Happy New Year! (plus a Güveç recipe) 

Today we rung in the new year with one of my all time favorites! Enjoy!


Ingredients
 

1 kg cubed beef

2 small onions, diced

4 Charleston peppers, diced

3 sweet sıvı peppers, diced 

5 tablespoons crushed tomato

2 tablespoons tomato /pepper paste

Sunflower (or canola) oil

Butter, margarine, or tereyağ 

Salt to taste

Cumin to taste

Black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

**note: you should use a stoneware pot (it’s not 100% necessary but does make a big difference**

Preparation

1. Cube the beef to the size of your thumb.  Stew beef can be used for this recipe, as can a lean cut.  I prefer stew beef. 

2. Put oil and butter in a 3:1 ration (oil:butter), enough to cover the bottom of your pot with about 1cm standing. Add the meat and close the lid, cooking on high.  Stir occasionally until the meat is nearly browned (it’s OK to have some raw spots). 

3. Add the tomato or pepper paste (or a blend) and stir, letting the paste melt into the simmering oil/butter/grease. Prepare your arteries mentally.  

4. Add the diced onions and peppers.  Also add your spices and salt (personally, I like 2tsp black pepper, 1tsp cumin, 2tsp crushed red pepper, and 2/3 tablespoons of salt.  The salt is determined by if there is salt in your paste or not.)  Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft. Around 8 minutes. 

5. Add boiling water until the meat is just sticking out of the water.  Cover the exposed meat with the crushed tomatoes.  DO NOT STIR . Simply press the tomato lightly into the water. 

6. Cover the mouth of your pot with tinfoil, putting the lid over the tinfoil to create a seal. You should see the foil poof up from the steam.  Move your pot to the smallest eye of your stove, and turn it on low. It should barely be seeping out steam from the lightness of the boiling inside (this is crucial!). Let cook for about 1.5 –  2 hours on low until meat is tender. 

Serve with warm bread or rice. Maybe some pickles too! 

You can’t go wrong with Güveç! 

Afiyet olsun! 

 

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Turkey 402: Tips from a Turkish Kitchen 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Turkey lessons posts… So I thought I’d bring yall some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up since I’ve gotten here that you can use in the kitchen.  The kitchen is my second home, and often where I feel most comfortable.  Making the transition from the US to Turkey was actually really hard for me when it came to cooking, as you probably saw in past posts.  The salt wasn’t as salty.  Propane heats differently than electric.  Spices here taste a bit different.

But with the struggles came little “hacks” that can be used internationally!

I wish I knew these when I was still in the US…

Olive oil as an air-tight lid

Did you know that a thin layer of olive oil can make your pastes and cheeses (like ricotta) stretch for very near eternity? Since oil seals out air, it can keep mold and spoilage bacteria from growing at refrigerator temperatures.  However, that doesn’t mean you can leave a layer on and let it sit in your fridge untouched for a millenia.  Anaerobic (not needing air) organisms can still grow, meaning it’s important to still use your product and break that seal every now and again.

For example, I buy huge cans of tomato paste (that’s just how they come here… And they also have no salt here either!!) and it’ll grow mold in a few weeks.  Yeah,  I use it every two or three days, but there’s like 5 cups in that can and I use max 1tbsp at a time.  Using oil as a seal is great in this case.  Lor is another place I use this trick (check out my Turkish cheese post for details).

Putting spices and garlic last

Whenever I look at recipes I usually see people sautéing onion and garlic together at the beginning of a recipe.  But did you know if you throw in that garlic last, you get a much stronger flavor? The punch of garlic can cook out of your food, so what I’ve seen (and do) is to grate your garlic (or mash in a mortar) directly into the pan, turn off the heat,  and cover.  The residual heat will make the garlic cook to softness without losing the flavor.  Also add your spices towards the end so they keep their strength!

Sugar and tomatoes

Where you have tomatoes (particularly konserve or canned tomstoes), you have a bit of sourness.  Add a sprinkle of sugar to cut it down.  Also, as my mother in law says, wherever you see tomatoes and olive oil cooked together (without meat), and some sugar to bring the dish to the next level.

Dry your lemon rind.

Squeezed the hell out of your lemon? Wait,  don’t toss the rind! Leave it in the refrigerator or a cool dry place to let it dry out.  The beauty (and medicinal properties ) of a lemon is in the oil trapped in the rind.  Dried lemon is great to add to tea. If you don’t want to dry it, you can also use the leftover rind to shine your pots and remove those multi colored water stains.

Olive oil+lemon+garlic= God’s dressing

When you’re staring down the barrel of dinner and you have no idea what to do- you can boil/steam (or sometimes fry) ANY VEGETABLE and dress it with this combo and have a successful dish. Cauliflower? Yes.  Broccoli? Yes.  Celery? Yes. Whatever börülce is in English? Yes.  Squash? Fried, but still yes.  Potatoes? Yes.  Accommodate  your resident vegan/vegetarian when they show up for a visit (yes, you. You know who you are! ).  Plus, garlic.  Do you even need a reason?!

When in doubt, stew it out.

You saw this on my last recipe post.  Before I learned the great secret of sulu (stewed) everything, I would struggle to plan for dinner.  What do I need to buy? Oh no I forgot something! I don’t have time for that… Never fear.  Stewing suits all veggies and you have only a few ingredients.  Onions, peppers, oil, tomato paste, your veg and spices of choice.  I like a little tomato and carrot too, but if you’re hurting you don’t even have to do that.  Eggplant? Stew it.  Potatoes? Stew it.  Peas? Stew it.  Green beans? Stew it.  Okra? Do you even have to ask?… And if you are feeling fancy, add a little meat.  Never worry about dinner again.

Don’t dump the water!

Noodle water, dolma water, hell, even whey from making cheese or yogurt can ALL be used to make soup.  Never waste cups of water/juice again! You get the benefits from starch, oil, and/or flavorings (depending on what you’re using) to make a soup that recycles every bit of waste from your kitchen. And it tastes even better than using plain water in your soup recipe! While you are at it, recycle that leftover rice that no one is eating in soup as well!

Do you have any kitchen tips/tricks/hacks that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!

Traditional Dry Beans and Lamb

 Hubby brought a whole sack of lamb home the other day; apparently someone he knows had a kurban (sacrifice) and some of the meat came to us!

What is this? An alien?!

At first I was pretty intimidated, I had no idea what to do with it!  it was roughly butchered (as in, whole large cuts of meat), and some parts I couldn’t identify. Some of it was very fatty too (as lamb is prone to be). But if I’ve learned anything, it’s :

When in doubt- stew it out!

So I decided to take some good old fashioned dry beans, and make it even more traditional by throwing in some cubed lamb, specifically the super fatty parts!

Between you and me (I would never admit this to anyone), I used to not be able to cook dry beans.  I wanted to be fancy and add too much to it.  But when you add, it just takes away from the flavor!

There’s nothing like a good ol’ dry beans.  Even in the dog days of summer, it’s always welcome on our table! When I make beans, I make A LOT! Plenty enough for five people or more (even though it’s just the two of us right now).

Ingredients

2c dry beans

2 onions (one whole, one diced)

4 peppers (spicy or not, as you like)

3tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp oil

2c lamb meat, for stew

water

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Either soak the beans over night, or boil them hard (salted, I use 2 tsp salt) for an hour (after half an hour some may be floating, add water to the pot to knock them down, at that time add one whole onion).  I typically use 2:1 ration for water to beans.  But it is really up to you and how watery you want your beans to be.  I usually end up having to add more water down the line anyway…so don’t worry too much about it.
  2. Throw the stew lamb meat into the pot of water, beans, and onion.  If you soaked over night, then start cooking at this point, adding the onion and stew meat at the same time. Let the pot boil while you do step 3.
  3. Dice the remaining onion and pepper (I cut them to the size of my pinkie), and sautee in a pan with the olive oil* and a dash of salt. Add tomato paste and cook until everything melds together. Spoon water from the boiling pot into the tomato paste/veggies pan until the contents are a slurry.
  4. Pour the slurry into the boiling pot and mix well.  Cover and let boil on low for up to 6hrs (depending on how tough your lamb is.  Don’t be afraid to go back and check every hour or so!). Add salt and pepper as needed, towards the end.
  5. Turn off the heat and let sit for half an hour.

 

Serve with pickles and fresh bread.

Afiyet olsun!

Cheese-less cauliflower is a thing

If you are a proper American, you will have probably experienced cauliflower as a gratin (baked in cheese) or raw,  in a salad.

I am here to blow your mind.

I was rather pleased with boiled cauliflower doused in olive oil, lemon, and garlic, this new recipe brings cauliflower to the front and center stage on your table.

Maybe it’s just me, and I’m the only one thrilled with this recipe (that I literally learned just before writing this).  But if you’ve been looking for a more substantial way to incorporate cauliflower into your diet; I present to you…

image

Ingredients

1 cauliflower,  cut into medium pieces

1 onion, diced

1 carrot,  diced

1 sweet red pepper,  diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

6 tbsp jarred tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

Salt AND pepper,  as desired

1 cup ground beef (optional)

Dried jot peppers (optional)

Hot water

Enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your pot

Preparation

1. Cook your meat in the oil with the carrot. Once mostly cooked,  add the onion and pepper.

2. Once the hard vegetables are soft and cooked,  add the tomato paste and mix into the oil, cooking the paste until it is a darker red (maybe 1 min).

3. Add the cauliflower,  sauce,  and spices.  Mix well and cover,  allowing the cauliflower to cook in the tomato sauce for a bit (if using canned sauce, you may want to add a pinch of sugar to remove the added sourness). Note: consider scoring thick cauliflower stems to speed the cooking process.

4. After approximately 10 to 15 minutes,  but before the tomato sauce begins to burn,  add enough HOT water to just cover the cauliflower.  Cook on low,  covered,  until cauliflower is soft.

Optional: if you are feeling spicy,  lay dried peppers on the top of the food after adding hot water and let it cook on low with the rest of the food.

Serve with fresh bread and yogurt/spicy pickles..

Afiyet olsun