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 Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Rich, velvety, smooth ricotta cheese — made from scratch. 

I never knew until about 5 years ago just how simple some cheeses are to make. The first cheese I ever made was Paneer for making the beautiful Indian dish, Saag Paneer. It was truly such an exciting process because I love making new discoveries in the kitchen (new for me).

Ricotta is just like making Paneer except without the excess draining, pressing, waiting and cooking, lol! It is simply the result of a beautiful reaction when simmered milk meets an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) and magic starts to happen in the form of curds separating from the whey.

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Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Fresh Ricotta Cheese

  • 1 liter whole milk (the fresher, the better*)
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice (substitute white vinegar)
  • pinch of salt (optional)

Supplies:

  • 1 fine seive
  • 1 cheese cloth or a clean tea towel or thin cloth
  • 1 large pot
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • 1 large bowl

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a large pot. Place over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it comes to a simmer.

Remove the milk from the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

After 10-15 minutes you should see the curds separating from the whey.

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Line the seive with your cheese cloth or clean tea towel and place over a bowl.

Carefully pour the “pre-cheese” (Lol!) mixture into the cheese cloth or clean tea towel.

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Allow it to drain until it reaches your desired consistency. (Note: If it drains to much, add some of the whey back to the curds and Voila! You’re in business!

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Use immediately or tuck it away in the fridge to use in 1-2 days.

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*Unfortunately, shelf stable (UHT) milk will not work for this recipe. 

How to Make a Bechamel Sauce

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

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

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

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So here’s the recipe:

Bechamel Sauce

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

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.

Bechamel STEP 1 Melted Butter

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

Bechamel STEP 2 Flour

Bechamel STEP 3 Whisk

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

Bechamel STEP 5 Add Milk

Bechamel STEP 6 Whisk Milk

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

Bechamel STEP 7 Final Whisk

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

Enjoy!

DIY Self-Rising Flour

Don’t forsake your favorite recipe that requires self rising flour, thanks to this simple DIY recipe to make self rising flour in a flash!

Growing up, my mom always had two containers of flour. On one container she labeled it “All Purpose Flour” and on the other she labeled it “Self Rising Flour.” I noticed that there was always less self rising flour than all purpose flour and the main reason for this was simply because she used the self rising flour a lot more. Quite frankly, when she took out the self rising flour, I knew she was going to be making something I loved (e.g. cakes, pumpkin bread, biscuits, etc.)

Living abroad, is always a good reminder for me that it’s important to know how to make self rising flour. So, thus this recipe. It really is quite essential; not only if you can’t find it at your local grocery store but also for the simple reason that if you run out, you do’t have to run to the store right that moment in order to finish off the recipe.

Here’s the long and short of it (“The Recipe):

Self Rising Flour

  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation: 

Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, stir, and add to your favorite recipe.

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Note: If you need multiple cups of self rising flour, you can multiply this recipe based on your baking needs.

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So simple.

I love it.

Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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!

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!

How To Make Roasted Garlic

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

How To Roast Eggplant

The simplest, easiest and tastiest way to enjoy eggplant.

Okay, so perhaps I talk about eggplant a lot but I think it’s only because I spent so many years trying to figure out the best ways to cook it. But ever since I started roasting my eggplant, I’ve never looked back since.

With a few minimal ingredients and a hot oven, you’re on your way to fool proof eggplant roasting success.

The finished product is a tender and delicious eggplant that’s versatile enough to use in any recipe for any cuisine.

Roasted Eggplant

  • 3-4 large eggplant (Note: this will yield about 3-4 cups of roasted eggplant once it’s peeled and chopped)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F.

Place the eggplant on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Rub the olive oil on the eggplant until they are fully coated.

Using  a sharp knife, cut small slits into the eggplant.

 

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Place in the oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and the skin is wrinkled.

Let the eggplant cool. Then peel off the skin, chop the eggplant and continue using to prepare your favorite recipe.*

*Hint: check out the Babaganoush recipe

Guten Appetit!

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

Fresh Pasta from Scratch

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

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

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

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

Yum

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

Homemade Pasta

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

Preparation:

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl.

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

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

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

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Pour in the olive oil on top of the eggs.

Carefully, begin to incorporate the dough.

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

Knead the dough for 10 minutes.

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

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

Roll out the dough into your desired pasta.

Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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!

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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DIY Brown Sugar

     Who knew that making your own brown sugar was so simple? With this 2 ingredient recipe, it’s a lifesaver if you need brown sugar in a flash.

Okay, so as much as I try to keep a well stocked kitchen, at times I just run out of some of my essentials or forget to pick it up from the store. But if I’m making a recipe and I’m short on my ingredients, I’ll admit that I like to get creative with it and still try and make the recipe in a new way.

So if you’re a creative cook like me, then you’ll love just how easy this brown sugar recipe is. All you need is white sugar and molasses, that’s it.

I used a carob molasses since it’s much more common to find in my region. It’s has a rich flavorful undertone that pairs well with chocolatey desserts such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies or even a quick DIY caramel. But you could also use sugar cane molasses.

 

I only would not recommend grape molasses (üzüm pekmezi) unless you’re making a fruity dessert or don’t mind a fruity undertone in your dessert.

DIY Brown Sugar

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 TBSP molasses

Pour the ingredients into a bowl and incorporate the molasses into the brown sugar using a fork.

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Once it’s well combined, use it immediately for your recipe OR store it in a glass sealed contained.

Bon Appetit & Happy Baking!