Archive for September, 2008

:: Home Dried Herbs: A Few Quick Tips!

Winter is coming so quickly this year, but I want to make sure I hang on to the best of the summer in my cooking during the coming cold months.  How you ask?  The answer- home dried herbs!

If you’ve been growing herbs in your garden all summer like me, this is probably one of your last chances this year to make the most of them.  Plus home drying herbs is so simple and fun and they also make a great Christmas pressie for fellow food lovers!

Drying herbs can really bring out some intense flavors, which can often be even tastier than there fresh counterparts.  They are a fantastic addition to recipes and I love using them to intensify the flavors of soups, stews, and sauces.  Hardy herbs like Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Bay,  and Sage, are perfect for drying and in most cases the natural oils are not depleted during the process. 
Try to harvest the herbs on a dry day, mid morning just after the dew has dried, this will ensure the herbs are at their freshest when you pick them.

Here are my tips for harvesting and drying herbs!  :

  1. Snip the herbs at the stem.  
  2. Choose nice long branches and pick off any dead leaves.
  3. Give the stems a gentle shake to remove any insects or dirt.  (You can choose to give the herbs a quick wash, but make sure to dry on kitchen paper, as moisture can cause rot.)
  4. Bundle a good handful of the stems together and tie at the bottom with twine tightly.  (As the herbs dry, you may need to tighten the knot)
  5. Hang the herbs in a warm dry place, I hang mine in a small room just over the water heater, so they’re kept nice and warm!
  6. The time it takes to dry the herbs will depend on their moisture content, but in most cases when the stems crack and no longer bend, they are ready to be stored.
  7. Store the dried herbs in an airtight container and leave the leaves uncrushed until you’re ready to use them.

Enjoy the herbs right through the winter, and give your dishes some extra flavor! 


September 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm 15 comments

:: TURKEY TRAVEL LOG: Datca, Bozuk Buku, Kumlu Buku

The Turkey travel log is still coming, my focus was way more on food the second week, so keep on hanging on in there!

After a somewhat misguided trip to Symi, we had a long and bumpy sail up to the small Turkish town of Datca. It was our first visit of the trip to a Turkish town, so there was a lot on offer to do and see.We arrived into a buzzing little harbour with lots of small restaurants and shops all vying for our attention. On first inspection the waterfront looked very touristy but after we ventured further up the town, there was a lot more to Datca. A long street leading from the harbour front out of the town was packed with little Bazaars, herb shops, bakeries, kebab restaurants, and newsagents which sell their bread in fabulous little cabinets

Just before dinner Sofie and I went for a quick walk into the town and stumbled upon a massive parade taking place down the main street. We followed the people marching into a large square, overlooked by a massive portrait of the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

We later discovered it was a festival of International cultures, and folk dancing groups from Romania, Sierra Leone, Poland, and Turkey were all in attendance fully dressed in traditional folk costume. It was the perfect opportunity to get some really great pictures.

With so many people crowding around the different groups, I was hardly noticed snapping away! The atmosphere was great, everyone including the participants looked like they were enjoying every minute. It was really easy to see why festivals like these, which celebrate different cultures, have become so successful.

As the evening began to close in, the crowd slowly dispersed and disappeared.

Later that evening we followed the noise of loud music across the harbor to where a mass of people were milling around an open air amphitheatre. We went through a large door to discover a massive concert for all the locals. We sat down and from what I could see it appeared the concert was in honour of local dignitaries who were sat right in front of the stage and even joined in the festivities by dancing right in front of the band!

Bozuk Buku
Our next stop was more along the lines of the little bays and ports we were used too, in Turkish waters. The tiny little bay is overlooked by the ruins of a large wall which make for a pretty stunning backdrop right on the mountain.

The water here was really clear and perfect for snorkelling. In most of the smaller bays which have restaurants run by the locals, rickety old jetty’s are built to offer mooring to the passing yachts.

In the afternoon when the sun’s heat had finally reduced, I dragged Sofie on a big trek to the top of the hill to see the ruins of the wall. She wasn’t impressed with both the heat and the fact that I insisted we walk through the campsite the locals lived in.

But I’m glad we did, as you really get a feel for how the people who run these little places live.  A couple of goats and chickens roamed their little enclosures, while an old woman slept right under one of the close by trees!

The ruins were really impressive and the views from the top made the long walk very worthwhile.

We were joined only by a cat who seemed to happily have made the old walls its home. The small restaurant onshore had a great selection of Turkish Mezze and fresh fish.

Kumlu Buku
After a long series of stops which were a little on the rustic side, we pulled in to Kumlu Buku, a small bay just outside Marmaris. A small up market restaurant sits right on the shore, and a few really stunning straw huts full of giant cushions sit on the beach. Sofie and I made a beeline for these, and spent most of the day lounging on the comfy cushions.
Hard life right?
We ate in the restaurant on shore and to our surprise it had a fairly extensive Chinese menu! I may have mentioned it here before but I have a big thing for Asian cuisine! After solidly eating turkish mezze and grilled meats for 5 days on trot, it was great to have something different. I’ll be honest I really wasn’t expecting this small restaurant to produce the best of the best, but all the dishes that we ordered were absolutely delicious and really fresh.
As the sun set the staff at the restaurant lit large, open flamed laterns right down the beach.  The jetty, we were moored up to, was lit up with under water lights, and the whole place looked really spectactular!
We were leaving the next morning but I could have easily stayed another night there!

September 26, 2008 at 11:34 am 3 comments

:: Flickr, Twitter, and Photoshoot!

Things are a bit hectic here in the kitchen, as I’m doing a lot of photographs for the book myself. I’m trying to juggle the writing, the cooking, the shooting and my day work all at once.  It’s a lot of work but it’s finally paying off and there’s nothing better than seeing the finished pictures up on my wall!  The whole project is such a learning process, and I’ve really learned so much when it comes to the photography side of things.  Apart from all that, we have sooooo much food in the fridge, even Sofie can’t eat her way through it!

I’m still getting through all the photo’s from Turkey, I have to get out of this snap happy habit I’ve fallen into!  But until then you can check out my Flickr photostream, I’ve just added a link on the right hand side of the page, check it out!

Also I’ve joined the world of Twitter, but I’m things are looking a little bit lonely over there at the moment, partly because I’m not fully sure how to use it, so if you’re a member drop me a line and hopefully I can figure out what to do!

September 24, 2008 at 10:49 am 12 comments

:: Turkish Pizza Recipe!

This has to be one of my favorite Turkish street foods.  I got the great opportunity to watch how they are made, not out of choice, I might add!  We had ordered 2 of the pizza’s at this little restaurant right beside the local mosque in Fethiye, and the owner spotted me taking pictures around the place earlier.  He quickly dragged me in to the kitchen, full of pride and instructed me to take pictures of the pizza’s being made!

Not that I was complaining, the guy who was doing the cooking, gave me a full demonstration and from the speed he was producing the pizza’s, it was pretty clear that he had done this before!  The small pieces of dough are rolled out into long thin oval shapes and then a mix of meat, egg and herbs is placed on top.  The dough is then folded in towards the centre to form a chewy crust.  Don’t let the idea of pizza throw you, this is nothing like it’s Italian cousin.  The recipe here is adapted from a Turkish cook book, with the advice of the Fethiye pizza maker, thrown in for good measure!

Turkish Pizza (Pide)

  1. 5 Cups of Flour.
  2. 4 Tablespoons of Butter.
  3. 1 Sachet of Active Dried Yeast.
  4. 2 Tablespoons Of Milk.
  5. 1 Teaspoon of Salt.
  6. 1 Teaspoon of Sugar.
  7. 3 Eggs.
  8. 250g Minced Lamb.
  9. 1 Beef Tomato, finely chopped.
  10. A Good Handful of Coarsely Chopped Parsley.
  11. 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped.
  12. A Good Pinch Of Salt and Pepper.

Warm the milk and stir in and disolve the yeast and sugar. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a small well with your hands.  Pour the yeast milk and sugar mixture into the well, with the butter, Salt and 2 eggs.  Combine the mix until you have a rough dough.  Turn the dough out and knead until it is nice a soft.  Set aside under a damp tea cloth to rise for about 45mins.
Mix the minced lamb, 1 egg, tomato, onion, salt and pepper, in a bowl and set aside.

When the dough has risen, seperate into egg sized pieces and flatten them into long oval shapes on a floured surface.  Place the meat mix in a long line, on the dough and make sure to leave about 2cm on either side for the crust.  Fold the dough in on either side and place in an oven for 10 minutes, at 240oC.

Serve straight away and slice into smaller pieces.

September 21, 2008 at 9:15 am 28 comments

:: First Day Photoshoot!

I have just got home from one of the most fascinating days of my life!  There was so much to take in, all the tricks of the trade- like did you know that dead looking mint, can be revived in a bowl of soapy water?  Not that it was used to today, but were you aware that the steam coming from so many mouth watering food pictures is actually the result of a water laden tampon, heated in the microwave!  I’m not sure about the last one, I think they may have been joking, but you never know!

We worked on a lot of the breakfast items and soups today, tomorrow we’ll be moving onto salads and main meals, it’s all very exciting!  It’s really great to be able to see the finished product so quickly, and after months of having them down on paper, the recipe’s to finally come alive.

I’ll keep you posted on how tomorrow goes, until then… Goodnight!

September 15, 2008 at 7:27 pm 12 comments

:: TURKEY TRAVEL LOG: Orhaniye- Dirsek- Monastery of Panormitis, Symi

Hello Hello!

We got back from Turkey last night and are already feeling the cold!  I’m going to be posting a little bit about each place we sailed through over the next two weeks and I have over 2000 photo’s to sift through and edit so I’ll be sticking them up too.

I also have some very exciting news about the book- tomorrow is the first official photoshoot complete with food stylist and photographer!  We have spent most of the day preparing for tomorrow and all I can say is it’s a stark contrast, going from tanning in 30 degree heat to prowling through boxes of peppers for the most photogenic, within hours of stepping off a plane!  We have been cooking all day and the first shots will be taken tomorrow morning, so I’m hoping to feature a few behind the scenes pics later this week.

For now here is my travel log day 1 to 3!  The pictures are more foodie related as the days progress so stay tuned and Enjoy!
The whole holiday was booked through Sunsail an English based yacht charter company, and unlike previous visits to Gocek, we decided to explore the new base of Orhaniye. After a long day which started in the early hours at Dublin airport, and a fairly erratic drive from Dalaman airport we finally arrived at our destination of Marti Marina, Orhaniye, in one piece.  I always find it a bit disorientating arriving somewhere in the dark, but even the dim light could not disguise the fact that Marti Marina looked very much like a boat yard, and the website featured a hotel overlooking the marina.  However on closer inspection the hotel was still in the process of being built and the building site gave the impression that the builders had given up and left a long time ago!  But this was not our problem, in little under a few hours of well needed sleep, we would be on the water sailing, the overlooking building site, a distant memory.
We picked up our yacht, a Cyclades 42, which would be home for the next two weeks and gave it a quick once over before hitting the pillow.
The marina itself is fully functional with Shower and Laundry facilites, a small supermarket, a salt water swimming pool, and two restaurants overlooking the bay.
After a briefing at the sunsail office, picking up provisions in the supermarket, and a quick application of much needed suncream we were out sailing. 
Two of the best things about a sailing holiday, is that you are outdoors practically all the time, surrounded by fresh air and with the water being so warm and clear, you find yourself in and out quite regularly to cool off from the sun’s heat.  The second, you get too see so much, travelling to a brand new destination everyday!
Our first stop was Dirsek, a stunning little bay, surrounded by tall dry mountains, about an hour’s sail south from Orhaniye . There is a small restaurant in the bay which is run by the owners, who quite inconspicuously live in tents along the edge of the water, adding to the hands on feel of the place.  Boats can anchor in the bay and tie a line ashore or the restauarant offers lazy lines along a jetty.  We arrived at around lunchtime and got straight in for the first swim of the holiday, the water is so clear that you can see the bottom even at about 9 meters up, this makes great conditions for snorkelling, which quickly became my new favourite activity!  We motored in to the restaurant with the small dighy which comes with the boat and arrived to a scene of what I would describe as controlled chaos.  The regular chef had been rushed to the dentist with some major dental urgency and a happy go lucky waiter had been drafted in as the sorry individual who was set to take up the reigns.  Guests are invited to go into the kitchen and choose from large table of meat and fish for their main course.  On the opposite counter, large glass dishes full of cold starters are spread out in a large row for guests to choose from.

Roast Aubergine in Tomato Sauce, Cooked Green Beans with Yoghurt, Olive Oil and Garlic, Boiled Potatoes with a simple scattering of Parsley, Fried Corgettes, A sort of Onion, red Pepper, and Chilli Salsa, Cooked Spinach and Yoghurt topped with a sprinkle of Paprika, Cheese wrapped in Filo Pastry, and Tzatzichi were among the many dishes which made up the Turkish Mezze, a term coined to describe this massive selection of dishes.  The restaurant charges a set price for the Mezze and you can choose whatever dishes you want in a buffet style, it’s a brilliant way to get a chance to try all the different flavours.

Now it’s not often that I feature sickly romantic moments between myself and Sofie, apart from the picture on the “About” page, but after dinner we lay up on deck and watched the stars.  I know, I know, pass the bucket, but in our defence, with the only unnatural light coming from the restaurant in the distance, it was practically unmissable.  I have never seen stars as amazing as on that night, and as we lay flat on our back it was as if we were wearing 3D goggles, with every last twinkling light jumping down at us.  What a perfect way to end a great day.

Monastery of Panormitis, Simi

Our next stop was a long sail to the Greek island Of Simi, just on the border of Turkish waters.  It was an extremely strange little port, whose mystery was heightened further, when we discovered the pilot book had absolutely no information about it.  It seemed to be less of a town and more of a church with surrounding accommodation, we only came across one restaurant, there could have been more.  The change from Turkish to Greek waters was quite significant in terms of cuisine and for dinner we ate a pretty standard fare of Calamari, Moussaka, Souvlaki, with large side dishes of Tzatzichi.  
The large abbey sits right on the water front and is lit up quite impressively at night, the whole bay has a white painted walkway which goes from the abbey right the way around and up the hill to a large old windmill which overlooks the bay.   
After a bit of googeling I discovered that the Monastry is Greek Orthadox and dates back to 450 AD. It is the largest on the island and is also considered one of the most important.
Apart from a few small shops, there was a bakery which sold fresh bread in the morning and had extremely tasty coconut macaroons topped with cherries.  
We left the following morning for a long and bumpy sail to the small Turkish town of Datca…

September 14, 2008 at 6:48 pm 2 comments

:: Live From The Turquoise Coast!

I have my laptop on the boat with me, in order to keep up with the book, and the approaching deadline. However one thing I was not expecting, was the abundance of wireless internet connections, even in the most solitude of places!

I think the word rustic most definitely captures the style of cooking in Turkey, and they produce the most amazing and interesting breads you could imagine!
Lots of fresh salads, baked aubergine, feta cheese, green beans, grilled meats and fish fill the table, leaving you satisfied and tired in the warm heat.

Back with more soon…

September 5, 2008 at 8:43 am 4 comments

Flickr Photos