Sunday, March 18, 2012

Potato Muffins with Macedonian Feta

There is more than one way to love a vegetable. I realized this sweet fact after I made kljukuša yesterday morning. After savoring every last morsel of it, I decided to prove our love for potatoes today one more time and I made potato muffins with Macedonian feta. It was the first time I used potatoes in muffins and I once again followed no other recipe than my culinary skills and imagination on this sunny Sunday morning in Sarajevo. I'm really happy not only to have expanded  my repertoire but also to have turned this morning into a stage show to perform my love for potatoes. Here comes my recipe which might go through many transformations in time. Still, these muffins disappeared as they took their place on the breakfast table in the garden today accompanied by Turkish tea. I love it a bit more crispy on the outside so it depends on your taste how much to keep them in the oven after they turn golden. 

4-5 medium potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten 
4-5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100-200 gr Macedonian feta, grated
1/3 cup olive oil 
milk or buttermilk
Salt, pepper and oregano to taste 


1. Preheat your oven to 175 °C. Line muffin tin with paper muffin cups.
2. Peel and grate the potatoes. Grate the garlic and add to the potatoes.
3. In a large bowl, gently whisk together the flour, baking powder, pepper and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the potato and cheese. Stir to combine, then make a well in the center.
4. In a small bowl combine the olive oil, egg and milk/buttermilk with a whisk. Pour into the well and mix until just combined – the batter will be thick. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly among the muffin molds. Fill in only 3/4 of the moulds. Pour in extra milk/buttermilk until it covers the potato mixture. 
5. Bake for 35 minutes, raising the temperature to 200 degrees during the last 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the muffins after you’ve raised the temperature to prevent over-browning. The muffins are done when light golden in color.
6. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. If cooling for longer than 5 minutes, move muffins to a cooling rack to avoid soggy bottoms. Serve warm with butter or yogurt.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kljukuša: A Bosnian Specialty

Iman Al-Dabbagh, a friend of mine here in Sarajevo, is a photographer. One of her latest photos she posted on Facebook, in the album iFoodography, inspired me to make kljukuša as a Saturday treat. Well, kljukuša is a traditional Bosnian dish made by grated potatoes mixed with flour and water or milk/yogurt/cream. It's baked in an oven until golden and crisp on the outside and soft inside. This morning, it's going to be my first, so I grabbed a few potatoes and told Milou that we're making a potato cake to make her get what I was doing while grating the fresh potatoes. I owe the rest of this great Saturday treat story to my photographic memory. In other words, I exactly followed what my mother-in-law usually does on weekend mornings for breakfast to make kljukuša. It's definitely a Bosnian specialty which is super easy and super tasty! Here comes the recipe.

5-6 medium potatoes
3 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic
pepper, salt

1. Heat the oven to 175 °C. 
2. Peel the potatoes and grate into a large bowl.
3. Grate the garlic and add into the grated potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Be generous with salt. Add some flour. I added 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir well to combine.
4. Pour the potato-garlic- flour mixture into a baking pan. Pour in milk or milk-cream mixture until it cover the potatoes. The amount of cream depends on how much you like it. 
5. Bake in the oven until golden and crispy on the outside. It takes more than half an hour to bake it, around 45 minutes. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Caramelized Milk Pudding

"What's on the menu this weekend?"
"Some more traditional Turkish milk pudding? Sounds nice, doesn't it?"
"Sure, it does. Which one then?"
"Kazandibi? The one browned on one side."
"One of those guilt free Istanbul specialties, right?"


35 g rice flour
10 g corn starch
120 g sugar
750 ml milk 
2 tablespoons sugar to caramelize
melted butter to grease the baking pan


1. Mix sugar, rice flour and starch in a small bowl. 
2. Transfer the mixture into a medium saucepan and pour in milk. 
3. Stir constantly over medium heat until it boils. Keep simmering for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Grease a 26cm diameter baking pan with butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. 
5.  Now time to caramelize. Pour the pudding into the pan and put it over medium-high heat. Rotate the pan so that the sugar is caramelised nicely.  It will sizzle, and bubbles will develop after 1-2 minutes. Go on for 10 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool down. Refrigerate after 1-2 hours. Serve cold. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Cookies

Cookie Monster loves cookies.

Yesterday, Milou and I were chatting about the illustrations in one of those The Sesame Street Treasury books and we talked quite a lot about this one. Soon, I remembered one particular easy recipe that I'd been keeping in the top drawer for a while. I knew it was easy but I didn't guess I would end up with such great cookies with such simple ingredients.  If you love dark chocolate flavour, go for it. I had the idea to make smaller balls of the cookie dough and roll them in ground walnuts and it worked as well. Here comes the recipe. 

125 gr butter or margarine, softened
100 gr sugar
125 gr all purpose flour
35 gr rice flour
100 gr dark chocolate, melted in bain-marie *hot-water bath

1. Heat the oven to 160 °C.
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl with a electric mixer for a few minutes. Then knead the dough together until smooth. I didn't add more flour while kneading.
2. Shape the dough into 1″ balls. Place them onto cookie sheets, placing 2 inches apart.
3. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
  • For the chocolate cookies covered in ground walnut, just roll the balls in ground walnuts and bake as in the directions above. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is one of those desserts on my list of  'the irresistibles'. How can I refuse and say 'No' to a bowl of light and yummy rice pudding? I am pretty sure I am not the only Turkish young woman who has a particular tendency to make and eat rice pudding with pleasure. I grew up sprinkling cinnamon on cooled down or refrigerated rice puddings on the counter top like millions of other Turkish people. My mother let us do it, I remember, and I let Milou continue the tradition now. Well, although the counter top is filled with cups, glasses and bowls full of newly cooked rice pudding, it's never enough for the family. Once they are cold enough to taste, some of the cups just disappear, one by one. What a pleasure to see the whole family enjoying the rice pudding so much! Let me share this simple recipe with you.


50 g rice flour
1 cup sugar 
1/3 cup rice
2-3 cups water 
1 litre milk


1. Wash and drain rice.
2. Put the rice in a small saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes over low heat until the rice gets soft with the lid on. Stir occasionally. 
3. Mix sugar and rice flour in a bowl. 
4. Pour in milk to the simmering rice and add the sugar-rice flour mixture.
5. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Simmer for another 15 minutes over medium heat. Do not forget to stir constantly. 
6. Remove from heat and keep stirring for another 5 minutes. Pour into serving cups and let it cool down. Refrigerate after 1-2 hours. Serve cold. 
7. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beans with sun-dried tomatoes and veal cubes

When the people around you, particularly the ones you live with, are pleased to eat beans at least once a week, you, as the person who cooks it get even more pleased. In other words, Emir loves eating beans and I love cooking beans. Every time I cook beans, I try my best to stay traditional and stick to the way my mother cooks it and her mother cooked it. Besides, there isn't much you might change in the recipe after all while cooking beans with meat. Even if I want to show off with my imaginative cooking style, I cannot add to or remove much from the recipe. All I could manage is to substitute some ingredients as much as the tradition lets me do so. Well, the last time I cooked some white beans, I remembered the sun-dried tomatoes I had brought from Turkey. I let them rest in warm water overnight and added them just before adding the beans. They worked while adding a slight sour flavour. The beans were well-cooked since they were soaked in water overnight. We liked it all. Here comes the recipe. 

Sun-dried tomatoes after soaked in water overnight


2 cups dry white beans
400 gr veal, chopped into cubes
2-3 medium onions
sun-dried tomatoes
4-6 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, sliced
boiling water
vegetable oil
salt, pepper


1. Soak the dry beans overnight in water. 
2. Rinse and drain the beans and the tomatoes. Set them aside.
3. Chop the onions. 
4. Heat the oil in the pressure pan and add the onions and sauté them until translucent over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more. 
5. Add the veal cubes. Stir them with the onions and garlic until browned, about 5-10 minutes. 
6. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and the beans. Season with salt and pepper. 
7. Add boiling water until it covers the whole mixture. 
8. Close the lid and cook for 40-45 minutes over low heat. 
9. Serve hot. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Milk Pudding with Caramelized Bananas and Cinnamon

It was the Independence Day - 1st March - yesterday here in Bosnia and Herzegovina and so a non-working day for us all which means I had the opportunity to cook once again! And once again I wanted to make Italian panna cotta but unfortunately I didn't have all the ingredients  once again: gelatine and double cream. So, I decided to make a light and effortless dessert as panna cotta is and I happened to remember Turkish Muhallebi which Western people often refer to as milk pudding. I also caramelized bananas and decorated the pudding with them. Sprinkling them with ground cinnamon was the finishing touch. The pudding was straightforward and almost effortless in its simplicity. Here comes the recipe. 

Turkish Muhallebi/ Milk Pudding


1/2 litre milk
35 g rice flour
5 tablespoons sugar, leveled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Mix sugar, rice flour and vanilla in a small bowl. 
2. Transfer the mixture into a medium saucepan and add in milk. 
3. Stir constantly over medium heat until it boils. Keep simmering for another 3-4 minutes. 
4. Remove from heat and pour the pudding into serving cups and let it cool down. Refrigerate after 1-2 hours. Serve cold.

Caramalized Bananas

1 banana, sliced
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
cooking spray

1. Slice bananas into thick coins.
2. Put sugar onto a plate and roll bananas in sugar until completely coated.
3. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and cook bananas until light to golden brown underneath, about 4-5 minutes. 
4. Gently flip bananas over to brown other side, turning heat down to medium. 
5. Transfer to a plate that has been coated with cooking spray or vegetable oil, otherwise they may stick. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fig Jam

The last time we were in Istanbul, my mother was quick enough to put a jar of fig jam into one of our luggage just before we left their house. I didn't care much about it then, it was just a jar of fig jam after all. Last week, I opened the lid one morning and... It was one of the most marvelous homemade jams I've ever tasted. I'm not the only one who claims so. Whoever had a spoon of it asked where I bought it. When I told them it's homemade, they immediately asked for the recipe. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell them how my mother makes it at the time because I wasn't quite sure about the directions. Mothers always add one magical ingredient to whatever they cook and I didn't want to cause any disappointment by giving inaccurate information about the recipe. Anyway, after I talked to my mom about whether there's any kind of magic in it, she  just said 'No.' Her answer was as simple as her recipe was. Even if you haven't tried making jam yet it won't fail you. Give it a try, here it goes.

1 kg figs * not fully ripe
1 kg sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
a few cloves


1. Wash the figs well. Don't remove the stems.
2. Put the figs into a medium saucepan. Add the sugar to cover the figs completely.
3. Let the figs rest in sugar overnight. They will get juicy in the morning.
4. Put the saucepan with fig-sugar mixture over low heat. Don't add any water to dissolve the sugar.                               
5. Add a few cloves.                                                                     
6. Boil the mixture. Stir occasionally until the figs are soft. Let it simmer until bubbles appear on top.                              
7. Check if the syrup is getting thicker. Once you are satisfied with the thickness of the jam, add the lemon juice and simmer for three more minutes.                                            
8. Remove from heat.                                                                  
9. Skim the foam from the jam, stir the jam, and proceed to fill the sterilized jam jars. Fill the jars until they are about 1/2 cm from the top. Wipe the top of the jar clean and close with the lid immediately. 

Have you ever watched Masha and the Bear
You should. You should start watching it as soon as possible with all your family. It's a popular Russian animated series adapted from a Russian fairy tale with the same title. It's hilarious. It's  so non-Hollywood and fantastic. Each episode deals with Masha, the little (literally) naughty girl and her adventures with the caring parent-like bear in the modern world. In the episode above, there are several scenes where Masha and the Bear cook with local vegetables and fruit including raspberries. They make even raspberry jam. Enjoy it! Get more details on Masha and the Bear at animaccord animation studio.