Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where the sea meets the mountains (September)

Lazy cooks were away in the Aegean sea side (Altinoluk-Assos-Kaz Daglari Region) for a week doing nothing except swimming, reading, walking around the villages in the mountains and eating very good food from Ayse & Hale. As a sample we’re displaying couple of shoots here with some recipes..

Grilled Sardines – our favorite fish from Aegean Sea. And the season is just right. It shouldn’t be cooked too much to not to lose its juice. With a big bowl of green salad (the green lettuce and tomatoes are phenomenal here in this region), it’s perfect for a casual summer night’s dinner in the garden with family. Well, if you go to the fish market in the village in the afternoon when you are really hungry, you cannot stop yourself and buy another kilo of sea bass on top of 3 kilos of sardines. So we also had grilled sea bass and it was fantastic. 

Deniz Borulcesi (Salicornia europaea) - A classic favorite among mezzes. This seaweed like dish is actually grows at the sea shore. It's simply boiled and as a dressing olive oil, lemon and garlic mixture is added.

Zeytinyagli Barbunya  / Zeytinyagli Fasulye - just simple dishes for some, "meaning of life" for the others...

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers – this exceptional dish from the region is one of our favorite along with the others above. The preparation of dolmas requires almost a day’s work. And we ate one of the best stuffed zucchini flowers here cooked by Saadet. The zucchini flowers should be bought early in the morning from the bazaar and should be treated very delicately as they can be damaged easily. For this they should be washed one by one by putting each into a bowl of cold water and draining. They should be left in the sieve to be dried. For the filling, fry the diced onion in two tablespoons of olive oil until they are softened and add 1 cube sugar. The rice, thinly sliced dill and mint, salt and spices will be added to the onion and stirred. Add one glass of boiled water to this mixture and leave it covered to be cooked until the water is evaporated. Then it should be left for cooling.

Hold the drained zucchini flowers in your hand and very carefully open the leaves to put the rice filling with the help of a teaspoon and close it back (this part is really tricky). And place the dolmas in a small pot. Add the olive oil and 1.5 glass of water. Leave it for cooking covered in medium heat. In about 15-20 minutes the flower stems should be softened. This dish can be served either warm or preferably cold.

  • 25-30 pieces zucchini flower
  • 1 onion
  • 1.5 glass of rice
  • 1 glass of water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon raisin (optional)
  • Small bunch of fresh mint
  • 5-6 stems of fresh dill
  • 1 cube sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • salt & pepper

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