Saturday, August 11, 2012

Yogurt with Spinach (Ispanaklı Cacık)

One day while looking through my fridge and figuring out the inventory, I noticed that I had 2 bunches of fresh spinach that I had intended to make börek with but still were sitting there. I did not find the time to make an elaborate meal such as börek, so I decided to find a simpler use before they went bad. They still looked good and fresh but still, I prefer cooking vegetables very soon after they’re purchased. I had some store-bought organic plain yogurt on hand which I am not fond of using. I used to make yogurt weekly because I think it is the best. I have tried probably most of the organic yogurt brands on the market, but nothing beats the yogurt made at home. When things get busy it is not always convenient to make yogurt at home, so I had to go with what was available to me that day.  In any case, I decided to empty some of the yogurt containers on hand in a bowl and make a ‘cacık’ with spinach instead of the traditional ingredient of cucumber. It turned out very good actually. It’s so quick to make and it is very refreshing especially during the summer months. We enjoyed it and hope that you enjoy it too.

2 bunches fresh spinach (approximately 2 lbs)
6 cups plain yogurt
3-4 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp salt

Steam the spinach for a couple minutes until it is wilted. Remove from pot and run under cold water. Squeeze the excess water with both hands. Coarsely chop the spinach and place in a large bowl.

Crush the garlic with a garlic presser or chop very finely. Add to the spinach. Add yogurt, mint and salt and mix until all ingredients become slightly runny.

Enjoy cool with your favorite meal or as an afternoon snack.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Roasted Beef Tenderloin (Sığır Filetosu)

Tenderloin is the tenderest cut of beef. It literally melts in your mouth. I experimented with a small piece (enough for two people) of meat but if you are cooking for a large party, just increase the ingredient amount accordingly. It was plenty for my husband and I. The potatoes and peppers accompanied it very well. I like my meat cooked well so I cooked it well but I know that many people prefer to have a pink hue in the middle. The cooking time can be adjusted to attain that.

You may use leftovers for sandwiches and eat it along a side of plain yogurt. Enjoy!

1 lb beef tenderloin
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp red crushed pepper
1 tsp dried mint
For Searing:
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients and rub on the tenderloin. Refrigerate over night.

Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan. Place the tenderloin and braise 3-4 minutes on each side.
Heat oven to 400º F. Place the pan with the tenderloin and cover with lid or aluminum foil. Roast for about 45 minutes for a well cooked tenderloin.

Reduce cooking time for rare, medium rare, medium or medium well. Enjoy with roasted potatoes and peppers.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wheat Stew with Meat (Keşkek)

Keşkek is a traditional Turkish dish that is cooked in various parts of Turkey for religious ceremonies, weddings or funerals. In the Hatay region where I grew up, keşkek is mostly made during religious ceremonies or funerals, not for weddings. It has been well over 10 years since I have had this dish and one day I really craved for it. I decided to try it out. I had never made keşkek before, so I had to ask for a little help from my mother.

Although it does not look appetizing at all, the taste is really delicious. Both my husband and I enjoyed it very much.

Here is the recipe:

1 lb stew meat
2 bay leaves
1 lb wheat
6-7 peppercorns
10 cups water
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
½ cup butter

Soak the wheat overnight. Fill a large pot with water. Add the meat, bay leaves and the peppercorns and boil covered for 3 hours on medium heat until the meat starts soften and separate. Drain the wheat and add to the meat. Add salt and the black pepper. Cover and cook for 2 hours and stir every 15 minutes with a wooden spoon. The keşkek should be finished when the wheat swells and starts to dissolve. If needed, cook keşkek longer to attain the right texture. The texture should be soft and creamy. Melt the butter and pour over the keşkek. Enjoy warm.

Note: Wheat can be found in most specialty food stores.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dried Red Pepper Salad (Kuru Kırmızı Biber Salatası)

This recipe has been waiting to be published for a few months now and finally I got the chance to publish it. Due to my busy work schedule it has been very difficult to keep up with my blog in the past year or so but I will try to keep it going as long as I can. I do have many more Turkish recipes and can’t wait to share them with my readers.

This recipe was not very labor intensive and tastes delicious so I thought it is perfect for another post. When my mother last visited me, she made a dried red pepper salad for us. She used sliced dried peppers which she had brought from Turkey that had thin skin. I very much enjoyed it and wanted to try it myself. Since the dried red peppers I purchased had tough skin, I decided to remove the flesh from the skin before preparing the salad. Although the texture was different, the taste was very close to my mother’s salad.

This can be enjoyed as a side with a variety of entrees. A cup of plain yogurt also would go well with it. Enjoy.

1/3 lb dried red peppers (any kind)
¼ cup parsley (chopped fine)
1 large clove garlic (chopped fine)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Water for boiling

Boil half pot of water. Soak the dried peppers covered for 30 minutes in the hot water. Run through cool water and drain. With a sharp knife, slit each pepper lengthwise on a cutting board. Remove and discard the seeds. Gently, remove the flesh of the pepper from the skin by running the knife from the top portion of the pepper towards the end. The flesh of the pepper will most likely stick to the knife, so remove carefully and place in a bowl. Repeat this until all the peppers are cleaned and removed from the skin.

If the skin of the peppers is thin you may slice the peppers instead of going through the trouble of removing the flesh from the skin. If the skin is tough, it is best to remove and only use the flesh.

Add the garlic, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and salt to the bowl with the peppers. Mix well and serve at room temperature.

Note: This salad can be served as a paste in sandwiches. It goes especially well with chicken sandwiches.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Chestnut Cookies (Kestaneli Kurabiye)

In my opinion, fresh roasted chestnuts are irresistible and so are the sweets and desserts made with chestnuts. Roasted chestnuts are best when fresh so when I have leftover roasted chestnuts, I grind them right away and save them for cookies or cakes. This cookie recipe came up from wanting to use the leftover roasted chestnuts before they hardened. It turned out pretty good and I decided to share it with you all. You may substitute pistachios or hazelnuts if you’re not fond of chestnuts.

Note: Follow my 'Roasted Chestnuts' recipe if you have never roasted chestnuts.

3 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ cups finely ground roasted chestnuts
3 sticks soft butter (12 oz.)
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Using a Stand Mixer:

Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, mix sugar and butter until the butter takes a whitish color. Add the egg, vanilla and chestnuts. Mix for 1-2 minutes. Turn off and unplug mixer. Remove the paddle attachment and replace with flat beater. Re-plug and turn on the mixer. Continue mixing at speed 2 and gradually add the flour. Mix until the dough is smooth.


Place butter and sugar in a deep bowl. With an egg beater, mix both until butter takes a whitish color. Add the egg, vanilla, chestnuts and continue mixing until all ingredients are married together. Slowly incorporate the flour. Using hands knead the cookie dough until the it is smooth.

Grease a cookie sheet. Pull egg sized dough and create a ball. Flatten the dough ball by pressing with your fingers on the cookie sheet. Bake at 350° F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool. Serve with hot tea or coffee.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cabbage in Tomato Sauce (Kapuska)

Growing up cabbage was one of the vegetables I disliked the most next to cauliflower. Never did I enjoy any type of meal that contained cabbage. Forgetting my dislike for cabbage after many years, I started cooking with cabbage and now it is actually one of my favorite vegetables. Besides stuffed cabbage, this is one of my favorite cabbage recipes. Very simple to prepare, yet it is delicious. After having this plain with rice for dinner, the next day I boiled pasta and added it to this cabbage meal. It became pasta with cabbage sauce. It worked perfectly! Many people add rice or meat to this recipe. I will post a meat version of it at another time.

1 green medium cabbage
¼ cup chopped onion
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Cut cabbage in half. Slice each half and set aside. Heat olive oil. Saute the onions until translucent. Add tomato paste and stir. Add cabbage, salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Cook covered for 5 minutes on medium heat. Remove cover, stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy warm with pasta or rice.