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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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My Fascinating Turkey 2015 Tours; Can’t wait to get on road again

Ephesus - Izmir, Turkey

Ephesus – Izmir, Turkey

I have recently watched this wonderful video on the beautiful Izmir region; Ephesus, the turquoise Aegean Sea, inviting Turkish food, friendly locals to welcome you; video said “life is worth exploration; so much to experience, see, taste…” How very true. This has been the basis of my culinary and cultural tours to Turkey; a fascinating land with warm people, so worth exploring.

Fascinating Istanbul, Turkey

Fascinating Istanbul, Turkey

Sultanahmet Koftecisi, Istanbul - a fine example of Turkish hospitality

Sultanahmet Koftecisi, Istanbul – a fine example of Turkish hospitality

I have been organizing and hosting small scale Culinary and Cultural Tours to Turkey for 8 years, aiming to show my homeland from a local’s perspective. This is the land I belong and love; a special land packed with history, traditions, beautiful landscape, fabulous Turkish food and wonderful, friendly locals.

Fragrant Turkish spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Fragrant Turkish spices galore at the Spice Market, Istanbul

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy; a feast to all senses

Turkish Breakfast, delicious, healthy; a feast to all senses

Here, I am delighted to present you my 2 upcoming Fascinating Turkey Culinary & Cultural Tours to Turkey. First one from Saturday, May 23rd 2015 through Saturday, May 30th 2015, second one from Saturday, October 24th through Saturday 31st October 2015. We have a very exciting itinerary, covering off the beaten track sights, experiencing foodie heaven markets like the Kadikoy Market in Istanbul, private boat tour along the Bosphorus, Whirling dervish shows, exploring old and new parts of Istanbul to give you a real feel of this fascinating city. And food, the glorious Turkish food; starting from my favorite meal of the day Turkish breakfast, every meal will be authentic and memorable. We will learn all about Turkish spices, Turkish coffee, Turkish Delight and stock up the finest examples of them at the Spice Market, Istanbul.

Bountiful seasonal produce at Besiktas Pazari, Istanbul

Bountiful seasonal produce at Besiktas Pazari, Istanbul

Locals making Gozleme, Turkish flatbreads with fillings

Locals making Gozleme, Turkish flatbreads with fillings

During our tour, we will have 3 Turkish cooking classes to explore regional cuisines – in Istanbul, Cappadocia and at the charming village Sirince, to learn about the hearty Anatolian cuisine and the Aegean cuisine, using region’s wonderful olive oil and fresh produce. In Cappadocia, we will be treated to a special local Turkish cookery class by the village ladies in a traditional Cappadocian home, an experience I greatly look forward to.

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Stunning fairy chimneys at Cappadocia, over the hot air baloon; photo credit National Geographic

Cappadocia Region, the land of fairy chimneys will be a special highlight. Exploring Goreme Underground City, optional Hot air balloon over the fairy chimneys, visiting a local Turkish Ceramic Art Shop to learn how the world famous tiles and ceramics made and watch masters working and many more – all to look forward to.

Cooking delicious Aegean flavors at our Turkish cooking class in Sirince, Turkey

Cooking delicious Aegean flavors at our Turkish cooking class in Sirince, Turkey

And then beautiful Izmir region to follow; charming Sirince Village for our hands on Turkish cookery class, learn about the delicious and healthy Aegean cuisine; visits to the fascinating, ancient Greco –Roman city, Ephesus and Virgin Mary’s house.

Here is my Fascinating Turkey 2015; Culinary & Cultural Tour Brochure with the Registration Form. The tour is limited to 15 participants only and the registration started. Please kindly Contact me if you have any questions or would like to sign up for our tour.

Beautiful Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey, with spring blossoms - Turkey

Beautiful Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey, with spring blossoms – Turkey

The Willie Nelson song sums it all up for me –“On the road again; just can’t wait to get on the road again!” I really can’t wait and I hope you can join us too.

Happy travels, Iyi Yolculuklar,

Ozlem

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Mini Pizzas with Olives, Cheese and Tomatoes; Zeytinli Mini Pizza

Mini pizzas with olives, cheese, tomatoes; zeytinli mini pizza

Mini pizzas with olives, cheese, tomatoes; zeytinli mini pizza

I love the savory pastries, pogaca and little melt-in-the-mouth mini pizzas with various fillings sold in bakeries, firin and patisseries, pastanes, in Turkey. We Turks love them for breakfast as well as for a morning or afternoon snack with cup of tea, cay; such a delicious treat.

Mini pizzas with olives, tomatoes and cheese, freshly baked - delicious!

Mini pizzas with olives, tomatoes and cheese, freshly baked – delicious!

Recently I made these little pizzas with olives, tomato and cheese topping; they really are easy to make at home and have brought smiles all round!:) A favorite with children, as well and adults, they were a big hit. Mini pizzas are best to be enjoyed 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 – 15 seconds. Or you can sprinkle a little water over them, cover and reheat at 180 C/350 F for 5- 8 minutes. They will be lovely, soft and delicious.

Shaping the mini pizzas; round Turkish tea glass or a mug works well.

Shaping the mini pizzas; round Turkish tea glass or a mug works well.

Tips: Make sure to deseed the tomatoes before chopping so that it won’t make the filling watery and the pastry soggy. As for the cheese, you can use grated mozzarella, cheddar or crumbled feta cheese. For olives; Turkish, Spanish or Greek Kalamata olives all work well. To shape the mini pizza rounds, I used my tulip shaped glass Turkish tea glass, it worked perfectly. If you don’t have one, any glass or round mold in 7-8 cm diameter would work.

Mini pizzas with olives, cheese and tomatoes, Zeytinli mini pizza, ready to eat!

 I hope you enjoy these delicious mini pizzas with olives, cheese and tomatoes – Afiyet Olsun;

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Mini Pizzas with Olives, Cheese and Tomatoes; Zeytinli Mini Pizza
 
I love the savory pastries, pogacas and these little melt-in-the-mouth mini pizzas with various fillings sold in bakeries, firin and patisseries, pastanes, in Turkey. We Turks love them for breakfast as well as for a morning or afternoon snack with cup of tea, cay; such a delicious treat. They are easy to make at home and a real crowd pleaser, hope you enjoy them - afiyet olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Turkish Savory Pastries
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 35 mini pizzas
Ingredients
  • 500 gr/ 4 cups all-purpose plain flour
  • 7gr dry yeast (1 sachet)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. sugar
  • 240 ml / 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup warm milk
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 50 gr / 2 oz. butter, melted
  • For the filling:
  • 3 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Handful - about 15- green and black olives, roughly chopped
  • 200 gr / 7 oz. / 2 cups grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 1 egg, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Combine the warm milk, sugar and dry yeast in a small bowl and mix well. Let it stand for 5 minutes so that it gets foamy.
  3. Stir in the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
  4. Add the melted butter and slowly pour in the milk & yeast mixture.
  5. Knead well with your hands for a few minutes, until the dough comes together. Have a drizzle (about 1 tbsp.) of olive oil in your hands if the dough gets too sticky; knead and shape the dough like a ball.
  6. Place the dough in the large bowl and cover with a cling film and a tea towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
  7. Prepare the filling while the dough is rising. Deseed the tomatoes and olives and chop finely. Place them in a medium sized bowl and stir in the grated cheese and olive oil. Combine and mix well. Set the filling aside.
  8. Once the dough has risen, punch down and divide 3 equal pieces and roll into balls.
  9. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the ball of dough with a rolling pin into thin flat rounds in ⅓ cm (0.14”) width. Using a round mold or round glass of 8 cm/3” in diameter, cut the flat dough into circles. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  10. Line baking parchment paper on your baking tray and place the dough circles on it. Using your finger, make a little dent in the middle of each dough circle.
  11. Place a dessert spoonful of filling in each dough circle (in and around the dent).
  12. Brush the pastries with the beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven (180 C/ 350 F) for 15 minutes or until golden around the edges.
  13. Serve hot immediately. This recipe makes 35 mini pizzas; afiyet olsun!
Notes
Make sure to deseed the tomatoes before chopping so that it won’t make the filling watery and the pastry soggy. As for the cheese, you can use grated mozzarella, cheddar or crumbled feta cheese. For olives; Turkish, Spanish or Greek Kalamata olives all work well. To shape the mini pizza rounds, I used my tulip shaped glass Turkish tea glass, it worked perfectly. If you don’t have one, any glass or round mold in 7-8 cm diameter would work.
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Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Chicken and vegetables bake in pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce; Eksili Tavuk

Inspiration for this delicious, gluten-free recipe, Eksili Tavuk; Chicken in lemon and pomegranate molasses sauce with vegetables, came from dear Janet, who is part of the wonderful blog, Archers of Okcular. Janet and Alan have been enjoying Eksili Tavuk, traditionally made with the delicious whole chicken from the villages nearby; I can just imagine how tasty that chicken must be. She asked me the recipe and so glad she did. After some research, I came up with my version of Eksili Tavuk, using some seasonal vegetables like celeriac and chard in it. We greatly enjoyed this dish and I owe a big thanks to Janet!

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Marinating the chicken in pomegranate molasses, red pepper paste, garlic and spices add a lot of flavor.

Traditional Eksili Tavuk in the Aegean Region is made with cooking a whole chicken in plenty of water and adding vegetables like potato, carrots and onions to it, as well as the lemon sauce. I have seen flour being used in the broth to thicken the sauce; it is a delicious dish. I have used chicken breast in my version and added celeriac and chard to the vegetable mix. I have also added pomegranate molasses in the sauce; celeriac especially has been a perfect pair to the chicken in the tangy lemon and pomegranate sauce; the sweet and savory flavors really complemented one another very well (Pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is widely used especially in southern Turkish cooking and add great flavor to salads, mezzes, stews. You can make your own pomegranate molasses with my recipe here, if you’d like). Marinating the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste, biber salcasi (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses really worth the effort, add a delicious flavor to the chicken.

I baked my eksili tavuk; chicken with vegetables in pomegranate and lemon juice sauce, in the oven. It turned out to be an easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot dish that we loved and will be revisiting often. Many thanks for the inspiration, Janet, hope you all enjoy it!

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Eksili Tavuk; baked chicken and vegetables in lemon and pomegranate sauce

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken and Vegetable Bake in Pomegranate Molasses; Eksili Tavuk
 
An easy, wholesome and delicious all in one pot chicken and vegetables bake with pomegranate molasses and lemon sauce, inspired by the Agean region's Eksili Tavuk. Celeriac especially here really worked well with the sweet & savory pomegranate molasses; a wonderful dish we loved and will be revisiting often. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy & gluten-free chicken and vegetable casserole
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500 gr / 1 ¼ lb. chicken breast or boneless thighs, skinned
  • 175 gr/ 6 oz. chard, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 small carrots, quartered and sliced in small chunks
  • 1 small celeriac root, cut in small, chunky strips (about 4 cm log, 1 cm wide)
  • 2 onions, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. concentrated tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 30 ml/ 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10 ml / 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Cut the chicken into small chunks and place in a large bowl.
  3. Marinate the chicken in cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if used), lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well so that all the ingredients coat the chicken pieces. Cover and keep in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables. Cut the outer skin of celeriac root and slice in chunky strips. Rub the celeriac with 1 tbsp. lemon juice to avoid discoloring.
  5. Combine the celeriac with the other vegetables chopped, except chard, in a baking dish. Add the 2 tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and ground black pepper and mix well.
  6. Stir in the marinated chicken to the vegetables mixture and combine well.
  7. Pour in the1.2 liters/2 pints/5 cups water and mix well.
  8. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. After 30 minutes, stir in the chopped chard to the mixture and give a good stir. Cover and bake 10 -15 minutes more, until the chard is tender and chicken is cooked.
  10. Serve hot with crusty bread aside.
 

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