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Tag Archives | baklava

Baklava, Revani, Kunefe and More; Desserts for the End of Ramadan

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day Ramazan Bayrami or Seker Bayrami in Turkey (also named Eid al-Fitr in the Islamic World, Festival of Fast-Breaking). There is a wonderful excitement in my parent’s home in Istanbul, as the holy month of Ramadan is now reaching to its end soon. My mother has been fasting and we all look forward to being together this year to celebrate the end of Ramadan in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque Istanbul; a special place to visit during and end of Ramadan

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul; a special place to visit during and end of Ramadan

Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement, charity, as well as increased devotion and worship. I love seeing family and friends visiting each other, elderly eagerly waiting for the young ones to pay a visit; little ones equally eagerly waiting for their sweet treats. Ramadan is also a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, share what you have and visit one another. A wonderful time when feelings of tolerance and charity are foremost in people’s minds.

Baklava, is one of the ultimate treats of end of Ramadan gatherings

Baklava, is one of the ultimate treats of end of Ramadan gatherings

Serving and sharing desserts when visiting friends and family is a special highlight for the end of Ramadan, Ramazan Bayrami activities. My mother plans what she will be preparing for the family and guests ahead of time. Below are some of the special desserts being prepared for Ramazan Bayrami in our family. I hope they may inspire to recreate for your family and friends for any special occasion.

Ramazan Bayraminiz kutlu olsun, Eid Mubarak if you’re celebrating and best wishes for the summer,

Ozlem

Baklava with Walnuts and Pistachios

Home made baklava; delicious, easy and lighter

Home made baklava; delicious, easy and lighter

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is regarded as one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. Baklava is also one of the favorite desserts marking the end of Ramadan. The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Here is my home made baklava recipe; my version is lighter and fragrant with lemon, hope you enjoy it.

Gullac

Delicious and light Gullac dessert is ideal for warm summer days.

Delicious and light Gullac dessert is ideal for warm summer days.

One of our favorite dessert for this time of the year is the traditional dessert, Gullac. This lovely, light dessert is prepared with Gullac wafers which is made with corn starch and wheat flour. You can find Gullac wafers at specialty or Middle Eastern stores, or at Turkish online shops like Tulumba.com outside Turkey.

Güllaç dessert contains walnuts or almonds between the layers which are soaked in milk. It is a light and wonderful dessert for warm summer days. You can decorate Gullac with pomegranate seeds in winter or dried fruits like apricots in summer; crushed pistachios are also wonderful over gullac. Here is my Gullac recipe.

Kunefe; Kadayifi; a very festive dessert

Kunefe, Kadayifi - a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

Kunefe, Kadayifi – a glorious dessert that would make any day special.

This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, Kadayifi, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya and it appears on our table in almost every special occasion.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak. Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions and it instantly makes any day special. Here is my Kunefe recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Revani; Semolina Sponge Cake with Syrup

Revani; a deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup

Revani; a deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in syrup

Revani has been a popular dessert with us Turks since the Ottoman Period; it is believed that the name Revani is given when the Ottomans conquered the city of Yerevan in today’s Armenia. Revani has many versions and been enjoyed in various cuisines especially in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, as well as in Turkey. I have seen the addition of rose water, orange flower water and orange zest to Revani, all sounds delicious. We love semolina’s grainy, nutty texture, the goodness from yoghurt and the refreshing lemony flavor in Revani. Here’s my Revani recipe; it is lighter but still packed with a lot of flavor.

Kaymakli Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish Bread Pudding in Syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi; Turkish bread pudding soaked in syrup

Ekmek Kadayifi, a specialty from Antakya, is a delicious and very popular dessert in Turkey, made with the special (dehydrated) bread soaked in syrup. Topped with the thick Turkish clotted cream, kaymak, it is a heavenly and a very satisfying dessert. Unfortunately it is difficult get this dehydrated bread abroad. Middle Eastern shops, Turkish shops and online Turkish stores may carry them, worth checking. I have also seen crumpets being used as an alternative to this dehydrated bread abroad. If using crumpets, you’ll need to adjust the syrup quantity. Here is my Ekmek Kadayifi recipe.

 Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Delicious Turkish Festive Meals To Share; Mutlu Bayramlar!

Turkish Delights, Lokum galore! An integral part of the festivities in Turkey

Turkish Delights, Lokum galore! An integral part of the festivities in Turkey

Muslims around the world will be celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice, Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Adha as of 24th September in 2015. I have many happy memories celebrating this special event with the family back in Turkey. This is the time family and friends get together to share their food and charity is at the top of the list. Food is shared with friends, family and contribution to charity and sharing the food with the poor and needy is what makes Kurban Bayrami special. Visiting family and friends is another highlight; we children  would wear our best frocks and visit the elderly to pay our respects (and spoilt with delicious sweets).

As always, food takes the center stage and here are some ideas for you to prepare your festive Kurban Bayrami or Eid al-Adha table. Most of the dishes here can be prepared ahead of time and makes it easy for entertaining for any festivity or gathering.

Soup of the Mountain Pastures with Yoghurt, Whole Grain Rice, Dried Mint and Paprika Flakes -Yayla Corbasi 

Delicious, wholesome yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi

Delicious, wholesome yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi

Soups, “Corba” in Turkish, form a very important part of Turkish diet; almost every dinner, especially in cooler months, start with a soup in Turkish households and Bayram table is no exception. This simple but delicious yoghurt based soup, Yayla Corbasi, originates back to Anatolia’s earliest settlers and nomadic herdsman. It is one of the most popular soups in Turkey, flavored with dried mint and paprika flakes and would make a perfect start to any festive meal.

Baked Icli Kofte – Oruk, Cevizli Biber- Walnut dip, red pepper paste dip, Patlicanli Eksileme- Roasted Eggplant Salad

My mother would start preparing for the Bayram feast from weeks well ahead of time. She would make the Oruk ,baked bulgur shells with walnuts & ground meat, even a month or so ago, as it can keep freezer very well. Cevizli Biber, the Walnut & red pepper paste dip  is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating it.. You can keep the dip covered in the fridge for 3-4 days and it gets better the next day! How about this Roasted Eggplant salad, Patlicanli Eksileme? This is a wonderful, refreshing salad can be served as part of a “mezze” – appetizer- or can accompany grilled meats and vegetables.

Spinach and Cheese Pie- Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek, a winner for all 

Spinach and Cheese Pie, Ispanakli, peynirli borek; a winner for all

Spinach and Cheese Pie, Ispanakli, peynirli borek; a winner for all

Boreks, Stuffed savory pastries has a special place in Turkish cuisine; they are an essential part of the festivities or gatherings. This wonderful spinach and cheese pie has to be one of the most deliciously pleasing and easy borek around. I use the filo pastry sheets for this recipe and it works well. If frozen, you need to defrost them overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. You can serve this pie as an appetizer; they are also delicious at afternoon tea time with cay, tea aside.

Imam Bayildi; Eggplants Cooked in Olive Oil with Onion, Garlic and Tomato

Imam Bayildi; Stuffed eggplants with onions, garlic and tomatoes; simply delicious

Imam Bayildi; Stuffed eggplants with onions, garlic and tomatoes; simply delicious

Imam Bayildi, Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables, would also make a delicious, refreshing vegetarian course at the festive tables. The aubergines are gently poached in this dish with a generous mixture of onions, tomatoes and garlic. This dish is in the category of Vegetables cooked in olive oil, Zeytinyaglis in Turkish cuisine, where the vegetables are poached in olive oil and little water and served either cold or room temperature with a slice of lemon aside.

 A Festive DishMevlubi; Layers of Eggplants, Potatoes, Meat and Rice

A very festive dish, Mevlubi; layers of eggplant, potato and meat cooked with rice

A very festive dish, Mevlubi; layers of eggplant, potato and meat cooked with rice

Another signature dish from my mother’s table, Mevlubi; this special dish makes an appearance in every special occasion on my parent’s table and it is fit for festivities. I love that succulent meat, eggplant, potato all cooked together and their flavor enhance one another. As you can cook ahead of time, this wonderful all in one dish makes an impressive main course and you get to spend more time with your company. For maximum results, please cook on low heat, and let Mevlubi rest for minimum 30 minutes prior serving.

 Pistachio Lamb Kebabs on Flat Breads & Sauteed Carrots in Garlic Yoghurt 

 

Pistachio lamb kebabs  are easy to recreate in your home, delicious and look impressive. Children love them as well as the adults, so they are great for entertaining. Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special.

Yoghurt has a special place in Turkish cuisine; some of the finest yoghurt in the world is made in Turkey and is included in some way at most family meal times. This simple but very delicious Turkish mezze, Sauteed carrots in garlic yoghut is a favorite with us and complements these pistachio kebabs very well.

Festive Desserts

Baklava with Walnuts and Pistachios; Cevizli, Fistikli Baklava

 Homemade Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Homemade Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner and it is fit for festivities! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Hope you enjoy my version of  baklava which is a little less sweet and more fragrant. Using filo pastry sheets, making baklava is much easier than you think.

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Antakya's kunefe; kadayifi

Antakya’s kunefe; kadayifi, a very festive dessert

 This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya and a very festive dessert. Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak.  Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Milk Pudding with Mastic Gum; Sakizli Muhallebi

Milk pudding with mastic gum; Sakizli Muhallebi, a light, fragrant pudding

Milk pudding with mastic gum; Sakizli Muhallebi, a light, fragrant pudding

How about this delicious, light and fragrant milk pudding with mastic gum for a sweet treat? In Turkey, mastic gum is used in milky desserts, ice cream (a very delicious experience). Originally liquid, mastic gum is sold as hard small translucent lumps and melted in hot milk while making dessert. Any berry or plum compote would also go well with this pudding. 

Turkish Coffee and Turkish Delight; they go well together

Turkish Coffee and Turkish Delight; they go so well together

As always, Turkish coffee and Turkish delight would be the perfect end for the festive gathering.

Mutlu Bayramlar to all celebrating. I hope these delicious food may inspire and be enjoyed during any festivities, gatherings with family and friends.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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From Pistachio Lamb Kebabs to Baklava; Our Turkish Feast in Austin, Texas

Greetings from Austin, Texas!

Getting the eggplants for our Turkish cooking class at Central Market - Austin; love the fresh produce there.

Getting the eggplants for our Turkish cooking class at Central Market – Austin; love the fresh produce there.

We had a delightful and full class of Turkish food lovers at my Turkish cooking class at the Central Market Cooking School, Austin, Texas. It was a very special time to reconnect with dear foodies who used to come to my classes there, as well as meeting new Turkish food lovers, I am grateful to be able to return to this wonderful cooking school and their company.

CM Chef Cindy and others kindly helped feed 40 Turkish food lovers at the class

CM Chef Cindy and others kindly helped feed 40 Turkish food lovers at the class

We had 40 -full class!- Turkish food lovers at the class and a small army of CM Chefs; Cindy, Giovanni and Kelly helped us get the our Turkish feast ready.

Talking about dried eggplants; we use them a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine

Talking about dried eggplants; we use them a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine

Turkish Cuisine is based on seasonality and we use a lot of fresh, seasonal produce. When a vegetable or fruit is not in season (like peppers, aubergines, okra etc) we dry them to use when they are not in season. Here we have been talking about dried eggplants and different recipes to use them in (stuffed dried eggplants are especially delicious).

Talking about Turkish culinary history and regional cuisines in Turkey during our class
Talking about Turkish culinary history and regional cuisines in Turkey during our class

Turks were Nomads who used to live a tribal life in Central Asia prior settling in today’s Turkey, and in those days, their diet was based on meat and dairy. Many folks found learning about the Turkish culinary history quite fascinating.

Here I would like to share our menu at my Turkish Cookery Class with Central Market, showcasing flavorful  Southern Turkish Cuisine. All these recipes are designed for you to be able to recreate easily at your home. I hope you can get to try and enjoy them :

Walnut, Olive Oil and Red Pepper Paste  Dip; Cevizli Biber

Cevizli Biber; Walnut and red pepper paste dip with olive oil.

Cevizli Biber; Walnut and red pepper paste dip with olive oil.

This is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating them. It is one of my mother’s recipes from her historic hometown Antakya (Antioch) and whenever I make it, I feel like I am home.

Prerparing the Walnut & Red Pepper Paste dip, Cevizli Biber, for the Class

Prerparing the Walnut & Red Pepper Paste dip, Cevizli Biber, for the Class

Tahini bread or pita bread would go really well with this delicious dip/spread. You can keep the dip covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Middle Eastern stores or specialty stores usually carry the red pepper paste, so as Turkish online supermarket, Tulumba.com in the US.  If you like to make your own hot red pepper paste, here is my recipe.  Click here for the Walnut and red pepper paste with olive oil dip recipe.

Smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and mint – Patlicanli Yogurtlama

Smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and dried mint; Patlicanli Yogurtlama

Smoked eggplant salad with garlic yoghurt and dried mint; Patlicanli Yogurtlama

This is a lovely refreshing smoked eggplant salad again  from southern Turkey, Antakya, this time with garlic yoghurt and mint. It goes very well with grilled meats, or just with some nice crusty bread as an appetizer. This salad or mezze is perfect for hot summer days and can be kept in fridge for a couple of days. Here is the smoked eggplant with garlic and yoghurt recipe.

Lamb Kebabs with Pistachios on Flat Bread in Cherry & Tomato Sauce 

Pistachio lamb kebabs in cherry & tomato sauce; delicious treats for all

Pistachio lamb kebabs in cherry & tomato sauce; delicious treats for all

 

Making the pistachio lamb  kebabs with CM Chef Giovanni at Central Market Cooking School in Austin

Making the pistachio lamb kebabs with CM Chef Giovanni at Central Market Cooking School in Austin

These pistachio lamb kebabs in cherry and tomato sauce are easy to recreate in your home, delicious and look impressive. Children love them as well as the adults, so they are great for entertaining. Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. They kebabs are wonderful when chargrilled in summer time, but equally delicious grilled or baked in the oven. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special. Here is my recipe for the pistachio lamb kebabs.

Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts – Fistikli ve Cevizli Baklava 

Home made baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Home made baklava with walnuts and pistachios

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Making baklava at home is surprisingly easier than you think; and I like the fact that you can adjust the sweetness of the syrup to your taste. Here is my baklava recipe, if you’d like to have a go.

Deliciously Frothy Turkish Coffee,Turk Kahvesi – More Than a Drink

Delicious frothy, aromatic Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

Delicious frothy, aromatic Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

 

Making Turkish coffee for 40 participants at the class; we had a small production line!:)

Making Turkish coffee for 40 participants at the class; we had a small production line!:)

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. 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 by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. Here is step by step instructions for how to make Turkish coffee at home.

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As always, it is the people what makes a place special. I was very grateful to have the company of dear friends, Turkish food lovers and enthusiasts at the class. Thank you all for your company and making me feel at home!

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John, Nancy, and Ozlem 8_2_2013

I hope these recipes and photos may inspire to have a go and try these delicious, easy recipes. Let me know if you have any questions, it is always good to hear from you and I would be delighted to help out.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

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