Sunday, September 23, 2012

This Is The Stuff

I love this cornbread recipe. It’s unusual, because it has a bit of a Middle East meets Deep South quality to it. Instead of butter or lard, you have olive oil. And the Aleppo pepper is so perfect in this. I like it fresh out of the oven, with butter. I like it toasted. I like it with breakfast, and I’ve made some pretty brilliant avocado and cheese sandwiches with it.

Aleppo pepper might be hard to find. Here in Toronto, I get it at Akram’s in Kensington Market. But if you can’t find it, you could approximate the taste with sweet paprika and a pinch of cayenne. Or perhaps flaked ancho chilies? But if you are able to get Aleppo, it’s worth it. It offers a gentle, sweet heat. You’ll find plenty of use for it in yoghurt sauces, kabobs, rubs, stews… or maybe this egg recipe.

Instead of posting the recipe, I’m going to send you to where I originally came across it, on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Click here for cornbread!

In a pinch, I’ve used yoghurt instead of sour cream, and substituted the buttermilk for plain milk with a splash of vinegar. It was just fine, so don’t feel you have to run out and buy all sorts of dairy if you don’t have it. And I sometimes throw in a handful of pine nuts, which is perfectly lovely. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Turkish Menemen, or Eggs at Their Best

Menemen is eggs, poached in a fragrant tomato and red pepper simmer, heaped into bowls and served with garlicky yoghurt.  It’s a Turkish dish, and I love the combination of spices. I’ve made it without the red pepper, and it was just as delicious.

Make the garlic yoghurt first, and leave it at room temperature while you prepare the eggs. Serve with good sliced bread or flatbread. Or wait until next week, when I’ll post a recipe for Aleppo pepper cornbread, which is a perfect partner for menemen (and which uses the same Aleppo chili flakes you’ll need in this egg dish).

Menemen with Garlic Yogurt

Adapted from a recipe in Anna Hansen’s The Modern Pantry
Serves two hungry people, or four kinda peckish people

For the garlic yoghurt:

¼ cup olive oil
1 cup plain or greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
The juice of half a lemon

For the menemen:  

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
A thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper diced
6 large ripe tomatoes, diced
4 good quality eggs
Salt and pepper

To serve:

A swirl of good quality olive oil
A good handful of chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley

            First, make your yoghurt. Combine the olive oil, yoghurt, garlic and lemon juice in a small bowl, mix well. Salt to taste. Leave at room temperature while you prepare the menemen.

            In a heavy cast iron pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the fennel, cumin, mustard seeds and Aleppo chili flakes.  Sauté gently, letting it just fizzle a tad, for 4 minutes, or until the aroma fills the kitchen. Throw in the ginger, onion and garlic, and continue sautéing for a few minutes more, until the onions have softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes and red pepper. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes, until it thickens. 

            Taste for seasoning, and add a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.  Now crack the eggs onto the mixture, and cook, undisturbed for about five minutes. You want them cooked, but the yolks still runny. To encourage the tops to steam, you might want to use a lid for part of the cooking pan.

            To serve, swirl olive oil, and sprinkle the parley. Gently scoop the eggs out into shallow bowls, along with the tomato mixture. Serve piping hot, with bread or toast. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Montfort Dairy, with Love

When I go to market, I like speaking to Ruth Klahsen, the owner and lead cheesemaker at Montfort Dairy.  She tells me which cheese I should melt on pizza, which will go nicely in a sandwich and which, she says with a twinkle, is just perfect with a glass of wine.

Most recently, I got the Pecorino fresco --- a young, soft, and subtle sheep’s cheese. My perfect lunch? This cheese, with fat slices of fresh tomato, coarse salt, and basil on a garlic-rubbed toast.  I ate this every day for lunch when I was off in July, along with chicken liver terrine. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sharing Nuts

I made these nuts the other night. They are so freaking addictive.

Instead of posting the recipe on my own blog today, I’m just going to forward you to Tartine Gourmande. She recently posted her version, so it seems unfair to adapt and post my own so soon. Also, you’ll get to see her fantastic photography.

But here are some key points:

-Maple Syrup!

Just a note on the recipe – I think I whipped the egg white too much, and ended up with slightly sticky nuts. Don’t do that.