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

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sautéed String Beans with Eggs - Yumurtali Borulce Kavurmasi

Sautéed String Beans with Eggs - Yumurtali Borulce
My friend Nuran cooked this for us on our boat trip this summer. She told us that this was one of the simple, delicious home cooked dishes from Halfeti, a small town on the east bank of the Euphrates river in Southeastern Turkey. That area is very close to Urfa which is famous with its kebabs. Here's a vegetarian dish from the land of kebabs!

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 lb Chinese String Beans, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
In a large pot, sauté onions in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add string beans, sauté stirring, over medium heat about 5 minutes, until beans are tender, but not fully cooked. Add chopped bell peppers, cover with a lid and continue to cook on low heat until all vegetables are tender. You don’t need to add water if tomatoes are juicy, if not, you may need to add 1/4 cup of hot water. Lastly add finely chopped tomatoes to the pot. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer until fully cooked and no more juice is left in the pot. Remove from heat, set aside.

Scramble eggs in a bowl. Using a non-stick pan cook eggs, stirring gently, cutting into small pieces with the side of a spatula. Remove from heat, add to the cooked beans, stir gently. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot.

Chinese string beans, tomatoes, pepper and onion ready to go

Chopped beans and pepper
Chopped onions and tomatoes
Onions and beans sautéed in olive oil
Peppers sautéed w onions and beans
Tomatoes added, all sautéed together
Scrambled eggs cooked in small pieces
Sautéed String Beans with Eggs - Yumurtali Borulce

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Celery Root Salad - Kereviz Salatası

Celery Root Salad - Kereviz Salatası
Here's very health salad that you can also serve as a dip or as a topping for crackers or pita wedges for an appetizer plate. Raw celery root and yogurt make the base of this delicious dish, garlic and walnuts jazz it up. Enjoy!

1/2 celery root, peeled, grated (about 2 cups)
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup strained (or Greek style) yogurt
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped + a couple of walnut halves for garnish (optional)
1 table spoon orange juice
Salt and pepper to taste
A few sprigs of fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Mix all ingredients well. Transfer to a serving plate. Garnish with walnut halves and chopped fresh parsley or other herbs (optional).

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Celery Root

Celery Root Peeled

Celery Root Grated

Chopped Walnuts
Celery Root Salad - Kereviz Salatası

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spinach and Mushrooms in Olive Oil - Zeytinyağlı Mantarlı Ispanak

Spinach and Mushrooms in Olive Oil - Zeytinyağlı Mantarlı Ispanak
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 lb baby spinach
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 table spoons No 1 or No 2 size bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Wash and drain spinach and mushrooms separately. Cut onion in 4 pieces and slice.

Place bulgur in a strainer and wash it, set aside. It will absorb some water and will cook easily.

Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, and bulgur, continue to sauté for about 5 more minutes over slow heat. Add spinach, salt and pepper. Cover the lid and let it simmer over low heat until spinach is tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Spinach and tomato juices will allow you to cook it without adding any water to the pot. Serve hot or at room temperature with plain yogurt.

Onion, mushrooms and tomatoes sautéed, bulgur added

Spinach added to the sautéed vegetables, cooked, ready to be served

Served with a spoonful of yogurt on the side

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lemonade - Limonata

Lemonade - Limonata
Lemonade, simplest of beverages, yet, still the favorite on a hot summer day for people of all ages all around the world. I will share my sister Nuvit's recipe; pure, simple and perfect... Enjoy!

  • 6 lemons - you'll use the zest and the juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 cups chilled water
For Garnish (optional):
  • A few slices of lemon
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
Using a fine grater or a lemon zester, remove the outer skin of the lemon, place the zest in a bowl. Add sugar to it and mix it well by rubbing the zest against the sugar to get the lemon scent and oils onto the sugar. You can use a pestle for this, but if you don't have one, simply mix the two together with a spoon, place the mixture in a large bowl and set aside for 15 minutes to let the flavors mix.
Squeeze the juice of 6 lemons. Add the lemon juice and the water to the large bowl.
Strain it into a pitcher through a cheese cloth lined mesh strainer. Chill before serving.
Garnish (optional) with slices of lemon or sprigs of mint.
Start with 6 lemons
Lemon zest
Lemonade - Limonata

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Layered Cauliflower-Broccoli Salad - Katlı Karnıbahar-Brokoli Salatası

Cauliflower-Broccoli Salad - Karnıbahar-Brokoli Salatası
1 medium cauliflower
1 lb broccoli
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and cut the vegetables into florets. Boil or steam the vegetables seperately until they are tender. Strain and set aside to cool.

Place the vegetables into the bowl in layers. For the first layer, put the broccoli florets with the green sides down, stems up since the bottom will be top layer when you turn the bowl upside down to serve the salad. Use cauliflower for the second layer. Place in a way that the flowers face the side of the bowl with stems facing inside. Repeat the layering again; one more layer of broccoli, another of cauliflower. When you are done with vegetables, place plastic wrap on the bowl, gently press on the vegetables.

Prepare the dressing in a small bowl by mixing the lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper together. Add the dressing to the vegetables. At first it will look very juicy on top, but slowly vegetables will absorb the dressing. Chill the covered bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, place a flat serving plate over the bowl and turn it upside down transferring the salad onto the serving dish. Your green and white striped salad is ready!

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Broccoli and cauliflower cut into florets

First layer: Broccoli with green side down, stems up

Second layer: Couliflower, flowers facing out, stems in

Top layer - flowers facing out, stems in

Cover the top with plastic wrap, gently press

Salad Dressing
Dressing added to the salad bowl
Side view right after adding the salad dressing
30 minutes later: vegetables are absorbing the salad dressing
2 Hours later: Salad is ready to be served

Layered Cauliflower-Broccoli Salad

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Uzbek Pilaf with Chicken - Tavuklu Özbek Pilavı

Uzbek Pilaf with Chicken - Tavuklu Özbek Pilavı
Uzbek Pilaf is traditionally prepared with lamb browned in butter or lamb fat. I've modified the recipe by using chicken instead of lamb and by olive oil with a touch of butter instead of using butter or lamb fat. Simmered in a rich stew of chicken, vegetables and spices, rice absorbs all the flavors, making this pilaf a favorite main dish by itself.

  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 small or medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into byte size pieces (about 4 small thighs or breasts)
  • 2 medium carrots, julienne cut
  • 2 table spoons olive oil
  • 1 table spoon butter
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 table spoon currants
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak rice in hot tap water for about 15 minutes. Sauté chicken in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add onions, saute for 2 more minutes, add carrots, saute for another 3 minutes. Add boiling water, butter, cumin, currants and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Drain rice and add to the pot. Simmer over low heat until rice is cooked, about 10 minutes.

Afiyet Olsun! Bon Appetit!

Julienne cut carrots, chopped onions and currants

Boneless, skinless chicken cut into small pieces

Chicken and onions sautéed

Carrots are added

All ingredients are in

Uzbek Pilaf cooked, ready to be served

Uzbek Pilaf with Chicken - Tavuklu Özbek Pilavı