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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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My Online Turkish Cookery Course with Classic Turkish Recipes – Live Now!


Watermelon and White Cheese (Feta) Salad; Karpuz, Peynir, Ekmek

Watermelon and Turkish white cheese (or feta) Salad;  Karpuz, peynir, ekmek

Watermelon and Turkish white cheese (or feta) Salad; Karpuz, peynir, ekmek

Watermelon, or karpuz, as we call it in Turkish, is a much loved summer fruit and my daughter’s favorite. I remember as a child, cooling the watermelon at my grandmother’s little fountain in her courtyard in Antakya (and we children dipping in and out of the fountain to cool down, along with the watermelon). We would eagerly wait for our cool slice of watermelon, and that heavenly very first bite into the sweet, refreshing fruit – happy days.

This is a typical, refreshing and delicious salad we Turks love. A very simple one too, with only watermelon, Turkish beyaz peynir, white cheese (or feta cheese) and a few fresh mint leaves in it. Ripe, juicy and sweet watermelon doesn’t really require any other dressing in this salad and complement the mildly salty white cheese or feta cheese very well. We love this salad as part of our summer Turkish breakfast, for lunch or as a side to grills. With fresh Pide bread, ekmek by the side, this watermelon and feta salad is one of the highlights of summer for me.

Beautiful flowers in Bodrum, Turkey

Beautiful flowers in Bodrum, Turkey

We will be off to Turkey shortly; I can’t wait to see family, friends and take in all the sights, smells and tastes my wonderful homeland offers. I wish you all a lovely summer in delicious food and company. I look forward to being in touch from home to share the delights of this magical land.

Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice and minced meat, Sarma

We will learn how to make Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice and minced meat, Sarma, during our  Turkish Cookery class at Divertimenti Cookery School

Before I sign off; delighted to let you know that I will be teaching a feast of Turkish Cookery Classes with the wonderful Divertimenti Cookery School in London, on Tuesday 13th October and on Sunday, 13th December. Please save the dates, I would love to see you there, if you can. Places are limited and the bookings will be through Divertimenti Cookery School website as of 2nd September, you can see the class details at  Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes.

Afiyet Olsun, Happy Summer – Guzel bir yaz dilegiyle,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Watermelon and White Cheese (Feta) Salad; Karpuz, Peynir, Ekmek
 
Watermelon, karpuz is a much loved summer fruit in Turkey and this watermelon and feta salad is one of the highlights of summer for me. Ripe, juicy and sweet watermelon doesn’t really require any other dressing in this salad and complement the mildly salty white cheese or feta cheese very well. We love this salad as part of our summer Turkish breakfast, for lunch or as a side to the grills.
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy Turkish Salads
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 slices of medium, ripe and cool watermelon
  • 200 gr / 7 oz. Turkish white cheese, beyaz peynir or feta cheese
  • Fresh mint leaves to decorate
Instructions
  1. Keep the watermelon in the fridge for 2 hours to cool, prior to cutting.
  2. Slice the watermelon and cut the skin. Take out the large seeds in the watermelon (smaller seeds don’t bother us and we leave, you can take them out if you prefer).
  3. Cut the watermelon into about 1 in (2,5 cm) cubes or small wedges. Place the watermelon in a serving plate.
  4. Drain the juice of the Turkish white cheese or feta cheese and cut into small cubes (again about 1 in/ 2,5 cm).
  5. Gently toss the feta cheese and watermelon in the serving plate and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
  6. Serve immediately with fresh Pide bread or pita bread slices by the side. This refreshing salad is delicious as part of Turkish style breakfast or lunch. You can also serve watermelon and feta salad with grilled fish, meat and vegetables.
 

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Sekerpare; Tender and Moist Turkish Semolina Cookies in Syrup

Sekerpare; tender and moist Turkish semolina cookies in syrup

Sekerpare; tender and moist Turkish semolina cookies in syrup

Sekerpare is a much loved Turkish dessert, made in Turkish homes and a huge favorite of my dear brother-in-law, Mehmet. You can also find Sekerpare in bakeries and patisseries, pastane as we call it, all around in Turkey. Semolina based national favorite Sekerpare would always appear at my mother’s tea time spread, during celebrations with family and friends, as well as at religious festivities as when marking the end of Ramadan.

Sekerpare means “a piece of sweet” in Old Turkish and I love the crumbly, lighter texture semolina brings to Sekerpare, it simply melts in your mouth. My version is a little lighter and less sweet, fragrant with lemon juice and lemon zest.

Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking.

Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking.

A few tips for a successful Sekerpare: 1) Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking. 2) First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool. Once all the syrup absorbed, Sekerpare will be soft and tender enough to eat with a fork.

Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool.

Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool.

We enjoy Sekerpare with Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, cay for a tea time treat or as a dessert after meal. I hope you can have a go at this delicious and easy to make treat.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Adapted from Adventures in Turkish Cooking, Anatolia Cookery Book

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sekerpare; Tender and Moist Turkish Semolina Cookies in Syrup
 
Sekerpare is a much loved Turkish dessert, made in Turkish homes. Sekerpare means “a piece of sweet” in Old Turkish and I love the crumbly, lighter texture semolina brings to Sekerpare, it simply melts in your mouth. My version is a little lighter and less sweet, fragrant with lemon juice and lemon zest. We enjoy Sekerpare with Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, cay for a tea time treat or as a dessert after meal; hope you can give it a go and enjoy too.
Author:
Recipe type: Semolina based Turkish Desserts
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 20 pieces
Ingredients
  • Zest of 1 small lemon
  • 115 gr/ 4 oz. / ½ cup sugar
  • 125 gr/ 4 ½ oz. unsalted butter
  • 300 gr/ 10 ½ oz. /2 cups plain (all – purpose flour)
  • 95 gr / 3 ¼ oz. / ½ cup fine grained semolina
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. light olive oil (and a little extra to grease the baking tray)
  • 20 blanched almonds or hazelnuts
  • Small bowl of cold water (to help shape the sekerpare cookies)
  • For the syrup:
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar
  • 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4
  2. First make the syrup. Grate the lemon zest into a bowl and set aside for the dough.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into a cup.
  4. Combine the 345 gr/ 12 oz. /1 ½ cup sugar and 480 ml/ 16 fl. oz. / 2 cups water in a heavy sauce pan over the medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir and let the sugar dissolve.
  5. Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes for the syrup to thicken slightly. Turn the heat off and set the syrup aside to cool.
  6. Now, let’s make the dough. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat (or cut in small chunks and melt in microwave for 30 – 40 seconds, mixing half way).
  7. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the semolina. Make a well in the middle and pour in the butter. Stir in the 2 eggs, 115 gr/ 4 oz./ ½ cup sugar, lemon zest, 2 tbsp. light olive oil and the baking powder.
  8. Knead for 5 minutes, until you achieve a soft, moist dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
  9. Have a small bowl of cold water nearby. Knead the dough again for 5 minutes. Then wet your hands lightly with cold water and divide the dough and shape into twenty ping pong sized balls.
  10. Grease a baking tray with a little of light olive oil (about 1 tbsp.) and place the sekerpare dough balls side by side, making sure you leave extra space between them to expand. Gently press down on top of each ball to flatten slightly.
  11. Push an almond or hazelnut in the center of each sekerpare ball.
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until they start to turn light brown.
  13. Remove the sekerpare from the oven and pour cooled syrup over hot sekerpare cookies. Leave to cool and let the sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup for 15 minutes; they will get soft and tender.
  14. Serve cooled sekerpare with Turkish tea or coffee. You can keep sekerpare cookies covered in a container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Notes
A few tips for a successful Sekerpare: 1) Make sure to leave enough space between each sekerpare on the baking tray, as they expand during baking. 2) First make the syrup, as it needs to cool down. Pour the cooled syrup over hot Sekerpare and let the Sekerpare cookies absorb the syrup as they cool. Once all the syrup absorbed, Sekerpare will be soft and tender enough to eat with a fork.

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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

5.0 from 2 reviews
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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