Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dairy-free Chocolate Chunk Cookies

16 days ago (yes, I've been literally counting each day), my dermatologist advised me to go on a dairy-free diet telling me that cow milk is the only dairy product that has been scientifically proved to cause acne and some other skin problems. The doctor's words sounded like a silly joke to me and I started laughing which made the doctor got puzzled. I immediately felt the need to explain the whole situation about my love of/addiction to cheese and other similar dairy products. It took me some time to make up my mind about whether to go on the diet or not. Anyway, when I took all the other factors into consideration I decided to give it a try and here we are now, on the 16th day and I'm all clean, free from all kinds of dairy products. 

Well, I have a couple of weeks more to go and in order to make things much easier to deal with, I've been trying dairy-free recipes and here is one I came up with on my own this morning: Dairy-free chocolate chunk cookies with honey instead of refined sugar.


  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 6-7 tablespoons (Langnese forest) honey
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 400-425 grams white whole wheat flour (sifted twice)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 100-150 grams bittersweet chocolate (chopped roughly)


  1. In a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream together the eggs and the honey until well combined. You will see the bubbles when done. 
  2. Add the oil and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. 
  4. Combine the two mixtures and beat until you get a non-sticky firm dough. 
  5. When well combined, add in the chocolate chunks and knead the dough for a few more minutes until all the chocolate is mixed well with the dough. 
  6. Turn out the cookie dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the dough and refrigerate it at least for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  8. Shape the cookies and place them on the cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Don't let them get too brown. 
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  10. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to 3 – 5 days. 

TIPS on baking with honey
  • BBC Food suggests that it is easier to replace one quantity of honey for each one and one quarter quantities of sugar. The ratio should be 4:5. 
  • Honey has quite a strong flavour of its own - be careful substituting it in recipes where it might dominate the overall flavour. Fruit is susceptible to being overwhelmed by the flavour of honey.
  • Lower the oven temperature by 25ºF when substituting honey, to prevent over browning.
  • Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. This ability means that cakes should turn out to be more moist when using honey in place of sugar.
  • A cup of honey contains 1/4 cup of water; this means that you should cut down on liquids by the same amount.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Red Lentil Balls a.k.a. Mercimek Koftesi

1 cup red lentils

2 cups bulgur wheat, fine grind

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1,5 tbsp tomato puree

1,5 tbsp Turkish red pepper paste


crushed red pepper (optional)

black pepper

small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

6 spring onions, finely chopped

lettuce leaves, lemon slices, tomatoes for garnish


1. Wash the lentils and combine them with four times their volume of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Then, simmer uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the water about 10 minutes. 
2. Stir in the bulgur and remove from the heat. Cover with aluminium foil and allow to stand for 30-45 minutes. 
3. In a skillet, heat the oil and add the onion, sautéing until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree and pepper paste and mix well. Remove from the heat and cool. Add crushed red pepper and black pepper. Season with salt to taste.
4. Add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture and stir for 10 minutes using your hands to mix. Add the remaining ingredients mixing gently. 
5. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls (with dampened hands) and serve on a bed of lettuce. Serve with lemon and tomato slices.

P.S. The photo below show the most common way to shape red lentil balls in Turkey. 

Muffins with Bosnian Coffee

Coffee means a lot in the Balkans and Sarajevo is not an exception. Every now and then you find yourself with a cup of fresh Bosnian coffee getting inspired by its fabulous smell. And people who visit us get surprised when they see how much coffee we consume a day - simply a lot! 

Anyway, this morning, while I was having my morning coffee, the idea of adding coffee to the Sunday muffins happily walked into my head. How come I hadn't thought of this before? The idea is simple: Make some coffee, cool it to the room temperature and add in to the muffin mixture along with the liquids. Cool, isn't it? Well, if you don't have any coffee from the Balkans on hand, no worries, Turkish coffee or espresso would also work with these muffins. However, remember to use less with the latter since espresso has a higher concentration and more caffeine than Bosnian coffee. 

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 medium eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup Bosnian coffee, cooled to room temperature 
powdered sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 185 C and lightly grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners. 
2. In a big bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the oil and milk beating well. Stir in the vanilla extract and the coffee. 
4. Combine the two mixtures, blending until the dry ingredients are moistened.
5. Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. Bake for about 15-18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
6. Cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).