Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

An irresistible German treat, Quarkspitzen are like German doughnut holes. Golden brown and crispy on the outside but delicate and tender on the inside. 

A visit to the German Christmas markets or to the annual Kat (a large local carnival with rides, games and food) would not be complete without buying a few Quarkspitzen. Before I even knew what they were, I was interested just from the very smell of them cooking. Made from quark, a type of dairy that is the consistency of a thick yogurt or sour cream.

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Although Christmastime is more than six months away, there’s nothing like recalling this and the myriad of marvelous Christmas treats from the German Christmas markets.

Here’s the recipe:

Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

  • 3 T melted butter
  • 300g quark
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1.5 – 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • oil (for frying)
  • powdered sugar (for dusting the quarkspitzen after frying)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar.

Then add the eggs and continue to whisk.

Mix together the corn starch, baking powder and flour.

Gradually add in the flour mixture and the quark, half at a time, rotating between the two of them.

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Then add the lemon juice and stire just until it is combined.

Set the batter aside for 10-15 minutes and fill a large stock pot with oil.

To fry the quarkspitzen, dip a spoon in the oil and then into the quarkspitzen batter and place into the fryer to create a roughly oval shape. Fry until golden brown on each side and then place on a paper towel lined plate.

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Continue until all of the dough has been used.

Dust the quarkspitzen with powdered sugar, or if you prefer, granulated sugar.

Serve & Enjoy warm.

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YUM!

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Guten Appetit!

Fröhe Weihnachten!

Homemade Apple Sauce (Simple & Delicious)

Just apples, a hint of sugar and a few of my favorite spices and you’re on your way to making homemade apple sauce.

I love applesauce. It was one of those things as I kid that I used to love to have as a snack. It just tasted so good; and honestly, I still love it. For years I never knew that it was so simple to make. I just relied on the store-bought kind until I moved to countries that don’t sell apple sauce. Lol! That’s when I go to my kitchen laboratory and get to work creating.

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The recipe is so simple. I mean, really simple. If you can cook apples and then pop them in a food processor — well, you have apple sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 3 apples (I used Golden Delicious because they are sweet and delicious!)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardomom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 c water

Preparation:

Peel, core and slice the apples.

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Place the apples in a large stock pot. Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and water.

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Simmer for about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the apples are tender.

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Remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods.

Transfer the apples to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve and Enjoy warm or pop it in the fridge for later. (It is really good cold, especially on a hot summer day! Simply refreshing!) 

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Guten 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.

 

 

 

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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Fresh & Simple Guacamole

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

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

Here’s my recipe:

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Fresh & Simple Guacamole

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

Preparation:

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

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

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Season with salt & pepper and stir well.

Serve & Enjoy!

 

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

Omelette with Garlic Yogurt (Cilbir)

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

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

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

Authentic Pico de Gallo (Fresh Mexican Salsa)

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Pico de Gallo (aka Salsa Fresca)

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

Preparation:

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

Add the cilantro and stir.

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

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

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

 

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

Fresh Mint Lemondade (All Natural, Healthy & Kid-Friendly)

Refreshing, cool & so good! This mint lemonade is a twist on a classic recipe. Full of fresh chopped mint it is a cool delightful beverage for any day of the week.

As a kid, summertime always meant Mom’s Lemonade. Homemade with simply lemons, water and sugar and with the perfect ratio of all ingredients to make it not too sweet and not too sour.

This recipe adds some fresh mint to the mix. The mint adds just a subtle layer of flavor and it pairs so lovely with the lemons.

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Mint Lemonade

  • 5-6 lemons (juiced)
  • 1/2 c fresh mint (finely chopped)
  • 1.5 c white sugar
  • 1.5 L water

Preparation:

Juice the lemons and pour the juice into a measuring cup.

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Add the sugar to the lemon juice and stir vigorously to make a “lemony slurry.”

Pour the lemon and sugar mixture into a pitcher of water (half filled).

Finely chop the fresh mint.

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Stir well with a wooden spoon and then add the remaining water to fill the pitcher.

Add the fresh chopped mint on top and stir again.

Garnish with a few lemon slices.

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Serve & Enjoy!

 

Dolangel (Flakey Pastry with Pistachios & Cream)

Flakey, crisp and just sweet enough –dolangel is a must try Turkish dessert! If you like Turkish baklava, then you’ll love this dessert!

It’s the type of dessert that when you take a bite, the flakey pastry bursts in your mouth. Crispy and so light, it’s so delicious.

The yufka (a dough similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry) is what gives it that delicious flaky texture.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of yufka (approximately 6 sheets)
  • 3 1/4 c chopped pistachios
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 L water
  • 1 L milk
  • 1/2 c semolina
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 3/4 c sunflower oil

Preparation:

Combine the semolina and the milk to form a thick paste. Scoop into a pastry bag and set aside.

To prepare the simple syrup: combine the sugar, water and lemon in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until it forms a light syrup. Set aside.

Take 1 piece of yufka. Fold it over to reveal a top, bottom and a double layer in the middle.

Using the pastry bag, pipe about 1-2 TBSP of the creamy milk mixture.

 

Then cover it with 1 TBSP of the chopped pistachios.

Then drizzle over 1 TBSP of oil.

Fold over the top and the bottom. Then twisting the edges, gently shape into a roll and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil.

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Continue until all of the dough or materials are used.

Place the dolangel in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Top with the sugar water, serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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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 😉

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!

 

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

Turkish Meat Pie (Sini Köfte)

Flavorful ground beef, pistachios, walnuts and almonds are layered between finely ground bulgur to make a savory meat pie.
Here’s the recipe:
Sini Köfte
  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 c finely ground bulgur
  • 4 onions (finely diced)
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 T raw pistachios
  • 1 T raw walnuts
  • 1 T raw almonds
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T butter
  • 4 T tomato paste
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Sauté the ground beef until browned. Then add the onions, pistachios, walnuts, pistachios, olive oil, saffron, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside.
Meanehile, add 1 cup of water to the tomato paste and stir. Pour into the simit and knead together. Divide the mixture in half.
In a large circular pan, layer half of the simit on the bottom. Flatten like a pie crust.
Then add the beef mixture evenly on top.
Then shape the rest of the simit into a flatten circle on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper(the size of the pan).
Place on top amd press gently.
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Then cut into squares using a sharp knife and dipping it in water with each cut.
Bake in the oven on 375 for 15-20 minutes.
Spritz with water and then bake again for 15-20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
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Afiyet Olsun!

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.

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!

Braised Chard (Pancar Kavurmasi)

This dish is simple but delicious. With minimal effort and ingredients, it creates a beautiful dish. The chard is the star of this recipe and paired with the thick creamy yogurt and bread, it makes this dish a complete meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell, diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
 
Preparation:
Clean and thinly slice the chard.
Place the chard in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from the water, drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, squeeze out the excess water.
In a large stock pot, melt the butter and add the oil. Add the onion and red pepper and sauté until they are tender.
Then add the tomato paste and chard. Stir until well combined.
Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
To serve, plate the chard on a serving dish and place the yogurt around the edges of the dish.
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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

 

 

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!

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

Havuc Salatasi (Turkish Carrot Salad)

Fresh, flavorful and light, this carrot salad is a pure delight.

Shredded carrots meet yogurt and garlic to form a delicious, light salad. It’s perfect for a warm day or just to balance out a heavy meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1.5 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter oil
  • 3 TBSP walnuts (shelled & diced)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Peel and grate the carrots.

In a large frying pan, add the olive oil. Then add the grated carrots and sauté until they are tender (about 5-7 minutes). Place the carrots in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper.

Add the carrots to the yogurt and stir until well combined. Pour the salad onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter, then add the walnuts and the red pepper flakes.

Pour the butter mixture over the carrot salad.

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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

Savory Bulgur with Sautéd Ground Beef & Carmelized Onions ( Kiymali Simit Asi)

Similar to the Sade Simit Asi recipe, the main difference between them is that this recipe has caramelized onions and ground beef on top. It’s a little bit more hearty and it’s delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Kiymali Simit Asi
1/2 lb ground beef
3.5 c simit bulgur (finely ground bulgur)
1 large onion (diced)
1 1/4 c tomato paste
2 TBSP sunflower oil
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP red pepper flakes
salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Sauté the ground beef and set aside.
In a small frying pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil and sunflower oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes and set aside.
Then in a large stock pot, add the tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well.
Then pour in the bulgur and 6-7 cups of hot water.
Stir until well combined and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more water as needed.
To serve, plate the cooked bulgur, then top with the onions and then the ground beef.
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

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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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!

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

Börek Corbasi (Dumpling Soup)

Delicious little homemade dumplings immersed in a velvety yogurt broth.

Börek Corbasi or dumpling soup starts with the very basic element of making the dumplings. Petite and delicate, the dumplings are as small as a chickpea but with a softer texture that compliments and balances every component of the soup.

Topped with a special mint butter that creates a lovely green mosaic, this soup screams delicious from the very first glance.

Here’s the recipe:

  • Börek dough (see the recipe below)
  • 250 g lean beef chunks
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 1 c chickpeas (canned or boiled)
  • 1400 g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 2 liters of beef broth (or water)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP dried mint

Preparation:

     Börek dough: mix together 3 cups of flour with 1 tsp salt and 1-2 cups of water (added little by little until the dough comes together).

Roll out the dough into thin strips (about 1/4 inch thick).

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Then cut the dough in 1/4 inch pieces and place on a floured baking sheet.

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Continue until there is no more dough.

Sift the flour from the dumplings and then pour the dumplings onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake on 190C or 375F until the dumplings are light brown.

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 Soup Preparation:

In a large stock pot, combine the beef chunks and 1 cup of water. Cook on medium high heat until the water is almost evaporated.

Add olive oil and onions and sauté until translucent.

Add the chickpeas, 2 liters of beef broth and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Then add the dumplings into the soup and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt and egg in a bowl.

Transfer to a sauce pot and whisk until warmed. Add 2-3 ladles of the soup into the yogurt, stirring constantly.

Then pour the yogurt into the soup while stirring and turn off the heat.

In a small frying pan melt the butter until it lightly boils. Add in the dried mint (it should fizzle when you add it. If it does not, wait a little longer until the butter is hotter).

Pour the mint butter into the soup and stir lightly.

Serve & Enjoy!

Alfiyet 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

 

 

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

Pancar Sararsi (Fresh Stuffed Chard Rolls)

20180117_105334.jpg  If you’ve ever tried stuffed cabbage and liked it, then you’re going to love this recipe. Pancar Sarasi is Turkish for “stuffed chard.” The big, leafy green chard is blanched and then carefully stuffed with a bulgur and meat mixture, rolled and steamed.

Recipe:

  • 1 kilo fresh chard
  • 250 g ground beef
  • 2 cups of pilav bulgur (a thicker type of bulgur)
  • 2 cups of short grain rice (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes (pull biber)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil

Preparation:

Wash the chard leaves carefully. Remove the stems and set aside.

Boil a pot of water and in batches, add the chard in the water. Boil for 1-2 minutes then remove the chard leaves and place them in ice water. Repeat until all of the chard has been blanched.

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Peel the stringy pieces off of half of the chard stems and slice thinly on an angle. NOTE: The other half will be used, so set aside for later.

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In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onions, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Once it is well mixed, separate it into two bowls.

To one bowl, add the bulgur and mix together.

To the other bowl, add the rice and mix together.

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On a large cutting board, lay out the pieces of chard one by one. NOTE: If they are large, then cut in half to be about 3 inches long.

Place about 1TBSP of the filling (rotating between the rice filling and the bulgur filling) and roll up like a burrito.  Continue until all of the leaves or filling has been used.

In a large stock pot, arrange the remaining stems to form a nice base layer. Then add the stuffed chard pieces in one by one, arranging them neatly and tightly together. Then add 3 cups of boiling water on top and sprinkle with salt. Arrange a terra cotta weighted plate on top to keep the rolls in place. Drizzle with olive oil and 1 more cup of boiling water and cover with a lid.

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Allow the stuffed chard to simmer on low heat for 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove the lid and pour in the lemon juice. Cover and allow to cooking for 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Remove from heat and with a plate, drain the juice from the pot carefully (ensuring that the rolls are not moved.

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Then place a platter on top of the pot and carefully flip it over to reveal a beautifully display of the neatly placed stuffed chard rolls.

Remove the stems that are layered on top and then drizzle with olive oil.

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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

 

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

10 Spice Roasted Potatoes

Crispy on the outside, soft and delicate on the inside, these spiced roasted potatoes are so delicious and full of flavor!

Ten is the magic number for these potatoes. A blend of some of my favorite spices, these potatoes pack a punch! Roasted to perfection with a drizzle of olive oil, they are crispy and so delicious!

Don’t have 10 spices? No problem. You can customize this recipe to the spices you do have and the spices you like. Make this recipe your own and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Well done! Your hard work will pay off!

Check out this video below to see how I prepare them.

Spiced Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP cilantro
  • 1 TSP oregano
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1 TBSP tumeric
  • 3 scallions (sliced)
  • 2 large potatoes (peeled and diced)
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • fresh parsley (optional: garnish)
  • yogurt or sour cream (optional: garnish)
Preparation:
Clean the potatoes and the scallions.
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Peel the skin off the potatoes and dice into small chunks. Rinse thoroughly, pat dry and place in a large bowl.
Slice the scallion into thin pieces and add it to the bowl with the potatoes.
Add all of the spices into the bowl with the potatoes and scallions. Then drizzle with olive oil.
Stir everything together until the potatoes are thoroughly coated with the spice mixture.
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Place the potatoes evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown, turning the potatoes halfway through.
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Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley and dollop of thick yogurt or sour cream.
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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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Quick Skillet Pita Bread

Crispy on the outside, light and soft on the inside, this skillet pita bread is a quick and easy way to make a delicious bread to accompany any meal.

There’s nothing like a batch of warm bread! I must confess that when I go to one of my favorite restaurants with a glass kitchen, I peer behind the glass like a child and watch the bakers artfully create the bread. It’s a skill and I’m always mesmerized.

Inspired by the artisans, I created my version of a pita bread. Except instead of using the wood burning oven, I’m using a skillet to quick cook the bread in small round pieces.

The end result? Light, flaky and soft individual serving pita bread. It’s so good!

Here’s the recipe:

P.s. I created a video on how I make the pita bread. Just click on the video below.

Skillet Pita Bread 

  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TSP honey
  • 1 packet of yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 (heaping) TBSP thick yogurt (e.g. suzme or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil (plus 2-3 more for coating the bowl & cooking)
Preparation:
Combine the hot water, honey, olive oil and yeast in a bowl and stir.
Meanwhile, measure out the flour and salt.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and spoon in the yogurt.
Stir with a wooden spoon to combine and then incorporate with your hand, gently kneading.
Coat the bowl with 1/2 to 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
After 1 hour, put a skillet on the stove and drizzle on 1 TBSP of olive oil. Take golf ball size pieces of the dough, roll into a bowl and then flatten it with the palms of your hand. Shape the dough like a small pizza with your finger tips and place on the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side on medium low heat or until browned.
Serve with your favorite meze or just enjoy the bread alone. It’s just that good!
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Quick Skillet Pita Bread with Olives & Babaganoush

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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

Çoban Salatasi (Shepherd’s Salad)

No Turkish meal would be complete without a salad. The Çoban Salatası is a simple, delicious and classic Turkish salad. With bold flavors, this refreshing salad is a great addition to compliment any meal.

Simply start with the freshest veggies you can find and you’re in for a great salad!

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Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1 green or red pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juiced)

Preparation:

Chop all of the ingredients into bite size pieces and combine in a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and stir until well incorporated.

Serve and enjoy!

 

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