Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turkish Salad

Summer invokes something deep within that makes me crave pepper salads, couscous, tabbouleh, pita, tzaziki, hummus...just to name a few cravings. There's something oddly comforting and familiar about these lovely foods! Even my choice of music has been affected. The Gipsy Kings and I recently have become close friends again, you know, have coffee together first thing in the morning...yeah, we're kinda tight like that...

A little over ten years ago, I came across a cook book called 'Taste of the Middle East' by Soheila Kimberley. It is filled of stunning photography. Each photo's tantalizing as it is inspiring! The simplicity of most dishes is unbelievable. The layered flavors and textures are always captivating and hold my palate's interest time and time again.

One of my favorite salads from this book is Turkish Salad. Because I'm unable to follow directions, I tweak the recipe to the liking of the moment. Tweak as you wish and let me know, too!
I got a kick out of Deb's post, from We must be riding the same wave....

Turkish Salad
liberally adapted from Soheila Kimberley's 'Taste of the Middle East'

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1/3 cup sweet onion
2 cups fresh baby spinach,
green olives, pimento stuffed, to garnish

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
1 tablespoon mint
salt and pepper, to taste

Seed peppers and slice into thin strips
Finely chop onion
Lightly toss in a bowl

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint, salt, and pepper

Pour dressing over peppers and onion
If serving immediately add spinach to peppers and onion.
Garnish with pimento stuffed green olives

*Stores well in a tightly sealed bowl for several days refrigerated, without spinach. Bring to room temperature before serving
* The dressing works well as a chicken marinade, too
* Using mini peppers adds a slight sweetness to the salad
* Make a meal of it with couscous and mint iced tea

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Pops

Finally, a moment to reflect and fire up some brain cells! So now that the weather around here is again mild and so to my liking--upper 60's, lower 70's, with lovely overcast, and cool evenings--I feel at ease. Of course after the 'heat wave', we made chocolate pudding pops. I was surprised I had forgotten what simple pleasure resided in a pudding pop--such creamy, chocolatey, heavenly goodness...mmmm, just a moment...I have brain freeze.

Pudding pops are quite versatile with endless possibilities and kid friendly--not only to enjoy but to help make as son had the idea to add some chips, 'the brown chocolate chips'. It was perfect! I was struggling with how to punch up the chocolatey flavor, and that was the perfect solution! He has a way with timing and innocently great ideas.
Next, I 'll need to try vanilla pudding pops with strawberries and white chocolate chips...

Update: I replaced half of milk with 1 cup evaporated milk, omited vanilla, added 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa..and KAPAO! Richer creamier pudding!

Chocolate Pudding Pops

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/4 cup cornstarch
6-7 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in heavy sauce pan
Stir in some milk to make a smooth base
Slowly add remainder of milk and vanilla. Quickly whisk to avoid lumps.
Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, while stirring or whisking .
Allow to gently boil until thickened to desired consistency.

Quickly pour into popsicle molds, freeze for about 4 hours. Once set, place popsicle molds in a warm water bath and gently wiggle to release pure popsicle splendor!

To serve as a pudding dessert:
Pour into 3-4 dessert dishes and chill until set, about 3 hours.
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin formation.

*I used natural unsweetened cocoa powder. I'm sure you can use Dutch processed cocoa powder. I have not tried it, so I can't the compare the two.

** I evenly distributed about 1 oz. of milk chocolate chips once it was in the molds (I wanted pockets of chocolate)