In the last month, I have seen Ethan Hawke twice. Both times I was with my visiting friend from Portland, Xochitl Adriana. Two random, unscripted brunch dates in two different cafes, in two different neighborhoods. With a similar outcome – Ethan over there, Xochitl and I over here…
Complete fluke or not, it did make me think why and how Ethan and I ended up in the same place, twice. The only reason I could think of is that we both love to drink coffee in a neighborhood joint. A place where locals can just hang; where everybody knows our name.
It is worthwhile to ponder what makes a café or spot a ‘neighborhood local’? Why do some cafes create that sense of belonging, when others you wouldn’t visit again? Since moving to Brooklyn, I have realized that my ‘local’ is not necessarily determined by proximity to home (as it was in Sydney). In fact, one of my favorite neighborhood cafés is Rucola, which is about a 20 minute walk away in the next-door suburb of Boerum Hill (and incidentally, the first place where I brunched with Ethan). Despite freezing temperatures, I often make the pilgrimage, just to be able to enjoy my coffee with a friend, in a safe, friendly, aesthetically pleasing environment. When I narrow it down, for me, two things make a café or location a ‘local’ – a sense of character and personality that is akin to my own sensibilities; and a place where local history has been retained, interpreted and used to create a unique sense of place.
Neighborhood, and that sense of belonging that a particular location or place can provide to individuals, is really the essence of my new book, due for release in Australia in Spring 2016. In fact, the book is called Neighbourhood (Australian spelling) and it is a book of salad, sweets and stories inspired by different places around the world. I’m so excited about this book and I really think you will love it too.
Of course, writing a follow-up to Community hasn't always been easy. For a long time I felt, like many authors do I suppose, that I had already given everything to the first book. Did I have any more salad inspiration in me? Turns out, I do!! When I started writing Neighbourhood, the recipes simply poured out. Drawing from life, travel, memories and shared histories, this book now occupies its own very special place in my heart. Neighbourhood took me, and soon hopefully you too, on new and exciting food adventures, both close to home, and far flung! Of course, the photography by Luisa Brimble will blow you away. More about the book soon!
(Note: For those readers not in Australia, there is not yet a firm release date for Community and Neighborhood in the United States and beyond. We are working on it. If you want to see my book released ASAP, email me at email@example.com and we will do our best to speed things along!)
This week’s recipe is one I have shared with family, friends and neighbors for many years. This gozleme recipe is made with an extremely simple yoghurt dough. My favorite way to cook it is on the barbecue, but I’ve also made it in a sandwich press, on a stove-top griddle, or just in a fry pan. My filling is haloumi (just because, right?), and a spiced up kale, but you can really go crazy experimenting with different flavors. I’ve crimped the edges in a fairly fancy fashion (in the style of the Chinese dumplings I used to make with my mother) but you can simply fold them over and seal with the edge of a fork.
Halloumi and spiced kale gozleme
Use this dough as a base for any number of fillings. Let your imagination run wild! Melty cheeses with a green leafy veg work very well, as does pan-fried mushrooms with a fresh soft cheese like ricotta or chevre. For something more meaty, you could replace the kale with minced beef. If you’re after a hearty dessert, fill with nutella and banana, or sautéed apples with salted caramel. Go forth and enjoy!
- 300g greek yoghurt
- big pinch sea salt
- 3 cups / 375g self raising flour*
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- 4 cups / 6.4 oz kale leaves
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- pinch of red chilli flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp / 15g butter
- 350g / 12.3 oz halloumi cheese, grated
- ¼ cup scallions / Chinese shallots, finely chopped
- ¼ mint leaves, torn
- sea salt and black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
*Self Raising flour is known as ‘Self-Rising Flour’ in the US. You can easily make your own by combining 1 cup of plain flour with 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of salt.
To make the yoghurt dough, in the large bowl, add the yoghurt and stir through a big pinch of salt. When combined, gradually add the flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until you have a stiff dough. Flour your bench, and using your hands, knead the dough until it is soft and slightly tacky. Place into a lightly floured bowl, cover with clean tea towel, and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes.
To make the filling, warm a fry pan on medium heat. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and toss in the kale, garlic, chilli flakes, cumin, turmeric and season with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the kale is wilted. Take the pan off the heat, and fold the butter through the kale until it is all melted. Allow to cool.
Once the kale is cool, add it to the grated halloumi cheese, scallions and mint. Mix well to combine.
Divide the dough into 4 equal balls. On a floured service, roll each ball into a 20-25cm circle. Place some filling on one side of the circle and fold the dough over. Seal edges with a fork (or crimp, if you feel like it!). Repeat until you have used all the dough.
Place a large fry pan on medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the gozleme with olive oil and cook on both sides until golden. You can also cook it on a barbecue hot plate, griddle pan or even a sandwich grill.
Serve with lemon wedges.