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Everything posted by sazji

  1. sazji

    Sweetening Coffee

    Or even something that ventures into the range of "good". Presumably, for most people, and "average" cup of coffee means something like Folgers, Maxwell House, diners, and the industrial goop they get at work. ← Hey, at least it came from beans of a sort and was brewed. Here, aside from Turkish coffee (which ranges from hideous to fairly decent, mostly on the hideous side), most people don't even know that there is anything other than Nescafe. Still, I was somehow sad to see Starbucks open here and start giving courses on how to drink coffee, with a bunch of "shouldn'ts" about how to drink coffee. We drink it for pleasure, we should do what makes it pleasant to us. (And I think many people here who make a big deal about not putting sugar into it probably want to but don't because someone told them they're not supposed to enjoy it that way...) But since they sell (as well as other "gourmet" shops selling hazelnut and irish cream-infused beans) their beans at an outrageous price here -- we are talking nearly 20 dollars a pound -- it is unlikely to affect anyone but the yuppies. There is one local company that isn't bad actually, but nobody knows about them because they are not in chichi districts.
  2. sazji

    Ethnic Pop

    There is a brand here called "Fresha" that is pretty nice. Artificial and natural flavors, they don't bother with artificial colors. It comes in sour cherry (vishne), banana (the exception - it's disgusting), orange, lemon and the ever-elusive mint, which is of course my favorite. All the stores carry all the other types, but never order the mint variety. It is better if you squeeze a bit of lemon into it though. The kombucha that is brewed and the kombucha that is fermented and sometimes found bottled are two entirely different things. One is twigs of some plant, the other is made from strong sweetened black tea which is fermented by a colony of various fungi/bacteria/god knows what. It is good though. On a humorous note, Turkey launched a cola a couple years back, called Cola Turca. The cola is nothing special, but the commercials, with Chevy Chase, are quite funny. Probably funnier if you have been here and know something about Turkey and Turks. (The whole premise is that Americans are drinking Cola Turca and suddenly behaving like Turks.) The commercials were shot in the US; you can see some of them at this web site. http://www.turkishclass.com/allVideos.html
  3. sazji

    POM Wonderful

    Juicing them yourself - I was just going to write in and suggest this and saw that someone else just had. There's nothing like it fresh squeezed. Here pomegranates are dirt cheap (eat your hearts out), as in about 75 cents a kilo. I buy them and juice them all the time. If you buy the kind of juicer shown in the picture above, make sure you get one just like that - where the part you put the fruit on is attached to the column of the juicer. some just have a base, where you put a cup and strainer that fits onto it; and a press from above. These can't handle pomegranates, the base will crack where the column enters it. My favorite is equal parts pomegranate and orange juice mixed. Heavenly. You *can't* use the regular rotating reamer type juicers on pomegranates as the membranes and "base" are astringent and bitter; you don't want to be disturbing these or you will hardly be able to drink your juice. As long as you live where Pomegrantes are hardy and you have a good long hot summer, you should have no problem growing them. Definitely a worthwhile tree, and the flowers are beautiful as well, brilliant scarlet. Here pomegranates are very highly esteemed. There is even a song, one verse of which is: In this world, there are three things to eat One is the quince One is the apple And then there's the pomegranate You take the quince Give the apple to another I'll take the pomegranate!
  4. Tried it again with golden delicious. Worked great, here is the result. (I took the photo as soon as it came out of the oven; then came over to the internet cafe around the corner so I wouldn't burn my tongue.....) The custard was browning but the powdered sugar didn't. But I think it will probably liquefy a bit when it all cools. The recipe called for 3 T Calvados or cognac. These are two quite different flavors so as I had neither handy (and with Turkish liquor prices am not likely to soon), I figured I could use my own different flavor - I used some 50% apricot brandy brought by a friend from Czech. It smells pretty scandalous considering that this is Ramadan here...I'll probably have the neighbors cluck-clucking at the infidel and his eating habits. BTW I bet none of you have white bathroom-tile kitchen counters! Thanks for the help! <img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/tart.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com"> I thought I'd send a picture of the oven that did it (affectionately known around here as "Lurch"), just for fun. I inherited it from my former landlord who had a particularly destructive 5-year-old who managed somehow to pull the glass front off the door.... <img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/lurch.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com">
  5. This thread is looking worrisomely similar to another thread here.... But interesting, I've never noticed a problem with sunchokes. I cook them "olive oil" style - sautee a cubed carrot and chopped onion in liberal olive oil, add peeled sunchokes, sautee them a bit, add water *just* to cover, squeeze in half a lemon, some dill, and perhaps a sugar cube. Cook till tender, let cool. These are eaten cold with a squeeze of lemon over the top. Works really well with celeriac too. Yumm. (futz?)
  6. This is not my mistake, it's my grandmother's, but it's a favorite family story. My grandmother's family ran a "teacherage," which in the Old South of the 1920s was a house where unmarried teachers lived to avoid wagging tongues. It included room and board, and my grandmother thus never really learned to cook; they had cooks. When she was still a young bride, she invited guests for dinner. She was going to have roast chicken. My grandfather was a restauranteur and did lots of the cooking; he asked her "can you do it?" "Of course I can, you think I can't roast a chicken?" was my grandmother's indignant reply. "Okay," he said, and went to work. When he came home, the house was filled with the smell of roasting chicken...and something else. Something smelled terribly wrong. He checked the chicken... In the 1920s, when you bought a chicken, it wasn't cleaned and gutted; you had to do that yourself. My grandmother hadn't done it. So her chicken was "pre-stuffed au naturel" as it were...my grandfather ran back to the restaurant and brought something else home for dinner...
  7. sazji


    Turkish delight: Can't even remember where I found the recipe but I can tell you I'll never do it again. To make the real thing you mix water, sugar, more cornstarch than seems right, and start boiling. It siezes up into a white mass and you keep boiling it and stirring and trying to keep it from scorching for around two hours, till it's transparent (more if you want the good dark one) and a drop strings between your (burned) fingers. The pros use something like an ice cream maker but with heat; the paddles keep it moving so they have time to stand around and smoke cigarettes. Manti (Actually there should be no dot on the "i"): Mantı (but you'll have to set your browser to Turkish encoding to see that!) Here's a pretty typical recipe: (from http://www.portakalagaci.com/oburcuk/2004/06/mant.html) dough: 2 cups flour 1 egg 1 t salt lukewarm water iç malzemeleri:: 400 gr ground meat (lamb or beef) 4 onions 1 t salt 1 t black pepper broth for cooking: 2,5 T butter 1/2 T pepper paste 1/2 T tomato paste 1 1/2 liter boiling water 1 t salt 2 c cold water Make dough adding water gradually to form a stiff dough. (think noodle dough, perhaps a *little* softer but not by much) Dice onions very finely, mix with rest of filling ingredients, knead together. Making the manti: Divide dough into two or three pieces. Roll out very thin, to about half a mm (to do this, you will need an oklava -- a thin cylindrical rolling pin. You can use a 3/4 inch wooden dowel as well but it must be very straight. Roll the dough out till it is a couple centimeters thick, the normal way. Then dust it with flour and roll it ONCE around the oklava, pressing, then roll it back open. Turn and do this again, several times, till the dough is very thin. This takes practice. Cut the dough into 1.5 cm strips, then across, into 1.5 cm squares. Put small pieces of the filling into the middle of the squares, gather the edges and press together to seal. Preparing the soup: 1. put the butter, pepper and tomato pastes into a deep and wide pan, and heat till the butter melts and they mix together. 2. Add the 1 1/2 litres boiling water and 1 t salt. When the water comes back to a voil, add the manti, and immediately stir with a wooden spoon (so that they won't stick). Stir once or twice more, till the manti are cooked. (don't cover the pot) 3. When the manti are cooked, turn off the flame and add the cold water so that the manti will stay firm (i.e. to stop the cooking). 4. Place the mantis with their broth in serving bowls, and serve topped with yogurt and sumak. Note: Another way (more common actually) is to cook the manti in plain water or meat broth, then drain completely (or leave a little broth if you used meat broth) and top with yogurt. On top of this, drizzle melted butter, and sprinkle red pepper (Turkish marash pepper pref.) and mint. Some people like a little cumin too.
  8. Here they make both a hot and a sweet red pepper paste. Think tomato paste, but with peppers. They first roast them and remove the skins, then grind and boil them down. The ones in the stores are not very salty and are thinner but don't keep well; the one they make in the villages are quite salty, very thick, and keep for ages in the fridge. I have become addicted to pepper paste; it's a wonderful way to add a strong pepper flavor to a dish or a sauce.
  9. sazji

    Baked Apples

    My mom used to fill them with peanut butter mixed with sugar. I will admit to still doing it once and a while. Maybe it contributed to my little brother's nickname: Peanut Butter Brain...
  10. One of the nicest pies I ever made was a blackberry merengue. Sorry I can't give specific measurements here because it was years ago, and I winged it every time. Seattle, where I lived for many years, is overgrown with Himalayan blackberries. I picked a couple quarts, put them in a big pot, mashed them, and then simmered them enough that they juiced very easily in a jelly bag. To this I added sugar and corn starch, cooked till thickened and then put that into the crust. Once I added cream cheese to it as well. Here I make a "pudding" in the same way (with cream cheese and cream added) with tart morello cherries. They make an incredible normal cherry pie as well. bob
  11. Thanks for the hints. The apples I used were definitely more "Granny Smith-esque." I bet this was the issue. I'll try it with golden delicious, and also the steamer method because "Arap Kizi" apples I used (a very crisp apple and tart but not quite so much as Granny Smith, with a lot of pink inside) are delicious. I have friends and neighbors who are happy to sample... I've had this dessert before and found it delicious; I'd love to have it a firm part of my "repertoire!" (I like the quote about the cookbooks by the way...Lora Brody's "Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet" is so smudged in some places that any more and I won't be able to read it....) bob
  12. I've had my first major baking flop in a long time, here, perhaps someone can help? Made the Normandy Custart Apple Tart from Julia Child et al.'s French Cooking. To condense the recipe, one made a sweet crust (no problem), baked it partially (no problem), cut the apples thin (well, mine aren't anywhere near uniform but no problem), laid them in the crust and baked them at 375 for 20 minutes "till starting to brown and almost tender." Um...problem. They started to brown but just seemed to be drying out, and though they did soften a bit, I couldn't call it "tender." I gave it a bit more time but no dice. The next step is to remove it from the oven and let it cool while making the custard, pour the custard over the apples, put it back into the oven for 10 minutes till the custard puffs. Did that, custard puffed. Next, sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar, return to oven for another 20 minutes or so till top is brown and custard is done. This I did, I imagined that the apples should juice into the powdered sugar and make a nice brown top. But it didn't happen; I let it stay in longer, and finally took it out when the sides were starting to scorch. The apples were only done on the very edge of the pan; in the center they were still only half-cooked. So what gives? I can make an apple pie with the best of 'em but this one has me stumped. I may try it again with some other kind of apple - I used a nice tart crisp apple we have here. The recipe suggested golden delicious; are they a quicker cooker?
  13. Imam Bayildi (actually there should be no dots on the i's but I won't make you all change your encoding): I've read a lot of back-and-forth about this name, why he fainted. Actually, it's just a common Turkish expression, meaning to like something a lot. Çıkolataya bayılıyorum means literally "I faint to chocolate" but what it really means is "I'm nut's about chocolate." Strange names (if we get into international bad food names, we might need to start a new thread....). In Serbia there is a type of cake called "Plazma Keks"
  14. Greens - the first one is called "vlita," it's Amaranth. They use both several local species, as well as cultivated ones, known to gardeners as "Love Lies Bleeding." It's a wonderful green, productive throughout the summer. The leaves and tender shoots are steamed and then doused with olive oil and lemon and a bit of salt, or made into "vlitopita" with cheese. Incidentally they say that eating too much vlita makes you a bit woozy; either you have to eat a lot or I'm always a bit woozy becaue I never noticed it. The word "vlito" (the singular) also refers to a dimwit. The next is "radikia," (sing. radiki), wild chichory. It looks a lot like dandelion but not nearly so bitter. It's probably the number one wild green in Greece, and is used boiled as above, and also cooked into other dishes, especially "fricase," with lamb and an egg lemon sauce. Your pictures made me drool.
  15. Jason, the comment on fusion was right on I think. It's just as true of music. There are interesting parallels really, between cooking and music. Each has its vocabulary, its approach - its soul. A lot of bad fusion in music is made because someone decides they are going to play an african tune on irish instruments and call it fusion; without actually learning how that tune came about, how those people hear and create music. It's no different than throwing a handful of garam masala into chicken a la king (okay, that was perhaps more vile an imagery than necessary...) and calling it....something (won't even go there). Being partly of Greek background, I hardly even look any more when I see recipes for things like "Greek-style [omelette/trout/bagels/humbow]" meaning usually that someone has thrown a handful of feta cheese and some oregano into it. When I try these things they don't taste/feel Greek at all, because they have mistaken this feeling/soul of the food for a couple of stereotyped ingredients. On the other hand, it would be really interesting to see what sort of cuisine would eventually emerge if a Greek island, through some freak event in plate tectonics, smashed into the coast of India. (Desperate attempt here to keep this from drifting any further off-topic...) When we learn a language or music, a big part is listening; in a cuisine, eating it from a variety of sources. We understand all the different accents of English but immediately recognize them as distinct. This is the most difficult thing for me with Indian food; my experience of it has been limited usually to one or two restaurants in cities I have lived in. It's not the same as being able to eat it in homes, see it prepared, get a feel for what is a personal variation and what's regional. To me it all just "tastes good."
  16. Olive harvest: I have already seen buckets of green olives (only, so far, but that's only what I've seen and I haven't been out that much lately!) in the markets.
  17. Chestnut Cheesecake Serves 8 as Dessert. This is a bit of a hybrid between an Austrian “cake” made with a filling of pure chestnuts, eggs, vanilla and sugar, and an adaptation of the Nutmeg Cheesecake in the book, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs” by Gale Gand and Rick Tramonto. I liked the nutmeg and left it in, but cut down the amount for this recipe. Filling 600 g cream cheese (3 8 oz pkgs) 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp nutmeg or less, depending on how much you like nutmeg. 1-3/4 c sugar 1/8 tsp salt 1-1/2 c chestnut puree (made from app 2 1/4 cups chestnuts) 4 eggs Crust 200 g chocolate cookies (8 oz) 2 T cocoa (optional) 1/3 c sugar 1/3 c butter, melted Make the chestnut pureee Cut a strip off one side of the chestnut peel and boil them for 15 minutes, ladle out into a low pan and add cooking water to cover. This keeps them warm; they are much easier to deal with if they stay hot. Remove outer and inner peel. Chop finely, put into a small saucepan and add water to the same level, and simmer, stirring constantly (don’t burn them!). They will break down rather quickly and resemble mashed potatoes. You want a consistency similar to that. When it is mostly broken down, press through a sieve. You could probably do this very quickly in a food processor. Heat the oven to 175C (350F) with rack on lowest level. Prepare the crust: (Substitute your own favorite chocolate cookie crust if you like; this is my own adaptation in a land devoid of Nabisco Chocolate Wafers.) Crush cookies, mix with other ingredients with fingers till a bit squeezed together will hold its shape. Press a little more than 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of a 9” springform pan. Take small amounts and press around the edges to make a side crust about 4 cm high, trying to make an even edge. Don’t worry about trying to get it all the way to the edge of the pan, because whatever is above the line of the filling will crumble off anyway. Prepare the filling: Put cream cheese into a large bowl, beat just at medium speed until smooth with electric mixer. (If you beat it full of air, the cake will crack when it cools.) Add vanilla, nutmeg and salt. On low speed, mix in the chestnut puree. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition to ensure even mixing. Pour filling into the crust and place in the oven, and bake for around 1 1/2 hours. After about 40 minutes, turn the cake so that it browns evenly. If it’s browning too fast, put a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, over the cake. The cake is done when it is mostly solid but “shimmies” slightly in the middle when the pan is tapped. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool one hour inside the oven. Remove from the oven let cool completely, refrigerate. Keywords: Dessert, Intermediate, Cake ( RG1433 )
  18. BADEMLİ HURMA TATLISI hurma tatlısı with almonds (From http://www.turkpoint.com) INGREDIENTS 1 cup finely chopped almonds 1 pinch salt 2 T butter 2 cups flour Slightly less than 2 cups water 4 eggs grated zest of one lemon Syrup: 3 cups water 2 cups sugar 1 t lemon juice PREPARATION 1. (syrup) Boil 3 cups sugar, 2 cups water and 1 t lemon juice together to make a syrup, to the point where the last drop off the spoon will stay on your fingernail. Let cool. 2. Boil the butter, salt and slightly less than 2 cups of water. Meanwhile, sift the 2 cups flour and pour into the boiling water, and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Add four eggs, one cup of chopped almonds, and lemon zest, and mix well by hand. 3. Divide into pieces half the size of a walnut, and make them into even-sized balls. Form into date shapes, pressing them on a coarse sieve (optional) to give them a nice texture. 4. Fry them at medium heat in two cups of sunflower oil, then remove, drain the oil and throw into cooled syrup, leaving them in until the next batch is nearly ready. Remove from syrup and place on serving plates.
  19. sazji

    Pumpkin Pie!

    Try another type of squash might be something to try as well; pumpkins are after all a squash. Here we don't have American-style pumpkins but rather big gray mutant-looking things, with a very fine-grained, rich tasting flesh similar to a hubbard (pictured below). It makes a wonderful pie, and you also don't have all the extra water of a pumpkin to deal with. I'd think a good hubbard would work. The bourbon sounds like a wonderful idea too.... <img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/MVC-072S.jpg" alt="Image hosted by Photobucket.com">
  20. I'm a lover of fruitcake and never got the fruitcake jokes, maybe because my mom always made wonderful ones. I always make them about now for Christmas; but what is left over only gets better. I was appalled once when a partner threw away two six-month-old fruitcakes, because they were "too old..." My suggestion would be just to make several fruitcakes, soak them in different kinds of booze, and sample them at intervals. Then you'll see what you like, and how it changes. Of course that won't answer the immediate question (but as someone else has said, it's a matter of personal taste anyway). Still you'll have fun tasting them.
  21. Here it seems to be a recent fashion to say "never, never, never put lemon on fish." They say it "masks" the flavor of the fish. I think it's one of those things that Turkish yuppies heard and repeat to show how cultured they are. A friend from Greece was visiting and asked for some lemon to put on his fish; someone at the table fed him the "never never put lemon" line and he nearly exploded in a gush of nationalism; something along the lines of "We have been eating fish here for thousands of years, and now you Huns off the steppes are going to tell me how I should eat it? You don't even have your own words for fish, you use ours for God's sake!!!" Luckily he said it in a tounge-in-cheek enough way that people laughed instead of being offended. But aside from the Hun part, I had to agree with him, and squeezed lemon on my own too as our friends tut tutted and mourned the culinary ectasy we were forfeiting. (I'm actually one of those people who thinks people should be able to put anything on their food they like, if they like it. Even ketchup. As long as it's not on food that I've cooked.)
  22. I did a search, I found a recipe for a hurma tatlısı made with almonds but none with semolina. If you want I can translate it for you, I suppose you could try it with a very fine semolina. bob
  23. Don't know if anyone is still following this thread, but I'd add Çiya in Kadiköy to the restaurants to visit. It specializes in Antep food of the southeast. (Çiya is the Kurdish word for 'mountain.' The very fact that they can name a restaurant that now says a lot about how far things have come here in the last decade. One thing I would *not* agree with is the bit about the balık ekmek. That fish is *not* caught in the Bosphorus, or anywhere in Turkey for that matter, it's plain old frozen fish imported from Scandinavia, kept around for God knows how long, fried in old oil; and I think it's positively foul....! On the other hand, fish season is just starting here now; palamut (bonito) is plentiful and cheap this year. Lüfer (bluefish) is also coming on. This fish is considered "trash" fish in the US as far as I know; and in Greece, it's a `B-grade` fish, but when it first enters the Bosphorus from the Black Sea, it is fatted up and wonderful. Istanbul is the place to eat it. A fun little place that's cheap but does their fish nicely is right behind the fish market in Karaköy. As you come across the Galata bridge from the old city, you will see a fresh fish market on the left. Go to the very end, and turn right; you'll see tables out on the grass. Try their palamut. 4 lira for half of a quite substantial fish, and very fresh.
  24. I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in. I make it every year (it's getting about that time...) 10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant) one liter grappa 15 bitter almonds 4 cloves 2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon. Quarter and seed quinces, grate them. Add the other ingredients and put into a glass jar, cover with the grappa. Shake occasionally, don't worry if the top layer of quince turns brown, it just makes the final liqueur more golden in color. Let stand at least 2 months in a warm dark place. Squeeze the liquid out of the pulp and do a basic filtering through cotton, and sweeten to taste with simple sugar syrup, and if the alchol is a bit weak (it may be, if you used really big quinces -- you can use either more grappa or pure alcohol). There is no way to completely filter it clear; you have to let it sit for several months. At some point it will rather suddenly precipitate; let this process go on for at least a month and it will be crystal clear. Decant into nice bottles. It's good any time of the year, but I especially like it in the summer over ice.
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