Sultan Selim Kofte

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Köfte is one of those dishes that calls to mind something slightly different for every person. Apparently, some company in Turkey determined that there are 291 varieties of köfte native to that country alone. (I get my information via Wikipedia’s kofte page, because I can’t read the original article in Turkish – so hopefully it’s not lying to me.) And that’s just within Turkey! Köfte (or kofta, kufta, kyuft’a, qofte, cufte, keftés, kopta…) is common everywhere from Morocco to Pakistan, and Azerbaijan to Croatia, with so many variations in between.

For Selim, his memories of köfte are just as variable. Think of how varying “American” meatballs can be… there’s variation in meat content (pork, beef, chicken, veal, lamb, turkey, tofu), sauces (marinara, BBQ, mustard, gravy), and cooking technique (crockpot, microwave, baked, fried). Köfte is no different, there’s a lot of variability within families, regions, and countries. I think most people will say that traditionally, köfte is charcoal-grilled as it imparts a distinctive smokiness and flavor that’s so unique. Unfortunately, we don’t have a grill, which kind of ruins that plan, so we decided to broil these to approximate that grilled flavor as much as we could. After living and cooking in our Columbia, SC apartment for over 2 years, we finally set off the smoke detector!

For our köfte tonight, we didn’t try to replicate a specific, authentic type of köfte. Instead, we tried to channel our favorite flavors into our own creation. Ally named these köfte after (one or the other of) Selim’s namesakes to differentiate from all of those 291 original Turkish varieties. You can be the judge as to which Sultan Selim Ally is referencing… Sultan Selim I (aka Selim the Grim or Selim the Resolute) who was a fiery tempered ruler who greatly expanded the Ottoman Empire or Sultan Selim II (aka Selim the Blond) who was a well-loved, soft, generous ruler. Our köfte has a spicy taste/temperament but is sure to be well-loved by all, a perfect combination.

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Selim, outside of Sultan Selim’s tomb

Sultan Selim Köfte

Ingredients: 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 lb lamb (80/20 – you want some fat here)
  • 1 egg (whisked)
Instructions:
  1. Make the spice mix by combining the spices in a small prep bowl, set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly mix the garlic, shallot, and lamb.
  3. Work the spice mix into the lamb slowly, ensuring that there aren’t any clumps of spice and continue working the meat with your hands until well mixed.
  4. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for ~30 minutes.
  5. Now stir in the whisked egg until well-combined.
  6. Using your hands, form into sigara-shaped patties and place on a sheet of foil.
  7. Broil/Grill/Pan Fry: watching carefully until the tops begin to brown and crisp, flipping once to ensure even cooking and charring. (Broilers, grills, and pans are so variable that we don’t want to tell you a specific time and screw up your köfte!) *If grilling, we highly recommend using skewers so as to not lose any köftes to the flames.
Serves 2-4
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Looking Back on 2017

I’m not going to lie… 2017 wasn’t exactly my favorite year of all time. It was an exhausting year of school/clinical work. The news cycle was like 99.9993457245999% negative. And don’t even get me started on our “president.” We try to keep it positive around here – so we’ll move away from all of that. After all, this blog is our creative outlet and happy diversion!

So let’s focus on all the wonderful things that happened this year! For starters, we’ve successfully completed another year of school! (We graduate in 🎉 🎉 129 days, in case you want to count along with us… We’re not excited at all 😉) Ally’s sister, the last of the kids, graduated from UVA in May. We had great, albeit far too short, visits to Washington DC, Cleveland, Virginia, and a few spots around the state of South Carolina. (Selim also visited Seattle… Ally’s still a little bitter about being left behind.) We watched the total solar eclipse down here in Columbia, which was pretty awesome. We were happily able to attend quite a few weddings of friends and family. Selim grew his hair out, which was a big change for us all. And we had some great times with our friends down here in SC.


You know what else we did this past year…? We made a lot of delicious food! This past summer, on our one year blogiversary, we shared some statistics and favorites from the first year of the blog. We’re going to shift that round-up to the end of the calendar year from now on (long live the blog!), because of the way that WordPress keeps track of statistics – it makes way more sense this way!

Top Three Dishes of the Year: 

♥ Ally – Roasted Grape & Prosciutto FlatbreadRosemary Risotto with Asparagus, & Spinach & Feta Gözleme

♥ Selim – BaklavaSpicy Korean BBQ Tacos with Tangy Slaw, & Pumpkin Roll

Biggest (Good) Surprise: 

♥ Ally – Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha)

♥ Selim – Kimchi Braised Chicken with Noodles & Spicy Feta Dip

Most Difficult Dish: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Baklava

Dish I Want to Improve: 

♥ Ally – Pumpkin Roll

♥ Selim – Cacio e Pepe

Most Viewed Post: Bay Scallop Risotto

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Number of Culinary Bucket List Items Checked Off: 5, with additions to a few more

Cuisines Sampled: Turkish, Syrian, Mexican, Southern, Jewish, Bangladeshi, Italian, & French

Number of Followers: 30

Number of Unique Blog Visitors: 2,154

Location of Blog Visitors: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Romania, France, Namibia, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, Netherlands, India, South Korea, Germany, Philippines, Ghana, Brazil, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Spain, Vietnam, Hungary, Antigua & Barbuda, Greece, Singapore, Poland, Egypt, Ukraine, Bulgaria, South Africa, Morocco, Ireland, Belgium, Estonia, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Bahrain, Indonesia, and Qatar!!

2018 Blog Goals: 

  • Celebrate random food holidays
  • Make more Turkish recipes
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe 🍪🍪
  • Continue to work on our Culinary Bucket List
  • Improve our photography skills
  • Relatedly ⤴️, move into a place with a larger, more well-lit kitchen & a gas stove
  • Share more about our favorite wines
  • Use our blog Instagram more frequently (follow us @bonappetitbabyblog & #bonappetitbabyblog if you want to see incredibly infrequent Instagram posts)
  • Finish graduate school! 🥂🖤👩‍🎓👨‍🎓🎉🍾

Muhammara

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We’re having an impromptu New Year’s Eve “party” tonight. I put party in quotations because we’re not exactly a wild bunch. We’re having food, alcohol, and friends on NYE, so I feel like it qualifies as a party, but we’re doing a lot more playing of board games than dancing on tables.

I’ve wanted to make muhammara for awhile now and tonight seemed like a good night! It’s really pretty easy to make, especially if you have a decent food processor. I mostly followed the recipe of my old faithful, Yotam Ottolenghi, for this one. If it’s any type of food from the greater Middle East, I feel like he makes it and makes it well! Muhammara originates from Aleppo, Syria, so the use of Aleppo pepper in the dish just feels important and necessary to me. Unfortunately, the civil war in Syria has greatly decreased world-wide supply of Aleppo pepper.* (*Obviously, this is not the most important negative impact of the Syrian civil war.) But with that in mind, if you don’t have any/can’t find any, you can substitute a smaller quantity of crushed red pepper flakes. (Aleppo pepper isn’t quite as spicy and has a deeper depth of flavor + a slight sweetness as compared to crushed red pepper. Some suggest a mixture of sweet paprika & cayenne/crushed red pepper is a okay approximation.) This spread is popular from Syria through Turkey and the Caucasus, with some regional variations. The main ingredients always include red pepper and walnuts (the basis of the dip), Aleppo pepper, and olive oil.

Also, for your party hosting pleasure, this recipe would be very easy to scale up. This yielded ~ 2 cups.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy New Year!! 🎉🎇🥂🖤

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Muhammara

(Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi)
Ingredients: 
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs [I actually used cracker crumbs – crushed matzoh from our Potato Latkes the other night]
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup walnut pieces
  • Salt to taste
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice bell peppers in half, removing the stems & seeds, and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and roast until blackened and blistering, ~30-35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, grind up the walnuts in a food processor. You want them to be fairly finely ground, but still have some texture. Set to the side.
  3. Peel the skin off of the red peppers once they are cool enough to handle.
  4. Place peppers, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, bread crumbs, cumin, Aleppo pepper, and garlic in the food processor. Pulse until well-combined. Again, don’t over-process and destroy all of the texture.
  5. By hand, stir in the walnuts into the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. When serving, top with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Rugelach

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We may have mentioned it once or twice, or a million times, but Selim definitely has the sweet tooth in this family. I could eat chips & dip for the rest of my life, but Selim could easily subsist on sweets, especially chocolate! We like to joke that he has a separate dessert stomach. It’s amazing – he can be stuffed after a dinner out or something big that we cooked at home, and then not five minutes later, he’s asking for the dessert menu or if we have any chocolate hidden in the house.

So when I decided to attempt rugelach for our Hanukkah dinner this year, I browsed a lot of recipes. I personally was enticed by the many recipes with nuts and cinnamon sugar, but I knew I had to make chocolate for Selim. I decided to stick with the more American preparation, that generally includes cream cheese in the dough, as opposed to a more yeasty Israeli preparation.

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Chocolate Rugelach

(Adapted from the following sites- here & here & here!)
Ingredients: 
  • 4oz  butter, softened
  • 4oz regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cups flour (+ additional for dusting)
  • 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
Instructions: 
  1. Allow the butter and cream cheese to sit out so they soften.
  2. Combine the butter, cream cheese, regular sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cream all of these ingredients together.
  3. Slowly add the flour in while the mixer is running.
  4. Once well-combined, turn out onto a floured counter and knead into a ball. Divide the ball into two equal pieces and flatten slightly into round discs.
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 tbsp brown sugar with the cocoa powder and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
  7. In another bowl, whisk together an egg with the remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. After the dough has chilled, remove each disc, one at a time from the refrigerator to work on.
  10. Roll out into a large circle. Sprinkle with the sugar-spice mixture, leaving a slight edge. (Remember to only use 1/2 of the mixture – or make more, whatever…!)
  11. Now top with chopped chocolate.
  12. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough like a pizza, into 8 pieces. Roll each one up, starting with the wider edge.
  13. Place the rolled up rugelach on a lined cookie sheet. Brush with cinnamon egg wash.
  14. Repeat steps 9 through 13 with each piece of dough. Keep dough refrigerated until using/ready to bake.
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  16. After removing from the oven, let cool on a wire rack.
Makes 24

 

Potato Latkes

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If there’s any dish that just screams ‘Hanukkah,’ it’s potato latkes. Latkes are traditional Hanukkah fare not for the dish itself, but for the oil its fried in. Hanukkah, know as the Festival of Lights; it celebrates the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight days. Over 2000 years ago, the city of Jerusalem was under Syrian-Greek control. Specifically, the king Antiochus IV Epiphanes reversed the rule of his father in allowing Jews to practice their religion and began persecuting the Jewish people. Their religion was banned, they were ordered to worship traditional Greek gods, many were massacred, and the Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated. A Jewish rebellion broke out, led by the Maccabees, which eventually drove the Syrian-Greeks out of Jerusalem. Once this occurred, the Jews set about cleaning and restoring the Temple. Once the Temple was rededicated, there was only a small amount of oil, enough that would keep the menorah lit for one day. The flame was supposed to stay lit continuously, but no one knew how the oil would last. The miracle was that the oil lasted for eight days, until the supply could be replenished. Jewish sages of the time proclaimed this miracle and thus created the holiday of Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights!

For this recipe, I used Tori Avey’s recipe and tips & tricks to try to make this the best batch possible. The goal is to have a crispy exterior with a warm and soft interior. Traditionally, you would top your Hanukkah latkes with applesauce or sour cream, but since we ate our with the delicious Wine & Honey Brisket that had plenty of pan sauce in which to dip the latkes if needed!

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Potato Latkes

(Adapted from toriavey.com)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes (~1lb)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal/crushed matzo crackers
  • 2 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Few turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Oil
Instructions: 
  1. Peel and then grate the potatoes. Submerge the potato shreds in cold water while working.
  2. Quarter the onion and then run it through a food processor.
  3. Drain the potato shreds through a doubled cheesecloth.
  4. Add the onion to the potato in the cheesecloth. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible.
  5. Combine the potato and onion with the matzo meal, the egg, salt, and pepper.
  6. Pour enough oil into your pan to form a layer ~1/8th inch thick. Goal temperature for frying = 360-375 degrees – you can check with a candy thermometer if you have one.
  7. Form a small patty with your hands, roughly 3 tbsp worth. Test this first one to make sure your oil is a good temperature. Should be 2-3 minutes per side, yielding crispy brown edges with a soft interior.
  8. Set the latkes on a wire rack to cool, with paper towels underneath. Serve while still warm.
Makes 8-10 latkes

 

Hanukkah Feast 2017

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Today is the Friday of Hanukkah for 2017. We’re not Jewish, but always have thought that this blog was a great excuse to cook and sample foods from all of the world’s countries, cultures, and religions… Holidays just seem to be the logical place to start.

Selim loves Jewish food. He grew up in Cleveland, which has a melting pot of European immigrants and their descendants. Lucky for Clevelanders, that means that their city is full of a variety of delicious foods. I think he mostly loves Jewish food for it’s delicious desserts, but those are just a gateway. I’ve been working nights and off-shifts this month, meaning that there a quite a few days when Selim’s gone all day. Which has allowed me to cook all day and have quite the surprise waiting for him when he got home this afternoon! We usually do pizzas or something easy out of the freezer on Friday night, so I think tonight’s dinner will be quite the upgrade.

Check out what I’ve made:

Wine & Honey Brisket

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Potato Latkes

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Chocolate Rugelach

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Hope you enjoy! And…

Happy Hanukkah! 

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Wine & Honey Brisket

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When I decided to make surprise Hanukkah dinner tonight, I knew I wanted to make latkes and dessert, but what to make for a main dish…? I’ve never made brisket before, but I don’t live under a rock. I know that this cut of meat is beloved by Jewish bubbes and Texas pit-masters alike. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever made a brisket before, but tonight seemed like the perfect night to give it a whirl!

Brisket is a cut that comes from the chest of the cow. It is a tough cut of meat, with a lot of connective tissue to support the cow’s weight. Hence, it requires a long, low, slow method of cooking to tenderize it sufficiently. Those Texas pit-masters like to smoke over low heat for long periods of time, but Jewish cooks traditionally braise it. We love any kind of braised meats, as we’ve mentioned a few times (check out our Braised Balsamic Pork with GrapesKimchi Braised Chicken with NoodlesRed Wine Braised Beef, or Braised Chicken Thighs with Middle Eastern Spices).

This recipe is an interesting mix of sweet and savory. The honey and balsamic add sweetness that balances out the meat and onions. The meat comes out so tender, but the sauce and vegetables really make it. I’m not going to lie – I think I actually liked the onions and the carrots even better than the meat.

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Wine & Honey Brisket

(Minimally adapted from Leite’s Culinara, recipe originating from Modern Jewish Cooking)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4lb brisket
  • Salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • cup + 1 cup red wine
  • tbsp + 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 6 large whole carrots or a few handfuls of baby carrots
Instructions: 
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Generously season both sides of the brisket with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides, several minutes per side.
  3. Remove the brisket from the dutch oven and set to the side.
  4. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of red wine. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ~ 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the other cup of red wine with honey, remaining 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and stock.
  7. Nestle the carrots under the onions. Then place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the wine and honey mixture over top.
  8. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours. After those 2 hours, stir the vegetables and flip the meat. Re-cover and braise for another 2 hours.
  9. Remove the brisket from the dutch oven. Place on a cutting board and tent foil overtop. Allow to rest for ~15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, return the dutch oven to the stovetop. Simmer the pan sauce and reduce it while the meat is resting.
  11. After resting, slice the brisket on the perpendicular. Serve with the onions, carrot, and topped with pan sauce.
Serves 6-8 (the brisket shrinks considerably as it braises)