Tag Archives: turkish cooking

Caffeine Confessions

My Friday morning was dragging by yesterday. After a week of meetings on various exciting Penn State community initiatives and reading several academic articles about taking online education global, my enthusiasm and passion were all used up, and I just wanted to go home, sit on the couch, and watch Netflix with Dave. We started watching Orange Is the New Black  on Thursday and are totally addicted now. My longing for him, the couch, and Netflix was so great, in fact, that I decided to go home for an extended lunch. Dave was working from home and agreed to make Turkish zucchini fritters, so here is how I found him when I got there:

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Using our favorite cook book, Sultan’s Kitchen. The fritters were delicious and the episode we watched thrilling. An hour and a half later, it was time to drive back to the office, and I was still as burnt out as in the morning, which wasn’t good since I had two more meetings on the calendar, both of which would require some good energy.

So, desperate as I was, I decided to stop at Starbuck’s. Surely a grande vanilla soy latte isn’t going to matter that much against my pursuit to quit caffeine, I told myself. Before I knew it, I arrived at work, half of the glorious beverage already finished, half of it in hand to bring to my meeting. Holy cow. After three weeks of no coffee at all (I am avoiding it due to its bad effects on the liver and caffeine’s effects on hormonal balance), it really hit me. This was great because I was able to lead the meeting, which lasted more than two hours, pitch ideas that excited everyone, and chat happily about Germany and whatever else. I went back to my desk, breezed through some work, and then had an equally great meeting with my boss. 5 p.m. almost came too soon – I had all this motivation to work through my to-do list.

But sure enough, when it was time to go, the good feeling was wearing off, I had a slight headache, my surroundings were spinning a little bit, and I had a sudden starvation feeling like I always do after ODing on caffeine.

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Help?

I drove home to pick up Dave. We had plans to go to dinner and then to a musical my co-worker was in, The Music Man, performed at the Mt. Nittany Middle School.

We went to to Olde New York, which hilariously enough has that name but serves traditional German food.

I got a glass of Pinot Noir, at this point too dizzy to reason with myself about not wanting to throw alcohol on top of my caffeine condition. And we ordered the baked brie plate as an appetizer. I couldn’t imagine that there was enough food to take away the burning feeling of hunger in my stomach.

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For my main meal, I had a black bean burger with fries. Of course the burning hunger feeling was soon replaced by feeling way too stuffed, thirsty from all the salt, and a little dizzy still. Wow, caffeine, you’ve truly outdone yourself. I’d love to say I learned my lesson, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to forget how much better my afternoon at work was thanks to my Starbucks infusion. Not good. Not good at all.

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Dave got their giant German Schnitzel with Spaetzle and red cabbage – his favorite meal there. Even he got out his phone to document the madness. He finished it all, so we could bond over our post-meal discomfort at least.

Hello, America. Thanks for another over-sized Friday night dinner and subsequent nausea.

We drove over to the middle school and walked around a bit. It was absolutely beautiful outside and we had some time to kill.

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I wish this picture could convey the amazing smell of freshly mowed grass, the sunset view on the mountains all around us, and the feeling of perfect, crisp, late-summer air. But it can’t. So here is me in front of Mt. Nittany.

The show was awesome and lasted almost three hours. When we got back, we were still uncomfortably full and still enamored with the night’s beauty, so we took a midnight walk around the neighborhood.

This morning, I’m back to treating my digestive system the way it wants me to – with organic berries in oatmeal and fresh, organic carrot and celery juice.

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Filed under Turkish

Three-Course Turkish Dinner

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Filed under deserts, drinks with dinner, leftovers, recipes, running, seafood, Turkish

Turkish Zucchini Fritters

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Nothing delights me more than a new Turkish cooking adventure. Okay, maybe not nothing.  But for a Monday evening, this one did pretty well.

This was a real Turkish recipe, so the fact that the fritters tasted like summer and ocean and family didn’t come as a surprise to me. But I’m pretty sure you can just add parsley, paprika, olive oil, and feta to anything and make it taste Turkish. Parsley more than anything, though.

Ingredients:

– 2 zucchinis, grated
– 1 sweet potato (grated) – or use two carrots and achieve the same orange color
– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– 2 eggs
– a bunch of chopped scallions (white parts only)
– a bunch of chopped parley
– a bunch of dill
– 7 oz. crumbled feta cheese
– salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
– Greek yogurt and more chopped scallions for serving
– olive oil for frying

Directions:

After grating the zucchini, put them into a coriander with some salt and squeeze the excess liquid out of them. Switch them over into a big bowl and add all the other ingredients. Mix well.

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As always, I take the most appetizing pictures. Food photography – now there’s a course I should have taken in grad school. But they didn’t offer that. So I blame them.

Next, heat up the oil in the largest frying pan you have. When it’s hot enough, add as many fritters as you can. Just add a loaded tablespoon of “dough” for each one – these should be pretty thin and not too large.

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Fry each side until golden brown. I used two spatulas to flip them just to be safe. Oh, also, I  shook the pan now and then to make sure they were getting enough oil. When you’re done with the first batch, place them on a paper towel and place another one on top to soak up some of the oil. This becomes less necessary as the oil in the pan depletes with every batch.

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These were a big hit. The feta is an amazing addition. I’d say they are a perfect light dinner for a week night, or you could serve them as an appetizer/take them to a potluck. I think they are sure to impress, so what are you waiting for?

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Filed under dairy-free, recipes, Turkish