Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Savory Dishes Closing Down

Dear Friends,

Since the contributors to this blog are either too busy at this time, or have their kitchen interests lying elsewhere, it will not be renewed anymore. It will stay online as long as blogger sees fit.
See you in Our Patisserie,


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rana's "Chicken Pizza"

Since my fellow blogger Ceyda (who had incidentally said that she could contribute more to a blog for savory dishes) gave up on this blog, I feel obliged to post about our very ordinary everyday food in a fervent effort to keep it going. This is one such post, in other words, no extraordinary taste combinations here, but those of you with younger children might want to give this dish a try, because it is definitely kid-friendly.

To make it, I first pounded chicken breasts and/or tenderloins. I coated them with a mixture of bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, dried oregano and pepper. After they were nicely pan-fried, they went into a serving platter lined with some pasta sauce. I alternated the cutlets with slices of mozzarella, making sure that the cheese was visible. I framed the dish with more pasta sauce and put it in the oven just until the cheese melted and the whole dish heated through. Serving it with pesto sauce made a nice colorful presentation and definitely added to the overall taste as well. We served it with--you guessed it--pasta.

Note: Come on Ceyda, I do not know how much longer I can keep this going!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Our "Dreaded" Seafood Night

Nobody except Yurdaer really loves seafood in our house. I know, I know, it is a shame! We eat it anyway, but the day of the week I make fish for dinner is not a happy one especially for my children. I must proudly add, however, that nobody really complained when I served these tilapia fillets yesterday. Coming from this bunch, I take silence as a compliment.

I coated the fillets in flour seasoned with white pepper and salt, and sauteed them in olive oil until lightly browned. After I took them to a serving platter, I added some lemon juice, capers and finely chopped red onion to the pan juices, gave it a quick stir and poured it over the fillets.

The starchy component of our dinner was boiled new potatoes. There is a very tasty and equally quick pasta sauce I make when I am pressed with time. I heat some good quality olive oil and add a good amount of grated garlic to it. When the garlic starts to cook, I add salt, a few crushed dry red peppers and a cup of chopped parsley, and cook all for a minute. It doesn't get any easier than this, does it? This time, I used this sauce to toss my boiled and dried potatoes in, and it worked as good as it does with pasta. I will definitely do it again.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Two Summer Salads

I am slowly reclaiming my kitchen after a month of almost no cooking. Here are two easy salads for these hot summer days.

Black Bean Salad

This is a salad everyone likes in our house. I sometimes add a diced avocado and some corn kernels to it, too. Increase the dressing accordingly if you do so.

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 c green onions, sliced
  • 2 tbs red onion, finely chopped
  • A colorful combination of peppers, diced
  • 2 tbs cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs lime (or lemon) juice
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • A small garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper
Put the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Make a dressing using the rest of the ingredients and toss.

Fire Roasted Vegetable Salad

Fire is the best taste enhancer and this salad is a testimony to that claim. You can also add chopped onion and parsley if you wish, but it tastes just fine without them.

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green frying pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2-4 tbs vinegar
  • 6 tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
Fire roast the eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. Put the peppers in a plastic bag and set aside for 20 minutes. Peel the charred skin of the vegetables and wash them. Squeeze the eggplant to remove any juice. Finely chop the vegetables and mix with vinegar, olive oil, mashed garlic to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

Friday, August 05, 2005

We are Back!

So our vacation is over and we are back. We spent some time with our families, saw old friends and made new ones. We've been to some new places as well as visit places of our childhood memories. Oh yes, we spent a few days in our own apartment, too. We have been travelling back and forth for more than 20 years now, but this is the first time we have a roof we can call "our own" in Turkey. I did little more than boiling water for tea and coffee in my kitchen this year, but I am already dreaming about what I can do next year. However, if our vacation was a break for me from cooking, it most certainly was not from eating good food. In fact, I am at a loss for words to tell you about the glorious food of Turkey. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here you go, then...

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

See you in August...

Dear All,

Ceyda and I will leave for Istanbul on July 1st. I wanted to say goodbye on behalf of both of us and to wish you a great summer with your loved ones. The few days we have left will be very busy, so this will be our last post before we leave.

Hope to blog again with you when we return.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

If you are a tomato lover like me, chances are you also like sun dried tomatoes. If that's the case, this pesto is a must for your kitchen. I recently made it to dress a pasta salad, but one can surely think of countless other ways to use it. As usual, I did not measure when I made this, you can just adjust the quantities to your taste.
  • Sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained (reserve the oil)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Garlic cloves, mashed
Just put the above ingredients in a food processor bowl and process. Add the reserved flavored olive oil from the tomatoes and continue to process until you achieve the desired consistency. I have seen alternative recipes adding walnuts, pine nuts or basil as well, but I personally would not want anything to distract from the wonderful concentrated taste of tomatoes. Enjoy.

Grilled Salmon in Vine leaves

By now, some of you may have noticed that I have a hang-up about wasting food. I am perpetually on a cooking/baking mission to use up leftover ingredients from other projects. (In spite of all that, we still waste food. What a shame!) Anyway, I am even more aggrevated than usual these days because we are leaving for Turkey soon, and that refrigerator has to be emptied before we leave! When I caught sight of a half-used jar of grape leaves in brine last Sunday, I knew that I had no time or energy to make stuffed grape leaves, but surely I could wrap the fish fillets we were planning to grill that afternoon in them, could I not? Indeed I did, but since it was a first-time experiment for me, I did not do it for all the fillets. (In retrospect, I wish I had, because everyone thought that it was an elegant presentation and that the grape leaves flavored and kept the fillet juicy.) I made a bed from overlapping vine leaves for each fillet, sprinkled some onion slices and chopped parsley on top, drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil and topped with a bay leaf. Then I carefully made a package of this. Next time, I will brush the whole package with olive oil as they ended up sticking a little to the grill. Later, I realized that this was not a novel idea at all; but hey, what do you know, maybe there is still someone out there who has not heard of it yet. If you haven't tried it before, I whole-heartedly recommend you to try it the next time you grill fish, or in general seafood.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Green Bean and Potato Salad

Since this salad does not come from a cookbook (to the best of my knowledge), I will have difficulty writing the recipe. Let me warn you that I am just guessing the quantities for the ingredient list below; with that understanding, you can adjust them to your taste if you want to make this salad. Since green beans and potatoes also pair very well with pesto sauce, I sometimes make this salad with a lemon juice, pesto and olive oil dressing instead of the one below.

For the Salad:

  • 5-6 thin-skinned potatoes, boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 c green string beans, cooked and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 c red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs capers, drained well
  • 1/2 c parsley, chopped
For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 c vinegar of your choice
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • A dash or two of black pepper
  • 2 fillets of anchovies, mashed
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl. In another, mix all the dressing ingredients except olive oil and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you continuously whisk the dressing. (If you prefer a thicker dressing, you can add 1 tbs sour cream or yogurt.) Toss this with the salad a few hours before serving so that the flavors have time to blend.

Grilled Chicken

We served this at last week's barbecue for the graduates.

3 lb boneless chicken breast pieces
1/2 c olive oil
8 tbs lemon juice
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs of mild red pepper paste
Black pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Let the chicken marinade for several hours or overnight. Grill over a charcoal fire taking care not to overcook. You can also cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and thread it on skewers alternating with cherry tomatoes, cut peppers, onions and mushrooms.

Turkish Meatballs with Coriander

I have never tried fresh coriander before I came to USA. For a while I thought it smelled overwhelming and not pleasant. But now I love it. I basically make up my own recipes with it. These meatballs is my version of "Inegol Kofte". Baking soda gives a chewy texture to the meatballs. It is best that they are consumed soon after they are removed from the oven or the grill. Otherwise while they are cooling they continue cooking.
1lb ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1 garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to broiler setting or prepare your grill. Place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix and knead well. Shape them into little sausages and flatten slightly. Broil or grill 5 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

Smoked Eggplant and Pepper Salad

Today, we had a barbecue at Ayca's house to honor our graduating kids. This salad was the one most liked amongst the dishes I made for the occasion. The original recipe is from Ayla Esen Algar's Classical Turkish Cooking, but I made a few modifications over the years, and I will share with you my version of it.

1 lb eggplant, roasted and peeled (about 1 3/4 c cooked and chopped)
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded
3/4 c chopped onions
1/4 c olive oil
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp garlic puree
1/2 c chopped parsley
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
2 tsp vinegar
Salt to taste

Chop eggplant and pepper and set aside. Cook onions in olive oil until almost reddish brown. Add tomato, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes; cook 2-3 minutes. Add eggplant, pepper and chopped parsley; cover and simmer about 10 minutes; until eggplant is very tender. Stir in garlic, vingar and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

From left to right, Ceyda's daughter Rashida, Zeynep and Ayca's youngest daughter Sema after Zeynep's graduation ceremony

Eggs Scrambled with Tomato and Basil

Ahmed and Mehmed decided to have some fun in the kitchen. The result was a truly gourmet and equally delicious french omelet. Just like I enjoyed watching my mother cooking and later in life that gave me the the pleasure of cooking, our kids are getting influenced the same way by watching us cooking and trying something new or giving a new twist to the usual dishes. What do you think Zinnur? They picked the recipe completely on their own. I am proud of them.


8 to 10 egggs, beaten
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 handful fresh basil leaves and flowers, chopped ( since we did not have fresh basil at hand, they used about 1 tsp dried basil instead )
salt to taste
3 or 4 garlic cloves, flattened with the side of a knife blade
1 bouquet garni of bay leaf, thyme and a celery rib
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsps butter, cut into small pieces

Cook the tomatoes, salted, with the garlic, bouquet garni in the olive oil over low heat_tossing the mixture from time time_until the free liquid is evaporated and the tomatoes seem only to be coated with oil. Discard the garlic and the bouquet garni.

Add the butter to the eggs, season to taste, beat the mixture lightly with a fork and with a wooden spoon, stir it into the tomato mixture, keeping it over low heat and continuing to stir constantly. When the eggs begin to thicken, add the basil, chopped at the last minute to prevent it from blackening. Remove the eggs from the heat just before the desired consistency is achieved and continue stirring. Enjoy!


This recipe is from Classic Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan, a very good cookbook with excellent photography and many regional as well as classic recipes. Topik is a dish that I was not at all familiar with before, but I liked the picture and the recipe seemed promising. Although the book did not mention it, my Internet research revealed that Topik is an Armenian dish traditionally eaten during the seven weeks of Lent when meat and dairy are forbidden. Apparently nowadays it is more widely known as many restaurants in Turkey serve it as a meze. I also saw an appealing alternative serving idea where the chickpea paste was shaped as small balls rather than a bigger pasty.

Zeynep, Yurdaer and I loved Topik. (Mehmet and Rana, who both have a much simpler taste in food, would not touch it.) When I make it again, it will probably be for company who can truly appreciate its sophisticated taste.

4 oz chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours and cooked
4 oz potatoes, peeled and boiled
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp pine nuts
1 tsp currants
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs tahini
Salt and black pepper to taste

Mash the potatoes and chickpeas to a paste. Bind with the olive oil. Mould into a ball and set aside.

For the filling, cook the onion with the garlic in the olive oil. Stir in the pine nuts, currants and sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and bind with the tahini. Season to taste.

Roll the potato and chickpea paste into a rectangle. Spread the filling down the middle and fold over in half, making a large pasty. Pinch the 3 edges together to seal in the filling. Wrap in cheesecloth or waxed paper and rest in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Sprinkle with cinnamon and cut into slices to serve.

Cream of Watercress Soup

Our leftover watercress ended up in this soup which we had for dinner tonight. I wanted to follow this recipe I found on the Internet, but I must confess that I did not pay any attention to quantities. (I am quite spontaneous when I cook, except when I am baking.) Watercress and waxy potatoes paired well and produced a delicate, beautiful colored soup. The only point to note is to add the watercress at the end and to cook it shortly so that the color of the soup remains a bright green.

Watercress Salad

According to Wikipedia, watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. It is a member of the Family Brassicaceae or cabbage family, botanically related to garden cress and mustard — all noteworthy for a peppery, tangy flavor. Watercress contains significant amounts of iron, calcium and folic acid, in addition to vitamins A and C. Many benefits from eating watercress are claimed, such as that it acts as a mild stimulant, a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, a diuretic, an expectorant, and a digestive aid.

I did not know much of the above when I grabbed 3 bunches of watercress on my last trip to the supermarket. They just looked beautiful to me, and I thought that as a salad, they would provide a good break from our recent romaine routine. I had tried watercress in soup and as a sauce ingredient before, but not in a salad. After giving it a thorough triple wash, I saw that some leaves withered a little bit. Next time, I'll do the washing and preparation right before I serve the salad. I had some defrosted cooked flageolet beans in my refrigerator, and I decided to add them to the salad thinking that their earthy flavor will balance out the bitterness of the watercress. I also added some chopped tomatoes, red and green onion, and made a dressing with lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. This really made a refreshing salad, but Yurdaer--who is a true Eagean in his love of all kinds of greenery--said that he can eat watercress as is (like he eats arrugala), so that's how I will serve the rest of my watercress tonight.

Amina's Shower/Henna Night

Last Friday, we had Amina's shower/henna night at Khatija's. It was a potluck and we had many delicious things to eat. What follows is a small sampling of the offerings.

This is Elif's famous fried vegetable dish. It is a combination of fried patatoes, eggplant, zucchini, red and green frying peppers topped with a delicious tomato sauce. Everything is meticulously cut into tiny tiny pieces, so that a spoonful of it contains all the different kinds of vegetables. Although Elif (who is humble to a fault) says that anyone can do it, none of us so far have been able to make it the way she does.

This gift tray was contributed by the same family who brought the petit feurres I extensively wrote about in La Patisserie Jerrahi. I was handling myself quite well in terms of my food intake until this basket appeared. But then again, who can resist homemade puff pastry? There were two kinds, the ones with sesame seeds had a feta cheese filling, while nigella seed ones had a ground meat filling. They were both excellent. Since I thought that puff pastry is out of my league, I did not ask for the recipe, but I have seriously started to think about giving it a try soon. If mine turns out half as good as this one, I'll consider my effort worthwhile.

This tray of stuffed mushrooms were made by my friend Guzide. Although they appeared later in the night when people were quite full, they did not last long. Guzide is an inspired cook who can never make the same thing twice, but I'll try to get the recipe out of her.

These spicy chicken cubes and lamb patties were excellent. They were served on a bed of lightly sauteed onion rings, and there was an equally excellent tamarind sauce to go with them. I have the recipes in my Indian cookbook, and will add them here in the near future.

Lentil Patties

I must have made too much cake lately. All of a sudden, the ingredients for the lentil patties I was preparing for dinner looked so refreshingly beautiful to me that I just had to take some pictures. Of course, I could not capture the colors in their real beauty, but these pictures are still much livelier than the cake pictures I have been posting lately on La Patisserie Jerrahi. So here they are as the first entry on our new blog for savory dishes.

1 c red lentils
3/4 c fine grain cracked wheat
1 finely chopped onion
1/4 c olive oil
1 tbs tomato paste
1/2 tbs red pepper paste
1 c chopped green onions
1 c chopped parsley
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
salt and red pepper flakes

Cook the lentils in 2 1/2 c water. When the lentils are tender and there is very little liquid left, add the cracked wheat to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat so that the wheat softens and the mixture cools.

Meanwhile, cook the chopped onion in olive oil until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato and red pepper pastes. Combine the lentil/wheat mixture, onion mixture and the rest of the ingredients and knead well. Form into patties. Serve with lettuce leaves and more chopped parsley.


Dear Reader,

Almost all the recipes in this blog come from cookbooks with minor modifications we made. We were careful to credit the original source even when the modifications made were not so minor. If you intend to reuse some of the content, I similarly urge you to kindly credit the original source along with Savory Dishes. On the other hand, distribution of the content with intention to profit is not permitted.

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