Sunday, December 4, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato (Kumpir)

Kumpir is a popular fast food in Turkey which is essentially a loaded baked potato with numerous toppings. You can get your starch, protein, vitamins all from this tasty dish. Since I did not consume this food much when growing up in Turkey I do not make it frequently in my home. There is a very famous kumpir chain in Turkey which I ran across a couple years ago while strolling through the streets of Vancouver with my husband. It was the same Kumpir chain from Turkey. I was surprised Kumpir had made it all the way to this side of the world with the same name. We did not eat there but that day I thought to myself I could share a Kumpir recipe with everyone in my blog. I made it several times since then and finally I am sharing one of those recipes with my favorite toppings.

You can be very creative and adventurous with the toppings. You may use chicken, beef or all vegetarian. You may add sliced olives, pickles, corn, dill and other vegetables. The sky is the limit. Enjoy with a salad and/or plain yogurt.

Note: If you’d like the skin of your potatoes crispy, do not wrap in aluminum foil.

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1 lb New York Strip steak or any type of other meat (diced)
1 small red bell pepper (diced)
1 small green bell pepper (diced)
4 cremini mushrooms (sliced)
6-7 green onions (chopped)
2 tbsp parsley (chopped)-optional
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp ground black pepper
4 tbps grated sheep milk kasseri cheese (or any other desired cheese)
Mayonnaise (adjust to taste)
Ketchup (adjust to taste)

Wash potatoes well using a vegetable brush. Dry potatoes with paper towel and pierce from a couple places with a fork. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1.5 hours. Wrapping in aluminum foil is used for softer skin. If crispy skin is desired, do not wrap in aluminum foil.

Heat a pan and add the meat. Sauté for several minutes until the meat releases its juices. Pour out the juices that are released from the meat and add the olive oil. Add green bell pepper, red bell pepper and mushroom and stir for 5 minutes. Add salt, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper. Continue mixing until the peppers are softened.

Cut the potatoes lengthwise from the middle with a knife. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Add a few spoonfuls of the meat, red/green pepper and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of the cheese. Add ketchup and mayo. Sprinkle with green onions and parsley. Enjoy warm.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Potato Fingers (Patatesli Köfte)

I am back. This is the longest break I have taken so far from blogging and hope to never do it again. This was actually not an intentional break but it has been so busy for me that it was so easy to neglect my blog and e-mails. During my scarce free time I have been spending more time gardening (unsuccessfully) instead of cooking, however, I hope to cook more delightful Turkish dishes from now on and share them with you all. Once I get better in gardening I also will share the fruit my labor with you. Even though last spring I planted tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, eggplant, onions, basil, dill and a few other vegetables, we have only eaten 1 small eggplant and some basil this whole summer. The plants are growing very well but the flowers and the fruit on them keep falling for some reason. I have one bell pepper and 1 cucumber that seem to have potential to be in our salad in the next couple of weeks unless the temperature drops in Houston. I have learned quite a bit about gardening with trial and error and hope to have better luck next year and cook with the fruits of my organic garden.

Now to our dinner…yes this was our dinner tonight. They turned out so good that both my husband and I finished all these fingers in the picture tonight including the garnishes. These delicious fingers were frequently made by my mom when I was growing up. There is also a red lentil version which also tastes terrific but the potato version is more common in Southern Turkey. So I took some tips from my mom during my recent visit to Turkey on this recipe. She adds basil seeds in it but I am not a fan of basil seeds so I left them out. You may garnish with lettuce, cucumbers, radishes or any greens you like. They’re best when they’re wrapped in lettuce and eaten.

2 cups finely ground bulgur
2 medium potatoes
8 shallots
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp red pepper paste
½ tbsp salt (or adjust to your taste)
1 cup hot water

Boil potatoes for 30-40 minutes and cool. Peel and mash the potatoes and set aside.

Place the finely ground bulgur in a deep bowl. Pour the hot water on the bulgur and mix until all bulgur is soaked. Cover bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a shallow non-stick pan on medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the shallots are soft and translucent. Add tomato paste and red pepper paste and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add parsley and turn off the heat. Mix well and let it cool.

Add the potatoes on the bulgur and pour the olive oil, tomato and red pepper paste mixture on it. Add salt and mix for 5-10 minutes until all the ingredients are well incorporated and soft. Pull a piece of the bulgur and potato mixture and squeeze it in your palm. Repeat until all the bulgur and potato mixture is used up. Garnish with tomatoes, parsley, mint and green onions. Serve at room temperature with plain yogurt.

Note: These potato fingers taste delicious when wrapped up in romaine lettuce while eating.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fennel with Red Bulgur (Kırmızı Bulgurlu Rezene)

Before this meal came together I was not certain how it was going to turn out. Although bulgur is widely used in Turkish cuisine, I had not cooked with red bulgur before and had never incorporated any type of bulgur with carrots or fresh peppers let alone fennel, a vegetable with a strong aromatic flavor. Since there are only a few recipes that I know how to create from fennel I was nervous about the outcome. Nevertheless, the result was astonishing to me. The dish was so flavorful and delicious I enjoyed it tremendously. I think fish, lobster or shrimp would accompany this meal very well.

Note: If red bulgur is not available, regular (yellowish) bulgur can be used.

¾ cup red bulgur (fine grind)
1 fennel root (chopped)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
3 small carrots (sliced)
¼ cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped finely)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp cracked red pepper
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 cup water

Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add cracked red pepper, cumin, ground black pepper and cayenne to the oil and stir for 1 minute. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add the fennel and stir well. Close lid and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots and red bell pepper and stir again. Close lid and cook for another 5 minutes. Open lid, pour water and add the fine bulgur. Sprinkle salt and mix thoroughly. Turn heat to low and cook covered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir. Serve with plain yogurt.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tomato Salad (Domates Salatası)

A refreshing salad for the summer, this salad was frequently made by my mother when I was growing up since fresh tomatoes were abundant. My mom usually used shallots in the salad, but since I had only green onions on hand, I used them up. The salad is succulent and delicious.

4 medium firm tomatoes
4 green onions (or 1 small shallot)
¼ cup fresh mint (chopped)
½ tsp sumac
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon

Dice the tomatoes and slice the green onions/shallots. Place in a bowl and add mint, sumac, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Toss and serve.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beet and Carrot Salad (Pancar ve Havuç Salatası )

If you are into food and travel you most likely will want to check out what the city you are going to has to offer in terms of food. I know from my own experience that when I visit a new country, one of the first things I do is check out the local food of the city I am visiting online. However, sometimes the information on the internet is not enough or it is in a different language. Now there is a new website called ‘’ that allows people to contribute and introduce their own local cuisine to the world. A contributor to a Wiki project contacted me and asked if I would announce that Mycitycuisine is currently looking for contributors. Since I really liked this project I wanted my readers to know that they can contribute to this website. What a better way to introduce your local cuisine? If you would like more information, go to:

Now a little of background on my recipe… The thought of eating raw beets was not appealing to me so my weekly incorporation of beets into our diets this past year included only roasted, steamed or boiled beets. However, recently I found out my uncle has been cooking with beets too and he shared a very simple salad recipe that includes raw beets and carrots. Knowing that my uncle has a good taste, I decided to try it out. Last week, I made this salad with deep red beets and carrots and the result was incredible. The only difference from my uncle’s recipe is that I added the radish and tomatoes for garnish. Here it is…

4 medium red beets
4 medium carrots
4 green onions
4 medium radishes
1 tomato
1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

Wash and scrub the beets thoroughly and peel the rough parts of the skin. Follow the same process for carrots. Do not peel the carrots unless the skin is unpleasant. Shred the carrots and beets. Chop the green onions put on top of the salad. Add the salt, olive oil and squeeze the lemon. Toss well. Place in a salad plate and garnish with radish and tomato slices.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Eggplant with Lentils (Mercimekli Patlıcan)

Summer time is a great time for the rich selection of fresh vegetables. My refrigerator is always stocked with eggplants, green peppers and tomatoes during the summer months when they are in season since these three vegetables are frequently used in Turkish cooking. Of the three vegetables, the eggplant is a star vegetable as the main ingredient in Turkey since it produces so many different varieties of delicious recipes. And the tomato and pepper just go perfectly with it.

I have already shared a few eggplant recipes on my blog and here is another one. Different people in Turkey make this recipe differently but they all taste good at the end. Many slice the eggplant and stew it with the rest of the ingredients. My approach is similar to ‘imam bayıldı’ recipe where the eggplant is still attached at the top but cut into fourths in the bottom. My mother makes it both ways so I tried this version first.

If you’re looking for a nutritious and succulent meal, this works perfectly. With pilaf and yogurt on the side, it tastes even better.

6 medium eggplants
4 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
½ cup brown lentils (soaked overnight)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
¼ medium onion or small shallot (chopped)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup water

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 (less than 2 minutes). Remove and set aside.

Add onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until translucent. Add the soaked lentils, chopped tomatoes, green pepper, salt, black pepper, red pepper paste, tomato paste and stir. Simmer covered for 15 minutes on low heat until the lentils are slightly soft.

Add the partially fried eggplants back to the pot along with the water. Stir well to make sure the ingredients are incorporated into the eggplant. Cook for 30-40 minutes on low heat. Serve with rice pilaf and plain yogurt.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chickpeas with Ground Lamb (Kuzu Kıymalı Nohut)

Chickpeas are excellent source of vitamins in addition to being delicious. That’s one of the reasons why I like cooking with chickpeas year round. This meal is probably cooked more commonly during winter months, but in my opinion anything that is fresh and tastes good can be relished any time of the year. We had the chickpeas with ground lamb served with bulgur pilaf cooked with orzo pasta and it was just out of this world. If you’re not into lamb, ground beef or even chicken can be substituted without compromising the taste. Here is the recipe….

3 ¼ cup chickpeas
½ medium onion (chopped roughly)
2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
1 lb ground lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbps red pepper paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground dry mint
1 ½ tsp salt (adjust to your taste)
2 tsp white vinegar
3 cups water

Wash and soak chickpeas overnight. Drain and boil in a pot for about 30-35 minutes. The chickpeas should be soft, but not mushy after boiling.

Heat a skillet and cook the ground lamb until all the juices are released. Remove from heat and get rid of the juices in the pan.

In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the lamb and stir for less than a minute. Add chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes. Add water, red pepper paste, cumin, black pepper, dry mint, salt and vinegar.

Stir the ingredients in the pot and cook covered on medium heat for approximately 40 minutes. Make sure the chickpeas are soft to eat.

Serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pasta with Turkish Sausage (Sucuklu Makarna)

My comfort food cravings usually appear when my fridge is almost empty and need to use up the food I have on hand. Yesterday after running around all day I started thinking about what to have for our dinner. Eating out was out of the question as I am sick and tired of it lately. When I walked in the kitchen, both the long and short pasta in the clear, glass containers were staring at me from the other side of the counter. Then I recalled seeing Turkish sausage in my freezer earlier in the morning and the milk in the fridge that needed to be used in a couple days. Albeit, it was difficult to decide whether I should cook long or short pasta, I went with the short penne pasta. In my head, I already had created the taste I wanted to acquire for the pasta and it worked perfectly. It was comforting and filling and scrumptious. A bowl of salad and a side of plain yogurt accompanied it very well.

For the Sauce:

1 ½ cups Turkish sausage (cubed)
1 cup milk
4 small tomatoes
1 clove of garlic (chopped finely)
½ of medium onion (chopped finely)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt

For Boiling the Pasta:

1 box Penne Rigate pasta (the pasta that is shaped like a cylinder and cut diagonally)
1 tsp oil
1 tsp salt

In a small pot, boil water for the tomatoes. Place tomatoes and boil for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off. Keep tomatoes in the hot water for 3-4 minutes with lid closed until the tomatoes are soft. Cool and skin the tomatoes. With a heavy fork, roughly smash the tomatoes. The tomato pieces will stay in large chunks. Set aside. If raw tomatoes are used for the sauce, the sauce cooking time will be longer.

In a large pot, boil water. Add pasta to boiling water and follow cooking directions. Usually this kind of pasta requires about 12-13 minutes. Add a little of oil and a pinch of salt so that the pasta does not stick together while cooking. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Heat olive oil on medium heat, in a pot. Add sausage and sauté for 1 minute. Add garlic and onions and sauté for about 2 minutes or until transparent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper paste, milk, salt and black pepper. Stir the ingredients for a minute and close lid. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the drained pasta over the sauce and stir. Keep on heat for two minutes and serve hot. If preferred, a favorite cheese can be sprinkled on the pasta. Garnish with pickles.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Uncle's Food

During a beautiful summer day in the North of the U.S., my uncle cooked all this food for us when we were visiting a while back. Except the scallops, all the meats were grilled along with corn and red peppers. It was a weekend full of delightful food. Since he does not follow recipes when cooking, I made notes and documented every dish he made. Unfortunately, I lost all the recipes and I am left with only beautiful pictures of these foods. I could not pass without sharing all of them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Turkish Beet Salad (Pancar Salatası)

Beets never made it to my shopping cart during grocery shopping until this past fall. I had eaten beet slices on salads or as a side dish at restaurants and in dormitory cafeterias during college and the flavor never was desirable to me so I never thought about using them in my cooking. One day this past fall, I read an article about the health benefits of beets which convinced me to try this nutritionally very powerful vegetable.

After the first purchase, the flavor was definitely was much better than what I had eaten before. I believe what was provided in the dorms or restaurants came out of a can instead of recently being pulled out of earth. I bought the organic beets as I do with almost all our produce and meats and they tasted pretty good. Beets have an earthy flavor and I think they are an acquired taste. Since the fall, I have been purchasing them almost every week. I boiled, steamed or roasted them and created wonderful salads alone or with other vegetables. Before the beet season is over, I wanted to share a traditionally Turkish beet salad recipe. Hopefully I will recreate and share the other ones to at another date.

For those of you who hate beets, you may want to try them again with an open mind and you may change your mind.

4 medium red beet roots
1 cup plain yogurt
1 garlic clove (chopped)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice
½ tsp salt (adjust to your taste)
¼ tsp dried mint

Discard stems of beets and wash and scrub the roots. Steam in a pot or pan for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered for another 30 minutes.

Once the beets are cooled dry with paper towel. Grate beets with skin on. Grating them using a food processor will be much cleaner than grating manually as the red color of the beets will splash everywhere. Place grated beets in a deep bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Serve cold.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spinach and Feta Borek (Ispanaklı ve Beyaz Peynirli Börek)

Two years ago, I made a spinach and feta börek and prepared the recipe and all the pictures step by step and never got around to publishing it. Just recently, I made this börek and documented it again. This time, I made a few changes in the recipe and I decided to publish this version instead of the previous one. The taste of this one surpassed the previous one, so I decided to publish this version.

Note: The Phyllo dough sheets can be found in the frozen section of most markets. If the Pyhllo sheets are too big for the tray or Pyrex dish you are using, the phyllo sheets can be folded to reach the size of the baking dish.

1 package Phyllo sheets
½ cup yogurt
½ cup olive oil
1 egg

For the Filling:

2 bunches fresh spinach (approximately 2 lb)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped fine)
2 shallots (chopped fine)
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp salt (if the feta cheese is not too salty)
Pinch of black sesame seeds

Preparation of Filling:

Wash the spinach thoroughly. In a large pot, boil water and add the spinach in the boiled water for 2 minutes. Do not keep them in the boiled water long as their texture will become mushy. Immediately run the spinach under cold water in order to stop the cooking process. Create small balls from the spinach and give them a nice squeeze to remove the excess water in the spinach. Chop each spinach ball coarsely and with your hands, separate the spinach leaves from each other as sticking together will hinder the salt and spices to get inside the spinach.

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2-4 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add the spinach to the onions and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese for the filling and sauté for 5-6 minutes. Make sure the salt, cumin, black and cayenne peppers are distributed evenly in the spinach.

Remove the spinach filling from heat and let it cool. When the filling cools down, add the crumbled feta cheese. If the feta is very salty, no salt is needed for the filling as feta cheese may compensate for the salt.

Putting All Ingredients Together:

In a deep bowl, add the yogurt, olive oil and egg. Mix vigorously until all three ingredients are mixed well.

Using a brush, spread a small amount of the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture in a large Pyrex dish. This is to prevent the Phyllo sheets from sticking to the Pyrex dish.

Open the Phyllo dough package. Place a damp cloth on top so that the Phyllo sheets do not dry out. These are the same dough sheets that are used for baklava.

Place one sheet of the Phyllo dough in the Pyrex dish. Dip the brush in the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture and brush the Phyllo sheet. Do this one by one until half of the Phyllo sheets are used up. After half of the phyllo sheets are layered, spread the spinach filling on top. Add another sheet of the phyllo sheet on top of the filling and brush with the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture. Continue the process of brushing each Phyllo sheet and placing them on top of each other until all the Phyllo sheets are used up. If you have any of the yogurt-olive oil-egg mixture left over, pour it on top and spread it evenly with a brush. The result will be a spinach filling in the middle of the layered phyllo sheets. Half of the phyllo sheets will be in the bottom of the filling and the other half will be on top of the filling.Sprinkle black sesame seeds on top.

Bake at 350º F in the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool before cutting, otherwise the bottom part of the börek may get soggy.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dandelion Salad (Hindiba Salatası)

The taste of dandelions my mother picked selectively from the weeds from our garden many years ago has been active in my palate since childhood. After developing a curiosity for cooking, the name of this wild weed that tasted superb was a question in my head. I had guessed that it may have been dandelions, but to me dandelions were bitter weeds that are not very tasty. I purchased them every once in a while just because they were extremely healthy. One day, it was confirmed that the unforgotten weed with a delicious taste reminiscent from my childhood was indeed dandelion and I was not cooking it properly. The good taste of this green weed wasn’t being maximized. The secret was the way it was prepared. I remember every single ingredient in that dandelion salad my mother made when I was still a kid so, I decided to recreate it to acquire the same exact taste.

Most of the dandelions that were available to me at grocery stores and the farmer’s market were more mature and hence chewy. Luckily, recently I found young, whole dandelions not separated by the leaves at my favorite grocery store. The dandelions in my memory were cooked as a whole with all the leaves attached since they were young and tender. The salad in this recipe turned out to be almost free of the bitter taste and very appetizing.

2 bunches dandelions (approx. 2 lb)
3 cloves garlic (chopped finely)
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup olive oil
2 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses

Wash dandelions thoroughly and cut off the roots. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the dandelions for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and run cold water over the cooked greens to stop the cooking process. Cool and drain. Gently squeeze the dandelions to remove excess water and place in a bowl. Add the garlic, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, paprika and the pomegranate molasses. Toss and serve at room temperature.

Note: If the leaves are tough, they should be discarded as they will be chewy. Young dandelions should be picked.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Green Olives Salad (Yeşil Zeytin Salatası)

One of the indispensible food items for breakfast in Turkey is olives. Whether green or black, plain or with sauce, olives must exist on every Turkish person’s breakfast table. In order to break away the bitterness, green olives are cracked but still served as a whole with the pit. In smaller towns, families purchase large quantities of fresh olives once a year which they crack and cure for the year’s supply. Black olives are not pitted or cracked and cured in such away that there is no trace of the bitterness.

I personally find much more flavor in cracked green olives that are not commercially pitted. If using for salad, I usually pit them myself. Pitted olives rarely enter my house as I think that most of the flavor is diminished when the pit is removed commercially. We purchase some very good quality olives here in the States that are not cracked (can’t find cracked ones) and not pitted and I find them a little bitter. Therefore each time I visit Turkey, I bring cracked green olives with me. The following olive salad is made with olives I brought with me during my recent visit to my hometown in Turkey. Our favorite time to eat olives is breakfast/brunch, but olive salad can be eaten as appetizer or side dish during lunch or dinner. Preferably use fresh thyme for this salad. I did not have any fresh thyme on hand so I used home dried thyme that my mother brought with her last year during her visit.

2 cups green olives (pitted)
1 ½ tbsp pomegranate molasses or lemon juice
½ tbsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tbsp thyme leaves (fresh preferable)

Wash and drain olives. Add pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste and olive oil. If using dried thyme, crumble with hands over olives. If using fresh thyme add whole leaves. Toss together and serve.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Turkish Milk Pudding (Muhallebi)

Muhallebi is a milk based dessert that is known throughout Turkey and the surrounding regions. Traditional Turkish muhallebi can be consumed all year around however in my opinion the best season to relish this delightful dessert is during the summer months. One spoonful of cold muhallebi is refreshing in the heat of the summer and will enliven your palates.

Authentic muhallebi does not include mastic gum flavor, however people have become creative and have made it with various flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, almond and etc. My all time favorite flavor is mastic gum (to see pictures of mastic gum: go to my Cardamom Mastic Gum Pistachio Cake post) which can be found in Mediterranean grocery stores in the U.S. It usually comes in small pieces and mortar and pestle can be used to grind it. Grinding it in a blender or food processor will result in having sticky gum on your machine which actually happened to me. I still cannot get the small tiny sticky gum from my blender, so now I stick to mortar and pestle.

Enjoy muhallebi plain or with any flavor you desire.

2 cups whole milk
1 small piece mastic gum (grinded)
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp corn starch
¼ cup sugar
1-2 tsp finely ground pistachios

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of the milk with rice flour and corn starch. Stir well so that there are no lumps. Once the milk starts to thicken, set aside.

Boil the rest of the milk on medium heat. Add sugar and stir. Gradually, pour the thickened milk (that was mixed with corn starch and rice flour) on top of the boiled milk and continue stirring. Turn heat to low. Add ground mastic gum. Stir until the milk slightly thickens. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Pour into serving size dishes and store in a refrigerator for 4-5 hours. The mixture will fully thicken in the refrigerator. Sprinkle finely ground pistachios or cinnamon just before serving. Serve with cookies.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lobster Sauté (Sotelenmiş Istakoz)

Although I do not cook lobster often, this was the first time I cooked a lobster with spices rather than just steaming. Using ingredients commonly used in Mediterranean cooking, the lobster turned out to be very flavorful and light. It was still tender after being steamed and sautéed in oil.

The sautéed lobster can be a delicious ingredient for a sandwich as well being served as a salad, side dish or main dish. We ate it with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables.

1 whole steamed lobster
2 tbsp white onion
1 garlic clove (chopped)
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp salt

Cut whole lobster in half lengthwise and remove meat from the tail and claws of the lobster. A cracker will be needed to remove meat from the claws. Roughly chop the meat. Set aside.

Heat olive oil on medium heat. Sprinkle paprika, black pepper and salt on the oil. Add garlic and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Pour vinegar. Add the lobster pieces along with the parsley and sauté for 1 minute. Serve warm or cold with potatoes, rice or bulgur pilaf.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baked Pasta (Fırında Peynirli Makarna)

Here is a comforting recipe...

For the Sauce:

3 cups grated kaseri (similar to keskeval cheese)
2 ¼ cups milk
3 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tbsp salt

For Boiling the Pasta:

1 box Penne Rigate pasta (the pasta that is shaped like a cylinder and cut diagonally)
1 tsp oil
1 tsp salt

In a large pot, boil water. Add pasta to boiling water and follow cooking directions. Usually this kind of pasta requires about 12-13 minutes. Add a little of oil and a pinch of salt so that the pasta does not stick together while cooking.

In the mean time, heat olive oil on medium heat, in a deep pan. Add garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the milk, parsley, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes prior to adding flour. Stir the ingredients for a minute and add flour. Stir constantly so that the flour does not produce lumps. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens slightly.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and spread in a Pyrex dish. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and mix. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the pasta starts to take a brownish color.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Product Review (Toast-R-Oven & Skimmer)

Happy New Year! I wish you all a healthy, prosperous and happy year.

2010 was a very eventful year for me limiting my time spent on my blog. Hopefully in 2011 Turkish Food Passion will be richer with more cooking and delightful recipes.

I wanted to start my first post for this year with a product review (actually two) sponsored by CSN Stores as mentioned in my previous posts. The two products I selected to review are Black and Decker Classic Toast-R-Oven in Silver and Calphalon Stainless Steel Skimmer.

One of the most attractive attributes of the Toaster Oven is being multifunctional. Most of the time, I use it to toast bread or bagel. In addition to toasting bread/bagel it can heat up leftover pizza, boreks, and other types of food. Baking or broiling small amounts of foods is also possible through the Toaster Oven. I was impressed with its baking/broiling capabilities as the temperature goes up to 450 F°. It comes with a bake pan in it. A crumb tray at the bottom of the Toaster Oven catches the bread crumbs falling and can be easily removed for cleaning purposes and placed back. The Toaster Oven is efficient when baking/broiling/heating small amounts of food; there is no need to turn on the regular oven and waste energy. This little Toaster Oven takes care of one or two-person portions.

In terms of esthetics, it’s a very good looking toaster oven with just the right size. The half black, half silver color makes it attractive and fits in with my other appliances in the kitchen.

The Toaster Oven fits four pieces of bread at once and makes the bread crispy on the outside and soft inside with golden brown color which makes it appealing to the eye. One need to be careful when removing bread as the toaster tends to get hot. An oven glove in one hand will solve this issue.

It is a great product for the price. I actually look forward to more bread/bagel toasting, baking and broiling in this little oven.

The other small, yet very functional product I tried is the Calphalon Stainless Steel Skimmer. I usually use this versatile skimmer when making broth or boiling lentils. This skimmer is the perfect size. Although a little on the heavy side, this is expected when using stainless steel products. I am not fond of using plastic utensils even though they are light. Not only does this skimmer skims the foam successfully, it can also be used in removing frying foods (i.e. fried vegetables) from the oil. The oil drips down while picking the cooked food. I have also used this skimmer when squeezing lemon on the salad to prevent the lemon seeds from falling in the salad. This is when I feel lazy to get the lemon squeezer out. The skimmer is in a reachable distance from my workspace and I use it for multi-purposes.

I look forward to using the toaster oven and the skimmer again in my future cooking which will be shared with you.

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