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Monday, August 30, 2010

Chickpea and Bulgur Kofte

I guess this is another post that should be added to "What to do with leftover food" series.  I really didn't think it would turn out so good but as soon as I tried it I knew I had to write the recipe.  I like making bulgur pilaf because it's very easy and practical but I always make a little bit too much of it.  This time I made these nice falafel-like spicy koftes and they were super delicious.  If you have some canned chickpeas and bulgur, have a go at this and believe me you won't regret.  I normally prepare some chickpeas and freeze them in small bags to use them later on.  Bulgur rice in this recipe is very easy to make if you have some onions and fresh tomatoes, however you can also make it plain without onions and tomatoes if you'd like.  You would also need a food processor for this recipe.

(Makes about 10)

for Bulgur rice:
150 gr Bulgur (about 1 cup)
1 tomato, peeled and grated.
1 small onion - chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of blackpepper
2 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil

200 gr of cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon of ground chilies
about 1 teaspoon of freshly milled blackpepper
salt to taste
1 tablespoon parsley
2-3 tablespoons of oil to cook

Start with making your Bulgur rice. First saute your onions with the olive oil.  Then add tomatoes and saute them with onions for about a minute. Add the bulgur, salt, pepper and water and leave it to cook over low heat for about 15 minutes.  Check regularly to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When it's done leave it cool. 

To make the kofte, put the chickpeas, parsley, bulgur rice and the spices into the food processor.  Run it on a low level so that they are not forming a puree but a slightly crumbly mixture. 
When it's ready make little forms as in the picture and fry them on both sides on a non-stick pan with some olive oil or another oil of your choice.  Serve them with a nice green salad and Turkish cacik. (Recipe will follow)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Here are a few things you can do by just getting up early.  By that I mean really early.  You can have a cup of tea in piece.  No kids running around.  You can also write in silence.  Not that I can write when the kids are around.  This really should be a habit for me.  So here is me writing about Bruschetta, which I really should when we have the opportunity to buy some fresh summer tomatoes and basil.  I've seen them made with a lot of different ingredients but for me the simple version is the best.  In some recipes they put onions in them too, which I don't prefer.  Garlic brings out the flavors of tomato and basil and goes really well with olive oil. In some recipes they skin the tomatoes and take the seeds out before making the bruschetta but I prefer the tomatoes unpeeled and with a lot of juice.  The juice moistens the bread with the garlic and olive oil very nicely.

(Makes about 6-8)
6-8 slices of baguette or Italian bread
3-4 tomatoes - diced
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
2-3 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves to garnish 

1. First chop the tomatoes and put them in a bowl.  Add in the crushed garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  You can also add some chopped basil leaves if you prefer. Put some salt and pepper to taste and move on to next step to prepare your bread.  If you prepare the topping with tomatoes a little earlier than serving time, the flavors will blend a little bit better.
2. Now to prepare the bread, you have few options.  Just chose whatever suits you.  
You can simply toast the bread in a toaster, you can toast them in the oven with some olive oil brushed over the slices or you can toast them on a non-stick pan with a little bit of olive oil brushed on both sides.  I've certainly tried all and they all result very good, however if you're in a hurry then I suggest toasting them on a pan.  This way you get them done quickly but be careful not to burn the bread. 
3. Last part is to put the tomato topping on the bread slices.  Garnish them with fresh basil leaves and serve them slightly warm.  This is really a nice taste of summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bread and Butter Pudding

I have never tried this before, although I'm coming from a family that cooks various dishes with left over bread.  There are so many of them, I wouldn't even know where to begin with.  I was thinking what to do with the spelt bread I made. For some reason we didn't get the chance to eat much of it.  I didn't want to just throw it away then I thought about this recipe I saw in my "Low fat cookbook".  I bought this book years ago.  The food photos in it looked amazing and super healthy.  You wouldn't think there was a bread and butter pudding in there.  Below recipe is adapted from the book.  It's been modified quite a bit because I didn't have most of the ingredients.  It would be great with any kinds of mixed fruit or even with just raisins.

Bread and Butter Pudding
(Serves 5-6)

50 g butter
8-10 slices of old bread (remove the crusts if possible)
1 cup of mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup of dried raisins
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of grounded nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar or vanilla essence
2 eggs (beaten)
2,5 cups of milk

To start with, spread some butter with a spoon on both sides of the slices of bread.  Put the slices in a greased ovenproof casserole dish.  This should form your first layer.  Sprinkle half of the sugar, half of the fruits and spices.  In a bowl, mix milk, eggs and vanilla sugar together and then put half of this mixture over the first layer of bread.  Put the rest of the bread on top to form the second layer.  Pour the rest of the milk mixture on top.  Sprinkle the rest of the sugar, spices and fruits.  Bake it in the preheated oven (180° C/356° F) for 30-40 minutes.  It's an easy but delicious dessert. 

Monday, August 2, 2010


Here is another traditional recipe that I love.  In my family this dish is cooked more or less the same way except the cream sauce.  The cream sauce seems to be more common in Greek based recipes and this one I generally use is an adapted version of the Moussaka recipe from my The Complete Middle East Cookbook.  I wanted to write about this recipe a long time ago, but I didn't like the photos I took back then.  But it seems you can't take a good looking moussaka picture (If you don't believe me just Google Moussaka for images).  There is only few decent ones.  I just took these shots for you to give you an idea what it sort of looks like.  Despite the way it looks in the photos, it's one of my favorite dishes.  I only used aubergines here but you can also add sliced potatoes.

(Serves 5-6)

300 g minced beef
3 Aubergines (Peeled partially and sliced 1-1.5 cm (1/4") thick)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped or crushed)
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk
a pinch of nutmeg 
1 tablespoon of grated parmesan
1 egg
salt and pepper

1. Start with peeling your aubergines as described in the ingredients section.  In a large bowl, put some water and about a teaspoon of salt and leave the aubergine slices in this salty water for about an hour.  Dry them with a paper towel.  This process is not necessary but it is done so that aubergines don't absorb too much oil during frying. 
2. Next, put 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick pan and fry both sides of aubergine slices until they are light brown.  Put them on a plate until you are ready with the rest of the ingredients.  (Here you can use oil spray or brush the aubergines slightly with a little bit of olive oil as an alternative).
3. To make the meat sauce, saute the onions and garlic in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the minced beef and continue to cook.  Finally add the tomatoes, tomato paste with some salt and pepper.  When it's all done, take it off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.  
4.  Make your cream sauce in a small sauce pan over medium heat.  Put in all the ingredients, except the parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  With the help of a whisker, keep whisking the sauce over medium heat until you have a thick sauce.  Take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan, nutmeg, salt and pepper. 
5.  Take a medium size casserole dish to layer up the moussaka.  Put a layer of aubergines at the bottom, then a layer of minced meat sauce over the aubergines.  Repeat the same process until you run out of the meat sauce and aubergines.  Finally, spread the cream sauce on top.  If you have some left over parmesan, sprinkle it over the cream sauce.  A little bit of black pepper on top and then you are ready to put it in the preheated oven (180° C/356° F) for about 45 minutes until you have a golden brown creamy sauce on top.  Serve it with rice, potatoes or with some nice plain yogurt.