Thursday, February 20, 2014

Broiled Chicken Marinated in Pomegranate Juice (Nar Suyu ile Izgara Tavuk)

There was a pomegranate in the fruit drawer of my refrigerator for a long time. For weeks and weeks (pomegranates can keep for months) every time I would open the drawer to grab a quick piece of fruit, it would stare at me and I would stare back at it thinking that it is time to eat it. This repeated almost every day for quite some time until finally I had an idea (certainly not a new one) that I could use its juice in my cooking as it is cumbersome to eat the pomegranate. It is more cumbersome to open it and remove all the juicy seeds! Since I finally went through all that trouble to open it and remove the seeds, I thought I would eat half of it. The other half went into the blender to create the juice.
With my little ones and my job, it is very hard to find the time to cook or enjoy a piece of fruit by myself. As a person who loves to eat good food, I miss cooking and eating well. For a few months, we tried to eat prepared food since we had no choice (either that or we went hungry), but I got tired of it quickly. Now, I try to cook maybe once or twice a week with whatever is leftover from the boys’ meal ingredients. Since my babies started solid food, I have been cooking their meals as I refuse to give them prepared foods. No matter what, I do make the time to cook for them. I just had to reorganize my priorities. I did try to feed them prepared meals only a couple of times, however I know what I cook for them is far better and healthier. Their meals include but not limited to eggs, salmon, dover sole, chicken, beef, lamb, tofu, fennel, leeks, swiss chard, carrots, beets, collard greens, red, brown or black rice, bulgur, a variety of fruits (fresh and dried), nuts and etc. I also incorporate different types of spices as I want them exposed to these spices early on so they will be open to different types of flavors. I use cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, curry, red pepper paste (mild), ground black pepper, red pepper (mild), thyme, garlic, parsley and etc. in their meals. They like it all and I am happy to see that as they are only 15 months old.
This chicken recipe was created for them and I added a couple extra pieces. The chicken was delicious. The skin looks burned due to the red pepper paste, but the chicken itself was very moist and flavorful.  With rice and salad, it was just perfect for me. My boys liked it very much too. I hope you will also enjoy it.
4 pieces of chicken legs (any part of chicken works)
½ large pomegranate (or 1 small one)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp red pepper paste
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Blend the fresh pomegranate and strain to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds and add the lemon juice, red pepper paste, ground black pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil. Blend again. Puncture the chicken pieces from several places with a fork to allow the sauce to get inside the meat. Place the chicken in the sauce and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Remove the chicken from the sauce and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the salt on both sides of the chicken pieces and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil.
Bring the oven to a broil and broil 5-7 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked.
Note: Ovens may vary, therefore there may be a need to adjust the cooking time. Also, the amount of the pomegranate doesn’t really matter that much as long as you have enough juice to cover all the chicken.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Turkish Coffee (Türk Kahvesi)

While organizing some folders, I noticed that I had semi-prepared a post and taken a few pictures of Turkish coffee several years ago. When I saw that, I decided to spend a few minutes to post the recipe for Turkish coffee.

If you haven’t tried Turkish coffee, mostly likely you have heard of it. Turkish coffee is very popular where most Turks enjoy it daily; in the morning, afternoon and even at night. It’s part of the Turkish life style. Turkish coffee is always served to guests. Visiting friends and family always includes Turkish coffee and afterwards, the fortune telling (not with formal guests). After the coffee is finished there will be a residue in the bottom of the cup. Covering the cup with a saucer, the coffee residue is spread around the cup by shaking the cup and turning it over where the saucer is in the bottom and the mouth of the cup is right on top of it. After waiting for a short while the coffee cup is removed and the symbols inside the cup are translated to the person who drank from the cup. It is always fun to listen to these fortune telling. Some people take it seriously but most do it just for fun. I remember when I visit Turkey we would drink our Turkish coffee in the morning and then ask my mom to read our fortune. She’d say a few sentences and then she would finish and when we protest, she would say “I know your whole life, what do you want me to tell you?” In the afternoon, we drink our coffee again and we turn our cups upside down and ask mom to read our fortune and then she would say, “Honey, I read your fortune this morning, nothing changed since then”. We would have our laugh with this as we only did it for fun. Of course there are people who pay money to have their fortunes read and some who take advantage of these people. In any case, we have a saying in Turkey that says “Fala inanma, falsız da kalma”, meaning “Don’t believe in fortune telling, but don’t stay without it either”.  

Personally, I have never been an avid coffee drinker, however the past six months it has been my best friend. Not the Turkish coffee, but the American coffee. I have to drink it every morning since I don’t get enough of sleep because of my beautiful boys. The American coffee is easy to make so that’s the route I go and it works. In the afternoon, if I am not too busy at work (I am fortunate enough to be working in a home office for the past couple of years) I go and make myself a nice cup of Turkish coffee. This really alerts me and helps me get through the day well accomplished. I just sometimes get lazy to make the Turkish coffee as you have to attend to it. But I just bought a container of Turkish coffee from a Turkish store and I plan to enjoy it in the afternoons when I feel like I need an extra kick to get me running.

Enjoy your coffee.

2 tsp Turkish coffee (available at Mediterranean stores)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1 Turkish coffee cup of water (approximately 2.5 oz)
Pour the water in a cezve (Turkish coffee pot) and put on low heat. Add sugar and the Turkish coffee and stir.
Remove from heat when the foam starts to come up just before boiling. Pour a little of the coffee in the Turkish coffee cup or spoon the foam into the cup.
Either way, the foam will be in the bottom of the coffee cup. Put the rest of the coffee back on heat and remove when it starts to boil. Pour the coffee over the foam in the Turkish cup.
Enjoy alone or with chocolate.
Note: The sugar in the coffee is optional. Some people like it şekersiz (bitter), medium (with little sugar) and şekerli (sweet). I personally like it ‘medium’ and have never liked ‘bitter’ coffee. Şekerli Turkish coffee is also attractive to me. You may adjust the sugar amount to your taste.