23 August 2008

Green Beans in Olive Oil

Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye

This is a very much loved dish, and one of the most common ways of cooking vegies in olive oil. Do not shy away from using plenty of good quality olive oil in this dish. It is a great side dish, or a dish on its own when served with rice. In summer, it is often served cold, at times straight from the fridge. It can be made a day before.

Frozen green beans can be used, but fresh beans are always superior. Frozen version is quicker to prepare and cook, and also an option when green beans are out of season. One of the best green beans I recall using were straight from the garden patch of Isthmus Retreat (off Wilson's Prom, great owners, great spot).

Abla's restaurant serves also a very similar dish (see recipe in 'Lebanese Kitchen'). The recipe below is just an approximation of what I do - once you get used to this dish, no need to use a recipe. It's simple and variations in amount do not matter really (as long as there is enough olive oil, and not too many tomatoes).

One could replace onion with two garlic cloves. Add paprika or black pepper (or herbs, e.g., fresh parsley at the last minute, or dried mint). It also works if you have run out of tomatoes (or a tin of tomatoes) - just omit it, or one tablesp tomato paste could be used.

Try it also dropping some garlic yoghurt on to it before serving (mix crushed garlic with plain yoghurt, and adjust taste for salt).

1 tablesp olive oil
1 onion, diced up small
1/2 kilo green beans
2 diced tomatoes
1/3 cup additional olive oil
1 teasp salt
1 tablesp sugar
1/2 cup water

Use a medium sized pot with a lid. Gently fry the diced up onion in 1 tbsp olive oil. Once onion is soft and starts to turn colour, add the pre-washed and trimmed green beans, stirring a couple of minutes. Add tomatoes, additional olive oil, salt and sugar. Stir. Add water, cover. Cook for 30-45 minutes over low heat.

When cooked, the beans will have changed colour, turning into almost khaki green (if looking bright green still, add a tablesp of water, and continue cooking). The beans should not be crunchy, but feel soft and moist.

25 April 2008

Chickpea Salad

Nohut Salatasi

A similar version of this chickpea salad is in Claudia Roden's The book of Jewish food (under Sepphardic entries). I love chickpeas, and this is quite a nice salad. And the salad dressing is great to dip bread into.
For instructions on how to cook chickpeas, see steps 1 & 2 under humus.

2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1 or 2 roma tomatoes, diced
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teasp cumin
1/4 teasp paprika (sweet or cayenne)
1 garlic clove, crushed
some fresh parsley, some dried mint, sprinkled

Mix all, serve and enjoy.

09 December 2007

Sütlaç - Turkish Rice Pudding

There are many versions of rice pudding across the world, one my favourites being kheer (Indian/Pakistani version with almond meal and cardamom). The Turkish version is Sutlac, which I essentially grew up with. This version is nothing like the tinned rice pudding you get in the UK or Australia from supermarkets.

Sutlac had a well-deserved place in the Ottoman Kitchen, and was flavoured by rose-water (which you could try, just by adding a teaspoon of rose water before taking the pudding of the stove).

In Turkey, most patisseries serve their own version of sutlac, and one variation is firinda sutlac, i.e., baked rice pudding. The homemade version is often cooked on the stovetop, and for some reason, tastes best when made by my mum. I tried a batch last week, and was quite pleased to find out that my two-year old loved it, and the older one didn't reject it. So here is the recipe (after such a long break).

It is quite easy to make, best served cold, and can be sprinkled with cinnamon. You could increase/reduce the amoung of sugar according to taste.

1 lt milk
1/2 cup long-grained rice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablesp cornflour

Wash and drain rice. Add the rice and milk into a pot. Cook over a low to medium heat stovetop, stirring occasionally. When the rice has softened, add the sugar and stir. Mix the cornflour with a couple of tablespoons of water until smooth, and then add to the pudding. Stir until the pudding just starts to boil. Pour the pudding to glass bowls, and let it cool in room temperature. Keep refridgerated. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish.

09 August 2007

Tahini with Grape Syrup

Tahin Pekmez

Only three weeks left before the end of winter in the southern hemisphere, and winter is already milder with 17 degree days in Melbourne and clear blue sky. But this is no excuse to skip tahin-pekmez, which is a Turkish breakfast spread and a great winter-warmer (is this a real word?). You simply mix tahini with grape syrup. It is a great nutty taste, but one that not everyone is into. It is partly to do with the fact that not everyone in Turkey eats sweet spreads for breakfast when there is the option of feta cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers to be eaten with fresh bread and tea. I usually start breakfast with a cheese slice (often feta) on bread, and finish with jam/marmalade or tahin pekmez with bread again (not a big breakfast though, as I cut one slice into half).

Tahini is a sesame seed paste that is available in most supermarkets, and often known as the base for hummus. Grape syrup is a type of molasse that is thick and full of nutrition.

To make tahin-pekmez, simply add 1/2 measure of grape syrup to 1 measure of tahini. Mix until the grape syrup is soaked into the tahini. Spread on a slice of white bread. Don't hesitate to change ratios, depending on whether you like it more nutty versus sweet.

To purchase tahini and grape syrup online, visit Turkish market online.

15 July 2007

Pilav with Bulgur

Bulgur Pilavı
Bulgur is a traditional ingredient for making pilav or pilaf in Turkey (burghul in Arabic). Turkish often accompany main meals with pilav either of rice or bulgur. I have had this dish so often as I was growing up, and my mum often diced up fresh and really tasty tomatoes on top of it. I often make bulgur pilavi at home, and not always alongside Turkish food - it goes well with food from other kitchens as well. This recipe is for this weekend's herb blogging event hosted by Foodblogga.
Bulgur pilavi often includes onions diced and lightly fried. There are various versions, for example, with different vegetables or green lentils. The one in the photo has got capsicum and tomatoes lightly stir-fried with onions.
There are two types of bulgur, fine and coarse. To make pilav, you need the coarse type. The fine bulgur is used in salads or dishes such as red lentil balls. I wouldn't attempt pilav using fine bulgur, which might reveal a soggy kind of mash.
Preventing bulgur to stick in the pot is sometimes a challenge, better to use a deep non-stick pot.
But recently, I discovered that rice-cooker makes excellent bulgur pilavi! You need to prepare onions etc. on stove-top, and add in the rice-cooker after bulgur and water.
For a different taste stir through your favourite herbs in the end, and a teaspoon of butter.
1 onion, chopped
2 tablesp olive oil
2.5 cups of water
1 cup of bulgur
1/4 teasp salt
1 tbsp butter
Pre-rinse the bulgur using a strainer.
Lightly brown the onion in olive oil. Pour in the water, and bring to boil. Add bulgur and salt, cover and cook over high heat. When water begins to boil, lower the heat. After water is absorbed, place a thin cloth (or a clean teatowel) over the saucepan and let it rest.
Stir in the butter, and some herbs to your liking.
Note 1: As I previously wrote, it is a challenge to obtain well-absorbed bulgur pieces that have not stuck to the bottom of the pot. So for the rice-cooker method, first lightly brown the onion in a frypan on the stove-top. Then use your rice-cooker as you would for rice (i.e., add rice and water according to instructions), adding the browned onion in the cooker before starting it.
Note 2: If using rice-cooker, follow the amounts given for rice. My rice-cooker has a small cup, and requires at least two cups of rice/bulgur. After adding bulgur, adjust the water amount again according to the rice-cooker requirements. The size of the onion (small v. large) is left to preference.

28 June 2007

Tomato Soup with Rice

Domatesli Pirinç Çorbası

Since I last visited my blog, it's been two months and it's now winter in Melbourne. This week, it's been raining heavily, there are floods in the southeast, trees falling down, riverbeds overflowing. The good news is I am still busy but less so. This soup is a great winterwarmer soup again from Turkey, and also great for the Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn's Kitchen this week. This soup is commonly made with fresh parsley, but dried mint also works well.
Fresh tomatoes are always better, but tinned tomatoes are practical and work fine. Another short-cut (great for weeknights) is to use one-day old leftover cooked rice. 1 cup is enough, and you only need to add the rice, and bring the soup to boil. If using cooked rice, adjust the amount of water to 3-4 cups.
If you like thicker consistency, stir 1 tablespoon of flour into the thickened tomato mixture and before slowly adding water.
Spice it to taste, sweet paprika, freshly ground black pepper, ras-el-hanout (I know it's not Turkish, but I love it).

2 tablesp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, diced
2 large tomatoes, crushed
(or a tin of crushed tomatoes, around 400 gr)
1/2 teasp salt
1/2 teasp sugar
1/3 cup uncooked rice
5-6 cups of water
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
(or 1/2 tabsp dried mint)

Lightly fry garlic in oil in a large saucepan. Before garlic changes colour, add the tomatoes, salt and sugar. Cook tomatoes for about 5 minutes until it is thickened. Add the rice and water. Cook covered, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until rice has softened. Add the parsley, cooking for a couple of minutes. Serve warm.

Croutons: Croutons are optional, not being part of the original recipe. To make your own croutons, dice one-day old bread, drizzle with olive oil and place in a microwave safe container. Microwave uncovered in high for 2 minutes. Stir, if necessary, microwave another 20 seconds, and another 10 if necessary. (Watch out, they burn quickly - so only increase time at short intervals).

29 April 2007

Turkish Pide with Cheese/Meat Filling

In Turkey, pide with various types of filling is sold in special restaurants. In Melbourne, almost all Turkish restaurants serve pide freshly baked on the day. Since I frequently buy pide from these restaurants, I have never thought of baking at home. Coming across with a recipe recently, I thought I should give it a try, and it turned out great.
The recipe was enough for four medium sized pide, and I filled two with cheese and the other two with lamb meat filling.
For the dough
3 cups of plain flour
1 tablesp sugar
1 teasp salt
2 teasp instant yeast (or 1/2 tablesp fresh yeast)
1.25 cup water
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing
For the filling
250 gr minced meat (preferably lamb)
1 onion, diced
2 tablesp vegetable oil
1 teasp tomato paste
100 gr capsicum, diced finely
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 teasp dried mint
1/2 teasp sweet paprika
400 gr grated cheese
salami, or sucuk (Turkish spiced-salami)
1. Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast and water in a bowl, knead until well-mixed. Cover, and let it rest for an hour until it has risen.
2. For meat filling, stir-fry the onion, add meat, continue stirring from time to time. Add capsicum and tomato paste. Add salt and blackpepper to taste, along with paprika and mint. When the meat has cooked well (at least 20 minutes), set aside to cool slightly.
3. Set the oven to 200 degrees. Divide the dough into four pieces. (Rub some vegetable oil to your hands beforehand so that the dough is easier to handle). Using a rolling pin, obtain circular flat pieces. Then extend each piece from the sides, using your hands, and obtain oval shaped pieces.
4. For cheese pide, brush the flat dough with egg, sprinkle with grated cheese. Add salami, if using. For meat pide, spread the filling directly onto the flat dough.
5. Fold one cm. of the dough from the sides. Bring together at the tips. Brush with egg. Cook on lightly greased oven trays at 200 degrees, for about 20 minutes until the dough starts changing colour, and the cheese is bubbling. When out of the oven, brush with olive oil or butter, before serving.

22 April 2007

Turkish Meat Balls


Weekend herb blogging #79 is hosted at What did you eat?, and dried mint and lemon myrtle take their part in these Turkish meat balls.

Meat balls are one of the most common ways of eating meat at Turkish homes. They are especially liked by children. Spices can vary from person to person, but cumin and black pepper are the main ingredients. Dried thyme is also popular.
I always use cumin and dried mint, and may add quite a few other spices according to my mood. My recent additions are a North African spice mix called the Ras-el-hanout, and the Australian herb lemon myrtle (online order available at Spice Bazaar). I often make a big batch, and freeze some. Ask for double-minced lamb from your butcher, if you are after nice textured meat balls.

Meat balls are often served with rice, and often a tomato-based salad. This time, I served with Italian firm polenta, spicy tomato chutney, and beetroot salad.

1 kilo double-minced lamb
1 large brown onion, chopped finely
2 slices of bread
2 tablesp dried mint (& 1 teasp lemon myrtle, if using)
1 teasp, each of salt, black pepper, cumin and sweet paprika
1/2 cup fresh parsley (optional)
other spices (optional)
vegetable/olive oil for shallow-frying

Place bread in a bowl and cover with water. Once it soaks the water, squeeze the bread well to get rid of the water.

Press on the chopped onion to get rid of extra liquid. In a large bowl, add onion, bread, spices and herbs; and mix well. Add meat, and knead well. Make small patties.

Shallow fry in a pan in vegetable or olive oil, initially on high heat, and then at lower heat, until well-cooked.
P.S. If the lamb appears to have too much fat, add one egg to the ingredients.

07 April 2007

Turkish Delight & Marzipan

Lokum ve Badem Ezmesi

Back in Istanbul, I used to buy Turkish delights with double roasted pistachios, and marzipans from my favourite shop Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir. I am quite pleased to find out that Turkish delights from this particular shop are now being imported to Australia. I have come across with Turkish delight recipes in various cookbooks and magazines in Australia, yet I know noone back home who makes his/her own TD.

In Australia, there are a number of manufacturers that produce TD, yet I find them quite soft. Turkish delights should be slightly resistant to bite (al dente).

Marzipans in this picture are from one of my best friends, who visited me a couple of months ago. She brought a box of marzipans from Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, which has been around since the late 18th century. I have managed to take a photo before finishing the marzipans.

Visiting the website of the producers will take you to various other Turkish confectionary produced by this shop.

01 April 2007

Poğaca (Turkish Cheese Pastries)

These Turkish pastries are fairly easy to make, and delicious. They are typically filled in with feta cheese, or lor peyniri (Turkish cheese similar to ricotta), although mince based potato filling is also common. Preparation time of dough is short, but the dough needs at least one hour of rising time. Once it doubles its size, the dough should feel light and fluffy.

Turkish recipes rarely specify the amount of flour required. I used approximately three cups, adding in the flour slowly so that the dough feels soft to touch. According to Turkish way, it should feel as soft as the "earlobe".

1 cup milk
2 teasp dry yeast
1 teasp sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teasp salt
flour, amount as required
1 egg yolk
Sesame seeds and/or nigella seeds

200 gr feta cheese
1 egg white
1/4 teasp paprika
fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill

Bring milk to room temperature. Add sugar and yeast, and stir until melted.

Add butter, vegetable oil and salt, and stir. Slowly add flour and stir. Once it starts to blend in, knead lightly. Dough is supposed to be soft to touch.

Cover dough, and put aside so that it rises (an hour or so).

Set oven to 180 degrees.

Once the dough has doubled in size, break it into egg-size pieces. Spread each piece in your palm to have a round shape. Put in some of the filling, and bring opposite sides of the dough together to cover the filling. Place onto a lightly greased oven tray. Brush with egg yolk, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or nigella seeds.

Filling: Break feta into pieces using a fork. Mix in egg white, paprika and fresh herbs.