Appetizers/mezes

Focaccia

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Here is a wonderful recipe that everyone will love: focaccia. This italian bread is a real pleasure for the taste buds and eyes. I’ve made this bread so many times in so many ways and it always turns out great. And it goes well with pretty much everything so it’s impossible to go wrong. Use sun-dried tomatoes, olives, garlic or just keep it simple with olive oil and herbs. Serve it for breakfast, as a side dish or appetizer. It always works great. I made this bread for my hungry friends and they loved it 🙂 Traditionally a lot of olive oil is used, but if you don’t like it oily then use less. Also try to use fresh herbs but if you don’t have any, dried are fine too. Oh so delicious…

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Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 3 cups flour (450-500gr)
  • 1 sachet dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water

For the topping

  • 3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • chilli flakes or paprika powder

In a bowl, mix water, yeast and sugar. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it up. Knead the mixture for 5-10 minutes or until the dough doesn’t stick anymore (add more flour when necessary). Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and set aside for 30 minutes. Oil the bottom of a baking tray and transfer the dough to it. Spread the dough with your hands. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Press your fingertips in the dough and make dimples. Brush the top with olive oil and herbs and bake your focaccia in a preheated oven at  225°C for about 20 minutes.

Buon appetito 😉

Tortilla de patatas

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After spending 10 wonderful days in Andalusia last week, it shouldn’t suprise you that the next recipe is a typical Spanish one. Tortilla de patatas (papas for short), or in other words the Spanish omelette is probably one of the most traditional and the most famous dishes in Spain. You can eat it hot or cold. In Spain it is often served as tapas or it is eaten as a sandwich (bocadillo). I know it’s not a breakfast dish but I like to eat mine for breakfast with bread and alioli. The most basic ingredients are potatoes, eggs, olive oil and salt (depending on the region also onion, peppers and garlic is used) but you can add whatever you like to it (I like mine with garlic, onion and parsley). A must-try for everyone!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 or 5 potatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • parsley (optional)
  • 1 garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup olive oil (enough oil to fry your potatoes and onion)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the onion and the potatoes into thin slices. Pour olive oil in a pan. Add the potatoes and fry them a couple of minutes. Add the onion, garlic and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and let the mixture cook, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat before your potatoes turn brown. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the potato mixture to the eggs. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Pour the mixture in the pan and let it cook on medium heat. Flip the tortilla when it’s slightly brown on the bottom (using a flat plate that covers the pan). Slide the tortilla back into the pan and cook the other side. ¡Ya está!

¡Qué aproveche! 😉

Tip: The thickness of the tortilla depends on the size of the pan. Use a smaller one if you want a thicker tortilla.

Cacik

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So just got back from a lovely holiday in Turkey. I had a great time eating all that delicious Turkish food and discovering the beauty of the country. The best part was the sun (of course), eating watermelons 3 times a day, visiting family members and shopping 🙂 While being back in cold Belgium and trying to adapt myself is hard I find making lots of Turkish food quite helps. Therefore, the next few weeks I’ll be sharing 3 Turkish recipes. Today’s recipe and the first out of the 3 will be Cacik! This dish eaten throughout almost all the former Ottoman countries, is very delicious and again very simple to make. It is made with yoghurt, which is actually a Turkish word. Anyone who has ever been to Turkey knows that yoghurt occupies an important place in the Turkish cuisine. Cacik is eaten as an appetizer (meze), sauce or as a side dish. Thick or diluted with water (depending on the occasion and food served) it can be served alongside everything, especially with meat dishes and rice. I think it’s an excellent choice on hot summer days for its refreshing and healthy ingredients. Cacik is quite similar to the Greek tzatziki (except that tzatziki is only consumed in the thicker version).

For approximately 3 bowls the ingredients are:

  • 1/2 cucumber (if you’re using the European ones)
  • 1,5 cup plain yoghurt (Turkish or Greek)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • mint (dried or fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • dill (dried or fresh)
  • half a glass water
  • Some salt to taste

Chop the cucumber finely or grate it (I always grate it) in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and mix to see if you need more. Crush the garlic and add it to the yoghurt. Lastly, add the spices (I prefer mint and dill but thyme is fine if you don’t have dill) and the water. Stir until you get a smooth consistency. Leave it in the fridge for a few hours so the ingredients can blend nicely. Pour into bowls, garnish with fresh mint leaves, drizzle some olive oil on top and serve.

Like I said, this recipe is so great that it goes with everything. Besides using it as a dip sauce, meze and side dish, Turks also eat it on its own as a soup (similar to the Spanish gazpacho) by mixing it with ice cold water.

Afiyet olsun!

Garlic bread

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The last recipe for this month. Let me present you: the uber delicious garlic bread. This easy to make recipe is pretty much my favourite on my list of effortless food. Not only it’s easy to make but you’ll get loads of compliments for it. And do I even have to mention that these slices are indispensable with pasta? 🙂 Usually, I use 1 or 2 garlic cloves because I don’t like the overwhelming taste of it, but you can add more or less to your taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of bread (Ciabatta, baguette or Turkish)
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or 2 tablespoons butter (I combine the two)
  • basil and oregano (or parsley)
  • salt and pepper
  • tomato (optional)
  • Mozarella cheese (optional)
  • chili flakes (optional)

Cut the bread into slices. Mince the garlic in a saucepan and place on the stove. Add the oil and butter. Then, add the herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir till the butter is melted, wait 2 or 3 minutes and remove from the stove. Spread the mixture over the slices or dip the slices in the mixture. You can garnish them with chopped tomatoes or mozarella cheese (or any other cheese). Place the slices in the oven and bake them till they turn golden brown (for about 15 minutes).

Bon appétit!

Hummus

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Who doesn’t love hummus right? This simple but delicious recipe is probably the most well-known Middle Eastern dish. Everyone knows that it tastes different everywhere. As for me, I always prepare the version with sumac or za’atar (a mix of dried herbs like thyme, oregano, sumac, chili, and salt) which is the Palestinian or Lebanese version. I find the Turkish one quite strong due to it’s overuse of tahini. What I most love about hummus is that not only it’s easy to make but you can’t go wrong with it. Also good news if you’re obsessed with your weight 🙂 This -rich in protein- dish helps you control your sweet cravings and gives you a full and satisfied feeling.

Without food processor

With food processor

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (265ml) of chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 or 1 lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame paste (tahini)
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley and basil (optional)
  • sumac (or za’atar)
  • olive oil and 2 tablespoons sunflower oil (for the mixture)

Mash the garlic, add the chickpeas and lemon juice. Mix the other ingredients until it’s smooth (use a food processor otherwise you’ll get a sticky mess (first picture). Drizzle some (1 tablespoon is sufficient) olive oil on top and garnish with chopped parsley and sumac! Add 2 tablespoons of water if the mixture is still thick.

Very delicious with toasted pita bread or nacho chips!

Pan con tomate

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Pan con tomate, tostada con tomate or simply bread with tomato is a Spanish recipe (actually Catalan) . I discovered this last year while on Erasmus in Spain. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of the Spanish kitchen (don’t shoot me 🙂 ), but this is one of my favourite dishes (along with tortilla and paella), I can eat it every day! Actually, when I make pan con tomate it’s more my style. I call it pan a la Yazz 🙂 because I cook the mixture with, garlic, basil, pepper and oregano for 5-10 minutes. Perfect for breakfast. Try it! It’s so easy that you’ll love it.

Ingredients:

  • bread (any kind will do but I personally prefer Turkish bread or baguette)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 clove of garlic (optional)
  • Basil and pepper (optional)

First, slice the bread into 2 halves. Grate your tomatoes in a bowl (or put them in a food processor).  Mince the garlic (or cut the garlic in halves and rub it over the bread) and mix with the tomatoes. Then mix with salt, pepper and basil. Toast the bread in a frying pan or toaster. Drizzle some olive oil over the bread and spread the mixture on it. Voila that simple! 🙂

¡Buen provecho!