Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Simplest Pasta from Carluccio (22 August 2010)

After rolling one hundred dolmas for couple of hours the previous night (etli yaprak dolmasi) and eating it for three consecutive mealtimes (excluding breakfast!), we craved for some serious carbohydrates. We already had a pack of green fresh pasta in the fridge (fresh pasta is crucial here). So we scanned the ‘Passion for Pasta’ by Antonio Carluccio (the pasta recipe book we had for ages) and came up with this very simple recipe. All we did was putting the zucchinis, garlic, onion, tomato and basil leaves into the pan and frying them with olive oil while the pasta is boiling. That simple and very delicious indeed with some grated fresh pecorino cheese.

As a separate note, the food in Carluccio's Restaurants in Dubai is very satisfying. Our favorites are the vegetarian pasta with fried spinach balls and the kids’ lasagna. Whenever we go to Marina Mall for our weekly Waitrose mission, we generally stop there to have a quick meal. By the way, ‘Passion for Pasta’ is on sale there.

The New Hot Restaurant in Dubai

We’ve been trying to book a place in the just opened ‘Rhodes Twenty10’ for a week and all we had as a response from the receptionist is ‘we’re fully booked until next week’. To be honest this was hard to believe as August is Dubai’s hottest month, the schools are off and it is Ramadan time so most of the expats are out of town on holiday. And I don’t think Rhodes Twenty10 is the popular place to have Iftar. Anyway, finally we could get a 10pm table on Friday for three. When we entered the restaurant we saw that there are only 10 tables on that floor and 9 others on the upper floor. And all were full.

We all thought that nothing was in the wrong. The table set up, the atmosphere, the service and of course the food. Two of us had grilled fish (one salmon, one seabass) and the other had the postmodern hamburger which was really interesting (no bun, with fois gras and a devil sauce). And the starters we shared were not only delicious but also big enough to be shared. Lobster ceasar salad with proper number of lobster pieces and same for the duck. We didn’t have any dessert after eating all this food around midnight but they compensate for it with some little treats accompanying the coffees. We’ll definitely go back and recommend you the same. Just book a week earlier.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Etli Yaprak Dolmasi - 21 August 2010

For a long while we were thinking about the meat dolma (more commonly called as dolmades in Greek), the minced meat and rice wrapped in wine leaves which we can only eat once or twice a year when we are in Turkey; especially after our friends Tracey and Michelle cooked for their Lebanese night (Lebanese Dinner). The hardest thing with the meat dolma is to find the perfect wine leaves besides the hours needed to prepare it. From his last trip to Turkey Alp brought those perfect wine leaves and this Saturday afternoon we decided to do nothing but to cook meat dolma.

Hence we opened our sacred Turkish cookbook (Ekrem Yegen) and followed his recipe. First we boiled the wine leaves in water for five minutes and then in order to balance their saltiness we put them in fresh cold water after boiling and changed the water couple of times. In the meantime we fried the onion with butter (the amount of butter can be arranged according to your judgment as according to Ekrem Yegen high cholesterol is not a bad thing!) until it is translucent and added the rice to be cooked with one glass of water just like normal rice (for about 10 minutes).

While rice is cooking we started to cut the wine leaves in half and take out the thick stems in the middle. This operation is lasted for about an hour. But of course when the rice is cooked, we took it aside and combined it with the minced meat, herbs and salt&pepper (by the way the minced meat should be full-fat) and stirred the rice-meat mixture for at least 5 minutes and it was ready to be rolled into the leaves. Here you need a little bit of rolling techniques but you come up with a good technique after couple of rollings (and for sure everybody rolled something in their lives – a burrito, a borek (pastry), a cigar!). And also the rolling process has a soothing effect on the soul, almost like a meditation. 

As we were rolling the dolmas, we were arranging them in a circular shape in a small pot (here it is important to use a small pot as we don’t want the dolmas to swim around in a big pot). Also we put a large leaf at the bottom of the pot (I’m not exactly sure why!). We decided to stop rolling when the pot was almost full (the rolling took about an hour as well) and the dolma was ready to be cooked in two glasses of water with a knob of butter. Ideally we should have put a plate on top of the dolmas and cover the pot with its lid (the weight of the plate will prevent the dolmas to swim around) but the only thing that fitted in the pot was a lid of a smaller pot. The dolma was cooked in half an hour. 

Since we had a leftover rice-meat mixture, we decided to make a quick quesadilla adding parsley and grated cheddar cheese as starter (generally these leftovers end up in trash if we don’t do something with them immediately). 

Also a coban salad (tomato-cucumber-onion-parsley and little bit of feta cheese with balsamic dressing) was a perfect choice for this meal.

We can happily say that the dolma was delicious (our kitchen supervisor – Ari said the same). Dolmas tasted almost same as my grandmom’s (but to be honest no dolma can beat my grandmom’s etli yaprak dolmasi..)

Ingredients for Dolma (for 4):
  • 400 gr - Wine leaves (in jar)
  • 500 gr minced meat - (don't go for low fat - regular makes it better)
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1 espresso cup rice - washed
  • 1 bunch dill - some fresh mint is good as well
  • salt & pepper
  • 1-2 table spoons butter (depends how much you want to use)
  • And yoghurt to serve

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Warm Chicken Sandwich with Spinach and Mushrooms - 19 August 2010

We love Thursday nights as everybody does in Dubai since it is the weekend* the next day. And we generally try not to stay home but go out to dinners, to drinks, to friends to celebrate the coming weekend!.. But this Thursday night we felt more like to stay home, invite over a friend, cook a homely meal and spend the night around the dinner table eating, drinking, talking, and listening to music.

So we went over our favorite meals list and decided to go ahead with the ‘warm chicken sandwich’ that we used to like a lot. It’s called sandwich but with the roasted chicken and additional spinach and mushrooms, it is unfair to categorize it under sandwiches. In the original recipe the chicken is pan fried with mushrooms and shallots but the chicken (in our case several pieces of organic chicken legs and a piece of breast) is divine when it is roasted after seasoning, drizzling with olive oil and putting lemon slices on top. 

We cooked the vegetables separately and combined the carved chicken, vegetables and the cheese in the ciabatta rolls. It’s important to use ciabatta as it is the most suitable bread in terms of the taste and the texture for this sandwich. And as always we had the mixed salad to share and a good bottle of red wine from France (Haut Medoc).

Warm Chicken Sandwich from Epicurious

* Weekend in Dubai is on Fridays & Saturdays

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Fish Called Parrot (17 August 2010)

For the last couple of days we haven’t cooked anything worthwhile to post. It’s been an unusually quiet week for the LazyCook kitchen but here we are coming back with a fish recipe from Jamie’s i-phone application! It is fast (supposed to be 20 minutes) and fun to prepare and cook especially if you are one in the kitchen (one Lazy Cook is coming back tomorrow). So, I went to Organic supermarket just next to my office aiming to find a white meat fish like hammour (similar to fenerbaligi) or sea bass but they were only selling salmon, tuna and the only white meat fish was a fish called parrot. I decided to give it a try and bought some fresh coriander and red chilies as well.

Coriander stalks, chilies (in my case I think I added a bit too much but in the end it had a pleasant spiciness) and garlic goes into the hot frying pan with olive oil. A few minutes later the canned tomato is added and when the sauce is thick enough, the fish went on top and is left for simmering until it is cooked.

In the meantime the zucchini, red onion and a little garlic are fried with olive oil to be added to the quick cook couscous. Here the key is to leave the couscous to rest for 5 minutes (covered with a film) after adding the water before stirring it with a fork (it says this on the package anyway!). And with this recipe the additional vegetables enhance the taste more than you anticipate.

And voila! A large spoon of couscous with the seasoned parrot fillet and the red sauce on top with sprinkle of coriander leaves. I would have a glass of pinot grigio if only we’ve had it. But I was happy with a glass of sparkling water filled with ice and lemon slices as well. By the way, parrot tastes like hammour and the texture is even softer.

And ‘A Kind of Blue’, a strong espresso with a small chocolate and a good book to conclude this quiet evening.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken soup for the soul (and flu!) - 12 August 2010

I’m feeling a bit fluish – a little bit of swelling on the throat and a constant headache; and a bit emotional at the same time not having my little boss around. So I took the two chicken legs, put them in a large pot with lots of vegetables and made a soup for me. And I sat on the sofa with a bowl of soup and watched ‘imagination movers’ in Playhouse Disney channel (and then Up!). The rest of the chicken will be my sandwich for lunch and quesadilla for dinner tomorrow. (In Dubai during Ramadan not many places are open for lunch so generally this month we’re home). Wouldn’t it be great if I could make chicken breast pudding (tavuk gogsu)? Of course if you’re not Turkish it wouldn’t make sense but tavuk gogsu is a very popular milk muhallabia in Turkey made with cooked chicken breast pieces (really). One of my favorites after browned milk pudding (kazandibi).

Saray Muhallebicisi (the best muhallebici for tavuk gogsu and kazandibi)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Very Simple Lamb Chops (10 August 2010)

Ok this recipe is so simple that all you need to do is go to the market and buy one pack of lamb chops and you probably have cornflakes at home anyway. Season the chops with salt and pepper, crumble the cornflakes and dip the chops in the crumble. Put the chops on the grill (in the oven). 15 minutes one side and 15 the other side (of course depending on the heat you may need to grill less – I think we grilled for about 20-25 minutes for well done). Crunchy, yummy, simple and quick. For the side, we cooked garlic-chili pasta with parsley. It was great but if we had time, I would go for a mashed potato and green salad with the lamb chops. But we had some packing to do around the house for one of the LazyCooks and her little majesty (the real boss)!  

And the recipe is (needless to say) from: Comfort Book by Tina Bester

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mexican Night (09/08/2010)

Last night we had the best Mexican at Martins, in front of the tv, on the sofa. And we were so hungry by the time we were there and the food on the coffee table was looking so tempting that we straight away started rolling the chicken or beef into the tortillas adding the usual fajita support team of sour cream, guacamole and salsa; and we only realized that we forgot to take any photos after almost everything was finished and we were happily full, half asleep watching Oceans 13. So, there were the beef stir fry and chicken stir fry, both with onion and peppers for the fajita and two choices of tortillas – healthy one and the real deal one (go for the real deal!). We had also guacamole a la Tracey and sour cream and salsa. We did our classic cheese quesadilla. (Simply put some olive paste, grated mozzarella or cheddar, spring onions, jalapenos and coriander)  And bottles of cold Corona with lime!!! Todo muy bien. Mucho gracias!  

For the next couple of days one of the Lazy Cooks is away. Hence blogging depends on the other one’s will to cook for one (or will she be out all week with friends!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

A good source of Omega-3 with Saffron Orzo (08/08/2010)

Nobody was in the mood for cooking today. And since I was going to do my usual Sunday weekly meat shopping from Organic market for fish, chicken and beef, we decided to go for salmon pan fry and our favorite side dish for the fish – saffron orzo. The salmon fillet I bought came with the skin so we did the patting the flour on the skin side, brushing it with butter and pan frying in little olive oil (like we did in Rhodes Mezzanine) but for some reason the skin didn’t turn out to be crispy enough. But the taste was right. Orzo is an Italian pasta which looks like rice and when you cook it like this (we found the recipe from a year ago and it became a classic side dish in LazyCook’s kitchen) it almost tastes like risotto but lighter and more tender. We had a healthy mixed salad with whatever green and red I found in the fridge. And with a glass of white wine tonight was a pretty good LazyCook night.  Do you feel like you want to eat something after the fish to finish the taste? A piece of cheese (eski kasar) or something sweet (helva) with Turkish coffee? Or is this a Cicekdagi/Aksit family tradition rooted in our genes??

We’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s Mexican food and movies night with our best friends Martins!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Paprika Pasta (Friday night)

I don’t know why we were always reluctant to roast a full chicken? And especially when it is a corn-fed chicken (from Waitrose)! It takes an hour and a half (ok this is one of the reasons) but once it is cooked, you can use it for the next couple of days either in a sandwich or a salad or in tortillas (like chicken quesadilla). Anyway for our dish, we drizzled the chicken with some olive oil and lemon juice, seasoned it with s&p, added some fresh herbs (whatever we found in the kitchen – oregano) and put it in the oven to be roasted. After 1.5 hours we carved the whole chicken and for paprika we took some portion from each chicken part and kept the rest for later use. Actually this dish is more like chicken cooked in paprika with some pasta, not chicken pasta. And it is one of the most comforting dishes in the ‘Comfort’ Book by Tina Bester. And the best thing about it was the next day Asli ate it with great interest while we were munching the chicken quesadillas with chili sauce! (For this on a tortilla we just put some cheese, warmed up the roasted chicken from previous day and added some coriander if there is any. Put another tortilla on top and grilled it on a pan – so simple and yet delicious!)

Failure cake! (06/08/2010 – Friday morning)

Our daughter is generally a very picky fussy eater and not only for main dishes but also for desserts as well. So when we see her eating a food enthusiastically this is a big fulfillment for us. Either for the dish we cook or at a restaurant. The other day I saw her eating a slice of chocolate cake at a tea party. And she wanted more and asked me to make a cake like this at home. We probably mentioned how bad we are at making cakes and like. And this particular cake is the most classic cacao cake where the cacao swirls in the vanilla cake (which my mom used to make for each tea party). I asked my mom for the recipe and I followed exactly what she told me and the result was disaster. The cake was like 3cm at most (I don’t know it should be at least 10?) and the color was light brown no swirls or anything and it tasted nothing! My diplomatic 3.5 years daughter took a little piece and gave it back to me smiling “I’ll eat this after we come back. Ok anne?” (as we were going out). I think I should get the dessert version of ‘Comfort’ book. Or maybe just buy Betty Crocker Super Moist cakes in the box! I know how they are delicious. 

Lebanese Dinner (05/08/2010 – Thursday Night)

And the experimental Lebanese dinner by Tracey & Michelle turned out to be stunning. On the beautifully arranged dinner table there was sis barak, mixed salad with halloumi, meat dolma with wine leaves, mixed grill of marinated lamb chops and chicken, (and our fattoush as well). 

Sis barak is very similar to our traditional Turkish meat ravioli (manti) but with sis barak the meat filled dumplings are cooked in yoghurt (with mint) and it is more like a soup. I think we tried this dish while we were in Lebanon but this one was really delicious. 

But the real charm of the table for me is of course the meat dolma! Thanks to Trace and Mich for this lovely dinner. I think we should definitely continue with these themed dinners. How about a Turkish dinner at us once everyone is back from their holidays?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lebanese Light Dinner

One of the things we love in Dubai is the abundance of good Lebanese food. In fact Lebanese kitchen is very similar to Turkish one with its variety of mezzes, salads, vegetable dishes and kebabs. Our favorite salad Fattoush is one of the main mezze of a Lebanese restaurant and although it is a simple one, it is not always easy to balance the dressing. One of the key ingredients in the dressing is Pomegranate syrup (that’s what we call in Turkey) which we can’t find everywhere in Dubai (sometimes in Wafi Gourmet) and the other one is sumac. Last night we decided to try this Fattoush with a twist which Alp found from We added grilled zucchini and bell peppers to usual tomato, cucumbers, spring onions, fresh mint and coriander. We added pitted black olives and feta cheese as well (not always added on fattoush). And of course what makes a fattoush is the grilled pita bread pieces. And finally the dressing (this one doesn’t include Pomegranate syrup but has cumin) and heaps of sumac. It was delicious. Hence this fresh and healthy salad is definitely a candidate for tonight’s experimental Lebanese dinner by Tracey and Michelle. According to the rumors they will cook meat dolma (more known as dolmades – my favorite dish from childhood and still whenever I visit my grandma she always has tiny meat dolma for me. Unfortunately it takes almost a day to prepare and cook and that’s if you can find the suitable wine leaves. Even our fussy eater Asli liked it when she was 2). Ah, and we had cheese quesadillas with home-made guacamole with our Fattoush. And we fell asleep watching interesting life story of Coco Chanel on dvd (not because the movie was boring it’s me who can’t keep her eyes open after 10.30pm these days).

Grilled Zucchini and Bell Pepper Fattoush