HELLO, ÇILBIR

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“FORGET EGGS BENEDICT… THERE’S A
NEW BRUNCH CRAZE IN TOWN”

The sleep-bugs are hitting me like a brick today…

Maybe because I fought to stay up last night after Jason pulled a long work-night, and prepared him this as a very inappropriate thing to eat at 2 AM.  I can be a very irresponsible wife sometimes.  Lighting looks weird but hey, that’s the best midnight can do.

But the more pressing matter, besides the fact that I’m slowly murdering my husband (who helplessly squeezed out these words, “Is yogurt… fattening?” through his feeding mumbles…), is have you heard about this?

Çilbir.

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Although without any timeframe, I had my mind set on making it when I saw it on a TV-program a few days ago featuring unique brunches, a Turkish dish where two poached eggs are put on top of a bed of garlicky yogurt then bathed with Aleppo chili butter (hear that?  butter.  butteeerrr!).  And then like destiny, boom! there it was on the latest issue of Saveur.  The kitchen universe was sending me messages and it’d be rude to ignore.  So the next day, it went into production.

Well, I knew it was gonna be good.  But I didn’t expect it being this good.

Maybe the original movement between just poached eggs, thick garlicky yogurt and Aleppo butter in an old school Turkish dance could’ve been enough.  I don’t know.  Yeah actually I wouldn’t know because I just couldn’t leave the original unsoiled (ironically).  I couldn’t help but feeling that it wanted something herby… minty… something sharp like say, pickled green chili chimichurri to wake it up.  In fact, it did more than waking it up.  The refreshing acidity and herbs in the green sauce parted the red sea of butter and took the party to the promised land.  Almost biblical songs written on a mopped-clean plate.  Listen, this is your next entertaining idea.  Your effortless hostess-ticket.  Because best of all, most of the stuff can be done hours or a day ahead (you don’t think I did all this at 2 AM, did you?  oh you flatter…), in fact, they may prefer it that way as the flavours get happy with time.

Forget eggs benedict.  There’s a new brunch craze in town, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for late nights either.

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Oh here it goes… adrenaline withdrawal.  Now if I may, I must go sink my head into a pillow…

Then again, maybe it isn’t sleep-bugs.  It’s post-Manger-blues…  Is there anything, seriously, more depressing than reading Mimi Thorisson?  I feel like a hairless goat in a bad dress who has mistaken herself as a human…

Oh I must leave….

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Serves:  2 brunch-servings

You can buy thick Greek-style yogurt, or make your own from plain yogurt.  I strained doubled-amount plain yogurt (if your plain yogurt is very thin, you’ll need more) wrapped inside a large cheesecloth, placed over a sieve and placed something heavy on top for 2 hours.  You’d be surprised how much water can come out this thing.  And I’m using the Aleppo chili flakes I still have from our trip to Istanbul, but nowadays, it’s widely available online or spice-shops.

The pickled green chili gives an old chimichurri some nice acidity and heat.  A tbsp is first pureed into the sauce, then another tbsp chopped is mixed in the end, so there are random bursts of pickled chili throughout.  The amount listed in the recipe is quite mild, so don’t hesitate to add more for desired heat.  I made the sauce in a traditional mortar, and the ingredients are listed in the order that they go in.  You can of course make this in a blender/food-processor, where you can probably add all the herbs at once and drizzle the oil in with the machine running.  If I were to make this sauce a day before hand, I would add 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar to help keep the color vibrant.

Ingredients:

  • 9 oz (254 grams) of Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped dill
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • 1/3 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • Aleppo chili butter:
    • 1/2 stick (57 grams) of unsalted butter
    • 1 tbsp of Aleppo chili flakes
    • 1/2 tsp of paprika
    • 1/8 tsp of ground cumin
  • Pickled green chili chimichurri:
    •  2 cloves of garlic
    • 2 fillets of anchovies soaked in olive oil
    • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 1 tbsp (15 grams) of pickled green chili (pickled jalapeño or other types of pickled green hot chilis)
    • 1 good handful (14 grams) of fresh parsley leaves
    • 1/2 handful (7 grams) of fresh mint leaves
    • 1/3 cup (71 grams) of extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tbsp of pickling juice
    • 1/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 more tbsp (15 grams) of pickled green chili, diced
    • Salt to taste
  • 4 large eggs for poaching
  • 1 loaf of rustic bread
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

To make the herbed Greek yogurt:  Evenly mix Greek yogurt, chopped dill, grated garlic, salt and ground black pepper together.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 1 hour.

To make the Aleppo chili butter:  Combine unsalted butter, Aleppo chili flakes, paprika and ground cumin in a sauce pot.  Heat over medium heat, and once the butter has melted, let cook for another min.  Turn off the heat and set aside.  Warm up over low heat before using.

To make the pickled green chili chimichurri:  In a mortar, grind the garlic and anchovy fillets together until paste-like.  Then add the fresh thyme leaves and 1 tbsp of pickled green chili, and grind again until they almost disappear into the paste.  Add the fresh parsley leaves and fresh mint leaves, grind again until very finely broken down.  If using a blender/food-processor, you can do all this at once.  Now, add the the extra virgin olive oil, pickling juice, freshly ground black pepper and diced pickled green chili.  Swirl the sauce to combine the ingredients together.  Adjust the seasoning with some salt.  Set aside.

All of the above can be made the day before.

To serve:  Preheat the top-broiler on high.  Slice the bread and place it on a baking sheet, then generously drizzle extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle ground black pepper on both sides.  Toast under the broiler until the first side is golden browned, then flip and toast the other side as well.  Careful, this will happen fast under the broiler.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a deep pot of water (about 6″ deep) to a very gentle simmer (some say add vinegar but I don’t find the result different…).  Crack the egg into a small dish and slowly slide it into the pot (some say make a “whirlpool” but I don’t find it necessary), then circle the water around the egg with the back of a spoon to remove excess egg whites.  Once the egg turns slightly opaque (but before the shape is set), gently turn it over with a spoon (this’ll give the poached egg a “rounder” shape).  Gently move it to the side of the pot and repeat with another egg.  Do not crowd the pot.  Remove the poached egg with a slotted spoon and dab the bottom with a clean towel to remove excess water.

Divide the herbed Greek yogurt in two plates, and place two poached eggs on each.  Give a generous amount of Aleppo chili butter and pickled green chili chimichurri.  Sprinkle some sea salts on top and serve with crusty breads.

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28 Comments

  • Reply February 18, 2014

    Bob Beck @bobskitchenblog

    Nice! Probably my favorite meal ever is brunch. Especially since often it follows a heavy night of drinking. I could eat breakfast/brunch any time, any day.

  • Reply February 18, 2014

    cynthia

    Oh, this looks out of this world. I love that you went out of your way to dish this up for your husband in the early hours of the morning! Irresponsible wife … or badass wife?! You rock. Can you make me this too?

    By the way, I love these photos. It’s amazing, I’d never guess that this was at midnight. I desperately need to figure out an artificial lighting setup (I keep saying this… but I never do it.)

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    A late night photo session followed by this? I would gladly work the midnight shift every day to get a taste of this. That sauce is killing me, the contrast in the sauces are almost making this plate look like piece of art.

    Damn now I am hungry…. Well more so than ever

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Katrina @ WVS

    Sweet goodness I want this so, so, bad. I’m not going to let the ingredient list scare me and try it soon! I CAN’T WAIT!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Cindy @ Elgin Harvest

    Incredible photos that have successfully made my mouth water. You have a way with the camera but you also have a way with flavour. Another wonderful reason to eat eggs for dinner!

    Ps- how do you pronounce ‘cilbir’?

  • Ahhh this looks so gorgeous and enticing! Especially your green herb-infused version of it. I haven’t even opened my latest issue of Saveur yet (ugh, grad school), but I posted a brunch dish a while back of skillet-baked eggs in garlicky yogurt sauce that was inspired by a recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, which was inspired by Çilbir. And like yours, it was a revelation for me: so SO good.

    I also love love love the watercolor-esque green-oil-blends-into-red-butter photo, second from the bottom before the recipe. Your photos are stunning!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Ilke

    I love cilbir, my dad used to make it, one of those breakfast for dinner type of things for us…
    Photos look amazing! Which TV program was featuring this, I am curious? I dont get to see many Turkish dishes on food programs.

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Kathleen

    What beautiful photography! I love the brilliant colors in the dish. Turkish food is one of my favorites and the addition of chimichurri sounds like a great compliment to the flavors. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Sophie

    GRACIOUS yes. I want this asap!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Asli

    Ha! Loved the comment about Manger! Spot on – I always feel the same way!

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    maya

    wait, i just died a little bit with that last photo.
    ok. i’m back.
    RE the manger tidbit – ever notice that the 90% of the real awesome food blogs are run by asian girls? i can’t figure out why this is. what can i say – you girls just have that gift

    • Reply February 19, 2014

      mandy@ladyandpups.com

      CYNTHIA: I like my food hot when we eat it! I don’t know how others say they “only use natural light”… then… how about dinner…? If you care to know, I have a soft-light box and a small LED light for extra highlights.

      CINDY: I think it’s something like “chil-ber”….

      ILKE: It’s a program called “Unique Eats” on Asian Food Network!

      MAYA: Oh, I wouldn’t dare to put myself in her category… She’s Asian AND FRENCH mix. Damn it…

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Wendy D.

    太好看了!!

  • Seriously. You make the BEST looking food! I have to try this. And I am literally amazed these photos were taken at night–you definitely could have fooled me. Do you have lights or a flash or something?

    • Reply February 20, 2014

      mandy@ladyandpups.com

      LAURA: yes, i have a soft-light box and a small LED light for highlight :)

      BRIANNE: OH to be accurate, I made the sauces ahead of time, then poached the eggs and toasted the breads… so it wasn’t that much work :)

      ABBE: Christmas indeed! wouldn’t be a bad idea for Christmas morning brunch now I think about it…. festive…

  • Reply February 20, 2014

    Brianne

    You threw this together for your husband at 2 am?! You get the wife of life award. I’d throw on a pot of coffee for the guy just to be nice and go back to bed.

    This is stunning, Mandy. The texture and flavors in the recipe, the photos, the colors…I love it all. That chimichurri was such a great addition on your part! You really freaking know what to do with food.

  • Reply February 20, 2014

    Abbe@This is How I Cook

    Brunch for two or a post midnight feast? Yes, you get the wife of the year award. Just had to mention that when eating Mexican food in my neck of the woods, when you have a red and green sauce on the same plate, it’s called Christmas style. That’s what this reminded me of, except about 100x better! Damn girl! I want to go to bed with this in my tummy!

  • Reply February 21, 2014

    Laurie

    This looks and sounds fantastic. I love everything in it! Your’s looks WAY better than Saveur….

  • Reply February 22, 2014

    Katie

    Where can I get a mortar and pestle like yours??

  • Reply February 22, 2014

    Kenza Saadi

    This is wonderful: the photos and the text!
    My kind of food and I will try it. Thank you for sharing.
    Kenza.

  • This looks absolutely incredible. Can’t wait to make it. See you soon, Çilbir!

  • Reply February 23, 2014

    Emily

    A) This looks amazing. I loooove runny eggs with yogurt, and that chimichurri is such a good idea. B) No, there is nothing more depressing than reading Mimi Thorisson. It makes me feel the same way. Yet I always masochistically go back for more.

  • Reply February 24, 2014

    Allison

    Awesome post! Just came across your blog. Love your photography. Will be following. I linked to your page from my blog, check it out!

    http://heightenedsenseofthings.wordpress.com/

  • Reply February 24, 2014

    melissa

    I NEED that mortar. Please share where you purchased it :-)

    • Reply February 24, 2014

      mandy@ladyandpups.com

      MELISSA: Hi, please see my response to KATIE on top. I bought it here in China but you may be able to find similar one from the Amazon link above!! Good luck!!!

  • Reply February 25, 2014

    Sanya

    I always assumed that recipe is Bulgarian (I am), but yeah: everything is mixed up on the Balkans.

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