I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.
All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.
315 Grams Butter
350 Grams Self raising flour
120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)
120 Grams Corn flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people
Food in Istanbul is relatively cheap and fantastic. Because of its location there is plenty of good seafood available. I expected there to be alot of street food, but it seemed limited to roast corn on the cob, or roast chestnuts.
Similar to Greek cuisine, lamb is also popular, and different types of kebab abound. Istanbul is a city where you could still eat really well if you’re vegetarian. Cheese and yoghurt dishes are popular, but your choices might be limited if you’re vegan.
Most restaurants also offer a meze (mixed starter of different dips and salads).
One of my favour things about the food, was the delicious bread served everywhere. Many places would make traditional flatbread in front you when you ordered. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a carb junkie.
I love coffee, but found the tar like Turkish coffee too strong for my taste.
What I did discover is that I actually don’t hate tea after all. Most meals are finished with a little glass of tea, and is usually pretty sweet, and comes in different flavours.
Istanbul has some amazing markets not least the spice Bazaar.
The spice bazaar sells all sorts of food stuffs, including cheese, fish and olives. Its a foodie heaven.
No matter which district you go to in Istanbul you’ll find amazing bakeries and sweet shops.
The Turkish people it seems have an incredibly sweet tooth.
Baklava, nougat and Turkish delight come in endless varieties.
If you’re nervous about buying sweets, spices etc. loose, every shop seemed to have professionally produced and packaged versions. These also make great gifts. I did have to talk myself out of buying Turkish tea glasses, spice grinders, copper coffee pots.
Honestly, if you going to the bazaars and you like to cook, only bring a set amount of money with or else you’ll go nuts. I still came home with tea glasses, and more baklava and Turkish delight than my waistline needs.
Each night consists of a 3 course meal (plus a couple of little treats), all served at a communal table, with the chance to meet and chat to new and interesting people. All guests are met with a welcome drink, and then it’s BYO, and costs £25 per person
Or why not treat yourself, and do something new in 2020.
Nights are starting to stretch, and hopefully the need to hibernate during the cold dark winter months is lifting.
Come out and enjoy some good food and great craic. The ethos of the Sunnyside Supper Club is simple. Everyone eats the same 3 course menu (plus a few little extras), at a communal table. We’ll meet you with a welcome drink, and then you can get a chance to meet and get to know the other guests.
Have all your new year resolutions fallen by the wayside. Have you already back slid into the same old routines. If so, give yourself a shake and get out of that rut and try something new
Menu is to be confirmed, but we’re open to suggestions for themes. February’s Supper Club will feature food inspired by Greece, but let us know what you’d like to see. (i.e. French, Persian, Spanish, comfort food etc). We also welcome for vegetarian/vegans, just let us know in advance so we can be sure we have something delicious for you. This menu is also mainly gluten free (and we can adapt things if you have problems with gluten, just let us know before hand).
Istanbul wasn’t super high on my list of places to visit. But, I was lucky enough to meet and have dinner a few months ago, with the super lovely Angie Ibarra, an experienced travel blogger, https://travelmoments.net During a great night with maybe too much wine I asked her, up to that point where was the favourite place she had visited. Her immediate answer was Istanbul. Since then, loads of people have told me the same thing, you have to go.
I’m a total history nerd, (I’m not even sorry) and Istanbul has oodles of it. Dating back nearly 3000 years, the city has been seat to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Istanbul is unique in that it is split between two continents (half the city sits in Asia, the other in Europe, and the two halves are separated by the river Bosphorus). Being in such a sweet spot, Istanbul has been a meeting point of countless cultures. The city has trading links with Egypt and China going back two millennia and is still a major trading hub. Sites such as the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque are within walking distance of each other. The first two could easily take a day each, if you wanted to take your time.
This prime location has also meant it has changed hands various times. The Roman emperor Constantine when he converted to Christianity set up the city as his “new Rome”, and you can still see examples of Roman architecture and engineering throughout the city. Istanbul then became centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and seat of the new Byzantine empire.
The 15th century saw the rise of the Ottoman empire. Ahead of it’s time in relation to architecture, medicine and the arts, Istanbul continued to be a thriving multicultural metropolis.
I was really impressed by the modern Istanbul, but given political tensions in the area there was a heavy security presence in popular areas. When out shopping in one of the modern shopping areas near Taksim Square (think Oxford Street in London), I was a bit alarmed when I saw police unloading riot shields (being from Belfast, this usually doesn’t bode well). However I was pleasantly surprised, when the demonstration that started was a large, pretty energetic and good natured Feminist rally. Turkey is a secular state, but the country is still mainly Muslim and quite traditional.
Depending on how much time you have, try to visit different neighbourhoods like Galata, or take the ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy. Each has a different personality and great places to shop and eat.
Istanbul is still a cultural melting pot and draws in people from outside. I met people from Azerbaijan, Morocco and Armenia who for various reasons have decided to live there. By my second day I kept seeing guys with hairbands and surgical dressings taped to the back of their heads. Totally perplexed as to the reason, the penny finally dropped. Apparently Istanbul is the place to go for guys wanting hair transplants at a fraction of the price they’d pay in Europe.
The city has a good cheap public transport network, and it’s worth investing in the IstanbulKart (a multi use card that can be topped up in various location). You’ll see astonishing places, and meet great people. In the interests of good travel karma if you have credit left, and aren’t planning on returning very soon, be nice and pass it on to a local or fellow traveller, same goes for your museum card. Give Istanbul a try, you’ll love it.