Crostini with Whipped Feta and Roasted Grapes

I love dishes made with ingredients I usually have in my kitchen. No part of this recipe is difficult, just break it into 3 steps, bread, feta and grapes.

The cheese, oil, yoghurt and spring onions before whipping

This is a pretty fancy starter but all the elements can be made well in advance and assembled at the last minute. If you want to make delicious canapes this also works brilliantly on wafer thin slivers of sour dough bread or those tiny little croustad cups you can buy in some delicatessens It’s also great for a lunch dish.

Straight from the oven, perfect once the grapes start to look s little shriveled

I love whipped feta, and it can be used in salads, wraps, sandwiches or as a dip. It’s also really good with roasted vegetables or sun dried tomatoes.

Feta, once it has been whipped

The roast grapes are something you might not have tried before, but their sweetness works really well with the saltiness of the feta.

Ingredients

For the bread

1 Ciabatta loaf (you can use other breads like sour dough or French baguette if you prefer), cut into 1-2cm thick slices

1-2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Clove of garlic

For the grapes

250 Grams Red grapes

1Tbsp Oil

1 Clove of garlic (finely chopped)

1/2 Tsp Salt

1/2 Dried thyme, or 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

Black pepper

For the Feta

200 Grams Feta cheese

2 Tbsp Yoghurt

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Scallions/spring onions (Optional), finely sliced

Black pepper

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Remove the grapes from the stem and add to an oven proof dish along with the other ingredients. Swirl the grapes around to make sure they are coated with the oil, thyme and garlic. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the skins start to blister, remove from the oven and allow to cool
  2. Place the sliced bread on a baking tray and drizzle with oil on each side. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, remove and rub each slice with a clove of garlic
  3. In a large bowl, crumble the feta, and add the other ingredients and whip with an electric whisk for 5 minutes or until creamy.
  4. When the bread is cool, spread with a layer of whipped feta, and top with the roasted grapes

Broad Beans with Mint

I’m guilty of falling into food ruts, making the same thing or using the same ingredients.  The great thing about Summer is that so many gorgeous vegetables like broad beans come into season.

Yes it is a bit more fiddley to shell the beans, but it’s a good job to do while chatting in the phone or even better if you have kids, little fingers are made for jobs like this.

As a kid I wasn’t a fan of broad beans.  I’d only ever had them with the tough whitish green slightly bitter layer left on and boiled to within an inch of their life.  Fast forward and while visiting a friend her Mum made this dish.  With the outer layer removed the beans are  sweet and tender.  Add a mint dressing and you have a really light Summery salad.  This is also great in wraps and sandwiches.

Ingredients

1Kg Grams Broad beans in pods

2 Tbsp Oil (I used rapeseed oil, but any neutral tasting oil will do)

1 Tbsp White wine or cider vinegar

2 Tbsp Fresh mint (finely chopped) or 1 Tbsp dried mint

Method

  1. Remove the broad beans from their pods, and then peel off the whitish outer coating. This will show the tender green bean inside, gently pull the two halves apart
  2. Once you have shelled all the beans, blanche in boiling water for 1 minute and then transfer quickly to a bowl of cold water (this will help keep them bright green
  3. Add your oil, vinegar and mint to a large bowl and stir, add the beans and make sure they are well coated
  4. Season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs it

Roast Vegetable Couscous

Autumn sometimes sees a glut of great vegetables as growing season comes to end.

I love to roast these vegetables up to bring out their sweetness. Then it’s time to decide if I’m making a soup with them or a side dish like this.

If like me you like roast big batches of vegetables this can be even quicker to make as you’ll have these made already. This is really versatile, you can swap out different vegetables as they come in season.

If you’re vegan, you can enjoy this along with roasted chickpeas. I like it with griddled halloumi, or roast chicken and Greek yoghurt. It can be served hot or cold, and it’s ideal for lunch boxes.

Halloumi with roast vegetable couscous

Ingredients

200 Grams Couscous

Vegetable stock

1 Large courgette (Sliced)

100 Grams Cherry tomatoes

1 Red pepper (Sliced)

2 Tbsps Olive oil

3-4 Cloves of garlic

1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar or lemon juice

1/2 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Dried mint, or 2 Tsps fresh mint (chopped)

50 Grams Pomegranate seeds

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Add the oil, sliced courgette and pepper to an oven proof dish, mix to make sure they are coated and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees. Include the garlic gloves (left whole with their skins on)
  2. After 20 mins remove from the oven. Stir and add the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle over the vinegar. Bake for another 15 mins (or until the edges of the peppers starts catch)
  3. In a heat proof bowl add the couscous cumin and mint. I recommend checking the instructions on the packet about how much liquid to add. (Then add the corresponding amount of vegetable stock)
  4. Once you have removed the vegetables from the oven, take the roasted garlic and squeeze out the soft centre and stir into the couscous
  5. Stir the vegetables into the couscous and serve

21 March Supper Club – Cancelled

Hey Folks, I hope everyone is well and looking after themselves.

Sadly I have to cancel this week’s supper club. While thankfully I’m still healthy, given the current advice I think it’s not worth the risk of anyone getting sick.

Also because people are being eejits and stripping the shop shelves of basic ingredients I couldn’t guarantee being able to serve a menu I’d be happy with.

I have been in touch with anyone who had booked and refunded their payment.

I’d like to thank anyone who booked or was interested in attending for their support. As soon as we return to saner times I will definitely be running this event again and hope you can join us, (after all this social distancing I think we’ll all need a good night out).

I hope everyone stays well, and can find new and exciting ways to amuse yourselves while we’re all on lockdown. If all else fails there’s always wine!

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.

October Supper Club

Having dinner with a bunch of strangers can be a little intimidating. So on a mild October evening, a small group of brave souls took a chance on a night in with the Sunnyside Supper Club.

The fire lit and just waiting for people to arrive.

We had a fantatic mix of people. A couple, a pair or friends who wanted a night out that was a little different and some solo diners who were foodies and wanted to meet new people. In this group we had people who lived a couple of streets away, and two ladies that originally hailed from as far away as Trinidad and New York.

Fantastic beers from NORN IRON Brew Co. in Belfast.

We also had some local flavour with delicious beers that the lovely people at NORN IRON Brew Co. provided. I used their Temple Imperial Porter as the base of my beef dish, and almost had to stop people licking their plates.

A cheeky little amuse bouche of creamy pumpkin soup in espresso cups

I’ll admit I was nervous, would everyone turn up, would they like the food, and would everyone mix OK. I needn’t have worried. Everyone turned up, and they rolled home unable to eat another bite. Wine flowed, stories were shared and I actually laughed until I cried at one point.

The brave souls who decided to try the Sunnyside Supper Club.

A big thank you to all the gorgeous people who helped make it such a brilliant night.

Pear, walnut and blue cheese salad.

We started off with a welcome drink, and I experimented with Negroni’s, some people liked them for others it was a too alcoholic, so they went with prosecco or one of the range of beers that NORN IRON Brew Co. provided. After a little shot of soup served as an amuse bouche to get everyone’s appetite started, we had a light salad with pear, blue cheese and walnuts. The main event was braised beef, cooked long and slow in Porter and topped with cheese scone dumplings. I’ll be posting the recipe soon. I also had a vegetarian version made with mushrooms and walnuts in a red wine sauce. Some meat eaters also tried some this as a second helping and we’re impressed that it was proper veggie comfort food.

Braised Beef with cheese scone topping, creamy potatoes dauphinoise, and buttered kale.

I had planned to make an apple and blackberry galette, but it turns out I missed the local blackberry season by a week or two, so added cinnamon instead. I had both ice cream and custard on offer and most people had both. I’d never had both with a dessert before, but it definitely works.

Apple and cinnamon galette

Debbie and D Rum Pot

I’ve found another local food hero!

On a wet Friday night, I was transported to the Caribbean by Debbie and her amazing food. Partly in the name of research for my own supper club, and because I knew very little about Caribbean food, I went to Debbie’s supper club, D Rum Pot.

Debbie, after she had fed us to the point of bursting.

Debbie warmed up the evening with a rum and mango cocktail (dangerously easy to drink), and the company was great, including a couple of very glamorous ladies in their nineties!

What can I say about the food, fresh, delicious and full of flavour. I had jerk beef which was fantastic, but she also served vegan vegetable curry which was also great.

Jerk beef, flatbread, rice and corn.

The side dishes were amazing as well. Flakey flat bread, roast tomato chutney, coleslaw with a kick, and I don’t know she did to the corn but it tasted out of this world.

Coleslaw and roast tomato chutney.

Debbie and her friend Angela were fun and relaxed hosts, and we all probably ate and drank more than we meant to. Having listened to Debbie describe her home of Trinidad I definitely want to visit.

Homemade ice cream, fresh mango and sneaky shot of rum hiding in the bottom of the bowl, yum!

On a wet night, when I was tired after week at work, D Rum Pot definitely put some pep back in my step. Debbie runs the supper club but also provides outside catering. Check out D Rum Pot on Facebook.

Mostar – A medieval gem

When visting Dubrovnik, we decided to take an excursion to see Mostar in Bosnia, which is a couple of hours away. The countryside along the way was rugged and beautiful, with lush orange groves, pencil cypresses and wild pomegranates everywhere.

View of the old town

Like Dubrovnic, Mostar dates back many centuries, and had been owned or occupied by various rulers during it’s history. It also suffered badly in the war that followed the break up of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and large parts including the medieval old bridge had to be rebuilt.

Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque.

Mostar has some amazing Ottoman architecture, and while it’s maybe a little more rough around the edges it does seem a bit less sterile than Dubrovnik, and is a lot more affordable. There are plenty of local artisans ready to sell you leather and brass tourist tat. Eating and drinking is cheap and hearty, our waiter suggested a local dish (we never got the name), made up of bread, spicy sausages, vegetables and a sweet spicy red pepper relish which was delicious. This along with a couple of beers was half the price we had paid for an overpriced pizza in Dubrovnik. This is a really interesting and historic part of the world, and well worth a visit, but a day is probably enough to see the old town.

The countryside is rugged and beautiful, with lush orange groves, pencil cypresses and wild pomegranates everywhere.

Join the Sunnyside

Thanks for joining me!

Do you love amazing food and getting some travel inspiration (or just living vicariously through others.  If so, then welcome to Sunnyside Kitchen.

Life is too short to live on lettuce, but it’s still important to strike a balance. I try to keep to 80/20.  Healthy food for 80% of the time and food that’s maybe not so healthy for 20% of the time ( what I like to call Pure Filth).  If I’m honest sometimes it’s the other way round, but I try.

Recipes for this blog are a mix of old favourites and food inspired by travel.