turkish poached eggs in yogurt (cilbir)

Turkish poached eggs in yogurt (cilbir)
I have a feeling that when I meet new people I have barely got the social niceties out of the way before I am grilling them on their favourite foods. Omer was no exception, as he told me about cilbir, a Turkish egg and yogurt dish, his favourite comfort food from childhood. Sadly, something got a bit lost in translation as Omer's passionate defence of gloopy eggs in a sour yogurt sauce sounded, frankly, revolting. But then Omer isn't much of a cook and hadn't actually cooked it himself. And in trying to get firmer details, I struggled as my Turkish is non-existent too.

burn baby burn (or heathcliffe's chilli burn odyssey: a cautionary tale)

dried chillies, used for illustrative purposes only!
What do you do when one of your dearest friends phones with a problem? Of course you listen, while trying to work out whether they are laughing or crying, and try to make sense of the stream-of-conscious excitable babble from the other end of the phone. You're a good friend, and a shoulder to cry on when necessary. Except, of course, this time you can't help and you are desperately trying not to guffaw with laughter.

what's in season: october

windfall apples, October 2015
Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.

The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.

They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.

In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.

I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.

Laurie Lee (1914-1997)

vietnamese chicken noodle soup (pho)

 Vietnamese chicken noodle soup (pho)
That I love Asian noodles I think is probably a given. A Vietnamese-style pho (pronounced "fuh") is one of my favourite meals, especially if I have any leftover roast meat to use up. So if you're thinking ahead to Sunday's roast chicken lunch, think how good Monday's supper will be (particularly if you use the carcass to make a stock).

halloumi tikka (squeaky cheese in a spicy yogurt marinade!)

grilled halloumi tikka
This year's BBQ season was somewhat short-lived, which is a bit of shame as I didn't have many opportunities to roll out one of my BBQ favourites, halloumi tikka. Fortunately though, you don't have to wait until the temperature rises and the sun comes out. It works perfectly well under the grill or in a hot pan.

salmon and blackberry salad with blackberry dressing

salmon and blackberry salad with blackberry dressing
I had this glorious Chinese-style blackberry sauce on a piece of salmon recently. It's sweet and tart and, if I say so myself, utterly divine. The sauce actually works rather well with grilled chicken too. I suspect it would be lovely with pork chops too.

turkish-style cucumber and tomato soup

turkish-style cucumber and tomato soup
So much for the expected heatwave. Oh well, I love this simple soup, which is slightly tart and refreshing on a hot day (rain or not and rather nice at the end of summer too. Don't be deceived by its somewhat sludgy appearence!

Goat's cheese and blackberry salad with blackberry vinaigrette

Goat's cheese and blackberry salad with blackberry vinaigrette
I live a simpler life these days. Part of it is a case of cutting my coat according to my cloth. Part is wanting to live a more sustainable life. I suppose my priorities have changed and these days I just don't feel a sense of envy for the things I don't have (mainly my lack of designer shoes!).

what's in season: september

wild brambles (about 20 feet from my front door!)
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots

a zesty beluga lentil and roasted tomato salad with herbs

a zesty beluga lentil and roasted tomato salad with herbs
I love the taste and texture of beluga (black) lentils, so-called for their supposed resemblance to caviar. Admittedly, when wet, the lentils seem to glisten like caviar fish eggs. But sadly, I find that they do lose their intense black colour during cooking. But brown or not, it really doesn't matter as they still taste good. If you can't get hold of beluga lentils then use Puy or French green lentils (which won't disintegrate during cooking).

tamarind and honey prawns (assam prawns)

 tamarind and honey prawns (assam prawns)
I've used Malaysian tastes for my influence with this marinade. Nothing could be simpler, just sweet with honey and bold with the sour taste of tamarind. It is lovely with prawns but very good with chicken too.

too hot to cook? zhejiang "drunken" chicken is the solution

Zheijang "drunken" chicken
The only downside of having a kitchen that faces south is that during the hot weather it can approach furnace-like temperatures, despite the fact that I leave the back door open while I am cooking. I find myself either cooking less or cooking things that can be prepared ahead of time, when the temperatures are a bit cooler, either late in the evening or early in the morning.