Hummus Egg Salad

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Did you know that there is a week every year devoted to egg salad?? National Egg Salad Week is celebrated on different dates every year, starting on the Monday following Easter. (It all makes sense.) Both Christians and Jews use eggs in their traditional celebrations of Easter and Passover, with the eggs symbolizing new life. A beautiful and logical sentiment to be sure, but practically, it does result in an abundance of left-over eggs. In a CNN article from 2013, Americans were predicted to purchase 180 million eggs for decorating in that year. I can’t imagine that’s gone down a whole lot this year… So I’m assuming a few people might be looking for left-over egg recipes this week!

With that in mind, this seems as good a time as any to share my accidental new egg salad creation! I know egg salad is one of those divisive substances that you either love or hate, but I love it! (Selim isn’t really a fan…) My mom used to make delicious egg salad sandwiches for me growing up, and as per usual, I’ve never been able to make mine as good as hers. Awhile back, I craved egg salad and so I got up and hard-boiled a few eggs to make a batch for the week, only to open the fridge to see we were out of mayonnaise! What was a girl to do?? Run to the store or whip up some homemade mayo? Nah, I was feeling lazy per usual.

I looked around the house, trying to think what I could substitute for the mayonnaise and my eyes landed on the hummus. Hmm… I like hummus, it’s spread-able, and would probably hold the eggs together, I thought to myself. Then I thought, that’s weird Ally, hummus and eggs don’t go together… But I tried it and it’s actually good! You can’t mentally compare it to standard egg salad, because it just isn’t the same. But it works as its own new identity! And since the hummus itself is so flavorful, you really don’t need any extra ingredients (although you certainly could doctor it up some more if you wanted – I like a drizzle of hot sauce on top of mine!) So without further ado…

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Hummus Egg Salad

Ingredients:
  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 tbsp hummus
  • Few turns of fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Take those left-over hard boiled eggs (or cook some up) and chop them up.
  2. Mix together with the hummus and pepper.
  3. That’s it!
Makes enough for ~3 sandwiches.

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Ham and Potato Soup

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For all of you who celebrate Easter with a massive ham and therefore, invariably have leftovers – here’s a recipe for you! This soup is flavorful, and stuffed full of ham. No guilt about wasting leftovers! On a related note, save or steal the ham bone! We’ll use that too. It’s not necessary to the recipe, but man does it make it better! The depth of flavor you get out of that ham bone is amazing.

I also got to wondering… how did ham become a traditional Easter food? The Jews-turned-Christians of ancient times certainly weren’t serving up pork on their dinner tables. Seems counter-intuitive that the descendants of religious Jews would go for one of the most forbidden foods in Judaism. As best I can tell, Easter ham is a relatively recent, American Christian tradition. Why? Apparently, back in the days before refrigeration, pigs were traditionally slaughtered in the fall and stored salted through the winter. This ham was edible around Easter-time, when other spring-slaughtered animals weren’t ready. Pretty practical and boring as traditions go…

Now if you’re observant or actually reading this the day I published it, you’ll notice that Easter isn’t exactly over¬†yet. That’s because we were unable to go home for Easter with my family as usual and instead staffed the hospital. But we did buy a massive ham this week. It was only $1/lb! That’s basically free ūüíłūüíł And let me tell you, if our think you have leftovers, try eating a whole ham between two people! So far we’ve had two friends over for ham & swiss sandwiches, repeated those sandwiches another night, had eggs and ham for breakfast, made this soup, frozen ~1/3 of it, and still have a good other 1/3 or so in the fridge! We’ll be eating ham until Memorial Day! With this soup, I was going for creamy, but a little different than the usual heavy-cream-filled potato soup. I think it worked! ūüíĀ

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Ham & Potato Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 qt vegetable stock
  • Ham bone (if you have access to one)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 10oz leftover ham, chopped
  • 3 large yellow potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. If you have a ham bone, place it it a larger pot and cover with the 2 quarts of vegetable stock. Add the two bay leaves and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down to low. [If you don’t have a ham bone, skip this step and just add the stock later as instructed.]
  2. Leave on the stove for an hour or as long as you have time for! The longer you leave it, the more flavor you’ll get out of the bone. If you have plenty of time and are getting tons of flavor out of your bone, you can top off with some water to keep it going.
  3. Allow the stock to cool. Skim off any fat and debris. You can also strain through cheesecloth if you like.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat your oil. Once hot, add shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Once they have started browning and are fragrant, add the ham, potatoes, stock, mustard, Worcestershire, salt and pepper.
  6. Raise heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then turn down to medium-low heat. Cook at this temperature for ~30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove roughly half of the potatoes to the side. Using an immersion blender (or pour into a food processor), blend together those potatoes and the milk.
  8. Return the milk/potatoes to the soup pot. Stir in to combine well. Leave at medium-low heat for another 10+ minutes.
  9. Serve with whatever toppings you’d like! (Cheese, chives, bacon, hot sauce, whatever!)

Spinach & Feta G√∂zleme

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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.¬†G√∂zleme¬†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 G√∂zleme¬†King, devoted to making different types of g√∂zleme.¬†This spinach and cheese preparation is a fairly traditional one, but g√∂zleme 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!

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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 g√∂zleme 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.

Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad

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Awhile back I shared one of my favorite lunches, this¬†Couscous Salad. It’s pretty easy to make, pretty healthy, and pretty delicious. In that post, I talked about how I find lunch very uninspiring. I still do. I love going out to lunch though… why is it that a sandwich, soup, or salad at a restaurant is so much better than the exact same dish you made at home? Is that just me??

Maybe it’s because I don’t eat a wide variety of lunches. There’s only so many things that are portable and easily eaten on a brief lunch break. This salad is one of my go-tos. It takes about 5 minutes to make, so you can throw it together the night before. It’s healthy, with very simple ingredients. And since the whole avocado is in there, it’s filling enough to last you through the afternoon.

I like to use the small pickling cucumbers in this salad because I don’t think they leech as much water and stay more crisp in the fridge. You obviously can use a regular cucumber if you’d like. I usually make a double or triple batch at eat it all week. I kept this recipe small, because when it sits in the fridge for a day or two, the avocado gets brown and less pretty. I don’t mind this because it still tastes good despite its appearance, but I don’t want you people to make a big batch and be sad a few days later.

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Fresh Avocado & Cucumber Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 pickling cucumbers
  • Juice from ~2/3s of a lime
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 turns of fresh ground black pepper
  • A pinch or two of Kosher salt, to taste
Instructions:
  1. Slice the cucumbers and cut the avocado into chunks.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Refrigerate until serving.

Slightly Spicy Salmon Cakes

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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.

Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas

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Have all you food-blog-readers out there heard of Yotam Ottolenghi? He’s an Israeli-born British chef who I absolutely love! He has restaurants in the UK, at least five cookbooks, a website full of traditional & inventive Middle Eastern recipes, and a weekly column in The Guardian. He also has one of the best, most gorgeous, most mouth-watering Instagram feeds to follow out there (@ottolenghi) – you probably want to start following him!

As your average American who doesn’t dine out in London often or subscribe to The Guardian, I hadn’t heard of Yotam Ottolenghi until a few years ago when my sister gave me one of his cookbooks for Christmas. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times on here, and if I haven’t I should, as it’s one of my favorites. It’s called¬†Jerusalem and was authored by Ottolenghi and another chef named Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook for its delicious recipes, gorgeous photography, random stories interspersed with the recipes, and the fact that it features recipes based on both chef-authors’ heritages. Both grew up in Jerusalem, but Ottolenghi is of Israeli-Jewish heritage, while Tamimi is of Palestinian-Arab descent. Throughout the cookbook, they show the similarities and pervasiveness of recipes traditional to both groups. Maybe my favorite section of the cookbook frames the struggles of Jerusalem’s various residents like this:

“Alas, although Jerusalemites have so much in common, food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place. The dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and often among Jews themselves, is almost nonexistent. It is sad to note how little daily interaction there is between communities, with people sticking together in closed, homogenous groups. Food, however, seems to break down those boundaries on occasion… It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it – what have we got to lose? – to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will.”

I love the sentiment, and if anyone has the unifying hummus recipe, it’s probably these guys.

As I mentioned, Mr. Ottolenghi’s instagram feed is great, and I see posts from him (or his surrogates probably…) nearly every day. Said posts make me want to whip up his recipes, nearly every day. I must have seen something inspiring in recent days, because when confronted with my zoodles for tonight’s dinner, I felt an overwhelming desire to use some tahini. The tahini sauce I coated the zoodles with tonight is a scaled-down and warmed up version of the recipe in¬†Jerusalem.

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Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients: 
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, & dried
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp water
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss chickpeas in 1 tbsp olive oil + paprika, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Spread out on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Stir up once about halfway through cooking time.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare zoodles. See here if you need a little help with that!
  4. Next, warm the other 1 tbsp of olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for just about 3 minutes.
  5. Now lower the heat of the burner to a low. Wait a minute or two, then stir the tahini paste into the olive oil.
  6. Add the lemon juice and a turn or two of black pepper. Whisk together until well-combined. Add water by the tablespoon. (Don’t use all the water – or use more – if you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce.)
  7. Add the zoodles to the pan. Toss with the sauce. Cover and increase heat back to medium for 5 minutes.
  8. Portion out the zoodles into individual bowls. Top with the roasted chickpeas.
Serves 2.

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Easy Weeknight Mediterranean Pizzas

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We’re a big Trader Joe’s household, as we’ve probably mentioned a few times. There are several Trader Joe’s staples that we always have around for quick dinners or late night snacks. Their Greco-Roman little pizzas come two to a box and are one of our favorites. So you can imagine our disappointment when two weeks in a row there were not any in the store! What were we supposed to stock our fridge with?? Assuming they were on back-order, we asked a staff member when they’d be back. We were informed that they might have been permanently discontinued!

I was disappointed for a little while, and then I realized that I could recreate our favorite little pizza. While we usually like to post from-scratch recipes on here, I wanted to keep with the quickness and ease of a freezer boxed pizza. And since I was already at Trader Joe’s when I had this brilliant idea – all of the ingredients are from there too!

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Easy Weeknight Mediterranean Pizza

Ingredients / What you need at Trader Joe’s ūüôā¬†
  • 1 package of naan (4 pieces)
  • 1 bottle of truffle oil (1 tsp per pizza)
  • 1 container of pizza sauce (1-2 tbsp per pizza)
  • 1 bag of mozzarella cheese (~1 oz per pizza)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped, divided between pizzas)
  • 1 jar kalamata olives (chopped, ~5 per pizza)
  • 4oz log goat cheese
Instructions: 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Pour truffle oil onto each piece of naan. Spread around, all the way to the edges, with your fingers or the back of a spoon.
  3. Spoon pizza sauce on next. Spread around, leaving the edges uncovered for a crust.
  4. Top the sauced area with the shredded cheese.
  5. Follow this with the red peppers and kalamata olives. Crumble some goat cheese and add a few dollops here and there on top.
  6. Place directly on the middle rack. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your edges!