Savoury Black Olive Cake

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This savoury recipe is a great idea for picnics, breakfasts, lunch boxes, tea times and snacks. I always adored this ‘cake’ in the breakfast rituals and afternoon tea times of my Turkish friends and neighbours, when accompanied by strong, clear tea I’d gladly indulge in seconds and thirds.

You can make your own take on it easily, adding to or replacing any of the flavoursome ingredients. Why not try adding spring onions, chopped sun dried tomatoes or fresh dill?

Recipe here…

Resilience: Nurturer and Warrior. 


Happy International Women’s Day! I’m thinking of the brave women fighting Isis on the front line, the women whose work is never done, the ones who never sleep or get a day off, to those fighting oppression and lack of equality, the women who struggle to be heard, those who are silenced, the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the wives, the ones who make sacrifices every day, the ones who got a say in life and the ones the ones who didn’t.

Photograph by Veronique de Viguerie, September 6, 2014: A Kurdish combatant breast feeds her child. For me its one of the most memorable and striking images from the fight against daesh which had circulated on social media, highlighting the resilience of women and their innate ability to be both nurturer and warrior.

Meatless Satisfaction 

  

My sister in law, Yeliz, made lentil kofte the first time I visited her at home. With her young children whizzing around excitably, she brought plates of kofte to the dinning table narrowly avoiding the toy cars in her path. What better way to welcome someone not only into your kitchen, but into your life by preparing a wholesome meal. I took the recipe away with me and now my own Mum often asks ‘When are we going to eat those lentil patties again?’

This is the type of meal prepared for large families so it’s no wonder then that my in-laws eat lentil kofte often. They are your typical large, warm Mediterranean family who come together around the table.

These kofte laugh in the face of meatless sceptics; as well as healthy they’re filling and make for a fun way of eating. Lay one in a lettuce leaf, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on top, wrap and enjoy. As always, best eaten in good company!

Semolina Halva with a Twist

İrmik Helvası - Semolina Halva with Cardamom & Pistachio

İrmik Helvası – Semolina Halva with Cardamom & Pistachio

After significant absence from NazarBlue, my apology comes in the form of an easy to make, tasty treat; Turkish style semolina helva with my own special twist.

It can be served hot (with ice cream) or once cooled in slices as the perfect accompaniment to tea (in our case, çay!).

The various words for  ‘Halva’ derive from the Arabic Halawa, meaning sweet. Halva / Helva / Halawa is a typical Mediterranean / Middle Eastern / Asian / Balkan / Eastern European confection which can be made from various ingredients; primarily grain flour resulting in a gelatinous texture (most typically semolina or wheat flour is used) or ground nuts which result in a more solid texture (you’ll be familiar with sesame halva.)  Other more exotic bases for Halva are chickpeas and other beans or carrots and flavourings vary wildly from pistachio to chocolate, honey or simply plain.

Here is my recipe for Cardamom and Pistachio İrmik Helvası.

Meaty Stuffed Vine Leaves

My mother in law is visiting us, and with her came an array of gifts and packages of food straight from the city of dreams. Amongst the numerous baby clothes, jewellery and candied chesnuts (Murat’s favorite) came a mysterious, humid bag. To my delight, the heavy package contained vine leaves.

When I first visited Murat’s family in Istanbul, his three sisters and mothers gathered around at tiny table, crafting Yaprak Sarmasi in honour of my visit and his return. They chattered excitedly, stuffing and rolling what seemed like hundreds of leaves.  Quite the excuse to get together and pitch in, I’ve now mastered this traditional recipe much to Murat’s delight.

The family in law in Istanbul.

This recipe results in succulent meaty rolls with a subtle heat. It is absolutely authentic and often eat in Turkish households. This version is best served warm with a dollop of cooling strained yoghurt. Stuffed vine leaves can also be made without meat and with the addition of pine nuts, sultanas and dill, usually served cold.

Click here for my recipe.

Comfort Food… My Quick & Easy Kuru Fasulye Recipe

As the blustery Autumn winds whip and lash, what better to do than hide under layers of snug clothing and eat wholesome comfort food?

My quick and easy beef & bean stew is wholesome and hearty. The recipe usually calls for dried beans and braising steak, but for those of us who can’t spare the time to soak beans over night and braise meat for hours, I have used sirloin steak and tinned cannelini beans thus cutting cooking time to a mere fraction.

I’m assured on good (and fussy!) authority that my version is just as tasty and satisfying.

Click here for my Kuru Fasulye recipe…

Old Wives Tales…

It’s the time of year when germs start swarming and colleagues begin to drop like flies. Unfortunately I was also struck by the change of season cold virus, but unlike my peers I didn’t have the option to take the usual medicinal comforts.

I went to the chemist and practically begged a seemingly unsympathetic assistant for a huge tub of vapour rub and some Lemsip; he assured me that in my ‘condition’ bed rest and the occasional paracetamol was the only answer.

Determined to shake the virus, I turned to natural remedies and old wives tales.

Drinking grated ginger with lemon juice, honey and hot water combated the physical effects of the cold.

Sipping a good strong Chicken soup nourished the soul.

Click here to see how I made my hot and sour, Turkish style ‘Tavuk Çorbası’…

Haydari

Whenever I go to eat in my favorite Harringey restaurants, I always make sure haydari is part of my mixed meze. I get so carried away, scooping it up with fresh steaming bread, that by the time the main course arrives I’m full. Perhaps I’ll never learn!

Now that I’m living back in West London I have no choice but to make my own haydari. The thick cheesy yoghurt dip is so simple and delicious I have no problem with making vat-loads.

Click here for my recipe… Afiyet Olsun!!

The Perfect Pudding

Rice and Almond Pudding

..for many reasons! I’m stuck at home having been struck down with a mystery throat infection. Almost crying at the thought of surviving on broth and yoghurt until this thing clears, I knocked up a rice and almond pudding yesterday.  Needless to say I managed to lift my spirits with this cooling, sweet dessert.

It’s a cross between a Turkish rice pudding, Sutlac, and Middle Eastern Muhallabi,  milk & almond pudding, which are both served chilled. Most recipes call for full fat milk and cream but I have used semi-skimmed milk which makes this pudding lighter and guilt free.

Click here for my recipe… 

Yeliz’ Lentil Kofte

Murat & Yeliz

My future sister-in-law, Yeliz, made lentil kofte the first time I visited her at home. With her sons whizzing around the house excitably, she brought the kofte to the dinning table narrowly avoiding the stray toy cars in her path. What better way to welcome someone not only into your kitchen, but into your life by preparing a hearty meal and sharing knowledge passed down by my future mother-in-law. I took the knowledge away with me and now my own Mum often asks ‘When are we going to eat those lentil patties again?’

This is the type of meal prepared for large families so it’s no wonder then that my future in-laws eat lentil kofte often. They are your typical large, warm Mediterranean family who come together around the table, conversing late into the night and getting drunk on laughter.

Lentil Kofte

Despite being healthy and substantial, these kofte allow a fun, carefree way of eating; forget knives and forks! Lay one in a lettuce leaf, squeeze a few drops of Lemon juice on top, wrap and enjoy. As always, best eaten in good company!

Click here for my recipe.