry the pancetta. Once it starts cooking, add the chopped onion, carrot, garlic and celery, and continue to cook until the vegetables are beginning to brown. 
  • Toss the venison in the seasoned flour, and then add the flour, herbs and meat to the pan. Keep stirring the meat in the pan until it starts to brown. 
  • Once the mixture is really dry, add the marinade, the red wine and the stock, a good splash of Worcestershire sauce, and  bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. The liquid should cover the vegetables and meat. 
  • Add the mushrooms, check for seasoning, and then put the casserole into the oven for a couple of hours. 

Serve with mashed potato, and a green vegetable. Try adding celeriac to the mash, or serving with roasted parsnips. 

Borecik

Turkish savoury pastries come in many flavours and shapes, using different pastries, fillings, styles and cooking techniques. These Borecik roses were one of the dishes we made in Istanbul, when we participated in the Cookistan cookery school. 

The pastry that we used was prepared in a small shop in a traditional way, sold as large round circles of thin and pliable pastry. These sheets are called yufka, and are a bit more robust than filo pastry. They are available from Turkishop, but you could substitute filo. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sheet of yufka
  • 150g mince
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 150ml milk
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 250g plain yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • Butter

METHOD:

  • Cut the sheet of pastry into four.
  • Kneed the meat with the onions, pepper and salt. 
  • Mix the milk with the olive oil, and use this to wet one side of the sheet of pastry. 
  • Put a quarter of the mince mixture in a line along the curved edge of each segment of the pastry sheet. Roll the sheet around the mince to form a snake. These snake pastries can be frozen for use later, handy for making a feast at short notice.
  • Coil each snake to make a snail shape. 
  • Put the snail shapes onto a greased baking sheet, brush with beaten egg, and bake in the oven at 200C for 35 to 40 minutes. 
  • To serve, mix yoghurt and garlic, and put a dollop on the top of each pastry. 
  • Next, melt the butter and fry the chilli flakes, and drizzle this on top of the yoghurt. 

Persian rice, beef and cabbage

This is a truly delicious meal, I keep sneaking back for extra portions. It uses a surprisingly small amount of meat to make a meal for around eight people. 

I derived the recipe from the astonishingly good book, Nightingales and Roses by Maryam Sinaiee. There are a couple of tweaks to match local circumstances and my store cupboard. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g basmati rice
  • 400g white cabbage – I used a whole sweetheart cabbage
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 200g mince
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 tbsp tomato puree OR 250ml passata
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20g butter

METHOD:

  • Put the rice in a large bowl, and cover with water, stirring to loosen any surface starch. Drain, and repeat this step three times, then leave the rice to soak in salted water for 30 minutes or more. 
  • Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pan. Bring the water back to the boil, and cook uncovered until the rice grains are on the surface of the water. This takes about six minutes or so. The rice should feel cooked, but still with a little bite to it. 
  • Drain the cooked rice and rinse with cold water to separate the grains and stop them cooking. 
  • Chop the cabbage coarsely and saute it in 1 tbsp of oil over a medium to high heat, seasoned with the black pepper. After five minutes, as it starts to brown, remove from the pan.
  • Add a bit more oil to the pan, and the chopped onions, fry for around 10 minutes until starting to brown. 
  • Add the mince, turmeric, and cumin, and fry until the mince is well browned. 
  • Add the tomato paste, salt and cabbage. If you are using tomato paste and not passata, then add 200ml boiling water. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. If the mixture is looking a little dry, or starting to catch, add another drop of water. 
  • Using the large pan, put a couple of tablespoons of oil at the bottom, and heat it. Then add alternating layers of rice and cabbage mixture, starting and ending with a rice layer. Wrap the pan lid in a tea towel and jam it firmly on top. 
  • Put the pan over a medium heat and cook until the outside of the pan is hot. 
  • Melt the butter in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, and pour this over the top of the rice mountain in the pan. Put the pan into an oven at Gas 3, 170C, and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • When the dish is done, it should be turned out onto a platter, and served with yoghurt, pickled vegetables, and a salad of herbs. At this time of year, not that many delicious herbs in the garden, so I skipped that bit. 

 

Turkish candied pumpkin with tahini

We learned how to make this extraordinary dessert when we were on holiday in Istanbul. The first night we went out, I ordered this, thinking it looked really unusual, and then the next day, it was one of the dishes we prepared at our Cookistan cookery class. Our teacher explained that this was a dish invented at the end of the Ottoman empire, for the palace.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g peeled pumpkin cut into large cubes, about 2 inches across.
  • 450g granulated sugar,
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cloves
  • 100g tahini (about 7 tbsp)
  • chopped walnuts.

METHOD:

  • Place the pumpkin cubes into a large saucepan and cover with the sugar, and leave overnight.
  • Add a little water if required, so that the liquid in the pan reaches about half way up the pumpkin. Add the cloves and vanilla.
  • Put the lid on the pan and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pumpkin is soft and absorbs all the water it initially released. Check regularly to ensure that the syrup doesn’t stick. Baste the pumpkin in the syrup.
  • Let it come to room temperature. This dish can be kept in the refrigerator.
  • Garnish with tahini and chopped walnuts to serve.

Turkish stuffed vegetables

This is the first of several recipes from Turkey, from our cooking class at Cookistan. I was really impressed with the quality of food that we produced. Some of these recipes are seasonal, so if you were to book with them, you’re sure to learn something new. 

We made stuffed dried aubergines, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgettes. The dried aubergines, pepper puree and vine leaves are available from Turkishop online, but peppers, beef tomatoes, or onions could be used. 

Ready for the oven

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 dried aubergines, or 8 good sized courgettes, or a jar of vine leaves in brine. If you can’t get vine leaves, then chard leaves would do. 
  • 100g mince
  • 50g rice or fine bulgar wheat
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp pepper puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes
  • 1 handful of chopped parsley
  • Plain yoghurt to serve (you could add garlic, salt and pepper to the yoghurt)

METHOD:

  • If you are using dried aubergines, these need to be soaked in boiling water for around 5 minutes. They need to be weighed down to ensure they are completely submerged, and then rinsed in cold water. If you are using courgettes, use a teaspoon, melon baller (or a special Turkish courgette knife) to hollow them out. First, cut them in half across the way, not lengthways, and trim the end to make them steady to stand up in the pan. Then, hollow them out carefully. Other vegetables can be prepared in a similar way. 
  • Mix all the other ingredients, and mix them together with your hands.
  • Stuff the vegetables to about 3/4 full. During the cooking, the rice expands, so you need to leave a little bit of room. 
  • To stuff vine leaves, put each leaf shiny side down with the pointy bits pointing away. Put a line of mince about the size of your little finger across the bottom of the vine leaf. Start rolling the leaf round the mince, working away from you, folding in the sides as you go. There are lots of versions on youtube to check for the method. 
  • Put the stuffed vegetables in a casserole dish large enough for them all to fit with the open ends up. Put a plate over the top to keep them in place, smaller than the pan. Pour in around 500ml boiling water, and simmer the vegetables until they are cooked, around 45 minutes. 
  • Serve as a meze dish with yoghurt flavoured with garlic. 

Scrambled egg with mushrooms, Spanish style.

I got some free range eggs from Linda, and then Kenny bought me some too – all wonderful, but that was a lot of eggs. So I made this. It is from the Moro cookbook, by Sam and Sam Clark .

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g mushrooms (a mixture, could include chanterelles, other wild mushrooms)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 25 butter
  • 6 eggs, broken into a bowl. Do not beat the eggs. 
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 40g serrano ham, cut into small strips
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Clean the mushrooms and slice them roughly. 
  • In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic, and fry for only a minute, then add the mushrooms. It will look like you have too many mushrooms, but don’t worry, all will be fine. Fry for around 5 minutes or so, stirring, so that the mushrooms are soft. 
  • Add the ham, salt and pepper, cook for another minute, and then transfer the mixture to a bowl. 
  • In the same pan, melt the butter and then add the eggs and mil. Stir the eggs with a fork or wooden spoon so that the eggs break up a bit. 
  • When they begin to set, return the mushrooms to the pan, along with the chopped parsley, and continue to cook until any eggwhite has set. 

Serve with fresh bread. 

Wild goose with carrots and pomegranate molasses

This is a bit of a riff on a Persian recipe, but as I didn’t have some key ingredients, I went off-piste. This is probably frowned upon by the purists, but it was delicious. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 wild goose breasts, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 20g butter
  • 500g carrots, cut into batons (about the size of your little finger)
  • 1/2 tsp saffron water (a tiny pinch of saffron in boiling water)

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, over a medium to high heat. Add the chopped onions, and fry for around 10 minutes until they are browning. You’ll need to keep an eye and keep stirring to stop any sticking or burning. 
  • Add the goose, turmeric, cinnamon and cumin, and fry until the meat is browned. 
  • Stir in the tomato paste, salt and pomegranate molasses, and cook for another couple of minutes, until it is all hot through.
  • Pour in enough water to cover everything by a couple of centimetres. and bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for an hour and a half. 
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan. When it starts to foam slightly, add the carrot batons, and lower the heat. Gently fry the carrots until they start to brown slightly around the edges. 
  • Add the carrots to the stew with the saffron water. If needed, add a little more water to the stew. Bring back to a simmer, and then keep cooking until the carrots are very soft. 

Serve with basmati rice.