The Cookbook

A collection of favorite recipes

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Recipes that have not had their elements defined


Posted by Sylvia on 10th August 2008

The best margaritas, in my opinion, are the simplest.

Juice a few limes and measure the resulting juice.

Measure out the same amount of tequila and either Triple Sec or Cointreau. Add a shot of Rose’s Lime Juice. Mix well (or shake in a shaker over ice) and serve ice cold.

For flavored Margaritas, substitute the Rose’s with any other fruity syrup or pureed fruit.


Posted in Southwestern, Unclean | Comments Off on Margaritas

Tekirdağ Köftesi (Turkish Meatballs)

Posted by Sylvia on 5th August 2008

I stumbled upon looking for something completely different and bookmarked it on the spot. Burcu has recreated as remembered from her hometown of Tekirdağ including these meatballs and a recipe for baked zucchini from her mother. I actually found the zucchini recipe first and then chose the meatballs as something to go with it. Burcu recommends a tomato salad and rice.

Unfortunately I was low on dried mint, so I used it on the zucchini and used fresh mint for the meatballs, a slight change which did not harm the flavor at all. I wouldn’t recommend trying fresh mint on the vegetables though as they would not stand up to the cooking time.

These Turkish meatballs are really nice — however, I would cut the chile seeds right down if you are serving to young children. Cliff and Connor thought they were fine but even Cliff turned down my offer of extra chile sauce on the side! The zucchini was lovely, soft and spicy with the flavor of the mint really coming through. I took Burcu’s advice and added a bit of garlic to the yogurt.

I did a simple salad of roasted pepper with chopped up preserved lemons as a side dish. The sweet flavor balanced well with the rest of the meal and the lemon was perfect. If I hadn’t used the preserved lemons then I think I would have used lemon juice in some way, as a salad dressing or mixed into the yogurt perhaps. The flavor really complimented the rest of the meal.

Tekirdağ Köftesi (Turkish Meatballs)

1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed pepper
1 tsp mint flakes
1 egg
2 tbsp fine semolina

-Knead meat, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, cumin, and salt well in a bowl with your hands.

-Add baking soda, black pepper, paprika, crushed pepper (pepper flakes), and mint, and knead again.

-Finally add egg and semolina, and knead well for the last time.

-Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate over night.

-First wet your hands and then shape into oval-shaped meatballs. At meatball restaurants in Tekirdağ, meatballs are served in finger-shaped forms.

-If you’ll save them for later use, place meatballs in a plate, freeze, and then put them all in a bag. They are good for months in the freezer.

-You can barbecue or broil them, or fry them with a little bit oil in a frying pan. The choice is up to you.

Source: Almost Turkish

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Double Corn Spoon Bread with Chiles and Cheese

Posted by Sylvia on 3rd August 2008

I’ve never been very fond of corn bread. It’s not something I disliked, not on a par with broccoli, certainly! I just didn’t see any real point to it: dry and boring. I was astounded to find out that rich and creamy polenta was the same thing: what a much better use of corn meal.

But then when making American-style dinners for people, it seemed like I should offer corn bread: it’s so quintessentially American and the ingredients are readily available in Europe (unlike corn tortillas!)

The El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook has a couple of different cornbread recipes which I remember working my way through when we lived in Dorking, so Connor was probably too little to even try a bite!

That’s when I discovered their double corn spoon bread with chiles and cheese and fell in love. I’ve been making it for dinner parties ever since.

This makes a very large batch but I’ve found the leftovers are great for lunch the next day: quickly grilled and served with lots of butter. They don’t do cream-style corn in Spain but I just used tinned corn and a bit of cream and it turns out just fine. Maybe even nicer.

6 long green chiles
8 eggs, well beaten
2 16-ounce cans cream-style corn
2 cups (8 ounces) grated medium-sharp cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese or a combination of both
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground.
2 4-ounce jars chopped roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained.
⅔ cup cultured buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
5 pickled jalapeño chiles, stemmed and minced (about ⅓ cup)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In the open flame of a gas burner or under a preheated broiler, roast the long green chiles, turning them, until they are lightly but evenly charred. Steam the chiles in a paper bag, or in a bowl, covered with a plate, until cool. Rub away the burned peel. Stem and seed the chiles and coarsely chop them. There should be about 1 cup.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375&#176 F.

Butter a 10- to 12-cup shallow casserole dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream-style corn, and cheese. Stir in the cornmeal, green chiles, red peppers, and buttermilk. Add the sugar, jalapeños, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and mix well. Transfer the batter to the baking dish.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and just barely set in the center. Serve hot or warm.

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Eton Mess

Posted by Sylvia on 27th July 2008

Eton mess is a dessert of English origin consisting of a mixture of strawberries, pieces of meringue and cream, which is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual prize-giving celebration picnic on the “Fourth of June” (actually celebrated on the last Wednesday in May). One anecdotal story is that the dessert was invented when a Labrador accidentally sat on a picnic basket in the back of a car on the way to a picnic. According to Recipes from the Dairy (1995) by Robin Weir, who spoke to Eton College’s librarian, Eton mess was served in the 1930s in the school’s “sock shop” (tuck shop), and was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice-cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition, and may have been an innovation by Michael Smith, the author of Fine English Cookery (1973). An Eton mess can be made with many other types of summer fruit, but strawberries are regarded as more traditional.

From Wikipedia’s entry on Eton Mess

When we had left over meringue from Connor’s fourteenth birthday cake (meringue disks sandwiching vanilla ice cream and lemon curd), Yvonne immediately volunteered to make Eton mess. We bought the last of the Spanish strawberries and some whipping cream and she dragged Connor into the kitchen to make it.

We had it at dinner time and everyone had a healthy portion. The next day Yvonne wrote down the details for me.

Eton Mess

Fresh strawberries – at least 1 pound
Double cream – at least 1 pint
Meringue – you can cheat and use ready made ones.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Chop about half of them into quarters (or smaller if very large fruit).

Puree the rest in a blender, then pass through a fine sieve or muslin to remove pulp and pips.

Whip the cream until it’s fairly firm (just beyond the soft peak stage).

Break the meringue into smallish pieces and fold through the cream.

Fold the chopped fruit into the cream mixture.

Gently fold some of the sauce into the mixture to give a marbled affect.

Place in the fridge for about an hour before serving, although you can serve immediately. (Note from Sylvia: Cliff said this was even better the second day)

Pour the rest of the sauce over the top prior to serving. Serve in either individual pretty dishes or martini glasses for more effect.

Posted in Dessert, Unclean | Comments Off on Eton Mess

Wordle Placemats

Posted by Sylvia on 23rd July 2008

I was showing Dom my random wordles including one of the albondigas recipe and he pointed out that they would make good placemats.

We’re doing a small barbecue tonight so of course I had to try it!

Tonight’s dinner:

Posted in Misc, Unclean | Comments Off on Wordle Placemats

Albondigas de Lina

Posted by Sylvia on 23rd July 2008

When Lina was first looking for extra work to do, she offered to help me in the kitchen. I tried to teach her to cook and showed her some of my simple recipes but it didn’t seem to go very well. Then one day when Cliff was in London and I was struggling to meet a deadline she offered to just make me something quickly. I agreed and left her to it. Half an hour later she served me the most amazing dish of meatballs in sauce. I stopped trying to give her recipes and asked her to make whatever she fancied – which has had a lot to do with my weight gain over the past few years. Anyone who has been to our house knows that Lina is an excellent cook – she simply isn’t very good at following someone else’s recipe.

Albondigas, the traditional meatballs in tomato sauce, continue to be a firm favourite of visitors and Lina probably makes it a few times a month during the winter. Full credit to Yvonne, who spent the morning in the kitchen following Lina around so that we could get this recipe.

Note: Lina doesn’t measure anything-ever as far as I can see but the recipe is straight-forward enough that you should be able to eyeball it.

She was a bit nervous about a list of ingredients at all, making a point of telling Yvonne that you should make it to taste rather than stick to the exact recipe. “She wants to make them like you do,” I told Lina. “She can but I change things all the time,” she said and proceeded to list variations. Leave out the garlic and add in onion. Use a different herb instead of parsley. Add grated vegetable like carrots or green peppers. Use pork instead of beef or a mixture of the two. This was, Lina said repeatedly, simply one way she made albondigas and certainly not the only way. Make it the way you like it best, she said.

She thought about it for a moment and then pointed at the sheet of paper. “But you have to add the sherry. That’s not optional.”

Albondigas de Lina

  • Minced (ground) beef
  • Chopped garlic (or onion or grated vegetable)
  • Chopped parsley
  • Sherry
  • Egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • Breadcrumbs
  • flour for dipping

Add all the ingredients except the flour in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands and then shape the results into meatballs. Roll the balls in flour to stop them from sticking. You can stop at this point and leave them sit out or even freeze them.

Pour about ¾ inches of oil in a large deep-sided pan and heat to a high temperature. Gently place the meatballs in the oil and allow them to fry, turning occasionally, until cooked, about 5 minutes.


Tomato purée
Fresh basil (whole leaves)
a little water.

Note: Lina uses “fried tomato purée” which I’ve seen for sale in the UK as passata. You could also use tinned (canned) tomatoes: cook until soft and then purée them.

Place the fried meatballs in a sauce pan and then add the tomato, basil and water. Don’t panic if some oil goes in the pan. Stir it all together making sure that the meatballs are well coated and the sauce nearly covers them. Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Snow Baos

Posted by Sylvia on 21st July 2008

I made these at Christmas and no one laughed at my name! I thought I was being really clever. But at least everyone ate them up pretty quick. I bet you can just buy Charsui to use as a filling locally – I have to make mine. But the other great filling is separately added here as Bunny Bao – using this dough but very western (Easter) filling – everyone loves it.

Filling of choice (pork char sui or egg and bacon filling recommended)

For the dough:
• 400g / 14 oz. all-purpose white flour
• 1 packet (7g) dry yeast
• 2 Tbs. sugar
• ½ tsp. salt
• 220ml / a bit less than 1 U.S. cup warm water
• 2 Tbs. vegetable oil (such as canola, safflower)
• extra flour for rolling out

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients together well. Add the warm water a little at a time, mixing all the time, until it forms a shaggy ball. Add the oil and knead in the bowl until the dough cleans the sides. Place on a board (lightly floured if necessary) and knead until smooth. Form into a ball, place back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave until risen to about 2½ times its original size, about 1 hour.

Punch down the risen dough, roll into a snake and cut into 12 equal pieces. Make each piece into a small, smooth ball. Cover with a dampened kitchen towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Cut the parchment paper into 12 10cm / 4 inches or so sized squares.

Flatten a dough ball to about 12 cm / 5 inches in diameter, making the edges thinner than the middle part.

Place about 1 teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the dough circle. Don’t try to overfill or you will have trouble closing up the dough.

Gather up the dough around the filling, pinching to seal well. The dough should be moist enough to form a good seal, but if not brush the edges with the tiny bit of water and pinch closed again.

Flip the bun over, and gently form into a ball shape.

Place each bun on a piece of parchment paper, and place in a steamer well apart (they will puff up to about twice the size, and any touching parts will not be smooth). Steam for about 20 minutes. Eat while piping hot.

Yields: 12 dumplings

Time to make: 2 hr

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Soba Noodle Salad

Posted by Sylvia on 19th July 2008

This is one of my favourite summer dishes and especially delicious if you can find good soba noodles! I’ve made it with coloured spaghetti in a pinch. If you are using soba noodles be SURE to wash them after you cook them. A Japanese friend of mine complains that Westerners make the most horrendous soba because we treat the noodles like spaghetti and barely give them a quick rinse. You should actually wash them in cold water to get the starch off, using your hands to move the noodles around the colander.

You can add the vegetables of your choice – spinach leaves, corn, chopped green peppers and even (cooked) peas – anything like that fits in just fine.

If you want to get exciting, add finely chopped garlic and ginger to the dressing.

75 g soba noodles
3 Tbs wakame (reconstituted)
5 tsp vegetable oil
1 large dash of soy sauce
1 carrot, julienned
75 g beansprouts or chopped cabbage or veg of your choice
1 green onion, chopped
1 part lemon juice
1 part soy sauce
1/2 part sesame oil

Cook the soba noodles in boiling water as per the packaging, usually around 5 minutes. Tip the noodles into a sieve and wash under cold running water, agitating the noodles to get rid of the starch. Allow to drain.

Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl and pour just enough dressing on top to coat the salad without leaving puddles. Serve immediately.

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Making Marshmallows

Posted by Sylvia on 16th July 2008

I originally wanted to make marshmallows because I wanted to make rice crispy cakes. I realised that Connor was 13 years old and 1) had never been to a school bake sale and as a result 2) had never had a rice crispy cake. The problem was that marshmallows in Spain are pink which clearly would not do at all. I searched around and was lucky enough to find the Brownie Points Blog at which is full of step-by-step instructions for scrumptious and wonderful looking dishes.

The great thing is that making marshmallows is a real boys recipe in that there’s almost-science involved. You have to test the sugar syrup for the “soft-ball stage” which is fun if you don’t have a candy thermometer.

Take a glass of very cold water and place it next to your boiling sugar syrup. Dip in a spoon and let most of it drip back into the pan and then (quickly, carefully) move the spoon over the glass and let one drop land in the water. Initially it will lose its shape as it touches the water. When the “drop” remains in a ball shape until it splatters at the bottom of the glass, it’s at the soft-ball stage.

This is fun as a group effort.

Conversion notes:

1 envelope of gelatin didn’t mean very much to me but I found out that it’s one tablespoon. I measured an envelope of Spanish gelatin and it was exactly one tablespoon – happy days!

Here is the original recipe which I recommend as a starting point. It’s also worth reading the comment conversations here .

We can’t find corn syrup locally and although I’m sure it’s probably not to hard to recreate (it’s just sugar syrup, right?) I decided to make it with Lyle’s Golden Syrup, the British equivalent. It’s a bit thicker than corn syrup but I thought that wouldn’t matter as it would even out in the boiling stage. Maybe not quite: our marshmallow batter is thick and sticky and there is no question of it pouring out of the bowl or using toothpicks to mix coloring across the top layer. It takes everything I’ve got to drag it out of the bowl and into the flat pan at all!

But we know that sticky is good when it’s a sweet sticky (in fact, I’ve been propositioned twice when making these) and certainly the end result is just as good!

In the end, I couldn’t resist the idea of adding fruit puree, so we made the strawberry marshmallows as she describes on her blog. It’s simple enough, just substitute some of the initial water with strawberry puree. So after all that, we have pink marshmallows. But they are really nice pink marshmallows!

The only other change I have made is that I omit the rice flour and just coat the marshmallows with powdered (icing) sugar. It works fine and realistically what’s a bit more sugar at that point, right?

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