I am so excited to share all these tasty Turkish treats that were submitted as part of AWED. Turkish cuisine is so varied, with everything from delicious appetizers, to flavourful main dishes and sweet desserts. Thanks again for collectively creating a fabulous collection of Turkish recipes. Enjoy the following menu:
I spent the summer training for a double imperial century bike ride and have since rejuvenated my cycling energy within the past couple of weeks. You see, I finally bought a road bike. This summer, I was using a flat-bar hybrid which is a great bike, but not ideal for cycling such long distances. With my upright seating position, I often felt like I was a parachute in the wind!
They say athletes get tired of the same snacks day after day. Flavour fatigue. Despite peddling over 4000-km on my bike this year, I guess I don’t exercise enough to get bored of the high energy snacks. Oats and dates have played prominent roles in many of the snacks, but I wanted to try something different.
Adapted from Runner’s World, these energy bars are similar to other bars based with dried fruit, but instead of dates, it uses figs as the main component. Dried cranberries and raisins add extra flavour with roasted hazelnuts adding healthy fat. There is only a minimal amount of honey so these are not overtly sweet. Technically, they travelled well and kept their shape during the summer heat.
I was almost worried I didn’t like tahini. I adore hummus, but usually make it without tahini. You might not believe it, but I try not to have too many wacky ingredients in my cupboard. I try (I swear!), but don’t succeed very well, hehe. I just bought nigella seeds, so shoot me.
So I bought tahini to make Smitten Kitchen’s highly praised Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing. Warm butternut squash and chickpeas, it sounds right up my alley! But I hated it. It was way too bitter. I couldn’t even finish it. It is the first SK recipe that has disappointed me. Oh, and Deb’s shakshuka was too spicy for me to enjoy. I have to tinker with that one, too.
But I persevered. Rivka’s recipe on Food52 for yam, zucchini and chickpea salad called out to me. It had less tahini, so I was hopeful I would enjoy the salad. I also pulled out some of my other kitchen tricks to kick this salad over the top. First, I roasted the yam until soft and sweet (leftover roasted sweet potatoes and yams from thanksgiving would work great here!). Roasted zucchini was also added, which added a nice lightness to the salad.The broiler added the extra caramelization needed to bring this to the next level.
Next, the simple dressing was a winner. A bit of lemon with a dash of tahini. Creamy, nutty, full-bodied flavour that worked so well with the yams, zucchini and chickpeas. A delicious, healthy, satisfying salad. Perfect.
It wasn’t until I had roasted sweet potatoes over Thanksgiving that I forgot how much I love roasted sweet potatoes and yam. I look forward to trying other recipes in the coming weeks. Here are a selection that have caught my eye:
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos in Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favourites
Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos at Allrecipes
Quinoa with Black Beans and Sweet Potatoes from Mischief
Turkish Sweet Potato & Apricot Rolls from Eating Out Loud
Sweet Potato and Red Pepper Couscous Salad from Patty’s Food
Lentils with Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Avocado & Bravado
African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup from Food Blogga
Ottolenghi’s Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato found at Alphabet Soup
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sesame, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se, and to Torview’s Food Palette Series featuring orange dishes.
Some doctors treat patients, and others go into research. The insane do both. I don’t know where I want to fit in just yet.
A positive point for research is that a discovery can help thousands or millions of people, whereas as a solo practitioner, you help one patient at a time.
It is kind of analogous to food blogging.
I can cook something at home and share it with friends and family. I have affected only a handful of people. But when I blog about it, it can reach to the furthest depths of the interspace. People from around the globe can read and try the dish to their own tastes.
While I love reading reader comments, I also really enjoy that instant gratification from sharing food with friends. Especially when it is new for them. Considering how little I repeat recipes, it is likely new for me too! A bit of Russian roulette.
Case in point: this salad. I shared it not once, but twice, with friends from out-of-town. It was fun to introduce my summer salad sensation, coarse bulgur. However, they misheard me the first time and thought I said “Booger salad”. Yes, my friends, I am serving you booger salad. From my childhood cookbook, which also included recipes for barbecued worms and muddy caterpillar hotdogs (I am not making this up, that’s what I did as a kid).
Thankfully there is no mud and no insects were harmed in creating this bulgur, I mean booger, salad. It is a light and bright salad, with lots of vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, broccoli), satisfying nutty pan-fried chickpeas with a crunch from both the almonds and sunflower seeds. A special sweet crunch comes from the red grapes. The balsamic-lemon dressing pulls everything together along with the base of coarse bulgur.
This is my submission to Blog Bites 8, featuring one-dish meals.
Has anyone else ever had arguments about whether couscous is a pasta or a grain? It is probably just me…
I am in the couscous is a pasta camp, and have tried to sway others. Sometimes we just agree to disagree and I don’t really feel like arguing about something a bit trivial. We can both agree that couscous is delicious, though.
Couscous is made from coarse durum wheat semolina, which comes from the endosperm of the durum wheat kernel. The traditional recipe uses durum wheat and semolina with a bit of salt. Water is added by the handful to moisten the mixture. The couscous pellets are sieved multiple times.
It sounds like pasta to me, but created with a healthier whole-grain flour. Compared to traditional pasta, it has a 25% reduced glycemic load per gram and contains higher amounts of protein and vitamins like riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, and thiamin.
Couscous is prominent in North African cuisine, including Morocco, but also Algeria, Libya and Tunisia. Each country flavours it differently – Moroccans flavour it with saffron and use it as a side to their tagines, Algerian made add tomatoes and Tunisians made add tomatoes. Earlier this year, I made a side of cinnamon-scented couscous with my Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds and really appreciated how it became fluffy with the additional steam in the oven. Couscous is easily found commercially-made, and available in different sizes: fine, medium and coarse.
This time, I wanted to try something different with Israeli (pearl, or coarse) couscous. Adapted from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers, I liked how the roasted vegetables paired with the plump couscous, and the lemon added a lightness and brightness to the dish.
I had a veritable Brazilian meal. Along with the Portobello Feijoada (Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms), I also made a savoury side of rice, Brazilian-style of course.
This recipe was also found in Viva Vegan, which is a treasure trove for Latin food recipes. I must admit my bookcase was severely lacking in this area, and I am starting to learn more about Brazilian cooking. Brazil may be my next vacation destination, but since there are so many countries on my vacation hit-list, I will have to settle (for now) to cooking up Brazilian specialties at home. It is a lot cheaper than an airplane ticket, and a lot more fun too (the airplane ride is less fun, not the Brazilian vacation!).
This rice is unique because it incorporates not only slow-cooked onions and garlic, but also has a touch of sweetness from the orange. It paired well with the less-sweet Portobello Feijoada, but could work well with any other savoury dish.
I had forgotten how much I love black beans. I used to make a tasty black bean and salsa soup in university. With canned black beans, it was a quick and easy meal. At that time, I tried to cook black beans from dry but it didn’t work out well. I recall hard beans in a black soup. So I hadn’t really ventured to try again. Until now.
As I was reading through Viva Vegan, I was inspired to try cooking my own black beans again. I still had the 3+ year old black beans from my last adventure, so, first, I opted to buy fresh beans.
Then I got to work creating this lovely black bean and portobello Brazilian-style stew. I say Brazilian-style since authentic feijoada involves lots of meat. Instead of meat, this vegan stew does not compromise in taste. It uses both portobello mushrooms and TVP (textured vegetable protein) for a meaty texture. TVP soaks up the broth nicely and like tofu, tastes like its surroundings. It is plump and juicy, and feels like ground meat. It is also probably one of the cheapest forms of protein (I bought mine at Essence of Life, and it is at Bulk Barn, but I am fairly confident you can find it in well-stocked grocery stores as well). I really liked the flavourful combination of mushrooms, black beans, cumin and thyme in the stew.
A few pointers for next time, don’t start cooking the stew until your beans are at least 1.5-2 hours through their cooking time. I had a bit of a mismatch on my timing so I didn’t add them as early as I would have liked. As well, the leftover stew became thicker, so feel free to leave it more soupy, or add water to thin when reheating.
I also wanted to highlight how wonderful the black beans were cooked from dry. They really were better than canned, as they held their shape, had a smooth consistency and tasted better. Next time, I will cook up more black beans than I need so I can make this in no time. If you don’t want to cook up your own beans, feel free to substitute 2 cans of black beans instead for a meal with considerably less prep time.
I find most food bloggers have very positive opinions about their food. They generally always love it.
Personally, I try to share recipes that I have loved, as well as normal, and the not-as-great ones. It helps to gauge how great I think the great recipes are. I also keep a list of my favourites for easy identification. I got a bit of flack for calling my Turkish bulgur salad with pomegranate and almonds the best salad ever, but truth be told, it was also called the best salad ever from the blog that I found it on. It also deserves the title.
I like to try other food bloggers’ favourite recipes. A while back, Ashley listed her favourite tofu dishes, and I was eager to try her Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant, adapted from the Rebar cookbook. With a lemon, miso and wasabi dressing (I substituted Aleppo chili flakes), I knew it would be tasty. The key is to press your tofu so it can absorb a lot of the marinade. As Ashley suggested, I made this with an overnight marinade for the tofu. I used the same dressing for the eggplant the following day, and in no time, it was ready to be baked for a quick meal. I preferred the tofu with the marinade the most, but it also worked well with the eggplant. Feel free to use your favourite vegetable. A good, tasty tofu recipe.
This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving and I was happy to be able to go home and spend some time with my family. While I wasn’t involved in much of the food preparation this year, I helped to provide recipes for the weekend – namely pomegranate-glazed salmon, Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with a Warm Cider Vinaigrette and baklava (ok, I was allowed into the kitchen to make this!). Everything we ate was delicious. I was lucky to grow up with a family that can cook and bake so well.
My quest to search out those treasured family recipes was one reason I became more interested in cooking. My paternal grandmother passed away before I became interested in learning how to make perogies, paska and borscht. Sometimes recipes just aren’t as good as learning from your Baba.
One of the first recipes I didn’t want to die into oblivion was strudel. Authentic, German strudel. How my Oma makes it. Nothing else compares. Just as I had comments that my baklava isn’t truly authentic without hamur (homemade dough), I know that strudel without pulled strudel dough pales in comparison to the real thing. For the longest time, I couldn’t even fathom making it in my apartment because I didn’t have a kitchen table. Because that is how big the strudel dough must be pulled.
I hope to share with you how to make the best apfelstrudel. It looks daunting and kneading the dough takes some knack. I find that the most challenging. The first time, I kneaded it for over 30 minutes until I was able to get the desired consistency. I had to knead until it felt “like this”, my grandmother and uncle explained. The stretching takes time and patience. No worries about small holes, since it all gets rolled up and no one will be the wiser. I need to keep my strudel making skills up to snuff, with constant refreshers, and my dad promised me we’d make it together over Christmas.
Here are a few photos from my first time learning how to make strudel:
Colours can be very powerful. Blue may calm, red may engage and when I picked the paint colour for the first house I rented in university, I chose “creme fraiche”, a light, pale yellow. It helped to lighten up oftentimes shady rooms with a bit of cheeriness. Yellow has that power.
Last week, it suddenly became cold and wet. It reaffirmed the end of summer. Combined with feeling a bit lonely, I knew I needed a bit of a pick me up. I searched for the perfect place to use some yellow summer squash. As Claudia Roden has said, “Eating yellow foods will result in laughter and happiness”. Here, you have happiness in a bowl of yellow soup.
I didn’t make up the name of the soup. It is a recipe by Nigella Lawson, which features a lot of happy, yellow ingredients. It was a really yellow soup! If it wasn’t already yellow enough with the yellow summer squash, broth and lemon zest, turmeric added that extra hue of infiltrating yellow. The yellow was so infiltrating it stained my spatula yellow, too! I replaced the rice from the original recipe with barley for more filling soup.
Like all soups, it was a snap to make and I grinned after my look. The lemon really makes this taste like a light soup, but the barley makes this more of a substantial meal. For all of those eating after a post-(Canadian) Thanksgiving feast, this soup is for you, too!
I have never had bread pudding before. Stale bread just doesn’t seem that fun for dessert, to be honest. But food blogging tends to push you into new directions. I stumbled upon an Egyptian Bread and Butter Pudding, called Om Ali, while flipping through The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.
Also called Umm Ali or Omm Ali, it literally translates to Ali’s mother. There are different stories as to its origin, but it sounds like Ali’s mom whipped up this delicious dessert from staples in her kitchen. Indeed, one of the reasons I tried it was because I had all these scraps of phyllo dough after trimming them from the baklava and some cream left over from a chocolate fondue feast. It was the perfect leftover throw together dessert.
Indeed, it is the scraps of phyllo (or puff pastry) that sets this dish apart from other bread puddings. In fact, I hesitate to call this a bread pudding, despite it being a pudding with bread in it (phyllo dough, rather). Instead of a bread-heavy dish, it is more of a creamy pudding. It is mixed with crunchy toasted almonds, sweet raisins, and topped with a dusting of cinnamon. This reminded me more of a creamy, baked rice pudding, sans rice, but with other delicious additions. In any case, it is delicious, and easy to make. Let it convert all the bread pudding haters.
This recipe was adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.
This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Egyptian travels.
Not all lentils are created equal. There are a multitude of lentils, ranging from ivory white, yellow to black. I have cooked with brown, green and red lentils, but I only recently tried the French green (du Puy) lentils. With this salad, in fact. All the hype is true: they are great for salads. They are smaller then the typical green lentil and hold their shape once cooked. A lovely textural play for your tongue.
Guess where lentils are grown. Not France. India is the largest producer and the next is Canada! We actually export the most in the world. Saskatchewan produces most of our supply although I am still on the look-out for NuPak (ie. No Name) Saskatchewan Du Puy lentils in my local Loblaws. For now, I picked up a handful for this salad from the bulk section at Essence of Life in Kensington Market.
Adapted from A Crafty Lass, this is a delicious lentil salad with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and a caramelized sherry vinaigrette. For texture, raisins add some chewiness and toasted almonds add crunch. The basil ties everything together nicely. It is a sweet salad, so be gentle with the dressing. I halved the original recipe and then halved the dressing recipe again. Add to taste.
Some other lentil recipes that have caught my eye:
Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate from The Taste Space
Spicy Red Lentils and Spinach from The Taste Space
Lentil-Red Pepper Salad from Food52
French Lentil and Portobello Stew from Fat Free Vegan
Green Lentils with Wine-glazed Vegetables from Cook Simple
Salmon with Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter from Gourmet
Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen
French Lentils With Cashews from The New York Times
Lentil Salad with Capers from My New Roots
Arab Table Lentil and Chard Stew from Cate’s World Kitchen
Lentil Salad with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes from Avocado & Bravado
I confess that I didn’t plant zucchini on my balcony. However, I inherited some of the overabundant zucchini from a friend. While it is best to pick zucchini while they are 6-7″ for optimal flavour, sometimes they grow to be big monsters in your sleep.
So what to do with those huge zucchinis? Until you cook with it, it has been shown to be a great weapon against bears (I can’t make these stories up!). Thankfully, living in a high-rise apartment means I can sleep soundly at night, not worrying about mischievous bears. I don’t even have to worry about zombie attacks, either, for the same reason. If they can scale the wall into my apartment, then they deserve to eat me.
So when my friend dropped off not one, but two monster zucchinis, I knew I had to get cracking. One zucchini, clocking in at almost 2 pounds, went into this delicious, creamy zucchini and basil soup sans creme.
Adapted from Fat Free Vegan, this soup had simple flavours that bursted despite its simplicity. Loaded with zucchini and basil, with a touch of garlic, it could have been excellent if we stopped there. However, Susan increased the flavour with a dash of nutritional yeast that added a cheese-like flavour. The cashews brought an extra element of creaminess. Both the nutritional yeast and cashews are optional, but I recommend them.
This was my first time using nutritional yeast, which can be found at health food stores (I found my tablespoon in bulk at the Big Carrot). But what the heck is nutritional yeast? It is a deactivated yeast grown over sugarcane and beetroot molasses. Its high nutritional profile is touted due to the high amount of vitamins (mainly B vitamins, and can also be supplemented with vitamin B12 which vegans need to be make sure they have an adequate supply) while being a complete protein. I don’t know if that is how it got its name, though. It adds a cheesy, nutty, deeper flavour to savoury dishes, capturing the fifth flavour, umami. I liked it and may need to buy more than the 1 tbsp I got from the bulk section.
I was waiting patiently all summer. My heirloom tomato plants were late bloomers, you see. I ate a few tomatoes here and there when I noticed them earlier in the season, but nothing that I could harvest as a meal. Now my plants have a lot of tomatoes for the picking.
This is fusion cuisine at its best, where the classic Italian flavours from the caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar) are infused with Japanese flair.
First, a portion of small cherry tomatoes are poached, lightly cooked and skinned. The remainder remain raw and are halved. The textural contrast, with the skinned poached tomatoes and the raw crisp tomatoes was wonderful. Heirloom tomatoes, with their varying colours and tastes work really well with the mix (my green zebra tomatoes were the most sweet of all!).
Next, the traditional buffalo mozzarella is replaced with silken tofu. I realize this is sacrilegious to the purists. My brother ate caprese salad every day throughout this honeymoon in Italy, it was that good. Buffalo mozzarella can be a difficult find, and to be honest, I really liked the silken tofu as it sopped up the extra dressing. It was light, tasty and incredibly filling. This was a main meal salad, especially when I added the baby arugula.
The typical basil is replaced with shiso, which is a Japanese herb that tastes similar to mint. I decided to pluck basil from my balcony instead of searching out shiso.
The dressing was changed from a heavier balsamic to a light sherry vinaigrette with deep tones from the sesame oil and soy sauce. Now I knew this was a definitely a Japanese interpretation.
This is a tad more work than a standard salad, but trust me when I say the poaching of the tomatoes are worth it. The variety of both flavours and textures are remarkable. Together, we have a delicious salad.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Japanese dishes this month, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se, and to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sesame.