How to Make Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza) at Home

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

The Legend of the Turkish Pizza

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

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

thumb_DSC05987_1024

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

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

Preparation:

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

thumb_DSC05994_1024

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

Set the mixture aside and roll out the dough.

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05996_1024thumb_DSC05997_1024

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

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

thumb_DSC06015_1024

Afiyet Olsun! 

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

 

Homemade Apple Sauce (Simple & Delicious)

Just apples, a hint of sugar and a few of my favorite spices and you’re on your way to making homemade apple sauce.

I love applesauce. It was one of those things as I kid that I used to love to have as a snack. It just tasted so good; and honestly, I still love it. For years I never knew that it was so simple to make. I just relied on the store-bought kind until I moved to countries that don’t sell apple sauce. Lol! That’s when I go to my kitchen laboratory and get to work creating.

thumb_DSC05202_1024

The recipe is so simple. I mean, really simple. If you can cook apples and then pop them in a food processor — well, you have apple sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Apple Sauce

  • 3 apples (I used Golden Delicious because they are sweet and delicious!)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T white sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardomom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 c water

Preparation:

Peel, core and slice the apples.

thumb_DSC05212_1024

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

thumb_DSC05214_1024

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

thumb_DSC05238_1024

Remove the cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods.

Transfer the apples to a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve and Enjoy warm or pop it in the fridge for later. (It is really good cold, especially on a hot summer day! Simply refreshing!) 

thumb_DSC05245_1024

Guten Appetit!

Homemade German Pretzels (“Bretzels”)

Soft and tender, freshly baked pretzels. It is like taking a trip to Germany without stepping foot outside of your kitchen.

Pretzels are one of  the first snack foods that I remember eating as a kid outside of my favorites (cucumber & bell peppers — don’t judge me, I’ve always loved my veggies, lol!). My parents would buy these massive five pound bags of pretzels and I used to love to grab a handful of them.

Well, not much has changed from my childhood days. I still love pretzels. Every time my husband and I go to Germany, I always have to get at least one during our trip. Hey, we even had pretzels served during our “Kaffee und Kuchen” (German for “Coffee and Cake”) on our wedding day. After our wedding we were still eating all of the leftover pretzels and you know what, they were still so good (thanks to our lovely local German bakery).

thumb_DSC03510_1024

Plus, if you have not seen the episode of Mister Roger’s neighborhood when he goes to the pretzel factory, do yourself a favor and watch it. It inspires me and makes me smile today just as it did when I was a kid. Mister Rogers was a brilliant person, that I am still learning from to this very day. He had such a sincere compassion and love for people and also for pretzels too!

 

Well, as you can see, I am a pretzel fan to say the least. But without further adieu, aahhhemm, the recipe…

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade German Pretzels “Bretzels”

  • 1.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp dry active yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 1.5 T oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 T baking soda
  • corse sea salt (to taste, sprinkled onto of the pretzels just before baking.

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, honey, 1 T of oil and warm water. Stir well and set aside.

In the meantime, combine the flour and salt in a bowl.

Then add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and stops sticking to the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8-10 minutes.

thumb_DSC03477_1024.jpg

Then lightly oil a bowl with the remaining half a tablespoon of oil. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and place the dough in a warm place to rise for one hour.

After one hour, it is time to shape the pretzels.

 

Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll into a ball.

Then roll it out into a long thin rope.

thumb_DSC03483_1024

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

thumb_DSC03484_1024

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

thumb_DSC03485_1024

Continue until all of the pretzels are shaped.

Then boil a large pot of water and add the baking soda.

Place each pretzel in the water for 20-30 seconds, turing them halfway in between.

thumb_DSC03494_1024

Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle the course sea salt on top of each pretzel and bake them on 200C/392F for about 15 minutes (or until they are golden brown).

thumb_DSC03510_1024

Serve & Enjoy Warm.

Guten Appetit!

 

 

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

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

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

thumb_DSC04985_1024

Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

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

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

thumb_DSC04988_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC04987_1024

Afiyet Olsun!

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05378_1024

Here’s the recipe*

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

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

Preparation:

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

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

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

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

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

thumb_DSC05429_1024

Serve & Enjoy!

thumb_DSC05442_1024thumb_DSC05452_1024

Afiyet Olsun!

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

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles –Homemade)

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

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

thumb_DSC03888_1024

 

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

Here’s the recipe:

Spätzle (German Egg Noodles)

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

Preparation:

Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk.

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

Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.

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

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

thumb_DSC03888_1024

Dip the cutting board in the water.

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Block Grater Method

thumb_DSC03904_1024

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

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

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

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

Repeat until all your batter is used.

Plastic Colander Method

thumb_DSC03893_1024

Dip the colander in the boiling water.

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

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

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

Repeat until all your batter is used.

To make the Butter & Herb Spätzle:

thumb_DSC03923_1024

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.

Add the Spätzle and sauté for a few minutes.

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

 

Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls–Homemade)

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

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

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

DSC03784

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

Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Brötchen (Traditional German Bread Rolls

For the dough:

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

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 T water

Toppings:

  • sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • rolled oats

Preparation:

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

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

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

Then pour the dough onto a clean, floured workspace.

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

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

DSC03679

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

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

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

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

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

DSC03700

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

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

DSC03817

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

DSC03702

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

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

Serve & Enjoy!

Guten Appetit!

DSC03784DSC03766DSC03712DSC03711