olive oil

More Cooking By Numbers

Recently I shared a recipe for Curd Cake in a post about a colouring by numbers phone app. I’m happy to say the app has added a few more recipes such as Bruschetta, Chocolate Granola and Cottage Cheese Pancakes!

Today I’ll be sharing my version of the recipe for Lemon Cookies with Olive Oil. These cake-like cookies are perfect for the coming spring weather (southern hemisphere). 

I dunked mine in tea flavoured with honey and lemon but they would also pair well with fresh lemonade/squash, lemon barley water or Limoncello.

Lemon Cookies with Olive Oil

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 + 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
icing sugar (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.
Line 3-4 baking trays with baking paper.
Place the sugar and oil in a bowl.
Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add the lemon juice and zest and beat until combined.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
Dollop spoonfuls of batter onto lined trays.
Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until golden.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes before placing on a rack to cool completely.
Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

Additional notes:
The recipe said 3 eggs but I used 2 eggs.
It didn’t specify the amount of lemon juice or zest so I made a judgement call based on how lemony I wanted them.
It didn’t specify the oven temperature so I went with the standard 180C / 350F baking temp.

A Fool’s Journey

A year ago I answered the question – “what day should I start my blog?” The answer was April Fool’s Day.

A year later another question has been answered – “will anyone be interested in what I have to say?” Happily the answer is yes!

Like the Tarot Fool, I took a leap of faith and leapt into the world of blogging. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I embarked on this Fool’s Journey. I hoped people would like what I wrote and that I would get a few followers. I also hoped that I would find people I liked and could follow. I have been blown away by the encouragement I’ve received and the friends I have made. Visiting other blogs and reading what others have to say has also been fantastic.

What has surprised me is how cathartic blogging has been. Writing about painful moments in my past and present has facilitated healing I had not expected. As I wrote each piece, I felt burdens melt away on the tide of written words. Each piece made me feel lighter and happier. I was stunned and delighted as years of anger and resentment were transformed. I was also surprised by how my words resonated with others. I have been humbled by the responses and the amount of support I have received. I’m still learning the ropes, but I am so happy I began this Fool’s Journey.

One of things I have loved the most is sharing my passion for food, recipes, cookbooks, eating and drinking! Nothing brings people together better than good food and drink 🙂 I recently wrote of a cookbook that was lost to me decades ago and how happy I was when I found another copy.

Another of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try from this cookbook was Istanbul Eggs. The recipe calls for eggs to be simmered in olive oil and Turkish coffee for 30 minutes. Yum! As it is Easter time I thought I would make them. The eggs were lovely but lacked the Turkish coffee flavour I was expecting. To get more flavour into the eggs I decided to combine this recipe with one called Beid Hamine, a slow cooked Egyptian egg dish with Jewish roots. Rather than 30 minutes, the eggs would now be simmered for 8 hours! The eggs ended up having a subtle coffee flavour and turned a lovely nutty brown. I am happy to say that combining the two recipes was a success 🙂

Slow Cooked Istanbul Eggs

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Special Instructions
Make these eggs the day before you need them as they need to simmer for 8 hours.

Ingredients
4 eggs
1 + 1/2 tablespoons Turkish coffee grounds
1/4 cup olive oil
ground cumin (optional)

Instructions
Add the eggs, coffee and oil to a large saucepan.
Pour in enough water to cover the eggs by 5cm.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to the lowest possible setting.
Partially cover the pot and simmer for 8 hours.
Check to make sure the eggs don’t boil dry and top up with water if needed.

To Serve
Drain and rinse the eggs before peeling and slicing in half.
Sprinkle lightly with cumin if desired.
Serve at room temperature.

A Mountain Of Recipes

Some of my earliest and happiest memories from my childhood are of sitting with my mother reading cookbooks and cutting recipes out of magazines. I still love collecting and reading cookbooks and I am constantly trying to find the best way to organise the mounds of recipes from magazines I have accumulated over many years. With all the resources offered on the internet, I now have online recipe files that are bulging at the seams! I sometimes think I will be buried in recipes 🙂

But one of the not so pleasant memories is of mother’s mega-decluttering sessions where she would toss out stuff without you knowing. In one of these sessions she threw out all the cooking books! When I found out, I was devastated. There was one book that I had loved so much and it was gone. The Encyclopedia of European Cooking was published in 1962 – before I was even born. I remember devouring the recipes which were organised by country or region. The recipe that fired my vampiric imagination the most was the Finnish “Blood Pancakes!” Not surprisingly it also turned my stomach!! I mourned the loss of that cookbook and often thought about it when I was researching and creating recipes for my own cookbooks.

Then, decades later, I was reading an article on the history of food in the cooking section of one of our newspapers. It was written by the owner of a shop called Books For Cooks. My mouth dropped open – a bookstore with just cooking books in it!! I had to get there and fast. Luckily it wasn’t too far. The staff were so wonderful and I told them the story of my lost cookbook. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember the title. And to confuse the issue, I was convinced it was a world cuisine cookbook. The staff pointed me to the section where it could be and I slowly and carefully read the spines of the books but I didn’t find it.

Dejected, I went to the European section to look for Romanian or Macedonian cookbooks. As I slowly read the titles one stood out – my hand shook slightly as I grabbed the familiar looking book. Luckily there was a couch near by and I fell into it. Could this be the book? There was only one way to find out. I went to the index and looked up “Blood Pancakes.” I must say I cried a little when I saw the recipe was there. This was the book!! I never thought I would ever see it again and now I had in my hand. I ran to the counter, waving my credit card. I actually hadn’t even looked at the price! Luckily it was really reasonably priced and I hugged it all the way back to the car.

There are so many recipes I can’t wait to try and I’m hoping to share my European cooking adventures with you!

Below is my version of “Imam Bayeldi” or The Imam Swooned, a stuffed eggplant dish simmered in olive oil.  And why did the Imam swoon?

The popular story is that the Imam found the dish so divinely delicious when he tasted it that he nearly nearly fainted from pleasure.

Other versions suggests the Imam nearly fainted at how expensive the dish was to make or at how expensive the ingredients were.

A longer version has the Imam marrying the daughter of a wealthy olive oil merchant. Part of her dowry was 12 jars of the finest olive oil. The Imam asked her to prepare his favourite eggplant dish each evening which she did for twelve nights. On the thirteenth night she told the Imam they had no more olive oil for his eggplant dish. He was so shocked he fainted!

Why don’t you try it and decide for yourself why the Imam Swooned 🙂

Imam Bayeldi

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Ingredients
2 medium eggplants
1 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
sea salt and pepper to taste

Method
Preheat oven to 170C / 325F. 
Wash, dry and cut the stems off the eggplants.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Gently cook the eggplants for 10 minutes turning half way through. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the onions and capsicum to the oil and gently cook for 10 minutes.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthways and being careful not to split the skins, scoop out some of the flesh into a medium sized bowl.
Remove the cooked onions and capsicums from the oil with a slotted spoon and add to the eggplant flesh. Add the garlic, tomato, parsley, cinnamon, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Fill the eggplant skins with the mixture.
Place eggplants in a small baking dish and pour over the remaining cooking oil.
Bake for 1 hour.
Serve at room temperature.