Category Archives: Savory

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Like everyone else that I know, one of Seyfi and mine`s new years resolutions is to eat more healthy.  It`s not that we have a very unhealthy diet, but we have days where we can get a bit lazy, and eat anything, not thinking about the health benefits of it.

On this same track, we have decided that we should eat more vegetables, less meat, and try out as many new recipes as we can.

So far it is going really well.  We both feel so much better, more energetic, and the girls are eating everything so far as well.

Part of the new foods we have been eating is brussels sprouts.

I have never really liked brussels sprouts, the are a bit stinky, and have an odd taste.

Growing up my brother and I used to share one, just to be able to say that we had at least tried one.

I decided to give them a try, they do seem to be very trendy right now, and we are so close to Brussels, and they are in season…

However, I decided that I would not cook them the way my mother does… she boils them, and calls them delicious…

I found this recipe for them roasted with a Honey-Dijon sauce on them, they are so delicious!  I swapped out the honey for agave syrup so that Ela could have some as well.

If you think you don`t like brussels sprouts, give this recipe a try, it just may change your mind!

Honey-Dijon Brussels Sprouts

Adapted from Parents Magazine

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1 c. boiling water

2 Tbsp. agave syrup

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 kg. trimmed and quartered Brussels sprouts

1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 C.  Soak the cranberries in the boiling water for 5 minutes and then drain the water.

In a large bowl, mix the agave syrup, oil, mustard, salt and pepper.  Add the cranberries, brussels sprouts and walnuts.  Toss well.

Spread the dressed brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet.   Roast for 30 minutes or until the brussels sprouts are tender, and the leaves are just beginning to brown.

Enjoy!

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How to Poach an Egg


I’ve tried to poach eggs before, and it has always ended in disaster.

Soggy, undercooked eggs that are slimy.

I think I know now what the problem was, I wasn’t using fresh eggs.

Well, now that I’ve got loads of fresh eggs (ok, two to four eggs a day), I thought I would try poaching them again.

I’ve been working on this skill for the past week, and I think I’ve got it down now.

Here is my step by step guide to…

A Perfect Poached Egg


Start with a pot of water that has got about five centimeters of simmering water in it. Make sure that it hasn’t come to a rolling boil.

Crack a fresh egg into a separate bowl.


Pour your egg into the pot of water and let it sit for a few seconds. You can pull the edges of the egg up onto itself if necessary. This egg was really fresh, so it kept together really well.

Let it cook for about two minutes if you like your eggs drippy (runny, whatever adjective you use to describe an egg that you can dip toast into.)


When it is cooked to your liking, lift the egg out with a slotted spoon.


Let it dry a bit on some paper towel.


Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Very easy, and very delicious!

Chicken Cacciatore


This week has been feeling a bit crazy for some reason.

Probably because Alara’s normal school has been on break, so we have sent her to an art class in the afternoons.

The art class is actually really great. She is going to an artist studio with some other kids, and they are making art together. She is loving it!

The only problem for me is that the class finishes at five, and then we come home for a bit, and then head out to get Seyfi from work.

This time lapse means that I need to be cooking something that is a bit forgiving… Something that can sit for a bit and still be delicious.

This chicken cacciatore is just that. Easy to throw together, than throw it in the oven, pull it out and it can rest.

Here’s the recipe:

4 chicken legs
1 red pepper, sliced a bit large
1 onion, largely sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 can of tomatoes
1 cup of tomato sauce (plain)
1 Tbsp basil
1 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C
In a big oven dish mix all the ingredients together, covering the chicken.
Cover with tin foil.
Bake for twenty minutes.
Remove the cover and bake for twenty more minutes.
Serve.

I served it with rice, but I’m sure pasta would be nice too.

Seyfi Cooks – Hūnkar Beğendi (Sultan’s Delight)


Did you know, I’m married to a pretty amazing guy.

I’ve truly never met anyone like him in my life. One of the things I love most about him is how he is always trying to improve himself, never happy with how he is, he always wants to learn, do or be something more.

Learn a new language, get a second masters degree, learn to play guitar, keep fit, and now, his newest adventure, cooking.

Seyfi grew up in a pretty typical Turkish home, mom cooked, dad and kids ate. In fact, I don’t think Seyfi was really even allowed to be in the kitchen.

When we met, cooking was not a skill that he possessed, and to be honest, that was fine by me. I like preparing meals for my man, showing him how much I love him with all the thought and care I put into the things we ate.

Then we had a baby, and then another one, and although I can still keep up with all the daily cooking, I think Seyfi wants to give me a bit of a break, so he has taken up cooking at the weekends, and it has been a big help.

He even does the dishes!

Hünkar Beğendi is a pretty famous Turkish dish, and it isn’t that easy to make, but boy, can Seyfi ever make it well!

First, let me tell you, it involves eggplant, before your run away screaming (or calling it ‘crap plant’ like my brother does), the eggplant tastes so good in this dish, that if I hadn’t told you it was there, you wouldn’t have even known it!

Trust me!

So here’s the recipe, if you can, grill the eggplants on a barbecue, the smokey taste makes it even better!

Hūnkar Beğendi

500 grams lamb, cubed
5 Tbsp oil
2 tomatoes, cubed
4 eggplants
2 onions, chopped
2 heaping Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 cups kaşar cheese, grated (cheddar can also work)
Salt
1 lemon’s juice

Grill the eggplant over a barbecue, gas stove top, or in your oven, until soft. Allow to cool and peel, and smush, in a bowl, add the juice of one lemon and let it rest.
In a pan, sauté the lamb in three tbsps of oil, when browned, add the tomatoes and onions until all is soft.
In a separate pot, heat the last two Tbsps of oil, add the flour, and allow to brown, add the milk, slowly, until it starts to thicken.
Drain any extra liquid off the eggplant and add to the milk mixture. Mixing well so that it stays smooth.
Add the cheese, and let it melt, it should be thick, and bubbling.

To serve, put a generous spoonful of the eggplant purée in the middle of the plate, and then top with the lamb.

White Bean Hummus

If you asked Seyfi what is comfort food is, he would tell you kuru fasulye, braised white beans. Traditionally made with onions, peppers and tomatoes, served with rice and pickles, I have never met a Turk who didn’t love it.

Last week, I decided to make some for him, so I put my dried beans into a bowl of water to soak over night, and went to bed. They next morning when I went to start making my beans in my slow cooker, I realized that Seyfi would only be eating with us that night for the next few days. I had soaked too many beans.

I thought to myself, what should I do with the extra beans? I could freeze them, but there really wasn’t enough to make another full batch of kuru fasulye. I could make them into a soup, but that was my plan for what ever kuru fasulye was left over. Then I thought, if the were chick peas that I had made too many of, I would make hummus… Hummus…

What a great idea!

White bean hummus!

Now I was left with a new dilemma, with no tahini in the house, I was going to have to put a new twist on ‘hummus.’

White beans by themselves of course are delicious, but let’s be honest, they taste like beans! And who wants to spread that on a cracker?

I threw the beans into my food processor, and searched through the fridge… That is how I came up with this delicious recipe.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

White Bean Hummus

2 cups of cooked white beans
8 sun dried tomatoes (oil packed)
1 handful of fresh basil
1 clove of garlic
Olive oil (I started with the oil that the tomatoes were in, then moved on to normal)
Salt and pepper

In your food processor, pulse your beans, tomatoes, basil and garlic until everything is coming together, drizzle in your oils until the hummus is smooth. Pulse in some salt and pepper.

This tastes really good on crackers, or as a spread on a sandwich.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Vegan, Gluten Free, Stuffed Grape Leaves


Here we are in Istanbul, enjoying some beautiful weather, and even more importantly, some beautiful food.

My mother in law has got to be one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. She puts so much effort and care into every dish that she makes, you can taste the love.

Since we’ve been gone, she has slightly changed the way she makes her stuffed grape leaves. The change isn’t with the taste, it’s with the look of them. She use to roll hundreds of little small rolls, not any more. Now she is making them bigger.

She says she is getting older, and that making them this way is easier for her. She no longer has to sit and roll leaves for hours, she says it has cut the time in half.

I think that as long as she is still making them for us, all is good!

Usually, when we get together, her and I take a morning, watch a movie and roll up a lot of grape leaves, cabbage and stuff some peppers. We cook it all up, and then freeze most of it so that there are always some ready to eat.

It’s so much more fun to do it with some one else. A few months ago, I made them at home alone, and it just wasn’t the same without someone to talk to.

This recipe is actually really easy, and it doesn’t need to be measured exactly, you can add or leave out as many of the spices according to what you like, or what you have on hand. You can also use this stuffing recipe to stuff whatever you have on hand, grape leaves, cabbage, peppers, onions, zucchini, eggplant or tomatoes…

My Mother in Laws Stuffed Grape Leaves

Grape leaves (at least thirty, rinsed and ready to go)

2 cups of rice, soaked and rinsed, drained
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 tomato
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 small handful of fresh dill
1 tbsp oregano
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Lemon

Put two tbsp of the olive oil, and lightly fry the rice until it starts to go transparent.

In a food processor, finely chop the onion, green pepper, tomato, parsley, and dill.

Mix the rice, vegetables and the remaining seasonings in a bowl.

Take a grape leaf in the palm of your hand, or flat on a board in front of you, put a line of the rice mixture along the bottom. Fold up the bottom, and then fold the two sides over and roll in up.

Put the stuffed grape leaves into a pot, and continue rolling and putting them close together in your pot until you run out of leaves or stuffing.

Slice some lemon, and cover the top of the grape leaves. Fill with boiling water and continue cooking until the water is gone, but the bottom isn’t burnt. If the water is gone, but they are not cooked, add some more boiling water.

I’ve also cooked these in the oven in an earthenware pot.

Serving Suggestion- serve hot with plain yoghurt, or let them cool, and eat alone.

Freeze some of them, and reheat them as needed. If you have stuffing left over, you can also freeze that!

French onion soup dip- no mix!


I know I have mentioned before how we have some great groups of friends here in Belgium, and today I am going to talk about some more…

There is another couple of Turks here who are about the same age as us, and are expecting their first baby. We have been come very good friends with them, although I will confess that when we are together, I don’t feel as ‘cool’ as them!

That’s another story…

One of the things we like doing with each other is just coming together to watch movies in the evening. Last week we watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, very good. Last night we watched the new version of True Grit, not my favorite.

Whoever’s house we are at, they put out a little spread of snacks (the usual suspects of cheese and crackers, chips, olives etc.).

Last night they came over to us, I was craving veggies and dip, (and chips and dip). I absolutely love French onion soup dip. Previously, I made it with soup mixes, but last night I didn’t have any mixes, and really doesn’t everything taste better from scratch anyway?

This dip sure does, my friend and I ate the whole bowl (luckily I made lots, and had kept another bowl in the fridge to be eaten today!)

Well here is the recipe, just in time for new years…

French Onion Soup Dip

3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
1 cup fresh cheese
1 cup plain yoghurt (I use this amazingly cream Turkish yoghurt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a frying pan, caramelize the onions in the oil until they are a bit crispy. It takes a bit of time. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the cheese and yoghurt, add the cooled onions and the salt, pepper and thyme.

Let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the flavours can all come together.

Serve with veggies, chips or a spoon!