Aubergine Casserole with parsley and peppers

aube1

This is a classic Ottoman dish as far as I know. An old story: if a Turkish girl did not learn how to cook aubergine in a 100 ways she should forget about ever getting married at once : )  I understand why when I cooked this dish, it is delicous! I cannot say that it is the healthiest dish in the world, as you fry the aubergines before you bake them.  But still it deserves to be a Sunday roast choice for vegetarians.

Serves 4

2 – 3 medium size aubergines
250g soya mince (or minced meat for meat lovers)
3 pointed green peppers (if not the red ones might work)
2 – 3 medium sized maris piper potatoes
1 medium sized onion
2 – 3 garlic cloves (crushed, or if you love the garlic taste just chop them finely.  If you are not a big fan then use ground garlic)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (since it is not the season I ended using the canned tomatoes but normally 3 medium size tomatoes would be enough. Alternatively use tomato paste and one tomato only)
Olive oil
Sunflower oil
Chopped parsley

How do we cook it?
1. Peel the aubergines in vertical stripes, then chop them into 2 cm thick chunks, then halve them again.
2. Fry them in sunflower oil untill they turn brown, then place them onto a kitchen towel to remove the excess oil.
3.  Boil the potatos
4. Cook the soya mince (or minced meat) in a pan, and add the chopped onion and peppers when it turns brownish.   Add two spoonfuls of tomato paste and one of chopped tomatoes (or two chopped tomatoes, but save one tomato for later).
5. Mash the potatoes then brush the casserole dish with oil (anything rectangular, round, glass or oven proof would work – it depends how you want to serve it) and pour the mashed potatoes evenly, as the bottom later of the dish.
6. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
7. Put the aubergine evenly over the potatoes then pour your mince, onion, and pepper mixture at the top then cook for about 15 – 20 minutes.
8. Serve with chopped parsley, rocket salad and some plain yoghurt as a side dish.
Enjoy!

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Stuffed Redpepper (with bulgur wheat)

pepper
Now, I think this recipe is apparently an healthier option then the normal stuffed pepper as bulgur (bulgar wheat) is used to fill it. Without getting frantic about whether healthy it is or not, I tend to use bulgar in a lot of dish anyway, I find it very tasty.Once you get used to doing it, you can try using the same stuffing for different vegetables like this one stuffed aubergine.aubergine

Here we go:

4 – 5 spoonful of olive oil
5 – 6 preferably small or medium size redpeppers (you can use pointed redpeppers as well, they look quite sweet on the plate)
1 water glass of bulgar wheat
2 tomatoes (or equivalent of canned and chopped tomatoes)
2 onions
2 – 3 spring onions
a bit of salt, blackpepper, mint and allspice
2 spoonful of currant and pinenuts

1. Wash the peppers, cut the heads (do not throw them away you will use them!) and clean the seeds.
2. Heat some water, pour a bit over the bulgar to soak.
3. Chop the onions and spring onions then stir and fry them in a little bit of water. (I try not to fry olive oil as it gets very unhealthy when it is burnt)
4. Then add the bulgar wheat into the pan, stir well, then add the chopped tomatoes, currants and pinenuts. (some people like to fry the pinenuts slightly in another pan, tastes nice)
5. Season well with allspice, mint, blackpepper and a little bit of salt (I sometimes don`t use and actually try to compensate it with spices usually in many recipes), fry a bit more , then leave it cool down.
6. Once it is a bit cool, stuff your peppers with this mixture, put their heads on, and place in a deep or wide pan.
7. Pour some boiled water over them, close the lid and cook for 20 minutes, then check occasionally until the peppers get soft.
Serve warm or cold. and with yoghurt!

Enjoy!

Time to prepare: 15 – 20 mins
Time to cook     : 20 – 30 mins (depends on how hard the redppers are)

August Purslane

purslane

Another beauty, Purslane is our guest today, where you can find in many names – finally- all around the world, hoorah!

It is part of the Portulaca family a succulent herb with leaves and in apparently 40 different varieties.

Portulaca or purslane is pourpier in French, porcellana in Italian, semizotu in Turkish, glisistrada in Greek and it goes on like this. (And according to this nice blog, it is 6th most commonweed on the planet)

I know few recipes and I will add them in time. First version is very simple dish and of course you can have it with yoghurt as well!

What do I need to buy?

1 onion
1 bunch of purslane
2 – 3 big tomatoes
2  garlic cloves
half of a lemons juice
half a tea cup of rice or bulgur wheat (I prefer rice)
optional: spicy pepper paste or harissa to give a hotter taste

How do I cook purslane?

1.Wash the purslane leaves and leave them in a bowl full of water and a few drops of apple cider vinegar (kills the germs!)

2. Chop the onions and the garlic then cook them in a little bit of water.
3. Add the purslane then let it relax for 4- 5 minutes.
4. add the tomatoes and rice, and then 2 glasses of warm water.
5. Add one or two spoonful of olive oil, bring it to boil then simmer it down.
6. If the leaves are soft enough but not too much then it is ready! Have with a spoonful of yoghurt!

Enjoy!

Pirohu – Piruhi or MANTI ?

pirohu, piruhi

This is a delicious Cypriot dish, but the way people call it differs as far as I know, It is Pirohi in Cyprus, Piruhi in Turkey, if anyone knows another name please let me know! The reason I added the word MANTI is simply because it is a Turkish dish which is cooked similarly but with minced meat and onions as stuffing. Since it is meat, it is heavier but it has a lot of fans!

Now, here are the ingredients you will need:
Serves 4

For preparing the dough:
500g of flour
salt
water

For the filling:
fresh chopped mint
200g anari “nor” cheese – can be found in Turkish, Greek or Middle Eastern shops
1 medium size egg

or alternatively
1 medium size egg
500 gr chopped spinach

(Whichever filling you use, simply mix egg and the ingredients in a bowl, keep it nearby with a spoon)

When serving
Halloumi – hellim cheese (can be found almost everywhere even in Sainsbury’s or Tesco)
Plain yoghurt
Crushed garlic cloves (two or three depending on how much you love garlic: )
Red pepper flakes or hot pepper sauce like tabasco
Olive oil

How will I cook it?
First of all, do not get frightened by too many ingredients, it is quite fun to do if you have something to listen to or watch or have someone at home chatting, I used to help my mum when I was little. Also, since it is made of dough it, takes time to digest so it was usually a Sunday lunch for us! But It’s worth it!

How to make dough?
Not as hard as it seems. Simply put half of your flour in a big bowl and slowly
pour some water in it, whilst mixing it by hand. Place some flour to the sides of your now-a-bit-sticky dough, then gently draw in flour from the sides. Let the dough have a shape whilst kneading and get harder, now you need to have a bit of sense of what dough is, but do not forget: Pirohu dough does not have to be “soft like your earlobe” as said, it has to be hard! It will be sort of a filo pastry in the end once you open it with a rolling pin.

how to open a dough

When it is opened, take some flour in your hands and spread over and under your filo pastry, it might get sticky otherwise. Best place to put your filo pastry is a flat surface, like a table.

Then, start slicing your filo pastry as shown here:

filo pastry slices

Then slice horizontally as well so you will have many cube shaped pastries!

Now place each cube a little bit of the filling you prepared earlier as shown on the left. After that, you can close them nicely but make sure they are well sealed.

topped with cheese

(There is another way of making these actually quicker but it needs a bit experience, once you open the filo pastry keep half of the pastry over your rolling pin, place pieces of cheese next to each other, cover them with the filo pastry over the rolling pin, seal them nicely then cut them into pieces with a knife)

Ok, if you are still not bored and willing to cook Pirohu, you achieved a lot until now, so congratulations! Now, with the baby filo pastries, simply make triangles, and do not forget to seal the corners well!

Place all of them into a flat tray and put some flour so they won’t stick to each other. If you are not eating all of it , simply put half of it for instance (like I did) into a box and freeze, impress your guests after a hard days work 🙂

Now we are at the easy part, simply boil water in a pan, add your pirohu pieces and cook them about 10 – 15 minutes until soft. Whilst cooking, fry some red pepper flakes and if you like dried mint in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Then, add the crushed garlic into some yoghurt (for 4 people I would use 5- 6 spoonful of yoghurt and water it a bit)

Once all is ready, serve your pirohu in yoghurt and red pepper sauces topped with halloumi cheese!

De- li-ci-ous! Believe me: )

Shiitake and chestnut mushroom soup

mushroom

Yummy!

One could think why I would waste those lovely shiitake and chestnut mushrooms in a soup. Well here`s the answer, because this soup is delicious! It is amazing if you add a little bit of spice too! Normally I would have made a pasta dish but this time I had time and said why not try it?

10 – 12 pieces of chestnut mushrooms
10  pieces of shiitake mushrooms
1 medium size onion
single cream or yoghurt
parsley
black pepper
pinenuts

1. Chop the onion and cook it with some oil till it gets brown.
2. Chop the mushrooms then add them into the stirfry.
3. Pour some warm water to soften them, just to the top of the mushrooms then let them relax.
4. After 4 – 5 minutes, pour 4 – 5 glasses of warm water, bring it to boil then simmer it up.
5. Add some black pepper and if you like it some red pepper flakes and chopped parsley in.
6. Blender the soup then let it cook slowly for about 4 –  5minutes.
7. Fry the pinenuts and put them in before serving. Add a little bit of parsley to decorate.

Marvellous!