Restaurants- Troy Mezze, Raleigh, NC

It was not my initial idea to write about restaurants when I started off on this blog.    But of late my dining out experiences have been too good, so I decided that it does not hurt to write few words when you come across good restaurants and eating experiences.

Troy Mezze is situated in a tranquil and relaxing little street in downtown Raleigh.   During our visit to the city, we visited that Historic Blake Street and spent an idyllic evening there.   A stroll down the street revealed through the old streets, cobblestone paths that are lined up by quaint little shops.

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Down further, you actually stumble upon a lot of great eating places, one of which is Troy Mezze.   When the chef and one of the co-founders of the place said that it was the best and the only Turkish restaurant in the area, I had no hesitation whatsoever accepting it.

The first thing I noticed when I took in the surroundings of the restaurant were its warm hues, walls draped with kilim rugs, and ornate-colored glass lanterns over the bar.   Then I looked at the Menu and I was lost.  I did know a little bit of Turkish cuisine, but I was totally unprepared for what I saw.  That plus the fact that I was only supposed to take a stroll at the Historic Blake street and my presence there was totally away from the lunch OR the dinner time was not helping either.

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So, I settled for what seemed to me at that time the most reasonable choice- Troy Platter- A sampler of Hummus, Spicy Tapas, Haydari, Baba ghanouj, Lentil patties, Turkish red beans (Barbunya Pilaki), Stuffed grape leaves (Yaprak Dolmasi),Tabboulleh.   My favorites were the Baba ghanouj (eggplant mashed and mixed with virgin olive oil and various seasonings), Dolmasi (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, currants and onions) and the Haydari, yogurt with bonus sprinkling of chopped walnuts and mint.

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So, here it is- Troy Mezze on the Historic Blake Street in Raleigh.  A perfect place for an idle stroll and also the home to a lots of good restaurants.  I recently read that good food eaten in good surroundings makes it a great experience.  Blake street and Troy Mezze did that for me.

A little note here: I being a vegetarian had “limited” choice for food.  While I really cannot talk about the meat containing dishes, I did hear that their Turkish style pizza (specifically the lamb pizza) was very popular.

Another note:  Did I tell you that on Friday evenings are Troy Mezze’s live performance evenings?

Strawberry Lemonade

Refreshing drink for warmer days.  Lemonade/limeade is a routine for us on warmer days.  I must admit that I have never tried Strawberry lemonade before, but after seeing a very tempting picture on pinterest, I decided to give it a shot and I am glad I did.  Apart from the taste being a winning point for this drink, I fell in love with the colors and I am super glad that the pictures turned out much better than I expected.

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Ingredients

  • Simple Syrup: 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar
  • Strawberry Puree: Fresh Strawberries- 1 cup, blend with a cup of water.
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup cold water
  • lemon slices and sliced strawberries (optional)
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan over high heat, mix together the water and the sugar. Cook until the sugar dissolves and it becomes a clear syrup. Remove from heat, add lemon zest and leave to cool.  The syrup will be a lovely clear yellow color from the lemon.
  2. Puree strawberries with a cup of water (strain the pulp- an optional step, I did not).
  3. Add the lemon juice, 1 cup water, and lemon and strawberry slices . Mix in the strawberry puree and the sugar syrup until well combined. Adjust according to taste.
  4. Serve over ice.

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Tea Love

Tea Leaves
Tea Loves
Loves Tea
Lives Tea
Leaves Tea?
Never!
– Uniek Swain

Offer me a strong cup of tea (or coffee for that matter), anytime in the day I never say no.    I bank on my cuppa to start the day off with vigor, as a pick me up for busy afternoons or just to feel good 🙂

When you make Indian style chai, milk is imperative, I believe that is what makes tea a chai.   Only time I ever have tea without milk is when I make Green Tea.  The process is quite simple, I boil milk, water, tea leaves together.  Add some grated ginger and sugar. Boil till required strength and there, I am done with my chai.  Sometimes, I add crushed cardamom pods.

All that changed when I sampled a flavorful black tea at Teavana.  It was heavenly and it was black!! Inspired by the taste,  I made my own mix of spiced tea. I know that I am going to have more cups of black tea from now on.

Ingredients:

  • Loose tea leaves ( I used Darjeeling) 1/2 tsp
  • Cinnamon- 2-3 Tsp (not the powder, coarsely crushed bark).
  • Ginger (grated and dried)- 3 tsp
  • Cardamom- 8-9 pods crushed
  • Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight jar.

Note:  If you want more stronger tea flavor, feel free to increase 1/2 tsp- 3/4 or more.

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The Tea:

  • Boil a cup of water
  • Add your tea spice mix.
  • Steep till desired strength
  • Strain into a cup
  • Add sugar per taste. Enjoy.
  • Add milk to the cup if you want Chai (Tea Latte).

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Better Limeade and Mango Salad with Sweet mint Pesto

I am a little sad that Gilt Taste closed down.   More than the high-end grocery shopping that the site offered, I was more drawn to the recipes and the stories.  Well, at least as of now, I do not see any way of going back to those sections.   I however did try some of the recipes that I liked from the site, the most recent being yesterday.  However, like my most of the other recipes, I had my own variations and substitutions.

Better Limeade based on Ruth Reichl’s: How to make a better lemonade article on Gilt Taste.  

For me the basic component of the entire recipe that makes it a super hit is the sugar syrup. I have been making lime and lemonades for many years before, but never this way and this is decidedly a really better tasting method.

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 2 large Lime/Lemon
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Mint leaves (optional)

Instructions:

  • Make the sugar syrup- dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 3/4 cup of water and heat till the water is clear.
  • Turn off the heat, zest the lime/lemon and let it cool. (this can be stored in the refrigerator upto a week)
  • Add the lime juice to the water (use water per your taste and how tangy you want the drink to be).
  • Stir in sugar syrup, mix well.
  • Serve over ice and garnish with mint leaves.Image

Mango with Sweet mint pesto

This was one of the recipes on the Gilt taste that was on my must try list.  Francis Lam has a funny and witty way of telling his stories and I have always enjoyed his recipes.  The original recipe calls for using ripe peaches.  I am sure it would taste great with peaches but for now, I have abundance of mangoes in my pantry and decided to give it a try.  Turns out I was not wrong to try.  It was delicious.  I have already decided to use it as a dessert for my guests sometime. A healthier option for sure and an interesting twist to your everyday fruit.

For the Sweet mint pesto.

  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Almonds ( as in the original recipe). I used cashew nuts for this one.
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice.

Instructions:

  • Toast the nuts lightly.  Pulverize them in a processor.
  • Add mint leaves and make into a coarse paste.
  • Add lemon juice and olive oil.  Add the salt and the sugar.
  • Make sure that it is not too pasty, you would want the pesto to be able to coat all of your fruit.

The Salad:

  • Cut the mangoes into 2 inch pieces.  Arrange them in a dish.  Zest lemon all over and shake well.
  • Add the sweet mint pesto and rub evenly with your hands.
  • Chill the salad for 30 min and serve.Image

Carrot and Orange Soup

Winning points for this soup- bright, refreshing, filling and healthy.   I admit when I first heard of this soup, I was a little apprehensive about using orange juice.  I must say, that was the best part of the soup.

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Source: Anne Sheasby: Fat-free Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 sprig of cilantro with stems intact
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • Orange rind-grated
  • Orange juice from 2 oranges
  • 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Recipe

  • Melt butter in a large pan. Add finely chopped cilantro stem, carrots and stir well, coating the vegetables with the butter.
  • Cover and cook for about 10 min, until vegetables are soft.
  • Add the stock, orange juice and the rind.  Add nutmeg powder, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to boil, reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for about 40 min, till tender.
  • Cool and process the soup in a blender.
  • Return to heat and add yogurt. Reheat gently, stirring.
  • Ladle the soup into bowl and top off with a dollop of yogurt and garnish with cilantro.

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Pistachio & Rose Syrup Oranges

The original recipe from Anne Sheasby’s cookbook “Fat-free Vegetarian” uses rose water for this Middle Eastern dessert.  I substituted rose water for rose syrup (a slightly more concentrated and sweeter version).    A refreshing twist to the routine peeling of oranges and certainly makes it more interesting.

Pista Rose oranges

Ingredients

  • 3 large oranges
  • 2 Tbsp Rose water/Syrup in my case
  • 2 Tbsp of  pistachio nuts- roughly chopped

Recipe

  • Slice the top and bottom off the oranges to expose the flesh.  Using a serrated knife, slice down between the pith and flesh, around the fruit, to remove all the peel and the bitter pith.  Slice into regular sized rounds.  Save the juice you get while cutting the oranges.
  • Once all the oranges are cut, arrange them in a serving dish.  Mix the reserved juice with the syrup and drizzle over the cut oranges.
  • Cover with a clear wrap and chill for about 30 min.
  • Sprinkle the choppoed pistachio nuts before serving.

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Note:  You could get some more flavor by sprinkling cardamom powder along with the nuts.

 

 

 

Simple mixed vegetable rice salad

I am back after a much needed break.   My ill-health last few days has resulted in an incredible increase on unwanted weight ( I am not kidding when I say, I put on close to 11 pounds in a week, not at all good, I know).  I feel much better right now and have decided it is time to let go of the extra pounds that I gained.

Let the “diet” begin 🙂

This particular recipe is easy to make, colorful and quite wholesome by itself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • Corainder
  • 2 medium tomatoes- skinned and chopped
  • Salt and pepper- to taste

Dressing:

From the original recipe:

  • 6 Tbsp low-fat French or Tomato Dressing
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Place the dressing and mustard in a screw top jar and mix well.

Note:  I used my own tomato home-made dressing:

  • Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet, add mustard seeds, let them splutter, add chopped tomato and a handful of coriander.  Cook till soft, add some salt and red chilli powder and blend till smooth.

Recipe:

  • Cook the rice in a pan of lightly salted boiled water for 10 min until tender but not overly cooked.
  • Drain the rice, rinse under cold running water and drain again.  Cool completely
  • Place rice in a large serving bowl.  Add the chopped vegetables.
  • Stir the dressing into the rice and adjust seasoning per taste.Untitled 7

Quinoa and Olive Salad

The inspiration for this recipe? A half can olives lying in my refrigerator, a lone carrot and some fresh homegrown mint and cilantro 🙂  Also it does not hurt to say that I am on a healthy diet regimen “again” and looking more at soups and salads these past few days.  So, here comes the Mediterranean inspired quinoa salad.  It is super-easy to prepare and has the promise of being very tasty,  healthy and filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup-  quinoa (you can see the directions for cooking quinoa here)
  • 1 small tomato-chopped (even better are grape tomatoes- I ran out of them)
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives-chopped
  • 1  carrot- grated or sliced finely
  • Handful of slivered almonds (substitute per your liking)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro/coriander
  • Handful of chopped mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 large lemon
  •  Salt and fresh ground pepper- to taste
  • Olive oil-1 Tbsp

Instructions

  • Cook quinoa till you see the white spiral around the seed. Fluff with a fork.
  •  Add chopped tomato, carrot, olives and nuts.  Toss to combine.
  • Season with salt and ground pepper.
  • Add chopped herbs.
  • Drizzle the salad with olive oil.  Gently toss to coat.
  • Squeeze a lemon all over and toss again.
  • Serve it as it is or cold (tastes best either ways)

Quinoa Olive Salad