Thursday, December 31, 2015

Baking Bread in a Closed Clay Pot

      

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread is the beginning of another dream. 


Ingredients

250 grams all-purpose flour
250 grams whole-wheat flour
300-350 ml mineral water
20 grams fresh yeast
9-10 grams salt 
 5 grams caster sugar






Method

1. Add the yeast to the mineral water and stir until the yeast is dissolved completely.
2. Add salt and sugar to the yeast-mineral water mixture. 
3. Add the flour slowly. Knead for some 10 minutes until you shape it into a ball. 
4. Put the dough into the bowl and a damp cloth over the bowl. Leave the bowl somewhere warm for one to two hours until the dough doubles in volume. 
5. Punch the dough down and shape it using a bit more flour to prevent sticking, if necessary. 
6. Put the dough into the bowl again and cover it with a damp cloth again. Leave the bowl in a warm place for another 30 minutes. The dough should rise some more.
7. Meanwhile, apply a light coating of vegetable oil to the inside of clay pot/baker or Dutch oven and heat it to 250°C. 
8. Get the clay pot/baker or Dutch oven out, place the loaf inside of  the clay pot/baker or Dutch oven. Put it back in the oven.
9. Bake for about 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°C and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.*
10. Let it cool down completely before slicing. 


*You can double the amounts of ingredients here. In that case, remember to bake the dough longer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Eid al-Adha in Sarajevo, Vol II

Remember the post about how the meat is shared with others on Eid al-Adha in Sarajevo? Well, consider this post as volume II then.


The meat is divided into small portions and sent to relatives, neighbours, and those in need around you as the practice goes in most muslim countries. What makes me write this post is the interesting Bosnian custom to sprinkle nigella seeds over the meat before putting it into those printed plastic bags. 


I believe this custom originates from the Prophet Mohammad's advice to use nigella seeds: 

'Use the black seed because it has a relief of all diseases, but death.'

However, I haven't heard or read anything else to explain how the custom started and evolved and among Bosniaks. If you know anything about this, please drop me a line or leave a comment under the post. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Carrot & Garlic Soup


I haven't got much to say. This soup is good food indeed.

video

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
450 grams carrots, peeled and grated
1,2 - 1,5 litres boiling water or vegetable stock
salt and black pepper 
(Optional) ground dried mint

Method

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic, then fry for a couple minutes until softened. 
2. Add the carrots and cook until the colour changes. Add salt and pepper. 
3. Add water/stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 mins until the carrots are tender.
4. Using a hand blender or food processor blitz until smooth. Return to pan, taste, add more salt if necessary.
5. (Optional) Season with ground dried mint before serving.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Eid al-Adha in Sarajevo

I've always enjoyed spotting differences between things. Since I moved to Sarajevo, I've been doing it so much between Turkish customs and traditions and the Bosnian ones. This has actually revealed a lot about Bosnian identity in different ways. Well, I'd rather write another post about this and go back to a detail about Eid al-Adha in Sarajevo that I've wanted to share with you for a long time. 



On this religious festival, muslim people share the meat of the sacrificed animal (usually a cow, but can also be a camel, goat, sheep or ram depending on the region) with relatives, friends, neighbours and the poor and needy while remaining some meat for themselves. OK, there is nothing different about this practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina, muslim Bosnians share the meat too. However, there is something different about how they do it: printed plastic bags are used to put the meat in and share. These small bags are white usually with the picture of a ram and the bajram greeting on them. 


I find this tradition quite interesting. It shows, first of all, how meticulous Bosnian people are when hygiene and customs are concerned. Almost everybody uses these bags which you can buy at any grocery shop or supermarket. I think this is the extension of the Western mind that's been shaping Bosnia since the Ottoman rule left the region. 

Secondly, the bajram greeting printed in green on these bags tell you a great deal about the Turkish heritage in these lands. It reads 'Bajram šerif mubarek olsun'* on the bag (take a look at the picture above) and the same greeting is written in Arabic letters which is the Ottoman Turkish itself. The cultural tradition of greeting each other with this phrase is still in use as it was introduced in the Turkish language during the Ottoman rule. The greeting has been preserved in the way it was adopted long long years ago. Amazing! 



* 'Have a blessed celebration/festival'

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Britain vs. America: Vegetable Names

I've come across this video on Anglophenia in which Kate Arnell teaches seven vegetables with different names in America and Britain. Quite useful whichever side of the pond you live.

video



Saturday, September 26, 2015

September Drinks



When I first saw the pears my father-in-law offered me the other day, to be honest, I wasn't thrilled at all. They were pretty small and had very dark skin. They seemed tasteless or even rotten. 

Appearances can be deceiving. They were super sweet and soft inside which inspired me to make a September drink to offer to my guests on bajram* visits. After adding some dried figs and cloves, it turned into a perfect seasonal drink with a sweet and pleasant taste.

All you need to get this zingy drink is place pears, figs and cloves into a pan, fill it up with water and bring to a boil. Then simmer until all the ingredients get soft and release their flavours into the mixture. Then add caster sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved and remember that the amount of all these ingredients depends on your personal taste. Play with them. 




* Both Eid and Eid al-Adha in Bosnian.

Getting Ready for Eid al-Adha 2015



My mother-in-law never skips traditional Bosnian pie for bajrams* (both Eid and Eid al-Adha celebrated by Muslims). She makes two types of the well-known pie (one with cheese and one with minced meat**) the day before bajram. You wake up to the smell of the fresh baked pies and drool until the men come back from the bajram prayer at the mosque. The breakfast table is set and everybody digs in. 

A panorama in 12 folds showing Muslims returning from their Mosques after Eid prayers in the Mughal Empire


* Eid in Bosnian 
**Bosnian pie is also made with spinach or other green leaves, squash or potatoes.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Back to the Kitchen: Zucchini Fritters


Ingredients
2 medium zucchini, grated
1/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
zest of 1 small lemon
1 clove of garlic, minced
handful of grated cheese, Parmesan or pecorino
pinch of dried oregano and mint
handful of fresh parsley and dill leaves, chopped
salt and black pepper 
olive oil for shallow-frying

Method
1. Add salt to the grated zucchini in a large bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Place a colander over the sink and press the zucchini against the holes of the colander with a wooden spoon to extract the water. You should squeeze out small handfuls at a time. 
3. Put the zucchini back to the bowl. Mix in all the other ingredients (except olive oil) and scrunch it all up very well with your hands.
4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry tablespoons of zucchini mixture over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side. 
5. Serve warm with yogurt.  

Notes
*Wring out the zucchini very well. Otherwise, your fritters will go soggy.
* Adjust the herbs and flavours to your taste. Leave out or add in any ingredient. 
* If the mixture turns watery, add more breadcrumbs. 
* Don't over-crowd the frying pan with fritters. 
* Drain the fritters on paper towel before serving. 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lemon Cake

 "...man is not truly one, but truly two."

Ingredients
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
125 grams butter, softened , plus extra for greasing the tin
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely grated zest (2 lemons)
4 medium eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the baking tin or mould
 with softened butter and dust with flour.
2. Dust flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and
 mix.
3. Beat together butter, sugar, cream and lemon zest in
 another bowl using an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time mixing slowly through.
5. Stir in olive oil, vanilla extract and lemon juice. 
6. Sift in the flour mixture and using a spatula mix until well
 combined.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a thin skewer inserted into
 the centre of the cake comes out clean
8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or spread jam over before
 serving.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Date & Cocoa Raw Truffles


“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”

This is the simplest version of date truffles. Don't hesitate to add in your favourite spices or nuts to the mix. Even for the coating, you can go for ground nuts, shredded coconut or even sesame seeds. 


Ingredients
  • 10-15 soft dates
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (15 grams)
  • 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil/rum/vanilla extract, optional
  • some unsweetened cocoa more to roll the truffles
Method

1. De-seed the dates and process them with cocoa powder into a smooth paste in a food processor.

2. Depending on your dates, the paste might turn too hard or crumbly to shape. Then use a bit of oil, vanilla extract or alcohol to help it come together.

3. Take a spoonful of the paste and roll it between your palms to make balls. The size of the balls is all up to you.

4.  Roll them over unsweetened cocoa. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hummus


“Excellent!" I cried. "Elementary," said he.” 

Ingredients
125 grams dried chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini 
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, depending on taste
3 tablespoons water, plus more depending on the thickness of hummus

Method
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of water. Drain and transfer to a pan of boiling water. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 1 to 2 hours, until tender. Drain and return to the pan. 
2. In a food processor, combine tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and process for 30 seconds.
2. Add in the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin and salt to the mixture. Process for another 1 minute.
3. Add half of the chickpeas and process for 1 minute. Scrape sides and add the remaining chickpeas. Process for another 2 minutes or until you get a thick and smooth consistency. 
4. To get a thinner and even smoother consistency, add in 3 tablespoons of water with the processor on. 
5. Transfer to a plate and drizzle with olive oil. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Classic Raspberry Crisp


I've been looking for an easy recipe that would combine oatmeal, coconut and fruit and finally found it on the reluctantentertainer.com: raspberry crisp. Such a delicious and healthy dessert! You can serve it with your favorite vanilla ice cream or plain sour cream. Remember that you can go for more coconut or add in even ground cinnamon for a change.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, gently toss raspberries with sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour.
  2. Pour the berries into a greased 8-in. square baking dish.
  3. In another large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, coconut, and remaining flour.
  4. Add in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Lightly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the berries.
  6. Bake at 185 C° for 30 minutes or until golden brown.