Tag Archives: herbs

Olives, Walnuts and Pomegranate – Zeytoon Parvaradeh

olives, walnuts, pomegranate and mintWhen I get my hands on a new cookbook I cant wait to flick and read through the book, picking up information about ingredients and recipes, reading stories about the author and learning bits of history related to the cuisine! Also, feasting my eyes on the mouth-watering photographs before heading into the kitchen to try out some new recipes… the tasty part!

Some months ago the cosy Words Bookstore and Café hosted a book signing by the lovely Ariana Bundy, promoting her new cookbook Pomegranates and Roses! I am not familiar with Persian cooking so it was a wonderful opportunity to meet Ariana herself and get a signed copy of her cookbook, to learn more about this very colourful cuisine! In fact it was only a couple of months earlier that Suzanne Husseini  visited Words Bookstore and Café for her cookbook signing … another lovely cookbook!

pomegranate paste and seeds, garlic, mint, basil, walnuts, olives and vanilla olive oil

To whet the appetite, Ariana demonstrated two delicious recipes from her Pomegranates and Roses cookbook, Zeytoon Parvaradeh, an olive, walnut and pomegranate appetizer and Mast O Khaiar, a cold yoghurt soup garnished with dried rose petals … both mouth-watering recipes, full of flavour and easy to prepare! Since then, I have made Zeytoon Parvaradeh on a few occasions, nibbled on some sweet Goosheh Feel and used some of the Ekhlas dates from the freezer for Omeletteh Khorma for breakfast and made Joojeh Kabab for a barbecue! There are many recipes that I want to try from this cookbook and I am sure there will be no complaints from the family!

While demonstrating Zeytoon Parvaradeh Ariana did mention that Persian pomegranate molasses/paste is the preferred brand with her recipes! The pomegranate molasses that I use is much thicker and has a more tart taste, so I guess it is finding a brand that has a good balance between sweet and sour! Maybe adding a little honey or lemon juice to a recipe, to balance the sweet and sour where needed! Thank you Ariana for letting me take the rest of pomegranate paste home and as promised I have prepared your recipe! olives, walnuts and pomegranates served in small dishes

The recipe for Zeytoon Parvaradeh has been adapted, with the addition of garlic and a drizzle of vanilla olive oil on top before serving!  I used the Spanish Manazilla olives as suggested but used a sweet Basil (had some in the garden) instead of Asian Basil! Used a mini food processor to blend all the ingredients together, rather than a pestle and mortar to crush the olives! I came across some lovely lemon mint at a farmers market recently, which I will try when I next make this recipe!

As an appetizer for a dinner party, serve Zeytoon Parvaradeh in individual dishes, alongside thin slices of lightly toasted French bread or water crackers! Or, place everything in a serving bowl and let everyone tuck in!

Zeytoon Parvaradeh

Recipe adapted from the  Pomegranates and Roses cookbook by Ariana Bundy.


  • 125g stoned Manzanilla olives
  • 25g shelled walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (optional)

for garnish

How to make: Reserve 4 olives for the garnish, then add the remaining olives, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses, mint, basil and garlic to a small processor and blitz for a few seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl and blitz again until mixture is very finely chopped. Place the olive mixture into a bowl and leave the flavour to develop for a couple of hours or overnight before serving. Place the olive mixture into individual serving dishes and garnish with whole olives, pomegranate seeds, mint leaf and a drizzle of vanilla olive oil on top, if using. Serves 4.

Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup

Vietnamese Noodle Prawn SoupI think it is safe to say that most of us enjoy a warm comforting bowl of soup and with the addition of noodles making it a complete meal… it’s guaranteed to be a winner! Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines, lots of clean flavours with recipes using spices, lots of fresh herbs and vegetables! Carefully balanced broths, stocks and sauces are of great importance, transforming the taste of the simplest dish! Just like the Vietnamese Salad,  Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup is quick and easy to prepare for family meals and could also be served as part of an Asian style menu when entertaining!

Rice stick noodles are perfect to use in soups made with a light aromatic stock and people who suffer from gluten and wheat intolerance’s get to enjoy them as well! Rice noodles are best soaked in boiling water and not boiled in a saucepan which can easily turn them to mush! Either way, make sure your noodles are al dente, just like pasta!Dried Rice Noodles, Lime Leaves

The stock has been infused with lime leaves (not Kaffir lime leaf) taken from our lime tree growing in the garden! Unfortunately no limes yet… apparently the tree is still young… at least the lemon tree is starting to bud once again! 🙂  These small lime leaves are very fragrant when torn and it’s such a waste not to put their intoxicating perfume to some culinary use!  As the tree has not been sprayed with any chemical pesticides I am quite happy to use the lime leaves in my cooking!

Using the shell of the prawns when making the stock adds a delicate flavour and the stock only needs a gentle simmer for 20 minutes, with no salt added! Fish sauce and lime juice are the seasonings for this stock so use this recipe as a guide, balancing both according to your taste buds!Vietnamese Prawn Noodle Soup

I thought this was a nice idea and another way to serve Vietnamese soups (Pho), seen over at JungleFrog Cooking blog… putting the garnishes into individual bowls on the table, each person can choose and add what they like to their own bowl of soup! To add more flavour and spice things up a little, leave a bottle of chilli oil on the table to drizzle over the soup!  Use chop sticks to pick up the noodles and prawns when eating and afterwards pick the bowl up with your hands and slurp the delicious and light flavoursome soup from the bowl! Now if that sounds like bad table manners… head for the cutlery drawer!

Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup


  • 400g uncooked medium-sized prawns, heads removed and discarded, prawns peeled and deveined, reserve the shells
  • 200g dried (2mm wide) rice stick noodles

for stock

  • 1.5 liters of  water
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, discard tough outer leaves, chop finely
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander root
  • 10 whole black pepper corns
  • 6 lime leaves (optional)

for seasoning

  • 2 limes juiced (approximately)
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce (approximately)

for garnish

  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 spring onions, green part, slice thinly, diagonally
  • 2 to 3 small chilli, slice thinly, diagonally
  • chilli oil to drizzle (optional)

How to make: Rinse the prawn shells and add together with the water, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander root, black pepper corns and torn lime leaves into a saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stock uncovered for 20 minutes! Strain the stock and return to a cleaned saucepan!

Meanwhile place the rice noodles into a large heat-proof bowl or dish and pour over boiling water to cover completely. After about a minute move the rice noodles around so they do not stick together, check again after another minute! Leave noodles to soak for about 8 to 10 minutes, checking that they are not turning mushy and still have a slight bite to them! Once cooked drain and refresh with cold water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prawns to the stock and simmer for a minute or until prawns have changed colour! Add the lime juice and fish sauce gradually, check seasoning, adding more if required.

Divide the noodles into the bowls, ladle over the stock and divide the prawns. Garnish each bowl with some coriander, mint, spring onion and chilli. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Lavender Honeycomb Butter and Alacati

Lavender Honeycomb ButterVisiting Istanbul for the first time last year my husband and I wanted to spend a few days in a different region of Turkey before heading to Istanbul. Searching the internet and gathering bits of information here and there as you do, decided to visit a small town on the Aegean coastAlacati.


This beautiful and charming picturesque town is filled with old stone houses, lots of narrow streets lined with sidewalk cafés, bars, restaurants, boutiques and antique shops. As it was low season Alacati was quiet (some businesses close) and with not many visitors around, felt like we had the town to ourselves.

Even though our visit was short and sweet you could feel a real sense of community spirit and pride among the local people who live there. We met the lovely Neyran while visiting Lisa Cortis very colourful home textile shop and ended up sitting at a sidewalk café, chatting like old friends while Neyran filled us in about the history of this enchanting town… thank you for recommending the Barbun restaurant, it was a delicious end to our short stay.

Unfortunately we had not been able to include a Saturday on our visit, missing the famous Alacati market mentioned on this blog Cafe Fernando. I never got to taste the chocolate and chestnut cake mentioned as it was not on the menu. However, we enjoyed some delicious home-made cakes at the charming and quaint Tas Otel during our stay and the owner kindly parted with one of their recipes… which I will share in a later post you can find here.
Tas Otel-Turkey

The smell of dried lavender perfumed the air throughout the Tas Otel and the fresh honey we enjoyed at breakfast inspired this simple recipe… butter perfumed with lavender and sweetened with fresh honeycomb brought back from Turkey… utterly delicious slathered over hot toast, crusty bread or warm scones.

LR-edit-0048This beautiful and extremely friendly cat lives at the Tas Otel whose name was difficult to pronounce and  remember… you were right Zeynep (the hotel owner),  I have already forgotten!
Tas Otel LR-edit-0007 LR-edit-0014Alacati


Lavender Honeycomb Butter


  • 100g slightly salted butter, softened
  • 100g fresh honeycomb or thick-set honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried lavender, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lavender

How to make: In a bowl mix all the ingredients together using a wooden spoon, until combined. Place the flavoured butter into a suitable sized mould which has been pre-lined with cling film. Leave the butter in the fridge for at least 8 hours for the flavours to develop. If you do not wish to shape the butter with a mould, place the butter into a suitable bowl to serve. Recipe can easily be doubled.


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