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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) starting on Monday, 28th July 2014. 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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Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with lemon, olive oil

Baba ghanoush; Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Baba ghanoush or Abagannuc; burnt eggplant, tomatoes and peppers in garlic, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

This delicious salad or dip, Abagannuc or Baba ghanoush, is very popular in Antakya and Southern Turkish cuisine and one of our family favorites. It has many variations throughout the Middle East, where tahini maybe added or plain yoghurt and what to include or not include may invite heated debates! No matter how the finishing touch will be, the essence of this salad remains the same; the aubergines are traditionally cooked over open fire or over the burner to get the smoky flavor. The skin of aubergines and peppers burn and their flesh becomes soft, sweet and tender.

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

Kozmatik from home; a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook/char grill the vegetables without much of a mess!

In Turkey, a very simple gadget called “Kozmatik” is used to cook the aubergines over the burner. It has a steel base with holes on it, a genius idea to cook the vegetables without much of a mess!

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

Leave the peeled eggplant fleshin the colander to drain its bitter juices.

You can cook the aubergines a day ahead of time; just add ½ juice of lemon after mashing and combine well, that will help to retain its color. Cover and keep in the fridge until you make the salad. I also added a drizzle of pomegranate molasses as a dressing in this version; the smoky flavor of aubergines and peppers worked really well with pomegranate molasses. When in season, pomegranate seeds would also be lovely over this salad.

Abagannuc or baba ghanoush goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, a delicious smoky eggplant salad with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

I hope you enjoy our version of Abagannuc or baba ghannoush, packed with flavor.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Baba ghanoush-Abagannuc; burnt eggplant salad with garlic, olive oil
 
Abagannuc or baba ghanoush is a popular mezze or salad in southern Turkish cuisine, where eggplants are char grilled to get a delicious, smoky flavor. It has different versions throughout the Middle East. We'd like to add a little pomegranate molasses in our version for a tangy, sweet flavor. This salad / dip goes very well as part of a mezze spread or with any grills. I also love this dip on crackers or toasted bread with a nice sharp cheese or feta cheese aside.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Mezzes, Salads
Cuisine: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 medium aubergines / eggplants
  • 1 pointy red pepper or bell pepper
  • 3 small, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with salt and finely chopped
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 30ml/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • A drizzle (about 10ml/2 tsp) pomegranate molasses to decorate (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to serve
Instructions
  1. Line the base of your burners with a foil to protect, keeping only the burners exposed.
  2. Place the eggplants or aubergines and pepper directly over the burner on medium heat and roast for about 15 - 20 minutes, turning occasionally. (You can roast the tomatoes on a barbeque or on the oven at 200 C for about 20-25 minutes, as it can get quite messy over the burner.)
  3. If you prefer not to have the smoky flavor, you can also score the aubergines with a knife in few places and bake on a baking tray for 50 – 60 minutes. In this case, turn them around every 20 minutes or so that they would cook evenly. Pepper would need about 35-40 minutes to cook in the oven and chargrill.
  4. If you are cooking over the burner, use metal tongs to turn the aubergines and pepper around so that all sides would cook evenly and the skin is nicely chargrilled. Cook until the skin is burnt and the flesh is soft.
  5. Remove the cooked aubergines, tomatoes and the pepper to a colander to allow them to cool. Once cool, peel and discard their burnt skin and leave them in the colander to drain aubergine’s bitter juices. I like to gently squeeze the aubergine flesh to drain as much water as possible.
  6. Chop the flesh of the aubergine, pepper and tomatoes coarsely and mash them with a fork.
  7. Place the flesh in a bowl and stir in the chopped garlic, lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil, combine well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. When serving, drizzle with pomegranate molasses over (if you prefer to) and give a gentle mix; its tangy flavor works really well with the smoked aubergine and peppers.
 

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Kiymali Pide; Turkish Flat bread with ground meat and vegetables

Kiymali Pide, Turkish oval flat breads with ground meat, onion, tomato and peppers

Kiymali Pide, Turkish oval flat breads with ground meat, onion, tomato and peppers

This Kiymali Pide, Turkish flat bread with ground meat and vegetables filling, is one of the most popular snacks and our slow cooked “fast food” in Turkey. In Rural Anatolia and at my home town Antakya, locals would prepare the filling and take it to their local bakery, firin, to be baked into delicious flatbreads with this topping over. There are also “Pideci” Turkish flat bread shops that solely bake and serve these flat breads along with piyaz or Coban Salata, Shepherd’s Salad; such delicious flavor combinations.

Traditional bakery, firin in Antakya. Bakers not only bake the bread but also flat breads with toppings that customers would bring.

Traditional bakery, firin in Antakya. Bakers not only bake the bread but also flat breads with toppings that customers would bring.

I am often asked the difference between pide and lahmacun, another national favorite. Lahmacun is also a flat bread with ground meat topping, but it is thinner and in round shape. We like to squeeze lemon over it liberally and roll it like a wrap to eat lahmacun. Pide is oval in shape, thicker and we serve in slices.

Shaping the flat breads; it is easier to spread the filling while the oval flat bread is on the tray.

Shaping the flat breads; it is easier to spread the filling while the oval flat bread is on the tray.

Pide can also be made in various toppings; some favorite toppings are ground meat & onion, Turkish kasar (cheddar) cheese & spinach, cheese and pastrami (Turkish dried beef), cheese and Turkish spicy sauage (sucuk). Sometimes an egg or two can be cracked over pide towards the end of baking too, as in some examples of Karadeniz Pidesi a specialty of a pide prepared in Black Sea region.

Kiymali Pide, Turkish flat breads with meat and vegetables topping, freshly baked

Kiymali Pide, Turkish flat breads with meat and vegetables topping, freshly baked

Making pide is actually much easier than you think – we made it at my recent Turkish cookery class and it was a big hit. I hope you enjoy this delicious Turkish specialty, our version of pizza, packed with flavor and have a chance to recreate at home.

Kiymali Pide, sliced Turkish flat breads with ground meat topping, ready to serve.

Kiymali Pide, sliced Turkish flat breads with ground meat topping, ready to serve.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Kiymali Pide; Turkish Flat bread with meat, onion and peppers
 
This Kiymali Pide, Turkish flat bread with ground meat and vegetables topping, is one of the most popular snacks and our slow cooked “fast food” in Turkey. In Rural Anatolia and at my home town Antakya, locals would prepare the filling and take it to their local bakery, firin, to be baked as these delicious flat breads with toppings. There are also “Pideci” Turkish flat bread shops that solely bake and serve these flat breads. I hope you enjoy this delicious Turkish specialty, our version of pizza, packed with flavor and have a chance to recreate at home.
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish flat breads with ground meat and vegetable topping; Kiymali Pide
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • For the dough:
  • 300 gr/ 15 oz. / 3 cups + 1 tbsp. all-purpose plain flour
  • 5ml/1 tsp. salt
  • 14 gr/4 tsp. dried yeast (2 packs of 7gr dried yeast)
  • 8 fl. oz. /1 cup warm water
  • 45ml/3 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 400 gr/14 oz. ground beef or ground lamb or mixture
  • ½ green bell pepper or 1 green pointy pepper, finely diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt (5 ml/1 tsp. salt is recommended) and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg + 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil to brush the pide
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. Stir in the dried yeast in a small bowl and pour in ½ cup warm water. Dissolve the yeast in water, mixing with your fingers. Set aside for the yeast mixture to get frothy for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Make a well in the middle and pour in 2 tbsp. olive oil and the yeast mixture.
  5. Pour in the remaining ½ warm water to the flour mixture. Using your hands, draw in the flour from the sides and work the mixture into a dough.
  6. Knead for 3 -5 minutes, until you reach a soft, smooth dough. The dough gets sticky as you knead, so pour the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in additional 1 tbsp. flour to help shape into a soft dough.
  7. Place the dough in large bowl and cover with a cling film. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour; it will be doubled in size.
  8. In the meantime, prepare your filling. Heat 15ml/1tbsp. olive oil in a wide heavy pan and stir in the onions and peppers.
  9. Sauté the onions and peppers for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until they start to soften. Stir in the tomatoes and sauté for another 2 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice and season with salt and ground black pepper. Turn the heat off.
  10. Place the ground meat in a bowl and combine the cooked vegetables with the ground meat, mix well. The topping is ready.
  11. Once the dough is risen, place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for a minute then divide the dough into two pieces and roll into two balls.
  12. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough balls into 2 oval shapes of 20 cm x 40 cm (about 8”x16”), with ½ cm (0.2”) thickness.
  13. Line a large baking tray with baking paper and place the 2 oval flat bread dough on the tray.
  14. Spread the filling evenly over the 2 flat breads, leaving 2 cm at the edges as a border with no filling (it is easier to spread the filling while the oval flat bread is in the tray).
  15. Fold in the sides to act as border to keep the filling intact. Squeeze the oval dough at each end to make it pointy.
  16. Beat an egg in a small bowl and mix it with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Brush the edges of dough with this mixture.
  17. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until the pides are golden brown and crispy at the edges.
  18. Once cool, cut into slices and serve.
 

My Fascinating Turkey 2014; Istanbul, Cappadocia, Bursa, Ankara, Kaymakli and More

October 23rd – November 1st, 2014 – A trip of a lifetime!

Cooking together with locals - in this case, making baklava, a very memorable experience

Cooking together with locals – in this case, making baklava, a very memorable experience

I am utterly excited about our upcoming Fascinating Turkey 2014 Tour with the amazing locations of Istanbul, Cappadocia, Bursa, Ankara, Kaymakli and more!

The Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbl - feast to all senses.

The Spice Market, Misir Carsisi, Istanbul- feast to all senses.

My homeland Turkey, its history, cuisine and its wonderful people are my passion and I feel very fortunate to be able to share this passion through my cookery classes and in this blog. It was during my cookery classes over 7 years ago at Central Market Cooking School in Texas that the participants kindly showed a keen interest to travel and explore together this amazing land. So big thanks to them, this will be our 7th tour. I aim to show this beautiful land from a local’s perspective; have a chance to enjoy Turkish food as we locals would and be a part of the local scene.

The magnificent Hagia Sophia; no matter how many times I have been there, it still takes my breath away.

The magnificent Hagia Sophia; no matter how many times I have been there, it still takes my breath away.

Fascinating Turkey 2014 itinerary covers the magical city of Istanbul, -“the city of the world’s desire”, as Napoleon once said—with its breathtaking historical sites like Hagia SophiaTopkapi Palace and many more. Spice Market and Grand Bazaar are also the highlights; we will learn about the delicious Turkish cuisine, spices, enjoy Turkish cuisine as the locals would and moreover, will learn how to make it. Cappadocia region is another highlight of the tour, home to fairy chimneys. We will explore this fascinating land of rock formations, the Kaymakli underground city, and visit pottery workshops. We will also have a special cookery class in a village house in Ayvali, Cappadocia and learn how to make Turkish stuffed dumplings, manti, stuffed vine leaves and more – a rare and a very memorable opportunity. Last but not least, we will explore the capital Ankara, home of the Anatolian Civilizations Museum and Gordion, with a stop en route to King Midas’ tomb.  Historic city of Bursa, famous with its silk, textile and  Iskender Kebab is another highlight.Bursa is the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire and recently been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List; very exciting indeed.

 Bursa's world famous Iskender Kebab; it will be a real treat to enjoy the genuine article in Bursa.

Bursa’s world famous Iskender Kebab; it will be a real treat to enjoy the genuine article in Bursa.

Here is our Fascinating Turkey 2014 Tour Brochure with Istanbul, Cappadocia, Bursa, Ankara, Kaymakli and More; please kindly contact me if you would like to get more information and/or join us.

Best wishes for happy, memorable travels,

Ozlem

 

 

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