Pomme Larmoyer

unknownI got to ask Pomme some questions via email, after getting Istanbul Cult Recipes to review…

What draws you to Turkish food, and in particular the food of Istanbul?

Actually Istanbul drove me to Turkish food. First the city is one of my favourite for its beauty and dynamism, and second it gathers all the variety of Turkey (very different people from all over the country, areas, cultures, habits, traditions and modernity, oriental style and trendy places…). I thought such a place was perfect to talk about Turkey, not only a huge country – very rich of particularities from north to south/east/west – but also the former Ottoman empire through which lots of people and cultures have moved during centuries, from Asia to Europe and the Middle East… The whole world used to live in Istanbul ! and still is. Talking about food means talking about all this.

At the end of the book, in About the Author, you say that you can learn everything you need to know about a country from its kitchens. How would you sum up Istanbul as a city from its kitchens?

A place of variety, a crossroads full of tastes, mystery, beauty, stories and fun.

A really intriguing part of the book is that you include a list of restaurants and cafes to visit in Istanbul, to try out different dishes. What inspired you to add this aspect to the book?

I see this collection “Cult Recipes” as a way to travel – through a cookbook. When you walk in Istanbul you (or at least I) want to talk about the places you’ve been and share the smells, tastes, colors, sounds you feel, and you feel a lot of things there. I guess I wanted to talk about concrete places I’ve been to and liked to help the readers to feel a bit of my Istanbul.

If you were going to put together an Istanbul feast, what would you cook and why?

I would start with some meze : kozde patlican, cacik (you definitily have to include yogurt and eggplant in the menu), parsley salad (not really a classic but one of my favorite), lakerda (but not easy to cook), kisir, midye tava… with some raki of course. And then I’ll try to impress my guests with some manti (this you have to try) and as a sweet final touch baklavas or kurabiye with a good turkish coffee. This is not at all a typical turkish menu but dishes I looove.

What do you think a really good cookbook needs to include?

Stories and people (related to food : but who isn’t ?). Cooking is about that : people, places and stories.

If you could do a cookbook for any other cuisine or region, what would it be?

Paris! I would love to talk about my city through its kitchens. I have my ideas on the subject.

Istanbul Cult Recipes: the recipes

unknownWhat I thought of the book itself.

Now, the recipes!

Things I’ve made:

“Lady’s thighs” – these are kofte (uh, not softie, autocorrect) that are apparently meant to be shaped like lady’s thighs? Or something. Anyway, steak and rice and some spices – very simple, very tasty.

Beef dumplings – ‘manti’, “the unmissable little Armenian dumplings”. Simple dough (flour and oil and a little water); a spoonful of minced beef and onion into the middle of 6cm squares, fold them up into boats and bake in the oven with some broth around it. SO good. I plan to experiment with spices… and they freeze brilliantly.

Zucchini fritters – zucchini, eggs, dill, parsley, feta. Fry. Delight.

Lentil balls – my one failure so far. They tasted fine… but they didn’t become balls. They wouldn’t stick together, so I used it as a basis for meatballs. Still: lentils and burgh and garlic and chilli paste and parsley and spring onions…

Shortbread – actually the first thing I made, for a church fete. They got a good rap because, as someone said, they’re not toosweet. They’ve got flour and almond meal (the ground walnut option is intriguing), and only 80g caster sugar for 500g other dried ingredients. Easy to make, easy to eat.

Things I want to make:

Milk buns with feta kneaded through… :O

Lentil soup – so easy! red lentils and tomato…

Stuffed vine leaves – I’ve always been dubious of my ability to make these, but you can use silverbeet! instead of vine leaves! and somehow that seems more accessible.

Borek – filo (although given where I leave I might be able to access yufka pastry…) with feta… sounds awesome.

Almond helva – although making my own helva could be a deeply dangerous thing to do HOW GOOD WOULD THAT BE?!

Things I won’t make:

I can’t come at tripe. Uh, no. I also don’t think I can access mutton so I guess I’ll try some stuff with lamb instead…

Istanbul Cult Recipes

This is the book I haven’t been able to mention on the podcast! And now I can!

This was sent to me by the publisher, Murdoch Books, at no cost. It’s available now; RRP $49.99.


The book itself

is a lovely object. My copy is a hardback and the image on the front is delightful; the bits that look yellow in the pic to the left are actually gold. It’s a hefty tome, with about 250pp of recipes and good thick covers.

The book is divided into several sections: At the Kahvalti Salon (breakfast); The Meyhane Table (meze and fish); Lokanta, Kofteci, Kebabci (soups, meats and rice); At Home (family recipes); Street Food; and Turkish Delights (sweet things). It’s an intriguing division, especially that central set of chapters, because they don’t correspond to meal times as other books often do. Instead it’s more about the style of food, which I quite like, once you’ve got your head around how to look for particular sorts of food.

The other intriguing aspect of the book is that it’s not just recipes. It’s not even just recipes plus stories about the people. No; Larmoyer is toying with the reader/cook and may be in cahoots with the Turkish tourism board because each chapter also has a double spread on where to go in Istanbul in order to eat. There’s a map and a list of the best places to go for different specialities. Which… seems a bit cruel, really. But at least the book provides recipes to help those of us who can’t up and run to Istanbul at a moment’s notice.

The book is replete with pictures of both the food mentioned and the places where it’s bought and made. The recipes are laid out across a single page, with a story or tip for each one; pretty much all have at least one photo accompanying the recipe. A lot of these photos look quite domestic – I’m sure a lot of thought went into styling them to get the effect, but I do find it reassuring to see a photo, when flicking through the book, that doesn’t look too enormously different from what would be possible in my own kitchen! (Except for the pictures of producing epic quantities of baklava. EPIC.) The ingredients are listed in bold type, which I like, and so far they seem straightforward to follow.

As a book, this is a very attractive object. Find out tomorrow what I thought of the recipes! (… eh, spoiler: they’re good.)

Lamb, lentil and mint pies

Here’s a thing I have now learnt. All those times I ignored the instructions about covering the fill pastry with a damp tea towel while you’re working with it? STUPID. That trick actually works! Who knew?? (… aside from all the recipe writers I’ve been ignoring, of course…)

photoI’ve decided to work my way through Leanne Kitchen’s Turkey, and these pies seemed like an excellent thing to attempt. The filling is:Turkey-Leanne-Kitchen

lamb mince (minced by me! Although the butcher didn’t have any fillets, so it was just their diced lamb, which was… not awesome)

lentils (which are mentioned at the start of the recipe, as needing to be boiled for 30 minutes to soften, but then never mentioned again so I just presumed that they should be mixed with the lamb)

mint, parsley, garlic, onion, tomato/pepper paste and goat’s cheese (I just used fetta).

The prep is incredibly easy, and since going with the tea towel trick even the construction itself was straight forward, although it did take a while – each of the spirals is three layers of filo, with butter on each (an exercise which has convinced me that I need a new pastry brush, because mine is losing bristles like it’s going bald).

The mint was a delightful and intriguing taste; I think it needed more fetta (the recipe called for 60g, I think I put in more like 100g). I will absolutely be making these again and I imagine that I will be playing around with the ingredients, too. It can’t be hard to come up with a chicken version, or even a vegetarian one (although getting the ingredients small enough might be a pain).

Flat bread

I’ve got very interested in baking bread over the last few years. I was introduced to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day some years back, and I’m still working my way through it. This week, though, I decided to try the flat bread recipe in Leanne Kitchen’s Turkey, which I have been enjoying for a long time now.

photo 2photo 1The recipe itself is very straightforward – just a normal bread recipe, with yeast and flour etc. Once the dough has risen and been punched back, you divide it into 12, roll them out and then cook them in a dry frying pan.

As you can see, when it starts to cook the dough gets bubbles in it. This is how the bread gets that pocket effect. I wasn’t expecting that, and I got a kick out of it every time. The recipe suggests cooking each side for about 3 minutes; I discovered very quickly that timing it was unnecessary, since once the dough collapsed back a bit it was ready to flip. Plus if you flip it too early and want to colour it up a bit more, there’s no harm in flipping it back once more.

These were very easy and I’ll definitely be making them again. I’m considering options for making them slightly more interesting; they tasted fine but a bit bland. It’s been suggested that I could spray them with oil and add garlic; I’m wondering whether adding garlic to the dough itself would change the dough’s properties too much. Perhaps thyme would be nice as well, and a bit lighter than garlic…