Kadın Budu Köfte (Fried Meatballs)

Kadın Budu Köfte, translated into English is lady thigh meatball. This is perhaps due to its shape or perhaps to where its going after you eat it. 😉 Whatever the reason, it’s well seasoned, fried, and dipped in cool yogurt. In other words, it’s “çok lezzetli” (very delicious).

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Kadın Budu Köfte
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion (chopped)
1/4 cup cooked rice
4 eggs
Flour
Köfte bahartı (ingredients below)
Cumin
Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

1. Cook 3/4 of the ground beef with the onions, then drain the fat. Be sure to break it up as small possible.
2. Put the raw and cooked ground beef in a large mixing bowl with 1 egg, the rice, and spices. Knead together until well mixed. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

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3. Remove the bowl from the fridge and begin shaping your meatballs. They should look like mini footballs.
4. Put some flour in 1 bowl and beat the remaining 3 eggs in a separate bowl. Dip each köfte in the flour and then egg.

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5. In a pan, heat some vegetable oil. Once the oil is sizzling hot, put in some of the köfte. I cooked mine in batches of 6.

Kadın Budu Köfte is traditionally served cold (prepared as above and then refrigerated and served the next day). But you can also eat it right away, warm. Serve with plain Greek yogurt.

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Köfte Bahartı
Cumin
Paprika
Black pepper
Coriander
Allspice
Hot red pepper
Sodium bicarbonate

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Patates Böreği (Potato Pastry)

The Turkish börek is a simple, but delicious and versatile savory pastry. I have tried them with all different kinds of fillings: spinach, lentils, cheese, meat, and potatoes. It’s one of my must-haves when I travel to Turkey.

But I can’t even wait until I visit again to enjoy their flaky goodness…so I settled for my homemade version. Böreks are traditionally made with a dough similar to phyllo, called yufka.

I have yet to try ordering yufka from an online Turkish grocery store so phyllo dough would have to stand in.

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Patates Böreği

Ingredients
Thawed sheets of phyllo dough
6 to 8 baby gold potatoes
Goat cheese crumbles
Salt & pepper
Marjoram
Oregano
Garlic powder
Milk or half n half
Olive oil
egg yolk
Poppy seeds

Directions

1. Boil, drain, and mash the potatoes. Mix in a splash of milk or half n half, goat cheese, and seasonings.
2. In a small bowl, mix a little olive oil and milk. The ratio should be about 3:1.
3. Stack 3 square- shaped sheets in top of each, brushing each with the olive oil mixture before laying on top of the other. The phyllo sheets I buy are rectangles, so I had to cut them down into squares.
4. Spread some of the potato mixture onto the dough. Be gentle, as the dough can easily tear.
5. Fold the dough diagonally at the corners, making a large triangle. Then fold again to make a smaller triangle. Cut in half.
6. Repeat each step until you have as many börek as you desire.
7. Brush the tops with the egg yolk and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
8. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

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Sebzeli Nohut (Chickpeas with Vegetables)

Whether you call them ceci, chickpeas, garbanzos, or nohut…we’re all talking about those yummy fiber and protein packed legumes.

I’ve been hoping to find a new recipe for them and today I managed to find one that is both meatless and Turkish inspired.

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Sebzeli Nohut
Original recipe from Almost Turkish

Ingredients
1 can organic chickpeas (drain)
1/2 big onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup fineley chopped cabbage
1 cup matchstick carrots
5 baby gold potatos, peeled and grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper flakes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and pepper

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Directions
1. Cook onions and peppers in olive oil in a large, deep pan until soft.

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2. Stir in cabbage, carrot, potato, and cumin. Cook for 4-5 minutes.

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3. Add tomato paste and stir for another minute.

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4. Add chickpeas, salt, blackpepper, pepper flakes, and stock. Add a 1/2 cup of water or less (just enough to cover the chickpeas). Cover and reduce heat to low.
5. Prepare Jasmine rice. Once done, the nohut will also be ready (about 15-20 minutes). Serve together with plain yogurt.

This recipe creates a really subtle but delicious flavor combination. 🙂

Some of My Favorite Food in Turkey

As if Turkey’s natural beauty and rich history weren’t enough reasons to visit, they also have unbelieveable food.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 3 cities in Turkey: Istanbul, Cesme, and Bodrum; and I wanted to share some of my favorite dishes with you.

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Some of the best tasting meat I’ve ever had was during my trips to Turkey. Kebab (kebap in Turkish) houses are a dime a dozen there. Not at all are created equal, but most of the ones I’ve eaten have been exquisite.

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This is a Bursa Iskender Kebab. There are a lot different kinds of kebab, but this is my absolute favorite. The meat is in a tomato based sauce, sitting on pieces of pita bread, covered in garlic yogurt and melted butter.

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If you’re a fan of pickles, meet pickle heaven. Everything here is pickled to your heart’s content.

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This is kasarli pide. The closest thing I can compare it to is a cheese pizza with no sauce. But that doesn’t come close to describing it. This is a must have in Bodrum. Nothing compares.

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This köfte from a restaurant in Bodrum. This meat is delicious.

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This is manti. It’s sort of like dumplings or ravioli but much much better. Garlic yogurt and melted butter on top!

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This is gözleme. I had this for the first time in Bodrum and I fell in love. I’ve had them filled with cheese and potato. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

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This is an amazing sandwich from my boyfriend’s friend’s restaurant. This place belongs in Santa Monica!

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For some reason, I can’t remember the Turkish names for these. These are mussells filled with rice. My boyfriend and his friends ate hundreds of these during our trip in Cesme!

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This is Cesme’s famous kumru sandwich. I ate one 3 days in a row and I would do it again in a heart beat.

Have you ever tried Turkish food? What’s your favorite dish?

Turkish Feast

To celebrate our good friend’s birthday, I prepared a Turkish feast! These are by no means the most authentic ways to prepare these dishes, but they are a good way to get the flavor.

Sarma

My boyfriend’s mom sent me this recipe a few years ago and this was only my second time making it. These are stuffed grape leaves with ground beef, onions, and seasoning. It sounds easy enough, but this dish takes some time and effort to prepare. Good thing the end result is well worth it.

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Ingredients

1 jar of grave leaves
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
Uncooked rice
Black pepper
Sea salt
Red pepper flakes
Cumin
A pinch of mint
Water

1. Chop one small onion and place in a mixing bowl.

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2. Add the ground beef, rice, water, and spices to the bowl and mix.

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3. Carefully remove the grapes leaves from the jar and unfold into a large bowl. Soak in hot water for a few minutes to soften the leaves.

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4. Put a small scoop of the meat mixture in the center of the grape leave. Then fold the grape leave like so…

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5. Place in a pot and place a plate over the sarma. Cover with water and olive oil and cook until meat and rice are ready. This took about 30 minutes or so for the amount I made.

6. Serve with garlic yogurt.

Baba Ganoush

That is not the Turkish spelling…but you get the idea. This a creamy eggplant/tahini dip.

Ingredients

2 Japanese eggplants
A few scoops of tahini paste
Fresh lemon juice

1. Peel the skin from the eggplants and chop in small disks.
2. Cover with some olive oil and broil until soft and lightly browned.
3. Blend together in food processor with tahini and lemon juice.
4. Serve with pita bread and/or fresh veggies like peppers and carrots.

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Börek

This is a cheese pastry made with fillo sheets and goat cheese.

Ingredients

Fillo dough sheets
Goat cheese
Melted butter
Half and half

1. Put a little half and half in a bowl and mix with melted butter.
2. Brush butter mixture on 1 fillo sheet, making sure to cover completely.
3. Lay a second sheet over the buttered sheet and butter again. Lay one more sheet and butter one more time.
4. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
5. Fold the square of fillo into a triangle and then again into a smaller triangle, then cut the triangle in half.
6. Repeat for as many times as you need.
7. Brush each with a little egg yolk.
8. Bake at 375 F for 10-15 minutes.

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Etli Biber Dolması – Meat Stuffed Peppers

I’ve been looking forward to making this dish all week. It was my first time ever making biber dolmasi, so I needed a recipe to reference. Google came back with this. I didn’t have any reassurance that this recipe would turn out well and a Turkish man to please. The odds were against me. But I am proud to report that I was successful.

I had to adjust the recipe slightly: I used 4 bell peppers, 3/4 of a pound, and a 1/2 cup of Jasmine rice. I omitted all of the seasonings except for salt and pepper. Then I added some cumin, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder (only had a tiny clove of fresh garlic). Other than that, I followed the recipe as is.

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The peppers came out nice and soft, but not too soft. And the stuffing was delicious.

And now I am stuffed! 🙂

And tired. Glad tomorrow is Friday.

Side dish – Turkish Spinach

I’m absolutely in love with Turkish cuisine. If you’ve never had the pleasure of a börek, gözleme, or İmam bayıldı, my heart goes out to you. On the other hand, many Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes cross cultures, so if you’ve ever tried Greek, Armenian, Persian, or Lebanese food, then you have a good idea what Turkish food is like. I have been lucky enough to travel to Turkey a few times now and each time I go, I learn a few new recipes. One recipe that has been a major staple in my kitchen is a delightful olive oil side dish made from fresh spinach and rice. As far as I know, it’s simply called ıspanak (Turkish for spinach). Ispanak is traditionally served cold but is equally good hot, served straight from the pan.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

1/2 lb Pre-washed baby spinach

1/4 white or yellow onion, finely chopped

Small handful or less of brown or Jasmine rice

Heaping spoonful of tomato paste

Olive oil

Salt to taste

I have an issue with opposing textures. Spinach stems never get quite as wilted as the leaves and I’m not a fan of the surprise change in texture. So to deal with this, I cut the stems off with a pair of scissors. This can take a while to get through, but for me, it’s worth it. If the stems don’t bother you, just skip this crazy step. 🙂

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Once the spinach is acceptable, I cook it with about a half cup of water just until it wilts. From here, I normally add in half a handful of Jasmine rice. Today, I used brown rice, which takes about twice as long to cook. If you use regular white or Jasmine rice, go ahead and throw that in with the newly wilted spinach. If you’re planning to use brown rice, I highly suggest cooking it a little ahead of time (I’d say maybe 10-15 minutes before starting the spinach). Next, put your stove on low heat and cover the pan with a lid. Be sure to keep enough water in the pan to cook the rice and stir occasionally. While your spinach and rice steam, cut a white or yellow onion.

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Hot tip: I’ve found that onions are much easier to chop if you keep them refrigerated (no tears).

For about a half pound of spinach, I would recommend a little less than a handful of finely chopped onions (really depends on your preference). On a separate pan, saute the onions with extra virgin olive oil.  Once the onions have become transparent, add a heaping spoonful of tomato paste and mix. Pour the mixture in with the spinach and rice, then recover.

Note: Olive oil, onion, and tomato paste are the base for many Turkish dishes.

To be honest, I’ve never really paid too much attention to how long this side dish takes to make. Depending on the type of rice you use, I would say between 20 to 40 minutes. I know it’s ready when the rice is fully cooked and the water is almost completely incorporated. It’s something I learned just by doing.

And here’s the final product…

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Maybe not the most photogenic, but trust me, it’s great! To take this to the next level, top with some garlic yogurt (finely chopped garlic, Greek yogurt, and a splash of water, mixed) and serve with toasted bread. Turks love to dip (and really who doesn’t?)

Afiyet Olsun,

Kerry