Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mosaic Cake - Mozaik Pasta (no baking)

Mozaic Cake - Mozaik Pasta

This is a light chocolate cake made with tea biscuits (or Petit Beurres). I use tea biscuits since they don’t have butter & are much lighter than Petit Beurres. This cake is easy and quick to make since no baking is needed. Mom’s original recipe called for one egg. If you have access to fresh, healthy eggs you may want to try it, but to avoid any risk, I deleted the raw egg from my recipe.

  • ½ stick unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk, warmed
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup walnuts cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup pistachio nuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds (optional)
  • 12 oz (about 50 pieces) tea biscuits (or Petit Beurre), broken into pieces
  • 3 table spoons of light coconut flakes (optional). These are unsweetened, drier, smaller pieces compared to regular sweetened coconut flakes.
Break the tea biscuits into small pieces, but do not crumble.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the biscuits and the nuts. Make sure the milk is warm to avoid caking of the butter. Stir well with a wisk or a hand held mixer. Add broken biscuits and nuts into the mixture, stirring gently making sure the sauce covers all the pieces.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Spoon the mixture over the plastic, forming a long log. Wrap the plastic around the mixture, making sure edges of the wrap overlaps. It will look like a big salami. Gently squeeze from all sides. It will reduce to almost half of the loose log you started with. This will get rid of the air bubbles inside and the log will feel solid. Then roll the wrapped log to make sure it is a well rounded cylinder. You can also shape it as a triangle or square if you want.
Place the log in the freezer for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, take it out, unwrap the log. Sprinkle coconut flakes on a flat surface (optional). Roll the log on coconut flakes. Cut into slices, place on a serving dish and enjoy! 
Broken Tea Biscuits
Butter, milk, sugar & cocoa mixed into chocolate sauce
Walnuts, pistachios and almonds
Biscuits and sauce mixed
Cake mixture placed on plastic wrap
Mosaic Cake log wrapped in plastic
Frozen mosaic cake rolled in coconut
Mosaic Cake slices

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Circassian Chicken Salad – Cerkez Tavugu

Circassian Chicken Salad - Cerkez Tavugu
This is one of classical mezes (appetizers) of the Ottoman Cuisine. It originates from the Caucasus Mountains where the Circassians live. It is an excellent alternative to mayonnaise based chicken salads.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 slices of day-old bread, crusts removed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons (2 + 2) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • Handful of walnut halves for garnishing (optional)

In a pot combine chicken breasts with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, skim the broth to get rid of the foam that forms on top. Simmer until chicken is cooked, about 40-45 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a platter and let it cool. Continue to cook the chicken broth until it is reduced to one third. Save broth. When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear the meat into shreds.

Cut bread slices into pieces. In a shallow bowl, pour 1 cup of water over the bread to soften it. Then squeeze dry.

In a food processor, coarsely crush 1 cup of walnuts.

In a large bowl, combine crushed walnuts, crushed garlic, softened bread, 2 table spoons of olive oil, 1/2 cup of chicken broth, red chili powder (optional). Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spoon until it is well mixed into a puree. Add up to 1/2 cup more chicken broth to obtain desired consistency. Transfer into a serving dish. You can refrigerate at this stage until ready to use.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining 2 table spoons of olive oil over low heat. Add paprika, gently cook until it starts foaming, about 1 minute. Drizzle the paprika infused hot oil over the chicken salad. Garnish with walnut halves and parsley sprigs. Serve at room temperature.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Pulled chicken and crushed walnuts

Chicken, walnuts, bread mixed into a paste

Circassian Chicken Salad - Cerkez Tavugu

Thursday, April 12, 2012

White Beans in Olive Oil - Kuru Fasulye

White Beans over Rice - Kurufasulye - Pilav is one of the most basic, traditional, comforting dishes in the Turkish Cuisine. If you go to a restaurant and ask the waiter for "over the rice" without even mentioning the word "beans", he would bring you white beans over rice. Some famous restaurants are known for their "White Beans over Rice". Many colleges and high schools serve it on their "Alumni Days" with pride.

Below is the vegetarian version of the recipe. However, you can add chicken, beef or lamb to it. If you want to add meat, cook meat separately. Add cooked meat to the sauce before you add the beans. Cook the sauce with the meat for 5 minutes to mix the flavors, then add the beans.

  • 1 cups dry white beans
  • 5 +1 cups boiling water
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Soak beans overnight or at least for 6 hours.
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, set aside.
Soak Beans overnight

Beans soaked, drained, ready for cooking
In a pot sauté onions in ¼ cup olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, paprika, sugar (optional), salt and pepper, mix all with a spoon. Add 1 cup boiling water, bring to a boil. Add beans to the pot, stir. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes to let the flavors mix. Serve it hot with some sort of pilaf like rice, bulgur or quinoa.  In Turkey, it is customary to serve beans over white rice with pickles on the side. Ayran, a yogurt drink goes well with this meal.
Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Celery and Leeks with Garlic Yogurt

Celery and Leeks with Garlic Yogurt
Just when you think you've tasted all of the Turkish mezes with garlic yogurt, another one shows up on a dinner table catching you by surprise. I've tasted this one at my friend Asuman's house recently and none of us around the table were familiar with it. We all went for seconds and more. I prepared it this week to share the recipe. Enjoy!

  • 2 celery roots, grated (about 3 cups)
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • A few sprigs of parsley or dill for garnishing

Peel and wash the celery roots and grate them, set aside.
Remove tough outer leaves from leeks. Cut off the roots. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut into thin slices. Wash several times with plenty of water to remove all soil. Drain well.

In a saucepan combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil and leeks, sauté over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, set aside.

In a separate saucepan combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil and celery, sauté over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, set aside.

In a bowl combine the sautéed leeks and celery. Add yogurt, crushed garlic and salt to taste. Mix with a spoon. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with parsley or dill. Serve chilled.

Celery and Leeks chopped and sliced

Sautéed Leeks

Sautéed Celery

Sautéed Leeks & Celery mixed in a bowl

Sautéed Leeks & Celery in Garlic Yogurt

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fruit Salad with Nuts

Fruit Salad with Nuts


  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 1 orange, cubed
  • 3 small mandarin oranges
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut in quarters
  • 1 cup pomegranates, seeded
  • 1 apple, cubed
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 table spoons Cointreau or similar orange liquor (optional)
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds

Simply mix all ingredients except the toasted almonds. Transfer into serving dishes and top with toasted almonds as garnish. Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Couscous with Feta Cheese

Couscous with Feta Cheese and Garbanzo Beans
Couscous, originally from North Africa, is a pasta dish fairly common throughout the Middle East. In Turkey it mostly accompanies main dishes like a pilaf would. Sometimes stewed lamb or chicken are added making it a hearty main dish. This one is cooked, then baked in the oven for a short time. Thanks to my friend Miriam who cooks wonderful Middle Eastern dishes for sharing her recipe.
  • 2 cups couscous from Middle Eastern supermarkets (buy the large ones, each piece about the size of a black pepper corn)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained (preferably organic)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 lb feta cheese, crumbled or grated
  • 1 large onion, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Uncooked couscous
In a pan saute the onions in butter until they are caramelized. Add drained garbanzo beans, set aside.
Cook couscous like you cook pasta. When couscous pieces get larger and start floating on top the boiling water, check if it is done. Strain well, place in an oven safe dish (about 12" x 8"). Add sauteed onions and garbanzo beans. Add 3/4 of the crumbled feta cheese to couscouse mixture, gently mix with a spoon. Sprinkle the rest of the feta cheese on top. Bake in the oven until the top gets a little crusty. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Cooked couscous combined with feta cheese and garbanzo beans

Grated feta cheese sprinkled on top, ready to be baked

Couscous with Feta Cheese ready to be served
Bon Appetit! Afiiyet olsun!