ingredint Bilgene 🙂
How to Chose Zucchinis Okra: This unusual vegetable, sometimes known as lady’s fingers, is a five-sided green pod with a tapering end. It has a subtle flavour and a gelatinous texture which helps to thicken and enrich certain dishes. Used in Middle Eastern and Greek cookery, its most successful partners are garlic, onion and tomatoes. Choose small, firm pods and use sliced or whole in cooking. Okra has an unusual texture and is an acquired taste, but is popular in Greek and Middle Eastern cookery. Peppers are a delicious addition to salad, they add a lovely crunch and a wonderful colour, ranging from green to red. Peppers: Genetically known as capsicums, the shape of these peppers gives them the alternative name of “bell peppers”. They come in a range of colours, including green, red, yellow, orange and even a purplish-black -and add colour to markets throughout the Mediterranean region – though they all have much the same sweetish flavour and crunchy texture. They are a very healthy food, being rich in vitamin C and a good source of fibre. Peppers can be used raw or lightly roasted in salads or as an antipasto, and can be cooked in a variety of ways – roasted and dressed with olive oil or vinaigrette dressing and capers, stewed, marinated in olive oil, or stuffed and baked. To make the most of their flavour, grill peppers until charred, then mb off and discard the skins. Peppers have a great affinity with other Mediterranean ingredients, such as olives, capers, aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and anchovies. Radicchio: This red chicory is one of the most popular salad leaves in Mediterranean countries, especially in Italy. There are several varieties, but the most common is the round type which looks like a lettuce. The leaves are crisp and pleasantly bitter and can be eaten raw or cooked. Spinach: This dark green leafy vegetable is popular in Mediterranean countries. Originally cultivated in Persia in the 6th century, it was brought to Europe by Arab traders some thousand years later. Cooked or raw, it is a particularly good source of vitamins A and C, and is also rich in minerals, especially iron. Young spinach leaves can be eaten raw and need little preparation, but older leaves should be washed in several changes of water and then picked over and the tough stalks removed. Spinach is used in Middle Eastern pastries, Spanish tapas, French tarts and many more dishes – eggs and fish, for instance, make good partners. All types of spinach should look very fresh and green, with no signs of wilting. The leaves should be unblemished and the stalks crisp. Spinach leaves wilt down to about half their weight during cooking, so you always need to buy far more than you think you will need – if the spinach is to be cooked, allow 250g/9oz raw weight per person. Using a heavy-pan will aid even cooking. Mediterranean cooks have a marvellous way with spinach, often using it in pastries. Buy tomatoes on the vine if possible, as they will have ripened naturally. Tomatoes: Some of the best tomatoes in the world are to be found in Mediterranean markets, so it is hardly surprising that it is impossible to imagine Mediterranean food without them. But these “golden apples” were unknown in the Mediterranean until the 16th century, when they were brought from Mexico. In some countries, they were known as “love-apples” because they resembled the heart. Their popularity soon spread and they were cultivated all over the Mediterranean region and incorporated into the cooking of almost every country. Sun-ripened and full of flavour, tomatoes come in many varieties – beefsteak tomatoes, plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and baby pear-shaped ones. Bright red fruits literally bursting with aroma and flavour, tomatoes are essential ingredients in so many Mediterranean dishes. They are used in so many different ways that it is hard to know where to start. They can be eaten raw, sliced and served with a trickle of extra virgin olive oil and some tom basil leaves. They are the red component in insalata tricolore, partnering white mozzarella and green basil to make up the colours of the Italian flag. Raw ripe tomatoes can be chopped with herbs and garlic to make a fresh-tasting pasta sauce. Tomatoes are at their best in summer, when they have ripened naturally in the sun. Choose your tomatoes according to how you wish to prepare them. Salad tomatoes should be firm and easy to slice. The best tomatoes for cooking are plum tomatoes, which have a superb flavour and hold their shape well. Beefsteak tomatoes are the best for stuffing. Tomatoes will only ripen properly if they are left for long enough on the vine, so try to buy “vine-ripened” varieties. As well as fresh tomatoes, canned and sun-dried tomatoes are invaluable store cupboard items. Vine Leaves: These pretty leaves have been used in cooking for hundreds of years. They can be stuffed with a variety of fillings and also make perfect, and very decorative, wrappers for meat, fish and poultry. Fresh leaves must be young and soft. If using brined vine leaves, soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes before stuffing or wrapping. Vine leaves make ideal wrappers for rice, and are famously used to make the Greek dolmades. FRUIT The best Parmesan has the words “Parmigiano Reggiano ” stamped on the rind. DAIRY PRODUCE Cheese: The variety of cheeses from Mediterranean countries is huge and diverse, ranging from fresh mild cheeses such as mozzarella, to soft, blue-veined ones such as Gorgonzola and aged hard types with a strong, mature flavour such as Parmesan and Pecorino. Cheeses are made from cow’s, goat’s, ewe’s and, in the case of Italian mozzarella, buffalo’s milk. Cream cheese is also common to many countries, varying a little according to the milk and the method used for preparing it. Perhaps the best known Mediterranean cheese is Parmesan. There are two types, Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, but the former is infinitely superior. A really fine Parmesan may be aged for up to seven years, during which time it matures, becoming pale golden with a slightly granular, flaky texture and a nutty, mildly salty flavour. Always buy Parmesan in the piece and grate it yourself. Yogurt This live product (pasteurized milk combined with two beneficial bacteria) is perhaps most associated with the Middle Eastern countries, where it is used extensively in cooking. Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, and French yogurt is traditionally of the set variety. Yogurt is used as a marinade, a dip and to enrich soups and stews. It can be made from goat’s, ewe’s or cow’s milk. FISH AND SEAFOOD Red Mullet Very popular along the coasts of the Mediterranean, the red mullet is a pretty fish. It is usually treated simply by grilling over a wood fire, often with the liver still inside to add flavour. Salt Cod Most salt cod is prepared in Norway, Iceland and Newfoundland and then exported to Mediterranean countries. It looks very unappetizing, and has a pungent smell, but after being soaked for 48 hours and cooked in the Mediterranean style, it is delicious. Sea Bass: This is quite an expensive fish and is usually sold and cooked whole. The flesh is soft and delicate and needs careful attention when cooking. Methods include poaching, steaming, grilling and baking. Squid Popular in the Mediterranean region, particularly in Spain, Italy and Portugal, squid vary in size from the tiny specimens that can be eaten whole, to larger varieties, which are good for stuffing, grilling or stewing. The flesh is sweet and, when carefully cooked, tender. When buying fresh fish, bright eyes, fresh red gills and firmly attached scales are signs to look out for. Swordfish: This delicious fish is widely available throughout the Mediterranean. Swordfish steaks can be very large, so do not automatically order one per person. Brush them with oil when grilling. Tuna: An oily fish belonging to the same family as the mackerel. The flesh, which is sold in steaks or large pieces, is dark red and very dense, and has a tendency to dry out when cooked. Marinating before cooking helps to keep the flesh moist, as does basting while cooking. Tuna can be baked, fried, grilled or stewed. Crab: There are thousands of species of crab around the world. In the Mediterranean countries, brown and spider crabs are the most common. The meat of the crab is divided into two sorts – brown and white. Crabs are often sold cooked and dressed, which means that the crab is ready to eat. Choose cooked crabs which are heavy for their size and therefore meaty. Mussels: Available in the Mediterranean through the winter, mussels usually need to be scrubbed and have the beard – the hairy tuft attached to the shell – removed. Any open mussels should be discarded if they do not close after a sharp tap, as this indicates that they are old and therefore should not be eaten. Mussels vary in size from very small to quite large, and the shell can be blue-black to dappled brown. They are easy to cook – just steam for a few minutes in a covered pan. Discard any that fail to open after cooking. Prawns: These vary enormously in size. The classic Mediterranean prawn is very large, about 20cm/8in long and reddish brown in colour when raw. When prawns are cooked over a fierce heat, such as a barbecue, the shell is often left on to protect the flesh from charring. Prawns can be bought ready-cooked and frozen. Mediterranean prawns are a treat. Cooked fresh from the sea, with garlic and olive oil, they are delicious. GRAINS Bulgur wheat: Also known as burghul, this cereal has been partially processed, so cooks quickly. Couscous: This semolina product simply needs moistening, then steaming to swell the grains. It is usually served with a spicy meat or vegetable stew. Rice: There are many varieties of this world-wide staple food. In Italy, which produces more and a greater variety of rice than anywhere else in Europe, there are at least four short-grained types used for risotto, and in Spain, Valencia rice is the preferred variety for paella. In the Middle East rice is served with every meal, either plainly boiled or cooked with saffron and other spices to create fragrant pilaffs. Polenta: This grainy yellow flour is a type of cornmeal. It is cooked into a kind of porridge with a wide variety of uses. Polenta is available ground to various degrees of coarseness to suit different dishes. PULSES Chick-peas: This pulse looks like a golden hazelnut and has a nutty flavour. In the Middle East they are made into flour, and in Greece they are pureed to produce a dip. Soak them for 5 hours before cooking, and cook for up to 4 hours until tender. Timing will vary, depending on the age of the chick-peas. Haricot Beans: These white beans are quite soft when cooked, and are used in casseroles in Spain, Portugal and France. They need to be soaked for 4 hours before being cooked, and are also good in soups and salads. They taste great with a rich tomato sauce. Lentils: These come in different sizes and can be yellow, red, brown or green. The tiny green Puy lentils are favoured in France and the brown and red ones in the Middle East, where they are cooked with spices to make dhals. They do not need soaking. Red lentils cook quite quickly – in about 20 minutes, but Puy lentils take considerably longer. One of the most colourful stalls on the market is the one selling pulses. Pasta comes in a remarkable range of shapes and sizes, from tiny soup shells to long strands. PASTA Pasta is simply the Latin word for “paste”, the flour-and-egg-based dough from which it is made. Although a staple of Italian cooking, pasta is also widely used throughout the Mediterranean and has much in common with Chinese noodles, which filtered from China via the Middle Eastern trade routes. In Italy today there are countless varieties of pasta, from flat sheets of lasagne and ribbon noodles to pressed and moulded shapes specifically designed to pocket substantial amounts of the sauce with which they are served. Dried pasta, made from hard durum wheat, is a good standby and keeps for weeks in an airtight container. Fresh pasta has a better flavour and texture, but will only keep for a couple of days, although it can be successfully frozen. Fresh pasta is usually made by hand, using plain white flour enriched with eggs. Commercially, made fresh pasta is made with durum wheat flour, water and eggs. The flavour and texture of all fresh pasta is very delicate, so it is best suited to creamier sauces. Pasta is a wonderfully simple and nutritious staple food. Both fresh and dried pasta can be bought flavoured with tomato, olive, spinach or mushroom paste. Black pasta, made with the addition of squid ink, is increasingly popular. Pasta is easy to make at home if time is allowed for chilling the fresh dough. Rolling it can be done effortlessly using a pasta machine. Browning pine nuts, either under the grill or in a dry frying pan, really brings out their wonderful flavour. NUTS Almonds Cultivated commercially in Spain, Italy and Portugal, the almond is widely used in the Arab-influenced countries. It is an important ingredient in sweet pastries and is often added to savoury dishes, too. Almonds are sold fresh in their green velvety shells in Mediterranean markets. Hazelnuts Used in desserts and sweetmeats, hazelnuts are particularly good in halva. Pine Nuts These little nuts are used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and are one of the principal ingredients in pesto, the basil sauce from Italy. Pistachio Nuts These colourful nuts originated in the Middle East. They have flesh which ranges from pale to dark green, and a papery, purple-tinged skin. Pistachio nuts have a subtle flavour and are used in a wide range of dishes, from pastries to ice creams and nougat. Walnuts These versatile nuts are used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Walnut oil is a popular addition to salad dressings in France. Elsewhere, walnuts are chopped and added to pastries, ground to make sauces, or eaten fresh as “wet” walnuts. HERBS Basil One of the herbs most crucial to Mediterranean cooking, particularly in Italian dishes, basil has a wonderful aroma and flavour. The sweet, tender leaves, sometimes as large as cabbage leaves, have a great affinity with tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, courgettes and cheese. A handful of torn leaves enlivens a green salad and is a great addition to a tomato sandwich. Basil is perhaps best known as the basis of pesto, that glorious green sauce which is so widely used in Italy and beyond. Pesto also includes pine nuts and olive oil, but it is basil that gives it its incomparable flavour. The herb is easy to grow in pots and should be picked just before use, though it will not survive the colder winter months outdoors if the temperature drops. Tear the leaves, rather than chopping them, if possible. Chopping the leaves can reduce them to an unappealing pulp and sometimes leave an unpleasant flavour from the metal on the leaves, a taste that may transfer to the dish you are preparing and spoil it. Under the Mediterranean sun, basil leaves grow better and bigger than they do in colder climes. Bay Leaves: Taken from the bay shrub or tree, these are widely used to flavour slow-cooked recipes like stocks, soups and stews. They are also added to marinades, threaded on to kebab skewers, thrown on the barbecue to invigorate the smoky flavour, or used for decoration. One or two young bay leaves, infused with milk or cream in puddings, add a warm, pungent flavour. They do not soften with cooking, so it is advisable to remove them before serving. Bouquet Garni: A collection of herbs that classically includes parsley, thyme and bay; although other herbs like rosemary and marjoram can be added, different regions vary the combination of herbs. Bouquet garni is available dried, tied in muslin bundles or in “teabag-like” sachets. Fresh bouquet garni can be tied together with string for easy removal from the dish before serving. Oregano grows wild all over the Mediterranean. Its pungent scent seems to linger in the air. Tied in bunches, chives look as good as they taste. Chervil: This delicate gentle herb with its lacy leaves, tastes rather like a mild parsley and needs to be used generously to impart sufficient flavour. Widely used in French cooking, it works well in herb butters and with eggs and cheese. Coriander: Huge bundles of fresh coriander are a familiar sight in Eastern Mediterranean markets, their warm, pungent aroma rising at the merest touch. The leaves impart a distinctive flavour to soups, stews, sauces and spicy dishes when added towards the end of cooking. They are also used sparingly in salads and yogurt dishes. Dill: Feathery dill leaves have a mild aniseed taste, popular in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly Greece and Turkey. Dill is chopped into fish and chicken dishes, as well as stuffings and rice. Pickled gherkins and cucumbers are often flavoured with dill. Marjoram: A versatile herb of which there are several varieties. It grows wild and is also cultivated and goes very well with red meats, game and tomato dishes. Mint: One of the oldest and most widely used herbs. In Greece, chopped mint accompanies other herbs to enhance stuffed vegetables and fish dishes, and in Turkey and the Middle East finely chopped mint adds a cooling tang to yogurt dishes as well as teas and iced drinks. Chives: Thin stems with a mild onion flavour, chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow. They are cut in short lengths and most often used raw. Oregano: is a wild form of marjoram, with a far more pungent flavour. The name means “joy of the mountains” in Greek, which is appropriate, as the scent makes walking in the mountains pure pleasure. Oregano is a very popular herb, widely used throughout the Mediterranean region. Parsley: Flat leaf parsley is far more widely used in Mediterranean cookery than the tightly curled variety. Mixed with garlic and lemon zest, it makes a wonderfully aromatic gremolata, a colourful, refreshing garnish for scattering over tomato and rice dishes. Rosemary: Cut from the pretty flowering shrub, rosemary grows well throughout the Mediterranean and is most widely used in meat cookery. Several sprigs, tucked under a roast chicken or lamb with plenty of garlic, impart an inviting warm, sweet flavour. Sage: Native to the Northern Mediterranean, soft, velvety sage leaves vary in colour from yellow to green to purple and have a strong, distinctive flavour which is used sparingly in meat and game dishes. Sage can be added to stuffings, nut dishes or pan-fried with pigeon and liver. Tarragon: Long, lank tarragon leaves have a very individual aroma and flavour, most widely appreciated in French cookery. The herb is used generously in chicken and egg dishes, and with salmon and trout. Tarragon- flavoured vinegar makes a delicious ingredient in a good mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce. Thyme There are many types of thyme, from lemon thyme to plain garden thyme, ranging in colour from yellow to grey-green. A few sprigs will add a warm, earthy flavour to slow-cooked meat and poultry dishes, pâtés, marinades, soups and vegetable dishes. A rosemary bush is a gift to any gardener who likes cooking Mediterranean food. SPICES Cardamom: Usually a spice associated with Indian cookery, the use of cardamom extends as far as the Eastern Mediterranean. The pods should be pounded to release the black seeds, which are bruised to release the flavour. Chillies: These are the small fiery relatives of the sweet pepper family. Mediterranean chillies are generally milder in flavour than the unbearably fiery South American ones but should still be used with caution. Cinnamon: Cinnamon sticks, the thin curled bark of the cinnamon tree, has an aromatic, sweet flavour that is used extensively in the Eastern Mediterranean for savoury dishes, and to infuse milk puddings. Ground cinnamon is convenient but lacks the intensity of stick cinnamon. Coriander Seeds: The seeds of the coriander herb have a warm, slightly orangey flavour that is essential to many dishes of the Eastern Mediterranean. Their flavour can be accentuated if they are crushed before use and used in either sweet or savoury dishes. Nutmeg has a wonderful warm flavour. Buy whole nutmegs and grate them as needed. Cumin Seeds: These dark, spindly seeds are frequently married with coriander when making spicy dishes that are typical of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Mace: This is the thin, lacy covering of nutmeg, available ground to a powder or as thin “blades”. It has a gentler flavour than nutmeg. Nutmeg : Nutmeg’s beautiful, sweet warm aroma makes a good addition to sweet and savoury dishes, particularly with spinach, cheese and eggs or in terrines and pâtés. Pepper : There are several different types of peppercorns, all of which are picked from the pepper vine, a plant unrelated to the capsicum family. Black peppercorns have the strongest flavour. Green peppercorns are fresh unripe berries. Saffron: The colour and flavour of this exotic spice is indispensable in many Mediterranean dishes, such as French fish stews, Spanish rice dishes and Italian risottos. Crush the strands and soak them in boiling water before use. PRESERVES, PICKLES AND FLAVOURINGS Capers : These are the pickled buds of a shrub native to the Mediterranean region. The best are those preserved in salt rather than brine or vinegar. When capers are roughly chopped, their sharp piquant tang is used to cut the richness of lamb, enliven fish sauces and flavour salads and pastes such as tapenade. Harissa: A fiery, hot paste used mostly in North African cookery. It is made from a blend of chillies, garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and can be bought in small jars. Honey: An ancient sweetener that depends on the flowers on which the bees have fed for its individual fragrance and flavour. The Turks and Greeks use it in their syrupy pastries and puddings and small quantities are added to some savoury dishes. Preserved Lemons and Limes: Lemons or limes preserved in salt develop a rich, mellow flavour. To make preserved lemons, scrub and quarter the fruits almost through to the base and rub the cut sides with salt. Pack together tightly into a large sterilized jar. Half fill the jar with more salt, adding some bay leaves, peppercorns and cinnamon, and any other spices, if liked. Cover completely with lemon juice. Top with a lid and store for two weeks, shaking the jar daily. Add a little olive oil to seal and use within one to six months, washing off the salt before use. Preserved lemons give a mellow flavour to Mediterranean dishes. Rose Water: This distilled essence of rose petals is used mainly in Eastern Mediterranean desserts, giving a mild rose fragrance and flavour. Tahini: A smooth, oily paste ground from sesame seeds tahini gives a nutty flavour to Middle Eastern dishes. Tomato Puree: A concentrated paste made from fresh tomatoes, perfect for boosting the flavour of bland tomatoes in soups, stews and sauces. Olives: The fruit of one of the earliest known trees native to the Mediterranean. There are many varieties, differing in size and taste. Colour depends purely on ripeness – the fruit changes from yellow to green, purple, brown and finally black when fully ripened. Fresh olives are picked at the desired stage, then soaked in water, bruised and immersed in brine to produce the familiar-tasting result. They can be bought whole or pitted, and sometimes stuffed with peppers, anchovies and nuts. Perfect for antipasto, tapas, salads or savoury dishes of all types, olives have a wonderful flavour. One of the Mediterranean’s most important ingredients, olive oil has been called liquid gold. OLIVE OIL Unlike other oils, which are extracted from the seeds or dried fruits of plants, olive oil is pressed from the pulp of ripe olives, which give it an inimitable richness and flavour. Besides being polyunsaturated and a natural fat, making it a healthy alternative to many other fats, olive oil is valued for its fine, nutty flavour. Italy, France and Spain produce some of the best, and different regions produce distinctively different olive oils. The production of olive oil is strictly controlled and regulated, rather like wine. The richest and best oil comes from the first cold pressing of the olives, with no further processing, producing a rich green “extra virgin” oil. It must have an acidity level of less than 1 per cent. The distinctive fruity flavour of this oil makes it ideal for salad dressings and using raw. Virgin oil is pressed in the same way, but is usually from a second pressing, but has a higher acidity level and not such a fruity flavour. It, too, can be used as a condiment, but is also suitable for cooking. Unclassified olive oil is refined, often using heat and chemicals to aid extraction, then blended with virgin oil to add flavour. It has an undistinguished taste but is ideal for cooking as it is generally much cheaper than the best olive oil which is decidedly expensive. It is made with slightly under-ripe olives, which give it a luminous green colour. Once opened, keep olive oil in a cool, dark place. Use it within six months of opening.