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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Wholesome Bulgur Pilaf with Freekeh, Green Beans and Red Onions

Bulgur with freekeh, green beans and red onions; Taze fasulyeli, firikli bulgur pilavi

Bulgur with freekeh, green beans and red onions; Taze fasulyeli, firikli bulgur pilavi

Firik or Freekeh is indeed super food and an ancient grain; I love its delicious, nutty taste, similar to pearl barley. I recently made this delicious bulgur pilaf with freekeh and green beans; it turned out to be a wholesome, tasty vegetarian main course for us. We enjoyed bulgur with freekeh and green beans, Taze Fasulyeli, Firikli Bulgur Pilavi, with my Cacik dip of yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint for a complete and wholesome meal. If you are observing Ramadan, this wholesome pilaf with vegetables also proves to be a healthy, easy and delicious meal option.

Freekeh or firik; a wholesome, delicious and ancient grain

Bulgur and freekeh or firik; a wholesome, delicious and ancient grain

Freekeh is used a lot at my home town Antakya, ancient Antioch, and pairs with bulgur, vegetables and meat beautifully. Firik, (as in Turkish) or Freekeh (sometimes spelled frikeh) or farik is a cereal food made from green wheat that goes through a roasting process in its production. Firik is a popular and ancient grain used Middle Eastern & Southern Turkish cuisine and also popular in Levantine, Egyptian, Arabian Peninsula and North African cuisine. Here’s some more information on freekeh and my bulgur pilaf with freekeh, eggplant (aubergine) and meat recipe if you’d like to try out.

Bulgur pilaf with freekeh, green beans and red onions; delicious with a dollop of yoghurt on top.

Bulgur pilaf with freekeh, green beans and red onions; delicious with a dollop of yoghurt on top.

Runner beans, green beans or dwarf beans would all work well in this recipe; they are delicious combined with red onions, freekeh and bulgur. Bulgur is widely available now in supermarkets and you can find freekeh in Specialty, Turkish or Middle Eastern stores. I like to serve this wholesome pilaf with Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes on top, accompanied by a dollop of yoghurt or with refreshing Cacik dip of yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint.

I hope you enjoy this delicious, wholesome meal, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Bulgur Pilaf with Freekeh, Green Beans and Red Onions
 
I hope you enjoy this delicious and wholesome bulgur with super grain freekeh or firik, combined with green beans, red onions and garlic. Runner beans, green beans or dwarf beans would all work well in this recipe; they are delicious combined with red onions, freekeh and bulgur. I like to serve this wholesome pilaf with Turkish red pepper flakes or chili flakes on top, accompanied by a dollop of yoghurt or with refreshing Cacik dip of yoghurt, cucumber and dried mint.
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy grains; bulgur and freekeh with vegetables
Cuisine: Vegetarian - Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 350gr/12oz/2 cups coarse bulgur, rinsed and drained
  • 225gr/8oz/ generous 1 cup firik or freekeh, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 300 gr/ 11 oz./ 2 cups green, runner or dwarf beans, trimmed and cut into 3 cm / 1” long pieces
  • 400 gr/ 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes or 3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 pints/ 5 cups of hot water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes or chili flakes to serve
  • Dollop of plain yoghurt to serve
Instructions
  1. Trim the green beans and cut into 3 cm / 1” long pieces. If you are using runner beans, also slice them lengthways.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a heavy pot and stir in the red onions and green, runner or dwarf beans. Stir and sauté gently for 2-3 minutes over medium to high heat.
  3. Pour in the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in the garlic, rinsed bulgur and freekeh, combine all well with green beans and red onions.
  4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and hot water, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Combine well.
  5. Bring the pot to the boil. Then cover, reduce the heat and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.
  6. Turn the heat off. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen paper towel and place the lid firmly on top (the paper towel will absorb any excess moisture). Rest the pilaf for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve the bulgur pilaf with frekeeh and green beans hot with Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber sprinkled over, if you like. Refreshing Cacik Dip of diced cucumbers and dried mint with yoghurt or plain yoghurt complement this bulgur & freekeh pilaf very well.
Notes
Runner beans, green beans or dwarf beans would all work well in this recipe; they are delicious combined with red onions, freekeh and bulgur. Bulgur is widely available now in supermarkets and you can find freekeh in specialty, Turkish or Middle Eastern stores.

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Magical Istanbul and Cappadocia Tour, October 25-30th; Special Offer

Fascinating Turkey; Magical Istanbul and Captivating Cappadocia, Land of Fairy Chimneys, Tour Brochure
Sunday October 25th through Friday October 30st, 2015SPECIAL OFFER!

Ozlem1

“We feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to see Istanbul and Turkey with you. You made it a uniquely personal and an unforgettable experience.”

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

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

Please join us at our tailor made tour to explore my homeland, fascinating Turkey together. I am delighted to host this exciting tour, covering off the beaten track sights, experiencing foodie heaven markets 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. You will also enjoy and discover authentic Turkish cuisine with our Turkish cookery classes and learn how to make this wonderful cuisine. Cappadocia Region, the land of fairy chimneys will be a special highlight. Exploring Goreme Underground City, optional hot air balloon tour 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, visiting traditional Cappadocian home to experience local cuisine and many more – all to look forward to. We will be staying at charming, boutique hotels with warm Turkish hospitality for 5 nights.

Special Offer: 1,850 USD or 1,200 GBP (per person sharing in double room)

Single Supplement: 410 USD or 265 GBP

Fascinating Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Fascinating Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Tour Includes:
Accommodation (bed and breakfast) for 5 nights in boutique hotels, All museum entrances,
All internal flights in Turkey, VIP minibus ground transportation for 16 people, Welcome dinner and Farewell Dinner, 2 Turkish cookery classes, learning 2 different regional cuisines (Istanbul and Cappadocia for Anatolian cuisine), All airport transfers, All guide services, Private Bosphorus boat tour in Istanbul and cocktails.

Not included in the tour:
Your international return flight to Istanbul and Visa (if needed), personal expenses, extra drinks and mini bar at the hotels, drinks at meals. Single supplement if requested. Whirling dervish show and Turkish folk night, optional air balloon in Cappadocia, lunches and 2 dinners in Cappadocia. Gratuities for our guide and driver would also be most appreciated.

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

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

We will be enjoying the famous Turkish hospitality and learning how to make the delicious Turkish cuisine

We will be enjoying the famous Turkish hospitality and learning how to make the delicious Turkish cuisine

This bespoke culinary and cultural tour to Turkey is limited to 12 participants only and early booking is essential to guarantee spaces and availability for the desired hotels and internal flights. If you would like to join us to explore this fascinating land from a local’s perspective, please Contact me and kindly fill in the Fascinating Turkey 2015; Registration Form. I would also very much appreciate if you can kindly share this brochure with your family or friends that could be interested – this trip could be a wonderful, memorable present to someone, a trip of a lifetime.

Topkapi Palace by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

The delightful Bosphorus Boat tour is amongst the highlights of the 2015 Fascinating Turkey Tour.

Fascinating Turkey 2015; Culinary & Cultural Tour Brochure; October 25th – October 30st, 2015

ITINERARY

October 25th, Sunday: Arrival to Istanbul Ataturk International Airport (your arrival time is important to shape the activities of that day), transfer from the airport and check in to our charming Hotel Armada at the heart of Old Istanbul, Sultanahmet. Orientation tour in Sultanahmet, Old Istanbul. You may like to indulge in the famous Turkish Bath at the superb Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami. Private boat cruise along the Bosphorus to enjoy the beauty of Istanbul stretching to two continents. Welcome Dinner at the atmospheric Armada Hotel Terrace to enjoy delicious Turkish mezzes and kebabs overlooking the beautiful Old Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara.

October 26th, Monday: Leave hotel at 9 am after our delicious Turkish style breakfast and start exploring the fascinating Istanbul. We visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its turquoise Iznik tiles and frescoes. We will then continue to the breathtaking Hagia Sophia, a pioneer of architecture and the largest church in the world prior to St. Peter’s in Rome. After visiting the atmospheric Basilica Cistern, we will head to Nakkas Textile & Rugs to see their extensive collections on beautiful Turkish rugs (and experience how world famous Turkish carpets are made, while having lunch), tile, ceramics, print & calligraphy collection. Next stop is the magnificent Spice Market, to learn about and stock up on spices, Turkish delight, Turkish coffee and more. After all that festivity, we will take you to the New Town, Galata, Pera and Beyoglu area to introduce a different, another vibrant part of the city with its markets, passages, shops, mosques and sights. In the evening at 6.30 pm, we have a hands on Turkish cookery class where we learn to cook a delicious 4 course Turkish meal together and enjoy at the end.

October 27th, Tuesday: Check out from Hotel Armada and transfer to the airport to fly to Kayseri, Cappadocia region, land of fairy chimneys. Check in to our charming, beautifully decorated Peri Masali Cave Hotel with its rooms craved through hundreds of years and delicately restored with stones. Orientation tour and lunch to follow. Then visit to Goreme Underground City and Goreme Open Air Museum. Dine at local restaurant and learn about local regional cuisine during our meal.

October 28th, Wednesday: Scrumptious Turkish breakfast at our hotel to enjoy regional delicacies. Optional hot air balloon tour in the early morning, starting at 5 am (extra). At 9.30am visit a local Turkish Ceramic Art Shop to learn how the world famous tiles and ceramics made and watch masters working. Then we will visit a traditional Cappadocian home and will be treated to a special local Turkish cookery class by the village ladies who will teach the local cuisine of Cappadocia as well as other delicacies. Our day will end around 4 pm, giving you a chance to rest in your hotel or enjoy a Turkish Bath. Evening dinner with optional special Turkish Night to enjoy Folkloric Dances from various regions and live music with refreshments.

October 29th, Thursday: Early morning check out and transfer to the airport to fly to Istanbul and check in to Hotel Armada. Free time; perhaps a visit to Grand Bazaar for last minute souvenirs, we will gladly accompany you for this trip. As an alternative, visit the foodie heaven Kadikoy Market in the Asian side and lunch at Ciya Restaurant, famous with fine example of regional Turkish cuisine. Farewell Dinner at the Khorosani Restaurant.

October 30th, Friday: Check out from our hotel and transfer to the Ataturk International Airport for the return flight.

I have been organizing and hosting bespoke 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. I would be delighted to explore my homeland with you and show this amazing country from a local’s perspective.

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

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing from you and hope to have a chance to explore my homeland together.

My best wishes for happy travels to you all, Iyi Yolculuklar,

Ozlem

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Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice - a favorite street food in Turkey, easy to make at home

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice – a favorite street food in Turkey, quite easy to make at home

Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious treat we love as a nation. A favorite street and beach side food in Turkey, we would get a plateful of stuffed mussels from the local vendor at the beach in Turgut Reis, Bodrum. My son would tuck them in straight and they disappear far too quickly. You would also be welcomed by the street stalls, selling stuffed muscles in Istanbul, especially at Beyoglu district. You gently break off the top shell, give a good squeeze of lemon juice over the mussel with aromatic rice then scoop this delicious mixture with using the loose shell as a spoon, just heavenly.

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Midye dolma - stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

Midye dolma – stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

I was greatly inspired by Somer Sivrioglu’s amazing Turkish cookery book, Anatolia; Adventures in Turkish Cooking and encouraged to have a go at making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home. My recipe here is slightly adapted from Somer’s recipe in Anatolia cookery book. It’s a gem of a Turkish cookery book with clearly written, wonderful Turkish classics and beautiful photos from Turkey; Anatolia is highly recommended.

. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Some important tips on making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home:

1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

I was very glad to have a go at this delicious delicacy, midye dolma. It was well worth the effort and we as a family greatly enjoyed these stuffed mussels. The juicy currants and crunchy pine nuts go so well in the aromatic rice with herbs- they are a marriage made in heaven with mussels.  Midye dolma would make an impressive, delicious starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

5.0 from 2 reviews
Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma
 
Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious street food we love as a nation in Turkey. They are well worth the effort to make at home; these scrumptious stuffed mussels, midye dolma would make an impressive starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!
Author:
Recipe type: Seafood; mussels with aromatic rice
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 25 - 30 stuffed mussels
Ingredients
  • 25 - 30 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded
  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. currants
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. pine nuts
  • 110 gr/ 3 ¾ oz. / ½ cup short grain rice
  • 1 tomato, very finely chopped or grated
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 240 ml/ 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the currants in a bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
  2. Place the rice into a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain the rice and set aside.
  3. Make the stuffing first (you can also make the stuffing a day ahead of time). Heat the oil in a medium sized pan and stir in the onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts to the onions, sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, currants, chopped tomato, spices and season with salt to your taste. Pour in the hot water (about 240 ml/ 8 fl oz. / 1 cup) and combine all well. Bring to the boil then cover to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Rice will be “al dente” and still have a bite to it. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Once cool, stir in the chopped dill and parsley to the aromatic rice and combine well. Check the seasoning and add more salt or ground black pepper if you’d like. Set aside to cool. You can cook this delicious aromatic rice a day ahead of time and keep in the fridge, covered. This really helps the flavors to blend in and phase your cooking time wise.
  6. Now, open the mussels. If you’ve bought the mussels in a vacuum bag, open the bag over a bowl to catch any liquid inside. Place the mussels in a large bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean and scrape off any dirt. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel (if opening the shells become challenging, soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels). Slice through the meat so the shell opens with half the meat attached to each half shell – once you cut through the thick, round connecting muscle at the bottom of the mussel, it will be easy to open.
  7. Pour the juice from the mussel to a bowl. Snip off the beards and using your finger, remove any grit at the base. Spread the half shells to tear the muscle of the mussel, but leave the two halves connected. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.
  8. Place the mussels on a wide heavy pan, with the tips pointing outwards towards the edge of the pan, with the shells slightly overlapping (to prevent them opening). Build a tight spiral of shells in the center of the pan. There should be one layer of mussels, so if you have mussels left over, use another pan to keep on the layering. Place a wide plate over the mussels to prevent them from opening too wide while they cook.
  9. Strain the mussel juice through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin (cheese cloth) three times to remove any grit. Mix the mussel juice with water, make it up about 250 ml/ 9 oz. / generous 1 cup water (have another 1 cup of water ready if you are using two pans). Pour this mixture to the pan; the water level should only reach to the half of the shell. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature. Then cover and keep them in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour to cool further and for the flavors to settle. Serve stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, midye dolma on a big platter with lemon wedges by the side. They are best enjoyed eating with your hands, using the top shell to scoop the mixture out of the bottom shell, with a generous squeeze of lemon over the mussel with aromatic rice.
Notes
1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.
 

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