How to do Afternoon Tea. Properly.

Tuesday, 19th August 2014

Afternoon Tea

I have recently developed a massive thing for afternoon tea. The reason for this, I am sure, is the same reason I love a buffet: the variety. I want all the dainty bits and bobs and plenty of them. The afternoon tea was introduced by the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who got bored of the 4 o’clock slump and decided to do something about it. The practice spread, grew more and more elaborate, and by Edwardian times it was a full on gowns and fine china job. I have a book called ‘Afternoon Tea at The Ritz’ full of lovely titbits (bit like the tea itself) about afternoon tea etiquette, such as that “those who take sugar in their tea are advised to propel the spoon with a minimum of effort and to remove it without fail before raising the cup”. Even now the idea of leaving a spoon in the cup while sipping seems unthinkable, doesn’t it?  What are you, some kind of Cup-a-Soup guzzling animal?

Nowadays, some people do afternoon tea as a tourist activity, like having a cream tea in Cornwall, or gumming at a soggy pasty in the rain. There are people who enjoy the ceremony of it, and there are those who just enjoy sitting about in a nice room with a silver teapot, discussing whether or not it really should be Humphrey’s turn to drive to Henley this year. Some people go only for the cakes, while some enjoy the sandwiches just as much. I want the whole package, and I have strong ideas about how said package should be delivered.

The Sandwiches

The sandwich to cake ratio is usually 1/3 sandwiches, 2/3 cakes. This is not correct, because the sandwiches, to me, are of equal importance. You know I like sandwiches, right? Did I mention anywhere that I like sandwiches? Some places, like Claridge’s, offer unlimited rounds. This is both a blessing and a curse because, well…talk about a red rag to a bull. I ate three rounds and had to take half the cakes home. Some of you will live and learn. I won’t.

The flavours of the sandwiches should be as follows:

1. Cucumber. The classic, and a good test of the measure of a place. The cucumber sandwich, you see, can’t be made too far in advance. I had an afternoon tea recently at a hotel in Scotland, where the kitchen was very much into making stuff in advance. I mean, more than was appropriate. Needless to say, cucumber sandwiches did not feature in their afternoon tea. The bread should be very white and fresh, the butter pure and salty, and the cucumber glistening.

2. Egg mayonnaise, which can come with or without cress, I don’t mind, but do be careful if you’re going to start adding anything else. This is an English egg mayonnaise, not an American egg salad. There definitely should not be any crunch. Some Americans put celery in their egg mayo. CELERY!

3. Smoked salmon, with either cream cheese or butter. If going with the latter, then it will need a squeeze of lemon. Black pepper. Light brown bread.

4. A meat sandwich. The obvious options are ham (with mustard, or I’ve had a rather nice variation with celeriac remoulade; bit Frenchy but I’ll allow it), or beef (preferably with horseradish). Some go for chicken. Few get away with it. Claridge’s did, but then they can get away with pretty much anything.

After that, it’s up to the individual. A few points to bear in mind however:

1. There should be no dipping of knives into chutney jars. Sweet fruit chutney (the kind you find at food markets between the painted plates and olives) is disgusting, but nobody else seems to have realised.

2. Salad leaves should be used with caution, because it’s difficult to make them dainty and the texture isn’t right for a finger sandwich. If watercress is involved, it needs to be chopped so it doesn’t come out in one long piece, pulling half the filling with it, before slapping against your chin.

3. All or almost all of the fillings should be British.

4. A generous amount of seasoning is really important; I’m forever adding salt to afternoon tea sandwiches.

Claridge's Tea Sandwiches

Scones

These should always be included and served warm, with strawberry or raspberry jam and clotted cream. I had an afternoon tea recently where the scones came with whipped cream (top photo). Whipped! I ask you. Someone should be sacked for that.

I care not for the argument about whether cream or jam should come first, despite having Cornish ties.

Scones

Cakes

Tricky area, this, as there’s so much room for variation, but here goes.

1. It’s a tad controversial, but I do like to find some sort of dainty cheesecake or moussey arrangement. It needs to be classy, though, with a fruit flavour; no chocolate and no cheese shaped wedges. This isn’t TGI Friday’s.

2. There should be a spongey thing, but again, it needs to meet the visual and size requirements, which can be a challenge because sponge falls more into the WI cakes category.

3. There should be a chocolate number, preferably adorned with spirals and twirls of other chocolate, possibly in different colours. I don’t mind as long as they look like they were really difficult to make.

4. A pastry tart is nice, with a very thin, obscenely buttery casing, filled with custard, topped with fruit and finished with a glaze that makes it shinier than Pierluigi Collina‘s head. 

Shiny Fruit Tart

Fruit Tart or Pierluigi Collina?

5. There should be some sort of cake which is the equivalent of the Great British Bake Off showstopper. It should have layers of things made via different, preferably complicated techniques. It should be dusted, decorated, bejewelled, encrusted with diamonds, covered in ambergris, whatever. The point is that it should be impressive.

6. Cupcakes do not belong.

7. I feel a bit funny about macarons. Are they a biscuit? Are they a cake? Are they just annoying? They seem to be the most over rated confection ever. I don’t mind seeing them sitting on the silver stand but they’d better be damn well perfect.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes: NO

Claridge's

Diddy perfection at Claridge’s

Things in Shot Glasses

If it were up to me, I’d do away with these. Yes, they add some height above the other cakes, and, as they’re often filled with some sort of fruit jelly, I do see their place in lightening the whole tea but, to be honest, I find them tacky. Also, the spoon never fits right to the bottom of the glass, which is just frustrating.

Biscuits

Fuck off.

The Tea

If you know what you’re doing, this should be proper, loose leaf tea. There are astonishing loose leaf teas available nowadays, and because they’re not cooped up in a bag, the leaves have room to unfurl. You can get a few brews from a fat pinch, with different subtleties of flavour each time. It’s called afternoon tea FFS, so the tea bit is very important. Teapots should be silver, or at least pretend to be.

Champagne

Always. This is the only place that any biscuity-ness should be happening, so you want something that’s spent time on its lees (bits of yeast and whatnot leftover from fermentation). Yeah, that’s right, I’m down with the wine lingo nowadays. Something like Roederer non vintage should do nicely. 

So, does anyone else have any strong views on the AT? Does the order of jam and cream still matter if it’s not a cream tea? Are macarons really the most exciting confection since the Beefeater’s Horn of Plenty?

 

68 comments | Afternoon Tea, Cakes, Sandwiches

Courgettes with Yoghurt and Chilli

Friday, 8th August 2014

Courgette Meze

I go through 1kg tubs of yoghurt at an alarming rate. I love its cool creamy blandness, which can take on many other flavours, be they salty, spicy or sweet. It’s no wonder it’s so important to so many cuisines. One of the reasons I love Turkish food so much for example, is that every meal is accompanied by yoghurt based dishes; cucumber, purslane or celeriac are my favourites, swathed in thick, whippy clouds. They beg to be dunked into with too much fluffy bread. It would be impossible to do a no-carb diet in Turkey unless you have some seriously steely willpower. I put on about half a stone in the week we were there, which just goes further towards proving that bread should be considered as the One True Evil if you are ever trying lose any weight. It obviously had nothing to do with the all the kebabs and künefe I was scarfing three times a day. 

I can’t believe this tastes so good, because it has only a few ingredients: courgettes, chilli, yoghurt, salt and an optional squeeze of lemon. The key really is in the method. The courgettes must be salted and allowed to drain their liquid, otherwise you’ll have a soupy disaster on your hands. If you want to take this in a slightly different direction, with more of an Iranian bent, then a little chopped mint would be lovely.

Courgette Meze

Courgettes with Yoghurt and Chilli (serves 4 with other dishes)

450g courgettes, young if possible (different colours make it look extra pretty)
1-2 red chillies, seeded and finely sliced or chopped
Enough natural Greek style yoghurt to combine (about 5 tablespoons or so)
Salt
Squeeze of lemon (optional)
Bread, to serve

Grate the courgettes (most easily done in a food processor with grating attachment). Put them in a colander then sprinkle with about a level teaspoon of good salt and toss well. Set over a bowl or the sink for about half an hour, to drain their liquid.

Put the yoghurt in a bowl and beat it a bit with a fork until smooth. Put the courgettes in a separate bowl and add the chilli then gradually add some yoghurt until it’s all nicely bound together. Taste for seasoning, it will probably be salty enough. Add the lemon if you like. Scoff with bread and kebabs.

13 comments | Barbecue, Dips, Gluten-free, Healthy, Nibbles, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads, Turkey, Vegetables

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

Wednesday, 23rd July 2014

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

Since returning from an Istanbul > Beirut > Istanbul jaunt way back in April, I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of recipes I want to re-create. Despite writing about lahmacun, yoghurt with celeriac, liver and onions Turkish stylee, and Turkish lamb meatballs with rhubarb, I am in no way through dealing with Istanbul, and I’ve barely started on you, Beirut, posting only about the marvellous man’oushe.

This recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Istanbul that actually, we didn’t much like. I think that happened once in our entire trip. It’s in Beyoglu, which seems to be the trendy bit of Istanbul. It’s also the area I enjoyed the least. It felt a bit young and hip and I dunno, I guess I’m really not the latter, because it’s just not the kind of atmosphere I enjoy when I’m exploring a new city. Is that weird? Maybe that’s weird. It is? How dare you! I’m very cool, it’s just that a thousand spaghetti-strapped women and block print embellished denim-ed men leaning around in bars playing Europop isn’t my idea of a good time. That’s a really unfair picture of Beyoglu in general, but perfectly accurate when it comes to the surroundings of this restaurant. The staff thought they were THE SHIT, too, prancing around like the restaurant floor was a fashion show or something. Totally aware that’s the kind of thing my mum said when I asked if I could have those high-heeled patent sling backs for my first year at Big School, but anyway.

They did one good thing, and that was to introduce us to adana kebabs rolled up into cigar shapes inside very thin bread. This is brilliant because you get the contrast between crisp bread and soft meat, but also because all the juiciness from the lamb soaks into the bread. This one dish made the whole sorry experience worthwhile. There’s also the opportunity to roll all sorts of other goodies inside with the meat of course, which I duly did…ranging from yoghurt, to feta, to spring onions. There was something else too but I’m not prepared to admit it.

It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right. Although the meat remained moist (there is a shit load of lovely fatty lamb in there after all…) they just weren’t QUITE juicy enough, so in the end I decided to cook the kebabs, before spreading the bread (lavash, by the way, it’s appropriately thin) very sparsely with some of the meat mixture, plonking the ‘bab onto it, rolling up, then commencing crisping. It does weird you out a bit, putting cooked meat on top of  raw, but it’s only for a moment and anyway, just get on with it.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

The other major change I’ve made with my adana is to add some Georgian ajika paste so this is a little bit fusion I suppose but come on, Turkey and Georgia are bordering countries. Ajika is a rather fierce chilli paste, which some dunce rather dopily describes on Wikipedia as ‘vindaloo strength’. It’s pretty hot, basically, but with an incredible flavour. It’s a magic ingredient, the kind of thing you end up chucking into all sorts of dishes. I’ll post my own recipe for it here soon.

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls

BBQ Adana Kebab Rolls (makes about 6 kebabs, depending on size obviously)

400g fatty lamb mince, 150g lean lamb mince (such as neck)
1/2 onion
1/2 red pepper
1 tablespoon ajika paste
2 cloves garlic
Few pinches salt
Lavash bread
Yoghurt (optional)
Feta (optional)
Spring onions, finely sliced (optional)

Blitz the lean mince into a blender with the onion, pepper, ajika and garlic. Add the fatty mince. Season highly with salt and give the meat a really good mix, kneading it with your hands almost like bread for a few minutes. Refrigerate for an hour or so if you can before shaping onto soaked wooden skewers (the kebabs will be easier to turn if you use two per kebab), then refrigerate again. Reserve about a tablespoon of meat per kebab, for smearing on the flatbreads later.

When ready to cook, prep your BBQ, and when the coals are covered in white ash, sling those ‘babs on, they won’t take long – 5 mins each side. Don’t try to turn them until they’ve built up a crust or else they wills stick. Cut a piece of lavash large enough to encase each kebab (remember you’re rolling it up), smear this with a tablespoon of the reserved meat, then plonk your cooked ‘bab on top and add any cheese, yoghurt, spring onions you fancy and roll it up. Slap back onto the grill until crisp on each side.

I like to serve these with extra garlic yoghurt and huge plates of herbs.

10 comments | Barbecue, Bread, Cheese, Istanbul, Main Dishes, Meat

Cornish Sea Salt

Thursday, 3rd July 2014

Cornwall

“I’ll never remember all this” I thought as I was given a guided tour of the Cornish Sea Salt production site. The ‘operations director’, Philip Tanswell, was whipping us from point to point, explaining machinery and chemistry and…salty things, telling us how he couldn’t believe no-one else had thought to harvest Cornish sea salt. Personally, I think it’s more likely that people have had the idea, but after reading up on the production thought to themselves, ‘nah, bugger that’. I wish I could tell you how it’s harvested, I really do, but I can’t because the process was complicated, and the explanation of it full of words like ‘microfiltration’, sub-atomic particles’, exchanger twist flugelbinder’ and ‘flomboggle wangcharging maxalatron’. I may possibly have made some of those up. I also can’t tell you about much of the process however,  because Philip wants to keep it a secret, lest people steal his methods. The world of salt is competitive, it turns out, and things are said about both Maldon and Halen Mon which I want to repeat here but probably shouldn’t. Interesting, though. Veeeeery interesting.

In short, the way salt is made goes like this: when the sodium and chloride particles are bobbing about in the sea they are separately positively and negatively charged, but when they are processed, and they run out of space to do whatever they like, they attract each other, and become salt crystals. The Cornish Salt Company have a piece of kit related to this process which is unique and does…something. That’s the secret bit. The key with the whole business is to get the best shape to the crystals, you see. That’s what it’s all about. Oh, and the other biggie: water clarity. Cornish sea salt is made from a stretch of water off the coast of The Lizard, which is somewhere I remember whizzing through on many a childhood holiday (good pasty place out at Lizard point if I remember rightly?). Beneath the water is a big ol’ reef, and a dangerous one by the sounds of it: over 500 ship wrecks sit eerily under the water. It’s a marine protection zone with Grade A water, which means it’s um, really, really clean. The minerals in the clay around Lizard also make a difference to the uniqueness of the salt, as the area is different to rest of Cornwall, geologically speaking. It’s magnesium and calcium changes which make a difference to the way different salts taste, so some salts will be more sweet, some more salty.

Cornwall

There’s salt in there…

To come up with a recipe based around salt proved a little challenging at first because, well, everything has salt in it. These pitta chips may seem overly simple but trust me, they’re the kind of snack you start walking away from them turn back halfway through for another hit. I could go wild for a fistful or thirty right now. They’re really good when made with both the Cornish Sea Salt ‘Luxury Pepper’ and chilli mixes and of course just the regular salt flakes and they’re incredibly easy to make. I suppose they’re healthier than crisps too. What more do you want from me?!

Pitta Chips with Cornish Sea Salt

Salty Pitta Chips 

2-3 pitta bread (depending on size)
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon either Cornish Sea Salt Luxury Pepper blend or chilli blend

Heat oven to 200C. Cut the pitta chips into pieces, splitting some if you can, so they get extra thin and crisp. Mix the oil and salt then rub into the pitta pieces, making sure they’re evenly coated. Spread on a baking tray and cook for 7-10 minutes, tossing halfway through. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Allow to cool and serve with some dippage, such as hummus.

See Cornish Sea Salt Website for stockists or to buy online

9 comments | Bread, Nibbles, Snacks

Man’oushe in Beirut

Wednesday, 25th June 2014

Man'oushe stall in Beirut

Beirut is a city of contrasts, the most striking being that of new wealth against a backdrop of quite obviously recent civil war. People parade barely healed plastic surgery around bullet pucked buidings. I was sad to read yesterday about a suicide bombing – the conflict in Syria is shaking the city once again. We spent a peaceful few days there in April, thankfully, which wasn’t nearly long enough. It’s hard to get to grips with as a city. I think my partner in travel, crime, eating etc. has captured the place extremely well in a post he wrote on his blog and so I shall quote him here.

I’m looking at ‘happy cookies’, imported New Zealand lamb, organic salmon fillets (neatly vacuum packed) and I’m pretty certain I saw at least one person selling cup cakes. There were definitely chocolate brownies. Souk el Tayeb, the Beirut farmer’s market is an oddity. There’s something a bit wrong about the way that the small-scale agricultural produce of a country that still has a large amount of said small-scale agriculture is being packaged up and sold back to itself (at a hefty premium of course).

We’re in the main Beirut souk, where marble walls glisten; well-groomed Arab men partake of oversized cigars whilst strolling with their families. On display are luxury watches, expensive fashion, and now, labneh balls preserved in oil, bright turnip pickles, and cheery Lebanese women rolling out balls of dough to slap on their dome shaped grills; applying oil and za’atar, pre-sliced white cheese and the occasional dollop of chilli before rolling up their man‘oushes. As with so many a sandwich glimpsed in the wild, the restraint is what first catches the eye; really no more than a couple of ingredients, the pungent tang of wild oregano providing more than enough flavour to interest.

A gaggle of children are painting plaster casts of Easter bunnies. Over the road stand soldiers, their rifles lazily slung over their shoulders, chatting disinterestedly with some members of the city police.

This is Beirut. It’s pretty fucking odd.

You can’t go anywhere unless you’re in a taxi, though none of the taxi drivers have the faintest clue where anything is. The constant switching between Arabic, French and English spellings renders street names next to useless. Drivers will stop two to three times to shout questions at passers by for even the shortest of journeys. I’m left baffled as to what anything costs by the need to try and work out parallel exchange rates between Sterling, Lebanese Pounds and Dollars. Change regularly arrives in mixed currency format. A $50 note and 14000LP thank you very much.

Dusk turns pleasant roads derelict and less inviting corners terrifying. Cars careen about with little thought to their own safety. Eight hours in the city and we’d already seen two accidents. It’s as if the collective memory of civil war has rendered the concept of automotive safety null and void. Who needs seat belts when everyone can remember the acrid smoke of suicide bombs? There’s a Ferrari stopped at the lights on our left, next to it pulls up a battered Honda motorbike. The Greek Orthodox Christians are streaming out of their churches candles held votive before them. Chanting echoes out of the ornate facades, mingling with the amplified wail of the Muezzin call to prayer and the omnipresent chorus of car horns.

Three hours later and midnight has transformed the louche atmosphere of the bars from lazy afternoon drinking to a frenzied Faliraki street sprawl; bad cocktails and bottles of beer, aggressive posing and pounding Euro pop. I argue with a lingering taxi driver over the cost of the return to our hotel. Curse that the bar is closed and go instead to corner shop next door. The owner, smoking at the counter sorts me a quarter bottle of Arak and some ice. I retreat to my room for bed. Exhausted.”

Man'oushe lady

Za'atar Smear

Man'oushe in Beirut

So yeah, that’s Beirut. At times a confusing and complicated place. The food however, is really something, and I came back to London significantly fatter. First up, these man’oushe, a Lebanese speciality. Yes, I am counting a rolled up flatbread as a sandwich, because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I bloody well like. I spotted the lady making these in the market and swooped in on her with the steely determination of a hawk hunting a mouse. She was perched next to a blistering hot dome, on a scorching day, slapping and scraping flat breads. They came painted green with za’atar, heavy with thyme and oregano and speckled with sesame. Superbly chewy, intense and rich with cheese. As ever though, there is more than one way to fill a flatbread, and I like to top my za’atar smear with pickles, labneh and herbs. The recipe below is from my sandwich book, 101 Sandwiches.

Man’oushe (from 101 Sandwiches, Dog n Bone Books, 2013)

Makes 8–10

For the flatbread:

500g plain flour
7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tsp caster sugar
Generous 250ml warm water
1.5 tbsp olive oil

To assemble the sandwiches:

Za’atar (recipe here or use a ready made blend)
Olive oil
Fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
Tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
Red onion, finely chopped
Pickled turnips or other pickled vegetables, drained and sliced
Labneh or plain yoghurt (it is easy to make your own labneh – see below)
Ground sumac

To make the flatbread, in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Gradually add the warm water, mixing until you have a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface, gradually adding the olive oil as you do so.

Rub a bowl with a little oil and place the dough in it. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 3 hours, until doubled in size. Once risen, gently knock back the dough and knead again for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 8–10 pieces, then roll out into flatbreads, each about 1/4 inch (5mm) thick. Cook the flatbreads, 1 or 2 at a time, in a hot, dry large skillet for about 3 minutes on each side, until brown spots appear in places. The cooked flatbreads can be kept warm in a low oven while you cook the remainder.

To assemble the sandwiches, mix some za’atar with a little olive oil to make it easier to spread and brush it onto each flatbread while still warm. Top with mint and parsley leaves, some chopped tomato and red onion and some sliced pickles, then dollop with labneh. Sprinkle with sumac, wrap and eat immediately.

Labneh Recipe:

To make your own labneh, just mix a good pinch of sea salt with a 500g tub of full-fat natural yoghurt, then wrap it in a piece of muslin, tie the top with string, hang it over a bowl and leave in a cool place for about 8 hours or overnight. Use the strained yoghurt or labneh as required. Any leftover labneh will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Shop in Beirut

7 comments | 101 Sandwiches, Beirut, Bread, Markets, Sandwiches

19th Century Curry Sandwiches

Wednesday, 18th June 2014

18th Century Indian Sandwich Recipe

It’s hard to resist making a recipe that looks really weird on paper. This is from ‘The Road to Vindaloo, Curry Cooks and Curry Books‘ by David Burnett and Helen Saberi, which is a charming little book crammed with recipes collected from various sources, spanning several centuries. There are two sandwich recipes in it, both equally as baffling. I hope you will understand that I simply had to know what the combination of hard-boiled egg yolk, butter, curry powder, anchovy and tarragon vinegar tasted like as a sandwich spread. You don’t? Weird. I’ll tell you anyway. I just need to think about how to say it. Um. Okay so I can see what they were trying to do here, which was make something with a hella shitload of umami. It is definitely not lacking in that respect. I’d even go so far as to say that it was rather nice, once I got over the whole bright orange mush thing. I was going to bust out that almost-cliché about not being able to taste the anchovies and them just being a seasoning but to be honest they’re fairly obvious. The egg and curry powder works as you’d expect and so does the tarragon; just think of fennel seeds in a curry and you’ll get the idea. It’s remarkably balanced, actually. Crikey, I’m talking myself round. The cucumber slices are my addition; the crisp freshness is very welcome. I also decided to cut them into dainty fingers due to the erm, intensity of the paste.

I want you to make these sandwiches, and it annoys me that you probably won’t. No-one has the cahoonas to make a sandwich spread like this any more. It deserves to be served.

Curry Sandwiches by someone called Theodore Francis Garrett (from The Road to Vindaloo, by David Burnett and Helen Saberi, Prospect Books, 2008)

3 hard boiled eggs
1 oz butter, plus extra for spreading if desired
1 teaspoon curry powder
Anchovy (no quantity specified so I used 2 fillets)
Tarragon vinegar (again no quantity specified so use those buds)
Salt to taste
White bread, thinly sliced
Cucumber slices (my addition)

In a pestle and mortar, mush up the egg yolks only with the butter, curry powder, anchovy and salt if desired. Gradually work in a little tarragon vinegar. Butter some bread (I think this was perhaps overkill considering the butter in the paste but knock yourself out) and spread this delightful concoction over it. Layer with cucumber slices. Sandwich with the other slice of bread, remove the crusts, cut into fingers and serve.

15 comments | Sandwiches, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads

Liver and Onions, Turkish Style

Wednesday, 4th June 2014

Turkish Style Liver and Onions

This is a nifty wee dish to bash out on the  BBQ. What? No it’s not raining, you’re imagining things. Okay it is, but this is Britain; stick a brolly over it. The flavours here aren’t for the faint-hearted anyway; there’s liver, which some people are against, and a large amount of onions. Oh and an extremely spicy dressing. I have warned you about the last bit.

In case you hadn’t noticed, I recently went to Istanbul. The Turkish absolutely love their liver, and I’ve been hankering after some of those deftly cooked cubes, hot off the grill, charred without and softly offaly within. This is similar to many preparations we ate in that glorious city and it’s very easy to make as the liver is grilled simply and the spices dusted on afterwards. The onions are dressed in fierce Turkish chilli paste and pomegranate molasses, the latter giving a sort of curious perfumed back note against the HARDCORE FIRE of the biber. Addictive stuff.

Liver and Onions, Turkish Style

For the onions

2 onions, cut into half moons
2 tablespoons Turkish chilli paste
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon black urfa Turkish chilli flakes
2 teaspoons hot chilli flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Soak your onions in iced water for 30 minutes. Mix together the dressing ingredients. Dry the onions on kitchen paper and mix with the dressing. Leave for 1 hour before serving. They’re even better the next day.

For the liver

Lamb’s liver (this works with any amount as you’re just dusting it with spices)
Oil
Ground chilli
Ground coriander
Flaky salt

Give the liver a rub with a little oil and whack it on a BBQ for a couple of minutes each side, or until charred on the outside and still a little pink within. Once cooked, transfer to a warm plate and dust lightly with ground coriander, chilli and plenty of flaky salt. Serve immediately with the onions.

13 comments | Barbecue, Istanbul, Meat

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