Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

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Once in awhile I get ambitious and try to make some kind of Turkish food.  We ate so many great things in Turkey and my mother in law makes some great food that you just can’t find here.  Lahmacun is a kind of Turkish pizza we would eat at my husbands house and almost everywhere we went in Turkey.  Lately I’ve found myself craving it quite often so I finally decided to give it a try.

The dough needs to be very thin and very soft so you can roll these up to eat them.  My attempts at traditional Turkish dishes haven’t been great, and I was almost certain my first attempt at this wouldn’t come out well.  I scoured a bunch of recipes trying to find to find what seemed like the right mix of ingredients and measurements that I wouldn’t have to convert.  I ended up using this Food Network recipe as a guideline but changed some things around to make these as close to what I remembered eating in Istanbul.

I have to say I impressed myself with the end product.  My husband who rarely likes Turkish food in the US loved them, so I knew they were good.  I’m sure I’ll be making these again soon.
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Note: This recipe calls for a pepper paste that is very difficult to find in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it I would suggest a jar of
tomato paste seasoned with cayenne or red pepper.

Lahmacun adapted from Food Network
Dough:
3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
1 T dried mint
1 T cumin
juice of 2 lemons, plus extra to add before eating
olive oil for pan

1. Add the water and yeast to the bowl of stand mixer and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then add the rest of the dough ingredients to the bowl and mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, until it forms ball.

2. Remove the dough ball and place it in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.

3. While the dough is rising begin to make the filling. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the ground beef, cook until the beef is cooked through. Add the cooked beef and the rest of the filling ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine.

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4. When the dough had risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each piece into a ball, cover and let rise for another 15 minutes.

5. One at a time roll each ball out on a floured surface until very very thin. When you think it’s think you’ve rolled them out thin enough, keep going a bit more. I found it was easier to add the rolled out dough to the pizza stone and then add the filling. You could also add the filling and then put it on the stone but I am clumsy and know I would end up dropping it.

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6. Cook each lahmacun for 6-8 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on each one before eating, enjoy!
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No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia

bread bread 6 foc

Let me start this off by saying I LOVE bread.  I’m pretty sure I could live off of nothing but good bread and be a happy girl (ok maybe some tomatoes and cheese wouldn’t hurt either).  As a kid, I remember going to the local bakery with my grandpa and sneakily breaking off bits of the crunchy crust and shoving them in my mouth on the way home.  In college, I would make the inconvenient drive out to the Italian bakery on the other side of town just to get my fix.  To this day, if I find a really good loaf it’s definitely not making it all the way back to my kitchen without me ripping off a piece and enjoying it on the way home.

So, you can imagine my dismay when I moved to D.C. and couldn’t find a decent bakery.  Sure,  there are tons of bakeries offering cupcakes (not that those aren’t great) but I couldn’t find a place that sold that a loaf of bread that was perfectly crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Not to say such a place doesn’t exist, but I’ve been here over two years and still haven’t found it, so if you know of a place, let me know!  I decided to take matters into my own hands and began to try baking my own bread.  I’ll admit, at first I had my fair share of disappointing failures but then my mom suggested I look at King Arthur Flour’s website.  She mentioned my Uncle Dave always liked them because they had tons of recipes and included comments from other people who have tried them.  I checked out their site and the first one that caught my eye was a no-knead crusty bread – had they read my mind!?  I tried it and it came out great.  So I started trying more and more of their recipes and the results have been fanatastic.  Today I’m sharing my version of their simple focaccia bread.  I added some cheese, spices and sun dried tomatoes to mine.  This bread is actually really simple to make, if you’ve ever though about trying to make your own bread but have been scared to try it, try this one!

No-Knead Sun Dried Tomato Focaccia adapted from King Arthur’s Blitz Bread: No-Fuss Focaccia
Dough:
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 teaspoons King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
1/2 cup cheddar cheese cut into small chunks or shredded, optional

Topping:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sun dried tomatoes (however many you like)

1. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan, and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil in the bottom

2. Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let sit for about ten minutes

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients for the dough except the cheese, and beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 60 seconds dough

4. Add the cheese to the dough mixture and mix very slightly, until it’s just incorporated

5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, cover with a clean cloth and let it rise at room temperature for 60 minutes
**I’ve found that letting my covered dough rise in the microwave helps a great deal, it keeps out the draft from the air conditioning – just remember not to turn the microwave on while it’s in there!

dough26. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F and mix all of the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl

7. After rising, gently poke the dough all over with your index finger

8. Brush the topping onto the dough

9. Bake for about 35- 40 minutes, until it’s golden brownfoc

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast

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Yes, I know it’s supposed to be 90+ degrees in DC this week but I’m still blissfully pretending it’s almost Fall and I’ll soon feel a cool breeze.  I was very excited last Friday when I made three very successful loaves of homemade bread – not an easy feat. I’ve had my share of attempts at bread making that turn out to be brick-like loaves of a waste of good flour. But this week’s batch actually came out really well so I’ve been thinking up ways to eat it all up. Then, Saturday my husband and I went apple picking and now I have waaay more apples than I know what to do with. So, Sunday morning breakfast was an apple crisp french toast to use up both the bread and some of the apples!

Baked Apple Crisp French Toast
(This recipe is only enough for two people, so you’ll want to double or triple it if you have a large crowd).
4 medium sized apples peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
4 thickly cut slices of bread
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of cold butter cut into small chunks
3-4 tablespoons flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Combine the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla in a shallow bowl and whisk.

aple crisp43. Dunk the bread slices in the egg mixture until completely covered on both sides.

4. Place the bread in a baking pan.

5. Place the butter, 2 tablespoons of flour and both sugars in a food processor and pulse until just combined. Add more flour as needed until you get small chunks.

6. Arrange the cut up apples on top of your bread and and pour the butter/flour/sugar mixture on top of the apples.

7. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until brown and bubbly! Enjoy!

baked apple crisp