From Yotam Ottolenghi: Whenever I walk into a bookshop I find myself in the cookery section within seconds; it's an urge I can't control. On a recent visit to a secondhand bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, the capital of bookshops, I came across a real treasure, Classic Turkish Cookery by Ghillie Başan, published in 1995. This book offers a fantastic introduction to one of the world's most accomplished cuisines and it is packed full of recipes you just know you must try. It is there that I came across this unusual savory cake originating from the Turkish part of Cyprus. It makes a substantial snack or a light starter. Serve with Burnt Eggplant with Tahini.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the grape leaves in a shallow bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes. Then remove the leaves from the water and dry them well with a tea towel. Use scissors to trim off and discard the bit of hard stalk at the base of each leaf.
2. Sauté the shallots in 1 tablespoon of the oil for about 8 minutes, or until light brown. Leave to cool down.
3. Take a round and shallow ovenproof dish that is roughly 8 inches in diameter, and cover its bottom and sides with grape leaves, slightly overlapping them and allowing the leaves to hang over the rim of the dish. Mix the melted butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil; use about two-thirds of this to generously brush the leaves lining the dish.
4. Mix together in a bowl the shallots, yogurt, pine nuts, chopped herbs and lemon zest and juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then add the rice flour and mix well until you get a homogenous paste. Spread this paste evenly in the baking dish.
5. Fold the overhanging grape leaves back over the top of the filling so they cover the edges, then cover the filling completely with the remaining grape leaves. Brush with the rest of the butter and oil mix. Finally, scatter the breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle over the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the leaves crisp up and the breadcrumbs turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warmish or at room temperature, with a dollop of fresh yogurt.
Reprinted from Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Dishes from London's Ottolenghi, Chronicle Books (2011).
Harold McGee, the author of Keys to Good Cooking, is an expert on the chemistry behind food and cooking. McGee recently made his first trip to China, where he learned more about rice wine.