Monday, March 28, 2011

A Star Is Born

'A star' is born and starts twinkling right away in our lives. I am thankful for being blessed with this little star's light all year long which, I hope, gets brighter and brighter as it gets older. Who knows? She might then shine to you one morning as the Sun does.
Milou posing with all her might.

Happy Birthday Princess Milou!

Well-aware of being photographed!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Once upon a Time...

I love the stock phrase "Once upon a time" in storytelling. I start almost every story I tell to Princess Milou with that phrase no matter when all the events in my instant-story take place. I've inherited this widely accepted convention from my granny and it seems Milou will be starting her own stories with the same line in the near future. 
From time to time, I let her have a look at her own photos which I, in advance, put in a particular order so that they tell a story as we did with these photographs. I told her 
... the princess in the story reaches an enchanted well after an adventurous journey from her castle. The prince she is looking for has unfortunately been turned into one of the ornaments decorating the well. She has to tell which is the prince and pick it up to break this cruel spell...
Well, the tale went on as much as my instant-story-creating mind allowed but if you click on and have a closer look at the last group of pictures, you will see whom Milou picked to break the charm: Otto Mann - the fictional character on the animated TV series, The Simpsons. He is the school bus driver for Springfield Elementary School. I gave it a big laugh when I imagined Otto Mann as the prince charming in this fairy tale. 

Princess Milou looking for the missing Prince.

Otto Man: the prince charming!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

I love their indigo colour when ripe.

Living in Bosnia and Herzegovina has contributed a great deal to my library of cooking. Having spent here only two and a half years is quite some time to try and adopt all the different vegetables, fruit and other types of food which I wasn't familiar with before. Blueberry is one of those fruits that people don't usually eat in Turkey but people in Bosnia consume a lot in every possible way. You can find blueberries everywhere sold fresh or processed: juice, syrup, yogurt, chocolate, jellies, snacks, even cereals. I later happened to learn that the northeastern part of Turkey is one of the main sources of Caucasian berries. However, they are not widely eaten all over the country. It is probably because they are not cultivated; wild berries grow naturally on the hills and forests. These native blueberries are eaten only locally as jelly, dried or fresh fruit. 
TV commercials started only a few years ago to boost the popularity of blueberries in Turkey as a diet supplement that works. Blueberries contain antioxidant pigments so they have a role in reducing risks of some diseases, including inflammation and certain cancers. If you supplement your diet with blueberry juice, it will enhance memory and learning while reducing blood sugar and symptoms of depression. It also helps in maintaining normal blood pressure and preventing urinary tract infections.
I love the indigo colour of ripe blueberries so much that I started to add them to my muffin recipes right away. Here it goes. Enjoy it. 

  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Directions
    1. Preheat the oven to 185 °C and lightly grease or line with paper baking cups 23/4-inch muffin cups. 
    2. In a large bowl, blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
    3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, milk, butter and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and fold in the blueberries.
    4. Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are moistened. 
    5. Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
    6. Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Could you please kindly have a look at the photographs below and tell me what they look like? Scones? Biscuits? Both? Or what else?
Well, they are some light, fluffy, cheesy and savory rolls of bread which would make wonders for the weekend breakfast. But I didn’t know that these round-shaped pieces of bread I made are called angel biscuits beforehand. When it came to title this post, it turned to be an enormous question mark. I could have just told you that these are homemade pogacas as they are widely referred to in Turkey but I wanted to find the corresponding word in other cuisines. So, I started to read on different types of bread, biscuits and scones and the regional variations. I was amazed and puzzled by the result. The names, ingredients and also the way people in different countries make them differ a great deal. After reading some time, I reached the following conclusions (I know it sounds quite academic to put it this way):

  • Since my recipe results in round-shaped pieces of bread with a browned crust and a soft interior, they resemble British scones or all biscuits in the United States in appearance.
  • A biscuit, as widely used in popular American English, is made with baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent. However, I used yeast instead.That’s why, they cannot be referred to as "quick breads," as are biscuits often collectively referred to because they need time to rise before baking. So, they are similar to "angel biscuit" which utilizes yeast, a touch of sugar, and buttermilk.
  • In traditional biscuit doughs butter or shortening is cut into the dry ingredients but the fat in these rolls comes from vegetable oil and milk.
  • Also, while scones are served with coffee and tea or as a dessert, biscuits are served more as a bread, often with breakfast. In this sense, my recipe would serve much more as biscuits.
  • Traditional scone dough is refrigerated for at least 2 hours before it is cut into rounds but you don't have to refrigerate the dough.
  • They are similar to "cheese biscuits" in the way I added cheese but instead of adding the cheese directly to the dough, I wrapped a little of cheese in each ball. This recipe uses fresh ricotta, but use any cheese you like, from gruyere to parmesan.
  • I didn't roll out the dough flat and cut it into rounds as they do for scones or biscuits. Instead, I took small pieces from the dough and rolled over each lump into mini balls and placed them into muffin liners.
  • Herbs like parsley or chives make a nice addition as well. Sesame, black cumin seeds or even poppy seeds may garnish the top.
  • 1 scant tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • active dry yeast (1 scant tablespoon)
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • ¼ cup mineral water
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening. 1 cup butter, melted and cooled may be substituted.
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, feel free to add more gradually while kneading if you think the dough is too sticky.
  • 1 ½ cup fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • sesame and black cumin seeds
  1. Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk with sugar, salt and mineral water. Let stand until creamy looking about 5 minutes. Add the shortening. Make sure all you've had the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, stir milk, yeast and oil mixture into the flour. Keep adding extra flour if necessary. When a non-sticky dough forms, cover with a damp towel or lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, or about 45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  4. Break off small lumps of dough and pat lightly into flattened circles of a 1/2-inch thickness. Put a teaspoon of cheese on each and close them up folding the edges upwards like a bundle. Roll over a few times until the folded sides are at the bottom forming a ball. Place each into a muffin liner or on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
  5. Beat the egg yolk and coat each roll with it using a brush. Garnish with sesame and black cumin seeds. Bake until golden on top 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Potato Onion Filled Phyllo

In Praise of the Potato

Whether you'd prefer to call it yufka as the Turkish do or phyllo as the Greek do, it's something unique in Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisine to create fabulous pastries. If you google for it, you'll find tens of recipes you can easily make with these paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough. Potato pastry is just one of those wonders. Particularly here in Bosnia where people tend to eat potatoes in the winter much more than usual, it's a good idea to buy ready-to-use yufka to make potato pastry following my mother-in-law's recommendations. She always makes her own dough, though. Here it goes!

1 pkg Phyllo dough
4 large onions
7-8 large potatoes
3 medium eggs
½ l milk
vegetable oil and butter
2-3 tsp thyme leaves salt and black pepper            
1. Place the potatoes into a deep saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the potatoes are soft. Drain and cool. Peel and grate the potatoes.

2. Meanwhile, chop the onions. Place a pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, add about 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onions to the pan and toss. Lower the heat and cook the onions, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until they are tender.
3. Add the grated potatoes, salt, black pepper and thyme. Stir thoroughly until the onion is distributed throughout the potatoes.

4. Preheat the oven to 200C.

5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with milk and vegetable oil. This is the sauce you should sprinkle over each layer of dough.

6. Place a sheet of dough on your lightly greased ovenproof dish. Sprinkle some egg-milk- oil mixture over the dough until it becomes moist. Spread potato onion mixture over the moist dough. Place another sheet of dough and spread some more mixture over it. Repeat until the last piece of sheet. If the dough insists on tearing just patch it up.

7. Lay the last sheet over the top and pour the whole remaining egg-milk-olive oil mixture.
8. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Semolina Pudding

We have many friends from Australia and the U.S. here in Sarajevo. Whenever a family move back to their hometown, they e-mail everyone around letting us know that it's time for another garage sale. They sell everything from hair clips to food processors. The last time I went to say goodbye to some friends, I found some copper molds which cost me only a few cents. Every time I buy something at a garage sale at a good price, it makes me feel as if I happened to find Captain Hook's hidden treasure while walking lazily along the beach. But after I came back home a conversation* quite similar to the one below was around the corner waiting. 
    Mrs Non-Gorilla
    Morning Mrs Gorilla.
    Mrs Gorilla 
    Morning Mrs Non-Gorilla.
    Mrs Non-Gorilla
    Have you been shopping?
    Mrs Gorilla
    No ... been shopping.
    Mrs Non-Gorilla
    Did you buy anything?
    Mrs Gorilla
    A piston engine!
    She reveals a six-cylinder car engine on a white tray, on a trolley.

    Mrs Non-Gorilla
              What d'you buy that for?
    Mrs Gorilla
    Oooh! It was a bargain.
Well, anyways... I left the piston engine, sorry the copper molds, in one of the drawers in the kitchen until I remembered to cook semolina pudding one day. The molds added to my everyday dosage of  happiness when I noticed how beautiful the pudding looked in the ended. If you'd like to give it a try, remember to alter the amount of sugar depending on your sweet tooth. You can also garnish it with toasted chopped almonds, walnuts or icing sugar.


1 lt milk
1 cup semolina
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
ground cinnamon for garnish

      1. Combine the milk and semolina. Stirring all the time, cook over medium heat until it comes to boil.
      2. Add butter and sugar and stir occasionally till it reaches the desired consistency.
      3. Add the vanilla extract and the nutmeg. Stir a little more and remove from heat.
      4. Pour into a large platter or in individual cups. Set aside to cool then refrigerate. Serve directly from the fridge. Garnish the top with  some cinnamon before serving. 

* from Piston Engine (a bargain) as featured in the Flying Circus TV Show - Episode 43.