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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

So it has been a while since I last posted. Moving back to Adelaide, starting a new job and a postgraduate course has left little time. However I am now committed to getting this blog back up and running and experimenting with cooking again.

My cousin and his friend have just invited me to participate in our own My Kitchen Rules challenge. We each make a three course meal per week and score each other. The winner will get a free meal. Love the idea and can't wait to experiment. I do plan to have yoghurt as the main ingredient for at least one of the courses. I'll keep you updated on how I go!

I will quickly share a new recipe with you...Salmon with tahini and yoghurt dressing. This meal I made for my Mum, Dad, Sister and Brother-in-Law - my Dad a very harsh critic.

Salmon:
I marinated the salmon is garlic (2 cloves), ginger (1 tablespoon), chili (1 teaspoon), lemon, olive oil and a soy, chili balsamic. Then cooked it on a grill, skin side down.

I accompanied this with a tahini and yoghurt dressing and a yoghurt potato salad.

Tahini and Yoghurt dressing:
Easy! I mixed 1 cup of yoghurt, approximately 1 tablespoon of Tahini (to taste) and 1 garlic clove together. It is an amazing flavour combination.

Yoghurt potato salad:
Potato salad is a great summer classic - it is a must at a BBQ. However the typical dressing can be very high in fat (if mayo is the main ingredient). So an alternative is to use a Greek yoghurt. I mixed garlic, Greek yoghurt and fresh mint together and dressed the potatoes. I then seasoned with salt and pepper.

It has a much more subtle taste, but very light. One big mistake, I didn't strain the yoghurt. This meant that there was some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. STRAIN THE YOGHURT! :-)

This was a really quick, simple and light dinner, which the family really enjoyed. The tahini and Yoghurt dressing is something I would use on lots of seafood and lamb. It adds a lot of flavour.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

The peanut butter challenge

This is a delayed post, however before leaving Sydney one of my workmates challenged me to cook something with yoghurt and peanut butter. I love peanut butter, especially in sweets.

The most amazing peanut butter inspired dessert I've ever eaten was from a restaurant in Melbourne called Gills Diner. With a European inspired menu, Gills Diner served up a reeses peanut butter cup inspired dessert with a rich yet light chocolate tart accompanied by a peanut butter ice cream that made me giddy with every bite. The peanut butter ice cream was a perfect combination of salty and sweet and when accompanied with rich dark chocolate, became a match made in heaven. Check out Gills Diner below:

Gills Diner on Urbanspoon

It was amazing - it almost overtook my grandma's cheesecake, as the best dessert I've ever eaten. ALMOST!

So with the idea of chocolate and peanut butter in mind, I made what I know and love - cookies. The cookies included: plain flour, sugar, butter, dark chocolate, peanut butter and Farmers Union Greek Yoghurt. These yoghurt, peanut butter and chocolate cookies were chewy and moist. This texture was what I was hoping to achieve by using the Greek Yoghurt.



I took them to work for some peer reviews and as a farewell thank you to my old team. The reviews were:

"They are fab! And I am going for seconds as we speak."

"Agree! And I'm not a sweet tooth! They are delish Anne." 

"Anne’s Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies are the perfect combination of rich chocolatey goodness, salty peanut butter flavour, and chewy yet slightly crunchy cookie texture. They are 100% addictive and moorish and an amazing sweet treat!"

"Anne’s biscuits were delicious. The perfect mix of chewy softness and crumbly crunch. The chocolate peanut butter combination was the stand out for me, a fantastic flavour combination that added an extra dimension to this cookie. Sad they’re all gone... I could have devoured plenty more! Will definitely be making these myself."

All in all, I'd definitely put yoghurt in cookies again and I have plans to combine chocolate and peanut butter on many more occasions in the future! I think for this peanut butter and yoghurt challenge, I SUCCEEDED.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Uncle Bill invention...

The last 4 months have been crazy, with my big move back to my home town Adelaide. While I miss all my friends in Sydney, I love being back home with family, friends and a bigger Greek population!

This is evident by the vast range of Yiros shops and lack of Kebab shops. It's a beautiful sight, seeing proper tzaziki on a yiros. Better yet, my Uncle Bill owns a yiros shop called The North Adelaide Burger Bar on O'Connell St - commonly called the the Red and White. The Red and White is home of the AB. The AB includes hot chips, layered with yiros meat, topped with real tzaziki made by my uncle, finished with tomato sauce. It is fantastic! Doesn't look amazing, but trust me...give it a go.



I had my first AB only 3 weeks ago with my cousin. However it's amazing how when you turn to someone in Adelaide and say AB, they know exactly what you are talking about. The AB and the Red and White is now a South Australian institution, replacing the likes of pie floaters. The sizes range, with the largest and most expensive AB in the thousands. There is even a wall of fame, with people who have eaten BIG AB's.

What is even more interesting is that two shops down from the Red and White, is the Blue and White cafe. The Blue and White cafe claims to have invented the AB, it says so in big letters on their sign. Funnily enough the Red and White claims to have invented it, also with a big sign in the front. It's an interesting fight and I guess we'll never know...however with real hand made tzaziki and tender meat, you can't go past Red and White's AB.

Give it a go and let me know what you think!

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Cushion House - my attempt at making Manti

I've recently moved back to my hometown, Adelaide. However before departing I had to go back to one of my favourite Turkish places in Sydney. Lucky enough, my flatmates had the same idea. They kindly took me out to dinner to wish me luck and the destination, The Cushion House in Glebe.

Now for those who read my European Food Safari post, you would have seen that my favourite yoghurt based meal in Europe was a dish I had in Turkey called Iskender. The other dish I also love is called Manti. It's like little turkish meat filled dumplings with a beautiful yoghurt and garlic sauce, finished off with a rich tomato sauce and paprika. It's such a nice and fresh dish. Often meat filled dumplings can be heavy, however at The Cushion House the manti is done so small and so perfectly that with two bites, they melt. The yoghurt on top adds a tang and helps with digestion. A little tip, share a pide and manti with someone and get some turkish bread to dip in the leftover yoghurt sauce. The pide is made fresh.

Also at The Cushion House is amazing Iskender. Honestly, try it. The meat is light, the yoghurt tangy and the paprika and chilli adds a little heat. One flatmate had falafal and said it was excellent and the hummous was great.

I love manti so much, that I thought I'd make it...

The ingredients include:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 egg
- minced meat
- basil (although you are supposed to use parsley)
- 4 cloves garlic
- Onion
- Yoghurt
- 1 tbs tomato paste (to taste)

To make the pastry, mix the flour, egg and salt until a dough is formed. Then to make the filling, mix the mince meat, finely chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves and basic in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After adding the meat mixture to the pastry put the manti in boiling water. Once they reach the top, they are ready.

For the sauce, mix 2 garlic cloves (or to taste) and yoghurt in a bowl. Pour over manti as soon as it's cooked. Then in a saucepan mix oil and tomato paste until hot. Then add chilli flakes. Put a little on top of the yoghurt.

While I love this in a turkish restaurant...I have to say it didn't work out the same for me. It was ok, but I need to improve a lot next time - I wasn't even game to have my flatmates try it. I'll cook the garlic and onion in oil a little before mixing it with the mince meat. I'll use parsley instead of basil for sure. I'll also put a lot less of the meat mixture in there and make the manti smaller (I've since read a recipe which says to cut the pastry in a square of 1.5cm - http://www.giverecipe.com/manti-recipe.html)

So I have to say...while this does demonstrate how versatile yoghurt is...I didn't do this traditional turkish dish justice. Sorry Turkey (and to my Turkish friend Sinan)!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Even a Lebanese cooking class uses Greek yoghurt!

Yesterday I was lucky enough to go to a Lebanese cooking class. My beautiful friend Sarah got me a voucher to go for my birthday. So together we headed East, not sure what this class would be like. There we joined a Friends in the Kitchen class, lead by chef and teacher Lanette MacDonald.

Lanette was an interesting lady. Full of enthusiasm she, along with Annette who runs the program, took us through an exciting menu. While speedy, it was entertaining, with Lanette sharing stories of her life as a chef, teacher and Thermo Mix ambassador. Honestly, her life sounded amazing. Her speedy nature was without doubt spurred by her afternoon engagement - drinking French Champagne with Testuya on his boat! Who could blame her for trying to get through it fast.

Anyway, back to the menu. What I loved about this menu was how fresh and light it was. I had to write about it, with the main dish containing yoghurt. And, while a Lebanese cooking class, I had a glimpse of my favourite yoghurt in the fridge. Farmers Union Greek yoghurt!!! I was excited.

So the cooking demonstration started with a Turkish delight - with gelatin, water, sugar and rose flavour it was rushed into the fridge to set.

Next was a Lebanese baklava. Obviously, I compared it to the Greek version which I commonly cook. There are of course similarities, however what I felt lacked was the clove and cinnamon flavour that is prominent in Greek baklava. Still amazing nevertheless.

Then the favourite part of the meal, fish. A whole roasted snapper with walnut-coriander dressing served with...wait for it...a tahini and yoghurt sauce. What a great idea combining tahini and yoghurt - it toned down the tang. The fish was amazing and the yoghurt sauce complimented not just the fish, but the salad, the pita, the Mjaddarah (rice and lentil dish), EVERYTHING! It wasn't just me who thought it either - some lovely ladies I spoke to were in love with the sauce and my friend thought it was amazing and really took the fish to a new level. That is exactly what the yoghurt did. Added a beautiful tang and creaminess to the dish - making a light meal incredibly refreshing. The fish melted in my mouth and the food, along with the view, company and wine made it feel like summer. Oh how I can't wait until summer!

A great way to spend a Saturday and highly recommended for an engaging afternoon. Try it out - Friends in the Kitchen. I can safely say I'll be cooking that fish sometime soon.


Friday, 12 August 2011

European food safari

I have just returned from an amazing four week European holiday. Four weeks of sightseeing, eating, drinking, swimming and chilling. What I love about a holiday is the ability to wake up and think... "What am I going to do today?" No routine.
What I particularly like about this holiday however, was the food. You have already read about my experience in Dubai. Now I will give an overview of London, Paris, Rome, Rhodes and Marmaris.

LONDON

When I think of British fare, I think pie and mash, bangers and mash and eggs and chips. I wasn't disappointed. I ate a traditional pie with mash, liquor and red wine vinegar. Individually they weren't exciting, together they were amazing! A typical Australian, I asked whether they had tomato sauce. I was laughed at and told, use the vinegar. They were right - a great substitute.


In terms of yoghurt, the Brits seem to be fond of frozen yoghurt, despite the poor excuse of a summer they have. I stayed in Bayswater and there were two frozen yoghurt places right across the road from the station. I find frozen yoghurt an amazing way to confront the sun head on, however in London there is no sun. So does it have a place? I wasn't convinced.

PARIS

Our next stop, Paris. We arrived in Paris, settled into our hotel and then went to the local supermarket. I went straight to the yoghurt section to see what was on offer. I saw yoghurt sold in a jar - I was taken in and went straight to the counter to buy them. Yoghurt in a glass jar, would that change the taste? I opened one up, the taste was certainly different. However it wasn't the jar that did that, it was the sheeps milk used to make it. Not being able to read French, I didn't notice it was sheeps milk yoghurt. Until I opened the lid and noticed that it looked more like cottage cheese then yoghurt.
I had a few spoonfuls and was about to declare defeat until I had a brainwave. I love cottage or ricotta cheese with honey. So taking (ok stealing) a little honey from our buffet breakfast, I put the 'yoghurt' onto a baguette and topped it with some honey. It was excellent - absolutely beautiful. I'd go back for that yoghurt purely to have it with honey on bread. So I put the white flag down and replaced it with a proud smile.

ROME

Rome followed, a place where I swore I'd eat gelato, pizza and pasta everyday. I did and my favourite gelato - berry and yoghurt. In the strong Rome sun, this yoghurt gelato was sweet enough to please my sweet tooth and refreshing enough to give me a little resistance from the heat. Along with chocolate, coffee and vanilla - yoghurt gelato is a must when in Rome. Go to the gelato place right near the Trevi fountain - it is just a shopfront with about 25 flavours to choose from. I think it's called gelato en Trevi.


RHODES


From Rome we went to Rhodes - my favourite Greek Island. However, I will admit I'm a bit biased as my Mum was born there. Regardless, Greek cuisine is my favourite. I love the use of garlic, lemon and olive oil, which has a place in pretty much all meals. Here I lived on tzatziki - one of my favourite ways to use yoghurt. Extra tzatziki on a yiros, spread across a souvlaki, dipped into with pita bread and spooned onto dolmades - I had to have it every day.

However it was in the small village Gennadi that I had my favourite yoghurt experience. We were in our house eating breakfast - Greek yoghurt, honey and cornflakes, when my friend looked at me and said "I love this. milk makes me feel sick and I was looking for more breakfast variety but never thought of doing this." Then the next morning she was in bed and said, "You know what I'm looking forward to, eating breakfast!" This I am a little proud off :-)


I have to admit though, this was the best yoghurt I had ever had - it was smooth with very little tang, refreshing and creamy. This yoghurt was called 2% Total done by FAGE. Despite being low in fat, it is still thick and creamy. This is now my favourite yoghurt.




MARMARIS

Our final stop before heading to Athens and home was Marmaris in Turkey. I really liked Marmaris. With a population of around 30,000 that increases to between 300,000 and 400,000 during summer, this is a beautiful coastal area. Despite amazing weather beautiful beaches and a great night life, Turkish cuisine is delicious.

However to my disappointment, it was difficult to find restaurants with traditional Turkish food. The restaurants all had British sections on the menu and pretty much focused on pasta, pizza, burgers and steaks. We were a little surprised by this and set out to find some traditional Turkish food.

Our second day, after my cousin finally found a genie lamp that he wanted, we miraculously had some luck! It could have been the lamp, or it could have just been that we were in a less touristy area, however after finishing our shopping at the Bazaar we found a place. A small take away type place filled with locals and a few chairs to spare, I was looking forward to an authentic meal.


Walking in, my cousin noticed a meal with yoghurt, meat and some tomato sauce with rice. I was hooked. Once we found out it was called Iskander, we ordered it straight away. When it arrived it didn't look pretty but smelt amazing. With a layer of Turkish bread and rice, topped with lamb off the spit, covered with yoghurt and tomato paste - I was like a kid in a candy store. EXCITED. My excitement was met with a beautifully balanced meal with a good amount of yoghurt, meat that melted in your mouth and fresh Turkish bread that soaked up all of the other flavours. It was, wait for it, my favourite yoghurt dish for the entire trip!!


There was one other thing my cousin found in Marmaris - Yoghurt and Herb chips. Wow, amazing. Like a subtle sour cream and chives. I'm a S&V fan but after eating these chips. I have a new favourite. Pity they aren't available in Australia!






Overall I think my eating safari was a success - tried some amazing meals, was surprised by others and was inspired by all. So from here I will cook a dish from each country I went to, with yoghurt as an important ingredient. Wish me luck.

Remember I am still accepting challenges! A friend has challenged me to tofu and yoghurt so I'll let you know how I go with that!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

International yoghurt experiences

So here I am, one week into a one month trip. So far I've been to Dubai and London.

Dubai was interesting. A very new city and everything looked like the plastic wrapper had just been removed. The traffic was smooth, the NSW state government could learn a thing or two about city planning, and the heat was borderline unbearable. After a day of 4wding, camel riding and sand boarding through the desert we sat down for a Arabic meal. After our terrible sand boarding display we needed a meal.

At a small place where we were the only tourists, we were served an amazing chicken manti with rice and shish kebab. My cousin and I shared. Then to my delight, additional sides were bought over, including a tub of natural yoghurt. The yoghurt was smooth, refreshing and not tart. It complimented the weather and strong flavour of the food. My cousin even loved it. The yoghurt was called linikas pasterised yoghurt.

Next post I will tell you about London.