Fractals All Around

Today marks the anniversary of my kid’s first big-screen movie, Disney’s Frozen. In the days following, she (then 2) ran around in circles – and in a tutu – singing, “fwozen fwactals all ah-wound…

It’s marvelous and inspiring when lyricists and children’s writers aren’t afraid of using more challenging vocabulary, like the word fractal. Kids are sponges – they can get it, we just have to give them a chance. And thanks to the writing team, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, my kid had a new and unlikely word in her vocabulary…and she wasn’t afraid to wield it.

So here’s an unlikely segue – cauliflower is a fractal, an object with the incredible attribute of having its large-scale pattern continuously recur at progressively smaller scales. Now there’s something to chew on – and so I bring you Anne’s cauliflower stew, karnΙbahar musakka.

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, rinsed, soaked, and broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tbspn tomato paste
  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c hot water
  • egg sauce


  1. sauté olive oil and diced onion on medium heat, until they are pembe (=pink, caramelized)
  2. add chopped meat, continue to sautee over medium heat
  3. add pepper, tomatoes, and tomato paste
  4. add salt
  5. cover, simmer, 5 minutes
  6. add cauliflower
  7. add 1/2 cup of hot water
  8. cover, simmer, 20 minutes
  9. make egg sauce
  10. turn off heat of cauliflower
  11. slowly add hot juice of cauliflower to the egg sauce, and then pour and mix into the big pot

Sulu Kofte (…or how to gain 10 pounds in 4 weeks)

After some summer sun and fabulous times with family, I’m back and have lots of new recipes to share!

It’s tradition to gain weight after Ergunay family visiting. My coping strategy is to preemptively shed a couple of pounds in preparation for the onslaught of home cooking, but this time…well, let’s just say, like so many other well-intended summer projects, I didn’t get around to it and then buckled under the power and intensity of Anne’s sulu kofte.

They’re deceptively sized, full of flavor, dangerous to the waistline – as meatballs go, these are in the adorable class of kofte.  If you’re a fan of Swedish meatballs, I think you’ll like this lemony twist!  And they’re easy to make.  But I warn you, once you start, it’s difficult to stop.

Ingredients AND instructions, all meatballed-up into one…in three parts:

Part 1:

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 heaping tsp black pepper
  • 1 heaping tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup flour
  1. break up uncooked rice with hands
  2. coarsely grate onion over broken rice
  3. add black pepper and salt
  4. add ground beef, mix everything with hands
  5. roll into small 1-1 1/2  – inch balls, coat with flour

IMG_0144Part 2:

  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 heaping tbspn tomato paste
  • ~2 cup hot water
  • 1 heaping tsp salt
  1. in a large saucepan, heat olive oil on medium/high heat
  2. add tomato paste, stir
  3. add 1 cup hot water
  4. add salt
  5. slowly add handfuls of kofte
  6. add more hot water as needed, enough just to cover the kofte
  7. cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, then uncover for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how big you made your tiny morsels, so the sauce thickens

Part 3:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbspn water
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  1. whisk together in small bowl egg yolks, lemon juice, water, parsley
  2. set aside until kofte are finished cooking
  3. once kofte are finished, slowly add a couple of tbspns of sauce from the kofte to the egg/lemon mixture (the goal here is to slowly heat the egg/lemon mixture, without getting scrambled eggs!); then, add the mixture back into the pot
  4. stir and serve with your favorite Turkish pide, Italian bread, or crusty French loaf because you won’t want to leave behind a single drop of this sauce!

KadInbudu – an ode to ladies’ thighs

Today’s tidbit is a hats-off to gorgeous, meaty-thighed women everywhere. For in Turkish cuisine, voluptuous female thighs are so revered that they have a kofte named after them – kadInbudu, or ladies’ thighs. Indeed there is no higher honor! Once I asked my brother-in-law and medical researcher, Koray, (note:  my husband, under such interrogation conditions, simply cannot be trusted for an objective, empirical response) how it was that such shanks as my generous Italian backside could be desirable, but he reassured me of an authentic cultural appreciation for “nice buns” and thighs. And he concluded his affirmation with a shrug and straightforward medical response, “it’s not healthy to look hungry.”

So for all my lady-friends and family, here’s how to make (and sustain!) those kadInbudu, courtesy of Anne’s expert cooking:


  • 1 pound beef
  • 1 medium-sized onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tbspn olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • mix of all-purpose flour and unseasoned bread crumbs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • canola oil for frying


  1. mince onion (I use a food processor because chopping onions makes me cry!) and sautee on medium heat in 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  2. add 1/4 cup of rice, coating the grains with the onion/olive oil mix (special note:  my mother-in-law always measures in Turkish tea glasses, which was confusing at first, but I’ve settled on the following conversion:  1 tea glass=1/2 cup)
  3. add 1/2 cup water
  4. add 1 tsp salt
  5. cover and cook over low heat until rice is soft

In a separate pan,

  1. cook 2/3 of the meat with 1/4 cup of water on medium heat until water has evaporated
  2. add 1/4 tsp salt
  3. mix both pans together, and let cool

Last part,

  1. mix remaining 1/3 cup of uncooked meat with 1 egg and 1/2 tsp black pepper
  2. form small, oval-sized burgers (about 3″ long, by 2″ wide and 1″ deep)
  3. in one bowl, whisk 4 eggs, in another bowl add a mix of all-purpose flour, unseasoned bread crumbs and 1/4 tsp salt
  4. dip/coat each kofte in the flour mix first, then dip into the egg (I like to do a double-dip for extra crispy coating!)
  5. fry in canola oil until golden brown (my mother-in-law fries in a pan on the stove, I use a deep fryer – either works just fine)
  6. …and while you have your deep fryer out, you may as well do a few potatoes to go with!

Subways are for Sujuk

Vegetarians, steer clear. This post is about meat – red, spiced, unadulterated meat.

It was a typical subway rush hour, with typical rush-hour accessories: folded newspapers, iPads, travel mugs, messenger bags. And then there was something completely out of the ordinary.

A few straphangers away, a man in a trench coat leaned on the train door and unabashedly pulled from his backpack something that resembled a balloon animal, minus the head. It was half a foot of hardened, dark red sujuk. And he started to gnaw on it voraciously.

Sujuk, or sucuk, a dried, spiced sausage in Turkish and other Middle Eastern cuisines, is typically fried and served for breakfast with eggs or diced on top of toast – hardly a late afternoon subway snack.

And I was mistaken in presuming to be the only one who took notice: a couple minutes later, a woman within arm’s reach of the sujuk, shuffled her way back toward the opposite door, as if recalling the dramatic irony of A Lamb to the Slaughter and deciding that a hunk of meat, whatever the animal of origin, was a formidable weapon.

I asked him how it was he came to be munching on this snack as opposed to the usual mainstay bag of potato chips. Evidently, his aunt was just visiting from Turkey and had smuggled her homemade sujuk through security.

A quick digression: have you ever been stopped by airport security for edible items? Ironic, but not three weeks prior to this encounter, all bottles of my daughter’s ready-formula and jars of baby food for a continental U.S. plane ride had to be disrobed of labels and opened. Meantime, Turkish Teze, draped in tasseled scarves, clenching rolls of edible animal contraband under her arm, innocently eluded all international airport check-point personnel. I’m guessing she slipped them a slice in exchange for safe passage.

Here’s my favorite way to enjoy sujuk – sliced length-wise, pan fried, snug inside an Italian roll.

sucuk sandwich

So, in case anyone is reading this, how do you like your sujuk?  I’d love to hear!