Karnibahar Oturmasi – cauliflower with minced lamb

This dish – which I made a couple of weeks ago – really blew me away. 

It’s from Turkish Fire by Sevtap Yuce. A real find amongst all the mainstream cookery books out there. 

It’s very simple to make and tastes amazing. It also has the amazing Garlic Yoghurt as a dressing – which I can’t stop making!

The cauliflower is cooked until it is just tender, rolled in flour and dipped in egg before deep frying it to get a lovely golden colour. 

The minced lamb is quite simple. Fry some onions in oil, add diced tomatoes, green chillies, the minced lamb and parsley. Very simple and done in around 10 minutes. 

This recipe just proves that great tasting dishes can be very simple. 

Turkish Bread and Roasted Vegetables

Looks like I haven’t been cooking again doesn’t it! It’s been ages since I blogged about some food. 

This dish comes from a new cookbook that was recommended to me from my friend Ali at work. The book is New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg Malouf and there are some quite amazing recipes in there!

This recipe could be considered time consuming as one of the ingredients is some slow roasted tomatoes that are from another recipe in the book. The tomatoes are supposed to be slow roasted for 3-5 hours until they dehydrate and the flavours intensify. I didn’t have time for that so I did a speedier version – only roasting them for 90 minutes. 

What makes the tomatoes so flavoursome is a marinade of sumac, pomegranate molasses, sherry vinegar and Harissa. They tasted amazing after 90 minutes. I imagine they’d be absolutely incredible after 5 hours!

I kind of cheated all round with this recipe. I’d committed to making it and hadn’t really r ad the recipe thoroughly in advance (very unlike me) so I had to improvise and cut corners. 

The recipe also calls for a Turkish red pepper paste – another recipe from the book – but I just bought a jar of the stuff from my local Syrian shop. I’ll do it properly next time. 

Essentially this recipe is just roasted longhorn peppers, baby courgettes, shallots and the slow roast tomatoes tossed together with diced ciabatta that has been pan roasted in butter and the red pepper paste. But that does rather oversimplify what is actually an amazing collection of intense flavours brought out from slow roasting. 

For example, there is a sauce that is made by roasting garlic which you then mash with capers, sherry vinegar and the juices from the pan you roasted all your vegetables in. It’s quite amazing and I’ll probably make that sauce on its own to have with a variety of other things. 

I was very late serving this dish as Freya and I were busy brainstorming how to make things better on the boat with more storage and seating and this totally distracted me from getting dinner done on time. 

I’ll make this again. And I’ll concentrate next time!

My Daughter’s Enchanted Tree Cake

It’s my daughter’s 8th birthday in a week. I don’t tend to see her on her birthday and thought it would be nice to make her a fancy cake that we could share the week before.

We were planning on making her either a princess cake or a pink castle but she was far from keen. She loves animals so we plumped for this.


Like all novelty cakes, you have to start somewhere. This cake started off life as a 10 inch square Madeira cake. I marbled this one with dark chocolate. It baked beautifully with the requisite cracks (as instructed on Bake Off).

Not sure why some of the contestants on Bake Off struggled with something as basic as a Madeira cake. This was pretty straightforward.


Once the cake was cooled we chopped it into 4 squares, levelled it, and stacked it with thin layers of buttercream. From the offcuts we created the base of the tree.

Finally we smeared the whole thing in a fudge buttercream – ready for the fondant.


After mixing the right amount of red and green cake colouring together you eventually get a brown colour. This was then wrapped round the cake and it starts to take shape.

Bark marks are made with the back of a knife!

The face is made from offcuts of the brown fondant which are stuck on with edible glue.


When they are stuck you blend them into the trunk and add bark marks so the whole thing blends together nicely!

The addition of branches and roots that go into the ground, and the steps on the left make for a more realistic living tree trunk. They also make room for all the woodland animals.


A birds nest on the top of the trunk was the first of many creatures.

Next came the mouse in the mouth!

My Butternut Squash Calabrian Lasagne

For once a recipe that I made up myself. 

This lasagne is based on Nigella Lawson’s Calabrian Lasagne – but completely vegetarian and with a rich tomato sauce. 

After painstakingly making a novelty birthday cake for my daughter we really needed to eat. 

Her cake is pretty special. I’ll post pictures when it is finished!

We had lots of ingredients to use up – as Freya’s parents have been away all week and their fridge was pretty well stocked with veggies. Rather than toss them I tried to use them up. 

This lasagne turned out far better than I expected. I really should try my own stuff more often!