Sunday, November 20, 2011

Market Day- Guess What I'm Making!

Yesterday was such a refreshing day! Hung out with the family at the zoo, got my shopping done, and finalized the touches on our Lebanese dinner.

Ingredients: Lettuce (butter and romain), spinach, eggplant, mozzarella, egg roll wrappers, bell pepper, beans, pita bread, lemon juice, olive oil, cucumbers, tomato, chicken (and of course spices and seasonings).

Can you guess what we're having (a hint at the link)?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Quick Update- Where to next?

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the planet. Still here. You should hear about Market Day and the actual culinary adventure soon. We've been really, really busy! In the meantime while you wait to hear about Lebanon, are you interested in a preview?

Right now I'm considering what reason to explore next. Leaning towards Africa right now. There's so much to explore there. Every once in a while we visit a city with an Ethiopian restaurant. Oh, I love their food. Moroccan is really good too. The other idea I'm considering is a "Christmas 'round the globe" trip. Perfect for December. Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Planning Day: Lebanon

Last time I tried cooking a recipe inspired by Lebanon it quickly become a favorite. It's been enjoyed by my family and at potlucks. Hummus Casserole. I know, it sounds weird but it's really really yummy. Check it out!

from Free Retro Graphics

This time I'll mostly be using Arabesque, the cookbook I checked out from the local library for my Turkish culinary adventure. There are some great websites I'm devouring too. Chances are I'll be including something from a couple of them. 

Lebanese seems to have an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. There's also a lot of starch and more fish than animal meat. I just love how so many recipes include lemon juice in them! I've always had a soft spot for lemons. 

Have you ever gone out to eat at a tapas restaurant? Spanish tapas are so great, rather like a flavorful buffet filled with an array of healthy, light dishes rather than the calorie-laden heavy dishes at a traditional American buffet. In Spain tapas are a normal part of life. In Lebanon however I read mezze, their word for a variety of appetizers, isn't something eaten every day- more often when company comes over and you serve them drinks. Still, if I did choose to simply cook mezze, my family would be able to sample a fairly wide variety of Lebanese dishes. 

That is particularly appealing. I'm reading of such delicious foods as dates stuffed with mascarpone cheese, picked and raw vegetables, and dips like hummus and baba ghanoush. Baba Ghanoush reminds me of my honeymoon. I first tried it at a fusion restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. It was love at first bite. Seafood like shrimp, tabbouleh, falafel, a pastry made of spinach and cheese, kibbeh (a dish of chopped meat and bulgur), skewered meats, and fattoush (toasted bread tossed with vegetables) are some of the other tasty dishes served at mezze.

Then again, we could have a family-style supper. One or two items from mezze like perhaps some hummus and bread. A hot dish, like a cilantro shrimp stir fry, fish tagine, chicken shawarma- isn't that a favorite!?- love ordering it when I'm out and not in the mood for gyros-, tahini and yogurt potato salad, or couscous with carrots and peas and golden raisins. I even found a recipe for a short rib lasagna roll! Of course no meal would be complete without a flat bread. Finished with dessert. Did anyone mention baklava? Oh, my. My husband told me just this morning he has a delicious recipe. Really!? You've never mentioned it or made it since we married and you say you have a great baklava recipe?! Oh my oh my! 

It all sounds delicious. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

7: Our Turkish Dinner

A big apology to my readers! I'm sorry it took me so long to update. Life intervened.

Sunday was our Turkish adventure. We enjoyed an extremely simple, sweet pumpkin soup. A savory chickpea salad that made it feel like summer despite the red, yellow, and orange leaves outside our window. Some tasty zucchini cakes that have to be healthier than the fried zucchini you get at Carl's Jr. Meatballs, and of course some pilaf.

You can find this recipe for chickpea salad at Binnur's Turkish Cookbook. It's really easy to whip up and full of flavor. This was my personal favorite dish! I also loved just how filling it is. I've eaten the leftovers for lunch and been perfectly satisfied. The dressing is what really makes this salad special. 

I think these zucchini cakes would make an excellent appetizer for any party. I found the recipe in the cookbook Arabesque. It's made of chopped onion and zucchini, mixed with feta cheese and a bonding agent of flour, eggs, seasonings. They're cooked until browned on both sides and then ready to eat. A very delicious appetizer indeed. Definitely a healthy alternative to fried zucchini!

This sweet pumpkin soup was the favorite of the rest of the family. There were only a few ingredients which means their request to make this regularly will be no problem for me! A can of pumpkin, some vegetable broth, a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper all cooked until heated through. Serve with a swirl of Greek yogurt for a delicious meal!

The pilaf was extremely simple. It made an excellent side dish. We all agreed the simplicity of the flavors would make this great with any dish- meatloaf, BBQ chicken, you name it. Simply wash and then saute your basmati rice in butter. Then cook it in stock and season with salt and pepper. It's that simple.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Market Day: Guess What I'm Making (Turkey)

Can you guess what I'm making for our Turkish culinary adventure this weekend? It's more than one dish this week. I'll be including a soup, an appetizer, a salad, a main course...Oh, and there are hints you can use in my planning post. Comment below with any guesses!

Honey, mint, dill, yogurt, rice, pumpkin, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olives, feta, tomatoes, ground beef, onion (yellow and red), zucchini area all in the picture. Not pictured: Salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, egg yolks, broth

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planning Day: Turkey

It's here! It's finally here! The week I get to cook Turkish dishes. I've been looking forward to this week ever since we started our "journey" through the Mediterranean. Turkish food is so good.

Unfortunately I'm still waiting for my two cookbooks to come in at the library. Searching the web meanwhile I've found some rather delicious looking recipes. Among them is a great website called Binnur's Turkish Cookbook that's filled with years worth of recipes. What a resource! Every once in a while I find myself scrolling through the website, staring at the delicious recipes. My mouth waters as I read about the food.

Pilafs made from rice or wheat. Dishes- savory and sweet- made using yogurt. Turkish cuisine is filled with vegetables, and if I wanted I could even make a vegetarian supper quite easily. Kebabs, meatballs, and chicken Tava sound so good though. They all seem to be calling my name! Of course I mustn't forget the soup, which is a very traditional way to start a meal over there, and perfect for a cool November evening.

Best of all, every recipe I've read so far is easy to make. I can't wait for the weekend. This is going to be great!

We may just have to go out for some baklava for dessert.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Making Pastizzi

Tip: Use frozen pastry dough instead of making your own. 

Mix eggs with ricotta cheese. I found two ratios in recipes online. One had 1 egg to 1lb ricotta, the other had 2 eggs to 1 lb ricotta. 1 egg/1lb was the most common.

Mix until smooth and season with salt and pepper. The cheese filling is ready to use!

Making curried pea filling. Split peas that have been boiled in water are then set aside. Onion and garlic are sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with curry powder. The peas and a little water are added and cooked until the water evaporates. Once the mixture is cooled it's time to stuff!

Cut the pastry dough into circles- like a cat's head biscuit- and fill with about a tablespoon of your desired filling. Fold it over, seal, and bake in the oven.  

Very tasty! 

Ricotta Filling Recipe (includes a video)