Simit (Turkish Bagel)

Simit
In the past week I’ve made kabobs twice, humus and now simit. Something tells me I’m really missing this time last year when I was enjoying these foods with tea by the sea in Turkey. Simit was basically everywhere in Turkey, we’d buy a bunch in the morning and snack on it all day long while we walked around.

I wasn’t totally sure how to go about making this myself. Traditional Turkish simit has grape molasses in it, something I didn’t have. I used a light maple syrup instead for the syrupy component. It wasn’t quite what I remembered but still a great snack that I’m sure will be all gone in the next 24 hours. These are best served with a glass of Turkish tea, but personally, I like to dip them in Nutella!

Simit
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 cup water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons grape molasses (I used maple syrup)
1 cup toasted sesame seeds

1. Combine the yeast and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about ten minutes. Then, add the flour and salt and combine. Let it mix for about 5 minutes, until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a bowl and let it rise for about an hour, until it doubles in size.

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2. When the dough has risen, divide into 12-14 even pieces. Roll each piece out into a thin log. Combine two of the logs and twist them around each other. Combine the ends together so it forms a circular shape.

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3. Combine the water and molasses in a shallow plate, and the sesame seeds on another.

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4. Dip the simit in the water and molasses mixture, let the excess liquid drip off, then dip them in the sesame seeds.

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5. Continue with each simit and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the formed simit rise again for about 30 minutes. Finally, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes, until they’re slightly browned. Enjoy!

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Tabbouleh

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I love making dishes that I can make a big batch of and bring to lunch every day for a week. This helps prevent me from going out and buying lunch. It also gives me a lunch I can look forward to – not just some sad sandwich that I don’t really want to eat. Tabbouleh is an excellent example of this, this recipe makes enough for nearly a week’s worth of lunches and paired with a nice warm pita it’s a lunch you’re sure to look forward to!

If you haven’t used bulgur before it’s a type of wheat that’s common in Middle Eastern cooking. You can find it in most grocery stores near the rice or the international aisle. Unlike other grains, you cook it by pouring boiling water over the wheat and letting it sit and absorb.photo(33)

This recipe is very light and fresh while still being filling. I definitely suggest making some pitas to go with it. This King Arthur recipe works every time! You can also substitute some of the flour for whole wheat if you like.

Tabbouleh
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, each cut into quarters
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup dried mint
6 green onions, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Place your bulgur in a heatproof bowl, boil your water and add the boiling water to the bowl with the bulgur. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and let it sit for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the bulgur is softened. Fluff the bulgur lightly with a fork.

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2. While waiting for your bulgur, chop your tomatoes, parsley, cucumber and onions and add them to a separate bowl. Next add the mint. Once the bulgur has cooled, add the chopped vegetables and mint to it and stir to combine.

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3. Finally, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and stir it thoroughly to combine.

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4. Chill for at least an hour before serving, enjoy!

Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls

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So I wasn’t really sure what to call these.  They’re inspired by a Turkish dish called pogaca, which are basically delicious little dough balls stuffed with feta and parsley.  I happen to have a lot of olives around and wanted to incorporate those so I added them to the filling.  Then, I decided I wanted a touch of spice so I added Turkish pepper paste.  The pepper paste is difficult to find in American grocery stores but you could mix some cayenne or red pepper into tomato paste and get a similar product.

I just love the dough that these call for, it’s absolutely beautiful and always comes out great.  If you have a phobia of making dough (like I did for a long time) this is a great one to try to boost your dough making confidence.  These can make a great appetizer, but they’re hard to stop eating so for me they usually end up being a meal on their own!

Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls
Dough:
photo (49)4 cups of flour
1 cup of milk
1 1/2 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Filling:
3/4 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 Tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Egg Wash:
1 large egg, whisked

1. Combine the yeast and 1/2 cup of the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for about 10 minutes.

2. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients for the dough and add them to your mixer. Combine using the dough hook. Next add the melted butter. Then, add the rest of the milk slowly.

3. Continue to mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, you should have a slightly sticky dough at this point.

4. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise for at least an hour.

5. While your dough is rising, make your filling. The easiest way is to combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they become a spread like mixture. If you don’t have a food processor you can also chop the olives and onion and just stir everything else in.

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6. Once the dough has risen, roll it out in small batches using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8 inch thin. Use a circular cookie cutter (or the top of a glass) to cut out circles that are about 2 inches in diameter. Place the circles on a baking sheet.

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7. Fill the middle of each circle with a small amount of the filling. Then bunch up the ends together to hold the filling. Place the “bunched” side down on the baking sheet. Brush each dough ball with the egg wash and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until they start to brown. 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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