Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

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Not going to lie to y’all. I have no idea what kind of fish I used to make this dish. I was trying to eat through some of our freezer foods and pulled this out. It’s tilapia, maybe? So we’ll just suggest you use any white fish of your choosing. This was another of those recipes that I threw together out of the refrigerator (and freezer) ingredients and ended up pretty happy with. The cakes are just a bit crisp on the outside and nice and moist on the inside. The flavors work well together I think. I ended up topping mine with a little bit of hummus; Selim added a dash of hot sauce. If I’d had some, I would spread some tzatziki on top of mine – that would’ve been perfect!

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Fish Cakes with Feta & Olives

Ingredients:
  • 10oz white fish
  • 4oz feta, crumbled
  • 10 kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6-8 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Slide the fish into the pot, lower heat, and cover. Allow fish to poach for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fish and pat dry.
  4. Break up the fish in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  7. With your hands, scoop up a full handful of the fish 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.
  8. Repeat step 7 for each patty.
  9. Bake for a total of 30 minutes. Flip halfway through, so each side cooks for 15 minutes.
Makes 6 patties.

Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

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Given that my sister Amy was the center of attention for her own graduation celebration, she got to pick which dishes my mom made for the party. One of her absolute favorites is this pasta salad with shrimp. Pretty much any time Amy gets to pick, this is what she asks for. This family favorite comes from my aunt Townley, although she says she thinks she got it from a neighbor years ago. Isn’t that always how things like this work? We’ve always known it as ‘Townley’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ but she got it from the neighbor, who probably got it from someone else, and on and on. Maybe one day, Amy’s friends will know it as ‘Amy’s Shrimp Pasta Salad,’ since she’ll make it so many times. And maybe one of you will like it so much and go on to make it so many times that it because known as YOUR shrimp pasta salad!

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Herbed Shrimp Pasta Salad

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 1 lb baby shrimp
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • Salt & pepper as needed
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta according to instructions or however you normally do it.
  2. Drain the pasta, but while still hot, stir in the mayonnaise, dill, and Old Bay.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil. Once softened, add the garlic and onions into the pasta, along with the shrimp.
  4. Stir everything together and top with a salt and pepper to your liking.
  5. Refrigerate until serving.
Makes ~8-10 servings if using as a main dish for a luncheon or similar. Is plenty for way more guests than that if part of a potluck with other dishes like we did for the party!

Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

I’ve put off posting this recipe for almost a week now. Mostly because I’ve been busy with my current rotation and was feeling pretty uncreative. The creativity bug hasn’t bitten me in the meantime, but I didn’t want to forget this recipe because I really enjoyed it. The lemon makes a basic chicken soup just that much brighter and more enticing! Sorry for the lack of creative commentary 🙂

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Bright Lemon Chicken Soup

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 large lemon (zest & juice)
  • 8 cups of flavorful chicken stock
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 (dry) cup pearl couscous
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Chives
Instructions:
  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the chicken breasts for ~5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in large pot. Once hot, cook onions in the hot oil. Top with a few turns of fresh black pepper and cook for 8-10 minute until soft and fragrant.
  3. Zest and juice the lemon. Add these to the pot, along with the stock and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the pot.
  5. Allow the soup to lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every once in awhile.
  6. Add the couscous to the pot. Increase the heat slightly. Couscous should be done after 6-8 minutes.
  7. When couscous is plump, remove from heat. Serve topped with a few snips of chives.

Sopa de Fideo (Almost)

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As is my usual plan, when I’m uninspired and looking for something to make, I turn to a) the internet and b) a random cuisine from around the world. Is it because I’m American and have always eaten “American” food, that I think it’s the least interesting cuisine out there? Or is it because legitimate “American” food doesn’t really exist – just a combination of bits and pieces of all of our immigrant roots? I think it’s probably some combination of the two. Whichever reason, I was thinking Mexican for my dinner creation. And I wanted something a little different. I feel like in this country, we just assume that Mexicans live solely on tacos, burritos, and the occasional chimichanga. There’s so much more to Mexican cuisine than that (obviously), but I’m the first to admit I don’t know a whole lot about it.

Why did I call this post Sopa De Fideo (Almost)? Well, turns out the fideo connotates a specific type of noodle. Fideo looks like spaghetti noodles that have been broken into smaller pieces (and as such, most recipes you see for sopa de fideo tell you to purchase spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces.) Before I read more about it, I thought, “Hmmm… that orzo I have in the pantry would be a perfect substitute for broke spaghetti pieces…” Little did I know by substituting orzo, I essentially took away the namesake of the soup.

Oh well…

Historical, ethnic accuracy? FAIL

Delicious soup? WIN

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Sopa De Fideo

(Adapted from Cooking the Globe blog)
Ingredients:
  • 2 + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 14oz crushed tomatoes
  • 3 + 1 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 16oz orzo
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt & pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, avocado, cheese, crema
Instructions: 
  1. In a large pot, warm 2 tsp of olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5-6 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Top this with a few turns on fresh black pepper.
  2. Add the minced garlic, continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Now, combine the garlic/onions, tomatoes, spices (cumin, cayenne, allspice), and 1 cup of stock in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion blender. Pulse until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil in the original pot. Once warm, pour in the orzo. Toss to coat with oil. Toast the pasta, stirring frequently, so it becomes golden, but does not burn. Give this ~5 minutes.
  5. Now return the blended mixture and the remaining cups of stock to the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The pasta will plump up and the soup thicken a bit.
  7. At the end, stir in the lime juice.
  8. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you like.
  9. Serve with one or several of the the garnishes!
Makes ~ 10-12 servings

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 💸💸 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! 💁

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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 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!

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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 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.