Thursday, February 21, 2013

Turkey! (Not Thanksgiving Though)

      I've always like the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. The dishes are simple yet packed with an array of spices. So, I've decided to search the net and look for the nearest restaurant that served this exotic cuisine. And just down the street from my church, I found this hole in the wall hidden from the busy Memorial street, The Empire Turkish Grill.

      As we entered the establishment, we were immediately greeted and ushered to our table by the host. We perused the menu and felt lucky that they had a lunch menu available everyday which consisted of a soup or a salad, an entree, and a drink for $10.95.  Wow! I thought it was a great deal!

      We were famished so we decided to order hummus as our appetizer. This dish is made of ground chickpeas and served with a sesame seed paste and olive oil. We immediately dipped the homemade bread called pide into the hummus. It was so good that we devoured the whole plate.

Hummus, a traditional Turkish chickpea dish (Photo by me)

       For my next course, the red lentil soup is just perfect for that rainy and cold winter day. Although a bit grainy, this soup made it up with its wonderful flavor. On the outside, it may look like a disgusting blob of beans but this humble crop is full of proteins, amino acids, and iron.

Red lentil soup, their great appetizer (Photo by me)

       For my entree, I opted for a Turkish dish that is well-known everywhere, the kebab. I chose the ground lamb. This char-grilled ground lamb, although a bit dry, was tasty in every way. This plate included red cabbage, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions. The flavors were authentic and everything on my plate was delicious!

A lamb kebab on a bed of rice (Photo by me)

       However, I found their falafel very disappointing. It is a vegetarian dish made of ground chickpeas that are fried in the shape of patties served with tahini sauce.  It was very, very dry.

Fried chickpea patties served with tahini sauce (Photo by me)

       Overall, I enjoyed the experience and the cuisine and I will definitely go back to try some of their dished like the cabbage roll and the DESSERT! 

To learn more about Turkish cuisine and their menu...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Muy Delicioso!

     Living close to the border of Mexico, it is only natural that we become familiar with some of their culture such as Cinco de Mayo, fiestas, and the Spanish language. But the one thing that is probably close to everyone’s heart is their cuisine, which is evident by the hundreds of Mexican restaurants around us.  Who can resist a mouth watering taco and spicy chile relleno?  How about the cheesy quesadilla and the exotic menudo? For me, I always look forward to the end of my Mexican meal because of this sweet, melt in your mouth dessert, a custard with caramel on top, the flan!

2 1/2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
8 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups of heavy cream
1 1/4 cups of milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
2. Place 1 1/2 cups of the sugar in a small saucepan.
3. Drizzle 1/4 cups of water over the sugar.
4. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar has melted into an amber-colored syrup.
5. Pour the caramel into the bottom of six 8-ounce ramekins.
6. Lightly beat the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl.
7. Heat the heavy cream, milk, and 3/4 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan.
8. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.
9. Pour the milk mixture into the beaten eggs.
10. Pour the custard into the caramel-coated ramekins.
11. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan.
12. Add hot water to the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
13. Bake the flans for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
14. Chill overnight.
15. Flip the ramekins over onto a plate and you have your flan!

For more about Spanish desserts and cooking...