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Pastry rolls with pastirma, cheese and vegetables; Pacanga Boregi

Filo rolls with Turkish pastirma, spicy pastrami - Pacanga boregi

Filo rolls with Turkish pastirma, spicy pastrami – Pacanga boregi

Delicious delicacy pastirma, dried cured beef with a coating of spices called cemen, consisting of cumin, fenugreek, garlic and hot chili flakes is also very much enjoyed in pastries, as part of a mezze spread in Turkey. Pacanga boregi, as we call in Turkish, showcases flavorful pastirma, kasar cheese (Turkish cheddar cheese) and in some versions like mine, diced peppers and tomatoes. It is one of our favorite pastries for a Turkish style weekend brunch or as a mezze spread.

Turkish dried cured beef with a spicy cemen coating, Pastirma

Turkish dried cured beef with a spicy cemen coating, Pastirma

This wind-dried beef, pastirma has been made in Anatolia for centuries. It’s also been enjoyed throughout Middle Eastern as well as Eastern European countries and has a special part in Lebanese and Armenian cuisine. Some of the finest pastirma is being produced in Kayseri region, in Middle Anatolia, Turkey; it almost has a silky texture and just melts in the mouth, very aromatic with the spicy cemen coating; I hope you can have a chance to enjoy pastirma in Kayseri. Here is more information about pastirma, with a delicious egg recipe.

Rolling the pacanga boregi; tomatoes and peppers make a delicious filling with pastirma & cheeese

Rolling the pacanga boregi; tomatoes and peppers make a delicious filling with pastirma & cheese

Paçanga böreği is regarded as a traditional Sephardic Jewish specialty of Istanbul, filled with pastirma, kasar and julienned green peppers that is fried in olive oil and eaten as a mezze, appetizer”. There are a few versions of pacanga boregi, pastry rolls with pastirma; I like to include some tomatoes and green bell pepper (or pointy pepper, sivri biber in Turkey) in the filling. These juicy vegetables complement the rich, spicy taste of pastirma. They are traditionally made with fresh, paper thin sheets of yufka pastry and it’s great if you can get them. I used filo pastry sheets for my pacanga borek, and they worked well and boreks disappeared very quickly! They are also fried traditionally and I chose to bake them; they turned out very well.

Pacanga Boregi; Turkish pastry rolls with pastirma, Turkish pastrami

Pacanga Boregi; Turkish pastry rolls with pastirma, Turkish pastrami

I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Pastry rolls with pastirma, cheese and vegetables; Pacanga Boregi
 
I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls with Turkish pastirma, dried cured beef with spicy coating, cheese and vegetables. They are great served as mezzes, appetizers, part of a weekend brunch or a delicious snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Savory pastries with Turkish pastrami, dried cured beef
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 6 sheets of filo pastry (app. 48cmx25cm, 19”x10” each) or equivalent of yufka sheets
  • ½ green bell pepper or 1 pointy green pepper (sivri biber), finely diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, finely diced
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 slices of pastirma (Turkish dried cured beef), or a pastrami of your choice, roughly chopped
  • 150 gr / 5 oz. shredded Turkish kasar (cheddar) cheese or mozzarella, for a milder taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten to brush the pastries
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil to brush the pastries
  • Bowl of water to seal the pastries
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4
Instructions
  1. For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 1 hour before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo sheets to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the diced pepper and tomatoes. Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 -5 minutes, until the peppers start to soften. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste (You may use a little salt or omit, as the pastirma is quite salty too). Set aside to cool.
  3. Place the chopped pastirma or pastrami of your choice and the cheese in a wide bowl. Stir in the cooked tomatoes and peppers, combine well. Filling is ready.
  4. Cut the filo sheets into 11cmx25cm (4”x9”) rectangular stripes and stack on top of each other. Place a damp towel over them so that they don’t dry out.
  5. Lay two rectangular strips of filo sheets on top of one another.
  6. Place a generous tablespoon of the filling along the short end near you (take care not to overfill as the filling may ooze out while cooking). Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up like a fat cigar.
  7. Seal the end of the pastry as well as any openings/ cracks with little water. Repeat this with the remaining filo sheets.
  8. Mix the egg with the olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the boreks, pastries with this mixture and place them on a greased tray.
  9. Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden.
  10. Serve hot as a mezze spread, weekend brunch or a tasty snack.

 

Gorgeous tulips in Istanbul in April

Gorgeous tulips in Istanbul in April

Spring is in the air, trees are in full blossom, I love this time of the year. It’s the tulip season in Istanbul, and they are such a gorgeous sight to see. Here is a favorite tulip photo to share from my culinary & cultural trip to Istanbul last April; I hope it brightens your day!

 

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Poached anchovies or Anchovy Stew with vegetables; Hamsi Buğulama

Poached anchovies or anchovy stew with vegetables; Hamsi Bugulama

Poached anchovies or anchovy stew with vegetables; Hamsi Bugulama

I was delighted to get some fresh anchovy fillets, hamsi, as we call in Turkish at my local market a few weeks ago. This small, oily fish, caught from October in Turkey, is much loved and a big part of the Turkish cuisine, especially at the Black Sea coast. There are many recipes celebrating anchovy at Turkey’s Black Sea region, from fried anchovies, hamsi tava, to anchovies poached in vine leaves, from anchovy bread to hamsi pilavi, delicious rice with pine nuts and currants, encased in anchovy fillets. Anchovy, hamsi lovers apparently even make anchovy jam at the Black Sea region!

Fragrant anchovy rice with pine nuts and currants

Fragrant anchovy rice with pine nuts and currants, Hamsi Pilavi

I simply love poaching this delicious, strongly flavored anchovy fillets with layers of vegetables in a little water and olive oil. This method of cooking is called “bugulama” (steamed) in Turkish cuisine; not only healthy but also delicately brings out the flavors of each component here. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions add a lovely flavor in their own juice and balance strong taste of anchovies. Slices of lemon and parsley also add a delicious, refreshing taste; all in one pot, healthy dish, packed with flavor. Any small fish or fillets of white fish, as well as sardines would also work well in this dish. You may be able to get your anchovies gutted and cleaned by your fishmonger or buy as fillets.

Poached anchovies with vegetables. Hamsi Bugulama

Poached anchovies with vegetables. Hamsi Bugulama

You can enjoy this poached anchovies with vegetables or anchovy stew as a mezze to share, or a main course.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews

Poached anchovies or Anchovy Stew with vegetables; Hamsi Buğulama
 
Poached anchovies with vegetables, Hamsi Bugulama, is a specialty from the Black Sea region of Turkey. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions add a lovely flavor in their own juice and balance the strong taste of anchovies. Slices of lemon and parsley also add a delicious,refreshing taste; all in one pot, healthy dish, packed with flavor.
Author:
Recipe type: A seafood specialty with anchovies, from Turkey’s Black Sea Region
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 450gr/1 lb. anchovies (or sardines or a fish of your choice), scaled, gutted, head & tail removed
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 45 ml/ 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 fl. oz. / ½ cup water
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the onions, spring onions, parsley and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Knead well with your hands to infuse the spices to the onion; this will also soften them and release their juice.
  2. Parboil (partially cook) the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 – 7 minutes then drain the water.
  3. Stir in the parboiled potatoes to the onion mixture and combine well.
  4. Layer the onions and potatoes on a wide, heavy pan.
  5. Lay the anchovy fillets (or the fish of your choice) evenly on top of onions and potatoes.
  6. Next layer the slices of tomatoes and lemon over the fish. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste.
  7. Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil over and pour in the water to the pan.
  8. Cover and start cooking over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then lower the heat and cook for 15 -20 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), or until fish and vegetables are cooked.
  9. Serve hot with some crusty bread aside if you like.

 

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Stuffed Dried Eggplant and Pepper Dolma; Kuru Patlican Dolmasi

Dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat and aromatic rice; kuru patlican dolmasi

Dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat and aromatic rice; kuru patlican dolmasi

Have you ever had stuffed dried eggplants or peppers, kuru patlican ve biber dolmasi, in Turkey? Or ever wondered what to do with those dried eggplants beautifully displayed hanging at food stores? You are in real treat if you can get hold of them, as not only they are wonderful as a decoration (and a talking point, as I use them at my Turkish cookery classes), these dried vegetables (actually fruits, as they have seeds in them) are also scrumptious when stuffed. You are most likely served kuru patlican dolmasi, stuffed dried eggplants as a mezze at kebab houses in Turkey. You may also enjoy them at esnaf lokantalari, traditional, local Turkish restaurants, or specialty eateries like Ciya restaurant in Kadikoy, Istanbul, where they serve some of the best examples of Turkish regional cuisine.

Dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish food stores in Istanbul.

Dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish food stores in Istanbul.

Turkish cuisine is based on seasonal, fresh produce and we as a country, are blessed with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in every season. When eggplants and peppers (as well as baby okra and many others) are in abundance, some of the harvest is dried out to be used out of season. For instance, the fleshes of the eggplants (aubergines) are scooped out and the shells are tied together with a piece of string. These strings of eggplant shells are than dried out in the sun, accumulating a rich, concentrated flavor of the eggplants. You can buy these strings of dried eggplants and peppers at Turkish & Middle Eastern stores abroad.

Blanched, rehydrated dried eggplants and peppers

Blanched, rehydrated dried eggplants and peppers

In order stuff the dried eggplants and peppers, you need to blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling water to rehydrate, until they start to soften up but still retain their bite. You then need to give them a “cold bath” in a pan of cold water, so that they retain their vibrant color and texture.

Kuru Patlican ve biber dolmasi; stuffed dried pepper and eggplants

Kuru Patlican ve biber dolmasi; stuffed dried pepper and eggplants

As for the filling, I love the addition of fragrant dried mint, tangy pomegranate molasses and the rich pepper paste, biber salcasi (if you don’t have red pepper paste, you can add a delicious heat with red pepper flakes) to the stuffing mixture, as we do in southern Turkish cooking. They complement the dried eggplants and peppers beautifully, and the aromas take me right back to my hometown, Antakya. Bulgur can also be used instead of rice, as in Gaziantep cuisine and it is delicious. You can also omit the meat for a vegetarian course, and can add more onions and herbs to the filling.

I hope you can get some of these dried peppers and eggplants and enjoy these delicious dolmas. They make a great food for entertaining, a real crowd pleaser – dolmas do disappear very quickly, so I advise making a few extra!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews

Dried eggplant and pepper dolma with ground meat and spiced rice
 
I hope you enjoy these dried eggplants and peppers, stuffed with ground meat, aromatic rice, pomegranate molasses and spices, a Southern Turkish specialty. Afiyet Olsun!
Author:
Recipe type: Regional Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 12 dried eggplant shells & 15 dried small bell pepper shells, string removed
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 200gr/7 oz. / 1 cup long grain rice, rinsed
  • 400gr/14 oz. ground (minced) beef – or ground meat of your choice -
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste (biber salcasi) – optional
  • 15ml/ 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (or a good balsamic vinegar, for substitute)
  • 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil (for the filling)
  • 5ml/1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 10ml/2 tsp. dried mint
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped, as a cap (optional)
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil (for cooking)
  • 500ml/ 16 fl oz. / 2 cups (or a little less) water for cooking
  • Garlicky plain yoghurt to serve
  • Turkish red pepper flakes to serve
Instructions
  1. Cut the strings of the dried eggplants and peppers and place on a large pan of boiling water. Blanch them for 3 minutes to rehydrate. Afterwards, gently place them on another pan with cold water for 2 minutes, to give them a “cold bath”; this will help them to retain their color and texture and not to break apart. Then gently place the hydrated dried peppers and eggplants in a sieve/colander, ready to be stuffed.
  2. Place the onions, garlic, pepper paste (if using), tomato paste, parsley, 1 tbsp. olive oil and spices in a large bowl. Season with salt and black ground pepper to your taste. Knead this mixture with your hands for a minute, making sure all blended well (this stage also helps to soften the onions). Stir in the ground meat, rice and pomegranate molasses to the bowl and mix well. Filling is ready.
  3. Get a wide, heavy pan for cooking and pour in the 2 tbsp. olive oil (it would be ideal to place the stuffed peppers/eggplants side by side in one layer). Spoon the filling mixture carefully into each pepper and eggplant, pressing gently for the filling to settle in. Make sure to leave about 1cm (0.4”) space at top for the rice to cook and expand. You can seal the tops with a piece of tomato as a cap or you may press the edges together for a gentle close. Place them up right, side by side, packed tightly.
  4. Pour in about 2 cups of water (or a little less) over and around the stuffed peppers and eggplants. The water should cover half length of the stuffed vegetables. Bring the liquid to the boil then reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 30 – 35 minutes or until the filling is cooked.
  5. Serve hot with Turkish red pepper flakes sprinkled over them, if you like. Thick plain yoghurt with a little crushed garlic goes very well with these stuffed eggplants and peppers. Cacik dip of cucumber, yoghurt and mint would complement these dolmas very nicely too.
Notes
You can use bulgur instead of rice. For a gluten-free option, you can use whole grain basmati rice.
You can omit ground meat for a vegetarian option. I suggest including more onions and herbs instead with extra olive oil for the vegetarian option.

 

 

 

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