Monday, September 15, 2008

Turkish Menu for Mabon

Since I am now living in Istanbul, I thought I would put together a Turkish menu for Mabon, as well as what I would normally make if I were still in the States. Turkish people eat more seasonal, locally-grown produce, at least in this area. There is a fruit and vegetable pazar literally across the road from my apartment, and each Saturday the tables are overflowing with delicious fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

I suggest an appetizer of white bean salad (a favorite of mine), dolma (stuffed vegetables), chicken marinated in yogurt, fried eggplant with green peppers, baklava and Turkish coffee.

Dolma is the term used for stuffed vegetables. The following recipe is for the rice filling that goes inside the vegetables or grape leaves. It is so delicious and the ingredients can be obtained anywhere.

1 lg Tomato
1 oz Currants
1 c Water
Salt and pepper
1/2 c Olive oil
1 pn Thyme
1/2 lb Long grained rice
1 md Onion
Few sprigs dill & parsley
1 oz Pine nuts (pignoli)
1 ts Sugar (more to taste)

This stuffing is for eggplants, pepper, tomatoes and zucchini. It is made with olive oil and served as a cold vegetable dish. Slice onion very finely, skin and roughly chop tomato and wash the rice until the water runs clear. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot and fry the onion until it becomes soft. Add the tomato, pine nuts, currants, sugar, thyme and season and then stir in the drained rice and fry them together for two or three minutes. Cover with just enough water to come half an inch above the level of the rice and then boil out the water and steam for a few minutes until the rice mixture is dry. Allow to cool. Stuff veggies with mixture, arrange in a flat roasting pan, cover each one with its lid (after insides are scooped out and sprinkled w/ salt). Pour around them enough water to come half-way up their sides. Bake in a 350 oven for 45 min. or until they are well cooked through & soft, but have not lost their shape. Sprinkle w/ chopped dill and parsley.

White Bean Salad

1 c dried small white beans
1 tbsp dill weed
5 c water
salt and pepper
1 lg. Onion chopped
1-2 med. Carrots, scraped and chopped
1/4 c olive oil
1 stalk celery chopped
1 sm. Clove garlic
1/4 c parsley, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice

Wash the beans well and soak them overnight in five cups of water. The next morning, boil the beans in the water in which they were soaked. Continue boiling until the beans are tender (1 hr) Sauté the onion, celery, carrots and garlic in olive oil, stirring until tender (about 15 min.). This should be done in a large saucepan. Add the parsley, dill and drained beans to the sautéed vegetables. Mix them well. Add the lemon juice; simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 min. Salt and pepper to taste. Cool and serve chilled.

This is also fantastic with the addition of black olives and diced red pepper.

Tavuk Izgara (Yogurt Marinated Chicken)
1 whole chicken, cut into parts (or 2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 yellow onion, grated
3–4 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 TB ground cumin
1 TB paprika
salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cut each chicken breast through the bone into two or three smaller pieces. Separate the legs from the thighs. 2. Mix together the yogurt, onion, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. 3. Put chicken pieces in a bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat each piece completely. 4. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight or at least 8-10 hours. 5. Grill over medium to medium-high heat, 7–10 minutes per side or until chicken is cooked through. Breast will cook faster. 6. Serve with your favorite fruit chutney.

Fried Eggplant with Green Peppers

2 tb Olive oil
1 1/2 c Olive oil
4 md Tomato; peeled, seeded and ;coarsely chopped
2 lg Garlic cloves; peeled and;thinly sliced
1 ts Salt
1/4 c Salt
1 Eggplant; (about 1 lb.)
2 md Green peppers; seeded; deribbed and cut lengthwise; into quarters

In a heavy 8 to 10 inch skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the tomatoes, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Mashing and stirring frequently, cook the tomatoes briskly until almost all their liquid evaporates and they become a thick, somewhat smooth puree. Set aside off the heat.

With a large, sharp knife, peel the eggplant and cut off the stem end. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into inch thick slices. Then one at a time lay each slice flat and cut lengthwise strips at inch intervals starting at the wide end and cutting to within about 2 inches of the narrow end. the slices should now look like fans. Combine 1 quart of water and the remaining 1/4 cup of salt in a shallow bowl or baking dish, and add the eggplant sections. Turn them about to coat them evenly with the brine, and let them soak at room temperature for about 10 minutes to rid them of any bitterness. In a heavy 12 inch skillet, heat the remaining 1 cups of oil over high heat until a light haze forms above it. Pat the eggplant completely dry with paper towels.

Regulating the heat so the eggplant colors evenly without burning, fry it 3 or 4 slices at a time for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it is lightly browned and shows no resistance when pierced with the tines of a fork. Transfer the eggplant to paper towels and fry the remaining slices.

Add the green peppers, skin side up, to the oil remaining in the skillet, adding more oil if necessary. Cook the peppers over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, turning them over with tongs. When they are soft but still somewhat firm to the touch, drain them on paper towels. Peel off the skins with a small, sharp knife.

Mound the eggplant slices in the center of a serving platter and pour the tomato sauce over them. Fold the peppers in half lengthwise and arrange them attractively around the eggplant. Serve at room temperature.

Ramazan Pide

1-cup milk, warm to the touch
1 Tablespoon dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water for glazing
1 teaspoon black sesame seed

Combine the milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Stir and cover. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the milk mixture in the center and knead lightly for a few minutes until you obtain soft dough and the mixture pulls a bit from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it in a warm place until doubled in volume, for two hours. Grease a shallow-sided baking pan. Gently punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured countertop, tabletop or a large cutting board. Gently knead the dough for one minute. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a ¼-inch thick circle and 10 inches in diameter. Cover with the dish towel and leave it again to rise about half an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Dimple the surface all over with your fingers. Using a basting brush, glaze the top with egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with black seed. Bake until golden brown about 20 minutes. Remove to a serving dish or basket and wrap with a decorative kitchen towel or large cloth napkin. Serve fresh from the oven.

This bread is only available in the stores during Ramazan (Ramadan). It's so delicious. Also, Mabon occurs during Ramazan this year, so I thought it appropriate.

And to round out this bountiful harvest feast, baklava and Turkish coffee, of course!

Sugar 3 ¼ cups
Starch 2 cups
Water 2 ½ cups
Butter or margarine 1 ¼ cups
Lemon juice 1 teaspoon
Pistachio nuts (uncrushed) 2 cups
Flour 4 ½ cups
Salt ½ teaspoon
Olive oil 1 ½ tablespoons
Eggs 2

Servings: 12 Place the sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan, boil for 10 minutes, add the lemon juice and bring to boil again for a short time. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Crush or grind the pistachio nuts. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add salt and and mix. Slowly pour the oil, make a hole in the middle and add the eggs and very slowly add the water. Knead into a medium stiff dough. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into balls and roll each ball out very thin, sprinkling with starch until half a millimeter thick. Place half of the rolled out dough into a baking pan of 35-40 cm. diameter. Sprinkle pistachio nuts on the top sheet. Place the remaining sheets. Cut the layered pastry sheets into squares or diamonds. Heat the butter without burning it and pour over the pastry. Bake in a barely moderately heated oven for approximately 40-50 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2-3 minutes and then pour the cold syrup over the pastry, cover and let it soak the syrup.

Turkish coffee - Turk Kahvesi
1 tbsp Sugar
3/4 cup Water
1 tbsp Pulverized Coffee
1 Cardamon Pod (optional)

1 Combine water and sugar in an ibrik or small saucepan. 2 Bring to a boil; then remove from heat and add coffee and cardamon. 3 Stir well and return to heat. 4 When coffee foams up, remove form heat and let grounds settle. 5 Repeat twice more. 6 Pour into cups; let grounds settle before drinking

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Greetings from Istanbul

Since Mabon is almost upon us, I plan to gather and post some recipes from this part of the world in honor of the harvest. The food here is not only delicious, but seasonal as well. Currently the markets and pazars are full of ripe, juicy garnet-red tomatoes, plump eggplants, the sweetest carrots I have ever tasted, and cabbages the size of pumpkins! As I explore this new culture and taste new dishes, I will post my discoveries in this journal.

The connection to the gods and goddesses are still very strong, even though Islam is the predominant religion here. Amulets in the shape of large blue eyes protect buses, businesses, homes and bodies from the evil eye. Many people still hold tightly to beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Livestock roam freely. Bread is a sacred food, a staple of life. The old ways are still very much alive here.