Thursday, April 17, 2014

Purslane Salad with Garlic Dressing / Semizotu Salatası

Writer's Note:  It's been ages since I've posted.  Since my last post I got hitched, bought a house, and got pregnant.  It's been a busy couple of years but I am hoping to reinvigorate this blog this year.  This is my all-time favorite salad -- purslane with lemon garlic dressing.  It's difficult to find purslane in the States and when you do, it is probably expensive even though it is considered a weed here.  I've planted it in my garden this year so hopefully in a few months I'll be posting even more recipes.


1 large bunch purslane, leaves picked and stems discarded
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil

DirectionsUsing a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic cloves and 1/3 teaspoon salt to a fine paste.  Using a fork, mix the garlic paste, olive oil, and lemon juice to make the dressing.  Dress the purslane leaves and serve.  Purslane leaves are delicate and should not be left in the dressing for more than a few hours.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Perfect Summer Salad

Writer's Note: It's hot.  Almost too hot to eat.  But if you must eat, eat this.  It is the perfect summer salad -- something about the dill, lemon and salt create a blissful dressing that you will find yourself going back to over and over again.  Simple, clean, and ideal for a hot summer night.

2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
1 large cucumber, peeled, quartered and sliced thin
3 large sprigs dill, minced
juice from half a lemon
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 tsp. salt


Mis the ingredient and allow the tomato and cucumber to marinate in the dressing for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The salt is an important component of the dressing -- do not leave it out!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Turkish Sausage in Tomato Sauce / Domatesli Sucuk

Writer's Note:  Breakfast sucuk, a dry spicy beef sausage, is a time-honored Turkish tradition.  Fried in butter, grilled on the bbq, braised in tomatoes, and even cooked on a spit over an open flame, it is one of the heartiest breakfast treats.  I am particularly fond of sucuk browned in a skillet and then cooked with tomatoes, red peppers, jalapenos, and a little butter.  If you can't find sucuk at your local Turkish grocer, you can order my favorite brand on-line at


 1/2 lb. of sucuk, unwrapped, and cut into 1/2 inch half-moons
1 red pepper, cored, and cut into thick 2 inch strips
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, tomatoes cut into 3-4 pieces
1 jalapeno, cored, and diced
2-3 tbsp. unsalted butter


Brown sucuk in dry skillet over medium-high heat until slightly browned on both sides -- it will release its own cooking oil after a few minutes.  Add tomatoes, half of the tomato juice from the can, and the peppers and cook over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the peppers are a little soft.  Add the butter and cook until hot and bubbling.  Soujuk is best served hot straight out of the skillet with fresh crusty bread.  Make sure you plan a 5-K run for later in the day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cold White Bean Salad / Fasulye Piyazı

Writer's Note: I was recently in San Francisco and went to Pera, a new Turkish restaurant, for lunch. We ordered an assortment of mezes (appetizers) and the cold white bean salad was, in a word, phenomenal. If you live in San Francisco and you want a nice meze lunch, I highly recommend a visit to Pera: I called them and the head chef gave me their recipe, which I include below. For those of us who don't live in SF, we have to make do with the dishes that come out of our own kitchens.  I decorated the dish with hard-boiled eggs and lemon slices which is the traditional serving style in Turkey.  Quite 1950s-esque.  Don't worry, Pera serves a much more modern version of the dish.


1 cup white beans, soaked overnight in lightly salted water
6 scallions, using only the middle light green sections, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 cup whole parsley leaves
1 cup cherry tomatoes, split in half
good extra virgin olive oil, Pera uses Dafni brand, which they highly recommend
3-4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 hard-boiled eggs, optional
slices of lemon
salt and pepper to taste


Boil the white beans in salted water until they are just tender. Do not let them get mushy or the dish will turn to bean mash.

Cool outside of the fridge for a few hours in a large pan or on a large tray, and then put in the fridge until they are completely cooled.

At least an hour before serving, toss with the olive oil, vinegar, scallions, parsley leaves, salt and pepper and allow the flavors to marry.

Decorate with cherry tomatoes or halved hard-boiled eggs, if you like, and serve with lemon slices.

Hot Turkish Breakfast Skillet / Sıcak Kahvaltı Tavası

Writer's Note: A twist on the classic Turkish breakfast of potatoes and eggs -- I've incorporated traditional Turkish flavors including feta, mint, and sucuk, the ubiqutious Turkish sausage, into a simple single skillet breakfast feast for your brunch party.  Serves 4. 


2-3 tbsp. olive oil, split
6 eggs
splash of milk
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
Handful of fresh mint, basil, and/or Thai basil, chopped
5-6 stalks asparagus, cut into two inch pieces
5-6 large sundried tomatoes
3-4 oz. good quality feta cheese
1 jalepeno, seeded, minced
3 inches of Turkish sujuk sausage, sliced thin and cut into half moons
Handful of grated kasar peynir (Turkish medium hard cheese) or mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the broiler to High.  Locate a large skillet that can be placed under the broiler. 

Saute the potatoes in half of the olive oil in a small skillet until cooked through.  In the large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the asparagus until just cooked through.  Add the sundried tomatoes, jalapeno and sucuk and saute until the sucuk is sizzling and the tomatoes are a touch browned. 

Add the cooked potatoes to the large skillet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk the eggs with a splash of milk until frothy.  Turn the heat to medium low and add the eggs quickly followed by the feta and fresh herbs on top.  Push the eggs apart to allow the raw eggs to reach the bottom of the skillet.  Cook for 4-5 minutes until the bottom is set. 

Sprinkle the handful of grated cheese on top and place under the broil.  Broil for 5-7 minutes until the top is browned.  Check the eggs by cutting into the mixture to make sure it is cooked through.  Serve with hot crusty bread and fresh fruit.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Herb Rice with Slivered Almonds / Yeşil Pilav

Writer's Note: There is nothing I miss more than the rice in Turkey.  For some reason, no matter how many pots of rice I cook in the States, it never has the same flavor as the pots my grandmother cooked up for every meal (it may have to do with the fact that I will never be able to justify dropping a whole stick of butter in the pan).  I found this recipe for spinach rice in Greg and Lucy Malouf's Turquoise and made it over the holidays.  I had to adapt the recipe for almonds instead of pistachios, and the amount of liquid listed was too much, but the recipe is a pretty good facsimile of my grandmother's rice.  You can even replace most of the butter with olive oil, but for a real authentic flavor the nuts should be browned in butter (you only live once).  Now if I only had a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus and a nice breeze . . .


7 oz. basmati or jasmine rice
1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 tbsp. butter or 4 tbsp. olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/4 lbs. spinach, washed and shredded
3 oz. slivered almonds
1/2 cup shredded fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup shredded fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring the stock to a boil and then lower the heat and keep at a simmer.

Melt 4 tbsp. butter or heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan.  Add the onion and saute over low-medium heat until translucent.  Add the spinach and fresh herbs and cook, stirring, until the liquid has evaporated.

Add the rice, season with salt and pepper, and add the stock.  Boil and then simmer covered over very low heat for 12 minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter and add almonds and stir continuously over medium heat until the almonds start to color; remove immediately from the heat.  Do not let them burn!

Add the nuts to the rice, without stirring, and replace the lid for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and use a fork to fluff the rice just enough to combine the nuts and rice.  Check the moisture level in the rice -- if it seems too wet, leave it uncovered for about 5-10 minutes.

Cover the pan with a clean folded towel, replace the lid, and let it sit until you serve it.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas and Swiss Chard

Writer's Note:  This is my go-to dish for the week.  Make a giant pot and take it to work for lunch or heat it up when you get home from a long day.  Healthy, no nonsense, and easy to make.  Also, it tastes damn good.  Some may find the garam masala too strong for this dish -- a simple blend of cumin and coriander may be a softer alternative.  You can substitute chickpeas if black-eyed peas aren't your favorite.


1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 large bunch rainbow or red chard
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. garam masala or 1/2 tsp. cumin & 1/2 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/3 - 1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the stems off the chard and dice the same size as the onion.  Cut the chard leaves into 2 inch thick strips. 

Saute onion and chard stems in olive oil over medium-high heat in a deep skillet for a few minutes.  Add the spices so they brown a little with the onions.  Continue to saute for 7-8 minutes until the stems are soft.

Add the chard leaves and black-eyed peas and saute for another 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly until the leaves are a bit wilted. 

Add the broth and cover the skillet, stirring ocassionally, until the beans are cooked through and the chard is soft.  Add a few tbsp. of water if the beans are still hard and there is no liquid left in the skillet.  Serve with garlic yogurt or plain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Afghan Squash and Beef Dish / Afgan Etli Kabak

Writer's Note:  I've moved to DC!  In the process of moving and settling in the blog has fallen to the wayside, but I have decided to resuscitate it with a tasty Afghan dish adopted for Turkish palates. There is an amazing Afghan restaurant called The Helmand in Boston (it has a twin in San Francisco).  The food is amazing, and I have been hooked ever since.  A version of this dish is served there.  It is completely addictive and keeps for days in the fridge.  I promise you won't regret the effort. 


2 lbs butternut squash or acorn squash, cut into 1 inch cubes (don't need to peel the acorn squash)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2-3 tbsp. Garam Masala
1-2 tsp. Aleppo Pepper
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
fresh pepper to taste

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 lb. ground beef
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp minced fresh ginger (or garlic)
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup hot water
1 tsp. salt

2 cups plan full-fat Greek yogurt
1-2 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 garlic cloves, mashed in mortar and pestle (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In large baking dish, toss the squash with the other squash ingredients and bake for 40 minutes until bubbly and a little browned, stirring once after 25 minutes.

While the squash are baking, saute the onions in olive oil until soft, then add the cumin, coriander, salt and ginger/garlic and saute until fragrant (3 minutes).  Add the beef and saute until brown.  Add the green pepper and saute 2-3 more minutes.  Add tomatoes and cook for 7 minutes or until tomato juice is absorbed.  Finally, add the tomato paste and the water and simmer over medium heat until the water evaporates and the flavors have blended.  Taste and adjust seasonings for your taste.

Combine yogurt ingredients except for the mint.  Serve beef mixture over the squash with yogurt on top.  Sprinkle dried mint on top of each bowl. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Turkish Meatballs on the Grill / Izgara Köfte

Writer's Note: In Turkey the relationship with your butcher is as important as the one with your doctor.  Turks develop relationships with their butchers over years, even generations.  When I told my aunt that I wanted to include a recipe for meatballs on this blog, she told me that the only factor that mattered was the quality of the ground beef.  "Can Americans go to their butchers and request specific cuts?  Because the recipe is simple, it's all in the beef."  For Turkish meatballs you want to ask your butcher for ground beef from the rib area of the back of the cow (kaburga), as close to the bone as possible.  After that, the recipe is easy.  You can also use a combination of 25% ground lamb with the beef.  Lean beef will dry on the grill and leave you with dry, tasteless meatballs.  This is not a recipe for health fanatics.


1 lb ground beef, from the rib area
2 medium sized onion, diced finely
2-3 slices crustless bread, dried thoroughly
3 tbsp cumin
2-3 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. Aleppo pepper and/or 1 tsp. dried thyme, 2 tbsp. olive oil (optional)


Heat your barbecue.  Pulse the dry bread and onions in a food processor just until ground.  Be careful not to turn them into a paste.  Knead all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl for at least 10-15 minutes until incorporated (this tenderizes the meat).  If the mixture feels dry, you can add a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Fashion the mixture into patties 1 inch thick and 3 inches wide (they will shrink as they cook).  Grill until cooked through and serve with a tomato salad.  You can also grill cut onions or green peppers and serve them along with the meatballs.

Purslane Salad with Garlic-Yogurt Dressing (Semizotu Salatası)

Writer's Note: Most American cooks do not know about purslane, and American farmers often treat it as a weed to be eradicated. But according to Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma, it is one of the two most nutritious greens in the world (the other being lamb's quarter). I searched high and low for purslane until I located it at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. It's likely to pop up at markets and specialty food stores as it becomes more popular. This is a traditional salad made from purslane in Turkey. It is also lovely cooked with onions and olive oil as a spinach replacement.  Purslane is a rather delicate green so be gentle with it and cook it within 2-3 days.


2 large bunches purslane
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 cups yogurt
5-6 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 teaspoon salt and salt to taste


Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic cloves and 1/3 teaspoon salt to a fine paste. This is an excellent way to work out your daily aggressions in a productive fashion. There should be no chunks of garlic left in the paste. Whisk the garlic paste and yogurt together to make the dressing for the purslane. Wash the purslane carefully and pull off the individual leaves from the stalks. Mix the dressing with the purslane leaves, drizzle olive oil over it, season to taste with salt, and serve.  You can decorate the salad with black olives or a few sprigs of dill.