Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Turkish Table, Yet Another Coronado Concerts in the Park Culinary Challenge

When we decided on Turkish Cuisine for our last Concert in the Park Culinary Challenge, I had a difficult time deciding what to try. I went to the bookstore at lunch one day, browsed through three cookbooks, and came home with Turkish Cooking: Classic traditions, Fresh ingredients, Authentic flavours, Aromatic recipes. That same day, the new issue of Fine Cooking hit the stands and I got excited about a few more recipes.

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefslists the following under Turkish Cuisine: beef, chicken, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, dill, eggplant, fish, garlic, goat/sheep cheese, honey, lamb, lemon, mint, nutmeg, olive oil, onions, paprika, parsley, pepper, phyllo dough, rice, sesame seeds, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts and yogurt.

Fine Cooking's Rustic Fig and Raspberry Mini Crostatas called out to me, especially with figs in season. Although probably more Italian-inspired than Turkish, the recipe does contain honey and cinnamon. So, let's start with dessert!

Rustic Fig and Raspberry Mini Crostatas
Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking #106
(Yields 8)


1 2/3 cup (7.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (3/4 oz.) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 oz.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


3/4 pound small, fresh figs (8-10 figs), stems removed and quartered
2 cups fresh raspberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
8 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs 
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 thin slices
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine the flours, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and pulse. If mixture seems dry, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture just begins to come together. Do not over mix.  Dump the dough out on clean work surface, gather it together and portion it into 8 rounds (about 2.5 oz. each). Flatten each round into a disk and wrap individually in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Assembly and Baking

When ready to bake, position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each dough disk into a 6 inch round. Put 4 rounds on each baking sheet.

Prepare the filling in a medium bowl by combining the figs, raspberries, 1/3 cup sugar, honey, thyme, and orange zest. Fold very gently until combined.

Sprinkle each round of dough 1 tablespoon of graham cracker crumbs around the center portion of each dough round, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Mound the filling into the center of each dough round, trying to evenly distribute the fruit so you have about 4 fig quarters and 4 raspberries in each). Top each crostata with a butter slice.

Fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit to create a 1 inch rim, leaving the center exposed. Work your way around, pleating the dough as you go. With a pastry brush, brush the crusts with cream and sprinkle the crusts and filling with the remaining sugar.

Bake until the crostatas are golden-brown, 30-35 minutes, swapping and rotating the baking sheets' positions half way through baking.   Transfer baking sheets to racks to cool for 5 minutes. Gently loosen crostatas with a spatula and then let cool completely on baking sheets. The crostatas are best served the day they are made.

Not too sweet, with a light flaky crust, and a rustic, beautiful result...

Next up, from my new Turkish Cooking cookbook, I chose Deep-Fried Mussels in Beer Batter with Garlic-Flavoured Walnut Sauce, using half mussels and half calamari. It was a bit challenging deep-frying at the park, but I wanted to recreate what is very much part of the street-food scene. This is also one of the popular hot meze dishes in fish restaurants.  And, I'm on a mussel kick lately!

Deep-Fried Mussels and Calamari in Beer Batter, with Garlic-Flavored Walnut Sauce

Canola or Safflower oil for deep frying
*50 fresh mussels, cleaned, shelled and patted dry (steam the mussels open for 3-4 minutes and then remove the mussel meat from the shells)
*I used a combination of 2 pounds fresh mussels and about 1/2 pound calamari (bodies cut into rings) and tentacles 


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 egg yolks
1 cup beer or lager

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a bowl. Make a well in the middle and drop in the egg yolks. Using a wooden spoon, slowly beat in the beer and draw in the flour from the edges of the well until a smooth, thick batter is formed. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Walnut-Garlic Sauce

1/2 cup shelled walnuts
2 slices day old bread, crusts removed, sprinkled with water and left for a few minutes, then squeezed dry
2-3 garlic cloves
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
dash of white wine vinegar
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Pound the walnuts to a paste using a mortar and pestle, or whiz them in a blender. Add the bread and garlic, and pound again to into a paste. Drizzle in the olive oil, stirring all the time, and beat in the lemon juice and vinegar. The sauce should be smooth, with the consistency of thick double cream. If it is too dry, stir in a little water. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.  (Note: I was unable to get the right consistency, and ended up adding a little sour cream. I also added a pinch of cayenne and paprika).


Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a wok or other deep-sided pan. Using your fingers, dip each mussel into the batter and drop into the hot oil. Fry in batches for a minute or two until golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on a couple paper towels. Serve hot, accompanied by the sauce.


Also, from Turkish Cooking, John made Potatoes Baked with Tomatoes, Olives, Feta and Oregano (second collage, bottom right). You can see from the photo collages below, we had quite a Turkish table featuring meze and salads, meat, fish, kabobs, pilaf, and desserts.  Chris, just back from vacation in Turkey, grilled beef and chicken kabobs to go with the pilaf.  Kai put together a huge meze platter of assorted Turkish nibbles, and Carmen made three dishes:  Lamb with Grape Leaves, Feta Cheese Bread, and a Quince and Nuts baked dessert.

We had a big crowd, and I'm so excited everyone is getting into these challenges with such gusto!

Next week, for the biggest concert of of summer, with Rockola, break out Thomas Keller's The French Laundry CookbookAd Hoc at Home,  Bouchon or Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide.  And you better start cooking now!



bunkycooks said...

The smells from all of these dishes must have been amazing! What a great idea for a theme. BTW, I saw that beautiful tart on Tastespotting! :)

Mark @ Cafe Campana said...

I have never seen a walnut sauce like this before. It looks very smooth and luscious. I would be interested to taste it.

Kai said...

Love the collage of the photos! I believe I still smell like garlic from the Sunday feast.
I already ordered one of my key ingredients from Napa yesterday, should be getting it tomorrow.
Coincidentally, we went to the French Laundry on our 10 year anniversary; this Sunday will be our 12 year anniversary, what were the odds for that?

Sippity Sup said...

I have been cooking quite a bit od Turkish lately too. Walnuts seems to be a common theme. Walnut and feta stuffing is something to look for too. GREG