Saturday, 27 September 2014

Come to tea and biscuits

In the days running up to my holiday, I was restless. The Turkish Cay glasses came out and I set out to bake small batches of little nibbly biscuits to go with the copious amounts of tea I'd started drinking. 


These biscuits were truly a delight. They came together quickly and were melt-in-the-mouth delicious. Perfect as a pick-me-up or hostess gift in a hurry. Or perhaps for no reason at all but to accompany glasses of umber-coloured Cay while contemplating the endless delightful possibilities awaiting on your holiday.


Chinese Almond Biscuits
Adapted from BreadetButter

150g Plain Flour
100g Ground Almonds
65g Caster Sugar
Scant 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
Scant 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
A few drops Almond Essence
A pinch of Salt
100ml - 150ml Grapeseed Oil (or any other odourless Oil)
1 Egg White, beaten

Preheat the oven at 140 Celsius. Line a baking tray and set aside. 

Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk everything together. Make a well in the centre and add in the Essences and a little of the Oil. 

With clean hands, gently bring the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the Oil little by little as you go until you have a soft, crumbly dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. (depending on the weather and type of Oil used, you may need slightly more or less of it than stated in the recipe)

Roll into little balls and place on the baking tray. With a chopstick, make indents in the centre of each biscuit. Brush each biscuits with the Egg White. Bake at about 150 Celsius for about 20 - 25 minutes or until the tops turn a light golden brown. Leave to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container.


Variation:
Coconut Oil Almond Biscuits

150g Plain Flour
50g Ground Almonds
60g Caster Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
A pinch of Salt
6 - 8 tablespoons of liquid organic virgin Coconut Oil

Preheat the oven at 140 Celsius. Line a baking tray and set aside. 

Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk everything together. Make a well in the centre and add in the Essence and a little of the Oil. 

With clean hands, gently bring the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the Oil little by little as you go until you have a soft, crumbly dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. (depending on the weather and type of Oil used, you may need slightly more or less of it than stated in the recipe)

Roll into little balls and place on the baking tray. Bake at about 150 Celsius for about 20 - 25 minutes. Biscuits will not turn brown, but to avoid over-baking remove from the oven at the time specified. Leave to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container. 


Semolina Almond Biscuits
Adapted from The Little Teochew

100g Plain Flour
60g Semolina
40g Ground Almonds
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
A few teaspoons Ghee

Preheat the oven at 140 Celsius. Line a baking tray and set aside. 

Put all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk everything together. Make a well in the centre and add in the Essence and a little of the Ghee. 

With clean hands, gently bring the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the Ghee little by little as you go until you have a soft, crumbly dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. 

Roll into little balls and place on the baking tray. Press down with the back of a fork. Bake at about 150 Celsius for about 20 - 25 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray before storing in an airtight container. 






Thursday, 25 September 2014

Of markets, coffee and fish dinners

It's commonly assumed that a person with a blog while travelling should or would take a gazillion photos to document every single bit of their journey. That's not so much me. While I'll readily admit to wanting to take a gazillion photos like every other person, I'm pretty adamant about enjoying the amazing sights and sounds without whipping out the Nikon every single time. 

Sometimes, it's just best to put away the camera. Stop. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and open them again while ever so slowly sweeping your gaze across the horizon of wherever you are to simply soak it all in. 

My time away is about the warm feeling that fills your heart while sipping a hot cup of coffee by the sea; shared laughter during dinner time conversation; the coziness of a hug; the coldness of ice-cream on your tongue while a cold wind whips around you; watching the sun go down in a spectacular show of colours and so much more. My time. My feast of senses.

Kemeralti was just that. Probably smaller than Istanbul's Spice or Grand Bazaar, it was still exciting to say the least! 

When you walk in, you're assaulted by the loud, excited chatter of people that you would find in any bazaar across the world; along with smells of hot. brewed cups of Cay and Kahvesi; roasting meats dripping with fat ready to be sliced off and placed on flatbread to sop up its juices; dried peppers and aubergines hanging in bunches from rooftops; twinkling silver catching your eye in the silver shops and so much more. 

The first thing I saw at Kemeralti was this very, very hardworking little Bear. He was busy pounding coffee beans outside a little coffee shop selling what looked like a whole range of coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee.


Turks seems to have a passion for preserving fruit and vegetables, perhaps because everything is seasonal. There were dried chilli peppers and aubergines almost everywhere.




Ooey-gooey, sticky sweetie that sticks to your teeth and gums. Every colour is a different fruit flavour. The vendor twirls a bit of each flavour on a stick and dips the finished sweet in lemon before giving it to you. I felt like a child again eating it!




After a walk hither-tither peeking into little shops that sold anything and everything, we stopped for coffee just as some buskers came by to entertain everyone. There was some amount of eye-candy (wink, wink) as well, but sorry they're not in the photos! 




More shops! I tried on some pretty Ottoman-inspired necklaces in a silver shop, poked around places selling pots and pans (my favourite!), antiques and inhaled the pungent aroma of spices in the spice shop. 


Then, we were off to Urla for my first fish dinner! It was a perfect dinner that lasted almost 3 hours I think? Or was it 4? Who cares. We started with little plates of Meze and Calamari; then graduated to utterly scrumptious Grilled Prawns with Brown Butter and Fish; with Cay and a complimentary mother-of-all-fruit-platters to finish. All the while being carefully watched over by the neighbourhood cats and hounds. 




The sun set over the sea while we were driving to Urla for dinner. It is quite a spectacular thing to behold in all its glory. 


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Grumpy, cross Miss loves magic

I don't know about you, but when I return home from a magical holiday I usually am the grumpiest, crossest Miss you ever did see! Still, I'm not as grumpy and cross as I can be this time round. 

Perhaps that's because I came home with a twisted foot and so spent the next few days in a drug-induced daze to kill the pain? Who knows? Either way, I'd give anything to wind back time a bit! 

My first day in Izmir was just about perfect. Picked-up at the airport by a very kind person; breakfast out on the balcony - homemade Turkish Breakfast, if I remember correctly; a nice long walk along the seafront in Alsancak; cold, cold ice-cream and then tea (can't quite remember because I was so sleepy I would have fallen asleep standing-up) out on the balcony again and then a nap. 

A nap that turned into sleep! I slept for almost 4 hours and woke at 9.30pm and trotted out to the balcony to find friends finishing dinner. Got served scrumptious homemade Pumpkin and Ginger Soup which I drank from a mug. That made me feel all warm and lovely inside.   

That's all I can remember from the first day. So I'll leave you with some photos of the walk by the seafront. Hopefully they'll titillate you into paying Turkey a visit!


















Sunday, 21 September 2014

I've been away...

I've been away. There will be stories and photos soon of what I think is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Here's a little teaser photo of where I've been.