Bereketli olmuş

You know how,  even when everything in your life seems so terrible and stressful and just awful in every way, a table full of awesome food can make it better?

Or maybe that’s just me…

As hubby and I continue to stress as we do, our world stopped for the half our it took to eat this meal (as seen on my insta a few days ago, over there on the right hand side) .  I would have to say fried eggplant based dishes are my soul food. I was literally jumping for joy as I made it with Anne (another moment when being a part time maid pays off). Just looking at the heaping piles of meat filling the velvety eggplant made me stop and thank God for the things that we do have,  even when it doesn’t always seem like much.  We are so blessed with bereket, though a lot of the time we are looking for it in another form.

Anyway,  I hope this recipe warms your heart as much as it did ours.

So without further ado

*And let me clarify by tbsp I literally mean a table spoon/çorba kaşığı… And tsp is a literal tea spoon/çay kaşığı

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Karnıyarık (for 4)

Ingredients:
250g ground beef
8 Japanese (long skinny) eggplants
1 onion, diced (finely is preferred)
4 banana peppers, 2 diced and 2 stripped (those long pale green peppers everyone buys here look like banana peppers to me).
3 tomatos, 1 diced with juice reserved and 2 cut in slices
4 tbsp mixed salça (pepper and tomato)
6 tbsp tomato konserve (watery tomato sauce)
Approx 4 cups hot water
3 tsp salt plus more for rubbing and
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried mint
8 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch dill, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil for sauce
Sunflower oil for frying

Preparation
1. Peel stripes into the eggplants, cutting down the middle at half depth on one bare stripe (I usually put 3 stripes per eggplant).  Within that cut, score the fleshy sides (2 cuts) of the eggplant (this increases cooking speed while preserving the structural integrity of the eggplant). Soak in salty water for 20 to 30 mins as needed.
2. Meanwhile,  dice onion and 2 peppers,  placing them in a bowl.
3. Chop dill and parsley, placing in a separate bowl.
4. Chop green onion, placing in a third separate bowl. You now probably have no bowls haha.
5. Once the time has elapsed, remove eggplants from water and squeeze them to wring out any excess. Taking pinches of salt, rub the exposed flesh and inside of the eggplant with salt.  Shallow fry (half an inch of oil standing in the pan) the eggplants, turning them as needed. They should be completely cooked at this stage nice and soft.
6. Carefully remove eggplants once cooked from the pan and place in a baking dish, sliced side up. Open the sliced part with a spoon and gently press it so it stays open but doesn’t tear. Crowded is good. Put the slices of one garlic clove evenly into each eggplant
7. With a small amount of oil that should be in the frying pan, cook the ground beef until light brown. Add the onion and peppers,  allowing to cook until soft.
8. Add 3 tbsp of salça and cook into the mixture until smooth. Add the diced tomato and 4 tbsp konserve. The mixture should still be thick.
9. Add green onion, salt, and spices.  Cook until the juices simmer.
10. Turn off the stove and add the parsley and dill.  Spoon the filling into the eggplant evenly.  Fill it up! Fill it up!
11. Prepare a sauce in your now empty pan with the remaining 1 tbsp salça, 2 tbsp konserve, and olive oil.  Cook until smooth, then add the hot water.  The sauce should be very watery.
12. Pour sauce into the crevices of the baking dish so you do not disturb the filling. It should all spread out and saturate the eggplant.  Place the sliced tomatoes and stripped peppers decoratively across the top.
13. Bake in the oven at the degree of delicious (250C) until sauce boils and reduces by about half (30 to 40 minutes).  Let cool until you don’t hurt yourself.

Serve with literally anything because this is the best.  We ate it with cacık and piyaz salatası (bean salad,  recipe later because this was hard enough)

Afiyet olsun

*Also want to add for our resident vegans/vegetarians I’ve made this successfully with chopped mushrooms and extra tomato in lieu of meat.

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Dried eggplant dolmas

While I do enjoy a chill in the air, I am not a winter person.  During the dog days of summer I always convince myself that winter is something to look forward to.  The only real benefit to this season is cute sweaters, layered looks, and a few foods like ayva and chestnuts.

Yesterday we had a call back to summer, enjoying the fruits of our favorite season.

Dried eggplant dolma!

My favorite food has got to be fresh pepper dolmas.  Oh yes, delicious goodness.  But that’s not a viable option in the winter when the price of tomatoes, peppers, and other necessities triple in price!

Although it’s still not expensive compared to US food prices

As I talked about before, back in August when we first came back to Turkey, the joys of summer can be preserved in jars or on strings in dried form.  As the winter begins to wane, enjoy this recipe while you await the first signs of spring!

As always, measurements are approximations made by eye.

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Ingredients:

20 dried eggplant halves
5 dried peppers (mild), chopped
Approx 200g ground beef
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste
4 tbsp olive oil
2.5c rice, washed
4 green onions, diced
Dill and parsley, diced
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried mint
Cumin
Black pepper

Preparation
1.  First,  rehydrate the eggplant in slow boiling water until pliable. Remove from water and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
2.  Meanwhile, cook dried peppers in olive oil.  Add meat and cook to completion. Add 1 tbsp tomato paste and pepper paste, stirring to incorporate into the oil.  Add rice and simmer in the oil and natural juice for for 10 minutes,  stirring.
3. Cut the heat and add herbs, spices (only 1 tbsp salt.  Adjust salt to your preference!) , and green onion. Using a spoon or your fingers, fill eggplant halves approximately 2/3 full. Squeeze the opening closed with your fingers. If eggplant is torn, patch with other strips of eggplant.
4.  Layer evenly in a pot.  I will typically keep the thicker portions of the eggplant on the bottom of the pot (such as the bottom halves as opposed to the top halves).  Lay the eggplants on their sides and fill in a spiral fashion, keeping the sealed mouths of the eggplant closed with the bottom of the next one. Drizzle the final layer ever so lightly with olive oil.
5.  This step is where I’ve been messing up my whole life.  Put the water you will cook the dolma in into the pan/pot where you prepared the filling.  Further season the water with the remaining tbsp of paste and salt.  Bring water to a brief boil. *if you don’t season the water, a flavor osmosis will occur.  All the goodness of the filling you just prepared will leak into the water… This will ruin your dolma!!!
6.  Fill the dolma pot with water until it covers the dolma with approximately half an inch extra.  If you have it,  cover the dolmas with a cabbage leaf or something, then weigh them down with a terracotta lid with holes (I have no idea what it’s called). Let simmer on low for half an hour to 40 minutes (starting at the time of simmering).

Let sit after removing from water.  Serve with yogurt and lemon.

Afiyet olsun!

*dolma is something unique to each city, so everyone has a different recipe. How do YOU make dolma?

Ode to the White Eggplant (plus recipe!)

Oh white eggplant

How I adore thee

With your sweet flesh

Made soft upon cooking

With your white skin

Transforming to…green?

Well, never mind then…I’ll stick to brushes to produce my art.

  One thing that I absolutely love about the farmers market in Florida (and probably anywhere? Most of my experience with farmers markets has been in Florida…besides in Turkey where I followed my mother-in-law’s lead and didn’t really look around much) are the EGGPLANTS!  I am a HUGE fan of eggplants, but the ones in the grocery store do not do justice to the wonder that is this lovely vegetable (technically fruit, I guess, since it has seeds).

move over, boring purple eggplant!  Guess who is coming to dinner?!

oh yeah…that’s the stuff.

  So you may be wondering, “what’s wrong with the grocery store’s purple eggplant?”  Well, nothing, I guess…if you want to throw it in the oven.  I learned a lot about eggplant in Turkey.  For instance, our traditional purple eggplants are called kozleme eggplant, meaning they are solely for roasting (in their culinary tradition).  I mean, I’ve made mousaka with them, fried them, boiled them, what have you…but white eggplants and “japanese” eggplants are on another level.

  First, let’s talk about white eggplants.  They are much sweeter (in my opinion) than the others, and they are the perfect size for slicing into round pieces and frying up for a good mousaka.  They are also delicious roasted and stewed (recipe at the bottom of this post!).

  Japanese eggplants (i.e. the long skinny ones), are similarly great for stewing, but I prefer them roasted.  So what is the difference between purple eggplants and japanese?  The Japanese eggplants are much more silky after roasting, and you can roast them whole after stabbing some vent holes in them with a fork- locking in the flavor.  They also don’t need to sweat like most other eggplants.

  Anyway, without further ado- a recipe for white eggplants that we call “eggplant sulu”  Sulu means with water  in turkish (su= water, lu= with).  Yeah, we are so clever. Go find yourself a few white eggplants at your local farmers market and enjoy! Now is the perfect time to find them (Just fyi, they are sooo expensive at a grocery store)!

sulu

Ingredients

3-4 small white eggplants, cubed

1 large onion, diced

4 medium peppers (mild, like sweet banana peppers), diced

2 tomatoes, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp tomato paste

dollop olive oil

salt

cumin

paprika

pepper

water

Preparation
  1. cube eggplants and salt them, allowing them to sweat in a colander (over a dish or bowl) for 30min to an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, cut up onions and peppers. Add to a pot (a BIG pot!) with olive oil and some salt.  Cook over medium heat until translucent.
  3. Add tomato paste, rinsed eggplant, and tomato, mixing well.  Let sautee (covered) on medium heat for about half an hour or until eggplants are somewhat soft.
  4. Add water (room temp or cold) to the pot, filling until the eggplant is just covered. Sprinkle in spices as desired (I use only 1/4 tsp cumin and paprika, more pepper and salt) and add minced garlic.  Simmer on medium low until completely cooked.
Serve with warm bread and yogurt

Afiyet olsun 🙂 !