Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Olive Bread - Zeytinli Ekmek

Olive Bread - Zeytinli Ekmek

Here's a tasty savory bread with olives, cheese and herbs. Very easy to make. It is great at breakfast/brunch as well as at afternoon tea-time.

  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (about 1/2 pepper), chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives (use the ones stuffed with red pepper if you like)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black caraway seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spray an oven safe bread loaf pan with olive oil, set aside.

Steam chopped red bellpepper until it is cooked. About 2-3 minutes.

In a large pan, combine olive oil, eggs and milk. Mix well with a wisk until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, parsley and dill, mix with spoon. Add peppers, olives and feta cheese, gently stir with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the bread loaf pan. Sprinkle caraway seeds on top (optional). Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let it cool to room temperature. Remove from the pan. Slice and transfer to a serving tray. Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
Crumbled feta cheese and olives

Chopped bell peppers, parsley and dill

Steamed bell peppers

Oil, milk and eggs mixed

Flour, baking powder, herbs added to the batter

Peppers, cheese and olives added

Ready to go in the oven

Fresh out of the oven

Sliced, ready to be served!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bar Pilaf with Shrimps - Karidesli Meyhane Pilavı

Bar Pilaf with Shrimps - Karidesli Meyhane Pilavı
Meyhane is a cross between a restaurant and a pub. "mey" means "wine" and "hane" means "house", however, in Turkey, Rakı, not wine, is usually the drink of choice in any restaurant, any given time. Rakı is consumed slowly and with food, mainly with appetizers called "meze". Many lasting memories are made in the company of good friends, good food and rakı. Typically a "rakı table" will have several mezes allowing guests to sample different tastes over the course of the evening.

"Meyhane Pilaf" features different sautéed vegetables cooked with lamb or beef with bulgur providing a variety of delicate tastes. It is a complete meal just by itself. I believe this is the reason why this dish is called meyhane pilavı, or bar pilaf.

I have modified the recipe and cooked it with shrimp and it turned out delicious. Enjoy!


For marinated shrimp:
  • 1 lb medium to large shrimp, shelled, deveined
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill
  • 1 table spoon fresh mint
For pilaf
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 red bellpepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cups size #3 bulgur, rinsed and strained
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 table spoon butter 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and drain shelled, deveined shrimp. In a blender, combine olive oil, mashed garlic, fresh dill and mint. Blend by pulsing, making sure the herbs are chopped but not liquified. Place marinade in a bowl, add shrimp. Keep it in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour. You can marinate the shrimp the day before and let it stay in the refrigerator overnight for better mixing of flavors.

In a large size pot, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add chopped bellpeppers, sauté for anther 4-5 minutes. Add the mushroom, sauté for 3 more minutes. Add finely chopped tomatoes, let it simmer until all vegetables are tender, about 5 more minutes. Add boiling water, bulgur, chili powder, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well with a spoon, lower the heat to slow and let it simmer until the bulgur is cooked and all water is absorbed. Set aside.

Remove shrimp from the marinade with a ladle with holes, adding it to a large pan. Sauté shrimp over medium heat until both sides are pink, about 3 minutes on each side. It is important not to overcook the shrimp to avoid drying.

Add shrimp to the pilaf, gently stir making sure the shrimp is evenly distributed. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Marinated shrimps
Chopped onions and bellpeppers

Chopped tomatos and parsley

Pilaf cooked with vegetables
Cooked shrimp
Shrimp added to the pilaf, ready to be served
Bar Pilaf with Shrimps - Karidesli Meyhane Pilavı

Friday, November 23, 2012

Baked Salmon Wrapped in Grape Leaves - Asma Yaprağında Somon

Baked Salmon Wrapped in Grape Leaves - Asma Yaprağında Somon
Although the term "stuffed grape leaves" typically refers to grape leaves stuffed with rice or bulgur seasoned with spices and nuts, using the leaves as wrappers for fish is also very common in Turkish cuisine. Grape leaves are much healthier alternative to aluminum foil and they are very presentable on a plate.

If you use fresh leaves, they are tasty to eat alongside the fish cooked inside. If you use leaves out of a jar as I do in California, you have two options: You can simply rinse the leaves, use them as wrappers, then just eat the fish, discarding the leaves after the dish is served. However, if you want to eat the fish and the grape leaves, then you need to boil some water in a pot, let the leaves slightly cook in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes, drain and use them as wrappers for the fish. You choose.. Below recipe assumes the leaves will be discarded.

Note: You can use sea bass, orange roughy or white roughy instead of salmon if you prefer.  It tasts just as delicious.

  • 2 med size pieces of salmon, cut into 12 small pieces total
  • Jar of grape leaves in brine (24 leaves will be used)
For the seasoning:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash salmon, dry with a paper towel. Cut into 12 small pieces about 1-2 inches by 4 inches. Set on a dry, clean surface.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients for the seasoning. Wisk to make sure all is mixed well. Place salmon pieces in the seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Remove grape leaves from the jar, wash and drain in a strainer. Place two grape leaves on a clean flat surface, overlapping on each other. This will provide a large leaf to wrap salmon in. Place a piece of salmon on the joined leaves. Fold the top flap over the fish first. Fold sides in next, then roll the fish in grape leaf making sure it is covered with the leaf, no flesh should show. Place the wrapped piece in a rectangular oven safe dish. Repeat the process for the rest of the salmon pieces. Drizzle some of the seasoning that is left in the bowl over the wrapped salmon pieces. Do not pour all of the left over fluid. Place the tray in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven. Leave the tray in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Serve hot with some sort of pilaf or veggies.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Salmon cut into pieces

Seasoning prepared
Salmon marinaded in olive-oil based seasoning

Grape leaves overlapped to provide a large leaf to wrap
Seasoned salmon ready to be wrapped

Fold one end of the leaf first
Fold in the sides next

Wrap it to cover all of the salmon

Wrapped salmon ready to be placed in the oven
Ready to be served

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese - Cevizli Roka Salatası

Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese - Cevizli Roka Salatası
Arugula is surely one of the Mediterranean salad favorites. In Turkey it is commonly served on the side by itself, with no dressing, as a mustary green to eat with kebaps and other main dishes. Arugula in that region has a much more mustardy taste than those sold in the markets in Southern California. To make up for the missing spicy taste, I use a salad dressing with mustard. Recipe for the salad dressing will yield much more than you would need for this batch. You can keep the unused portion in the refrigerator to use with other salads later.

Simple and quick to make, hope you'll enjoy this salad.


1 bag (5-6 oz) fresh baby arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

For Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
1 table spoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare salad dressing first by mixing all ingredients and shaking well.

Wash and drain arugula. Remove excess stems. Place arugula, walnuts and feta cheese in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of salad dressing, toss and serve.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
Coarsly chopped walnuts

Arugula cleaned, drained, excess stems removed

All ingredients tossed in a bowl
Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese - Cevizli Roka Salatası

Monday, November 5, 2012

Creamy Vegetable Soup - Kremalı Sebze Çorbası

Creamy Vegetable Soup - Kremalı Sebze  Çorbası

  • 2 stalks of leeks, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chards, chopped
  • 1 medium to large potato, peeled and cut to pieces
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups water or chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 table spoons butter
  • 1 table spoon all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt to taste
Wash, coarsely chop all vegetables. Combine water (or chicken stock) and vegetables in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, let it simmer over medium heat until all vegetables are cooked. Using a hand blender, puree vegetables in the pot until the mixture is smooth. Add salt to taste. Set aside. (If you don't have a hand blender, you can also use a regular blender to puree the vegetables. You may need to do it in 2 batches, but it works just fine).

For the creamy sauce, melt butter (or oil) in large pot over medium heat. Stir in the flour, whisking constantly over medium heat about 4-5 minutes. Slowly add the milk and cream (optional) and salt to taste. Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the vegetable puree to the pot, stirring constantly to avoid lumping. If the soup is too thick, add more water (or chicken stock) to it. Bring it to a boil over medium to slow heat . Add pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Creamy Vegetable Soup - Kremalı Sebze  Çorbası

Friday, November 2, 2012

3 Layer Potato Salad - 3 Katlı Patates Salatası

3 Layer Potato Salad - 3 Katlı Patates Salatasi
 This in fact, is an appetizer/salad that consists of 3 different appetizers in three different colors layered on top of each other in a bowl. When transferred onto a serving dish upside down, it looks very delectable.

  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups strained or Greek style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 table spoon lemon juice
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh dill, parsley or mint for garnish (optional)

Line a medium size bowl with plastic wrap, set aside. This will be your molding bowl.

Boil potatoes in water until they are fully cooked. Set aside, let it cool.

Layer 1: For the first layer, mix 1 cup of strained (or Greek style) yogurt with dill, onions in a bowl. Add salt to your taste. Transfer this dip into the molding bowl which is lined with plastic wrap. Firmly press on it with a spoon, evenly leveling the top.

Layer 2: For the second layer, mix grated carrots with 1/2 cup of strained (or Greek style) yogurt in a separate bowl . Add salt to taste. Carefully transfer this mixture to the molding bowl on top of the first yogurt dip. Press firmly, leveling the top.

Layer 3: For the final layer, peel the potatoes and mash them in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and transfer to the molding bowl. Press firmly, level the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. You can leave it overnight. When ready to serve, carefully place a flat serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down. Garnish with chopped fresh springs of dill, parsley or mint (optional)

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Line the bowl with plastic wrap
First layer is thick yogurt and herb mixture
Grated carrots mixed with thick yogurt
Second layer is thick yogurt and carrot mixture

Seasoned mashed potatoes

Third layer is seasoned mashed potatoes
3 Layer Potato Salad - 3 Katlı Patates Salatasi

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chicken Casserole - Tavuk Gratin

Chicken Caserole - Tavuk Gratin

This is a very healthy, tasty comfort food. No mayonnaise, no canned soups in the sauce. Just chicken, veggies and home- made white sauce similar to Béchamel sauce (no milk) and some cheese. Kids of all ages love it. It goes well with rice or pasta on the side. 


  • 1 medium whole chicken
  • Water for boiling chicken
  • 1 package frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 cup water for cooking peas and carrots
  • 1+1 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 heaping table spoons flour
  • ½ stick of butter
  • 3 cups grated jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Clean and rinse chicken inside and outside. Place chicken in a large pot, add water, about 5-6 cups, making sure it covers the chicken. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Reduce to low-medium heat when it starts to boil. Remove foam that forms on the surface of the boiling chicken. Cook until very, very tender. Carefully transfer chicken to a separate bowl, set aside to cool.

Using a strainer, pour the chicken stock into a bowl or a pot. About 2 cups of this will be used to make the sauce, the rest of the stock can be used to make rice or soups.

Rinse and strain frozen peas and carrots. In a small pot, combine 1 cup of water with peas and carrots, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain and set aside.

When chicken is cool to touch, remove skin and bones. Shred it to small pieces. Place chicken evenly in an oven safe dish (14”x10”).

For the sauce, melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the flour, whisking constantly over medium heat about 4-5 minutes. Slowly add about 2 cups of chicken stock left over from boiling the chicken, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. You may need to add more or less than 2 cups. It should have the consistency of yogurt. Bring to a simmer , remove from heat. If the sauce is lumpy, you can use a hand mixer to make it smooth.

Add strained peas and carrots to the white sauce, gently stir with a spoon, making sure the vegetables mix in the sauce evenly.

Pour the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the mixture. Evenly distribute grated cheese on top of the dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

Bake until the cheese melts, about 20-30 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake until the top is golden brown.
Serve hot. It goes well with rice.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!
Shredded chicken placed in an oven safe dish

Peas and carrots cooked, strained

Peas and carrots mixed with the white sauce

Peas and carrots mixture spread over the chicken

Grated cheese sprinkled over the dish
Chicken Caserole, ready to be served