Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

Tender fresh grape leaves stuffed with a flavorful vegetarian filling.

I will never forget the first time I tried stuff grape leaves. I cannot remember exactly how old I was but I was a small child. It was a new taste for me. The leave reminded me of an undercooked collard green but I thought the filling was quite tasty.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I would say I’ve eaten my fair share of stuffed grape leaves in many different countries, prepared a myriad of different ways. Although they do require some time to actually roll and stuff the leaves, they are well worth the effort. I love that they can be eaten hot, cold or at room temperature so there’s no need to fuss with this aspect. 

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Traditionally, they are prepared with meat, but I don’t miss the meat when I prepare them without it. I created this recipe because I did not have meat on hand and I used bulgur instead of rice simply because I really love bulgur. 

I think that everyone that has ever eaten a stuffed grape leaves, knows them immediately when they see them. And if they are like me, then seeing them will surely bring a smile to their face.

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Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Stuffed Grape Leaves (Taze Yaprak Sarmasi) – Vegetarian Version

  • 20-30 fresh grape leaves
  • 1/2 c dry fine bulgur
  • 1 small onion (finely diced; about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To blanche the grape leaves: Clean the grape leaves thoroughly. Then prepare a large pot of boiling water. Working in batches, blanche the grape leaves for about 30-60 seconds. Then remove from the water and place into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain the grape leaves and set aside.

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To prepare the filling: Prepare the bulgur by placing it in a bowl and adding one cup of boiling water. Stir and then cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow it to steam for 10 minutes. 

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Then add the tomato paste and stir well, adding a little water as needed. 

Then mix the bulgur and the tomato paste mixture in a large bowl. Season with the oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh parsley just until it is incorporated.

In a large stock pot, line the bottom with about 4-5 grape leaves (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan).

To roll the grape leaves: One by one, place them on a flat surface. Starting at the wide bottom part of the grape leaf, place about half a tablespoon of the filling on the leaf and spread out into a thin line. Fold in the sides of the leaf and gently roll it until it is completely rolled. Continue until all of the grape leaves are rolled.

Place each of the stuffed grape leaves seam side down in the pot, side by side, very close together. Top with the lemon slices and enough water to fill the pot half way up (but do not submerge the grape leaves. Place a heavy ceramic plate of bowl on top of the grape leaves and cover with a lid. Allow the grape leaves to cook for about 45 minutes, adding more water as needed. 

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Once cooked, gently remove from the pot.

Serve and Enjoy with a lemon slice.

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Afiyet Olsun!

 ©All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: EE Winkler

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

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Bazlama (Turkish Yeast Flatbread)

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break bread and enjoy with your loved ones!

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Afiyet Olsun! 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Mushroom LoMein

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

For the sauce:

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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Pour onto a serving platter and garnish with the scallions.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Bon Appetit!

Bratkartoffeln (German-Style Home Fries)

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

Bratkartoffeln

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

An irresistible German treat, Quarkspitzen are like German doughnut holes. Golden brown and crispy on the outside but delicate and tender on the inside. 

A visit to the German Christmas markets or to the annual Kat (a large local carnival with rides, games and food) would not be complete without buying a few Quarkspitzen. Before I even knew what they were, I was interested just from the very smell of them cooking. Made from quark, a type of dairy that is the consistency of a thick yogurt or sour cream.

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Although Christmastime is more than six months away, there’s nothing like recalling this and the myriad of marvelous Christmas treats from the German Christmas markets.

Here’s the recipe:

Quarkspitzen (German Doughnut Holes)

  • 3 T melted butter
  • 300g quark
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1.5 – 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • oil (for frying)
  • powdered sugar (for dusting the quarkspitzen after frying)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar.

Then add the eggs and continue to whisk.

Mix together the corn starch, baking powder and flour.

Gradually add in the flour mixture and the quark, half at a time, rotating between the two of them.

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Then add the lemon juice and stire just until it is combined.

Set the batter aside for 10-15 minutes and fill a large stock pot with oil.

To fry the quarkspitzen, dip a spoon in the oil and then into the quarkspitzen batter and place into the fryer to create a roughly oval shape. Fry until golden brown on each side and then place on a paper towel lined plate.

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Continue until all of the dough has been used.

Dust the quarkspitzen with powdered sugar, or if you prefer, granulated sugar.

Serve & Enjoy warm.

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YUM!

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Guten Appetit!

Fröhe Weihnachten!

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe:

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

For the stock:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1 onion (quartered)
  • salt (to taste)

For the meatballs:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • 3-4 T dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3-1/2 c breadcrumbs
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

For the gravy:

  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • cooking stock (that the meatballs cooked in)
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 15-20 capers 
  • salt & pepper  (to taste, if needed)

Preparation:

Start by preparing the stock: Fill a large stock pot with water. Then add the bay leaves, capers, onion and salt. Place on the stove and bring to a boil.

In the meantime, prepare your meatballs. 

To prepare the meatballs: Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the onion, dijon mustard, eggs, breadcrumbs, oregano, salt and pepper. 

Then mix together the mixture using your hands until it is well combined.

Then shape the meat into large balls and gently drop into the boiling stock.

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Allow the meatballs to cook for about 40-45 minutes, monitoring the water levels occasionally to ensure that there is sufficient liquid (if not, then add some more water).

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Pre-cooked…
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The meatballs are done boiling & it smells so good!

Once the meatballs are done cooking, remove them from the pot and place them on a plate.

Then place a colander in a bowl and drain the stock. Set the stock aside for the gravy.

To make the gravy: Start by making a roux. Melt the butter in your stock pot and then add the flour and whisk constantly until it comes together. Then add the stock liquid while whisking constantly until smooth.

Bring to a boil and add the dijon mustard, capers, salt and pepper and whisk for anotherr minute or two.

Then add the meatballs back into the gravy.

Serve with boiled potatoes and enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

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Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

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

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

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Here’s the recipe*

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

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