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Leeks and Carrots in Olive Oil (a la Turka!) June 18, 2014

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Healthy Eats, Quick Eats, Turkish Dishes.
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I’d consider myself a professional eater (I’ve actually been eating every day for the past 28 years), and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two paths to success in cooking a delicious dish:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Ask mom.

Now, most of us might want to go route #2, because let’s face it, mom always knows best. But for those days when you’re feeling adventurous, traditional recipes just don’t satisfy one’s creative hunger.

When I say keep it simple, I don’t mean that you should throw some Chef Boyardee in the microwave. I’m referring to the rule of 3.

Use 3 main ingredients in your dish, and you’ll be surprised with how quickly you’ll be able to create a delicious dish. For this post I wanted to recreate a Turkish classic that follows this rule, which I’ve been eating since my childhood. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to come up with your own original twist on it. Afiyet olsun (bon appetit)!

You will need:

The 3 main ingredients (you can also try tomato, green bean, and onion):

  • 2lbs of leeks (thinner the better, cut the green parts off, peel the outermost layer, wash thoroughly)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 4 medium sized carrots

The supporting cast:

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of short grain rice
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 or 2.5 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • Chopped parsley

1. Finely chop the onion and set aside.

2. Cut the green parts off of the leeks, and peel the outermost layer. When picking the leeks make sure you choose the ones that are thin. Wash thoroughly.

Chop the leeks at an angle, about an inch in length

Chop the leeks at an angle, about an inch in length

3. Using a dutch oven (if you have one) pour the 3/4 cup of olive oil and sautee the onions and chopped carrots (also cut at an angle)  for about 5 minutes.

Sautee carrots and onions for about 5 minutes.

Sautee carrots and onions for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the leeks and sautee for an additional minute or two.

Sautee the leeks for an additional minute

Sautee the leeks for an additional minute

5. Add 2 or 2.5 cups of boiling water to the pot (the water level should be equal to the level of the leeks in the pot. Don’t put too much.) Add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the juice of half a lemon.


photo 2

Add water, salt, lemon, and sugar

6.Cook over low heat (simmering) for about 10 minutes (covered).

7. Add 4 tablespoons of rice and simmer on low heat for another 15 minutes (covered).

8. This dish should be served cold after resting for a couple hours in the fridge. You may also eat it lukewarm if you want, just let it rest in the fridge for a bit and serve. The longer this dish waits, the tastier it becomes. It makes for a great and healthy lunch.

9. Sprinkle some parsley over the plate (we eat with our eyes first, presentation is key!!), garnish with a slice of lemon, and put some fresh ground pepper on top. Enjoy!

Healthy and yummy!

Healthy and yummy!



Fluffy for Your Dining Comfort: Home-Made Gnocchi January 13, 2014

Posted by Deniz Olcay in Uncategorized.
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I had the most delicious Gnocchi over the weekend at my friend Alex’s house. Real Italian home-made cooking. I think I could have eaten 3 plates of it if I was feeling greedy, but I decided to be a polite guest and savor each bite of the delicious gnocchi and enjoy the wonderful company.

The very next day (today) I still had a craving for it. Luckily I had a large bag of potatoes in my pantry that had been sitting there for a week. It was a sign.

The best thing about home-made gnocchi is how light and fluffy it turns out. Plus, you can store excess amounts in the freezer to enjoy later.  I’d recommend you try this delicious recipe if you have 2 hours to enjoy cooking it, and not feel rushed.

For the gnocchi you’ll need:

  • 2 pounds of potatoes (comes out to 3 cups mashed)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the sauce you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 small shallot or onion
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon of sage powder
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of water (the salted water you use to boil the gnocchi)

1. Take your potatoes and poke each one with a knife about 8 times. Then place all potatoes on a plate and microwave for 10 minutes. (Flip them around when it’s halfway done.)

2. Preheat the oven to 450, and place the potatoes in the middle rack for about 20 minutes.

3. Peel the potatoes using an oven mitt, and place into a mixing bowl.

4. Use a food processor, blender or food mill to blend the potatoes until smooth.

5. Place the potato puree on a baking pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Allow potato puree to cool before adding egg, so the egg doesn't cook.

Allow potato puree to cool before adding egg, so the egg doesn’t cook.

6. Add one beaten egg to the potato puree in a large mixing bowl.


Add the beaten egg and mix with a fork

7. Slowly combine 1 cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt with the potato puree.

8. Spread flour liberally over a spacious kitchen counter (which I don’t have)

9. Cut gnocchi dough into 8 separate pieces and place on the counter. Have extra flour handy. This gets very sticky, don’t be discouraged. Fight through it!

10.Roll the dough into 1 inch thick strips on the counter. Feel free to add more (as much as you need) flour onto the gnocchi dough to keep it from sticking.


Have extra flour handy, you’re going to need it.

11. Cut the gnocchi with a fork and place onto a baking sheet that has flour on it.

You can place excess gnocchi in a ziplock bag and freeze it for later.

You can place excess gnocchi in a Ziploc bag and freeze it for later.

12. Prepare the sauce by melting 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Wait until brown and it releases a nutty aroma.

13. Add minced shallots and remove from head immediately. Also add the sage to the mixture.

Allow shallots and sage to cook while off the heat.

Allow shallots and sage to cook while off the heat.

14. Allow 4-5 minutes for the shallots to cook and the butter to cool down. Place back onto the heat and add the 1/2lb of ground beef, 1 teaspoon of tomato puree, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and some black pepper. Cook thoroughly and set aside with the lid on. Also add 1/4 cup of the gnocchi water you’ll use for cooking the gnocchi in the next step.

photo 2

Cook meat thoroughly and combine other ingredients

15. Place gnocchi in salted boiling water. It is cooked once the gnocchi rises to the surface.

Enjoy! Serve with fresh parmesan / mozzarella cheese.