Meet Author Sibel Hodge

Today, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Sibel Hodge. Sibel is writing a fabulous series of gluten-free cookbooks that I have enjoyed and that I highly recommend. Here's what Sibel has to say:

Hello! A big Soup Opera welcome to you…

For those who don’t know me, let me tell you a little bit about how this book was born. Well, for starters, I’ve been cooking since I was about ten years old. Under the watchful eye of my nan, who was a fabulous chef, I developed a love of food that has lasted…let’s see…ahem, at least eleven years (yes, I can still be twenty-one in my head), and she taught me how to make mouth-watering meals from scratch. Now I want to pass that knowledge on to you.
I’m the author of thirteen other fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children, and in my spare time, I’m Wonder Woman. When I’m not writing or saving the world from dastardly demons, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking up a storm.
Being half Turkish Cypriot and half British, I was introduced to exciting culinary delights from an early age. When the rest of my mates were eating plain meat-and-two-veg dinners, I was tucking into Mediterranean delights of mousaka, meze, and pilavs.
Turkish people love to eat, therefore they love to cook! In the first cookbook in my gluten free/wheat free series, A Gluten Free Taste of Turkey, I combine my knowledge of tasty, easy-to-cook recipes with nutritious and scrummy Turkish food.
My love of Mediterranean food and the healthy Mediterranean Diet went on to spark my interest into a vast wealth of international dishes. Increasing your recipe bank means you can travel all over the world, and sample all kinds of cuisine, without ever needing your passport!
I’m also a qualified health and fitness professional, with a special interest in nutrition. We all live busy lives these days, don’t we? But that doesn’t mean we have to swap healthy, easy-to-cook, delicious meals for junky fast food. We are what we eat, and if we put rubbish in, it won’t be long before we’re feeling rubbish, too. I firmly believe that our ever-increasing health problems, diseases, and allergies are due to the chemicals, pesticides, and hormones that are pumped into our food and environment. I want to show you that healthy meals can taste great and be easily prepared.
I’ve been cooking gluten/wheat free since I met my hubby over a decade ago. When he first told me he was coeliac, I had a panic attack. I’d never heard the word before, and my first thought was that it meant he had some peculiar sexual quirk that I wasn’t going to like very much. When I finally discovered it meant he couldn’t eat gluten, which is found in barley, oats, wheat, and rye, I had an even bigger panic attack. Trying to find something in the supermarkets back then that didn’t include those ingredients was a nightmare. As well as being blatantly advertised, it’s often cunningly disguised as “thickener”, “stabilizing agent”, “shortening”, and “Ricin”. OK, I made the last one up, but gluten can have severe side effects for people who are coeliac or intolerant/allergic to it.
Maybe now would be a good time to let you into my little secret (stands up and coughs)… I have a serious soup fetish! There, I confessed! Whether it’s summer, winter, or spring, you’ll find me eating the stuff (sometimes in secret). I’m a regular soup-a-holic, and I know that I’m not alone in this little culinary foible. I mean, how can you not love a little bowl of goodness that’s so versatile? Whether you’re looking for a simple starter, a light lunch, or a hearty dinner, soup is the perfect dish every time.
So will you need any specialist ingredients or equipment for this recipe book? No! There’s nothing worse than buying a cookbook, reading through the recipes, and then banging your head against the kitchen worktop because you’ve discovered you need a particular blend of this, or an obscure jar of that, and you just can’t get hold of it. You’ll probably find most of the ingredients used in this cookbook already lurking in your store cupboard or, failing that, your local supermarket. Unlike when I first started cooking gluten free all those years ago, you can now find so much choice in gluten/wheat free products in the shops that you shouldn’t have any trouble getting hold of everything you need to create my tasty, international delights. The only thing you may need to pick up (if you don’t already have one) is a hand blender, and these are both easily available and cheap.
If you’re not coeliac, or sensitive to gluten/wheat, should you eat a gluten free diet? Well, many people are turning to a gluten free/wheat free diet because it can have many health benefits, including an increase in energy, better digestion and elimination, improving cholesterol levels and auto-immune disorders, controlling weight and bloating, and making you super attractive to the opposite sex (yes, I made the last one up again – just checking you were still awake). Whereas twenty years ago, a gluten free diet would be bland and boring, today it can be eclectic, vibrant, and delicious, and these are the dishes that I wanted to share with you in A Gluten Free Soup Opera.
The recipes included in this book should be used as a guideline because you know your taste buds better than anyone else does. If you want to substitute one ingredient for another that you like more, then go for it. This is how great recipes are born, and it’s all about making the food work for you. Wherever you can, please try to use organic ingredients. It’s kinder to the environment and animals, and it’s healthier for you.
The most important thing in cooking is to have fun with it, so experiment, eat, and enjoy!

Moroccan Sweet and Sour Soup

·    1 onion – chopped
·    1 carrot – diced
·    1 red pepper – diced
·    1 green pepper – diced
·    8 – 10 dried apricots – chopped
·    4 cloves of garlic – crushed and chopped
·    2 inch piece of fresh root ginger – peeled and chopped finely
·    400 gr (14 ounce) can of chopped tomatoes
·    400 gr (14 ounce) can of chickpeas – drained and rinsed
·    Juice of half a lemon
·    2 – 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
·    1 pint (approx. 2 ½ cups) of chicken stock/vegetable stock/water
·    ¼ teaspoon of dried cinnamon
·    1 tablespoon of ground coriander
·    1 teaspoon of ground cumin
·    ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
·    1 tablespoon of tumeric
·    1 tablespoon of paprika
·    ¼ – ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
·    ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
·    Salt to taste
·    Olive oil for frying


   1.  Fry the onions and peppers until soft.
   2.  Add the other ingredients, except for the fresh coriander, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 35 – 45 minutes.
   3.  Stir in the fresh coriander and serve.

Serves 4 – 6

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Sibel Hodge said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Donna! :) xx

Barbara Silkstone said...

What a great article. Thank you, both. I have enjoyed Sibel's Gluten-free books. She's amazing and very informative.