This week, we sail to Turkey to visit the great temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which at its peak was one of the world's largest and richest cities. Since the temple is gone, we'll tour the ruined city and eat a seafood feast.
To start with, try the stuffed mussels, or midye dolma, which is our recipe of the week. I found this recipe at http://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2015/06/homemade-stuffed-mussels-with-aromatic-rice-midye-dolma
We start with the stuffing. Soak the dried currants in warm water for 15 minutes to rehydrate them. While they rest, rinse the short-grain rice under cold water, then drain and set aside. Drain the currants and put them aside as well.
Sauté the onions in a 1/4 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Then add an ounce of pine nuts and stir frequently for 3 minutes. After that, add the rice, the currants, a very finely chopped tomato, the tomato paste, freshly ground black pepper, cinnamon and salt to taste. spices and season with salt to your taste. Pour in a cup of hot water and stir it all together. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. At this point, the rice should still have a bit of a bite. Remove from heat and add a handful of chopped parsley and a handful of chopped dill. You can make the rice a day ahead of time, which would help the flavors develop.
Now for the mussels. Mussels seems really daunting, but they’re not that difficult. Put 25-30 large mussels in a big bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean, scraping off any dirt that may linger. I find at this point that soaking the mussels in warm water for 15 minutes helps relax them, which makes opening them easier. Use the point of a thin knife to cut around the edges of the two halves of the shell. Open them, but don’t separate the two halves.
Pour the juice from each mussel to a bowl. Then, clean them by removing any beards or debris that is still attached. Any mussels that smell funny or are open before you start to clean them should be thrown away. Once the mussels are cleaned and cut, scoop about 2 tsp. of stuffing into each mussel (trying not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.
Place the mussels side-by-side on a wide heavy pan, but do not layer them. If you need another pan, that’s fine, but use a single layer of mussels only.
Strain the mussel juice to remove any solids. Add the juice to enough water to fill one cup and pour this over the mussels. It should only cover them about halfway. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to rest so the rice soaks up all the water. These are traditionally served cold, but I like them warm. If you like sweet, succulent, salty, savory, this is for you.
This week, it's off to Greece's Peloponnese peninsula, to visit Olympia, home of the Statue of Zeus and the original Olympic Games. We'll also take a side trip to Sparta and seek out that most Greek of healthy fats: olive oil.
This is a recipe for tepsi, a layered baked casserole dish from Iraq, which I'm borrowing from someone who borrowed it from someone else. Not overly spiced, but frying the components and baking the final dish gives the flavors a chance to intensify.
I found this recipe on the web, written by someone named Hans buried in the answers for a random Yahoo answers question. That's all I know about him, but this seems the best I've found. If you follow this, you'll have far more rice than you'll need, but that's OK, since you can use that for other purposes. The paprika sauce burns very quickly, so be careful with that.
A typical Egyptian street Koshary dish is combined of 6 layers of ingredients served on top of each other in a deep plate not mixed. You then have the option to add two sauces that are served on the side, mix your plate..and DIG-IN
So in total we are talking about 8 components for an authentic Koshary meal, which you can mostly prepare the day before.
Please find some tips at the end to make your Koshary compete with the best restaurant in Egypt!!! Promise
From Bottom up, the 6 layers of the koshary dish are:
2 Rice with Vermicelli noodles
3 Boiled lentils
4 Tomato Sauce with Garlic
5 Fried onions
the two sauces served on the side are:
Hot Paprika Sauce
Garlic lemon sauce
Following is simple recipes for each of these components:
for 4 persons
PASTA 250 gms
Use the smallest "Penne" you can find for this recipe, the perfect pasta is called "Ditanlini", which is a short straight tube no longer than 1/4 inch. Boil the pasta, sieve it and mix it with 1 table spoon of oil and 1/2 tsp salt.
Rice (1 1/2 cup) with Vermicelli noodles(1/4 cup)
In a pot, stir fry the Vermicelli in 1 spoon of oil until dark brown, add the washed rice, stir for two minutes. Add 2 cups of boiling water, salt and paper. put on very low heat and cover for 20 minutes.
Boiled lentils (1 cup) -can be prepared the day before and heated in the microwave before serving.
Use Black or green whole lentils for this recipe. Boil the lentils in 4 cups of water, strain and season with salt and pepper.
Tomato Sauce with Garlic - can be prepared the day before and heated before serving
Stir-fry 1 minced onion with two garlic cloves in a pot with one spoon of oil. When yellow, add two cans of whole tomatoes or 1 KG of fresh ripe tomatoes cut to small pieces. Add a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend the sauce until smooth and put back on heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Salt + pepper
Fried onions - can be prepared the day before.
This is the most annoying part of making a Koshary, because of the smell that fills the house when frying the onions. You may find in a Chinese Deli ready fried onions that can serve well for this recipe. just mix 1 cup of it with 1 spoon oil, 3 spoons water and 1/2 tsp salt. microwave for 2 minutes and here you go.
If you want to be authentic (recommended) cut two large onions very small, season with 1/2 tsp of salt and mix well to separate the onion. Fry in the widest pan you have in 1/4 cup of hot oil , keep stirring until very dark brown. Almost black. Pick the now fluffy and crunchy fried onions to absorbent paper. Don't get rid of the remaining oil - see my tips
Chickpeas - the easiest part of the recipe -
buy a can of chickpeas, open it and rinse it under running water!!!!
Hot paprika Sauce - can be prepared the day before no heating needed.
heat 3 spoons of oil in a small pan, remove from heat, mix two spoons of hot Paprika , add 3 spoons of tomato sauce which you already prepared. serve in a small bowl on the side
Garlic Lemon Sauce - again ..prepare the day before...
Mix 3 minced garlic cloves with 1/8 cup white vinegar, 1 big lemon juice, 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp coriander powder.
Do not use Olive oil for this recipe, it will change the taste
Use the oil you used for frying the onions to mix with the Pasta.
We travel to Babylon in Iraq, to search for the elusive remains of Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens, which might have not have been his at all. We'll also try masguf and tepsi, Iraqi specialties which have been enjoyed for centuries.