Black Mulberry Margarita

Jun 27, 2014

Margarita

If it wasn't for the outrageous overpricing of cocktails, I wouldn't be this much in love with margaritas. The formula for eternal love, the inability to fully own or reach the subject of desire - in my case margaritas - keeps my passion alive for them.

As the romance icon Julio Iglesias once said 'Love is like wine. To sip is fine, but to empty the bottle is a headache.' But who am I to learn from a wise man's experience; I'm human too. I will believe that I will never get bored or bore the one I love - the margarita - and we'll live happily ever after because our experience will be different. 

So what I do to fully own my subject of desire, I go shopping for margarita ingredients. I have tons of berries stocked up in my freezer left over from a series of marmalade and jam shootings. Using my long-neglected smoothie machine I puree the mulberries, squeeze some lime, mix Cointreau and my precious Silver Patron Tequila and sit down in an afternoon at the balcony to start sipping this glass from heaven. 

I don't have a smothering character, I like giving things I love, space. So, me and the margarita, we have a very balanced relationship; we get together only once a week; this way I allow myself time to yearn for it. But still, by having easy access to it, knowing that it will be there whenever I want, have I been less in love?

Actually the opposite, as we get to know each other, slowly and with moderation, I'm becoming more and more fond of it. 

“Be always drunken.
Nothing else matters:
that is the only question.
If you would not feel
the horrible burden of Time
weighing on your shoulders
and crushing you to the earth,
be drunken continually.

Drunken with what?
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will.
But be drunken.

And if sometimes,
on the stairs of a palace,
or on the green side of a ditch,
or in the dreary solitude of your own room,
you should awaken
and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you,
ask of the wind,
or of the wave,
or of the star,
or of the bird,
or of the clock,
of whatever flies,
or sighs,
or rocks,
or sings,
or speaks,
ask what hour it is;
and the wind,
wave,
star,
bird,
clock will answer you:
"It is the hour to be drunken!”

Baudelaire

Cointreau

Pitcher

Silver Patron Tequila

Limon dilimi

Black Mulberry Margarita

Recipe: allrecipes.com

Serves 2 

Kitchenware Required:

  • blender or smoothie machine

Ingredients:

  • 12 (about 1/3 cup) fresh or frozen black mulberries (raspberries, strawberries and sour cherries are also good)
  • 1/3 cup Cointreau or other good quality orange liquor
  • 1/4 cup tequila 100% agave 
  • 4 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • a lime wedge
  • ice
  • A mix of 1 tablespoon sea-salt and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for the rim

Directions:

  1. Rub the rim of glasses with the lime wedge. Dip them in the sea-salt-sugar mix. (You can skip this step if you don't like sweet-salty combinations)
  2. Blend black mulberries, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and powdered sugar in a blender. Transfer to glasses. Serve on ice.  

Strawberry Tart

Jun 24, 2014

Strawberry tart

At the ground floor of the building I live, there is my local greengrocer. And the strawberries are displayed in a tray that lay right next to the building's entrance, like a trap. Each day when I'm passing through, my eyes catch a glimpse of the picture-perfect strawberries that have visibly dwindled since the morning. The vendor, seeing my interest hands me one, confident that the taste of his produce won't let me pass empty handed. I thank him, hiding my hesitance to eat unwashed fruit and after some small talk, I'm hopping up the stairs with that strawberry in one hand, to be gobbled after being rinsed and half a kilo in a paper bag in the other.

My brother have, like most brothers, always exploited my share when we were kids. Be it ice cream, chocolate or a round to play The Prince Of Persia. Strawberries too disappeared in a matter of minutes before I could get to eat my share. I don't know if it's that or because they used to be scarcer in those times, they were really precious to me. It was more appropriate to enjoy them exclusively and there was no need to 'waste' them on tarts or cakes.

This summer though, strawberries magically got so sweet and abundant and their source being so close to where I live, it was time to let go of my old-fashioned habit. The first thing to do was to 'waste' them with this classic, handsome tart.  

I used pâte sablée as usual, and crème pâtissière, custard cream. Strawberries don't last long on the tart, passing their color to the custard cream so it's best to assemble the tart right before serving. Both custard cream and the base can be prepared ahead and stay fresh in the fridge for a couple of days and for three to four months in the deep freezer. Sprinkling the tart with roasted nuts gives it a crunchy kick.

Strawberry tart

Strawberry Tart

serves 6

Kitchenware Required:

  • 20-22 cm/8 inch round tart tin with a removable base
  • mixer

Ingredients:

For the topping:

  • 500 g strawberries, pitted, washed and wiped dry
  • 1/2 cup strawberry, cherry or other berry marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cognac or orange liquor

For the tart base:

  • 200 g flour, sifted
  • 100 g butter, softened at room temperature
  • 100 gr powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For crème pâtissière:

  • 100 g sugar
  • 3 egg yolk
  • 45 g flour
  • 250 ml boiling milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

For the tart base:

  1. With a hand-held mixer whisk butter until creamy. Add flour and rub it into the butter in between your palms to obtain a crumbly mixture. Make a well in the centre, add egg, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.
  2. With a hand-held mixer or your hand, blend everything together to form a smooth and soft dough. Roll the dough into a ball. Flour your hands if the dough doesn't come off easily. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 180 C/350 F. On a clean, dusted surface, roll the dough into a 28 cm/11 inch diameter disk. With the help of a spatula, place the dough loosely on the baking tin and press gently into the bottom and the sides.
  4. Pierce a dozen of holes on the surface of the dough with a fork. Line the base with a grease-proof paper and put a handful of dried chickpeas or beans for weight. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until slightly golden. Leave to cool at room temperature.

For crème pâtissière:

  1. Whisk egg yolks with sugar for 2-3 minutes or until creamy and light yellow in color.
  2. Fold in the flour.
  3. Add the boiled milk in a thin stream while whisking.
  4. Transfer the custard to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while whisking continuously. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 2-3 minutes and keep stirring.
  5. Remove from heat and fold in the butter. Cover the surface of the crème pâtissière with a cling film to prevent a crust from forming. Let cool at room temperature.

Assembling the tart:

  1. To prepare the glaze, boil marmalade, sugar and liquor in a small sauce pan, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when it comes to a boil. Let cool at room temperature. Heat it up if need be since it hardens when cooled. 
  2. Brush the base of the tart base with the glaze. Pour the custard filling onto the tart and level the surface with the back of a spoon. 
  3. Arrange strawberries on the tart closely together. Put the largest strawberry in the center, their stems ending in the cream. Brush strawberries with the glaze. 
  4. Let the tart cool in the fridge for 1 hour before serving. Consume at once. 

Salad With Quinoa For Beginners

Jun 19, 2014

Kinoa

Yes, quinoa still remains an ingredient in Turkey so obscure and expensive that you have to repeat its name five times until the vendor can pretend he knows it and tell you ''we are out of it''. You are likely to hear the same answer if you inquire about ''tyrannosaur''; they are always out of it.

Those of us who follow international food trends (yes such a thing exist) and food blogs have familiarized with quinoa visually but had to wait a long time until we could lay hands on it. First, the word spread that it could be ordered online then it appeared in a high-end supermarket chain. And to my surprise before I made an effort to travel to that market's branch, I located it in a neighbourhood charcuterie that sells all sorts of imported goods like dried porcini, almond milk and halloumi cheese; a discovery that's likely to boost my contribution to Turkey's trade deficit. 

So, the first time I brought a pack of quinoa after paying an armful of money, I made quinoa salad but not a salad with quinoa, you see. Which means, I treated quinoa like bulgur, putting lots of it vis-à-vis the rest of the ingredients. It yielded a mushy and tasteless tabbouleh (which was unintended) and the more I added oil and vinegar, the mushier it got. I made an effort to like it because have I mentioned I paid lots of money? I hated it anyway, while taking a note to myself not to jump on every fashion train when it comes to food, I put the pack out of my sight.

As the memory of the mushy tabbouleh faded of my palate, I made thruce with quinoa and reasoned that maybe it was not meant to be used in large quantities. Over time, I used it in small amounts, adding it moderately to my salads and came to the conclusion that quinoa can safely exist in my food as a side-kick instead of a leading ingredient. 

In the future, I will probably explore quinoa pilaf and such and most probably love it too but for the time being quinoa remains to bring my salads texture and well... only texture because let's admit, this thing is tasteless. However, it conveniently absorbs whatever sauce you put on it, a trait that assures versatility.

I prepare this salad at least two times a week with crunchy lettuce, fragrant arugula, season's ripe tomatoes at their peak, handful of nuts and sometimes tuna or halloumi. It sends me to bed with a satisfied stomach and a detoxicated, healthy feeling. I can't tell whether it's just the idea of having ate quinoa or if it actually is as healthy as said. Either way, welcome to my life quinoa. 

Kinoa Salatası

Green Salad With Quinoa 

Serves 1

Kitchenware required:

  • a non-stick pan

Ingredients:

  • two big handfuls of arugula
  • couple of romaine lettuce leaves
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, washed and drained
  • 1 ripe tomato, sliced in crescents
  • a handful of pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • salt 
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Wash and drain quinoa. Boil in 1 cup water for 10 minutes, until white ring appear on the edge of the grains. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain.
  2. Roast pine nuts in a non-stick pan over high heat, tilting the pan constantly back and forth, until they slightly brown. 
  3. Combine all ingredients in a salad bowl. Add salt with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Toss well and correct the seasoning to your liking. 

Potato Cakes With Creamy Mushrooms

Jun 2, 2014

Irish-potato-cake
When a meal contains no meat or pasta but nevertheless is fulfilling, I instantly fall in love with it; I am susceptible when it comes to food. In fact, I didn't even need to make this recipe to love it; the mere idea of potato-based pancakes topped with anything creamy, let alone mushrooms, was mouth-watering as it was. 

It can be Ottolenghi's recipe but I'm still me and I have to meddle and make some changes for my convenience. For instance, I love a touch of nutmeg in a potato-based dough so that's what I added. The original recipe uses chanterelle, portobello and button mushrooms but I use whatever kind is handy. More varieties you include, the tastier it'll be. I'd refrain from using only button mushrooms though, as they are dull-tasting. Also, I had serious problems when frying the cakes, as butter burned on high heat and cakes got stuck on the pan on low heat so I found solution in using either clarified butter* or hear-resistant olive oil.  

I can't think of a single vegetarian guest who wouldn't be impressed with this great meal accompanied by white wine and green salad unless he is a picky eater who, like Sir Patrick Stewart, despises cooked mushrooms because they are 'slimy and old-tasting'.*

Mantarlar

Potato Cakes With Creamy Mushrooms

Recipe: Yotam Ottolenghi's Irish Inspired Recipes, the Guardian

Serves 3

Kitchenware required:

  • rolling pin
  • a non-stick pan

Ingredients:

  • 500 g potatoes
  • 60 g (about 4 tablespoons) butter
  • 100 g flour + some extra for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 350 g button mushrooms
  • 350 g cremini mushrooms
  • 90 ml (1/3 cup) white wine
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) cream
  • chopped parsley or tarragon
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter or other oil resistant to heat

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes with their skins until soft. (Alternatively, you can bake them after piercing them with a fork, in a 200 C/420F preheated oven for 1 hour, until they are soft.)
  2. Peel potatoes. Mash them in a large bowl and add 60 g butter, flour, nutmeg and half a teaspoon salt while still potatoes are still warm. Mix with your hand to form a dough. Add more flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. Roll it into a ball, wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for 10 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C/360F. Line the oven tray with greaseproof paper. 
  4. Roll the dough to a cylinder on a generously dusted surface and cut it into 6 pieces. With a pin, roll each piece into a 12 cm/5 in round.  
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil (or clarified butter) in the pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, transfer two breads into the pan. Cook each side for two minutes, until golden. Transfer them to the oven tray and wipe the pan with a paper towel. Add 1 tablespoon oil and repeat the process to fry remaining cakes. 
  6. When all cakes are ready pop the tray into the oven for 5-10 minutes, too cook through. 
  7. In the meantime, wipe down the pan and melt 1 tablespoon oil (or clarified butter) over high heat. When it starts bubbling add mushrooms, half a teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute mushrooms for 3 minutes, tilting the pan back and forth. 
  8. Add cream and white wine and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat. 
  9. Place two cakes in each plate, top with mushrooms. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or tarragon.

For clarified butter, place the required quantity of butter in a sauce pan and melt it over medium heat. Skim off the foam with a spoon. Pour the rest of the butter into a bowl leaving the milky residue at the bottom. The clear yellow liquid is the clarified butter.

*quote from Bon Apetit's June issue

Braised Green Peas With Pilaf

May 27, 2014

T

Forget about all my favourite, my 'all time best' or 'absolutely my most beloved' recipes I've posted here so far. 

Can something  I've tasted for the first time in my 30, like salmon, be my real favourite? Or truffles pasta I ate during that visit to my friend's grandma in Pula, the land of truffles, until when the only kind I knew were the button mushrooms? Or black rice that seemed too extravagant until its price was discounted at the store? Nope.

One's true love is what they make for your pleasure only the day you arrive at your grandma's and you wait for with a spoon too big for your hand. Or what puts a smile on your face when you get back from school and it is what you see once you tilt the lid of the boiling pot on the stove?

It is what you have always loved and ate with great apetite as long as you can remember. For me it is this, braised peas with simple pilaf. 

Bezelye Pilav

Braised Green Peas With Pilaf

Serves 4

Kitchenware required:

  • wide and shallow pan for the pilaf

Ingredients:

For the peas:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 500 g green peas
  • 1 small potato, diced

For the pilaf:

  • 2 cups rice
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups boiling water

Directions:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute until transluscent for 8-10 minutes. Add red pepper paste, mashing it with the back of a spoon to smear it to onions.
  2. Add tomatoes, peas and potatoes. Cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add boiling water just enough to cover the peas. Add salt. Cover and reduce heat to minimum. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until peas are tender.

Serve on top or next to pilaf.

Pilaf:

  1. Soak rice in a bowl with 4 cups boiled water and 1 teaspoon salt for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Wash and drain the rice.
  3. Melt butter in the pan over medium-high heat. As butter starts to bubble add rice. Keep stirrinf for 2-3 minutes until transluscent. Add 2 cups boiling water and salt. Level the surface with the back of a spoon and cover the lid. Reduce heat to minimum. Cook for 10 minutes, or until holes appear on the surface. Remove from heat and leave covered to brew for 10 minutes.