On the islands of the Goceck archipelago, just off Turkey's glorious turquoise coast, numerous little bays can be found offering safe harbour. There is no electricity anywhere on these islands and if you want to get from one place to the next, it's either by boat or donkey. Life is simple, wild herbs are gathered for tea, olives are pressed for oil and meals are based around the offerings of the sea and the season.
Over the past decade I have visited these islands numerous times as the lucky guest of friends on their lovely old Turkish gulet (wooden schooner). I always look forward to visiting the local imam and his clever cooking wife, Dordu, who live high up in the hills on one of these islands. Spending time in Dordu's tiny kitchen is one of the things I have most looked forward to about these trips, there's always so much to learn and be amazed by. The last time we were there, I sat cross-legged on their little raised porch, watching as Dordu prepared the traditional tiny filled pasta of this region, known as manti. Dordu told me that growing up in a family of 12 children, she and her sisters would spend several hours each day making mountains of these to feed everyone for dinner.
A couple of months ago I came across a UK-based organisation called Migrateful, which runs cooking classes led by refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants. Currently these classes can be accessed online via Zoom, which means (as long as you can cope with the time difference between UK and NZ), we can access them here. There are cooks and chefs from more than 20 different countries in the Migrateful family and each teacher brings unique skills, knowledge and recipes.
So often, refugees are very qualified, yet remain unemployed because of language barriers and the fact that their qualifications aren't recognised. Cooking is a skill shared by so many refugees and the talent and resourcefulness of these cooks is inspiring.
Refugee Week happens every year across the world in the week leading up to World Refugee Day on June 20.
We may not be able to leave home but we can enjoy the flavours of the places we love to visit, thanks to a diverse array of fabulous ethnic eateries and catering services brought to us by talented immigrants who can now call New Zealand home.
We are lucky to have them for many reasons, and especially for enriching our culinary landscape.
Middle Eastern breakfast platter
I love the way breakfast in the Middle East mixes sweet and savoury. Hard-boiled eggs, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, olives, yoghurt usually end up on the same plate as honey, jam and sweet pastries. Add falafel, hummus, zaatar, dukkah and a bowl of olive oil and this platter idea easily extends to a simple lunch or supper.
Ready in 15 minutes
1 cucumber, halved, cored and sliced in half-rounds
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
3 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 cup natural yoghurt
1⁄2 cup honey
100g assorted olives
4 hard-boiled eggs
100g feta cheese, sliced
I loaf Turkish-style bread
Mix cucumber, pepper and tomatoes together in a serving bowl. Place yoghurt and honey in separate bowls and present on a platter with all other ingredients. Serve with slices of Turkish-style bread.
Craving carbs? Annabel Langbein satisfies the urge with a healthier option
Gluten-free buckwheat pancakes
Buckwheat pancakes are particularly popular in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania. Buckwheat contains no gluten but you don't have to have issues with gluten to enjoy these lacy light as air pancakes.
Ready in 30 minutes
Makes 8-10 pancakes, serves 4
2 Tbsp molasses or golden syrup
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or butter
1 cup milk or almond milk
Extra coconut oil or neutral oil to cook
In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and molasses (or syrup) to combine. Add buckwheat flour, baking powder, salt, melted coconut oil or butter and milk and whisk until batter is the texture of melted chocolate. Add more milk if needed. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 1 hour.
When ready to cook, give mixture another whisk and, if needed, thin to melted-chocolate consistency with more milk.
Heat a heavy pan over medium-high heat with a small smear of coconut oil or neutral oil. Ladle in a scant 1⁄4 cup of batter and tilt pan to form a thin pancake with lacy edges. Allow bubbles to form and set on top before flipping over to cook the other side. Stack cooked pancakes on a plate until ready to serve.
Serve with honeyed nuts (recipe below), Greek-style yoghurt and slices of seasonal fresh fruit or berries.
Makes 8 servings
1⁄4 cup whole blanched almonds
1⁄4 cup hazelnuts, halved
1⁄4 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1⁄2 cup clear runny honey
Mix all ingredients together.
Store in a glass jar until needed, it will keep for months.
Spiced Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Beans
This Latino-inspired breakfast egg bake makes a satisfying meal any time of day. The sauce can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for several days. Use half the sauce for 4 serves or a quarter for 2 people.
Ready in 40 minutes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely diced
100g chorizo, diced
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
Fine zest of 1 lemon
2 x 400g cans tomatoes, chopped
1 x 400g can cooked chickpeas, drained
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped parsley
½ tsp sumac
To make sauce, heat oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat and cook onion, garlic, carrot, celery and chorizo (or bacon) until soft and beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add chilli powder, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cumin, bay leaf, thyme, zest, tomatoes and chickpeas. Simmer gently until vegetables are softened, about 12-15 minutes. Season to taste. Sauce can be prepared to this point and chilled for 3-4 days. When ready to use, return to a simmer and stir in chopped parsley (reserve a little for garnish).
Preheat oven to 180C. Divide sauce mixture between 8 ovenproof dishes or ramekins. Make a well in the centre of each and break an egg into each one.
Bake in oven until eggs are just set, about 7 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of sumac and chopped parsley.