Sunday, 31 July 2011

Roasted Red Peppers in Olive Oil, Balsamic and Garlic

turkish red peppers/kırmızı biber

I mentioned roasted red peppers in my last post about oven-roasted tomatoes on toasted crusty bread - here is how to do them:

This is a meze that I regularly make in summer. How can you not, when you see the mounds of glorious pillarbox red peppers/kırmızı biber for sale in the local markets? Turkish red peppers, by the way, are long and thin-skinned,not as sweet as the western kind but delicious in their own way.  I’ve never tried doing this with that other type but I am sure the method is identical.  Roasting these local ones is certainly not difficult. The only slightly time-consuming part is the actual preparing of the peppers prior to arranging them on the oven tray.  This is true for so many of these Turkish meze: fresh ingredients are demanding, they will not wait!

Roasted red peppers make a colourful addition to any sofra or table and I find that everyone loves them.
roasted red peppers ready to eat

So yesterday I had my load of peppers – rather more than a kilo - as market day around here is on Fridays.  SIL was arriving from Istanbul to see his wife and little baby for a long weekend so  surrounded as I was with all this fresh stuff, the fridge bursting at the seams, it was time for me to start making a few dishes for the evening meal.

First I made a kilo of barbunya/borlotti beans,  everybody’s favourite. Then I started on the peppers.

Ingredients for Roasted Red Peppers in Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic

I kilo, or how ever many you want to roast

Olive oil to drizzle

Balsamic vinegar

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped


·         Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6

·         Chop off the ends of the peppers and then cut each pepper in half. If using the thicker, larger kind, cut each half into thirds. Turkish ones are too long and thin for anything as small as this. Remove the seeds and any thick fibres from inside. Wash.

·         Place on an oven tray or dish in a single layer, season generously with salt and pepper and then roast in the preheated oven for 15 mins. Drizzle some olive oil over each piece, and then dribble some balsamic vinegar. Return to the oven and roast for a further 15 mins until the skin is crisp at the edges and the peppers are soft.

ready to go in the preheated oven
cooling slightly before peeling off the skin

·         Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Peel the skin off as best you can and arrange on a long dish. They should not be too difficult to peel and a little left on will not matter. Scatter the chopped garlic over the finished peppers. Serve at room temperature with  a few other meze.

before adding the garlic

I then prepared some börülce or a type of green bean to be served with garlic yogurt and a swirl of red pepper briefly cooked in a dash of olive oil,  washed  and shook dry some rocket and lettuce for a green salad, and then drove off to Ayvacık for bread and some lamb chops as I know that SIL likes his meat. It was actually the first time I had been to this particular butcher – Daughter No1 had ‘introduced’ me – most important!  The place is extremely clean, light, and attractive looking. So is the butcher: blonde and blue-eyed, obviously his ancestors hailed from Thrace! But I was left somewhat aghast when I said I wanted some lamb chops and he hauled out the carcass of a complete sheep from his cold storage! I looked at it dubiously and he said I would have to have the entire side of the creature as he wouldn’t be able to sell the remainder. I had meekly said I wanted a mere kilo, you see. Well, I thought, in for a penny in for a pound so I said OK.

this is what börülce look like

Well, needless to say, I ended up with 2 kilos of chops, cut in the most extraordinary way with a bit of fatty meat hanging down next to the bone.  The butcher assured me that the tastiest bits are those next to the bone so OK. I got 700 g of kuşbaşı or little bits of chopped up lamb suitable for sauté; he wanted to give me these other bits that had come off my side of sheep but I declined to his great sorrow as he said they were çok lezzetli/very tasty.  Oh yes, I also got the bones for Elaine’s dogs!!!

Everything was packed in waxy paper any old how – how used we are to our clinical little polystyrene containers in the city, I thought to myself.  So when I got home, I had a lot of repacking into freezer bags to do. I kept out 6 of the lamb chops for dinner and marinated them in olive oil, lemon juice with some rosemary and a sprinkling of dried thyme. They looked a bit more recognizable once I had done that.

But, you know what? Those funny old chops were truly delicious! I grilled them in my griddle pan and they were perfect, served with  a tomato bulgur pilaf and all those meze,  and rakı for SIL, wine for us!

And they were sweet enough to do the clearing up!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes on Toasted Crusty Bread

oven-roasted tomatoes on toasted crusty bread

Another firm family favourite especially for lunch in summer.

If you were in Italy this would of course be called bruschetta! But we can do it equally well here especially as the tomatoes are just bursting with flavour right now. In fact, if you don’t have great tomatoes, I would say skip this dish. It’s so simple to put together but the ingredients must be the best.

 I prefer to use cherry tomatoes especially as my friend Elaine has a surfeit in her vegetable garden here in our village of Assos. They’re not indigenous, cherry tomatoes, she brought the seeds back from England! From a presentation point of view,the size is perfect. I have also used medium tomatoes as specified in the actual recipe: tastewise delicious, but too big to sit well on the slice of bread!

The bread you choose is crucial as well: it must be rugged-looking, rustic, and hearty, the sort that makes you want to tear a hunk off there and then. Here in Assos we have no shortage of bread like this! We often buy ours in Ayvacık from the municipal bakery or fırın:  you can get it sliced if you want if it’s not straight out of the ovens, and they slice generously, perfect for this recipe.
I think this bread adds a new dimension to 'crusty'!

Ingredients for Oven-Roasted Tomatoes on Toasted Crusty Bread

Adapted from a River Cafe Cook Book Green recipe

For 6

12 ripe medium tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin/sızma olive oil

Balsamic vinegar/balsamik sirkesi

3 tbsp fresh purple basil leaves/ reyhan, torn

6 slices sourdough bread or any hearty village bread, about 1.5 cm thick


·         Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

·         Place the tomatoes and 5 garlic cloves in a small roasting tray or pyrex dish. Pour over a little extra virgin olive oil and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar. Roast in the oven till the flesh is soft and the skin has burst, about 10 mins. Turn the tomatoes over in their juices.  Add the basil and 1 further tbsp balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

looking and smelling luscious

·         Toast the bread on both sides, then rub lightly on one side only with the remaining garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and spoon on the tomato mixture.


1.       I  found a half full jar of red peppers in the fridge, presumably left by one or other of the daughters, and mixed a few with the roasted tomatoes.  A great combination and in fact one suggested by River Cafe. You can roast them yourself but that belongs to another post.

2.       At that point I didn’t have the purple-leafed basil handy but my neighbour kindly sent some of the small green leafed variety  over the garden wall!  It is commonly kept on tables outside to ward off flies.  But it’s edible and tasted just like basil should..

3.       To get that wonderful stripy effect with your toast, simply use a hot griddle pan. Drizzle olive oil over your slices of bread and toast on both sides. Yum.

Afiyet olsun!

This same neighbour was holding a mevlut or religious ceremony in her garden the day our family arrived down here. She invited not just one but both the village imams who intoned prayers and readings through their microphones all afternoon.  She had also invited us but we had diplomatically told her that the children were arriving.  Afterwards, there was a typical village feast which all the women had been busy preparing in the morning and a little while later she came staggering round with an enormous tepsi or tray with generous helpings of each of the dishes for all of us! We have been friends and neighbours for about 17 years!

The most unusual dish is the one on the left: it's called keşkek, a grain, and is a highlight of all village feasts celebrating weddings, engagements or circumcisions and the like in this area.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Shakshuka: an Aubergine Meze

shakshuka/şakşuka in garlic yogurt with fresh tomato sauce

I am confused.

Seems  there’s a huge difference between Turkish shakshuka/şakşuka and what the rest of the world calls shakshuka.  Note it’s called a meze here: it‘s served as one of the many small plates that come before the main meal, and is a traditional accompaniment to rakı, the national aniseed-based favourite drink which is VERY potent. But other people think it’s good as a brunch item or even part of lunch! The main difference is that here in Turkey, we don’t use eggs whereas all the other recipes do. So of course with eggs it is indeed a brilliant dish to offer for brunch but I can’t say it appeals to me.

In my marvellous Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty, there is a shakshuka recipe and he says it‘s a North African dish with many variations. He says that some ‘add preserved lemon, others feta and different herbs and spices.’ His recipe, true to form, includes all sorts of delectables eg cumin seeds, parsley, coriander, thyme sprigs and  even exotic saffron.  His recipes are fab but they do require just a little of many different herbs and spices. Which is fine if you have them.

But if you don’t, then here is the Turkish answer which is brilliant if you live here as you can get everything sooo easily: aubergines, and green and red peppers, served with a wonderful garlicky yogurt and topped with a simple fresh tomato sauce.  And that’s it! No onions either. It’s the kind of dish that improves with a little waiting too as all those wonderful summer tastes merge together  although you shouldn’t add the garlic yogurt or tomato sauce till you are about to serve. All the little places around our village serve shakshuka but it seems to me that this is a relatively new dish on the scene and TT confirms this. Interesting, isn’t it? I wonder how it winged its way from N Africa to here in the space of just  a few years.

Anyway, here are the ingredients for Turkish-style Şakşuka

Adapted from Alev Kaman’s Modern Türk Mutfağı

Serves 6 as a meze or side dish

4 aubergines/patlıcan

2 red peppers/kırmızı biber

2 green peppers (not the dolma ones)/yeşil biber

1tsp salt

To fry: 1 cup sunflower oil (I used ¾ cup and it was more than fine)/sıvıyağı

For the sauce:

6 tomatoes (my tomatoes were huge so I only needed 1 1/2- see pic below)

½ tsp black pepper

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 cup strained yogurt/süzme yoğurt OR thick Greek yogurt

1 dessert spoon olive oil

½ tsp salt


·         Peel the aubergines in stripes lengthwise. Quarter lengthwise and then cut  into 3-4cm pieces. Put into a bowl and cover with salted water so that the bitter juices are released. Wait for 10 minutes.

·         Deseed the red and green peppers and then chop fairly finely.

·         For the tomato sauce:

·         Peel the tomatoes and roughly chop into small pieces. Take a small pan and add the olive oil and gently the tomatoes on a low heat. Add the salt and pepper and cook for 15 minutes.

·         Stir the strained yogurt or thick Greek yogurt and add a little water if necessary. Add the garlic and stir.

·         Rinse and drain the aubergines on kitchen paper. Pat dry.

·         In an open pan, gently fry the aubergines till soft and golden brown in the oil, a little at a time. Add more as necessary. Drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil. Fry the peppers in the same oil.

·         Mix the peppers with the fried aubergine and spoon onto the serving dish. When you are ready to serve, spoon the garlic yogurt on top and finish with the tomato sauce. Serve with crusty village bread.

You'll love it! Daughter No 2 and I have just polished off the remainder for lunch in between tending to Miss Eva's demands (new baby!) and we recommend it highly. Looks great, tastes great!

Afiyet olsun!

 We had dinner at one of our favourite little places called Zeytin Çiçegi/ Olive Flower right on the beach the other night: the moon rose in all its glory so I tried a would all love it!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Crispy Mucandara: Rice and Green Lentil Pilaf with Onion and Sesame

delicious mucandara pilaf: rice and green lentils with onion and sesame

Today is our 50 Women Game-Changers in Food day and the woman we are celebrating is Madhur Jaffrey famous not only for her marvellous cooking but for her acting too. In fact she sees herself first as an actress not a cook which surprised me.  But  our Aegean village of Assos is a world away from cardomom pods and garam masala so Madhur Jaffrey is not for me today. Follow the links of the bloggers at the end of this post who will transport you to an Indian feast .... 

As for me, I am going to share a really delicious pilaf recipe with you.  It comes from Refika’s book ‘Cooking New Istanbul Style’, that colourful treasure trove of all sorts of culinary information not only recipes. It’s worth it for the photography alone with its many fabulous Istanbul scenes of all the kinds of Turkish foodie places we love such as the Spice Market, fish markets,local bakeries and the like: they are captivating and indeed it was the picture of this dish that first caught my eye.  It is rice with green lentils. Yes, I know. More lentils. After all those winter lentils, I swore to myself that I would give them a break but that picture really inspired me and it was every bit as scrumptious as I anticipated. I do love lentils!

 According to Refika, bar the sesame seeds and the fusion presentation, this is a traditional Cypriot recipe which she learned from her aunt who hails from Cyprus. She calls it ‘ Crispy Mucandara’ or Çıtır Mücandara Pilavı but I couldn’t find any information about that. I think it would go well with summer barbecues.

Ingredients for Mucandara Pilavı

Serves 4

I cup green lentils

I cup rice

2 onions

½ cup olive oil

2 tbsp sesame seeds


·        Boil the lentils in 5 cups of water for 10 minutes. Sieve and reserve the cooking water.

draining the lentils over a bowl

·        Slice the onions into thin rounds and then in half. Gently heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions till they start to brown. Remove half of them and put aside.

sauteing the half-moon onions

·        Add the rice to the remaining onions in the pan and stir the grains so that they are covered in the oil just as you do when making regular pilaf.

the cooked rice and onions

·        Add 2 cups of the water that was used to cook the lentils. Stir this into the rice and onions. Cook until the rice is done then stir the cooked lentils into it.

·        Take the onions that were put aside and caramelize them by cooking further in a separate small pan. Add the sesame seeds.

sauteing the remaining onion with the sesame seeds

·        To serve: put the pilaf in a dish and sprinkle the caramelized onion and sesame seed mixture on top.

remains of mucandara

Afiyet olsun!

Here is the ever-growing list of those who have responded to Mary of One Perfect Bite's challenge: every Friday following the list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food we cook a recipe from the list. (Except this week I couldn't).

Heather - girlichef

Jeanette - Healthy Living

April - Abby Sweets

Hope you are enjoying this as much as we are! See you next Friday and I hope I will be able to post!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Samphire Dressed in Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic

Dear Sophie,

This post is for you!  It was such a great pleasure to receive your lovely email recently that here I am , sharing  the delights of deniz börülcesi/samphire on my blog and all because you were so enthusiastic about the stuff! 
samphire/deniz börülcesi looks like this

Here is Sophie’s own lyrical description of what she did with her market samphire – I’m sure you will enjoy reading it just as much as I did:

‘The other day as I whizzed through our local market (whizzed because I had a fractious toddler in my market trolley), I felt a sudden craving for green beans. But being incredibly busy that day - tough deadline - I didn't have the luxury of allocating ten minutes to trimming them before cooking them. My eyes fell on these mysterious heaps / bundles of dark green - well, stuff - that I'd overlooked for years. It was called "deniz börülcesi", it was cheap, and it was everywhere. Hmmm. Börülce was a kind of almost-bean, right? And they looked greenish, right? Most importantly, it didn't seem to have any tough stringy bits to trim. So I bought a kilo and took it home.

After working out that it was probably the Aegean version of samphire, I checked BBC Good Food etc., and decided that the recommended way of preparation (blanching lightly for a few seconds) was too delicate for the stuff I held in my hands. So I bounced next door.

My neighbours explained how to prepare it: soak and wash thoroughly (my purchase was still shedding clods of sandy soil, so, good advice), chop off woody roots. Wash some more. Bring unsalted water to the boil. ("It's already salty," I learned, to my fascination.) Cram all the deniz börülcesi into the pot of boiling water. Boil like spaghetti for about 15 mins until tender. Dump into colander and run under cold water to cool slightly.
I boiled mine for 10 minutes

Now, apparently the succulent deniz börülcesi does have tough stringy bits - inside the stem. And removing these was actually the fun part. You hold each clump of fronds at the base with one hand, grip with the other and move your second hand up the stem. Succulent soft juicy fronds of samphire plop into the waiting bowl, and you are left clutching something like a fish skeleton or umbrella frame. You discard this and grab the next clump. I know it sounds tedious but it was such fun. I forgot all about my deadline.

stripping the juicy fronds off the woody stems

When you have a bowlful of boneless samphire, you dress it. Please, please ignore alternative dressing suggestions out there. The Turkish way is utterly exquisite: olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. No pepper, no chilli, no mint or dill or any other kind of sprinkle (and I am a huge fan of herbs/ spices). I used about 3 huge walnut-sized cloves of garlic, two juicy lemons and almost a cupful of the greenest, golden-est olive oil. I then went into a kind of trance, only emerging when the bowl had been licked clean (I blame the cats).
it shouldn't be limp or soggy

Apparently this dish is a popular rakı meze around these parts (the Aegean), whereas poncy gourmet websites suggest serving it with fish or lamb. I suggest serving with fresh bread. Or stale bread. Or - don't serve it; lock yourself in your kitchen and eat it yourself.

Somebody suggested it tastes a little like poached baby spinach stalks, or tiny  little asparagus shoots. Neither description does justice.’

What a fabulous description! I love it, Sophie! I don’t know what you do but I would hazard a guess that you are a writer. You made me go out there to find my samphire and try all over again. Because I admit freely that I tried this years ago and wasn’t impressed. And then when it makes its appearance on that meze tray in  restaurants here, it doesn’t look very prepossessing: just dark and oily.  But you know what? I cooked it myself and as you can see from the pictures, it was every bit as delicious as Sophie describes! And then we had it yesterday in a little place here in Assos by the sea and sure enough it was as overcooked and soggy as it usually is when you have it out. So moral of the story: prepare it yourself!

A little bit of info: samphire is apparently super healthy containing loads of nutrients including Vitamins A,C,B2 and B15. And as if this wasn’t enough, it is also full of minerals especially iron, calcium, and magnesium.  There are two types: rock samphire and marsh samphire, which is the one we use, and the season is now.

Ingredients for Samphire dressed in Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic

An adaptation of Sophie’s, Angie Mitchell’s, and my own experience

Serves 4-6

500g/1 lb fresh samphire/deniz börülcesi

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil to dress


·         Boil the samphire in fresh water for 10 minutes or until tender. Don’t add salt as it’s salty enough. Strain and plunge into ice-cold water to retain its vibrant green colour, taste and nutritional content.

·         When cool enough to handle, strip the fleshy shoots from the inedible stalks. It should ease away easily between your thumb and forefinger.

·         To serve, toss together with the lemon juice and garlic and a little olive oil.

Afiyet olsun and thanks again, Sophie!

Friday, 15 July 2011

50 Women Game-Changers in Food - Marcella Hazan - Panzanella

Marcella Hazan's Panzanella

The NY Times has described Marcella Hazan as ‘the high priestess of Italian cooking for many Americans – and for many, she remains so.’  Her landmark ‘Classic Italian Cookbook’ was published in 1973 and I read that in 1980 it was adapted for a British readership by Anna Del Conte. So where was I during that time? How come I don’t know her?

 Thinking about it, all this was happening when I was here, first of all newly-married in Ankara and then the move to Istanbul. In those days info was a bit short on the ground:  TV for a couple of hours in black and white at the weekend, all in Turkish anyway, and nothing much else. No  international newspapers, magazines, nothing.  (My lifeline was -  and still is -a subscription to the UK edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine which my dad would renew year after year!). And I guess I was too busy getting to grips with Turkish cooking to think much about Italian. 

So, I have been searching through Marcella’s recipes on the net and becoming quite dispirited. You wouldn’t think it possible but I can’t get hold of so many of the ingredients eg fresh clams, shrimps, polenta, mozzarella ....I’m in our village now by the Aegean, you see, and there’s just no way I can find exotic things like these here. Other things like leeks or artichokes are simply not in season now. Then my eyes fell upon an article by the Daily Beast where Marcella’s son Guiliano who has very much followed in his famous mother’s footsteps, gives his 5 favourite recipes by his mother and one of them Panzanella I can actually make!!  Alleluia!!

It’s a bread salad based on village bread which is something we most certainly do have here and it’s wonderful but it doesn’t stay fresh five minutes because it doesn’t have any preservatives.  But this is exactly what this salad calls for: stale bread!!  I skimmed through the rest of the ingredients just to make sure I had everything  else– the only two other unusual items were capers and anchovies which amazingly at the last minute I had decided to bring with me when I drove down from Istanbul on Monday. Otherwise I would have to drive 25 km to the next small town of Küçükküyü to find some and even then it wouldn’t be guaranteed.

Here is the recipe as it stands by Marcella herself and I quote:


Throughout Central Italy, from Florence down to Rome, the most satisfying of salads is based on that old standby of the ingenious poor, bread and water. Stale bread is moistened, but not drenched, with cold water, the other ingredients of the salad you'll find below are added, and everything is tossed with olive oil and vinegar. The bread, saturated with the salad's condiments and juices, dissolves to a grainy consistency like loose, coarse polenta. Given the right bread—not supermarket white, but gutsy, country bread such as that of Tuscany or Abruzzi—there is no change one can bring to the traditional version that will improve it. If you have a source for such bread, make the salad with it in the manner I have just described.

Yield : For 4 to 6 servings


  • ½ garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 or 3 flat anchovy fillets (preferably the ones prepared at home as below), chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon capers, soaked and rinsed as described below if packed in salt, drained if in vinegar
  • ¼ yellow sweet bell pepper
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon choice quality red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups firm, good bread, trimmed of its crust, toasted under the broiler, and cut into ½-inch squares (keep the crumbs)
  • 3 fresh, ripe, firm, round tomatoes
  • 1 cup cucumber, peeled and diced into ¼-inch cubes
  • ½ medium onion, preferably of a sweet variety, such as Bermuda red, Vidalia, or Maui, sliced and soaked as described below
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill


1. Mash the garlic, anchovies, and capers to a pulp, using the back of a spoon against the side of a bowl, or a mortar and pestle, or the food processor.

I didn't have a yellow pepper only a red one: but at least it was sweet

2. Scrape away any part of the pulpy core of the sweet pepper together with the seeds, and dice the pepper into ¼-inch pieces. Put the pepper and the garlic and anchovy mixture in a serving bowl, add salt, olive oil, and vinegar, and toss thoroughly.

3. Put the bread squares together with any crumbs from the trimming in a small bowl. Puree 1 of the tomatoes through a food mill over the bread. Toss and let it steep, together with a little salt, for 15 minutes or more


4. Skin the other 2 tomatoes, using a swiveling-blade peeler, and cut them into ½-inch pieces, picking out some of the seeds if there are too many of them. Add the soaked bread squares and the cut-up tomato to the serving bowl, together with the diced cucumber, the soaked and drained onion slices, and several grindings of black pepper. Toss thoroughly, taste and correct for seasoning, and serve.

all the ingredients for panzanella ready to mix


For the Anchovies: The meatier anchovies are richer and rounder in flavor. The meatiest anchovies are the ones kept under salt in large tins and sold individually, by weight. One-quarter pound is, for most purposes, an ample quantity to buy at one time. Prepare the fillets as follows:

Rinse the whole anchovies under cold running water to remove as much as possible of the salt used to preserve them.

Take one anchovy at a time, grasping it by the tail and, with the other hand, use a knife gently to scrape off all its skin. After skinning it, remove the dorsal fin along with the tiny bones attached to it.

Push your thumbnail into the open end of the anchovy opposite the tail and run it against the bone, opening the anchovy flat all the way to the tail. With your hand, loosen and lift away the spine, and separate the fish into two boneless fillets. Brush your fingertips over both sides of the fillets to detect and remove any remaining bits of bone.

Rinse under cold running water, then pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Place the fillets in a shallow dish. When one layer of fillets covers the bottom of the dish, pour over it enough extra virgin olive oil to cover. As you add fillets to the dish, pour olive oil over each layer. Make sure the top layer is fully covered by oil.

If you are not going to use them within 2 or 3 hours, cover the dish and refrigerate. If the dish lacks a lid of its own use plastic wrap. The anchovies will keep for 10 days to 2 weeks, but they taste best when consumed during the first week. Prepared in this manner, the fillets are powerfully good as an appetizer or even a snack, when spread on a thickly buttered slice of crusty bread.

For the capers: In Italy, particularly in the South, capers are packed in salt, and they taste better. They are available in markets abroad as well, particularly in good ethnic groceries. Their disadvantage is that, before they can be used, they must be soaked in water 10 to 15 minutes and rinsed in several changes of water, otherwise they will be too salty. They can not be stored for as long as the vinegar-pickled kind because, when the salt eventually absorbs too much moisture and becomes soggy, they start to spoil. The color of the salt is an indication of the capers' state of preservation. It should be a clean white; if it is yellow the capers are rancid.

For the onion: Sliced onion quickens the flavor of most raw salads, particularly those with tomatoes. To blunt its sharp bite, the onion must be subjected to the following procedure, beginning 30 minutes or more before preparing the other ingredients of the salad:

Peel the onion, slice it into very thin rings, put it in a bowl, and cover amply with cold water.

Squeeze the rings in your hand for 2 or 3 seconds, closing your hand tightly and letting go for seven or eight times. The acid you squeeze out of the onion will make the water slightly milky.

Retrieve the onion rings with a colander scoop or strainer, pour the water out of the bowl, put fresh water in. Put the onion back into the bowl and repeat the above procedure 2 or 3 more times.

After squeezing the onion for the last time, change the water again and put the onion in to soak. Drain and replace with a fresh change of water every 10 minutes, until you are ready to make the salad.

Before putting the onion into the salad bowl, gather it tightly in a towel and squeeze out all the moisture you can.

© 1992 Marcella Hazan

So what do you think? We had it for lunch and I don't know about Italian servings, but TT and I polished the whole thing off without any difficulty. I would also add a bit more garlic next time. Definitely worth repeating, though! I really enjoyed reading through her notes too.

Here is the ever-growing list of those who have responded to Mary of One Perfect Bite's challenge: every Friday following the list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food we cook a recipe from the list.

Heather - girlichef

Jeanette - Healthy Living

April - Abby Sweets

Hope you are enjoying this as much as we are! See you next Friday!