Saturday, 20 December 2014

Recipe: Christmas Mince Pies

I found this recipe on the Mail Online website, I thought it was a really good idea to have a crumble topping to the mince pies instead of the pastry, they look really pretty and are less filling than normal, so you can eat more, (there is method in my madness). Also the house smelt wonderful of orange and cinnamon as they were cooking, with BBC Radio 2 playing in the background I almost thought I was in the UK, until I looked outside, not a drop of snow in sight.


Ingredients - makes 12

375g short crust pastry
250g mincemeat
50g plain flour
4 tbsps brown sugar
40g butter
grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method -

Roll out your pastry and cut out 12 rounds and put into your baking tin.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat into each pastry round.

In a bowl add the flour, brown sugar, butter, orange zest and cinnamon.

Rub the contents together to create a chunky crumble mixture.

Sprinkle each mince pie with some of the crumble mix.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 12 to 15 mins.

Allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle with icing sugar and then serves warm or cold.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Spiced Cookies


Ingredients - makes aroud 40 cookies depending on size of cutter used.

225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp allspice
150g butter
100g white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
beaten egg

Method -

Place flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, allspice and chocolate chips.

Mix in the beaten egg and then use your hands to bring the mixture together.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the mixture is smooth.

Put in a bag and chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough as thinly as you can before it starts to fall apart.

Cut out your cookies and place on the baking trays, leaving a bit of a gap between the cookies to allow for expansion during cooking.

Place the trays in the oven for around 15 minutes until the cookies just start to turn a golden brown around the edges.

Carefully transfer to wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Recipe: Lemon Curd

Ingredients - for 2 x 395g jars 


3 medium lemons
227g sugar
113g butter
3 eggs + 1 egg yoke only

Method - 

Grate the rind of all the lemons and juice them all.

Put your empty clean jars, without their lids, onto a baking tray and put in a very low oven at 100c to warm the jars ready for jarring up the lemon curd.


Melt the butter gently in a medium saucepan and then add the lemon rind, juice and sugar. Stir well keeping the heat low until the sugar starts to dissolve.

Beat the eggs together and add to the saucepan.

Continuing over a gentle heat, so as not to allow the egg white to start to cook and separate, cook the ingredients, stirring all the time. Once the mixture starts to thicken and the colour changes to a lighter shade remove from the heat. The lemon curd will appear to be too runny but it thickens a lot once cold.

Carefully remove the jars from the oven and fill each one with the lemon curd mix and seal with the lids immediately. Leave to cool before storing.


Once open the lemon curd is best stored in the fridge.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Eating Out - Arnavut Ciğeri - Fried Calves Liver

At one of our local restaurants 'Agora 2' one of my favourite dishes is Arnavut Ciğeri - fried calves liver and onions. 

The calves liver is tossed in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and paprika before being sauteed in butter and olive oil.  It is traditionally served with a garnish of thinly sliced red onions mixed with chopped parsley and sprinkled with sumac, a tangy dark-red spice common in the East.  And of course chips, the Turkish do so love their chips.

Tip Of The Day - Bacon Flavoured Crumbles

Living in Turkey, I have found these a very handy flavouring to have in the store cupboard instead of actual bacon.  I have to get friends to bring them out for me but they have a very long shelf life even once opened.


I find adding them to onion when I am frying it as a base for a dish adds flavour or just sprinkling them into a near completed dish works well.  Also because they have a salty taste to them it also mean you don't have to add as much salt to your dish.

What's In Season - During May

The following can be found in the markets during May. These lists are compiled from my visits to markets in Turkey. (This list is being updated during the month).


Apple - elma
Apricots - kayısı (first fresh of the season, so quite small) 
Artichoke - enginar (these can be brought still attached to the stem or with just a small piece of stalk attached or ready prepared)
Aubergine - patlıcan
Banana - muz
Beetroot - kırmızı pancar
Broad beans - bakla
Broccoli - yeşil karnıbahar
Cabbage - lahana/başlahana
Cabbage red - kırmızı lahana
Carrot - havuç

Cherries - kıraz (first of the season)
Courgette - kabak (one stall I saw had small round, medium round, normal tubular shaped light and dark green varieties)
Cucumber - salatalık/hıyar
Eggplant - patlıcan
Figs dried - kuru incir

Galia Melon - galia kavun (see photo)
Garlik - sarmısak
Grapevine leaves - asma yaprağı
Green beans - ayşekadın/taze fasulye/yeşil fasulye
Kiwi fruit - kivi
Leek - pırasa
Lemon - lımon
Lettuce - marul

Loquat - yeni dünya or Malta Eriği
Mushroom - mantar
Olive - zeytin
Onion - soğan
Orange - portakal

Oyster Mushrooms - istiridye mantarı   
Parsley - maydonaz
Peaches - şeftalı (these are the first of the season so are quite small)
Pear - armut
Peas - bezleye
Pepper green - yeşil biber
Pepper red - kırmızı biber/arnavutbiberi
Pepper sweet red - tatlı kırmızı biber


Plum (small green, quite sour tasting) - eric (see photo) 
Potato, normal and some new - patates
Pumpkin - kabak (it tends to be sold in bags precut into chunks now)
Radish - turp

Rocket - roket
Samphire or Sea Asparagus or (turkish translation Sea Of Cowpea) - deniz börülcesi
Spinach - espanya
Spring Onions - yeşil soğan
Strawberries - çilek

Tomatoes, cherry, normal, on the vine and beef types - domates
Turnip - turp

Water melon - karpuz
  • I like to freeze some strawberries to use later in the summer.  When defrosted they do become mushy, but are still good to create sauces, or in ice cream.  I have a small plastic chopping board that just fits on the shelf of my freezer.  I line the board with a sheet of greaseproof paper, and then pick through the strawberries, I try not to wash them if at all possible to keep the water content to a minimum.  I then cut across the stalk end of the strawberry to remove the stalk and also to create a flat end to stand the strawberries up.  Fill the board with the strawberries, then put in the freezer for several hours until they are solid.  They can then be transferred to plastic containers for storage in the freezer.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Recipe: Hot Cross Buns

This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver's see link for his recipe http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/hot-cross-buns, this difference with mine is that I have let my bread maker do the hard work.


Ingredients - makes 12

200ml milk
50ml water
55g butter
14g dried yeast (in Turkey they come in 10g sachets, most other places they are 7g sachets)
455g strong bread flour, I just use ordinary white plain flour, works fine
1tsp salt
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
55g white sugar
2 pieces of stem ginger, cut up into small pieces, optional
1 large egg, beaten
100g dried fruit of your choice, usually the recipe states 50g to 80g but we like the extra fruit
runny honey to glaze
For the cross - optional
2 tbsps plain flour
2 tbsps water

Method -

In a small saucepan add the milk and water and heat gently until you can feel warmth in the mixture when you put your little finger in it.  Transfer the liquid to a medium sized bowl, stir in the yeast and put to one side.

In the same saucepan gently melt the butter and then put this to one side.

Add all the dried ingredients to the Bread Maker, I give the ingredients a little mix with a spoon to combine.  Then add the beaten egg, melted butter and yeast and milk mixture.  Set the Bread Maker to the dough setting, on mine this takes 1.30 hours.  This mixes and kneads the dough and provides heat to allow the dough to rise.

Once the Bread Maker has finished tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pull the dough out to a rough sausage shape and cut into 12 pieces.  Lightly shape each piece to a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.  Cover over with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place, until the dough doubles in size, this can take from 20 to 40 minutes depending on how warm your surroundings are.

In a small bowl mix together 2 tbsps flour and 2 tbsps water to form a paste.  Make a piping bag out of a small plastic bag, buy putting the past into one of the corners of the bag and cutting off the tip of the corner.

Gently flatten down your buns and pipe a cross on each bun.  Place in a preheated oven at 180c for 15 to 18 mins or until the buns are golden and when you turn one over the bottom sound hollow when tapped with your finger.

When baked transfer to wire cooling rack, allow to cool slightly and then brush the top of each bun with some runny honey.

Allow to cool.