Let’s talk about Kunefe baby

Let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be, let’s talk about Kunefe!

I was thinking we would talk about Kunefe.  What is Kunefe you ask?  Kunefe is a crazy ass desert served here in Mersin and throughout Turkey made of cooked cheese, syrup and icecream.  “Wwhhaaattttt?” you cry.

kunefe

Yes I know.  Separately these three food items are sensational.  Cheese?  Legendary.  Sugary syrup?  Amazing.  Icecream?  Anytime.

But incorporated into one meal?  Maybe not.

As you will no doubt recall I recently became a rock star, letting my hair down and singing at the top of my over endowed lungs at a karaoke bar in Pozcu, Mersin.  After spending a few hours singing, dancing, drinking and generally embarrassing Daughter to the point that she wanted to disown me Prince William (previously known as Capt. Awesome) decided that we should finish the evening with some dessert.  Dessert?  By 2 am I was starting to lose my groove so the idea of dessert (and its subsequent sugar rush) perked me up considerably and I was ready to go and check out our next destination.

A couple of minutes drive through the back streets of Mersin brought us to an amazing little pastanesi (cake shop) just west of Carsi (near our new amazing dentist).  Even though it was very late the place was packed but when we arrived it was clear that they knew Prince William (aka Capt Awesome) and a table magically appeared.  There were no menus, there were no options.  We sat and dessert was supplied – Kunefe.

Kunefe is well known throughout the provinces of Icel, Gazienterp, Hatay, Kilis and Adana although it is served in many Arabic countries.  Downstairs you could watch them make the dessert and, honestly, it seemed like a lot of work.  The pastry chef was very generous letting me behind the counter (obviously a friend of Prince William’s as well) and explaining to me in limited English the process.  The process is long and drawn out and I will not bother explaining it – to be honest it was all a bit fuzzy.  There was a lot of work involving tel kadayif (stringy filo pastry), a butt load of cheese, huge pans and the largest wood oven I have ever seen!  If you do want to make an attempt of this amazing dessert I suggest you go check out Ozlem’s recipe.  She is, as usual, my go-to person when attempting Turkish food but this one looks a little out of my league.

If you ever find yourself at 2 am needing a pick me up and a kebab just isn’t going to do it for you try and find a pastanesi who serves this amazing dish.  Now that Kunefe has been brought to my attention I find that just about every pastanesi in Mersin serves it.  It might be a little more difficult to track down on the west coast but it is definitely well worth the search.  Your tastebuds will thank you for it.

Quince, Quinces or Quinci?

Those that know me know that I am no chef.  Never have been.  Never will be.  Sure I cook.  It is a necessity when you have a family or even when you do not have a family.  At some stage in your life everyone needs to cook.  I have lots of recipe books here, yes I brought them all over from Australia, but when I look at the photos and read the instructions in these books I scratch my head, get a very confused look on my face, throw my hands up in the air and yell “Feck it”.

Since we arrived in Mersin I relied heavily on my mother in law for our meals.  If not her then my sister in law would always have something that I could incorporate into whatever I was attempting to cook.  Now I find it is a necessity again and I need to learn and learn fast.

Each afternoon my father in law will knock on my door and hand me some fruit that he has bought at the market (or perhaps steals from a neighbouring tree).  Fresh, crisp elma (apple), uzum (grapes) straight off the vine, muz (banana) or whatever other fruit happens to be in season at the time.  A couple of days ago he dropped in and handed me some avya.  He kept repeating to me “Avya, avya.  Good, good.” I had no idea what they were and even less idea what I was to do with them.  He looked so impressed with himself that I searched my limited Turkish for the right response, “Ben avya seviyorum.”  Of course I love avya despite not knowing what it was.

After some sleuthing I find that these strange little fruit are quince.  I have a bag of quince, quinces or quini.  What would the plural of quince be? Not sure.  Searching the internet I found a relatively simple recipe for poaching quince, quinces or quinci –  Avya Tatlisi.

I will start by saying that quince, quinces or quini are hard to the touch.  Unpleasant.  Peeled the fruit is coarse.  Unpleasant.  And believe me do not eat it uncooked.  Blugh!

Here is my final product –

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To be honest it didn’t taste that bad.  Very sweet, in fact a little too sweet for my palate.  Although originally a white fruit they slowly went pembe (pink) while simmering on the stove.  The sugar caramelised nicely and I added a vanilla bean for taste (although I do not think it needed it on reflection) and I did not burn them on the bottom.  I must say they may not look as appetising as the professionally made quince, quinces or quini but they were pretty moreish.  Daughter was not a fan but her cousins tuckered in and even asked for more.

If you are interested in attempting the recipe (after all if I can do it anyone can) have a look here.

Hopefully my father in law brings me apples next time.  I know what to do with them.

Incidentally the correct term for more than one quince is in fact quinces.  Mystery solved.