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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lady's thighs meatballs - Kadinbudu köfte

The trouble of making lunch everyday is, of course, I need to think in advance what I am going to cook.  I generally start to think about it after my breakfast and then I have one or two hours before the lunch has to be ready.  That is only a part of the problem.  Then when I finally decide, I may not have all the ingredients I need.  I may have to go to the shops quickly to buy the missing ingredient.  In my case that's not very easy, as I have to take two little kids with me and it takes to long just to get out of the door with those two.  Yes I know, I should plan everything ahead, but I am not that organized and I like being a little bit spontaneous.  I only plan some of the meals in advance but not every meal.  Most of the time, I cook with what I already have in my fridge or freezer.  If I'm missing an ingredient then I try to substitute it the best way I can.
This meal was again something I was planning on cooking for a while now, but I never got around it.  Somehow it looked a little complicated to me but it wasn't at all complicated.  I'll be making this again for sure.  It's a Turkish dish and a very classic one.  The name is translated exactly like in the title and I believe it's just showing an appreciation for women.  It's a very easy recipe but if you're doing it very first time give yourself an hour for the preparation (this excludes the cooking time).

Lady's tighs meatballs - Kadinbudu köfte

500 g minced meat - beef
about half a cup of chopped parsley
1 medium onion - grated or finely chopped
3 eggs
1 teasppon of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of rice
2 tablespoons of flour
oil to fry ( sunflower or olive oil is fine here but I recommend a mixture of both) 

Start with boiling the rice in a pan.  When they are cooked, leave them on a colander to drain the water and let it cool.  Take a non-stick pan, put half of the minced meat in and start cooking.  Add the onions to the meat and cook them together with the meat.  Let them cool before you mix the cooked meat and onions to the rest of the ingredients.  Put the raw half of the meat in a bowl, mix in 1 egg, the salt and the spices.  When they are all mixed well, add in the cooked meat and onions and last stir in the rice together with parsley.  You shouldn't add the rice at the beginning because they will be mashed until you are done with mixing everything.  Then take a scoop from the mixture and shape it into oval looking meatballs.  See photo below. 

When you are ready to fry them, first beat the 2 eggs in a bowl.  Put your flour on a flat plate.  Heat up your pan to high heat with a lot of oil to fry because these lovely meatballs need a lot of oil to cook nicely with the eggs.  When it's ready dip the meatballs first into the flour and make sure they are covered all over with it.  Then dip them into the eggs and start frying them.  You can lover the heat to medium after they are all in otherwise you may end up with too brown egg crust. 
Best way to eat this dish is with fries or a potato salad or just bread.  I definitely recommend to have a juicy tomato salad or the typical (and very Turkish) çoban (Choban) salad with it. (Shepperd's salad and that will be for another post sometime in the future). 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fried Cauliflower

Beginning of the week starts with an empty fridge in our household.  I'm never sure why, because we are buying food at least once a week and yet the fridge is almost empty on every Monday.  I had to figure out what to make for lunch as usual and all I had in the fridge was a cauliflower and some carrots.  Normally carrots are the default option that I go for, but instead I decided to take on the cauliflower.  I didn't want to just steam or boil it, then end up making a cauliflower salad like I do most of the time.  I wanted to try another Turkish recipe, the fried version.  I haven't had this dish for a very long time, so I got some tips from my mother and I also looked through my cookbooks.  Tess Mallos has a version of this in The Complete Middle East Cookbook, but I made my mother's version.  In the end, that would always the best version for me.  This is very good as a starter, appetizer or as a vegetarian dish, especially when it's combined with garlic yogurt.  I made some steaks with tomato sauce and saffron noodles for the main dish.   In the end it was a delicious meal.

About 500 g cauliflower, broken to its pieces and washed
2 tablespoon of flour
4 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
2 eggs
oil for frying

Garlic Yogurt

Plain yogurt
a clove of garlic

To start with fill up a deep pan with water and bring it to boil.  Add some water in it then put in your cauliflower that's already broken to its pieces. Boil it for about 10 minutes until it's tender but not soft.  Don't overcook it.  If it's too soft, it would be hard to boil them.   When they are done, put them in a colander and drain the water.  Leave them to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

In a plate or bowl, beat your eggs and mix them with the flour.  Add some salt and pepper to the egg-flour mixture.  In another plate put your breadcrumbs.  Put some oil in a frying pan and heat it up.  You can use a non-stick pan to fry but in the end you are going to need a generous amount of oil to properly fry the cauliflowers so don't be stingy with the oil.  When your pan is ready and hot enough,
dip your cauliflowers first into the egg-flour mixture.  Once they are covered with it, dip them into the breadcrumbs, then put them in the pan.  Fry them until they are golden and a little bit crispy.  

For the garlic yogurt, crush the garlic and mix it into the yogurt.  Dip your fried cauliflowers into the garlic yogurt and enjoy the taste. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Cake

So here is why I almost didn't sleep this past week.  I had to bake, bake and bake. There wasn't much cooking other than fixing some easy meals but a lot of baking.   My daughter and husband have their birthdays in the same week, so I really had to bake.  Ok, if I had to be honest, I could have just bought the stuff, but that would be too easy.  Instead, I decided to challenge myself and bake it all.  First, I had to bake some muffins for my daughter's playgroup and I have followed a muffin recipe from Delia for the muffins.  As usual, me being me, ended up changing it slightly and made it a chocolate muffin with Smarties on top.   My little girl has ordered it like that, so there had to be smarties involved.  I also had to double the amount of all the ingredients that were given in the recipe, because the original is for mini muffins.  In the end the muffins looked like these in the picture below.  I definitely recommend this recipe as it's very chocolate rich and very light at the same time.

Then I had to make a cake for my daughter's birthday.  She wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate on it and in it and over it.   My nightmare was that it would turn out to be a disaster as it happens in most of my baking cake attempts.  I looked up all my recipe books for all kinds of chocolate cake recipes.  I searched the internet for all sorts of chocolate cakes.  Although I was very determined to follow the recipe this time, I couldn't find anything that I can follow from the beginning to the end. In the end I decided to try something out by taking something from each recipe that I thought might work.  It was a little risky but well...  In the end it was probably the best cake I have ever baked.  The cake photo you see above was taken at one o'clock in the morning.  It took me almost 5 hours to do it and most of that was waiting for things to cool down, but it was all worth it in the end.

For the cake:

4 eggs
200 g butter  ( a little less than a cup of butter)
175 g sugar (makes a little less than a cup of sugar)
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of baking powder
300 ml milk (about 1,5 cup of milk)
350 g flour ( about 3 cups of flour)
For the frosting:

400 g dark chocolate - roughly chopped (70% cocoa chocolate) (makes about 2,5 cups)
300 g crème fraîche - (about 1,5 cups)
150 g butter (about 1/2 cup)

The cake:
Start with melting the butter in a sauce pan and leave it to cool down.  Whisk the eggs for about 2-3 minutes then add the sugar.  When the mixture gets thick and creamy, whisk in the butter very slowly, then add the milk.  In another large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and the cocoa powder.   Afterwards add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir.  Put this mixture in a 24 cm (9¨) cake pan and put it in a pre-heated oven at 180° (350° F - gas mark 4) for about 45 minutes.   Afterwards leave it to cool for a while before you slice it into 3 horizontal pieces to make your 3 layers. 

The frosting:

First, you need to melt the chocolate in a bowl, that is sitting on a saucepan of simmering water.   The bowl shouldn't touch the water.  Allow the chocolate melt slowly and once it's all melted remove it from the heat and stir in the butter.  Butter will melt with the heat of the chocolate.  When the butter is all melted, add the crème fraîche to the mixture and stir it really well.  Allow the sauce to cool down a little until it's creamy enough to spread. 

When you are ready to finish the cake, spread some of the chocolate sauce on the first layer, put the second slice of the cake then spread that one also with some of the chocolate sauce.  Finally put the last slice on top and spread the rest of the sauce on the cake with the help of a palette knife or a spatula.  
Leave it to cool for few hours before you serve.  You can also add some other decorating items on top of the chocolate sauce, such as crushed walnuts, almonds or coconuts, etc.  I had to put some candy animal figures for my daughter on this one (which are not pictured here). 

You can keep this cake in the refrigerator up to 5 days. 

Enjoy your chocolate feast.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Venetian Liver

This is one of my favorite liver recipes. I have two favorite ones and the other one is a Turkish recipe.  Next liver recipe I write will be for sure the Turkish one, but this time I am writing about the Venetian liver.  Venetian liver recipe is a classic and you can find in many Italian restaurants.  This is a recipe that I adapted from a German version that I found somewhere.  I used veal liver to make this one.  In the meantime I found some other versions on the web. This one on the Epicurious site here looks like a good one too but I haven't tried it yet.  If you want to give it a go please let me know what you thought of it.
I made some rice with this one but you can have it also only with some bread, because it tastes really good. 

Venetian Liver

500 gr liver from veal, sliced.
2-3 medium size red onions, sliced
1-2 sage leaves
50 ml Balsamic vinegar
20-30 ml red wine
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a handful of chopped parsley

Make sure you have everything ready before you start, because you have to cook everything really fast over high heat.
Start with heating butter and olive oil in a pan over high temperature. When it's hot enough, put in the liver and stir-fry it for about a minute.  Take it out and put it on a plate.  Don't worry if it's not cooked, it is supposed to look still red and raw.  If you want the liver to stay soft do not ever overcook it.  After you take the liver out of the pan, put in the onions and fry them until they are soft and slightly brown.  Add the balsamic vinegar, wine and the sage leaves.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook it for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the liver back in and cook for another minute or two.  Add some salt and pepper before you taste.  Liver should stay soft like this and it will be cooked enough.  Before you serve it sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.  Enjoy it with some rice or bread.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thai Curry with Chicken and Leeks

Why is it that anything with coconut milk, always tastes delicious? It's so tasty that no matter with what you use this ingredient, it just changes the flavor of it into something dreamy and exotic.  Since I learned to cook with coconut milk I can't seem to forget about it.  I do have phases where I get into cooking with certain things, then after a while I get bored and I forget about them.  Until I see them somewhere and remember to use them again.  However coconut milk hasn't been one of those boring and forgettable ingredients for me.  I absolutely love it, especially when it's combined with coriander and hot chili.
I was inspired to make this when I was looking through Delia's book How to Cook 2. She has a great recipe of a very easy wok dish with chicken and coconut curry called "Stir-Fried Chicken with Lime and Coconut.  I say it's easy, cause it doesn't have too many fancy ingredients, but you still have to marinade the chicken for 1 hour before cooking.  Unfortunately I didn't have this much time and most of the ingredients in her recipe so I came up with something quite different from that, but it still tasted very good.
The best way to end up with soft and nicely cooked meat while making a stir-fry is to use high temperature.   If you keep that in mind, all your stir-fries will end up tasting very good.  It's also necessary to make all your ingredients ready before you start cooking if you don't want to end up over cooked meat and vegetables.
Here is what I used to make my quick Thai curry with coconut milk.

2 small chicken breasts chopped
About 125 ml coconut milk (alternatively you can use coconut powder and some normal half fat cream)
1 tablespoon of coconut fat (I always have this at home for cooking, but you can replace this with peanut oil or olive oil)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 whole leek chopped in thin circles
a handful of fresh coriander leaves chopped
1-2 hot chilies chopped (depending how spicy you want it to be)
some black pepper

Heat your oil or fat in the wok to a high temperature and stir-fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes. Add the leeks in and stir-fry them for another 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce with the chilies, then add the coconut milk. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and then it's all done.  Before you serve, put some fine chopped coriander leaves on it.  Enjoy it with some basmati or jasmine rice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easy Hollandaise Sauce with Steamed Asparagus

When you go to the supermarkets to buy your groceries at this time of the year, the first thing you will see are probably the strawberries.  A week or so after strawberries, the asparagus starts showing up. They put them in the displays with those fancy vegetable peeling gadgets and with ready made hollandaise sauces out of the box or out of a pack, full fat, low fat, all different versions you can imagine.
I remember, the first time I tried to cook asparagus I had no idea about how to get started. Forget cooking it, I didn't even have a clue about how to peel the funny looking things. I haven't seen them in my life before I came to this country.  It wasn't something we used to eat at home.  It was my husband who encouraged me to give them a go.  As a new wife who wanted to learn more about how to cook in Switzerland, I wanted to try and see if could pull it off. The result was a total disappointment. The asparagus was not peeled right and wasn't cooked enough. The whole thing was terrible, however there was one achievement; the hollandaise sauce I made from scratch.  Even then I wasn't so into these ready made sauces so I found a recipe on the internet and made it myself.  I remember that it was so yummy and I could just eat it without anything.
This time however, I felt like I had a bit more experience in cooking asparagus so I was quite confident when I saw the first bunch in our local supermarket this week. I decided to make the sauce at home.  I started looking on the internet for a very good recipe, but I wasn't able to find one that looked easy and practical. Some looked really complicated even though they said that it's a really easy sauce. In the end I came up with below recipe for this sauce.  It tasted very good and it wasn't complicated at all. The trick was to whisk it constantly and to use low heat.
For the asparagus, I used my pressure cooker to steam them, but they ended up a little too soft. Therefore below is my recommended timing for a medium size pressure cooker.

Makes about 3-4 servings as a starter.

1 kg green asparagus
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of water
3 egg yolks (slightly beaten)
100 grams of butter
juice of half a lemon
some salt and pepper
a little bit of hot chili powder or cayenne pepper

Start with peeling the asparagus and don't forget to cut the rough end bits. Put them in your pressure cooker and steam them with a bit water for about 5 minutes. Cooking time can vary according to the type of pressure cooker you have. Alternatively you can use a steamer, but then you need to check the instructions to cook the asparagus for the model you have.
For the sauce, start by putting the vinegar and water in a small sauce pan and bring it to simmer. Do not boil it. Keep the heat at low temperature and start whisking the eggs in very slowly. After the eggs are in, keep whisking it for about a minute.  Slowly add the butter to the mixture bit by bit and continue to whisk. Once you have all the butter in, add some salt and pepper, then the chili powder. Give it a good stir and that is all.
Serve it on warm asparagus as displayed in the photo and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here I am, when I decided to put here a savory dish next, ended up making something sweet again.  It's not my fault really, although I am really fond of sweets.  It was my daughter, who all of a sudden demanded cookies yesterday afternoon.  First I thought about making my latest favorite ones, the Anzac biscuits, but then they are a little hard for the kids to bite on.  Then I remembered the chocolate chip cookie recipe I had in my cooking notebook.  It was given to me by my dear friend Misty, who was very passionate about cooking and thought me a lot about Indian food and chocolate deserts.  This is one of her recipes I believe, but I have changed it slightly as I didn't have any walnuts that was called in the recipe.  It could also be a little difficult for the kids to eat the walnuts. In addition, I put in a little bit cacao powder to make it look more chocolaty. The recipe is below, but as in all chocolate cookies you can replace some of the ingredients with other things like almonds with coconuts, hazelnuts, walnuts and chocolate chips with white ones or even with raisins.

This recipe makes about 16 cookies.

6 tablespoons of butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of white flour (you can use all-purpose or self-raising one, in which case you can exclude the baking powder)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cacao powder
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar
1/2 cup of crushed almonds
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
a pinch of salt

Start with melting the butter and leave it cool down for few minutes. Whisk the sugar and vanilla sugar in with the butter until the mixture becomes a little thick. Beat in the egg slowly. Add in the flour and the baking powder, the cacao with the salt and whisk until you have a nice creamy mixture. Then take a spoon and mix in the almonds and chocolate chips. Pre-heat your oven to 180° (350° F - gas mark 6).  Prepare your baking tray with baking sheets over them.  Put spoonfuls of the mixture on the baking sheet by leaving enough space in between. Don't try to shape the cookies cause then you'll end up having a mess. They for a round shape beautifully when they are baking. Stick them in your pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes. After they are done let them cool before you take the first bite.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Plum Tart with Marzipan Crumble

Yesterday, I decided to make a desert that I had in my mind for a few weeks. I already had some marzipan which I have bought right before Christmas and thinking that I would bake some traditional Christmas cookies but never used it. Then I was looking around for some recipes to use it and found out a marzipan crumble tart that sounded quite yummy. I wanted to use some frozen plums, which I already bought for a more traditional tart I usually make. They were just waiting in the freezer for me and I really didn't feel like making the same tart again.

To start with, I took out the plums from the freezer to give them some time so that they will be soft enough to slice. I also took the easy option for the crust and used the ready-to-bake tart paste that was already in the fridge. These ready pastes are real life-savers when you don't have enough time to prepare a base for your tart. This is generally the problem in my case with two small children. I mixed the marzipan paste with crushed almonds and the butter in a food processor. I had to be really careful not to end up having a dough instead of crumbles. I had to turn the processor on and off to prevent the mixture form a dough. I used a little bit more marzipan than it was called in the recipe because I didn't wanna leave half a pack open marzipan in the fridge as it isn't really something I use very often. I didn't add any sugar to the mixture as the marzipan paste was already sweet enough. If you are using normal almond paste that doesn't contain any sugar then you need to add some sugar to the mixture. I took out the crumble from the food processor and mixed in some thin sliced almonds. You can generally find these sliced almonds in the supermarkets here. But I guess it would be still very tasty with only crushed almonds.
After the crumbles were ready, I put the tart paste into a round tart baking tray with a baking paper that comes with the paste, made some holes on it with a fork then sprinkled some sliced almonds over it. I stuck it in the pre-heated oven for 5 min. I made sure the paste wasn't blowing up like a balloon so I had to keep it down with a fork from time to time. Afterwards I took it out and let it cool for a while.
In the meantime I sliced the plums, mixed them with some flour and sugar. I also added a little bit cinnamon and about some vanille sugar, which aren't in the recipe but I thought it will add some more flavor to the plums. When this was all done and ready, I put most of the crumble over the tart base. The plums went over those and the rest of the crumbles went over the plums to form a nice crumble top. I stuck it in the oven for about 35 min at 180 degrees (with the fan on).

This was really the right amount of time to bake in this case. The tart was really well done. If I kept it in the oven for any longer then the crumbles will be too brown or burnt in fact. I let it cool for about 20 minutes before I served the first slice.

Overall I found it a very delicious recipe and I would definitely make it again, maybe also try it with some other fruits such as pears. It maybe a good idea if you use any other fruit to keep in mind the sweetness of the fruit you are using. Pears would probably go with this recipe but if you are using apples or some other fruit that is sweeter than plums it probably makes sense to use a little less sugar for the filling. Here is a link to the original recipe on the Epicurious web site.

Next time I might even have a little bit of vanilla ice-cream with it.