Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Recipe #11: Garlic-scented Lentils

This is so yummy!  Great autumn dish that is nutritious and full of flavor.  Today I'm posting the recipe for the lentils and tomorrow I'll also post the recipe for the chicken that you see in the picture.

Garlic-scented Lentils with Carrots
(Printable Version)

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, slice in half and then sliced across the grain
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, bruised and roughly chopped
  • 1½ tsp coriander seeds
  • handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • sage leaves to garnish

Bring several cups of water to a boil in a medium sized pot.  Once boiling, add the lentils and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.  In another pot, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and add the onions, garlic, sage and coriander seeds.

Once the onions have begun to soften, add the carrots.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes and add the lentils. 

Pour in chicken broth.  If necessary add enough water so that the lentils and carrots are covered in liquid.  Cook at a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.  You want to maintain a gentle simmer because you don't want the carrots to break apart and the lentils to turn mushy.  The dish is done with the lentils are fully cooked and the carrots still have a little bite.  Garnish with fresh sage.  If desired, serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Recipe #10: Meatball Soup or Ekʂili Köfte

Meatball Soup
(Printable Version)
Serves 4-6
  • 3 beef bullion cubes
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 stalks of fresh rosemary
  • 500 grams (1 pound) ground lean beef
  • 124 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
Bring the water to a boil and dissolve the bullion cubes in it.  While waiting for the water to boil assemble the meatballs.  Place in a large bowl ground beef, rice, water, parsley, onion, and along with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and several twists of pepper.

Mix well with hands.

Pinch off small pieces and form into meatballs.

Lightly dust meatballs with flour.  Add to boiling stock along with the two stalks of fresh rosemary.  Once water has regain a boil lower heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally but gently to avoid breaking up meatballs.  You may have to top up the stock with water once or twice.  Add the potatoes and carrots and boil until soft.

Once vegetables are done, mix the egg yolks with the lemon juice.  Add 1 cup of the hot soup stock to egg yolk mixture and mix well.  Add to the soup.  Serve in bows garnished with rosemary.

© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Recipe #9: Gypsy Salad

This salad is so fresh, healthy, and flavorful.  I think that traditional recipes only have green peppers and I've added a few other things so I'm not sure how authentic this is but it's yummy.

Gypsy Salad
(Printable Version)
Serves 4-6

  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 each yellow, red, and green bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 chillies - I like using a mix of hot red, medium orange, and mild green
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3-1/2 block feta
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
After thinly slicing the onions, spread on a plate and salt.

Let weep while you slice the peppers, about 10 minutes.  Rinse the onions, pat dry and mix with the peppers.

Finely chop the hot peppers.  I used a mix to temper the spice.  The red chili was really hot, the yellow medium and the green was mild.

Mix together all vegetables and parsley and garlic.

Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.  Salt and pepper to taste.  You probably will not need to add a lot of salt as the feta is usually pretty salty.  Crumble the feta over salad and serve.

©2009, Rebecca Manor

Monday, 21 September 2009

Recipe #8: Köfte or Turkish Meatballs

This meal was delicious!  Of course I didn't take pictures of it all put together before serving it so the "final" pictures aren't that great - but this is a fun recipe and everyone enjoyed it.  I served the meatballs in warm pittas with yoghurt sauce and Gypsy salad.  The flavor combinations were perfect - the cool salad cutting through the garlic in the yoghurt sauce and bringing out the herb flavors of the meatballs.  This was accompanied by Gypsy Salad and I'll be posting that recipe tomorrow.

Köfte or Turkish Meatballs
(Printable Version)
Adapted from Turkish Cooking  by Ghillie Bas̹an
Serves 4
  • 1 cup lean ground lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 hot chillis, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 slices of day-old wheat bread, mashed into crumbs (large pieces removed)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • oil for frying
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pitta bread, warmed before serving
  • lemon wedges
Yoghurt Sauce
  • 1 12 cups plain Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt
In a bowl mix the lamb with the onion, garlic, and cinnamon.  Mix thoroughly to ensure that all the flavors blend well.  Knead with your hands and then add in the chillis, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, breadcrumbs, egg, ketchup and chopped herbs.  Mix well with your hands.  Season with salt and pepper.  Form into small meatballs, about the size of a plum.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil and add the meatballs and cook for 8-12 minutes.  Meatballs should be browned on all sides and cooked through.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Meanwhile, prepare the yoghurt sauce.  Smash clove of garlic and add a pinch of salt.  Smash into a fine paste.  Stir into yoghurt.

Serve the meatballs in warmed pittas, with the yoghurt sauce, and lemon wedges.  We added the forthcoming Gypsy salad to our pittas and it was perfect.

© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Friday, 18 September 2009

Recipe #7: Latkes

Today we're doing something a little different in honor of Rosh Hashanah.  Latkes are traditionally Jewish and originate in Eastern Europe and Russia.  So, while not exactly "Middle Eastern" they are at least somewhat "Eastern" and are delicious enough to include here.  My mom used to make these when I was growing up and I loved them!  They are basically potato pancakes that can be topped with a variety of toppings although the most traditional are applesauce or sour cream and green onions.  Here we're going to do both!  Now, I don't know if Latkes are traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah - I think they're more commonly served at Hanukkah, but these are good any time.

Also, coming up soon, Ashli will be doing a guest entry on how to cook Noodle Kugel - another traditional Jewish dish.

Potato Latkes
Serves 4-6
  • 3 pounds of baking potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4-5 eggs depending on size, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • oil for frying
Using a grater grate the potatoes and onions.  Squeeze to drain of liquid and then let sit in a colander over sink for 10-15 minutes.  Squeeze again.

In a large bowl mix the grated potatoes and onions and add flour and pour over eggs.  Add salt and mix well.

In a large frying pan heat about 1/3 inch oil and add spoonfuls of the batter.  Flatten with the back of the spoon and fry until golden on both sides.

Serve hot with the following toppings!

Greek Yoghurt Topping

  • 1 cup Greek Yoghurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • salt
Mix the above ingredients and salt to taste.

Serve latkes hot with a dollop of yoghurt mixture.

Sweet Latkes
Serve hot with butter, applesauce and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


My sweet husband has been so supportive of this cooking experiment and purchased the above book for me.  It's fantastic and one I would highly recommend.  I've used several of the recipes and have been thrilled with the results.  D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s-n-e-s-s!

Another thing that I like about it is the amount of information and history that Ms. Baʂan has included.  For instance due to the fact that Turkey serves as a land bridge between Europe and Asia its cuisine features the best elements of many distinct cultures.  I was so fascinated by the fact that Turkish cuisine also assimilated elements of Chinese cooking!  Specifically the idea of Yin & Yang - the balance between sweet and savory, hot and cold.  That is one of the reasons that you'll find spices usually reserved for sweet dishes (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) in the West paired with savory flavors.  That specific aspect of Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine is what first drew me to it and I've enjoyed learning more about it.

If you're interested in purchasing this cookbook, just click here to be taken to an Amazon.com page that I set up with a few more of my personal favorite selections.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Recepe #7: Chicken Sauté with Lemon

This is a take on the classic Turkish dish güvec̹te pilic̹li bamya.  No I have no idea how to pronounce that!  Normally it contains okra but my okra was not looking so great so I skipped it.  It's delicious served with bread to mop up the sauce and yoghurt to cut through some of the spice.

Chicken Sauté with Lemon
(Printable Version)
Adapted from Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Bas̹an
Serves 4

  • good sized knob of butter
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small free-range chicken, trimmed of excess fat and cut into quarters
  • 2 small yellow onions, quartered and cut into fine slices
  • 2 small red onions, quartered and cut into fine slices
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 mixed color chilis, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (purée)
  • 2 14oz cans chopped tomatoes with juice
  • juice from 1-2 lemons
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • thick plain yoghurt, to serve
Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a large frying pan or wok.  Add the chicken pieces.

Brown thoroughly on all sides.

Once chicken has been thoroughly browned remove from pan.  Add the onions, garlic, peppers and fennel seeds to the pan.  Stir in the sugar.

Sauté until onions begin to soften and change color, about 10 minutes.  Add the tomato paste and chopped tomatoes.  Stir through.  Add 2/3 cup water.  Stir and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.

Add the chicken pieces and baste with the sauce.  Cover pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes, occasionally rotating the chicken pieces so they cook evenly.

Next add the lemon juice.  Cover pan again and allow to cook gently for a further 10-15 minutes.  Again, rotate the chicken pieces as necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and place on a serving dish.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.  Serve with bread and yoghurt.

© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Monday, 14 September 2009

Recipe #6: Saganaki

This common Greek appetizer is so easy to make - and absolutely delicious.  It's definitely on the rich side - I mean we're talking fried cheese here!  The best cheese to use is kefalotyri, a hard sheep's milk cheese that is very salty tasting.

(Printable Version)
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

  • About 1 pound of kefalotyri (or pecorino romano, or halloumi)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • oil for frying
  • chunks of warm bread or pitta
  • lemon wedges
Slice the cheese into 1/3 of an inch slices.  Dip in water to moisten and then dredge in flour.  Ashli did this step:

Heat oil (I recommend a combination of sunflower and olive oil) in a frying pan and fry the cheese until golden on all sides and soft in the middle.

Remove from heat, and squeeze some lemon juice over the cheese.  Serve with warmed bread or pitta and a side salad of tomatoes.

© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Friday, 11 September 2009

Recipe #5: Greek Chicken and Potatoes

One of the things about beginning a cooking adventure such as this one is that you need taste-testers!  Enthusiastic taste-testers make the experience all that more interesting, fun, and fulfilling.  Thankfully my husband is pretty much game for anything (with a few exceptions...fish included) and is extremely encouraging and appreciative.  And then there's my friend Ashli who is a total cheerleader - game to try anything, ready to get her hands dirty, and loves good food.  Having someone like that along for the beginning of this is so encouraging and really adds to the whole experience.  She's right on board and has contributed a few recipes passed on to her by her cousin.  This is one of them and we've "tested" it twice and it's a winner.  Easy, healthy - it's a great dish to cook put together, put in the oven and serve straight from the cooking dish accompanied by a simple salad.  The original recipe is found here but we've gone ahead and made a few minor adjustments to it.  The first time I cooked it I did do the "whole chicken" thing and cut it into its various parts.  It's pretty easy to do this but the breast meat was a bit dry after it was roasted so the next time we cooked it I just used thighs and drumsticks.  The meat was moist, fell off the bone and was very flavorful.
If using a whole chicken you will need to cut it into its various parts.  This was a first for me:

It proved to be pretty easy and buying a whole chicken is definitely more economical.

My poor little chicken before I'd had my way with it.  Once I removed the wings, breasts, thighs and drumsticks I put the carcass in the freezer to make stock with it at a later date.

Greek Chicken and Potatoes
(Printable Version)
  • 1 whole chicken (size according to the number of people you'll be serving) or assorted thighs and drumsticks with skin still on (allow approximately 2 pieces per person)
  • 10-20 mixed potatoes (red, yellow, white, the variety makes the dish really pretty)
  • 10-12 garlic cloves cut in half
  • 1 cup chicken broth (reduce to 1/4 - 1/2 cup of only cooking enough meet and potatoes for 2-3 people)
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons dried oregano or Italian Seasoning
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Par-boil for about 5-8 minutes.  Remove and cut into wedges.  Place in large casserole dish.

If using a whole chicken, cut it into its various parts keeping the skin on.  Otherwise just place the pieces of meat in with the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Add the garlic clove halves, evenly distributing so they flavor the chicken and potatoes.  Pour the chicken broth on top.

Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and oregano.  Pour mixture over chicken and potatoes.  Sprinkle with 1/2 of the chopped parsley.

Bake for about 45 minutes, spooning the liquids over the potatoes and chicken to prevent them from becoming dry.  Remove from oven when the potatoes are cooked through, the chicken is done and the skin has browned nicely.  Sprinkle with remainder of parsley and serve hot.  (DO note that the potatoes at this point are really hot and you'll need to let them cool a bit.)

Enjoy your weekend!  I will be back Monday with some Turkish köfte that I'm testing out tomorrow.   
© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Recipe #4: Stuffed Grape Vine Leaves

While looking for recipes of this Mediterranean classic I found that most people call them "stuffed vine leaves" but usually only grape leaves are used.  There are so many different variations out there but I was really happy with this one.  The mixture of ground lamb and beef along with lemon and mint was so flavorful!  I've tried quite a few stuffed grape leaves from restaurants and deli stores and haven't ever really been blown away.  These are different.  They are absolutely delicious, if labor intensive.  This is definitely a recipe to make with friends who can help you with stuffing all those leaves!  While making them I could imagine groups of Greek women sitting around while spooning the filling on to the leaves, rolling them, and gossiping all the while.  This is definitely social food - and I love that kind of food.  Worlds removed from the TV dinner, this is food rooted in tradition, culture, and community.  So invite over a few friends, pour some wine, and get working!

The following link provides very helpful step-by-step instructions on how to roll the leaves:
How to Fold Stuffed Vine Leaves.

For a note of history, stuffed vine leaves are Arab in origin, first appearing on the scene in the the early Islamic empire of the Abbasids who ruled in Baghdad between the 8th and 10th centuries, although there is some evidence that the Persians were stuffing grape leaves even earlier!  Apparently Ottoman cooks loved stuffing vegetables, leaves, cabbage and this practice traveled to Turkey and Greece.  In Greece and Turkey they're called dolmades or koupepia and the Arabs refer to them as waraq.

Stuffed Grape Vine Leaves  
(Printable Version)
Adapted from Jacques Remond's recipe here: http://www.abc.net.au/secretrecipes/families/cyprus4p.htm
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 200-250 grams (approx. 1/2 pound) ground lamb
  • 200-250 grams (approx. 1/2 pound) ground beef
  • 3/4 cups red wine
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt
  • 2 cups hot chicken or vegetable broth
  • 70-100 grape leaves
I am going to assume that most of you do not have access to fresh, tender grape leaves and will be using preserved ones!  Remove leaves from package and submerge in cool water to wash away the salty brine.  Rinse thoroughly and set in colander to drain.  While they're draining prepare the filling.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the onion (the whole one that you've chopped).  Sauté until tender.  Add the meat and cook thoroughly.  Once meat is nicely browned and cooked through add the red wine.  Stir through. Next add the rice and lemon juice and stir through to prevent the rice from sticking together.  Allow to cook for about 30 seconds and remove from heat.  The rice will not cook at this stage so it's alright that it's still crunchy.
In a bowl mix the additional onion with the mint, parsley, and tomato.  Add the meat mixture and mix thoroughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use any damaged leaves to line a large frying pan or skillet.  This prevents the doulmadas from sticking when you cook them.  Set aside an additional 20 leaves to place between the layers of doulmadas and to cover them once you've filled the pan.

Now, you're ready to stuff those leaves.  Place a leaf shiny side down and spoon a small amount of the filling into the base of the leaf where the stem used to connect.  You may need to remove the stems as you go.  Fold the bottom left lobe of the leaf over the filling followed by the lower right lobe.  Begin rolling the leaf up, tucking in the edges as you go.  Again, a good link with directions and photos can be found here.

Place the stuffed leaves side by side in the pan so they're all facing the same direction.  When you start the second layer, place a layer of leaves between the second layer to protect them while they cook.  Continue rolling those leaves until all the stuffing is used.

Cover your last layer with your reserved leaves.  Drizzly a generous splash of olive oil on top.  Place a heavy lid or inverted dish on top of the leaves and pour the chicken stock over the leaves until it comes up to the cover or dish.  Here's a picture of my improvised lid as I don't really have a nice heavy one that would keep the leaves in place and prevent them from unwrapping:

Bring to a simmer.  Once a simmer has been reached, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer but don't let it come to a full boil.  Also keep an eye on your pot and top up the cooking liquid with water as it evaporates so the leaves do not dry out.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  At this point, pull out one of the doulmadas and check to see if the rice is fully cooked.  Be really careful here because these babies are hot!  If the rice is not tender, continue to cook for about another 10 minutes.

Gently remove the stuffed vine leaves with a slotted spoon or pair of tongs, allowing the excess liquid to drain.

Serve warm with lemon wedges.  Some recipes recommend serving with a yoghurt sauce, but these were good on their own!  Enjoy.  Leftovers can be served cold and are also really tasty.

© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Recipe #2: Savory Bulgar

Bulgur is a form of wheat that is delicious, versatile, and easy to cook.  As it is highly nutritious it makes a good substitute for rice or couscous and is commonly used in Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine.  I tried my hand at it when I made the moussaka and was so thrilled with its rich nutty flavor it may be a while before I go back to rice.

I had first tasted it at an excellent Turkish restaurant in Paris and was determined to replicate the flavor but had a lot of trouble finding a recipe I thought would go well with the rich flavors of the moussaka.  So I decided to approach it a bit like a risotto.  The flavor was great.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it can be made ahead and then just reheated with some chicken broth or white wine to re-hydrate.

Savory Bulgar Wheat 
(Printable Version)
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups bulgar
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • chopped parsley to garnish
In a large frying pan melt the butter and add the olive oil.  Add the onion and sauté until onions are translucent and tender.
Once the onions are nice and tender, add the bulgar.  At this point you're wanting to give it some time while stirring occasionally.  This allows the bulgar to get a little toasted and develop a nice golden color.  This also infuses each little piece of wheat with a nice buttery flavor.  Don't allow the bulgar to burn, give the pan a good shake to toss the wheat and allow it to cook evenly.  You may find that you need to add a little more olive oil to keep the bulgar from sticking.
When it's all nice and toasty, about 10-15 minutes, begin adding the chicken stock.  Measuring out about 1/2 cup at a time stir the broth through the bulgar, allowing it to absorb the liquid.  If the bulgar is very moist and there is excess liquid, just allow to simmer until it's absorbed.  Meanwhile, stir the tomato paste into the wine so that you're not left with tomato paste lumps when you add it to the bulgar.  Pour the wine and tomato paste to the bulgar and allow to simmer until liquid is absorbed.  The tomato paste adds a nice light flavor and a pretty reddish hue.
Serve as a side dish topped with chopped parsley.  
Sorry about another picture of the moussaka - I need to get better at taking pictures once the food is all cooked.  I will get another picture of the bulgar wheat to replace this one soon.
© 2009 Rebecca Manor

Dinner Party Timing

As this blog is to be devoted to all things foodie, I thought it would be appropriate to post this link from Emily Post's Etiquette Daily.
Being Fashionably Late: When and where is it okay?

I first heard about this blog from my friend Ashli and have been an avid reader.  It provides clear guidance for all those etiquette conundrums that pop up in daily life.