Saturday, 20 February 2010

Quick restaurant review - Alanya

There are quite a few dishes that I miss from Australia. Good Vietnamese Pho, really spicy north Indian curries, Laksa, and Kabak Mucveri.

Now the latter is a Turkish dish, and you would think that being in Europe (and not that far from Turkey) it would be easy to get, but I haven't been able to find it, and even if I could, I suspect it would be a disappointment compared to the Kabak Mucveri in my fave Turkish restaurant in Canberra. A trip to Alanya was definitely on the list for my visit to Australia.

I got my chance, and met up with a friend and ex-colleague for lunch there. The restaurant itself hadn't changed much in the years I have been away. It is tucked away upstairs in the Style arcade in Manuka and has a big challenge to fight the trendy on-street restaurants that saturate this mini town centre. But fight it has, and for forty years (!) it has been serving Turkish food to hungry Canberrans.

The reason why it has managed to stay viable for all this time is because it is simply good. What more can I say than go there and check it out for yourself.

Address 22 Style Arcade, Franklin Street,
Manuka, ACT 2603
Phone (02) 6295 9678
Fax (02) 6295 9624

Friday, 5 February 2010

Spicy Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato soup

This tasty winter soup was invented on a whim, as I cooked it up for a work lunch. It is fun having a workplace that uses both my normal work skills and occasionally some of my other talents! I served it up, and after a colleague tasted the leftovers, was promptly asked to do another batch for another lunch a few days later. I made the new batch and found it as tasty as the first, which tells me, this is definitely one to share with you all.

Now, as usual, I was slack about weighing and measuring, but luckily the receipts from the supermarket have weights on them. It's funny because I thought this recipe is super simple, with only a handful of ingredients, but now that I list them out, I included 12 different things!
  • 1.2kg carrots
  • 1kg sweet potatoes
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut milk powder
  • 1 good sized pinch of chili flakes
  • ~ 1 tsp lemon myrtle, coconut and chili seasoning
Peel and chop the carrots and sweet potatoes into even sized chunks. Lightly drizzle with just a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. With your hands turn the pieces around to get them covered in oil, and then bake in a 200 degree (c) oven until the sweet potato has gone soft and browned. The carrots take longer to cook than the sweet potato, so while they may have browned a little, are not likely to be very soft. But don't worry about that as they will cook up in the pot - this is more to get that delicious sweet caramelisation taste into the soup.

While these are cooking, chop the onions - no need to be too fussy about how finely they are chopped as it will all be blended in the end. Brown the onion in a 5 litre pot with a bit of olive oil. Once they are transparent and going brown, add the finely chopped fresh ginger and the garlic - they will only take seconds to cook.

Once browned, add a splash of vegetable stock; enough to lift the caramelised onion and tasty bits from the pan.

Add the roasted orange vegetables, pour in the rest of the stock and add the lime leaves and chili. Peel and chop the potatoes and add them to the pot. Bring to the boil and then drop to a simmer. Simmer until the carrot and potatoes have softened - the potatoes will likely start to fall to pieces, while the carrots will crush easily with the back of a spoon.

Blend the soup with a stick blender. Stir in the coconut milk powder along with an equal amount of water. You may need to add extra water to thin the soup out as it gets very thick. If you are transporting it, I advise leaving it very thick to make it less likely to leak out of its container during transport, and then then when reheating. Reheat on quite a low heat, to prevent it sticking to the bottom.

Pour into a pretty tureen to serve, sprinkle some of the lemon myrtle sprinkle and swirl it through. There you go... all finished!