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Simply delicious Aegean flavors;Eggplants, tomatoes, onions, peppers cooked in olive oil & Fascinating Didyma

Kusadasi Bay, Turkey

Kusadasi Bay, Turkey

The Aegean cost of Turkey has a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is the many happy childhood holidays we spent in local resorts in Ayvalik, Gumuldur and Cesme, where many Turkish families have summer houses. As soon as the schools close, we all would dream about the coast, swimming at the turquoise Aegean, playing for hours at the golden sandy beaches and the next ice cream – a piece of heaven.

Fig trees at the Ephesus

Fig trees at the Ephesus

Spring in the air at the Aegean region, Turkey

Spring in the air at the Aegean region, Turkey

 

I don’t have the chance to go back to the Aegean as often as I like and every opportunity is very welcome. Once a year, I host and organise a Culinary & Cultural tour to Turkey, aiming to show my homeland from a local’s perspective – I greatly look forward to these trips and enjoy every minute of sharing this special land with folks. It has been delightful to be back to the breathtaking Aegean region again this April. Spring has been in full bloom; artichoke fields everywhere; the silver, beautiful olive trees welcomes you along the way; fig trees surprise you at the Ephesus – such a beautiful, bountiful region. During our tour, we always enjoy the local cuisine and learn how to cook delicious Turkish food together. This time, we again stopped by the lovely Bizimev Hanimeli to cook  and enjoy delicious Aegean flavors with Hatice Hanim.

Hatice Hanim and family, at Bizimev Hanimeli

Hatice Hanim and family, at Bizimev Hanimeli

I have met Hatice Hanim a few years ago; always with a smile at her face, she has been sharing her love of Turkish cuisine and feeding a remarkable crowd everyday at their Bizimev Hanimeli Restaurant, as well as teaching the local cuisine to enthusiasts like us. It is a real family affair; her husband, son, daughter, daughter-in-law all involved running this wonderful business. I love the fact  that they grow all their fresh produce, herbs, vegetables and fruits  in their beautiful garden and make their own olive oil. It is very remarkable that they grew their business all by themselves with a lot of hard work and maintained the same friendly service and the offer of high quality, consistent, delicious food. When I asked Hatice Hanim what kept her going in tough times, she smiled and said;If you respect your land, the nature, treat your helpers, family well and keep your spirits up, you find a way at the end. Hard work with a kind heart opens the doors for you; always believe in yourself.” How true; her words sealed in my mind.

Cooking together at Hanimeli, near Sirince, Turkey

Cooking together at Hanimeli, near Sirince, Turkey

We prepared a delicous 4 course meal with Hatice Hanim, in just over 1 hour – look forward to sharing all these recipes in the coming weeks- .Using their fresh produce from the garden and the olive oil, we made this wonderful Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants, onions, garlic and tomatoes cooked in olive oil; simple, seasonal ingredients produced such a delicious, memorable taste. We like to eat Zeytinyaglis, Vegetables Cooked in Olive Oil in room temperature. It is also delicious when served cold. I hope you enjoy it and can have a go sometime.

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants, Onions, Garlic, Peppers and Tomatoes Cooked in Olive Oil

Serves 4

3-4 small Holland (dark purple) eggplants/aubergines

2 medium onions, halved and chopped in thin slices

1 green pointy pepper, coarsely chopped

1 red pointy pepper, coarsely chopped

3-4 medium tomatoes, halved and sliced

5-6 garlic cloves, quartered

3 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped finely or 14oz/400 gr Italian chopped tomatoes

45ml/3 tablespoon olive oil

Handful of flat leaf parsley

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve – optional

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants in zebra stripes. Cut each eggplant in half length wise and then about 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay them on a wide flat tray and generously season with salt. This will help the moisture to come out of the eggplants. Leave for about 15 minutes. Drain the water that came out of the eggplants and squeeze them with a paper towel to extract the excess water.

Layer the sliced onions, garlic, pepper and eggplants one at a time.

Layer the sliced onions, garlic, pepper and eggplants one at a time.

Pour the olive oil in a heavy pan and spread the half of the sliced onions and garlic. Then spread half of the sliced peppers and a layer of sliced eggplants over them.

Repeat the layering with the remaining vegetables

Repeat the layering with the remaining vegetables

Repeat the same layering procedure for the 2nd half of onions, garlic, peppers and eggplants, and pour over the diced tomatoes. If you have any remaining eggplant slices left, layer them over the top.

Add the sliced tomatoes and a handful of parsley over the top.

Add the sliced tomatoes and a handful of parsley over the top.

Spread the sliced tomatoes over the very top and place a handful of flat leaf parsley. Season with salt and ground pepper and cover the pan. Start cooking at a medium heat for the first 5-8 minutes, then turn to heat to low and cook for  a further 3o minutes, until all the vegetables are cooked.

Delighted with the outcome :)!

Delighted with the outcome :)!

The vegetables here has been cooked in their own juices over low heat, and each of them just melt in your mouth!  The cooked  eggplants, garlic onions so scrumptious, packed with flavor. Seasonal produce cooked this way are not only healthy, but also very easy and delicious too.

 

Zeytinyagli Patlican; eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

 

I hope you enjoy this delicious eggplant dish, as you see, delicious food can also be healthy and easy. A few good seasonal produce, some olive oil and fresh herbs can produce wonders. You can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the dish before serving and decorate with sliced peppers if you like.  Traditionally, we like to eat Zeytinyaglis, Vegetables Cooked in Olive Oil, in room temperature or cold.

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It is very rewarding to cook together and share a delicious bite with others. We have a fabulous healthy eating event with my Turkish cookery demonstration on May18th; if you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me, I would be delighted to have your company.

 Afiyet Olsun, - May you be happy and healthy with the food you eat;

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinating Didyma and Its  Exquisite Columns

Temple of Apollo, Didyma (Didim), Turkey

Temple of Apollo, Didyma (Didim), Turkey

We made it to the fascinating Didyma, at the Aegean region, Turkey, at a rainy, windy April day and the temple looked even more stunning and dramatic. The huge white-marble temple is simply amazing and so worth seeing. The gigantic Temple of Apollo at Didyma (Didim in Turkish) was among the most famous oracles in the ancient world, equal in importance to the oracular temple at Delphi in Greece. There has been a temple here since very early times, but the older structure was destroyed by Cyrus of Persia in 494 BC. Construction began on the present stupendous structure soon after.

Head of Medusa, Didyma, Turkey

Head of Medusa, Didyma, Turkey

 

Head of Medusa at Didyma – we have been comparing it with the Medusa at the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful base column details at Didyma

Beautiful base column details at Didyma

 

But most of all it was the delicate, exquisite columns of Didyma, that fascinated me.

Originally, 122 enormous Ionic columns surrounded the temple; today only three remain intact. Dating from the 2nd century BC, the columns are 60 feet tall (the height of a six-story building) and have a diameter of 6 feet at the base. Even the stumps of columns that fell are impressive in size and display beautiful carvings at their base, like designs of Daphne leaves.

It's all in the details - beautiful carvings at the marbel columns of Didyma.

It’s all in the details – beautiful carvings at the marbel columns of Didyma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to have enough time to walk all the way around the temple to get the full effect. Didyma is well worth visiting, hope you can make it here sometime.

Happy Travels,

Ozlem

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26 Responses to Simply delicious Aegean flavors;Eggplants, tomatoes, onions, peppers cooked in olive oil & Fascinating Didyma

  1. jaz April 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    oh yum! what’s not to like? i am grateful that i can grow figs in my garden!

    • Ozlem Warren April 18, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      Merhaba Jaz; very impressed that you have fig trees in your garden – my grandmother used to have them, they are delightful: ) thank you for stopping by!

  2. Kym Ciftci April 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

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    You have made me miss home!! Can’t wait to get back to proper food :-)

    • Ozlem Warren April 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      Merhaba Kym; thank you for stopping by! It always feels good to be back home – I realise this even more as I age gracefully : )

  3. Turkey's For Life April 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

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    Food, travels, Aegean Turkey…all just perfect. :)
    Julia

    • Ozlem Warren April 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

      Merhaba Julia; that sums it up! The Aegean is so bountiful, so rich, a pleasure to explore and share : ) Ozlem x

  4. Alan April 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    . . a post of two halves and I’m so pleased you wrote the second. J is always saying ‘. . everybody has to eat – you should take an interest.’ I just say there’s nothing wrong with the lokanta and some containers!

    • Ozlem Warren April 18, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks Alan, a pleasure to be able to write about the second half, Didyma fascinated us all – and as much I love cooking, the lokantas and their containers are always welcome in our house too : )

  5. Claudia April 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

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    Gosh Özlem! You are having an amazing time here in Turkey! It all looks fabulous and I hope the people on your tour are enjoying every minute! I was very close to Didim last weekend but didn’t make it – it looks wonderful. The weather has been a bit changeable, though – some days hot, some days cold – but Turkey is always fantastic, I think!

    • Ozlem Warren April 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

      Merhaba Claudia, it really has been amazing, we all thoroughly enjoyed exploring Turkey – we hit the rain when we were in Didim but for the rest of the trip the weather has been very kind. Loved all your Selcuk post! : )

  6. Ella April 18, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    Wow everything looks amazing.I hope to visit Turkey in the summer holiday :-)

    • Ozlem Warren April 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Merhaba Ella; thanks for stopping by – you are very welcome, hope you enjoy your visit to Turkey!

  7. April Ozbilgin April 19, 2013 at 12:57 am #

    Another wonderful piece Ozlem! The best places are those like Hatice Hanim’s! Another display of Turkish hospitality in action!

    • Ozlem Warren April 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      So true April, love getting into local’s kitchen and be a part of it, they have been wonderful : )

  8. Peri April 19, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    My dear Ozlem, the technique for cooking this delectable dish is amazing and retains all the beautiful flavors of the food! Wonderful to read and visualize someday being in all these places:) Turkey is amazing land…xxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren April 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Thank you Peri, if I can pass on a glimpse of what Turkey offers, that’s a happy feeling; an amazing land with friendly people, greatly look forward to seeing you here : ) xx Ozlem

  9. zerrin April 19, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Özlem, it looks like you had great time cooking together in Bizim Ev Retaurant’s kitchen! How I wish I could be there with you! This eggplant dish is my favorite, but eggpants here at markets are still tasteless. I might wait for more than a month for good eggplants. And I’ve never added parsley on this olive oil dish, I bet it adds a very nice flavor. I will definitely add it next time!

    • Ozlem Warren April 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Merhaba Zerrin; Hatice Hanim grows her own produce and I love those slim and small eggplants, 1/5 size of what I can get abroad; hopefully you will find good eggplants soon in the market. Parsley did add a wonderful flavor, some folks tend to leave our once cooked, we loved enjoying as part of the dish!

  10. BacktoBodrum April 19, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

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    Cooking and archaeology – What more could anyone wish for?

    • Ozlem Warren April 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Greatly enjoyed that combination too – if you visit Didyma next time, there is a lovely restaurant called Asik just accross, with wonderful home cooekd dishes, highly recommended : )

  11. Kalyan April 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    Just mouthwatering…looks delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren April 22, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      thank you very much for stopping by, glad you enjoyed it!

  12. Barbara April 23, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

    What a wonderful trip – we took more or less the same route last year – minus your wonderful cooking class of course. Will try out your recipe asap.

    • Ozlem Warren April 23, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Merhaba Barbara, thanks, I remember talking about your wonderful trip, hope this brought some good memories : )

  13. Alida April 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

    This is so beautiful Ozlem! I mean the food you make and the history you can find in Turkey! It is a country which can offer a lot. Your cookery classes always seem like good fun. I see lots of smiley faces there X

    • Ozlem Warren April 24, 2013 at 8:59 am #

      Ciao Alida, thanks. Food and travel goes very well and there is plenty of it in Turkey, glad you enjoyed the post : )

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