Turkish-ish Guilt Eggs

Sunday, 1st December 2013

There is nothing (NOTHING) worse, for me, than a post on a blog which starts with ‘sorry it’s been so long since I last updated this blog blah blah blahddy blah’. The fact that I kind of almost considered doing that makes me want to get all the words and stuff them into a little rat hole in my brain, block it up with socks and then get blind drunk to make it all go away.

I’m not having a go at other people here, you understand; it’s just something that annoys me because one of the best (and worst, I suppose) things about having a blog is that one can do what one ruddy well likes. That’s kind of the point, no? I don’t have to file by a certain date, nor does my copy have to be of a certain style or length. Fuck it, I can ramble on about any old shit and swear as much as I bloody well like and there’s no-one to say ‘well actually dear it’s best you don’t say that/we’ve just added in a couple of sentences to fill out the space/you can’t say ‘tits’ or ‘twat’ or ‘dog poo’.

So why do I feel bad that I haven’t written anything here for 2 weeks? I genuinely feel a tension, as if you’re all waiting for something, which, of course, you are not. I want to give you the excuses, too. I’ve been busy, yo. I’m writing a PhD, innit! I’m writing a new book! I’m going on holiday tomorrow and I have to get up at 3am argh argh argh argh!

So basically I’m giving you this recipe for some Turkish eggs which I made from the bits hanging about in my fridge because I feel bad, despite my best efforts not to. Just so happens the eggs taste awesome. Cold garlic yoghurt meets hot duck egg meets golden-oiled spicy sausage. Herro.

Oh and there won’t be any leftovers this Sunday either, because I’m doing that getting up at 3am thing and I really ought to go to bed. You can look forward to a bumper edition next week *tumbleweed*. And now I’ve gone and committed the second crime of blog post writing – making promises about what’s coming next.

Fuck it (because I can).

Turkish-ish Guilt Eggs (serves 2)

This dish is pretty garlic-y as the cloves are crushed into the yoghurt without cooking as per various recipes. Personally I’m down with that but you may want to avoid eating this before, say, an important meeting, interview or any romantic situation where you don’t really know the other person. The combination of garlic and sausage is pretty poky.

2 duck eggs (or regular eggs, obviously)
Greek style natural yoghurt
2 spring onions, white and green parts finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 sausages with a high fat content (I used Pastirma), meat squeezed from the casing
Sprig of flat leaf parsley or chives, finely chopped
Turkish chilli flakes to taste
Warm bread, to serve

Put the garlic cloves in a small pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute. Drain.

In a pestle and mortar, mush up the blanched garlic with the chilli flakes and salt to taste. Add this to a bowl along with the yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice and give it a really good mixing so you sort of whip it lightly. Divide between two serving bowls.

Get a pan of water on ready for the poached eggs. In a small, separate frying pan, gently cook the sausage meat, breaking it up, until it starts to release its fat and then add the white parts of the spring onions (if you’re not using sausage then just soften the onions a little in some olive oil).

Put your eggs on to poach. By the time they are done, the sausage meat should be crisp in parts and the pan filled with lovely golden oil. Plonk a poached egg into each bowl of yoghurt and top each with some of the sausage and onion mixture, the green spring onion parts and the herbs. More salt and pepper, perhaps. Eat immediately with good bread and a feeling of guilt.

29 comments | Breakfast, Eggs

Sunday Leftovers No. 3

Sunday, 17th November 2013

Favourite find of the week: Ram-It-Up Curry Goat Booster, lurking at back of kitchen cupboard.

Monday was spent cooking from India, by Pushpesh Pant (yes). There are reviews on Amazon which say this book is ‘not for the beginner’. Fine, I thought – I’m not. I’m no expert either, but I know my asafoetida from my fenugreek. I’m sad to say then that I found cooking from the book a frustrating experience. An example from the tomato coconut chutney recipe: listed in the ingredients, ‘fried chana dal’. Fried in what? Shallow fried? Deep fried? Fried in the hot Indian sun? No idea. Many of the recipes seem to be unedited, which is a huge shame, because this is a vast collection, full of interesting and unique dishes. Best was the pork vindaloo, although it took an hour and a half longer to cook than the recipe stated and managed to break a curry law by not tasting better the next day. In the absence of any side dishes (we gave up, basically) or rice, we made – wait for it – sandwiches, with the sauce alongside for dipping.

A spur of the moment dinner at St. John was like being welcomed by an old friend, although I have to say I still much prefer to eat in the bar rather than the restaurant. They make a kick ass martini, which seems to come in bucket-like proportions. The Welsh rarebit is hard to resist and at the right time of year they never, ever, fail to have crab on. This time I ate – brace yourselves – a sandwich. Egg mayo and watercress, one of my favourite fillings, had the reassuringly British tickle of malt vinegar. After years of occasionally adding capers to egg mayo and being annoyed at them for being too bolshy, I realised I wanted malt vinegar all along.

Egg mayo sandwich at St. John

Thursday saw me trekking to the swanky end of town to eat at Tinello. This swishy Italian makes the dinkiest, salty courgette fries which are hard to resist eating by the fistful. A salad of puntarelle came in a thick, bold dressing – perfect for those sturdy bitter leaves. The real star though was a special of truffle pasta, the sauce basically a truck load of butter and a splash of starchy pasta water as far as I could tell, the topping those intoxicating shaved truffles. We shared this between three which is one of the biggest regrets of my life so far.

Puntarelle and capers

Truffs

I also stuffed my smug little face at Dip and Flip; you can read about their glorious patty melt on my sandwich blog.

Action shot.

I know you’re all jonesing for that weekly cat pic, so here’s one of Chas and Delia’s greatest hits from Instagram (I’m foodstories).

You let go. No, you let go. You let go first. No.

Finally I simply must introduce to you what is possibly the best/worst/funniest piece of marketing for wine EVER. Warning: it’s a stealthy ear worm. Readers, I present to you, ‘As Long As You Like’ by Prowein. So bad it’s brilliant.

 

 

14 comments | Restaurant Reviews, Sunday Leftovers

Battle of The Borek

Thursday, 14th November 2013

Final batch of borek

The Turkish Food Centre in Camberwell sells a really mean spinach and cheese borek. It’s a snazzy swirly number which has been making a regular appearance in my face of a Saturday morning. Last week though, one just wasn’t enough. With hindsight, it would have been easier to nip down to the TFC and buy another one, because I basically spent the entire weekend battling with the pastry recipe.

It came from my mate, but it’s not his fault I ballsed it up to be fair; he was working when I asked him for it, and I got drip fed bits in Turkish whispers over the space of a two day period. The first batch were um, pretty interesting. ‘Oh, isn’t it weird that there’s no folding of the pastry after I’ve brushed it with butter?’ I thought to myself. Weird that, considering I’m trying to get it flaky. How will it do that without any layers? So in realising that mistake, in engaging with the culinary knowledge I have built up over a number of years, I decided promptly to just carry on regardless like a complete and utter tool. The pastry was shit, and everyone on Twitter laughed at me, saying the resulting borek looked like turds. THANKS YOU GUYS.

Borek or turds?

So I tried again. Goddam it’s hard to roll that pastry out really thin; it’s just flour and water, and the fat is brushed on in the form of melted butter between the folds. I even bought a special skinny rolling pin in not one, but two different lengths, so I have a reeeeeally long one specially reserved for that time when I need to make a borek the size of the Starship Enterprise. That’s big, right? I hate Star Trek. I think.

I used a spiced butter – actually the niter kibbeh from this recipe but think about it, nigella seeds totally work in borek – and I folded and rested and rolled and made a right royal mess and in the end they looked…well, they looked a lot better than the first batch. The flakes were there but the pastry was nowhere near as plainly and obviously rammed with delicious butter like the TFC version, which is rubbish, because it was. After two days and 30 odd borek I declared temporary defeat. The next day my mate came around, had a look at my efforts and said all they needed was a bit longer in the oven. Arse. “Other than that” he said, “totally nailed it!” and he knows his shit in the borek department. So in your faces Twitter followers! Behold my tasty pastry turds!! (top picture by the way). Bottom line is that the recipe below is a sound one, so knock yerselves out. What do you mean I’ve put you off trying?

Spinach and Cheese Borek (makes 12)

325g Turkish flour (I bought mine from the TFC and I knew it was the right one because it said ‘borek’ on the front. Genius)
175ml water
1.5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Spiced butter (recipe here)
600g spinach, roughly chopped
175g Tulum cheese (or use feta)
Half an onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten

A skinny rolling pin helps here. I bought mine from – you’ve guessed it – the TFC.

Mix the flour and water together then knead until lovely and smooth. I did this in a Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook. Let the dough rest under a wet cloth for about 30 minutes.

Make the filling by washing the spinach and then putting it straight into a large saucepan, lid on, low heat, until it is all wilted down. Allow to cool then squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop finely. Gently cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft but not coloured. Allow to cool then mix with the spinach. Stir in the cheese. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Separate the dough into balls, each weighing approximately 45g. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out as thinly as you can, into a circle shape. You should be able to see through the dough when it is thin enough. Brush the pastry with the spiced butter, then fold it in half and keep folding until you have a small square of pastry (about 4 folds). Let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll each ball out again as thin as you can, in a circle shape. Add a thin snake shape of filling around the bottom half of the circle and then roll up into a cigar shape. Curl the cigar around into a snail shape. Brush each with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes or until a lovely golden brown colour.

23 comments | Cheese, Pastry, Vegetables

Sunday Leftovers No. 2

Sunday, 10th November 2013

Some recent purchases.

Last week saw the inaugural edition of Sunday leftovers and I was chuffed with the response, in particular to the comment that it was “like a trashy mag, but with food and cats”. I’m glad to be filling a hole you see; trashy mags are what you think you want on a long train journey/in a doctor’s waiting room/lying sick on the sofa, but in reality they just induce a feeling of complete and utter loathing for the human race, or at least a certain subset of society. What is most annoying however, is that they leave a spot un-hit; you still yearn for a trivial fix but have nowhere to turn. Food and cats will never let you down (if you’re a dog person by the way, just replace the word ‘cat’ with the word ‘dog’ in your head). So here we go again.

Gymkhana this week. Wow. I used to have a regular and enjoyable debate with a friend about whether or not ‘posh Indian’ could be a thing. I didn’t think it could, and at first I thought Gymkhana had proved me wrong, which would be all well and good of course, but then I realised, it’s not ‘posh’ at all, or at least it’s not trying to gussy anything up. There is no trying too hard; no stacking; no smearing; no dismantling or deconstructing, everything is just done a hundred times better. The muntjac biryani has been the talk of the town since they opened and despite myself, I ordered it. Stunning. Easily the best biryani I’ve ever eaten, each grain of rice so utterly buttery perfect I actually laughed out loud. I hear they have a ‘rice man’. Fair bloody play to him I say, and a cracking great high five. A tip, FYI, is to stop the staff from breaking into that pastry crust for you at the table, if only to save you shouting ‘WOAH WOAH WOAH!’ across the restaurant like I did. Everything I ate was brilliant but special mention to the crab for being simply a bowl of brown and white meat, with pepper and a shitload of ghee. I wanted to run off with it. Everything seemed to contain a shitload of ghee at Gymkhana actually, which is perfectly alright with me.

The muntjac biryani doing its best Elmo impression. Crab lurks in the background. 

Burger and Lobster launched on the 5th Floor of Harvey Nicks on Tuesday, and I was up there like a ferret up a trouser leg. My conversations at Burger and Lobster always go like this:

Me: “Hello. I’d like a martini please, not too dry, with a twist. Thanks”

Staff: “Would you like gin or vod..”

Me: “GIN!! GIN GIN GIN!!!!”

Staff: “Would you like me to explain the men..”

Me: “LOBSTER ROLL PLEASE THANKS”

That’s basically the entirety of interaction needed at Burger and Lobster, unless I have run out of martini. I know exactly what they do best and that is why I have the same thing, every single time. It’s one of the best sandwiches in London without a shadow of a doubt, so if for any reason you find yourself stuck in Knightsbridge losing the will to live, nip into Harvey Nicks for the lifesaving combination of hard liquor and crustacea.

Discovery of the week goes to the Shanghai lamb noodles at Silk Road. I challenge you to find any food more satisfying than a hand pulled noodle. The lamb has had the same treatment as their lamb shish, which means it’s all about the cumin. The sauce is HOT, too, the kind of hot where you want to stop because you fear the dawn but you can’t because you’re hopelessly hooked. I will never not order this at Silk Road.

Another exciting discovery was that the Turkish Food Centre (in Camberwell at least, not sure about other branches) is stocking both red and green Georgian plum sauces. You may know that I properly fell for Georgian food when I visited the country last year. It’s familiar and yet so unique; I long to return. If you can’t get to a TFC then it’s available online and I have a recipe here which uses shitty unripe supermarket plums. It tastes great, honestly. A fantastic match for pork.

In other news, I made about a million flatbreads, which are fabulous with eggs and yoghurt, or about any Middle Eastern style dip you can imagine. I also made a hundred squillion swirly borek, but that’s a story for next week, being as it is long and at this very moment in time, a little painful to recall.

Za’atar flatbread with poached egg, yoghurt, and Turkish chilli. 

What’s that you say? Where’s the cat picture? Okay, here’s one of Chas snuggling up to his favourite blanket. I feel the same way about my dishwasher.

 

17 comments | Restaurant Reviews, Sunday Leftovers

Za’atar Flatbreads

Sunday, 10th November 2013

I am a very bad author, because I have a serious Amazon habit. They just make it too freakin easy to go batshit mental on there. What with their suggestions and wish lists and things other people have bought together and oh, here’s a deal to get both at a special price. There’s the extremely dangerous ‘one click ordering’ and the stealthy Amazon Prime, which obviously, I have. They’ve made it all so easy, and now the stuff turns up before you’ve had a chance to remember you ordered it while drunk.

I struggled to carry my latest haul of no less than 8 fat cookery books home, in the rain, from the office, which is where Amazon delivered them because I forgot to change the address. Surely telepathic assessment of preferred delivery address is not far off? Anyway, amongst the spoils, a couple of Turkish numbers, from which I plucked this flatbread recipe. I needed something to do with the za’atar  you see, an option other than just eating it straight from the pot in such vast quantities that it makes my mouth pucker and sting.

It’s the house blend at Peckham Bazaar and it’s the best za’atar recipe ever. The word za’atar means ‘thyme’ in Arabic, and I generally find that shop bought blends are way too heavy on the herb; too many dusty green flecks, mixed with some sesame seeds and not enough sumac. This recipe contains poky Turkish chilli, and rose petals, which apart from adding a bit of Turkish delight fancy, also look the bomb. Salt is important too; proper, pyramid-crystallised sea salt and plenty of it.

Mixed with a bit of oil it’s ace smeared onto these breads. Now bear with me when I say they’re brilliant flatbreads because they’re all soft and er, bready. I just mean that they’re not tough and floury as a home made flat bread often can be. The recipe makes 12, which with hindsight was a dangerous move when I’m working at home alone all weekend. Not only does Amazon empty my bank account, it is also trying to make me fat. Don’t let me put you off buying my book from them though; it will cost you money but all the recipes in it are 100% calorie free. Fact.

You can also buy it direct from the publisher and in doing so side step a whole heap of problems. Ta da. 

Peckham Bazaar Za’atar

150g toasted sesame seeds
20g sea salt
30g sumac
30g red chilli flakes
30g dried thyme
15g dried oregano
1 tsp ras el hanout
1/2 teaspoon rose petals

Toast the sesame seeds either spread out on a baking tray in a low oven or in a dry pan. They will darken slightly in colour and smell all, well, toasted. Keep an eye on them. Allow them to cool and then mix with all the other ingredients.

Flat Breads (from Turkey: Recipes and Tales From the Road by Leanne Kitchen)

Makes 12 breads

1 teaspoon caster sugar
1.5 teaspoons dried yeast
600g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons salt

Olive oil and za’atar, for brushing the flat breads.

Mix the sugar with 100ml lukewarm water and add the yeast. Set aside until frothy. Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, then add the yeast mixture. Combine into a dough, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Cover with cling film and set aside until doubled in size (mine took an hour). Knock back the dough on a lightly floured surface then divide into 12 balls of equal size. Roll each out to a circle (about 9 inches) and cook in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes each side, until just coloured. In a small bowl, mix some za’atar with olive oil, just enough to lubricate matters slightly so you can smoosh it onto the bread. Give each a rub with the za’atar mix while still warm.

20 comments | Bread

Sandwich Engineering

Thursday, 7th November 2013

The complexity of the sandwich: from Dog House Diaries

The structure of the sandwich is of utmost importance. As I have said during many an interview on the subject, there is nothing, NOTHING, worse, than the corner of a sandwich gone soggy as a result of seeping tomato juice; that’s just an amateur build, right there. Everyone knows you don’t put that tomato next to the bread, you put it underneath a protective barrier, such as lettuce. Unless of course it is a tomato sandwich, in which case lettuce should be nowhere near it and you should simply be eating that sandwich immediately.

Another example is the construction of a burger. A burger with chillies and cheese. Think about the layering; what you don’t want to be doing is putting the cheese directly onto the meat and then attempting to settle the chillies on top; they will tumble out of the burger and onto your plate. Or your lap. The chillies should be placed directly onto the meat, and then sealed with the layer of cheese, creating a spicy pocket and preventing any loss of fillings.

The sandwich I’m going to tell you about in a moment contains caramelised onions, which have been cooked down in very concentrated beef stock and bourbon. Now if they were on a burger (which they bloody well shouldn’t be because that would be horrible and wrong), then they would need sealing on top of the meat with the cheese as per chillies. In the case of my cheesy creation below however, it was only appropriate to smear them directly on the bread. Why? I don’t know. Such is the complexity of the sandwich build. Part rule abiding, part instinct.

The sandwich is made with Gruyère, steak and sticky onions, in a muffin. I ended up making this as a sort of homage to another food blogger - I’m not going to mention any names – who basically makes dishes ‘with all the flavours of’ other, existing dishes, ‘spaghetti bolognaise tacos’ for example, or  ‘fish and chips pizza’ (I may have made those up). Me and a few of my mates are addicted to this blog, and to laughing (affectionately) at the latest recipe. So this is a sandwich with – wait for it – ‘all the flavours of’ French onion soup. The onions, the beef stock, the onions, the cheese, the onions. It’s hella tasty I have to say. And extremely rich. I wouldn’t attempt it with anything bigger than a muffin, you’d probably be sick.

French Onion Soup Muffins

2 English muffins
Gruyere cheese, grated
2 onions, sliced
Beef stock, preferably home made
Bourbon
4 thick slices good quality steak (I used sirloin)
Butter

Melt a good lump of butter in a pan and let the onions caramelise very slowly in it. This should take about an hour. When they are nicely golden and soft, splash in an inch or so of beef stock and a splash of bourbon. Let this cook out until there is barely any liquid left.

In a hot frying pan or skillet, quickly sear the beef slices on either side for mere seconds, then let rest while you build the sandwich. In the same pan, toast the split muffins briefly. Preheat a grill, then spread each muffin with onions, on the top and bottom halves, and add a layer of cheese over each layer of onions. Wang this under the grill until the cheese is nicely melted. Remove and divide the steak slices between the sandwiches. Put the two halves together and off you go. Lovely with a beer.

For more on the structure and contents of sandwiches, buy my book! 101 Sandwiches is a collection of the finest sandwiches from around the world. 

14 comments | 101 Sandwiches, Sandwiches

Sunday Leftovers

Sunday, 3rd November 2013

Everyone loves leftovers, right? I’ve been wanting to write something here for a while now that is a kind of idle graze over my weekly eating, because there’s lots of stuff happening that is worth a mention, but not necessarily a whole post. I want this to be like the Top of The Pops 2 of food writing; like a gentle Sunday evening mental sofa session, cozied up under a warm blanket with a nice glass of wine and slightly heavy eyelids. Perhaps a stew is plooping away on the hob and you’ve got five minutes to spare before you shape the dumplings; allow me to fill that time with a round up of my week in food and, potentially, cats. Okay definitely cats. No, the day I start posting cat pictures on my food blog is the day I….start posting cat pictures on my food blog.

On Monday I continued a frankly very frustrating quest to find top notch Lebanese food in London, and having had quite a few recommendations for Meza in Tooting, we bussed it down to the nether regions of the Sarf. Generally, I have to be really annoyed to write negative comments about restaurants on this blog so it with some degree of discomfort that I report that it was really just very ‘meh’. The quest continues. Please leave alternative suggestions in the comments *desperate face*. I will travel to pretty much any part of London for a good, or even not so good feed; let’s not forget I once went to hammersmith for a deep fried hot dog wrapped in a pretzel, covered in cheese.

Tuesday saw me bedding in at Franklin’s, which is exactly what one does when visiting this excellent neighbourhood restaurant. Two mates and I once struggled there during the London snow a couple of years ago; you know, the snow that basically ground the city to a halt. We spent a wonderful few hours gorging, imbibing and feeling smug that we were wrapped in such a delicious bosom. This week I had potted shrimp, which was, brilliantly, warm, the butter all melty and ready for dipping. It’s the details: the generous amount of butter on the side dish of greens; the warm bread; the perfect briny natives; the cosy candlelight. Hooray and hooray again for Franklin’s.

A shit picture of some warm, buttered shrimp 

They also do a mean Black Velvet

I may have eaten out a fair bit to be honest *cough* so next we have Zeret Kitchen, which is one of the best Ethiopian restaurants in London in my opinion. You’ll find all the classics here and, as ever, it’s best to go with the set selection of dishes, to get the most variety. A tip for you though: the ‘special’ kitfo is one extra dish to have on the side. Kitfo is a dish of raw or rare beef marinated in mitmita (a hot spice mix like berbere) which is extremely popular in Ethiopia. I ate some while there and spent the next five hours wondering whether or not I was going to die. You can also have it cooked, which I did from that point forward. At Zeret though, go raw and get this preparation which is mixed with ayibe (a sort of dry cottage cheese) and greens.

Special Kitfo at Zeret Kitchen

Eating out a lot means not a huge amount of cooking but of course I found time for a sandwich. This is a BLT (sadly no avocado to make it a BLAT), made with Flock and Herd’s award winning treacle cure smoked back bacon and the (again award winning; ticky tick) sourdough from Brick House Bakery. Un – freakin – believable.

Well, hello gorgeous 

What else have I done? *look up to the sky thinking face* Oh! I did a recipe for the forthcoming Meat Liquor Cook Book, which is being co-authored by DBC Pierre. I have story about him and one of my parties but…I can’t tell. Sorry. It’s a pretty good recipe (say so myself) for a curry goat sandwich with a Peckham twist. Oh and speaking of Peckham, I had lunch at Peckham Bazaar, obviously, because, well, even if I wasn’t the most biased person in the world, it’s still a restaurant created just for me. Look at that gurnard souvlaki with skordalia and fattoush,  just look at it.

Over the next week I shall battle with the BASTARD INJERA RECIPE. Thank you for all the comments by the way, and just to let you know, I can buy them from Zeret Kitchen which is five mins away, but I can’t stop until I have this recipe nailed and also, I am aware that not everyone lives next to their favourite Ethiopian restaurant, so on we go.

Last thing, a picture from Luc Martin, a baker who made the philly cheese steak recipe from my book, 101 Sandwiches. Strong work, Luc. The sandwich world is proud and so am I.

Photo: Luc Martin

Oh yes and here’s that weekly cat picture. I have two – Delia Smith (fluffy one) and Chas Michael Michaels (ginge).

But what? Darling, I am just so FABULOUS!

Oh, oh! Man, it’s hard to stop now I’ve started…this is a seafood platter I had at Newman Street Tavern a couple of weeks ago but it makes it in simply for being so incredible.

And now I am done. Promise.

 

24 comments | Sunday Leftovers

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