Saturday, March 31, 2012

White Bean Salad - Piyaz

Piyaz - Classic

Piyaz - Antalya Style

Piyaz is usually a bean salad, mostly of white beans, with lots of onions and parsley, olive oil & vinegar, garnished with olives, tomatoes and hard boiled eggs… Piyaz is a very simple, yet a tasty salad which is a great companion to all the kebabs and fish.

Throughout Turkey, ingredients and the taste is pretty much standard, well, only until you go to Antalya. They make it with the same main ingredients, but the sauce is different, and how! They use tahini (sesame paste) and garlic in the sauce which adds pizzazz to piyaz making it a totally different kind of a meze. Once you taste it, it is hard to go back to the “standard” recipe.

I will give you both recipes, try them and see which one you’ll like best.

  • 1 cup white beans, soaked overnight
  • 5 cups boiling water
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced lengthwise (half moon cut)
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 egg, hard boiled, cut into 4 slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3-4 table spoons apple or rice vinegar
  • 1 table spoon tahini (sesame paste) (optional for Antalya style)
  • 2 table spoons water (optional for Antalya style)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional for Antalya style)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight or at least for 6 hours.
Soaked White Beans
In a pot combine 5 cups of boiling water, 1 teaspoon of salt and beans.  Let it simmer over medium heat until the beans are tender, about 30-45 minutes. Drain, let it cool to room temperature.

Prepare the sauce next.
Regular Piyaz sauce: Mix olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Antalya Piyaz Sauce: In a blender, combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, tahini (sesame paste), minced garlic and 2 table spoons of water, salt & pepper to taste. Mix until it is smooth.

When the sauce is ready, in a bowl, combine cooked beans, onions and parsley. Mix gently with a spoon. Place in a serving dish, add sauce over the mixture. Garnish with tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs.

Piyaz - Classic
Piyaz - Antalya Style

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Henny's Sunny Side Up Eggs with Mushrooms, Celery and Onions

Henny's Famous Sunny Side Up Eggs with Mushrooms, Celery and Onions

When my son asked me to go on a road trip to San Francisco together, I jumped on the opportunity. We loaded the car with a few clothes, a large bag of comfort food and got on the road at 7:00 in the morning. We decided to take Highway 1 to enjoy the beauty of the California Coast and it turned out to be a real treat this time of the year. Blooming wild flowers were everywhere. When we stopped at Big Sur for lunch, we could see the migrating Gray Whales spouting at a distance. Each time we curved around the road, we would be awed by yet another magical seascape. Our day long drive was full of many "oh my god!" moments thanks to the beauty of the Central California Coast.

Big Sur Coastline
San Francisco, where else?

Above the Ocean Beach, S.F.

Gautier Exhibit at de Young
Blossoms on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights
Cafe Strada, Berkeley
 This turned out to be a trip I'll remember for the rest of my life. Not only I got to spend a lot of quality time with my son, but I also got to see some old friends and catch up with each other. My friend Susanna and I had Dim Sum for breakfast, hiked by the ocean, visited the Legion of Honor Museum, then hiked by the Ocean Beach, then quickly checked out the Gautier Exhibit at de Young  museum and called it the day.  In Berkeley, I stayed with my friend Henny, a wise, sweet and warm person. I always learn something from her by listening to her or just by watching how she lives her life. She is a coffee connoisseur, makes the best coffee, One Cup at a Time. The breakfast she prepared was delicious. I took a quick picture and had to share the recipe.

Sunny Side Eggs with Sautéed Vegetables:

  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
    6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 wheat tortillas
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Combine olive oil and onions in a pan, sauté for a few minutes. Add celery and continue to sauté until both onions and celery are cooked. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked. Making sure the vegetables are evenly spread on the pan, break the eggs over the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a lid over the pan and let it cook until the eggs are just done, set aside.

Warm the tortillas in the oven, place them on serving plates. Carefully place the eggs and vegetables over the tortillas. Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poached Pears with Walnuts, Apricots, Currants

Poached Pears with Walnuts, Apricots and Currants


       Poached Pears
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1 + 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (canela)
  • 1 teaspoon cloves placed in a tea diffuser
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated
  • 6 whole Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and hollowed
  • Parchment paper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry currants
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Vanilla ice-cream (optional)
  • Sprigs of fresh mint

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until nuts are lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes. Add chopped apricots and currants. Cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Add brown sugar and cook mixture, stirring constantly, 1 more minute. Remove from heat, let it cool. 
Chopped walnuts and apricots with currants

Stuffing made with roasted walnuts, apricots and currants

Wash pears. Cut a thin slice at the bottom of each pear so that it could stand on its bottom. Using a mellon baller core the pears removing seeds. 

Bottoms cut to provide a flat surface

Hollowed pears with seeds removed

Pears hollowed and peeled, ready to be cooked
Combine wine, 1 cup of sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon sticks (canela), cloves and lemon zest in a pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add pears and 3 cups of boiling water. Place parchment paper over the pears to keep the them submerged in liquid. This way the color will be even all around the pears. Let it simmer over low heat until pears are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove pears, set aside let them cool to room temperature. 

Pears in liquid with sugar and spices

Parchment paper is used to submerge the pears in liquid

Pears cooked, ready to be stuffed

In a small pan combine 1 cup of the left over liquid. Add 1/2 cup sugar. Simmer on low stirring for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Set aside for garnishing.

Stuff the pears with the fruit and nut mixture. Pack tightly. There will be some stuffing left for garnishing.
Chill stuffed pears in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
Stuffed Pear

To serve, place a pear in a serving dish. Drizzle some of the sauce over the pear, let it drip down to the plate. Place a scoop of vanilla ice-cream next to the pear. Sprinkle left over apricot/currant/walnut stuffing over the ice cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baked Chicken with Mixed Vegetables

Baked Chicken with Mixed Vegetables
When our kids were young, working full time and making sure the family was properly fed was always a challenge. I remember how fast each week went by. Shopping for groceries on Saturdays and cooking on Sundays. Quickly warming up these meals came in handy when we came home with two hungry boys. The idea was to have enough home cooked meals to take us through Thursday. Friday nights were mostly pizza nights. Such fond memories of eating pizza, kids playing a few video games, going home tired and happy.
This oven baked chicken was quick to make, reheated well. It is a very easy and healthy recipe. I don't add any oil to make it lean. However, you can add a few tablespoons of olive oil and it would still be a fairly light dish.

  • 8-10 Chicken drumsticks or legs
  • 4 Bell peppers, sliced or 1 bag frozen mixed pepper strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups frozen peas (one 16oz bag)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers(optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • You need one large oven cooking bag

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Place an oven cooking bag inside an oven safe dish, about 10 in x14in.
Wash and skin the chicken pieces. Place them in the oven cooking bag. Add all the vegetables to the bag.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika and crushed red peppers (optional). Tie the bag, puncture it in a few places on the top. Bake it in the oven for about 90 minutes, until chicken is tender. Remove from the bag, place in a serving dish. Serve with pilaf or mashed potatoes.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Orzo Pilaf with Red Peppers - Şehriye Pilavi

Orzo Pilaf with Bellpeppers
Orzo is most commonly used in soups in Turkish Cuisine. Growing up, when we had a cold, mom used to make chicken soup with orzo, it always made you feel better. It makes a pretty good pilaf, but you need to roast it before you cook the pilaf. Otherwise, it would be like a sticky pasta. This version has bellpeppers and onions to add flavor, but you can get creative and add pine nuts, garbanzo beans and other cooked vegetables to spice it up. 

  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • 2 cups boiling chicken broth or water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bell peppers, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Place orzo in a large pan. Over medium heat, roast the orzo until it is golden brown. I usually roast the whole package of orzo (about 3 cups). I use some and I save the rest in a jar to use it as garnish when cooking regular white rice pilafs.

Chop onions and bellpeppers. You can use red ones or a mix of different color bellpeppers. Combine olive oil, onions and bell peppers in a pan. Sauté until onions are golden brown, set aside. Place orzo in a large pan. Over medium heat, roast the orzo until it is golden brown. I usually roast the whole package of orzo (about 3 cups). I use some and I save the rest in a jar to use it as garnish for regular white rice pilafs.

Add 2 cups of chicken broth or boiling water, sautéed onions and bell peppers, salt and pepper. When it starts to boil, lower the heat to low, place lid over the pot, and let it simmer until orzo is cooked.
Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot.

Orzo uncooked

Orzo roasted golden brown

Save the unused portion of orzo in a jar for future use.

Chopped onions and bellpeppers
Onions and bell peppers sautéd

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Müceddere – Bulgur Pilaf with Green Lentils

Müceddere - Bulgur Pilaf with Green Lentils
  • 1 cup green lentils soaked in water
  • 3+ 2 cups water
  • 1 cup size 3 bulgur ( cracked wheat)
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, soak lentils in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Place them in a medium pot, add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, let it simmer on low heat until lentils are just tender. Drain the lentils, set aside. 
Lentils soaked in water
Uncooked bulgur
Cut the onions in half, thinly slice them. In the you have cooked lentils sauté onions in olive oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, add drained lentils, bulgur, tomato paste, crushed red peppers (optional), salt and pepper. Stir gently. Bring to a boil and let it gently simmer over low heat. Cook until bulgur is tender and water is absorbed.

Serve with meat, chicken or fish. You can add chunks of cooked meat or chicken, making it a hearty dish by itself. 

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Mung Bean Salad – Maş Fasulyesi Piyazi

Mung Bean Salad - Maş Fasulyesi Piyazi
Piyaz in general is a bean salad with chopped onions and herbs in an olive oil – vinegar dressing. When it is used alone, piyaz refers to the “white bean salad”, the most popular piyaz in Turkish Cuisine.

Growing up in the Western Turkey, I never saw mung beans. I was introduced to them by my Indian friend Shobha who used to cook all sorts of interesting vegetarian dishes. Years later, when I saw mung bean salad at a Turkish friend’s house, I assumed that she adapted her piyaz recipe to mung beans. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that mung beans (Maş Fasulyesi) are grown in South Eastern Turkey and mung bean salad is a fairly popular salad in Adana. It is a simple recipe and the salad is tasty, light, nutritious. Enjoy!
  • 1 cup mung beans (soaked in water overnight)
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon (2 table spoons)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
In a large bowl, soak mung beans in water overnight. Use plenty of water and a large bowl, for when soaked, beans grow more than double in volume. Drain beans, set aside.
Combine 5-6 cups of water and beans, bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, let it simmer for about 15 minutes, until beans are cooked. Drain well.
Place beans in a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a spoon. Transfer to a serving dish.
Soaked Mung Beans
 Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Red Cabbage Salad

Red Cabbage Salad

In the summer of 2009, we went on a 3 day bus trip with our friends from high school to Amasra, a small coastal town by the Black Sea. It was a trip to remember! Making new memories with old friends is always very special.

Amasra on the Black Sea Coast
Historical Amasra Houses
When it comes to food, every region has its local specialties. In the black sea region, a small fish called hamsi, known as the European anchovy, is the main ingredient for many delicious dishes. Hamsi is used in soups, pilafs, many main dishes like hamsi-balls similar to meat-balls. There’s hamsi in everything but ice-cream. Whereever we went, we had great food on this trip, especially good corn bread and delicious salads. Picture below was taken at a restaurant. This is mainly a red cabbage salad, if you can see the cabbage of course. It was creatively garnished using greens (purslane and dill), turnips and carrots as daisies on top. I had to share this photo.

Red Cabbage Salad - Where's the cabbage?
In Turkey, red cabbage is used more frequently than regular cabbage in salads. Unlike coleslaw, there’s no mayonnaise in the recipe, making it a very healthy and tasty choice for a salad. It is very easy to make, a few sprigs of greens (mint, parsley) will make it enticing enough.
  • ½ head of red cabbage, finely shredded
  • Juice of 1 lemon (use half first, add the rest if not enough)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Start with 1/2 head of cabbage. Cut it in half. Remove white stem portion. Shred thin with a knife or a food processor. In a bowl, combine cabbage with salt. Gently knead the mixture allowing cabbage to soften, releasing some of its juice. Rinse and drain well in a colander.
In a bowl combine cabbage, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss the salad, transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with a sprig of mint or parsley.

Remove white parts

Shredded cabbage

Cabbage salted, kneaded, rinsed, drained, ready to be seasoned
Taking a picture of the salad :)

 Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!