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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Broken

via Daily Prompt: Broken

Broken

By EE Winkler

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Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

When you are broken you are at your best

still alive, you have withstood the test

humbled completely and compassionate

are breathed out from your brokenness

When you are broken the world is not as it seems

your lens is tainted based on what you see

and it’s hard to imagine all that you could be

but behold that there is a world of possibility

When you are broken don’t stay there

there is a Healer who desires to heal and repair

every broken place inside of you

with His Word he heals with peace, love and truth

When I am broken what my eyes can’t see

is His tender love that washes over me

His voice whispers to me and He calms all my fears

gives me hope for tomorrow and dries my tears

He holds my hand in my despair

and reminds me that His love has always been there

in my joy and in my pain

His perfect love pursues me all the same.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Dry

Dry

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Rubén Bagüés on Unsplash

Beware of what seems barren, empty and dry

don’t count it off as dead when from there He can breathe life

from the dust we were made out of nothing we see

and from the dust He still makes beautiful things.

Don’t be disturbed when your heart shatters

for only broken things that are restored can grasp what really matters

what seems like a thorn that will not cease

is being shaped into a beautiful thing.

The desert may be all that you see

but behold there is an oasis, a life giving stream

not around the corner but in the desert where you stand

the Living Water is walking with you through the sand

The journey may seem long, dark and unknown

but oh the treasures He longs to bestow

if only our eyes can be opened to see

that there in the dusty desert He is walking with me.

©All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Life Without Laughter?

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Life Without Laughter?

by EE Winkler

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

A life without laughter is not really a life

but simply an existence in the world does one abide

laughter is the medicine to our souls

to provide some relief in the midst of troubles and woes

A life without laughter is not really a life

without any real joy dwelling inside

when the serious matters are taken too seriously

how can one live life as it was meant to be

A life without laughter is not really a life

void of anything lasting it lives only to survive

take a moment to laugh in the middle of high stress

and a smile will calm your mind and give you a moment of rest

The power of laughter one cannot negate

it can give you the energy you need after a long day

it’s better with friends and those you love

to share a little bit of laughter and a lot of love.

©All Rights Reserved

 

Soy Tahini Rice Noodle Salad

Light and tender rice noodles coated with a soy-tahini dressing and packed with fresh veggies.

I love noodles. But I love noodles with soy sauce and tahini (combined or separately). There’s just something about the flavor of this type of food that I absolutely crave and love. This rice noodle salad was inspired by wanted to make something quick and delicious with my leftover rice noodles. Thus, this recipe was created and it’s really so, so good. Perfect for picnics? Of course! Perfect for potluck dinners? Absolutely! Perfect for a packed lunch? Certainly! Perfect for anytime? Yep, without a doubt.

Here’s the recipe:

Soy Tahini Rice Noodle Salad

  • 1.5 c rice noodles (pre-cooked)
  • 2 scallions (chopped)
  • 1 small carrot (peeled & shredded)
  • 1/4 c fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper (chopped)

For the dressing:

  • 1 T tahini
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1.5 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 T rice wine vinegar

Preparation: 

To make the dressing: pour all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth and well incorporated.

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Add all of the veggies to the dressing and stir well.DSC03134

Place the rice noodles in a large bowl.

Pour over the veggies and the dressing and toss well to insure that the noodles are well coated.

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Serve & Enjoy immediately or pop in the fridge for later. Sooo good.

*Note: This recipe makes one (1) big salad or two (2) small salads.

Guten Appetit!

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!

Rivulets

via Daily Prompt: Rivulet

Rivulets

by EE Winkler

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Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

I was walking in darkness I could not see

until I was awakened to His truth about what He has done for me

It was a day that I won’t forget

He was knocking on my heart and I let Him in

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

Within His kingdom there is a place

for anyone and everyone that will profess His name

not as slaves but as children to the Father’s love

a love greater than any other I cannot completely fathom

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

Grace, grace is what He gave

paid by the His body broken and blood poured out to save

Love, love is found in His name

purer than any other all for love to this earth He came

He poured out His love like rivulets

and he paid a price that I won’t forget

now I am alive because His spirit lives in me

set free from my bondage now I am free

©All Rights Reserved

Turkish Style Hummus

Traditional cuisine meets modern with this Mediterranean classic! 

What I appreciate about hummus is that it is just so simple. All you need is a few minimal ingredients and then you have something really special. The tahini is an absolute must! A paste made from ground sesame seeds, tahini compliments the flavor of the chickpeas and creates layers of flavor within the hummus.

Here’s the recipe:

(Hint: you’ll need a good food processor or blender for this recipe)

  • 2/3 c dried chickpeas
  • 1/3 c tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Drain, rinse and boil for 2 hours (until the chickpeas are tender).

Drain, rinse and remove the skin from the chickpeas (Note: this is not a necessary step but it creates a smoother hummus).

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, stopping the food processor from time to time in order to stir and scrape down the sides.

Once the hummus is smooth, pour onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts for 1 minute and then add the butter and melt. Remove from the heat and pour over the hummus.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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

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!

 

7 Strategies for Starting a New Career & Making a Career Change

Starting a new career or making a career change is not always an easy transition. It takes courage to step out in the first place and then endurance to keep going in pursuing your goals and dreams.

7 Strategies for Starting a New Career & Making a Career Change

1.) Humility: Walking into a new career with humility speaks volumes. It shows that you have an open mind, you’re eager to learn and willing to start from the bottom. It’s true, that you will not be the expert, but humility will pave the way to success.

2.) Teachability: How easily can you be taught? Is it difficult for you or do you see something that you can learn from anyone and everyone. We must be eager and willing to learn, regardless of whom is teaching us. In a new career, this is essential since almost everyone who’s been working in that field a day longer than you will have something to teach you.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

3.) Patience: Success does not happen overnight and starting a new career requires an extra degree of patience because it’s almost like starting over again. But success is a process. Day by day, you’re making progress if you stay diligent, committed and keep putting in your best.

4.) Disciplined Focus: Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked but rather remember why you started in the first place. Get disciplined by creating a schedule for yourself in order to make ample time for your new tasks, responsibilities and independent learning. Focus on what you want to achieve and don’t let your failures weigh you down. Instead, use them as teachable moments to take you further.

5.) Adaptability: Your willingness, eagerness and speed to adapt will make a dynamic impact on your overall progress. Are you willing to accept that there will be differences, there will be things you did not expect (both good things and bad things), there will be obstacles to overcome and there will be opportunity.

6.) Positive Attitude: You can’t always control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction to them. To have a positive attitude is something you must practice. See the best in every circumstance and try to find something positive. Choose to let difficulties make you better and not bitter.

7.) Courage: The voice of fear will always try to keep you bound and rob you from achieving your dreams. But having the courage to see the fear and do it anyway says a lot about your character. Courage in the midst of fear is like paving the road for possibility just simply taking the first steps.

 

©All Rights Reserved

5 Lessons in Character Building from ‘Black Panther’ (the movie)

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Black Panther. Was it just a movie to you or did you glean anything insightful from this feature film? 

Valuable life lessons exist in a myriad of contexts and feature films are no exception to this principle. I was excited to see the movie Black Panther and after I saw it, I was not disappointed. It was a great movie! But not only was it entertaining for me, but it was also insightful.

Here are some things that I gleaned from the movie:

5 Lessons in Character Building from Black Panther (the movie)

1.) Community — in the movie you see a deep rooted sense of community that’s held together in times of celebration and defeat. We all need community — essentially, people that are in our corner and who have our back through success and failures. Your community can be your family, colleagues, friends etc.

2.) Sacrifice — nothing good in life is achieved without sacrifice. It’s actually what makes a story interesting and in the movie you see that sacrifice is a vital component of overcoming obstacles. From time to time we too have to make sacrifices in order to achieve our desired goals. Sacrificing by waking up early to run, sacrificing by working extra hours to complete a project, sacrificing your career to stay at home with your kids, etc. But the positive sacrifices will always reap a reward in due time.

3.) Justice — it’s something we all inwardly crave; this deep desire to make the what’s wrong right. In the movie we see that when the Black Panther loses the battle, for many of the people of Wakanda, they seek justice. They seek for the wrong to be made right. In our lives, we must let our desire for justice not just be used to benefit our own lives but also the lives of those around us.

4.) Integrity — doing the right thing at all times. In the movie, we see the integrity of the Black Panther shine through because he does the right thing even when it would be easy and acceptable to do the wrong thing. At the end of the movie, we even see him willing to make some changes and speak at the UN in order to offer the resources of Wakanda to benefit other nations. We also must be people of integrity, committed to doing the right thing even if it’s not popular or common. We must not compromise our integrity.

5.) Love — an essential part of any good character, love is what makes it all worth it and the driving force. Especially if it’s a love that it unconditional and selfless and truly seeking the greater good of whomever is the object of your affection. This type of love is what kept people fighting for what it right until the end. And ultimately, love conquers all. If you let love lead your life then it will affect every area of your life in a positive way and most certainly build your character.

      Character-building is an ongoing process but thankfully there are so many opportunities for us to learn and grow on a daily basis. What character-building traits did you find in the film?

Photo by Chris Leggat on Unsplash

Never Again

An original poem inspired by #NeverAgain 

Never Again 

by EE Winkler

Now ain’t the time to stay seated

we’re rising up…

Now ain’t the time to stay silent

we’ve had enough

Haven’t enough lives been lost

Isn’t it time we count the cost

If we really want to live a life that matters

Then we need to start speaking up

Never again are we going to let this happen

Never again on our watch…

 

 

©All Rights Reserved

Chicken Tikka Masala

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Tikka Masala

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

Preparation:

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

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To make the chicken tikka masala:

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

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

Add the spices and stir thoroughly.

Add the chicken and sauté  until cooked through.

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

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

Then remove from the heat and stir in the cream.

Serve over a bed of rice or with bread.

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Enjoy!

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Guten Appetit!

 

 

Dad’s Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Creamy, rich and delicious oatmeal, with cinnamon spice and everything nice!

     Growing up, I never realized how blessed I was that both of my parents could cook. They each had their specialties but they always managed to make a great meal to feed our family of seven. Looking back, I am so grateful for this. It really taught me so much!

When my Dad was cooking, breakfast dishes were some of his signature items. In particularly, his cream of wheat or oatmeal. You could always smell it cooking throughout the house because of the aroma of the cinnamon and nutmeg. His dishes were not without flavor and this oatmeal recipe is an excellent testimony.

     I know you might be thinking, what’s so special about oatmeal? Well, I will tell you. It’s simply the way my Dad prepares oatmeal. I actually never had oatmeal any other way until I was much older and I really appreciated his oatmeal even more. 

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     It all starts with milk. Instead of water, he always uses milk and that’s what makes the oatmeal so creamy. To the milk, he adds brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. This combination on it’s own is so good that you could pour it in a glass and drink it as a warm beverage. 

     Once it’s had time to simmer, not boil, he adds the oats and stirs. Then he covers it with a lid and allows it to cook for 5-10 minutes. At the very end, he stirs in some raisins and then it’s ready to enjoy. Creamy and delicious, it’s just sweet enough and so good. 

So, thanks Dad for making great food like this oatmeal recipe and teaching me what you know. I would not be who I am today without you, so thank you for all that you are and all that you’ve done!

Happy Birthday!

Here’s the recipe:

Dad’s Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Oatmeal

  • 1 c oats
  • 2 c milk
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 T – 1/3 c brown sugar (depending on the sweetness level you prefer)
  • 2 T raisins

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a sauce pot and place over medium heat.

Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and stir until the brown sugar has dissolved.

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Keep stirring frequently until it comes to a light simmer. Then pour in the oats, stirring constantly.

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Reduce the heat and allow the oatmeal to simmer for 7-15 minutes*

Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins.

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Pour into a large bowl (or two).

Serve and Enjoy!

Soooo good! I made this yesterday and ate the oatmeal so fast I even surprised myself, lol!

Sheer delight!

*The cook time depends on whether you use quick cooking oats or old fashioned oats. Adjust the cooking time depending on which one you use.

Lamb Chop & Quince Stew (Ayvali Taraklik Tavasi)

Savory and a bit sweet, this dish will make you say Mmmmm.

      If you’ve ever had pork chops and apple sauce, then this recipe is a comparable dish. Packed with flavor, the lamb chops are slow roasted in the oven and then added to a savory tomato and red pepper spiced broth to simmer until finally the quince slices are added and cooked just until they are tender and a bit sweet.

Perfect for a cold day outside, this stew is satisfying and a comforting Turkish classic meal.

Here’s the recipe:

1 kilo of small lamb chops (about 4 inches long)

  • 2 medium white onions (diced)
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 quinces (cored and sliced into sixths)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C (375 F).

Place the lamb chops on a baking sheet in one even layer. Coat with olive oil and place in the oven until browned (approximately 30 to 45 minutes).

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While the lamb chops are roasting, melt the butter in a large stock pot and add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.

Sprinkle in the flour and sugar and stir.

Remove the chops from the oven and add to the pot. Fill the pot with boiling water (just enough to completly cover the chops) and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Stir in the red pepper paste, crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add the quince slices and simmer for another 15 minutes until the quince are soft but not soggy.

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

 

 

Mini Turkish Meatballs (Arap Köftesi)

A delicious mini meatball that’s packed with so much more than just meat. Served with yogurt and a spice oil drizzle, it’s a beautiful and delicious creation!

Essentially, I would consider this dish a meatball. Although the ratio of bulgur to meat is 2 to 1 so maybe it’s more like a bulgur & meatball but regardless, it’s delicious.

While it is a bit of a labor of love to prepare them, the lovely end product is what makes it all worth it. It’s a good dish to make with friends or with kids because it requires a lot of kneading and rolling into the small balls.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 oz ground beef
  • 1.5 c simit bulgur (a fine, small bulgur variety)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBSP dried tarragon (crushed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes (non-spicey)
  • 6 1/2 cups of yogurt
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.5 c sunflower oil (or any neutral oil: vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 0.25 c olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large shallow bowl mix together the ground beef, bulgur, red onion, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper. Knead together for 5 to 10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed.

Then add the finely chopped parsley. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed until the consistency is moist enough to roll into balls without falling apart or sticking to your hands.

Taking piece by piece of the mixture, roll it into small 1 inch balls.

Once all of the balls are made, pile them into a steamer basket and place on the stove to steam for about 10 minutes.

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Remove from the stove and set aside for 10 minutes.

Fill a frying pan with the sunflower oil and olive oil. Once it is hot, add the meatballs and fry until lightly browned.

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Stir in the red pepper flakes and remove the pan from the heat.

To serve, plate 1 TBSP of yogurt on each plate and then top with several meatballs and a light drizzle of the red pepper oil.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready to TESTIFY? “Master, I Want to See”

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Photo by Oscar Keys on Unsplash
What if the one thing that’s standing in the way of your testimony is you? What if you are the one that God is waiting for to participate with Him? What if we’re waiting on His timing, only to discover that He is waiting on us.
We cry out for help and healing and he’s ready to do it but we are not. Sometimes there is some sort of resistance in our lives. Maybe pride? Maybe unbelief? Maybe unforgiveness? Maybe hopelessness? Perhaps we are relying on our own understanding or past experience or present circumstances instead of relying completely on Christ. And so, He waits.
Is there anything in your life today that God may be ready to heal but that He’s waiting for you on? Cry out to Him. He’s listening. If you’re a human being on this earth, He loves you regardless of who you are.
In the story of blind Bartimaeus we read the story of a blind man sitting by the roadside who calls out to Jesus. Even when other people tell him to be quiet, he still cries out even louder until Jesus calls Him over and asks Him something so beautiful,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
What if Jesus is asking you today, “What do you want me to do for you?” Are you honest enough to tell him what you really need? Bartimaeus didn’t sugar coat it, at the heart of his blindness he just said what he desired, “Master, I want to see.”

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?

The blind man answered, “Master, I want to see!

 Jesus told him, “You may go. Your eyes are healed because of your faith.”

Right away the man could see, and he went down the road with Jesus.”

Mark 10: 51-52

Could it be that the obstacle is not God or someone else but you? Could it be that today is our day where we lift up our hands to him, humble our hearts and profess to Him, I’m ready now. “Master, I want to see!”
Are you ready to testify? I am. 

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

 

 

How To Roast Eggplant

The simplest, easiest and tastiest way to enjoy eggplant.

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

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

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

Roasted Eggplant

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

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F.

Place the eggplant on a parchment lined baking sheet.

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

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

 

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

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

*Hint: check out the Babaganoush recipe

Guten Appetit!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Fresh, flavorful, delicious and healthy! This salad is so good and so simple to prepare! With a few fresh ingredients, you’re on your way to a quick meal!

If you’re looking for a quick, delicious and healthy dinner, then this salad is a great option for you. The perfect balance of flavors with the savory spinach, sweet strawberries and crunchy pistachios– this salad creation is a keeper!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 1 or 2 (for a small salad)

2 c spinach
4 strawberries
1/4 c parsley
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP pomegranate molasses*
10 pistachios

Preparation:

Clean the spinach and remove the excess water by putting the spinach in a salad spinner.

Thinly slice the spinach and place it in a bowl.

Chop the parsley and add it to the bowl.

Slice the strawberries and add them to the spinach and parsley.

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Roughly chop the pistachios and then sprinkle them on top of the salad.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it to ensure the salad is thoroughly covered with the dressing.

*Substitute pomegranate molasses for balsamic vinaigrette or make your own pomegranate molasses by simmering pomegranate juice with sugar until it forms a thick syrup.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

Havuc Salatasi (Turkish Carrot Salad)

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

Peel and grate the carrots.

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

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

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

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

Pour the butter mixture over the carrot salad.

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Serve & enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

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

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

Choose Love

“Love is a choice. Beyond feelings, beyond a moment in time, it’s a daily deliberate decision to choose to love.  But in order to be able to love like this, you must first know how much you are already loved by Him.”  -EE Winkler

Choose Love

An original poem by EE Winkler

Choose Love when your enemy spits in your face

criticizes you and calls you harsh names
Choose Love when hatred feels like a fiery flame
seeking to destroy you and your name
Choose Love when everyone else is choosing to hate
with excuses that seek to justify their pain
Choose Love when every door is closing to you
you can open a door with kindness to a stranger caught aloof
Choose Love when your soul is in pain
when loving seems to be all in vain
Choose Love when the world seems calm
and when life serenades over you like a pillowy balm
Choose Love when the sun sets on your season
and you have to find in hard work a brand new meaning
Choose Love when there is no friend in sight
and you find yourself crying through sleepless nights
Choose Love when it all closes in like a storm
and you’re left with a sadness like never before.
Choose Love when it’s hard and not easy to do
in choosing you’ve selected the greatest option for you
Choose Love when a day turns into a night
and the hardest thing to do is just stay alive
Choose Love when no one believes in the truth
listen closely Love is rooting and cheering for you
Choose Love when it’s not popular or in style
you’ll find it’s always the better choice to go the second mile
Choose Love when it’s hard to persevere
when the going gets tough and the end is near
Choose Love when things don’t go your way
there’s a plan for you just wait and pray
Choose Love when you’re ready to give up
hang in there a little longer – beyond the corner is the mountaintop
You can love because He has first loved you…
Photo by Magda Fou on Unsplash

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

Kabak Oturtma (Stuffed Zucchini)

Fresh and succulent zucchini stuffed with flavorful ground beef and spices.

If you love stuffed peppers, then you’ll love Kabak Oturtma, or Stuffed Zucchini. The inside of the zucchini is carefully removed, then it is lightly fried and stuffed with a flavorful ground beef that has been thoroughly seasoned with spices, onions, garlic, peppers and tomato paste.

Each zucchini is stuffed and topped with a small piece of tomato like a little red hat on top. It looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 oz ground beef
  • 20 medium zucchini
  • 3 small onions
  • 1 red pepper (sweet/ bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet/bell)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 0.5 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP  red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F.

Clean and rinse all of the vegetables.

Cut each zucchini into thirds. Then using a spoon or a coring utensil, remove the inside flesh from the zucchini.

In a small frying pan, fry the zucchini in batches until lightly browned. Set aside.

Finely dice the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Mince the garlic and cut the tomatoes into eighths.

In a frying pan,sauté the ground beef until browned. Add the olive oil and then stir in the onions, red pepper, green pepper and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add the 1/4c of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Using a spoon, fill each zucchini with the ground beef mixture about three quarters from the top. Add a piece of tomato on top and stack them upright in a baking pan.

Then fill a small stock pot with 2 cups of water, 1 TBSP of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer until the tomato paste is melted into the water. Pour this liquid over the stuffed zucchini.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

Serve & 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

For All the Times You Hear “I Can’t”

An original poem by EE Winkler. Don’t ever, ever give up. 

For All the Times You Hear “I Can’t”

EE Winkler

For all the times you hear “I can’t”
Stop for a moment and consider the ant
watch how steadily and diligent he moves
to carry up to 10 times his weight over hills and grooves
you won’t hear him whimper or complain
but slowly, slowly he builds his place
no matter how small each item seems
it all adds up in the greater scheme
For all the times you hear “I can’t”
Consider the smallest plant
that starts as a seed buried underground
concealed in darkness it can’t be found
yet diligently it extends its roots
then out from the ground it moves
just a little glimpse of green but everyday
you’ll see the plant growing in the sun rays
For all the times you hear “I can’t
Consider this little chant
I can, I can, and yes I will
onward I’ll tarry across rivers and uphills
until I’ve reached the end of the race
I can, I will for all my days.
In Video:

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash (1st image)

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash (2nd image)

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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Don’t Let This Moment Pass You By–Making the Most of Time

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Photo by Crew on Unsplash
It’s gone. That moment when you first read this title. It has passed you by and it will never come back again. I think that we lose sight of the ugly truth about time. Time is the most expensive commodity in this world and yet we waste it. We find ourselves being distracted by things that don’t matter. Distracted by things that at the end of our lives, will not be something that we recall to mind. Yet although we know these distractions exist and we’re irritated that they exist, we still nurture or pacify their existence.
But what if we starting reclaiming the hours, minutes and seconds of our time back? What if we were more intentional about our investment in the way that we spend our time? Not for the sake of getting more done, but rather for the sake of living a life that brings more fuliment and meaning to our existence.
Time has no meaning outside of relating it to someone higher than ourselves. The Creator of time and the ruler of time. The One who designated a time for us to come into the world and a time for us to leave the world. The One who simultaneously sees our whole lives from beginning to end. At the end of our lives, what will He have to say about our investment of our time? What if the all the things we worked and strived for that we thought mattered, actually don’t?
If a rich man loses his wealth, his title and all material things, but looks around him and sees his beautiful wife and children, is he not still rich? Is his wealth determined by the material things or the people that surround him and love him?
We are each given a predetermined allotment of time on this earth. But do we live a life considering that there is an eternity that will follow this life?
How Do We Make the Most of Our Time?
  1. Take a Recap. Ask yourself the tough questions. What did I do with my time last year? Was it worthwhile? Was there anything I would have done differently? Be honest with yourself. If your recap doesn’t look the way you wanted it to look, then be joyful, today you can start making this a year that will be better than the last.
  2. Examine Your Life Story. If someone wrote a book about your life right now, would it be a story that you were proud of or would it be full of regrets? Would there be things you wish you would have done or did you take every opportunity to do good? Would it be full of excuses or would it show that you made the most out of what you had?
  3. Invest in People. This is the investment that will never be affected by a stock market or interest rate. The investment you make in the life of another person, is indispensable. We need each other. We were made for relationship with other people. No one is an island, nor is anyone a self made person. It was through the investments of many people that made us who we are. Parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, mentors, friends —they all made an impact in our lives to shape us into who we are today. So, how can we invest in other people?
  4. Seize the Day (and the hours, minutes & seconds). See beyond the mundane aspects of daily life and see what’s really there. If it was your last day on earth and you were ironing clothes would your attitude have been positive or negative? Can you see the beauty in the simplest tasks? Can you see the beauty in serving someone besides yourself?
  5. Know the Creator of Time. How can life really be meaningful if you don’t know the Author and the Finisher of life? If you were a computer engineer, and you had the opportunity to sit in a room and talk with Charles Babbage, the father of computing, would you? Wouldn’t your friends, family and colleagues think you were crazy if you passed up this opportunity? Yet, what if daily you’re passing up the opportunity to talk to the Father of life? He’s already extended the invitation. It was sent via an old wooden cross. If you thought it was just a story for the “religious,” think again when He said “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” What a joy it is to know, that includes you and me.
Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…

Tavuklu Pilav (Tender Chicken Rice Pilaf)

Fluffy and flavorful rice with tender chickpeas and large pieces of flavorful chicken piled on top. It’s so good and such a simple dish.

It it all starts with a whole chicken and a big stock pot. This is a beautiful sight to see. It reminds me of watching my mom do this as a kid. The end product was always delicious. So I’m convinced, that if you start with a whole chicken in a big pot of water, you’re off to a good start. The chicken is boiled in the salted water until it is done and then its slathered with a saffron yogurt and roasted until tender. The chicken alone is worth trying but then when you have the fluffy rice and chickpeas, it’s divine!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 whole chicken (2 kilos)
  • 1.5 c frozen chickpeas
  • 4.5 c white rice
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (peeled)
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt — e.g. Greek yogurt)
  • 0.5 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot with 2 peeled red onions. Season with salt, cover with water and boil for 1 to 1.5 hours. Note: Skim the fat off the top occasionally during the cooking process.

Soak the rice in a large bowl for 10-15 minutes. Then drain, rinse and drain the rice again. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and saffron. Set aside.

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When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and place on a baking sheet. Drain the broth through a sieve and then put the broth back in a pot.

Rub the yogurt mixture over the chicken (front and back) then place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the rice.

In a large stock pot, add 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 TBSP of sunflower oil. Add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the chickpeas and then pour over the chicken broth (approximately 10-12 cups or enough to cover the rice). Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy.

Remove the chicken out of the oven and using two forks, shred the chicken off the bones into large pieces.

To serve, place the rice on a large serving dish. Place the large pieces of shredded chicken on top of the rice. Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

 

 

Börek with Antep Peynir & Parsley

A light, crispy, flaky pastry & packed with the perfect blend of Antep peynir and parsley!

     If you love a good savory croissant, then you’ll absolutely love this Börek with Antep Cheese & Parsley! It’s light and delicious and layered with flavor.

Made with Yufka, a thin flaky dough comparable to phyllo dough that comes pre-prepared, it’s a great item to whip up in a hurry in your home kitchen.

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Plus, the fresh flavors of Antep peynir and parsley make this a delicious and flavorful dish!

What is Antep Peynir?

Antep Peynir is a type of cheese produced in the city of Gaziantep in Turkey. It is a dense white cheese traditionally made from sheep or goat milk.

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Antep Peynir

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 package of Yufka (or phyllo dough) torn to pieces
  • 5 TBSP melted butter
  • 5 TBSP water
  • 2 c grated Antep Peynir (or a dense white cheese; mozzarella could work)
  • 1 c minced fresh parsley

Preparation:

Tear the Yufka into pieces, reserving two large pieces.

Mix together the cheese and parsley and set aside.

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In a circular pan, layer the Yufka on the bottom. Sprinkle with 2 TBSP melted butter and 2 TBSP of water.

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Layer the cheese and parsley mixture evenly on top.

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Cover with another layer of Yuka. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. (Repeat 1 more time)

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Then take the two larger piece of yukfka and place on top. Cut off any hanging edges from the pan.

Then shape the sides of the dough into the pan.

Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. And cut it in quarters.

Cook the Börek on an open flame until browned on the bottom.

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Remove from the flame. Carefully cover the Börek with a plate and flip. Arrange the Börek back into the circular dish and return to the open flame.

Cook until browned. Then cut and serve immediately!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

The Vine

An original poem inspired by John 15

 

 

 

The Vine

The Vine called out to me the branch…
whatever you do, just don’t let go
I love you more than you could ever know
you don’t have to fret and fear
just look by your side
and you’ll see I’m near
I make the sun to shine upon your face
and I’ve given you everything you need by my glorious grace
my love it truly knows no end
I’m holding you together again and again
The branch replied…
But the wind it blows and it shakes my life
I try to hold on and I’m holding tight
but I feel like this storm is going to tear me apart
it’s hitting me to the core of my heart
The vine said…
Don’t worry about a single thing
In me you’ll find everything
even if the storm blows everything away
I will still be holding you at the end of the day
Your tears I’ve gathered like precious gems
In your ear I’m whispering sweet encouragement
If only you will just stay connected to me
You will find the beauty in everything
The branch it smiled and leaned in close
looking at the vine it could suddenly know
that every care and concern
the vine of course had surely heard
the branch experienced the love of the vine that day
when the fiercest storm came and threatened to blow it away
but as it held on to the vine it soon began to see
that the all along the vine was holding onto me.

Pancar Sararsi (Fresh Stuffed Chard Rolls)

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

Recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

To one bowl, add the bulgur and mix together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Serve and enjoy!

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

 

Quick Homemade Hummus

Smooth, thick and full of flavor! This homemade hummus is so simple and quick to prepare!

Who doesn’t love a delicious hummus? It’s just good! My favorite way to eat is warm and topped with toasted pine nuts! But the best part of making hummus is that it’s simple. If you have a food processor or really good blender, then they do all of the work for you.

Simply add the ingredients in and give it a spin!

Here’s a video that shows you how I make my recipe. You can also find the recipe below.

Simple Homemade Hummus

  • 28oz canned chickpeas (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 3-4 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Add the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Stir and enjoy!

Soganli Lahmacun (Onion Turkish Pizza)

A twist on the traditional Turkish pizza, this Soganli Lahmacun, is packed with flavorful finely minced onions, meat and more!

I love Lahmacun. But I mean who wouldn’t? It has a very thin, perfectly crispy around the edges and it’s packed with delicious fresh flavor. While the traditional Lahmacun is amazing, I must say that this Soganli Lahmacun is also delicious in it’s own unique way. All of the ingredients are minced together so finely that when you taste the pizza, you actually taste all of the ingredients all together. And, my oh my, how yummy they taste together.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500 grams ground beef
  • 1 kilo of red onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 medium red peppers (sweet or bell peppers)
  • 150 grams walnuts (shelled)
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 2/3 c tomato paste

Preparation:

Peel the onions, rinse and drain.

Peel the garlic cloves.

Wash, cut in half and remove the seeds of the peppers.

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

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

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

Using the bread dough recipe below, prepare your lahmacun.

Bread Dough

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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

10 Spice Roasted Potatoes

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

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

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

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

Spiced Roasted Potatoes

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

Need buttermilk in a pinch to complete your recipe? This DIY recipe is a simple solution. With just two ingredients, you’ll have a fresh batch of homemade buttermilk.

As a kid, my mom always had buttermilk in the refrigerator. It was essential. She used it mostly in baking, pancakes and corn bread and so she never was without it (because she’s an amazing lady!)

But there have been numerous times, when I started a recipe and looked in my fridge only to realize I’m all out of buttermilk but I still wanted to finish the recipe.

This 2 ingredient recipe is the simple solution. I even got out my culinary science equipment to prepare it (baking & chemistry are best friends).

Here’s the recipe!

Or, just watch the video below. I hope it’ll solve your buttermilk wishes or just make you smile.

 

DIY Homemade Buttermilk

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar (substitute lemon juice if desired)

Preparation:

Pour the milk into a small container. Add the vinegar and stir.

Allow the mixture to sit for about 10 minutes.

Voila! You have your buttermilk ready to use immediately!

So simple 🙂

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Su Böreği (Cheesy Flakey Pastry)

Flaky and crispy on the outside. Melted cheesy and herb goodness on the inside. Imagine a really good croissant, but crispier, flakier and cheesy. 

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The first time I heard a description of Su Böreği, I expected it to be soggy and not so great. Literally, Su Böreği means “water börek.” Börek is a delicious pastry that comes in a myriad of varieties but it is always normally made with yufka, which is similar in texture and taste to phyllo dough. So, this sounded like a watery

pastry, in my mind. Although I’ve seen it at one of my favorite local bakeries, I’ll admit, I was still apprehensive about ever trying it. That is until, my cooking course.

In the course, we prepared a Su Böreği that shocked my eyes and tastebuds. I guess there’s more than one way to make Su Böreği because this one was light, flaky, crispy and filled with gooey cheese and parsley on the inside. When it’s warm, you pull a square and the melty cheese stretches and it’s absolutely delicious.

So, perhaps this is not the traditional way of making Su Böreği, I’m actually not sure at all. But one thing is for sure, this recipe is absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of normal yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 8 pieces of baklava yufka (substitute phyllo dough or puff pastry)
  • 1 lb. Antep peynir (substitute: mozzarella cheese)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (minced)
  • 12 TBSP oil
  • 7 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP salt

Preparation:

Grate the Antep peynir (or mozerella cheese if using) and place in a bowl.

Mince the parsley and then add to the bowl with the cheese. Season with salt and stir.

Grease 2 large circular 15 inch pans with 1 TBSP of oil each. NOTE: One will be reserved for later when it’s time to flip the dish during the cooking process.

Layer 4 sheets of the baklava yufka in the bottom of the pan.

Drizzle with 1 TBSP of oil.

Take out the yufka and tear it into large pieces. Layer 1/3 of the torn yukfka in the pan and drizzle with 2 TBSP of water.

Layer another 1/3 of the torn yufka on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then pour the cheese and parsley mixture on top and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil.

Then add the remaining torn yufka on top, being sure to tuck it into the sides. Drizzle with 2 TBSP of water and 3 TBSP of oil.

Then take 3 more pieces of the baklava yufka and layer it on top. Sprinkle it with 1 TBSP of water and then add the final sheet of baklava yufka.

Press down and trim the edges with a sharp knife. Place the trimmed pieces underneath the top layer and drizzle with 2 TBSP of oil and 1 TBSP of water.

Then press the edges down again to ensure that they’re tucked in.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dish into 1 inch X 1 inch pieces. (Note: wet the knife by dipping it into a shallow bowl of water in between each cut)

Sprinkle with 1 more TBSP of water and then place the dish on an open flame. Cook until it is crispy and brown.

Remove the dish from the heat, cover it with the other greased pan and carefully flip it so that the cooked side is facing up.

Place back on the open flame and cook the other side until brown.

Serve and enjoy immediately! It’s so good when it’s warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

Quick Skillet Pita Bread

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

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

Skillet Pita Bread 

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

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Patlican Salatasi (Eggplant Salad)

Tender, roasted eggplant is mixed with fresh vegetables and an olive oil and lemon dressing. 

One of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant is roasted. It’s so simple and it always comes out delicious and ready to complete any meal. The first step to this salad is roasting the eggplant. This immediately brought a smile to my face because I knew that this was going to be a tasty dish.

The proof is in the taste test and this salad wins! The eggplant is light and compliments all of the flavors of the salad. You’ve got to give it a try!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 kilos of eggplant
  • 5 small tomatoes (500 grams)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 small green peppers (e.g. bell peppers or any sweet pepper)
  • 3 small red onions
  • 0.5 bunch of fresh mint
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven on 375F.

Rinse and pat dry the eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and poke holes in the eggplant (to allow the steam to escape while it roasts).

Roast the eggplant for about 45 minutes. Let cool.

While the eggplant cools, chop the tomatoes, parsley and mint.

Thinly slice the peppers, onions and the peel of half of a lemon (reserving the rest of the lemon to juice later). Place all of the ingredients in a bowl.

Peel the skin off the eggplant, squeeze off some of the excess juice, and chop it into small pieces. Add the eggplant to the rest of the ingredients. Squeeze the lemon juice on top, pour over the olive oil and season with salt (to taste).

Serve & enjoy!

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NOTE: It goes so well with Soganli Lahmacun (Turkish Onion Pizza)!

Afiyet Olsun!

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

Get Local, Get in Season

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Every season has a unique range of fresh produce to offer depending upon where you live in the world. Although it’s wintertime in the Mediterranean region of the world, there’s still a plethora of delicious, affordable and seasonal produce available at the grocery stores and farmers market.

Although this does not represent a collective view of all the seasonal produce, I like to think of it as a small cornucopia of winter vegetables.

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A lovely leafy green that’s great to cook like spinach or a more tender version of some of my other favorite greens (e.g. collards & turnip greens)

Beets

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Their deep red hue makes them beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. Great for boiling and making a delicious salad or for roasting in the oven.

Eggplant

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Roasted eggplant is my absolute favorite way of working with this beauty. Although it means discarding the skin (which is not so great) it means a simple & delicious way to utilize it!

Carrots

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Think beyond the salad. Roast them, bake them, sauté them! There’s so many different ways to prepare them. They’re sweet and delicious but they also absorb the flavors of herbs and spices nicely!

Purple Carrots

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How can I resist when a farmer has a cart full in the middle of the city center. Fresh from the farm and beautiful in color to pair with the orange carrots for a delicious roasted meal.

Mint

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Just a hint of mint can go a long way! It’s perfect to add to a garlic yogurt for a delicious sauce for meat or to use in a Mediterranean salad such as Tabbouleh, to compliment the flavors of the parsley and lemon.

Red Peppers

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Sweet and the best friend to tomatoes, I love making sauces and meals with red peppers. They pair perfectly in stir fry, savory pasta sauces or a thick curry. They are a must for my produce shopping trips because they always compliment a meal so well!

Kiymali Zeytin Börek (Beef & Olive Börek)

A little savory baked pocket packed with tender ground beef and flavorful olives.

What is Börek? In the simpliest terms, they are a variety of stuffed pastries generally with a thin and flaky dough. The dough is normally either a phyllo dough or yufka. They are the type of pastry that has that soft “crunch” as the flaky pieces break off with each bite. However, this börek uses a softer dough that is similar in texture to pizza dough. Although a bit more dense, it’s still compliments the filling nicely.

While börek can be savory or sweet, this recipe with ground beef and green olives is savory. It is perfect for a lunchtime meal.

While the dough is important (find my bread dough recipe here), the filling is crucial.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500 g ground beef
  • 3 c of green olives (pitted and chopped)
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 bunch parsely
  • 1 c diced walnuts
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses (nar eksisi)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber)
  • 1 tsp black pepper (kara biber)
  • 11/2 tsp cumin
  • salt (to taste)
  • pre-prepared bread dough*

*If not taking the börek to a FIRIN.

Preparation:

Sauté the ground beef. Then add about 1 cup of water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and the red pepper paste until well combined. Then add the cumin, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt to the beef mixture and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the green onions, parsley, walnuts and green olives. Then add them all to the ground beef mixture, stir and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium heat.

Add the lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Stir until well incorporated and taste. Add more seasoning if needed.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat safe bowl.

If taking to the FIRIN (bakery), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and bring it to the FIRIN.

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If baking them at home, then roll out the bread dough until very thin. Cut into long strips about 6 inches long and fill the dough with a heaping tablespoon of the filling.

Fold the dough over and seal it with an egg wash or water to form a half moon piece for each börek. Bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes or until browned.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

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

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!

“Keep Your Eyes on Me,” He Whispers

Keep your eyes on Me,” I hear him whisper.

     Life is full of ups and downs. Even on the calmest day, I still have to pause and refocus. Where are my eyes? Where is my hope?
If I keep my eyes on myself, I’m headed for trouble.
If I keep my eyes on other people, then I’m headed for trouble.
But if I keep my eyes on Him, there I find peace and the meaning of life.
Apart from Him there is no hope. He is hope. So in Him, keeping my eyes on Him, I find hope.

Who is this HIM I’m referring to? It is no other than Almighty God. Father, Spirit, Son. The Great I AM. The One Who Was and Is and Is to come.
Maybe you have heard of Him or you know Him in a way that’s not true to His character. If you met Him today, you’d be pleasantly surprised that He’s absolutely crazy about you! He loves you more than you can imagine being loved.
Instead of waving a finger when He looks at You, His arms are wide open and He’s running to greet you. Politely, he knocks on the door of your heart. He waits for you to respond to Him. He doesn’t barge His way in. But when we allow Him in, we find all we’ve ever wanted. Finally, that part of us that we’ve tried to fill with a billion other things is complete because our Savior resides there.
Life will not always be smooth sailing, but the comfort and peace is found in knowing Him we can rest assured that we know the Captain steering our ship, and He is good, VERY good. Not everything that happens to you will be good. The world is a fallen place. But you can rest assured that He is always Good.
If you feel like you’re carrying a weight that’s too much for you, then cast it all on Him. He’s always available and He’s just waiting for you to say YES.

Çoban Salatasi (Shepherd’s Salad)

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

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

Preparation:

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

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

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

Serve and enjoy!

 

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

Just in the Knick of Time

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Photo by Dieter de Vroomen on Unsplash
       Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere that is absolutely contingent on whether or not you’re on time?
      The doors close at 9:00am sharp or the race starts right on time or the last tickets are given to people that arrive on time or even early. Time is the one thing that no matter how much money you have in your pocket, you can never buy it back. Once a minute, hour or day is over, it is over. There’s no way to try and get it back again. And yet with the basic cognitive awareness, we still lose ourselves in the concept of time.
      We plead for time to somehow speed up during the times of drudgery or boringess (e.g. at work or waiting in line or while on the subway headed home) but yet we plead for more time in the midst of the most blissful moments (e.g. wedding day, dinner with your aging grandparents, a once in a lifetime trip). But time is not in our hands, nor does it submit to our selfish whims no matter how we try to justify it, time simply does not belong to us.
So who does time belong to? 
      You see it’s a question that you must answer for yourself at some point in time in your life. It’s not a question that anyone can answer for you, it’s up to you to answer it for yourself. We all embrace the concept that we didn’t decide when we were born, nor are we given the foreknowledge of when we will die. And when we are met with near-death circumstances, only then does it really seem that we think about it more in depth. But what if thinking of death does not fall into the grasp of sheer morbidity—what if thinking of death allows us to really make the most out of this life.
      Some say you never know what you have until it’s gone. If we don’t see the preciousness of life in light of the fact that there will be an inevitable end to it, well, how do we really know if we have allowed ourselves to live to its maximum potential. 
      We were all made uniquely. Each with a unique string of DNA that tells our body to have green eyes or brown eyes, curly hair or straight hair, brown skin or white skin. And yet somehow we forget our uniqueness and strive for the ideal of sameness, of fitting in. And yet, we were never made to be the same or to simply fit in, we were made to stand out. Each uniquely designed for good works to do by our Creator.
      So who does time belong to? And what are you doing with the time that you’ve been given. At the end of your life, there will be something said about you, have you considered what words would matter the most? Does your life now move in the direction of this?