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Tag Archives | Turkish red pepper flakes

Broad beans dip with dill and sautéed red peppers – Zeytinyagli, Kirmizi Biberli Fava

Bountiful, seasonal produce at the Farmer's Market, Pazar, in Istanbul; of one my favorite places to visit as soon as I am at home.

Bountiful, seasonal produce at the Farmers’ Market, Pazar, in Istanbul; of one my favorite places to visit as soon as I am at home.

I love this time of the year when all the fresh produce is at its best. Farmers’ Markets or Pazar, as we call it in Turkish, are packed with ripe juicy tomatoes (why not enjoy tomatoes in this Gavurdagi Salad of ripe tomatoes, walnuts with pomegranate molasses dressing), slim gorgeous aubergines /eggplants (try Imam Bayildi, eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables; a delicious and refreshing vegetarian course you can prepare ahead of time), watermelon, peppers and many more. Turkish cuisine is based on using fresh, seasonal produce and seeing these is a paradise on a plate for me.

Fresh broad beans; I love their earthy, delicious flavour

Fresh broad beans; I love their earthy, delicious flavour

 I was delighted to find fresh broad beans or fava beans in my local farmers market a few weeks ago. Fresh broad beans are available from late spring until about end of August. Broad beans were a staple food in ancient times and they are common in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines today. They are very high in protein and fiber and naturally low in fat and cholesterol. I love their unique, earthy flavor, especially in this popular mezze in Turkey; Fava, Pureed broad beans with dill, lemon juice and olive oil. Traditionally, we use dried broad beans for this puree; this time I used fresh broad beans and it worked really well.

Broad beans puree with dill and sauteed peppers in olive oil; a delicious dip

Broad beans puree with dill and sauteed peppers in olive oil; a scrumptious dip

I especially loved the bright sweetness of the fresh broad beans in this appetizer. Blended with dill, olive oil and lemon juice, it turned out to be a delicious, earthy dip. It has a consistency of a thick hummus and is delightful on toasted bread or crackers. I served this dip with sautéed strips of red peppers in red pepper flakes (pul biber) infused olive oil; the sweetness of the peppers and the touch of spice from the red pepper flakes worked so well with the earthy flavor of the broad beans. As you can prepare ahead of time, it makes a lovely entertaining dish. This broad beans puree keeps very well in the fridge for a good few days.

Serves 2 – 4

200 gr/ 7 oz./1  ¾   cups fresh broad beans, shelled (or a generous 1 cup dried broad beans)

1 small potato, cut in chunky cubes

1 small onion, roughly chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

5ml/ 1 tsp. brown sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

30ml/ 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To serve:

1 small red bell (or pointy) pepper, deseeded and cut into thin stripes

30ml/2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

30ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil

5ml/1 tsp. Turkish red pepper flakes (pul biber)

fresh broad beans, onions and potatoes work well in this delicious dip

Fresh broad beans, onions and potatoes work well in this delicious dip

If you are using dried broad beans, place the beans in a bowl of water and soak overnight or for at least 4-6 for six hours. Drain beans and then cook them in boiling water with the potatoes and onions. Simmer for about 40-45 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, drain the water and set aside to cool.

If you are using fresh broad beans, blanch the shelled beans in boiling water for about a minute, then grasp them by the furrowed ends and slip them out of their skins.

In a small saucepan, add these broad beans, potatoes and onions, cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Pulse the cooked beans and vegetables with dill in a food processor to form a purée consistency.

Pulse the cooked beans and vegetables with dill in a food processor to form a purée consistency.

Pulse the cooked beans and vegetables with dill in a food processor to form a purée consistency. Remove from the food processor into a bowl and stir in olive oil, sugar and lemon juice. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste.

Broad beans and vegetables puree; chill and set in the fridge.

Broad beans and vegetables puree; chill and set in the fridge.

Just before serving, gentlyheat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the Turkish red pepper flakes. Add the stripes of red bell peppers, combine and cook for a few minutes. The red pepper flakes will infuse to the olive oil and turn into a lovely red color. Stir in the fresh dill and turn the heat off.

Once the broad beans puree is set in the fridge, unmold, turn the puree over on a serving dish. Drizzle the sautéed peppers and the olive oil over and around the pureed broad beans dip. You can enjoy this delicious dip with toasted bread or crackers aside.

Broad beans puree with dill and sauteed peppers in olive oil; a delicious dip

Broad beans puree with dill and sauteed peppers in olive oil; a delicious dip, great for entertaining.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Tips for buying fresh fava (broad beans):

  • When purchasing fresh fava beans (or broad beans), look for bright green pods that are free of yellow patches. Large beans are starchy and firm, while smaller ones are sweeter and tenderer.
  • If you are buying shelled beans, make sure they are tender and have a smooth surface.
  • To store shelled fava beans, spread them out in a single layer and cover them loosely with plastic wrap for up to three days.

 

 

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Chocolate Cake with a Tickle of Red Pepper Flakes – Some like it (a little) hot!

I have been hooked by the Spice Trip TV program where one of my favorite chefs Stevie Parle and the spice expert Emma Grazette have been travelling around the world to discover the wonderful, magical world of spices. They have been to Mexico a few weeks ago, exploring the chillies and Stevie produced a gorgeous looking Mexican style chocolate cake with chilli flakes in it. Chillies are so varied in Mexican cuisine and they do appear at sweet and savory dishes – not to forget the famous Mexican hot chocolate with chilies. I loved the idea of the warmness a touch of red pepper flakes would bring to the cake.

Chocolate cake with a tickle of red pepper flakes; moist, delicious and certainly will keep you warm 🙂

Since then, I have been very tempted to reproduce this delicious, very easy chocolate cake, using Turkish red pepper flakes. We Turks notoriously add red pepper flakes to almost all savory dishes, but experimenting with chillies in cakes and desserts was a first for me, so I must say, I was cautious. The original recipe asks for 2 tsp dried chilli flakes – I used just a shy of 1  1/2 tsp Turkish red pepper flakes, as they have a strong, smoky flavor. The result was a delicious but not overpowering  touch of spice that gets you after a while, and brings you warmness. Here is what my 8 year old son thought of the cake; “ You get the yummy chocolate taste first, then in a while you feel a tickle of spice, I liked it”. We enjoyed this spicy twist to the chocolate cake and I liked the surprise element to it and seeing the smiles on friends who tried!

Have you added chillies to your sweet creations before? I would love to hear your experiences.

This recipe is slightly adapted from Stevie Parle’s original recipe, which also calls for 2 tbsp tequila –  a delicious addition. You can decorate your cake with pomegranates seeds for a festive look and taste.

Serves 10

Preparation time: 15 minutes                                                     Cooking time: 20 minutes

200gr/7oz dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids

200gr/7oz unsalted butter

1 ½ tsp Turkish red pepper flakes or chilli flakes

4 eggs

150gr/ 5 ¼ oz golden caster sugar

45gr/3 tbsp ground almonds

15ml/ 1 tbsp plain flour –(for gluten-free version, please use gluten and wheat free plain white flour blend)

A pinch of sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4/350F

Line a 23cm round cake tin with grease proof paper and grease with  butter.

Chocolate and red pepper flakes; rather unusual yet surprisingly delicious.

 

Melt the chocolate, butter and red pepper flakes in a glass or metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, taking care not to burn the chocolate. The bowl must not touch the water as this will split the mixture. Remove from the heat, stir and leave for a few minutes to cool.

Stir in the ground almonds and the flour to the chocolate mixture; the ground almonds are not only healthy but also keep the cake deliciously moist.

Stir in the eggs, one by one, and then the sugar, followed by the almonds, flour and a pinch of salt. Pour the batter into the cake tin and sprinkle with the salt flakes. Bake for 20 minutes.

The chocolate cake with red pepper flakes, baked - ready to cool.

Leave to cool, then cut into slices. It is a rich, moist cake, so you don’t need thick slices.

The chocolate cake has a nice crust but it is deliciously moist inside.

The cake looks lovely and festive when decorated with pomegranate seeds. The tangy taste of the pomegranates also complement the rich chocolate cake well.

Chocolate cake with red pepper flakes - hope you enjoy it 🙂

 

Wishing You All A Wonderful Festive Season & Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

Covent Garden, London, looking very festive, December 2010. A more recent photo will follow shortly!

 

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Sizzling Chicken Kebab and Roasted Vegetables on pide (pitta) bread

Have you ever had the wonderful sizzling kebabs in Turkey? There is a kebab house at every corner at home, and the smells, sights are always very inviting. Family and friends gather around Ocakbasi, to witness and enjoy Asci (Chef) preparing and grilling succulent meats, vegetables, making pide (pitta) bread for hours; a ritual I love and miss very much. So I thought to recreate this wonderful dish at home- and you would be pleased to know that it is very easy to tackle. You can prepare most of the stages ahead of time, which makes the dish a great choice for entertaining. The kebab looks impressive, tastes wonderful and you can ensemble the final dish the day of your party – so the host gets to enjoy the company too! You can replace chicken with any other meat of your choice, or for a vegetarian option, mushrooms, eggplants, courgettes all work very well.

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Chicken kebabs marinated in yoghurt, spices and olive oil; delicious with roasted vegetables on flat bread, pide, or pita bread

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 40 minutes Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

2 eggplants (aubergine)
6-8 small bell peppers (green, orange, yellow or red) or 3 big ones, cut in chunks
3-4 tablespoons olive oil for roasting the vegetables
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes – optional-
2 large naan breads or 4 small pitta breads cut into chunky stripes
225gr/8oz natural plain yoghurt
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish

For the tomato sauce:
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
30ml/2tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For marinating the chicken:
385gr/13 1/2oz chicken breast, cut in small chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
30ml/2 tablespoon natural plain yoghurt
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste and 10ml/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
OR
15ml / 1 tablespoon red pepper paste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

First marinate the chicken. In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces with the marination ingredients listed above and mix well. Cover and keep in the fridge at least for 30 minutes. This marination adds a wonderful flavor to the chicken and make the chicken breast tenderer. You can also prepare this marination a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

For the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion and cook until they begin to color. Stir in the chopped tomotoes, mix well. Cook uncovered on medium to low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat. You can prepare the tomato sauce a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered.

On the day of your party, you can do the rest of the cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Then cut each slice into three parts. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the marinated chicken breast. Sauté for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will give a nice brown coloring to the meat and seal the juices to keep them moist. Season with salt and black pepper and turn the heat off.

On a baking tray, spread the eggplant slices and the colorful peppers. Drizzle the olive oil over them and season with salt and black pepper (you can also sprinkle red pepper flakes over them for extra heat). Coat all the pieces with olive oil and seasoning and roast in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until they are chargrilled around the edges.

At the same time of the vegetables roasting, place the chicken pieces and the marination sauce around them on a wide baking dish and roast for about 35 minutes, until they are chargrilled.

Just before serving, place the pitta or naan bread on a baking tray and warm them up for about 5-8 minutes. Take a wide serving dish and warm in the oven for a few minutes.

Now it is time to ensemble the kebab. Place the stripes of the warm pitta (or naan) bread on your serving dish as a flat base. Spoon the tomato sauce over the bread and spread. Arrange the chicken kebabs and the roasted vegetables over the tomato sauce. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve hot, with dollops of the remaining sauce and yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Sizzling chicken kebabs with roasted vegetables; delicious with garlic yoghurt by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem


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