August 12, 2011

Kısır…a tasty fresh turkish bulghur salad


I discovered this recipe, for most “the turkish version of tabbouleh”, from Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty (one of my favourite cookbooks together with his first book). I searched for it on the web to learn more about this dish and found two photos that didn’t make it to the print, but that speak for themselves, one in his own blog and another in his The Guardian Column “The New Vegetarian”. I’ve got to admit, that I am quite visual, so I get more inspired by photos than usually by recipes. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it!

Not that long ago, I had bought some different grades/coarseness of bulghur wheat to play around my take on tabbouleh, for which I undoubtedly preferred the fine grind. I’ve read various recipes in which they suggest the use of cracked wheat instead of bulghur, for those who may be confussed as to the difference between the two. As far as I know, bulghur is durum wheat kernels, bran removed, parboiled and then dried and cracked to different sizes. Whereas cracked wheat is just that cracked wheat, meaning it isn’t previously cooked, so it will take longer to cook. So, if you do use cracked wheat for any of these recipes, count on longer cooking times and more liquid to hydrate it.


Anyway, about the coarseness I’ve chosen for this salad/side-dish, although I’ve read that it is often done with fine bulghur, I preferred the bite the coarser grind brings much better. Plus, since in Ottolenghi’s recipe a “sofrito” is made rather than all ingredients mixed into the cooked wheat, the coarser bulghur absorbs more flavour and stays well separated to be then mixed with all the herbs and vegetables of choice. The only BUT is that I was missing two ingredients from Ottolenghi’s list: the pomegranate molasses (which are used in the south of Turkey to season this dish instead of the lemon juice to give it it’s sour notes)…PLEASE anyone who knows where to find sour pomegranate molasses in Spain, let me know!!!I’ve been looking for it for over a year, no joke! And the other, which is also for looks are the pomegranate seeds, now expensive and not in season…so I used some broken up walnuts instead, which I find go really well!Other than that, all I can do is INSIST you give it a try, it won’t disappoint you!


Kısır (adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty recipe)

(enough for 4 generous servings)

400g of coarse bulghur

2 medium onions, finely chopped up

optional: 1 garlic clove

about 75g of olive oil, plus extra to drizzle to the finished salad

1,5 tbsp of concentrated tomato purée (I used this)

1/2 tbsp of red bell pepper paste*

3 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced

optional: some cherry tomatoes cut in half or more fresh tomatoes diced

200g of water (he uses much less, but also suggests the medium bulghur)

1 tsp of ground cumin

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

about 2 tbsp of lemon juice or to taste

a handful of parsley, lightly shredded

a handful of mint leaves, lightly shredded

1 spring onion or the tender stalks of 3 or 4

a handful of walnuts, broken up a bit

*Ottolenghi does not use this paste, which is traditional in this dish, but instead adds green chillies. I substituted it for Harissa hot sauce. But if you have neither, just use 2tbsp of tomato paste and some dried chilli flakes to give it a quick!

Now, for the super simple recipe, make a sofrito with the onion, finely chopped up in brunoise and the olive oil (and the garlic, if you like, I didn’t add any either here or when seasoning). Cook over lowe heat until the onion is soft and translucent.

Then, add the tomato and pepper paste, cook a little bit and add the chopped up tomatoes and further cook for 5 minutes or so. Add the water,season to taste and bring it to a boil and stir in the bulghur. Inmediately, turn the heat off and cover so that the liquid get’s absorbed and the bulghur softens a bit, for about 15 minutes. It should get “al dente”, neither crunchy not mushy…so it’s always best to err on the crunchy side, as you can add more boiling water and cover to soften some more to taste.


When ready, leave uncovered until it comes to room temperature. Then, season to taste with extra salt if needed, pepper, the cumin, the lemon juice and pomegranate if should be slightly on the soury side, to bring out that freshness. Add the finely sliced spring onion, the broken up walnuts and when ready to serve the herbs lightly shredded or whole if the leaves are very small like in the picture. If you like, you can also add some finely chopped up cucumber or more tomatoes.


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August 2, 2011

Peach, nectarine & ricotta galette on wholewheat & oat pastry


I really like galettes, savoury or sweet, they are really easy to put together and like pizzas are a good base for many combinations of seasonal ingredients. Last week I made a pâte brisée (savoury dough) to use up some courgette we had picked up from the orchard. I used the ingredients I had at hand: some wholemeal flour along with AP flour and I though of using up some rolled oats that have been sitting in the pantry for a while. As a filling I made a base with an “unorthodox” ricotta I’d made following Smitten kitchen’s recipe (in between a ricotta and a mascarpone really), the finely sliced courgettes scattered with some bacon that was close to it’s deadline! We absolutely loved the results! The dough was crispy and buttery, also you could really taste the toasted oats. The touch of ricotta made it really soft inside, which contrasted beautifully with the light crunch of the bacon bits and parmesan shreds put over the whole thing. But…I didn’t get to take pictures of any of it!


So, I gave a try to the sweet version of the dough, just incorporating some sugar and grated lemon rind (you could use orange instead…and I might even prefer it, but didn’t have any!) and as a topping some summer peaches and nectarines…over a bit of sweetened citrus ricotta as well. Here’s the result…I wouldn’t change anything other than perhaps the orange rind for the lemon one! I must say that I love summer fruit sooo much that I am always reluctant to alter it in any way to make desserts (other than the juices of citrus fruits for curds and such) except if transformed into shakes (frozen pulp sorbets), lassis (iced yoghurt drinks) or sorbets. But, this is one of the few exceptions…

I used the ricotta, because it’s what I had at hand, but an overnight drained greek yoghurt, crème fraîche or mascarpone are great alternatives…or you can just skip it altogether as the fruit on it’s own is good enough plus you can season it with spiced or rinds to taste!I also topped it with some blueberries I have frozen, if you like the looks or contrast, you can add any berry before or even after baking. Dust with icing sugar if you have a sweet tooth and you like how it looks at the end…and enjoy the contrast of the crisp toasted oat dough with the creamy citrus ricotta and luscious baked fruit!


Peach, nectarine and ricotta galette on wholemeal & oat pastry

(for 1x25cm diameter galette)


For the pâte sucrée:

60g wholewheat flour

60g AP or cake flour

20g rolled oats + extra for sprinkling

70g ice cold butter

35-40g sugar (or more to taste)

1 cold yolk plus some of the white or ice-cold water to make 30g

pinch of salt

some finely grated lemon or orange rind to taste

For the ricotta:

80g ricotta

grated rind of about half a lemon or some orange

aprox 5g of icing sugar or to taste

drizzle of lemon juice, to taste

For the peach/nectarine filling:

1 medium nectarine+ 1 peach (or 2 of either)

10g sugar, to season or to taste depending on how ripe the fruit is

aprox 5g of cornflour

drizzle of lemon juice to taste

If you are willing to make your ricotta/mascarpone yourself refer to the smitten kitchen recipe. I used 750g of pasteurised whole milk (not UHT)+ 250g of whipping cream (35% fat) with a bit of salt. Warmed up both to about 85ºC and added 2 tbsp of lemon juice.


The first time I prepared it, I expected it to curdle much more, so thinking it wasn’t enough, I kept adding lemon juice. The result was nice but on the soury side, so the times after that, I’ve just added enough juice to see the curds forming and tasting to make sure it didn’t feel sour. If you want some more info on this, I found this link on Serious Eats quite enlightening, though the drainage times vary considerable depending on what type of cheesecloth you are using!Still, I find it quite cool to make and it can find various uses, like these zucchini flowers&ricotta pizzas!

IMG_0661 IMG_6303

Ah, and here is the courgette galette phone shot before being devoured!

galette courgette2

As you can see, it’s the same idea.

Anyway, back to making the ricotta…Once enough lemon juice (or any acid, for that matter) is added, let it sit a few minutes and strain over cheese or butter cloth. I have this cool really fine mesh coffee filter that cost me…about 0.50€, well worth the investment ;) I always use it to strain stocks leaving almost no impurities! It works like a charm! And just strain it for as long as needed to get the consistency you like. As simple as that!


Then, just whip the amount in the recipe (or more if you want a thicker layer) with the sugar, lemon or orange rind and lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare the pâte sucrée, which is the sweet counterpart of a pâte brisée. The sablée is usually sweeter but always has more fat, in the form of butter and egg yolks rather than ice-cold liquid, be it water or milk or…I always use the following mnemotecnic proportion and adjust according to the results I want: 4:2:1, that is 1 part flour, half of that of butter (or more for a sablée) and half of that of sugar. Then, I decide if I want it crumblier (with water or milk) or that holds better together (with some egg, as the proteins aid binding it. And always, be it sweet or savoury, a pinch of salt. Of course you can add any flavourings to taste or play around with the flours, like in this case. Does it help?

Anyway, I just put together the flours (I sifted the plain white one), and pounded lightly to leave some texture the oats (you could also increase the amount and reduce that of white or wholewheat flour).


Now, the other key to making pastries…the mixing technique. You can use either of the two methods: “sablage” or “cremage”. The first, my preferred one most of the time, means mixing the flour and butter into crumbs resembling sand “sable” in french, thereby the descriptive name. Then, you add the liquids and if sweet, the sugar. The “cremage” as the name implies, which is used for sweet dough, means creaming the sugar and the butter until pale and that the sugar is dissolved, then adding slowly the eggs or liquid and finally adding the flour in 1 “coup” all together at once.

I prefer the sablage method, 1) because I find it quicker and easier and 2) because I like to leave the butter in pea-size bits not completely integrated resulting in a more puff-pastry texture. So, for this method, it is key that all ingredients or at least the butter and liquid ingredients are very cold. This is for two main reasons, namely so that the butter doesn’t melt and so that the gluten does not develop at all, resulting in that crumbly pastry. Also, this is why it’s in any case important with these sort of pastries to NEVER overmix once wet and dry ingredients are mixed independent of the method, for the more you work the dough, the drier and less crumbly it gets!

So, a quick trick I use is to place the whole piece of  butter in the freezer (in this case it was a can, so I had to scoop out pieces), dip it into the flour and grate it with a coarse grater, that way it wont stick and you will already get small pieces, so you will save time and barely any mixing is required. Or you can go the food processor route by chopping the cold butter in small squares and blend them to get the crumbs. Add the flavourings then, or rub them into the sugar that will be mixed with the liquids and mixed all at once barely kneading, just bringing the whole lot together into a ball. Then, just wrap in film and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge (a bit more is better).

pate sucrée2

Cut the nectarine and peach by half to remove the stone and then cut each one into thin slices, depending on the size it will be about 16 slices. Season with the sugar, the bit of lemon juice and some cornflour to soak up the juices as it bakes and avoid making the pastry soggy. I usuall just sprinkle a bit to coat lightly, so if you feel you need more or less according to how juicy your fruit is, trust your instincts!

sliced peaches

After the the dough has rested, roll out over some parchment paper (as you can tell I reuse mine a few times!:) ) flouring as needed (removing excess, so you don’t get lumps of flour that will taste ackward when cooked) on both sides until you get a very fine (about 3mm thick) circle, it will be about 30-35 cm, which once the sides are folded over leave you a 25cm galette.

I like to rest the stretched out dough a few minutes in the fridge or freezer before filling it and baking it, but it’s not really necessary. Smear the seasoned ricotta over the surface, leaving about 3 cm borders free to fold in later. Then arrange the peach & nectarine slices in a decorative pattern or without taking too much care for a more rustic look (you can also trim the borders of the galette to make a clean circle or leave them…which I prefer unless you are making lots of small ones, which is more convenient to stretch and cut with a pastry ring cutter). Fold the borders in by segments, one after the other.


And if you like a shinier effect brush the borders with egg wash. Also, you can sprinkle some granulated sugar over and some extra oats for decoration.


Bake at 180ºC for about 25 minutes, if the pastry is still not golden enough, you can lower the temperature to 160ºC and continue baking 5 more minutes or as needed.


You can drizzle with some agave syrup or brush some peach jam as it comes out of the oven for a little shine. Let cool down slightly and enjoy!!


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