Spinach & Feta Gözleme

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What’s the first thing people think of when they think of Turkish food? Kofte is the first thing for most people, but there’s so much more! Don’t worry, we’re going to keep cooking our way through them and sharing with you here. Gözleme is one of the many great Turkish street foods. (Lahmacun is another that if you haven’t tried from our blog, you should soon!) So good in fact that it has spread from Turkey to the rest of the world. In Australia, there’s a fast food place, called Gözleme King, devoted to making different types of gözleme. This spinach and cheese preparation is a fairly traditional one, but gözleme can contain pretty much anything! In the future we’re definitely going to throw in some sucuk (Turkish sausage). But as is, this dish is amazing. The dough is soft, light, and just a bit crispy on the edges. And it essentially goes without saying that the warm feta brings it all of the flavors together perfectly.

*So speaking of feta… Let’s talk about feta. I know so many people who loooove feta. I’m one of them, obviously. We could form a fan club if y’all want? But here’s the thing, a lot of people I know have only ever had the pre-crumbled, standard grocery store feta. I used to be one of them. As with many other things, when I started dating Selim, my narrowly bounded world of feta expanded. If you think feta only exists in its pre-crumbled form and you love it anyway, please go out and find some block feta in brine. Your world will be changed forever, I promise. (Mine was!) The flavor and texture are so much better – you’ll never go back. Sadly, not all of your standard grocery stores will have feta like this. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods usually do, but if yours doesn’t, try an international grocery store, a halal market, or a Middle Eastern specialty shop. While you’re there, try all the different types of feta and Middle Eastern cheeses, your cheese-world will be forever changed.

We have two go-tos when it comes to making Turkish recipes. The first is Ozcan Ozan’s cookbook that I’ve referenced on here before. But the second is a blog called Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Tonight’s recipe is adapted from there. It is a wonderful resource for all things Turkish food!

gozleme

Spinach & Feta Gözleme

(Adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Table)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil + more for brushing
  • 1 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water + more
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups (loosely packed) spinach, roughly chopped
  • 6oz feta*
Instructions: 
  1. Begin by making the dough. Take 1/2 cup of warm water and stir in the pinch of salt and yeast. Allow to sit for a few minutes until it begins to bubble.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast mixture, yogurt, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add additional water by the tablespoon. (I used an additional 2-3 tbsp).  Using your hands, form into a big ball of dough.
  3. Once you have a ball of dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for several minutes.
  4. Divide into 4 similarly sized smaller balls. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rest for ~30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Pour 2 tsp of olive oil into a pan over medium heat.
  6. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions. Sprinkle with the spices and stir.
  7. Cook just for 4-5 minutes until soft and fragrant, but not starting to brown.
  8. Add the spinach and a couple drops of water to the pan and cover. Leave covered for just a minute or two, until the spinach has wilted just a bit.
  9. Remove the lid and stir together well. Allow to cook for another minute or two with the lid off to get rid of any excess moisture.
  10. Remove to a bowl on the side. Mix in the feta.
  11. Now roll out the dough balls into large, thin, rectangular segments.
  12. Divide the mixture from the pan among the dough segments, placing in the middle of each piece of dough. Make sure to leave plenty of room around the edges for folding.
  13. Fold the dough around the mixture as pictured. (You want to end up with a little rectangular envelope.) Brush the edges with olive oil to help them stay together.
  14. Now, bring a large pan, preferably a griddle one, up to medium heat. [Don’t start until the pan is hot!]
  15. Brush both sides of each gözleme with more olive oil. Once pan is hot, place them on the pan. (You can do one at a time or if you’re more confidant in your skills than I am, as many as will comfortably fit in your pan.) Cover the pan and do not touch for three full minutes. At this time, flip to the other side, re-cover, and again, do not touch for three minutes!
  16. After this point, you may flip back and forth a few times, cooking another 4-5 minutes until dough is cooking and the outside crisped to your liking.

Baked Jerk Chicken Wings

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So here’s what I did for this recipe. I just made it up. Do not look here for authentic ratios of spices in a jerk spice blend. If you have Jamaican friends, send them the other direction – away from my inauthentic blog post! But if you’re not super-concerned about authenticity and want to test out some spicy hot baked wings… check out this recipe. I kept the wings whole and intact (mostly out of sheer laziness), but for more pieces and a more traditional wing look you can certainly portion them! A lot of time you can find them portioned in the store too. Here’s a nice breakdown on the chicken wing from The Kitchn. PS: The Kitchn is a great site for everything from recipes and how-tos to all sorts of tips & tricks of the trade.

Also, I am not joking about the spice level. Selim, who when asked in Indian or Thai restaurants for his preferred spice level answers, “However you would make it at home,” even thought these were spicy. I am way wimpier when it comes to spice, but I battled through. You can taste the other spices and even a hint of sweetness from the brown sugar despite the heat. It also helped that we paired this with cool and tangy Green Crema to keep our tongues from burning off. If you don’t want quite the five-alarm spice level, try cutting back on the crushed red pepper flakes in the recipe.

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Baked Jerk Chicken Wings

Ingredients: 
  • 3lbs of chicken wings
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions: 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the spices in a small bowl or ramekin.
  3. Toss wings with oil in a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle spice mixture over wings, tossing until all are well-coated.
  5. Spread wings out on a foil-lined cookie sheet, skin side up.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip to the other side. Bake 20 more minutes.
  7. After the full 40 minutes, return the wings to the original side up. Turn the heat up to broil. Broil for just a minute or two, watching closely, so the skin crisps up. Areas of thick spice coverage may blacken a bit, which is fine, but don’t let the skin burn!

 

 

Esquites Americano

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Have you heard of elote, the beloved Mexican street food? Mexican street vendors sell you a char-grilled cob of corn, slathered with crema or mayonnaise or sour cream, cilantro, chili powder, cheese, lime juice, and maybe a few other ingredients. People rave about it! I’ve never had it, mostly because I haven’t spent much time in Mexico, and also because I don’t live in a big city with tons of street vendors. Also… because I haven’t ever been able to wrap my head around mayonnaise on my corn on the cob. I’m sure it’s amazing, because everyone says it’s amazing, but I haven’t quite made that mental leap yet.

But here’s the thing. Turns out, Mexicans also make a delicious dish called esquites, which as best I can tell, is basically elote in a bowl. For some reason, combining all those exact same ingredients in a bowl makes way more sense to my crazy brain. So I thought I’d dip my toe in and try esquites, hopefully as a gateway. My concoction is adapted from this one. We call our version Esquites Americano, solely based on the addition of the American favorite – bacon. We ate this as a dip with tortilla chips, but it works as a side as well. It’s as delicious as people say!

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Esquites Americano

(Adapated from Serious Eats)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 strips of bacon, chopped into small lardons
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3oz cojito (or feta) cheese
Instructions: 
  1. Place the bacon in a large pan, over medium heat. Cook until the bacon is crispy, and then remove to the side.
  2. Remove corns from its ears. Add the corn, jalapeño, and garlic to the pan. Increase heat slightly to medium-high. Stir to coat in the bacon fat.
  3. Cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until corn begins to brown.
  4. Combine ingredients from the pan in a large bowl with the cilantro, ancho chili powder, lime juice, and mayonnaise. Stir to combine well.
  5. Refrigerate until dip has sufficiently cooled.
  6. Then add cheese, crumbled or roughly chopped to the dish. Stir and enjoy!
Serves 4. I would double or triple if using as a party appetizer.

Balsamic Basil Blackberry Pizza

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You’ve heard of fruit pizzas right? They’re shaped liked pizzas, but that’s really where the similarities end. To the best of my knowledge, fruit pizzas are essentially entirely sweet, with a base more like cookie dough, topped with fruits and sugar. You eat them for dessert, not dinner. That is not what we’re doing here tonight. This blackberry pizza is mostly savory, with the addition of the sweet and tangy blackberries.

How did I come up with this crazy idea? I didn’t. This was a Pinterest find, from a blog called A Whisk and Two Wands. The pictures caught my eye – gorgeous contrast of the dark berries and white cheese! Furthermore, Selim loves pizza, we’re trying to eat more fruit, we had blackberries and basil in the fridge, and I had the time to make some dough today. All good reasons to give this unique idea a whirl tonight!

We really enjoyed this as an alternative to a “normal” pizza for dinner tonight. However, I think it would really be perfect as an appetizer in smaller portions for your next dinner party!

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Balsamic Basil Blackberry Pizza

(Adapted from A Whisk and Two Wands blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup hot water, divided
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Olive oil
  • 12oz blackberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 8 turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Just a pinch of salt
  • 10 large leaves of fresh basil, roughly chopped, reserving 2-3 leaves
  • 16oz log of mozzarella
Instructions: 
  1. First, prepare the dough. (You also could skip this step entirely and buy prepared pizza dough.) In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup of warm water. Let sit for ~10 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Pour the yeast mixture over-top. Add the remaining water slowly, stopping and stirring frequently. Mix with a spoon in the bowl until you have a well-combined ball of dough. (You may need slightly more or slightly less water to form a nice ball of dough. If it ends up too wet – add additional flour.)
  3. Then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, clean, dry counter-top. Knead the dough for 10+ minutes. The dough should be firm and elastic.
  4. Pour just a tiny bit of olive oil onto a paper towel and swipe around the bottom and side of a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp towel. Allow to sit for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile, prepare the blackberry sauce. Pour blackberries into a saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, and chopped fresh basil. Cover and cook for ~5 minutes so the berries soften.
  6. Uncover and mash the blackberries with your stirring spoon or the back of a fork.
  7. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. This should take ~10 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  9. Once dough has risen, turn it out on a lightly flowered surface. Divide in half. Roll out the dough into two large circles.
  10. Bake the pizza dough without topping for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven.
  11. Spoon the blackberry sauce onto the dough as you would a normal pizza, leaving a bit of the edge uncovered for a crust.
  12. Slice mozzarella and place chunks all over the pizza. (May not use the whole 16oz log of mozzarella.)
  13. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, watching the edges of the crusts to make sure it’s not over-browning.
  14. Top with the remaining fresh basil before serving.

Southwest Baked Frittata

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Today during class, I turned to my friend, rattled off the random ingredients in my fridge, and asked her to tell me what I should make for dinner. To her credit, she immediately answered with great ideas! (I would’ve been like, “Uhhh… good luck with your dilemma there bud…”) So thanks Victoria for the idea for tonight’s dinner! Where would we be without our friends?

I baked this frittata (still looking into whether or not baking it makes it not a frittata, but in the meantime, we’ll go with it…) mostly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to successfully make it and flip it on the stove. I’m not that graceful and flipping a frittata without breaking it seems out of my league… This version is super easy and tastes great! But while with a quick google, I can find a ton of recipes for “baked frittata,” the word frittata literally comes from the Italian for “fried.” Oven baked ≠ fried. That’s about as far as I cared to look into it. Someone correct my terminology!

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Southwest Baked Frittata

Ingredients: 
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 links of chicken sausage*
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Chipotle powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 5 turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium pan on your stove.
  3. Once heated, add the garlic and cook for just 2-3 minutes.
  4. Slice the sausage length-wise, then slice into half-moons. Add this to the pan with the garlic. Cook for ~10 minutes, until beginning to brown.
  5. Add diced red bell pepper and the corn (sliced off the ears). Add a splash of water and cover the pan. Allow the vegetables to steam for just another 5 minutes or so.
  6.  Meanwhile, whisk together your eggs and the milk in a large bowl. Whisk for several minutes.
  7. Then add in the hot sauce and spices. Give another good whisk to combine.
  8. Drain off any excess water or oil from the pan on the stove. Then add the contents to the bowl with the eggs. Stir all the ingredients together.
  9. Spray a 9×9 pie pan with cooking spray. Pour the contents of the bowl into the pan.
  10. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. (Check for doneness by inserting a knife towards the middle of the dish – check for any runny egg.)
  11. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to the oven for just a minute or two until the cheese melts.
*We love Trader Joe’s chicken sausage. There are a ton of varieties that would be great in this dish; I used the garlic chicken sausage this time.
Serves 6.

Basil Guacamole

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In our relationship, Selim is definitely the one with the imagination. When you tell me we’re having guacamole, I think – avocados, lime, cilantro, onion, salt… Why would you do anything else, when the original is so delicious? Luckily, I have him to push me outside of my box every now and then. Just because the original is amazing doesn’t mean that a variation isn’t delicious in its own right. [Just wait until we share Selim’s Bacon & Blue Cheese Guacamole – people rave about it!]

This unique guacamole has great herbaceous flavor from the fresh basil. The basics are essentially the same as traditional guacamole, but the substitution of that one herb is fairly dramatic in my opinion. The Pecorino adds a depth of flavor, but it does not taste overtly cheesy. We enjoyed this just as we would your standard guac – with tortilla chips and bell pepper slices.

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Basil Guacamole

Ingredients: 
  • 4 small, ripe avocados
  • 1/8 of a small onion, finely diced
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lime
  • 6 large fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz finely grated Pecorino cheese
  • Salt to taste
Instructions: 
  1. Chop the avocados into chunks. Using the back of a large spoon, smush the avocado – we like the consistency to remain a little bit chunky.
  2. Combine the avocados with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine well.
  3. Refrigerate if not eating immediately.

Slightly Spicy Salmon Cakes

salmoncakes

When Selim asked me to make dinner with some salmon tonight, I wanted to try something a little different than our usual. Our usual involves adding spices to a salmon fillet and broiling it. Selim is the master of this process. I am not.

So I googled “different way to make salmon.” Seriously. This is how sophisticated and worldly I am. After browsing around for a bit, a salmon cake recipe caught my eye. I grew up eating crab cakes like it was my job, but I don’t think I’ve ever had salmon cakes. I wanted to bake them instead of fry them in a nod to being a bit healthier. After Pinterest-ing for awhile, I found a recipe on the Baked by an Introvert blog that approximated what I was envisioning for tonight.

I’m really happy about how my version turned out. The salmon cakes are moist on the inside and just barely crisping up on the outside. Slicing them open with the edge of your fork releases a gratifying poof of steam. I love the flavor. If you’re one of those people who orders their Thai or Indian food at level 10, you probably won’t find this very spicy. But for the rest of us, it’s a nice, slowly-building spiciness.

I also made a cilantro lime aioli to top these guys, but am not super happy with it, so won’t share tonight. I think with just a few tweaks it’ll be perfect. A cool topping like that complements these salmon cakes perfectly though!

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Spicy Salmon Cakes

(Inspired by the Oven Baked Salmon Cakes on Baked by an Introvert blog)
Ingredients: 
  • 1lb or less salmon fillet (ours was 0.85lb)
  • 1/2 of a small onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 10 turns black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (we prefer Frank’s)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, slide the salmon fillet into the water. Decrease heat to low and cover for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine onion, pepper, crumbs, and spices in a large bowl.
  4. Remove salmon from water. Set out and allow to cool.
  5. Pat the salmon dry of any excess moisture. Coarsely break apart and add to the bowl. Stir to combine with other ingredients.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl. Combine well.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  8. With your hands, scoop up a full handful of the salmon mixture. Form into a ball between your hands. Place on the cookie sheet, and press down lightly with the heel of your hand to create the patty.
  9. Repeat step 8 for each patty.
  10. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Flip halfway through, so each side cooks for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 medium patties.