Monday, June 30, 2008

Bulgur Pilaf with Chickpeas (Nohutlu Bulgur Pilavı)

2 cups bulgur (coarse grind)
1 cup chickpeas
8-9 cups chicken broth
Pinch of salt

Soak chickpeas overnight in a bowl full of water. Boil chicken broth (home made broth is preferable) with the overnight soaked chickpeas until they are soft. Add the bulgur and salt adjusted for your taste and simmer until all the water is evaporated. You do not need to add extra oil as the home made chicken broth already has some of its own fat. Although, I remove most of the fat from the broth by placing it in the refrigerator and removing the accumulated fat, still some of the fat stays in the broth. Serve warm.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chicken with Walnuts (Çerkez Tavuğu)

This lovely dish comes from the region of the Black Sea in Turkey where a rich variety of foods exist. As I did not grow up eating this dish, when I first had the pleasure of tasting it, I fell in love with it.

This recipe is adopted from the ‘Anatolian Feast’ Turkish Cookbook by the American Turkish Association of Houston. I purchased their cookbook a couple years ago and tried numerous of recipes. An astonishing number of recipes from all over Turkey are just in one cookbook! Without exaggeration, every single recipe I have tried from this Turkish Cookbook has turned out extremely well. The people who have given their recipes to create this cookbook have a considerable number of years of cooking experience. Enjoy this delicious dish!

1 whole chicken
2 ½ cups raw walnuts
2 cups chicken broth
2-3 slices white bread (without crust)
1 large onion (quartered)
4 garlic cloves (2 sliced and 2 whole)
5-6 sprigs parsley
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp sumac (optional)
½ tsp thyme (optional)
½ tsp paprika or cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
4 walnut pieces & a couple sprigs of parsley for garnishing

Boil the chicken in a pot that is half full of water or enough water to just cover the chicken. Add the onion, carrots, the sliced garlic, parsley, sumac, thyme, 1 tsp of the salt and half of the black pepper. Boil covered until tender. Once the water starts boiling, open the lid partially, or else the water will overflow. Turn the heat down to low until cooked. This whole boiling process should take about 40-45 minutes depending on your stove. In addition, make sure to remove the foam that accumulates on the surface of the pot. Remove chicken from the broth and let cool.

Ground the walnuts in a blender or a food processor. Soak the bread in the chicken broth for 5 minutes. Add the bread slices and the stock to the walnuts. Add the garlic, the rest of the salt and pepper. Make sure you have a smooth sauce after blending. Taste the sauce to make sure the salt and pepper are adjusted according to your taste.

Once the chicken is cooled, remove all the skin and fat. Shred the chicken meat. Place in a large bowl and add half of the walnut mixture and mix well. Place in a serving dish and pour the rest of the sauce on top.

Heat the olive oil & cayenne or paprika in a small pan. Once it starts sizzling, remove from heat and pour over the chicken with walnuts. Garnish with walnut pieces and parsley. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spinach with Ground Beef (Kıymalı Ispanak)

2 bunches of fresh spinach
1 lb ground beef (96% lean)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Discard the hard part of the stems of the spinach and wash thoroughly. I usually let the spinach sit in water for a few minutes before I wash them 4-5 times. There is so much dirt on the spinach, it is essential to wash them well.

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and sautee for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat takes a brownish color. Season the meat with salt, pepper and paprika. Place the spinach on top of the ground beef and cover for a few minutes. Mix the ingredients in the pan together while cooking. Do not overcook the spinach as it will not give you the same taste. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve warm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Brussels Sprouts and Mushroom Sautee (Sotelenmiş Brüksel Lahanası ve Mantar)

¾ lb Brussels sprouts
¾ lb small white cap mushrooms
1/3 lb white pearl onions (small onions)
¼ cup white wine
1 tbsp basil
½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large pan. Add the red pepper flakes and the basil to the olive oil when the oil gets hot. First, put the Brussels sprouts and sautee for 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and pearly onions and sautee for 2-3 more minutes. Add the wine and salt and mix. Sautee until the wine is dried up and most of the juice is evaporated. Serve warm.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Imam Fainted with Meat (Etli İmam Bayıldı)

The name of this dish is very interesting. I really do not know the story behind its name, however ‘İmam’ means a ‘Muslim religious leader’ and ‘Bayıldı’ means ‘Fainted’. Some people say because the İmam ate this dish and it was so delicious that he fainted and some say he fainted when he saw the prices of olive oil used in this dish and etc. Wherever the name came from, this dish will really give an intense pleasure to your taste buds. In most parts of Turkey, this dish is made without meat and served cold due to it being cooked in olive oil. Where I grew up, this dish is made with meat and served hot. Even though I prefer to cook vegetables without meat in general, I choose to make this dish with meat.

8 medium eggplants (the smaller kind)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion (chopped)
4 ripe tomatoes (peeled and diced)
7 cloves garlic (3 chopped & 4 sliced)
½ cup olive oil
1 long green pepper or bell pepper (sliced)
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the eggplants, cut the stems and peel them in stripes (about 1 inch stripes). They will have one purple stripe and one yellowish (the peeled part) stripe. Slit the eggplant lengthwise in 4 pieces without detaching the top portion. The eggplant should have four long pieces that are attached at the stem. Fry the eggplants partially in the olive oil. You should only fry them a few minutes just so that they are a little soft; they will be cooked again. Remove from heat and let cool.

Use the same olive oil used for frying to sautee the chopped garlic and onions. If the olive oil is all used up add a couple table spoons more to the pan. Add the ground beef once the onions are transparent. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper adjusted to your taste. Remove from heat. Take each eggplant, gently open it and stuff with the meat mixture. Arrange in a large pot. Do the same process until all the eggplants are used up. If you have extra mixture left, spread that on top of the arranged eggplants in the pot. Place the sliced peppers on top and pour the one cup water. Add some more salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Then simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shepperd’s Salad (Çoban Salatası)

This is a favorite summer salad. It goes with everything, it is simple and healthy.

4-5 baby cucumbers
2 large firm tomatoes (diced)
1 small white or yellow onion (diced)
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large lemon
1 tsp salt

Peel the cucumbers partially. They will have stripes when after they are partially peeled; one stripe with the peel and one without. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise in four pieces and slice. Place in a large bowl. Add the diced tomatoes, onions, parsley and mint. Just before serving, sprinkle the salt, drizzle the olive oil and squeeze the lemon on top and toss.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Broiled/Grilled Black Sea Bass Stuffed with Onions (Soğanlı Izgara Levrek Balığı)

2 large whole black sea bass
4 large cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tbsp red pepper paste
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp thyme

For the Stuffing:

½ white or yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sumac (available at Mediterranean Grocery Stores)

When purchasing the sea bass make sure you ask to clean the scales of the fish very well. After washing the fish, place in a Pyrex dish and rub the salt, pepper and thyme inside and on both sides of the fish. Mix the crushed garlic, olive oil and red pepper paste in a small bowl. Take this mixture and rub inside and all over the fish.

To Prepare the Stuffing:

Slice the half onion in half rings. Add salt and mix together so that the onions will become softer. Add the parsley and sumac and mix again.

Take a handful of the onion mixture and stuff inside the fish. If you do not overstuff the fish, the stuffing will stay inside and will not overflow. Make sure the head of the fish is kept intact, because that will help keeping the stuffing together. Turn on your oven broiler or grill. Broil on each side for about 10 minutes. Serve warm with salad. You can also remove the fish bones and put the fish and the stuffing inside flat bread, rolling it to create a pita sandwich.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Faked-Fried Vegetables (Yalancı Sebze Kızartması)

Traditionally, all the vegetables in this recipe are fried when making this dish, however it is healthier to broil them this way and it tastes almost the same. Especially, after you add the garlic, parsley and lemon, it is very difficult to distinguish whether the veggies are fried of broiled.

5 medium zucchinis
2 large potatoes
2 green bell peppers
2 medium red onions
6 small ripe tomatoes
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
½ cup chopped parsley
1 lemon
2 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Cut zucchinis in half lengthwise. Then slice each half lengthwise. If the slices are too wide, cut each wide slice in half lengthwise once more. Repeat the same process with the potatoes. The thickness of the final slices should be ½ inch for the zucchinis and potatoes. Slice the green peppers and the onions.

Prepare two Pyrex dishes or two trays for broiling the vegetables. Place the potatoes and the zucchinis in one tray and the peppers, onions and whole unpeeled tomatoes in the other tray. Add 2 tbsp olive oil in each of the vegetable trays. Sprinkle 1 ½ tsp salt to the tray that contains the potatoes and zucchinis and 1 tsp salt to the other. Sprinkle ½ tsp ground black pepper to each of the trays. Mix the ingredients in the trays with your hands to make sure the oil covers every single part of the vegetables. Place under the broiler oven. The peppers, tomatoes and onions will cook faster than the potatoes and zucchinis; therefore they need be broiled 8-9 minutes on each side. Depending on your oven broiler, this may vary. Before taking out the vegetables make sure they are soft. The skin of the tomatoes will separate from the flesh when it is ready. That is a good time to remove them from the broiler. Broil the potatoes and zucchinis 13-15 minutes on each side. Again, this may vary depending on your broiler. Make sure the colors of the potatoes and zucchinis are golden brown before removing from the broiler.

Once all the veggies are cooked, place together in a large bowl. Dice the tomatoes. I usually dice them in the bowl since all the juices will be wasted if I do that on a cut board. Add the chopped garlic and parsley. Squeeze the lemon on top and mix gently. The vegetables may break when mixing if you are not careful. Serve with plain yogurt or add yogurt on top of the vegetables.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Capellini with Shrimp (Karidesli Uzun Makarna)

When I was little, I used love the long strands of spaghetti (I know this recipe is not really spaghetti but in the same category). I still do! It must be universal that most kids like spaghetti. I loathed the way my mom would cut the spaghetti in half prior to cooking. I wanted to be able to roll the strands of spaghetti around my fork, nevertheless, every time she cut the strands of long pasta in half. She thought it was too long and not easy to eat, but I thought it was fun! Well now, I can cook my spaghetti or any kind of long pasta any way I want! Although, traditionally it is not common to cook pasta with seafood in Turkey, I think now more people cook it with seafood.

½ package Capellini
1 lb shrimp
2 tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)
2 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp red pepper paste
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup milk
2 tsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 cups water

For Boiling Pasta:

½ tsp canola oil
½ tsp salt
½ full pot of water

To Prepare the Sauce:

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan. Add chopped garlic, fresh thyme and basil and sauté for one minute. Add shrimp to be cooked partially. When the shrimp just turns a little pink on both sides remove from heat and set aside in a plate. Add the rest of the olive oil in the pan and when it starts sizzling, add the white wine. Dissolve the tomato and red pepper paste in the water and add to pan. Simmer for a few minutes. Add the milk, the honey and salt. Stir the sauce and let it simmer until it thickens a little.

To Cook the Pasta:

Boil water for cooking the pasta. Thin pasta only needs 3-4 minutes to cook. Therefore, prepare the sauce before cooking the pasta. As soon as the water boils, add salt and oil so that the pasta does not stick together.

Once the pasta sauce thickens, add the shrimp back in the pan and add the pasta immediately. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix well and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Chicken Salad (Tavuk Salatası)

This chicken salad is the American chicken salad we all know. I have added a few of my own touches to it. I love this salad between bread slices as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato. It is very simple to prepare and makes a perfect picnic lunch. When the weather is nice, I like to take a simple lunch such as this with a few other foods to a closeby park with my hubby. I think it is one of the most romantic ways to spend time with your spouse/partner. For some reason, eating outdoors makes dining much more enjoyable. To keep it healthy, prepare some fruit salad to eat with this salad.

4 chicken breasts
1 ½ cups celery (diced)
½ cup white or yellow onion (diced)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
½ cup mayonnaise
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika (optional)
5 cups of water

Place the chicken breasts in a pot with water and 1 tsp salt. Boil until tender. Under medium heat, they should cook in 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat and let them cool.

Dice the cooled chicken breasts and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to make sure the mayo is distributed evenly all over the chicken. Serve on mixed greens and decorate with red grapes as a side dish or place between toasted bread slices topped with mixed greens/lettuce. Refrigerate for about 40-45 minutes before serving and enjoy.

Chicken Salad

This tasty chicken salad is very simple to prepare and ...

See Chicken Salad on Key Ingredient.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bulgur Pilaf with Tomatoes (Domatesli Bulgur Pilavı)

I would like to start with a confession. I used to hate bulgur pilaf with tomatoes when I was young. Everytime my mom cooked this dish, I could not believe how people could eat it and be pleased. Many of us have foods that we hated when we were kids. Good thing I realized what I was missing out all that time. Now, I find bulgur pilaf with tomatoes as one of my favorite pilaf dishes.

1 ½ cups bulgur (medium grind)
5 small ripe tomatoes (diced)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth or water

Sautee the diced tomatoes in the heated olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the bulgur and sautee for 2 more minutes. Add the salt and broth and cook covered until the broth starts to boil. Once the broth starts to boil, bring the heat to low and cook until all the water is absorbed. Mix before serving.