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Tag Archives | baklava

Treats for Seker Bayrami, Eid Al-Fitr – Gullac, Baklava and more

Wonderful blue tiles at the Blue Mosque

There is a wonderful excitement in my parent’s home in Istanbul, as the holy month of Ramadan is now reaching to its end soon. My mother has been fasting, and we are all look forward to being together this year to celebrate the end of Ramadan in Istanbul. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement, charity, as well as increased devotion and worship. I love seeing family and friends visiting each other, elderly eagerly waiting for the young ones to pay a visit; little ones eagerly waiting for their sweet treats. Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, share what you have and visit one another. A wonderful time when feelings of tolerance and charity are foremost in people’s minds.

Inside of the Blue Mosque; a special time to visit during Ramadan

Gullac

My mother has so many treats in her mind for the family and friends to share. One of her favorite dessert for this time of the year is the traditional dessert, Gullac. This lovely, light dessert is prepared with Gullac wafers which is made with corn starch and wheat flour. You can find Gullac wafers at specialty or Middle Eastern stores, or at Turkish online shops like Tulumba or Marketurk in the UK.

Güllaç contains walnuts or almonds between the layers which are soaked in milk. It is light and wonderful dessert for warm summer days. You can decorate Gullac with pomegranate seeds in winter or dried fruits like apricots in summer; crushed pistachios are also wonderful over gullac.

Delicious and refreshing Gullac dessert, very light too

Delicious and refreshing Gullac dessert, very light too

Ingredients:

1 pack gullac wafers

600gr sugar

3kg milk

6 tbsp rose water

400gr crushed almonds

Chopped dried apricots and crushed pistachios to decorate

 

Combine milk and sugar in a heavy pan and bring to a boil. Add the rose water to the boiling milk.

Moisten the gullac wafers with milk. Spread the half of the wafers on top of each other on a wide tray. Sprinkle crushed walnuts or almonds in the middle, and stack the rest of gullac layers, soaked in the milk mixture. Pour the rest of the milk mixture over the top wafer and let it cool.  Garnish with dried apricot and crushed pistachio and serve.

 Here are some more ideas for end of Ramadan treats; who can resist baklava? It is easy to make home made baklava using fillo sheets.

Scrumptious baklava with pistachios

Here is Ekmek Kadayifi – Turkish bread pudding dessert, served with kaymak, our thick clotted cream.

Ekmek Kadayifi; a traditional dessert especially at the southern Turkey

How about our dried fig dessert with stuffed with walnuts? Here, the dried fig is first poached in hot water for a few minutes to soften up then stuffed with nuts.

Poached dried figs stuffed with nuts, decorated with pistachio nuts

As you see, the sweets are the stars for the end of Ramadan festivities. If you rather prefer savory to sweet, then boreks are your best bet. Su borek made  with paper thin yufka sheets or with fillo pastry sheets, with cheese and parsley filling, may be just the thing.

Cheese and parsley filled borek; lovely treat

 

Whatever treat you may choose, I hope you enjoy them and have a chance to share with others.

 

Blue Mosque from the terrace of the Armada Hotel

Afiyet olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser & Some Delicious Nibbles to Share

I was delighted to be a part of a good cause last week; Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser in Surrey, England.

Peterson’s Fund for Children’ is a registered local charity that supports children who struggle with cerebral palsy and other similar mental / physical disabilities. It has been in existence for nearly 4 years and through extensive fundraising efforts has provided therapy and equipment otherwise unavailable at the NHS in England. The aim of the charity is to help as many local children in need as possible in the hopes of improving their quality of life and offering them opportunities in order to maximize their individual growth and potential.

Twice a year, Charlene Peterson hosts this fundraiser and kindly opens her house to vendors to raise money for the charity. Wonderful vendors from different lines of businesses have joined forces together last week to help raise funds for the charity, and it was a big pleasure to be a part of this wonderful event. Here are some wonderful vendors from the fundraiser:

Ilgen’s Peshtemal towels can be used as beach towel or sarong or other outdoor use.

Here are Ilgen’s wonderful Turkish Peshtemal towels and natural soaps from the fundraiser event. Her light, super absorbent 100% cotton peshtemal towels (or mixture of luxurious blends including bamboo and silk) are simply wonderful and practical. llgen’s website Cotton & Olive will be up and running within a month, for further enquires please email ipaydas@btinternet.com.

Anila’s delicious home made curry sauces

I was delighted to meet Anila’s and taste her award winning curry sauces and samosas!!

Maro’s wonderful herb infused olive oil

Maro’s Kitchen was another wonderful vendor, with her herb infused extra virgin olive oil from Crete, so delicious. She also carries individually made spice mills; for further enquires, please email maroskitchen@gmail.com.

Home made baklavas for a sweet treat

I had some delicious home made baklavas, walnut, red pepper paste and olive oil dip over crackers at my table. I served the dip with rocket salad over the top; very easy to prepare and great for entertaining. The spice bowls are hand painted from Turkey, they have been a big hit. My heartfelt thanks goes to my parents and my sister for providing them 🙂

Walnut and red pepper paste dip on crackers and spice bowls from Turkey

Olives with Red Peppers, Spring onion and Parsley

I would like to leave you with this easy to prepare but very tasty, refreshing mezze, appetizer. It’s ready within minutes and goes very well over crackers or toasted bread. I also like to mix it with cooked pasta, bulgur or couscous for a healthy and delicious meal. Pomegranate molasses, a southern Turkish dressing, adds a wonderful, sharp and tangy taste to it. If you can’t get pomegranate molasses, you can replace with a good quality balsamic vinegar.

Seasonal, fresh ingredients make refreshing, healthy, delicious meals

Serves 4

Preparation time:10 minutes

175gr/6oz Turkish, Greek, Italian or Spanish olives, pitted

1 small red pointy or bell pepper, quartered and sliced coarsely

1-2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

10ml/1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

5ml/1 tsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Simply mix the chopped vegetables and olives in a bowl. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and the pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar) over them, combine well. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Serve the mezze over crackers or mix with cooked pasta, bulgur wheat or couscous for a delicious and light meal.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

 

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Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts – Fistikli ve Cevizli Baklava

Baklava with pistachios and walnuts, such a delicious treat

Baklava with pistachios and walnuts, such a delicious treat

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.

This recipe is an adaptation from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors.  My version of baklava is less sweet and more fragrant and lemony, must say really pleased with it. With using filo pastry sheets, baklava is much easier to make than you think. I hope you would give it a go sometime and enjoy this wonderful treat.

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Serves 12
Preparation time :20 minutes                 Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

230 gr/ 8oz / 1 cup melted unsalted butter
440 gr/1 lb. 2 packs of filo pastry sheets – total 24 sheets –
375 gr/ 13 oz. walnuts and unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
10 ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the syrup:
450 gr/ 2 ¼ cups sugar
420 ml/ 14 fl. oz. / 1 ¾ cup water
Juice of ½ large lemon

30cmx19 cm (12inx7in) baking dish to bake

To serve:
Ground pistachio nuts to sprinkle over the baklavas

Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F / Gas 3

Make the syrup first. Put the sugar into a heavy pan, pour in water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice, them simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool in the pan.

Melt the butter in a small pan and then brush a little over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.

To thaw frozen filo sheets, it is best to place it in the fridge the night before and bring it to room temperature 2 hours before using. If in the fridge, take out the filo pastry sheets 20 minutes prior using, to bring to the room temperature. Place two sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the greased pan and brush it with melted butter (trim from the edges to fit, if needed). Continue until you have used 12 filo sheets, brushing every two sheets with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.

Spread the walnuts over the 12th buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, and then continue as before with the remaining filo sheets. Brush the top one as well, then, using a sharp knife cut diagonal parallel lines right through all the layers to the bottom to form small diamond shapes.

Bake the baklava into the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden – if it is still pale, increase the temperature for a few minutes at the end.

When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and slowly pour the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to soak up the syrup, then take it out and leave to cool.

Once the baklava is cool, lift the diamond shaped pieces out of the pan and arrange them in a serving dish. Serve baklava pieces with ground pistachios over them, always at room temperature.

Note: Baklava should never be stored at the refrigerator, as the fat congeals, pastry absorbs the moisture and it becomes soggy.

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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