Sourdough Simit

April 25th, 2013  | Category: Bread

Sourdough Simit

I have a friend who doesn’t know what a sourdough starter is. Worrying, to say the least. What’s even more worrying is that she still ordered it and when it arrived, asked me to guide her through “a quick recipe” on the phone. “I have an hour before my boyfriend arrives and I want to surprise him with a homemade bread,” she naively begged.

Where do I start?

Tartine’s Basic Country Bread is certainly out of the question. Actually, anything that has the word “sourdough” before it is out of the question.

Trying my best to be patient, I explained her that “quick” and “sourdough” are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence and guided her through a basic flatbread recipe I developed on the spot. Not that it needed any type of leavening, but just so that her first sourdough starter didn’t end up in the trash bin. This made me realize that my blog was in dire need of a “relatively quick” sourdough bread recipe. One that didn’t need multiple folds with hours of waiting in between or any type of special equipment (a Dutch oven is in the “special equipment” category for her). And I knew exactly what I should be working on. A recipe that I started developing right after my first sourdough bread, but had to be put on hold for the book: Sourdough Simit.

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Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

April 12th, 2013  | Category: Fruit, Preserving, Turkish Cuisine, Vegetarian

Pomegranate Molasses

Pomegranate molasses, which is made by reducing freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice into a thick, sour and sticky syrup, isn’t really molasses. It is simply reduced pomegranate juice. And if you’re adding sugar, you can even call it an extremely sour pomegranate jam. Pomegranate jam – one that is prepared by just pomegranate juice and sugar – doesn’t thicken that much, so you may as well call it a pomegranate syrup. So, why, oh why, is it called pomegranate molasses? Probably because the supermarket variety is quite dark and thick, just like molasses. But I’m not here to talk about the supermarket variety.

Here in Turkey, we call it “nar ekşisi” (gnar eck-she-c), which translates into “pomegranate sour”. The real deal doesn’t have any added sugar and isn’t as thick as molasses. An almost-inedible pomegranate variety called “cin narı” is used and the resulting liquid is a bit cloudy, extremely sour and dark-pink juice. I use pomegranate molasses frequently in salads and prefer a sticky texture so that it clings to leafy ingredients. The added sugar and the fact that I didn’t use the extremely-sour variety of pomegranates makes this by no means an authentic pomegranate molasses by Turkish standards, but I’m not here to talk about authenticity either.

What I’m here to talk about is a different way to prepare homemade pomegranate molasses. A way that traps more of the flavorful aromatic compounds in the pomegranate juice than reducing it on the stove top: Baking it!

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