Halva (Peynirli Un Helvasi)

Halva is a sweet dessert found throughout Central Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and many other parts of the world. There are a few variations of Halva including several variations of, a tahini (sesame seed paste) halva and a flour halva.
Nowadays, it’s easily found in many stores throughout the world. But, making this confectionary at home is also a reasonable possibility.  This simple recipe is for a flour based halva. The process is similar to making a roux, béchamel or a gravy except that it is indeed of course, sweet. This variation of the flour halva includes an unsalted cheese that is barley melted through the halva. The cheese creates a flavorful and unique twist on the classic dessert.
Here’s the recipe:
Flour Halva with Cheese
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c sunflower oil
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c milk
  • 3/4 c Antep peynir (grated) (substitute: unsalted mozerella)
  • 1 TBSP butter
Preparation:
Add the oil to a large stock pot. Using a whisk, gradually add the flour while whisking constantly until smooth.
Then add the sugar slowly, while constantly whisking.
Continue whisking and slowly add the milk until well incorporated.
Add the butter and then with a spatula fold in the grated cheese. As soon as the cheese starts to melt, remove from the heat.
Serve immediately & 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

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!

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!