Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I feel as if the month of December flew by and I never had a chance to post many of my photos and recipes.

Before I left for the states, one Friday, I hosted a Christmas potluck luncheon at our apartment in Istanbul. I even found a fake, tabletop tree and a strand of colored lights at the hardware store. I decorated the tree with some festive decor I stored in one of the moving boxes. A girlfriend made the crocheted snowflakes.

I wanted my holiday fiesta to be perfect. I started making my to-do lists early in the week. I baked a “boozy gingerbread” quick bread recipe and started prepping the cake and tart shell two days prior so I’d have enough time to finish it all.

Even though I’d asked my American friends living here in Istanbul to bring a dish to share, I, like always, went in over my head. I can’t seem to help myself when I host get-togethers. I want to share my home-baked goodies with everyone. It’s certainly helpful when my husband is around because he can help reel me in a little bit. Not this time.

First thing when I woke up, I placed the ingredients for the mulled wine in a large stockpot on the stove. Soon the festive smell of cinnamon, cloves and citrus filled the air. I even had Christmas music playing on the stereo while I was busy in the kitchen.

Ingredients for the mulled wine.
Well, time disappeared quickly. I still hadn’t dried my hair and a few ladies had already arrived. Soon, my kitchen was filled with friends trying to find a spoon, bowl or plate while I quickly hurried to finish. 

I didn’t complete all my tasks on time. I had to stay back in the kitchen for awhile so I could put the finishing touches on my Bûche de Noël.

A "rushed" version of my chocolate Bûche de Noël with dark chocolate mousse. 

Tarte au Citron made from Meyer Lemons and Mandarins
My friends outdid themselves and brought a feast that reflected our American and Turkish influences. Some of the dishes included: lentil soup, pursulane salad, roasted eggplant salad, a Russian pasta salad, beef chili, cornbread muffins, banana bread, dill and peynir borek, steamed vegetables, cheddar cheese and crackers, hummus, turkey lasagna, stuffed cherry tomatoes with pesto labneh and fresh mandarins.

Finally, I had a hot glass of mulled wine and was able to relax. I talked and laughed with my friends. I’ve met a wonderful group of friends whom made the expat experience here that much more enjoyable.

Although the holidays are over, I hope you can save these recipes for your next festive shindig.

Afiyet Olsun!

Cranberry and Goat Cheese Toasts
3.5       oz.       goat cheese (1 small Turkish goat cheese log), room temperature
½         c.         dried cranberries
1-2       T.        orange juice
1          ea.       orange zest, freshly grated
TT                   salt and freshly ground black pepper
1                      French baguette, sliced into ½-inch rounds
As needed        olive oil
Garnish:            freshly chopped chives and toasted walnuts

1. Combine the goat cheese, cranberries, orange juice and zest into a food processor bowl fitted with a blade. Pulse to combine.
2. If needed, added a bit more juice until you have a creamy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the sliced baguette pieces. Place in the oven at 350F/175C until the bread is lightly toasted.
4. Pipe or spoon the goat cheese bread onto the toasts. Garnish with chives and toasted walnuts.

Mulled Holiday Wine
(I used a 5xs recipe for the potluck.)
1          750      ml.       bottle cheap dry, red wine
½         c.                     granulated sugar
1          ea.                    orange zest, finely grated
1          ea.                    cinnamon stick
6-8       ea.                    cloves
1          ea.                    vanilla bean, scraped
1-2       ea.                    cardamom pods
2          ea.                    star anise
1. Place the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer, but do not let boil. Let the mulled wine cook on low heat for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Strain. Place into a thermos or ladle the wine into glasses straight off the stove. If you like, serve the glasses with a thin orange slice.

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