A Warm Wind is Blowing (So stock your freezer!) 

Yay! Sunshine! 

So dlst ended yesterday in the states, or started, or whatever… All I know is: sunshine! All the sunshine! 

But it has been raining here… 

Rain and warmth, it must be spring! 

Almost, anyway. 

So while the students prep for their exams, I start prepping my favorite winter veggies for the freezer! Since Turkey is keen on selling products according to season, some things are nearly impossible to find when the weather changes. 

 And if there are rows and rows of frozen veggies, I haven’t seen them at bim or şok or migros! So I guess it’s up to me… 

Over the last two weeks, I have prepped and frozen spinach (Stems separately), Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and celery root. Yeah, I know most people prepare food for the winter, but sometimes you crave something different. 

If you’re curious how I prepped these, scroll down! I took the advice I found on the web and combined it with my own knowledge of food science to, hopefully, succeed in a prep method that will keep my veg intact for summer use! 

 Celery root and cauliflower

1. Chop up roots/cauliflower to create a uniform size (I usually do around thumb size).  

2. Rinse it.  

3. Bring a pot of water (enough to submerge) to a hard boil with a pinch of citric acid. Throw it in. 

4. Boil for about three minutes or until all pieces are slightly soft, but not mush. 

5. Strain out veg from the hot water and plunge into ice water until cool. 

6. Strain and pat dry with a paper towel. 

7. Spread veg out evenly on a tray (celery pictured below) and put in the freezer for about two or three hours, or until hard. 

8. Scrape veg off the tray (they should mostly pop off) and put in a freezer bag (air tight is better, but I don’t have a vacuum sealer). 

Brussel sprouts/spinach

0. For spinach, chop leaves and stems separately. Both should be washed very well to remove all grit (I use the submerging method). Leaves and stems should be processed separately. 

0. Quarter or halve Brussel sprouts to create a uniform size.  Rinse the sprouts. 

1. Bring a pot of water to a hard boil (enough to cover the bottom third of the veg). Throw it in. 

4. Stir occasionally to pull the bottom bits to the top and visa versa. Boil for about three minutes or until all sprouts are bright green and slightly soft. Spinach will be wilted but not slimy.  

5. Strain out sprout1. Quarter or halve Brussel sprouts to create a uniform size. 

2. Rinse the sprouts. 

3. Bring a pot of water to a hard boil (enough to cover the bottom third of the sprouts). Throw sprouts in. 

4. Stir occasionally to pull the bottom sprouts to the top and visa versa. Boil for about three minutes or until all sprouts are bright green and slightly soft. 

5. Strain out sprouts or spinach from the hot water and plunge into ice water until cool. 

6. Strain and pat dry with a paper towel (let the spinach wait in the strainer and press it with a paper towel)

7. Spread veg out evenly on a tray and put in the freezer for about two or three hours, or until hard. 

8. Scrape veg off the tray and put in a freezer bag. 

Bereketli olsun! 

Turkey 245: Your Guide to Snacks pt 1

Say what you will about Turkey, but their snack game is fierce. 

I wouldn’t consider myself too much of a junk foodie. I’m not so much into cookies and cakes, and only a few chips tickle my fancy. That is, until now! 

How is it possible that I love Turkish junk food so much? 

Anyway, check out my (long overdue) faves list below. Make sure to check the description for any American dupes! Cheap subs are not just for makeup anymore… 

Dude. These chips tho. Specifically Patos sweet chili pepper… Corn chips with a zing, this tastes just like cool ranch doritos for half the price! 

I’ve found this at bakals (corner stores) and Migros

Eti cin (et-E-jin) 

My, hands down, favorite cookie. It’s a shortbread cookie with a gummy orange center and sprinkles.  There are other flavors but orange is the real OG. This is special to Turkey and I need to bring some back with me! 

Found in  bakals and Migros 

Cerezza (cheese and onion) 

Think crunchy cheetohs… But sour cream and onion.  That’s cerezza  PEYNİR AND SOĞAN flavor.  This gets 5 stars from us,  as it’s our favorite junk food. 

Found in bakals and migros

(sorry the next pictures are upside down… I have no idea why…) 

 I’m not a stranger to haribo (in America the Turkish made haribo were the only gummies without pork gelatin that I could find).  The classics are delicious! But there’s also FIZZ haribo! A haribo with a lemon sour sugar coating that is ever so slightly effervescent.  The fizz worms are my favorite (not seen here). 

Found in bakals,  some A101, Kipa, and Migros

I’m not big on chocolate,  but these are really good.  Cookies with milk chocolate stars and white chocolate filling.  They’re a bit rich but perfect when you have a craving. They are my favorite chocolate cookie.   

Found in some bakals, Kipa, and migros

 Not your momma’s rice cakes.  These are a mix of corn and rice that look like standard rice cakes, but taste like lightly salted, no butter popcorn.  A good snack for those wanting something salty but low calorie. 

Found in migros. 

Most of these can probably be found in Kipa or any other large general store, but I never bothered to check for anything but the ones listed as “found in kipa”.  

I’ll probably have a few installments of this as I eat more and more junk :).  

Season of Salad

While summer is usually when you’re looking for something cool and refreshing like salad, most greens flourish in the winter months. 

 I’m a huge lover of salad.  All salad. Beet salad, bean salad, potato salad, cease salad, dinner salad, chicken salad…  Come at me bro.  One thing I had never tried before coming to Turkey, however, was boiled celery salad. 

And was I missing out! 

What is actually found in Turkey is celeriac, a type of celery grown for it’s root rather than the stalks (the latter being the one we know and love in the US).  There is a slight taste difference (in that the celeriac has a stronger flavor) and I think I like celeriac better. 

Much more interesting! Because: salad! 


Ingredients

1 celery root/stalks, chopped 

1 carrot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, grated 

Salt to taste

Olive oil to taste

Lemon juice to taste 

Preparation

1. Boil the chopped celery root and stalks (or just the leftover stalks if you need the root for something else) and chopped carrot together.  Boil until soft. 

2. Drain the water (which can be reserved for soup if you like). Let the celery and carrot cool in a bowl/on a plate. 

3. Grate your garlic onto the boiled veggies.  Don’t limit yourself.  The only thing better than 4 cloves of garlic is 5 cloves of garlic. Add olive oil, lemon juice (from a lemon! That preserved stuff is gross), and salt. 

4. Mix well and serve luke warm or cold. 

Afiyet olsun! 

An Uneventful Bayram and Pleasant Surprise! 

Sorry guys, no pictures this time… 

This last Kurban Bayram was very uneventful, unlike the one we had last year (which I documented with one post per Bayram day!).  All we did was get dragged around Bergama to see all the old family members (read: anneanne, teyze, and hala) and there was no big dinner like last time. No picnic. Not as many people sacrificed this year, because the cost of a lamb or cow just keeps going up! 

And of course there were family fights and drama, but I tend to walk away when that happens. 

But one thing I do want to share with you is my new favorite köfte joint in Dikili (a short 20 minute or so drive from Bergama)! 

Sorry again,  no pictures.  I just kind of sucked it down… 

It’s called Bay Gözlük and can be found down one of the side streets.  There is a main round about near the Dikili çarşı, and if you look at about 2 o’clock with your back to the sea, you’ll see the köfte shop. It’s quite small and old school, but amazing! I wasn’t looking forward to a köfte ekmek (I had wanted ayvalık tostu…) but I’m glad I went for the popular choice! 

The bread was soft and buttery and crammed with tomato, onion, and köfte.  Not one bite went meatless. Oh,  and the spice mix was something else! I swear I tasted turmeric and maybe a smidgen of ginger? And for 5₺ no less! 

But what brought the whole thing home was the pickles. The usta set a whole jar of sliced salatalık turşu on the table…

And when I pulled them out and tasted it… 

I could have sworn it was Vlassic.  That sweet, tangy, dill taste that I have been searching for this last year.  Here,  in front of me. And now all over my sandwich. I think he regretted putting out the jar, because I ate half of it.  Legit, at least 10 slices of pickle.  

I wish I had pictures, but you’ll just have to go and see for yourself! 

My Mouth-Watering, Indulgence-Worthy, Im-Going-To-Gain-20lb Turkish Food Favorites

Wow, that title was a mouthful.

… Get it?

One of the questions I get asked most often when people find out I’m foreign is “what’s your favorite Turkish food?”.  I never know what to say, because I can’t really chose a stand-alone favorite.  I do have a few dishes ready that I list off when this inevitable query is mentioned.  Some days I prefer one over the other, but it’s all just on a whim.  Honestly, whenever I see one of these dishes on the table, I immediately have a smile on my face!

These are my top ten favorite foods, broken down into their respective categories.  I didn’t include things that we also eat in the US (like kumpir/baked potato and the like).

Main Dish

1. DOLMA: If you don’t like dolma, we can’t be friends.  A variety of vegetables fall under the category “dolma”, but they all have one thing in common: they are stuffed with rice, herbs, spices, and sometimes meat (depending on your recipe).  Boiled/steamed,  the rice is cooked and the flavors of the vessel veggie are trapped inside.  You can find pepper, onion, tomato, eggplant, dried eggplant, grape leaf (aka sarma), and cabbage dolmas, among others.  My favorites are sweet red pepper, dried eggplant, and sarma!

Oh,  the remaining water after boiling makes an excellent soup with a few additions!
2. ISKENDER: A shaved meat dish similar to döner, these meat is laid on a bed of soft pita bread and drowned in tomato sauce, chhhsssss melted butter,  and a side of plain yogurt.  Unfortunately this meal tends to be a bit pricey compared to its sandwich counter part.  For us it is a special indulgence… A delicious, fattening indulgence.
3. KARNIYARIK: Lightly fried eggplant halves filled with a ground beef mixture then baked.  There is something about fried eggplant (without breading)  that is just… Amazing. So soft, so velvety, somewhat sweet…mhm.  Whenever we eat something fried, we usually serve it with yogurt and a salad. The spices, herbs, onion, and other additions to the meat mixture make it flavorful without being overwhelming and losing the flavor of the eggplant.
4. KÖZLEME PATLICAN: Speaking of eggplant… Fire roasted eggplant.  Oh. My. Gosh. You can’t jar the flavor of eggplants actually cooked over an open flame.  We roasted a few kilos of eggplant from our garden last summer and froze it for the winter.  I prefer mine drowned in garlic yogurt, mixed with olive oil, parsley, mint, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  I mean,  dang. Hubby likes it without the yogurt and adding tomato. But… But… Garlic yogurt!
5. BEZELYE YEMEĞİ :We all remember pushing peas around our plates as kids… But no one will be turning up their nose at this! A classic sulu (with water) food, bezelye yemeği consists of chopped and sautéed onions, carrots, and potatoes, swimming in a tomatoe-y broth with the peas happily joining in the fray. This is my favorite of the “standard” (I call sulu foods standard because everything can be made like this lol) Turkish meals. You can also add ground beef!

Breakfast

6. BİBERLİ LOR :Nom. Nom. Nom. This is a great way to give in to my cheese addiction. Lor is basically ricotta cheese, and biberli lor is ricotta cheese mixed in with sautéed peppers. Heat it all up together and make sure there is plenty of olive oil! I hope you aren’t worried about gaining a few pounds…
7. ÇILBUR :This mix sounds weird but I swear it is delicious. Pan cooked eggs (no milk, not beaten, and not quite fried… Just oil and eggs cooked until it’s not runny) smothered in plain yogurt (and if you have caught on to my preferences… Garlic is an option for a lunch time meal). I like to drizzle a sauce made from butter and salça (like manti) on top.

Dessert

8. MUHALLEBI : Basically a very light, plain pudding that I just love.  It’s almost fluffy because it’s made with rice starch instead of corn or wheat.  Add a little sakiz, and I’m in heaven!
9. AYVA TATLISI : Poached quince with cinnamon and whipped cream.  Hello, delcious!
10. BAKLAVA : No list of delicious Turkish foods is complete without baklava. I’m pretty picky about it, though! I like mine to be crunchy, flaky, and not drown in sugar syrup!  And while you’re at it, make it with walnuts.  I know for some it is sacrilege, but I really like walnuts…

Anyway, when you get the chance give these a try! I hope you didn’t gain a few kg just reading!

Honorable mentions (you’ll have to look up for yourself!): Cig kofte, mercimek kofte, patlican yemegi, kisir, bamya yemegi, yayla corbasi…ok I need to stop or I’ll list everything!

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!

All About Dem Artichokes BABAY

The first time I ever had an artichoke (outside of the jarred artichoke hearts) was in Turkey 4 years ago. Before that I had no idea how to prepare an artichoke, how to cut it, clean it, or even pick it! I knew the taste… But didn’t know it’s versatility or health benefits. Man, was I missing out!

Did you know you can make an artichoke tea from the discarded outer leaves (after drying), and that it’s good for your liver? What a great way to reduce waste when making an artichoke dish (hint hint wink wink)!

When it comes to picking an artichoke I’m still a bit of a novice. However, there are a few things I know for sure!
1. A closed artichoke is a fresh artichoke– Much like a flower, a new bud is fresher than an open flower. Pick an artichoke thats leaves are tightly closed.
2. Spikey plants are old plants– You will notice on the tips of the artichoke leaves are tiny thorns. These get thicker and harder as the plant ages. Look for soft and flexible spikes, indicating a fresher plant.
3.Check the cut– No, I don’t mean a cut like meat… I mean where the artichoke was cut from the plant. If it is very brown it was cut a long time ago. If it is just starting to brown but mostly green, it’s fresh.

Although this sign of freshness is a little late for the consumer… The center fuzzies in the artichoke turn purple as it ages.

image

Ingredients:
5 Artichokes, cut into 6ths and cleaned
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 small potatoes, diced
1.5 lemon’s juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 heaping tbsp flour
Salt and citric acid (for wash)
4 tbsp olive oil, approx.
2 tbsp fresh diced dill
1/2c fresh peas or bakla (optional)
1 ego’s yolk
Hot water

Preparation:
1. Prepare a salty/sour water bath for your artichokes.  Cut the ends (about 1 inch from the top), so that no tips remain and you can see inside the artichoke. Also cut off the stems (do not discard). Remove a few layers of outer leaves to neaten the appearance.  Cut the artichoke in half and dunk it in the wash. Scoop out the furry center until only the heard heart remains. Let sit in the wash until all are cleaned. Also, clean the outer portions of the stems until only the pale yellow center remains.  Cut into small pieces (about in inch)  and add to the wash.  Once they are all halved and clean,  add 3tbsp flour to the wash.  Mix well and let sit while you prepare the rest.
2. Cut the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Put the onions and potatoes in olive oil in a wide, short pot with a lid.  Begin to cook them until soft on medium high.
3. Cut the artichoke halves into thirds (making 1 artichoke head into 6 pieces).  Add to the pot along with the trimmed stems. Squeeze 1 lemon over the top of the artichoke, sprinkle the sugar and salt, then stir well.
4. Add the potato and (optional bakla or peas) stir again.  Let the veggies cook in their own juices, stirring occasionally.  Finally, pour hot water over the mixture until the tops are just sticking out, do not submerge! Cover and let cook on low (boiling)  for about an hour or until everything is soft.
5. Temper the remaining 1 tbsp flour with a little cool water and the water from the artichoke to make a slurry. Mix into the pot and allow to boil lightly until thickened.
6. Whip the juice of 1 lemon with the yolk of 1 egg. Mix in hot juice from the food until the egg begins to cook. Pour over the top of the artichoke mixture and gently press into the hot liquid with a spoon, but don’t mix!
7. Sprinkle dill over the mixture and cover. Turn off the stove (but do not remove from the heat!) and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Afiyet olsun!

Spring is coming… And so is taze fasulye!

Springs is coming… Which means a lot of my favorite foods are coming back in season! Eggplant, strawberries, and tomatoes…

Oh my!

One of my favorites that I always struggled to make stateside was green beans/ pole beans… Commonly known as taze fasulye in Turkey. I could never make them as tasty and soft as what I had eaten years ago…

But now I have the recipe! I will never want for taze fasulye AGAIN! Buahaha!

image

Ingredients:
1kg taze fasulye (either green beans or pole beans), julienned
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, julienned
1 Charleston pepper, chopped
2 tbsp salça (tomato or mixed)
10 tbsp tomato juice/konserve (or canned diced tomatoes with juice)
4 tsp sugar
4 tsp salt
Approx 1/4c olive oil
Hot water

Preparation:
1. Wash and julienne beans by slicing down their center and cutting across to form 1 inch length pieces.  If the beans husk is rubbery/hard to cut, remove the beans from inside and discard the husk. Let soak in room temp water while continuing prep.
2.  Prepare your peppers, onions, and carrots accordingly.  Add to a pot with olive oil and salça, mixing well. Add the sugar and turn on the heat to high.
3. Add the beans to the pot and DO NOT MIX! Spoon the tomato juice on top, lastly evenly distributing the salt on top.  Still do not mix!
4. Cover and cook on high until the beans turn light green (approximately 30mins). Pour hot water over the beans until half an inch of beans is exposed. Don’t mix it now either!
5. Cover and cook on low for about one hour or until beans are soft. The boiling will mix everything for you 🙂

Afiyet olsun!

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

image

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.

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.

image

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?