Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stuffed Green Peppers

Fall is finally upon us and the kids have gone back to school.  For those of us who have the 'empty nest' (both of my sons are in college now) it is pure delight when the kids come home to visit.

With this idea in mind, I have started to cook again... to cajole the boys back home for a home cooked meal, once a week.  Last  weekend, it was Dolma, the most basic staple in our home kitchen as they were growing up.  I am not sure if it is due living on Macaroni and Cheese for weeks on end or if it's just being back in their mother's kitchen but in either case, they were delighted, and are coming back for more...

Dolma was one of the first things I learned to make as a newlywed.  It is very easy to prepare and very delicious.  Honestly, I haven't met anyone who doesn't like a good Dolma. Here is my sure-thing recipe.

Etli Dolma, (Stuffed Green Peppers)

1Lb Green Peppers
1/2 lb Ground Beef or Lamb ( I usually mix the two)
1/2 cup rice (washed and drained)
1 large onion diced
1/3 cup Pomegranate Sour *
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 cloves garlic crushed
Salt and Pepper to taste
* You can find Pomegranate sour or Pomegranate Sauce in international food stores or online through Turkish foodstores. 

-  Mix all the ingredients except the green peppers together.
-  Take out the stems and the seeds from the green peppers - set the stems aside to use to close the 'Dolma'      after it is stuffed.
-  Stuff the green peppers with the meat filling.
-  You can leave them this way or close them with their stems or a piece of tomato on top.
-  Place the stuffed peppers in a pan standing with the open side on top.
-  Place a small plate over the 'Dolma' in order to prevent the filling from spilling.
-  Pour 1 cup of water over it.
-  Cook on high heat untill it boils then let it simmer for 1 hour.

Serve hot with yogurt with or without garlic.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Turkish Cuisine, Perfect everytime

Although Bodrum might be famous for it's sun, sea and sand, there are those like my husband and myself, who will not be satisfied until they find the perfect meal.  In Bodrum, this is relatively easy since the available basic ingredients are so good anyway, that anyone with some knowledge of cooking can create a fairly decent meal.
Izmir Kofte over Begendi 
Then again, there are those exceptional establishments that should not be missed on any trip to Bodrum, like Kismet Restaurant in Konacik.   I honestly don't remember a single meal I have had here that I did not like.  Everything is so professionally prepared that you cannot find fault with anything.  There is a very nicely orchestrated way they display their daily dishes and the customers get to pick and choose to their heart's content.  There is a big display case as you enter the restaurant with all home style dishes, out for the customer's inspection.  The only difficulty might be with making a decision amongst so many wonderful choices.  Although I believe to each is own, I have to mention some of my favorites.  Their special of the day for Thursdays is Begendi, which is a heavenly creamed eggplant dish with bechamel sauce and kasari cheese. Begendi is probably one of most impressive Turkish specialties, but the way they prepare it at Kismet is a completely improvised version that is still divine. Begendi is usually served with tas kebabi, a classic stew but it is perfect with most meat dishes. Here we like to have it with Izmir Kofte, (fried meatballs in tomato sauce.)

Kurufasulye Pilav
The Kurufasulye Pilav (traditional Turkish rice and beans) is fantastic and my other personal favorite is the Ayse Kadin fasulye (Green beans cooked with tomatoe sauce) this is a dish that is usually served cold but here I have had it warm and loved it.

Deniz Borulcesi
The right side of the display case is devoted to salads, olive oil dishes and mezes  that are served cold.  They have a rich variety of local herbs that they use in their salads.  Here again our favorites are the kopoglu mancasi (eggplant with peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and garlic yogurt) and deniz borulcesi (pickleweed salad.)

Make sure to leave room for Kalburabasti for desert. And after a perfect meal I love having my Turkish coffee in their authentic cups.

One word of advice - Get there right around noon, this is a favorite of the locals and it gets quite crowded. They can also run out of some specialties fairly quickly.

Kismet Lokantasi
Ataturk Bulvari Finansbank Arkasi (behind Finansbank) No 35/A
Konacik - BODRUM
Tel:     0252 319 0096
Mobile: 0532 470 7878

Monday, September 12, 2011

Long Branch - The end of summer

It's the end of summer and we have all pretty much returned to our normal lives.  Whether you journey to an exotic place, down the shore, or just have some time off from school or work, getting back to regular schedules and responsibilities is not so easy after the hot, carefree days of the season of respite.

With Labor day, close of the season is official but for those of us who are lucky enough to have some kind of access to the beach, we can still bask in the lingering effects of the sun, sea and sand.

Long Branch, New Jersey, is a great place in Central Jersey for an outing any time of the year.  Pier Village, right on the ocean, is full of shops and very nice restaurants and a variety of activities.

It is also only six miles away from my office and the 5 miles of walking back and forth on the board walk has been one of my favorite activities since I moved here almost 2 years ago.

Friday after work, I had no where to be and no one to see, so I decided to go to Long Branch.  I was not interested in dinner or shopping, just exercising and inhaling that salty smell of the ocean.

It turned out to be a very satisfying experience...

As I walked along, I ran into three weddings, families out for a stroll with their children, couples sitting and enjoying the beautiful view, people jogging, walking and even a musician playing her guitar as she gazed out to the ocean.  There were bands playing, surfers waiting to catch a wave, happy hours in full swing and an incredible sunset, with scenes that begged to be captured... I felt in accord with my surroundings, that is akin to what I feel when I am walking down the streets of New York, which is a very rare occurrence in my experience for New Jersey.
I don't know if it was the seemingly boundless ocean or the vast sky up above but it felt like we all belonged out there, underneath the same big sky.