Yesterday was a holiday and instead of spending time celebrating the Turkish Republic Day, or spending time with family, I found myself spending the day in the kitchen! No surprises here . . .
There were a few too many herbs and vegetables fading away in my refrigerator along with a couple of other items. So I set out to make it “all right.”
I was in a cooking frenzy. Leftover chicken became chicken salad with the addition of some yummy pickles my husband had made, nutmeg, mayonnaise and my secret ingredients.
I prepped brussel sprouts. They were originally planned for my lunch. But I never got around to cooking them.
I roasted beets in the oven, then peeled and cut them. Added fresh herbs from the balcony garden, olive oil and butter and baked them a few more minutes. Mmmmmm.
I made a lasagna. It had five layers of noodles and two layers each of ground beef and a mix of sauteed spinach, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes. Each layer had tomato sauce with Italian herbs and a ricotta cheese blend. I topped it with aged Kasar (like a cheddar/American cheese), mozzarella, and homegrown basil. The ricotta was a treat because it’s not readily available in Turkey. And I love the lasagna noodles here. I buy Barilla’s brand, but it’s not the same as the one they sell in the States. The noodles are shorter and wider, not as thick, and don’t have the wavy edges. They cook up much smoother.
That left me with leeks. My husband wanted Zeytinyagli Pirasa and I wanted potato leek soup. So I made both! Zeytinyagli Pirasa (olive oil leeks) is a really nice Turkish dish served as a main course or a side dish. I always use this recipe from Ozlem’s Turkish Table.
It’s basically sauteed onions, carrots, and leeks. You add a little rice, a little sugar, lemon juice, and hot water. In my version, I also use fresh thyme and a lot more carrots. I also like to brown the vegetables a little. It can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. It’s an easy to make dish and a lovely surprise to the American palate.
Here’s a photo of mine while I was sauteing the veggies with the fresh thyme:
A big thank you to Ozlem, a Turkish expat living in the UK, for sharing her Turkish recipes in the English language! We really appreciate it!
I also made one of my favorite soups, Potato Leek! It’s as easy as 1-2-3! I always start with this recipe for French Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup) from The Joy of Cooking.
French Vichyssoise (Leek and Potato Soup)
from The Joy of Cooking
Yield: About 8 cups of soup
Total Cooking Time: about 1 hour
3 medium leeks; white part only, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin
4 cups chicken broth (or 1 large can of College Inn Chicken Broth)
1 to 2 cups of milk or cream (optional)
salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallion for garnish
Saute leeks and onions in butter for 3 minutes. Add potatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Blend in a blender, a small amount at a time. Add cream, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold.
Note: This soup is delicious (and much lower in fat!) if you use lowfat milk instead of cream. Or, omit the milk/cream altogether.
MY NOTES on the Soup:
- Eye ball the ingredients. Turkish leeks are really big so three is a lot!
- Just chop the onions because you are going to blend it anyway – so don’t worry about a fine mince.
- The same thing with the potatoes. They will be added with the broth to cook them, and later blended. So don’t worry a thin slice. Chopping them in pieces is fine.
- I use cold water and add chicken bullion cubes (Tavuk bulyon), because I rarely have chicken broth handy.
- I do not add milk. Sometimes when serving, I add a little cream (krema). But the soup is great without the milk products!
- Black pepper is fine if you don’t have white. Freshly cracked is always better.
- This note is for my American readers use a straight hand blender right in the pot, like the Turks do. It’s so much easier. Do you know the one I mean? The one we think is only for making baby food? You know, the phallic vibrator-looking thingy!
Well, just when I thought I had had enough, I got up and made two loaves of banana nut bread.
Now, if you are going to try a day like this yourself, do what I did — buy yourself a nice cheap bottle of wine and indulge!