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Homemade Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and parsley

Scrumptious pogacas, savory pastry with cheese, olives and vavious fillings, displayed at a bakery in Istanbul

Scrumptious pogacas, savory pastry with cheese, olives and various fillings, displayed at a bakery in Istanbul

Delicious pogacas and pastries; a favorite Turkish breakfast or tea time treat

Delicious pogacas and pastries; a favorite Turkish breakfast or tea time treat

These delicious cheesy pogacas (poh-ah-cha) are a favorite breakfast or tea time treat in Turkey and we love them. They are easy to make at home; make your kitchen smell heavenly and they are very popular with children, as well as adults. Bakeries, street stalls sell freshly baked pogacas (plain, with white cheese, olives or with potato & cheese filling) in Turkey and with a glass of cay aside, they make a delicious and affordable breakfast or tea time treat.

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with cheese and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My children adore pogaca and we made our peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta cheese together; they loved getting involved. My pogacas are rather chunky, like the ones you would get in bakeries in Turkey and one is enough per person. You can make smaller ones if you like. They are absolutely delicious straight from the oven, but they also keep well for a few days. The next day (if any left!), you can microwave them for 10 seconds or gently heat under the grill, so delicious. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

 Peynirli pogaca; Turkish savory treat with feta; great for breakfast or as a snack.

Peynirli pogaca; Turkish savory treat with white cheese and parsley; great for breakfast or as a snack.

Makes 11 pogacas

Preparation time: 20 min (+1 hour for dough to rise)                  Cooking time: 25- 30 minutes

For the dough:

7gr dry yeast (1 sachet)

425 gr / 3 ¼ cups all-purpose plain flour

5 ml / 1 tsp. salt

3 oz./ 1/3 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt

1 egg, beaten

4 fl. oz. / ½ cup mild olive oil or sunflower oil

4 fl. oz . / ½ cup warm milk

For the filling:

5.3 oz./ 1 cup Turkish white cheese (or Greek feta cheese, if Turkish white cheese is not available) crumbled

15 gr/ 0.4 oz./½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds and nigella seeds to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F

 

Combine the warm milk and dry yeast in a small bowl and mix well. Let it stand for 5 minutes so that it gets foamy.

Let the dough to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes

Let the dough to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes

In a large bowl, stir in the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. Add the yoghurt, mild olive oil (or sunflower oil) and the beaten egg to the flour mixture, in the middle. Stir in the foamy yeast mixture and knead well with your hands for a few minutes, until the dough comes together. Shape the dough like a ball, place in the large bowl and cover with a cling film. Let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley make a delicious filling

Crumbled Turkish white cheese or Greek feta cheese and fresh parsley make a delicious filling

While the dough is rising, prepare your filling. In a medium size bowl, stir in the crumbled Turkish white cheese or Greek feta cheese and chopped parsley and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F and grease a baking tray.

Once the dough has risen, punch down and divide into 11 equal pieces, each about a size of a small tangerine. Roll each piece into a ball, and then flatten into a round flat circle with your fingertips, about 10 cm, 4” in diameter (you can make them smaller if you prefer). Place a spoonful of the filling mixture (take care not to overfill) at one side of the circle dough, leaving a little unfilled dough margin near the edges. Fold the circle to cover the filling to form a half moon shape. Make sure the dough covers the filling and meet the other end. Seal the two ends of the dough, pressing with your fingertips well. Place the stuffed dough on the greased tray and repeat this procedure with the rest of the dough pieces.

Pogacas, decorated with sesame & nigella seeds, ready to bake!

Pogacas, decorated with sesame & nigella seeds, ready to bake!

Place the prepared pogacas, stuffed dough pieces side by side on a greased tray. Brush them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with nigella and sesame seeds. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for about 25 – 30 minutes, until they are golden brown at top.

Peynirli pogaca, Turkish savory pastry with feta & parsley, ready to eat!

Peynirli pogaca, Turkish savory pastry with cheese & parsley, ready to eat!

Serve warm; glass of Cay, Turkish tea goes really well with these delicious pogacas.

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with cheese and parsley; easy to make and delicious

 

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

Asure – Noah’s Dessert 

Asure or Ashura,  delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit

Asure or Ashura, Noah’s Ark dessert; a special dessert of grains, pulses, dried fruit & pomegranate seeds

This delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit, referred as Asure or Ashura – Noah’s Dessert-, is most probably one of Turkey’s most famous dessert. According to legend, Noah made this dessert on the ark by combining whatever ingredients were left on the ark. Asure or Ahsura is also the traditional dessert that is served on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is always made in large quantities and shared with friends and neighbors.

Though the ingredients list is pretty rich, I believe whatever grains, pulses and dried fruit you have in your pantry will do. And if you are short of time, why not using good quality pre-cooked chickpeas and beans in cans; I am all up for it if it helps making this wonderful dessert. Adding the pomegranate seeds over the top give a festive touch and make the dessert refreshing too. Here is the link for my Asure recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Gozleme; Anatolian Flat breads stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

“Can we learn how to make gozleme (Anatolian stuffed flat breads) at the next class?” asked one of my regular Turkish cooking class  participants, few months ago. I greatly enjoy their requests, enthusiasm to learn more and have a go at them; that’s all I could hope for from the classes. “Sure, why not!” was reply; I was excited and my heart was set on tackling the much loved gozleme, Turkish flat breads with stuffing, the proper way. During my recent visit to Turkey, I got myself a proper non-stick oval gozleme pan to have a go at these delicious treats.

Local ladies preparing Gozleme at Hanimeli Restaurant, near Sirince - Turkey

Local ladies preparing Gozleme at Hanimeli Restaurant, near Sirince – Turkey

Having said that, the prospect of preparing Gozleme from scratch; preparing the dough and opening, stretching the dough as thin as sheets of paper was a little daunting at first. I call myself a cook more than a baker and greatly admire local ladies making it so effortlessly at home, in Turkey. Could I tackle it, I wondered. Thank goodness the sheer excitement of having a go at gozleme weighed much higher and I am so glad I tried. The sheets stretched beautifully and gozleme tasted heavenly. I owe a big thank you to David for the inspiration and that precious request!

Gozleme is traditionally prepared on giant non-stick round pan

Gozleme is traditionally prepared on giant non-stick round pan

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. And they go down very well with a glass of cay, Turkish tea or ayran, traditional Turkish yoghurt drink.

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme - Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme – Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

In the filling in this recipe I added a little Turkish red pepper paste, biber salcasi to the filling for a spicier version; it flavored the spinach and onion really well. If you would like a milder taste, simply omit the red pepper paste (or the pepper flakes).

Gozleme, Pide and savoury pastry recipes are also included in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, available to order at this link.

Makes about 5 Gozleme

1lb./ 16 oz. / 3 cups plain flour

8g / 1 sachet instant dried yeast

Pinch of salt

45 ml/ 3 tbsp. olive oil

30 ml / 2 tbsp. plain natural yoghurt (preferably whole milk)

260 ml/ 9 fl. oz. / 1/5 cups warm water (150 ml/ 5 fl. oz. warm water to be mixed with the yeast)

For the filling:

200gr/7 oz. baby spinach leaves

1 onion, finely chopped
5ml/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes or 2 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste (optional)
230gr/8oz feta cheese

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

Non-stick pan or griddle to cook the Gozleme

Combine about 150 ml/ 5 fl. oz. warm water, yeast and salt in a small bowl, stir and cover. Stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.

Divide the gozleme dough into balls, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for 30 minutes,

Divide the gozleme dough into balls, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for 30 minutes.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast, water & salt mixture, olive oil, yoghurt and the remaining warm water (about 110 ml/ 4 fl. oz./ ½ cup) . Using your hand, draw in the flour from the sides and work the mixture into a dough. Knead thoroughly to form a soft dough. Divide the dough into 5  pieces, knead them and roll into balls. Place the balls on a floured surface, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for about 30 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste first with your hands; that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well.

Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste first with your hands; that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Stir in the feta cheese to the spinach mixture and combine well.

Stir in the feta cheese to the spinach mixture and combine well. 

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Chop the washed spinach leaves roughly. Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste (or red pepper flakes) with your hands for a few minute or so – that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well -. Stir in the feta cheese and combine well.

Roll the gozleme dough with a rolling pin until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

Roll the gozleme dough with a rolling pin until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

 On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the balls of the dough with a rolling pin into thin, flat rounds, about 40cm/16in diameter. Sprinkle a little flour as you roll the dough so that the dough won’t stick. Roll until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle and spread the filling in the middle.

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle and spread the filling in the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered.

Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle.  Spread about 2 ½ tablespoon filling into the middle part of this flat sheet. Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered. Press edges together well to seal. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the dough balls.

Brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Heat a griddle or a non-stick pan, and brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the uncooked side with a little olive oil and then flip it over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.

Cook the gozleme for about 2 -3 minutes on a non-stick pan, or until golden brown.

Cook the gozleme for about 2 -3 minutes on a non-stick pan, or until golden brown.

Brush both cooked sides of gozleme with a little olive oil -this will keep the gozleme moist. Cook the rest of the gozleme the same way.

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme - Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme – Turkish Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach stuffing; they are indeed easier than you think!

You can either roll the Gozleme to serve, or you can cut in halves or quarters. Ayran Turkish yoghurt drink or  Turkish tea, cay would go really well next to Gozleme.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Yoghurt with Dried Apricots, Walnuts, Pomegranates Seeds and Honey & More Ideas for a Delicious Brunch – Turkish Style

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and blueberries; healthy, delicious, refreshing start for your day. 

Dried apricots, figs, prunes and raisins; not only very nutritious but also very delicious.

I wanted to share a delicious, healthy and refreshing breakfast that we like to do in my family; yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and berries, drizzled with honey. This delicious treat is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Back home in Istanbul, my parents still start a day with a few walnuts and dried fruit like apricots and prunes. Walnuts are power food; they are so rich in antioxidants that a small amount is more than enough. Just a handful of walnuts per day will help reduce the chances of heart disease, and other cardiovascular-related issues. Some of the best apricots are produced in Malatya, Turkey and the excess produce is being dried to be enjoyed all year around. Dried apricots and prunes are excellent sources of several important nutrients, including fiber, potassium and antioxidant carotenoids. Dried apricots and walnuts also pair very well, try the caramelized apricots stuffed with walnuts as a dessert; a delicious and nutritious treat. 

I have been eating this delicious yoghurt with dried and fresh fruits as a breakfast a lot recently; very refreshing and make you feel good. Yoghurt, another nutritious food that boosts your immune system, features a lot in Turkish cuisine. We use yoghurt in mezzes and appetizers, in soups, in marinating meat and many more.

I love the marriage of creamy yoghurt with the crunchy walnuts and juicy & zesty apricots, berries and pomegranates seeds. It is very easy to make and hopefully it will jump start your day!

This yoghurt with dried fruit, berries and walnuts is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Serves 2

225 gr/8 oz/1 cup plain natural yoghurt

45 – 60 ml/ 3 – 4 tbsp walnuts, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp blueberries (or a berry of your choice)

30 ml / 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

15-30ml/ 1-2 tbsp natural honey

Place the yoghurt in a bowl and simply stir in the walnuts, dried apricot, berries and pomegranate seeds, give a gentle mix. Drizzle the honey over and sprinkle extra few pomegranate seeds or berries if you like.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Plain yoghurt, cheese, olives, oats and grains are also a part of Turkish breakfast.

We Turks love a good brunch especially at the weekends and to welcome the New Year; here are some of my favorite Turkish brunch treats, if you would like to indulge later in the day:

Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. eggs with Turkish dried beef sausage, sucuk, variety of cheese, sesame seeded bread rings, simit, honey with Turkish thivk cream, kaymak – a heavenly brunch to welcome the new year!

Eggs with Turkish dried beef sausages – Sucuklu Yumurta-

Sucuklu yumurta - Turkish dried beef sausages with egg; so irresistable.

This is for me the center piece of the Turkish breakfasts/brunches. The spicy Turkish sausage, sucuk, goes so well with the runny egg. This with a crusty bread and a glass of cay – Turkish tea – by the side, would be my ultimate brunch 🙂

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, spring (green) onions and feta cheese – Menemen

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onion and feta cheese, a delicious vegetarian breakfast.

 If you rather like a vegetarian option for your eggs; this scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese would just fit the bill; delicious, juicy and healthy.

 Fillo pastry rolls, stuffed with mashed potato, cheese and parsley – Patatesli, Peynirli Borek

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

No Turkish brunch is complete without boreks – paper thin pastry, yufka, stuffed with cheese and vegetables. If you can’t find yufka, fillo sheets work well. This recipe also makes use of any left over vegetable like potatoes, delicious.

Olive salad with onions, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses – Zeytin Ufeleme

Olives with tomatoes, onion, parsely flavoured with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, a delicious treat from Antakya, Antioch.

This delicious olive salad hails from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. Olives are deliciously flavoured with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Wonderful for brunch, as well as an appetizer.

Sesame encrusted bread rings – Simit

Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings must be the most popular street food in Turkey.

Simit is indeed the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings must be the most popular snack and street food at home. Most folks in Turkey have simit for breakfast with a cup of cay (tea), sliced cucumber, tomatoes and feta cheese. Simit has a wonderful crust and softer inside, and easy to make at home.

 Cay – Turkish tea

A glass of cay, Turkish tea by the Bosphorus is the ultimate treat for me ; )

Well, Turkish tea, cay, goes down very well to accompany all above! Especially if you are by the Bosphorus, Istanbul, you may loose track of  how many glasses of cay you consumed : )

 

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