If you’re anything like me, you see a tempting recipe and think to yourself, that sounds good, and I should make it, but you promptly forget all about it. I mean, a recipe has to be really something to move me from the couch to the kitchen.
Well, if the teacher appears when the student is ready, it’s also true that the recipe appears when the cook is ready. And there I was, researching YouTube for SNL, Colbert, and other crucial things when this Turkish cooking video jumped out at me, and I was in love. And, as everyone knows, love makes you a better person, teaches you things, and gives you the strength to take risks you otherwise wouldn’t.
Which is why, after watching this cute little recipe with English subtitles that required only a few simple ingredients, most of which I generally have on hand (and probably so do you), like potatoes, carrots, red pepper, a leek, a wedge of cabbage, parsley, eggs, milk, flour, olive oil, etc., I ran right out and bought a cabbage and some red pepper. OK, I admit, I had been meaning to do that for a while anyway, since I was running kinda low on kimchi.
Well, I don’t know about you, but recipe videos can look easy but be really hard for me. Einkorn sourdough bread, for example, looks so simple in the hands of a pro, but I find every step an uphill climb. I’ve eaten so many personal bread disappointments, I eventually realized that buying delicious bread other people baked with love was both an act of compassion and a form of tikkun olam, a way to repair the damaged universe: rather than baking lousy bread, I improve the world by supporting the efforts and achievements of others. (If you’re curious, my current favorite bread—for several years already—is She Wolf Bakery’s sourdough miche, available at the Union Square Greenmarket.)
But I digress. The Turkish recipe looked great and sounded easy, so I was willing to give it a try, though I didn’t actually believe I’d end up with something that looked like the picture and tasted like what the picture evoked in my mind.
But I did. The recipe was easy! The recipe was perfect! It came out looking exactly like the picture, smelled heavenly while baking, tasted great, and was a first-class leftover.
If I can make it, you can too. The hardest part is grating the potatoes and carrots, and that’s just ten minutes of your life working your arm muscles. Buy organic, and you don’t even have to peel the spuds and carrots, just scrub them under cool running water with a vegetable brush. This really inexpensive, filling, delicious dish yields nice large squares you can hold like Sicilian pizza. After scarfing down a few, I realized that they’d also be super-easy to pack for lunch and take along on a day outside with Shorewalkers—and easy to eat while walking on those trips that don’t actually stop for lunch. So I really wanted to share the find and encourage you to try it.
Finally, this is the kind of recipe where you can swap out one ingredient for another. Don’t like cabbage, use zucchini (but who doesn’t like cabbage???). I didn’t feel like cleaning leeks (and my one criticism of the video is that it doesn’t show you how to do it, which is to cut the white portion in half lengthwise and fan out each of the two sections under cool running water, and then be even more careful rinsing the back and insides of the green portions, where a lot of dirt and grit can hide), so I used an onion instead. I love turnips, so I grated one in. You could paint tomato sauce on top before adding the cheese. You could omit the cheese or use feta instead of cheddar. I didn’t have nigella and sesame seeds, so I sprinkled the top with salt, pepper, and garlic.
One more thing before I forget. The video uses metric measurements, so here’s a cheat sheet for you. Oven temp in Fahrenheit: 350 degrees. Milk: about 3 tablespoons. Olive oil: about 3 tablespoons. Salt: less than 1 teaspoon (or none at all; in the video she doesn’t use it, though she offers the option). Pepper: a few cracks of the grinder (about 1/2 teaspoon). Flour: 1 cup. Baking powder: 2 teaspoons if you use all-purpose flour; for anything heavier (unsurprisingly, I use whole wheat einkorn), bump it up by a bit less than another 1/2 teaspoon.
Here’s the link to the recipe. I hope you try it. I hope to see you eating it at an upcoming Shorewalkers event, and I look forward to comparing notes how you made it your own.