Vanishing Candied Almonds

All natural almonds with a crunchy and sweet coating, baked to perfection! 

These candied almonds are called “vanishing” for a reason. Quite simply because they vanish. Whether you make them for yourself or if you make them for gift giving, one thing is for sure, these almonds will vanish. They are such a delicious gourmet treat that are actually so simple to make at home with minimal ingredients.

Start with a big bag of raw almonds and then open your kitchen cupboard to get the rest of the ingredients.

Here’s the recipe:

P.s. Here’s a video I created that shows you how I make the almonds.

Vanishing Candied Almonds

  • 1 lb of raw almonds
  • 1 egg white
  • 1.5 TBSP water
  • 1.5 TBSP melted butter
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 250F or 120C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Separate the egg white from the yolk and put the egg white in a bowl. Add 1.5 TBSP of water and whisk together until frothy. Then add 1.5 TBSP of melted butter and 1.5 tsp of pure vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Pour in the 500 grams of raw almonds and stir to ensure that the almonds are well coated with with the wet mixture.
In a separate bowl combine 1/4 cup of white sugar, 3/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tsp of nutmeg and 1 TBSP of cinnamon and stir until well incorporated.

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Pour the sugar mixture over the wet almonds and stir thoroughly, being sure to coat all of the almonds. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread out the almonds in an even layer.
Bake for one hour, turing the almonds every 15 minutes. Then, remove the almonds from the oven and cool them on the baking sheet.
Serve and Enjoy! Or, package them up in cute jars and give them as a delicious gift!
Bon Appetit!
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Quick Skillet Pita Bread

Crispy on the outside, light and soft on the inside, this skillet pita bread is a quick and easy way to make a delicious bread to accompany any meal.

There’s nothing like a batch of warm bread! I must confess that when I go to one of my favorite restaurants with a glass kitchen, I peer behind the glass like a child and watch the bakers artfully create the bread. It’s a skill and I’m always mesmerized.

Inspired by the artisans, I created my version of a pita bread. Except instead of using the wood burning oven, I’m using a skillet to quick cook the bread in small round pieces.

The end result? Light, flaky and soft individual serving pita bread. It’s so good!

Here’s the recipe:

P.s. I created a video on how I make the pita bread. Just click on the video below.

Skillet Pita Bread 

  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TSP honey
  • 1 packet of yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 (heaping) TBSP thick yogurt (e.g. suzme or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil (plus 2-3 more for coating the bowl & cooking)
Preparation:
Combine the hot water, honey, olive oil and yeast in a bowl and stir.
Meanwhile, measure out the flour and salt.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and spoon in the yogurt.
Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and then incorporate with your hand, gently kneading.
Coat the bowl with 1/2 to 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
After 1 hour, put a skillet on the stove and drizzle on 1 TBSP of olive oil. Take golf ball size pieces of the dough, roll into a bowl and then flatten it with the palms of your hand. Shape the dough like a small pizza with your finger tips and place on the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side on medium low heat or until browned.
Serve with your favorite meze or just enjoy the bread alone. It’s just that good!
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Quick Skillet Pita Bread with Olives & Babaganoush

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Patlican Salatasi (Eggplant Salad)

Tender, roasted eggplant is mixed with fresh vegetables and an olive oil and lemon dressing. 

One of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant is roasted. It’s so simple and it always comes out delicious and ready to complete any meal. The first step to this salad is roasting the eggplant. This immediately brought a smile to my face because I knew that this was going to be a tasty dish.

The proof is in the taste test and this salad wins! The eggplant is light and compliments all of the flavors of the salad. You’ve got to give it a try!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 kilos of eggplant
  • 5 small tomatoes (500 grams)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 small green peppers (e.g. bell peppers or any sweet pepper)
  • 3 small red onions
  • 0.5 bunch of fresh mint
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven on 375F.

Rinse and pat dry the eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and poke holes in the eggplant (to allow the steam to escape while it roasts).

Roast the eggplant for about 45 minutes. Let cool.

While the eggplant cools, chop the tomatoes, parsley and mint.

Thinly slice the peppers, onions and the peel of half of a lemon (reserving the rest of the lemon to juice later). Place all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Peel the skin off the eggplant, squeeze off some of the excess juice, and chop it into small pieces. Add the eggplant to the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze the lemon juice on top, pour over the olive oil and season with salt (to taste).

Serve & enjoy!

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NOTE: It goes so well with Soganli Lahmacun (Turkish Onion Pizza)!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Get Local, Get in Season

A fresh look on cooking with sustainability and a budget!20180127_161947.jpg

Every season has a unique range of fresh produce to offer depending upon where you live in the world. Although it’s wintertime in the Mediterranean region of the world, there’s still a plethora of delicious, affordable and seasonal produce available at the grocery stores and farmers market.

Although this does not represent a collective view of all the seasonal produce, I like to think of it as a small cornucopia of winter vegetables.

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A lovely leafy green that’s great to cook like spinach or a more tender version of some of my other favorite greens (e.g. collards & turnip greens)

Beets

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Their deep red hue makes them beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. Great for boiling and making a delicious salad or for roasting in the oven.

Eggplant

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Roasted eggplant is my absolute favorite way of working with this beauty. Although it means discarding the skin (which is not so great) it means a simple & delicious way to utilize it!

Carrots

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Think beyond the salad. Roast them, bake them, sauté them! There’s so many different ways to prepare them. They’re sweet and delicious but they also absorb the flavors of herbs and spices nicely!

Purple Carrots

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How can I resist when a farmer has a cart full in the middle of the city center. Fresh from the farm and beautiful in color to pair with the orange carrots for a delicious roasted meal.

Mint

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Just a hint of mint can go a long way! It’s perfect to add to a garlic yogurt for a delicious sauce for meat or to use in a Mediterranean salad such as Tabbouleh, to compliment the flavors of the parsley and lemon.

Red Peppers

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Sweet and the best friend to tomatoes, I love making sauces and meals with red peppers. They pair perfectly in stir fry, savory pasta sauces or a thick curry. They are a must for my produce shopping trips because they always compliment a meal so well!

Kiymali Zeytin Börek (Beef & Olive Börek)

A little savory baked pocket packed with tender ground beef and flavorful olives.

What is Börek? In the simpliest terms, they are a variety of stuffed pastries generally with a thin and flaky dough. The dough is normally either a phyllo dough or yufka. They are the type of pastry that has that soft “crunch” as the flaky pieces break off with each bite. However, this börek uses a softer dough that is similar in texture to pizza dough. Although a bit more dense, it’s still compliments the filling nicely.

While börek can be savory or sweet, this recipe with ground beef and green olives is savory. It is perfect for a lunchtime meal.

While the dough is important (find my bread dough recipe here), the filling is crucial.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500 g ground beef
  • 3 c of green olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 bunch parsely
  • 1 c diced walnuts
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses (nar eksisi)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (kara biber)
  • 11/2 tsp cumin
  • salt (to taste)
  • pre-prepared bread dough*

*If not taking the börek to a FIRIN.

Preparation:

Sauté the ground beef. Then add about 1 cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and the red pepper paste until well combined. Then add the cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt to the beef mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the green onions, parsley, walnuts and green olives. Then add them all to the ground beef mixture, stir and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Stir until well incorporated and taste. Add more seasoning if needed.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl.

If taking to the FIRIN (bakery), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and bring it to the FIRIN.

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If baking them at home, then roll out the bread dough until very thin. Cut into long strips about 6 inches long and fill the dough with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.

Fold the dough over and seal it with an egg wash or water to form a half moon piece for each börek. Bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until browned.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Şiveydiz

Şiveydiz, pronounced “she-vey-diz,” is a beautiful Turkish soup. Creamy from fresh yogurt that’s blended into the soup it makes for a flavorful meal.

Creating this soup is like creating a work of art. All of the ingredients are perfectly crafted together to form a delicious blend of flavors.

And of course, it is stunning to see. Especially when the beautiful green mint is added at the very end.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 kilo of green onions (the white part only)
  • 1400 g suzme yogurt (or any thick plain yogurt)
  • 1 cup of chickpeas
  • 400 g stew beef chunks
  • 2 white onions chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2-3 TBSP dried mint
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, combine the stew beef chunks, chopped white onions and 1 liter of water. Simmer for 20 minutes and then drain through a cheese cloth lined sieve.

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Clean and cut the green onions, separating the green part from the white part. Cut the white part into 2 inch pieces and set aside.

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Add the stock back to the pot and add the chickpeas, green onions and beef chunks. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the suzme yogurt and egg until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pot and cook over medium low heat, whisking occasionally. Once it is warmed, slowly add ladles of beef stock into the yogurt while whisking (as a way to temper the yogurt). Then pour the yogurt into the soup, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

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In a small frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Once it is melted together, add the mint. Then pour it into the soup. NOTE: IT will simmer, but wait to stir. Ladle a spoon of soup back into the frying pan to get an excess mint, and pour back into the soup. Stir once or twice and serve immediately. The mint mixture will make a beautiful green design.

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms

Bursting with flavor these Stuffed Mushrooms make the perfect light meal or appetizer! Great for entertaining or for your next Potluck dinner, you’ve got to give these a try! Plus they are friendly for vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

As a kid, stuffed mushrooms were always a favorite of mine. Although my mom and I would always order them at restaurants, we never made them at home. That is until one day it dawned on me that I should try and create a recipe based on a “stuffing” that I would find healthy and delicious to fill the mushrooms.

So, low and behold I finally did it! I made them for a night when we were having some friends over and many of them said they were curious about stuffed mushrooms.

One friend even asked, “How on earth do you stuff a mushroom?” 

With a giggle I answered, “You just flip it over,” and I walked out with the baking dish of the warm savory stuffed mushrooms.

So, give this recipe a whirl! I think you’ll be quite pleased at just how simple it is! Plus, it’s absolutely, positively scumptious!

BONUS: I created a video for this recipe. Just click on the video below!

Bon Appetit!

Here’s the recipe:

Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 10 large button mushrooms
  • 1/2 c dry bulgur (prepared, see below*)
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (plus 2 TSBP for topping)
  • 1/4 medium white onion (grated)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
To prepare the bulgur, measure out 1/2 cup and pour it into a bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and let it “set” for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you’ll have a deliciously cooked bulgur.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Clean and dry the mushrooms. Remove the stems and place the mushrooms button side down into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the mushrooms.
Add the butter and 1 TBSP of olive oil to a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.
In a large bowl, combine the prepared bulgur, parmesan cheese, parsley, egg, oregano and basil. Pour in the sautéed onion and garlic. Mix everything together until well incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and stir again.
To stuff the mushrooms:
Take a large spoon and fill each mushroom with the stuffing to create a little dome. Be sure to pack it into the mushroom by pushing the stuffing with your spoon all along the mushroom.
Keep filling the mushrooms until all are full.
Drizzle with 1 TBSP of olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the 2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese on top of the mushrooms. Bake again for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is brown.
Serve & Enjoy!

Dolma (Turkish Stuffed Peppers, Squash & Eggplant)

Packed with flavor, meat and rice are stuffed in eggplant, peppers and squash to create an indescribably delicious Gaziantep classic dish.

     Dolma. From the moment I tried them at a friend’s house, I never forgot them. They seemed so simple and yet so delicious. Sure, I had tried and even made my own version of stuffed peppers, but once you taste Dolma, it makes you wonder what you’ve been missing out on.

During the summer months if you’re lucky, you’ll see older women with a pile of fresh peppers that they’ve cleaned and hollowed out to remove the seeds. One by one, they string the peppers on a long string and hang them on their balconies to dry. It is a beautiful sight to see. In my eyes, these women are wise. They are preparing for winter even while it’s still 100F outside. I can’t help but think of my own mom. After growing heaps of tomatoes, then came the process of cleaning and deseeding them to freeze for the wintertime. It’s a lot of hard work, but it most certainly pays off because in the end you get, DOLMA!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500g ground beef
  • 2 c white rice
  • 2 medium white onions (diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Re-hydrating the dried vegetables: For the eggplant and squash, let them soak seperately in boiling water until soft. For the peppers, allow them to soak in cold water, drain, rinse and repeat, until soft.

Preparing the meat & rice stuffing mixture:

In a large stock pot, sauté the ground beef until browned. Then add the onions and garlic with olive oil and sauté until translucent.

Add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir.

Add the rice and fill with just enough water to cover the rice.

Cook on medium low heat until the rice is tender.

Stuffing the vegetables:

Carefully stuff each of the vegetables filling up about 2/3’s of the way full and then press it together like a little package. Continue filling until all the veggies or rice is used (whichever comes first).

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Stack the dolma in a large stock pot, layer by layer. Add about 1 liter of boiling water and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the dolma are done.

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

DIY Brown Sugar

     Who knew that making your own brown sugar was so simple? With this 2 ingredient recipe, it’s a lifesaver if you need brown sugar in a flash.

Okay, so as much as I try to keep a well stocked kitchen, at times I just run out of some of my essentials or forget to pick it up from the store. But if I’m making a recipe and I’m short on my ingredients, I’ll admit that I like to get creative with it and still try and make the recipe in a new way.

So if you’re a creative cook like me, then you’ll love just how easy this brown sugar recipe is. All you need is white sugar and molasses, that’s it.

I used a carob molasses since it’s much more common to find in my region. It’s has a rich flavorful undertone that pairs well with chocolatey desserts such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies or even a quick DIY caramel. But you could also use sugar cane molasses.

 

I only would not recommend grape molasses (üzüm pekmezi) unless you’re making a fruity dessert or don’t mind a fruity undertone in your dessert.

DIY Brown Sugar

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 TBSP molasses

Pour the ingredients into a bowl and incorporate the molasses into the brown sugar using a fork.

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Once it’s well combined, use it immediately for your recipe OR store it in a glass sealed contained.

Bon Appetit & Happy Baking!

Lor Çökelek Böreği

      Little of pockets of deliciousness packed with lor peynir (a cheese similar to ricotta), spices, onions and garlic!

There’s nothing like a delicious böreği! And with all of the different types there’s so many to try. This böreği is not made with the traditional yufka but it still delicious and full of flavor. The lor peynir is similar to ricotta cheese. It is delicate and light and perfect for filling böreği.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 750 g lor peynir (substitute ricotta if needed)
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 5 shallots (finely chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 6 scallions (finely chopped)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • bread dough*

*If not taking the filling to a Firin. See the note below.

Preparation: 

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots and garlic until translucent.

Meanwhile, pour the lor peynir into a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Once the shallots and garlic have cooked pour them into the cheese mixture. Add the parsley, scallions and salt (to taste). With your hands or a fork, mix until well incorporated.

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NOTE: At this point is where we cover it with plastic wrap and bring it to the Firin (literally “oven” in Turkish) who will put the filling in dough and bake them for us. But, if you don’t live in Turkey and you want to make them yourself then here’s a simple recipe to make your own bread dough.

Bread Dough Recipe:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes.

After the Bread Dough is Prepared:

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into golf ball size pieces.

Roll out the dough to 12 inches long. Fill with 1-2TBSP of the mixture on one side only (lengthwise).

Then fold over the other side and using a little water, pinch the sides together to secure them.

Bake on 400F for 10 minutes or until browned.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

Beyran (Traditional Turkish Lamb Soup)

Bubbling with a delicious, spicy tomato flavor and tender bits of lamb and rice from the first bite to the last, Beyran is undeniably delicious!

I never tasted Beyran until I actually made it for myself. As one of the recipes in my Turkish cooking course, I was eager and excited to learn more about this dish. All around the city I saw plenty of signs advertising Beyran, but I never understood the mystery behind it. But today, yes today, I found out.

Here’s the recipe:

(Approximately 15 servings)

  • 1 1/2 kilos of lamb neck
  • 4-5 lemons (juiced, approximately 2 cups)
  • 10 garlic cloves (crushed & combined with 2 TBSP of water)
  • Red pepper flakes (1 1/2 TBSP per serving)
  • Black pepper (1 tsp per serving)
  • Butter (1/2 TBSP per serving)
  • 2 c white rice
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lamb in a large stock pot and cover with water. Season with salt and cook for 1-2 hours on medium low until the lamb is tender, and shreds easily with a fork (aka until it falls off the bone).

Remove the lamb from the water and set aside. Drain the stock and place in a pot.

Shred the lamb meat into small pieces and put on a sheet tray.

Rinse & drain the rice.

In a separate sauce pan, cook the rice until tender, about 10 minutes (there should still be a little water left). Drain and rinse the rice and pour onto a pan next the the lamb meat.

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Set out your red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic and lemon juice in a row near the stove.

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One by one, prepare the Beyran. Here are the steps to prepare each serving:

Add 1/2 TBSP butter into the fireproof bowl.

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Add 1 TBSP of the rice.

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Add 1 TBSP of the lamb meat.

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Add 1 1/2 TBSP of red pepper flakes.

Add 1/2 TBSP of black pepper.

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Add 1 ladle of the broth (approximately 1 cup).20180124_102721.jpg

Simmer for 1-2 minutes.

Add 1/2 TBSP of the garlic.

Add 1/2 TBSP of lemon juice.

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Remove the soup pan from the fire with strong tongs and set on a heatproof surface or transfer it to another bowl.

Serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

Quince Turkish Pizza (Ayvali Lahmacun)

If you love pizza then you must try this dish! Lahmacun or “Turkish Pizza” is traditionally prepared as a bread dough rolled out until it is really thin and then packed with finely diced tomato, peppers and meat. It is absolutely delicious.

But this variation of lahmacun is superb! Slightly sweet from the quince and not spicy, it’s a delicious savory alternative to the traditional lahmacun!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 red sweet peppers
  • 4 quince
  • 4 small onions
  • 1 1/2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 tsp black pepper (kara biber)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3 TBSP of tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP sweet red pepper powder (pull biber)
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses (nar eski)

Normally in Turkey, all of these ingredients are taken in a large dish directly to the FIRIN which literally means “oven.” The FIRIN is the local bread baker and in Turkish cities there are many of them. They are amazing and the work that they do is incredible! Then at the FIRIN, the lahmacun is prepared. This recipe made several dozen lahmacun.

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BUT, if you don’t live in Turkey and you still want to make lahmacun. Or, you want to learn to make it at home. Then first and foremost, you need to prepare a bread dough.

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes,

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into golf ball size pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece until VERY thin. NOTE: Lahmacun is a very thin crust Turkish pizza. It needs to be very thin but still able to hold onto the topping.

Next, take 2-3 TBSP of the quince mixture and spread it onto the the dough. It should form a nice and thin layer where you barely see the dough.

Transfer the lahmacun to a really hot baking sheet or pizza stone and bake on 250C  (or as hot as your oven can get) for 3-5 minutes. NOTE: Watch it closely because it will bake fast and it would be a shame for your hard work to go up in flames. I mean literally, it can burn.

Then remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

“Keep Your Eyes on Me,” He Whispers

Keep your eyes on Me,” I hear him whisper.

     Life is full of ups and downs. Even on the calmest day, I still have to pause and refocus. Where are my eyes? Where is my hope?
If I keep my eyes on myself, I’m headed for trouble.
If I keep my eyes on other people, then I’m headed for trouble.
But if I keep my eyes on Him, there I find peace and the meaning of life.
Apart from Him there is no hope. He is hope. So in Him, keeping my eyes on Him, I find hope.

Who is this HIM I’m referring to? It is no other than Almighty God. Father, Spirit, Son. The Great I AM. The One Who Was and Is and Is to come.
Maybe you have heard of Him or you know Him in a way that’s not true to His character. If you met Him today, you’d be pleasantly surprised that He’s absolutely crazy about you! He loves you more than you can imagine being loved.
Instead of waving a finger when He looks at You, His arms are wide open and He’s running to greet you. Politely, he knocks on the door of your heart. He waits for you to respond to Him. He doesn’t barge His way in. But when we allow Him in, we find all we’ve ever wanted. Finally, that part of us that we’ve tried to fill with a billion other things is complete because our Savior resides there.
Life will not always be smooth sailing, but the comfort and peace is found in knowing Him we can rest assured that we know the Captain steering our ship, and He is good, VERY good. Not everything that happens to you will be good. The world is a fallen place. But you can rest assured that He is always Good.
If you feel like you’re carrying a weight that’s too much for you, then cast it all on Him. He’s always available and He’s just waiting for you to say YES.

My Turkish Cooking School Experience

     I love cooking! It doesn’t matter the cuisine, I love being in the kitchen. The opportunity to join in on a Turkish cooking course for three months came my way and I leapt on it.

Although my Turkish linguistic skills are mediocre at best, thanks to the patient chefs, helpful classmates and observing the cooking process I have already learned so much. I’m so excited for what the days and weeks and months will bring!

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Turkish cooking is absolutely stunning and to be able to learn the Gaziantep style is an honor! Voted one the the UNESCO Creative Cities for Gastronomy, cooking and food play a huge role in the overall economy of the city.

Visit the city and you’ll discover that one day is not enough to taste and see all that Gaziantep has to offer!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Sehriyeli Bulgur Pilavi (Turkish Rice Pilaf with Bulgur)

This dish combines the best of both worlds. The delicious elements of a classic pilaf meet the nutritious and fluffy bulgur to form a main course or side item to compliment any meal.

Vermicelli, the type that is already broken into smaller pieces, is what gives this pilaf such an irresistibly delicious texture. With one spoonful, you’ll definitely be coming back for more!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups of Vermicelli (the broken variety)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 cups of bulgur (pilaf bulgur, it’s a bit thicker than the fine bulgur)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot.

Add the vermicelli and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently until the vermicelli is brown.

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(NOTE: don’t forget to scrape the vermicelli from the sides of the pot to ensure that it all cooks evenly)

Pour in the rice and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice.

Then pour boiling water over the rice and vermicelli and stir. It should be just enough water to cover it (approximately 4-5 cups). Add salt, to taste.

Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let cook for about 10-15 minutes or until all of the water has evaporated.

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Let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of black pepper on top and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Şehriyeli Bulgur Pilavi (Bulgur Pilaf w/ Vermicelli)

A familiar cousin to Şehriyeli Pirinç Pilavi (rice pilaf with vermicelli), this savory side is prepared with a medium sized bulgur instead or rice. It adds a dash of variety in the world of side items and it’s well worth a try!

If you’re looking for a delicious grain alternative to rice, look no further than bulgur! It comes in several different varieties, but for this recipe, we use the medium size bulgur. It is a little smaller than rice and has a great texture with the vermicelli.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 c vermicelli (the variety that’s already broken into small pieces)
  • 3 c medium bulgur
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large stock pot.

Add the vermicelli and cook until brown (stirring frequently).

Add the bulgur and stir for 2-3 minutes to toast it.

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Add 6-8 cups of hot water (or enough to cover the bulgur) and simmer on medium low heat until there is no water left (approximately 10-15 minutes).

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Remove from heat and let set for 5-10minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Pirinal Sirinli Corba (Rice & Chickpea Soup)

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Although this soup may sound savory, with ingredients like rice and chickpeas. But, it actually tastes more like a dessert. And if you’re wondering how you could possibly make rice and chickpea soup into something sweet, then this recipe is worth cooking up if only just for that reason.

Similar in texture to a rice pudding with lots of cinnamon, or a cinnamon sugar oatmeal, this soup is a satisfying option as a dessert or an afternoon snack. But if you’re really keen, then why not make it your main course!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 c short grain rice (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 c chickpeas (canned and drained or parboiled)
  • 1 c walnuts (diced)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • 4 TBSP of grape molasses (pekmez)
  • a pinch of fennel powder (optional)
  • a pinch of salt

Preparation:

Combine the rice and chickpeas in a pot. Cover with boiling water and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed (approximately 10 minutes).

Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and grape molasses and stir. Add the salt and fennel poweder (if using) and stir.

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Simmer for 5 more minutes and then add the walnuts (reserving some for the garnish) and remove from the heat.

Serve the soup in dessert glasses and garnish with walnuts.

Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Lebeniye Corbasi Pazili (Turkish Meat, Rice & Chard Soup)

     Lebeniye Corbasi Pazili, Turkish for “a savory soup with meat, rice and chard,” might sound difficult to pronounce but it is actually very simple to prepare. This “yogurty” soup is packed with flavor with the ground beef and fresh chard. Plus surprise topping at the end that makes this soup look like a work of art, it is truly a Turkish delight!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 250g ground beef
  • 10 stalks of chard (chopped)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup rice (rinsed and drained)
  • 1400g thick yogurt (suzme is a good one!)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP dried mint

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, cook the ground beef until browned.

Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft. Then add the rice, chickpeas and 3 cups of water and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add in the chard and cover with a lid.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt and 1 egg until smooth. Transfer to a pot and cook on low heat, whisking from time to time.

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Slowly, add ladle by ladle of the soup into the yogurt while whisking. NOTE: Approximately 7 ladles of the soup to the yogurt.

Stirring constantly, add the yogurt mixture to the pot of soup until completely combined and turn off the heat.

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In a small frying pan, melt the butter. Then add the dried mint.

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Slowly pour the butter and mint mixture into the soup to form a beautiful green topping for the soup. DON’T STIR. Simply serve the soup and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Çoban Salatasi (Shepherd’s Salad)

No Turkish meal would be complete without a salad. The Çoban Salatası is a simple, delicious and classic Turkish salad. With bold flavors, this refreshing salad is a great addition to compliment any meal.

Simply start with the freshest veggies you can find and you’re in for a great salad!

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Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juiced)

Preparation:

Chop all of the ingredients into bite size pieces and combine in a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until well incorporated.

Serve and enjoy!

 

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website