Recap: Thanksgiving Abroad in Jerusalem + Being Thankful Everyday

A twist on my traditional Thanksgiving meal inspired by local ingredients.

Every year that I spend Thanksgiving abroad, it’s always a new and unique experience. Sometimes we celebrate it with a big group of people and other times it’s just my husband and me celebrating it together. Regardless, it is still a good celebration. Since my husband is from Europe, our focal point for Thanksgiving is really about reflecting and giving thanks. Thinking about all that we have to be thankful for. Undoubtedly, there is always so much to be thankful for.

Also I was inspired to create a Thanksgiving meal based off of the local ingredients in Jerusalem. Instead of using butter and herbs for my turkey, I used labneh (a thick, strained, creamy yogurt) and za’atar (a blend of spices found commonly throughout the Middle East and North Africa). For my stuffing, traditionally I would prepare a cornbread stuffing, but this year I used “Jerusalem Bagels.” They are very long (nearly three or four times the length of a traditional “American bagel,” the texture is softer and they are coated with sesame seeds. It’s very common to see vendors selling them throughout the Old City and I have a favorite bakery just beyond Damascus Gate that sells them hot and fresh.

Preparing this meal reminded me of my first Thanksgiving abroad in New Zealand. I went searching everywhere for turkey only to finally “settle” for a sushi feast (not a bad Thanksgiving option if you ask me). It was not what traditional according to what I would consider traditional, but it was a nice change.

What I’ve learned about celebrating Thanksgiving and other holidays abroad is:

  • Change Can Be Good: It doesn’t have to look exactly like your typical celebration and that’s okay. It brings you back into awareness that you are in a new culture.
  • Going Local is Best: In terms of buying ingredients, local ingredients are the way to go. It’s true that you probably will not find a local equivalent for everything on your list but you can find something else that is equally (if not more) delicious. Plus, going local is more environmentally friendly, supports the local economy and is much friendlier on your wallet.
  • Expand Your Celebration: Invite others to experience a feast. Last year I had the privilege of inviting many guests to our house. I was cooking all day long and it was so rewarding to see so many people gathered and just having a great time. Our group represented nearly 10 different countries.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day.

Everyday is Thanksgiving day. As cheesy as that may sound, it is true in the spirit of celebrating the holiday as a day of truly giving thanks for all that you have. Today and everyday, I always have many things to be grateful for and I am sure if you’re reading this right now, then you do too. Thanks for reading. Remember you are loved, you are cherished, you are unique and special.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fresh Fig Tart Recipe

Ripe & sweet fresh figs, layered on a butter-crust and drizzled with a cinnamon-honey butter!

Figs are one of the oldest fruits recorded in human history and I think one of the most underrated. They are sweet and satisfying to eat a couple but I also love creating recipes around them.

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For this recipe, it is important to have fresh figs so if you cannot find them, try substituting another fruit like apples, peaches or plums.

Here’s the recipe:

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Fresh Fig Tart

  • 15-20 fresh figs (cut into quarters)
  • 1 pre-prepared pie crust
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • flour (for dusting & rolling out the dough)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C.

Cut the figs into quarters.

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Dust a large countertop with a bit of flour and proceed to roll out your pie crust until it forms a nice circular shape (approx. 14 inches in diameter).

Then brush 1 TBSP of butter onto a parchment lined baking sheet and transfer the dough onto the parchment paper.

Brush the center of the dough with 1 TBSP of melter butter.

Then arrange the fig quarters to create a beautiful design. Note: I like to go in a circular shape with the figs facing flesh side upward.

Then in a small bowl, whisk together the honey, butter and cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, brush the figs with the cinnamon-honey butter.

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Then fold up the sides of the tart, piece by piece towards the figs. Note: there’s no science to this but I love to overlap of the dough as I fold. I think this creates a really rustic but beautiful end product.

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Then bake until the dough is lightly browned and the figs are bubbly and delicious (approximately 20-30 minutes)

Allow the tart to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then cut slices (like a pizza), enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream (if you wish) and enjoy!DSC09286IMG_5260

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Kohlrouladen (German Stuffed Cabbage) – Abendessen für Zwei (Dinner for Two)

Tender ground beef, seasoned to perfection and wrapped in a large cabbage leaf, Kohlrouladen is an edible gift that your tastebuds can unwrap.

This dish is a favorite of mine and I think it is because it is such a simple but delicious German comfort food. The meat is kept tender and juicy thanks to the cabbage and in my version, I season it with spices and a bit of dijon mustard.

It also is perfect for preparing ahead of time and/or making for guests because everyone gets their own individual serving. Paired with some boiled potatoes and steamed veggies, this is the type of meal that makes a great day even better.

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I tailored my normal recipe in this case to make Abendessen für Zwei or Dinner for Two. It is perfect for enjoying a meal at home with the one you love.

Here’s the recipe:

Kohlrouladen (German Stuffed Cabbage)

  • 2 large cabbage leaves (about 8-9 inches)
  • 1/3 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 c finely chopped white onion
  • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3-4 TBSP plain bread crumbs
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the cooking process:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 c beef broth

For the gravy:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T flour
  • remaining beef stock/cooking liquid

Preparation:

Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water by placing them in the water for 15-30 seconds and then placing in a cold water bath to immediately cool the cabbage leaves. NOTE: the cabbage leaves should be soft and tender but still quite green.

To prepare the meat: place all of the ingredients (except for the cabbage) in a bowl and mix it together with your hands until it is well incorporrated.

Then divide the meat mixture in half and create two large meatballs.

Lay the cabbage leaves open and place one meatball at the bottom (near the stem) in each of the pieces of cabbage. Fold the sides in on top of the meatball and then roll the cabbage to create a little package for the meatball.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot. Then add the kohlrouladen, seam side down and lightly brown them on both sides.

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Then add 1 cup of the beef broth and cover with a lid and allow the kohlrouladen to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is well done, adding more broth as needed.

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When they are done cooking, remove from the pan and make the gravy.

Melt the butter, then sprinkle over the flour and whisk until smooth. Then add the remaining beef stock and/or cooking liquid and keep whisking to make a smooth gravy.

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Plate each of the kohlrouladen and top with the gravy.

Guten Appetit!

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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!

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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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

 

Lemon & Dill Tuna Salad

Protein packed, simple and delicious –this is a healthier twist on the classic tuna salad recipe. All the flavor you crave but without as many calories.

I love making salads. But not just traditional green salads, but rather salads that I can make ahead of time, pop them in the fridge and that last for several days. They are also perfect for if you work late or need a quick lunch to bring to work because they are available when you need them.

This recipe, is a creation that I made for this purpose. To make sure that we have a healthy and delicious meal on hand in a pinch, whether it be for a packed lunch or a dinner meal. It’s simple, quick and easy.

Here’s the recipe:

Lemon & Dill Tuna Salad

  • 1 c light tuna (in water, drained & rinsed)
  • 2 T fresh dill (chopped)
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon(juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Drain and rinse the tuna and place it in a bowl.

Add the chopped dill and scallions.

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Drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

Turkish Style Hummus

Traditional cuisine meets modern with this Mediterranean classic! 

What I appreciate about hummus is that it is just so simple. All you need is a few minimal ingredients and then you have something really special. The tahini is an absolute must! A paste made from ground sesame seeds, tahini compliments the flavor of the chickpeas and creates layers of flavor within the hummus.

Here’s the recipe:

(Hint: you’ll need a good food processor or blender for this recipe)

  • 2/3 c dried chickpeas
  • 1/3 c tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Drain, rinse and boil for 2 hours (until the chickpeas are tender).

Drain, rinse and remove the skin from the chickpeas (Note: this is not a necessary step but it creates a smoother hummus).

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, stopping the food processor from time to time in order to stir and scrape down the sides.

Once the hummus is smooth, pour onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts for 1 minute and then add the butter and melt. Remove from the heat and pour over the hummus.

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

Red Lentil Soup (Eksili Malhita Çorbasi)

A creamy lentil soup, blended to perfection and topped with mint, it’s so delicious and satisfying without feeling overly full.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s a one pot recipe and the lentils are the star of the show. You literally place the lentils and rice in a large stock pot and simmer them until they are tender and then let an immersion blender do the rest of the hard work.
It’s a classic Turkish soup that’s delightful to compliment any meal or even serve as a meal itself with a fresh garden salad.
Here’s the recipe:
Red Lentil Soup (Eksili Malhita Çorbasi)
  • 2.5 c red lentils
  • 1 c rice
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 T mint
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large stock pot, simmer the lentils, rice and garlic in 2 liters of salted water or broth.
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Once the lentils are tender, use an immersion blender to blend them until they are smooth.
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Then add the tomato paste and lemon juice. Stir well and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
In a separate frying pan melt the butter and olive oil. Once it is simmering, add the mint and red pepper flakes. Then pour it into the soup and stir.
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Serve & Enjoy!
Afiyet Olsun!

How to Make a Bechamel Sauce

Creamy and silky smooth, a delicious bechamel sauce is the perfect base to many culinary creations, especially a really quick and yummy stove top macaroni and cheese.

Bechamel Sauce. From the moment I heard the name of this sauce as a kid, it sounded so fancy. It was something that I saw French chefs talking about on television.

But when I finally made bechamel sauce myself, I was relieved to discover that I already knew how to make it. If you can make gravy, then you can make bechamel sauce and as a kid I learned early on from my mom who to make a really good, yet quick gravy.

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So here’s the recipe:

Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T all purpose flour
  • 2-3 cups of milk
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.

Bechamel STEP 1 Melted Butter

Then sprinkle the flour on top and whisk thoroughly. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and lightly toasted (Note: it will become a little fragrant and you will smell especially the butter).

Bechamel STEP 2 Flour

Bechamel STEP 3 Whisk

Then slowly add in the milk as you keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth.

Bechamel STEP 5 Add Milk

Bechamel STEP 6 Whisk Milk

Bring back up to a light boil, whisking frequently, until it is thickened.

Bechamel STEP 7 Final Whisk

Then immediately remove from the heat, unless you’re making Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese, then you’ll want to keep it on the heat but reduce it considerably.

Enjoy!

Homemade Baked Pita Chips

Crunchy, flavorful and so good. These homemade pita chips are super simple and super delicious.

I love pita bread but sometimes I find it difficult to consume it all before it spoils. So, these pita chips are the perfect solution. Once they are baked I toss them in a sealed plastic bag and they stay fresh (although most times they don’t last for more than a few days).

Plus, these pita chips are super affordable. For the price of one bag of chips I can make at least 3 bags. Another bonus, no artificial ingredients. When you make your food at home, you get to decide what goes in and what stays out.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Baked Pita Chips

  • 8 pieces of pita bread
  • 4 T olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 375 F (approx. 160 C) & line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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Cut the pita bread into triangle pieces (or whatever shape you like. You can be creative here because they will taste great regardless of their shape).

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Divide the two layers of the pita bread to create single layer thin chips.\

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Place a handful of the pre-baked pita chips on the baking sheet.

Drizzle with half a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Toss until well combined and spread out to form an even layer.

Bake for 7-8 minutes (may vary depending on your oven).

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Place on a serving platter & enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

Creamy, smooth and so delicious — there’s nothing like mashed potatoes made from scratch!

Mashed potatoes is one of the most quintessential foods of my childhood. Thankfully, in my house it was not just reserved for holidays but also for Sunday suppers or even for weekday dining. I learned how to prepare mashed potatoes through watching my mom. She doesn’t have a recipe but rather she simply knows when it’s right, and it always is. Thanks mom for teaching me how to make mashed potatoes and many other dishes.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

  • 2-3 large potatoes
  • 1 c milk
  • 3-4 TBSP butter
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt (to taste).

Peel the potatoes and chop them into even size pieces.

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Rinse the potatoes and then add them to the pot of boiling water.

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While the potatoes are boiling: add the milk and 3 tablespoons of butter to a small sauce pot and cook until just warmed through but not boiling.

Cook them until they are fork tender and then drain and rinse the potatoes.

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Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl or back in the pot and set aside.

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Pour the milk and butter mixture over the potatoes, half at a time, and mash with a whisk, a masher, or even a fork. (Note: I like my mashed potatoes a bit chunky but if you don’t then you can mix them together in a hand mixture or stand mixture).

Once the potatoes are fully mashed, pour them into a bowl. Top with a tablespoon of butter right in the middle.

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Serve and Enjoy!

 

Ali Nazik (Roasted Eggplant topped w/ Seasoned Ground Beef)

A creamy, savory and flavorful entree, Ali Nazik is light and delicious. A traditional Turkish dish, it tastes and looks like a work of art.

I have tried many variations of Ali Nazik and I must admit that they were all good in their own unique way. I’ve even created my own recipe for Ali Nazik because I find it to be such a beautiful dish.

Through my Turkish cooking course, I have learned one of several ways to make Ali Naziik. This one is delicious because the ground beef is savory and rich and complimented by the eggplant and yogurt.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 lbs eggplant (the long, thin variety)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium-sized red pepper (sweet or bell diced)
  • 1 medium-sized green pepper (sweet or bell diced)
  • 2 small tomatoes (peeled, de-seeded and diced)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil (or any plain oil)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 16 oz suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven for 375F.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.

Peel the eggplant and dice into small pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt until it is smooth.

Using a mortar & pestel (or finely mincing it with a knife) crush the garlic cloves.

Add the garlic to the yogurt and stir until well combined.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and squeeze in the lemon juice.

Stir in the eggplant and set aside.

Peel the tomatoes.

Dice the peppers and tomatoes.

In a small frying pan sauté the ground beef until browned.

Add the olive oil and sunflower oil and continue to cook the beef.

Add the diced red and green peppers and cook until tender.

Then add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper (to taste). Sauté everything together for another 5 minutes.

Slightly warm the eggplant and yogurt mixture and then pour it onto a large platter.

Pour the beef mixture over the center of the eggplant and yogurt.

Serve and enjoy.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

Savory and flavorful, this soup packs a punch. Creamy and thick, it’s packed with meat, chickpeas, vegetables and saffron.

Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

  • 500g stew beef chunks
  • 500g green beans (blanched)
  • 1400g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 scallions (white parts only)
  • 1 1/2 c chickpeas (canned & drained or pre-boiled)
  • 1 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, boil the beef with salt and pepper and 2 liters of water for 15 minutes.

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Add the chickpeas and continue to boil for 10 minutes. 20180112_094655

Then add the green beans, scallions and saffron and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

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In a bowl, whisk the yogurt and the egg until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pot and warm the yogurt mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add a few ladles of the soup into the yogurt, stirring constantly (to temper the yogurt). Then pour the entire yogurt mixture into the soup, stirring constantly.

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Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

Stuffed Zucchini with Saffron & Pistachios (Kuzu Icli Kabak Dolmasi)

The perfect balance of a savory ground beef filling with aromatic spices, pistachios and almonds.

In Turkish cooking, I’ve been learning about the myriad of different variations on stuffed vegetables. There are many variations. This is already the third variation of stuffed zucchini and it tastes completely different than the last recipe I learned.

The ground beef is seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, salt and pepper. Then pistachios and almonds are added to create a unique and delicious texture to the overall dish.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 25 zucchini
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 1/2 c white rice
  • 3 TBSP pistachios
  • 2 TBSP almonds
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 c sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Clean the zucchini and cut into thirds. Core the inner part of the zucchini and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with sunflower oil. Once hot, fry the zucchini in batches until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place them on a cooling rack.

Rinse and drain the rice. Set it aside for later.

In a small frying pan, sauté the ground beef in 2 TBSP of olive oil.  Add the rice and stir.

Then add the cinnamon, saffron, salt, pepper, pistachios and almonds and stir for 2-3 minutes more until well incorporated.

Remove from the heat.

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Using a tablespoon, fill the zucchini until it’s two-thirds of the way full. Press the top together and place in a large stock pot.

Cover the zucchini with a large ceramic dish (to weigh them down in the pot) and add about 2-3 cups of hot water.

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Cover and cook on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

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

Curry Chicken

Tender marinated chicken coated in a creamy flavorful curry sauce with mushrooms and sweet red peppers.

I love curry chicken. And I know that curry in general is one of those spices (although it’s actually a combination of spices but that’s a whole other story) that people seem to love or to hate.

As a kid, I had the opportunity to try many different cuisines and flavors. From the first time I tried curry chicken until now, I feel the same — I love it. But I do understand that others don’t love it.

This recipe is simple and delicious. The focus is on the tender marinated chicken and the curry sauce. The combination of these two things makes an unforgettably delicious meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Curry Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 c thick yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1.5 inch piece of ginger (minced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1.5 onion (diced)
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • 1.5 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 3 T sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To marinate the chicken: Mix together the yogurt, 1 T oil, half an onion, half an inch piece of ginger, lemon juice, 2 tsp of cumin, salt, pepper and 2 tsp of oregano. Stir and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator overnight to marinate.

To prepare the curry chicken: Toast the spices until fragrant (cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano and turmeric).

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Sauté the onions, ginger & garlic.

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Sprinkle over the cumin, red pepper flakes, turmeric, curry powder, salt & pepper.

Add the chicken and sauté.

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Add the diced red pepper & stir until well combined.

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Add the cream and keep stirring until warmed all the way through.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Oven Roasted Potato Wedges

Crispy and flavorful on the outside, tender and delicate on the inside–these oven roasted potato wedges are cooked to perfection to make a delicious and simple dish.

I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like a good potato wedge. As a kid, wedges were my favorite way to eat potatoes. I loved the fact that you really get to taste more of the potato flavor in a wedge than your average french fry.

Although there are a plethora of frozen or fast food options to pick up potato wedges, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover just how simple they are to make at home.

Here’s the recipe:

Oven Roasted Potato Wedges

  • 3 large potatoes
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Thoroughly wash the potatoes and then pat them dry.

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Slice them into thick wedges and place them on the parchment lined baking sheet.

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Drizzle them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the potato wedges to liberally coat them.

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Then place them in the oven to roast for about 45 minutes, flipping them over on the other side halfway along the way.

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Plate the potato wedges and garnish with parsley. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

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Mmm…DSC00697

Mmmmmmmm….

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Guten Appetit!

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

A delicious Mediterranean twist on your salad night, try this Tasty Tabbouleh Salad!

     Tabbouleh is a common salad eaten throughout many countries in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It is a simple salad but packed with flavor in every bite. It starts with fresh veggies that are mixed together with bulgur and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice. Finally, it’s seasoned with a little salt and pepper and Voila! You have a delicious and quick salad that makes the perfect side item or meal!

Here’s the recipe:

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 small cucumber (finely chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 fresh mint (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 c (dry) finely ground bulgur
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Finely chop the parsley, mint, cucumber and tomato.

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To prepare the bulgur: place the bulgur in a bowl and add 1 cup of boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and let “cook” for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl mix together the parsley, mint, cucumber, tomato and bulgur.

Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss everything together until it is well combined.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

Cumin & Herb de Provence Roasted Carrots

Light, delicious and full of flavorful–these cumin and herb roasted carrots make the perfect side item to compliment any meal.

Making vegetables delicious is often as simple as adding a little herbs or spices. This dish, is a great example of the big difference a few herbs can make.

A blend of purple and orange carrots are roasted to perfection in a blend of cumin and herbs de Provence to create a sweet and fresh flavor!

Here’s the recipe:

Cumin & Herb Roasted Carrots

  • 2 orange carrots
  • 2 purple carrots
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T herbs de Provence
  • 2 tsp dried cumin
  • 2 T fresh parsley

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.*

Peel and slice the carrots into half an inch size pieces and place them on the baking sheet.

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Drizzle over the olive oil, herbs de Provence and cumin. Toss the carrots to ensure that they are fully coated with olive oil and the spices.

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Place the carrots in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on your oven) checking halfway through to toss the carrots.

To serve, plate the carrots on a large platter or decorative bowl. Garnish with some fresh parsley.

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Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

*For an easy and simple clean up & to keep the carrots from sticking to the pan.

DIY Pasta Making: Orecchiette

Italian for “little ears” this unique pasta shape is perfect for scooping up delicious sauce. 
     Orecchiette is one of a kind. Sure, there are similar pastas but there is not one quite like this one. When my local grocery stores stopped selling it, I resorted to making my own from scratch.
The most beautiful thing is how minimalistic this recipe is. With very few ingredients and utensils, you can create a beautiful pasta.
Here’s the recipe:
Homemade Orecchiette (from scratch!)
  • 2 c flour (plus more for kneading and preparing the pasta)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-1.5 c water (added little by little)
Preparation:
To make the orecchiette pasta dough: Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl.
Pour it onto your workspace and create a little mound.
Using a small cup or your hands, create a little well.
Slowly pour half a cup of water into the well.
Gently incorporate the water and the flour.
Using one hand to mix and the other hand to pour the water, add enough water until the dough is moist but not sticky.
Continue kneading for 10 minutes and roll the dough in a ball.
Flatten the ball to make a disc shape and wrap the dough in plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
Then start making the orecchiette.
HOW TO Shape the Orecchiette:
Take a golf ball size piece of dough and roll it into a long piece (like a snake) about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Cut 1/4 inch pieces from the roll and then roll them into small balls.
Using the dull side of a butter knife, press it into the ball of dough and roll it towards you until you reach the end of the piece.
The dough should be stuck to your knife now.
Pick up your knife and gently roll the dough away from the knife and both sides to form a “little ear.”
Place the “little ear” on a floured piece of parchment paper and continue making the rest of the orecchiette.

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Sift the excess flour from the pasta.

Boil your pasta and eat immediately or place on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Then transfer the orecchiette to a ziplock bag and freeze.

Guten Appetit!

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!

 

 

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.

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

 

 

Mini Turkish Meatballs (Arap Köftesi)

A delicious mini meatball that’s packed with so much more than just meat. Served with yogurt and a spice oil drizzle, it’s a beautiful and delicious creation!

Essentially, I would consider this dish a meatball. Although the ratio of bulgur to meat is 2 to 1 so maybe it’s more like a bulgur & meatball but regardless, it’s delicious.

While it is a bit of a labor of love to prepare them, the lovely end product is what makes it all worth it. It’s a good dish to make with friends or with kids because it requires a lot of kneading and rolling into the small balls.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 oz ground beef
  • 1.5 c simit bulgur (a fine, small bulgur variety)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBSP dried tarragon (crushed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes (non-spicey)
  • 6 1/2 cups of yogurt
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.5 c sunflower oil (or any neutral oil: vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 0.25 c olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large shallow bowl mix together the ground beef, bulgur, red onion, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper. Knead together for 5 to 10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed.

Then add the finely chopped parsley. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed until the consistency is moist enough to roll into balls without falling apart or sticking to your hands.

Taking piece by piece of the mixture, roll it into small 1 inch balls.

Once all of the balls are made, pile them into a steamer basket and place on the stove to steam for about 10 minutes.

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Remove from the stove and set aside for 10 minutes.

Fill a frying pan with the sunflower oil and olive oil. Once it is hot, add the meatballs and fry until lightly browned.

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Stir in the red pepper flakes and remove the pan from the heat.

To serve, plate 1 TBSP of yogurt on each plate and then top with several meatballs and a light drizzle of the red pepper oil.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

Lamb Chop Soup (Ormon)

It all starts with roasted lamb chops. They’re browned to perfection and then added to a stock pot to create a delicious soup.

Here’s the recipe:

  •  lamb chops
  • 2 TBSP ground beef
  • 6.5 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c chickpeas (frozen)
  • 1 white onion (diced)
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place the lambs chops on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 1 hour or until browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

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In a large stock pot, cook the ground beef until browned. Add 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and then add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the chickpeas.

Add the chops to the pot then add enough water to cover them (approximately 2 liters).

Season with 1 tsp of saffron, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium low heat for about 30 minutes.

In another saucepan, whisk together the yogurt with 1 egg. Warm the yogurt mixture over low heat until slightly warm but not hot. Pour the yogurt into the soup and stir.

In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 2 TBSP of sunflower oil and another tsp of saffron and add it into the soup.

Serve & 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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Add the cubed potatoes and cook until tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

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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.

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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.)

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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!

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

Yumartali Pancar Kavurma (Sauted Chard w/ Eggs)

Light, flavorful and delicious — this dish is so simple but so good.

Get your daily dose of greens with this flavorful chard dish. Packed with essential vitamins, nutrients and protein from the eggs, it makes such a delightful lunch or dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 7 oz ground beef
  • 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (finely chopped)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation: 

Sauté the ground beef until browned. Season with salt and then add the olive oil, sunflower oil and chopped onion. Stir until well combined.

Then add the red pepper and cook until it is tender.

In a separate pot, boil some water and add the chard to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from the water. Drain, rinse and squeeze the excess water from the chard.

To the beef, peppers and onions, add tomato paste, red pepper paste and the 1 cup of hot water. Then add the chard, stirring frequently as the chard wilts into the mixture.

Season with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then crack the eggs into the chard. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

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Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Fresh, flavorful, delicious and healthy! This salad is so good and so simple to prepare! With a few fresh ingredients, you’re on your way to a quick meal!

If you’re looking for a quick, delicious and healthy dinner, then this salad is a great option for you. The perfect balance of flavors with the savory spinach, sweet strawberries and crunchy pistachios– this salad creation is a keeper!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 1 or 2 (for a small salad)

2 c spinach
4 strawberries
1/4 c parsley
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP pomegranate molasses*
10 pistachios

Preparation:

Clean the spinach and remove the excess water by putting the spinach in a salad spinner.

Thinly slice the spinach and place it in a bowl.

Chop the parsley and add it to the bowl.

Slice the strawberries and add them to the spinach and parsley.

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Roughly chop the pistachios and then sprinkle them on top of the salad.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it to ensure the salad is thoroughly covered with the dressing.

*Substitute pomegranate molasses for balsamic vinaigrette or make your own pomegranate molasses by simmering pomegranate juice with sugar until it forms a thick syrup.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

Simmering Zucchini Dish (Kabak Kavurmasi)

With a savory and rich tomatoey flavor, this dish is beautiful and delicious.
Zucchini is the star of this dish. But for this dish I don’t fry it or bake it or skewer it. Instead it is cubed into small pieces and simmered in a delicious tomatoey broth. The end product makes for a flavorful and delicious dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Kabak Kavurmasi (Zucchini Sautee)
  • 3 lbs zucchini
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers (bell or sweet)
  • 1 red pepper (bell or sweet)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Chop the onions, red pepper and green peppers and set aside.
Peel an chop the tomatoes.
Cut the zucchini into small chunks and mince the garlic.
In a large stock pot, sauté the onions in the sunflower oil and olive oil.
Add the red pepper, green peppers and garlic. Stir and sauté until the vegetables are
tender.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Then add the chunks of zucchini. Cover with water, approximately 4-6 cups and stir.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently.
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

Turkish Okra Sauté (Bamya Tavasi)

The perfect balance of a savory ground beef filling with aromatic spices, pistachios and almonds.

In Turkish cooking, I’ve been learning about the myriad of different variations on stuffed vegetables. There are many variations. This is already the third variation of stuffed zucchini and it tastes completely different than the last recipe I learned.

The ground beef is seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, salt and pepper. Then pistachios and almonds are added to create a unique and delicious texture to the overall dish.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 25 zucchini
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 1/2 c white rice
  • 3 TBSP pistachios
  • 2 TBSP almonds
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 c sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Clean the zucchini and cut into thirds. Core the inner part of the zucchini and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with sunflower oil. Once hot, fry the zucchini in batches until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place them on a cooling rack.

Rinse and drain the rice. Set it aside for later.

In a small frying pan, sauté the ground beef in 2 TBSP of olive oil.  Add the rice and stir.

Then add the cinnamon, saffron, salt, pepper, pistachios and almonds and stir for 2-3 minutes more until well incorporated.

Remove from the heat.

Using a tablespoon, fill the zucchini until it’s two-thirds of the way full. Press the top together and place in a large stock pot.

Cover the zucchini with a large ceramic dish (to weigh them down in the pot) and add about 2-3 cups of hot water.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

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

Işkembe Çorbasi (Turkish Tripe Soup)

     This traditional soup is creamy, thick and savory. With chewy bits of tripe and a spicy vinegar topping it is something worth trying.

This soup starts with tripe. Tripe is a common ingredient that I’ve encountered through cooking many types of international cuisines. But still, the texture of tripe is something that I still have not gotten used to. But after experiencing the careful preparation of this soup I was determined to try it. It’s a very traditional soup in Turkey and many other countries and I found it to be very interesting. I took a spoonful and was pleasantly surprised.  The broth is creamy, smooth and thick and compliments the chewy bits of tripe.

If you’re looking to try a little something new, then give this soup a try.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 750 g tripe
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 1 TBSP whole black peppercorns
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil (or any flavorless oil –e.g. vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.)
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Rinse & drain the tripe. Boil the tripe for 5-10 minutes, then drain & rinse again.

In a large stockpot boil the tripe again with the sliced lemon and whole black peppercorns for 30-40 minutes.

Drain the tripe, reserving the liquid to use as broth.

Remove the lemon and black peppercorns and chop the tripe into small pieces.

Using an immersion blender, blend together the tripe broth, flour, oil and salt (to taste).

Add the blended liquid back to the stockpot and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently for 10 minutes.

Then add the tripe to the blended liquid. Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, red pepper flakes, black pepper and crushed garlic. This is a topping that will be drizzled on top of each bowl of soup.

To serve the soup, ladle up the soup into bowls and then drizzle the vinegar topping.

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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

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Truffles

Velvety smooth chocolate with crunchy pieces of chopped pistachios.

If you ever wondered how chocolatiers make delicious truffles, you might be relieved to find out that there’s a simple way to cook up a batch of truffles in your home kitchen.

With just four basic ingredients, you’re on your way to creating a gourmet dessert! Plus, they make great gifts to give to someone you love.

Hint: This makes a great gift for Valentine’s Day…no pressure though 😉

I also love this recipe because you can pop these truffles in an airtight container in the freezer and enjoy them anytime!

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Truffles

  • 1 c dark chocolate
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c chopped unsalted pistachios
Heat the cream on the stove just until it simmers, stirring frequently (little small bubbles will form along the sides of your pot).
Pour the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate.
Allow it to set for 5 minutes. Then stir together until the mixture is creamy and well incorrporated.
Cover it with plastic wrap and cool for 1-2 hours.
In the meantime, chop the pistachios (if not already bought pre-chopped) and pour them onto a plate or leave them on the cutting board.
When the chocolate is cooled and firm, remove it from the refrigerator. Note: it should be firm enough in order to roll into a ball without sticking. If it is sticking, put it back into the refrigerator.
Using a spoon, scrape it across the chocolate.
Remove the chocolate from the spoon and using the palms of your hands, roll it into a ball.
Then roll the chocolate ball into the chopped pistachios and set aside. Note: I used a mini cupcake liner for each of my truffles. But you could also place them on a plate or serving dish.
Keep rolling the truffles until all of the chocolate has been used.
Serve & enjoy immediately or pop them into the freezer for a great go-to beautiful dessert for last minute guests or when you’re craving something chocolatey!
NOTE: No pistachios? No problem! Coat these delicious truffles with whatever topping you like! Toppings like sprinkles, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and chopped peanuts are all great ways to enjoy these truffles. Get creative & create your own spin on this recipe! 🙂
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Turkish Borani (Spicy Chard Stew)

A thick, spicy, tomato flavored stew packed with leafy chard and black-eyed peas.

As most people know Borani, it is an Iranian dish with vegetables and yogurt. But there are also some parts of Turkey that also have Borani but it looks completely different. The yogurt is only used as a topping in this version.

For this recipe, the chard is the star of the show. Although there are many flavors that fill the soup, it would not be complete without the leafy chard that melts into the stew as it simmers. It is flavorful and delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 300 g ground beef
  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 5 small red onions (chopped)
  • 2 sweet red peppers (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced) + 10 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 1/2 c frozen black-eyed peas
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 c yogurt

Preparation:

Rinse and clean the chard. Then stack the leaves on top of each other (about 4-5 at a time) and roll up like a burrito and slice into thin strips. Set aside.

Sauté the ground beef in a large stock pot.

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Add the onions, red peppers and garlic and sauté until browned.

Then add the tomato paste and 2 liters of boiling water. Stir until well combined.

Stir in the black-eyes peas, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt (to taste). Bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes.

Then add the chard, stir and place the lid on top.

Allow the stew to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic yogurt by combining the yogurt with the crushed garlic.

Top each bowl of soup with the garlic yogurt.

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

 

Homemade Marinara Sauce

A classic & essential recipe for your cookbook!

Growing up, my parents rarely bough pre-made pasta sauce. As a kid, I always noticed the difference between the times that they bought the pre-made pasta sauce and the times that they made it themselves. The homemade version always tasted better.

Since then, I’ve been making my own pasta sauces. It’s not so complicated and the end result always yields a pasta that begs for second helpings.

Here’s how I make it:

Yum
Homemade Marinara Sauce

4 c crushed tomatoes
1 white onion
2 garlic cloves
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil.

Add the fresh herbs and stir until well combined.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Allow the sauce to simmer on medium low heat for 20-30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta for a simple and delicious meal.

Guten Appetit!

Anali Kizli Köfte (Stuffed Meatballs)

Large stuffed meatballs and small meatballs steamed and dropped into a tomato and beef broth is a hearty and delicious traditional meal. 

Anali Kizli Köfte, literally translates as Mom & Girl Meatball. Once you see the size of the two different meatballs it makes perfect sense. One is the perfect size for a little girl to make and the other for a mom. I love this name! But it is also known as Ekşili Akıtmalı Ufak Köfte. However you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s delicious.

Rolling out the meatballs is such a fun activity. It’s great to make when you have a group of friends over your house. You can all cook together and then enjoy a delicious meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10 oz stew beef chunks
  • 0.25 lb lean ground beef
  • 0.75 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 3 medium size red onions (finely diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lbs simit bulgur (the smallest type of bulgur)
  • 0.5 c tomato paste
  • 0.5 c chickpeas (soaked & pre-boiled)
  • 2 TBSP walnuts (shelled and finely diced)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 3 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1 TBSP dried mint
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, bring to a boil the stew beef chunks, 2 liters of water, salt and pepper. Then add 2 TBSP of tomato paste, 1 diced onion, 2 TBSP red pepper flakes and the chickpeas. Simmer for 45 minutes.

In a separate frying pan, sauté the lean ground beef until browned. Add half of a diced onion, saffron, walnuts, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions are tender and then transfer to a small bowl.

In a large shallow bowl combine 0.75lb of ground beef, 1.5 onions, garlic, bulgur, 1 TBSP of the red pepper flakes, 1 TBSP tomato paste, salt and pepper.

Knead for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is soft and very well incorporated.

Begin forming the large and small köfte.

For the large köfte: take a golf ball size piece of the mixture. Roll into a ball and then place your index finger in the ball and with the palm of your hand, move in a circular motion to create a little cup shape. Fill with half a TBSP of the sautéed ground beef mixture and then pull the sides over to close the köfte and roll into a ball. Continue until all of the sautéed ground beef mixture is used.

For the small köfte: Take small pieces about the size of a dime or a marble. Roll it into a ball and continue until all of the meat is used.

Using a steamer (or a large pot, filled with water and a large colander that doesn’t touch the water, place the köfte in the steamer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To the simmering tomato and beef broth add the juice of 2 lemons, the small köfte and stir.

In a small frying pan melt 2 TBSP of butter. Once it is sizzling, add the dried mint and pour it into the soup. Stir gently.

To serve the soup, fill the soup bowls with the broth and then add one of the large köfte into each soup bowl.

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

Ökge (Ötçe) (Turkish Vegetable Fritters)

Crispy, flavorful and light, these vegetable fritters are a delicious snack or accompaniment to any meal!

While preparing this dish in class, I’ll admit that I had no idea what we were making. The vegetables were being chopped and in a separate bowl the eggs were being whisked. But I didn’t connect the dots until spoonfuls of the delicious mixture were carefully dropped into a frying pan of oil.

The first thing that came to my mind were the vegetable pakoras that I learned how to make many years ago when I was taking Indian cooking classes. However, pakoras are normally made with chickpea flour, while the Ökge or Ötçe (I’ve seen it spelled a couple of different ways) were made with all-purpose flour.

One thing is for sure, and that is that these are delicious. They’re the kind of food that you want to eat right out of the fryer until you realize they’re piping hot and you end up inward breathing to try to cool your mouth and chew at the same time, lol!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 bunches of parsley
  • 6 scallions
  • 2 small sweet red peppers (e.g. bell peppers)
  • 2 small sweet green peppers (e.g. bell peppers)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  •  1 1/2 – 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • About 3-4 cups of Oil for frying  (e.g. canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil)

Preparation:

Finely chop the parsley, scallions, tomatoes, red peppers and green peppers. Place in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the olive oil.

Pour the egg mixture over the chopped veggies and combine with clean hands or a wooden spoon. Gradually add the flour until it the consistency is still moist but holding together on the spoon.

Heat your oil in a frying pan and add spoonfuls into the oil. Then mash them down and flip to brown on both sides. Once they are browned, remove them from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels or a cooling rack.

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

Kabak Oturtma (Stuffed Zucchini)

Fresh and succulent zucchini stuffed with flavorful ground beef and spices.

If you love stuffed peppers, then you’ll love Kabak Oturtma, or Stuffed Zucchini. The inside of the zucchini is carefully removed, then it is lightly fried and stuffed with a flavorful ground beef that has been thoroughly seasoned with spices, onions, garlic, peppers and tomato paste.

Each zucchini is stuffed and topped with a small piece of tomato like a little red hat on top. It looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 oz ground beef
  • 20 medium zucchini
  • 3 small onions
  • 1 red pepper (sweet/ bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet/bell)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 0.5 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP  red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F.

Clean and rinse all of the vegetables.

Cut each zucchini into thirds. Then using a spoon or a coring utensil, remove the inside flesh from the zucchini.

In a small frying pan, fry the zucchini in batches until lightly browned. Set aside.

Finely dice the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Mince the garlic and cut the tomatoes into eighths.

In a frying pan,sauté the ground beef until browned. Add the olive oil and then stir in the onions, red pepper, green pepper and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add the 1/4c of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Using a spoon, fill each zucchini with the ground beef mixture about three quarters from the top. Add a piece of tomato on top and stack them upright in a baking pan.

Then fill a small stock pot with 2 cups of water, 1 TBSP of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer until the tomato paste is melted into the water. Pour this liquid over the stuffed zucchini.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

Serve & 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

Fresh Pasta from Scratch

There’s nothing like homemade pasta! So light, delicious and simple it makes such a great meal!

From the moment I tried homemade pasta, I could hardly believe it was the same thing. It tasted so distinctly different. Quite frankly, it just tasted fresh.

The first time I made fresh pasta was for a Thanksgiving dinner with my friend from Italy. Together we rolled out long sheets of pasta dough using a wonderful pasta maker. It took some work but the end product was an amazing lasagna!

For this pasta recipe, it’s back to basics. No pasta maker. No food processor. Just two hands and a little determination.

Yum

P.S. To find out what I did with the pasta dough, check out my Homemade Ravioli video!

Homemade Pasta

2 c flour
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 TBSP olive oil

Preparation:

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl.

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Then pour the flour on the countertop and create a little “hill.”

Using a small bowl or your hands, create a little well.

Crack the eggs and add them one by one into the well.

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Pour in the olive oil on top of the eggs.

Carefully, begin to incorporate the dough.

Note: It will start like a shaggy dough but keep kneading until it forms a cohesive dough.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes.

Roll the dough into a ball and flatten it with the palm of your hand to create a disc shape.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough into your desired pasta.

Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

Simple Homemade Babaganoush (Roasted Eggplant with Garlic & Creamy Yogurt)

Roasted eggplant and garlic mixed with a thick creamy yogurt makes for a delicious and simple meal or appetizer. Simply delicious babaganoush.

Roasting eggplant is so simple. You literally pop it in the oven and let it roast and then the skin peels off so easily to make preparing any eggplant dish so simple. Paired with roasted garlic, it makes this dish so flavorful.

My recipe is a twist on the traditional Turkish babaganoush recipe. With a few extra spices and a little flavorful tahini, it’s delicious and packed with flavor.

Here’s a video of my home kitchen preparation of babaganoush. Check it out below.

Here’s the recipe:

Simple Homemade Babaganoush

  • 2 large eggplant
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 3 TBSP & 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 TBSP (heaping) suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 TBSP tahini
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven for 200C of 392F.

Rinse and dry the eggplant. Coat with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place on a baking sheet.

For the roasted garlic, cut off the top part of the head of garlic (just enough to reveal the cloves. Drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil and salt and wrap in a piece of foil. Place on the baking sheet with the eggplant.

Roast the eggplant and garlic in the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Allow the eggplant to cool and then peel off the skin. Then chop it into bite size pieces and set aside.

Open the garlic packet and squeeze out about 6 cloves (it will be very soft). Mince the garlic and add to the eggplant.

Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the eggplant.

Add salt, black pepper, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes and 1 TBSP of olive oil. Mash gently with a fork and then stir.

Then add the yogurt and stir.

Serve in a nice dish and garnish with parsley, red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!

Bon Appetit!

Shakshouka (Baked Eggs in a Tomato & Red Pepper Sauce)

Delicious savory baked eggs in a tomato and red pepper sauce.
One bite and I’m hooked. From the first time I tried shakshouka at a Moroccan cafe, I’ve never been the same. It was so delicious that I decided to try and create my own version of this North African and Middle Eastern classic.

Yum

It’s so simple to prepare. It start with a sauce comprised of tomatoes, red peppers, onion, garlic and spices. Then the eggs are placed on top with a generous tablespoon of parsley. In the oven it goes and when it’s done, the finished product is a beautiful and delicious meal.
This dish is perfect for a brunch at home for several friends or a big family. Also, it makes a great option for “Breakfast for Dinner.”
Here’s the recipe:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1 c crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 small white onion (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 TBSP parsley (1 TBSP reserved for a garnish)
Preparation:
Preheat the oven for 375F. Grease a small baking pan with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil.
Dice the onions and red peppers. Mince the garlic and set aside.
Sauté the onions and garlic in a frying pan with 1 TBSP olive oil.
Add the cumin, oregano, black pepper and red pepper flakes.
Add the red pepper and sauté until tender.
Sprinkle in some salt (to taste) and stir.
Add the tomato paste and stir. Then add the crushed tomatoes.
Pour the tomato and red pepper mixture into the baking pan.
Crack the eggs on top of the mixture in the pan. Drizzle 1 TBSP of parsley on top.
Then bake for 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with the remaining TBSP of parsley. Serve & Enjoy!
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Tavuklu Pilav (Tender Chicken Rice Pilaf)

Fluffy and flavorful rice with tender chickpeas and large pieces of flavorful chicken piled on top. It’s so good and such a simple dish.

It it all starts with a whole chicken and a big stock pot. This is a beautiful sight to see. It reminds me of watching my mom do this as a kid. The end product was always delicious. So I’m convinced, that if you start with a whole chicken in a big pot of water, you’re off to a good start. The chicken is boiled in the salted water until it is done and then its slathered with a saffron yogurt and roasted until tender. The chicken alone is worth trying but then when you have the fluffy rice and chickpeas, it’s divine!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 whole chicken (2 kilos)
  • 1.5 c frozen chickpeas
  • 4.5 c white rice
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (peeled)
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt — e.g. Greek yogurt)
  • 0.5 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot with 2 peeled red onions. Season with salt, cover with water and boil for 1 to 1.5 hours. Note: Skim the fat off the top occasionally during the cooking process.

Soak the rice in a large bowl for 10-15 minutes. Then drain, rinse and drain the rice again. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and saffron. Set aside.

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When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and place on a baking sheet. Drain the broth through a sieve and then put the broth back in a pot.

Rub the yogurt mixture over the chicken (front and back) then place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the rice.

In a large stock pot, add 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 TBSP of sunflower oil. Add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the chickpeas and then pour over the chicken broth (approximately 10-12 cups or enough to cover the rice). Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy.

Remove the chicken out of the oven and using two forks, shred the chicken off the bones into large pieces.

To serve, place the rice on a large serving dish. Place the large pieces of shredded chicken on top of the rice. 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

 

 

Börek with Antep Peynir & Parsley

A light, crispy, flaky pastry & packed with the perfect blend of Antep peynir and parsley!

     If you love a good savory croissant, then you’ll absolutely love this Börek with Antep Cheese & Parsley! It’s light and delicious and layered with flavor.

Made with Yufka, a thin flaky dough comparable to phyllo dough that comes pre-prepared, it’s a great item to whip up in a hurry in your home kitchen.

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Plus, the fresh flavors of Antep peynir and parsley make this a delicious and flavorful dish!

What is Antep Peynir?

Antep Peynir is a type of cheese produced in the city of Gaziantep in Turkey. It is a dense white cheese traditionally made from sheep or goat milk.

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Antep Peynir

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 package of Yufka (or phyllo dough) torn to pieces
  • 5 TBSP melted butter
  • 5 TBSP water
  • 2 c grated Antep Peynir (or a dense white cheese; mozzarella could work)
  • 1 c minced fresh parsley

Preparation:

Tear the Yufka into pieces, reserving two large pieces.

Mix together the cheese and parsley and set aside.

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In a circular pan, layer the Yufka on the bottom. Sprinkle with 2 TBSP melted butter and 2 TBSP of water.

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Layer the cheese and parsley mixture evenly on top.

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Cover with another layer of Yuka. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. (Repeat 1 more time)

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Then take the two larger piece of yukfka and place on top. Cut off any hanging edges from the pan.

Then shape the sides of the dough into the pan.

Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. And cut it in quarters.

Cook the Börek on an open flame until browned on the bottom.

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Remove from the flame. Carefully cover the Börek with a plate and flip. Arrange the Börek back into the circular dish and return to the open flame.

Cook until browned. Then cut and serve immediately!

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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

Quick Homemade Hummus

Smooth, thick and full of flavor! This homemade hummus is so simple and quick to prepare!

Who doesn’t love a delicious hummus? It’s just good! My favorite way to eat is warm and topped with toasted pine nuts! But the best part of making hummus is that it’s simple. If you have a food processor or really good blender, then they do all of the work for you.

Simply add the ingredients in and give it a spin!

Here’s a video that shows you how I make my recipe. You can also find the recipe below.

Simple Homemade Hummus

  • 28oz canned chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Add the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Stir and enjoy!

Soganli Lahmacun (Onion Turkish Pizza)

A twist on the traditional Turkish pizza, this Soganli Lahmacun, is packed with flavorful finely minced onions, meat and more!

I love Lahmacun. But I mean who wouldn’t? It has a very thin, perfectly crispy around the edges and it’s packed with delicious fresh flavor. While the traditional Lahmacun is amazing, I must say that this Soganli Lahmacun is also delicious in it’s own unique way. All of the ingredients are minced together so finely that when you taste the pizza, you actually taste all of the ingredients all together. And, my oh my, how yummy they taste together.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500 grams ground beef
  • 1 kilo of red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium red peppers (sweet or bell peppers)
  • 150 grams walnuts (shelled)
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 2/3 c tomato paste

Preparation:

Peel the onions, rinse and drain.

Peel the garlic cloves.

Wash, cut in half and remove the seeds of the peppers.

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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 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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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

DIY Buttermilk

Need buttermilk in a pinch to complete your recipe? This DIY recipe is a simple solution. With just two ingredients, you’ll have a fresh batch of homemade buttermilk.

As a kid, my mom always had buttermilk in the refrigerator. It was essential. She used it mostly in baking, pancakes and corn bread and so she never was without it (because she’s an amazing lady!)

But there have been numerous times, when I started a recipe and looked in my fridge only to realize I’m all out of buttermilk but I still wanted to finish the recipe.

This 2 ingredient recipe is the simple solution. I even got out my culinary science equipment to prepare it (baking & chemistry are best friends).

Here’s the recipe!

Or, just watch the video below. I hope it’ll solve your buttermilk wishes or just make you smile.

 

DIY Homemade Buttermilk

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar (substitute lemon juice if desired)

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a small container. Add the vinegar and stir.

Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.

Voila! You have your buttermilk ready to use immediately!

So simple 🙂

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Su Böreği (Cheesy Flakey Pastry)

Flaky and crispy on the outside. Melted cheesy and herb goodness on the inside. Imagine a really good croissant, but crispier, flakier and cheesy. 

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The first time I heard a description of Su Böreği, I expected it to be soggy and not so great. Literally, Su Böreği means “water börek.” Börek is a delicious pastry that comes in a myriad of varieties but it is always normally made with yufka, which is similar in texture and taste to phyllo dough. So, this sounded like a watery

pastry, in my mind. Although I’ve seen it at one of my favorite local bakeries, I’ll admit, I was still apprehensive about ever trying it. That is until, my cooking course.

In the course, we prepared a Su Böreği that shocked my eyes and tastebuds. I guess there’s more than one way to make Su Böreği because this one was light, flaky, crispy and filled with gooey cheese and parsley on the inside. When it’s warm, you pull a square and the melty cheese stretches and it’s absolutely delicious.

So, perhaps this is not the traditional way of making Su Böreği, I’m actually not sure at all. But one thing is for sure, this recipe is absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of normal yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 8 pieces of baklava yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 1 lb. Antep peynir (substitute: mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (minced)
  • 12 TBSP oil
  • 7 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP salt

Preparation:

Grate the Antep peynir (or mozerella cheese if using) and place in a bowl.

Mince the parsley and then add to the bowl with the cheese. Season with salt and stir.

Grease 2 large circular 15 inch pans with 1 TBSP of oil each. NOTE: One will be reserved for later when it’s time to flip the dish during the cooking process.

Layer 4 sheets of the baklava yufka in the bottom of the pan.

Drizzle with 1 TBSP of oil.

Take out the yufka and tear it into large pieces. Layer 1/3 of the torn yukfka in the pan and drizzle with 2 TBSP of water.

Layer another 1/3 of the torn yufka on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then pour the cheese and parsley mixture on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then add the remaining torn yufka on top, being sure to tuck it into the sides. Drizzle with 2 TBSP of water and 3 TBSP of oil.

Then take 3 more pieces of the baklava yufka and layer it on top. Sprinkle it with 1 TBSP of water and then add the final sheet of baklava yufka.

Press down and trim the edges with a sharp knife. Place the trimmed pieces underneath the top layer and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil and 1 TBSP of water.

Then press the edges down again to ensure that they’re tucked in.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dish into 1 inch X 1 inch pieces. (Note: wet the knife by dipping it into a shallow bowl of water in between each cut)

Sprinkle with 1 more TBSP of water and then place the dish on an open flame. Cook until it is crispy and brown.

Remove the dish from the heat, cover it with the other greased pan and carefully flip it so that the cooked side is facing up.

Place back on the open flame and cook the other side until brown.

Serve and enjoy immediately! It’s so good when it’s warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

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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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

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!