I distinctly remember the first time I had manti. It was on my first visit to Istanbul. Selim’s cousins took us out to dinner one night at a restaurant I wish I could remember 🤷♀️ I was eyeing the mantı, that was described in English as “lamb dumplings in yogurt sauce.” One of Selim’s cousins saw me considering it and explained that is a traditional Turkish favorite. It is such a unique combination… The manti are hot, but then the yogurt sauce is cool, followed by the oil drizzle that’s hot! It seems like the pieces shouldn’t come together, but they do perfectly. The whole table ended up ordering mantı! I was hooked!
Now I seek manti out whenever we go to a Turkish restaurant. (Probably to the detriment of trying other delicious dishes, but I just can’t NOT order it.) For awhile there, we felt like we were in the secret cool kids club at Sultan Kebab in Charlottesville, because while there wasn’t any manti on the menu, if you knew to ask for it, they almost always had some for you! That quickly became the worst kept secret in town (thanks to chefs exposing the secret via Charlottesville 29 I think…), and now it shows up on the menu. We’ve also learned from experience that if you have a group of people for dinner who can’t decide whether they want a delicious kebab or to try the manti, manti makes a perfect shared appetizer too!
This is one of the dishes that we love so much are were afraid to try at home for fear of messing it up. Not to mention, it is fairly time-consuming as well. But we were SUPER excited at how well this came out. Also, it’s gorgeous! The dough for the dumplings came together easier than other doughs I’ve tried before for similar projects. We had two failings that are quite easy to correct for next time. One, we forgot the dried mint at the store. By which I mean, we picked it up, had it with all our other stuff, and somehow didn’t come home with it 🤷♀️ The dish is delicious without it, but don’t skip it if you can. It adds another layer of flavor. And two, we didn’t quite have the dumplings all the way submerged when they were cooking, which made the tops a little dry on some of them. Learn from our mistakes! Another side note – you should be able to find Turkish pepper at a Middle Eastern grocery. If not, substitute Aleppo pepper.
(Minimally adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan)
- 2+ cups AP flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1+ tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup cold milk
- 1/2 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 cup onion, grated
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
- 4 grinds fresh black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cups beef stock
- Yogurt Sauce
- 1 2/3 cups “Greek” yogurt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Spiced Butter
- 5 1/2 tbsp clarified butter
- 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried mint
- Prepare the dough in a large bowl. Sift together the flour and salt, then create a well in the center. Lightly beat the eggs and pour these, along with the olive oil and milk into the well. Stir together with a fork until the dough starts to come together.
- Then turn it out onto a floured counter-top and use your hands to form into a dough ball. Knead for ~8 minutes. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth to rest for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling and yogurt sauce.
- For the filling, combine the lamb, onion, parsley, peppers, and salt in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the yogurt sauce, stir together the yogurt, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- After the dough has rested, roll it out to 1/16th inch thick. (We used our pasta roller attachment for the stand mixer.) Then cut the dough into 2 x 2 inch squares.
- To make the dumplings, place ~ 1/2 tsp of meat filling in the center of each square. Bring the four corners together and then twist to seal. Press down to flatten slightly.
- Place the dumplings in a greased deep baking dish (or two, depending on the size you use).
- Bake them for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the dumplings from the oven and pour stock over until all of the dumplings are just submerged in the liquid. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and return to the oven. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the clarified butter in a small saucepan. Add the spices and swirl together. Keep on very low heat until ready to serve.
- Once the dumplings are cooked, place some on each plate. Pour the yogurt sauce over top and then drizzle with the butter.
Our first month of participating in the Kitchn’s Cookbook Club was a resounding success! We impressed ourselves by making several things out of September’s selection – Salt Fat Acid Heat. [See: Pasta with Clams & Sausage, Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, and Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce] For October, the book selected is Indian (-ish): Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family, by Priya Krishna. I’m super excited about this selection because this is exactly why we joined the cookbook club… this is not a book I probably would’ve picked up on my own. It’s apparently pretty popular though (or tons of people in this city are doing the cookbook club too), because all of the copies are checked out at my local libraries. Henrico County Public Library has NINETEEN holds ahead of me! Luckily, I’m in decent position on the e-book wait list. But until I get a hold of the actual book, we’re going to give some of the recipes from the book that are published on the internet a whirl.
This first choice turned out to be a good one. The marinade is easy to make, though with a one new-to-me ingredient (amchur powder). We loved the flavor and the method of cooking the chicken kept it moist. We made a few adjustments, but didn’t want to experiment too much since we’re not Indian cooking experts by any means!
Indian-ish Chicken Breasts
(Adapted from Indian-ish, via Today)
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- Fresh mint
- Fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp amchur
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 large boneless chicken breasts
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- Combine all ingredients (including 1 tbsp of chopped mint and 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro) except the chicken and coconut oil to form marinade.
- Add the chicken to the marinade in a large plastic bag or in a glass dish. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. (We did ours overnight.)
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot and oil is liquified, cook the chicken for 2 minutes on each side.
- Then turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off, (remove from burner if electric stove), and keep the lid on for another 10-15 minutes.
- Ensure doneness (165 internal degrees) and then slice. Serve topped with more torn cilantro and mint if desired.
What to do when you bought a whole bunch of cilantro, planning to make guacamole for National Guacamole Day yesterday, but get home only to discover that your avocados are all bad? We were way too lazy to go back out for avocados, so decided to save our bunch of cilantro for tonight and our steak dinner! We’re having our favorite cut of flank steak, which is a great vessel for this mojo verde. As we’ve been writing this blog, we’ve done bits of research here and there, learning a lot along the way. The Canary Islands, despite the fact that they’re a small group of islands, occupy an important place in culinary history. Canarian cuisine is especially known for mojos (sauces); the red and spicy mojo picón might be the most famous. Though perhaps not as famous, the mojo verde is a quick and easy and delicious sauce to add to our repertoire! Steak may not be the most traditional pairing (that award would go to Canarian wrinkled potatoes or maybe a white fish), but we enjoyed it! This green version isn’t the “spicy” mojo, but it actually has quite a bite from the garlic. Next time we’re going to try papas arrugadas, those wrinkled potatoes!
(Adapted from Bon Appetit & Jose Andres)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large bunch cilantro (~2 cups), de-stemmed
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- Place the garlic, cilantro, cumin, and salt in a food processor and blitz. With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil.
- Finish with the vinegar (and water if needed to thin to your desired consistency).
- Store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
As you’ve seen with some of our other recipes, like our pimento cheeses (Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese & Southern Pimento Cheese), we’ve learned that making our own mayonnaise and/or aioli is so much easier that we ever would have assumed previously. Yes, whisking it all together takes a little bit of muscle, but it’s really a fairly quick and painless process. Aioli in its original definition is mayonnaise flavored with garlic, but these days you can find all manner of aiolis. So this here is the original, but with a SUPER strong garlic flavor! You’ll definitely want to make this with Patatas Bravas!
Super Garlic Aioli
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup neutral oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- Place garlic and egg yolks in a medium bowl.
- Slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl, whisking continuously.
- Once base has come together, stir in the salt and vinegar.
- Refrigerate if not eating immediately.
Selim has been perfecting this dish for months now. And by perfecting, I mean tweaking it every single time he makes it, with each iteration a smidge more delicious than the last, even though the very first attempt was excellent! It all started one time when we had a left-over half bottle of wine and a ‘Manager’s Special’ of shrimp that needed to be eaten. From there, this has become one of our favorite dishes. He’s definitely figured out how to delicately poach the shrimp, while simultaneously achieving a beautiful flavor! Everyone loves shrimp, but let’s not lie here, the poaching liquid is what you want. There is no shame in drinking it. On that note – you want to use a halfway decent bottle of wine because the wine basically is your dish. I’m not saying spend $40, but take it a notch up from the Two-Buck Chuck.
This dish feels very elegant and complex, but it actually isn’t hard to make at all. As we’ve shared it, it is simply the shrimp and the poaching liquid, but you can take it a few different directions. Frequently, we just eat it in a bowl, allowing us to slurp up all of the delicious poaching liquid unencumbered. You can also serve it on top of pasta (or another starch, like rice), which we also do frequently (and as you see in our pictures from tonight), or with some bread to soak up the liquid.
White Wine Poached Shrimp
- 3 strips of bacon, sliced into lardons
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (750mL) bottle dry white wine
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup Asiago (or other hard) cheese, thinly grated
- 1 lb fresh raw shrimp
- Peel and de-vein the shrimp if not already done for you.
- Cook the bacon in a large pan over medium heat until the fat is released and bacon is crispy. Then remove the bacon to the side.
- Add the onion to the bacon fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook just another 1-2 minutes. Don’t brown.
- Pour the bottle of wine into the pan. Add the red pepper flakes and salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, tasting to see that the alcohol has cooked off.
- Slowly sprinkle in the cheese, stirring as you go.
- Add the shrimp to the pan. Cover and cook, keeping the liquid at a slight simmer. Watch closely, removing from heat when the shrimp turn pink. This will only take 2-3 minutes!
- Serve with the reserved bacon bits on top. You also might want to consider topping with a little more Asiago!
South Carolina is known for many dishes in the world of all things culinary. Favorites include low country boils, boiled peanuts, shrimp & grits, sweet tea, cornbread, and of course… pimento cheese! South Carolinians seem use a fair amount of mayonnaise in their pimento cheese, but instead of Duke’s or Kraft’s mayo we made garlic truffle aioli. Cheddar is the standard cheese for a classic SC pimento cheese, but we swapped it out for some flavorful Italian classics, Asiago & Pecorino. The aioli sounds fancy, but in reality, it’s just homemade mayo, and probably one of the easier things we’ve made along the way.
Ally loves pimento cheese, and its abundance down here has made her quite happy. Every time we buy it though, we wonder why we don’t just make some ourselves. “It can’t be that hard… right?” Turns out, it’s not! There isn’t a standard recipe for traditional pimento cheese, because everyone’s grandmother has the original recipe that no one else’s grandmother can beat. But the basics boil down to cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and chopped pimentos. What could be easier? Or easier to modify and fancify, like we did here!
[Note: this makes a large batch. Good for a big picnic, large party, or handing out in jars to several friends!]
Garlic & Truffle Pimento Cheese
- 2 lb Asiago cheese
- 1 1/3 lb Pecorino cheese
- 7oz jar chopped pimentos, strained
- 5 egg yolks
- 17oz truffle oil
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Shred all of the cheese and set aside.
- Prepare the aioli. (You can do this by hand or with a stand mixer like we did since we were making a large batch. The process is essentially the same.)
- By hand: Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Whisk together. Add minced garlic and then slowly drizzle in the oil. Whisk vigorously and continuously. Once the mixture has combined well, add the lemon juice and whisk until that has been absorbed.
- With the mixer: Separate out the egg yolks from the whites. Place in stand mixer and turn on medium. Add minced garlic and then slowly drizzle in the oil, while the mixer remains on. Again, once the mixture is well-combined, then add the lemon juice.
- Combine cheese, aioli, and pimentos.
For those who don’t know, raita is a very versatile Indian yogurt dip/sauce. A dollop on top of spicy hot dishes cools them right off. Naan dipped in raita makes delicious naan even better. I say versatile because raita basically is a blank canvas that can be modified in a million different ways. You start with plain yogurt and go from there. Herbs and spices, vegetables, even fruits, can be used to make unique raita! For those looking for a maybe more familiar comparison, cucumber-based raita is popular and very similar to Greek tzatziki. That’s what I was going for today for this recipe and then was inspired by this delicious-looking recipe too!
Roasted Garlic & Cucumber Raita
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 whole head of garlic
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 large pickling cucumbers
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt – divided
- 10 turns of pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the top off of the head of garlic (so tips of individual cloves are exposed).
- Drizzle the oil over the exposed parts of the garlic head. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a middle rack. Enjoy the amazing smell of roasting garlic.
- Roast for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cucumbers. I spiralized about half of the cucumbers and grated the other half, because I like different textures.
- Set the cucumbers in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt. This will draw water out of the cucumbers. Allow them to sit there for at least 20 minutes. You can squeeze them too to get even more of the water out.
- Remove the garlic from the oven when it’s done and allow the garlic to cool until you can handle it.
- Pull apart the individual cloves and squeeze the garlic out of its skin into a small bowl. After you’ve squeezed all of the cloves out, then use the back of a fork to mash the more intact cloves up.
- Add the garlic, cucumbers, the rest of the salt, and pepper to the yogurt. Mix everything together.
- Serve with Indian food, on a wrap, as a dip for crudites or pita chips, or whatever you want!