Ezme Salad: a Traditional MEZE Salad (Antep Salad)

A light, fresh and flavorful salad that perfectly compliments kebabs or any grilled meat.

      No kebab is complete without a salad. In fact, I would say that if you go to eat kebab at a restaurant and they do not serve a salad with it, then there is seriously something missing and you should consider eating kebab at another place. Yes, the salad really is that important. Truth be told, the variations of salads may vary based on tradition and taste, but this Ezme Salad is a simple salad packed with the flavorful essentials to compliment your meal.

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      I often make this salad and eat it as a meal because I like it so much. It the perfect blend of crunchy and soft and sweet and sour. All of the ingredients are pretty simple, except the pomegranate molasses may take some digging to find (depending on what part of the world you live in). In this case, feel free to sub it with a fruity tasting vinaigrette.

Here’s the recipe:

Ezme (Antep Salad)

  • 1 tomato (chopped; about 3/4 c)
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 2 TBSP chopped mint
  • 1/4 c chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped cucumber
  • 3 scallions (chopped)
  • 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (pull biber or Aleppo pepper)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped veggies in a bowl.

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Season with salt, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.

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Pour over the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses.

Stir well until combined.

Serve and Enjoy immediately or pop it in the fridge and enjoy later!

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

Ayran: a Healthy Yogurt Beverage

A refreshing yogurt beverage that is delicious and healthy! It is the perfect thing to keep you hydrated for any hot day!

      If you are not so acquainted with drinking unsweetened yogurt based drinks then Ayran will be be considered an “acquired taste”. I will admit that the first time I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. The very idea of drinking an unsweetened yogurt beverage somehow did not sound appetizing to me. But after many opportunities to try Ayran, eventually the drink that I didn’t like, soon became a staple and favorite.

      Supposedly, it is the perfect drink to staying hydrated during the summer because of the salt content providing much needed electrolytes lost on hot days.

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The delightful Ayran fountains that are commonly found during the summer months in Turkey are a welcome sight for me to see. The Ayran is fresh and bubbly, just the way I like it.

Here’s the recipe:

Ayran

  • 1/3 c thick yogurt
  • 6 oz carbonated (soda) water (for foamy ayran– sub: flat water)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 sprig fresh mint (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Place the yogurt, carbonated water and salt in a bowl.

Using an electric mixer, whisk until it is smooth and foamy.

Pour into a glass, topping it with the foam.

Garnish with fresh mint (if using).

Serve & enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

Light and flaky homemade dough, packed full of melted cheese. Gözleme is the ultimate version of a grilled cheese sandwich but better!

If you’ve seen Gözleme prepared once, chances are that you won’t forget it. It is such a beautiful traditional preparation with a large circular board that sit upright like a small table, a long rolling pin and a large dome cooking surface.

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I love watching Gözleme being prepared because it is prepared with such excellence and speed, not to mention, it tastes great! Many consider it even to be the “fast food” of Turkey because it is so common to find Gözleme throughout the country.

But the great thing is that it can certainly be prepared at home, even without all of the extra equipment. If you have a counter space, a rolling pin and a frying pan, then you an also make Gözleme at home.

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Here’s the recipe:

Gözleme (Turkish Flatbread with Melted Cheese)

For the dough:

  • 1 c flour (+ more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3-1/2 c warm water
  • 1 T olive oil

For the filling/cooking:

  • 1.5 c shredded mozzarella cheese (or any cheese that melts well)
  • 2 T olive oil

Garnish (optional):

  • 1/4 tomato (sliced)
  • 5-6 cucumber slices
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh parsley

Preparation:

To make the dough: Combine all of the ingredients (except reserve 1/2 of the olive oil) together in a bowl and stir well until it forms a dough, adding more flour if it is too sticky or more water if it is too dry. Then turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 5-6 minutes. Then shape the dough into a ball and use the remaining olive oil to grease a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest for 30-60 minutes.

To make the Gözleme: Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and place it on a floured surface. Dust the dough and your rolling pin with a little more flour and proceed to roll the dough into a very thin circular piece. Note: It should be thinner than a thin crust pizza dough where you can see your hand through the dough but not to thin for the dough to tear.

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Then place some of the shredded mozzarella cheese in the middle of the piece of the dough and fold the sides of the dough on top to create a square shaped package.

Then brush a little olive oil on a crepe pan or frying pan and place the Gözleme on the pan. Brush the top with a little more olive oil and allow the Gözleme to cook over medium heat until it starts to puff up and lightly brown. Flip and repeat.

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The dough really starts to puff up as it cooks!
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Nice and golden brown!

Remove the Gözleme from the pan, cut into triangles and serve with the granishes.

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It is Best Enjoyed When it is Warm!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

How to Make Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza) at Home

A perfectly, thin, crispy crust coated with a mixture of veggies, spices and ground meat. Turkish pizza is the ultimate, traditional Turkish street food.

The Legend of the Turkish Pizza

I have been told that the Turkish pizza was the creation of baker that visited the coast of Italy. He saw the people eating and enjoying pizza and he tasted it and enjoyed it too. So as the story goes, he brought the concept back to his homeland but put a local spin on it infusing Turkish spices and seasonings to make it such a beloved Turkish dish. 

I do not know if this legend is true or if my friend was only trying to play a joke on me, but it does make for a really great story, if you ask me.

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There’s nothing like going to the Firin (Turkish for bakery) and to see that they are making Turkish pizza*. Hot and fresh out of the wood-buring oven, the pizza is the perfect food to eat for lunch or dinner. In many ways, it reminds me of my years in New York City, when I would go and grab a slice from Joe’s Pizza, and stand outside or grab a seat at the counter and eat my slice.

Needless to say, no matter where I am in the world, I make friends pretty quickly with the bakers and the people who sell food. Lol! And no matter how long I’ve been gone, if they are still there, they remember me, lol! So do yourself a favor, and either go to enjoy a Lahmacun from your favorite place or make this beautiful recipe. Because, who doesn’t like pizza?

Here’s the recipe:

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

For the topping:
  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 c tomato (chopped)
  • 1/4 c sweet red pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 T olive oil
For the dough:
  • 1 cup of flour (+1/2 c more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 1.5 tsp yeast

Preparation:

Place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor (except for the ground beef) and blend it until it forms a smooth mixture. Add in some olive oil if needed and continue blending.

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Then mix in the ground beef with a fork and spatula until it is well incorporated.

Set the mixture aside and roll out the dough.

Pre-heat the oven for 220C/428F.

For a large lahmacun, take half of the dough and roll out into a long, thin, oval piece.

Gently transfer the dough onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Then take about half of the topping and spread it evenly on top of the dough to create a nice thin layer, being sure not to leave too much empty space.

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Bake the lahmacun in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is browned and crispy and the toppings cooked.

Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

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Afiyet Olsun! 

*In some cases, they are making it for a special order, because you can bring them all the ingredients and they will assemble and bake the pizzas for you, but in the heart of the city centers, it is quite common to find them bakers making them for individual sale.

 

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salatasi)

A simple and refreshing salad with lemon juice and olive oil.

Coban” literally means “shepherd” in Turkish. This flavorful salad packed with crisp veggies and a light dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It is absolutely so simple to make and it is the perfect appetizer or even main course. I think you’re going to love this recipe.

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Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Salad (Coban Salad)

  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 cucumbers (chopped)
  • 1/2 white onion (chopped)
  • 1 c fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell) (chopped)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place all of the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice.

Season with salt and pepper.

Stir thoroughly.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

Tender eggs poached to perfection in a bed of creamy garlic yogurt and with a drizzle of olive oil and red pepper flakes.

This dish is such a prime example of the beauty of Turkish cooking. It is true that there are some Turkish dishes that are complex and laborious to prepare but this one is quite the contrary. Perhaps some might argue that poaching the eggs is the hardest part but even this step is not as difficult as you think.

Paired with a Turkish chai, this dish is so satisfying and delicious for breakfast or for any time of day.

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Here’s the recipe*

Çılbır (Poached Eggs w/ Garlic Yogurt)

  • 1 fresh large egg
  • 1/8 c thick yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed into a paste)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • salt (to taste)
  • chopped parsley (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Boil a pot of water and then reduce to a barely a simmer. Add the vinegar and stir.

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic (crushed into a paste by sprinkling salt on top of chopped garlic and using the flat part of a knife to rub against the garlic until it forms a paste) and the yogurt. Season with salt & stir. Place the yogurt on a plate.

To poach the egg: crack the egg in a measuring cup with a handle. Lower the measuring cup into the water and gently drop in the egg. Allow it to cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs.

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This is how the egg looks when it is first dropped into the water.
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After a few minutes of cooking it will start to rise to the surface.

Gently pat the poached egg dry and then place on top of the garlic yogurt. Drizzle over the olive oil and red pepper flakes. Garnish with parsley.

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Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

*Note: this recipe is for one. For more servings, multiply it accordingly.

Homemade Simit: Turkish Bagels (Authentic, Crispy & Delicious)

Crispy on the outside, coated with toasted sesame seeds, but soft on the inside; there is nothing quite like a Simit (Turkish bagel).

There is nothing quite like a fresh-baked Simit (Turkish bagel). You can find them in most Turkish bakeries but also from street carts selling them from just 1 or 2 lira. It is a quick and simple breakfast or snack and one of my favorites.

The art of making a Simit is beautiful. The bread is rolled out into long thin ropes, twisted and then shaped into a circle. Then it is dipped in molasses water and toasted sesame seeds and baked to crispy perfection. Making Simit at home is so much fun and so rewarding especially when you take that first bite. Yum.

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Here’s the recipe:

For the dough:

  • 2 c flour (plus more for dusting & kneading)
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 2/3 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil

For topping the simit:

  • 1 c sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1 T molasses
  • 2 c warm water

Preparation:

To make the dough:

To make the dough, place the flour and salt in a bowl and stir. Then mix together the water and yeast in a separate bowl and add it to the flour mixture.

Stir until well incorporated and then pour onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or piece of plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Meanwhile, place the sesame seeds onto a dry frying pan and toast until fragrant and lightly browned. Then pour them onto a plate and cool.

In a shallow bowl, mix together the molasses and the water.

To roll out the simit:

Method #1 The “Two Rope Method”:

Take 2 golf ball size pieces of dough and roll them out into a thin rope about 8 inches long. Then wrap them over each other and form into a circle.  Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

Method # 2 “The One Rope Method”:

Take 1 piece of dough about twice the size of a golf ball and roll it into a long rope about 16 inches long. Holding it in the air, fold it over and then spin into a twist. Press the ends together (securing with a bit of water if needed) and then roll the circle against the palm of your hand.

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To top and bake the simit:

Pre-heat your oven for 200C/392F.

Take each simit and dip it on both sides into the molasses water and then dip into the toasted sesame seeds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until all of the simit have been coated.

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Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the simit are nicely browned.

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Serve & Enjoy (preferably while they are still warm with a glass of Turkish cay).

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Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

Fluffy scrambled eggs cooked with tender tomatoes, onions, peppers and Turkish spices; A hearty and delicious breakfast meal.

     The first time I tried Menemen was at Turkish breakfast one day at a restaurant. I love egg dishes so I have tasted and cooked my fair share of eggs. Although this dish is so simple, it is also so tasty and packed full of flavor. It will easily become a favorite on your recipe list.

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Here’s the recipe:

Menemen: Turkish Egg Scramble with Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c white onion (diced)
  • 1/4 c sweet green pepper  (diced)
  • 1/2 c tomato (diced)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peppers and tomatoes.

Place the onions and peppers in a frying pan and sauté them until they are tender.

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Then add the tomatoes, oregano, paprika and salt. Stir and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and scramble them together with a fork or whisk.

Pour the eggs on top of the sautéed vegetables and return to the stove*.

 

Scramble everything together until the eggs are cooked through but still tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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*Note: if you are preparing this dish in a Traditional Turkish copper pan, add a little oil to the pan, then add the sautéed vegetables and the eggs. Scramble everything together on the stove & serve in the pan it was cooked in.

 

Omelette with Garlic Yogurt (Cilbir)

A delicious plain omelette cooked to perfection and served on plain yogurt garnished with red pepper flakes.
Cilbir is traditionally made with poached eggs but this alternative is a welcome embrace for a simplier version. But if you prefer, you can prepare this recipe the same way, except poach the eggs instead of preparing an omelette.

The idea of eating plain yogurt with savory food was something I was not 100% on board with. Sometimes I would make chicken salad with yogurt or top my tacos with a dollop of yogurt or place a dollop of yogurt in a bowl of tomato or potato soup. But the yogurt in Turkey is some of the best I’ve ever tried in all of my travels around the world. It’s thick, creamy and rich. So delicious!

So the idea of eating an omlette with yogurt now, is an idea I openly embrace.
Here’s the recipe:
Omelette with Thick Yogurt (Cilbir)
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 T butter
  • 4 c süzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large frying pan, melt the butter.
Meanwhile scramble the eggs and season with salt and pepper.
Place the eggs in the frying pan and prepare the omelette.
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Remove the omelette from the pan and break into smaller pieces.
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Add the crushed garlic to the yogurt and whisk together.
Place the yogurt on a platter and top with the omelette.
Garnish with red pepper flakes.
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Serve immediately and enjoy!
Afiyet Olsun!

Swiss Chard Bulgur Rissoto (Pancarli As)

Tender swiss chard is cooked with peppers, onions, bulgur, tomato paste and bulgur to create this comforting dish. 

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 1 bunch of chard (cleaned and chopped)
  • 1/2 c medium sized bulgur
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 green pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • 1 red pepper (medium sized, sweet or bell)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sauté the ground beef until browned.

Add the olive oil and butter and then stir in the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Sauté until the onions and peppers are tender.

Then add the tomato paste, red pepper paste, salt and pepper.

Add the chard and over with 2 cups of hot water. Simmer for 10 minutes then stir in the bulgur and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

When it’s ready, it will be a thick mixture with little water remaining. Also, it will smell amazing.

Serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

Turkish Style Hummus

Traditional cuisine meets modern with this Mediterranean classic! 

What I appreciate about hummus is that it is just so simple. All you need is a few minimal ingredients and then you have something really special. The tahini is an absolute must! A paste made from ground sesame seeds, tahini compliments the flavor of the chickpeas and creates layers of flavor within the hummus.

Here’s the recipe:

(Hint: you’ll need a good food processor or blender for this recipe)

  • 2/3 c dried chickpeas
  • 1/3 c tahini
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP pine nuts
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Drain, rinse and boil for 2 hours (until the chickpeas are tender).

Drain, rinse and remove the skin from the chickpeas (Note: this is not a necessary step but it creates a smoother hummus).

Pour the chickpeas into a food processor. Add the tahini, crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, stopping the food processor from time to time in order to stir and scrape down the sides.

Once the hummus is smooth, pour onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, toast the pine nuts for 1 minute and then add the butter and melt. Remove from the heat and pour over the hummus.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Red Lentil Soup (Eksili Malhita Çorbasi)

A creamy lentil soup, blended to perfection and topped with mint, it’s so delicious and satisfying without feeling overly full.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s a one pot recipe and the lentils are the star of the show. You literally place the lentils and rice in a large stock pot and simmer them until they are tender and then let an immersion blender do the rest of the hard work.
It’s a classic Turkish soup that’s delightful to compliment any meal or even serve as a meal itself with a fresh garden salad.
Here’s the recipe:
Red Lentil Soup (Eksili Malhita Çorbasi)
  • 2.5 c red lentils
  • 1 c rice
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 T mint
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large stock pot, simmer the lentils, rice and garlic in 2 liters of salted water or broth.
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Once the lentils are tender, use an immersion blender to blend them until they are smooth.
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Then add the tomato paste and lemon juice. Stir well and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
In a separate frying pan melt the butter and olive oil. Once it is simmering, add the mint and red pepper flakes. Then pour it into the soup and stir.
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Serve & Enjoy!
Afiyet Olsun!

Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte)

      Delicious mini meatballs made of ground beef and bulgur nestled in cacikli a thick yogurt sauce with parsley, garlic and spices. 

Here’s the recipe:

Mini Meatballs in a Garlic Yogurt Sauce (Cacikli Arap Köfte)

  • 4 c thick yogurt
  • 2 bunches of parsley (finely diced)
  • 10 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 10 oz ground beef
  • 3 c finely ground bulgur (simit bulgur)
  • 2 onions (finely diced)
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

    Preparation:

    In a large, shallow bowl knead together the beef, bukgur, onions, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Knead for approximately 10 minutes.

    Then roll the meat into balls (about twice as big as a chickpea).
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    Place the mini meatballs in a steamer (or a collander that rests in a pot with a little water underneath and cover with a lid). Steam for about 10 minutes.
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    In a frying pan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Heat until hot and then add the meatballs. Sauté until lightly browned.
    To make the cacikli:
    Meanwhile, place the yogurt in a bowl and whisk it until smooth.
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    Chop the parsley and mince the garlic and add them to the yogurt.
    Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
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    To serve:
    Plate the cacikli on a platter. Then top with the meatballs.
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    Enjoy

Dolangel (Flakey Pastry with Pistachios & Cream)

Flakey, crisp and just sweet enough –dolangel is a must try Turkish dessert! If you like Turkish baklava, then you’ll love this dessert!

It’s the type of dessert that when you take a bite, the flakey pastry bursts in your mouth. Crispy and so light, it’s so delicious.

The yufka (a dough similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry) is what gives it that delicious flaky texture.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 package of yufka (approximately 6 sheets)
  • 3 1/4 c chopped pistachios
  • 3 c sugar
  • 1 L water
  • 1 L milk
  • 1/2 c semolina
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 3/4 c sunflower oil

Preparation:

Combine the semolina and the milk to form a thick paste. Scoop into a pastry bag and set aside.

To prepare the simple syrup: combine the sugar, water and lemon in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until it forms a light syrup. Set aside.

Take 1 piece of yufka. Fold it over to reveal a top, bottom and a double layer in the middle.

Using the pastry bag, pipe about 1-2 TBSP of the creamy milk mixture.

 

Then cover it with 1 TBSP of the chopped pistachios.

Then drizzle over 1 TBSP of oil.

Fold over the top and the bottom. Then twisting the edges, gently shape into a roll and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil.

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Continue until all of the dough or materials are used.

Place the dolangel in the oven to bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Top with the sugar water, serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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Red Lentil Meatless Meatballs (Malhitali Köfte)

A tender, delicious, savory, meat-less version of a meatball backed with bulgur, lentils and veggies.

     Yet again, this is another great köfte (Turkish for “meatball”) recipe. Instead of meat, it’s packed full of bulgur, red lentils, vegetables and spices. They are a flavorful addition to your menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

Here’s the recipe:

(Lentil Meatless Meatballs) Malhitali Köfte

  • 14 oz red lentils
  • 12 oz fine bulgur
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 5 scallions (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 1/4 c olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lentils in a large stock pot with water and salt. Simmer the lentils for 10-15 minutes or until they are tender. 

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Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the bulgur is done (adding a little more water if needed, but the mixture will be very thick).

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In a small frying pan add the butter and olive oil. Once they are hot, add the onions and fry until they are tender. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. 

Transfer the lentils and bulgur mixture to a large shallow bowl. Then add the onions and stir well.

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Transfer to a clean work space and knead the mixture until it’s well combined.

Then add the scallions and parsley and continue kneading for 2-3 minutes.

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Then take gold ball size pieces in your hand and roll into an oval shape. Then using your fingers, shape it to resemble a piece of dough with an imprint of your fingers on one side. NOTE: This is a special technique that takes some practice. Alternatively, you can just roll it into the oval shape.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

Peynirli Künefe

A sweet delicious dessert packed with sweet cheese, pistachios and a crunchy base and top layer! A Mediterranean classic dessert.

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Okay so I’ll admit that way before I started learning about Mediterranean cooking, the idea of cheese in a dessert (besides marscapone) didn’t sound so appetizing to me. It wasn’t until a friend took us out for a couple of rounds of künefe, that I finally wised up to discover just how delicious this combination is.

The cheese that used, is not salty and savory like what you use in pizza or pasta. It’s thick like ricotta in some variations while in others it has the flavor of ricotta with the texture of mozzerella.

Filled generously with pistachios and covered with a sugar syrup it’s actually not too sweet. It’s hits the palate as a perfectly balanced dessert.

At my favorite künefe place, they serve it with clotted cream, fresh fruit and shot glasses of milk. It’s a beautiful thing and worth experiencing at least once in your life. But once you try it, once will never be enough.

Although making künefe is an art, it is possible to make it at home. The biggest challenge may be acquiring the ingredients but once you’ve jumped over that hurdle then the rest will seem like a breeze.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 c kadayıf (made from shredded yufka or phyllo dough. NOTE: buy pre-prepared)
  • 2 c sugar water (equal parts sugar and water, simmered on low heat to form a thick syrup)
  • 2 c unsalted pistachios (shelled & chopped)
  • 3 c Urfa peynir (substitute a moist, crumbly ricotta cheese)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 4 TBSP butter (for greasing the pans)

Preparation:

Grease two 12 inch round shallow pans with 2 TBSP of butter each.

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Fill one of the pans with 3 cups of the kadayif. Press down gently.

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Sprinkle the chopped pistachios evenly over the kadayif.

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Then evenly crumble the cheese on top of the pistachios.

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Cover with the remaining 3 cups of kadayif and press down gently.

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Then drizzle the oil on top.

Cook the künefe over an open flame until it is light brown on the bottom. Remove the künefe from the heat. Using the other pan, cover the künefe and flip into the other pan so that the browned side is facing up.

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Cook until the other side is light brown. Pour over the sugar water and let simmer for a few seconds. Then remove the pan from the heat.

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Serve & enjoy warm with some clotted cream.

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Afiyet Olsun!

Ali Nazik (Roasted Eggplant topped w/ Seasoned Ground Beef)

A creamy, savory and flavorful entree, Ali Nazik is light and delicious. A traditional Turkish dish, it tastes and looks like a work of art.

I have tried many variations of Ali Nazik and I must admit that they were all good in their own unique way. I’ve even created my own recipe for Ali Nazik because I find it to be such a beautiful dish.

Through my Turkish cooking course, I have learned one of several ways to make Ali Naziik. This one is delicious because the ground beef is savory and rich and complimented by the eggplant and yogurt.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 lbs eggplant (the long, thin variety)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium-sized red pepper (sweet or bell diced)
  • 1 medium-sized green pepper (sweet or bell diced)
  • 2 small tomatoes (peeled, de-seeded and diced)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil (or any plain oil)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 16 oz suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven for 375F.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and roast for 45-60 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender.

Peel the eggplant and dice into small pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt until it is smooth.

Using a mortar & pestel (or finely mincing it with a knife) crush the garlic cloves.

Add the garlic to the yogurt and stir until well combined.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and squeeze in the lemon juice.

Stir in the eggplant and set aside.

Peel the tomatoes.

Dice the peppers and tomatoes.

In a small frying pan sauté the ground beef until browned.

Add the olive oil and sunflower oil and continue to cook the beef.

Add the diced red and green peppers and cook until tender.

Then add the peeled and chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and season with salt and pepper (to taste). Sauté everything together for another 5 minutes.

Slightly warm the eggplant and yogurt mixture and then pour it onto a large platter.

Pour the beef mixture over the center of the eggplant and yogurt.

Serve and enjoy.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

Savory and flavorful, this soup packs a punch. Creamy and thick, it’s packed with meat, chickpeas, vegetables and saffron.

Here’s the recipe:

Turkish Green Bean & Yogurt Soup

  • 500g stew beef chunks
  • 500g green beans (blanched)
  • 1400g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 scallions (white parts only)
  • 1 1/2 c chickpeas (canned & drained or pre-boiled)
  • 1 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, boil the beef with salt and pepper and 2 liters of water for 15 minutes.

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Add the chickpeas and continue to boil for 10 minutes. 20180112_094655

Then add the green beans, scallions and saffron and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

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In a bowl, whisk the yogurt and the egg until smooth. Transfer to a sauce pot and warm the yogurt mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add a few ladles of the soup into the yogurt, stirring constantly (to temper the yogurt). Then pour the entire yogurt mixture into the soup, stirring constantly.

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Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

Stuffed Zucchini with Saffron & Pistachios (Kuzu Icli Kabak Dolmasi)

The perfect balance of a savory ground beef filling with aromatic spices, pistachios and almonds.

In Turkish cooking, I’ve been learning about the myriad of different variations on stuffed vegetables. There are many variations. This is already the third variation of stuffed zucchini and it tastes completely different than the last recipe I learned.

The ground beef is seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, salt and pepper. Then pistachios and almonds are added to create a unique and delicious texture to the overall dish.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 25 zucchini
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 1/2 c white rice
  • 3 TBSP pistachios
  • 2 TBSP almonds
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 c sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Clean the zucchini and cut into thirds. Core the inner part of the zucchini and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with sunflower oil. Once hot, fry the zucchini in batches until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place them on a cooling rack.

Rinse and drain the rice. Set it aside for later.

In a small frying pan, sauté the ground beef in 2 TBSP of olive oil.  Add the rice and stir.

Then add the cinnamon, saffron, salt, pepper, pistachios and almonds and stir for 2-3 minutes more until well incorporated.

Remove from the heat.

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Using a tablespoon, fill the zucchini until it’s two-thirds of the way full. Press the top together and place in a large stock pot.

Cover the zucchini with a large ceramic dish (to weigh them down in the pot) and add about 2-3 cups of hot water.

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Cover and cook on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Turkish Abugannuş

Lusciously creamy, thick and with a hint of garlic, this is a beautiful and simple preparation of the classic Babaganoush.

It’s true. I’ve tried so many different variations of Babaganoush that they all tasted like a completely different dish. They all had eggplant but everything else about them was very different. Some had tomatoes, while others used yogurt and still others were garlicky, while others were lemony. I’ve come to terms with the fact that Babaganoush is one of those dishes that will vary from country to country and from person to person. Even the spelling and pronunciation of it varies so of course the recipe itself does too.

Now that I’ve come to terms with this reality, lol! I found extremely freedom in creating my own Babaganoush recipe. It’s called Simply Delicious Roasted Babagannoush. It’s really good and really simple! A win, win situation! Lol!

Thanks to my Turkish cooking course, I learned a new way to make Babagannoush. I find a beauty in the simplicity of this recipe that let’s the eggplant shine as the star of the dish. It’s simple and doesn’t try to be anything else.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 medium eggplant (about 6 inches long)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 800 g suzme yogurt (or any thick plain yogurt)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven on 200C

On a large sheet pan, coat the eggplant with olive oil and roast the eggplant for 45-60 minutes until soft.

Allow the eggplant to cool for 5-10 minutes and then peel off the skin of the eggplant and discard.

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Dice the flesh of the eggplant into bitesize pieces and add to a bowl.

Add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, yogurt and salt and pepper (to taste).

Mix until well combined.

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Serve and enjoy!

Note: This dish is delicious warm or cold. Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Savory Bulgur with Caramelized Onions (Sade Simit Asi)

 

Creamy and smooth bulgur, packed with flavor and topped with caramelized onions.

If you love polenta, then you will love this bulgur dish. The bulgur is simmered in a delicious tomato broth until it is tender and creamy. Then it topped with caramelized onions and ready to enjoy!

Here’s the recipe:

Sade Simit Asi

  • 3.5 c simit bulgur (finely ground bulgur)
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Sauté the onion in the olive oil and sunflower oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes and set aside.
Then in a large stock pot, add the tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well.
Then pour in the bulgur and 6-7 cups of hot water.
Stir until well combined and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more water as needed.
To serve, plate the cooked bulgur and top with the onions.
Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Turkish Meat Pie (Sini Köfte)

Flavorful ground beef, pistachios, walnuts and almonds are layered between finely ground bulgur to make a savory meat pie.
Here’s the recipe:
Sini Köfte
  • 1.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 c finely ground bulgur
  • 4 onions (finely diced)
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 T raw pistachios
  • 1 T raw walnuts
  • 1 T raw almonds
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 T butter
  • 4 T tomato paste
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Sauté the ground beef until browned. Then add the onions, pistachios, walnuts, pistachios, olive oil, saffron, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside.
Meanehile, add 1 cup of water to the tomato paste and stir. Pour into the simit and knead together. Divide the mixture in half.
In a large circular pan, layer half of the simit on the bottom. Flatten like a pie crust.
Then add the beef mixture evenly on top.
Then shape the rest of the simit into a flatten circle on a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper(the size of the pan).
Place on top amd press gently.
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Then cut into squares using a sharp knife and dipping it in water with each cut.
Bake in the oven on 375 for 15-20 minutes.
Spritz with water and then bake again for 15-20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
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Afiyet Olsun!

Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

Tender saffron yogurt coated ribs are tenderized and roasted to perfection to top a plate full of rice pilaf. 

     For this recipe, the ribs do most of their cooking in a pressure cooker. Then they are coated with a mixture of yogurt and saffron and roasted until perfection.

Meanwhile, the rice pilaf is prepared and complimented by a few chickpeas to enhance the flavor and texture.

Once the ribs are done, they top the pilaf and create a satisfying and hearty meal.

Here’s the recipe:

Roasted Rib Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Pirinc Pilav)

  • 3 lbs beef ribs
  • 3 c rice
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 T thick yogurt
  • 3/4 c chickpeas
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the ribs in a pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook for 60-90 minutes.
In a small bowl mix together the yogurt and the saffron.
Remove the ribs from the pressure cooker. Drain the liquid and reserve.
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Coat the ribs with the saffron yogurt and place in a 375 F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Place 6-7 cups of the reserved broth in a large stock pot.
Add the rice, chickpeas, salt and pepper. Stir & cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender.
To serve, plate the pilaf and top with the ribs.
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Afiyet Olsun!

Beef & Onion Stew (Salçali Soğan Aşı)

Tender chunks of stew beef are sautéed to perfection and then braised with pearl onions and quince until tender and succulent.

Growing up, beef stew was a staple in my house, especially during the winter time. It was a hearty stew, paired with rice and perfect for warming up on a cold day.

This beef and onion stew is a blend of savory and sweet with tender pieces of beef and quince that make this hearty meal. It’s packed with flavor! Although it is very different from the beef stew I grew up eating, I appreciate and welcome this new flavor.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 ounces stew beef chunks
  • 20-25 small red onions or pearl onions (or a small variety of onions) (peeled)
  • 2 quince (cored & chopped)
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3/4 c tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, sauté the stew beef until it is browned. Add the butter and olive oil and stir.

Then add the onions and toss the pot gently in order to make sure the onions are well coated.

Then add the quince, red pepper paste, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and enough water to cover the stew (approximately 2 liters)

Simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the beef and quince are tender.

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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Chicken Turkish Pizza (Tavuklu Lahmacun)

A different spin on the traditional Turkish pizza. Instead of ground beef, ground chicken is used in this variation of a classic recipe.

Thin, crispy crust topped with a thin layer of the toppings, lahmacun, or Turkish pizza, is a one of a kind dish. Served with fresh parsley, lemon and sometimes a myriad of other vegetables (e.g. pickled red cabbage, raw turnips and tomato salad), the pizza is topped with fresh veggies (if you wish) and then rolled up before enjoyed!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 lbs ground or finely minced boneless chicken
  • 4 scallions (chopped)
  • 2 bunches of parsley (chopped)
  • 5 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet or bell)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Chop all of the ingredients except for the chicken and place it in a bowl.

Add the chicken and stir until well incorporated.

NOTE: If you live in Turkey or a country that has wonderful FIRINS (bakers who will prepare the lahmacun for you as long as you bring them all the ingredients), then you will place all the ingredients in a pan, bring it to the Firin and voila! You’ll have dozens of lahmacun, hot and fresh!

If you don’t have a local FIRIN, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Chop all of the ingredients into large chunks. Place it in a food processor and blend it all together until everything is finely chopped (almost like a thick paste, but not quite that far).

Using the bread dough recipe below, prepare your lahmacun.

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes,

Pour the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into golf ball size pieces. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece until VERY thin. NOTE: Lahmacun is a very thin crust Turkish pizza. It needs to be very thin but still able to hold onto the topping.

Next, take 2-3 TBSP of the mixture and spread it onto the the dough. It should form a nice and thin layer where you barely see the dough.

Transfer the lahmacun to a really hot baking sheet or pizza stone and bake on 250C/500F  (or as hot as your oven can get) for 3-5 minutes. NOTE: Watch it closely because it will bake fast and it would be a shame for your hard work to go up in flames. I mean literally, it can burn.

Then remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!

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This recipe was learned from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Lamb Chop & Quince Stew (Ayvali Taraklik Tavasi)

Savory and a bit sweet, this dish will make you say Mmmmm.

      If you’ve ever had pork chops and apple sauce, then this recipe is a comparable dish. Packed with flavor, the lamb chops are slow roasted in the oven and then added to a savory tomato and red pepper spiced broth to simmer until finally the quince slices are added and cooked just until they are tender and a bit sweet.

Perfect for a cold day outside, this stew is satisfying and a comforting Turkish classic meal.

Here’s the recipe:

1 kilo of small lamb chops (about 4 inches long)

  • 2 medium white onions (diced)
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 2 quinces (cored and sliced into sixths)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C (375 F).

Place the lamb chops on a baking sheet in one even layer. Coat with olive oil and place in the oven until browned (approximately 30 to 45 minutes).

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While the lamb chops are roasting, melt the butter in a large stock pot and add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.

Sprinkle in the flour and sugar and stir.

Remove the chops from the oven and add to the pot. Fill the pot with boiling water (just enough to completly cover the chops) and simmer for 20 minutes.

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Stir in the red pepper paste, crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

Add the quince slices and simmer for another 15 minutes until the quince are soft but not soggy.

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

 

Mini Turkish Meatballs (Arap Köftesi)

A delicious mini meatball that’s packed with so much more than just meat. Served with yogurt and a spice oil drizzle, it’s a beautiful and delicious creation!

Essentially, I would consider this dish a meatball. Although the ratio of bulgur to meat is 2 to 1 so maybe it’s more like a bulgur & meatball but regardless, it’s delicious.

While it is a bit of a labor of love to prepare them, the lovely end product is what makes it all worth it. It’s a good dish to make with friends or with kids because it requires a lot of kneading and rolling into the small balls.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 6 oz ground beef
  • 1.5 c simit bulgur (a fine, small bulgur variety)
  • 1 small red onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 TBSP dried tarragon (crushed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper flakes (non-spicey)
  • 6 1/2 cups of yogurt
  • 0.5 c water
  • 0.5 c sunflower oil (or any neutral oil: vegetable, canola, etc.)
  • 0.25 c olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large shallow bowl mix together the ground beef, bulgur, red onion, garlic, tarragon, salt and pepper. Knead together for 5 to 10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed.

Then add the finely chopped parsley. Continue kneading for 5-10 minutes, adding the water tablespoon by tablespoon as needed until the consistency is moist enough to roll into balls without falling apart or sticking to your hands.

Taking piece by piece of the mixture, roll it into small 1 inch balls.

Once all of the balls are made, pile them into a steamer basket and place on the stove to steam for about 10 minutes.

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Remove from the stove and set aside for 10 minutes.

Fill a frying pan with the sunflower oil and olive oil. Once it is hot, add the meatballs and fry until lightly browned.

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Stir in the red pepper flakes and remove the pan from the heat.

To serve, plate 1 TBSP of yogurt on each plate and then top with several meatballs and a light drizzle of the red pepper oil.

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Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

 

 

Fried Eggs & Olives (Zeytin Mihlasi)

Zeytin Mihlasi is a delicious Turkish dish that predominately consists of olives and eggs. The ratio of olives to eggs is at least 2 to 1 so if you love olives, then you’ll love this dish. It’s like an olive omelette amplified.

Here’s the recipe:

Fried Eggs & Olives (Zeytin Mihlasi)

  • 2.5 c green olives (pitted & roughly chopped)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 4 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a medium frying pan, add the butter, olive oil and onions. Sautee the onions until they are tender.

Then add the olives, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until the paste is well incorporated with the olives.

Then crack 5 eggs directly on top of the olive mixture in different corners of the pan like a clock. Cover with a lid and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the eggs are done. NOTE: “Done” depends on whether you like your eggs runny or fully cooked so cook them according to your personal preference.

Serve immediately & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website.

Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)

Savory and sweet — in the best possible way, this rice pilaf is packed with crunchy pine nuts and almonds and filled with tender pieces of dried currants.
Iç Pilav, is literally translated as “Inner Rice.” It is the perfect combination of blending sweet and savory flavors into one dish. The cinnamon and the all spice add the perfect blend of spices to this dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Rice Pilaf with Almonds, Pine Nuts and Dried Currants (Iç Pilav)
  • 3 c rice (soaked in water, drained & rinsed)
  • 1/2 c blanched almonds
  • 1/2 c pine nuts
  • 2 TBSP dried currants (rehydrated in water)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp all spice
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
In a large stock pot, add the butter and oil.
Pour in the almonds and pine nuts and toast them for 1 minute. Then add the rice and toast for another 2-3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and then add the currants.
Add 6 cups of hot water and stir. Simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Sprinkle in the cinnamon and all spice. Stir until well incorporated. Put the lid back on the rice and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
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Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Braised Chard (Pancar Kavurmasi)

This dish is simple but delicious. With minimal effort and ingredients, it creates a beautiful dish. The chard is the star of this recipe and paired with the thick creamy yogurt and bread, it makes this dish a complete meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (sweet or bell, diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
 
Preparation:
Clean and thinly slice the chard.
Place the chard in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Then remove from the water, drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, squeeze out the excess water.
In a large stock pot, melt the butter and add the oil. Add the onion and red pepper and sauté until they are tender.
Then add the tomato paste and chard. Stir until well combined.
Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Cook for another 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
To serve, plate the chard on a serving dish and place the yogurt around the edges of the dish.
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Enjoy!
Afiyet Olsun

Lamb Chop Soup (Ormon)

It all starts with roasted lamb chops. They’re browned to perfection and then added to a stock pot to create a delicious soup.

Here’s the recipe:

  •  lamb chops
  • 2 TBSP ground beef
  • 6.5 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c chickpeas (frozen)
  • 1 white onion (diced)
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place the lambs chops on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast for 1 hour or until browned. Remove from oven and set aside.

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In a large stock pot, cook the ground beef until browned. Add 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and then add the onions and cook until translucent. Then add the chickpeas.

Add the chops to the pot then add enough water to cover them (approximately 2 liters).

Season with 1 tsp of saffron, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on medium low heat for about 30 minutes.

In another saucepan, whisk together the yogurt with 1 egg. Warm the yogurt mixture over low heat until slightly warm but not hot. Pour the yogurt into the soup and stir.

In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 2 TBSP of sunflower oil and another tsp of saffron and add it into the soup.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Halva (Peynirli Un Helvasi)

Halva is a sweet dessert found throughout Central Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and many other parts of the world. There are a few variations of Halva including several variations of, a tahini (sesame seed paste) halva and a flour halva.
Nowadays, it’s easily found in many stores throughout the world. But, making this confectionary at home is also a reasonable possibility.  This simple recipe is for a flour based halva. The process is similar to making a roux, béchamel or a gravy except that it is indeed of course, sweet. This variation of the flour halva includes an unsalted cheese that is barley melted through the halva. The cheese creates a flavorful and unique twist on the classic dessert.
Here’s the recipe:
Flour Halva with Cheese
  • 1 c flour
  • 1/2 c sunflower oil
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 c milk
  • 3/4 c Antep peynir (grated) (substitute: unsalted mozerella)
  • 1 TBSP butter
Preparation:
Add the oil to a large stock pot. Using a whisk, gradually add the flour while whisking constantly until smooth.
Then add the sugar slowly, while constantly whisking.
Continue whisking and slowly add the milk until well incorporated.
Add the butter and then with a spatula fold in the grated cheese. As soon as the cheese starts to melt, remove from the heat.
Serve immediately & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Lamb & Rice Pilaf (Kapamali Firik Pilav)

A savory rice and bulgur pilaf packed with tender & succulent pieces of lamb.

Under pressure. Why is it that some of the most beautiful things in life are created under pressure. Just think about it:

Diamonds are formed… under pressure

Pearls are formed…under pressure

Kapamali Et (Lamb shanks) for this pilaf recipe is cooked…under pressure

It’s true, the lamb goes into a pressure cooker for about an hour until it is tender and delicious. Then it’s coated with a saffron yogurt and baked until the skin is brown and crispy. Then the meat pulls off the bone and is added in large chunks to the bulgur and rice pilaf. One word, YUM.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 kilos of lamb shanks
  • 3 c white rice
  • 1.5 c medium sized bulgur
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the lamb in a pressure cooker and cook for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the yogurt and the saffron and set aside.

Remove the lamb from the pressure cooker and place on a baking sheet. Spread the saffron yogurt over the top of the lamb.

Place in the oven on 375F until the skin is brown and crisp.

Remove from the oven and let rest.

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Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Pour in the rice and bulgur. Stir for 2-3 minutes to toast, then pour in about 8-9 cups of hot water.

Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the rice and bulgur are tender.

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Pour the rice and bulgur pilaf onto a serving plate.

Shred the lamb into small pieces and place on top of the rice and bulgur pilaf.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

 

Savory Turkish Turnovers (Pirincli Börek)

Flakey, crispy and backed with ground beef and saffron rice, these little turnovers are a must try recipe!

One of the many things that I love about börek is that there are so many ways to prepare them. Börek, essentially meaning pastry, is applied to a myriad of delicious turkish pastries, both savory and sweet.

This börek recipe uses yufka, similar to phyllo dough or puff pastry, and it’s packed with ground beef and saffron rice.

Making and tasting these delicious börek, I was immediately reminded of the stories I heard about my grandmothers making “fried pies.” This börek recipe is what I would call a savory fried pie. It’s absolutely delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 6 oz white rice
  • 3.5 c flour
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil plus 3-4 c more for frying
  • 1 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 1-2 c water (for the dough)
  • 1.5 c water (for the rice)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

To make the dough: 

Place the flour in a bowl and make a little well in the middle. Add the yogurt and slowly add the water until the dough is shaggy but not sticky.

Turn the dough over on a floured workspace and knead it for 5-10 minutes until smooth.

Shape it into a ball, place in a bowl and cover with plastic warp.

Let the dough rest for 30-45 minutes.

To make the rice:

Rinse and drain the rice.

In a large stock pot add 2 TBSP of sunflower oil.

Once the oil is hot, add the rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes.

Add the saffron, salt and pepper and stir.

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Cover the rice with 1.5 cups of hot water.

Reduce heat to low, cover the rice with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes.

To make the ground beef:

In a small frying pan, sautee the ground beef until it is browned.

Add the olive oil and then the onions and stir.

Season with salt and pepper (to taste).

Once the rice is done cooking, combine it with the beef mixture and set aside.

To make the börek (turnovers):

Take golf ball size pieces of dough, roll them into a ball and set them on a flour sheet pan.

One by one, roll out each ball until it’s about 5-6 inches in diameter.

Place 1 TBSP of the beef and rice filling in the middle of the dough.

Fold over the dough to create a half circle.

Cut off any excess dough with a pizza cutter or knife.

Crimp the edges with your finger or a fork (similar to when you make a pie crust)

Fry in a large frying pan or a deep fryer until it is browned.

Serve and Enjoy while warm.

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Potato & Tomato Stew (Patates Tavasi)

A savory thick, tomato-based potato stew, Patates Tavasi warms the stomach and the soul.

     I’m not exactly sure if this dish is meant to be a stew, but the way I experienced it (in a bowl, served with rice, served with a spoon), it felt like a thick stew. Regardless, it’s delicious. Stew beef is the basis of the dish and gives a basic flavor element to it. Coupled with the tomato paste, red pepper paste, onions and garlic, it is so full of flavor and so delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 300g stew beef chunks
  • 1 small white onion (diced)
  • 4 small red onions (diced)
  • 10 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 5 medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Sauté the beef chunks in a pan until browned. Then add the butter and keep sautéing.

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Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent.

Add red pepper paste, tomato paste, black pepper and 2 liters of hot water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the cubed potatoes and cook until tender.

Serve & Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun

 

Olive Stuffed Pastry (Sade Zeytin Boregi)

A delicious traditional, Turkish, olive pastry, bursting with flavor.

I love olives and I love bread. So this recipe is delightful for me. The filling created it almost like a simple olive salad. Then it is tenderly baked to make these delicious little pockets.

Here’s the recipe:

Sade Zeytin Boregi

  • 3 c green olives
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 3 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1.5 c chopped walnuts
  • 1 TBSP pomegranate molasses
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Chop the olives and set aside.
In a small frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic with the sunflower oil and olive oil until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
Remove from the heat and add the onion mixture to the olives.
Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the mixture and add the walnuts.
Stir until well combined. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and bring it to the FIRIN.
If you don’t have a FIRIN or local baker to prepare the boregi for you, then follow the bread dough recipe below.

Bread Dough

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 2 tBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 cup of hot (not boiling) water
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Combine the sugar, yeast, and water together in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Allow the yeast to activate by allowing it to set for 10 to 15 minutes.

Then add 2 TBSP olive oil and 1 TBSP salt and whisk together. Slowly add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until well combined.

NOTE: You may not need all of the flour so add it cup by cup to ensure that the dough is not too dry.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Coat a bowl with 1 TBSP of olive oil and place the ball of dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and set it in a warm place. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour. Then punch it down and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes,

Then roll out the dough into a 12 inch long piece. Fill one side with the mixture and then fold over. Crimp the edges together and then bake in a 400F oven for 10-15 minutes or until browned.
Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Turkish Mixed Green Salad (Karışık Kış Salatasi)

A fresh, simple salad that’s perfect to add to any meal. This “mixed salad” is packed with a variety of flavors and textures.

Here’s the recipe:

2 c green cabbage (cut into thin strips or shredded)
2 c red cabbage (cut into thin strips or shredded)
4 tomatoes
2 c romaine lettuce (cut into thin strips or shredded)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 carrots (thinly sliced)
1 green pepper (sweet or bell)
1 red pepper (sweet or bell)
2 lemons (juiced)
3 TBSP olive oil
salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Clean all of the vegetables.

 

Thinly slice the green cabbage, red cabbage and romaine lettuce. Place them in a bowl.
Finely chop the tomatoes and add them to the bowl.
Pick off the leaves of the mint and the parsley and add them to the salad.
De-seed and thinly slice the peppers and add them to the salad.
Peel the carrots and thinly slice them. Add them to the salad and toss everything together.

Squeeze the lemons and mix their juice with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (to taste).


Pour the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad. Toss the salad to thoroughly coat the entire salad with the dressing.

Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Yumartali Pancar Kavurma (Sauted Chard w/ Eggs)

Light, flavorful and delicious — this dish is so simple but so good.

Get your daily dose of greens with this flavorful chard dish. Packed with essential vitamins, nutrients and protein from the eggs, it makes such a delightful lunch or dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 7 oz ground beef
  • 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (finely chopped)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation: 

Sauté the ground beef until browned. Season with salt and then add the olive oil, sunflower oil and chopped onion. Stir until well combined.

Then add the red pepper and cook until it is tender.

In a separate pot, boil some water and add the chard to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes and then remove from the water. Drain, rinse and squeeze the excess water from the chard.

To the beef, peppers and onions, add tomato paste, red pepper paste and the 1 cup of hot water. Then add the chard, stirring frequently as the chard wilts into the mixture.

Season with the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Then crack the eggs into the chard. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

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Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

Simmering Zucchini Dish (Kabak Kavurmasi)

With a savory and rich tomatoey flavor, this dish is beautiful and delicious.
Zucchini is the star of this dish. But for this dish I don’t fry it or bake it or skewer it. Instead it is cubed into small pieces and simmered in a delicious tomatoey broth. The end product makes for a flavorful and delicious dish.
Here’s the recipe:
Kabak Kavurmasi (Zucchini Sautee)
  • 3 lbs zucchini
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers (bell or sweet)
  • 1 red pepper (bell or sweet)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Chop the onions, red pepper and green peppers and set aside.
Peel an chop the tomatoes.
Cut the zucchini into small chunks and mince the garlic.
In a large stock pot, sauté the onions in the sunflower oil and olive oil.
Add the red pepper, green peppers and garlic. Stir and sauté until the vegetables are
tender.
Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Then add the chunks of zucchini. Cover with water, approximately 4-6 cups and stir.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve and Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Turkish Okra Sauté (Bamya Tavasi)

The perfect balance of a savory ground beef filling with aromatic spices, pistachios and almonds.

In Turkish cooking, I’ve been learning about the myriad of different variations on stuffed vegetables. There are many variations. This is already the third variation of stuffed zucchini and it tastes completely different than the last recipe I learned.

The ground beef is seasoned with cinnamon, saffron, salt and pepper. Then pistachios and almonds are added to create a unique and delicious texture to the overall dish.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 25 zucchini
  • 8 oz ground beef
  • 1/2 c white rice
  • 3 TBSP pistachios
  • 2 TBSP almonds
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 c sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Clean the zucchini and cut into thirds. Core the inner part of the zucchini and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan with sunflower oil. Once hot, fry the zucchini in batches until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place them on a cooling rack.

Rinse and drain the rice. Set it aside for later.

In a small frying pan, sauté the ground beef in 2 TBSP of olive oil.  Add the rice and stir.

Then add the cinnamon, saffron, salt, pepper, pistachios and almonds and stir for 2-3 minutes more until well incorporated.

Remove from the heat.

Using a tablespoon, fill the zucchini until it’s two-thirds of the way full. Press the top together and place in a large stock pot.

Cover the zucchini with a large ceramic dish (to weigh them down in the pot) and add about 2-3 cups of hot water.

Cover and cook on medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Havuc Salatasi (Turkish Carrot Salad)

Fresh, flavorful and light, this carrot salad is a pure delight.

Shredded carrots meet yogurt and garlic to form a delicious, light salad. It’s perfect for a warm day or just to balance out a heavy meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 1.5 c suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter oil
  • 3 TBSP walnuts (shelled & diced)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Peel and grate the carrots.

In a large frying pan, add the olive oil. Then add the grated carrots and sauté until they are tender (about 5-7 minutes). Place the carrots in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix together the yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper.

Add the carrots to the yogurt and stir until well combined. Pour the salad onto a platter.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter, then add the walnuts and the red pepper flakes.

Pour the butter mixture over the carrot salad.

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Serve & enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Yapma (Ground Beef & Bulgur Patties)

       A tender, savory, crispy meat and bulgur pattie packed with Turkish spices!

     Yapma (pronounced “yaahp-mah”) is actually Turkish for “making.” It’s the perfect word to describe this dish because in essence it does require a lot of “making” to prepare the dish. Methodical and precise, this Turkish dish was fascinating to learn.

Yapma is essentially a beef and bulgur pattie that is spiced, seasoned and fried until crisp. In some ways, it is similar to a meatball or “kofte” but in others it is completely it’s own unique dish and worthy of it’s name.

The meat is soft and tender since it is grinder and kneaded repeatedly (see photos below of me learning how to knead the meat mixture correctly).

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Although it is an intense process to prepare Yapma, you will surely not regret the end product.

Here’s the recipe:

500 g ground beef

3 c kofte bulgur (small ground bulgur)

1 1/2 c dried bread flakes (different than bread crumbs but you can substitute bread crumbs if needed)

1 medium white onion (minced)

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 TBSP all spice

1 1/2 TBSP cumin

1 1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes (non-spicy variety)

1 1/2 TBSP salt

1 TBSP black pepper

Preparation:

Measure out all of the ingredients (except the bulgur) in a large round serving dish or a big bowl. Mix with your hands until well combined and then incorporate the meat mixture with the bulgur.

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Place the entire mixture through a meat grinder (substitute a food processor if needed) and process until smooth (once or twice).

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Now, it’s time for some serious kneading action. Roll up your sleeves and imagine that you are kneading a batch of bread. It takes some practice, but essentially you want to pull the meat towards you, then push it outwards repeatedly with your wrist and then pull it back towards you. Practice makes perfect so don’t give up!

After about 10-15 minutes of kneading, it’s time to shape the meat into little patties. As explained by the chef, there are two ways of doing this. Firstly, you can do it perfectly by hand or secondly, you can take a small circle cookie cutter and use that to shape the meat. But since we are making “Yapma” and it’s all about the making, give it a try by hand. You’ll be relieved that it’s much easier than the kneading, lol!

How to Shape a Yapma

Take a golf ball size piece of meat.

Roll it into a ball with the palms of your hands.

Flatten it with your palms until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.

Shape and smooth the edges by running the sides of the yapma against the palm of your hand like a little wheel.

Keep making your yapma until all of the meat is used.

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Using a deep fryer or a heavy pot filled with oil, carefully fry the yapma in small batches, being sure to shake them up a bit while they’re cooking to ensure that they don’t stick together.

Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

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Keep frying until all of the yampa are cooked.

Serve hot and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Işkembe Çorbasi (Turkish Tripe Soup)

     This traditional soup is creamy, thick and savory. With chewy bits of tripe and a spicy vinegar topping it is something worth trying.

This soup starts with tripe. Tripe is a common ingredient that I’ve encountered through cooking many types of international cuisines. But still, the texture of tripe is something that I still have not gotten used to. But after experiencing the careful preparation of this soup I was determined to try it. It’s a very traditional soup in Turkey and many other countries and I found it to be very interesting. I took a spoonful and was pleasantly surprised.  The broth is creamy, smooth and thick and compliments the chewy bits of tripe.

If you’re looking to try a little something new, then give this soup a try.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 750 g tripe
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 1 TBSP whole black peppercorns
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil (or any flavorless oil –e.g. vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.)
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)

Preparation:

Rinse & drain the tripe. Boil the tripe for 5-10 minutes, then drain & rinse again.

In a large stockpot boil the tripe again with the sliced lemon and whole black peppercorns for 30-40 minutes.

Drain the tripe, reserving the liquid to use as broth.

Remove the lemon and black peppercorns and chop the tripe into small pieces.

Using an immersion blender, blend together the tripe broth, flour, oil and salt (to taste).

Add the blended liquid back to the stockpot and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently for 10 minutes.

Then add the tripe to the blended liquid. Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, red pepper flakes, black pepper and crushed garlic. This is a topping that will be drizzled on top of each bowl of soup.

To serve the soup, ladle up the soup into bowls and then drizzle the vinegar topping.

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Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Savory Bulgur with Sautéd Ground Beef & Carmelized Onions ( Kiymali Simit Asi)

Similar to the Sade Simit Asi recipe, the main difference between them is that this recipe has caramelized onions and ground beef on top. It’s a little bit more hearty and it’s delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

Kiymali Simit Asi
1/2 lb ground beef
3.5 c simit bulgur (finely ground bulgur)
1 large onion (diced)
1 1/4 c tomato paste
2 TBSP sunflower oil
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP red pepper flakes
salt & pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
Sauté the ground beef and set aside.
In a small frying pan, sauté the onion in the olive oil and sunflower oil for 3-5 minutes. Add 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes and set aside.
Then in a large stock pot, add the tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir well.
Then pour in the bulgur and 6-7 cups of hot water.
Stir until well combined and simmer on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more water as needed.
To serve, plate the cooked bulgur, then top with the onions and then the ground beef.
Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Turkish Borani (Spicy Chard Stew)

A thick, spicy, tomato flavored stew packed with leafy chard and black-eyed peas.

As most people know Borani, it is an Iranian dish with vegetables and yogurt. But there are also some parts of Turkey that also have Borani but it looks completely different. The yogurt is only used as a topping in this version.

For this recipe, the chard is the star of the show. Although there are many flavors that fill the soup, it would not be complete without the leafy chard that melts into the stew as it simmers. It is flavorful and delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 300 g ground beef
  • 1 bunch of chard
  • 5 small red onions (chopped)
  • 2 sweet red peppers (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (sliced) + 10 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 1/2 c frozen black-eyed peas
  • 3 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 c yogurt

Preparation:

Rinse and clean the chard. Then stack the leaves on top of each other (about 4-5 at a time) and roll up like a burrito and slice into thin strips. Set aside.

Sauté the ground beef in a large stock pot.

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Add the onions, red peppers and garlic and sauté until browned.

Then add the tomato paste and 2 liters of boiling water. Stir until well combined.

Stir in the black-eyes peas, red pepper flakes, black pepper and salt (to taste). Bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes.

Then add the chard, stir and place the lid on top.

Allow the stew to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the garlic yogurt by combining the yogurt with the crushed garlic.

Top each bowl of soup with the garlic yogurt.

Serve & Enjoy!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

Anali Kizli Köfte (Stuffed Meatballs)

Large stuffed meatballs and small meatballs steamed and dropped into a tomato and beef broth is a hearty and delicious traditional meal. 

Anali Kizli Köfte, literally translates as Mom & Girl Meatball. Once you see the size of the two different meatballs it makes perfect sense. One is the perfect size for a little girl to make and the other for a mom. I love this name! But it is also known as Ekşili Akıtmalı Ufak Köfte. However you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s delicious.

Rolling out the meatballs is such a fun activity. It’s great to make when you have a group of friends over your house. You can all cook together and then enjoy a delicious meal.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10 oz stew beef chunks
  • 0.25 lb lean ground beef
  • 0.75 lb ground beef (80/20)
  • 3 medium size red onions (finely diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 lbs simit bulgur (the smallest type of bulgur)
  • 0.5 c tomato paste
  • 0.5 c chickpeas (soaked & pre-boiled)
  • 2 TBSP walnuts (shelled and finely diced)
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 3 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1 TBSP dried mint
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, bring to a boil the stew beef chunks, 2 liters of water, salt and pepper. Then add 2 TBSP of tomato paste, 1 diced onion, 2 TBSP red pepper flakes and the chickpeas. Simmer for 45 minutes.

In a separate frying pan, sauté the lean ground beef until browned. Add half of a diced onion, saffron, walnuts, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onions are tender and then transfer to a small bowl.

In a large shallow bowl combine 0.75lb of ground beef, 1.5 onions, garlic, bulgur, 1 TBSP of the red pepper flakes, 1 TBSP tomato paste, salt and pepper.

Knead for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is soft and very well incorporated.

Begin forming the large and small köfte.

For the large köfte: take a golf ball size piece of the mixture. Roll into a ball and then place your index finger in the ball and with the palm of your hand, move in a circular motion to create a little cup shape. Fill with half a TBSP of the sautéed ground beef mixture and then pull the sides over to close the köfte and roll into a ball. Continue until all of the sautéed ground beef mixture is used.

For the small köfte: Take small pieces about the size of a dime or a marble. Roll it into a ball and continue until all of the meat is used.

Using a steamer (or a large pot, filled with water and a large colander that doesn’t touch the water, place the köfte in the steamer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

To the simmering tomato and beef broth add the juice of 2 lemons, the small köfte and stir.

In a small frying pan melt 2 TBSP of butter. Once it is sizzling, add the dried mint and pour it into the soup. Stir gently.

To serve the soup, fill the soup bowls with the broth and then add one of the large köfte into each soup bowl.

Serve and enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

 

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Maş Corba (Mung Bean Soup)

A savory, spicy and hearty soup, Maş Corba is truly a unique experience.

I’ll admit that this is the first time that I’ve ever cooked with dried mung beans. I’ve seen them and heard of them before, but I never actually prepared them…until now.

Maş Corba (pronounced “maah-sh chor-bah”) is a wonderful blend of a classic Turkish soup that doesn’t include yogurt. I love that it includes the beautiful dried peppers and dried tomatoes that are such an essential part of Turkish culture in Gaziantep.

For a cold winter day, nothing beats a hearty soup. Why not try this one out today?

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 cups mung beans
  • 1 cup white rice (rinsed & drained)
  • 5 small onions (diced)
  • 1 long red sweet pepper (diced) (or substitute a small red bell pepper)
  • 5 dried tomatoes (rehydrated in water & drained)
  • 2 dried sweet red peppers (rehydrated in water & drained)
  • 15 dried bird’s eye peppers (rehydrated in water & drained) (optional, if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • 2 TBSP dried mint
  • 1/4 c dried tarragon (crushed with fingers)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

In a large stock pot, boil the mung beans in 1 1/2 to 2 liters of water for 10 minutes.

20180122_091639.jpgStir in the rice and cook on medium heat for another 10 minutes.

Add the onion and red pepper and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Crush the dried tarragon with your fingers and set aside.

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Stir in the rehydrated dried tomatoes, rehydrated sweet red peppers, rehydrated bird’s eye peppers, 1 TBSP dried tarragon and salt & pepper (to taste).

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Simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding more water as needed (cup by cup)

In a small frying pan, melt the butter until it’s sizzling. Then fill a ladle with the remaining tarragon and red pepper flakes and hold it over the soup. Pour the butter into the ladle and let the spices and butter fall into the soup! So beautiful. Stir gently!

Serve and enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

 

 

Ökge (Ötçe) (Turkish Vegetable Fritters)

Crispy, flavorful and light, these vegetable fritters are a delicious snack or accompaniment to any meal!

While preparing this dish in class, I’ll admit that I had no idea what we were making. The vegetables were being chopped and in a separate bowl the eggs were being whisked. But I didn’t connect the dots until spoonfuls of the delicious mixture were carefully dropped into a frying pan of oil.

The first thing that came to my mind were the vegetable pakoras that I learned how to make many years ago when I was taking Indian cooking classes. However, pakoras are normally made with chickpea flour, while the Ökge or Ötçe (I’ve seen it spelled a couple of different ways) were made with all-purpose flour.

One thing is for sure, and that is that these are delicious. They’re the kind of food that you want to eat right out of the fryer until you realize they’re piping hot and you end up inward breathing to try to cool your mouth and chew at the same time, lol!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 bunches of parsley
  • 6 scallions
  • 2 small sweet red peppers (e.g. bell peppers)
  • 2 small sweet green peppers (e.g. bell peppers)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 5 eggs
  •  1 1/2 – 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 TBSP red pepper flakes
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • About 3-4 cups of Oil for frying  (e.g. canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil)

Preparation:

Finely chop the parsley, scallions, tomatoes, red peppers and green peppers. Place in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs with the olive oil.

Pour the egg mixture over the chopped veggies and combine with clean hands or a wooden spoon. Gradually add the flour until it the consistency is still moist but holding together on the spoon.

Heat your oil in a frying pan and add spoonfuls into the oil. Then mash them down and flip to brown on both sides. Once they are browned, remove them from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels or a cooling rack.

Serve and Enjoy!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Kabak Oturtma (Stuffed Zucchini)

Fresh and succulent zucchini stuffed with flavorful ground beef and spices.

If you love stuffed peppers, then you’ll love Kabak Oturtma, or Stuffed Zucchini. The inside of the zucchini is carefully removed, then it is lightly fried and stuffed with a flavorful ground beef that has been thoroughly seasoned with spices, onions, garlic, peppers and tomato paste.

Each zucchini is stuffed and topped with a small piece of tomato like a little red hat on top. It looks beautiful and tastes even better.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 oz ground beef
  • 20 medium zucchini
  • 3 small onions
  • 1 red pepper (sweet/ bell)
  • 1 green pepper (sweet/bell)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 0.5 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 c tomato paste
  • 2 TBSP  red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups sunflower oil (for frying)

Preparation:

Pre-heat the oven for 375F.

Clean and rinse all of the vegetables.

Cut each zucchini into thirds. Then using a spoon or a coring utensil, remove the inside flesh from the zucchini.

In a small frying pan, fry the zucchini in batches until lightly browned. Set aside.

Finely dice the onions, red pepper and green pepper. Mince the garlic and cut the tomatoes into eighths.

In a frying pan,sauté the ground beef until browned. Add the olive oil and then stir in the onions, red pepper, green pepper and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add the 1/4c of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from heat.

Using a spoon, fill each zucchini with the ground beef mixture about three quarters from the top. Add a piece of tomato on top and stack them upright in a baking pan.

Then fill a small stock pot with 2 cups of water, 1 TBSP of tomato paste, 1 TBSP of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste). Simmer until the tomato paste is melted into the water. Pour this liquid over the stuffed zucchini.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes.

Serve & Enjoy!

Afiyet Olsun!

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This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Börek Corbasi (Dumpling Soup)

Delicious little homemade dumplings immersed in a velvety yogurt broth.

Börek Corbasi or dumpling soup starts with the very basic element of making the dumplings. Petite and delicate, the dumplings are as small as a chickpea but with a softer texture that compliments and balances every component of the soup.

Topped with a special mint butter that creates a lovely green mosaic, this soup screams delicious from the very first glance.

Here’s the recipe:

  • Börek dough (see the recipe below)
  • 250 g lean beef chunks
  • 2 medium onions (diced)
  • 1 c chickpeas (canned or boiled)
  • 1400 g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 2 liters of beef broth (or water)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP dried mint

Preparation:

     Börek dough: mix together 3 cups of flour with 1 tsp salt and 1-2 cups of water (added little by little until the dough comes together).

Roll out the dough into thin strips (about 1/4 inch thick).

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Then cut the dough in 1/4 inch pieces and place on a floured baking sheet.

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Continue until there is no more dough.

Sift the flour from the dumplings and then pour the dumplings onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake on 190C or 375F until the dumplings are light brown.

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 Soup Preparation:

In a large stock pot, combine the beef chunks and 1 cup of water. Cook on medium high heat until the water is almost evaporated.

Add olive oil and onions and sauté until translucent.

Add the chickpeas, 2 liters of beef broth and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Then add the dumplings into the soup and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt and egg in a bowl.

Transfer to a sauce pot and whisk until warmed. Add 2-3 ladles of the soup into the yogurt, stirring constantly.

Then pour the yogurt into the soup while stirring and turn off the heat.

In a small frying pan melt the butter until it lightly boils. Add in the dried mint (it should fizzle when you add it. If it does not, wait a little longer until the butter is hotter).

Pour the mint butter into the soup and stir lightly.

Serve & Enjoy!

Alfiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

 

Yoğurtlu Soğan Aşı (Turkish Onion & Yogurt Soup)

Creamy onion soup immersed in beef broth makes for the perfect winter meal.

     I’ve come to learn that yogurt is an essential ingredient in much of Turkish cooking and especially the soup recipes that I’ve been learning lately in my cooking course. Turkish yogurt is one of the best I’ve ever tried! There are so many different types but suzme, is my absolute favorite. It’s thick, creamy and delicious!

Through this course, I’ve come to learn exactly how to temper the yogurt to add it to the soup to keep it from curdling. It’s a beautiful, yet simple technique and worth applying to any recipe that requires cooking with yogurt (I think about a delicious butter chicken or curry chicken recipe).

This Turkish Onion and Yogurt Soup recipe is beautiful and delicious.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 500 g stew beef chunks
  • 1 kilo small red onions (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 medium red onion (sliced)
  • 1 c chickpeas (frozen, canned &drained or soaked overnight)
  • 1 egg
  • 1400g suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt)
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP dried mint

Preparation:

Peel and remove the stems from the onions. Rinse and soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

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In a large stock pot, add the beef chunks, salt and 2 liters of water and boil for 15 minutes.

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Using a cheese cloth lined sieve, drain the beef stock into another pot. Add the beef back to the stock pot and then pour the sifted beef stock back into the pot. (NOTE: this help remove some of the fat that rises to the top during the cooking process).

Add the sliced red onion and chickpeas and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium high heat.

In another large pot, add the kilo of small onions and enough water, just to cover the onions.

Then pour the beef soup mixture over the onions and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt with 1 egg in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium low heat, whisking frequently. After about 5-7 minutes, temper the yogurt by adding 1-2 ladles of the soup while constantly whisking.

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Then pour the yogurt into the soup while stirring constantly.

In a small frying pan, melt the butter. Once it’s sizzling, add the dried mint.

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Pour the butter mint mixture into the soup stirring once or twice.

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Serve and enjoy!

 

Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

Tavuklu Pilav (Tender Chicken Rice Pilaf)

Fluffy and flavorful rice with tender chickpeas and large pieces of flavorful chicken piled on top. It’s so good and such a simple dish.

It it all starts with a whole chicken and a big stock pot. This is a beautiful sight to see. It reminds me of watching my mom do this as a kid. The end product was always delicious. So I’m convinced, that if you start with a whole chicken in a big pot of water, you’re off to a good start. The chicken is boiled in the salted water until it is done and then its slathered with a saffron yogurt and roasted until tender. The chicken alone is worth trying but then when you have the fluffy rice and chickpeas, it’s divine!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 whole chicken (2 kilos)
  • 1.5 c frozen chickpeas
  • 4.5 c white rice
  • 2 TBSP sunflower oil
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (peeled)
  • 2 TBSP suzme yogurt (or any thick yogurt — e.g. Greek yogurt)
  • 0.5 TBSP saffron
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Place the whole chicken in a large stock pot with 2 peeled red onions. Season with salt, cover with water and boil for 1 to 1.5 hours. Note: Skim the fat off the top occasionally during the cooking process.

Soak the rice in a large bowl for 10-15 minutes. Then drain, rinse and drain the rice again. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 TBSP of sunflower oil and saffron. Set aside.

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When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the pot and place on a baking sheet. Drain the broth through a sieve and then put the broth back in a pot.

Rub the yogurt mixture over the chicken (front and back) then place in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the rice.

In a large stock pot, add 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 TBSP of sunflower oil. Add the rice and stir for 2-3 minutes until the rice is toasted. Add the chickpeas and then pour over the chicken broth (approximately 10-12 cups or enough to cover the rice). Season with salt and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy.

Remove the chicken out of the oven and using two forks, shred the chicken off the bones into large pieces.

To serve, place the rice on a large serving dish. Place the large pieces of shredded chicken on top of the rice. Enjoy!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website

 

 

Börek with Antep Peynir & Parsley

A light, crispy, flaky pastry & packed with the perfect blend of Antep peynir and parsley!

     If you love a good savory croissant, then you’ll absolutely love this Börek with Antep Cheese & Parsley! It’s light and delicious and layered with flavor.

Made with Yufka, a thin flaky dough comparable to phyllo dough that comes pre-prepared, it’s a great item to whip up in a hurry in your home kitchen.

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Plus, the fresh flavors of Antep peynir and parsley make this a delicious and flavorful dish!

What is Antep Peynir?

Antep Peynir is a type of cheese produced in the city of Gaziantep in Turkey. It is a dense white cheese traditionally made from sheep or goat milk.

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Antep Peynir

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 package of Yufka (or phyllo dough) torn to pieces
  • 5 TBSP melted butter
  • 5 TBSP water
  • 2 c grated Antep Peynir (or a dense white cheese; mozzarella could work)
  • 1 c minced fresh parsley

Preparation:

Tear the Yufka into pieces, reserving two large pieces.

Mix together the cheese and parsley and set aside.

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In a circular pan, layer the Yufka on the bottom. Sprinkle with 2 TBSP melted butter and 2 TBSP of water.

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Layer the cheese and parsley mixture evenly on top.

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Cover with another layer of Yuka. Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. (Repeat 1 more time)

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Then take the two larger piece of yukfka and place on top. Cut off any hanging edges from the pan.

Then shape the sides of the dough into the pan.

Sprinkle with 1 TBSP melted butter and 1 TBSP of water. And cut it in quarters.

Cook the Börek on an open flame until browned on the bottom.

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Remove from the flame. Carefully cover the Börek with a plate and flip. Arrange the Börek back into the circular dish and return to the open flame.

Cook until browned. Then cut and serve immediately!

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Afiyet Olsun!

This recipe is from the culinary classes at the Gaziantep Mutfak Sanatları Eğitim Merkezi. For more information or to take a class, visit their website