Super Simple Shortbread

Sweet, buttery and delicious.

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.

Who doesn’t love someone who turns up with a sweet treat.

Ingredients

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)

If you’re a complete neat freak you can use a ruler to make sure all your shortbread is cut to the same size. As you can see, mine aren’t quite perfect.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
  2. Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
  3. Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
  4. Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
  5. 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
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
  7. Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people

Istanbul – What to eat

Great salad, bread and olives start most meals. Efes the local beer is also very easy to drink.

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.

Barbecued Sea Bream

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.

Lamb and pistachio kebabs with cracked wheat salad.

Most restaurants also offer a meze (mixed starter of different dips and salads).

Meze starter with 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.

Freshly made flatbreads were amazing.

I love coffee, but found the tar like Turkish coffee too strong for my taste.

Turkish ccoffee is like rocket fuel, but will get you going in the morning.

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.

Turns out apple tea is delicious.

Istanbul has some amazing markets not least the spice Bazaar.

Different herbs and spices sold loose in the spice bazaar

The spice bazaar sells all sorts of food stuffs, including cheese, fish and olives. Its a foodie heaven.

Nuts and seeds for sale.

No matter which district you go to in Istanbul you’ll find amazing bakeries and sweet shops.

Rolls of baklava

The Turkish people it seems have an incredibly sweet tooth.

Sweet stall in the spice bazaar

Baklava, nougat and Turkish delight come in endless varieties.

Sweets are massive thing in Turkey

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.

You’ll never be very far from some amazing bakeries.

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.

What to buy the person who has everything?

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, scrolling through Amazon , or even worse having to venture onto the living hell that is going into town at Christmas. Does gift buying fill you with dread?

If you’ve been wondering what to buy someone, what about a getting them a cracking night out.  Remember, experiences are more important than clutter.

Supper Club

What to buy the person who has everything. Just let us know which date you're interested in

£25.00

Previous Supper Club Night

The Sunnyside Supper Club has two dates scheduled so far for the new year. For more details see below

01 February – Supper Club

21 March – Supper Club

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.

21st March -Sunnyside Supper Club

October’s Supper Club

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

Simple and delicious food, and good company

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).

21 March – Sunnyside Supper Club

Sunnyside Supper Club - 21 March 2020

£25.00

N.B. We have a 24 hour cancellation policy.

Istanbul – What to see

Hagia Sophia, originally built as a Christian Church by the Emporer Constantine, it was later rededicated as a mosque.
Grand Bazaar – this place has everything, the only problem will be carrying it all home.
Grand Bazaar – a historic setting selling everything from traditional rugs to electronics

A little bit of history

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.

A city split across two continents

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.

Galata Tower, take the funicular railroad to visit the bohemian Galata district.

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.

The Blue Mosque, decorated with thousands of beautiful hand painted tiles.

Modern times

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.

Lots of bars serve hookah pipes, you can share between friends with flavoured tabacco.

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.

The Sultanahmet District has great seafood restaurants

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.

Waiters are usually good fun and are keen to get you stay, this one set off fireworks for my birthday!

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.