Tag Archives: The Bellini Card

Not Nancy Mitford

The dashing girl whose picture I posted yesterday has been identified as – among others –  Mulan, Maria Walewska (closer), Lady Hester Stanhope, Maria Lebstuck, the Contessa d’Aspi d’Istria (from The Bellini Card), Juana Galan, Lady Chatterton and the young Nancy Mitford.

No. She ain’t any one of them. And the only person who got it right so far is my sister Tabitha, who just knows a lot – but she can’t have the prize copy of An Evil Eye because she’s got one already and anyway family members are debarred from winning, as it says on the cornflake packets.

But here’s a clue or two: Stanislaw Palewski would have both known and admired her, and mourned her passing in 1831 at the tender age of 25.

Here she is, doing her thing the year she died. And that really is a clue.

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Gentleman with – ouch!

A reader just wrote to me about her research into Turkish knives, especially the curved knives used for cutting up borek and baklava. She had prompted by visiting Aygun Bozdogan at Kalite Bicak, the little cutler’s shop between the Spice Bazaar and Rustem Pasha Mosque.

His collection is quite astonishing, from the tiniest shiny penknife that the Valide might wield to huge meat choppers for mincing lamb for a kebab. Obvious destination for a crime writer…

I did an interview with him a couple of years ago, with a reading from The Snake Stone:

Hope you enjoy this! ‘Like’ it and share it if you want…

 

 

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Yashim’s Kitchen III

I don’t know if you’re having turkey this year? Or a goose? We are going for guinea fowl because they are so tasty, with a duck for the crisp skin. I quite like turkey but it makes a greasy stock, and a good stock is what you want for this pilaf.

Mehmet the Conqueror’s Grand Vizier used to serve this as a working lunch in divan, the council meeting held on a Friday. Into it he tossed a gold chickpea for some lucky pasha to discover (or break a tooth on): the Ottoman version of putting a sixpence in the Christmas pudding, perhaps.

 

Ingredients:

Basmati rice

Chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled for an hour (but tinned chickpeas are pretty handy, too)

An onion

butter, salt, festive stock

 

Rinse the rice in cold water until the water is clear – this is to remove the starch, which would make the rice too sticky. Leave it to soak while you melt the onions in butter. When they are soft, add the chickpeas.

Drain the rice, stir it into the pan and add enough stock to cover the rice and a little more.

When the stock has all been absorbed, check the rice; it should be a little nutty, but almost edible. If necessary add a little more stock until the rice is almost done.

Now comes the strange pilaf magic: cover the pan with a cloth and a lid. Over a whisper of heat, or none, let the rice steam for fifteen minutes.

Turn the rice out into a dish, helping to fluff it out with a fork.

This rice method sounds like complicated alchemy, but it’s simple really – and it works.

 

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