Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Mücver is something I loved when I was growing up. Well, I still love it. It is usually fried and served with yogurt but there are ways to get the taste without the frying part… My mom used to do FIRINDA MüCVER as ‘diet’ food. She would go on to these diets, fairly strict ones and eat very little, to similarly very little long-term effect on her weight. One of the things she used to eat was this dish. I prefer to eat it because it tastes delicious (it is somewhat one-dimensional and bland but it accompanies other dishes well and the one-dimensioned taste is a solid one if you like zucchini and onions) and not because it is considered ‘diet’ food. It sure doesn’t scream diet food, given the delicious taste and it goes well with pretty much any kind of protein you maybe having. A salad alternative or a color splash on the plate. Either way, it is goooood.

There are recipes out there for Firinda Mücver and this is my version… I first did this based on what I remember from watching my mom and talking to her about it. Then I morphed it over the years to make it become what I want…

Firinda Mücver (Baked Zucchini with Onion and Parsley)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium zucchini, grated (food processor makes this very quick)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz. grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of mild cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup unbleached white or wheat flour (you may not need all of it. You can use garbanzo bean flour to make this gluten-free)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, finely minced (or a generous pinch if using dried)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 9-inch by 13-inch dish.

Grate the zucchini using the food processor and then handling one handful at a time, squeeze the juices out and place them drained zucchini in a large bowl. Add the onions, eggs, cheese, baking powder, the flour and the parsley and combine well. This may be a bit of work and the consistency won’t be runny at all but it works (zucchini will release some additional water in the baking process so while the mixture may look like it needs moisture, trust me, it doesn’t).

Season with salt (a generous pinch), pepper (less generous one) and red pepper flakes (generously) and dill, if using and mix well.

Transfer the mixture into the greased dish, using a spatula to spread an even layer.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden brown. If not browning after 45 minutes, broil for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 12, 3-inch square servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Gruyere and Kalamata Olive Bread

OK, if you are looking at this, you are looking for trouble. This is an easy recipe and it is a great company to grilled meat dishes and it is high in fat content. If you like Gruyere and olives, at least try it once to see why you should not be baking this often. You have been warned (but it is so good, especially when fresh).

Gruyere and Kalamata Olive Bread

Ingredients

  • Olive oil, for greasing pan
  • 1 and 3/4 cups  All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 c mayonnaise (I make my own fatty mayo but you can use fat free or low fat off-the shelf ones)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch glass loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, egg and milk. Fold the wet mixture into the dry until just combined. Fold in the cheese and olives.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until golden and firm, 45-50 minutes. Let bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and over turn onto a wire rack. Cool 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 10 servings. Here are the nutritional facts:

Gruyere Olive Bread Nutrition Facts

Ton’s Lamb Pastry

This is not for the faint of heart.

Not only this dish is loaded with calories but it is also a bit of work. As fattening as this dish is, it is one of my signature dishes and I stand by it. Yes, it is a bit bad for you. Well, don’t eat so much of it, stupid.

I am proud of this dish. I’ve always wanted to do a “borek” (Turkish word for pastry that has some sort of layered ingredients) that resembles my mom’s. This is as close as I am going to get. Is it as good as my mom’s? I am not sure. I remember the taste of my mom’s pastries and I don’t think I will ever place it anywhere or in anything now. The taste is more of a memory than an actual taste. For all I know, her boreks may taste too pedestrian now (since I’ve become a spice junkie).

I make the lamb pastry frequently, primarily for others. We’ve had enough, I think. It is usually good (I constantly play with the ingredients so no two batches are identical in texture or taste) and people pay a lot of compliments so I will bank that.

Before I forget, this pastry goes well with red wine. I’ve catered a winemaker friends’ red wine release one year, serving this and the turkey meatballs in passata recipe.

My recipe for this dish was published in a Northwest wineries and recipes for their wines (representing Hestia Cellars) book in 2008/2009 timeframe but the fucking bitch who collected recipes (saying she authored it would be like calling Office Depot a publishing house instead of a printing company for printing my menus for the last week’s party) changed my recipe to a cheese/spinach version (which I had provided as a more vegetarian alternative but not as the main recipe). Needless to say, my chance to culinary stardom was squished expressly afterwards. Sigh.

Ton’s Lamb Pastry

Ingredients

  • 1 package Phylo dough
  • 2 Tbsps olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp or to taste, thyme, dried (1.5 tablespoons if fresh)
  • Italian parsley, a small handful, coarsely chopped
  • Salt, to taste         
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300 ml fat-free milk (about 1 and 1/3 cup)
  • 100 ml sunflower oil (just less than half cup)

Thaw the Phylo dough (which comes in frozen packaging). This will take 2-5 hrs depending on the brand. Or you can thaw one in the fridge overnight.

On medium high, heat the olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the garlic and the onions, stirring frequently, and sauté until translucent, approximately 7-8 minutes. Add the ground lamb, using a wooden spoon to break down clumps. Cook 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chili pepper, cinnamon, thyme, parsley and salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and sunflower oil for about 30 seconds until well combined. Set aside.cake and borek 037

Grease a 9×13 oven-safe dish. Unwrap the Phylo dough. Using two sheets of dough per side, create flaps overhanging from each of the four sides of the dish. These flaps should hang over approximately 2-3 inches from the edge of the dish. The rest of the sheets will rest inside the dish.  Using a pastry brush, brush the sheets with 1/4 cup of the milk and egg mixture. Create another layer of dough using two sheets and brush with 1/8 cup of milk and egg mixture. Do this four more times. Then add another layer with two sheets and this time, cover the layer with approximately 60% of the lamb filling.

Create four more layers of dough using two sheets each and moisten with 1/8 cup of milk and egg mixture. Add another layer and cover it with rest of the meat mixture. Use up the remainder of the dough making layers of two sheets and brushing each layer with the milk and egg mixture.

When done, fold the overhanging flaps of Phylo on to the dish and pour the remaining milk and egg mixture on top. Using a paring knife, make a dozen small incisions on top, allowing juices to penetrate lower levels. If you run out of milk and egg mixture, just use more milk.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. During baking, the pastry may puff up. Do not intervene. Once the color turns golden brown, remove from oven and let it (and the puffing) rest 10-20 minutes. Like most lamb dishes, it tastes even better the next day.

Makes 20-25 servings (2-inch squares).

Here are the nutritional facts:

Sigara Boregi (‘Cigarette’ Pastry)

Somewhat challenging prep but the payoff is worth it. Sigara boregi is something every Turkish household used to have when I was growing up. The name comes from the shape. It looks like hand rolled cigarettes. And I do a mean roll.

The feta, parsley and black pepper play off of each other in a way that makes this a special feeling dish although there is absolutely nothing special about it. I also use red chili pepper flakes to spice it up ever so slightly. Frying is bad for you of course so be careful when you make these. They go down very easily but if Recipe Calculator on Sparks People is right, then these puppies are 64 calories each. Yikes. But so gooood.

Sigara Boregi (‘Cigarette’ Pastry)

Ingredients

  • Yufka triangles, from a Middle Eastern grocery
  • 4 oz fat-free feta cheese
  • 1-2 tsps Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • 2 tsps water, in shallow dish
  • Sunflower oil for frying

Note: Yufka is the Turkish word for a round and thin hand-rolled pastry sheet (thicker than phillo, thinner than flaky pastry sheets). You can find the triangles in the frozen food section, generally in packs of 24 triangles, in most Middle Eastern markets.

Thaw the triangles and then cut them vertically to double the triangle count.  Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the feta, parsley and black pepper.

On a dry surface, lay out a triangle of yufka and put a teaspoon of feta mixture on the wide edge (see image). Then fold the outside edges inward just below the mixture, and roll the yufka into a ‘cigarette’ leaving about 2 inches of flap at the tip of the triangle. Dip the 2 inches of the yufka in the water and then finish rolling it in shape of a cigarette. The water will help seal the pastry.

In a shallow frying pan, pour a 1/8 inch thick layer of sunflower oil and fry the pastries on medium high heat, turning them midway through approximately 45-50 seconds per ‘cigarette’.

Makes 48 cigarettes.

Here is the awful truth about this dish’s nutrition:

Babagannush

Yes, yes, people spell it in various ways but in Turkish, there is no baba ganoush… It is babagannush (well, s with a dot underneath… I am putting the h at the end to give the sh sound). Simple, straightforward. Now with the blasphemous invention of roasted eggplant in a jar (oh the horror… so salty but damn the gods, so easy and consistently smokey flavored. Seriously though, if using a jar, drain and rinse it prior to use).

This is a good, quick spread that you can serve on a cracker or pita. Make sure you are not overdoing the pita or chips… This is a great dish to serve as a side to chicken or beef as well… Totally doable without  any scooping. Don’t give in to the American thinking that “if it is scoopable, then it must be a spread.” It doesn’t have to be.

Babagannush

Ingredients

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A pinch of chili powder
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Half bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prick each eggplant a few times with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp, draining any liquid.  Chop the pulp to break strings of eggplant but not until it’s totally mushy.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well mixed. Taste and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with crackers, sliced baguette, or toasted pita chips.

Storage: You can refrigerate Babagannușh for up to five days prior to serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

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