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Fascinating Istanbul

Our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman, Jordan; A Very Special Trip

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Making Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with participants in Amman, Jordan

Merhaba All,

I have just returned from Amman, Jordan, where we had our 3 day Turkish cookery course; it was a very special trip from the start to beginning and I wanted share some highlights here with you.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

JA University students helping out at our Turkish cookery course.

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

Preparing for our Turkish cookery course in Jordan, love the fresh produce

My huge thanks first of all to dear Mrs Suhair Kilani and Panthera Jordan for organising our Turkish Cookery Course in Amman; Mrs Kilani has done so much for spreading the word on Turkish cuisine and make our course happen 2nd time in Jordan, my heartfelt thanks to her. It was very special to return to JA University to teach and I love being with the students there. They have been very enthusiastic and hard working; always a very happy feeling being inspired by them and be able to inspire. I was very touched by all the kindness and generous hospitality of our Jordanian friends , it really has been a very special trip.

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association Opening

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbesi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

With dear Suhair Kilani and Manar Bilbeisi at the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association

I had the honor to be the guest speaker at the opening of the new premises of the Turkish Jordanian Friendship Association. It was an honor to be able to meet Turkish food lovers and have a chance to talk about Turkish cuisine. I have been so touched by dear Jordanians’ love and interest for Turkish cuisine and Turkey.

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Potato and bulgur patties at our course in Jordan, it was a huge hit!

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkich cookery course

Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with spinach and cheese, another very popular dish from our Turkish cookery course

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

Zeytinyagli Sarma, Stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice from our class, big hit

We had over 14 classic Turkish recipes we made during our Turkish cookery course. It was wonderful to see the keen interest from the participants and their enjoyment; some of the highlights have been Potato and bulgur rolls with pomegranate molasses, stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice,  Gozleme, Anatolian flat breads with cheese and spinach and many more.

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Islim Kebabi, eggplant slices wrapped around marinated chicken

Making Sekerpare with the participants

Making Sekerpare with the participants

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Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts from our class, delicious and healthy

We also made other classics such as Iskender Kebab, Stuffed peppers and tomatoes, Dolma, this delightful, gluten-free Islim Kebabi, marinated chicken wrapped around eggplant slices,  Manti, Turkish dumplings and many more. Desserts we made included Sekerpare, Semolina cookies in syrup, Cezerye, caramalised carrot paste with walnuts, Semolina Halva and the very special Tavuk Gogsu; Ottoman milk pudding with finely shredded chicken. I will share the recipe of this unusual but delicious dessert in a separate post.

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our visit to the Turkish Embassy in Amman

Our Turkish cookery course in Amman has been very generously supported by the Turkish Embassy in Amman; it was a great honor to be able to visit our Turkish Ambassador, Mr Onal, to give our thanks for their support. Also very humbled by his kind words for our contribution to Turkish cuisine, we hope to organise many more of these courses in the near future.

A delightful pomegranate tree at TIKA office in Amman

A delightful pomegranate tree at the TIKA office in Amman

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

Turkish tea, cay, very kindly offered at the TIKA office

More kindness and hospitality followed, we felt home at the wonderful TIKA office in Amman and seeing their garden, I was transported to my grandmother’s 450 year old stone home in  old Antakya. She used to have pomegranate, fig and walnut trees in her garden and we would wake up with the doves singing, seeing these beautiful trees and hearing the doves were a very magical reminiscence.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

TV interview during our Turkish cookery course in Amman.

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Giving certificates to the participants of our Turkish cookery course

Last day of our Turkish cookery course was filmed and I was interviewed on Turkish cuisine and its perception in Amman, to be aired on national TV. We also made it to Jordanian Times apparently! So good to see all this interest for Turkish cuisine. Another highlight was giving certificates to the participants of our 3 day Turkish cookery course, they have been all so enthusiastic and wonderful.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

Turkish coffee, enjoyed by everyone at our Turkish cookery course.

We made everyone Turkish coffee at the end; many thanks to Ozerlat Coffee for providing our Turkish coffee, everyone greatly enjoyed the aromatic taste and the traditions, rituals behind this special drink, it really is more than a drink for us.

Our Turkish Cookery Course in Jordan has been a very special trip from start to the end, my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their warm hospitality, can’t wait to come back again!

Brief but very Special Stop in Istanbul

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Hello from Istanbul; a very precious stop at the Bosphorus

Icing on the cake of this trip has been a brief but very special stop in Istanbul afterwards; the city I adore. As soon as I landed, I was by the Bosphorus in Bebek, a very special, memorable moment!

Dear Claudia Turgut's photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Dear Claudia Turgut’s photo exhibition at PositivIST, Arnavutkoy, Istanbul

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Mum, my lovely sister Oznur and me together, a very precious moment

Dear friend and ex-fellow blogger, owner of the wonderful A Seasonal Cook in Turkey blog Claudia Turgut has now a wonderful new passion, photography. She and some other photographers opened this lovely photo exhibition called PositivIST, sharing Istanbul they love through their photographs. Thanks to my lovely sister, we managed to make it to the Exhibition and met lovely Claudia. The exhibition continues until October 13th, located in Arnavutkoy Istanbul and highly recommended; gorgeous photos of Istanbul from these wonderful artists.

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Fascinating Bosphorus and Istanbul

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

Glass of Cay by the Bosphorus, heavenly

 Time to say farewell to this fascinating city, Istanbul, until next time; it was a huge dose of home, seeing loved ones being at home, treasured every minute.

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Turkish Mezze Feast to Recreate at Home

Merhaba All,

I was back home, Istanbul, recently and as always it felt so good. As I get older, I find every opportunity to reconnect with my homeland is precious; seeing family and friends and soaking up the fascinating Istanbul.

Food of course, took the central stage and we gathered with family and friends over Turkish breakfast, sipping our Turkish coffee mid morning with my mother and my sister, and nice long dinners indulging in the delicious Turkish cuisine, especially the mezze feast.

Scrumptious Turkish mezze feast in Istanbul

I love our mezzes and I can just live on them for my dinner happily. Beautifully flavored with olive oil, lemon juice, spices, pomegranate molasses and nuts, they are not only delicious but very wholesome and easy to make. Below are some of my favorite mezzes; they are refreshing, delicious and you would be surprised to see how easy they are. I hope they inspire you to recreate some scrumptious mezzes at home.

Kisir; Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate molasses) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce, full of antioxidants.

Kisir, Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

Kisir, Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with Pomegranate Molasses

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! Here’s my Kisir recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Patlicanli Eksileme; Smoked eggplant salad with vegetables, parsley and dried mint

Patlicanli Eksileme, Smoked eggplant salad with vegetables, parsley and dried mint.

Patlicanli Eksileme, Smoked eggplant salad with vegetables, parsley and dried mint.

This is a wonderful, refreshing salad from southern Turkey, Antakya, and one of my favorites, featuring Turkey’s beloved eggplant, aubergine or “patlican”. Traditionally, the eggplant here is cooked over an open fire, which gives a delicious, smoky flavor. This dish can be served as part of a “mezze” – appetizer- or can accompany grilled meats. The dried mint really adds a wonderful flavor to this salad, most refreshing.

Lambs lettuce salad with garlic yoghurt; Yogurtlu semizotu salatasi

Lambs lettuce salad with garlic yoghurt; Yogurtlu semizotu salatasi

Lambs lettuce salad with garlic yoghurt; Yogurtlu semizotu salatasi

This lovely, refreshing salad is very easy and quick to make and makes a wonderful appetizer, meze or a side dish served with grilled meats, poultry and pasta. At home in the restaurants, this salad is served as part of a meze spread with warm pita bread, lovely feta cheese, hummus and olives. This combination also makes a wonderful and healthy lunch alternative. Watercress can replace the lamb lettuce well.

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat filling

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, or (Sam Orugu as they are also referred) the baked oval bulgur balls with delicious ground meat and walnuts filling, is a very popular dish at my hometown, Antakya (Antioch). It is a very special mezze that turns up at my mother’s table at every festive event and family gatherings. Antakya’s Oruk is a version of the delicious Kibbeh, which is considered to be the national dish of Lebanon. If you are an oruk, icli kofte or kibbeh fan, I hope you would give it a go and make these delicious treats at home. Yes, it does take a bit of a time & effort, but it is totally worth it; a very rewarding, satisfying experience and makes any day special. The leftovers also freeze beautifully.

Home made Turkish round flat bread, Pide Ekmek

Home made Turkish flat bread, Pide Ekmek

Home made Turkish flat bread, Pide Ekmek

Bread, ekmek is a major staple in Turkish cuisine and appears generously at breakfast, lunch and dinner and no mezze is complete without flat breads. Pide bread, Turkish flat bread is easy to cook at home; this version of pide has a crispy crust but soft in texture, great to serve with mezzes. Here’s my Pide bread recipe, hope you enjoy it.

I do hope these delicious mezzes inspire you to enjoy with family and friends, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

Ortakoy, Istanbul

Ortakoy, Istanbul

 

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Delights and Street food from Turkey and how to make them at home

Wholesome, delicious Turkish breakfast, my favorite meal of the day

Wholesome, delicious Turkish breakfast, my favorite meal of the day

Merhaba and greetings from Turkey; it has been wonderful to be back home, catching up with family, friends and enjoying this fascinating land. I wanted to share with you some photos from our trip with a special highlight on Turkish street food and breakfast we have been enjoying. I hope it inspires and you can give it a go at this delici0us, wholesome recipes. I embraced Turkish breakfast as soon as we arrived Istanbul. Eggs done different ways, Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings, flavorful olives, Turkish white cheese, specialty white cheese with herbs, Van’s Otlu Peynir, ripe juicy sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and savory pastry are all a part of our wonderful Turkish breakfast. This plate is from the wonderful Van Kahvalti Evi in Cihangir, Istanbul. The herbed cheese, Otlu Peynir is a special favorite. Here’s some ideas for you to recreate your own Turkish breakfast.

Cobbled streets of Cukurcuma antique market in Cihangir, Istanbul

Cobbled streets of Cukurcuma antique market in Cihangir, Istanbul

A gorgeous antique door at Cukurcuma market, how I wished to take it back home

A gorgeous antique door at Cukurcuma market, how I wished to take it back home

I love Cihangir area in Istanbul and thanks to dear Senior Dogs Abroad, I made a visit to the Cukurcuma antique and flea market to wander amongst beautiful old, antique furnishings; plates, cutlery being a special focus, I fell in love with this wonderful, ancient door, how I wished to take it back home.

A heavenly tray of Baklava in Istanbul

A heavenly tray of Baklava in Istanbul

This heavenly tray of baklava was the next thing attracted my attention. The real thing is much lighter and flaky than its versions abroad, hope you can enjoy baklava in Turkey. You can also make baklava at home; here’s my home made baklava with walnuts recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Full moon in Istanbul, by the Bosphorus

Full moon in Istanbul, by the Bosphorus

Delicious mezzes and company by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Delicious mezzes and company by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

We were lucky to enjoy a beautiful full moon by the Bosphorus. We celebrated dear Mehmet’s, my brother-in-law’s birthday over delicious Turkish mezzes.

Wonderful to be back to Bodrum

Wonderful to be back to Bodrum

Freshly picked vegetables at the farmers market in Bodrum, Turkey

Freshly picked vegetables at the farmers market in Bodrum, Turkey

Cokelek Salata; crumbled white cheese or feta salad, flavored with cumin, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Cokelek Salata; crumbled white cheese or feta salad, flavored with cumin, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Turkish tea, cay - taste even more delicious by the sea side in Bodrum

Turkish tea, cay – taste even more delicious by the sea side in Bodrum

And now back to Bodrum; my parents have a time share home here that we and children long to come back. Life evolves around simple pleasures; an early morning swim, followed by a leisurely, long Turkish breakfast. Dad and the children pick up the fresh produce – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers from Gulsum Baci’s garden and we make a lovely Cokelek Salata; crumbled feta salad with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, flavored with cumin and red pepper flakes. I am also in charge of making the Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, peppers and cheese. Sitting at the terrace, we all tuck in with flavorful, olives, more cheese and glasses of cay, Turkish tea to wash it all with the family – my idea of heaven, my favorite meal of the day.

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastries with cheese and parsley

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and herbs

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and herbs

Simit; Sesame encrusted bread rings

Simit; sesame encrusted bread rings

Simit; sesame encrusted bread rings

Mid day snack would be either this delicious, national favorite pogaca; savory pastry with cheese and herbs or Turkish sesame encrusted bread rings, Simit; children and we all love them and they dissappear quickly. Simit and pogaca are both widely available at bakeries, street stalls and pastanes, patisseries in Turkey.

Midye Dolma; Stuffed mussels with aromatic rice

Midye dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants

Midye dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants

And then comes Midye Dolma; these delicious stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants are a delightful street food in Turkey. You can find them in street stalls or at vendors selling by the beach side. Ali Usta, our regular midye dolma vendor turns up every afternoon near our beach at Turgut Reis, Bodrum with delicious midye dolmas. All you need is a squeeze of lemon over them, delicious! I did make stuffed mussels at home, they turned out really well. Cleaning the mussels can be a bit of a labor of love but well worth all the effort, here is my Stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with toppings

Peynirli Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with cheese, spinach and vegetables

Peynirli Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with cheese, spinach and vegetables

Turkish oval flat breads with various toppings, Pide, is another favorite street food in Turkey. Our favorite is Pide with cheese and vegetables as well as the Flat breads with ground meat and vegetable topping; Kiymali Pide. A favorite snack and street food both at the sea side and in the towns and cities.

Lahmacun; Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, thin, small Turkish style pizza with ground meat, onions, tomato and parsley topping is also a hugely popular Turkish snack, street food. You can enjoy them at street vendors, kebab houses or lahmacun houses that would only sell this delicious treat. We would wrap lahmacun with slices of tomato, onions and parsley with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice over. Here’s my Lahmacun recipe if you’d like to make this delicious treat.

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

We Turks love these stuffed flat breads, gozleme. Turks were originated from Central Asia, where they drifted towards Anatolia gradually and made their home. They have been making these stuffed flat breads since then. Gozleme is a much loved Turkish street food and a special part of the delicious Turkish breakfast. These popular snacks are cooked quickly on a hot griddle and can be filled with various fillings. Some of my favorite fillings are mashed potatoes, cheese and parsley; spinach and cheese, and ground meat and onions. Here’s my Gozleme with spinach and cheese recipe, hope you enjoy it, afiyet olsun.

Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi – More than a drink

Delightful Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

Delightful Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

Have you ever tried the deliciously frothy Turkish coffee? It is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. As it is so widely available it is a part of Turkish street food for me. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years”. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights, Lokum by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. I shared this special cup with my mother while in Bodrum, it was very memorable. Here’s how to make Turkish coffee properly and its rituals, hope you enjoy yours.

Bodrum Castle, Turkey

Bodrum Castle, Turkey

I hope this post inspires you to create delicious, wholesome Turkish treats and visit this fascinating land sometime.

My best wishes from Turkey, Selamlar, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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