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Everything posted by sazji

  1. As a kid, I always used to eat everything one at a time on my plate. My mom would try to get me to eat some of one thing and then something else...but I wouldn't hear of it. I always ate grapes in even numbers. One on each side of my mouth. Or two on each side. I hated fresh tomatoes - I would have to try them once and a while, and I remember running back to the bathroom to spit them out. These were garden tomatoes. But I didn't learn to like them until I was in Greece, and the tomatoes were really good. Still I'm ambivalent. I can't eat tomatoes with breakfast to save my life, and eating a piece of unaccompanied fresh tomato is still kind of nauseating to me.
  2. I feel exactly the same way. Then there's: Palatarian Gastrolibertarian Savorophile Victualist Foodstuffer
  3. I wouldn't because I think the astringent side of it might be a bit obtrusive. Lemon is a bright tartness to me, sumac is dark and woody. But no harm in trying it! You could make a batch with a little less lemon, make a bit of sumac water and put that over in place of the squeeze of lemon, and see how you like it. If you don't you could squeeze lemon juice over the rest.
  4. I've done it lots of times, usually because there is enough food and we don't miss it. Though I have to say nobody would forget cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving if I were there! As for forgtting an ingredient - my favorite one is to seal up the apple pie and then remember that I didn't put the butter in. How many times have I tried to slip it in through the slits in the top crust without messing it up...
  5. In some parts of Turkey and Greece they pan roast them, then grind them for "coffee." It's quite rich because of the oil in the fruits (they are in the same genus as pistachios).
  6. This is very common in Turkey too; the most common are mint or mint and red pepper in butter or olive oil. I'm not aware of a name for it in particular. In recipes they usually just say something like "burn some mint in olive oil" (literally; of course they don't mean to actually burn it!)
  7. I think much of the problem is simply that compared with many other places, the US is not really a bread culture. Where in Turkey, the Balkans, and lots of Europe, bread is the staff of life and people can't imagine eating without bread in hand. In Greece I have friends who start by taking out the soft center of the bread, and eat their food with the crusts. In the US bread is like an appetiser, not often really eaten along with meals. Sandwiches may have started out as food on bread, but the bread has become more of a "material to keep the mayonnaise off your fingers." Hard crust is not convenient for sandwiches, and that's been the main use for bread in the US. It probably got more that way in the 50s-70s when I was growing up, along with the trend towards packaged and convenience foods. In Iowa when I was a kid, we had a friend of the family who would bring us bagels from New York, it was such a treat. In the 80s they appeared in Iowa, even if with incarnations such as blueberry and (horror of horrors) bacon and cheese. But the upshot is that in recent times Americans have begun to appreciate bread more for what it can be in and of itself, and an appreciation for all of its qualities, including the crust. It's even swung the other way among foodies, with specialty breads with nuts, herbs, olives, etc. Even sandwich bread has come a long way from when I was a kid - then you had a choice of fluffy white, dry wheat or rye, and cinnamon bread. Now there are lots of multigrain and nut breads, and if they are a bit weak on substance they at least have good flavor. I still don't eat lots and lots of bread here, at least not in comparison with Turks, but when I go back to the States I miss the abundance of good bread and maybe react by wanting it more. Of course not all the bread here is crusty, there are lots of different types.
  8. I am pretty sure that the sumac sold in middle eastern grocery stores is the kind that grows in the Middle East, not the American species. The American ones (Rhus typhina, Rhus glabra) have sour berries but they are still quite different, the berries are small and fuzzy, carried in dense red clusters above the foliage. Poison sumac (Rhus vernix - now reclassified into the genus Toxicodendron rather than Rhus) has white berries in loose clusters scattered over the plant, so it's easy to distinguish them. R. coriaria (Med. sumac) has much larger, dark berries. You can see pictures of both the American and Mediterranean species Here The last picture on the page is a very good one of the Mediterranean species. One thing I do with it is to soak a handful of whole sumac overnight (a couple hours is probably fine) in hot water, and then strain and use it in the cooking water for meat dolma. (rice, meat, isot pepper, tomatoes, parsley, pepper paste, tomato paste, onion if desired, salt, black pepper, some butter). If you can't find whole sumac you can just add the ground sumac directly to the filling. Fill the fresh or dried peppers/eggplant/vine leaves/whatever with the filling, rice uncooked, cover with a couple fingers of water (including the sumac), add a bit of tomato paste and oil or butter, weight with a plate, simmer till done. I haven't tried soaking the ground sumac but it might work as well.
  9. I think it's the water to bulgur ratio. Bulgur pilaf is a staple here, with lots of different varieties, some with more some with less fat. But the water to bulgur ratio is 1:1 unless you are going for a really soft pilaf or a porridge type dish. I've used various grades of bulgur, from fine to very coarse (almost whole-grains) and the result is the same. Sometimes I use even a bit less water.
  10. I was originally planning to make some leek filled savory turnovers but ended up doing something else with the leeks, so I had to do something with the thawed puff pastry. So I did apple turnovers, but instead of the normal filling, I used something a bit similar to Ling's Caramel Apple Pie, only I chopped the apples fine and in addition to lots of cinnamon, also added a bit of hot red pepper. Not enough to make it firey, just to add a bit of a kick. It was fun to watch the initial "oh no" look on my friends' faces, followed by a look of relief that they weren't going to be fatally burned, and then "heyy...good!" (Hot pepper in desserts is not a concept here...)
  11. Not a cooking show. But brilliant! Tragedy Averted Cinnamon and Gooseberry Yogurt Caught Unawares Egg Crisis Tempura The Nervous Woman Has Breakfast
  12. scambled eggs, boiling hotdogs. I think I made some banana bread on my own early on. The first meat dish (other than frying a hamburger) I ever made was Hasenpfeffer. My dad was a hunter and used to bring home rabbit. One day he bagged two and since we always had it the same way, I wanted to try something different. Mom did help me through the recipe but it was my dinner. My dad, being a bit traditional, at least outwardly, said something like "Someday your'e going to make someone a great wife." My mom let him have it.
  13. Jamie I looked back through the posts but didn't find where you were. If you are in the US, the durian has likely been frozen first; all the ones I used to get at Uwajimaya in Seattle were previously frozen. Only in Vancouver did I ever find truly fresh ones. The frozen ones don't have much fragrance, especially from the peels, you have to open them to get it. Of course if it is not ripe, it won't ripen after freezing. (Another poster mentions freezing as one of the "tricks" people use to take them on planes.) A fresh durian's peel should be really fresh "live" green. A frozen will be sort of gray-green. Actually the sulphurous part of the smell comes from the pulp. The peel all alone has a very sweet, almost pineapple-like smell. In Cambodia they put the peels in the house because they like the fragrance. I had heard of durian when I was in around 3rd grade, in a Weekly Reader article. I was determined right then that one day I had to try it. My first chance came when I was in real poverty for a year. And there I saw it, 10 dollars (in 1985) for a pound of frozen durian. I shelled it out without even thinking. The first smell was shocking ..."oh shit, no way..." I said. The next day, sobered by economic realities, I said "Dammit, I paid ten dollars for that stuff, I'm going to eat it if it kills me!" So I took a bite, sort of tried to get my head around it...and suddenly it just clicked. Custard and rotten onions *do* go well together! I ate the rest of it within about 4 minutes...
  14. I usually do something similar. My upstairs neighbors are vegetarian and none of my other friends are (asking for a "meatless" dish at a restaurant here will often get you chicken...chicken's chicken, not meat!). So I can't really plan the whole menu around them. But sometimes it's a good excuse to try some recipe I hadn't tried before, or invent something new. It's often not all that difficult to set aside a couple servings worth of something and leave out the meat or add something else instead. Veganism is something else though; when my neighbors first came from the states, the husband was vegan. Then I'll suggest they bring something because that's a bit limiting for me, especially for Turkish cooking. I don't play around with people's religious convictions. (Someone once said "break your own taboos, not others".) Avoiding pork for Muslims is easy, you can't find it here. (I do have friends who visit from outside and bring me products made with the "forbidden meat." No way am I going to waste it on someone who'll say "eeeeew!" This might include non-practicing Muslims who still have a strong cultural aversion to it.) Makes me think of the time my parents invited a new couple from Sarajevo to dinner. She served pork roast. She knew Jews didn't eat pork but had not had any experience with Muslims (it was Iowa in the 60s after all). I think they ordered pizza. Of course if someone has one of those really dangerous nut/seafood allergies, they usually let you know, and I always try to accomodate. But they should let me know.
  15. I run into this issue sometimes as a translator. One thing that drives me crazy when I watch an American movie here in Turkey is when someone says "fuck!," the Turkish subtitles say something like a mild form of "damn." And more extreme cases. With the exception of the Tyrol, where the worst thing you can call someone seems to be a "sugar beet sucker" you walk down the street in any country in the world and you will hear profanity. And nobody dies from it. Who's being protected here? Do we really need to turn a street thug (or a recovered heroin addict) into something he's not so that people can watch movies about such people or read what they have to say without reading a particular word. I translated a film a few months ago with a character who was a drinking, violent, wife beating lowlife. To translate this guy's language as "oh darn" would have been absurd, and I was so relieved when they told me that because it was destined for a foreign film festival I could translate "honestly!" So when someone gets all upset over seeing a very, very old English word once in print, I have to wonder how such a person functions in everyday life. Or perhaps they lead very sheltered lives.
  16. The first thing that comes to mind is dark chocolate ice cream between peanut butter cookies. Or (different from theirs but) a batch of chewy brownies made in a pan the same size as the ice cream, take the brownie out in one piece and cut in two crosswise, then spread the ice cream and refreeze, then cut.
  17. Not chewy - it can be either firm or seperate/grainy depending on how you add the sugar, but the grains are tender. I've posted a recipe in RecipeGullet. Now imagining it with almond flour...actually there was a ground almond halvah made in the Ottoman palace, but I don't know exactly how it was made.
  18. Turkish Semolina Halvah - İrmik Helvası Serves 15 as Dessert. "Halvah" (Helva) in Turkish means just about any sweet that involves toasting of a seed or grain, be it sesame, flour, semolina, or even cornstarch, and the addition of a sugar syrup. This is one of the two most common made in homes. Ingredients 500 g coarse semolina 4 c water 3 c sugar 250 g butter 1/4 c pine nuts Mix 4 c water and 1 1/2 c of the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep hot. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot, and add the pine nuts. Stir them in the butter a minute or two, then add the semolina and reduce the heat. Stir till the semolina begins to heat up and appear a bit more oily in consistency (this means the liquid has evaporated from the butter). You can then increase the heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to darken somwhat, you get a good toasty smell, and the pine nuts have begun to brown. Remove from the heat and GRADUALLY add the hot sugar syrup. Do this carefully as it will boil and steam violently at first. Then put back on heat and reduce heat to very low, cover and let sit for around 5 minutes or until the mixture has become fairly firm. Turn off the heat, and add the remainint 1 1/2 cups of sugar, stir in and cover, let sit a few minutes and stir again. Repeat a few times. Serve warm or cold. This way of adding sugar gives a crumbly, separate halvah. Alternatively you can add all the sugar to the water in the beginning; this will give a halvah more suitable for molding and slicing. You can also add other nuts such as walnuts or almonds, and flavorings such as cinnamon or orange zest. My last experiment was with orange zest dark chocolate added with the sugar, and chopped white chocolate added after it cooled somewhat but was still warm. Keywords: Dessert, Easy ( RG2037 )
  19. I did a personal twist on a fairly run-of-the-mill Turkish dessert: Semolina halvah with pinenuts is a traditional version. I added orange zest, dark chocolate and just before it got too cool to melt it, half a cup of chopped white chocolate. It won't win any prizes for beauty (especially served alongside a computer keyboard...hey, it's honest) but I was pretty happy with the flavor, and coming upon a piece of white chocolate is especially nice. The dark chocolate was a little wimpy though; I should have added more. Ling - I'm trying to imagine a foie gras tarte tatin. What did you serve it as - dessert, appetizer...? Is that a big hunk of foie gras in the picture? Jmahl - the almond cake is beautiful, it must have been delicious!
  20. Here's an internet one, straight from the Turkish Ministry of Culture (Read the title carefully.)
  21. You forgot the corollary to the index finger injury. They hurt a lot more than you think they would. OW OW OW OW OW OW OW! God, I get up in the morning, see "Topic Subscription Notice" from eGullet, and here, before my morning coffee has even kicked in, I'm reading "Fretty Kreuger's Kitchen!" Blood-tinted mayonnaise is also a bad choice for serving to vegetarians. They seem to sense that something's up. Still, in my book the immersion blender, it's still one of the most "can't do without it" kitchen tools. I always remove the blade attachment before sticking my finger in. However a few days ago, in an attempt to free a bit of pasta sticking to the bottom of a kettle with a wooden spoon, with one hand (i.e. not holding the pot with the other, which was occupied), I damn near pulled the entire pot of boiling water onto myself, so I won't praise myself for my common sense! And after all the mandoline horror stories, I'd probably just sit across the room staring in fear if one ever got into my kitchen...
  22. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    Those look really beautiful, I think that will be my next dinner! Why did you freeze the citrus? I think some rosemary in there with the sage would be nice too.
  23. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    They're really nice, I made a second batch with the leftover filling and yufka this morning. But realized after they were in the oven for a few minutes that I'd forgotten to sprinkle on the nigella. (That's what you get for cooking before coffee!) If you want the flavor to be really right, score yourself some Turkish yufka -- it's completely different thatn commercial phyllo. You can buy it online at Taste of Turkey. As for the cheese, feta works, though it will be a little different. You can also try a mix of dry cottage cheese with some feta that's been soaked in water to get rid of the extra salt. Çökelek has a bit of an acid tang that make it popular in böreks here.
  24. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    Well, hard to say really. Leek pitta is very common in Greece, especially in the north, and they often make it in the spiral shape, as do the Jews of Istanbul. The brushing of the oil and yogurt was from an Aegean wild herb börek recipe collected by Tijen Inaltong that I just translated today (for a website on foods of Turkey, I'll post when it's up). The Greek recipe would use feta, I used çökelek, so I suppose it's a more Turkish approach. (The fact that all the ingredients were bought in the street market down the block from me would push it that way as well.) The lines between Greek and Turkish cooking are so blurry really, considering that Greeks and Turks lived side by side in the same towns for hundreds of years. Whatever they were very good and now they are all gone....but I got more filling to use tomorrow!
  25. sazji

    Dinner! 2007

    Speaking of comfort food...I made these leek böreks with çökelek cheese (a slightly tangy curd cheese). I used ready made yufka (like phyllo but slightly thicker and tenderer), brushed with a mixture of yogurt and olive oil, then rolled up the leek/cheese mixture and rolled that into a spiral. Topped with beaten egg and a bit of nigella seed. Almost good enough to eat, as my mom would say.
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