Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lentil snack

OK the original name for this dish is "Mercimek Kofte". The closest translation would be Lentil Meatballs. But hey there is no meat in here. We are talking a light vegetarian meal which is perfect for a warm season. You serve it cool on a crisp lettuce with a squeeze of lemon. This is what summer meal is all about, isn't it?
1 cup of red lentil
1 cup of fine bulgur*
2 tsp of salt
2 onions
1/3 cups of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
1 heaping table spoon of tomato paste
lots of chopped green onion and parsley ( to your taste)
* I have never tried it but I assume couscous would work here as well since it has the same properties as fine bulgur.
In a big pan cook lentil in 2 cups of water until it is done.Turn the heat off and add bulgur and salt. Mix them well, cover and let stay for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile fry onion in olive oil. Once onion is soft add garlic and spices. Cook for one more minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another couple of minutes. Now it is time to add onion mixture to the lentil mixture. Mix them well and leave to cool.
Now it is time to do all the chopping of parsley, green onion and any other of your favorite herbs: say dill or mint or cilantro. Try to mince them rather fine.
Once the mixture is cool enough to handle give your precious hands a good wash and start shaping the kofte.
Serve on top of the lettuce leaves with lemon wedges on the side. I like using the smaller center leaves or cutting the big ones in half to stay even on the kofte size.

Pink peaches

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Zucchini muffins

This is very American to me and I loove it. It was in our local cafe where I have spotted a delicious looking slice once. I did not know what it was. It just spoke to me. I had to try it! And now I am forever hooked on zucchini bread. More then that: I have hooked my sister on it and my whole family. I am sure that every once in a while my mom still proudly shares the recipe with her new guest. But I have already modified mine from that I have found many years ago here. I use whole wheat pastry flour and reduced its amount to 2,5 cups ( the bread was somewhat dense for me). I reduced the amount of sugar to little over 1 cup. I like to take half oil and half yogurt for the fats and sometimes when I have it on hand I like to replace 1/4 of a cup of oil with almond or grape seed oil instead. Plus I use pumpkin mix to spice things up. Besides recently I have started to bake them as cupcakes for my son to take to school. I bake a batch and freeze them. Since he likes chocolate chips and blueberries I put either one to make him happier. And of course I skip on nuts because its for school.
So here is how I do it:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
1/2 cup of plain low fat yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of blueberries or chocolate chips.
Preheat the oven to 325F (165 C).
Beat the eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil and yogurt. Mix in gently zucchini. In the different bowl combine all the rest of the ingredients. Now combine them all without over mixing.
Pour the content into 12 muffin cups. Bake for about 20-22 minutes. I use convectional oven so my results can be a bit sooner then with other ovens. Cool them completely.Cover each with foil , put in the Ziploc bag and freeze.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A package

You should have seen our faces when we have received a package from Turkey last week. We were glowing with anticipation for more then a week almost tasting our treats to come. And so here they are now. We were like kids on Christmas morning impatiently tearing off the packaging. My dear hubby got his sucuk - a Turkish dry beef sausage. You should see how much he treasures it. He seams to be determent to make it last longer then possible. As for me - I've got the best pistachios in the world- the little jewels from Antep city in Turkey. They are unbelievable! If you have never tried them you do not know the real taste of pistachios. Then there were candies, chocolate ( gosh they know how to make real chocolate in Turkey- Dark chocolate with pistachios anyone?) and cookies. I think kids loved their treats but definitely not as much as we did ours.
If you are around you are welcome to come and try some. Can't guarantee it will last though.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Kotleti - is Russian for meatballs or mini burger patties. I thought i would share with you my version of it adapted from my family recipe. You see unfortunately I do not own a meat grinder. The old-world one, the sort that is made of heavy duty metal and requires you to turn the handle manually to operate. I am determined though to bring my grandma's one some day to America even if it will cost me arm and leg with the suite case overweight. This thing makes the juiciest most delicious kotleti ever! And you do it by grinding the meat, onions and the white bread soaked in milk together.
So while in here I was determined to recreate them by using what I have. The trick is to puree onion with white bread soaked in milk in a blender. Or you can also use regular bread crumb. In that case you just add them together with 1 tbs of milk to the meat mixture .
I think I was able to make them as close as possible to the taste I know from my childhood.
Here is how you do it.

1lb of 93 % beef
1 onion,
1-2 Tbs of milk
1 slice of white bread (0,5 '' wide)
1 egg
some chopped parsley
salt, pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin

Start by pureeing onion and bread soaked in milk together. Then in a bowl mix all of the ingredients including the onion mixture by hand. Form patties and fry 3-4 at a time in a pan with the cover on. You would want your heat to be medium low. And it requires very little oil too, just to prevent from sticking. Kotleti will cook very quickly. About 2-3 minutes per side.
Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or on top of your bread for a delicious quick lunch .