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Friday, August 12, 2011

Borek with Spinach and Feta Cheese

It has been a long summer break but the holiday is almost over.  I thought I will write about some recipes I have tried during the past few months.  It has been a nice summer holiday, of some we have spent in Turkey and last few weeks in Switzerland.  Although I can't say we have been very lucky with the weather here. 
This is a recipe that I've been asked by some of my friends so I am posting how I make this.  It's a very practical way of preparing borek.  I used thin phyllo pastry, but you can use any other phyllo pastry you like.  You will just have to balance your milk-egg mixture accordingly.  If you have a thick pastry, you may need to add some more milk or another egg.

Borek with Spinach and Feta Cheese

10 phyllo pastry sheets
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of salt
1 cup of milk
1 egg
For spinach - feta filling:

500 g of fresh spinach, chopped and cooked,  squeeze out the excess water if necessary
1 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 egg
a little bit black pepper
1-2 tablespoons of sesam seeds (optional)

To start with, mix your ingredients for the filling, spinach, feta, 1 egg and a little bit of black pepper in a bowl and set it aside.  
Next whisk 1 egg, 1 cup of milk, olive oil and salt in a large bowl.  
Grease your oven tray or casserole dish before you start preparing the borek.  Place 2 sheets of the phyllo on the greased tray.  Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the milk-egg mixture over the sheets you have just placed on the tray.  Put 2 more sheets and repeat the same procedure. Next, put only one pastry, then spread your spinach filling over this 5th pastry. Try to spread it all over the pastry.  When done, take 2 more sheets and place them over the spinach filling then spread 2-3 tablespoons of the milk-egg mixture on it.  Repeat this with 2 more phyllo pastries.  Place the last pastry on top nicely and take a sharp knife to slice the borek as seen in the photo above.  Spread the left over milk-egg mixture on top and sprinkle some sesam seeds over if you like. 
If you have time put the tray in the fridge for about 2-3 hours so the pastry absorbs the liquids to make the borek taste nicer. 
Cook in a preheated oven (180° C / 356° F)for about 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown. Enjoy it with a glass of Ayran!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Turkish Zucchini Fritters Baked Version (Kabak Mücver)

I know I should write more Turkish recipes.  There is nothing like Turkish cuisine because it's so rich, full of variety, flavor.  In the end, it was contributed by so many cultures from the Ottoman times.  I absolutely love it and this food was the only thing that I was craving during my pregnancies.  Then the kids came and ruined it all. Now I have to cook child friendly food. I'm not saying Turkish kitchen is not child friendly. It is actually the opposite. I always make the usual kofte and a lot of the vegetable dishes, but I can't make very spicy dishes. If I do then it has to be cooked separately and who has the time?  Like a lot of my friends have been asking for my mother's kisir recipe (a kind of couscous salad), which is full of onions and chili pepper but how can I tell them I haven't actually made it for over a year. I make less spicy versions but not the original.  I promise, I will post the recipe but not just yet.  It has to be done right.
Kabak mucver is a very typical Turkish dish.  However, the original version is deep fried in oil and I have made a baked version.  It came out a lot softer than the fried version but it tasted delicious.  You can try it like my version or be brave and fry it with a little bit of oil in the pan.

(Makes 4 portions)

4-5 Zucchinis - grated
6 tbsp flour (alternatively you can use bread crumbs)
2-3 spring onions - finely chopped
1 egg
1 cup of feta cheese - crumbled (alternatively you can use grated Parmesan cheese)
1 tbsp of chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp of chopped fresh peppermint
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of paprika

Drain your grated zucchini and mix it with all the other ingredients in a bowl.  Heat your oven to 180. 
Place a baking sheet on your oven tray.  Take scoops of the mixture and put them on the tray.  Flatten them a little bit like cookies.  When ready, bake them in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes. 
After they are done, leave them to cool for 5 minutes.  With the help of a spatula, carefully take them out of the tray to plates for serving.  
These fritters are great with plain yogurt or cacik.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

It's a classic for a lot of people but not for me.  I haven't met rhubarb until few years ago.  It was one of those strange vegetables ( yeah that's what I thought) in a new country.  Then it all started with a rhubarb tart, that I found delicious.  It was the smell of rhubarb that was appealing to me.  I didn't know what else I could do with this newly found taste other than the tarts.  Couple of years ago, when I was going through a "I want to make everything at home" stage, where I decided to make some jam.  This phase didn't last very long at the time. You can guess why.  But this year, the spring came early and I've been buying way too many strawberries.  Then I have received a cooking magazine for the spring season and there it was. Rhubarb and strawberry jam.  I thought why not. How hard could it be? I didn't realize that it would take an hour preparation and several hours of stirring and cooking, etc.  In the end was it worth it? I would say yes, but I don't think I would be doing it again any time soon. 
So here are some nice pictures and the recipe. Enjoy!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam
(Makes about 2 Lt)
about 700g Rhubarb - Peeled and chopped in 1 cm pieces (see picture)
about 900g Strawberries - Peeled and diced (see picture)
about 1000g sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 pack of vanilla sugar
400 ml water

Mix all your ingredients except the water in a large bowl. Put them in a large pan and add the water.
Bring it to boil while stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat and leave it to boil until it gets to the jam stage.  Stir it and check frequently.  Now here is what I learned, in order to check the jam stage, you can either take a spoon full of jam and put it on a cold plate, put it in the fridge for few minutes to see if there is gelling.  Until that occurs you need to keep it on the heat, but don't forget to stir.
When it's ready pour it into jars and seal immediately (something new that I learned - I would have left them open to cool down).  It seems that if you store them in a cool and dark place they may last for about a year.  I will test that and get back to you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It has been one year since I started writing this blog.  It has been really great to share some of my favorite recipes with all of you.  I have enjoyed writing the recipes and photographing the food with hungry kids waiting to be fed.  It has been a great experience.  But... Of course there is a but... It takes a lot of effort to write and publish each post.  Sure, it doesn't have to be that way.  It is not how I would like to go on about it.  Not perfect probably but as better as it gets and it will continue like that.
Happy anniversary to Olives and Bread.  To celebrate, here is a recipe from Switzerland.  I know I had to write this super simple recipe for some friends and relatives.  This reminds me that there are still some people out there waiting for a Turkish version of this blog.  I am just waiting for the days that I will have time for that, so stay tuned.
Back to lovely rösti.   I ate this first time with my friend F at Zurich main train station.  There used to be a restaurant there with rösti specials.  It's unfortunate that it's now closed but they had a good variety of rösti dishes.  With cheese, with onions, with bacon, etc. I have learned how to make this from my mother-in-law and she does it with coconut butter most of the time.  It's very delicious like that and I definitely recommend it.  Usually it's made with butter or oil. Use whichever you prefer.   Rösti goes really well with cheese or meat, or any creamy meat dish, like Zurich Geschnetzeltes (cut meat Zurich style - recipe will be coming up soon). 

(Makes 4 portions as a side dish)

700-800 g potatoes (preferably fast cooking ones if you make it from raw potatoes - see below for reason)
butter or oil to cook
salt and pepper to taste

There are two ways of doing this.  You can either boil the potatoes with their skin. Then peel and make the rösti or you can do it from raw potatoes.  Either way you have to peel the potatoes and grate them to start with.  Put some salt and freshly milled black pepper in the grated potatoes and mix well.
Take a large non-stick pan, preferable with a lid.  Put some oil in it and put it over medium-high heat.  When it's hot enough, add the grated potatoes in.  With the help of a spatula flatten the top so it looks like a big potato pancake.  Close the lid and leave it to cook for few minutes.  Check the bottom frequently to make sure it's not burnt.  If you are making it from raw potatoes, stir it once in a while so that it's cooked better and fried bits from the bottom are mixed in.  This way you can get it to be more crispy.  You can use the same method also if you are making it from cooked potatoes.  Just make sure you flatten the top eventually and leave the bottom last time to brown nicely.  Once the it is brown underneath, you need to turn it upside down to cook both sides equally.  I use the lid to do that so the form (potato pancake) stays the same.  Just make sure you don't burn your hands.  When it's brown on both sides then it's done. You can use round rings or large cookie cutters to cut out shapes or slice it like a cake to serve. 


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Salmon Fillet with Vegetables

Like most people, I also have the new year resolution of being healthier every new year.  It's all the yummy Christmas and New Year celebration foods that are doing this to us.  Before it's too late... and I know that it's now middle of February,  I finally found some time to write down a delicious and healthy recipe for those who love salmon. 
I actually never had salmon before until I started living here.  It's a super delicious fish.  I cook it in various ways such as grill, pan fry, roast.  This way is similar how my mother cooked fish for us.  The taste of fish combines with the lovely smell of the cooked onions, tomatoes and lemons or other vegetables if you prefer.  You can serve this with some potatoes or rice.

Serves 2
2 medium size Salmon fillets without skin
200 g of mushrooms - sliced
2 medium size red onions - round sliced
1 medium size tomato - sliced
2-3 slices of lemon
chili powder
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil 

Put about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan and heat it up to medium high.  Put the onions in and stir-fry them until they look a little bit pink.   In the mean time season your fillets with some salt, pepper and chili powder.  When onions are done, push them to the side of the pan and put the salmon fillets in.  When the fillets are fried on one side,  spread the onions back to the bottom of the pan and turn the fillets on the other side and put them over the onions.  Add in the mushrooms right after turning the fillets.  Salmon will cook quite quickly in about 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets you have.  2-3 minutes before you turn off the heat add in the tomato and lemon slices.  Add some seasoning to the vegetables as well and enjoy your salmon fillets. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Crunch Torte

Proper chocolate...  Delia wrote this recipe years ago and I made it for the first time too many years ago.  Let's not get into how many years I'm talking about but it's a classic recipe.  We have a similar recipe in the family since I was a child.  It is very easy to make, simply because there is no baking.  It can be easily done the night before if you have limited time on the day.  If you take out the rum, it's a perfect cake for a kids party.   You just need to find very good quality chocolate that has about 70% cocoa solids.
However, I have to warn you, it's a very rich chocolate cake so you may want to have small slices.

Chocolate Crunch Torte
(Serves about 12)

400 g dark chocolate with about 70-75% cocoa solids - broken into little pieces
150 g chopped or sliced almonds
100 g tinned sour cherries
60 g raisin- soaked in water a day before
1 tablespoon of rum
100 g butter
250 ml double cream - lightly whipped
250 g oat biscuits chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar

about 1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to dust

In a non-stick pan, roast the almonds for few minutes over medium heat.  Stir them often, otherwise they will burn really quickly.  When they are done, leave them to cool.
Start melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl that sits over a saucepan filled with simmering water.  Melt the chocolate with the butter until it's smooth. After that remove the chocolate bowl and set it aside to cool down for few minutes.  If the chocolate starts to get hard and not so glossy anymore, don't worry.  Next step will make it smooth again. 
Add the double cream, rum and vanilla sugar to the melted chocolate-butter mix and stir very well. 
Next, add the raisins, cherries, chopped biscuits and almonds into the mixture.
The best is to use a cake tin with a loose base (20 cm - 8''), that is lightly greased with butter.  Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin as evenly as possible.  
Cover it with a folio and put it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, preferable over the night. 
Take it out 15-20 minutes before you serve.  Dust over it with some cocoa powder.  
This rich cake is even more delicious when served with whipped cream.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Roasted Turkey

This had to go in before it's too late.  I've been asked the recipe for so many times and because I have only written it on a piece of newspaper clipping, I really need to write it down. I have to...although I didn't like the picture but... oh well.  This recipe is a mixture of a recipe I got from my dear friend F and a recipe I saw in a cooking magazine that I don't know anymore which magazine it was.  I have made this for every Christmas last three years and it's the best roasted turkey recipe I tried.  Most of all, the turkey tastes really good, very tender and juicy.   It can be served with some rice or roasted potatoes and you can use the vegetables as a side dish.

(Serves 6-8)

1 big turkey (about 4 kg)
3-4 leeks - chopped 
4 medium sized carrots - peeled and chopped
1 apple - peeled and chopped
300 ml apple cider or white wine
1 cube of vegetable or chicken stock
salt& pepper
olive oil

2-3 slices of day old bread -  crumbled
300 g minced beef
1 apple - peeled and chopped into little pieces
2-3 leaves of sage - roughly chopped
1 medium onion - chopped
1/2 teaspoon of grounded cumin
salt & pepper

A roasting tin 
Aluminum foil

Start, with rubbing the turkey inside and outside with some salt, pepper and olive oil.  You can use some other spices too if you prefer.  Set it aside and and start to prepare your filling. 
Mix the ingredients for the filling altogether and stuff the turkey with this delicious mixture. The juices will mix with the turkey and you can take out the filling later on and serve as a side dish as well.
Next, take out the roasting tin and place the chopped leeks, carrots and apples.  Take a measuring cup and pour the wine or cider that you will use.  Put the vegetable or chicken stock in the wine and try to dissolve it as much as you can.  Then pour it over the vegetables in the roasting tin.  
Put your turkey on top of the vegetables.  You can use a roasting grill if your roasting tin has one but I prefer to put it directly on the vegetables. 
When it's ready, cover it with an aluminum foil and put it in a preheated oven 190° C (375° F) - without fan 170° C (325° F) - with fan on.  Give about 40 minutes of cooking time for each kg of turkey.  Then take out the foil and give another 30-40 minutes to roast without the foil so it gets all nice and brown. 
If you are not sure and want to check if the turkey is cooked, just stab it with a knife then you should see a clear juice coming out. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pear Tart

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all had a good start to 2011.
Do you have some recipes that you cook every now and then? I have a few and I have already written some of those on this blog.  This is another one that I make very often.  It's a Swiss recipe and I learned this from my husband.  It's one of those easy dishes, where you can easily substitute the ingredients if you don't have everything listed.  If you buy the ready puff pastry as well or a ready tart base, then the dish becomes super practical.  You can also make this tart with apples, plums, apricots, different berries, etc.  Quark and yogurt can be replaced with cream or with each other, you can just use only yogurt or just quark.
This tart just taste delicious because it is a very light dessert. It shouldn't be too sweet but depending on the type of fruit you use, you may want to add another tablespoon of sugar to the filling if you'd like. 

(Makes 8 portions)

1 round fresh puff pastry (33cm - app 13'')
2 tablespoons of grounded hazelnuts

4 tablespoons of Yogurt
1 cup of milk
3 tablespoons of Quark
2+1 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
4 medium sized pears
1 egg

Start by putting your pastry in a tart tin, preferably over a baking sheet.  With the help of a fork make few holes on the pastry.  Spread the grounded nuts over the pastry and leave it aside. 
To prepare your filling,  mix the quark, yogurt, milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, vanilla sugar, flour and 1 egg in a bowl by using a whisker.  
Pour the filling in the tart base you have prepared before. 
Peel the pears, take the seeds out and slice them into 1/2 cm pieces. Arrange the pear slices over the filling. They will be a little bit dipped into the filling but that's alright. You can also spread them randomly over the filling if you prefer.  
Sprinkle the left over tablespoon of sugar over the pear slices.  Bake the tart in preheated oven 180° C(356° F) for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.