Friday, 29 March 2013

Turkish Lentil Soup with Mint

Here is something we ate a lot of in Turkey. Soup was almost always lentil, or tomato, or lentil with tomato, which this kind of is. You can add your pepper or tomato element as you see fit, using canned tomatoes or peppers if you have them. I used dried because I have a lot we saved from the garden last year. Everyone's soup recipe varied a little, so you should feel free to tweak it to your liking as well.

One of the reasons we ate so much soup in Turkey was the Unfortunate Chicken Incident. We had left one town very early in the morning, skipping breakfast. When we were set up at a hotel in the next town, we went out and wandered around. When we saw a restaurant with chickens cooking on a rotisserie, we decided to have an early lunch. I ignored the little voice in the back of my head saying, "Who has cooked chickens by 11:30 in the morning? I hope they aren't left from yesterday."

You guessed it. They almost certainly were, and had not been handled properly in any case.  After that we spent most of the next week on the çorba diet. The çorba diet, as you may suppose, consists of çorba; çorba for lunch; çorba for dinner, and yes, çorba for breakfast. You can nibble on a little of the bread that comes with it if you want, but you mostly won't want.

We noticed, in one bus terminal we had breakfast in, that we weren't the only ones having it for breakfast. In fact everyone in that cafe ignored the sad little breakfast plates in the glass display case, and ordered soup and tea. It's a perfectly civilized way to start the morning, and we may start doing it regularly even though our tummies are now fine.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour prep time, better served next day

Turkish Lentil Soup with Mint

1 large onion
1 large carrot
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
OR 1/3 cup dried sweet red peppers
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 cups water
1/4 cup fresh mint
OR 1 tablespoon dried mint

lemon wedges to serve

Peel and chop the onion and carrot. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook them gently in it until they are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. If you are using the paprika, add it about halfway through this process.

Meanwhile, put the lentils, dried tomatoes, dried peppers if using, dried mint if using, cumin and salt in a large soup pot. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are very soft. Add more water if the level drops noticeably.

When the onions and carrots are ready, add them to the soup as it cooks.

Let the soup cool, and purée it in a food processor or blender with the fresh mint, if using. It will take 2 patches, I'm sure. To serve, reheat the soup and pass a wedge of lemon with each bowl to be squeezed in. As ever with legume-based soups, it gets better after sitting in the fridge for at least a day.

Last year at this time I made Vietnamese Beef and Carrot Stew (Bo Kho) and Smoked Salmon or Trout Loaf.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Carrots with Yogurt & Garlic

This simple little salad was something we had several times while we were in Turkey. You can eat it with a fork, but it's goopy enough that piling some on a piece of bread works as a way to eat it too. The yogurt is rich enough that small portions are in order. You can put in whatever amount of garlic you like, but if you want the real Turkish dish you will lay it on with a trowel.

This was always served to us as a meze, or series of little appetizer dishes. A mixed meze plate is often a great way to try a variety of things at a reasonable price, especially when there's just two of you.

6 to 8 servings
45 minutes prep time

Carrots with Yogurt and Garlic

1 1/2 cups thick rich yogurt
1/8 teaspoon salt
450 grams (1 pound or 3 medium) carrots
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sunflower seed or olive oil
a little mayonnaise (optional)
a few sprigs of dill or parsley (optional)

Put a paper coffee filter inside a strainer, and put the strainer in a bowl where it can drain. Put the yogurt and salt into the coffee filter, and let it drain for about half an hour, until you have about 1 cup of yogurt. If you don't wish to do this, you can use about 3/4 cup thick yogurt with about 1/4 cup mayonnaise mixed together.

Meanwhile, peel and grate the carrots. Peel and mince the garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and add the carrots. Cook them for 7 or 8 minutes, until just softened, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic then remove the carrots from the pan at once. Let them cool until just warm or room temperature.

Stir in the yogurt, along with a little minced dill or parsley, if desired. Check it for salt and garlic, adding a bit more of either if it seems appropriate. Serve at room temperature. It can be kept refrigerated if made in advance, but bring it out to get the chill out about 15 minutes before serving it in that case. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Farmers Markets in Turkey

As ever, the first place we want to go to when we travel are the local markets to see what's for sale. This one, I believe, was in Amasra; a small resort town on the Black Sea coast. For a small place it had a very good market. This is just one small bit of it. It seemed rather loose and sprawly, so no one shot of it gave a good idea of its size. We quickly learned that Thursday was the day to look for markets.

I did love all the middle-aged Turkish women in their traditional costume: babushka (wrong word, I know), slightly tatty acrylic cardigan, and baggy trousers or skirt in a dark, small floral print, none of which ever seemed to match. By the way, I was actually very impressed that in the month we were in Turkey I saw more middle-aged women on television than I think I've seen in 40 years of television in North America, and no-one ever seemed to feel that there was any reason to try to spiff them up, either. Excellent!

No idea what these are. (I'm going to be saying that quite a bit in this post.) I do think they are some sort of wild foraged green, but if anyone knows, I'd love to hear.

There were a lot of wild foraged greens. I recognize fennel in the front, but then...? Don't forget to click on the picture for a better view. Most of the remaing pictures were taken in Ayvalik, I believe.

Leeks in the upper right corner - Turkish leeks were spectacular; I've never seen such long white shanks - spinach next to them, fennel back in the lower left, with wild asparagus between it and the leeks. I don't know what's in the lower right. The vendor said it was "hot" and again, it seems to be a foraged vegetable.

Broccoli and cabbages, white turnips and black winter radishes - we saw a surprisingly large number of those - and some sort of cabbagey green. I bought something called "Black Cabbage" seed; I wonder if that's it?

All kinds of great things in this shot. Those show-stopping artichokes again, Romaine lettuce, red cabbage, radishes, green onions, fava beans, radishes, assorted herbs, carrots, tomatoes and lemons. Those roots in the clear plastic bag, lower centre of photo, are Jerusalem artichokes, or as they are called in Turkish, earth-apples. (Only, you know, actually in Turkish.) They were far more common than they are here, and they were fabulous. Large and smooth - Jerusalem artichokes can be awfully small and knobby - with very white, mild flesh. I wished I could have gotten some home.

Another treasure-trove of winter veggies. Look at the length of those leeks! I bought some seeds in the hope of emulating them. Then a large pile of celeriac (celery root). That was another root veggie that was far more common than it is here. The beets intrigued me, being a lighter red than beets here. I got some seed to try both of them too. Brussels sprouts were somewhat uncommon, while spinach seemed to be used a lot. We never got served any fennel though. There's the black radishes and turnips again, along with some lovely watermelon radishes.

The upper right is all foraged greens again. We saw a ton of these in the very large market in Ayvalik. I realized we'd seen people out foraging the day before, as we travelled to Ayvalik by bus. Lots of people out wandering around, eyes to the ground, carrying big plastic bags and a trowel. The white tubs in the foreground are raw olives. Ayvalik was a big olive growing and processing place, and the town was full of shops selling them in every way from bulk olives, to oil, to toiletries made with olives. Wish I could have brought back a big jug of oil, but yeah, that wasn't happening.

More foraged goodies, some home-pressed (?) olive oil, slices of squash, and in the background, a guy selling sausages. In general, not a lot of meat products in the markets. Cheese and dairy, yes. He looks very casual but these were a well-cured type of sausage, and he had some kind of certificate prominantly displayed.

Also there was generally a good selection of dried foods, from beans and grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, to all kinds of candy. We saw carob in pods quite a bit. (It's in a tub pretty much right in the centre there.) Sunflower seeds were a very popular snack, and they have varieties with amazingly huge seeds - and yes, we managed to get some as seed.

Most of this is repeat items, so I'll just talk about the bananas. Yes, they grow bananas in Turkey, along the south coast! They have their own variety, which is smaller and sweeter than the much more common Cavendish. Apparently Cavendish is becoming much more common there though, unfortunately.

Again, mostly repeat items, but I note the fruit in the back just below the cauliflowers. I can't tell if it's pears or quinces. It could be either, we saw them both. There were lots of quinces for sale in the markets, some of them apparently even for eating fresh! Another thing I wish I could have brought back. The man in the front is selecting some "black" carrots. They are used mostly, if not exclusively, for making juice. I was able to get some seed for them so we shall see how they do for us. Carrots are not our best crop. 

Once again, if anyone can identify some of those green veggies, I'd love to hear what they are and how they are used.

Monday, 18 March 2013

We're Back From Turkey

Hello! We're back! Goodness, 35 days is a long time to be gone. Turkey was a wonderful, marvellous place, but thanks to some health problems we had kind of a mixed time, and I'm still feeling very discombobulated even though we've been back almost a week.

But what you want to know is more about Turkish food and what we ate...!

We enjoyed visiting a lot of farmers markets in Turkey. This one is in Kaş, and I really like this photo because it says so much about Turkey. There's the ancient Lycian tomb, just sitting around and getting in the way, there's the new condos going up in the background, there's the damn smoker who is sure to be found stinking up the air everywhere. And to be sure, there's the great selection of Turkish-grown foods, many of them quite local as far as I could tell.

I love this photo too. I love the rich colours, the selection of unfamiliar elmas, er, I mean apples, the delicious fresh oranges and bananas, and the magnificent artichokes being sold on their stems. You could put those in a vase they are so gorgeous.

We saw these pumpkins all over the place. They are usually sliced and cooked in syrup and served as a dessert, and we ate some that way. This market was in Ayvalik, and it was amazingly huge. In addition to the very large central farmers market, the surrounding streets were full of textile vendors of all kinds.

I was a bit amused to discover that corn is a popular street food. I suspect this was grown in greenhouses on the south coast, but it was being sold in Istanbul. It was boiled, then cooked on a grill, and sold for £1.50, or about a dollar a cob. We didn't buy it this way, but a few times when Mr. Ferdzy needed a snack, he bought a little cup of corn kernels. That, I suspect, was purchased by the vendors as frozen corn. It was strangely more expensive, generally selling for £3 for a small cup. I didn't get any good photos, but chestnuts cooked on a charcoal grill were another really popular street food.

All kinds of things get sold in the streets. We saw this candy setup a few times. Each segment of the tray contains soft sweet taffy tinted different colours, and perhaps different flavours (we didn't actually try this) which are swirled together onto a stick and doused with lemon juice. It looked like a lot of fun, actually!

But we saved our calories for this stuff. Lokum, or as it gets called here, Turkish Delight. We tried several brands and this was the one we liked the best. Also the most expensive; funny how that works. The good news is that I like the smooth nutless fruit flavours the best, and being nutless they were the least expensive. That towel in the background, by the way, is what we really spent our money on. Handwoven towels from Jennifer's Hamam; they are amazing!

Here's something we ate quite often. Gözleme are a kind of stuffed pancake, cooked on a griddle. Usually they have cheese with a bit of greenery of some kind, but you can often find them filled with spinach or meat. I also had some with a potato and vegetable puree in them. We got them in fancy restaurants, with some of our breakfasts, in little specialty hole-in-the-wall shops, at the bus stop, and here they are at a farmers market.

Many people roll out the pancakes for gözleme themselves, but it looks like you could buy them ready-made and put your own fillings in them.

Here they are being made in a little shop in Antalya that specialized in savory pastries, along with something else, although I don't know what the something else was, besides being another savory pastry filled with cheese. I ate waaaaaay too much wheat and cheese in Turkey, and it did not entirely agree with me, even though I enjoyed it a lot. It was very hard to avoid as both wheat and dairy products are big, big staples in Turkey.

Here's what we bought: a cheese and spinach gözleme, a cheese borek (the snail shaped one although we got ours cut in half for sharing purposes) and another pastry, the name of which escapes me, which contained cheese (surprise!) and mint. The Turks use fresh mint quite a lot as a savory seasoning, and I intend to follow their example more often - it's good! But you see what I mean about too much wheat and cheese...

More wheat, this time in the form of bread. Most of it was light and fluffy and much like what I think of as "French" bread. We did get some whole wheat bread, but it was somewhat unusual. We rarely had bad bread though; most of it was delicious.

One of the ways in which we got too much wheat and cheese was in the customary Turkish breakfast. Bread and cheese were the foundation of them, along with olives, cucumbers and tomatoes. There was generally also butter, jam and honey, fruit if you were in a classy joint, hard boiled eggs and perhaps also some eggs custom cooked in the aforementioned classy joints, juices of varying qualities and tea. Coffee sometimes showed up but oddly enough, given the fame of Turkish coffee, the Turks are not big coffee drinkers. Tea rules completely, flowing from breakfast to bedtime, sold in the street, served on the buses, and given away by shopkeepers because you couldn't possibly get through the shopping negotiations without some çay to keep you going! And it will keep you going, because they make it so strong you practically have to snip it off as it comes out of the spout. They follow the tea making instructions here, pretty much. Wow!

Here's a closer look at this particularly impressive breakfast spread. This one included fresh herbs, lettuce and peppers, as well as a couple of salads and a really wonderful hot pepper paste. This was at the Heybe Hotel in Goreme.

We ordered dolmas several times. Dolmas just means stuffed and the Turks stuff every vegetable stuffable, pretty much, but if it's just dolmas it's grape leaves. The ones we had were all much smaller, more tender leaves than I've ever seen before. It made the dolmas tiny; just a mouthful or two each. I thought they were fabulous, but it must make them very labour-intensive to make. As here, they are usually served with yogurt and some sort of seasoning. This one, I think, was sumac based.

Here's one of our lunches. I want to go on record as saying I did not request that big plate of plain meat; Mr. Ferdzy did that. Then he took a bite and discovered it was Liver Albanian Style. Oops. I did not let him suffer but swapped my chicken in a cream sauce with vegetables for it. In general though, Turkish meals were not too meat heavy and included lots of vegetable dishes. We also ate a lot of çorba, otherwise known as soup. It was usually lentil, or tomato, unless it was lentil and tomato, although a few other types could occasionally be had.

Another typical meal: rice, which came garnished with a few surprise beans, spinach with carrots and garlic and a dollop of yogurt, a stewed eggplant dish and a very typical salad. Usually this came with grilled meat (döner) dishes, but I would eat it whenever I could get it. It's just romaine lettuce topped with grated carrots, grated mild winter radish, and red cabbage marinated in a light dressing then the whole thing dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. Loved it.

This was fun too. We got this meal near the Egyptian spice market in Istanbul, but barbecued chicken was quite common. This was a mix of wings and thighs, with a half a barbecued onion, salad, pilaf (which was usually a blend of rice, cracked wheat and barley tinted yellowish-red) and a nice little salad garnished with a (HOT!) pickled pepper. A more mid-range hot dried red pepper served on the side along with an herb mix to sprinkle on your food if you liked. All of this was extremely typical. We had few dishes that were spicy-hot when they arrived at the table (just a few soups) but there was almost always a hot pepper garnish either dry or pickled available.

With the exception of soups, most of the foods we expected to arrive at the table hot (in the sense of temperature) were... not. Tepid to lukewarm was the general range. I can see this being a good idea in the summer, when it hits 40°C, but we found it a bit disconcerting and often would have enjoyed the food more if it had been hotter.

Still, Turkish food in general was very good and I have come home with lots of plans and recipes I want to chase after. Certainly, Turkish street food and fast food was almost always far, far better than anything you will get here if you want to eat on the run. I'll have one more post about Turkey, I think; just some more pictures of the marvellous farmers markets we visited.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Carrot, Parsley & Quinoa Salad with Sunflower Seeds

This isn't a terribly local salad, I have to admit; especially at this time of year. We're definitely heading into the time when things can get sparse - carrots are around at the moment, and greenhouse cukes, but the herbs won't be local until about midsummer, and there will be a gap in the carrot supply before then anyway. Quinoa, as already noted, is not local. Sunflower seeds should be local, but good luck with that.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time, plus 2 hours to cook and cool the quinoa

Cook the Quinoa:
1 cup mixed white & red quinoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups water

As ever, I much prefer to do this in a rice cooker. Dump it all in, turn it on, come back when it's done.

It can also be cooked on the stove in a pot, but will take much more watching. Expect the quinoa to be cooked in about 20 minutes to half an hour.

Either way, let the quinoa cool completely before proceeding. 

Make the Dressing:
the juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the above ingredients well, in a small bowl or a jam-jar, and set the dressing aside. 

Make the Salad:
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 large carrots (2 cups grated)
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely minced chives
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh dill (optional)
1 small greenhouse cucumber (or 1 cup chopped)

Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Stir frequently, and when they are nicely browned, turn them out onto a plate to cool.

Peel and grate the carrots. Wash, drain well, and chop the parsley finely, and do the same with the chives and dill. Chop the cucumber into fairly fine dice.

Mix all these ingredients with the quinoa, and toss with the dressing. You may wish to leave the sunflower seeds out and pass them with the salad, especially if you expect leftovers. That way they will stay crunchy for the next time the salad is served.

Last year at this time I made Chocolate-Beet Cake and Chocolate Custard Frosting.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Baked Custard Pie

Custard pie is one of those things that seems to have fallen out of fashion. It's more subtle than flashy, I guess, with the contrast of the smooth custard and crumbly crust, delicately flavoured with a little vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon; definitely not in the death-by-chocolate catagory. On the other hand,  that's what I like about it. Best served with a good cup of tea.

The technique for making the pastry is quite unorthodox. The result is not a typical flaky crust, but one with a delicate shortbread-like texture. I found it a bit difficult to roll thin enough; the crust wanted to break up as I transferred it to the pan. On the other hand, it was very easy to press it back together again, and I don't think overhandling is as big a problem as it is with regular pastry. I adapted the technique from a recipe by Jane Grigson.

6 to 8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 30 minutes prep time

Baked Custard Pie

Make the Crust:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups soft unbleached (pastry) flour

Preheat the oven to 400°F

Melt the butter with the sugar and salt, over very low heat (or in the microwave). Mix in the flour, until it no longer shows any white, and a crumbly dough is formed.

Roll it out on a piece of parchment paper to fit a 9" pie plate, and transfer it to the pie plate. Be sure to roll it out as thinly as you can.

The dough is rather crumbly, so will likely need a bit of patching to go back together. Press it around the top to form a neat edge, and press any cracks sealed again. Prick it all over with a fork. 

Bake the crust for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

Make the Filling & Bake the Pie:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons soft unbleached (pastry) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
2 cups rich milk or light cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, mix the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until very well blended.

Put the milk and butter into a small pot or microwave-proof bowl, and heat slowly and gently until the milk is steaming but not bubbling, and the butter is melted.

Whisk the eggs into the flour mixture, one at a time, until smoothly blended. Begin whisking in the milk, a few tablespoons at a time, until the mixture is smoothly liquid. Whisk in the remaining milk.

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Put it into a shallow pan of water, and place both in the oven. Heat the oven to 350°F. Bake the pie for 50 to 55 minutes, until it will juggle slightly in the middle, but is set.

The pie should cool thoroughly and finish setting for at least several hours to overnight before serving.

Last year at this time I made Mashed Rutabaga & Celeriac.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cabbage & Feta Cheese Rice Casserole

This is more a homely meal of glop, than any gourmet treat, but sometimes a good glop is what is required. And very tasty glop it is too! I never get tired of the combination of cabbage, carrots and onions - good thing! - and cheese goes with everything. 

4 to 6 servings
2 hours - 45 minutes prep time

3 or 4 shallots OR 1 medium onion
2 cups grated carrots (2 medium)
4 cups finely shredded Savoy cabbage
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
2 teaspoons dillweed
1 teaspoon savory
1 1/2 cups short-grained white rice

250 grams (1/2 pound) feta cheese
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Peel and chop the shallots or the onion. Peel and grate the carrots. Trim and shred the cabbage. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and cook the shallots or onions until softened and reduced in volume. Add the cabbage, along with about a half a cup of water, and cook, stirring frequently, until the cabbage is wilted and the water is evaporated. Mix in the dill and savour. Remove the vegetables to a 9" x 13" lasagne pan or similar sized baking dish.

Heat the oven to 350°F. 

Mix the rice thoroughly with the vegetables. Crumble the feta cheese and mix it in gently but thoroughly.  Pour the broth over the casserole. Cover the baking dish, with foil if it doesn't have its own lid. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and a quarter. Give the mixture a stir at the half-hour point, and at the 50 minute point remove the lid or foil and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Declare it done when the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Peanut Brittle Sweet Potatoes

I made these sweet potatoes for Christmas, where they proved to be quite popular. They are simple enough to make at less festive times as well though, and not too over-the-top in terms of their embellishment for everyday eating.

I resisted the lure of sweet toppings on sweet potatoes for a long time - they are a vegetable, damn it; not a dessert. (Okay, they can be a dessert, but if you are going to serve them next to a roast and a pile of greens, they should not be a dessert.)  At any rate, it appears I have gone over to the dark side on this subject. Still, all I can say is if you ever find me sticking a marshmallow on a sweet potato, it is time to take me back out behind the barn and shoot me.

4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

Peanut Brittle Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes (700 grams, 1 1/2 pounds)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons Sucanat or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped salted roasted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 375°F. 

Wash the sweet potatoes, trimming off any bad spots. Poke them with a fork in several places, then put them in a shallow baking tray. Bake them for 1 hour to 1 hour and a quarter, until soft.

Mix the butter and Sucanat or sugar in a small bowl and set it at the back of the stove or another warm place while the sweet potatoes bake. Alternatively, you can heat them in the microwave until the butter is melted.

When the sweet potatoes are done, cut them in half, and arrange them cut side facing up. Roughen and loosen the surface with a fork. Mix the peanuts with the butter and Sucanat, and spoon the mixture evenly over the tops of the sweet potatoes.

Move the top rack down one slot so that it is not directly under the broiler. From this slight distance, broil the sweet potatoes for about 4 to 8 minutes, until the peanut mixture is browned and bubbly. Serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Garlic & Shallot Mashed Potatoes.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

5-Spice Pork Chops

I'm afraid this is not the world's most glamorous pork chop dish. (Is there such a thing?) Very tasty, however. Not much else to say about it; obviously these are inspired by the flavours of char-siu, Chinese barbecued pork.

4 servings
30 minutes prep time, not including marinating time

2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons five spice powder
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

4 medium (700 g, 1 1/2 pounds) pork loin chops

Peel and mince the garlic. Mix all the marinade ingredients, and marinate the pork chops in it for 6 to 10 hours, in the refrigerator. Be sure to keep them covered. Putting them in a sealable tub or bag is ideal.

Scrape most of the marinade off the chops, but reserve it. Place the pork chops on a grill, and broil them, two or three inches from the broiler, for about six to ten minutes on each side, depending on their thickness. The juice should run clear. These could also be cooked on a barbecue, or in a frying pan, over medium heat.

Add the marinade back the chops, spreading it over them when they have just a couple of minutes left to cook. It should darken and thicken, but try not to let it scorch. 

Last year at this time I made Sopa de Ajo - Garlic Soup. And very fine, too.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Lemon Fluff

Not very local, I'm afraid, but I can never resist lemon flavoured desserts, or desserts that are soft and fluffy. So yeah, this one is killer. Raise the local quotient by serving it with fresh berries, if they happen to be in season. Which admittedly they are not, at the moment. But they will be, and when they are, I'll be ready...

4 to 6 servings
45 minutes prep time, plus 2 to 3 hours to set

Lemon Fluff

Soak the Gelatine:
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon plain gelatine

Put the water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine over it evenly. Set aside to soak while you continue with the recipe.

Make the Lemon Curd:

1/3 cup sugar
the zest of 2 large lemons
the juice of 2 large lemons
3 large egg yolks

Put the sugar in the top of a double boiler, while you heat water to boiling in the bottom part. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice, and when well blended, whisk in the egg yolks. Put the pan on top of the double boiler over simmering water, and whisk frequently until thickened - as it thickens towards the end you will need to whisk constantly.

As soon as it thickens, remove the pan from the heat. Add the gelatine and water mixture, and stir well to be sure the gelatine is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool somewhat.

Make the Swiss Meringue and Finish: 
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
a pinch of salt

When you separate the eggs, put the whites into a mid-sized metal bowl that can go over the double boiler. Now put it on the double boiler in place of the lemon curd, and add the sugar and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until the egg whites are very stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl to a heat-proof surface. Whisk in the lemon curd, scraping it from its pan with a spatula. Spoon the fluff into individual serving bowls (dessert nappies) and chill until set.

Last year at this time I made Baked Chicken Croquettes.