Greetings from Austin, Texas!
We had a delightful and full class of Turkish food lovers at my Turkish cooking class at the Central Market Cooking School, Austin, Texas. It was a very special time to reconnect with dear foodies who used to come to my classes there, as well as meeting new Turkish food lovers, I am grateful to be able to return to this wonderful cooking school and their company.
We had 40 -full class!- Turkish food lovers at the class and a small army of CM Chefs; Cindy, Giovanni and Kelly helped us get the our Turkish feast ready.
Turkish Cuisine is based on seasonality and we use a lot of fresh, seasonal produce. When a vegetable or fruit is not in season (like peppers, aubergines, okra etc) we dry them to use when they are not in season. Here we have been talking about dried eggplants and different recipes to use them in (stuffed dried eggplants are especially delicious).
Turks were Nomads who used to live a tribal life in Central Asia prior settling in today’s Turkey, and in those days, their diet was based on meat and dairy. Many folks found learning about the Turkish culinary history quite fascinating.
Here I would like to share our menu at my Turkish Cookery Class with Central Market, showcasing flavorful Southern Turkish Cuisine. All these recipes are designed for you to be able to recreate easily at your home. I hope you can get to try and enjoy them :
This is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating them. It is one of my mother’s recipes from her historic hometown Antakya (Antioch) and whenever I make it, I feel like I am home.
Tahini bread or pita bread would go really well with this delicious dip/spread. You can keep the dip covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Middle Eastern stores or specialty stores usually carry the red pepper paste, so as Turkish online supermarket, Tulumba.com in the US. If you like to make your own hot red pepper paste, here is my recipe. Click here for the Walnut and red pepper paste with olive oil dip recipe.
This is a lovely refreshing smoked eggplant salad again from southern Turkey, Antakya, this time with garlic yoghurt and mint. It goes very well with grilled meats, or just with some nice crusty bread as an appetizer. This salad or mezze is perfect for hot summer days and can be kept in fridge for a couple of days. Here is the smoked eggplant with garlic and yoghurt recipe.
These pistachio lamb kebabs in cherry and tomato sauce are easy to recreate in your home, delicious and look impressive. Children love them as well as the adults, so they are great for entertaining. Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. They kebabs are wonderful when chargrilled in summer time, but equally delicious grilled or baked in the oven. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special. Here is my recipe for the pistachio lamb kebabs.
An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Making baklava at home is surprisingly easier than you think; and I like the fact that you can adjust the sweetness of the syrup to your taste. Here is my baklava recipe, if you’d like to have a go.
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. 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 by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. Here is step by step instructions for how to make Turkish coffee at home.
As always, it is the people what makes a place special. I was very grateful to have the company of dear friends, Turkish food lovers and enthusiasts at the class. Thank you all for your company and making me feel at home!
I hope these recipes and photos may inspire to have a go and try these delicious, easy recipes. Let me know if you have any questions, it is always good to hear from you and I would be delighted to help out.