Friday, October 22, 2010

Fresh is best!!

The other day a friend and I were wandering the labyrinth that is the streets of Ankara and we stumbled upon a small farmer's market of sorts. I was wonderful. The fresh herbs, spices and produce was simply fantastic. We couldn't help ourselves and ended up taking a couple of pictures and then buying some of the delicious fruit (some of the best apples ever and truly the BEST pomegranate ever). Below are a couple of the pictures... enjoy and remember that local and organic fruits are better for your body, economy and cooking flavours!!

Happy shopping and eating!!

One Pot Wonder Variation

Last time I made the one pot wonder (pasta, shrimp etc), I used a different veggie and a few different items. This time I tried out some new stuff and I think it's a nice variation that you may or may not wish to try or supplement with your own variations. Here is how it went down:

I was cooking for 2 people (which means 4 with my Italian heritage factored in)...

What you need:
Feta cheese (or you can use another cheese if you like) - 1/2 cup
Arugula (about 2 big bunches - it cooks down really easily, kind of like spinach, which is a great substitute if you aren't into the more adventurous greens)
Pasta (you can choose whatever type you like, it doesn't matter) - follow the packet for amounts for the number you are cooking for.
Frozen or fresh shrimp (I got the deveined and tails off kind, just easier to deal with) - about 1 cup
Lemon juice, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic to taste.

I boiled the water first with a little oil and salt (it helps to season the noodles). Once the noodles were getting close to done (about 5 minutes out), I dropped in the shrimp. When the noodles were done and the shrimp was too, I drained them, put them back in the pot and added the arugula. The heat from the noodles helps to cook it down without boiling the flavour or nutrients out. Then I dumped in the cheese and spices. I had the heat on super low during this so that the cheese could get all melty and yummy. It was a delicious meal and dirtied only one pot, 2 dishes and cutlery. So it was easy on the clean up too!!

Happy Eating.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Traditional Turkish Breakfast

In Turkey a breakfast isn't a bowl of cereal, or some eggs fried up on a plate with toast and hash browns... it's this amazing meal to languish over and enjoy.
I recently had a friend visiting me and on her first day, I made her a traditional Turkish breakfast. It consisted of fresh bread sliced up (I used an olive loaf and some sesame buns), sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, sliced cheese (the kind you slice yourself people... not the kind you take out of the plastic!), beef salami, and olives (I used ones here that are stuffed with almonds and they are amazing!!). It's light, tasty but filling enough to keep you going for hours and hours (even when you are walking all over Ankara). It was such a hit with my friend that she requested it just about every day. Give it a try some time... OH! I almost forgot, you have to have coffee and/or tea to drink while you work away at your breaky... it's the Turkish way. Anyway... if you have a longer time for breakfast, give it a try. We also added fresh fruits from time to time.

Happy Eating!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Leftovers are not a favourite of mine, but wasting food is much less of a favourite, and there is just something about leftover turkey that is amazing!! Since I don't have a microwave here in Turkey, I couldn't just cheat and toss all the goods into the microwave and call it a meal. I also couldn't make my typical favourite turkey sandwich because my leftovers were wings and a bunch of chunks of turkey. What to do, you ask? Well... I came up with the brilliant idea of making a turkey gravy, I used a cream gravy mix to help me start out, I added in loads of yummy fresh mushrooms and then the chunks of turkey. I let it all get thick and hot and then poured it over some cold left over stuffing. The hot, hot gravy heated the stuffing up nicely and it was a lovely meal of a cold and blustery day. So instead of that typical sandwich, or just making plates for your microwave, give this idea a go... any other different ideas for leftover turkey dinner out here? Please post them in the comments and if you write, or have a cooking blog where you've posted your ideas, please add your link... I'd love to check them out!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stuffing, Three Ways

So it's Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I am FAR from home, but the Canucks around me are throwing a dinner and asked me to prep the stuffing. I couldn't do my traditional stuffing because I can't get some of the ingredients here... so I had to get creative and I had a blast doing it!!

This first one has a flavour base of mushrooms, dill, onions, garlic and hot peppers. I wanted to do something a little spicy and fun. I tried to do lots of dill to balance out the pepper as the ones here are quite hot. I also threw in some thyme, salt and crushed red chillies. Then I added the bread crumbs, chicken stock and an egg to mix it before putting it in the oven.

This one might be a flavour favourite. I chopped up onions and apples (2 apples) and threw in some dried cranberries. I also used thyme, salt and a little pepper here, but the secret is a dash of sumac to bring that citrus flavour in. When I added the breadcrumbs, I used eggs and chicken stock again to moisten it all. At the end, I poured melted butter over the whole thing before throwing it in the oven.

I think this might be the one I am most proud of. At least one of the guests tonight will be vegetarian and I wanted her to be able to enjoy a really good, flavourful stuffing as well. So I decided to do a fruit and vegetable based stuffing. It could be a meal in itself with so much robust and hearty veggies: there is 1/3 of an eggplant, 1/2 a zuccini, 1 full onion, 1 cup or so of diced mushrooms, 1/4 cup of chopped dried appricots, 2 cups or so of quartered grapes and then I tossed in a bunch of pine nuts. To round out the flavours and bring out the best of them, I used a little curry powder and cumin with some salt. I tried to keep it simple but really fun. To moisten it (although with the veggies and fruits that I chose, it won't need much once it hits the heat of the oven), I used some melted butter. It smelled like heaven!!

Anyway, for those of you waiting to cook your big meal tomorrow or on Monday... maybe a less traditional stuffing is in order, or if you are American... you can get a jump on what you might like to do for November!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One Pot Meal

So today I made one of my favourite one pot meals with a little variation... here is how it went down:

These are the ingredients I used: feta cheese, black olives, tomatoes, frozen uncooked shrimp, broccoli and whole wheat pasta. Normally I use just cheddar cheese and broccoli for this little dish. You also only need one pot and whatever spices you think would work. Measurements are not really important for this, and that's why I love it.

First I boiled up the pasta in lightly salted water, then when the pasta was about 5 minutes out from being done, I tossed in the shrimp and let it come back to a boil. When there was about 2 minutes left, I tossed in the broccoli. I like it a little crunchy, but if you like it softer, throw it in earlier. When the pasta was done, I drained it all and threw the other ingredients and my spices (I chose salt, crushed red pepper, garlic and thyme for this particular variation) into the same pot and stirred until the cheese was all melty... melted cheese makes EVERYTHING better!!

And... voila!! Yummy, healthy and EASY dish to make. Some other variations I've tried are using a little balsamic vinegar over it with Swiss cheese, or cutting up some brie cheese to use with the broccoli. I've also done it with cauliflower... you can toss in other veggies right at the end if you like, to just blanch them a bit and help them to be warm. Anyway, it's my one pot wonder that always satisfies...

Happy Eating!