Veggie Supreme Burger

A veggie burger that’s far from average…

An all veggie burger layered with thick slices of roasted vegetables, topped with my special sauce and packed on a brioche bun!

Confession… I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I would consider myself a veggie lover! I’ve always loved vegetables and I always will! I was that strange kid begging my Dad to pack me cucumber or bell pepper in my lunch. It just tasted delicious to me and it still does.

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Anyway, I understand that maybe everyone is not a veggie lover, and despite the fact that this is a Veggie Supreme Burger (meaning it’s only veggies and no meat), I think you’ll love it.

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The vegetables are roasted in the oven until they are tender and caramelized. Paired with the savory special tahini sauce and a homemade brioche bun, it’s a match made in heaven. If you’re not convinced, watch the video above. I salivate every time I watch it even though I am the one who made it, lol!

Guten Appetit!

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!

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Photo Credit: EE Winkler

Garlicky Good Green Beans

Simple, healthy and delicious green beans sautéed with garlic, olive oil and seasoning!

A good side dish recipe can be difficult to create but well worth the effort. This recipe was birthed nearly 10 years ago when I wanted to make green beans in a quicker way than how I grew up eating them. And so, with a bit of garlic, olive oil, seasoning and green beans, this recipe idea became a reality. It is still a go-to recipe for me to prepare a simple and quick side dish. It is perfect for everyday whether it is just a weekday or a holiday.

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Here’s the recipe:

Garlicky Good Green Beans

  • 1.5 c green beans
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (crushed and minced)
  • 1-2 T olive oil (or butter)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Clean and trim the ends of the green beans.

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Mince the garlic until it forms a paste (rubbing the flat part of a knife back and forth on a cutting board with a bit of salt will achieve this paste consistency).

Place the green beans and garlic in a frying pan with a little bit of water. Simmer them for about 2-3 minutes and then drain the excess water.

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Drizzle over the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and sauté the green beans for just a couple of minutes before the garlic starts to brown too much.

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Serve immediately and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Bon Appetit!

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!

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!

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!