Turkish Cucumber Salad with Dill and Crumbly Vegan Cheese

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This is such a fresh, clean-tasted salad and is easy to make too! There is something about this harmony between cucumber and dill. Also Cheezly mature cheddar cheese works really well in this salad; I can’t even think of a better substitution than that.

3 Lebanese cucumber
A disk of Cheezly Mature White Cheddar Style, crumbled
1 tbsp fresh dill, washed and chopped finely
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 black olives

• Peel the cucumbers. Scratch them all the way with a fork and slice them.
• Arrange the cucumber slices on a salad plate with olives. Sprinkle with the dill and vegan cheese.
• Mix together olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Drizzle over the salad and serve immediately.

Mediterranean Style Deep-Fried Cauliflower and Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Dressing

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This is a recipe from Southern Turkey  which is actually Mediterranean part of the country. It is simple yet delicious. There were some ratio problems with the original recipe so I had to tweak it. I also substituted Turkish pepper paste with  sweet chili sauce which is easier to get from Western stores.

Although the original recipe calls for deep-frying the potatoes as in chips, I cooked mine in ActiFry. The recipe below covers both methods.

½ cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
3 medium sized potato, cut into batons
Plain flour (about ½ cup)
Vegetable oil for frying

For Sweet and Sour Dressing:
1 spring onion (shallots), chopped finely
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
5 tbsp water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large clove of garlic or 2 small, crushed (minced)

• To make the dressing: Combine crushed garlic, lemon juice and sweet chili sauce in a bowl. Add the onions, water and herbs. Set aside.

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• Put enough water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Set aside to cool. They need to be completely dry before frying.
To make the chips in ActiFry: Place the potato sticks in the ActiFry and set the timer for 25 minutes. Add the oil, measuring it with ActiFry’s green spoon, drizzle over the potatoes and turn the gadget on.
• Heat the deep-frying oil.
• Sprinkle the cauliflower florets with salt and flour. Shake off excess flour and fry them in two batches until golden brown which is the same amount of time that potatoes are done. Once they are done, place them on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.

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• In a large bowl, combine the deep-fried cauliflowers and chips. Drizzle with the sweet and sour dressing and serve immediately.

Chick-less Chicken Soup with Celery, Baby Peas, Corn and Dill

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This is one of those recipes that just happen. I was hungry and it was cold so I needed a soup and I needed it fast. I was also in the mood for a chicken soup substitute. The kind that your mother makes for you when you are sick although I was feeling fine. Anyway, this soup below filled the gap nicely.

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I used baby peas as they are more suitable for soups. For every other dish I use garden peas which are bigger. The surprising discovery about this soup is the fact that celery added so much flavour which was so unexpected for me.

Chick-less Chicken Soup with Celery, Baby Peas, Corn and Dill
6 pieces of Lamyong Vegetarian Crispy Soy Slices, thawed and cut into tiny pieces
½ cup frozen baby peas
½ cup frozen corn
½ celery, chopped
½ cup Turkish vermicelli
1 spring onion (shallot), green part only, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp Massel’s stock powder chicken style
1 ½ tsp corn flour
1 litre good quality drinking water, boiled
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

• Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the celery. Cook for 2 minutes and add peas, corn, boiled water and chicken powder. Once it starts to boil add the vermicelli and crispy soy slices. Boil until the vegetables and vermicelli are cooked thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
• In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch with cold water. Gradually add the mixture to the soup, stirring all the time.
• Just before the soup is done add chopped dill and spring onions and serve warm.

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Potato and Broad Bean (Fava Bean) Salad with Dill and Spring Onions (shallots)

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It’s amazing how many boiled and grated potato salads there are in Turkish cuisine. Some of them are quite boring in my opinion but they may be interesting for someone who has not been exposed to this type of cuisine. Still, those boring ones are the basis of not-so-boring ones. If used creatively, as in this recipe, they make incredible salads and side dishes.

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As much as Turks love freshly squeezed lemon juice in salads more than anything else, for some reason, in this type of mashed potato salads vinegar is used instead. So, I decided to stick to the tradition which is something totally out of character for me. I used white wine vinegar instead of red variety to keep the colour clean. I think that the right thing to do.

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I have to admit, I am quite happy with the results here. I had a chance to use my first set of food rings too. I used just the right amount of oil so I didn’t need to oil the ring. Everything just worked. I hope you like it as much as do.

2 large potatoes
1 cup frozen broad beans (fava beans)
1 tbsp spring onions (shallots), chopped diagonally
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp pine nuts, lightly dry-roasted
7 peppercorns (whole)
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ tsp Himalayan salt

• Boil potatoes in their skin. Drain and peel the skin. Mash them with a potato masher in a bowl. Set aside.
• Choose another small pot for boiling broad beans but this will be used for the pine nuts first. Put the pot on a medium heat and add the nuts. You will need to keep an eye on them as they burn very easily. So, toss frequently and remove from the heat when they turn golden and start smelling nutty. Remove from the heat and set aside.
• Wipe the same pot with kitchen towel and add the beans with enough water. Cook until they are soft. Drain and rinse with cold water. Remove the skin by pricking one end and gently squeezing. Add the beans to potatoes and mash them with the same potato masher. It doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.
To make the dressing: Pound the garlic with salt and the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Add the toasted pine nuts to the mixture and pound again. Stir gently and add extra virgin olive oil and the vinegar. It may seem like you are adding too much olive oil but the whole mixture will be absorbed in no time; you’ll see.

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• Add the dill and spring onions (shallots) to the potato-bean mixture as well as the dressing. Stir well and shape it into, well, whatever you want to…

Vegan Haydari – Turkish Yoghurt Dip

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Another “veganised” mezze from Turkish cuisine. The original is made from thick, strained yoghurt. I substituted the yoghurt with Tofutti Sour Supreme and lemon juice in this recipe although the original recipe does not call for any lemon juice. Not quite the same but very close.

Serving Suggestion: Serve Vegan Haydari with Fry’s Vegetarian Chicken-Style Nuggets, toasted rustic bread slices, vegan corn fritters, Mücver (vegan zucchini fritters) or just crudités.

1 cup Tofutti Sour Supreme (vegan sour crème)
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sweet paprika (I used Hungarian one)
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried spearmint
½ tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt to taste

• In a small bowl, mix together all the spices and herbs, olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice and Tofutti Sour Supreme.
• Salt to taste and serve.

Bodhi Restaurant and Bar

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We have been going to Bodhi probably since I moved to Australia. You may have noticed that there are mixed reviews about Bodhi on the internet. However, I think the service is improving at Bodhi these days.

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We have never had dinner at Bodhi so I will keep my review about lunch and yum cha only. Anyone with Bodhi dinner experience, please share your experiences for all of us.

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Bodhi is tucked away beneath St Mary’s Cathedral and is not far from that famous swimming pool. When the weather is fine, you can sit outside, literally, it is like you are dining at the park. When that happens, it is such a nice atmosphere.

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It’s because we have never been here for dinner I will tell you about their vegan Yum Cha style of food. We had one of those Vegan Society NSW lunches here with people we didn’t know before. We may have remembered the photo taken at Bodhi on the day. It was a pleasant day to share with some vegans including Greg McFarlane, the director of Vegan society NSW.

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Last time we were there, we had Dad with us –not even a vegetarian. He thought the mock prawn was quite similar to the real stuff.

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My favourite Bodhi food is always BBQ not pork buns. I don’t have a photo of it but I strongly suggest you have it last as you might kill your appetite with its sweetness.

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Bodhi Restaurant and Bar
Cook and Phillip Park Leisure Complex
Cnr College and William St Sydney (between the pool and the cathedral)
Phone: 9360 2523
Fax: 9360 1443
Website: www.bodhi.id.au

Pan-Fried Mushrooms with Potatoes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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This side dish that I am sharing with you today has been one of my favourites of all time. I remember making it a lot when I first got to Australia. I used to use straight forward, plain semi sun-dried tomatoes then I discovered a smoked variety at Coles. The moment I discovered them and started using them in this dish I knew that there was no way of coming back from that. Well, until Coles stopped selling them and that’s when I stopped making it.

All that has changed recently when we discovered Harris Farm Market in Mosman during the Easter weekend. And there they were; those babies were sitting in the fridge section. I quickly checked the mushroom situation. That was good too and after that, it was easy to put it all together. I hope you enjoy this side dish as much as I do.

10 new potatoes, washed and sliced thinly
250 gram Gourmet Mushroom Mix (see photo below)
½ pack Hickory-Smoked Tomatoes (see photo below)
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1 twig rosemary (long one)
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, washed and chopped coarsely
2 clove garlic, peeled and cut into strips
Salt and pepper

• Cook the potatoes in ActiFry for 25 minutes until they are crispy. Set aside. If you don’t have an ActiFry, then boil them in their skin and slice them thinly. Then set aside.
• Separate the enoki and oyster mushrooms and wipe the rest with a damp towel. Slice them into strips –not too small though as they will shrink when cooked anyway.
• Heat the oil in a large frying pan (skillet). Add the oyster mushrooms and the sliced ones to the pan first and fry them until they are slightly soft, stirring constantly.
• Drain and add the hickory-smoked tomatoes, rosemary and garlic.
• Once all the mushrooms are done, add the potatoes. Give it a good stir.
• Season with salt and pepper.
• Just before you remove the whole dish from heat, add enoki mushrooms and chopped parsley and serve warm.

Chickless Chicken Pasties

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The second pastry-like thing I made since we got a new oven. This model doesn’t have the separate grill in another compartment which makes borek/pastry baking easy. Serve these pasties with fresh salad. They make great lunches as well.

2 sheets vegan puff pastry, frozen
1/3 pack Fry’s chicken-style strips, thawed and cut into small squares
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Vegetable oil both for frying and brushing
Soy milk for glazing
Nigella seeds and sesame seeds to go on top of the glazing
Salt and pepper

• Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet and fry the strips until golden brown. Then add the peas and fry them together until peas are fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper and add the dill. Because you will be working with frozen pastry, the stuffing must be cooled. So set the stuffing aside to cool.
• Preheat the oven to 180°/350F/Gas Mark 4.
• Take two sheets of puff pastry out and lay them onto the largest chopping board you have. Do not peel the plastic off just yet but make sure the longer sides are farther away from your end of the chopping board. This will make folding easier later.
• Brush an oven tray with vegetable oil and set aside.
• Cut the puff pastry sheets into two. Brush the edges with plain water. You might want to go over the cut in the middle again with a knife as water makes them stick together.
• Divide the stuffing into four and place each section on the bottom side of the pastry. Fold them into two. Now you have four parcels. Press the edges all around with a fork, sealing each parcel. Just remember, if there is a gap, then your pastries will not puff up.
• Place the parcels on the tray and brush them with soy milk. Sprinkle sesame seeds first and do the same with nigella seeds too.
• Bake the pastries in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. They need to be golden brown on top as well as the bottom. When that’s achieved your chickless chicken pastries are ready. Enjoy!

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İç Pilav – Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Dried Currants

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A wonderful pilaf from Ottoman cuisine although I must warn you; the original has liver in it and the rice which is used in iç pilav is always white rice. The good news is some people make it without the liver. Unlike those people, I have never made it before but have a few recipes here and there, waiting for their turns in the darkness of my recipe archive. And today is the day…

1 cup brown rice
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp dried currants
1 tbsp vegan margarine
Pinch ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp Massel stock powder beef style
2 tbsp boiled water
Handful fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper

• Cook the brown rice in rice cooker. Keep warm.
• Melt the vegan margarine in a pot and add the pine nuts, currants, pepper, allspice and cinnamon. Don’t add the salt just yet as the stock powder adds a little bit of saltiness. Stirring constantly cook them until the currants swell up.
• Mix together the stock powder with boiled water in a small bowl first then add it to the pot along with rice. You might need a little extra moisture here if you think it is too dry but don’t turn it into an Ottoman risotto. This is a pilaf you’re making; not a risotto.
• Add the chopped dill and season to taste –check first. Mix well and serve warm.

Mushroom and Corn with Cilantro (Khumb makki hara dhania)

As promised, Mushroom and Corn with Cilantro (Coriander) or Khumb makki hara dhania is the dish that Dad cooked for us during his visit to Sydney from Ajoy Joshi and Jay Purser’s book; Indian Home Cooking. Happy Birthday Dad 🙂

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2 ears (cobs) of corn
2 tsp vegan margarine
3 tbsp vegetable oil
½ inch (12mm) cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
2 yellow (brown) onions, chopped
½ tsp salt, plus extra salt to taste
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 large tomato, unpeeled, finely chopped
1lb (500 gram) small button mushrooms, wiped clean
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup (1/3 oz/10 gr) chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

Use a sharp knife to remove kernels from ears of corn. In a large saucepan, melt vegan margarine over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook, stirring, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.

In same pan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, uncovered, stirring often, until onions are dark golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add chili powder, coriander and turmeric, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato and cook, stirring often, until tomato is soft, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and corn, and cook, tossing occasionally, until mushrooms are slightly soft, 5-10 minutes. Add lemon juice and add salt to taste if necessary. Add cilantro and toss gently. Serve hot.

Serves 8-10 as part of an Indian meal.