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Author Archive | Ozlem Warren

Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir

 

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Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and pomegranate molasses; a delicious bowl of health

My good friend Kate came over and we made Kisir today; it was lovely to cook with a friend and share the food. Kate is such a foodie and it is amazing to see how the food connects people no matter where we come from, a universal language. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

So here comes kisir. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate syrup) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

2 cups coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate sauce
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate syrup together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Note: Bulgur wheat unlike cracked wheat, is a grain made from the cooked wheat berries which have the bran removed, and are then dried and pounded. There are two varieties generally available, fine and coarse. If you can get the fine bulgur wheat, use 1/2 cup water for 1 cup fine bulgur wheat.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Turkish Hot Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi


Turkish Hot Red Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi

Red pepper paste is being used a lot in southern Turkish cooking and with my roots being from there, I do use quite a lot too. It brings a wonderful, rich texture and flavor to salads like spicy bulgur wheat salad – kisir -, stews, meat marinating. At home, the ladies in the villages cook big batches of the spicy red peppers and spread them on the top of their terraces to dry out all the juices so that you get the wonderful, concentrated flavor of the hot red peppers. The dried red peppers, as I put a photo on the headline, are also such a wonderful landmark at home, you see them hanging on spice markets and bazaars all around, a feast to the eye and to your stomach!:)

The red pepper paste is available thru the Middle Eastern markets, and the Turkish website www.tulumba.com carries them too. In London, Tas Organic carries a wonderful red pepper paste in jars, and I have been very lucky to get great batches of them, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Judith. In the US, Phonecia Bakery (in Austin and Houston) and Sarah’s Deli in Austin carries them.

In case if you can’t get hot red pepper paste, here is a simple recipe (an adaptation from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Turquoise) to make at home.

Serves 4 – 6

3 long red peppers
3 long red chiles, seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the peppers and the seeded chiles for 20 minutes on a tray. Turn them once, until the skins blister and char. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and pull away the seeds and membranes. Roughly chop the peppers and put into a blender. Use a sharp knife to scrape the flesh of the chiles away from the skins – this is easier than trying to peel them – Whiz to a fine puree, then add the salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Cover and keep in the fridge. This should keep the fridge for a week or more.

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Spinach and Cheese Pie – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek

 

 

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Ispanakli, Peynirli borek; spinach and cheese pie

Merhaba (means Hello in Turkish);

I hope this lovely borek recipe inspires you to go back to kitchen and make it for friends and family – or why not just treat yourself?-

This wonderful pie has to be one of the most deliciously pleasing and easy borek around. I use the fillo pastry sheets for this recipe and it works well. If frozen, you need to defrost them overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. I demonstrate this Spinach and feta filo pie, Ispanakli Borek at my online Turkish cookery course with step by step instructions, along with other classic Turkish recipes at my course, if you’d like to have a look, here’s the link to my online Turkish cookery course.

At home, boreks, savory pastries are a very popular snack with ladies’ tea time gatherings and immensely popular with children too. I remember fondly looking forward to my mother’s tea parties to enjoy these tasty treats, and now my children totally love them anytime of the day!

Delicious spinach and cheese pastry with fillo sheets; Ispanakli, peynirli borek

Delicious spinach and cheese pastry with fillo sheets; Ispanakli, peynirli borek

It is a great addition to a weekend brunch or a dinner party appetizer, Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 8 -10
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes

150 gr / 7 oz spinach leaves
150 gr/ 7 oz feta cheese, mashed with a fork
100 gr / app. 4 oz shredded mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup / 125 ml milk
1/2 cup / 125 ml water
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
12 sheets of fillo pastry (cut in half vertically, which makes 24 sheets)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 180c/350 F/gas mark 4

Remove the stalks of the spinach, wash and chop roughly. Mix together in a bowl with the feta cheese, shredded mozzarella and two of the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and milk.

Grease a rectangular baking dish with the remaining olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets along its long side and cut in half vertically. Open the sheets only when you are ready to use them and cover the rest with a damp towel so that they don’t dry out.

Lay three sheets in the greased baking dish. Pour a little of the milk-olive oil-water mixture (about 3 tablespoons) all over the sheet. Repeat this layering two more times, using three fillo sheets each time.

Lay three more sheets over and spread the spinach filling evenly. Continue laying three sheets of fillo, pouring over each the milk mixture, three more times. Lay the remaining sheets on the top of the pie, sprinkling the milk mixture. Whisk together the remaining beaten egg with a little olive oil and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.

Bake the pie in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into pieces. This dish can be successfully reheated.

Important tips: If you would like to cut back on the amount of the eggs, you can omit or decrease them in the spinach and feta filling. 2) Once cooked, if you keep the pie covered with flax or parchment paper, this will keep the pie moist. 3) This pie freezes wonderfully. Once cooled, put the pie in a freezer bag and seal. When you’d like to reheat (at 350 F for about 15 minutes), put the pie in a greased baking tray and sprinkle the top with a little milk and water mixture to give some moisture.

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