No more time lost in the traffic, choosing clothes to wear, going to supermarket… Yes, I am one of the lucky people who have chance and ability to stay home healthy. So, I am enjoying my free time, and using this “chance” by doing the things that I didn’t have time for. All about nourishing my body and soul, of which an important part happens at the kitchen and around dining table. So, let me share how that was reflected in terms of food and wine.
I am cooking: Nova Scotia ingredients meet Turkish cuisine!
I enjoy cooking recipes from Turkish cuisine, but my biggest challenge is finding the correct ingredients where I live, in Nova Scotia. Most of the times, I have to substitute the ingredients with the equivalents that I find here in the market. But, this time I had a brilliant idea: Why not taking the ingredients that I can easily buy here, and insert them to some of my Turkish recipes?
The first attempt of the challenge was quite successful: “Börek” with Nova Scotia lobster. For this recipe, I used frozen phyllo dough. It’s very practical, but of course making the dough from scratch would definitely up the game. I might try this in the upcoming episodes of self-isolation.
The most important characteristics of a delicious börek is to have it moist inside and crispy outside. To achieve this, I made a kind of “egg wash”, using yogurt, milk, sunflower oil and eggs. I used this mixture in every layer of dough, applied it with a pastry brush.
For the filling, I used boiled lobster meat, some spring onions and grated mozzarella, and seasoned it just with salt and black pepper.
After preparing the egg wash and the filling, it comes to fill the dough and shape them. I made a triangle shape, by rolling it couple of times in the opposite directions.
Once all ready, I brushed them on top with the egg wash mixture and sprinkled some sesame and poppy seeds on top. Normally, instead of poppy seeds, I would use black caraway seeds, but that was not available. Poppy seed made a good substitution. Finally, they went to oven for half an hour and came out perfect!
To complete my börek with lobster, I made a lobster sauce with the lobster broth, and a side dish of cucumber salad with sweet corns and dill. The rest was the fun part, make a nice plate decoration and pair it with the wine.
For wine pairing, I chose a Riesling from Alsace. It’s from Domaine Amélie & Charles Sparr, a Grand Cru 2017. I bought this from SAQ last time I was visiting Montreal. It poured to the glass with its light but bright gold color, smelled impressively complex with flowers of honeysuckle and jasmine, and lots of stone fruits and lemon. It also had a touch of characteristic petrol note, but it was all integrated with the other lovely aromas. It was dry with a good balance, had medium acidity and body, nice and long finish with honeysuckle and pear flavors dominating the palate. I enjoyed every sip of this wine, very impressive.
I am cooking: What can I cook to pair my precious Assyrtiko?
I had a very nice bottle of Assyrtiko that I brought from Greece last year, and it has been waiting for me to find dish to be paired. Unfortunately we don’t get a lot of Mediterranean fish or seafood here. But one day, I found a package of frozen baby calamari in the supermarket and I literally jumped into it! I knew that it would be a good element to accompany my Greek wine.
When it comes to seafood, in most cases, I prefer them grilled and served with olive oil. It’s simple yet so delicious. For these baby calamari I used this technique, to make a starter of grilled calamari. I also prepared some small plates to complete the Greek theme, some Greek olives, tomatoes, feta, oregano and olive oil.
As main dish, I prepared a seafood spaghetti with tomato sauce. I used rest of the baby calamari and some giant shrimp that I have in the freezer as well. For the sauce, I used lots of garlic, to reinforce the Greek effect. The tomatoes, however, were from Italy, a very special one: San Marzano tomatoes from Agro Nocerino Sarnese DOP. They were whole tomatoes with skins, I used them as they are and it really made a difference.
The same wine of Assyrtiko accompanied this meal from starter until main dish. It’s from Wine Art Estates located in Drama, Greece. Made 100% from Assyrtiko grapes harvested in 2017 from Mikrochori, Kali Vrysi. It’s called Idisma Drios (“sweetly oaked”), aged in French oak barrels during 5 months.
I am baking: Sicilian Whole Orange Cake
I could eat it, but it wasn’t tasting anything like a cake. After an unfortunate mistake that I made converting some units of ingredients, my first trial of orange cake was not how I imagined. That’s why I started to search a better recipe and I found this one: Sicilian whole orange cake.
As you can understand from the name, you use the whole orange in this cake, with the skins! I was very skeptical in the beginning, and I really didn’t want a second failure in my orange cake history, but I took the risk, and it totally worth it.
Wine recommendation? I paired with a glass of Vidal ice wine from Ontario, Canada. They made an enjoyable pairing. But if you want another option and if you love really love orange like me, I could also suggest some Grand Marnier with it, to really reinforce the orange theme!
I am baking: Obviously, bread!
As most of you, I have been baking my own bread. In the beginning, I had a complete failure in the sourdough culture making, which made me turn into good old Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
My first bread was a classic one, with all-purpose flour, with this recipe. It’s very easy to make since you don’t even have to knead it, after the mixture of the ingredients you just leave it overnight for a slow fermentation. To me most difficult part of baking bread is to get a good result in the oven. Of course, the best breads are baked in stone ovens. But with couple of tricks with the conventional oven I made very good improvements, it helps my crust to be thin and crunchy and achieve a homogeneous baking result.
Chilean breads: Marraquetas and Hallulas
2 Chilean breads that I loved eating when I was in Chile was marraquetas and hallulas. I keep remembering them time to time and wish I could find them available. With this situation we have, a friend of mine told me that he is baking those Chilean breads at home and send me the recipes that he used. Of course, I tried them both: The results were amazing – it tastes almost like the ones that I ate in Chile!
It needed a little bit more work to make marraquetas (here is the recipe), but the ingredients are very simple, only flour, water and yeast! After mixing those, I kneaded the dough during a good 15 minutes. Then it has 3 different waiting periods, to shape them as balls, bring them together and mark them for giving the special shape. The final touch is brushing them with some oil, and directly to the oven. After only 20 minutes in the oven, all the house was smelling so good. They were delicious.
When it comes to hallulas, the main difference in the ingredients is the butter (here is the recipe). As in the marraquetas, I kneaded the dough very well, and let it ferment for a while before I shape them. For shaping these, I used a roller to stretch the dough, and once it has a thickness of around 5 cm, I used a plate to cut them in circles. A couple of holes with a fork, to avoid them to rise, were necessary. After this done, they only baked for 20 minutes in the oven. I will maybe try to make them a little bit thicker next time, but they were still very good: Quite crispy outside with a thin soft layer of dough inside.
I am reading: Japonisme: The art of finding contentment by Erin Niimi Longhurst
I continue discovering the cultures that are not very familiar to me. Last month, reading about hygge gave me a good understanding of the Danish culture, and this month I made the same with Japanese! This book written by a Japanese-British writer who was raised by soaking both of these cultures and this gave her a great ability to appreciate them, and more importantly to communicate them so we can appreciate as well.
I always had a deep interest to know more about Japanese lifestyle, especially since I learned about “ikigai”. As far as I explained it to myself, ikigai is the reason of my being in this life, and a balance between the things we do, including our work and our free time. This book his book had all about making our life more joyful: nature, thermal waters, decoration, houses, flower composition, calligraphy, tea ceremony and food.
From the food chapters, I got to learn different Japanese food, especially the fermented products, bento boxes, sushi, ramen and etc. Moreover, deeper meaning behind the tea ceremony and the necessary items were explained in detail.
I recommend this book for anyone interested in Japanese culture, and would like to learn about each aspect briefly.
Photography: Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year
I was thrilled to see that a photo of mine was shortlisted in for the Wine Photographer of The Year, for people category. This is very important for me, as an amateur photographer, when I get appreciation from such photography contests. You can see all the shortlisted photos from this link, and the finalists and winners from this one.
Keeping the vineyard at home: Vine Prunings
Nova Scotia, being one of the “coolest” cool climate wine growing region in the world, the buds break relatively later than most of the other wine regions. Currently, the wines are pruned and we are waiting for the vines to wake up. While we are waiting, I got some of the pieces of canes, the pieces which were cut to prune the wines. I simply cut them in smaller pieces and placed them in front of the window in a jar full of water. This gives them everything they need, heat, sunlight and water. I took 4 different varieties which have difference times of budbreak: Frontenac blanc, Petite Pearl from hybrids, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Vitis vinifera. Once they wake up I will be capturing some nice photos and letting you know.
I hope everyone keep well and safe.
All images © 2020 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.