Fired up by a deep dive into Instanbul’s vibrant and exciting food scene, Andrew McConnell serves up some of his favourite dishes from a memorable trip that has influenced his menus and changed the way he eats at home.
“ISTANBUL IS ONE OF THE GREAT FOOD CITIES OF THE WORLD. WHETHER IT’S A KEBAB ON THE STREET, A FINE-DINING RESTAURANT OR A FISH SANDWICH BY THE DOCKS, IT’S DONE WITH PASSION AND LOVE.” @chef_andrewmcconnell
GARLIC FLATBREAD WITH WHIPPED CURD CHEESE SERVES 6 AS STARTER OR PART OF A SHARED MEAL
“I‘ve adapted this flatbread recipe from my trip, and now it‘s on the menu in our wine bar, Marion. We serve it brushed with plenty of garlic butter, and with housemade whipped curd cheese on the side for dipping.” Begin this recipe 4 hours ahead.
1 tsp dried yeast
1/ 2 tsp caster sugar 310g strong (baker’s) flour, sifted,
plus extra to dust 100g unsalted butter, softened 1 garlic clove, crushed Aleppo pepper (optional – substitute dried chilli flakes) and extra virgin olive oil, to serve
WHIPPED CURD CHEESE
500g fresh firm ricotta 100g sour cream 1/ 3 cup (50g) pine nuts, toasted 1/ 2 red onion, thinly sliced 1/4 bunch mint, leaves picked
To make the flatbreads, in a large bowl combine yeast, sugar and 200ml lukewarm water. Cover and stand for 10 minutes or until frothy. Add flour and a pinch of salt flakes, stirring to form a dough. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (or knead on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with hook attachment). Transfer dough to a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Turn out dough onto work surface and punch once to knock out air, then divide into 6 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place balls on a greased tray, cover and stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until risen slightly.
Meanwhile, combine butter and garlic in a bowl and set aside until needed.
Gently roll out each flatbread to 1cm thick and dust with a pinch of flour. Return to tray, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to finish proving.
Meanwhile, for whipped curd cheese, place ricotta and sour cream in a food processor and whiz until combined. Combine pine nuts, onion and mint in a small serving dish. Transfer whipped curd cheese to a serving bowl and scatter with some pine nut mixture and Aleppo pepper, if using. Drizzle with oil.
Heat a large frypan over medium-high heat. In batches, add flatbread and cook for 4 minutes each side or until golden and cooked through. Remove from heat, brush with garlic butter and scatter with a pinch of salt flakes.
Transfer flatbreads to a serving platter and serve with whipped curd cheese and remaining pine nut mixture.
SPICED CAULIFLOWER SALAD SERVES 4
“This salad was inspired by my first trip to Istanbul. During my visit I ate the most delicious vegetable dishes. What struck me about all of them was their intense flavour. More often than not, the vegetables were prepared during the day and left to marinate at room temperature, allowing the flavours to really develop. Now, this is how I usually cook at home.” 8 white peppercorns 1 tsp coriander seeds 1/ 2 tsp cumin seeds 1/4 tsp fennel seeds 1 large cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets 1/ 3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil 2 long green shallots (white and
light-green part only), thinly sliced Juice of 1 lemon 1 green bird’s eye chilli (seeds removed
– optional), thinly sliced Seeds from 1/ 2 a pomegranate Mint and flat-leaf parsley leaves,
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Place peppercorns and coriander, cumin and fennel seeds on a baking tray and toast for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stand to cool slightly then, using a mortar and pestle, pound until coarsely ground (alternatively, use a spice grinder).
Toss cauliflower and oil in a large bowl. Heat a large non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-9 minutes or until golden and barely cooked through. Add spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and toss through shallots, lemon juice, chilli and
1/ 2 tsp salt flakes. (If you like, stand for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the flavours to develop.)
Transfer cauliflower mixture to a serving bowl. Scatter with pomegranate, mint and parsley to serve.
MATCH WITH BILLY BUTTON 2X2 RIESLING PINOT BLANC 2016 Available from winesociety.com.au