Italian Wedding Soup

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This recipe was a lesson in using what I had around to create something I really wanted. For the past week or so I’ve been craving a nice hot bowl of Italian wedding soup, so I finally just made it myself. The problem was, I didn’t exactly have the right ingredients. So, I made some substitutes. Instead of ground beef, I used turkey for the meatballs. Instead of escarole, I had swiss chard. And for the pasta, all I had was small shells.

While this isn’t exactly traditional Italian wedding soup, I’m all about changing recipes up to make them my own, so I really enjoyed this little experiment. Not to mention, it tastes pretty close to the original!

Italian Wedding Soup soup3
Meatballs:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1/8 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Soup:
32oz chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 onion, chopped
1 bunch of swiss chard
1/2 box small pasta (I used small shells)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

1. Start by making your meatballs. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix to combine, careful not to over mix it. Use a teaspoon to scoop out small bits of the meat mixture and form small meatballs. Put the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the meatballs to the pan. Cook for about 6 minutes, turn them upside down and cook for another 5-6 minutes, they should be lightly browned.

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2. While the meatballs are cooking get started on your soup. Chop up the swiss chard into bite-sized peices, using the entire green part and about 1/2 of the stems. Add the olive oil to a pot and set it to medium-low heat. Add the chard and your chopped onion to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the chard and onion about 5 minutes. Next add your stock.

3. When your meatballs have finished cooking add them into the pan with the chard, onion and stock. Finally, bring the soup to a boil and add the pasta, cooking about for 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente.

4. Top with some pecorino romano and enjoy!

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Related: Fiesta Friday

Cornbread, Apple and Turkey Sausage Stuffing

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It’s finally the week of Thanksgiving! Only 3 work days between us and the delicious food and precious family time that Thanksgiving brings. Last year was my first attempt at making the entire meal myself. Since my husband and I couldn’t get enough time off of work to go home, I bravely bought a Turkey, read a ton of recipes and how-tos and decided I’d figure it out on my own. The meal had a few failures (the fear of undercooking my bird led me to overcook it) but overall turned out pretty well. This year, we’re lucky enough to go home and enjoy the day with the rest of our family but I still wanted to make a big batch of stuffing for us to enjoy as we please.

Stuffing is by far my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I love digging into a big dish of crisp, bubbling stuffing. I decided to try something new this year and use cornbread. I also added apples and turkey sausage. The sweetness that the apples get when they bake perfectly balances the slight heat of the sausage.

If any of you are cooking your first Thanksgiving this year, this dish is sure to be a hit. As for the Turkey, I suggest getting a thermometer, I sure wish I had!

Cornbread Apple and Turkey Sausage Stuffing
1 pan of cornbread , if you need a recipe I like this one from the Neely’s – just make it in a cake pan instead of cupcake tins photo(17)
1 lb Italian turkey sausage
2 medium onions, chopped
5-6 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 apples, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 T sage
1 T parsley
1 T oregano
salt
pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break your cornbread into chunks and place them on a large baking sheet. Since cornbread is naturally kind of crumbly it can be hard to get good sized chunks, if you end up with some crumbs that’s fine. Toast the bread in the oven until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes.

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2. Add the butter and olive oil to a large pot on medium – low heat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Crumble the turkey sausage as you add it to the pot and turn it up to medium heat. Add the rest of the spices. Stir occasionally and cook for about 8-10 minutes.

4. Add the apples to the pot and continue to cook until your sausage is cooked through.

5. Once the sausage has cooked, turn off the heat and add your cornbread. Add 1 cup of stock and stir to combine. Continue adding stock as needed until the mixture is moist, but not soggy.

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6. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish, cover with foil and bake at 350. Remove the foil after 30 minutes and continue to cook for another 25-30 minutes, just until the top starts to get crisp, enjoy!

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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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The Real Delights of Turkey

20130821-215626.jpg This post is waaaay overdue, it’s now been a few months since my husband and I returned from Turkey, but I still find myself wanting to greet people with a “Merhaba” and a double kiss.  And, of course, I’m still day dreaming about the food.  The culinary delights started from the meal on the plane (supper impressed by Turkish Airlines) and didn’t let up until we were back home.  I can hardly pick a list of favorites, but here’s my best try:

Pismaniye
This is one of the most unique candy’s I’ve ever tried. When my father in law first described it as cotton candy I thought eh I’ll give it a try. To my delight this is NOTHING like the artificially colored balls of sugar kids beg for at state fairs. Pismaniye is a soft melt in your mouth bundle of sugar and pistachio that I couldn’t get enough of. Warning: it does stick to you fingers and clothes just as badly as our American cotton candy!

Pastries Galore I’ve always thought of the French as the masters of pastry but I have now been convinced that Turkey has a hand on the competition. My husband has always told me I need to try Turkish pastries because I will love them and he was absolutely right. First of all, the assortment in the stores was amazing. Everything from homemade ice cream, cookies, eclairs to cakes that could double as art work. It quickly became clear I would not be walking out of the bakery with just a cookie for the road. About twelve eclairs, twenty cookies and an entire cake later we decided we had enough loot to bring home.

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An unexpected culinary find was Turkey’s street food culture. Most of this food was some version of bread which made is extra appealing to my carb-loving self. I was super happy to discover treats such as simit, which I can only the Turkish version of a sesame seed bagel, and the late night kokorec, a kind of lamb sandwich which was perfectly satisfying after a very late night.

People
Of course, the real delight of this trip was the people. I was blessed to meet and get to know the rest of my Turkish family and I couldn’t feel luckier to have such become part of such a great group of people. The amount of love and belonging I felt was truly special and won’t ever be forgotten.

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