Ember roasted Aubergine Pate

aubergine pate

Aubergine is one of the main dishes of Mediterranean cuisine I suppose, but mainly an Ottoman heritage… It is native to India and had a long journey all around the world and grows pretty much everywhere.  Once I read on a book that there are 100 different ways of cooking aubergine in Ottoman cuisine. I am not sure I can make it that much but I will try to add new ones as I cook.

Funny enough, it is rich in nicotine, but it does not make you a passive smoker, so no worries! But I vividly remember when I quit smoking I adored aubergine…(Quit fags have aubergine instead?)

This recipe is particularly nice in summer, when you have picnics. We can call it `picnic aubergine`, as it is a very nice meze, you can have it like hommus, with some pitta bread or any bread really or as a side dish to your meat, sausages, or almost as a main course for piscaterians like myself.

Right let`s begin then:

Serves 4

What do I need to buy?

2 big aubergines
half a pack of feta cheese (if you don`t have enough you can replace it with some yoghurt)
3 – 4 cloves of crushed garlic
dill (optional could use parsley as well or may be coriander? It is all up to your taste)
juice of 1 lemon
olive oil

How do I cook it?

1. The best way to cook this is to have hot embers of course or a fireplace but if not, you can grill the aubergines till the skin turns dark and literally burns. But score through the skin a few lines so that the inside will cook better. (I would say grill about 20 – 25 minutes, but check occasionally as you might make the smoke alarm go off like mine!)
2. Remove the skins, don`t worry about little bits of leftover skins as they give nice smoked taste.
3. Put the flesh in a bowl, then add the crumbled feta, crushed garlic, more than half of lemon juice, a little bit of olive oil and half a spoonful of yoghurt and stir them well. Feta should become almost invisible, you can mash them if it is easier.
4. Add some chopped dill or parsley, have a taste if it is not lemony enough add more.
5. Serve on a flat plate topped with dill or parsley and possibly black olives.

Enjoy!

Swiss chard, puy lentils, tomato gratin

This is one of the best recipes I tried without knowing how swiss chard tastes which I found in my local farmers market and since then it is one of the main characters in my kitchen as the season allows.

If you would like to read more about farmers market and local eating have a look at this website and watch the video if you can.

And more links, the recipe is by famous Irish chef Dennis Cotter who has a special place in my heart:

Wild Garlic, gooseberries and me… Even the name of the book makes my mouth water : )

olive oil
black pepper and salt to season
breadcrumbs
250 – 300 gr of medium tomatoes – real recipe is with plum tomatoes but these are ok for me
100 – 150 gr of puy lentils – again I did it once with green lentils which were soaked one night, not as tasty as puy lentils but good
1 kg of swiss chard, with stalks
3 – 4 garlic cloves (real recipe says 2 but I am a garlic lover do not go out after dinner then!)
fresh thyme
100 ml white wine
50 gr parmesan or any other hard cheese – I used feta cheese once it was very delicious!

Here we go:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, slice the tomatoes and place them in a single layer on a tray, season with black pepper and olive oil roast for 15 – 20 minutes.
2. Boil the puy lentils for about 20 minutes, they should be tender, cool them under cold water.
3. Separate the chalks and the leaves, cook the leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes then chop them and mix with lentils in a bowl, add black pepper and salt.
4. Chop the garlic and stalks (not more than 2 cms thick) and fresh thyme and cook them with olive oil for 5 minutes. Then, add the white wine and cover them with a piece if baking parchment and lower the hob and leave like that for 20 minutes, they will get soft. Do not let them dry.

5. (Dennis Cotter uses an oven dish about 24 x20 cm but I am happy with mine) Pour the lentil and leaf mixture over tomatoes then add the stalks with its juice and finally top up with breadcrumbs and cheese. Grill for 5 – 10 minutes. I let the cheese turn brown then serve it with wild rice or bulgur pilau.
6. Oh! I add some lemon juice over the leaves before I serve and I like it very much!

Believe me this dish is an art! Enjoy and let me know how you find it!

Spinach and Feta Borek – Filo Pastries

Yummy! I have never ever rejected anyone offering borek. If you want to find out why, try this recipe. It is perfect for picnics as it is edible hot or cold, any time of the day.

You can call anything cooked with filo pastries “borek” actually, but this dish is cooked happily in the Balkans as burek, in Greece as spanakopita (with spinach and feta), in Israel as burekas (with cheese).

You can fill your borek with anything you want, but usually cheese and spinach is used.  Flat parsley or minced meat are also good options.

Let’s begin:

  • 500g filo pastry
  • 1 glass of milk
  • 5 spoonfuls of olive oil or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • some sunflower seeds or black seeds
  • 250g feta cheese
  • 1 pack of fresh spinach leaves (alternatively a big bunch of parsley)

1. Spread some butter onto your cooking tray, this will stop your borek from sticking the tray.
2. Filo pastry is usually sold in a round shape so leave one sheet aside and cut the rest to fit to your tray.
3. Mix your butter or olive oil, milk, and eggs all together in a bowl.  Stir well.
4. Put the sheet of filo pastry in your tray, leave the corners out, you will close them at the top once you finish layering.
5. Spread the oil-milk-egg mixture with a brush over each sheet, and put each sheet on top of the other.  Use half of the sheets.
6. Soften the spinach in a pan quickly, cool it down and mix with crumbled feta cheese. (if you use parsely, you do not need to cook it.)
7. Pour this mixture onto your filo pastry layers in the tray.
8. Then, carry on putting the filo pastries one by one over this mixture and each time do not forget to spread some butter-milk-egg mixture onto the sheets otherwise they will become dry.
9. When there is no filo pastry left, cover the corners of the first big sheet onto your borek and spread the rest of the butter-milk-egg mixture on top.

10. Sprinkle some seeds over it.

11. Cook it for about 20 minutes in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 200C, until the top and the bottom gets brownish. It is delicious eaten with a spoonful of yoghurt.

Bon appetit!

How to make butternut squash taste delicious?

butternut squash

Well, easy, having tried this recipe, butternut squash is no longer an unknown! Everytime I saw this yellow funny shaped thing in the market, I wanted to buy, but had no idea how to cook except in a soup. Eureka! It is a recipe Ebru suggested but she says it is some well known chefs recipe, so as soon as I learn, I will let you know. (Now I can confirm that it is a recipe from Hugh Fearnley – Whittingstall )

Lets start now, ingredients for 4 people:

two equal sized butternut squash
feta cheese
parsley
olive oil
garlic cloves 2- 3
paprika, black pepper, salt

1. Halve both butternut squashes into two so, now you have for pieces.

2. Crush the garlic cloves then put some olive oil paprika, black pepper and the crushed garlic in a bowl and mix them well then brush this mixture onto the butternut squash.

3. Heat the oven to about 200 c then put the butternut squash halves onto a tray, leave for about 15 minutes. Check them with a fork if they are not soft enough, leave more.

4. Once they are softened, take the tray out, with the help of a knife, scoop out the flesh of the squash then mash it with feta. After that, add the mixture inside the butternut squash skin.

pastries with cheese and parsley

poaca

Hello there,

Thanks to friends visiting the new flat I had the chance to cook a lot, so have got a lot of recipes. This one in particular is very good when you have lots of people around and no bread at all. They are very tasty, warm, and could be eaten with all sorts of mezes. Called poğaça in Turkish, but according to wikipedia, it seems to have names like Pogača or Pogacha in the Balkans pogácsa in Hungary and pogatschen in Austria. It says it becomes foccaccia in Italy a more flat version. I feel like it sounds more of a Slavic word pogaca. (pron. may be say it like this in english : po-acher?)

It is definitely not a very healthy food given the amount of oil you use but very comforting and happy food I should say! The loveliest thing with pogaca is it is very good in the mornings or in the afternoons with tea.

Right, let’s begin cooking then.

What do I need to buy?
3 eggs (keep one yolk away as it will be used later)
one cup of plain yoghurt
a pack of butter
a cup of sunflower oil
1 bunch parsley, chopped fınely
3 spoonful of baking powder
a pack of feta cheese, crumbled
flour
sesame seeds or black seeds

How to make the dough?
The easiest way is trying to feel it:) Put the oil, butter, baking powder, yoghurt and 3 eggs (one yolk aside) in a bowl and add the flour slowly. Whilst kneading it will become not too wet not too dry, it should end up feeling like an earlobe as it is said in a Turkish idiom:)

Then mix the feta and parsley in a bowl this will be your stuffing. Do not forget the stuffing can be anything you want like just cheese, potato, or minced meat ( it is better to cook the minced meat before you put in the dough.)

Take several pieces of dough, make them round in your palm by rolling and pressing. They should not too thin or not too thick like 2 – 3 inch wide. After that put some stuffing in each of them and close them as it is showed here.

prep for pastryIt is sort of a half moon shape. Then it is time to place them a on a greased baking sheet. Brush them with egg yolk then sprinkle black seeds or sesame seeds on top.

Put the tray in preheated oven (200 degrees) and cook until the colour of the pastries turn brownish and smelling beautiful.

There is an alternative and easier way of cooking which is when you make the dough you put the feta and parsley in it. And you make your dough a mixture. Then make several little doughs and cook them the same way.

After all these epısodes your pogaca is ready and believe me it is not hard as it sounds, enjoy!