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Delights and Street food from Turkey and how to make them at home

Wholesome, delicious Turkish breakfast, my favorite meal of the day

Wholesome, delicious Turkish breakfast, my favorite meal of the day

Merhaba and greetings from Turkey; it has been wonderful to be back home, catching up with family, friends and enjoying this fascinating land. I wanted to share with you some photos from our trip with a special highlight on Turkish street food and breakfast we have been enjoying. I hope it inspires and you can give it a go at this delici0us, wholesome recipes. I embraced Turkish breakfast as soon as we arrived Istanbul. Eggs done different ways, Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings, flavorful olives, Turkish white cheese, specialty white cheese with herbs, Van’s Otlu Peynir, ripe juicy sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and savory pastry are all a part of our wonderful Turkish breakfast. This plate is from the wonderful Van Kahvalti Evi in Cihangir, Istanbul. The herbed cheese, Otlu Peynir is a special favorite. Here’s some ideas for you to recreate your own Turkish breakfast.

Cobbled streets of Cukurcuma antique market in Cihangir, Istanbul

Cobbled streets of Cukurcuma antique market in Cihangir, Istanbul

A gorgeous antique door at Cukurcuma market, how I wished to take it back home

A gorgeous antique door at Cukurcuma market, how I wished to take it back home

I love Cihangir area in Istanbul and thanks to dear Senior Dogs Abroad, I made a visit to the Cukurcuma antique and flea market to wander amongst beautiful old, antique furnishings; plates, cutlery being a special focus, I fell in love with this wonderful, ancient door, how I wished to take it back home.

A heavenly tray of Baklava in Istanbul

A heavenly tray of Baklava in Istanbul

This heavenly tray of baklava was the next thing attracted my attention. The real thing is much lighter and flaky than its versions abroad, hope you can enjoy baklava in Turkey. You can also make baklava at home; here’s my home made baklava with walnuts recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Full moon in Istanbul, by the Bosphorus

Full moon in Istanbul, by the Bosphorus

Delicious mezzes and company by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

Delicious mezzes and company by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

We were lucky to enjoy a beautiful full moon by the Bosphorus. We celebrated dear Mehmet’s, my brother-in-law’s birthday over delicious Turkish mezzes.

Wonderful to be back to Bodrum

Wonderful to be back to Bodrum

Freshly picked vegetables at the farmers market in Bodrum, Turkey

Freshly picked vegetables at the farmers market in Bodrum, Turkey

Cokelek Salata; crumbled white cheese or feta salad, flavored with cumin, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Cokelek Salata; crumbled white cheese or feta salad, flavored with cumin, red pepper flakes and olive oil

Turkish tea, cay - taste even more delicious by the sea side in Bodrum

Turkish tea, cay – taste even more delicious by the sea side in Bodrum

And now back to Bodrum; my parents have a time share home here that we and children long to come back. Life evolves around simple pleasures; an early morning swim, followed by a leisurely, long Turkish breakfast. Dad and the children pick up the fresh produce – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers from Gulsum Baci’s garden and we make a lovely Cokelek Salata; crumbled feta salad with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, flavored with cumin and red pepper flakes. I am also in charge of making the Menemen; Turkish style scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, peppers and cheese. Sitting at the terrace, we all tuck in with flavorful, olives, more cheese and glasses of cay, Turkish tea to wash it all with the family – my idea of heaven, my favorite meal of the day.

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastries with cheese and parsley

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and herbs

Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and herbs

Simit; Sesame encrusted bread rings

Simit; sesame encrusted bread rings

Simit; sesame encrusted bread rings

Mid day snack would be either this delicious, national favorite pogaca; savory pastry with cheese and herbs or Turkish sesame encrusted bread rings, Simit; children and we all love them and they dissappear quickly. Simit and pogaca are both widely available at bakeries, street stalls and pastanes, patisseries in Turkey.

Midye Dolma; Stuffed mussels with aromatic rice

Midye dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants

Midye dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants

And then comes Midye Dolma; these delicious stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants are a delightful street food in Turkey. You can find them in street stalls or at vendors selling by the beach side. Ali Usta, our regular midye dolma vendor turns up every afternoon near our beach at Turgut Reis, Bodrum with delicious midye dolmas. All you need is a squeeze of lemon over them, delicious! I did make stuffed mussels at home, they turned out really well. Cleaning the mussels can be a bit of a labor of love but well worth all the effort, here is my Stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with toppings

Peynirli Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with cheese, spinach and vegetables

Peynirli Pide; Turkish oval flat breads with cheese, spinach and vegetables

Turkish oval flat breads with various toppings, Pide, is another favorite street food in Turkey. Our favorite is Pide with cheese and vegetables as well as the Flat breads with ground meat and vegetable topping; Kiymali Pide. A favorite snack and street food both at the sea side and in the towns and cities.

Lahmacun; Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, Turkish style thin pizza with ground meat and vegetables topping

Lahmacun, thin, small Turkish style pizza with ground meat, onions, tomato and parsley topping is also a hugely popular Turkish snack, street food. You can enjoy them at street vendors, kebab houses or lahmacun houses that would only sell this delicious treat. We would wrap lahmacun with slices of tomato, onions and parsley with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice over. Here’s my Lahmacun recipe if you’d like to make this delicious treat.

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

Gozleme; Anatolian flat breads with fillings

We Turks love these stuffed flat breads, gozleme. Turks were originated from Central Asia, where they drifted towards Anatolia gradually and made their home. They have been making these stuffed flat breads since then. Gozleme is a much loved Turkish street food and a special part of the delicious Turkish breakfast. These popular snacks are cooked quickly on a hot griddle and can be filled with various fillings. Some of my favorite fillings are mashed potatoes, cheese and parsley; spinach and cheese, and ground meat and onions. Here’s my Gozleme with spinach and cheese recipe, hope you enjoy it, afiyet olsun.

Turkish Coffee; Turk Kahvesi – More than a drink

Delightful Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

Delightful Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi

Have you ever tried the deliciously frothy Turkish coffee? It is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. As it is so widely available it is a part of Turkish street food for me. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years”. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights, Lokum by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. I shared this special cup with my mother while in Bodrum, it was very memorable. Here’s how to make Turkish coffee properly and its rituals, hope you enjoy yours.

Bodrum Castle, Turkey

Bodrum Castle, Turkey

I hope this post inspires you to create delicious, wholesome Turkish treats and visit this fascinating land sometime.

My best wishes from Turkey, Selamlar, Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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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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