It has been a long, busy summer in many ways and fun cooking hasn't been a big priority. Matthew just spent nearly 3 months on tour with only a couple of days home, and cooking for one isn't very exciting. What is exciting, is tour souvenirs. Matthew tends to pick up cookbooks in countries where he has wonderful food experiences that he wants to bring home for us to try together. He was in Istanbul in June and picked up this little gem Istanbul: A Journey to the Heart of Turkish Cuisine. It's an accessible book that is in English and also helps you figure out how to make some of the dishes and spice mixtures that would normally be difficult, if not impossible, to find in the U.S. That's probably one of the biggest challenges about bringing books home from around the world - if they aren't meant for American/English translation, it can be virtually impossible to find ingredients or make things correctly, in which case, they just sit on a shelf. This book is really easy to follow and has a bit of everything Turkish we love.
For years, we've been wanting to make baba ghanoush (smoked eggplant dip). We are eggplant junkies, but let's be real - eggplants (or aubergines, as you Brits and Canadians call it) are not the easiest berry (yes, we just learned yesterday they are technically classified as a berry) to cook. We also learned that their bitterness, if not properly drained or prepared, comes from their lineage in the tobacco plant family. Cooking is for learning, kids! If not paired well in a recipe, they can also be smushy and flavorless. But if it's being smoked on the grill and paired with tons of olive oil and garlic, you really can't go wrong!
We also made chicken kebap - the recipe called for chicken livers, but admittedly, I'm a bit squeamish with animal guts. These simple skewers with turkish spices were delicious. Matthew did most of the heavy lifting on this recipe - his first since being back home from tour this week. We'll definitely be back in the cooking game over the next few months while he's on break, so stay tuned.