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!

Gazpacho

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I thought the most obvious thing to do after Spain would be posting a Spanish recipe. Not just any recipe but a typical summer one. For those going to Spain any time soon maybe a word of warning: Be prepared it’s too hot! How hot? Well, Madrid was like 42 degrees (and Andalusia is even hotter). So if you’re not used to it avoid  the midday sun. If you have to go outside try to find a place in ‘la sombra’ and wear a hat, a big hat, that covers up your shoulders. That said, it’s time for our delicious summertime recipe. This week’s dish will be the refreshing GAZPACHO. Also known as the Spanish cold soup. Although I’m not really a fan of cold soups this one is actually not that bad at all. Especially during warm days when we can lose our appetite experts recommend eating plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, pineapples etc. (known as cold foods in chinese medicine, see below). Light meals such as gazpacho are therefore ideal to beat the heat a bit 🙂 As for me, I’m going to Turkey tomorrow so I’m probably not going to be around for the next 3 weeks. Happy holidays!

Ingredients:

  • 5 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 or 2 bell peppers (I used red and green)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or 2 tablespoons pomodoro)
  • 1 teaspoon sambal (optional)
  • chopped mint and parsley (or basil)
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Peel the tomatoes, chop them roughly and put in a food processor. Chop the other vegetables roughly too and place them all  in the food processor. Puree the mixture until everything gets smooth. Take the mixture into a bowl and add tomato paste and sambal to the mixture. Stir till everything combines well. Lastly, add vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and garnish your gazpacho with chopped mint leaves and parsley.

Serve cool and with bread!

¡Buen provecho!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_food_therapy

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/traditional-chinese-medicine-causes-of-illness5.htm

http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/heaty.html

Pasta al pesto

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This will probably be my last post this month before heading to Spain. I promised a friend that I would post a pasta recipe. So, to keep my promise behold the first pasta recipe of my blog: Pasta with pesto. The picture isn’t pretty but hey I’m not a professional photographer 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Pasta (I prefer linguine or tagliatelle)
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves
  • bunch of fresh basil leaves
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • handful of pine nuts
  • salt and pepper
  • pasta cheese (optional)

Mix the pine nuts, garlic cloves and basil leaves in a food processor. Mix until you get a smooth consistency. Take your sauce in a bowl and add olive oil and salt and pepper to it. Cook the pasta. Drain it and place it back on the heat. Mix with the pesto mixture. Stir a couple of times (to cut the overwhelming smell of garlic) and add the parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and remove from heat. As you wish you can garnish it with pasta cheese (a mix of mozzarella, emmental and gouda).

Serve with salad!

Buon appetito!

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!

Morrocan mint tea

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Hiii everyone. Today I’m going to share my all time favourite tea with you. Because of my Turkish background I grew up drinking tea. Tea was literally everywhere.  Just like me grewing up with Turkish tea, my Morrocan friends grew up drinking mint tea. And with them I developed some sort of love for mint tea. In Turkey, the Middle East and the Maghreb tea occupies a very important place. Since many moslims don’t drink alcohol, tea is served instead anytime anywhere. It is consumed daily but drinking tea becomes a real ceremony when guests come to visit. Actually, the true meaning of tea is hospitality. Meaning: no one ever leaves the house before having a cup :). While Turkish tea is prepared with black tea (I’ll give the recipe soon) Moroccan mint tea is prepared with green tea and mint leaves. Morrocans like to drink their tea bitter and sweet. So, if you’re not a sugar lover (like they are) add less. I like to drink mine less bitter and less sugary, so I adjust it to my personal taste. If you don’t like the bitterness of it, don’t allow it to steep for too long (5 minutes is enough). Sometimes I add a tablespoon of orange blossom water to it for a different flavour. So, if you want to please your guests, you know what to do. Just serve them a cup (or 5) of tea. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of fresh mint leaves (washed)
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese gunpowder tea
  • 1,5 tablespoon sugar
  • 1L water
  • orange blossom water (optional)

In order to wash the tea, put the tea in the teapot and add a bit of boiling water. Set aside and pour out the water after 1 minute. Your tea is clean now. (This process will make your tea taste less bitter).  Add the mint leaves, sugar and boiling water and leave it to steep for 5 minutes on the stove. Take a glass and pour some tea in it. Then pour the tea back in the pot. Repeat this two more times. This will mix the tea and dissolve the sugar. Now, pour the tea into glasses and serve.

Good to know:

  • Before serving pour the tea from a distance to create a layer of foam.
  • The tea turns bitter very quickly so consume within 15 or 20 minutes.
  • If you don’t have gunpowder tea at home use 2 or 3 bags of green tea.

Enjoy!

Spicy cake with fresh fruit

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Hello all! Long time no see. I’ve been busy with uni and still pulling long hours these days that writing recipes is only possible when I’m feeling ill or tired 🙂 That said, there is this recipe I wanted to share with you weeks ago. A fruitcake or a cake with fruits (and I mean real fruit not dried) with cinnamon and ginger.  This incredibly delicious fruitcake is very light and cheap to make. Very light because it’s low in sugar and low in fat. In Turkey, this cake is especially eaten in fall, when fruit is in abundance or during cold winter days when we need some food to fight our depression (hey any excuse at that point is good to eat cake :)). Good thing is that this recipe is not bound to any specific recipe. You can add all sorts of fruit or spices. Just include your own favourites.  I’ve made it with fruits I had home. Next time I will definitely add some raisins or walnuts to it. Yummy with a cup of coffee!

Ingredients (suitable for 10):

  • Fruit: 1 apple, 1 pear, 2 mandarins, 1 orange, 2 kiwis (I only had one at home)
  • 2,5  cups flour
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • half a teaspoon ginger powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 sachet baking powder
  • 1 sachet vanilla (5 g)

Chop the fruits into small cubes. Mix with 1 tablespoon of flour (to avoid sinking when baking) and set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the sugar and eggs until creamy. Add the milk and oil to the mixture. Mix the flour, the baking powder and the rest of the ingredients to it. Stir once, then add your fruits. Stir again and put to mixture in a cake pan. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour in preheated oven at 180C.

Enjoy!

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!