Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Grain Love : Bulgur

Bulgur will always be my one true grain love.  It has a nutty taste and slight crunchiness when cooked correctly, with individual grains looking like they might roll down the mound of bulgur you created in your bowl.  Sure, it doesn’t have the delicate aroma of certain rices, but that only makes it a great grain to work with when you’re spicing things up with a pilaf or looking for something to sprinkle into your soups and stews.  And what’s more, it’s a healthy whole grain filled with minerals!    (For an overview of bulgur’s health benefits and a few delicious looking recipes, check out this  “Recipes for Health” article in the New York Times)

In Turkish cuisine, there are so many different recipes that use bulgur.  In my family, we enjoy it in icli koftes, dumpling style balls with meat filling, bulgur salads like kisir and tabouleh and various improvised pilafs and bulgur balls filled with herbs and spices.  I’m planning on making a couple of these dishes to share with you in the future but today I’d like to present bulgur in its purest and, for me, best form:  Plain Bulgur pilaf with Yogurt.   No scratch that!  It hurts to call this dish “plain” in anyway.  Let’s call it Bulgur with Olive oil and Yogurt.  MUCH better.

I had this dish for the first time when I was sick around 5 or 6.  I remember having plenty of rice pilafs with yogurt for as long as I’ve eaten and bulgur had always been a staple in our home.  So it seems impossible to me that I had never had it before.  But maybe the appetite loss and misery you feel as a sick child, made the discovery of this simple, tasty dish a revelation.  I remember the first bite I took and the joy I felt at finding something that still tasted good to me.  I remember the glass bowl it was served in and the couch I was lying on.  For days afterwards, even after I started feeling better, I pretended I still hadn’t recovered my full appetite and asked for this dish to be prepared for me.  And now, if I haven’t had it for a while, it still carries that same sense of revelation.


1 cup bulgur (i always go for medium coarseness but any kind will do)

2 ts extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cup water

a dash of salt

a dollop of plain yogurt per bowl

1- Heat the oil in a small pot until it covers the bottom of the pot.  Pour in the bulgur and stir until the grains are evenly coated.  And then stir for another 20 seconds.  (My grandmother used to say “until the grains start falling apart” but this may be hard to visualize for some and besides I’ve lowered the amount of oil, so this action is really subtle.)

2- Pour in the water and the salt.  Turn the heat to high. Give it one more stir, then wait until the water starts boiling.

3- Lower the heat and cover.  In 12 to 15 minutes, the bulgur will have soaked up all the water.  Turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes or so with the lid still on.

4- Serve with a dollop of yogurt, strained or normal variety both work just fine.



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Easy Bonbons!

With that spirit of enjoyment and sharing I was talking about in my introductory post, I would like to share a recipe of the easy bonbons I made yesterday.  Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

When I was a child, my mother used to make these tasty sweets on very special occasions when she had the extra time to prepare sweet snacks on top of the four traditional Turkish courses.  The wonderful thing about easy bonbons is there’s no real recipe and all it takes is an intuition for what will go with what.  You just mix some sugar, butter, some nuts or cracked cookies, perhaps some citrus zest or dried fruits together.  Form them into tiny balls and roll them in some kind of sweet and/or crunchy coating.

Containing as much butter and sugar as they do, easy bonbons definitely fall into the category of, ahem, pleasure foods, so you might be wondering why this is the first recipe I’m sharing on a blog about forming healthful habits.  Well, I’ve decided that I can’t possibly form good, healthy eating habits without having these types of foods.  And I’ve declared them must-eats as long as I slow down, really enjoy each bite and determine a controlled amount ahead of time.
In the future I plan on experimenting with substituting some of the butter with strained yogurt but yesterday I made these 8 bonbons as a small valentine for J and had two of them myself.
ingredients                          (makes 8 bonbons)
2 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ts grated orange zest
1/2 cup cashews
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs cocoa powder
for coating:
1 tb confectioners sugar / coconut shavings / any kind of very finely grated nut
1- Crush the cashews with a mortar and mix them in with the butter, sugar and zest.  You can also use a food processor for this but for a small quantity it might be easier to just use a fork in a mixing bowl.
2- Add the cocoa powder and make sure that everything is mixed evenly.  I used about 1 tbs of cocoa powder but I like my bonbons dark so you might want to add the cocoa slowly if you like a lighter taste of it.
3- Divide the mixture into 8 pieces and roll them into little balls.  Spread some confectioner’s sugar or coconut shavings on a plate and coat the bonbons evenly by rolling them around the plate.   Cover the bonbons and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  The longer you wait, the better since the flavors of the zest have a chance to really infuse the sugar and butter.
I hope you enjoy them!

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