Tag Archives: Northern Cyprus

I’m Back

Hello Bloggers,

Have been a bit slack with posting any entries for months now! I have moved house and have had no kitchen since I moved in so don’t have much to blog about at the moment..

Have been continuing with my gardening & attempting to grow new things in Northern Cyprus. So once the kitchen is in I can start testing out some of my new ingredients!

Other people seem to be interested in gardening in Northern Cyprus, there have been a few threads started on www.cyprus44.com so I think I will continue to update my blog with my herb, spice, fruit, vegetable growing until I can start posting some new recipes!

Also have a few recipes from last year to add on such as Stuffed Vine Leaves so will get the photos uploaded and do some catching up

 

 

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Festive Sugar Cookies

 

Christmas Cookies!

 

 

This year I have struggled to find a Christmas Tree, I’m used to seeing them everywhere in London, even Cost Cutter Supermarket! But clearly in Northern Cyprus they aren’t so popular and as I really don’t like faux Christmas Trees I ended up buying an actual tree– it is in a big pot & it isn’t very symmetrical (especially after I snapped two branches squishing it into the car!) but after Christmas I can plant the tree in the garden, smug in the knowledge I am not chopping down trees for my own frivolity (ha!) and in future it can be used with outdoor lights to make the garden look pretty!

Anyway the tree is a bit spindly and it is sitting on a Granite table over a Marble floor so I am a little concerned about putting glass decorations on it (they make up the bulk of my decorations) so I thought I would make a batch of cookies to fill in the gaps and hopefully look a bit prettier than the Lebkuchen I made last year (although my friend still has one saved for her tree this year- what a loyal friend, it really is quite bad but at least I can make up for it with one of these ones!)

I was actually a bit stupid & baked a couple of trays full before I realised I hadn’t pierced a hole in any of them! So now I have some for hanging and some for eating (although they are a bit sweet for me!)

Ingredients

  • 190g Butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 270g Caster Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Essence or Almond Essence (use 1/4 tsp if you have Extract)
  • 1 Medium Egg
  • 390g Plain White Flour, sifted
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to gas mark 3, 170 oc
  2. Beat Butter, Sugar & Vanilla until light & fluffy
  3. Add Egg & mix well till everything is incorporated
  4. Add Flour, Salt & Baking powder, mix till well combined
  5. Dust work surface with flour & roll out dough using a rolling pin
  6. Use cutters to make your desired shapes
  7. If they are for hanging use a skewer to make a hole near the top of each cookie
  8. Arrange on foil or grease proof paper lined trays
  9. Bake for 10- 12 mins or until golden around the edges
  10. When slightly cool transfer to a wire rack

If you want to ice them Royal Icing looks good, especially if you dye it pink!

Ingredients

Royal Icing

  • 1 Medium Egg White
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 250 g Icing Sugar, Sifted
  • *1/4 tsp Glycerine Syrup *
  • Food colouring, I used Red for some pink cookies

Method

  • Whisk Lemon Juice & Egg White in a large bowl
  • Gradually begin adding Icing Sugar, whisking well to combine each time you add more
  • Whisk until you can form soft peaks
  • Add food colour if desired
  • If it is too runny add some more sugar!
  • * Add Glycerine*- this stops the icing drying if you are working slowly (like me)

NB

I used a knife to smear on some icing- think I need a bit of practice but once I tie on some nice ribbon they will make a nice edition to the tree ­čÖé


Grow Your Own

We have such hot weather in Northern Cyprus that it makes it a lot more enjoyable attempting to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs in the garden or on the balcony. It seems like whatever you plant grows before your eyes, I even grew some tiny Melons from seeds leftover from the fruit we had eaten one evening.

One problem I have had is trying to grow things that I would have grown in England at the height of the summer here, its just too hot for some herbs and fruit to grow here. In future I won’t try to plant them until now (its November!)!

After visiting Mexico a few years ago and loving their green salsa I was desperate to grow some Tomatillo plants so I could make my own, unfortunately I was slightly over zealous with my planting and ended up with far too many plants. Some have been neglected and died, but I am keeping an eye on my ‘best’ ones and waiting for the fruit to get bigger, at the moment they are tiny, like Cherry Tomatoes. I have kept any that drop to try to save the seeds to replant next year! And next time I will use a cage as the branches snap from swaying in the wind (it gets very windy here!) and also the Dogs & Cats love to brush past them and damage them! The plants are like magnets to animals!

Behind this Tomatillo you can just see I have Garlic Chives or Chinese Chives growing, another thing I didn’t realise is that these are hardy enough to cope with our hot weather unlike the normal Chives in England which would perish. The Garlic Chives are flat instead of tube like & they flower with pretty white flowers apparently pests dislike them so next year I will be putting them everywhere!!

Tomatillo

I’m also growing some different varieties of Chilli Pepper Orange Habanero, Scotch Bonnet, Ancho Poblano, Jalapeno & I have one mystery plant that I am told is Cayenne. In the picture below you can just see the new stems coming through on the Ancho Poblano plant, it really is a strange looking thing I didn’t realise they are multi stemmed till today!

Ancho Poblano

Jalapeno Early

Cayenne?

Cayenne Pepper?

Its impossible to buy certain ingredients here, so fresh Lemongrass (I hate the kind in a jar) and Thai Basil were two of my first plants. I have had on going problems with Aphids and Leaf Miners since I began gardening here. They particularly love the Thai Basil, Siam Queen and at one stage I wrote the plants off and left them by themselves, occasionally plucking off the infected leaves and throwing them onto the BBQ, somehow slightly sadistic but necessary! Now the plants are thriving and I have so many I have started to give them away, it makes quite a nice present to give a plant, particularly one you can’t buy here.

Siam Queen

Siam Queen Flower Tip

I ran out of Cells to plant seeds & seedlings into, with the amount of  bottled water we get through a week I decided to chop the tops off the bottle, poke holes in for drainage and use these! Recycling! I have just planed some Red Basil into a yoghurt pot, and transferred some Siam Queen Thai Basil and Genovese Basil into water bottles till they get a bit larger.

Red Basil

Siam Queen Seedlings

Genovese Basil

Things I Can’t Get To Grow

Lovage- I can’t even get these seeds to germinate! I am not sure if its the climate here or my seeds

Lemon Grass from seed- I can’t germinate this either, the only way I get Lemon Grass is leaving a stalk in water till it forms roots & then planting into a pot. Apparently it likes to be root bound, I just gave this one a hair cut as now its cooling down the temperature is lower at night & the ends were turning brown.

Lemon Grass Hair Cut

Borage- I can get it to grow into a tiny plant but then it yellows & dies or gets eaten by the Leaf Miners!

Sheep’s Sorrel- Seedlings pop up, then disappear

Thai Holy Basil- I had some seedlings which withered & died and I have had no luck germinating any since!

To be Continued (need pictures of my other plants!)


Banana & Chocolate Cupcakes

HUGE Cupcake

It was a friend of ours Birthday yesterday and as Northern Cyprus tends to be short of gift shops (or any nice ladies shops) I opted to make some cakes for her present using my The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

I had 4 very brown Bananas on the kitchen side (why do we buy them when no one eats them, I do wonder!) so I chose Banana & Chocolate Cupcakes as these would look prettier than a slice of Banana Loaf!

The Recipe!

Silver Dragees

NB

  • The recipe says it makes 12 Large Cupcakes (American Size, Muffin Case) or 18 Small Cupcakes- I made 16 Small & 1 Large out of my mix
  • The Frosting recipe is very generous I had quite a bit left over
  • Once I realised my Frosting was too warm (it IS Cyprus) I put it in the fridge & then it was so much easier to use with a palette knife!
  • I will be posting some of my own Cupcake recipes shortly
  • Its a really good book!

Pie, Mash & Liquor

The Finished Article

Well I haven’t come across many Pie & Mash shops in Kyrenia & needs must so I decided to make my own. I realised I was facing quite a few issues- firstly I didn’t have a recipe, then I hit another snag- I found out that Lard is Bacon Fat (!) and living in a Muslim country I realised I would probably have to wait and get this from The Greek Side (actually Tempo in Alsancak have it- Hooray Tempo!) Then I wondered about the Eel situation- I definately needed some Eel slime to make the Liquor!

According to the internet there are about 200 varieties of fish in the waters around Northern Cyprus– If this is the case I wonder why I only ever see Sea Bass & Sea Bream on the menu.. I digress.. One that gets a mention is the Eel- now I haven’t seen any but if you do, buy them QUICKLY & give them to ME(!) Or stew them & use them in the Liquor recipe (its up not to you!)

I actually (desperate measures for authenticity) flew a tub of Jellied Eels back in my suitcase on my last trip from London & froze them ready for this occassion! I removed the Eels- fed them to Ace, King & Queen (Miaow) & saved the jelly- which became 1 Cup of Eel Water once reheated.. ┬áThe Liquor has a fishy edge to it so if you aren’t into hunting or smuggling Eels just use some Fish Sauce!

I've Had a Long Flight

Its quite difficult to find an authentic recipe on the internet- they all try to make it Posh and add Onions, Garlic, Herbs etc.. Its not Pie & Mash if it has too much flavour! That’s why you douse it in Malt Vinegar?! So I have done some experimentation & pieced together my own recipe which actually┬áworks!

Her Highness


Flaky Pastry (Pie Lid)

Ingredients

Method

  1. Mix the flour with the salt and rub in half of the lard. Add enough cold water to bring the flour to a soft dough.
  2. Mix together the rest of the lard and the butter.
  3. Roll out the dough to make a rectangle 12.5 x 25cm/5 x 10in.
  4. Dot one third of the butter/lard mixture over two-thirds of the rectangle. Fold the third without any fat on it over the middle third of the pastry. Bring the other third on top. Seal the edges with a rolling pin and turn the dough 90 degrees. Chill for 10 minutes.
  5. Repeat stage 4 with half of the rest of the fat and then repeat one more time with the remaining fat. Chill for 10 minutes after each folding.
  6. Roll and fold one more time without any fat and then chill for 30 minutes.

~ When you are ready to use the dough it should be rolled to approx 1cm/0.25″ ~

Dot Dot Dot

Suet Pastry (Pie Bottom)

Ingredients

  • 350g Self Raising Flour
  • 190g Shredded Suet (Atora is the brand available here in Tempo! Beef or Vegetable)
  • Cold Water (use your judgement!)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Method

  1. Sift the Self Raising Flour & Salt into a large mixing bowl
  2. Mix in the Suet
  3. Add a few drops of cold Water mixing with a knife
  4. Keep adding water until you have a sticky dough
  5. Now use your hands to finish the dough- it should be smooth, neither sticky nor dry & leave the bowl clean (add a drop more water or a sprinkle of flour to correct if necessary)
  6. Allow the pastry to rest, covered in the fridge for 30 mins
~When you need the pastry it should be rolled to approx 2 or 3mm thickness~

Suet Pastry Before

Minced Beef Pie Filling

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 500g Beef Mince
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 250ml Boiling Water
  • 1 Beef Stock Cube (I used OXO)
  • 2 Drops Gravy Browning (just because I like it!)
  • 1 tsp Salt

Method

  1. Heat oil in frying pan
  2. Add Mince & fry until brown, chopping up and breaking apart any clumps that form
  3. Stir in the flour till it is well combined
  4. Sprinkle over the OXO cube
  5. Pour in the Boiling Water
  6. Add drops of Gravy Browning if using & 1 tsp Salt
  7. Stir well & bring to a simmer until the gravy reaches the right consistency
  8. Turn off the heat & put to one side till later

I'm Frying

Liquor (Parsley Sauce)

Ingredients
6 Tbs/ Finely Chopped Fresh Parsely
25 Grams Butter
25 Grams Cornflour
250 ml Boiling Water
1 Cup Poaching Water (from Eels) or 1/2 tsp Thai Fish Sauce
1 tsp Salt
Method
  1. Heat Butter in saucepan until it has melted (do not let it burn!)
  2. Add chopped Parsley & stir till it has wilted
  3. Add Cornflour & stir till it has been combined with the Butter/Parsley
  4. Slowly add Boiling Water whilst stirring to avoid lumps
  5. Add Eel Water or Fish Sauce
  6. Bring to the boil- Keep Stirring!!
  7. When the sauce has reached the desired thickness season to taste, turn off heat & leave covered
~ If the sauce doesn’t seem thick enough dissolve 1 tsp more Cornflour in Cold Water then add to the pot & stir- continue till it is correct. If it is TOO thick, add more water~
 

Slime Green

 

Mash

Ingredients

Potatoes

I won’t insult your intelligence, think you can work that one out for yourselves!

~ If you want it ‘traditional pie & mash shop style’ then I recommend mashing with NO Butter NO Cream NO Milk NO Pepper. Just Potatoes & a good pinch of Salt)~

Assembling The Pie

  • Preheat the oven to 200 oc/Gas Mark 6
  • Half fill a roasting tray/casserole dish with boiling water (the water should come up to halfway on the height of the pie dish) & place in the oven to heat (this is your Bain Marie)
  • Grease the pie tins with Butter
  • Roll out your pastry ready…
  • Line the pie tin with the suet pastry- let it over hang and cut off the excess, ensure it covers the rim of the dish
  • Fill the pie with the Minced Beef Filling till about 3/4 full
  • Brush the pastry on the rim of the dish with water & cover with the Flaky Pastry lid- gently press around the edges to seal & poke a few small holes on top (to let steam escape)
  • Brush the top of the pies with milk
  • Carefully place them into the water filled tray in the oven
  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-45 mins (depending how well done you like the top!)

Are we Nearly There yet?

Serve

Remove Pie from tin & place on plate, spoon Mash onto plate & ladle over Liquor

Don’t forget the Malt Vinegar, White Pepper & Salt!

If you are organised you will have a bottle of Chilli Vinegar on hand & a tepid beaker of Sarsaparilla!

Essentials

My insides


Tips!!

Maybe you aren’t like me & regularly twirl your baton in the kitchen but I have no clue about Pastry making or handling a Rolling Pin!

What I have learnt is that everything must be COLD for the Flaky Pastry.. Difficult when you live in this climate but that is what air conditioning is for (or only bake in February!) I already keep my Flour in the freezer (damn you Evil Weevils) so that was nice & cold but you also need to put your bowl, rolling pin & board into the fridge or freezer.

Hands must be COLD.. Water must be COLDER.. Not too much of a problem in Cyprus as we only use bottled Water from the fridge but if you are in the rest of the world- refrigerate the tap water!!

Don’t panic it makes you hot ­čśë

Make sure the pastry lid isn’t sagging in the middle & is well sealed at the edges- if the middle touches the filling it wont rise!

NB

Next time I will be trying the recipe below for my Flaky Pastry- It sounds SO much easier & I trust Saint Delia to come up with easier methods! I’ll report back..

Next time I would like to use the Falcon (Google it!) individual oblong ceramic pie dishes (16″) instead of the foil disposable ones ┬á(they were round its the wrong shape!)

http://www.deliaonline.com/how-to-cook/baking/how-to-make-quick-flaky-pastry.html

Must have been OK then










 


Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

These are handy to keep in the fridge for adding a bit of heat and smokiness to whatever you might be cooking! If you make up a decent sized batch you can put them in (sterile) jars and store them in the cupboard along with any jams and chutneys!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Chipotle peppers/ Other dried chilli – whole , stem removed
  • 4 Tbs Sieved Tomatoes (Passata) or Tomato Puree
  • 2 tsp Paprika Powder
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbs Onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbs Oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 Large Bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 3 Cups Water

Method:

Pour oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan & fry onions and garlic gently (do not allow to colour) for 2 mins.

Add all other ingredients, stir well, cover and cook over a low heat for 1-2 hours

The chillies should be very soft & the sauce should have reduced to approx one third (about a cup)- leaving a medium thick ‘gravy’

Ready

Once cool I put some of the chillies & their sauce in a jar to keep in the fridge, the rest I froze in individual portions for when I just want one chilli for a recipe. If you are dealing with a lot of chillies you can scale the recipe up & then put the finished article in jars.

I’m sure they would go down well at the Cooks Wednesday Market at Ozank├Ây Bookshop ­čśë

Uses for your new creation?

Chipotle Mayonnaise

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotle chilies
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

Method:

Blend in a food processor or with a hand blender & serve!

Delicious with chips, sandwiches, burgers etc

You can also make salsa, ribs, chicken, burgers, tacos the list goes on…

NB

If you don’t have any Chipotle chillies you could use any dried chilli to make this sauce. ┬áI currently have a healthy amount of unknown chillies growing on a plant in my garden which I am thinking to experiment with- picking 1/2 now (green) threading 1/2 of these with cotton, leaving in the kitchen to dry & then the other half dry roasting in a pan (till black), removing the skins and pickling in jars. The final chillies I will leave to go red and do the above with also. Its nice to have the red and green chillies to cook with! ┬áto be continued..

Random Plant!


Smoking Chillies At Home- an Experiment

So I mentioned in my previous post that I can’t find canned Chipotle in Adobo sauce in Northern Cyprus. Well I actually can’t find ANY form of Chipotle chilli here, in the UK I used to buy packs of them from Tesco, re hydrate one or two and chop them up to use in anything I wanted to taste smoky- Chilli Con Carne, Fajitas, Tinga de Pollo etc. If you do a search for Mexican recipes one of the above forms of the Chilli is needed in a lot of them so they are quite vital if you want to create that taste.

Smokin' Hot

What is a Chipotle? Pronounced chi- poht- lay it is a smoke dried Jalape├▒o chilli typically used in Mexican cuisine. Farmers pick some of their crop of Jalape├▒os when they are still ‘unripe’ and these green ones are sent to fill the demand for the mildly spiced green chillies we encounter stuffed or topping pizza.

Unripe (From my Garden!)

The rest of the chillies are left on the plants as long as possible till they are deep red & beginning to dry out. Traditionally (The Aztecs purportedly began smoke drying chillies to increase their longevity, Jalapeños being fleshy & thick walled they were liable to rot if they were dried in the normal fashion.) they would be taken to underground smoking chambers & left for days to slowly dry out whilst taking on the earthy smokiness of the burned wood. In this day & age there are different methods involving cold smokers, hot smokers & even liquid smoke added to create a false smoke dried taste. In their dried form they look brown & wrinkled but in the Adobo sauce they are pliant & red.

Ripe

I did some Googling & toyed with the idea of┬á buying a fish smoker to use over the Barbeque to make my own Chipotle but then I hit a snag, never having smoked anything before I wasn’t sure exactly┬áhow to smoke something. After more (much more) Googling I realised that without a local B&Q to go and buy some handy ‘wood briquettes’ and unwilling to chop a few branches off a neighbouring olive tree I didn’t really have a source of ‘smokeable’ wood..

That got me thinking of other ways to smoke food & i remembered once making┬á Tea Smoked Trout fillets and I realised I could use the same method to smoke the chillies. So I pulled out the ‘old’ wok that has been related to the cupboards after one use due to the handle falling off (yes thank you China Bazaar or Dubai Bazaar whichever you prefer this week) and lined it with silver foil

To make the SMOKE (yes it will make the kitchen look like the set of London’s Burning if you don’t open all windows & doors & extractor fan if available) mix 3 cups long grain rice, 3 cups tea leaves & 3 cups of┬á demerara sugar and pour this into the foil lined wok.

I am Smoke

Now take your chillies & using a small knife make a small slit from just below the stalk down to the tip of the chilli (this will help the flavour penetrate & dry out quicker)

Place a trivet inside the wok which enables the lid to the wok to be closed completely (you don’t want the smoke to get out) place your chillies in a layer on the trivet. If like me you don’t have a small enough wire rack to fit inside the wok (& don’t mind smelling of burnt rice) then use can thread a skewer with chillies and place it resting from one side of the wok to the other, with the lid on & a couple of wet tea towels blocking the gaps around the lip of the lid.

I am Now a smoker

Turn the heat to moderate until you can smell smoke is being created & then turn the heat down to low and leave the chillies to smoke for as long as possible. I left mine for a few hours at which point the rice/sugar/tea mixture is lifted out in the foil and disposed of.

The chillies will now smell smoked but they wont be dried. To dry them place them in one layer on an oven tray on the lowest oven setting with the door ajar & leave till they are shrivelled and dark red/brown but not so dry that they become brittle and snap! OR if you are lazy (like me) and own a microwave (like me) then you can try Microwave Drying! Take a microwave safe plate & cover with kitchen towel- place a few chillies on the plate & using the LOWEST setting (defrost is best) try blasting them for 10 seconds at a time till they are dry.

Caution:

Do not take a deep breath/sniff during all this- I have done it and the drying chillies are quite potent ­čś«

After the Microwave

As you can see my finished Chipotle isn’t quite as brown & wrinkly as the picture at the top but for a first attempt at smoking drying a chilli & without the proper tools I think its good, after all it is smoked and it is dried..

NB

I did a LOT of searching on line to find a blog/how to on smoke drying chillies at home and found NONE using a wok (yes yes yes Plenty smoking Fish but not Chillies) so correct me if I’m wrong but ┬ácurrently it is MY invention ­čśŤ

Perhaps a smoking expert can come forward with an easier way for me to do this in future (preferably using the Barbeque & a wood easily available in Northern Cyprus)





Guacamole en Molcajete

I was all set to throw the Avocado, Chilli & Coriander in my mini blender last night for Guacamole A la Lazy Jay when i remembered the delicious green dip we recently ate at a Mexican restaurant & felt inspired to make Guacamole A la Rosa Mexicano instead!

At Rosa Mexicano a waiter prepares your Guacamole en Molcajete (Mexican versian of Pestle & Mortar) tableside & it only takes him a few minutes but it really was the nicest we have tried..┬á They say the reason theirs tastes so special is the chilli paste that creates the ‘layering of flavours’ .. So try the recipe & see how it compares to your usual Guacamole!

Making our Guacamole!

Makes 4 servings

Chilli Paste Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
  • 1 firmly packed tablespoon chopped fresh Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalape├▒o, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or as needed

Additional Ingredients

  • 3 medium ripe but firm Hass avocados (about 8 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons diced tomato
  • 2 firmly packed tablespoons chopped fresh Coriander
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped white onion
  • Salt if necessary
  • Tortilla chips and/or fresh corn tortillas

Make the chile paste: Grind the onion, coriander, jalape├▒o, and salt together in a Pestle & Mortar (or a Molcajete if you have one!) until all the ingredients are very finely ground. Alternatively, use a fork to mash all the ingredients to a paste in a wide hardwood bowl.

Cut each avocado in half, working the knife blade around the stone. Twist the halves to separate them and flick out the stone with the tip of the knife. Fold a kitchen towel in quarters and hold it in the palm of your ÔÇťnon-knifeÔÇŁ hand. Rest an avocado half cut side up in your palm and make 3 or 4 evenly spaced lengthwise cuts through the avocado flesh down to the skin, without cutting through it. Make 4 crosswise cuts in the same way. Scoop the diced avocado flesh into the Mortar. Repeat with the remaining avocado halves.

Finally lightly mash the avocado with the chilli paste & then add tomatoes, onions & coriander. Stir to combine, Season to taste & Serve!

NB I like a squeeze of┬á fresh lime in mine and it keeps the mix from turning brown if you are making it ahead of time- I know Lime is hard (impossible) to find in Northern Cyprus unless you are lucky enough to have a tree (any offers?) but I have found the squeezy lime juice in the shop before & lemon works equally well as a substitute.. Or if you are going to the Greek Side (i’m hiding now) they have plenty in the supermarkets so stock up ­čÖé

Who needs YOU mini blender!