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Finding Classic Ottoman Cuisine at Istanbul's Ciragan Palace Kempinski Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 26 August 2012 07:17

TugraAs I mentioned in my post on "Finding the Familiar (Produce-wise) in Turkey," one of the interesting trends I found on my trip to Istanbul earlier this year was the return of Ottoman cuisine. And one of the restaurants serving this cuisine is even located in a renovated Ottoman Imperial Palace: Tugra, the signature restaurant at the Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel (pictured, right). Interestingly, for us gardens-to-tables types, one of the things that distinguishes Ottoman cuisine is a return to slower ways of cooking involving local seasonal ingredients -- which means, of course, that now we can all say, "if it's good enough for the Sultans, it's good enough for me."

For those who want to attempt Ottoman cooking at home, Tugra Chef Ahmet Kara was kind enough to share one of his signature recipes with us: the Triple "Gozleme" (stuffed pastry). Even better, the recipe includes a number of things probably found in our gardens (or farmers market) -- spinach, radishes, baby carrots, etc. Now, it may be hard to find pastirma here in the states but I am sure you can substitute the cured meat of your choice -- or leave it out for a vegetarian version of the dish. Enjoy!

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Sicilian-style Stuffed Zucchini Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Sunday, 22 July 2012 07:38

zzucchiniAs promised, for those of you who (like me) have an abundance of zucchini currently growing in your garden, here is a recipe for Sicilian-style stuffed zucchini, courtesy of my friend Tasha Zemke, who happens to live on an island off of Sicily. As you will see, the recipe is very Italian -- no amounts to the ingredients and a lot of smooshing and using your hands -- but that's what makes it fun, right? If it helps, throw in the occasional "abbondanza" while you work. Also, in her recipe, sardines or anchovies are suggested, but I'm guessing salted meats would also be good. Enjoy!

Cut a zucchini in half and hollow it out. Chop up the insides roughly and set them aside. Boil a pot full of salted water and stick in the halves and let them cook until you can prick them with a fork and they seem tender. Be careful, though, because if you overcook them, they'll fall apart and you want them to keep their shape.

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Raw Blackberry Tart from Travaasa Austin Print E-mail
Written by Linda Hayes   
Monday, 09 July 2012 11:28

While I enjoyed many delicious dishes during a recent stay at Travaasa Austin, one in particular stood out -- a raw blackberry tart from Executive Chef Benjamin Baker that had a rich, nutty crust that was pure summertime on a plate. I devoured it at a patio table under swaying oaks and within view of a striking canyonlands sunset, but it's sure to be just as tasty at your table.

Raw blackberry tartChef Ben's Raw Blackberry Tart
Serves 6

For the crust:
2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
2/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Divide mixture into six small pieces and mold into little concave tart shells. (The mixture should be very pliable and easy to shape.) Chill.

For the filling:
3-4 cups farm fresh blackberries
One Texas grapefruit, juiced
Agave nectar to taste
Fresh mint

Macerate the blackberries in grapefruit juice and sweeten with agave nectar. Fill the pre-chilled tart shells with the blackberry filling. Garnish with mint to serve.

 
Zucchini Bread with Pineapple and Pecans Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   
Wednesday, 04 July 2012 08:25

As I have mentioned on the community garden blog, the early summer star in my garden has been the zucchini. By last count, I have harvested 15 huge zucchinis from the one small seedling put in two months ago -- and it shows no signs of stopping. Naturally, that has led to a need for zucchini recipes. Here is the first (more to follow, including a recipe for Sicilian stuffed zucchini): a recipe for zucchini bread that was handed down from a friend's grandmother. I made the bread today for the 4th of July potluck at the community garden and it turned out great (very moist), so enjoy!

Zucchini breadIngredients
3 eggs beaten
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmug
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Add zucchini and crushed pineapple. Combine dry ingredients and add them to zucchini mixture. Mix well. Add pecans. Pour mixture into two greased and floured 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Cool 10 minutes in pans. Very moist. Will last a week or two in refrigerator. Freeze well.

 
Agua de Frescos from Quito's Casa Gangotena Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   
Friday, 08 June 2012 09:00

Agua de Fresca ingredientsCombine amaranth flowers, verbena, esencia de rosas, mint, sweet basil, spearmint, pena pena, lemongrass, fragrant mauve, lemon balm and "a little magic" and what do you have? The answer is the Agua de Frescos, the refreshing drink used to welcome guests to the Casa Gangotena, a boutique hotel fashioned from a restored mansion overlooking the Plaza San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

For those of us who aren't able to get to Quito (at least anytime soon) but who might be growing -- or have access to -- the ingredients, Andres E. Davila, the executive chef of Casa Gangotena, was kind enough to share the recipe. Even better, Chef Davila says it's pretty easy to make: You just have to boil the water, then turn it off and put all the herbs in for about 10 minutes. Then take the herbs out. Once the Agua de Frescos is cold, add a little sugar and fresh lemon juice.

"That's it. No big secrets, just pure and refreshing Casa Gangotena-style Agua de Frescos," said Chef Davila. Enjoy!

 
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