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

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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!