After running 6 miles on Sunday morning (first time doing a longer run since my Half Marathon on April 13), I spent most of my day in the kitchen preparing an elaborate Turkish dinner.
Aren’t my head-band and flowery apron something? Dave was handling the food photography because he got excited to use the tripod and a nicer camera than my iPhone (which I usually use). Anyway, I didn’t know he would put me into 80% of the pictures or I would have chosen to look less ridiculous.
Now to the task at hand: Cook a three-course Turkish dinner for four people in three hours. All three recipes were new to me, but the cookbook Sultan’s Kitchen has been phenomenal so far, so I wasn’t too worried about it.
1. The Appetizer – Grape Leaves Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Rice
Just looking at this has me wanting to make another batch of these beyond-delicious things. It was my first time making vegetarian grape leaves. In the past, I’ve stuffed them with rice and ground beef or lamb. But no longer. The combination of pine nuts and currants with cinnamon, dill, and parsley is out of this world. Sprinkled with lemon-juice, they’re a fresh, tangy summer treat. They could be their own meal and I definitely devoured the left-overs for lunch on Monday. Triple yum!
We served them with some fresh baguette and Raki – an anise flavored liquor that no Turkish meal should be without.
2. The Main Course – Flounder Fillets Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, and Scallions
Holy moly. Flounder fillets are expensive. The recipe called for 3 lbs., but that would have meant $45, so I decided to get four and divide all the other ingredients in half too. That was a good choice, since we had so much other food, too.
First, you cook the pine nuts in olive oil until they’re golden brown, then you add garlic, spinach, and scallions and saute the mixture until it has wilted. After letting it cool, you place the desired amount in the center of the fillet and then fold it over, holding it together with a tooth pick.
Number one and two.
Then, you steam the fillets in a mix of dry white wine, chopped tomato, lemon juice, spices, and dill for eight minutes. When it’s done, you sprinkle it with parsley.
We served this course with bread and a choice of red and white wine. Don’t you want to take that piece of baguette and make it soak up the delicious sauce? The dish was the perfect mixture of herbs, fish, and a tangy mix of wine, tomato, and a kick of spiciness due to paprika and red cayenne pepper. So good. So so good.
3. The Desert – Rose Water Pudding
This was a basic pudding made with whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and cornstarch, but the rose water gave it a very unique flavor. We actually sprinkled these servings with cinnamon before putting them on the table, but were too absorbed into conversation by that time to remember taking pictures.
It was so much fun to try three new recipes and introduce our friends to Turkish cuisine. They seemed to really enjoy everything. Dave and I definitely loved all three dishes, so we’ll definitely make them again. The leftover grape leaves definitely were a special Monday lunch treat.