Bazlama: Turkish Yeast Flatbread (Light, Fluffy & Simply Delicious)

A fluffy & light yeast-based Turkish flatbread, Bazlama is a classic and simple bread. Cooked until puffy and thick and coated with a little butter or olive oil, it is so delicious and perfectly compliments any meal.

Bazlama is a combination between a flat bread and a traditional bread similar in texture to Naan. It is thick and fluffy, making it perfect to serve with meals with sauces or gravy because it can soak up the excess liquid.

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With minimal prep work, the dough can be prepared ahead of time and then the Bazlama can be prepared just before you are ready to eat.

Here’s the recipe:

Bazlama (Turkish Yeast Flatbread)

  • 1 c flour (plus more for kneading and dusting)
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil +more for brushing the bread after cooking (if desired)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and 1 TBSP of olive oil.

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Then add the flour and the salt and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Then transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

With the remaining half a tablespoon of olive oil, grease a bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with a damp kitchen towel, place it in a warm place and allow it to rise for one hour.

After the dough has risen, knead it gently again for one minute. Then shape into a ball and cut into two equal pieces.

Roll out each piece to make a large circle (like making pizza dough).

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Place the rolled out circles on a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour and cover again with the damp kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for an additional 30 minutes.

To cook the bazlama: Place each piece one at a time on a crepe pan or large frying pan. Allow the bazlama to cook on both sides (about 3 minutes each side on medium high heat). Note: The dough will start to puff up a lot and this is a very good sign. When it starts to lightly brown, it is ready to be flipped.

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To serve, brush with olive oil or butter and sprinkle with salt (if desired).

Break bread and enjoy with your loved ones!

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Afiyet Olsun! 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Alaska (Elegant Ice Cream Cake w/ Meringue)

For the Cake:

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

For the ice cream:

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

For the meringue:

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

Preparation: 

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

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

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

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

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

To prepare the layers:

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

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

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

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

To make the meringue:

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

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

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

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

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

Serve and Enjoy immediately!

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Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

Homemade 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 Simit: Turkish Bagels (Authentic, Crispy & Delicious)

Crispy on the outside, coated with toasted sesame seeds, but soft on the inside; there is nothing quite like a Simit (Turkish bagel).

There is nothing quite like a fresh-baked Simit (Turkish bagel). You can find them in most Turkish bakeries but also from street carts selling them from just 1 or 2 lira. It is a quick and simple breakfast or snack and one of my favorites.

The art of making a Simit is beautiful. The bread is rolled out into long thin ropes, twisted and then shaped into a circle. Then it is dipped in molasses water and toasted sesame seeds and baked to crispy perfection. Making Simit at home is so much fun and so rewarding especially when you take that first bite. Yum.

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Here’s the recipe:

For the dough:

  • 2 c flour (plus more for dusting & kneading)
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil

For topping the simit:

  • 1 c sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1 T molasses
  • 2 c warm water

Preparation:

To make the dough:

To make the dough, place the flour and salt in a bowl and stir. Then mix together the water and yeast in a separate bowl and add it to the flour mixture.

Stir until well incorporated and then pour onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds onto a dry frying pan and toast until fragrant and lightly browned. Then pour them onto a plate and cool.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the molasses and the water.

To roll out the simit:

Method #1 The “Two Rope Method”:

Take 2 golf ball size pieces of dough and roll them out into a thin rope about 8 inches long. Then wrap them over each other and form into a circle.  Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

Method # 2 “The One Rope Method”:

Take 1 piece of dough about twice the size of a golf ball and roll it into a long rope about 16 inches long. Holding it in the air, fold it over and then spin into a twist. Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

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To top and bake the simit:

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

Take each simit and dip it on both sides into the molasses water and then dip into the toasted sesame seeds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until all of the simit have been coated.

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Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the simit are nicely browned.

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Serve & Enjoy (preferably while they are still warm with a glass of Turkish cay).

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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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.

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

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade)

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls

For the dough:

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

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water

Toppings:

  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • rolled oats

Preparation:

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

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

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

Then pour the dough onto a clean, floured workspace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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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!

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!)

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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.

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

Serve and Enjoy!

Mmmmmm….

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Homemade Baked Pita Chips

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Baked Pita Chips

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Place on a serving platter & enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

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

Preparation:

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

Peel the potatoes and chop them into even size pieces.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Serve and Enjoy!

 

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

Preheat the oven for 375F.

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

Peel the eggplant and dice into small pieces.

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

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

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

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

Stir in the eggplant and set aside.

Peel the tomatoes.

Dice the peppers and tomatoes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve and enjoy.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Tasty Tabbouleh Salad

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

Preparation:

Finely chop the parsley, mint, cucumber and tomato.

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

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!

 

 

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup (made from scratch!)

A good bowl of chicken soup warms your stomach, heart and soul. Homemade broth packed with tender chicken and flavorful veggies, it’s a delicious classic. Never underestimate the power of a good bowl of chicken soup.

As a kid, I remember watching my mom make chicken noodle soup or more often turkey noodle soup (post Thanksgiving & Christmas). It was always amazing to me to watch her make such a delicious soup out of such minimal ingredients. She would take a whole chicken (or whatever was left from it) and place it in a pot and let it simmer until the meat was falling off the bones.

I follow Mom’s example because quite frankly, she’s an amazing cook so I’d be crazy not to, lol! I normally just make less soup, so thus I don’t use a whole chicken but essentially, I follow the basic principle of using bone in and skin on chicken. In regards to flavor, it makes a BIG difference. Trust me on this one. You’ll taste the difference.

Plus the aroma that fills your home when you make chicken noodle soup is irresistible. Like baking a loaf of bread or a batch of chocolate chip cookies, it screams one word, H-O-M-E. When you smell chicken noodle soup, you know that it’s going to be a good day, even if you’re under the weather.

Here’s the recipe:

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup (from scratch)

  • 2 lbs bone in & skin on chicken
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1-2 c chopped fresh spinach
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1 c egg spiral noodles (dry)
  • 1 chili pepper (omit if you don’t like it spicy!)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 T black pepper
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Peel and cut the carrots and onion in half.

To make the chicken stock: In a large stock pot, add the carrots, onion, garlic, 1/4 c parsley, chicken, chili pepper, oregano, black pepper and salt. Add 2 liter of water and cover. Simmer the stock for about 1 hour (adding more water as needed).

Meanwhile, boil the spiral egg noodles until al dente. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Drain the stock and place back in the pot. Discard everything else except for the carrots and chicken. Cut the carrots into round pieces and shred the chicken (discarding the skin and bones). Then add them back to the stock.

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Chop the spinach and scallions and add them to the soup.

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Pour in the noodles and stir.

To serve, ladle to soup into bowls and top with some fresh parsley.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Lamb Chop Soup (Ormon)

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

Lamb & Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Firik Pilav)

A savory rice and bulgur pilaf packed with tender & succulent pieces of lamb.

Under pressure. Why is it that some of the most beautiful things in life are created under pressure. Just think about it:

Diamonds are formed… under pressure

Pearls are formed…under pressure

Kapamali Et (Lamb shanks) for this pilaf recipe is cooked…under pressure

It’s true, the lamb goes into a pressure cooker for about an hour until it is tender and delicious. Then it’s coated with a saffron yogurt and baked until the skin is brown and crispy. Then the meat pulls off the bone and is added in large chunks to the bulgur and rice pilaf. One word, YUM.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 kilos of lamb shanks
  • 3 c white rice
  • 1.5 c medium sized bulgur
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lamb in a pressure cooker and cook for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and the saffron and set aside.

Remove the lamb from the pressure cooker and place on a baking sheet. Spread the saffron yogurt over the top of the lamb.

Place in the oven on 375F until the skin is brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and let rest.

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Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Pour in the rice and bulgur. Stir for 2-3 minutes to toast, then pour in about 8-9 cups of hot water.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice and bulgur are tender.

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Pour the rice and bulgur pilaf onto a serving plate.

Shred the lamb into small pieces and place on top of the rice and bulgur pilaf.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

 

 

Savory Turkish Turnovers (Pirincli Börek)

Flakey, crispy and backed with ground beef and saffron rice, these little turnovers are a must try recipe!

One of the many things that I love about börek is that there are so many ways to prepare them. Börek, essentially meaning pastry, is applied to a myriad of delicious turkish pastries, both savory and sweet.

This börek recipe uses yufka, similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry, and it’s packed with ground beef and saffron rice.

Making and tasting these delicious börek, I was immediately reminded of the stories I heard about my grandmothers making “fried pies.” This börek recipe is what I would call a savory fried pie. It’s absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 6 oz white rice
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil plus 3-4 c more for frying
  • 1 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1-2 c water (for the dough)
  • 1.5 c water (for the rice)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the dough: 

Place the flour in a bowl and make a little well in the middle. Add the yogurt and slowly add the water until the dough is shaggy but not sticky.

Turn the dough over on a floured workspace and knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth.

Shape it into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with plastic warp.

Let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

To make the rice:

Rinse and drain the rice.

In a large stock pot add 2 TBSP of sunflower oil.

Once the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes.

Add the saffron, salt and pepper and stir.

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Cover the rice with 1.5 cups of hot water.

Reduce heat to low, cover the rice with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes.

To make the ground beef:

In a small frying pan, sautee the ground beef until it is browned.

Add the olive oil and then the onions and stir.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Once the rice is done cooking, combine it with the beef mixture and set aside.

To make the börek (turnovers):

Take golf ball size pieces of dough, roll them into a ball and set them on a flour sheet pan.

One by one, roll out each ball until it’s about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Place 1 TBSP of the beef and rice filling in the middle of the dough.

Fold over the dough to create a half circle.

Cut off any excess dough with a pizza cutter or knife.

Crimp the edges with your finger or a fork (similar to when you make a pie crust)

Fry in a large frying pan or a deep fryer until it is browned.

Serve and Enjoy while warm.

Afiyet Olsun!

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

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!

Olive Stuffed Pastry (Sade Zeytin Boregi)

A delicious traditional, Turkish, olive pastry, bursting with flavor.

I love olives and I love bread. So this recipe is delightful for me. The filling created it almost like a simple olive salad. Then it is tenderly baked to make these delicious little pockets.

Here’s the recipe:

Sade Zeytin Boregi

  • 3 c green olives
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1.5 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Chop the olives and set aside.
In a small frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic with the sunflower oil and olive oil until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
Remove from the heat and add the onion mixture to the olives.
Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the mixture and add the walnuts.
Stir until well combined. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and bring it to the FIRIN.
If you don’t have a FIRIN or local baker to prepare the boregi for you, then follow the bread dough recipe below.

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,

Then roll out the dough into a 12 inch long piece. Fill one side with the mixture and then fold over. Crimp the edges together and then bake in a 400F oven for 10-15 minutes or until browned.
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

Turkish Okra Sauté (Bamya Tavasi)

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

Remove from the heat.

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

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

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

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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

Işkembe Çorbasi (Turkish Tripe Soup)

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

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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Turkish Borani (Spicy Chard Stew)

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

Sauté the ground beef in a large stock pot.

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

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

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

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

Allow the stew to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

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

Top each bowl of soup with the garlic yogurt.

Serve & Enjoy!

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

 

Anali Kizli Köfte (Stuffed Meatballs)

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

Begin forming the large and small köfte.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

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

Ökge (Ötçe) (Turkish Vegetable Fritters)

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

Serve and Enjoy!

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

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!

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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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!

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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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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Şiveydiz

Şiveydiz, pronounced “she-vey-diz,” is a beautiful Turkish soup. Creamy from fresh yogurt that’s blended into the soup it makes for a flavorful meal.

Creating this soup is like creating a work of art. All of the ingredients are perfectly crafted together to form a delicious blend of flavors.

And of course, it is stunning to see. Especially when the beautiful green mint is added at the very end.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 kilo of green onions (the white part only)
  • 1400 g suzme yogurt (or any thick plain yogurt)
  • 1 cup of chickpeas
  • 400 g stew beef chunks
  • 2 white onions chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2-3 TBSP dried mint
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, combine the stew beef chunks, chopped white onions and 1 liter of water. Simmer for 20 minutes and then drain through a cheese cloth lined sieve.

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Clean and cut the green onions, separating the green part from the white part. Cut the white part into 2 inch pieces and set aside.

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Add the stock back to the pot and add the chickpeas, green onions and beef chunks. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the suzme yogurt and egg until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pot and cook over medium low heat, whisking occasionally. Once it is warmed, slowly add ladles of beef stock into the yogurt while whisking (as a way to temper the yogurt). Then pour the yogurt into the soup, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

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In a small frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Once it is melted together, add the mint. Then pour it into the soup. NOTE: IT will simmer, but wait to stir. Ladle a spoon of soup back into the frying pan to get an excess mint, and pour back into the soup. Stir once or twice and serve immediately. The mint mixture will make a beautiful green design.

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

Savory Stuffed Mushrooms

Bursting with flavor these Stuffed Mushrooms make the perfect light meal or appetizer! Great for entertaining or for your next Potluck dinner, you’ve got to give these a try! Plus they are friendly for vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

As a kid, stuffed mushrooms were always a favorite of mine. Although my mom and I would always order them at restaurants, we never made them at home. That is until one day it dawned on me that I should try and create a recipe based on a “stuffing” that I would find healthy and delicious to fill the mushrooms.

So, low and behold I finally did it! I made them for a night when we were having some friends over and many of them said they were curious about stuffed mushrooms.

One friend even asked, “How on earth do you stuff a mushroom?” 

With a giggle I answered, “You just flip it over,” and I walked out with the baking dish of the warm savory stuffed mushrooms.

So, give this recipe a whirl! I think you’ll be quite pleased at just how simple it is! Plus, it’s absolutely, positively scumptious!

BONUS: I created a video for this recipe. Just click on the video below!

Bon Appetit!

Here’s the recipe:

Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 10 large button mushrooms
  • 1/2 c dry bulgur (prepared, see below*)
  • 2-3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese (plus 2 TSBP for topping)
  • 1/4 medium white onion (grated)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 TBSP fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
To prepare the bulgur, measure out 1/2 cup and pour it into a bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over it and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and let it “set” for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you’ll have a deliciously cooked bulgur.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Clean and dry the mushrooms. Remove the stems and place the mushrooms button side down into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the mushrooms.
Add the butter and 1 TBSP of olive oil to a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.
In a large bowl, combine the prepared bulgur, parmesan cheese, parsley, egg, oregano and basil. Pour in the sautéed onion and garlic. Mix everything together until well incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and stir again.
To stuff the mushrooms:
Take a large spoon and fill each mushroom with the stuffing to create a little dome. Be sure to pack it into the mushroom by pushing the stuffing with your spoon all along the mushroom.
Keep filling the mushrooms until all are full.
Drizzle with 1 TBSP of olive oil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the 2 TBSP of grated parmesan cheese on top of the mushrooms. Bake again for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is brown.
Serve & Enjoy!

Dolma (Turkish Stuffed Peppers, Squash & Eggplant)

Packed with flavor, meat and rice are stuffed in eggplant, peppers and squash to create an indescribably delicious Gaziantep classic dish.

     Dolma. From the moment I tried them at a friend’s house, I never forgot them. They seemed so simple and yet so delicious. Sure, I had tried and even made my own version of stuffed peppers, but once you taste Dolma, it makes you wonder what you’ve been missing out on.

During the summer months if you’re lucky, you’ll see older women with a pile of fresh peppers that they’ve cleaned and hollowed out to remove the seeds. One by one, they string the peppers on a long string and hang them on their balconies to dry. It is a beautiful sight to see. In my eyes, these women are wise. They are preparing for winter even while it’s still 100F outside. I can’t help but think of my own mom. After growing heaps of tomatoes, then came the process of cleaning and deseeding them to freeze for the wintertime. It’s a lot of hard work, but it most certainly pays off because in the end you get, DOLMA!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500g ground beef
  • 2 c white rice
  • 2 medium white onions (diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Re-hydrating the dried vegetables: For the eggplant and squash, let them soak seperately in boiling water until soft. For the peppers, allow them to soak in cold water, drain, rinse and repeat, until soft.

Preparing the meat & rice stuffing mixture:

In a large stock pot, sauté the ground beef until browned. Then add the onions and garlic with olive oil and sauté until translucent.

Add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir.

Add the rice and fill with just enough water to cover the rice.

Cook on medium low heat until the rice is tender.

Stuffing the vegetables:

Carefully stuff each of the vegetables filling up about 2/3’s of the way full and then press it together like a little package. Continue filling until all the veggies or rice is used (whichever comes first).

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Stack the dolma in a large stock pot, layer by layer. Add about 1 liter of boiling water and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the dolma are done.

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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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

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!