Thursday, October 7, 2010

Potato Börek

Oh borek!  Yum!  In Turkey börek can take on many shape, forms and fillings.  I love börek because it keeps well in the fridge, freezes well and reheats well.  I often make it for Bulent’s breakfast since he likes a hearty breakfast and he can take it out the of fridge and microwave it.   This is made from yufka but you could use savory phyllo dough. 

Pan ‘O Börek


Just one piece



Potato Börek


3-5  Large potatoes, boiled and smashed or broken up
2 onion, diced and sautéed
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp of red pepper depending on how spicy you want it.

Moist Mix

2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup oil

Boil the potatoes then mash them or mush them into smaller pieces.  I like to have them be more chopped than mashed because then you bite into pieces of potato, which has more contrast.  In a saucepan sauté onion in oil, then add to the potatoes.  Then add the spices and mix in.   In a bowl, place the eggs, oil and milk whisk them.  Reserve 1 cup for later.
If you are using Turkish yufka (about 1 kilo) stack them on top of each other an cut them into four equal (triangular) pieces.  If you are using phyllo dough do the same thing.  You will need two sheets of thickness to make the borek.  Brush the moist mix all over the pieces of dough.  Place a small amount of the potato filling(2-3 tablespoons) on the wide side and spread evenly. Starting with the filled end roll up the dough.  The roll the cylindrical dough into a spiral shape. Repeat until you have used all the dough.  Put the spirals side by side in a greased pan.  Do not leave any room, they will not swell.  Using the reserved moist mix, pour the liquid on top and bake 35-45 minutes at 350 F.  Until they are golden brown.  Serve warm.  These freeze very well, defrost them, put them in the oven to re-crisp and they are like new!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yellow Layer Cake

I baked both of those cakes. Only one was edible. Sometimes that is how the game goes. There are no boxed cakes here. Well--If I want I could buy one from the American pazar. Smuggled Betty Crocker Cake mix costs about 25 Lira a box. However, it offends my sense of frugality. So I was looking for a good yellow/birthday cake, and I found it. I used this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen, (this is an awesome blog.)

To achieve the mess on the left only use 2 cups of flour because maybe you were drinking wine while baking—not recommended. To achieve the height on the right, use the right amount of flour. In Turkey they do not sell buttermilk, so instead of adding vinegar to milk (my normal substitute) I used Kefir, and the cake turned out great)

Yellow Layer Cake
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken (or kefir)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (Smitten Kitchen recommended this and I found it to work like a charm. No weird bubbles. Bake until gold and a tooth pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Turn upside down onto rack cool complete.
Makes two 9 inch layers

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sweet, savory, simple: Lunch!

Next time you visit Wellesley, stop by Harvard Square and recharge at cozy Crema Café. It'll change your perception of sliced bread! I was so taken by their sweet potato and goat cheese sandwich that I created my own version. It satisfies my craving for a simple, filling yet refreshing lunch. Plus, the tart apple, onion, and goat cheese complement the maple syrup and sweet potato very nicely.

Bread (toasted -- grainier types work well)
1 sweet potato or yam, peeled
A few slices of Granny Smith apple
Goat cheese
Maple syrup
Onion (Red onion is best)

1. Preheat your oven to about 315 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking dish with aluminum foil.

2. Slice the sweet potato into circles about 1/8-1/4" thick. Butter both sides of the slices and arrange in the dish. Bake for about 15 mins, then turn over and bake for another 15 adding more butter if they seem dry. They should be pumpkin colored and feel soft when poked through with a fork. The baking time will depend on the thickness of your slices, so bake longer if you need.

When done, remove dish and drizzle a bit of maple syrup on the slices. Let them cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, thinly slice the apple and onion. The amount used is to your taste. I prefer my sandwich with one layer of apples with a few small circles of onion sprinkled on top.

4. Spread goat cheese on the bread. Arrange sweet potato slices, apples, and onion on top. Drizzle a bit more syrup on, if you like.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grown Up Mac N Cheese

I love Mac N Cheese! One of my favorite things about it is that it is very versatile. You can add veggies, or meat. Growing up my mom used to add stewed tomatoes or chunks of ham. Yum! The other day I wanted a fancier Mac N cheese without the chunks of veggies. I decided to blend the additions right into the roux, and it was a success.

Mac N Cheese (Mom’s Recipe Re-Mixed)

White sauce
6 tablespoons of butter
6 tablespoons of flour
1.5 C milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
1 lb pasta (any) al dente (firm)
Bread Crumbs


4 Red Peppers chopped
1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced

Melt the butter on low heat, add in the flour. Stir until bubbles appear - cook for 2-3 mines. Add 1.5 C milk slowly - stirring constantly. Blend the Peppers, onions and garlic until smooth and add to the roux. Add approx 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 lb pasta (any) al dente (firm)

Mix together and bake covered till hot about 15 minutes

Take off cover, add (buttered) bread crumbs & grated cheese mixture - bake a few more ins or broil for a minute...watching constantly. It burns quickly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Cold Out There: French Onion Soup

After my holiday post-holiday transition from 78° Los Angeles to the pushing-30 east coast, I decided it was time to try my hand at soup. This recipe takes a few hours to make but most of the time is passive (the onions go into the oven twice, for an hour each time). But all said and done, the soup turned out really well and would be easy to double or half. From Americas Test Kitchen:

Soup (Serves 6)
3tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (see illustration below)
Table Salt
2cups water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2cup dry sherry
4cups low sodium-chicken broth
2cups beef broth
6sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine
1bay leaf
Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons
1small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
8ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)

1. For the soup: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray inside of heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.

2. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat to medium if onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.) Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

4. For the croutons: While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

5. To serve: Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Start the New Year Out Right

With mimosas. We did. This morning I wanted to make something special for breakfast. What is better than pancakes and eggs? Blackberry pancakes and eggs with a Mimosa using fresh squeezed orange juice. Yes that is right, mimosas with breakfast. My main motivation was economics—I wanted use up the champagne from last night before it went flat. Sure that was the reason.

The fruit pancakes were special because I had to buy and freeze the berries in August. In Turkey they sell fruits and vegetables seasonally. This means certain things are only available certain times of the year. Berries are only found in specialty stores at at exorbitant prices this time of year. I bought the berries in season then washed and froze them so I could use them for occasions like this.

Blackberry Pancakes and Mimosas

2 cups of Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 tsp of Salt
2 cups of Milk
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well, separately combine the wet ingredients an mix well. Afterwards combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix or the pancakes will be tough.

Heat your skillet with butter or a little oil and pour pancake batter in (about an 1/8 of a cup each). Sprinkle 3-6 berries in each pancake. Flip when pancakes have bubbles appear on top.

For Mimosa

2 parts orange juice (I used fresh squeezed)
3 parts sparking wine or champagne.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Kentucky Holiday Treat- Bourbon Balls

So, I have the wonderful fortune to a. be a pretty terrible cook and b. not have a functioning oven.

So I try to get creative when it comes to what to bring to holiday parties, and I look back to my Kentucky-born roots for a simple, easy, no-bake recipe: bourbon balls!

My favorite recipe is here:

My notes to this recipe:
1. I use 1 1/4 cup of crushed nilla wafers (instead of just 1 cup).
2. When you are ready to roll the bourbon balls, roll them all at once, then roll them in the powdered sugar. If you roll them in the powdered sugar as you roll the balls, you'll find that the sugar on your hands makes it tougher for the next few that you touch to stick together.
3. No need to refrigerate before you serve! You can take them immediately to a party, if you are like me and always running late anyway.

My only cautionary note for when you actually bring them to the party: they look deceptively like doughnut holes, so make sure you label them. (A bourbon balls on its own is delicious; a bourbon ball when you're expecting a doughnut hole is significantly less delicious.)