Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

A flaky, thin, buttery crust filled with apples, cinnamon sugar and raisins! An Austrian delightful recipe!

I don’t know what there is not to love about apple strudel. It is so delicious and although the dough is an essential formula to this recipe, the dough does not steal the show away from the natural delciousness of the apples.

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Here’s the recipe:

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) 

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or any neutral oil) + 1 tsp for oiling the bowl
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 2-2.5 c sliced apples (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 1/3 c raisins
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon’

For topping the strudel:

  • 2 TBSP melted butter

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: Mix together the egg, oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Then add the flour and the salt and stir well until the mixture forms a cohesive dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth. Grease a bowl with butter or oil and then place the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and allow the dough to rise for 1-2 hours.

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To roll out the dough: Cover a large countertop or table with a clean tablecloth. Dust with flour and roll out the dough into a very thin rectangular piece. The dough should be thin enough for you to see your hand through it and it will be very, very delicate.

To make the filling: Mix together the apples, raisins, cinnamon and sugar.

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To assemble the strudel: Pile the filling in a line along one of the shorter sides of the dough leaving about 2-3 inches of space from the edge of the dough.

Lift up the edge of the dough to partially cover the filling and then using the tablecloth, lift it up so that the strudel naturally rolls up.

Once rolled, tuck the ends under each side and brush liberally with the melted butter.

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Carefully lift the strudel on to a baking sheet lined with parchment and lightly greased.

Bake the strudel in a pre-heated oven on 375F until the strudel is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush with a little extra butter (if you choose; I did).

Serve and Enjoy warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Absolutely divine!

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Guten Appetit!

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Ezme Salad: a Traditional MEZE Salad (Antep Salad)

A light, fresh and flavorful salad that perfectly compliments kebabs or any grilled meat.

      No kebab is complete without a salad. In fact, I would say that if you go to eat kebab at a restaurant and they do not serve a salad with it, then there is seriously something missing and you should consider eating kebab at another place. Yes, the salad really is that important. Truth be told, the variations of salads may vary based on tradition and taste, but this Ezme Salad is a simple salad packed with the flavorful essentials to compliment your meal.

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      I often make this salad and eat it as a meal because I like it so much. It the perfect blend of crunchy and soft and sweet and sour. All of the ingredients are pretty simple, except the pomegranate molasses may take some digging to find (depending on what part of the world you live in). In this case, feel free to sub it with a fruity tasting vinaigrette.

Here’s the recipe:

Ezme (Antep Salad)

  • 1 tomato (chopped; about 3/4 c)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP chopped mint
  • 1/4 c chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped cucumber
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.

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Season with salt, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.

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Pour over the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses.

Stir well until combined.

Serve and Enjoy immediately or pop it in the fridge and enjoy later!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

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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Mushroom Lo Mein (Asian Stir-Fry Noodles w/ Soy Sauce & Veggies)

Tender eggs noodles, with sautéed mushrooms, veggies and coated with a homemade soy based sauce.

       One of my favorite take out cuisines has always been Chinese food. But sometimes when you’re craving take out but there is no take out in sight, it is time to get creative in the kitchen and whip up your own creation.

      This recipe is my version on a classic dish. The perfect balance of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar, the flavor of these noodles is undeniably delicious.

While I created a vegetarian mushroom Lo Mein, this recipe can most certainly be customized to suit your dietary needs and wishes by swapping a vegetable protein, like tofu, or poultry, meat or seafood. Regardless what you use, it is going to be delicious!

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Here’s the recipe:

Mushroom LoMein

  • 1 T sunflower oil
  • 1 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 c carrots (juliened)
  • 1/3 c white onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 c cooked egg noodles

For the sauce:

  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil

Preparation:

In a wok or a large frying pan, add the oil, mushrooms, carrots and white onion and sauté until the vegetables are tender.

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To make the sauce: stir together the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil and set aside.

Then add the pre-cooked egg noodles and pour over the sauce and toss thoroughly to ensure that the sauce covers all of the vegetables and noodles.

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Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the scallions.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

Ayran: a Healthy Yogurt Beverage

A refreshing yogurt beverage that is delicious and healthy! It is the perfect thing to keep you hydrated for any hot day!

      If you are not so acquainted with drinking unsweetened yogurt based drinks then Ayran will be be considered an “acquired taste”. I will admit that the first time I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. The very idea of drinking an unsweetened yogurt beverage somehow did not sound appetizing to me. But after many opportunities to try Ayran, eventually the drink that I didn’t like, soon became a staple and favorite.

      Supposedly, it is the perfect drink to staying hydrated during the summer because of the salt content providing much needed electrolytes lost on hot days.

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The delightful Ayran fountains that are commonly found during the summer months in Turkey are a welcome sight for me to see. The Ayran is fresh and bubbly, just the way I like it.

Here’s the recipe:

Ayran

  • 1/3 c thick yogurt
  • 6 oz carbonated (soda) water (for foamy ayran– sub: flat water)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 sprig fresh mint (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Place the yogurt, carbonated water and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, whisk until it is smooth and foamy.

Pour into a glass, topping it with the foam.

Garnish with fresh mint (if using).

Serve & enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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Bratkartoffeln (German-Style Home Fries)

      Literally translating as fried potatoes, these German fried potatoes are far from ordinary. Crispy potatoes and onions and topped fresh herbs and spices, they are delicious any time and any day.

     Their name says it all “Bratkartoffeln.” “Brat” is German for frying and “kartoffeln” means potatoes. This dish is literally translated means fried potatoes but the potatoes are not simply fried. They are enhanced with onions and herbs to make this a delicious side dish or main meal.

     Traditionally, Bratkartoffeln also includes bacon or speck. Although my recipe is the vegetarian version of this classic dish, they are still just as delicious.

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Here’s the recipe:

Bratkartoffeln

  • 1 potato (pre-boiled)
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 1 scallion (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP white onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 T fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Boil the potato until it is tender. Drain, pat dry and then cut into squares.

Heat a frying pan with oil and then add the potatoes and let them brown for 2-3 minutes.

Then add the white onion and scallion and continue to cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Season with the oregano and salt and cook for another couple of minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned and crispy.

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Then plate up the potatoes on a dish, sprinkle with the remaining scallion and the chopped parsley.

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Pavlova with Fresh Cherries

A crispy sweet layer of meringue, topped with light whipped cream and then covered with fresh sweet cherries.

      Named after the Russian ballet star, Pavlova is a heavenly delicious dessert. But honestly, how can you possibly go wrong when you match meringue, whipped cream and fresh cherries into layers of beautiful delicious bliss.

Enough said…

Here’s the recipe:

Pavlova with Fresh Cherries

  • 1 c fresh black cherries (pitted)
  • 1/4 c fresh whipping cream
  • 2 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 pre-prepared meringue circle (2 egg whites, 1/4 c white sugar, 1 tsp white vinegar)

Preparation:

For the meringue: Whip together 2 egg whites with 1 tsp of vinegar until it forms soft peaks. Then add in 1/4 cup of white sugar slowly while continuing to whisk the meringue until it forms stiff peaks.

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On a parchment lined baking sheet, spoon the meringue to form a circle about 6 inches in diameter and flatten in an even layer. Bake on 100C until the meringue is firm and then turn off the oven and let the meringue set in the oven overnight.

For the pavlova: Clean and remove the pits from the cherries.

Place the cherries in a bowl and add 1 tsp of sugar and stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, whip the cream, adding in the powdered sugar slowly, until it forms stiff peaks.

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Spoon the whipped cream on top of the prepared meringue.

Then spoon the cherries on top.

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So delicious with the cherries and the juice and whipped cream piled high on the meringue!

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Serve and Enjoy!

Heavenly…

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

Light and flaky homemade dough, packed full of melted cheese. Gözleme is the ultimate version of a grilled cheese sandwich but better!

If you’ve seen Gözleme prepared once, chances are that you won’t forget it. It is such a beautiful traditional preparation with a large circular board that sit upright like a small table, a long rolling pin and a large dome cooking surface.

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I love watching Gözleme being prepared because it is prepared with such excellence and speed, not to mention, it tastes great! Many consider it even to be the “fast food” of Turkey because it is so common to find Gözleme throughout the country.

But the great thing is that it can certainly be prepared at home, even without all of the extra equipment. If you have a counter space, a rolling pin and a frying pan, then you an also make Gözleme at home.

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Here’s the recipe:

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

For the dough:

  • 1 c flour (+ more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3-1/2 c warm water
  • 1 T olive oil

For the filling/cooking:

  • 1.5 c shredded mozzarella cheese (or any cheese that melts well)
  • 2 T olive oil

Garnish (optional):

  • 1/4 tomato (sliced)
  • 5-6 cucumber slices
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley

Preparation:

To make the dough: Combine all of the ingredients (except reserve 1/2 of the olive oil) together in a bowl and stir well until it forms a dough, adding more flour if it is too sticky or more water if it is too dry. Then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 5-6 minutes. Then shape the dough into a ball and use the remaining olive oil to grease a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes.

To make the Gözleme: Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and place it on a floured surface. Dust the dough and your rolling pin with a little more flour and proceed to roll the dough into a very thin circular piece. Note: It should be thinner than a thin crust pizza dough where you can see your hand through the dough but not to thin for the dough to tear.

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Then place some of the shredded mozzarella cheese in the middle of the piece of the dough and fold the sides of the dough on top to create a square shaped package.

Then brush a little olive oil on a crepe pan or frying pan and place the Gözleme on the pan. Brush the top with a little more olive oil and allow the Gözleme to cook over medium heat until it starts to puff up and lightly brown. Flip and repeat.

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The dough really starts to puff up as it cooks!
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Nice and golden brown!

Remove the Gözleme from the pan, cut into triangles and serve with the granishes.

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It is Best Enjoyed When it is Warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue) + Culinary Torch from my Husband

Layers of ice cream, sponge cake and topped with lightly browned meringue! 

      Baked Alaska is like an ice cream cake, only better. With a layer of cake, two layers of ice cream and covered with a luscious and light meringue that is torched to golden perfection.

What can be more fun than having a culinary torch and using it to make delicious desserts?

For our wedding anniversary, one of the gifts that my amazing husband got me is a culinary torch. This special culinary gadget is what makes the Baked Alaska get perfectly browned and honestly, it is my favorite part of making this dessert. The culinary torch is also especially useful for making creme bruleé. It is responsible for creating that crispy caramelized sugar layer that makes it so special.

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What I love about Baked Alaska is that it really looks so beautiful and it tastes so good. With a little prep ahead of time, it is also great to make ahead of time and then just add and torch the meringue when you’re ready to serve it.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue)

For the Cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 c sugar

For the ice cream:

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream (softened)
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream (softened)

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/2 c white sugar

Preparation: 

Pre-heat the oven for 180C/350F. Grease a springform pan and set aside.

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For the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until well incorporated. Then add the almond extract and continue to whisk just until is mixed in. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Then add half of the flour mixture at a time into the egg and sugar mixture, stirring well in between each addition.

Pour the cake into a springform pan and pat it against the counter to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Note: I use a toothpick to test to make sure the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out clean, it is done. If not, it needs to bake a little longer.

Allow cake to cool overnight (if possible) and then using the base of the bowl that the ice cream will be filled in, cut out a circle piece of the cake. Note: it is kind of like tracing, think of the bowl as the tracing paper for your cake.

To prepare the layers:

Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 30-40 minutes ahead of time (depending on the weather where you live it might melt faster or slower).

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Then line the bowl with plastic wrap ensuring that the plastic wrap is firmly pressed against the bottom and sides of the bowl and that there is sufficient plastic wrap hanging over the sides. Note: don’t omit this step. It is a lifesaver when you actually go to remove the ice cream cake from the bowl.

Then spoon the softened ice cream into the bowl allowing each flavor to create its own layer.

Then take the circle piece of cake and firmly press it on top of the ice cream. Cover the cake with the plastic wrap overhanging on the sides of the bowl. Then place it in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours or for several days (depending on when you want to serve the cake.

To make the meringue:

Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly to ensure that the sugar does not stick. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the egg whites and white vinegar in a very clean bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Then while the beaters are still running, slowly pour in the sugar syrup mixture and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Take the cake out of the freezer and peel back the plastic wrap. Using a serving platter or plate, turn the bowl over and then gently lift the bowl. Then remove the remaining plastic wrap.

Using a butter knife (or a pastry bag if you prefer) spread the meringue on top of the cake until it is fully covered.

Then using a culinary torch, torch the meringue until it is evenly golden brown.

Serve and Enjoy immediately!

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Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

Homemade German Pretzels (“Bretzels”)

Soft and tender, freshly baked pretzels. It is like taking a trip to Germany without stepping foot outside of your kitchen.

Pretzels are one of  the first snack foods that I remember eating as a kid outside of my favorites (cucumber & bell peppers — don’t judge me, I’ve always loved my veggies, lol!). My parents would buy these massive five pound bags of pretzels and I used to love to grab a handful of them.

Well, not much has changed from my childhood days. I still love pretzels. Every time my husband and I go to Germany, I always have to get at least one during our trip. Hey, we even had pretzels served during our “Kaffee und Kuchen” (German for “Coffee and Cake”) on our wedding day. After our wedding we were still eating all of the leftover pretzels and you know what, they were still so good (thanks to our lovely local German bakery).

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Plus, if you have not seen the episode of Mister Roger’s neighborhood when he goes to the pretzel factory, do yourself a favor and watch it. It inspires me and makes me smile today just as it did when I was a kid. Mister Rogers was a brilliant person, that I am still learning from to this very day. He had such a sincere compassion and love for people and also for pretzels too!

 

Well, as you can see, I am a pretzel fan to say the least. But without further adieu, aahhhemm, the recipe…

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade German Pretzels “Bretzels”

  • 1.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 1.5 T oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T baking soda
  • corse sea salt (to taste, sprinkled onto of the pretzels just before baking.

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, honey, 1 T of oil and warm water. Stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.

Then add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and stops sticking to the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes.

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Then lightly oil a bowl with the remaining half a tablespoon of oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and place the dough in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, it is time to shape the pretzels.

 

Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball.

Then roll it out into a long thin rope.

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Make a U-shape with the rope and then fold one end over the other to create an “x.”

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Then flip this “x” shape over to the other side of the dough and set aside.

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Continue until all of the pretzels are shaped.

Then boil a large pot of water and add the baking soda.

Place each pretzel in the water for 20-30 seconds, turing them halfway in between.

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Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle the course sea salt on top of each pretzel and bake them on 200C/392F for about 15 minutes (or until they are golden brown).

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Serve & Enjoy Warm.

Guten Appetit!

 

 

Italian Homemade Lasagna with Ground Beef

Layers of delicate noodles, tender ground beef, rich ricotta cheese and savory marinara sauce make this lasagna a flavorful dish for any night of the week.

I grew up eating a lot of Italian food and I’ve found that it has shaped and impacted my cooking in such a positive way. Lasagna was definitely a meal that we prepared at our home and I remember always wanting to eat it right out of the oven, but we always let it set for 15-20 minutes in order to ensure that the lasagna doesn’t fall apart as you cut it.

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This recipe is my variation of Mom’s classic recipe. I make it with homemade ricotta cheese and it really adds such a nice flavor to the dish.

Here’s the recipe:

Lasagna

  • 1 box lasagna noodles
  • 48 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 c shredded mozzerella cheese
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T dried oregano
  • 2 T dried basil
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the marinara sauce: sauté the onions with olive oil until tender. Then add the crushed tomatoes and stir well. Season with half of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes on low heat.

To make the ground beef: place the ground beef  in a large pan and sauté until it is browned. Then add the garlic and the rest of the dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

To make the lasagna: Place about 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan. Then layer the noodles.

Then add more marinara sauce, ground beef and top with another layer of noodles.

Add some more marinara sauce on top of the noodles and then add the ricotta cheese.

Layer with another layer of noodles and add some marinara sauce the remaining ground beef.

Add another layer of noodles and cover with the marinara sauce and mozzerella cheese.

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Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top is melted.

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Note: This can be prepared ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator to bake later.

 

 

 

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

A simple and refreshing salad with lemon juice and olive oil.

Coban” literally means “shepherd” in Turkish. This flavorful salad packed with crisp veggies and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It is absolutely so simple to make and it is the perfect appetizer or even main course. I think you’re going to love this recipe.

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Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 cucumbers (chopped)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 c fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell) (chopped)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce (Königsberger Klopse or Kochklopse)

     Tender & flavorful German meatballs, boiled in a seasoned broth and doused in a delicious dijon mustard and caper white sauce. Paired with boiled potatoes, this is one of my favorite German comfort food dishes. 

I love that there are so many practical and yet delicious recipes in German cooking. The more I learn about this beautiful cuisine, the more I am delighted to cook it.

This recipe just so happens to be a favorite of my hubby. He doesn’t always make requests for certain meals, but this one, I noticed he liked it a lot. That makes me even happier to make it for him. And you know what, I like it too. I hope you do as well.

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Here’s the recipe:

German Meatballs in a White Caper Dijon Sauce or Kochklopse or “Königsberger Klopse

For the stock:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • salt (to taste)

For the meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3-4 T dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3-1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the gravy:

  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • cooking stock (that the meatballs cooked in)
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 15-20 capers 
  • salt & pepper  (to taste, if needed)

Preparation:

Start by preparing the stock: Fill a large stock pot with water. Then add the bay leaves, capers, onion and salt. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, prepare your meatballs. 

To prepare the meatballs: Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the onion, dijon mustard, eggs, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Then mix together the mixture using your hands until it is well combined.

Then shape the meat into large balls and gently drop into the boiling stock.

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Allow the meatballs to cook for about 40-45 minutes, monitoring the water levels occasionally to ensure that there is sufficient liquid (if not, then add some more water).

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Pre-cooked…
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The meatballs are done boiling & it smells so good!

Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.

Then place a colander in a bowl and drain the stock. Set the stock aside for the gravy.

To make the gravy: Start by making a roux. Melt the butter in your stock pot and then add the flour and whisk constantly until it comes together. Then add the stock liquid while whisking constantly until smooth.

Bring to a boil and add the dijon mustard, capers, salt and pepper and whisk for anotherr minute or two.

Then add the meatballs back into the gravy.

Serve with boiled potatoes and enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

Tender eggs poached to perfection in a bed of creamy garlic yogurt and with a drizzle of olive oil and red pepper flakes.

This dish is such a prime example of the beauty of Turkish cooking. It is true that there are some Turkish dishes that are complex and laborious to prepare but this one is quite the contrary. Perhaps some might argue that poaching the eggs is the hardest part but even this step is not as difficult as you think.

Paired with a Turkish chai, this dish is so satisfying and delicious for breakfast or for any time of day.

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Here’s the recipe*

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

  • 1 fresh large egg
  • 1/8 c thick yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed into a paste)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • salt (to taste)
  • chopped parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Boil a pot of water and then reduce to a barely a simmer. Add the vinegar and stir.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic (crushed into a paste by sprinkling salt on top of chopped garlic and using the flat part of a knife to rub against the garlic until it forms a paste) and the yogurt. Season with salt & stir. Place the yogurt on a plate.

To poach the egg: crack the egg in a measuring cup with a handle. Lower the measuring cup into the water and gently drop in the egg. Allow it to cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs.

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This is how the egg looks when it is first dropped into the water.
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After a few minutes of cooking it will start to rise to the surface.

Gently pat the poached egg dry and then place on top of the garlic yogurt. Drizzle over the olive oil and red pepper flakes. Garnish with parsley.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

*Note: this recipe is for one. For more servings, multiply it accordingly.

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

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

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

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

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

Remove from the heat and set aside.

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

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

 

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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

 

Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade)

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls

For the dough:

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

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water

Toppings:

  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • rolled oats

Preparation:

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

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

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

Then pour the dough onto a clean, floured workspace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

So Crispy & Tasty Potato Latkes

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

Preparation:

Shred the potatoes and the onions.

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

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

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

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Heat the oil in a large frying pan. 

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

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

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

Season with a little salt. 

Serve and Enjoy Warm (if possible*)

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

Topping Suggestions:

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

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

Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte)

      Delicious mini meatballs made of ground beef and bulgur nestled in cacikli a thick yogurt sauce with parsley, garlic and spices. 

Here’s the recipe:

Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte)

  • 4 c thick yogurt
  • 2 bunches of parsley (finely diced)
  • 10 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 3 c finely ground bulgur (simit bulgur)
  • 2 onions (finely diced)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

    Preparation:

    In a large, shallow bowl knead together the beef, bukgur, onions, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.

    Then roll the meat into balls (about twice as big as a chickpea).
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    Place the mini meatballs in a steamer (or a collander that rests in a pot with a little water underneath and cover with a lid). Steam for about 10 minutes.
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    In a frying pan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Heat until hot and then add the meatballs. Sauté until lightly browned.
    To make the cacikli:
    Meanwhile, place the yogurt in a bowl and whisk it until smooth.
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    Chop the parsley and mince the garlic and add them to the yogurt.
    Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
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    To serve:
    Plate the cacikli on a platter. Then top with the meatballs.
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    Enjoy

Red Lentil Meatless Meatballs (Malhitali Köfte)

A tender, delicious, savory, meat-less version of a meatball backed with bulgur, lentils and veggies.

     Yet again, this is another great köfte (Turkish for “meatball”) recipe. Instead of meat, it’s packed full of bulgur, red lentils, vegetables and spices. They are a flavorful addition to your menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Here’s the recipe:

(Lentil Meatless Meatballs) Malhitali Köfte

  • 14 oz red lentils
  • 12 oz fine bulgur
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 5 scallions (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 1/4 c olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lentils in a large stock pot with water and salt. Simmer the lentils for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender. 

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Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the bulgur is done (adding a little more water if needed, but the mixture will be very thick).

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In a small frying pan add the butter and olive oil. Once they are hot, add the onions and fry until they are tender. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. 

Transfer the lentils and bulgur mixture to a large shallow bowl. Then add the onions and stir well.

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Transfer to a clean work space and knead the mixture until it’s well combined.

Then add the scallions and parsley and continue kneading for 2-3 minutes.

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Then take gold ball size pieces in your hand and roll into an oval shape. Then using your fingers, shape it to resemble a piece of dough with an imprint of your fingers on one side. NOTE: This is a special technique that takes some practice. Alternatively, you can just roll it into the oval shape.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

Peynirli Künefe

A sweet delicious dessert packed with sweet cheese, pistachios and a crunchy base and top layer! A Mediterranean classic dessert.

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Okay so I’ll admit that way before I started learning about Mediterranean cooking, the idea of cheese in a dessert (besides marscapone) didn’t sound so appetizing to me. It wasn’t until a friend took us out for a couple of rounds of künefe, that I finally wised up to discover just how delicious this combination is.

The cheese that used, is not salty and savory like what you use in pizza or pasta. It’s thick like ricotta in some variations while in others it has the flavor of ricotta with the texture of mozzerella.

Filled generously with pistachios and covered with a sugar syrup it’s actually not too sweet. It’s hits the palate as a perfectly balanced dessert.

At my favorite künefe place, they serve it with clotted cream, fresh fruit and shot glasses of milk. It’s a beautiful thing and worth experiencing at least once in your life. But once you try it, once will never be enough.

Although making künefe is an art, it is possible to make it at home. The biggest challenge may be acquiring the ingredients but once you’ve jumped over that hurdle then the rest will seem like a breeze.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 c kadayıf (made from shredded yufka or phyllo dough. NOTE: buy pre-prepared)
  • 2 c sugar water (equal parts sugar and water, simmered on low heat to form a thick syrup)
  • 2 c unsalted pistachios (shelled & chopped)
  • 3 c Urfa peynir (substitute a moist, crumbly ricotta cheese)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 4 TBSP butter (for greasing the pans)

Preparation:

Grease two 12 inch round shallow pans with 2 TBSP of butter each.

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Fill one of the pans with 3 cups of the kadayif. Press down gently.

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Sprinkle the chopped pistachios evenly over the kadayif.

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Then evenly crumble the cheese on top of the pistachios.

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Cover with the remaining 3 cups of kadayif and press down gently.

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Then drizzle the oil on top.

Cook the künefe over an open flame until it is light brown on the bottom. Remove the künefe from the heat. Using the other pan, cover the künefe and flip into the other pan so that the browned side is facing up.

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Cook until the other side is light brown. Pour over the sugar water and let simmer for a few seconds. Then remove the pan from the heat.

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Serve & enjoy warm with some clotted cream.

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Afiyet Olsun!

Gavurdağı Salad (A Traditional Turkish Salad)

A fresh & delicious Turkish salad with the perfect balance of savory and sweet with an olive oil and pomegranate molasses dressing.

      This salad was love at first bite. One of the beautiful things about Turkish food is the vibrant and fresh ingredients that are used in every facet of traditional cooking.

This salad is so fresh, flavorful and delicious. Frequently it is served as an appetizer or to compliment a main dish but I eat it as a main dish because I love it so much.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and discover for yourself why it is a favorite of mine.

Here’s the recipe:

Gavurdağı Salad

  • 1 large tomato (diced)
  • 1 large cucumber (diced)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 10 walnuts (finely chopped)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T pomegranate molasses*
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Combine all of the vegetables together in a bowl.

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Drizzle over the olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Season with salt and pepper and add half of the chopped walnuts.

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Toss the salad thoroughly.

Garnish with the remaining chopped walnuts.

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Serve & Enjoy!

*Searching for Pomegranate Molasses??? If you can’t find it at your local market, then you can either make your own (just combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a 2 to 1 ratio) or substitute a fruity vinaigrette. But pomegranate molasses is so, so good! One taste and your salads will never be the same without it. Trust me 😉

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!

 

 

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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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!

Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

Tender saffron yogurt coated ribs are tenderized and roasted to perfection to top a plate full of rice pilaf. 

     For this recipe, the ribs do most of their cooking in a pressure cooker. Then they are coated with a mixture of yogurt and saffron and roasted until perfection.

Meanwhile, the rice pilaf is prepared and complimented by a few chickpeas to enhance the flavor and texture.

Once the ribs are done, they top the pilaf and create a satisfying and hearty meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

  • 3 lbs beef ribs
  • 3 c rice
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 T thick yogurt
  • 3/4 c chickpeas
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the ribs in a pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook for 60-90 minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the yogurt and the saffron.
Remove the ribs from the pressure cooker. Drain the liquid and reserve.
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Coat the ribs with the saffron yogurt and place in a 375 F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Place 6-7 cups of the reserved broth in a large stock pot.
Add the rice, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Stir & cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
To serve, plate the pilaf and top with the ribs.
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Afiyet Olsun!

Beef & Onion Stew (Salçali Soğan Aşı)

Tender chunks of stew beef are sautéed to perfection and then braised with pearl onions and quince until tender and succulent.

Growing up, beef stew was a staple in my house, especially during the winter time. It was a hearty stew, paired with rice and perfect for warming up on a cold day.

This beef and onion stew is a blend of savory and sweet with tender pieces of beef and quince that make this hearty meal. It’s packed with flavor! Although it is very different from the beef stew I grew up eating, I appreciate and welcome this new flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 ounces stew beef chunks
  • 20-25 small red onions or pearl onions (or a small variety of onions) (peeled)
  • 2 quince (cored & chopped)
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sauté the stew beef until it is browned. Add the butter and olive oil and stir.

Then add the onions and toss the pot gently in order to make sure the onions are well coated.

Then add the quince, red pepper paste, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and enough water to cover the stew (approximately 2 liters)

Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beef and quince are tender.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

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

Preparation:

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

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To make the chicken tikka masala:

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

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

Add the spices and stir thoroughly.

Add the chicken and sauté  until cooked through.

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

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

Then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Serve over a bed of rice or with bread.

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Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Chicken Turkish Pizza (Tavuklu Lahmacun)

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

Add the chicken and stir until well incorporated.

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

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

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

Using the bread dough recipe below, prepare your lahmacun.

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes,

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into golf ball size pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece until VERY thin. NOTE: Lahmacun is a very thin crust Turkish pizza. It needs to be very thin but still able to hold onto the topping.

Next, take 2-3 TBSP of the mixture and spread it onto the the dough. It should form a nice and thin layer where you barely see the dough.

Transfer the lahmacun to a really hot baking sheet or pizza stone and bake on 250C/500F  (or as hot as your oven can get) for 3-5 minutes. NOTE: Watch it closely because it will bake fast and it would be a shame for your hard work to go up in flames. I mean literally, it can burn.

Then remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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

Homemade Tomato Soup

This tomato soup recipe is a simple and delicious classic recipe. It’s versatile, simple and oh so good.

There’s nothing quite like a good bowl of tomato soup. It’s something so simple and so basic yet so comforting and delicious. To make the soup, it starts with really good tomatoes. I use a jar of crushed tomatoes that a friend of mine jarred during the summertime, but I’ve also made this recipe many times with crushed tomatoes. Of course, you can also use fresh tomatoes, I would recommend peeling them first and chopping them up or placing them in a food processor.

Whatever tomatoes you use, it’s going to be delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Tomato Soup

  • 4 c crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 c tomato sauce
  • 1-2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 4 c chicken broth*
  • 1 large carrot (finely chopped)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped) 
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c heavy cream 
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 TBSP dried basil
  • 1 TBSP dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

* Or 2 chicken bouillion cubes with 4 cups of water)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sautee the onions, garlic and carrots in a little olive oil until the vegetables are tender.

Then add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir until well incorporated. 

Then pour in the chicken broth. Stir and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure it does not stick. 

Add the cumin powder and crushed tomatoes and stir. Cover and simmer for 30 more minutes. 

Then remove from the heat and stir in the cream (if using).

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Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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!

 

 

 

 

Fried Eggs & Olives (Zeytin Mihlasi)

Zeytin Mihlasi is a delicious Turkish dish that predominately consists of olives and eggs. The ratio of olives to eggs is at least 2 to 1 so if you love olives, then you’ll love this dish. It’s like an olive omelette amplified.

Here’s the recipe:

Fried Eggs & Olives (Zeytin Mihlasi)

  • 2.5 c green olives (pitted & roughly chopped)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a medium frying pan, add the butter, olive oil and onions. Sautee the onions until they are tender.

Then add the olives, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until the paste is well incorporated with the olives.

Then crack 5 eggs directly on top of the olive mixture in different corners of the pan like a clock. Cover with a lid and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are done. NOTE: “Done” depends on whether you like your eggs runny or fully cooked so cook them according to your personal preference.

Serve immediately & 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.

Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)

Savory and sweet — in the best possible way, this rice pilaf is packed with crunchy pine nuts and almonds and filled with tender pieces of dried currants.
Iç Pilav, is literally translated as “Inner Rice.” It is the perfect combination of blending sweet and savory flavors into one dish. The cinnamon and the all spice add the perfect blend of spices to this dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)
  • 3 c rice (soaked in water, drained & rinsed)
  • 1/2 c blanched almonds
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 2 TBSP dried currants (rehydrated in water)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large stock pot, add the butter and oil.
Pour in the almonds and pine nuts and toast them for 1 minute. Then add the rice and toast for another 2-3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and then add the currants.
Add 6 cups of hot water and stir. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the cinnamon and all spice. Stir until well incorporated. Put the lid back on the rice and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
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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

A Traditional Turkish Coffeehouse: Tahmis Kahvesi

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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