Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Weekend

This weekend has been a good one. Nothing over-the-top or glamorous, how can it be with twin four year olds? But we spent some much needed time together as a family. And it was great.

A tradition has emerged in the Ozsarac household that is both healthy and tasty, and has nothing to do with my Catholic upbringing, really. On our weekly trips to the grocery store, Koray is lured by the siren song of the fish monger and ends up buying a tasty sea bass or mackerel. Since this shopping trip usually happens when school is out for the week, Friday nights have turned into "family fish night" and it is something we all look forward to. I get to kick back, usually with a glass of beer and watch Koray maneuver around the kitchen chopping this, salting that. We missed our family fish night last week since Koray and I were both gone, and Koray has missed a number of family dinners with trips to the capital and abundant after-school meetings, so a fish feast was well overdue.

This Friday Koray had to work late again so, so instead of fish from the monger, we ordered dinner from the new fish restaurant in the village up the hill. Even though it arrived late (8:30), the fish was tasty with a hint of the smoky coals it was cooked over and accompanied by a "we're sorry" salad, fresh, crispy and vibrant with the abundant greens and vegetables of the season. To our surprise and delight, the price was better than when we buy and cook it ourselves. The opening of this restaurant is timely as busy days are far from being behind us.

Another fun event was family movie night. Our new convertible couch transformed our living room into a swanky home theater for a viewing of Toy Story 3. Tucked in and snuggled together, we whiled the evening away warm and happy.

The cherry on the sundae, or the kaymak on the quince, was the delivery of a huge winter squash by our ultra-cool and thoughtful neighbors. I squealed in delight when I saw it emerge from the back of the trunk, orange and bumpy in all its winter squash deliciousness. I will spend some time today to cut, cook and freeze that bad boy to use for all things that are fall and fabulous. Curried squash soup and spice bread are on the dinner menu for tonight.

So, all in all, it was a great weekend, and we have a lot to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chocolate Induced Ruminations

I am not trying to turn into a foodie blogger, really I'm not. Everything I cook is a rip-off from someone else and I don't have a knack for taking pretty photographs. My second-in-a-row food focused post is due to the fact that nothing has struck me recently that is really substantial enough to write about. And niggling the back of my mind is that I have at least two groupies who look forward to my blog, which I appreciate, though I think it is only because they are genetically obligated. Nevertheless, I don't want to disappoint.

The past week has been pretty low key and usual. We did spend a night away from the boys for a team-building work function, which was great fun and well worth it (I work with some cool people), but still work. Koray has been working with the ministry of education, something that makes me admire and respect him even more, and is making headway, but nothing conclusive just yet. So work is work, still loving working with surly teenagers and the teaching gig and A and O are growing and thriving. I will mention a fun installation in the series of O's mis-pronunciation of "L." The current obsession and nightly battle over who will wear the the lizard jammies led to a question and answer session in which we cajoled O to say "yizzard" over and over without him knowing that we were trying to get him to say it. It really is cute and since we have heard him pronounce a proper "L" sound we aren't worried about it and are therefore relishing the final and precious remnants of his baby boyhood. Yobster, yoyipops, syug, pyay, yeech, yike, ayi, yambchops, yasagna...the fun never stops.

So the only substantial thing to dedicate this blog to are these amazing dollops of chocolate goodness that I whipped up today. They are from one of the real food blogs that I follow religiously. Named chocolate chocolate chip cookies, they come from a blog titled "Savory Sweet Life" written by a cool Seattle mom who has some great recipes that we have enjoyed eating on many occasions.

These cookies are show stoppers. And if you add some instant coffee (I use the Starbucks variety, it really is the best out there) they become even more over-the-top deliciously spectacular. I have witnessed them silence a room of chatty teachers for at least two minutes. They are that good. I made them last year with mint chocolate chips. Words cannot describe how good those were. But I cannot get those here in Turkey, so today's batch consisted of regular chocolate chips, and they were still simply amazing. I do have one more cookie recipe that is a universal hit, but I will save that for a post during the Christmas baking season. Ginger and spice just doesn't seem right when the weather outside isn't cold and frosty.

So make these suckers, they are wicked good.

Afiyet Olsun!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Not in Rome.

I have been dreaming of the pizza Koray and I gorged on during our weekend work trip to Rome last spring. I have tried to re-create that orb of heavenly-garlicky-tomatoey goodness, and have failed. Each time. But it wasn't from lack of knowledge or ingredients. I searched into the bowels of the internet to compare the best recipes to recreate the Roman pizza pie. I even found some pork salami at a specialty shop in Istanbul and made a pizza sauce any Italian grandmother would coo over. But I just couldn't get it right. The pizzas we ate were tasty, no doubt, but nothing like the crisp, clean taste of a rose-golden weekend in Rome.

Letting go of the goldfish, I have vowed to stop chasing the elusive Roman pie. Instead, I have opted for something entirely different: a barbecued pizza.

It ain't Rome, but is it ever tasty.

I added a new foodie blog to my reading repertoire last weekend and found a recipe for barbecued pizza. Too be honest, it wasn't the first time I had seen this type of recipe, and in the past it never really caught my eye. What was different about this particular one was her secret step of brushing the grilled pizza dough with fresh garlic and olive oil before adding the pizza toppings. I realized at that moment I had stumbled onto something.

As I sit here with a belly full of BBQ chicken barbecued pizza (A and O couldn't quite get their heads around that name)I will admit that not having a pizza peel did make the process a little sloppy, but on the second crust I worked out a system that included two spatulas and a cutting board which worked. My timing and the heat of the grill left a lot to be desired. I managed to burn a couple of black crispy spots onto each crust, a rookie mistake easily remedied with a good pizza cutter. I will also admit that I used my bread machine to make the dough, so the process was quite easy. The result? A delicious can't-wait-for-husband-to-get-back-from-his-meeting-till-I-eat-this-thing mixture of chicken, red onion, smokey BBQ sauce and fresh cilantro heavenliness. Finally putting an end to my obsession, this pizza pie has managed to fill the void of the crusty, delectable Roman version.

And she was right about the garlic and olive oil base layer, it did rock that pizza.

So, if you are interested in this recipe, go here. You can use any toppings, but I think the BBQ Chicken Pizza is spectacular.

As for the other pizza, I guess we will just have to go back to Rome, which wouldn't be so bad.