Künefe (a sweet cheesy pastry)

A sweet & cheesy treat covered with crispy kadayif! Künefe is a treat found throughout Turkey & the Middle East.

 

One of my all time favorite Turkish desserts is künefe! It’s something that I enjoyed going out to eat but it is also something I learned to prepare when I attended culinary school in Turkey.

Like pizza, künefe is best enjoyed when it is hot and fresh. The cheesy is melted, the kadayif is crispy & buttery and the simple syrup, referred to as “sherbet,” is still bubbling. Mmmm!

If you’ve never tried it, I think you should find a place asap that sells it and give it a try. Künefe places in Turkey have perfected the art of the service. They specialize in a myriad of different types and make each künefe to order. At your table, they serve some seasonal fruit, kayamak (a sweet clotted cream) and shot glasses filled with milk. All of these items uniquely compliment and enhance the flavor of the künefe.

The beauty of künefe, is that you can make it at home pretty easily. You just need the kadayif, which I have found can be difficult to find in some countries even in the Middle East especially since there are different variations of künefe such as the one in Nablus that uses a finely ground kadayif instead of the shredded kind.

In southern Turkey, I love to visit the kadayif shops. They are small little shops filled with massive machines to make the kadayif. Once it’s made, when you walk in the shop you’ll find piles and piles of it. It looks like a golden wonderland!

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Here’s the recipe:

Peynirli Künefe

  • 4-5 cups of tel kadayif (shredded kadayif)
  • 1/3 c melted butter plus 2 TBSP for greasing the pan
  • 12 oz cheese (I used Hatay Peynir, a special Turkish cheese but you can substitute an unsalted mozerella; it needs to be a neutral cheese that melts well)
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 small lemon wedge (like the size that you put it iced tea)

Essential Tools

  • Künefe pan (Two are better than one, but I used one in my recipe) -Substitute: a 6-8 inch frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Pastry brush
  • large bowl
  • a small plate

Preparation:

Grease your künefe pan (or frying pan) with 1 TBSP of butter.

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In a small saucepan, prepare the sherbet (simple syrup) by combining 1/2 c white sugar with 3/4-1 c of water and the lemon wedge. Gently stir and place over low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You don’t want it to come to a rolling boil, just lightly simmer.

Place the kadayif in a bowl and drizzle over 1/3 cup of melted butter. Toss to evenly coat the kadayif.

Then layer half of the kadayif in the bottom of the künefe pan pressing it down to create an even layer.

Slice the cheese and then layer it evenly on top of the kadayif.

Cover the cheese with the remaining kadayif being sure that no cheese is exposed.

Using a small plate, press it down on top of the künefe to compress it.

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Now, it’s ready to the stove. Note: a gas stove is preferrable because you can have better control over the heat. But if you’re using an electric stove, place the heat on low, be patient and diligently watch your künefe so it doesn’t burn. When it’s ready to flip it should smell like browned butter not burnt butter.

Over a low flame, cook the künefe until golden brown on the bottom. (Note: this takes about 5-6 minutes but you can check it by gently lifting up a corner. If it’s golden brown, then it’s time to flip it.)

When it’s ready to flip, take a large plate (big enough to cover your pan) and place it on top of the künefe. Gently, with oven mitts holding the pan and the plate, flip the künefe to reveal the browned side up.

Then, place the pan back on the stove and using the pastry brush, coat it with the last tablespoon of butter.

Then carefully place the künefe back in the pan by placing the plate over the pan and gently moving it into the pan with a spatula.

Then cook the künefe again until it is golden brown on this side.

Remove from the heat, and place on a  heat proof surface.

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Gently stir the sherbet (simple syrup) again and then ladle it onto the künefe making sure it is fully covered. Note: It might seem decadent to top it with a sugar syrup but really this is the only sugar being used in the entire recipe so it actually has less sugar than my average cake recipe.

Serve & Enjoy immediately because it is sooooo delicious.

And of course, Afiyet Olsun Arkadaş!

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©All Rights Reserved

All photos & text by EE Winkler

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!

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

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!

Gavurdağı Salad (A Traditional Turkish Salad)

A fresh & delicious Turkish salad with the perfect balance of savory and sweet with an olive oil and pomegranate molasses dressing.

      This salad was love at first bite. One of the beautiful things about Turkish food is the vibrant and fresh ingredients that are used in every facet of traditional cooking.

This salad is so fresh, flavorful and delicious. Frequently it is served as an appetizer or to compliment a main dish but I eat it as a main dish because I love it so much.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and discover for yourself why it is a favorite of mine.

Here’s the recipe:

Gavurdağı Salad

  • 1 large tomato (diced)
  • 1 large cucumber (diced)
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
  • 10 walnuts (finely chopped)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T pomegranate molasses*
  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Preparation:

Combine all of the vegetables together in a bowl.

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Drizzle over the olive oil and pomegranate molasses.

Season with salt and pepper and add half of the chopped walnuts.

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Toss the salad thoroughly.

Garnish with the remaining chopped walnuts.

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Serve & Enjoy!

*Searching for Pomegranate Molasses??? If you can’t find it at your local market, then you can either make your own (just combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a 2 to 1 ratio) or substitute a fruity vinaigrette. But pomegranate molasses is so, so good! One taste and your salads will never be the same without it. Trust me 😉

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!