Saturday, January 22, 2011

Turkey: 3rd Stop on the Culinary Tour



I didn't miss the third stop on the tour, did I? We're all packed and ready to go!


In 2006, R and I spent a couple of weeks in Turkey. We visited Istanbul, Oludeniz and the Cappadocia Region. Here is a selection of photos from our trip:

Istanbul:









Oludeniz (by the mediterranean, a great place for paragliding, which is how these arial shots were taken):








Cappadocia (known for its caves and rock formations made out of lava)






Here's a selection of some of the yummy food we ate during the trip:









When I saw that Joan of Foodalogue was including Turkey as one of the stops along the culinary tour, I was really pleased to have a little nudge to try a Turkish-themed dinner.

I picked out everything middle-eastern looking in my house and dressed up the table with it:


I still have wine that we brought home from Turkey (as I mentioned in a previous post, I hoard specialty food products). But, I couldn't justify not opening a bottle of it for this dinner. This bottle comes from Tursan, which is located in Ürgüp (pronounced something like ur-guhp, with a rolled "r"), in the Cappadocia Region.

It's a pretty sharp wine. I left it in the decanter for a while, to let it aerate. But, I think that's just the way it tastes.

As an appetizer, we had za'atar pita with hummus along with cashews and almonds.



For the main course, we ate a pomegranate salad, kind of like this one.


For the rest of the main, I really lucked out with finding two great Turkish recipes:

Turkish Chicken
(source)

8 bone-in chicken thighs, (about 3 1/2 pounds total), skin removed, trimmed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons hot paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place chicken in a large bowl. Add lemon juice and toss to coat. Whisk yogurt, garlic, ginger, paprika, mint and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the yogurt mixture over the chicken and stir to coat.



Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.


Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard marinade). Place the chicken on a broiler rack and broil until browned on top, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake until the chicken is juicy and just cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. (Thigh meat will appear dark pink, even when cooked through.) Serve immediately.


Turkish Rice

(source)

1 bud garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil
3 tablespoons shredded cashews or pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup uncooked rice (I used long grain rice)
1 quart chicken or veal broth, or cube or canned consomme (I used chicken broth)

1. Start oven, set at Moderate, 350° F.
2. Saute the garlic in the oil 3 minutes. Add the nuts and heat 1 minute only.
3. Remove from the heat, add the salt, pepper and rice. Stir to mix thoroughly, then add the broth or bouillon. Pour into a casserole, and cover the dish.
4. Bake 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender.



Only thing about the rice, which kind of threw me off from the beginning, is the ratio of rice to broth. I'm used to a 2-1 ratio. But 1 cup of rice to 1 quart of broth is a 4-1 ratio. I ended up putting closer to 1.5 cups of rice. I would probably add even more rice next time because it was a bit on the soft side.

For dessert, we picked up a selection from Swiss Pastries.


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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Alaska - 2nd Stop on the Culinary Tour




Welcome to Alaska: Stop #2 on the Foodalogue Final Culinary Tour




If someone were to ask you what you know about Alaska, what do you think you might say? I'll bet that most might answer Sarah Palin since she most certainly created awareness of her state both politically and now in her t.v. series. I know that when I think of Alaska the first thing that comes to mind is a gorgeous dog called the Alaskan Malamute. Originally wolf like sled dogs used for getting from one place to another, they're still used that way as well as domestic pets and an active sport called "mushing". They're pretty amazing dogs.



A little more research..... what about the Alaskan culinary scene. Originally I thought we'd be making dishes out of blubber and reindeer and knew it would be a huge challenge indeed. I was so wrong. Alaska is well known for it's seafood. Now that I think more about it, doesn't it make absolute sense there would be an abundance of seafood? I'm sure everyone knows about the delicate fish called Arctic Char. They do also have recipes for reindeer but I just kept having these visions of Santa missing one and I just wiped it out of my mind immediately.




I saw a local chef's recipe for salmon and pea puree - hmmm, not bad. Then I thought, I'll do a takeoff on one dish and make it my own. Poached salmon with spinach was born.

2 single servings of wild salmon
1 cup chicken boullion (a package plus a cup of water mixed together) - I used a product called Herbox that has no sodium
1/2 package fresh or frozen spinach
2 stems fresh thyme
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
1/4 tsp pepper
grey salt to taste



I poached both the spinach and the salmon in the chicken broth for about 10 minutes
Drain and plate the spinach; top with salmon
Finish with fresh thyme, splash of lemon, freshly ground pepper and top with grey finishing salt.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bread Pudding - The Best Thing I Ate ...recently




Val at More Than Burnt Toast has thrown down the gauntlet for a new challenge called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". All you have to do is recreate something that you've eaten lately that as Val says "blew your socks off". Deadline is on February 15th so get your thinking caps on.





The topic altogether made me smile - it took me back a few years, okay a whole lot of years when I really wanted to be like the other kids in school. They had white bread with yellow margarine and bologna sandwiches and I thought they were so cool. What did I know? My mother made sure we had hot soup and a sandwich that looked like it came from NY Deli. I was embarassed because all the kids would look at me and it took me a long time to realize that they were just drooling at my lunches. My mother always made sure we ate well. Food was holy and nothing was wasted.

So you're wondering how this story relates to my dish. During Christmas break when Psychgrad and R came to visit, I bought a challah bread thinking to have French Toast for Sunday breakfast. It didn't happen and I was left with the better part of a challah bread. What to do? Strangely enough I've only had bread pudding once and thought it was pretty decent so decided to use up the challah bread and literally throw together whatever odds and ends I had in the fridge. This would have ranked as one of the things my mother would never have done or served us - she's a serious carb watcher.



I didn't really have a recipe either so I started by cutting the challah into cubes and set aside.



4 eggs
1 1/2 - 2 cups milk
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 apples (granny smith is what I used) peeled and cut up in small pieces and slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar splenda)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt butter and pour into 9x13 pan
Distribute the cubed bread throuhout the pan
Mix together eggs, milk, sugar, cranberries, raisins, apples, cinnamon and nutmeg
Pour wet mix over bread and pat down the bread to make sure it's getting saturated; let it sit for about 1/2 hr.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes



I had absolutely no idea if this would even work but when I tasted the final outcome I couldn't figure out why this hadn't been a common dessert in our family. I loved it!!! It's the best thing I've eaten ... recently. StumbleUpon
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