We’ve chatted about köfte here before (see our post for Sultan Selim Kofte). Usually they are made from lamb and/or beef, but really köfte can be anything. The origin of the word is from the classic Persian, meaning “to pound” or “to grind.” This obviously describes the ground meat, but really works for many other ingredients. We’re having steaks tomorrow night (a new attempt – in the cast iron skillet, on the grill!) and didn’t want red meat two nights in a row, so we thought we’d try our hand at some white meat köftes.
With the lighter turkey and the addition of the cilantro, these were a perfect summer dinner. They’re so flavorful, that when I was eating them it actually took me a minute to remember that they were turkey instead of a heartier meat. We grilled ours for ultimate summer-ness, but they would work well in a pan or under a broiler I suspect. There is a lot of delicious juice, so you want something to soak it all up. We had ours with flatbread, which was perfect for mopping up the plate, but rice or couscous would be great too.
Side note: You may notice in our pictures that we skewered ours on the grill. This is definitely unnecessary and probably hurt us a little bit. Next time I’ll put them directly on the grill.
Summer Turkey Kofte
1 lb ground turkey (85/15)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sumac
1 tbsp Aleppo pepper
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt
5 turns fresh ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients together. Can be done ahead of time and refrigerated for enhanced flavor melding.
Get you grill ready or place a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Form oblong köftes. Grill over medium-high heat for just 3-4 minutes on each side.
Serve with rice or flatbread. Hummus, veggies, feta, and/or tzatziki would go well too!
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…
Hummus Egg Salad
4 hard boiled eggs
2 tbsp hummus
Few turns of fresh ground black pepper
Take those left-over hard boiled eggs (or cook some up) and chop them up.
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!
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!
Balsamic Basil Blackberry Pizza
(Adapted from A Whisk and Two Wands blog)
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup hot water, divided
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Uncover and mash the blackberries with your stirring spoon or the back of a fork.
Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens. This should take ~10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Once dough has risen, turn it out on a lightly flowered surface. Divide in half. Roll out the dough into two large circles.
Bake the pizza dough without topping for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven.
Spoon the blackberry sauce onto the dough as you would a normal pizza, leaving a bit of the edge uncovered for a crust.
Slice mozzarella and place chunks all over the pizza. (May not use the whole 16oz log of mozzarella.)
Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, watching the edges of the crusts to make sure it’s not over-browning.
Top with the remaining fresh basil before serving.
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.
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
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.
Combine the avocados with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine well.
Every time the new year rolls around, it seems like everyone makes a resolution involving weight loss, healthy eating, or general fitness. We’ve been eating zoodles for awhile now (see here, here, here, & here), but I think they’re a great way to simultaneously cut calories and add more healthy vegetables to your dinners! This zoodles dish was inspired by a recipe I’ve had saved on Pinterest for awhile now from the blog/website SkinnyTaste. On this site, you can find so many healthy recipe ideas and healthier variations of classics. Given that takeout chicken lo mein can top out anywhere from 1000 to 1500 calories per carton (obviously varying between restaurants and preparations), this homemade version will probably serve your New Year’s resolution AND your waistline well!
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.
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!]
Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese
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
Shred all of the cheese and set aside.
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.