Friday, June 28, 2013

The Difference between Tagliatelle and Fettuccine

I've decide to learn a bit more about shapes and names of different types of pasta and ended up with this question:

"What is the difference between tagliatelle and fettuccine?"

Soon, I came up with this answer.

"No difference."

"The two terms are used in different parts of Italy. Both are made by flattening the dough very thinly, rolled up and cut into very thin strips. Usually (but not always, again it depends on what part of the country one is from) one speaks of tagliatelle when cooking the noodles in broth and fettuccine when cooking them in water and then a condiment is added. One more thing, tagliatelle ribbons are generally narrower than fettuccine.

Well, in Bosnia they call the same type of pasta "pilav". It's quite interesting because ''pilav'' means cooked rice in Turkish and the Bosnian adopted the word from Turkish language during the Ottoman era but I have only rough guesses about how the word has evolved in time to mean a very specific type of pasta. Here in Sarajevo, you can find pilav/tagliatelle/fettuccine (since they all refer to the same thing) in grocery shops, supermarkets, markets and even in the streets where locals sell home-made food and drinks. 

Anyway, I made some pilav/tagliatelle/fettuccine topped with minced meat and wild garlic and it was fantastic! I'm not going to give the recipe here, but in order just to give a rough idea about how to make it: I stirred minced beef with some olive oil and when it's done I added a bunch of chopped wild garlic leaves, salt and pepper. It's all you need to do to get this fabulous dish! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wild Garlic

Wild garlic, srijemus or srijemas as it is called in Bosnia, appears in shady woodlands near streams during spring in Europe. This is what I've learnt on the Internet after my mother-in-law handed me a bunch of them one morning and so I became aware of its existence. 

To some this plant with its matt green leaves might simply stink because of its garlicky smell, but to others its distinctive flavour is a delicious addition to meat dishes. Another blogger suggested wrapping larger leaves of the plant around roasted fish which sounds great or leaving a few smaller ones in a bottle of olive oil to steep and give it a fantastic aroma and taste. I think there is no end to the list of the dishes you can use wild garlic in. If the dish you're preparing calls for garlic, go for wild garlic but remember to add it at the end of cooking to preserve the freshness.

You can keep the leaves and the stalks wrapped in the fridge for one week. The strange thing about wild garlic is that, for all its powerful aroma, the taste is gentler than conventional garlic cloves. In this sense, wild garlic is one of those blessings of nature you shouldn't turn your nose up at. Enjoy it while you can in spring. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Rosemary Cornbread

In the last bakery shop I worked, they would make only one or two tins of cornbread late in the morning when the black oven got comparatively less busy. There were always a few customers who used to drop by and ask for that bread. When I handed the bread to them, I remember very clearly, they would smell it first to see if the chef used any Swiss chard leaves in particular. At first I couldn't get why they insisted on that detail. Later, one of those few customers, a middle-aged man who moved to Istanbul from a smaller city in the Black Sea Region, told me that his grandmother in his hometown used to bake cornbread with a few Swiss chard leaves placed into the baking pan which gave the bread its fabulous smell and flavour. So, the chef who would bake cornbread in the shop always placed a few leaves of collard greens into the pans on demand and the taste was always exceptional and the customers were always happy.

Well, we bought some cornmeal some time ago from a farmer and when I saw it all those memories revived in a split second. I wanted to make my own cornbread right away but I didn't have any greens at home. Since I wanted to flavour the bread anyhow, I decided to use rosemary leaves instead. It worked so well that I ate it up with yogurt alone. When I told a friend of mine how I made the bread, it iinspired her to make rosemary cornbread as well. Here comes the recipe.


  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves

Preparation Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 200 C degrees.
2. Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Stir together.
3. Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.
4. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.
5. In a small bowl, melt 1/4 shortening. Slowly add melted shortening to the batter, stirring until just combined. 
6. In an iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening over medium heat. Grease 20cmX12.5cm loaf tin with it. 
7. Pour the batter into the tin. Spread to even out the surface. 
8. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. 
9. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

You can vary the recipe by adding other ingredients. Try it with cheese and you won't regret!



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Flour Halwa

Turkish people make and eat halwa on severeal occasions. Births, deaths, starting school, the first day at work, moving to another country, going on a pilgrimage, returning from a pilgrimage, starting and finishing the military service, circumcision, and weddings are some of those occasions which shows that Turkish people consider halwa as an irreplaceable component of their lives. Today, funerals are the most common ceremonies that are accompanied with halwa, though.

Well, it's not written in any books, however, it's one of the first things we remember to make and share with friends, relatives and neighbours on special days and nights. When we feel happy or sad, we feel the need to make halwa and share it with others. It's more like a custom in Turkey which could be listed as part of our intangible cultural heritage. 

In this respect, I find it extremely important to preserve this knowledge of how to share sorrows and joys in life. Halwa is  one of those few factors that we constantly create in response to our environment, our interaction with nature and our history. So, halwa could be called a treat which provides us with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. When you take a closer look at the use of the word 'halwa', it becomes more and more meaningful to you. It originated from the Arabic words 'hulwiyyat' or 'halawiyyat' and in current Arabic halwa means 'cute, pretty or lovely'. 

250 g butter
2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup water
50 grams nuts
cinnamon, optional

1. Take a pan and heat it over medium heat for 1 minute.
2. Add the butter and melt it.
3. Sieve the flour into the pan and stir constantly over low heat until it turns golden brown.
4. Meanwhile, pour in water and milk into another pan. Add in sugar and stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
5. Pour the water-milk-sugar mixture onto the roasted flour very slowly and continue stirring.
6. When the mixture boils and then gets thicker in consistency, remove the pan from heat.
7. Let it cool with the lid on for 10 minutes.
8. Shape the halwa using a wet tablespoon and garnish with pistachios, pine nuts or any other nuts you like.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Posters #1

"The brain adds information to the raw visual impressions, which gives a richness of meaning far beyond the simple stimuli it receives." 
Roberto Solso, Cognition and the Visual Arts