Monday, August 27, 2012


Baklava Served with Ice Cream


Triangle Cut Baklava
Rectangle Cut Baklava with Walnut

Square Cut Baklava with Pistachio

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Total 40 minutes    Prep: 10 min    Cook 30 min    Serves 8

This creamy eggplant and lamb stew dish has heavenly taste. This recipe is from traditional Turkish cuisine. The Turkish name is “Hünkar Begendi”. The name" Hünkar Begendi" literally means "The Sultan liked it".
The kitchens of the Ottoman Sultans were famed for their culinary creations to please the Sultans. This dish has been created for Sultan Murad IV 16 th Century at Topkapi Palace. The kashkaval or kasseri cheese is the original cheese for this dish. I substitute with cream cheese and four cheese mixture and got excellent results even better than my mother’s recipe.


2-pounds lamb; diced in ½ inch cubes (If you do not like lamb, substitute with beef such as tri tip steak or chicken meat)
1 large onion, diced
6 roman tomatoes (about 2 cups) peeled and finely chopped
2 roman tomatoes for garnish
½ tsp sweet Spanish paprika
3 garlic cloves, crashed
1/2 sticks unsalted butter for lamb
2 tsp dry oregano
4 fresh thyme springs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ to 1 cup hot water (If needed)
Fresh thyme, parsley for garnish

Creamy Eggplant Sauce:
Grilled eggplant (I used a jar of Sera* grilled eggplant, 23 oz)
1/2 sticks unsalted butter for creamy eggplant
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1-cup warm milk
4 oz cream cheese
 ½ cup cheese, Mexican four cheese blend or triple cheddar cheese or Kashkaval-Kasar Cheese; grated
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt,
¼ tsp black pepper
Fresh thyme springs and parsley to garnish

  •           In a large non-stick saucepan and add the lamb. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook the meat so that it lightly browns evenly on a medium heat about 10 minutes
  •           Add the onion and garlic cook about 3 minutes
  •          Then add the tomatoes and oregano, and season, to taste, with salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Add paprika and oregano, stir and bring to boil, and then lower the heat cover the lid cook about 15 minutes.
  •           Keep an eye on the water during this time if there‘s no left add some hot water.  Some tomatoes packed with juice you might not need any additional water. Simmer until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

  •      Add ½ stick butter, sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves and stir it and keep warm.
  •      When  lamb is cooking prepare the creamy eggplant.
  •          To prepare the creamy eggplant, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the flour, stirring well cook about 1 minutes.
  •           Add the eggplant puree and stir well.
  •           Slowly pour in the warm milk, stirring well, to make a creamy sauce.
  •           Add the grated cheese and cream cheese stir into the sauce.
  •           To serve, place some hot creamy eggplant sauce onto a serving plate make a nest with the center empty accompanied by lamb cubes in the center. Sprinkle with thyme leaves.


*  Sera Grilled eggplant in jar can be found at specialty markets.
  Grilling the eggplant gives the eggplants smoky flavor. You can grill about three pounds of eggplant if you choose to do so.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


1 package Turkish phyllo, handmade flour dough leaves.
Turkish name is Yufka. There are three circle sheets of pastry leaves in the package.

I use SERA brand Yufka. There is also a long package pastry leaves. Weight is the same in both types. Long type has five sheets of pastry leaves but circles are smaller in diameter. Yufka can be found at frozen section of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or Turkish grocery stores. Yufka can be purchased online too.

For Sauce:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk (I prefer to use low fat)
1/3 cup olive oil l+ 1 Tbsp to grease the pan

For Filling:
1 cup Feta Cheese 
1 cup Shredded Mexican Blend Cheese: Sharp Cheddar, the mild taste of Colby, and the slightly tart flavor of Monterrey Jack
4 oz fresh mozzarella (4-5 slices, chopped)
½ bunch parsley (about 1 cup chopped parsley)


·         Place feta cheese, Mexican blend cheese, Mozzarella cheese and chopped parsley in a medium size mixing bowl and mix well.

·         Whisk the eggs in medium bowl, add milk and oil and mix well, set aside.

·         Grease a large non stick pan 12 inch (30 cm) frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Take one sheet of the yufka and place over the pan; leave the sides hanging over the side of the pan.

·         Spread about ½ cup sauce over yufka evenly. Cut the second sheet of yufka in a half. Place the half on top of the first layer and sprinkle more sauce. Spread the filling all over evenly. Repeat with the other half. 

·         Fold the sides of the first sheet of the yufka over the layers of yufka. Pour some more sauce at the top. Put the pan on the stove over medium–low heat until pan heated (2 minutes).  Lower the heat to very low. Cover and cook on the stove over very low heat for about 20-25 minutes or until bottom part of the pastry is golden brown.

·         Cover the pan with a plate turn it upside down and then slide the börek to pan to cover and cook the other side 15-20 minutes.

·         Open the lid cook another couple more minutes or until bottom of the pastry is golden brown.

·         Let it cool and cut with a pizza slicer. Serve as an appetizer or main course while it's still warm.

NOTE: If you want to bake in the oven preheat the oven to 370- 375 F and bake 40-45 minutes or top part is golden brown. You can bake in frying pan in oven if your pan is safe to use in oven. You can use 13X8 inch lasagna pan or 13 inch round pan too.  Only difference will be the final shape of your pastry. Taste will be the same.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


20-25 dry Turkish apricots (8 oz)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3-4 drops lemon juice
Filling: Kaymak (Thick Turkish cream) I used Gaymak cream.
20-25 blanched almonds and or 20 -25 halved walnut
1/4 cup pistachio nuts, finely grated

Soak the apricots in cold water overnight. Next day drain the juice in a small pot. Set aside the apricots. Add sugar to juice and boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add apricots and simmer at low heat 20-25 min or until apricots are tender and the liquid becomes syrup. Add lemon juice at last minute. Remove the syrup from heat and allow cool down. Transfer apricots with a perforated spoon on to a plate.

Open apricots without completely separating two halves. Fill the inside with half a teaspoon of cream and place an almond or walnut in each apricot and close. . Garnish with pistachio nuts by dipping the side into the pistachio. Arrange apricots side by side on a platter.  Drizzle over them some syrup. This makes them shinier. Also sprinkle some grated pistachio nuts to plate and serve.


1 pack mini fillo (phyllo) shells 
(Total 15 pieces. I used ATHENS brand. You can find frozen sections of supermarkets, I get it from Wall-Mart))
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup finely chopped nuts (walnut, hazelnut, pecan, or pistachio. It is your choice)

Syrup Ingredients:
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2-3 drops of fresh lemon juice


  • First make the syrup. Mix sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to boil in medium high heat. Reduce the heat and add lemon juice and simmer 2 minutes. Set aside let it cool.
  • Dip the shells in melted butter. Fill the shells with nut. Put some butter on the top of each shell, press with your finger so nuts stays in shells.
  • Bake the shells 375 F 10 minutes or until color turns to golden brown.
  • Drizzle just a little syrup and serve.


If you would like to try something different or amazingly refreshing, you should definitely try it. I am confident that you love it since it combines crunchiness of Kataifi (KADAYIF) with creaminess of milk pudding. This dessert is delicious, elegant and exotic.
  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes
  • Servings: 6

  • 4 cup(s) of Milk (Whole, 2%, or Skim)
  • 3/4 cup(s) of Sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) of All purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup(s) of Rice flour
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. of Vanilla
  • 8 ounce(s) of Kataifi
  • 2 tbsp. of Unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. of Lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 Garnishing material
     (Depends on your preferences, you can add followings: fruits, mint, ice cream, whip cream, walnut, pistachio etc.)

1. Preheat the oven 400 F.
2. Take 8 ounces of Kataifi and tear apart. Make a thin layer on an oven tray. Sprinkle 2 tsp of sugar, and add diced butter.
3. Put the tray into the oven, and bake it for 5-7 min, mix it at the end.
4. Then, turn on broil (leave the oven door open) and let Kataifi gets golden brown color (another 5-7 min). You have to watch it closely and mix it a couple time. You could also brown Kataifi on stove top in a wide sauté pan.

5. When it is golden brown, take it from the oven, and let it cool down.

6. Meantime, combine milk, flour, rice flour, ¾ cup sugar, egg yolk in a non-stick sauce pan, whisk till smooth.

7. In a medium heat, bring it to a boil stirring constantly. It will be thickened. This step takes about 10 min.

8.  Remove from the heat, add vanilla and lemon zest, and mix. Let it cool for a few minutes.

9.  Spoon about 1/3 cup of the pudding into individual small trifle dish. Layer about 2 tbsp Kataifi, and spoon another layer of pudding and top with 1.5 tbsp Kataifi (If you do not have an individual dish, you can use a 9 by 9-inch glass dish).

10. Let it chill and serve with your favorite garnish (fresh fruits; strawberry or raspberry, ice cream, whip cream, walnut, and pistachio etc.)