Monday, January 11, 2016

Chickpea Salad (Nohut Salatasi)

A very filling salad. Goes well with soups for a light dinner.

- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 or 2 stalks green onion, chopped
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 cubanelle pepper or small green pepper, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt
- Paprika

  1. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas with all other ingredients (onion, green onion, parsley, green pepper, and tomatoes).
  2. Dress well with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and paprika.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Green Lentil Noodle Soup (Yesil Mercimekli Sehriye Corbasi)

- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 cup short noodles (or orzo)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon pepper paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Spices: paprika and red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt

  1. Wash and drain the green lentil. Add lentil in a pot. Fill with water. Boil and simmer the lentils until tender.
  2. In another pot, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the pepper paste and tomato paste. Add red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. Add water to the pot. Turn up the heat and let it boil.
  5. Once it boils, add the short noodles or orzo.
  6. Add salt.
  7. About 5-10 minutes after adding the noodles, add the lentils to the pot. 
  8. Add some more hot water if the water reduces much.
  9. Let the lentils and noodles simmer together for about 10 more minutes. 
  10. Turn off the heat once both lentils and noodles are tender. Serve hot.
Bon appetit! Afiyet olsun...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Spaghetti alle Vongole (Spaghetti with Clams / Midyeli Spagetti)

A popular Italian dish. Perfect for romantic dinners for two...

- 1 pound spaghetti (or linguine)
- 1.5 pounds littleneck clams
- 1/4 cup olive oil 
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 cup white wine (such as Pinot Grigio or white Zinfandel)
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup of fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil), chopped
- Salt and black pepper

  1. Boil pasta water in a large pot. Add salt.
  2. Clean the clams very well because they collect lots of sand. I have soaked them in a water filled bowl, and transferred to another water filled bowl, keeping them about 5 minutes in the bowl each time. You can leave them soaked under water about 20 minutes. Then carefully scrub each clam using a brush. Set aside. (Here is a good instruction on how to clean them:
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.
  4. Add the chopped garlic in the saute pan. Saute for a minute while stirring not to burn the garlic.
  5. Add the cleaned clams, wine and lemon juice to the pan. Cover and cook until clams open up about 7-8 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, while clams are cooking, cook pasta. Add spaghetti to the boiling water. Cook as directed on the package until al dente for 7-8 minutes (tender, but still firm so that it will continue cooking with the sauce later). Drain the spaghetti.
  7. Once pasta is al dente and clams are opened up, uncover the clam pan. On high heat, add the drained pasta to the clams. Add butter, salt, and black pepper. 
  8. Stir all together until pasta is covered and cooked with the sauce to desired tenderness (2-3 minutes).
  9. Add the fresh herbs (basil and/or parsley).
  10. Serve hot with white wine (I used Beringer white Zinfandel).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


A specialty from my hometown, Mersin. Tantuni, a special beef wrap, is the love of all Mersinians...

- 1 pound beef, chopped finely (or lean ground beef for a simpler version)
- Salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Spices: paprika and red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon each)
- 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped finely
- 2 tomatoes, diced finely
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- Flour tortillas, about 8 pieces (originally lavash bread, which may be hard to find)

  1. Add the chopped beef or ground beef in a pot. Cover and cook on medium heat. Add salt and stir occasionally. Turn off the heat when the meat absorbs the juices. (This is done to make the beef softer before sauteing the beef in a pan.)

     2. In the meantime, prepare the salad mix. Place chopped parsley, diced tomatoes, and sliced onions on a platter. No need to mix, keep them separate.

     3. Heat oil in a pan. Add cooked beef. Stir a few on medium heat. Add paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir some more. Add a few tablespoons of hot water. Stir some more.

    4. Place a tortilla bread on top of the beef. Press slightly to spread juices to the bread. Turn off the heat.

     5. Put the tortilla bread on the plate sauced side up. Take a few tablespoons of beef, and spread it vertically on the bread. Spread some parsley, tomatoes, and onions on top of the beef. Add salt to taste. Wrap like a thin burrito.

     6. Serve hot. Drizzle lemon juice to the wrap after each bite.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Roast Chicken with Potatoes (Firinda Patatesli Tavuk Tava)

- 6 pieces of chicken baguettes
- 3 potatoes, peeled ad sliced half moon
- 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
- 2 big onions, sliced half moon
- 2 big tomatoes, sliced half moon
- 2 cubanelle peppers, sliced coarsely
- 2 tablespoons pepper paste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cup hot water
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt
- Spice to taste: 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel and slice the potatoes and put them on a baking tray. They should not be very thick or thin, about 1/2 inch thick is fine.

     3. Add chicken baguettes.

     4. Slice and add each vegetable to the tray: onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and chopped garlic.

     5. Drizzle olive oil on top.
     6. In a bowl, combine water with salt (about 1 teaspoonful), tomato paste and pepper paste. Add spices (black pepper, red pepper, and paprika). Stir the mixture well until the paste loosens. Pour the mixture over the chicken and veggies. Mix everything well, make sure all veggies and chicken are covered with the paste sauce. 

    7. Bake in the oven until potatoes are soft (about 40 minutes). Broil at low for another 5 minutes to slightly brown the top.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Pogaca is a salty delicious pastry that Turkish people eat during breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea-time, basically anywhere, anytime. It is made of a soft yeasted dough, and filled with various fillings such as different kinds of cheese, olives, potatoes, etc. Turkish moms are used to preparing this kind of pastries in an instant, but this recipe may be challenging for novice chefs.

- 2 packages dry yeast (1/2 oz or 14 gr)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup liquid oil (vegetable or olive oil)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 pounds all purpose flour

For the Filling:
- Cheese filling: 1/2 pound feta cheese (you can add herbs if you want such as a handful of chopped parsley or dill), or small mozzarella slices
- Olive filling: Pitted olives, chopped
- Potato filling: Baked mashed potatoes, seasoned with black peppers and herbs

For Garnish:
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds ( I used both brown and black sesame seeds)

  1. In a deep bowl, add dry yeast and sugar. Add in the lukewarm water (the water should be around 100-110 degrees F, otherwise the yeast will not wake up in cold water, or it will die in hot water). Stir well with a wooden spoon, and set aside for 10 minutes for the mix to foam.

     2. Set aside 1 egg yolk in a small cup to use later. Add the remaining egg white and the remaining whole egg into the yeast-sugar-water mixture.
     3. Add in the margarine. If the margarine is not at the room temperature, melt it slightly in a sauce pan.
     4. Add in the liquid oil.
     5. Add in milk.
     6. Add salt. Mix well all the wet ingredients.

     7. Sift the flour (about 6-7 cups). Slowly add the flour into the wet ingredients. Mix all. Knead well until you get a very soft dough that does not stick to your hands.
     8. Place the dough in a deep bowl. Cover with stretch foil. Set aside for about one hour for the dough to rise.

     9 .After the dough rises, sprinkle some flour on a flat surface and place the dough on the surface. Knead 2-3 more minutes to get a soft smooth  dough.

     10. Divide the dough in 2 or 3 big pieces. Take one piece, and set the other pieces aside. Roll over the dough to obtain a long shape like a cylinder. Cut small individual pieces from the dough (about the size of a small orange).

     11. Flatten this small piece with your hands. Put down and make a dent in the middle. Fill the dent with the filling of your preference (I have used both cheese-parsley and olive filling). Fold the dough slowly and seal the ends by pressing the opening with your finger.

     12. Fill in and seal all individual pieces and place on a baking sheet.

     13. Brush the top of the dough with the egg yolk that you kept aside.

     14. Take a fork and press down the tip of the fork slightly on top of the doughs to make scratch marks.

     15. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

     16. Set aside for another 30 minutes for the dough to rise.
     17. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
     18. Bake for about 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Bon App├ętit...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Egg Salad (Yumurta Salatasi)

Perfect for breakfast, brunch or lunch... A light and delicious Mediterranean taste.

- 2 eggs
- 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 small onion, sliced
- 1 lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- Salt
Optional: Olive oil

  1. Hard boil the eggs (simmer eggs in a saucepan on medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes).
  2. Combine chopped parsley and sliced onion in a plate. Squeeze lemon, sprinkle some salt and sumac. Mix well.
  3. Slice the hard-boiled eggs on top of the salad. Sprinkle some more salt and sumac on top of the eggs. 
  4. If preferred, drizzle some olive oil. And ready to serve...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beets with Yogurt (Yogurtlu Pancar)

- 1 beet root (or 1 can of sliced beets)
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mayo
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
- A handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
- Salt

  1. If using beet root: Wash and boil in a pot until tender (about 40-50 minutes). Set aside to cool, and then peel. Shred or chop finely (I chopped in a small food chopper).
  2. If using a can of sliced beets: Just shred or chop finely (I chopped in a small food chopper).
  3.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Garnish with dill and a slice of beet. Serve chilled.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bulgur Wheat Stuffed Collard Greens (Bulgurlu Kara Lahana Dolmasi)

Most people like it with ground beef, but I like the vegetarian version more...

- 3 bunches of collard greens or Swiss chard
(I used 1 bunch collard greens, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 1 bunch dinosaur kale)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 big onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
- 1 cubanelle pepper,chopped
- 2 tablespoons pepper or tomato paste (I used a mix of them)
- 4 tomatoes, petite diced
- 3 cups coarse bulgur wheat
- 1 bunch of fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used a mix of parsley, dill and mint)
- 1 lemon zest
- 2-3 lemon juice
- Spices: 2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt
- Hot water

- For the sauce: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons pepper paste or tomato paste, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 cloves garlic-finely chopped, 1 lemon juice, a few tablespoons hot water

  1. Wash and drain the collard greens. Cut the veins as in the picture below.

     2. Heat water in a deep pot and simmer the collard greens for 3-4 minutes. Take them out using a slotted spoon, and shock them in an ice water to stop the cooking and prevent the color from fading. Drain and set them aside.
     3.  In a deep pan, saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add cubanelle pepper and green onions, stir a few more minutes.
     4. Add pepper/tomato paste. Stir some more. Add tomatoes, stir a few more minutes. Add bulgur wheat, fresh herbs, lemon zest, juice of 2 lemons, spices, and salt. Stir and mix well. Add 2 cups hot water. Cover and cook in low heat until bulgur absorbs the water (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat.
     5. Set yourself a workstation to stuff and wrap the leaves as in the picture below. Have the greens in one bowl (I also added a few cubanelle peppers, zucchini, and eggplant to stuff). Have the bulgur stuffing in another pot. Have an empty pot to place the stuffed leaves. Finally, have a flat surface to use for wrapping the leaves.

 6. To wrap the leaves, do as in the picture below. 1) Lay down a leaf, veined side up. 2) Overlap the leaf edges to close the gap in between. 3) Put a tablespoon of filling on the bottom of the leaf. 4) Wrap tightly from the bottom up. 5) Seal tight the right and left sides. 6) Continue rolling up tightly until the end. Place it neatly in the pot, sealed side down.

     7. Fill all the leaves (and other veggies if you have) until the filling or the leaves end. If more stuffing is left, you can cook it later adding some more hot water and serve it as bulgur pilaf.
     8. After all the leaves (and veggies) are filled, pour hot water in the pot just enough to cover the leaves. Pour the water slowly to prevent the stuffed leaves from falling out. Add some more salt and mint flakes if desired, and 1 lemon juice on top.
     9. Place a small plate upside down on top of the leaves to prevent them from falling out while cooking.
     10. Turn on the heat. Simmer covered on low/medium heat for about half an hour until the leaves and bulgur are soft.
     11. Serve hot or at room temperature. I add a special sauce on top. It is also popular to eat with yogurt.
     12. For the sauce: Heat olive oil in a pan. Add pepper/tomato paste. Add finely chopped garlic, your favorite spices. Stir a few. Add lemon juice and some hot water until desired consistency. Cook for a few minutes on low heat. Drizzle on top of stuffed leaves while serving.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bread in Tomato Lemon Sauce (Domates Limonlu Ekmek)

One of mom's masterpieces... So good for breakfast or brunch, or as an appetizer.

- 3 tomatoes, peeled and diced or crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon pepper paste
- Salt, pepper
- 1 or 2 lemon juice to taste
- Bread slices (preferably hard breads such as baguette, ciabatta or toasted breads)


  1. Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat.
  2. Add in chopped onion. Stir a few minutes.
  3. Add pepper paste and tomato paste. Stir about a minute.
  4. Add diced or crushed tomatoes. Cook on low heat about 5-10 minutes until they are mashed. Add some hot water to keep the juice run.
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add lemon juice. Stir well. 
  7. Add bread slices into the pan. Cover well. Turn the other side. Cover both sides well with the sauce. Place on a platter. 
  8. Add some hot water. Adjust the lemon juice and seasoning. Add the second round of breads. Cover well. Add to the platter. 
  9. Do this until the sauce is over. You can spread the last batch of sauce over the breads on the platter. It depends on how much sauce you want to use for your breads.
  10. Enjoy!
Note: You can add garlic just after adding tomatoes in the pan. It'll taste even more Mediterranean with garlic.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sultan's Delight (Hunkar Begendi)

- 2 large eggplants (or 5-6 Chinese eggplants)
For the bechamel sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter or oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- Salt, black pepper

For the meat sauce:
- 1 pound lamb or beef for stew
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon pepper paste
- Salt, black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Using a fork, poke holes in eggplants. Put on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes until tender.
  3.  Take eggplants from the oven. Place on a strainer for 10-15 minutes to rid off the juices (with bitter taste). Peel, and mash or dice finely. Put in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the meat sauce. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Add meat. Cook on low/medium heat until it absorbs the liquid. Add onions and garlic. Stir a few. Add flour. Stir some more. Add tomato paste and pepper paste, salt and pepper. Turn down heat to very low. Cover and let it cook slowly. If it gets dry, add some hot water.
  5. In the meantime, heat 3 tablespoons butter or oil in a pan. Add flour. Stir  constantly about 2 minutes over medium heat. Slowly add milk while still stirring. Stir continuously until it boils. Add salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to low/medium. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it thickens.
  6. Turn the heat off. In a large dish, mix bechamel sauce with the eggplants. Place on a platter. Top with the meat sauce. Enjoy!

    Thursday, January 9, 2014

    Stuffed Kofte (Icli Kofte)

    For the Filling:
    - 1 pound lean ground beef
    - 1 tablespoon butter or oil
    - 2 medium onions, chopped
    - 1 cup parsley, chopped
    - 1 cup walnut, chopped
    - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or paprika
    - 1 teaspoon cumin
    - Salt and black pepper to taste

    For the bulgur dough:
    - 1 pound fine or extra fine bulgur
    - 1/2 cup semolina
    - 1/4 cup flour
    - 1/2 pound lean ground beef
    - 1 egg
    - 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    - 1 tablespoon pepper paste
    - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or paprika
    - Salt and black pepper to taste
    - Hot water

    1. Start by preparing the filling. Melt butter in a pan. Saute chopped onions. Add in ground beef. Cook covered. After the liquid is absorbed, add spices, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Add walnuts and parsley. Mix well. Set aside.
    2. Prepare the dough. It is better to ground the ground beef again in a food processor.
    3. In a large bowl, add hot water to bulgur just enough to cover it. Cover and let it rise. After bulgur rises, add all ingredients and knead about 10-15 minutes until it becomes a soft dough.
    4. In a deep bowl, place some warm water. It will be used to wet hands constantly when making the shells out of the bulgur dough.
    5. Take a handful of the dough and roll in your hands, make a hole in the middle trying not to tear the edges.
    6. Fill in the hole with the filling. And roll within your palms to close the shell. Wet your hands constantly to prevent tearing the shell. This video shows how to make the shells:
    7.  Place them on a tray not touching each other.

          8.  Multiple options for cooking:
    Option 1: In a deep pot, boil water. Add some salt. Place koftes in the simmering water one by one. They are ready in a few minutes, once they float on the surface.

    Option 2: Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry all sides of the shells until brown.

    - Try to make as thin shells as possible without tearing them. Thicker ones are not as tasty, but thin ones are hard to have without cracks.
    - For storing: Once placed on a tray, freeze the koftes in the freezer. Once freezed, place them in a ziploc bag. Before frying them later, thaw at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2013

    Vegetable Christmas Tree

    - 1 bunch of broccoli
    - 1 head of cauliflower (I used a frozen bag)
    - 1 small bag of baby carrots
    - A few grape tomatoes
    - 1 orange, yellow, or red pepper (can be mini sweet peppers)


    1. Cut broccoli florets. Simmer in boiling water for about 5 minutes.
    2. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. Take out broccoli florets from boiling water, and shock in the icy water to stop cooking and to keep the colors from fading. Few minutes later, drain broccoli on a paper towel.
    3. Do the same to cauliflower florets: Simmer in boiling water about 5 minutes and shock in icy water. Drain on a paper towel.
    4. On a plain plate, put a tiny broccoli root as the tree trunk. Then, put florets one by one in the shape of a tree.
    5. Below the tree, put cauliflower florets to represent the snowy base.
         6.  Cut a star shape from the yellow, orange, or red pepper. Put it on top of the tree.
         7.  Place a few grape tomatoes as ornaments to the tree.
         8.  Cut a long strip from the pepper. Start from the bottom and make one long slice till you come to the tip of the pepper. Then cut this long strip into few strips according to where you want to place these strips. I made four thin strips.
         9.  Place baby carrots alongside the tree.
        10.  Finally, as the snow, sprinkle some yogurt on the tree.  
        11.  I love eating these veggies with a garlic-yogurt sauce. Just add 1 small garlic clove (crushed) to 1 cup yogurt, sprinkle salt and paprika to your taste, and drizzle on top of the tree.

    Merry Christmas!

    Friday, October 18, 2013

    Watermelon Salad with Feta Cheese (Karpuzlu Beyaz Peynirli Salata)

    Perfect light salad. Especially for summer breakfasts...

    - 2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
    - 1/2 small red onion, diced
    - 1 bag of salad greens (I used spring mix, 5 oz.)
    - 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
    - 1 cup feta cheese, diced or crumbled
    - 1/2 cup pitted olives, sliced
    - 2 tablespoons olive oil
    - 1 tablespoon white vinegar
    - 1/2 lemon juice
    - Salt
    - Optional: Balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top


    1. Add all ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Drizzle with olive oil, white vinegar, and lemon juice. Sprinkle salt.
    3. Mix well. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if preferred.