Yesterday I read in the news, that we are enjoying righ now the most beautiful summer for the last 23 years! That was quite a shock for me. True, the summer is really lovely this year, with few occasional showers and temperature often in it’s mid 20s, but still for me it’s a kind of “average” summer, the one I was used to enjoy as a kid in Poland. Though the weather is definitely better in my homecountry, I much prefere the summer time here in Finland. I really adore how much it is able to transform throughout the year. While in the winter time it looks as if everything has frozen and died for good, now the land is thriving with vibrant green colour, spotted with blue lakes all around. Summer means for me lot’s of dishes with seasonal fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood. This lovely, fast, slightly changed recipe comes from Bajaderka. I’ve made a small mistake and was close to burn the garlic, fortunately nothing really happened apart from the colour change 😉 I’ve figured out I’ll fry the garlic first and once it is ready I’ll fish it out and throw the prawns in. Unfortunately the butter started to foam and I couldn’t do that, I just quickly threw the prawns in. Phew. No more modifications, next time I’ll follow the recipe straight 😀
25 large prawns
3 tbsp good quality virgin olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp chilli flakes
6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
50 ml white wine
2 tbsp provencal herbs
salt and pepper
1. Wash and clean your prawns. Rub them with a bit of salt.
2. Heat up oil and butter on the pan. Add pepper flakes and garlic, fry for 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the prawns, saute for 2 minutes. Add the wine and provencal herbs, turn the prawns on the other side and saute for 1-2 minutes more.
4. Remove the prawns from the pan. Heat up the sauce till it boils. Season with pepper, salt and lemon juice. Serve with baguette.
Once in a while, when we want to enjoy ourselves, yet not go out, we decide to have a slow Friday evening, with a bit more fancy food. We open a bottle of wine and start to prepare a three course dinner, that usually lasts for several hours. Mr No Onion Please is responsible for the main course, as for him the proper main dish consists of a good quality steak 😉 I focus on appetizer and dessert. This is a starter from one of such evenings. I found the recipe in a fantastic book of Gary Rhodes – 365/One year. One book. One simple recipe for every day. It takes a while to prepare, but is really worth it. It was the first time I’ve used passion fruit in combination with seafood and I must say it’s absolutely fabulous, particularly now, in the summer time!
PASSION FRUIT HOLLANDAISE
3 egg yolks
juice of 1 small lemon
pinch of pepper
3 passion fruits
Melt the butter. Place the egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender and while at maximum speed slowly add the melted butter, continuing to blend until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Halve the passion fruits, scooping the seeds into a sieve over a bowl. with the back of the spoon press and scrape all of the juices and pulp from the seeds. Add the juice to the hollandaise along with spoonful of the seeds. Put the sauce to one side and keep warm.
Yay, it’s Friday!!! Time for lazy, slow evening. And I mean really lazy… with a bottle of wine just staring senselessly into TV (watching Maverick for 3rd time as there is nothing else airing today), snacking on delish deep-fried prawns….. Mmmm I like slow, careless evenings, do you? Particularly I like the wine part as well as snacking part of those evenings. And what can be better for snacking than deep fried prawns? Not much… I love seafood, and living in Finland means few seafood in one’s menu, but well, one can’t have everything. Anyway, prawns are my beloved favourites, no matter of how they are served. These ones are so extremely fast and simple (particularly if you buy already deveined prawns), best served with homemade mayo or sweet-chilli sauce. Well, it’s hardly any recipe, but here it comes:
salt & cayenne pepper
eggs, mixed till homogenized
frying oil (eg. peanut oil)
1. Peel and devein the prawns. Wash them thoroughly and pat with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper
2. Heat the oil. Cover prawns with flour, dip them into eggs then panko breadcrumbs and deep fry till golden brown
You can have great eats no matter if you dine in a fine restaurant or in a shabby bar in Istanbul, but since it is the street food that shows the soul of a city, that’s what I would like to focus on. I bet that as soon as you think of Turkey you just see kebabs. But there’s much more than that 😉 First of all amazing sea food. There are lots of restaurants where you can enjoy some amazing dishes and mezes (I’ve never eaten before so amazingly delicate squid!). But street bars also offer some delights. In previous post about Istanbul there is a pic of people who enjoy fishing for sardines – hamsi. If you don’t have your rod while visiting the city, and I bet you don’t, you can anyway enjoy those small jewels of the sea by eating in one of many tiny bars serving fresh deep fried hamsi – so simple, yet so delicious! In the nights the streets become full of vendors trying to sell smoked mackerels and superb mussels filled in with pilaf – that’s a must try when you’re in Istanbul! You’re surrounded by two seas and a Bosphorus trait so be prepared for eating tons of fish!
Ok, so Turkey is a truly carnivorous country. Though you’ll find there some delish vege food as well, the main focus is on meat. Kebabs are known worldwide but there are some other particular delicacies to be sought for. One day we wondered into Fatih district of Istanbul where foreigners are not a common sight. We went there because of one particular dish – pit oven roasted suckling lambs. There are several restaurants there serving this delicious meat and they were full. No wonder, the meat was amazingly tender and tasty. I can say without any doubt that it was the best lamb dish I ever had in my life! The lamb is cut into small chunks, topped with lavash – turkish kind of pizza as I like to call it 😉 and served together with foamy ayran – a yogurt based beverage.
The post wouldn’t be complete if I wouldn’t mention offal. The dishes with it are really abundant in Turkey. What a pity that in the Western countries we seem to forget how tasty those parts can be. In my family for example we were not used to cook with offal, not even liver! And I know most of my friends had same situation in their homes when they were young. I believe that often the things you’re not exposed to in your youth are then the ones that make you feel scared or disguised. So many people will not try them by themselves once they are grownups. Luckily, I’m a curious person and though at the beginning I felt a bit weird about eating offal I always want to try new things, and once I tried I must say that if prepared well it’s delicious! It’s such a pity that offal is in many counties a very neglected food. And I don’t mean only the various flavors we miss, I just feel that by eating some offal from time to time we would decrease the amount of animals that need to be killed. Nowadays just several cuts are popular and most people cook with those. Of course the rest is never really wasted but what if instead of sending those parts to be minced for fodder we will eat it by ourselves? May seem like a minimal impact for animal welfare and environment but even such matters!
Once you’re wondering in Istanbul during the small hours you’ll be stunned by the amount of street food offered to help your grumbling belly. One of the comfort foods is a stew with sheep brains. Just next to our hotel there was a bar serving this delicacy and we could see day by day cooks patiently peeling off skull bones to fulfill the locals’ cravings. Ok, so I must admit that though I like to try offal, brain is a definite no for me – I guess it’s mostly psychological barrier, but I like to say that since I work with brains on daily basis I need to separate my professional and private life and therefore won’t eat those 😉 We had instead just a delicious basic kebab wrap (note that when grilling they put flat-breads on top so that the juices will soak into them).
Ok anyway, let’s go back to what offal we actually ate in Istanbul 😉 Of course we had kebabs made of liver and they were absolutely amazing! Delicate meet with a hint of sweetness, perfect. But the staple street food I want to write about is kokoreç. It is simply tripe grilled over charcoal fire, cut in tiny pieces, put inside the bun with fresh tomatoes and loads of sumac and pepper. At the beginning I was a bit skeptical as I have seen tripe being soaked at the butchers. It was grayish with bits of undigested grass, what else to say – gross. But once we took a first bite of it, we immediately stood in the queue to get a second portion 😉