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.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sauce

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Happy middle of March! Who cares about mid-March you say?? I do! Mid-March means the NCAA basketball tournament. I love the Madness! The brackets, the buzzer-beaters, the underdogs, the team spirit, the heart and soul… I love it all!

This weekend has been a little bit of a roller-coaster for me though. I’ve enjoyed my time glued to the couch, flipping between games. But then my hometown VCU Rams fizzled out in the first round. My Virginia Cavaliers and South Carolina Gamecocks each had strong second halves to win their respective first round games. We went to Greenville, SC to hang out with my brothers and immerse ourselves in the tournament festivities downtown, which was really fun! But then… UVA lost in the second round in pretty much the most soul-crushing fashion imaginable. So that was definitely a down moment. And by down I mean, I may or may not have shed a tear or two.
I pretended it didn’t happen today and watched the games all afternoon. This pasta dish may not be your most traditional game-day food, but we enjoyed it none the less.

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Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sauce

Ingredients: 
  • 8oz pasta
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6oz herbed goat cheese
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 turns of fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Rub 1 tsp of olive oil over the peppers and place them on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast peppers for 30 minutes. They will begin to blister.
  3. Allow the peppers to cool slightly. Remove the seeds and stems.
  4. Place the peppers and the milk into a food processor. Give it a few spins until you have a nice puree.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the other 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Mince the garlic and brown in the olive oil for ~3-4 minutes.
  7. Turn heat down to low and add the red pepper puree, goat cheese, and all of the remaining spices to the pan.
  8. Cook over low heat for ~15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are well-combined and heated through.
  9. As the sauce is coming together, prepare your pasta.
  10. Serve sauce overtop of pasta and enjoy!
Makes 2 large servings or 4 smaller side dish servings.

Scalloped Potatoes

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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ve never made scalloped potatoes before today. Maybe that’s not that weird for most, but growing up my mother made them at least a few a month, and they’re one of my favorite side dishes. I wish I had my mother’s recipe, but she didn’t include that one in the family recipe book. (Also, apparently I’m too lazy to call her…) So, in what is generally an aberration for me, the girl who loves following recipes, I sort of winged it. Therefore, if there is a “correct” way to make scalloped potatoes, this probably isn’t it.

The potatoes turned out just how I like them thought luckily! Creamy, with a little bit of sauce. Cheesy and flavorful! And an easy complement to most main courses. What more could you ask for?

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Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, halved & sliced
  • 3/4 cup stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp flour
  • 3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 6oz Pecorino cheese, shredded
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium-sized pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the the onions. Stir to coat in the butter. Top with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  4. Saute the onions over the medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until they are just beginning to brown, roughly 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine milk, stock, paprika, salt, and remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a very low simmer.
  6. Whisk the flour into the liquid mixture. Add the flour very slowly and whisk vigorously and continuously.
  7. Allow to simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly, and reduced by roughly half. This will take ~10 minutes.
  8. Butter the bottom an oven-safe dish. Then place half of the sliced potatoes in the dish. Top with all of the sauteed onions. Next, layer half of the cheese. Follow this with the remaining potatoes. Pour the liquid evenly over top of everything. Lastly, top of the dish with the remaining cheese.
  9. Cover tightly and place into the oven. After 45 minutes, remove the lid/foil. Bake uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Serves 4

Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese

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South Carolina is known for many dishes in the world of all things culinary. Favorites include low country boils, boiled peanuts, shrimp & grits, sweet tea, cornbread, and of course… pimento cheese!  South Carolinians seem use a fair amount of mayonnaise in their pimento cheese, but instead of Duke’s or Kraft’s mayo we made garlic truffle aioli.  Cheddar is the standard cheese for a classic SC pimento cheese, but we swapped it out for some flavorful Italian classics, Asiago & Pecorino.  The aioli sounds fancy, but in reality, it’s just homemade mayo, and probably one of the easier things we’ve made along the way.

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Ally loves pimento cheese, and its abundance down here has made her quite happy. Every time we buy it though, we wonder why we don’t just make some ourselves. “It can’t be that hard… right?” Turns out, it’s not! There isn’t a standard recipe for traditional pimento cheese, because everyone’s grandmother has the original recipe that no one else’s grandmother can beat. But the basics boil down to cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimentos. What could be easier? Or easier to modify and fancify, like we did here!

[Note: this makes a large batch. Good for a big picnic, large party, or handing out in jars to several friends!]

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Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese

Ingredients: 
  • 2 lb Asiago cheese
  • 1 1/3 lb Pecorino cheese
  • 7oz jar chopped pimentos, strained
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 17oz truffle oil
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions: 
  1. Shred all of the cheese and set aside.
  2. Prepare the aioli. (You can do this by hand or with a stand mixer like we did since we were making a large batch. The process is essentially the same.)
    • By hand: Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk together. Add minced garlic and then slowly drizzle in the oil. Whisk vigorously and continuously. Once the mixture has combined well, add the lemon juice and whisk until that has been absorbed.
    • With the mixer: Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Place in stand mixer and turn on medium. Add minced garlic and then slowly drizzle in the oil, while the mixer remains on. Again, once the mixture is well-combined, then add the lemon juice.
  3. Combine cheese, aioli, and pimentos.
Makes 64oz.

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onion Chutney

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I’m pretty satisfied with myself. Why? Because I made another family recipe, as I’ve been wanting to do, AND I got to inhale some delicious cheese. This recipe comes from my aunt Lori. I’ve made it several times and every time wonder why I don’t make it more often. This is a great appetizer to share with friends; I made it tonight for our girls movie night. It would also be perfect for your upcoming holiday events!

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Baked Brie with Caramelized Onion Chutney

Ingredients: 
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (ie: Craisins)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 round of Brie
  • {crackers for serving}
Instructions: 
  1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions to the pan and toss to coat with the butter.
  3. Sauté onions for 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook until the onions are beginning to brown and are very fragrant.
  4. Add the cranberries, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes, continuing to stir occasionally.
  5. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  6. Place the round of Brie on the cookie sheet. Bake for ~10 minutes, until it is soft and starting to melt.
  7. Slice the top rind off the Brie and spoon chutney over top.
  8. Enjoy spread on crackers!

 

Goat Cheese Smothered Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti squash is one of those things that if you look on Pinterest, it seems that everyone is making. I had never made spaghetti squash before tonight! I’ve been wanting to, because I wanted to be cool like the other Pinterest-ers basically. When I mentioned this to Selim, he said, “I mean don’t people just pour sauce on top like it’s regular spaghetti?” So, I knew what I wasn’t making with the spaghetti squash.

What I did make was a veggie-heavy dish, that is a bit rich from the goat cheese. The spinach, dill, and goat cheese shine together, and who doesn’t love the combination of garlic, onions, and bacon in anything??

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Goat Cheese Smothered Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients: 
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, coarsely diced
  • 6oz log of goat cheese (divided)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 8oz of fresh spinach
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. With a large, sharp knife, slice the spaghetti squash in half. Remove the seeds and other refuse.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash halves face-down on a cookie sheet. Add a couple spoonfuls of water to the pan. Roast for 45 minutes.
  3. With 5-10 minutes left in the squash roasting time, cut your bacon into small lardons. Cook over medium heat in a large pan with tall sides for 5 minutes.
  4. Once bacon has released some of its fat, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Grind 3 turns of black pepper on top. Stir briefly to coat with bacon fat. Cover the pan and sweat for 8 minutes, stirring once.
  5. In a small bowl or ramekin, stir together the water and 1 oz of goat cheese. It does not have to be smooth or fully combined.
  6. Add the water/goat cheese, dill and salt to the pan. Stir a few times so all ingredients are combined.
  7. Lower heat just a bit (I went from 5 to 4 on my stove). Add the spinach and cover. Keep lid on for 3-4 minutes. The spinach will wilt and shrink in size greatly. (If you can’t fit all of your spinach in the pan, you can add it in two batches.)
  8. Using a fork, scrape spaghetti squash into the pan.
  9. Add the rest of the goat cheese to the pan, in divided chunks.
  10. Stir, stir, stir. Stir for several minutes, ensuring the cheese melts and the squash “noodles” separate and become thoroughly coated.
  11. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Serves 4.

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French Onion Chicken Zoodles

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I’ve had this idea of French Onion soup combined with zoodles for awhile. I’d seen similar ideas on other blogs in the past, but have never tried it myself. The ones I drew from the most were this one from Climbing Grier Mountain and this one from Mother Thyme.

True to form, I tried to keep tonight’s new recipe a secret from Selim. And true to form, he guessed it by the ingredients I wanted in the grocery store. The man is ridiculous! I told him that the only ingredients we needed to buy for tonight’s dinner were onions and cheese, that we had everything else I needed at home. From there, he thought about it for a few minutes, made one wrong guess (enchiladas), and then came up with, “French onion soup…?” It’s maddening I tell you. I mean, how many entrees can you think of that involve onions and cheese? I can think of a million! Off the top of my head, I could’ve been making: a cheeseburger, tacos/enchiladas/burritos/etc, spaghetti, meatballs, spaghetti & meatballs, a big ol’ omelette, scalloped potatoes, a loaded baked potato, a loaded hot dog, or maybe a cheesy onion dip! The possibilities are endless, but Mr. Mind-reader/Surprise-ruiner won again.

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French Onion Chicken Zoodles

Ingredients: 
  • 10oz chicken, cubed
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 turns of black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups cheese, shredded (We used Asiago today. Julia Child would suggest Gruyere.)
Instructions: 
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other stove + oven – safe dish. Add the cubes of chicken and cook for ~5 minutes, until they are no longer translucent. Remove to the side.
  2. Now add the other 1 tbsp of oil and the butter. Wait until the butter has melted.
  3. Add the onions and stir to coat all of the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized, ~45 minutes. Stir every few minutes. You want them to brown and start to stick to the pan, but not so much so they burn. You’ll be doing this for awhile.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your zoodles. I use a hand spiralizer. You can also slice the zucchini in ribbons if you don’t have a spiralizer. Set in the sink in a strainer. Toss with a few shakes of salt. This draws the excess water from the zucchini.
  5. After about 40 minutes (earlier if you find them drying up/starting to burn), add the balsamic vinegar to your onions. Continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently. The total onion caramelizing time should be roughly 45 minutes.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the beef broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the liquid. Also return the chicken to the pan. Increase heat just a bit so the liquid is simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Now here you have two options. The result is the same, but the aesthetics are a bit different.
    • Option A – stir the zoodles into your dish so they are well coated and submerged in the liquid. Top with the cheese. Bake just a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
    • Option B – if you have oven-safe individual-sized dishes (like large ramekins), portion out your zoodles among them. Top with the liquid and then cheese. Bake as in Option A. (In your excitement to dig in to your dinner, don’t forget that the dish is HOT!!)
  9. Enjoy! A nice crusty piece of bread would be a great compliment to this dish too! Gotta soak up all that onion-y deliciousness 🙂
Serves 4.