Wednesday, July 6, 2011

While I did miss being back in the U.S.A. this past weekend to celebrate Fourth of July, I decided to make the best of it.

For me that involved food - as most holidays do!

My husband’s parents hosted a slew of relatives over the weekend and did all sorts of barbecuing on the grill - pork ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. We were able to chat via Skype with everyone and at least say hello while I drooled enviously over the slab of ribs.

Here in Istanbul, I made beef hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs and Red Velvet cupcakes. My friend, Sheryl, made the classic American concoction of a gooey, Velveeta cheese dip and chocolate chip cookies.
An American-style hamburger made in Istanbul with a medium red center,
just the way I like it!
While living abroad as an expat, a holiday you’ve grown up with can suddenly be anything you want it to be. For Fourth of July,  that meant I simply wanted to celebrate with familiar foods and friends. We didn’t have fireworks, but that’s okay. We sat around our dining room table, eating, laughing and having a good time.
Homemade potato salad and deviled eggs garnished with paprika and pul biber.
To celebrate a holiday abroad as an expat, here are some of my thoughts:

1. Make the best of your situation. Try to incorporate some of your family traditions into your own celebration no matter where you are.

2. Ignore the holiday if you want. You don’t have to celebrate it.

3. Cook familiar foods. For Americans, Fourth of July is all about hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, pie, etc. I thought about using kiraz to make a cherry pie here, but decided against it because of the workload involved. Instead, Red Velvet cupcakes and my friend’s chocolate chip cookies made great substitutes and are perfect representations of American desserts.

4. Celebrate with friends and neighbors. It doesn’t matter if your friends are French, Turkish, Australian or whatever. Invite them over, cook some food and have a great time!

And that’s exactly what we did!

Afiyet Olsun!
"Grilling" hamburgers and hot dogs inside our apartment.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
(Adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe. Click the link to see the American version. The recipe below uses Turkish substitutes.)

435 g. pasta/borek unu (flour)
350 g. granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 T. cocoa powder

330 ml. ayçiçek yağı (sunflower oil)
2 ea. large eggs, room temperature
230 ml. ayran (or homemade buttermilk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. elma sirkesi (apple vinegar)
1 T. red food coloring (I used a spoonful of Wilton red food coloring paste I found at a bake shop behind the Spice Bazaar in Eminönü.)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C.
2. Use whatever muffin pan you have. I made small and large cupcakes. Line the muffin pans with cupcake papers.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and cocoa powder.
4. In a large bowl, gently mix together the oil, ayran, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients above. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
Red Velvet cake is very red!
6. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake papers, about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 18-20 minutes for larger ones and 10-12 minutes for smaller cupcakes. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick or metal skewer for doneness.
7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
400 g. krem peynir (cream cheese), room temperature
200 g. Dr. Oetker pudra şekeri (powdered sugar)
3-6 T. unsalted butter, room temperature

1. In a medium bowl, cream the krem peynir (cream cheese), using an electric mixer, until smooth.
2. Add the powdered sugar and blend well.
3. Add the unsalted butter. The more you add the richer the frosting will taste.
Tip: I find the frosting to be a bit runnier than what I’m used to in the U.S., so it would not hold its shape. However, it tastes great and works well enough.
My Turklish Red Velvet cupcakes with white and blue frosting.

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Sheryl Sparks said...

Food was so yummy! Thanks for the memories!

Julia said...

I'm coveting your burger, Joy! :)

Joy said...

Julia, the burger was pretty easy....just get some kontrafile yağsız kıyma, season to your liking, and portion into 200 gram patties. I can never get beef cooked to the way I liked when we go out! =)