Let's get this out of the way early on: Turkish coffee is an acquired taste. Turkish coffee is dark and bitter and bares no resemblance to the generic freeze-dried lame excuse for coffee common in the UK. The coffee revolution in England has been in full swing for at least a decade and a half, and a new breed of coffee buff is taking charge. But real coffee is still in the minority and exceptional coffee is still a rarity. But in Istanbul finding somewhere that serves great coffee is not usually an issue as coffee culture has had five centuries to flourish. Coffee has ancestral roots in Ethiopia and Yemen and by the middle of the sixteenth century the coffee trail had invaded Turkey's largest city. This blog entry is my homage to the impact Turkish coffee has had on the life of Lebanese people and beyond.
One foodstuff that has been a beneficiary of the aforementioned coffee-shop boom in the UK has been the humble biscotti. Of course in Italian biscotti just means biscuit but in the English speaking world it refers to twice-baked rusk-like biscuit. Below is the recipe for my ideal coffee break: Pistachio Biscotti, Cardamom Cream and Turkish Coffee.
100g self-raising flour
20g ground almonds
50g slighty salted butter
50g crushed roasted pistachios
75-100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pot double cream
3-4 pods of green cardamom
3-4 tablespoons icing sugar
freshly ground coffee beans
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Whisk the egg, 50g of softened butter and vanilla extract until pale. Work the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and form into a dough. It should just about form a ball. Cover it with cling film and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190degrees Celsius and grease a baking tray. Form the dough into two sausage-like shapes some width apart (they will expand). Cook until slightly golden (15minutes or so) and take out and cool. With a pallet knife cut diagonal biscuits and turn them onto their sides. You can brush them with more butter and sprinkle with icing sugar at this point. Place them back into the oven to crisp up and brown further. Take out of the oven and cool. Store in an airtight container. Note: this should make around 10-12 biscuits.
Split the cardamom pods and extract the little black seeds from inside. Discard the outer pod and gently grind the inner seeds. Whisk the double cream lightly before adding the icing sugar and crushed cardamom. Whisk until relatively stiff and scoop into a serving bowl.
Heat the water in a a coffee pot on a medium heat. When the water boils mix in a 2-3 teaspoons of freshly ground coffee beans and return to the heat. When the coffee bubbles and is about to overflow turn off the heat. Serve in little porcelain glasses without any sugar. The sweetness of the biscotti and cream are a good counterpoint to the coffee. The biscotti give a nutty, buttery tone and the cardamom cream a spiced lift. I think I might go on another coffee break.