Donauwelle: A Traditional German Sheet Cake with Fresh Cherries, German Buttercream & a Chocolate Topping

A modern twist on the traditional German sheet cake, with layers of chocolate cake, vanilla cake, fresh cherries, German buttercream and topped off with a chocolate topping.

Although from the sounds of the ingredients, it may seem that you have heard of this cake before or it may seem similar to the Black Forest Cake. But in as many ways as it is similar it is also unique.

The cake batter is essential comprised of a chocolate cake layer and a vanilla cake layer but when the cherries are placed on top, they fall into the cake as it bakes thus creating a wavy cake on the inside.

Topped with a decadent German buttercream and a chocolate glaze (that gets better with time) it is a treat that is easy to serve to friends or enjoy for a special occasion.

DSC06922

Here’s the recipe:

Donauwelle

For the cake:

  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c sunflower oil (or an neutral oil)
  • 1 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c thick strained yogurt (Greek or Suzme)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 c cocoa powder
  • 1.5 – 2 c pitted fresh sweet cherries
  • 2 TBSP butter (for greasing the pan)

For the German Buttercream:

  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c corn starch
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 c softened butter

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C & grease a small cake pan with butter.

For the cake: whisk together the oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and then whisk again. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Alternating between the flour mixture and the strained yogurt, add them to the cake batter, while whisking well with each addition. Divide the cake batter in half and whisk in the cocoa powder into half of the cake. Starting with the chocolate cake batter, pour it into the cake pan. Then add the vanilla cake batter on top creating a nice even layer. Then layer the pitted cherries on top of the cake to completely cover the cake in neat rows. Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes and allow to cool.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f22UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f24UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f23

To make the German buttercream: Heat the milk in a medium saucepan just until hot, but not boiling. In the meantime, whisk together the eggs, cornstarch and sugar until smooth and well incorporated. Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until completely combined. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Then pour the mixture onto a plate, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the cream. Chill for a couple of hours to overnight.

Once cooled, whisk the softened butter in a large bowl and then whisk in the pastry cream mixture into the butter until completely combined.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f26

Top the cake with a thick layer of the German buttercream and spread it evenly over the cake (Note: you might have some left over).

To prepare the Chocolate glaze: melt the chocolate over a double boiler until it is melted. Stir in the oil and set aside for about 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate has slightly cooled, pour it over the German pastry cream.

Then using a fork or a butter knife, create the waves on top of the cake allowing some of the pastry cream to be shown through the chocolate.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f62UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2f63

Serve immediately or pop it in the fridge for a special treat for later.

Guten Appetit!

Ezme Salad: a Traditional MEZE Salad (Antep Salad)

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

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

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2c8d

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

Here’s the recipe:

Ezme (Antep Salad)

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

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2c93

Season with salt, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2c92

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

Stir well until combined.

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

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_2c99

Afiyet Olsun!

 

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05138_1024

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

Here’s the recipe:

Kohlrouladen (German Stuffed Cabbage)

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

For the cooking process:

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

For the gravy:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05160_1024

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

thumb_DSC05164_1024

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

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

thumb_DSC05166_1024

Plate each of the kohlrouladen and top with the gravy.

Guten Appetit!

thumb_DSC05172_1024

thumb_DSC05168_1024

©All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC06547_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Mushroom LoMein

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

For the sauce:

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

Preparation:

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

thumb_DSC06551_1024

thumb_DSC06553_1024

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

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

thumb_DSC06555_1024

 

Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the scallions.

thumb_DSC06589_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC06579_1024

Bon Appetit!

Bratkartoffeln (German-Style Home Fries)

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

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

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

thumb_DSC06469_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Bratkartoffeln

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

thumb_MAH06476_1024

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

thumb_DSC06478_1024

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

thumb_DSC06485_1024thumb_DSC06494_1024

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

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

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

thumb_DSC05026_1024

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

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

thumb_DSC05016_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

For the dough:

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

For the filling/cooking:

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

Garnish (optional):

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

Preparation:

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

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

thumb_DSC05018_1024thumb_DSC05019_1024

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

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

thumb_DSC05022_1024
The dough really starts to puff up as it cooks!
thumb_DSC05024_1024
Nice and golden brown!

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

thumb_DSC05031_1024thumb_DSC05026_1024

It is Best Enjoyed When it is Warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Berliners (German Yeast Doughnuts w/ Oma’s Marmalade)

Light, fluffy yeast doughnuts, dusted with sugar and filled with Oma’s marmalade.

There is nothing quite like a Berliner! I will never forget the first time I tried one. It was my first time in Germany and my husband and I visited a bakery in Leipzig and introduced me to this beautiful German specialty.

DSC06288

Germany has so many wonderful varieties of breads, cakes and baked goods. I am always so thrilled to visit bakeries in Germany because it is always such a delightful experience.

DSC06251

But, living outside of Germany means that many of these beloved baked goods are not so easily accessible. But this recipe, and many of my other German recipes are a great solution. I love to prepare them for my husband and I hope that you like them and this recipe too!

Here’s the recipe:

Berliners (German Yeast Doughnuts with Oma’s Marmalade)
For the dough:
  • 2 2/3 c all purpose flour (+more for kneading and dusting)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 2/3 c warm milk
  • 3 tsp (10 g) dry active yeast
  • 2 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 1 – 1.5 c Oma Erika’s marmalade (or your favorite jam)

For the topping:

  • Powdered sugar or granulated sugar (dusted according to your preference)

 

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: in a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk and sugar and stir well. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs.

Add the melted butter to the yeast mixture and stir well. Keep stirring and add the eggs. Then mix together the flour with the salt in a separate bowl. Stirring constantly, add the flour mixture in batches to the yeast mixture.

Continue stirring until a dough forms (it will start to get difficult to stir by hand at this point but don’t worry). Then place the dough on a floured surface and knead it well for 7-8 minutes. Then cover it with a dish towel and let it rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes.

DSC06253

Once the dough has risen, cut the dough into even pieces and roll them each into a ball.

DSC06259

Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet, dusted with a little bit of flour. Then cover the dough balls again with a dish towel and place them in a warm place and allow them to rise again for another 30 minutes.

DSC06263

Heat a large heavy stock pot with oil. Test the heat of the oil using a wooden spoon. If bubbles start to form around the spoon, then the oil is hot enough.

DSC06273

Carefully place each of the doughnuts in the oil and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until browned.

DSC06279

Then place them on a paper towel lined plate and allow the excess oil to drain.

DSC06278

Continue until all of the doughnuts are fried.

DSC06283

Then using a “donut jelly filler” proceed to fill each doughnut with the jam, being careful not to overfill.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 11.23.18 AM

Then dust the doughnuts with powdered sugar, serve & enjoy!

DSC06307DSC06295

Guten Appetit!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=eewinkler-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B0042YYBNC&asins=B0042YYBNC&linkId=1e5429857aa14ddd2db0b514007f3c3c&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

How to Make Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza) at Home

A perfectly, thin, crispy crust coated with a mixture of veggies, spices and ground meat. Turkish pizza is the ultimate, traditional Turkish street food.

The Legend of the Turkish Pizza

I have been told that the Turkish pizza was the creation of baker that visited the coast of Italy. He saw the people eating and enjoying pizza and he tasted it and enjoyed it too. So as the story goes, he brought the concept back to his homeland but put a local spin on it infusing Turkish spices and seasonings to make it such a beloved Turkish dish. 

I do not know if this legend is true or if my friend was only trying to play a joke on me, but it does make for a really great story, if you ask me.

thumb_DSC05987_1024

There’s nothing like going to the Firin (Turkish for bakery) and to see that they are making Turkish pizza*. Hot and fresh out of the wood-buring oven, the pizza is the perfect food to eat for lunch or dinner. In many ways, it reminds me of my years in New York City, when I would go and grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza, and stand outside or grab a seat at the counter and eat my slice.

Needless to say, no matter where I am in the world, I make friends pretty quickly with the bakers and the people who sell food. Lol! And no matter how long I’ve been gone, if they are still there, they remember me, lol! So do yourself a favor, and either go to enjoy a Lahmacun from your favorite place or make this beautiful recipe. Because, who doesn’t like pizza?

Here’s the recipe:

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

For the topping:
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 c tomato (chopped)
  • 1/4 c sweet red pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 T olive oil
For the dough:
  • 1 cup of flour (+1/2 c more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1.5 tsp yeast

Preparation:

Place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor (except for the ground beef) and blend it until it forms a smooth mixture. Add in some olive oil if needed and continue blending.

thumb_DSC05994_1024

Then mix in the ground beef with a fork and spatula until it is well incorporated.

Set the mixture aside and roll out the dough.

Pre-heat the oven for 220C/428F.

For a large lahmacun, take half of the dough and roll out into a long, thin, oval piece.

Gently transfer the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Then take about half of the topping and spread it evenly on top of the dough to create a nice thin layer, being sure not to leave too much empty space.

thumb_DSC05996_1024thumb_DSC05997_1024

Bake the lahmacun in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is browned and crispy and the toppings cooked.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

thumb_DSC06015_1024

Afiyet Olsun! 

*In some cases, they are making it for a special order, because you can bring them all the ingredients and they will assemble and bake the pizzas for you, but in the heart of the city centers, it is quite common to find them bakers making them for individual sale.

 

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.

thumb_DSC05202_1024

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.

thumb_DSC05212_1024

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

thumb_DSC05214_1024

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

thumb_DSC05238_1024

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!) 

thumb_DSC05245_1024

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).

thumb_DSC03510_1024

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.

thumb_DSC03477_1024.jpg

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.

thumb_DSC03483_1024

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

thumb_DSC03484_1024

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

thumb_DSC03485_1024

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.

thumb_DSC03494_1024

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).

thumb_DSC03510_1024

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.

20180503_164105

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.

20180503_173631

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!

20180503_19114920180503_191215

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

 

 

 

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

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

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

thumb_DSC04985_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

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

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

thumb_DSC04988_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC04987_1024

Afiyet Olsun!

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05312_1024

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.

thumb_DSC05334_1024

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).

DSC05340
Pre-cooked…
DSC05342
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!

DSC05368DSC05357

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.

20180503_155233

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.

20180503_160739

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.

20180503_161536

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!

20180503_162610

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

20180503_162620

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

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05378_1024

Here’s the recipe*

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05425_1024
This is how the egg looks when it is first dropped into the water.
thumb_DSC05427_1024
After a few minutes of cooking it will start to rise to the surface.

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

thumb_DSC05429_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC05442_1024thumb_DSC05452_1024

Afiyet Olsun!

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

How to Make Sauerkraut (from Scratch)

German cuisine would not be complete without sauerkraut. There’s nothing better than a grilled bratwurst, brötchen and sauerkraut. Or really, sauerkraut with anything is always a good idea for me.  

My first recollection of sauerkraut is when I when I was seven years old, I remember seeing my dad pile it high on his hot dog. I was curious about it but when I tried it, it was not something that I liked.

Fast forward to adulthood and I finally tried sauerkraut again and this time, I really enjoyed it. I think it took a while for my taste buds to catch up to the delicious flavor of sauerkraut.

thumb_DSC05061_1024

I am fascinated with the process of fermenting and pickling anything. I have been told that my grandmother used to pickle just about everything and although I never knew her so well, I have a feeling that a smile would stretch across her face to see me making sauerkraut. Imagining this makes me smile when I make it and I hope this recipe gives you a smile too.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Sauerkraut

  • 15 c thinly sliced cabbage (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 TBSP salt

Tools:

  • A large glass jar
  • A small glass jar (that fits into the large jar)
  • 1-2 small, stones (that fit in the small jar)

Preparation: 

Thinly slice your green cabbage and place it in a large bowl.

thumb_DSC05065_1024

Sprinkle over the salt and using your hands, knead the cabbage for about 10 to 15 minutes until it considerably reduced in size and develops a lot of liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

thumb_DSC05073_1024
Before kneading the cabbage…
thumb_DSC05071_1024
…after kneading the cabbage

Taking a large jar, stuff the cabbage in the jar being sure to stuff it down and pack it in the jar. Cover the cabbage with the remaining liquid, being sure that the cabbage is completely submerged with liquid.

Place two clean stones in a small container that fits in the jar.

Place the container in the larger jar to weigh down the cabbage.

thumb_DSC05076_1024

Place the lid on the sauerkraut and leave the jar on your kitchen countertop for two weeks. Everyday, open the lid and press down on the sauerkraut to ensure that it remains completely submerged.

After two weeks, it is ready to eat and/or you can pop it in the fridge to use later.

thumb_DSC05082_1024

Guten Appetit!

 

Cocoa Coffee Brownies “Caffeinated Brownies”

An energizing and chocolatey twist on your next coffee break — Cocoa Coffee Brownies “Caffeinated Brownies.”

I have heard it said that coffee truly does enhance the flavor of chocolate. But even if it didn’t, I think somehow I would still manage to combine them together in some form or facet. I rarely bake anything chocolatey without adding a little espresso and this recipe is no exception.

Brownies are my go-to recipe when I need to “bake something really quickly.” I always have the ingredients on hand and they are so simple to whip up in a flash. This recipe is one that I love eating and love sharing.

DSC04000

Here’s the recipe:

Cocoa Coffee Brownies “Caffeinated Brownies”

  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 T espresso (or 2 espresso packets with 3 T hot water)
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 375F

Grease an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.

Whisk together the oil and the sugar until well combined.

Then add the eggs one at a time, whisking in between each addition.

Add the vanilla extract and espresso and whisk.

Then add the flour and cocoa powder in 2-3 batches, whisking well between each addition.

Pour into the greased baking sheet. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

DSC04018

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles –Homemade)

Love at first bite, there is nothing quite like homemade Spätzle. Spätzle are delicious German egg noodles and simply delicious. This recipe captures the essence of the homemade Spätzle making process combining a blend of traditional and modern methods.

The first time I tried Spätzle was the day after I got married. My husband is from Germany and we went out for lunch and had Spätzle. From the first bite, I was hooked.

thumb_DSC03888_1024

 

Light, luscious egg noodles tossed in butter and garnished with herbs. It is so simple but so good. 

Here’s the recipe:

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles)

  • 1- 1.5 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk.

Sprinkle over the flour and salt and with a wooden spoon whisk the dough until smooth (about 5-10 minutes). Note: As you whisk, the air bubbles will start to form in the dough; this is a good sign, continue whisking.

Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water and season with salt. Follow one of the methods below:

Traditional Method (w/ small cutting board and a knife)

thumb_DSC03888_1024

Dip the cutting board in the water.

Spoon on the batter and then quickly dip in the boiling water.

Smooth the batter evenly on the cutting board with a knife.

Then scape off long pieces into the water to create the noodles.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Block Grater Method

thumb_DSC03904_1024

Dip the block grater in the water sideways while holding onto the top handle.

Then spoon in the batter and using and wooden spoon, glide it back and forth until the noodles drop into the water.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Plastic Colander Method

thumb_DSC03893_1024

Dip the colander in the boiling water.

Then holding it above the water, spoon in the batter and using a spatula, run it against the batter in circles until it falls into the water to create the noodles.

Allow the noodles to boil for 3-5 minutes or until they rise to the surface.

Scoop out with a colander and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all your batter is used.

To make the Butter & Herb Spätzle:

thumb_DSC03923_1024

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.

Add the Spätzle and sauté for a few minutes.

Season with salt and add fresh herbs and remove from the heat.

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

 

Strawberry Sorbet (Made from Scratch)

A refreshing, healthy & cool treat — this strawberry sorbet recipe is so simple and so good. Just a few simple ingredients!

As a kid, we not only went for ice cream but also we went out for frozen yogurt and sorbet. It was always an experience that I loved especially for the fact that I love soft serve frozen desserts.

This strawberry sorbet recipe is a throwback to my childhood because it is smooth and delicious just like I remembered eating the soft serve sorbet as a kid. Plus, it is so simple to make and it can be made using a plethora of different fruits.

 

 

thumb_DSC04973_1024

It is all natural and healthy because it is pretty much entirely just fruit. Plus, you can customize it to your desired sweetness using sugar, agave or another sweetener.

Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Sorbet (Made from Scratch)

  • 2 c frozen strawberries
  • 1-2 T hot water
  • 1 T sugar (or honey, agave or sugar substitute)
  • 1 T lime juice

Preparation:

Place the strawberries in a food processor.

Add the hot water, sugar and lime juice.

Blend until smooth.

thumb_DSC04975_1024

 

 

 

Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap or an air tight lid and place in the freezer.

thumb_DSC04977_1024thumb_DSC04978_1024

 

 

Guten Appetit!

 

 

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

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

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

thumb_DSC04986_1024.jpg

Here’s the recipe:

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

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

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

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

thumb_DSC04989_1024.jpg

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

Remove from the heat and set aside.

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

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

 

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

thumb_DSC04992_1024.jpg

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

 

Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade)

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

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

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

DSC03784

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls

For the dough:

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

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water

Toppings:

  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • rolled oats

Preparation:

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

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

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

Then pour the dough onto a clean, floured workspace.

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

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

DSC03679

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

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

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

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

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

DSC03700

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

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

DSC03817

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

DSC03702

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

DSC03784DSC03766DSC03712DSC03711

Roasted Eggplant Salad

A refreshing salad packed with tender pieces of roasted eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions.

Ever since I started roasting eggplant, it has brought such joy to my recipes. Roasting eggplant is super simple, it pretty much guarantees that the eggplant will be tender and perfectly cooked and it is so delicious.

This salad is great to make ahead of time because you can put all of the ingredients together and pop it in the refrigerator. As all of the ingredients meld together, the flavor gets better and better.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Eggplant Salad

  • 5 large eggplant (the long variety, sometimes referred to as “Japanese eggplant”)
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 large cucumbers (halved & sliced)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 sweet green pepper (diced)
  • 1 red onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsely
  • 1.5 lemons (juiced — approx. 1/2 c juice)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried cumin powder
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre heat the oven for 375 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the eggplant on the paper. Coat the eggplant with 1/2 a tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until tender.

Allow the eggplant to cool and then peel off the skin and chop the roasted eggplant into bite size pieces (discard any excess liquid from the eggplant).

DSC03156

Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, parsley and onions.

DSC03165

In a large bowl, combine the chopped vegetables with the roasted eggplant.

DSC03172

Drizzle over the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Toss thoroughly, then serve and enjoy!

DSC03188DSC03180

 

Oma Erika’s Pilz (Mushroom) Pasta: How to Cook Like a German

There’s nothing like a recipe from a grandma and this recipe from Oma Erika is so good and yet so simple to prepare.

As a kid and even to this day, I have always heard the marvelous stories about my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They were marvelous cooks and just marvelous women in my opinion. But unfortunately, I never really got to know them because they passed away when I was relatively young.

I love grandparents and elderly people in general. I believe they have such a wealth of knowledge to share with the younger generations.

I am so blessed to have another grandma and this time it is through marriage. My husband’s grandma, Oma Erika, is wonderful. Plus, we just so happen to share the same name, lol! I admire many things about her including her amazing cooking skills. This recipe is one that she prepared for us while we were in Germany and we ate so much because it was so good. There’s nothing like a recipe by Oma.

Here’s the recipe:

Oma Erika’s Pilz (Mushroom) Pasta

  • 3 c sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small onion (finely diced)
  • 1 c dry spiral pasta
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 T flour
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 T oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Slice the mushrooms and finely chop the onion.

thumb_DSC03569_1024thumb_DSC03599_1024

Boil the pasta in salted water until it is tender. Drain, rinse and set aside.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and saute until transluscent.

Then add the mushrooms and saute until browned.

thumb_DSC03609_1024

Sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Then add the chicken broth and keep stirring until it is well incorporated.

Bring up to a light simmer and then cook on low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Season with salt, pepper and oregano and cook for another minute.

Remove from the heat.

To serve: plate the pasta and then top with the mushrooms. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy!

thumb_DSC03612_1024thumb_DSC03642_1024

Guten Appetit!

The Simplest Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

Making lentil soup is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with this great recipe. Everything goes in one pot and it is minimal prep, minimal clean up but with maximum flavor and taste.

I have more than one lentil soup recipe but I love this one because it is much simpler than my other one (made with brown lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, etc.) All you need are the lentils, chicken broth and an onion.

It’s quite a healthy soup, low in fat and packed with nutritious vitamins and fiber. Plus it’s really affordable to make especially if you’re feeding a crowd. Also, it’s so simple. Even if you despise cooking, I think you might like this recipe.

Photo on 5-2-18 at 5.58 PM

Here’s the recipe:

Simple Lentil Soup (Just 3 Ingredients)

  • 1 c dry red lentils
  • 4 c chicken broth*
  • 1 onion (diced)

*Vegetarian? No problem, just substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth.

Preparation:

Sort through the lentils to ensure that there are no small stones or anything else (yes, it can happen).

Finely dice the onion and set aside.

Pour the chicken broth in a large pot.

Add the lentils and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Cover partially and allow it to simmer for 15-25 minutes or until the lentils and the onions are tender.

Then using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.

Garnish with some red pepper flakes and a lemon wedge.

Serve & Enjoy!

DSC04872DSC04874

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.

DSC03375

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.*

DSC03397

*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.

 

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.

DSC01833

Drizzle over the lemon juice and olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper and stir well.

Serve & Enjoy!

DSC01861

Guten Appetit!

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.

DSC01699

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.

DSC01702

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.

DSC01706

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.

DSC01724

Serve & Enjoy!

 

Stovetop Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Creamy, comforting and delicious homemade macaroni and cheese! Comfort food at its finest and a throwback to childhood.

Macaroni and cheese in my household was an art. In fact, I never knew about the box version until I went to my best friend’s house at the age of 5. Her mom was making a the box version of Macaroni and Cheese and our conversation went a little something like this:

“What are you making?” I asked.

“Macaroni and cheese,” replied my friend’s mom.

“But you’re making it from a box and on the stove. That’s not how you make it,” I replied.

“It’s how you make it at our house,” replied my friend’s mom.

Kudos to my friend’s mom for giving a sassy answer to my sassy question, lol! But seriously, the way I learned to make macaroni and cheese always involved an oven. It was BAKED macaroni and cheese the Southern way (if ya’ll know what I mean).

Anyway, although there is NOTHING quite like my mom’s baked macaroni and cheese (passed down from Grandma’s recipe, hello!), my version of a stove top homemade mac and cheese is a close second for me. Plus… it’s really quick and simple to prepare so that’s a bonus. Especially since this recipe was curated from my old NYC apartment when I was super hungry and in need of some comfort food. Just a few basics and voila, deliciousness! (Is deliciousness a word? Hmmm, I don’t know but you know what I’m saying).

Here’s the recipe, it’s love at first bite (seriously, it’s legit!)

DSC00384

Stovetop Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1.5 c dry macaroni (pre-boiled)
  • Bechamel sauce (per my recipe–find it here)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 c cheese (your favorite of course –cheddar, provolone, mozzarella or even all 3! Let’s get crazy, lol!)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Follow the instructions for the Bechamel Sauce Recipe.

Bechamel STEP 7 Final Whisk

Then add 1 cup of milk to the bechamel sauce and bring back to a simmer.

Reduce the heat and stir in the cheese and keep stirring until it’s melted. Then add the cooked macaroni and stir thoroughly until it is well coated with the cheese sauce.

DSC00388

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper (as needed).

Serve and Enjoy!

Mmmmmm….

DSC00395DSC00398DSC00399

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.

DSC00382

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!

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

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

Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

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

Preparation:

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

20180112_094350

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

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

20180112_100924

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

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

20180112_112910

Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

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

Preparation:

Finely chop the parsley, mint, cucumber and tomato.

DSC01076DSC01097

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

DSC01100DSC01101

Guten Appetit!