Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Venice to Istanbul in New Zealand. 2016/2017 My Culinary Camino.

15 December 2015.

Decision made! I needed a project aside from my annual walking pilgrimages. So here it is!

From adolescence I have loved cooking ethnic peasant foods using authentic ingredients, sometimes adapted to what was available locally. My mother worked in the family business and cooking for the family became one of my major responsibilities. So I started to experiment with Italian, Lebanese, Indian and many more culinary traditions. At first there were some disasters, like my French onion soup. I thought 1/2 cup of oil to fry a mountain of onions in was nowhere near enough, so in went 1/2 bottle. 30 minutes after consuming the rather rich concoction people were doubled over in excruciating abdominal cramps and we left the rest of the meal to walk off the cramps in the local park. Then my skills improved and eventually and thanks to my family's patience there were great successes, like lamb pilau, crusty Italian pizza and a satisfying comforting moussaka.

My culinary influences stemmed largely from my grandfather, who would take great pride in preparing some of the staple German dishes like Herring Salad and Potato Salad. My grandmother on my father's side would spoil us at Christmas with hare and venison, marinated and slowly roasted in the oven with a basting of the marinade mixed with sour cream and cream. The resulting rich sauce was to die for. The red cabbage cooked slowly in spices and a dash of vinegar, a perfect accompaniment.

My parents loved travelling and for several years we would take off in a camper van around Europe and wherever we went we would try the local dishes, paella in Spain, fresh pasta cooked in squid ink in Italy, stuffed sepia in the South of France, snails in the Alsace, our Sunday lunch treat, spring lamb roasted by the road side in Yugoslavia, dishes which were novel and mysterious in the 60's, but have now become rather common place. My mother would embrace new dishes and incorporate them into her repertoire of creations. I particularly remember nasi goreng, which she perfected after a trip to Amsterdam.

Another influential experience, I was 15 at the time, was a five week holiday with cousins in Canada. They had Italian neighbours who would cook up huge lasagnes and pizzas and serve them on long trestle tables in their garage, with family and friends crowded around.While I was there an Indian priest and yoga teacher visited and insisted on cooking a chicken curry with a multitude of exotic spices I had never come across. We spent an entire day hunting for what he considered essential ingredients, much to the irritation of my cousin who drove many miles across town as part of our search mission. The curry was incredible, it was the first time I tasted a dish of such complexity and diversity of flavours.

After I left home Dieter, my boyfriend at the time, an ex chef who had worked as head chef in the Shangri La in Singapore prior to a motorbike accident, which left him in a wheelchair, added to my enthusiasm and taught me several delicious dishes. Sadly only one, a divine marinaded fish recipe remains written down and the others have faded from my memory. He was no longer able to cook himself, so he would sit and instruct me as I went along.

Over the years I have visited and lived in many different countries and eating local and fresh has always been a pivotal part of each trip. On my annual pilgrimages I particularly enjoy partaking in shared dinners based on ingredients from the immediate locality. For example I never stop marvelling at how different a baguette can be from one village to the next in France and how many hundreds of different varieties of little goat cheeses there are...from one farm to the next. 

Fortunately my husband John shares my enthusiasm and we have had many memorable meals together both at home and abroad. On a vacation in Sicily we first tasted fresh fennel made into a crisp salad in a family run basement restaurant in Enna and some years later with our little daughter Sophia in tow when we stayed in a series of holiday cottages in Tuscany and Liguria we first experienced the intoxicating and addictive aroma of shaved truffles and truffle oil scattered over freshly baked pizzas as they emerged from the embers of a wood fired pizza oven in Radicondoli. John my husband has designed and built a series of wood fired ovens in a series of homes we have been privileged to live in during the near 25 years together.

For nearly 30 years we have been part of what we call " The Dinner Group". A group of friends, who get together on a six or so weekly basis for shared meals based on particular ethnic food traditions. We haven't quite got round the world yet! There have been so many wonderful dishes, that we can't decide on the "best to date". So far we all agree on the worst dish, which was German beer soup. (A Berlin based recipe dating back to the war, when one tried to make something out of nothing).

Our daughter Sophia, who is largely vegetarian, surprises us with delicious dishes, she just seems to "invent" with a little guidance from inspirational cookbooks. Our extended family is a constant inspiration. On top of their extensive socio/cultural/political/academic interests and engagements, they all share our love for fresh and good quality foods and amongst them there are some excellent cooks. John's daughter Laila, after a long career in politics recently opened IKA Seafood Bar and Grill, an inspirational Auckland based restaurant featuring an eclectic menu with a pacific twist based on the freshest catch of the day, with " Salon Nights" when intellectually stimulating presentations, discussions and/or musical entertainment accompany the delectable fare. (  John's cousin Drew is a well known restaurateur in Paris, who owns several award winning restaurants in Rue de Seine. With 2 winemakers in the family, there is never a shortage of a good drop.

Due to heavy work commitments and a husband who likes to be the main cook I have stepped out of the kitchen arena for the last few years. But wait I am back! Don't worry Johnny, only a few times a week.
I bought Rick Stein's Venice to Istanbul Cookbook and when I looked through it I found that I actually wanted to cook every dish on every page! It is an extremely inspiring book and I loved the series.
So this is what I decided to do. Twice a week I will cook one or two random dishes until I have cooked my way through the entire collection of recipes. Photos and comments related to the recipe will be posted and that is my blog

I am officially cooking my first dish tonight. Not following chronological order, but planning to cook every single dish in the book.

Recipe 1 
Chicken and Tomato Stew with Hilopites ( should be). Page 184
Origin : Pylos Greece 
Rick used Orzo as a substitute for the tiny flat greek pasta squares and I am using soup pasta as it is tiny and flat, more like the Greek ingredient.
Shopping done and chicken stock boiling. Mirabelle, my two year old granddaughter helped me pick the fresh herbs from our garden for the bouquet garni. The recipe was straight forward to shop for, cheap ingredients, easy to follow and fun to cook.

The result was absolutely delicious. A winner for all age groups. Will definitely incorporate this one into my regular list. Thank you Rick Stein for getting me off to a good start.
John made the Greek inspired salad with some of the produce from our garden, including fennel tops, cos lettuce and baby silver beet.

17 December 2015

Recipe 2
Avgolemono Soup page 21
Origin: Greece
A bit fiddly. Not great if you are distracted or rushing. Getting poached eggs perfect and you need heaps of patience when you whisk the soup until the eggs thicken...first pic from Rick's book. Second pic my dish. Not bad I think. I made half the quantity and it could have done with a bit more salt and lemon...may be there are lemons and lemons...

22 December 2015

Recipe 3
Loukaniko Sausage meat Page 87
Origin : Greece
Street food becomes beach food. This recipe was a hit on our little camping holiday and served with a robust greek salad, Tzatsiki Sauce, pickled mediterranean vegetables and charred pitta bread. The quantity was just right for 6 of us.
I made the mixture at home the day before we left and froze it.
As I had trouble sourcing pork fat in the required quantity, so I used 150 grams rather than 250 grams and made up the difference with pork and lamb. The sausage meat looked moist after I had added everything but the 1 tbs of red wine, so I left it out as I felt it would be too wet and fall off the skewers.
I froze it in a large snap lock bag in a 1 cm thick rectangle which took up 1/2 of the bag. It slowly defrosted over 2 days in the chilly bin wedged between 2 freezer packs. The last bit of defrosting in the shade took about 1 hour.
I will make this again for sure.

27 December 2015

Recipe 4
Gigantes with Tomatoes and Greens Page 45
Origin: Epirus Northern Greece

Another easy and cheap dish. Full of goodness. Yum. No large dried beans available, so used tinned butter beans. Simple and delicious fare. First pic is my dish, second pic Rick's. Rick's pic's are my photos from the photos in his book...the pics in the book are much sharper of course.

28 December 2015

Recipe 5
Turkish Spiced Pilaf page 268
Origin: Turkey

Great little variation on this staple. I fried the currants and pine nuts with the softened onions rather than adding them at the end. A little bland overall. A bit more salt perhaps....

29 December 2015

Recipe 6
Butrint Mussels page 228
Origin: Albania
Absolutely delectable.
I got home from shopping and found that the Feta I thought I had in the fridge had been consumed. My husband suggested I used Ricotta instead. I was sceptical, but the result was to die for. The, chilli flakes, ouzo and fennel added subtle flavours to the rich sauce.

30 December 2015

Recipe 7
Shallot Stifado page 44
Origin: Neraida Restaurant Peloponnese Greece
I would never have thought of doing a dish based on onions. It is juicy, sweet and rich. This will be served at room temperature with my husband's birthday breakfast tomorrow.

31 December 2015
Recipe 8
Greek Grape Spoon Sweets with Lemon page 295
Origin: Greece
I ended up simmering these for 1.5 hours. They did not want to turn "jammy". I made a mistake early on keeping the lid on the pot, so not enough water evaporated. Still very nice and not too sweet. Served with Greek Yogurt.

31 December 2015

Recipe 9
The Turkish King of Breakfasts: Eggs with Tomato, Red Pepper and Green Chillies.
Page 82
Origin: Lades Restaurant Istanbul.
The sheep feta and chillies gave this a delicious twist. The soft - set scrambled egg was lovely and moist.

31 December 2015

Recipe 10
David's Salad of Chickpeas, Coriander, Tomato and Red Onion.
Page 42
Origin: David Pritchard Rick's TV Series director, who brought the inspiration from Turkey.
The grated garlic and chopped anchovies turned this into an interesting salad.

31 December 2015

Here you have the assembled Birthday Breakfast for my husband John featuring Recipes 7, 8, 9 and 10.

2 January 2016

Recipe 11
Shrimp and Dill Fritters with Ouzo page 69
Origin: Gerakas, a tiny fishing village in Greece
Oops. I almost did not get the pic. These little guys vanished the moment they left the pan. Deliciously crispy.

6 January 2016

Recipe 12
Baked Pumpkin With Sun-Dried Tomato Paste and Crispy Onions. Page 37
Origin: Turkey
This took 1 hour, not 30 to 40 mins, but I did start with the pumpkin layered in a lasagne dish. It looked like it needed to be spread out on a tray, so I changed to that half way through the process.
Very flavourful and superb accompaniment to the chicken dish. My husband said that it turned boring pumkin into something amazing.

6 January 2016

Recipe 13
Oven-Roasted Chicken With Sumac, Pomegranate Molasses, Chilli and Sesame Seed. Page 185
Origin: Turkey 
Wonderful astringent and lemony flavours thanks to liberal quantities of Sumac. It did take 1 hour in my oven...longer than the recipe said. I have a fan oven, so I set the temp 20 degrees C lower than in the recipe...The sesame seeds stayed pale, but the chicken was cooked wonderfully...I think I would do dish this on a hotplate next time and turn the chicken over several times. It would mean watching it the whole time as it is likely to burn according to Rick. Definetely black sesame seeds would make it look a lot better, but could not source them.
Sorry the pics are not great today. I cooked, then transported the dishes over to our cousins' house, so the pics were done in a bit of a hurry... note the empty wine glass!

8 January 2016

Recipe 14
Garlic Shrimps with Soft Polenta page 56
Origin: Venice
Heavenly and utterly simple. Practically Italian fast food. Can't fault it. I used banana prawns... they were a little paler.
Second pic my dish. First pic Rick's photographed from book.

11 January 2016

Recipe 15
Lamb and Potatoes with Lemons page 149
Origin: Greece 

Soooo simple and totally delicious. Some recommendations from me though. I put the dish in the oven covered in foil as per recipe and when I took the foil off it looked kind of anemic. So I put it back in the oven at 200 degrees C for another 15 mins. Lamb still nice but a tad overdone. Pots perfect. Next time I would take foil off 15 Mins before end of suggested cooking time. But then there are ovens and ovens...
and then I read the instructions for my oven and found out I have been using it incorrectly. It is a Samsung oven, that can be used in 2 halves and if the divider is in it only works on fan oven...grrr, basic stuff, that is why the lamb was a little dry. I have been using it with the divider in, so I save power by only heating 1/2 the oven...lesson learnt.
The last pic is from Rick's book by the way...looks more moist as you can see.

13 January 2016

Recipe 16
Rick's red pepper paste page 307 ingredient for several recipes

13 January 2016

Dish 17
Hummus page 18
Origin: Turkey

The topping of fried garlic in olive oil made it more special. 

13 January 2016

Recipe 18
Muhammara page 20
Origin: Turkey

Roasted red pepper and toasted walnut paste. Delicious as a dip or topping.

13 January 2016

Recipe 19
Beetroot Dip page 30
Origin: Turkey

Lovely light and refreshing. Beetroot and yoghurt.

13 January 2016

Recipe 20
Smoky Aubergine Puree with Garlic, Tahini and Lemon Juice. Page 36
Origin: Turkey

I put the aubergine on the grill a little too soon, before it was really hot. So the aubergine cooked, burst, but hadn't totally charred, so it lacked the smokey flavour. It was still really nice.

13 January 2016

Recipe 21
Pide Bread page 32
Origin : Turkey

I probably left the bread in the oven for 5 mins too long. 
The dough rose beautifully on the first rising, but not so well on the second rising after I had beaten it down. The gladwrap had blown off at the end of the first rising and the top of the dough had dried a little...may be that was the reason. Since this is part of several dishes, I will be making Pide again, so can experiment a little more.

13 January 2016

The above 6 recipes assembled. This was a 3 hour cooking stint. Lots of multi- tasking.
Worth the effort!

15 January 2016

Recipe 22
Kisir page 40
Origin: Turkey 

Lovely flavours in this bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses and mint.

15 January

Recipe 23
Halloumi Saganaki page 46
Origine: Greece

Divine! Halloumi pan-fried in egg and semolina and drizzled with honey, black sesame seeds and oregano.

15 January

Recipe 24
Kapuska Turkish Spiced Cabbage and Minced Lamb Stew with Tomatoes. Page 146
Origin : Turkey 

Great way to have savoy cabbage. 
Easy and full of healthy nutritious ingredients. Eat as soon as the cabbage has softened. It tends to collapse if you let it sit.

17 January

Recipe 25
Grilled Mackarel ( not available, so used mullet ) stuffed with Hot Red Pepper Paste, Parsley and Garlic. Page 204
Origin : Turkey 
Mackarel or Bonito would have been better. The fish was a little large and the wrong shape. Taste was superb. Looks a bit messy though.

17 January

Recipe 26
Freekeh Salad. Page 265

Sundried green wheat. Couldn't get it, used pearl barley as per Rick's suggestion as an alternative. Excellent salad. Crunchy texture thanks to the pomegranate seeds. Yet again pomegranate molasses. These feature heavily in many dishes and are a new flavour to me, which will become a kitchen staple.

19 January 

Recipe 27
John Dory Alla Carlina page 218
Origin : Restaurant Locanda Cipriani Island of Torcello, Venice.

We loved this dish. So simple and so superb. Managed to get a fresh whole fish and they fileted it for me at the fish mongers. The gherkins, lemon juice, capers and tomato sauce provided a delectable sauce. Marvellous.

20 January

Recipe 28
Dalmatian Fresh Fig Tart page 285
Origin : Croatia 
Used our home grown fresh figs for this recipe.
It took a lot longer for the pastry to cook and the filling to set than the recipe said.
I was amazed it looked this good. Proof will be in the eating.

Well now it has been eaten!
Well that one was the biggest challenge yet....the pastry seemed too buttery, then did not cook when I blind baked it using rice on top of baking paper. It just looked bubbly and greasy. I kept on putting the blind baking paper and rice back and eventually cooked it a little longer without a cover. Still slow to cook through. Gave up after what seemed like 3 times the recommeded time on the recipe. Then the Mascapone mix ended up runnier than I am sure was intended and when I poured it onto the rather raw looking pastry it would not set. I left it in the oven for 3 times the recommeded time...It tasted really nice, but the texture was not quite right...Perhaps I will try this again from scratch one day. I never prided myself as a baker...
Before I criticise the recipe, I think it is fair to give it another try.

20 January

Recipe 29
Prawns Alla Busara page 55
Origin : Croatia 
Splendidly delectable. Finger licking good!
Would make this again lots of times. Easy and very yummy.

21 January

Recipe 30
Pizza Bianco With Sliced Potato, Onions, White Anchovies and Taleggio page 89
Origin: Venice

Street food at it's best. Note the guest appearance of my husband John who built our wood fired oven and could not resist lending a hand. 
This pizza was punchy with the intense taste of the Taleggio, delicate Buffalo Mozarella made in NZ and strong dry flavour of the Pecorino. Loved the White anchovies.
Nothing bland about it as Rick says.

21 January
Recipe 31

Roasted Beetroot With Almond Skordalia and White Anchovies page 27
Origin : Greece

I had anchovies left I made this. Absolute success. Simple ingredients turn this into a royal dish. Would not hesitate to present it on masterchef. Beautiful flavors.

22 January
Recipe 32
Beef With Oxymeli page 117
Origin : Greece
Thought we would use the remaining heat of the embers in the pizza oven from yesterday's firing for this flavourful stew with a trilogy of red wine, vinegar and freshly squeezed orange. The oven was only at 80 degrees Celsius, not quite enough heat. After 4 hours the stew tasted delicious but the meat was still a little chewy.

22 January
Recipe 33
Mascarpone Dessert page 284
Origin : Croatia
Nice quick afterthought dessert. It was so hot today, it was a challenge to keep the egg white stiff for the folding into mascarpone cream part.

23 January
Recipe 34
Mesut's Blue Fish Stew With Chilli Cornbread page 225
Origin : Turkey
This was another example of something very nice and simple. I used little Herrings from Mt Albert Seamart. Very fresh.

My revamped outdoor cooking station. We now have a better outdoor kitchen thanks to John's flair for good design.

24 January
Recipe 35 and 36

Chicken With Apricots And Almonds Mahmudiye page 188
Origin : Turkey
A slow cooked Byzantine traditional stew. Wonderful.
Turkish Rice page 269
Origin : Turkey
Lovely and fluffy.
Perfect combo with the chicken.

26 January
Recipe 37
Scallops and Broad Beans On Sourdough Toast page 58
Origin : Venice
Cicchetti are Venice's answer to tapas. The recipe is from a famous bar in Venice called All'Arco according to Rick. 
Simple sophistication.

27 January
Recipe 38
Red Lentil Patties page 26
Origin : Turkey 
Very nice little morsels. The mix was a little runny, so I added more bulgur wheat, which worked fine. 

27 January
Recipe 39
Greek Salad page 255
Plain yum.

27 January
Recipe 40
Chicken Yufka page 194
Origin : Albania 
New take on chicken with pasta. Delicious, although the modified recipe in the cookbook was nothing like what was shown on the programme. They used homemade pasta, which was put into the pan dry with the par roasted chicken pieces on top. Then chicken stock was gradually added to the dish, so it ended up somewhat crispy with the stock clinging on to it. I boiled the pasta in water first, which meant it did not go crispy. Also we had lots of people, so I probably overcrowded the top of the pasta with chicken...this recipe is worth a little more experimentation as I am sure it could be improved with modifications of the technique.
I might break the rule I set of doing every dish only once and try it the same way as on the TV this space!
I am well ahead of my randomly set schedule, so can have a bit of a play with the odd dish, I decided. It is my project after all!

29 January
Recipe 41 Grilled Steak with Village Mushrooms. Page 116
Origin : Greece
Grilled steak at it's best. I added some balsamic truffle cream to the mushrooms. Delectable.

29 January
Recipe 42
Greek Almond Cookies page 289
Origin : Greece
Nice bikkies which went really well with Johnny ' s home made vanilla icecream. Great recipe.

3 February
Recipe 43
Spaghetti with Clams and Bottarga page 232
Origin: Hotel Wildner Venice

Couldn't get the tiny triangular Telline shells here. The supermarket Clams were good too.
I had never had Bottarga a dried bass roe. It is apparently very trendy with foodies. Managed to locate a deli in Wellington that stocks it and sent it to me. Extravagant like truffles and sea based equivalent grated over the dish.
Pavarotti and a nice Pinot Gris Kairos ( translates as " supreme moment") from Marlborough turned lunch into a special occasion.

3 February
Recipe 44
Circassian Chicken page 190
Origin : Turkey 

OMG! How did I get to my ripe old age of 60 without eating this! An absolute highpoint. The walnut sauce and red pepper dressing were just wonderful.

3 February
Recipe 45
Green Beans in Tomato Sauce page 261
Origin : Turkey 
Great accompaniment to the Circassian Chicken. Thank you very much cousin Barbara for the home grown beans. The tomatoes came from our garden.

4 February
Recipe 46
Petro's Clams turned into Gitti 's Cockles page 73
Origin : Greece 
The Tua Tuas were far too big so I opted for small cockles at the fish market. They were very lovely. The prawn stock enhanced and concentrated the seafood flavour.

5 February
Recipe 47
Baked Turbot ( Brill ) in New Zealand with Potatoes and Vegetables page 221

Origin : Venice 

Venetian simplicity once again.
The fish was freshly cought and perfectly cooked. Loved the crispy potatoes on top.

8 February
Recipe 48
Prawns in a Sauce of Tomato, Basil and Feta page 70
Origin: Preveza Greece
Tomato and cheese as a combination is common in the Ionian region. Cooked in a large heavy pan. Used Australian banana prawns. Very nice.

8 February
Recipe 49
Bream, I used Terakihi, with Celery and Avgolemono Sauce page 209
Origin: Preveza Greece 
Very delicious. Both this and previous recipe on one night
I was busy cooking while we had guests. There was a bit of a break between both courses. I had prepared everything and cooked outside so still able to interact. Not bad. I served a scordalia type potatoes dish with this and a rocket salad with fennel. Nice.

11 February
Recipe 50
Linguine with Courgettes and Bottarga page 236
Origin : Messolonghi Greece 
Grated cured and salted grey mullet roe lends this simple dish great depth of flavour.

11 February
Recipe 51
Bigoli in Cassopipa page 230 
Origin : Venice

Outstanding restaurant quality. Would make again in a flash. The vegetable reduction with white wine and fish stock and mussel liquor was full of flavors and sucklng in the aromas of the Byzantine spice mix through hole in the middle of the pasta was a new taste sensation.

12 February
Recipe 52 
Albanian Baked Lamb with Rice page 143 
Origin: Obviously Albania 

Rick was right. A very satisfactory midweek dinner. A crisp green salad goes perfectly.

16 February
Recipe 53
Bigoli in Salsa page 229
Origin : Venice

I agree with Rick when he says the cooking of Venice is incredibly understated and incredibly good.
This quick pasta dish in an olive oily oniony garlicky anchovy sauce was just great.

16 February
Recipe 54
Turkish Dumplings page 126
Origin : Turkey
The Turkish equivalent of tortellini with a yogurt and chili sauce. The pasta ended up a little hard and thick and I had filling left over. I followed the recipe rather than my intuition ....nice nonetheless

18 February
Recipe 55
Seafood Linguine page 235
Origin : Albania
Lovely basically italian seafood dish made by an Albanian cook. Ingredients are so easy to get in godzone.

19 February
Recipe 56
A Light Chicken Stew With Spring Onions. Page 192
Origin: Turkey
Nice but not superspecial. The Pomegranate molasses did not really come through that much. Went well with Turkish Rice page 269.

21 February
Recipe 57
Spiced Lamb Filo Pastries With Red Onion, Cinnamon and Cumin page 108
Origin : Turkey 
Another example of tasty easy eating street food. Excellent for a little picnic.

22 February
Recipe 58
Grilled Seabass ( I used Snapper) with Blitva page 216
Origin : Croatia 
How can spuds and beans be so delicious? Easy peasy I mean beany. ..Oops I did overheat the hotplate and the fish protested.

23 February
Recipe 59
Warm Venetian Salad page 195
Origin : Venice 
Another fabulous example of understated Venetian inspired cuisine. Roast chicken breast, sourdough, pear, mozzarella, toasted pine nuts, prosciutto, rocket and frisee leaves, tossed in sweated spring onions and garlic and a red wine vinegar, olive oil and chicken stock dressing. Yum.

25 February
Recipe 60
Pork Souvlaki With Oregano page 160
Origin : Ioannina Greece 
Superb marinade and the chunks of pork shoulder were perfectly sized thanks to the friendly butcher in our Titirangi Supermarket.


25 February
Recipe 61
Hand Cut Chips Fried In Olive Oil page 308
Origin : Greece 

Never ever made chips before. These were perfect. Agria potatoes shallow fry in a cast iron pot. We do not have a deep fryer..or a thermometer..I was very worried about setting the oil alight, but thankfully nothing eventuated, other than the perfect chip...
Since then I decided we should have a deep fryer. I went and bought one..brought it home, then read the reviews, (very unsystematic of me) and they were so bad I took it back and asked for a refund. Back to square one, with a deep fried dish looming tomorrow. Taking the risk with the pot on the stove once again...

28 February
Recipe 62
Cilbir page 84
Origin : Street Food Turkey
Breakfast of yogurt, garlic, poached egg and chili butter. Punchy!

28 February
Recipe 63
Patrick Leigh Fermor's Moussaka page 119
Origin : Elpida, the deceased writer's housekeeper. Kardamyli Greece
This did not disappoint. Silky smooth and juicy. Excellent, rather time consuming...did most of it in my outdoor kitchen.

28 February
Recipe 64
Frittura Di Paranza page 52
Origin : Mezze Venice
A fry up of the local catch so to speak.
I agonised over buying a deep fryer... glad I didn't. ..
I used extra virgin olive oil which does not quite heat up enough. It tasted delicious and the texture was good, but would have looked nicer a little browner.

2 March
Recipe 65
Quickly Cooked Calf' s Liver With Onions And Parsley
Fegato Alla Veneziana page 132
Origin : Food and Art Cafe Giudeca Venice
I used lambs fry as I could not get calf's liver. My polenta had weavels in it, so John got me some from the local quick cook...the texture wasn't quite the same as the normal polenta. The parmesan and butter lent a velvety texture....very satisfying dish overall.

4 March
Recipe 66
Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup page 24
Origin : Somewhere near Gallipoli Turkey
Topped with butter and chilli flakes mixed with dried mint and sweet paprika. Absolutely wonderful, spicy and deeply satisfying. The garlic Pide from the local green grocer was just right.

7 March
Recipe 67
Mooj's Mediterranean Beef and Vegetable Stew with Noodles page 123
Origin : Turkey
This recipe didn't quite work out. Too many veges for even a large pot and the juice was too runny. It was also a little bland. Wondered whether our New Zealand vegetables are more watery than in Turkey, due to the warm and wet climate we have here. Would have been better to salt the aubergine for a while and squeeze out the liquid and to sautee the vegetables in batches to draw less liquid.Still nice and healthy, but the pic in the book showed a much richer sauce.

9 March
Recipe 68
Walnut-Crusted Pork Chops with Figs page 163
Origin : Karen Evenden Croatia
Only one word: Delicious!
Personally I would use pork fillet cut into thick rounds instead of the chops.

11 March
Recipe 69
Risotto Alla Torcellana page 246
Origin : Locanda Cipriani Venice
Spring vegetables lend a crisp green freshness to this creamy textured risotto. It did take longer to cook than the recipe indicated. Patience required.

12 March
Recipe 70! Hooray! 65 to go! Well over half way.
Sporki Macaroni page 120
Origin : Croatia
Very nice tasty stew. Easy dinner. Meat needs a bit longer than recipe instructions and I added less pasta than indicated.

15 March
Recipe 71
Greek Fish Stew page 222
Origin: Inspired by the chef of the Poseidon Restaurant in Panagiotis, Greece.
This was excellent and our lunch guests asked for me to specifically mention how much they liked it.
Perfect recipe. The fish stock which was from the book on page 308 lent a deep earthy flavour.

16 March
Recipe 72
Veal Cannelloni page 137
Origin : Croatia
Very nice al dente pasta. Thought there was too much flour to butter ratio in the bechamel sauce. I had to put it through the nutribullet to get rid of the lumps... my own bechamel is usually perfect just done by intuition...
No veal to be got in Auckland so I mixed pork and beef. It was very nice. Served 5 and leftovers for 4.

19 March
Recipes 73 and 74 and 75
3 Greek Seafood Mezzes pages 65 and 68
Origin : Greece 

Limeni Style Grilled Octopus, lovely and tender. First time I ever cooked Octopus, it was surprisingly easy. My husband did the gruelling part of gutting it after driving to the Fish Market in Auckland to buy it and defrosting it. Thank you Johnny!
Marinated Anchovies. I ended up getting these vacuum packed from a delicatessen, as no fresh anchovies to be had here...
Tarama Fritters served with Cacik ( yogurt with cucumber, mint, garlic, dill page 35 ). 
Lovely little morsels made from soaked bread, smoked roe and lots of herbs and garlic.

19 March Recipe 76
Rich Lamb Stew With Aubergine Puree page 148 
Origin : Turkey 

Very delicious, rich and satisfying. Easy too. I liked the aubergine still being a little chunky rather than pureed finely.

20 March
Recipe 77
Octopus Alla Glorijet page 72
Origin : Glorijet Restaurant near Dubrovnic Croatia
Very satisfying Mezze. First time I had Samphire. Thanks to my husband for driving all the way to Coatesville to collect it from John Millward of www.greattaste nz. 
Samphire is also referred to as sea asparagus. Slightly blanched it has a unique salty flavour with a nice snappy texture. Light and fresh and new.
Not cheap! $ 150 per kg. 2 handfuls set us back $ 25. It did serve 12 people as an an entree though...
The octopus was really tender and the Agria potatoes a perfect mix.

21 March
Recipe 78
Turkish Courgette and Carrot Fritters page 250
Served with Cacik.
Origin : Turkey

Lovely and crisp. The texture and flavour connect with Indian cuisine.

23 March
Recipe 79
Horta Pie page 254
Origin : Greece
Spinach, silverbeet, rocket, kale and parsley mixed with onion, feta and eggs in a filo pastry. Lovely.
Weird part of the recipe was to mix 1.5 kg of chopped greens with the egg and cheese mixture...? Impossible. Must have missed out the step that involves wilting the greens. I did just that after googling other recipes...Rick this recipe needs tweaking.

25 March
Recipe 80
Mujadara page 264
Origin : Turkey

I will make this one again! I had forgotten about shops being closed on Good Friday. Luckily I had all the ingredients in my pantry and garden. Green lentils, spices, rice and crispy onions Just the right thing after a busy work day. (Nurses work on Good Friday )

26 March
Recipe 81
Sautéed Lamb's Liver In Flatbreads With Chilli, Cumin, Red Onions And Sumac. Page 105
Origin : Street Food Turkey
Great way to have lambs fry.

27 March
Recipe 82
Walnut Cake Karidopita page 288
Origin : Greece
A delightful, syrup - soaked cake.

28 March
Recipe 83
Split Stuffed Aubergines Karniyarik page 155
Origin : Turkey
Absolutely delicious. Pomegranate molasses and seeds, pine nuts, chilli and lamb. Yum..

30 March
Recipe 84
Pot-Roasted Goat With Potatoes, Artichokes and Fennel page 152
Origin : Greece
Weird. The book recipe deviates quite a bit from the cooking process on the TV series.
In the series the meat was cooked on top of the potatoes and the oven temp was 200 degrees. In the book the potatoes were on top of the meat and the temp 150 degrees, both said 3 hours in oven...I would have preferred a crispier dish...not sure what happened in the test kitchen...very nice flavours nonetheless 


31 March
Recipe 85
Black Risotto page 238
Origin : Croatia
Quality risotto this one. Black ink available in sachets at Sabato. Thanks to Sophia for inroducing me to Tai Ping Supermarket in New Lynn where I got the squid.

2 April
Recipe 86
Griddled Mackerel In A Baguette With Tomato, Lettuce, Onion, Chilli and Sumac page 99
Origin : Turkey
Another example of delicious street food from Istanbul.

3 April
Recipe 87
Ragu Bolognese page 129
Origin : Radisson Blu Hotel Ravenna
Grandma's recipe. Soo traditional and plain nice.

5 April
Recipe 88
Goezleme With Feta And Spinach page 95
Origin : Turkey
Irresistible thin Flatbreads filled and fried on a hotplate then doused with melting butter.

6 April
Recipe 89
Pasta E Fagioli page 168
Origin : Venice
Lovely peasant flavours. Easy and no fuss.

7 April
Recipe 90
Veal, Mint and Oregano Meatballs In A Rich Tomato Sauce. Page 48
Origin: Greece
Nice one for meatball lovers. Like the cinnamon stick in the tomato sauce.

11 April
Recipe 91
Tramezzini page 61
Origin : Venice
Famous venetian triangular sandwiches. Nice, but not the healthiest.

I am now two thirds of the way through the book. 45 dishes to go! Have loved this project so far. From now it will be getting harder for me, as I have left meat dishes and desserts to last,( not such a fan of either), as well as some dishes with harder to get ingredients.

12 April
Recipe 92
Petoules With Mizithra Cheese page 94
Origin : Greece 

Paper thin flour and water stacked pancakes filled with Pecorino cheese and baked in the oven until golden. The ultimate peasant dish.

13 April
Recipe 93
Lahmacun Turkish Pizza page 98
Origin : Street Food Turkey 

Oh dear...should not have used wholemeal flour as too overpowering. 
Topping of minced lamb, red pepper onion and garlic paste with parsley and chickpeas. Chilies add some punch.

20 April
Recipe 94
Fried Sardines With Pine Nuts And Sultanas page 64
Origin : Venice
Found these brilliantly fresh snap frozen little fish in a middle Eastern shop at the back of New Lynn. Just perfect for this carefully balanced sweet and sour fish dish.

20 April
Recipe 95
Kid Goat Stew With Peas page 154
Origin : Croatia
Lots of research sourcing whole dried peas and yet again the obscure middle Eastern shop at the back of
New Lynn came to the party. The goat meat supplied by the halal butcher in Sandringham.
A very good dish indeed. Used less liquid than recipe specified and cooking time was longer than recipe indicated.
It was delicious.

20 April
Recipe 96
Muhallabia page 301
Origin : Turkey
Very middle Eastern ground rice pudding. I used iddly flour, which is coarse ground rice. The orange flour water, ground almonds and pistachios add subtle flavours.

23 April
Recipe 97
Spaghettini With Slipper Lobster page 233
Origin : Greece 

Very satisfying. Very special. Thank you very much Laila Harré for sourcing the cray. Recipe said to freeze the fresh (live) lobster for 2 hours, then cook it. I wasn't quite game enough to bring home the live version, so opted for a frozen beast, then started defrosting process. 3 hours later it was still rock hard. Cooked it 10 mins longer than recipe suggested, since it was still frozen inside, but that wasn''t quite long enough. When we cut it it was still a little raw and had to go back into the pot....not ideal. The meat was a little dry. Still delicious, but not top notch standard sadly...I think the dish would be really good just by using Petro's clam's prawn stock to cook the spaghetti in and adding fresh prawns at the end. Similar flavours at an affordable budget. The lobster set us back $ 80 and I think it is all a bit overrated...

24 April
Recipe 98
Gnocchi Con Granseola page 226
Origin : Venice 
Divine, albeit somewhat time-consuming. I decided getting meat out of the crab was too manly a task for me. Thankfully John came to the rescue.

25 April
Recipe 99
Veal (Beef) Stifado With Bulgur Wheat Salad page 136
Origin : Greece 

Very good dish this.

27 April
Recipe 100
Rabbit And Onion Casserole Lepur Comic page 173
Origin : Croatia/Albania

Wild organic rabbit cooked in garlic, olive oil, baby onions and red wine. Delicious.

27 April
Recipe 101
Croatian Sour Cherry Strudel page 279
Origin : Croatia 

Cherries, walnuts and filo pastry, yum. Really nice and light and not at all sweet.

28 April
Recipe 102
Pork With Smoked Paprika And Borlotti Beans page 172
Origin : Albania 

Earthy, peasanty and utterly satisfying. Could not get dried Borlotti Beans anywhere in Auckland, so did resort to tinned ones.

29 April
Recipe 103
Bandit's Joy page 260
Origin : Croatia

Sweet potato slices fried in hot butter topped with lemon juice, honey and nutmeg. Nice.

Now I am needing to slow down my project. Off to walk through Portugal and Spain in 3 weeks time and a last minute fitness burst and finalising plans for the trip are taking priority. I will resume when I return in July, not to say, that I might sneak in a dish or two before I head off. Watch this space!

6 May
Recipe 104
Slow-Cooked Pork Knuckle and Onions page 158
Origin : Greece 

Recipe from Neraida Restaurant near Neapolis. Superb very slow cooked dish.

13 May
Recipe 105
Hazelnut Semolina Halva page 302
Origin : Turkey 

This recipe did not work whatsoever. I spent an hour trying to get the mixture to thicken. It ended up gooy. Tasted nice. Hmmm I did use Demerera rather than white fault?

13 May
Recipe 106
The Best Chicken Pie In Greece page 182
Thanks to Iro and Virginia Papapostolu in the mountainous area of Epirus. 1 kg of red onions cooked along with the chicken and then drained and mixed with shredded chicken, gelatinous stock and egg, lovely sweet and rich pie.
Laborious but worth it.

15 May

Recipe 107

Lamb Tandir page 145

Origin : Turkey 
Originally cooked in a Tandoor oven, these slow cooked lamb shoulders did not disappoint. The meat fell off the bone and shredded into flavourful moist strips. Very nice and perfect for a dinner party as there is no last minute fuss. Very succulent.

15 May

Recipe 108

Bulgur Pilaf page 269

Origin : Turkey 
Great accompaniment to the lamb Tandir. I cheated as I gave the recipe to one of our dinner group members who cooked it on my behalf. A bit like a pilgrim taking a bus rather than walking each step of the way. A flicker of guilt perhaps???....

23 May
Recipe 109
Last one until July
Pistachio Baclava page 305
Origin : Turkey 

Fabulous combination of chopped nuts, crispy filo pastry and lemony syrup. A little dry I thought....

12 July
Recipe 110
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli page 251
Origin: Venice 

Back on my cooking project for a few weeks between pilgrim walks and investigative surgery.
Lovely flavors, but yet again the pasta was a bit of a disaster. Too dry and leathery. I did not bother using 00 pasta flour...may be that is why.

18 July
Recipe 111
Pot-Roasted Beef With Red Wine, Prunes and Bacon page 122
Origin: Croatia 

A national dish as Rick says. A deep fruit - laden stew cooked in red wine after soaking the meat in balsamic vinegar for a while. Lovely flavors but as Rick predicted the silver side ends up a little dry.

19 July

Recipe 112

Stuffed Vegetables page 258

Origin: Greece

It needed more liquid and longer in oven.

26 July
Recipe 113
Lamb Kokkonisto With Pasta 
Page 142
Origin : Greece 

This was excellent. Rick you undersold this dish. Lamb shoulder cubes browned and simmered in a vegetable and white wine and tomato sauce. The buccatini pasta was cooked in the rich sauce, meat and veges mixed back in and sprinkled with pecorino. Yum

31 July
Recipe 114

Galaktoboureko With Orange Syrup page 294

Origin : Greece 

According to Rick, the Greeks love their sweets. Well so do we at times. This was delicious. Filo pastry filled with an egg custard and served with sticky orange syrup. Just right on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

1 August

Recipe 115

Lamb And Pistachio Kofte page 106

Origin: Turkey Nuts and meat, spices and lemon juice. A little olive oil. So simple and so nice. This one is a keeper.

 2 August 

Recipe 116

Three Milk Cake Trilece page 291

Origin :Albania 

A recipe from Ismet Baba Restaurant in Istanbul and subsequently modified by Rick.

The sponge just would not absorb the enormous amount of milk and cream and condensed milk. Too much caramel topping too. Something is wrong with the quantities here Rick.

So this is where I got to. Taking it to work tomorrow for a tasting.

Ohh this is soooo unhealthy! Butter, sugar, cream, full fat milk, condensed milk, flour ohhh the waist fills in anticipation. ..m

9 August

Recipe 117

Rozata page 282

Origin: Croatia 

Creme caramel with rosewater.
The almond in the Centre is traditional.
 (How weird. Can you see the cryptic message on the surface? SA8. This stands for Amway laundry detergent or SA8 Gecko NATO reporting name for OSA surface to air missile system....)

9 August

Recipe 118

Lamb Kleftiko page 140 

Origin : Greece 

Combination of tomatoes, red pepper and waxy potatoes and garlic topped with feta cheese, cooked slowly. Delicious.

12 October  Recipe 120 

Passateĺli page 128

Origin: Venice 

Looks non appetizing, but don't be fooled. Absolutely delicious. A rich beef stock with rice sized dough made with parmesan, eggs, breadcrumbs and beef marrow.

14 October Recipe 121

Pork in Milk page 162

Origin: Venice

This did not quite work out. Slow cooking should have turned the milk flavored with toasted fennel seeds, garlic, sage and lemon to a ricotta like curdled state.

It stayed liquid and even reducing it at the end did not help.

Lovely flavours though.

I once did a Jamie Oliver dish of chicken cooked in milk, where I did get that thick curdle result which was really delicious with soft polenta.

21 October Recipe 122

Croatian Green Stew page 166

Origin: Croatia 

Can't get more peasanty than this. Boiled meat and veg...hmm mm. Not a masterchef contender.

25 October Recipe 123

Trout With Spinach and Toasted Almonds page 208

Origin : Greece 
Trout is a game fish in New Zealand and not available commercially. No one in the family is into game fishing, so had to substitute.

Terakihi, firm and white was my choice.

A very delicious and healthy dish.

28 October
Recipe 124

Seafood Risotto page 237
Origin: Venice 
Could not get squid tentacles or raw shrimp today. Went ahead anyway. If you like risotto like my husband does, this is wonderful. Personally I find risotto a little sickly.
Too much liquid Rick and NZ mussels are too large to steam open on top of the rice.

2 November 

Recipe 125

Piadina page 91

Origin : Ravenna

Flatbreads with 3 kinds of fillings:

Prosciutto, Taleggio cheese, Rocket, drizzled with olive oil.

Chicken, Radicchio, Mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil.

Very nice!

Anchovies, Lettuce, Tomato, Parmesan in Garlic Mayonnaise.

2 November
Recipe 126
Turkish Delight with Rose Petals page 298
Origin Turkey
What a scary process. Boiling sugar and liquid at 118 degrees C. Whisking the cornflour mixture into an alarmingly gluey paste.
Thankfully I had a little Heinzelmaennchen to the rescue. Did not use food colouring.

3rd November
Recipe 127
Radicchio and Anchovy Salad page 308.
From the Extras section of the book.
Very tasty!

7th November
Recipe 128
Kayiana page 86
Origin: Greece
Greek version of menemen with fennel and orange sausage meat balls, tomatoes and smoked ham, and scrambled eggs at the end.
A dish with " personality " as Rick says.

8th November
Recipe 129
Fried Red (Grey) Mullet with Oranges and Capers. Page 206
Origin : Greece 

OMG. This was utterly delicious. I couldn't get red mullet. Saw it one a year ago when I started this project and haven't seen it since. Anyway the grey was sublime.

13th November
Recipe 130
Stuffed Duck page 197
Origin : Venice 

Boned duck stuffed with minced pork, bacon and chicken livers cooked over a steam bath. Served with a red wine sauce and polenta.

13th November
Recipe 131
Tiramisu page 276
Origin : Venice 

This uses a whisked fatless sponge.
Mind you the mascarpone cream made up for it using 6 eggs and 600 grams of mascarpone for 8 servings...very rich and very nice.
P.s. I am on the final run now...and am graciously accepting help from Heinzelmaennchen.

6th December
Recipe 132
Braised Radicchio page 308
Origin: Not sure. It is a recipe in the Extras pages.

Nice and bitter. Would go well with rich meat dishes. Prefer Radicchio raw though, personally.

Recipe 133
Barbecued Sardines ( used Pacific Soury, also known as Mackerel Pike, no Sardines here) in Vine Leaves. Page 213
Origin : Greece Cannakkale just across the water from Gallipoli.

Super easy, cheap as ( 1.20 Dollar per fish), delicious. Lots of fine bones are a bit fiddly....

And here we go. The first of the last handful of dishes. A collective effort with our previously mentioned dinner group.
Recipe 134 Baccalau, olive Oil and garlic emulsion page 60.
Served on Crostini page 307.
Origin: Venice.

Thanks to Arrigo Cipriani from Harry's Bar.
I was fortunate to source Baccalau ( dried salted fish). This is used all over the Mediterranean region and is a delicacy these days. The fish is soaked in water for 24 hours, then gently poached in milk and garlic.
Extremely modish.

Recipe 135 Kokoretsi page 90
Origin: Greece 

Surprisingly delicious! Offal wrapped in intestines ( used caul fat instead). Roasted in a wood fired oven.
Barbara tackled this one with advice from her Greek neighbour. She decided Rick had anglified this recipe somewhat and added in sweetbreads and heart, predominantly kidneys. She also added garlic to the dish.
Very good indeed.

Recipe 136 Turkish Pickles page 102
Origin: Turkey 

Summer vegies in a jar.
Nice and crunchy. Jenny pickled these before Christmas so they would be ready for eating late January.

Recipe 137 Fish Brodetto With Borlotti Beans.
Page 212.
Origin: Croatia 

According to Rick this recipe is a timesaving adaptation of a dish on The Seafood Restaurant in Split.
Judy prepared the bean stew at home and we cooked the fish and prawns just before serving.
It was a total success.

Recipe 138 Freekeh Salad
Origin Turkey.

Laurie prepared this salad. I had made it earlier in the project using pearl barley but Laurie managed to obtain the dried green wheat. It has a slight smokey flavour. Very interesting.

Recipe 139 Chocolate Gelato With Orange and Hazelnut Biscotti.
Origin: Venice.

Erica excelled herself when making the Biscotti. Apparently Portia Spooner's recipe. The ice cream was lovely with a fresh and slightly bitter taste.

And here is to friends and the completion of this project!
Thank you Jeff and Glennis for the lovely selection of Italian wines to accompany the food.

And here we are. Done and dusted. The book is well worn. A great fun experience wrapped around many happy occasions.
Thanks Rick Stein! I learnt a lot about cooking and have embarked on dishes I would never normally have attempted.
A great distraction from my bladder cancer and associated tedious treatments and investigations.
Hmmm I did put on a few kg unfortunately...oh well it was worth it.

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