Friday, December 27, 2013

Spinach Pie with Feta

This colorful art illustration is from a 1969 publication. 

I simply love greens. 

They are green first of all. They make you feel you still hold the personal direct contact with the nature. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm even planning to grow some more greens in the garden next summer. Considering how comfortable and peaceful they make me feel, I should definitely start to spend much more time with them. 

Spinach is one of them. It's not my favourite but it's the one I happen to buy whenever I see some greens in the market place. Well, the last time I bought some, I tried to use it in such a way to make it look as friendly as it seems to me. Making a spinach-cheese pie sounded great and soon I found myself layering phyllos one after another. 

Everybody at home loved the pie accompanying it with some sour cream! The spinach got juicy and the phyllos got moist when cooked with the sauce! Yummy! Easy to make, easy to eat! It might work well as a quick dinner recipe along with a tomato salad! Bon appetite! 


500 g spinach
1 kg yufka/phyllo

1 medium egg
1,5 cups milk

3/4 cup vegetable oil

salt and black pepper
250 g feta, crushed 


Step 1: Prep the spinach

De-rib the spinach, wash well, and let it drain on a kitchen towel (or some paper towels) for a few minutes, so that there’s no excess water on the leaves. Coarsely chop it, and set aside. Season it with salt and pepper. 

Step 2: Prep the sauce

Break the egg to medium bowl and add the milk and vegetable oil. Whisk until mixed well.

Step 3: Assemble the pie

Place a layer of sauce in a lightly greased ovenproof dish followed up by a layer of phyllo. Spread some spinach over the phyllo. After using half of the phyllos, spread the feta equally all over the layer. Repeat layering until all the sauce, spinach and phyllo have been used up. Finish with the sauce on top. 

Step 4: Bake the Pie

Bake for about 30 minutes at 180 C until the top is golden.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Carrot Cake with Chocolate Icing

 "Mum! Give me another carrot!" 

Carrot, 1984 Prints by Sophie Grandval

It all started with Milou's love of carrots. We began to buy carrots almost every other day. She devoured each one with such happiness that I'd never seen before. If you love carrots, I thought, you must love a carrot cake with chocolate icing too. The assumption soon led me to the kitchen and I ended up with a fabulous carrot cake. Here goes the recipe which requires nothing special but the ordinary ingredients you have in the fridge and drawers in your kitchen. 

Well, the inference I made turned out to be true. Not only Milou but seven more people (the colleagues in the office) enjoyed the cake to the full. The only addition to the next one will be more carrots and other spices such as ground ginger or nutmeg to make the cake even better!

If you love carrots, you love a carrot cake too.

For the cake
3 medium eggs, at room temperature
150 g caster sugar
150 ml sunflower oil, plus a little extra for the tin
150 ml milk, at room temperature
150g carrots, finely grated
100g walnuts, chopped finely
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g all-purpose flour (add more if the batter is too runny)
1tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

For the Icing
100 g plain chocolate
100 ml double cream
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Grease and line a round cake tin with baking parchment.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl. Add the sugar and whisk until creamy.
4. Add the vegetable oil and milk and whisk again.
5. Stir in the grated carrots, chopped walnuts and the vanilla extract.
6. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
7. Add the wet carrot mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine, making sure there are no pockets of flour.
8. Spoon the cake batter into the lined tin and bake on the middle shelf for 45 minutes until the cake has risen and is golden-brown all over or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
9. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside in the tin to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
10. While the cake cools, make the icing.   

The Icing
Chop the chocolate. Heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat until the chocolate melts. Do not boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.

11. Spread the icing over the cake.  

If you like more chocolate icing, double the amounts for both the chocolate and the heavy cream. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chocolate Icing

If you love eating chocolate cakes and making chocolate cakes much more than eating them, you need two foolproof recipes: one for the cake and one for the chocolate icing. Well, for the chocolate icing all you need is some plain chocolate and and the same amount of double cream. Here are the directions about how to prepare it. Before you proceed to the directions for the chocolate icing, please keep in mind that the icing gets runnier as the temperature increases which means you should warm it for a few seconds if you need to pipe it. Otherwise, it gets thick enough to spread it on a slice of bread or muffin using a knife. 


200 g plain chocolate

200 ml double cream


1. Chop the chocolate to make it easier to melt.

2. Heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Do not boil.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth, glossy and thickened. 

4. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cornelian Cherries: Health Benefits

Cornelian cherries, with no known side effects or hazards, get their fabulous colour in mid summer and they can be eaten when the colour becomes dark red or maroon. You should be quicker than the birds because they often consume the berries in a very short time. 

  • The berries are good for fever and various bowel complaints. 
  • Since the fruit has astringent qualities, they are useful against cardiovascular diseases. 
  • Cornelian cherries are also used to cure cholera.
  • The flowers of the Cornelian cherry bushes are used to treat diarrhea.

Here is the nutrition fact chart for Cornelian cherries:

Name: Cornelian cherries Amount: 250 ml pure juice
Calories 152
Total Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 13 mg
Potassium 530 mg
Total Carbohydrate 37 g
- Dietary Fiber 0 g
- Sugars 27 g
Protein 1 g

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cornelian Cherry Jam

 If I was one of those lucky animals living in the forest, Cornelian cherries would be on my list of favourite fruits, definitely. Their round shape and ruby colour simply impress me. 
Now, imagine that you loved Cornelian cherries as much as I do and one day got a handful of them as a gift. What would you do with the berries? Eat them up right away? Or keep them for later use? Well, I'd like to make a jar of jam and I did. This way, I could preserve the berries for a much longer time which makes it possible to prolong the joy of that fantastic taste.
Before you proceed to read the recipe, I'd like to note down that you might want to pit the cherries before you make the jam. Otherwise, you have to deal with the pits later on while you are enjoying the jam which might bother you a little. However, if/when you pit the cherries, their round shape might be damaged, which is something I'd like to see the least, and that's the reason why people usually make Cornelian cherry marmalade, not the jam. Once the cherries are pitted, you puree it to make marmalade. 
Here comes the recipe for the Cornelian cherry jam.
2 cups ripe Cornelian cherries (washed and dried)
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
juice of 1 small lemon


1. Put the berries in a medium size saucepan.
2. Add the sugar to cover the berries completely.
3. Let the berries rest in sugar overnight.
4. Put the saucepan with berries-sugar mixture over low heat. Add the water.
5. Boil the mixture. Stir occasionally until the berries are soft. Let it simmer until pink foam starts to form. Skim this off with a spoon.
6. Check if the syrup is getting thicker. Once you are satisfied with the thickness of the jam (after approximately 10 minutes), add the lemon juice. It preserves their bright ruby red color and prevents them from crystallizing. Simmer for three more minutes.  
7. Remove from heat.    
8. Skim the extra 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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pumpkin Skewers with Hazelnuts

Ladies and gentlemen! It's a great pleasure to introduce my pumpkin skewers! 

They look fabulous, don't they? They definitely do.

Well, I had the idea of threading pumpkin onto skewers upon a happy coincidence. When I learned that a new friend of mine also loves the pumpkin dessert, which is the happy coincidence itself here, I wanted to surprise her with something new about the way it is served since I wanted to stay loyal to the way it is made. 

Skewers are associated mostly with meat and its variants. Pumpkin, on the other hand, is never served on them. When I saw the bunch of skewers in a drawer, the idea just walked into my head.  

I love happy coincidences and the consequences.


Granulated sugar
Cinnamon sticks
Crushed walnuts, hazelnuts or grated coconut. 

Step 1: Peel the pumpkin, seed it and cube it into big chunks (1 1/2 inches or 4 cm square), and put in a pot.


Step 2: Add sugar (300 grams for 1 kilo of pumpkin) and leave to steep for 4 hours, or until the sugar has all dissolved. Add 2-3 cloves or 1-2 sticks of cinnamon into the pot. Go for one of them.


Step 3: There is no need to add water. However, if you want to add some just in case, add no more than 100 ml. Simmer for at least 30 minutes over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender and gets a deep orange colour. Remove from heat.

Step 4: Let it cool completely. Drizzle with the syrup left in the pot. 

Step 5:Dice the pumpkin and cover in crushed hazelnuts. Thread pumpkin onto skewers. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pumpkin the Illustrated

I was looking for the health benefits of pumpkins the other day and I don't know how I ended up with the amazing pumpkin illustrations below. I think it all started with the illustration called Pumpkin Witch by Elia Fernandez. I was simply drifted away from one to another. In the end, I was happy with what I had found.

Each illustration I'm sharing here is portraying a totally different and dreamy use of the pumpkin. It's the magical power of a witch in one and a flying machine in one another. You might feel attracted to any of them or none of them for several reasons. Each one is unique in its own way.

I noticed, on the other hand, one common aspect in all. None of the pumpkins has connection to reality. Have a look. They all seem to have popped out of a fairy tale, a fantasy, a dream or a nightmare. The illustrator/designer treated it as if it was a written rule to place the pumpkin in a magical context. Is it because pumpkins are culturally coded that way? Are we all nourished by the same cultural heritage leaving no space for individual choice of the context even in art?

Pumpkin #1: 'Pumpkin Witch' by Elia Fernandez

 Pumpkin #2: 'Pumpkin ballooons' by Goro Fujita

 Pumpkin #3: 'Family Portrait' by Zhan Ni (Jenny) Li

 Pumpkin #4: 'Pumpkin Riding' by Jean-Baptiste Monge

Pumpkin #5: 'Flying pumpkin' by Nidhi Chanani

Pumpkin #6: by Jean-Baptiste Monge

Pumpkin #7: 'Mice Pumpkin House' by Felix Lorioux 

Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?

Linus: [to Sally as she walks away with everyone else] Hey, aren't you going to wait and greet the Great Pumpkin? Huh? It won't be long now. If the Great Pumpkin comes, I'll still put in a good word for you!
[realizes what he just said]
Linus: Good grief! I said "if"! I meant, "when" he comes!
Linus: I'm doomed. One little slip like that could cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by.
[calling out]
Linus: Oh, Great Pumpkin, where are you?