Blog

Survival Tactics to Living Abroad

Living abroad takes what we know as “living” and turns it upside down or right side up. It all depends on the perspective that you view it. 

Like a Child: humble yourself to view your new surroundings like a child. See it with open eyes. The world is what you make of it. If you choose to see it as full of possibility, then possibilities will appear.

img_3410Try a Little Something New: don’t be afraid of the unknown, embrace the unknown. When we try something new, we are signaling our brain to get ready for the challenge and push beyond our existing capacity.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Again: It can seem so daunting. You’ve worked hard to build a community for yourself and then to leave it all behind. Many would rationalize what’s the point? The point is, we’re alive for more than ourselves. Everything has a season. It’s not all about us and once we realize this starting again doesn’t seem quite so bad. We must embrace the idea of starting again. Whether it’s learning how to live in a new community, understanding a local culture or just adapting to a new way of life.

Focus: you will become like whatever you’re focusing on. Think about what is good about where you are. If you’re unemployed you might have more time than ever to learn something new, train for a marathon or study a new language. FOCUS on what is good about your situation.

Hold Tight in the Process: yes it’s difficult, especially when you’re in a new place and attempting to create a routine for yourself. But stay focused in the process. Don’t give up because with each step you make you’re getting along the road. Before you know it, you’ll be at your destination.

You’re Doing Better than You Think You’re Doing: you will not always be a beginner or brand new. Although the beginning stages feel so challenging, take hope. With each new day, you’re learning and growing. You’re doing better today than you were yesterday just because you have another day under your belt so you are one day wiser. Focus on the progress you’re making and not the lack of progress you have yet to make.

A Traditional Turkish Coffeehouse: Tahmis Kahvesi

Take a trip back in time to simpler era. No cell phones. No laptops. No email. Taking a coffee break at Tahmis Khavesi takes you back to the essence of enjoying a good cup of coffee with good company.

One of the oldest coffeehouses in Turkey, founded in 1635 it is a treasure to visit. The decorative copper pitchers in the stained glass windows, the traditional chandeliers and the classic wood furnishings, it’s such a beautiful place to enjoy a Turkish coffee.

In the winter you’ll be warmly welcomed by the large wood burning heater that is in the middle of the building as soon as you walk in the door. If you venture up the stairs, you’ll be delighted to sit in upper level that overlooks the entire place.

There are games and books and it’s not unusual for people to play some traditional games or read but mostly you’ll just notice people enjoying the company of those that they are with.

“One neither desires coffee nor a coffeehouse. One desires to talk with others, coffee is but an excuse.” A Turkish saying.

 

20180212_133512

Drinking Turkish coffee is such a wonderful experience. Like espresso, it’s served in a small cup and it’s stronger than an average cup of coffee. But unlike espresso, it has a layer of foam on top and a thick layer at the bottom; This part, you don’t drink. The coffee is rich, thick and robust.

Turkish coffee is always served with water and frequently with Turkish delight, chocolate or some sort of snack. The sweet is meant to balance out the strong flavor of the coffee. While Turkish delight is the most traditional option, a little piece of chocolate it becoming more common.

When ordering your coffee, you can either order it without sugar “sade,” a little sugar “az sekerli, an average amount of sugar “sorta sekerli” or very sweet, “sekerli.” No matter what you’re preference, you’re in for a treat!

At Tahmis Khavesi the Turkish coffee is served with some roasted nuts and water. It’s brought to your table in an elegant coffee cup and when you remove the lid, you unveil the beautiful aroma of the steaming Turkish coffee. With one sip, you’ll taste the robust flavor and thick foam. It’s so good. Savor every sip until you reach the thick layer of grounds, which concludes the cup of coffee.

So if you’re looking to experience the best of traditional and modern, then a visit to Tahmis Kahvesi is a must. It’s a one of a kind experience for coffee lovers everywhere.

P.s. Also try the Menengiç coffee (made from the roast berries from pistachio trees) or a classic cup of Turkish tea! Or buy some coffee to take home with you!

20180212_121029

Lamb & Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Firik Pilav)

A savory rice and bulgur pilaf packed with tender & succulent pieces of lamb.

Under pressure. Why is it that some of the most beautiful things in life are created under pressure. Just think about it:

Diamonds are formed… under pressure

Pearls are formed…under pressure

Kapamali Et (Lamb shanks) for this pilaf recipe is cooked…under pressure

It’s true, the lamb goes into a pressure cooker for about an hour until it is tender and delicious. Then it’s coated with a saffron yogurt and baked until the skin is brown and crispy. Then the meat pulls off the bone and is added in large chunks to the bulgur and rice pilaf. One word, YUM.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 kilos of lamb shanks
  • 3 c white rice
  • 1.5 c medium sized bulgur
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lamb in a pressure cooker and cook for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and the saffron and set aside.

Remove the lamb from the pressure cooker and place on a baking sheet. Spread the saffron yogurt over the top of the lamb.

Place in the oven on 375F until the skin is brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and let rest.

20180126_110724.jpg

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Pour in the rice and bulgur. Stir for 2-3 minutes to toast, then pour in about 8-9 cups of hot water.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice and bulgur are tender.

20180126_095353.jpg

Pour the rice and bulgur pilaf onto a serving plate.

Shred the lamb into small pieces and place on top of the rice and bulgur pilaf.

Serve & Enjoy!

20180126_113845.jpg

 

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 Turkish Turnovers (Pirincli Börek)

Flakey, crispy and backed with ground beef and saffron rice, these little turnovers are a must try recipe!

One of the many things that I love about börek is that there are so many ways to prepare them. Börek, essentially meaning pastry, is applied to a myriad of delicious turkish pastries, both savory and sweet.

This börek recipe uses yufka, similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry, and it’s packed with ground beef and saffron rice.

Making and tasting these delicious börek, I was immediately reminded of the stories I heard about my grandmothers making “fried pies.” This börek recipe is what I would call a savory fried pie. It’s absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 6 oz white rice
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil plus 3-4 c more for frying
  • 1 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1-2 c water (for the dough)
  • 1.5 c water (for the rice)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the dough: 

Place the flour in a bowl and make a little well in the middle. Add the yogurt and slowly add the water until the dough is shaggy but not sticky.

Turn the dough over on a floured workspace and knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth.

Shape it into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with plastic warp.

Let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

To make the rice:

Rinse and drain the rice.

In a large stock pot add 2 TBSP of sunflower oil.

Once the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes.

Add the saffron, salt and pepper and stir.

20180209_095617.jpg

Cover the rice with 1.5 cups of hot water.

Reduce heat to low, cover the rice with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes.

To make the ground beef:

In a small frying pan, sautee the ground beef until it is browned.

Add the olive oil and then the onions and stir.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Once the rice is done cooking, combine it with the beef mixture and set aside.

To make the börek (turnovers):

Take golf ball size pieces of dough, roll them into a ball and set them on a flour sheet pan.

One by one, roll out each ball until it’s about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Place 1 TBSP of the beef and rice filling in the middle of the dough.

Fold over the dough to create a half circle.

Cut off any excess dough with a pizza cutter or knife.

Crimp the edges with your finger or a fork (similar to when you make a pie crust)

Fry in a large frying pan or a deep fryer until it is browned.

Serve and Enjoy while warm.

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

Potato & Tomato Stew (Patates Tavasi)

A savory thick, tomato-based potato stew, Patates Tavasi warms the stomach and the soul.

     I’m not exactly sure if this dish is meant to be a stew, but the way I experienced it (in a bowl, served with rice, served with a spoon), it felt like a thick stew. Regardless, it’s delicious. Stew beef is the basis of the dish and gives a basic flavor element to it. Coupled with the tomato paste, red pepper paste, onions and garlic, it is so full of flavor and so delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 300g stew beef chunks
  • 1 small white onion (diced)
  • 4 small red onions (diced)
  • 10 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 5 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Sauté the beef chunks in a pan until browned. Then add the butter and keep sautéing.

20180124_094338.jpg

Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add red pepper paste, tomato paste, black pepper and 2 liters of hot water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

20180124_095016.jpg

Add the cubed potatoes and cook until tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

20180124_111320.jpg

Afiyet Olsun

 

How To Make Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic is so delicious & versatile to add to your favorite dips, garlic bread or any recipe!

Roasting garlic is a super simple way to add additional flavor to your favorite recipe. If you don’t like the taste of raw garlic, then roasted garlic is a great substitute. The garlic become less pungent and a bit sweet when it’s roasted. That means you get all the flavor of the garlic with a reduced bitter or spicy taste.

I love to just place a bulb of garlic on a baking sheet and rest in knowing that the oven will do the rest of the work. If you love garlic, then you’ll love this recipe.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt (to taste; just a sprinkle)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

Take your garlic clove and cut off the the very top portion of the bulb just to enough to expose the cloves.

Drizzle the top of the cloves with olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt.

Place the garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap it up like a baked potato or like a little gift (ensuring that the garlic is completely covered by the foil.

20180207_152731

Place in the oven on a baking sheet and roast the garlic for 45-60 minutes, or until the cloves are tender. (Note: the cook time may vary depending on the size of your garlic bulb. I normally use really large bulbs of garlic.)

20180207_152915

Allow the garlic to cool for 10-15 minutes and then unwrap it.

To remove the cloves, simply squeeze the sides of the garlic and you’ll find that the bulbs will easily squeeze right out.

At this point, you can mince the garlic and toss it into anything you like (e.g. hummus, garlic bread, garlic butter, babaganoush, etc.)

Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

Olive Stuffed Pastry (Sade Zeytin Boregi)

A delicious traditional, Turkish, olive pastry, bursting with flavor.

I love olives and I love bread. So this recipe is delightful for me. The filling created it almost like a simple olive salad. Then it is tenderly baked to make these delicious little pockets.

Here’s the recipe:

Sade Zeytin Boregi

  • 3 c green olives
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1.5 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Chop the olives and set aside.
In a small frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic with the sunflower oil and olive oil until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
Remove from the heat and add the onion mixture to the olives.
Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the mixture and add the walnuts.
Stir until well combined. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and bring it to the FIRIN.
If you don’t have a FIRIN or local baker to prepare the boregi for you, then follow the bread dough recipe below.

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,

Then roll out the dough into a 12 inch long piece. Fill one side with the mixture and then fold over. Crimp the edges together and then bake in a 400F oven for 10-15 minutes or until browned.
Serve & Enjoy!

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

Turkish Mixed Green Salad (Karışık Kış Salatasi)

A fresh, simple salad that’s perfect to add to any meal. This “mixed salad” is packed with a variety of flavors and textures.

Here’s the recipe:

2 c green cabbage (cut into thin strips or shredded)
2 c red cabbage (cut into thin strips or shredded)
4 tomatoes
2 c romaine lettuce (cut into thin strips or shredded)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 carrots (thinly sliced)
1 green pepper (sweet or bell)
1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
2 lemons (juiced)
3 TBSP olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Clean all of the vegetables.

 

Thinly slice the green cabbage, red cabbage and romaine lettuce. Place them in a bowl.
Finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
Pick off the leaves of the mint and the parsley and add them to the salad.
De-seed and thinly slice the peppers and add them to the salad.
Peel the carrots and thinly slice them. Add them to the salad and toss everything together.

Squeeze the lemons and mix their juice with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).


Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad. Toss the salad to thoroughly coat the entire salad with the dressing.

Serve and Enjoy!

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