Tag Archives: mediterranean

Four Healthy Food Trends to Adopt in Your Cooking

mediterranean food

Food health is an important consideration in our day-to-day lives, and one which often governs the decisions we make at home, at restaurants and even in supermarkets. But attitudes toward ‘health food’ change with the times, and new trends come and go as we discover unique ways to eat healthier. Here are some of the best trends to emerge in 2022 that introduce us to new healthy foodstuffs and habits. Continue reading Four Healthy Food Trends to Adopt in Your Cooking

Dining at Uskudar, NYC’s Best Turkish Restaurant!

Uskudar Interior Shot
All Photos By Gail

Heavyweight Champion Mohammed Ali once said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” Promoting itself as a Taste of Istanbul in the Heart of New York City, Uskudar Turkish restaurant’s 30-year dedication to authentic and delicious dishes has earned them a reputation for serving the very best Turkish cuisine in the City. Stop in for a visit and you will soon discover that the food speaks for itself.

Olives

Uskudar’s Chef/Owner Ibrahim Ozdemir began his 40-year career in the restaurant industry baking bread in one of Istanbul’s biggest hotels. When he opened Uskudar on the upper East side in 1987, his objective was to serve dishes whose flavors could transport diners to his homeland, if only for a few hours.

Turkish Bread

Ozdemir still bakes the fluffy, chewy bread that arrives at your table hot from the oven, and he takes care that every dish he serves is as fresh and authentic as possible. Even the lamb they serve is butchered on site. Uskudar’s extensive menu offers something for every palate,  including chicken, seafood, lamb and an array of vegetarian dishes. The narrow space is warm and cosy, with exposed brick, and back & white photographs of Istanbul landmarks adorning the walls. With the attentive, friendly service, you will feel at home right away.

I dined at Uskudar with a friend who had been there many times before, and she had been talking to me about the restaurant for weeks before we were able to finally a make date. There were so many dishes that she wanted me to try that we ended up ordering way more food than two people could possibly eat, but it was worth it.

Mucver and Borek

Two must-try appetizers are the Mucver — shredded zucchini fritters fried to a golden brown crispiness on the outside, but moist on the inside —  and Borek — crispy pan-fried phyllo rolls, stuffed with crumbled feta and spinach. Both taste great topped with a little dollop of tangy homemade yogurt.

Meze Platter
Mediterranen Meze Platter

An excellent way to sample many different tastes is to opt for the Mediterranean Meze Platter, featuring generous portions of assorted vegetarian appetizers including Yalanci Dolma (Grape leaves stuffed with rice, black currants, onions, pine nuts), Spinach Tarator (Spinach dip made with  labne — a strained-yogurt cheese — with garlic, and minced walnuts), Hummus (traditional Chickpea dip with tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice), Fasulye Pilaki (White Kidney Beans with scallions, tomato, garlic), Ezme (Tomato, onion, parsley, and walnut spread), and Patlican (Smoky eggplant dip with garlic, yogurt, herbs). Two hungry diners could easily make a satisfying meal from this selection of exotic and flavorful dips, accompanied by a basket (or two) of fresh bread and a generous pour from the wine list. If you are dining with a group, the Meze Platter can easily serve as an appetizer for three to four people. It’s huge!

Chicken Yogurt and Rice
Chicken Yogurt and Rice Pilaf

For an entree, I wanted to try a dish that I had not tasted before, but which had familiar ingredients, so I chose the Chicken Yogurt, which is chunks of chicken breast baked with sautéed pita and yogurt in a little casserole dish. Like all entrees, it comes with a side of your choice of rice or vegetables, and I chose the fluffy rice pilaf.

Chicken Yogurt Close Up

Here’s a close-up shot, where you see that a few colorful peppers and tomatoes have been added for flavor and texture. The chicken in this dish is absolutely succulent, and perfectly season. The sautéed pita maintained the consistency of a firm noodle, and the yogurt blended with the natural juice of the chicken to create a light sauce. This dish was excellent, and it would also be a good choice for a non-adventurous diner (we all know them) who had not tried Turkish food before.

Vegetable Casserole

My dining companion wanted to try the Vegetable Casserole, because although she eats meat, it was one of the few dishes she had not tried before. This dish is very simple,  comprised of a variety of vegetables such as carrots zucchini, potatoes and onions stewed in a tomato sauce, and served with a side of rice or vegetables. My friend asked if she could have a bit of both rice and vegetables as her side, and they were happy to accommodate her.

I will admit that after enjoying so many delicious appetizers, I purposely ate only about half my entree (taking the leftovers home), because I knew what was coming up next: Dessert!

Uskudar Dessert Menu

Uskudar makes all of their authentic Turkish desserts on premises, and while they may have unfamiliar names, you will surely recognize Baklava, a pastry made with many layers of flakey filo dough, baked with nuts and honey syrup. There are also Turkish versions of Flan, Chocolate Pudding, and Rice Pudding on the menu.

Turkish Dessert Trio
Trio of Desserts

Since my friend is a regular customer, she asked our server if the kitchen could put together smaller servings of three of her favorite desserts for us to share. Again, they were happy to do so. Here’s what we ate.

Baklava

This is the Baklava, which is studded with chopped pistachio nuts, gooey with honey, and very rich. One tiny piece was plenty after such a large meal.

Kadayif

This dessert is called Kadayif, which is a pastry that’s very similar to Baklava, except is it make with shredded wheat.

Kayisi 2

Last but not least, you must try the Kayisi: Pouched Apricots stuffed with a whole Almond, and topped with sweet Whipped Cream and finely chopped Pistachios. This sweet treat is simply divine, and I will order it every time I come back to Uskudar. Amazing.

While menu prices are very reasonable, Uskudar also offers a three-course price fixe lunch for just $19, and a three-course ‘early bird’ dinner (served 4 – 7 PM) for a mere $27 — which are unbelievable bargain prices for Manhattan restaurant dining. Whether Turkish cuisine is your favorite, or you’re just in the mood for trying something new, be sure to put Uskudar on your radar to enjoy an unforgettable culinary experience.

Uskudar is Located at 1405 2nd Avenue (Between 73rd & 74th Streets), Just One Block from the 72nd Street Q Stop, In NYC. Uskudar also offers outside catering, and they can host private parties, or small corporate events. Visit Their Website at This Link for More Information!

Product Review: Cucina & Amore Ready-to-Eat Farro Meals!

Cucina and Amore Farrow Meal
All Photos By Gail

Farro is an ancient whole wheat grain that, along with grains like Quinoa, is enjoying a rise in popularity (although it’s been around for thousands of years). Not only does Farro taste great — it’s also very good for your health; being an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Before it’s cooked, Farro looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley. It’s a small, light-brown grain with a noticeable outer layer of bran. Farro is loved for its nutty flavor and unique, chewy texture.

Continue reading Product Review: Cucina & Amore Ready-to-Eat Farro Meals!

Better 4U Sprouted Grain Crust Pizza!

Better 4U Box Ingredients Close Up
All Photos By Gail

You may recall Previously Reading about Better 4U Pizzas here on The Gig, because they are a super delicious, guilt-free way to enjoy pizza conveniently at home. Happily, our friends at Better 4U are keeping us in the loop with all of their new products, as we recently received a shipment of their latest pizza creations with a thin and crispy Sprouted Grain crust!

Like all Better 4U Pizzas, the new Sprouted Grain Pizzas are made entirely with All Natural Ingredients, and that includes everything that goes into making the crust and the sauce, plus all of the delicious toppings. The sprouted grain crusts do contain wheat, however, so they are not ideal for those on a Gluten-free diet.

Bruschetta Style Pizza Box

Better 4U Sprouted Grain Pizzas come in three mouth-watering varietes:

Bruschetta Style: Topped with Mozzarella, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Basil

Old World Veggie: Topped with Mozzarella, Feta Cheese, Tomatoes, Spinach, Onion, Garlic, Diced Red Peppers and Oregano

and

Mediterranean: Topped with Spinach, Artichokes, Red Onions, Red Pepper, Kalamata Olives, Oregano and Feta

Bruschetta Style Pizza Cooked

Here is the Brushetta Style pizza coming out of a hot oven. It is normal for the crust to be brown like that, so don’t worry that the dark color indicates overdoneness. As expected, the crust is light and crispy but supports the toppings well. With a salad, this is a pefect light summer dinner for two.

Better 4U’s Sprouted Grain crust is a delightful departure from traditional crust – or even their excellent Gluten Free crust offerings – in that it has a distinctive whole grain taste with a delicious nuttiness that I’d compare to 7 Grain toast. Very delicious!

Old World Veggie Pizza Box

Here are some photos of the Old World Veggie Pizza.

Old World Veggie Uncooked

I wanted you to get a good idea of how thin the crust is, thus, this pre-cooked “elevation” photo!
Old World Veggie Cooked

I happened to have a few leftover slices of Pepperoni, so I just threw them on the pizza before popping it into the oven – no harm no foul! Look how yummy and caramelized the onions get and yet the spinach maintains its bright green color, because the pizza cooks so fast. You can almost, as they say, “Taste it with your eyes.”

Better 4U Pizza Nutrition Facts

Indulging in these delcious pizzas is not going to lay waste to your diet plan either. One serving (half a pizza) is just 220 calories for the Old World Veggie and Mediterranean styles, and 230 calories per serving for the thin crust Bruschetta Style variety.

Find out more about Better 4U Sprouted Grain Pizzas and other fine Better 4U products, and locate the store near you that sells them, at This Link!

Better4U Personal 7″ Gluten Free Pizzas!

Better 4U  7-inch-GF-Roasted-Vegetable-Pizza-FrontBetter 4U  7-inch-GF-Pepperoni-Pizza-Front
Roasted Vegetable and Pepperoni are Two of the Varieties Available in a Convenient 7-Inch Size!

Do you like Pizza? I sure do. The only problem I have with pizza is that, if I make a frozen pizza at home, it is a challenge to not eat the entire thing all at once. Because pizza is delicious. So, thank god that Better4U Foods has created a way to save me from myself by expanding its line of healthy convenience foods with the launch of a new personal-sized, 7-inch version of the company’s frozen multigrain gluten-free pizzas. Hallelujah!

Better 4U 7-inch-GF-Cheese-PizzaBetter 4U  7-inch-GF-Mediterranean-Pizza-Front
Four Cheese and Mediterranean Style Pizza Round Out The Selection

Last year, I had the opportunity to Review Better 4U, full sized gluten-free pizzas — which exceeded my expectations for taste and quality — so I was super excited about receiving a selection of the personal pizzas to write about for The Gig. I am happy to report that, as much as I loved my experience last year, it seems that Better 4U has even found a way to improve on their delicious and high-quality gluten-free crust.

Better 4U Cooked Pepperoni Pizza

This is what the Pepperoni Pizza looks like after cooking according to package directions. How gorgeous is that? The crust is crisp, but there is a fluffy, fresh-baked-bread layer between the toppings and the crispness, which is just ideal, as far as I’m concerned. The cheese is fresh and plentiful and the uncured pepperoni cooks up nice and crisp. And this little pizza will satisfy your appetite for just 420 guilt-free calories!

Mediterranean Pizza
Mediterranean Pizza, Fresh Out of the Box!

One evening, a friend of mine  who has a gluten intolerance came over for a night of TV and snacks, so we made the Mediterranean and Roasted Vegetable Pizzas and split them. She was totally won over!

Mediterranean Pizza Cooked and Sliced

I think this looks and tastes as good as any pizza you would buy at your favorite take out place. The only difference is it’s ready to bake when you’re ready to eat it, and it saves you a few bucks. Each 9.5-oz personal pizza has a suggested retail price of $5.99 to $6.99. What a Bargain!

A company-owned, certified gluten-free facility in Ontario produces these personal pizzas, and each pizza contains 15 grams of whole grains. With Four Cheese,  Roasted Vegetable, Pepperoni and Mediterranean varieties to choose from, there is really something for everybody, but If you prefer to make a gluten-free pizza with your desired, unique selection of toppings, Better 4U offers a shelf stable gluten-free pizza crust! For Vegans, there is the dairy free gluten-free Roasted Vegetable pizza as an option.

Find out more about Better 4U Gluten-Free Pizzas and other fine products, and locate a store near you that sells them, at This Link!