Homemade Simit: Turkish Bagels (Authentic, Crispy & Delicious)

Crispy on the outside, coated with toasted sesame seeds, but soft on the inside; there is nothing quite like a Simit (Turkish bagel).

There is nothing quite like a fresh-baked Simit (Turkish bagel). You can find them in most Turkish bakeries but also from street carts selling them from just 1 or 2 lira. It is a quick and simple breakfast or snack and one of my favorites.

The art of making a Simit is beautiful. The bread is rolled out into long thin ropes, twisted and then shaped into a circle. Then it is dipped in molasses water and toasted sesame seeds and baked to crispy perfection. Making Simit at home is so much fun and so rewarding especially when you take that first bite. Yum.

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Here’s the recipe:

For the dough:

  • 2 c flour (plus more for dusting & kneading)
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil

For topping the simit:

  • 1 c sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1 T molasses
  • 2 c warm water

Preparation:

To make the dough:

To make the dough, place the flour and salt in a bowl and stir. Then mix together the water and yeast in a separate bowl and add it to the flour mixture.

Stir until well incorporated and then pour onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds onto a dry frying pan and toast until fragrant and lightly browned. Then pour them onto a plate and cool.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the molasses and the water.

To roll out the simit:

Method #1 The “Two Rope Method”:

Take 2 golf ball size pieces of dough and roll them out into a thin rope about 8 inches long. Then wrap them over each other and form into a circle.  Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

Method # 2 “The One Rope Method”:

Take 1 piece of dough about twice the size of a golf ball and roll it into a long rope about 16 inches long. Holding it in the air, fold it over and then spin into a twist. Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

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To top and bake the simit:

Pre-heat your oven for 200C/392F.

Take each simit and dip it on both sides into the molasses water and then dip into the toasted sesame seeds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until all of the simit have been coated.

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Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the simit are nicely browned.

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Serve & Enjoy (preferably while they are still warm with a glass of Turkish cay).

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles –Homemade)

Love at first bite, there is nothing quite like homemade Spätzle. Spätzle are delicious German egg noodles and simply delicious. This recipe captures the essence of the homemade Spätzle making process combining a blend of traditional and modern methods.

The first time I tried Spätzle was the day after I got married. My husband is from Germany and we went out for lunch and had Spätzle. From the first bite, I was hooked.

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Light, luscious egg noodles tossed in butter and garnished with herbs. It is so simple but so good. 

Here’s the recipe:

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles)

  • 1- 1.5 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk.

Sprinkle over the flour and salt and with a wooden spoon whisk the dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Note: As you whisk, the air bubbles will start to form in the dough; this is a good sign, continue whisking.

Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water and season with salt. Follow one of the methods below:

Traditional Method (w/ small cutting board and a knife)

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Dip the cutting board in the water.

Spoon on the batter and then quickly dip in the boiling water.

Smooth the batter evenly on the cutting board with a knife.

Then scape off long pieces into the water to create the noodles.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Block Grater Method

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Dip the block grater in the water sideways while holding onto the top handle.

Then spoon in the batter and using and wooden spoon, glide it back and forth until the noodles drop into the water.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Plastic Colander Method

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Dip the colander in the boiling water.

Then holding it above the water, spoon in the batter and using a spatula, run it against the batter in circles until it falls into the water to create the noodles.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

To make the Butter & Herb Spätzle:

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.

Add the Spätzle and sauté for a few minutes.

Season with salt and add fresh herbs and remove from the heat.

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

 

Strawberry Sorbet (Made from Scratch)

A refreshing, healthy & cool treat — this strawberry sorbet recipe is so simple and so good. Just a few simple ingredients!

As a kid, we not only went for ice cream but also we went out for frozen yogurt and sorbet. It was always an experience that I loved especially for the fact that I love soft serve frozen desserts.

This strawberry sorbet recipe is a throwback to my childhood because it is smooth and delicious just like I remembered eating the soft serve sorbet as a kid. Plus, it is so simple to make and it can be made using a plethora of different fruits.

 

 

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It is all natural and healthy because it is pretty much entirely just fruit. Plus, you can customize it to your desired sweetness using sugar, agave or another sweetener.

Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Sorbet (Made from Scratch)

  • 2 c frozen strawberries
  • 1-2 T hot water
  • 1 T sugar (or honey, agave or sugar substitute)
  • 1 T lime juice

Preparation:

Place the strawberries in a food processor.

Add the hot water, sugar and lime juice.

Blend until smooth.

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Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap or an air tight lid and place in the freezer.

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

Fluffy scrambled eggs cooked with tender tomatoes, onions, peppers and Turkish spices; A hearty and delicious breakfast meal.

     The first time I tried Menemen was at Turkish breakfast one day at a restaurant. I love egg dishes so I have tasted and cooked my fair share of eggs. Although this dish is so simple, it is also so tasty and packed full of flavor. It will easily become a favorite on your recipe list.

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Here’s the recipe:

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c white onion (diced)
  • 1/4 c sweet green pepper  (diced)
  • 1/2 c tomato (diced)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

Place the onions and peppers in a frying pan and sauté them until they are tender.

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Then add the tomatoes, oregano, paprika and salt. Stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble them together with a fork or whisk.

Pour the eggs on top of the sautéed vegetables and return to the stove*.

 

Scramble everything together until the eggs are cooked through but still tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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*Note: if you are preparing this dish in a Traditional Turkish copper pan, add a little oil to the pan, then add the sautéed vegetables and the eggs. Scramble everything together on the stove & serve in the pan it was cooked in.

 

Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade)

Brötchen, literally translated means “little bread.” These delicious traditional German bread rolls take me back to Germany every time I make them. 

I’ll never forget my first trip to Germany. We arrived at the airport and I was so excited. I was getting to see my husband’s homeland for the first time. When we arrived, the first thing we ate was a Bratwurst and from there, the delicious food never ceased.

I am so blessed because my Schwiegermutter (German for mother-in law, but we prefer mother-in-love) and my husband’s Oma (German for grandma) are such amazing cooks! I never leave Germany with an empty stomach and we always take some delicious edible goodies with us.

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It is natural that I love Brötchen simply because I love good bread; and Brötchen are very good! Breakfast always includes at least one. So, since we don’t live in Germany, it was only natural for me to make my own Brötchen at home. I always enjoy making them and it is such a special experience for me. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 package of yeast
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c – 1 c warm water

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water

Toppings:

  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • rolled oats

Preparation:

In a measuring cook, stir together the water, honey and yeast. Let set for 5-10 minutes.

Place the flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt on top and stir.

Pour over the yeast mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Then pour the dough onto a clean, floured workspace.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Roll into a ball and place the dough into a bowl or place it on the floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Knead the dough again for a couple of minutes and then divide the dough into equal size portions.

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Shape the dough into small ovals (for the traditional bread rolls) and small circles for the “modern style” bread rolls with the toppings.

Place the bread rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper dusted with flour.

Cover the bread rolls with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven for 200C/ 392F.

With a sharp knife, cut the baking slits in the top of each bread roll.

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To make the egg wash: whisk together the egg and water.

Brush the top of each bread roll with the egg wash.

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For the round bread rolls, top with the toppings of your choice.

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Bake in the oven* for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

*Wink Hint: When you pop the bread rolls in the oven, take a spritzer spray bottle and spray a little water at the bottom of the oven (then close it immediately) to create a little steam-action. This helps the bread rolls achieve their nice and crispy crust.

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Thin

via Daily Prompt: Thin

Thin

by EE Winkler

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Photo by patricia serna on Unsplash

     She looked in the mirror and said “I wish I was thin,”

“then I could be normal like my friend Jen

I wouldn’t be picked on about my size

and maybe more people would know I am alive

     If I were thin I bet I would be popular like those girls

the kind that are graceful and do flips and twirls

I wouldn’t have to worry about fitting in

all if only I was thin

     The measuring tape says I am too wide

and the scale says my number is to high

the mirror screams that I take up too much space

and the school bus seat exclaims about my weight

I really like who I am inside

and wish that others could appreciate me,” she shrugged and sighed

      No one knew about the pain she felt within

over her struggle of wanting to be thin

She never actually saw herself for the beauty that was

because she was too busy thinking she was never good enough

but she is brilliant, she is one of a kind

not based on any merit or credit earned over time

but simply because she’s a unique creation of God

His treasure and beloved, will she ever know this thought?

© All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Fresh & Simple Guacamole

Oh guacamole, you taste so good. With fresh ripe avocados and a pico de gallo it’s the perfect balance to make this dish taste delicious like it should.

Although I am definitely a big fan of eating guacamole with some pita chips or tortilla chips, there are truly a plethora more ways to enjoy it. I love it with grilled fish or chicken. It also tastes great with baked potatoes or even french fries. Of course, with beans and rice, guacamole balances out the meal perfectly. This list can go on and on because guacamole tastes good with so many different things.

Here’s my recipe:

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Fresh & Simple Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 c pico de gallo (see the recipe here)
  • 2 T lime juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the avocado in a bowl and mash to your desired consistency (I like my guacamole a bit chunky).

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Add the lime juice and pico de gallo and continue to mash.

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Season with salt & pepper and stir well.

Serve & Enjoy!

 

Roasted Eggplant Salad

A refreshing salad packed with tender pieces of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions.

Ever since I started roasting eggplant, it has brought such joy to my recipes. Roasting eggplant is super simple, it pretty much guarantees that the eggplant will be tender and perfectly cooked and it is so delicious.

This salad is great to make ahead of time because you can put all of the ingredients together and pop it in the refrigerator. As all of the ingredients meld together, the flavor gets better and better.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Eggplant Salad

  • 5 large eggplant (the long variety, sometimes referred to as “Japanese eggplant”)
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 large cucumbers (halved & sliced)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 sweet green pepper (diced)
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsely
  • 1.5 lemons (juiced — approx. 1/2 c juice)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried cumin powder
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre heat the oven for 375 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the eggplant on the paper. Coat the eggplant with 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until tender.

Allow the eggplant to cool and then peel off the skin and chop the roasted eggplant into bite size pieces (discard any excess liquid from the eggplant).

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Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, parsley and onions.

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In a large bowl, combine the chopped vegetables with the roasted eggplant.

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Drizzle over the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Toss thoroughly, then serve and enjoy!

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Oma Erika’s Pilz (Mushroom) Pasta: How to Cook Like a German

There’s nothing like a recipe from a grandma and this recipe from Oma Erika is so good and yet so simple to prepare.

As a kid and even to this day, I have always heard the marvelous stories about my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They were marvelous cooks and just marvelous women in my opinion. But unfortunately, I never really got to know them because they passed away when I was relatively young.

I love grandparents and elderly people in general. I believe they have such a wealth of knowledge to share with the younger generations.

I am so blessed to have another grandma and this time it is through marriage. My husband’s grandma, Oma Erika, is wonderful. Plus, we just so happen to share the same name, lol! I admire many things about her including her amazing cooking skills. This recipe is one that she prepared for us while we were in Germany and we ate so much because it was so good. There’s nothing like a recipe by Oma.

Here’s the recipe:

Oma Erika’s Pilz (Mushroom) Pasta

  • 3 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small onion (finely diced)
  • 1 c dry spiral pasta
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 T flour
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 T oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Slice the mushrooms and finely chop the onion.

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Boil the pasta in salted water until it is tender. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and saute until transluscent.

Then add the mushrooms and saute until browned.

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Sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Then add the chicken broth and keep stirring until it is well incorporated.

Bring up to a light simmer and then cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Season with salt, pepper and oregano and cook for another minute.

Remove from the heat.

To serve: plate the pasta and then top with the mushrooms. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

Life Without Laughter?

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Life Without Laughter?

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

A life without laughter is not really a life

but simply an existence in the world does one abide

laughter is the medicine to our souls

to provide some relief in the midst of troubles and woes

A life without laughter is not really a life

without any real joy dwelling inside

when the serious matters are taken too seriously

how can one live life as it was meant to be

A life without laughter is not really a life

void of anything lasting it lives only to survive

take a moment to laugh in the middle of high stress

and a smile will calm your mind and give you a moment of rest

The power of laughter one cannot negate

it can give you the energy you need after a long day

it’s better with friends and those you love

to share a little bit of laughter and a lot of love.

©All Rights Reserved

 

So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

Who needs french fries when you have potato latkes? No, this is not an exaggeration. Trust me, with one bite you too will be a latke fan.

I realize more and more as an adult, how blessed I was to grow up in such an international and intercultural community. It expanded my world so much to think different thoughts, see new perspectives and of course taste and variety of delicious foods. Plus, my parents have a fine appreciation for different cultures and this definitely positively impacted my life to this very day.

Thanks to one of my friends in first grade, I learned how to make (and of course taste) potato latkes for the first time ever. I was seven years old and it is truly a memory I will never forget.

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Flash forward 15 years later and I am re-learning, or perhaps learning a different way, to make potato latkes by one of my student colleagues from Belarus.

Now, I am still learning and open to learning and I love cooking and eating potato latkes. It is such a good recipe, and I have quite frankly met someone who doesn’t like latkes. It would be like trying to find a person that doesn’t like french fries; do they exist? Maybe, but maybe on Mars or something. Lol!

Here’s the recipe:

So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

  • 2 potatoes (small to medium size)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 T flour
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Shred the potatoes and the onions.

Then place them in a tea towel or a piece of cheese cloth and drain out the excess liquid. (Note: the potatoes and onions should be fairly dry after this process. You don’t want to omit this step because this step is what makes the latkes able to get so crispy during the frying process).

Crack the egg and scramble it lightly in a medium size bowl. Add the potatoes and onions. Stir until well combined. 

Sprinkle over the flour, salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly with a fork. 

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan. 

Take a spoonful of the potato mixture and flatten it in the palms of your hand to form a little flat pancake. (Alternative method to fry on the fly, take a “fork-ful” of the potato mixture and gently place in the oil. Once it is completely submerged, flatten it with another fork until it’s a flat shape resembling a circle.)

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Gently place the potato pancake into the hot oil and fry until it is browned on both sides.

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Remove from the oil and place it on a paper towel lined plate. 

Season with a little salt. 

Serve and Enjoy Warm (if possible*)

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*I prefer eating my potato pancakes warm, like french fries, lol! But you know, they still taste good when they are at room temperature.

Topping Suggestions:

The potato pancakes are good on their own but try these toppings for a bit of extra flavor:

  • Fresh chives
  • Sour cream
  • Thick yogurt
  • Apple sauce
  • Cheese

The Simplest Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

Making lentil soup is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with this great recipe. Everything goes in one pot and it is minimal prep, minimal clean up but with maximum flavor and taste.

I have more than one lentil soup recipe but I love this one because it is much simpler than my other one (made with brown lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, etc.) All you need are the lentils, chicken broth and an onion.

It’s quite a healthy soup, low in fat and packed with nutritious vitamins and fiber. Plus it’s really affordable to make especially if you’re feeding a crowd. Also, it’s so simple. Even if you despise cooking, I think you might like this recipe.

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Here’s the recipe:

Simple Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

  • 1 c dry red lentils
  • 4 c chicken broth*
  • 1 onion (diced)

*Vegetarian? No problem, just substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth.

Preparation:

Sort through the lentils to ensure that there are no small stones or anything else (yes, it can happen).

Finely dice the onion and set aside.

Pour the chicken broth in a large pot.

Add the lentils and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Cover partially and allow it to simmer for 15-25 minutes or until the lentils and the onions are tender.

Then using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Garnish with some red pepper flakes and a lemon wedge.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Omelette with Garlic Yogurt (Cilbir)

A delicious plain omelette cooked to perfection and served on plain yogurt garnished with red pepper flakes.
Cilbir is traditionally made with poached eggs but this alternative is a welcome embrace for a simplier version. But if you prefer, you can prepare this recipe the same way, except poach the eggs instead of preparing an omelette.

The idea of eating plain yogurt with savory food was something I was not 100% on board with. Sometimes I would make chicken salad with yogurt or top my tacos with a dollop of yogurt or place a dollop of yogurt in a bowl of tomato or potato soup. But the yogurt in Turkey is some of the best I’ve ever tried in all of my travels around the world. It’s thick, creamy and rich. So delicious!

So the idea of eating an omlette with yogurt now, is an idea I openly embrace.
Here’s the recipe:
Omelette with Thick Yogurt (Cilbir)
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 T butter
  • 4 c süzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large frying pan, melt the butter.
Meanwhile scramble the eggs and season with salt and pepper.
Place the eggs in the frying pan and prepare the omelette.
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Remove the omelette from the pan and break into smaller pieces.
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Add the crushed garlic to the yogurt and whisk together.
Place the yogurt on a platter and top with the omelette.
Garnish with red pepper flakes.
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Serve immediately and enjoy!
Afiyet Olsun!

Authentic Pico de Gallo (Fresh Mexican Salsa)

Fresh, vibrant and full of flavor; there is nothing quite like Pico de Gallo. With only a few simple ingredients, you’re own your way to Pico de Gallo paradise.

I honestly can’t recall the first time I tried Pico de Gallo. I grew up eating Mexican food so much that it is such an integral part of the food that I crave from my childhood onwards.

I still have a lot to learn about Mexican cooking and the beauty of the variety of dishes, but what I have learned along the way, I absolutely love.

Pico de Gallo is almost like a salad to me. If it’s placed in a bowl, I can dig right in with a spoon or a fork. But truly, it is so full of fresh ingredients that it not only pairs well with tortilla chips (no shame in tortilla chip dipping) but also it tastes really great on top of grilled chicken or fish. Yum.

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Here’s the recipe:

Pico de Gallo (aka Salsa Fresca)

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 T lime juice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Serrano, habanaro or jalapeno (if spicy salsa is your sort of thing. For me, it’s not so I omitted the peppers)

Preparation:

Finely chop the tomatoes and onions and place them in a bowl.

Add the cilantro and stir.

Drizzle over the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately or pop it in the fridge for later.*

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*From my experience, I find my Pico de Gallo to be better the next day or even two days later. At this point, the onions have mellowed out a bit more and all of the ingredients have “marinated” together and become well acquainted with each other.

 

Travels to Israel: The Garden of Gethsemane & Church of All Nations (Basilica of the Agony)

Although it is said that the exact location of the Garden of Gethsemane is unknown, there are many reasons that point to this location being the most likely location of where it would have been.

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     The Garden of Gethsemane was full of olive trees and the literal translation actually means “olive press.” The olives that were harvested from this garden were pressed to make olive oil that was of such high quality that it was reserved for kings. Is it any wonder that this is where Jesus was praying the night before His crucifixion? He was about to be pressed like these olives for the sins of all mankind.
     Today, if you choose to visit the Garden of Gethsemane (which I highly recommend if you are visiting Jerusalem, it is worth it), then you will still find a garden of olive trees* that are indeed thousands of years old.
     There is also a church called the “Church of All Nations” or Basilica of the Agony. It is absolutely stunning. From the outside, the large columns protrude from the building and a large colorful painting covers the top front part of the church building. You can look up at it but I definitely recommend crossing the street to get a better view.
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The church photo taken from across the street.
    At the entrance, there is a sculpture of an olive tree constructed from iron that you can’t miss as you enter the church. As I walked in the church I was in awe of the beautiful purple stained glass windows, the colorful array of mosaics and the massive dome that is the canvas to even more elaborate paintings.
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    The church is dark inside for the purpose of remembering that this is the Garden of Gethsemane. It was here that Jesus prayed in such deep sorrow before He was handed over to be crucified. The Word describes it best.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” Matthew 26:36-46

     This was definitely worth visiting and I am so grateful that I got to visit it in person. If you have the opportunity and you’re interested, I would definitely add this as a place to visit.
*Factoid: olive trees can live and produce fruit for literally thousands of years. Ponder: could some of these trees been the same trees that existed when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Soy Tahini Rice Noodle Salad

Light and tender rice noodles coated with a soy-tahini dressing and packed with fresh veggies.

I love noodles. But I love noodles with soy sauce and tahini (combined or separately). There’s just something about the flavor of this type of food that I absolutely crave and love. This rice noodle salad was inspired by wanted to make something quick and delicious with my leftover rice noodles. Thus, this recipe was created and it’s really so, so good. Perfect for picnics? Of course! Perfect for potluck dinners? Absolutely! Perfect for a packed lunch? Certainly! Perfect for anytime? Yep, without a doubt.

Here’s the recipe:

Soy Tahini Rice Noodle Salad

  • 1.5 c rice noodles (pre-cooked)
  • 2 scallions (chopped)
  • 1 small carrot (peeled & shredded)
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper (chopped)

For the dressing:

  • 1 T tahini
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1.5 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 T rice wine vinegar

Preparation: 

To make the dressing: pour all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and well incorporated.

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Add all of the veggies to the dressing and stir well.DSC03134

Place the rice noodles in a large bowl.

Pour over the veggies and the dressing and toss well to insure that the noodles are well coated.

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Serve & Enjoy immediately or pop in the fridge for later. Sooo good.

*Note: This recipe makes one (1) big salad or two (2) small salads.

Guten Appetit!

Swiss Chard Bulgur Rissoto (Pancarli As)

Tender swiss chard is cooked with peppers, onions, bulgur, tomato paste and bulgur to create this comforting dish. 

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 1 bunch of chard (cleaned and chopped)
  • 1/2 c medium sized bulgur
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 green pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • 1 red pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

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

Add the olive oil and butter and then stir in the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Sauté until the onions and peppers are tender.

Then add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, salt and pepper.

Add the chard and over with 2 cups of hot water. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the bulgur and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

When it’s ready, it will be a thick mixture with little water remaining. Also, it will smell amazing.

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