Tag Archives: Turkish food

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

Weekend Round-Up

We spent the weekend enjoying the beautiful May weather both in State College and NYC. I don’t have many pictures at all, but will attempt to document the events with words.

Friday night, I worked on expanding my Turkish cooking portfolio. A family friend in Germany has created “Koch Dich Türkisch (cook yourself Turkish),” a website with Turkish recipe videos. He’s been doing this for several years and has built a remarkable following. I finally wanted to cook with one of his videos and chose this one, called “Imam bayildi,” which means “The Imam Fainted.” It’s a traditional eggplant dish. One of the myths about its name is that the Imam’s wife made this for him and he fainted because he learned how much olive oil was in it. Olive oil was very expensive. Another says he fainted simply because it was so tasty.

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Imam Bayildi (serves 2 or 4, depending if you want one or two halves – vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free)

Ingredients:

– 2 large eggplants
– 3 medium onions, diced
– 3 tomatoes (peeled or unpeeled, depending on preference)
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
– olive oil (amounts can be based on preference)
–  1 tbsp. sugar
– salt and pepper
– a little thyme, finely chopped

Directions:

Halve the eggplant and slice the skin in a zebra pattern. Soak them in saltwater for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the onions and the garlic, as well as the other ingredients. Fry the onions, garlic, and sugar in a large pan. Once they are well-glazed over, add the other ingredients minus the parsley and fry everything for a few more minutes.

When the eggplants have soaked, pat them dry with paper towels. In another frying pan, heat up olive oil. When the oil is ready, place the eggplants face-down into the pan and sear them until the edges are browned. Place the halves into a casserole or baking dish, fill them with the vegetable mix, add parsley on top, and sprinkle them with more olive oil. Then bake them for 35 minutes and enjoy.

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I had to cut the baking time for mine to 20 minutes because I was running late for a girls night with two friends at Gigi’s in State College. We sat on the back patio, drank wine, and enjoyed the view of the mountains until it got dark, we got cold, and we moved to a table inside.

Saturday morning, we tried to sleep in a bit to be well-rested for our trip to NYC. When he wanted to make omelettes for breakfast, Dave realized we only had one egg left, so he came up with this:

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And this:

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Cornbread-stuffed Italian peppers and cornbread muffins. His reasoning was that cornbread was the only thing he could think of that requires only one egg. Pretty brilliant, if you ask me.

We packed up fast for the one-night stay and headed out. Before we left town, we stopped at Wegman’s to get a gift for our hosts and pick up some food for the road.

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I got Kombucha and a salmon roll.

This is where I stopped taking pictures, so forgive me if you are visually inclined.

We visited one of my co-workers who just helped open the Woolrich office in Manhattan a few months ago. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband. We got there around 3:30 p.m., got a tour of their house, and then walked around the neighborhood and the Brooklun Botanical Gardens. The weather was perfect. We also stopped at this amazing juicing bar and I got a kale and pineapple-based creation that can only be described as phenomenal.

We stopped at an authentic Italian pizza place and got takeout pizza and salads. They had three other people over at their house for dinner. We ate, made strawberry-mint ice cream (so good), and played The Settlers of Catan. Have you ever played this game? I just ordered it on Amazon this morning because I liked it so much.

On Sunday morning, Dave and I left their place early and headed to Manhattan on the subway to see the Civil War photography exhibit at the Met. The upper East side was full of runners, bikers, and families on walks. It was nice to be around large amounts of people again. We had some coffee and banana muffins at the cafe and then walked around the exhibit, which was fantastic.

Back in Brooklyn, we had some pizza for lunch and then headed out because we had a Cinco de Mayo party in State College at night. Our route took us across the Manhattan Bridge, through China town, and then put us back into New Jersey via the Holland Tunnel. Driving in China Town was definitely something I do not wish to make a habit. Way too many swarms of tourists not paying attention to traffic lights and too many crazy drivers. But it was worth it because the parking in Brooklyn was free.

We got back to State College shortly before 7 p.m., went to our friends’ house for the barbecue, and then did some grocery shopping to make sure we’re not entirely unprepared for the week. Dave got to sleep in this morning (lucky), but I was back at the office bright and early for the Monday groove. At least I have my second eggplant half saved for lunch today!

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Filed under recipes, Turkish