A Journey Along the Silk Road

Explore the modern world like an ancient merchant along one of the routes of the historic Silk Road.

Imagine what it would have been like to travel along the ancient Silk Road. Extending from Asia, into Europe and North Africa, the trails of the Silk Road are still known to this day. It’s not a coincidence that the cities along the Silk Road are still some of the largest places for commerce and trade and housing populations of millions of people.

While many modern cities have started recognizing and memorializing this ancient trade route, not all of them have a replica depiction of the experience.

 

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Along a modern-day highway, a pack of life-size camels carrying loads of goods and supplies trek along the median. Followed by one merchant, this illustration gives us an idea of what it could have looked like to journey along the Silk Road as a merchant.

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While many experiences about traveling on the Silk Road might remain unknown, this journey takes an imagined inspired approach to attempt to understand this part of the journey.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Creamy, flavorful and seasoned masala sauce with tender pieces of marinated chicken.

The perfect blend of spices with tomatoes create a delicious “masala” or sauce for this dish. The chicken is marinated in a thick yogurt mixture and is tender, flavorful and so good. If you think marinades are not worth the work, then you’ll love how simple this one and the final result of the tender chicken.

A classic Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala is found on restaurant menus all over the world. But making it at home is a rewarding and delicious treat and perhaps not as complicated as you imagined.

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Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

  • 1 lb boneless skin-less chicken breasts (diced)
  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1.5 onions (diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger (diced)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 T cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c cream (if desired)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To marinate the chicken: place the chicken, yogurt, lemon juice, half of an onion, a half-inch piece of ginger, 1 T cumin powder, 1 T dried oregano, salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine and then cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

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To make the chicken tikka masala:

Place the spices in a dry frying pan and toast just until they are fragrant.

Sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a frying pan with the sunflower oil until tender.

Add the spices and stir thoroughly.

Add the chicken and sauté  until cooked through.

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Then add the tomato paste, season with salt and pepper and stir until well coated.

Then add the chopped tomatoes and 1.5 cups of hot water. Stir and then cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Serve over a bed of rice or with bread.

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Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Chicken Turkish Pizza (Tavuklu Lahmacun)

A different spin on the traditional Turkish pizza. Instead of ground beef, ground chicken is used in this variation of a classic recipe.

Thin, crispy crust topped with a thin layer of the toppings, lahmacun, or Turkish pizza, is a one of a kind dish. Served with fresh parsley, lemon and sometimes a myriad of other vegetables (e.g. pickled red cabbage, raw turnips and tomato salad), the pizza is topped with fresh veggies (if you wish) and then rolled up before enjoyed!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 lbs ground or finely minced boneless chicken
  • 4 scallions (chopped)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (chopped)
  • 5 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Chop all of the ingredients except for the chicken and place it in a bowl.

Add the chicken and stir until well incorporated.

NOTE: If you live in Turkey or a country that has wonderful FIRINS (bakers who will prepare the lahmacun for you as long as you bring them all the ingredients), then you will place all the ingredients in a pan, bring it to the Firin and voila! You’ll have dozens of lahmacun, hot and fresh!

If you don’t have a local FIRIN, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Chop all of the ingredients into large chunks. Place it in a food processor and blend it all together until everything is finely chopped (almost like a thick paste, but not quite that far).

Using the bread dough recipe below, prepare your lahmacun.

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 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/500F  (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 was learned from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Dad’s Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Creamy, rich and delicious oatmeal, with cinnamon spice and everything nice!

     Growing up, I never realized how blessed I was that both of my parents could cook. They each had their specialties but they always managed to make a great meal to feed our family of seven. Looking back, I am so grateful for this. It really taught me so much!

When my Dad was cooking, breakfast dishes were some of his signature items. In particularly, his cream of wheat or oatmeal. You could always smell it cooking throughout the house because of the aroma of the cinnamon and nutmeg. His dishes were not without flavor and this oatmeal recipe is an excellent testimony.

     I know you might be thinking, what’s so special about oatmeal? Well, I will tell you. It’s simply the way my Dad prepares oatmeal. I actually never had oatmeal any other way until I was much older and I really appreciated his oatmeal even more. 

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     It all starts with milk. Instead of water, he always uses milk and that’s what makes the oatmeal so creamy. To the milk, he adds brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. This combination on it’s own is so good that you could pour it in a glass and drink it as a warm beverage. 

     Once it’s had time to simmer, not boil, he adds the oats and stirs. Then he covers it with a lid and allows it to cook for 5-10 minutes. At the very end, he stirs in some raisins and then it’s ready to enjoy. Creamy and delicious, it’s just sweet enough and so good. 

So, thanks Dad for making great food like this oatmeal recipe and teaching me what you know. I would not be who I am today without you, so thank you for all that you are and all that you’ve done!

Happy Birthday!

Here’s the recipe:

Dad’s Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

  • 1 c oats
  • 2 c milk
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 T – 1/3 c brown sugar (depending on the sweetness level you prefer)
  • 2 T raisins

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a sauce pot and place over medium heat.

Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar has dissolved.

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Keep stirring frequently until it comes to a light simmer. Then pour in the oats, stirring constantly.

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Reduce the heat and allow the oatmeal to simmer for 7-15 minutes*

Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins.

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Pour into a large bowl (or two).

Serve and Enjoy!

Soooo good! I made this yesterday and ate the oatmeal so fast I even surprised myself, lol!

Sheer delight!

*The cook time depends on whether you use quick cooking oats or old fashioned oats. Adjust the cooking time depending on which one you use.

I’m Speaking for Her (a poem inspired by International Women’s Day 2018)

Although one day is designated to celebrate International Women’s Day, this is something we can choose to see, embrace, support and celebrate every single day of the year.

I wrote this poem on International Women’s Day 2018. I am inspired by the movement of so many women who have come before me and paved the way and I’m ready to lay some pavement for my generation to make this world a better place for those after me.

I’m Speaking for Her

by: EE Winkler

Every woman has a voice

Every woman has a name

Every woman has a purpose to fulfill today

It’s time we start embracing the truth within our hearts

You were created so beautiful with a purpose, a role, a part

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

If we want to make this world a better place

Then it’s going to have to start with us today

We’re going to speak out for justice

We’re going to speak out in love

We’re going to speak with compassion

We’re going to shine with a light from above

We’re done with the sidelines, we’re kissing them goodbye

Cause I have a voice and I’m using it tonight

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

We are not guaranteed tomorrow

We only have this day

It’s time we seize this moment

And make the most of this day

What are we doing that matters?

What are we doing that counts?

We’re speaking out against injustice, and we’re speaking out right now

So speak right now if you know it

So speak right now if it’s true

Let’s build a better future

That’s built upon the truth

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

I’m speaking for her

© All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit:

Photo by Lui Peng on Unsplash

Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Photo by Doug Linstedt on Unsplash

Photo by Doug Linstedt on Unsplash

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Lamb Chop & Quince Stew (Ayvali Taraklik Tavasi)

Savory and a bit sweet, this dish will make you say Mmmmm.

      If you’ve ever had pork chops and apple sauce, then this recipe is a comparable dish. Packed with flavor, the lamb chops are slow roasted in the oven and then added to a savory tomato and red pepper spiced broth to simmer until finally the quince slices are added and cooked just until they are tender and a bit sweet.

Perfect for a cold day outside, this stew is satisfying and a comforting Turkish classic meal.

Here’s the recipe:

1 kilo of small lamb chops (about 4 inches long)

  • 2 medium white onions (diced)
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 quinces (cored and sliced into sixths)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C (375 F).

Place the lamb chops on a baking sheet in one even layer. Coat with olive oil and place in the oven until browned (approximately 30 to 45 minutes).

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While the lamb chops are roasting, melt the butter in a large stock pot and add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.

Sprinkle in the flour and sugar and stir.

Remove the chops from the oven and add to the pot. Fill the pot with boiling water (just enough to completly cover the chops) and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Stir in the red pepper paste, crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add the quince slices and simmer for another 15 minutes until the quince are soft but not soggy.

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

 

 

Onion & Herb Frittata

Simple, elegant, quick and delicious — this frittata recipe is so good. It’s perfect for any breakfast or brunch!

I love frittata! It’s all of the delicious flavor of an omelette with less work! I love the fact that I have the freedom to customize my frittata based on my favorite veggies or whatever I have on hand. No matter what, it always comes out so good!

For this recipe, I used a few basic ingredients. Some sautéed onions, fresh herbs and dry herbs make this frittata come to life!

Here’s the recipe:

Onion & Herb Frittata

  • 1/2 small white onion (finely diced)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley
  • 1 TBSP fresh mint
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • ricotta (garnish)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

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Lightly grease a small baking pan with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil.

Finely dice the onion. Sautee the onion in 1/2 TBSP of olive oil until translucent.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add salt & pepper.

Roughly chop the parsley & mint and add them to the eggs. Then add the oregano and cilantro and whisk.

Stir in the sautéed onion.

Then pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake for 7-10 minutes.

Garnish with ricotta, if desired.

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Serve & Enjoy!