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Homemade Pogaca; Turkish savory pastry with cheese and parsley

Scrumptious pogacas, savory pastry with cheese, olives and vavious fillings, displayed at a bakery in Istanbul

Scrumptious pogacas, savory pastry with cheese, olives and various fillings, displayed at a bakery in Istanbul

Delicious pogacas and pastries; a favorite Turkish breakfast or tea time treat

Delicious pogacas and pastries; a favorite Turkish breakfast or tea time treat

These delicious cheesy pogacas (poh-ah-cha) are a favorite breakfast or tea time treat in Turkey and we love them. They are easy to make at home; make your kitchen smell heavenly and they are very popular with children, as well as adults. Bakeries, street stalls sell freshly baked pogacas (plain, with white cheese, olives or with potato & cheese filling) in Turkey and with a glass of cay aside, they make a delicious and affordable breakfast or tea time treat.

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with cheese and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My children adore pogaca and we made our peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta cheese together; they loved getting involved. My pogacas are rather chunky, like the ones you would get in bakeries in Turkey and one is enough per person. You can make smaller ones if you like. They are absolutely delicious straight from the oven, but they also keep well for a few days. The next day (if any left!), you can microwave them for 10 seconds or gently heat under the grill, so delicious. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

 Peynirli pogaca; Turkish savory treat with feta; great for breakfast or as a snack.

Peynirli pogaca; Turkish savory treat with white cheese and parsley; great for breakfast or as a snack.

Makes 11 pogacas

Preparation time: 20 min (+1 hour for dough to rise)                  Cooking time: 25- 30 minutes

For the dough:

7gr dry yeast (1 sachet)

425 gr / 3 ¼ cups all-purpose plain flour

5 ml / 1 tsp. salt

3 oz./ 1/3 cup plain (whole milk) yoghurt

1 egg, beaten

4 fl. oz. / ½ cup mild olive oil or sunflower oil

4 fl. oz . / ½ cup warm milk

For the filling:

5.3 oz./ 1 cup Turkish white cheese (or Greek feta cheese, if Turkish white cheese is not available) crumbled

15 gr/ 0.4 oz./½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

For the topping:

1 egg, beaten

Sesame seeds and nigella seeds to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F

 

Combine the warm milk and dry yeast in a small bowl and mix well. Let it stand for 5 minutes so that it gets foamy.

Let the dough to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes

Let the dough to rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes

In a large bowl, stir in the flour and salt and make a well in the middle. Add the yoghurt, mild olive oil (or sunflower oil) and the beaten egg to the flour mixture, in the middle. Stir in the foamy yeast mixture and knead well with your hands for a few minutes, until the dough comes together. Shape the dough like a ball, place in the large bowl and cover with a cling film. Let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley make a delicious filling

Crumbled Turkish white cheese or Greek feta cheese and fresh parsley make a delicious filling

While the dough is rising, prepare your filling. In a medium size bowl, stir in the crumbled Turkish white cheese or Greek feta cheese and chopped parsley and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F and grease a baking tray.

Once the dough has risen, punch down and divide into 11 equal pieces, each about a size of a small tangerine. Roll each piece into a ball, and then flatten into a round flat circle with your fingertips, about 10 cm, 4” in diameter (you can make them smaller if you prefer). Place a spoonful of the filling mixture (take care not to overfill) at one side of the circle dough, leaving a little unfilled dough margin near the edges. Fold the circle to cover the filling to form a half moon shape. Make sure the dough covers the filling and meet the other end. Seal the two ends of the dough, pressing with your fingertips well. Place the stuffed dough on the greased tray and repeat this procedure with the rest of the dough pieces.

Pogacas, decorated with sesame & nigella seeds, ready to bake!

Pogacas, decorated with sesame & nigella seeds, ready to bake!

Place the prepared pogacas, stuffed dough pieces side by side on a greased tray. Brush them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with nigella and sesame seeds. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack for about 25 – 30 minutes, until they are golden brown at top.

Peynirli pogaca, Turkish savory pastry with feta & parsley, ready to eat!

Peynirli pogaca, Turkish savory pastry with cheese & parsley, ready to eat!

Serve warm; glass of Cay, Turkish tea goes really well with these delicious pogacas.

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with feta and parsley; easy to make and delicious

My homemade peynirli pogaca, savory pastry with cheese and parsley; easy to make and delicious

 

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

Asure – Noah’s Dessert 

Asure or Ashura,  delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit

Asure or Ashura, Noah’s Ark dessert; a special dessert of grains, pulses, dried fruit & pomegranate seeds

This delicious dessert of grains, pulses and dried fruit, referred as Asure or Ashura – Noah’s Dessert-, is most probably one of Turkey’s most famous dessert. According to legend, Noah made this dessert on the ark by combining whatever ingredients were left on the ark. Asure or Ahsura is also the traditional dessert that is served on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. It is always made in large quantities and shared with friends and neighbors.

Though the ingredients list is pretty rich, I believe whatever grains, pulses and dried fruit you have in your pantry will do. And if you are short of time, why not using good quality pre-cooked chickpeas and beans in cans; I am all up for it if it helps making this wonderful dessert. Adding the pomegranate seeds over the top give a festive touch and make the dessert refreshing too. Here is the link for my Asure recipe, hope you enjoy it.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Gozleme; Anatolian Flat breads stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

“Can we learn how to make gozleme (Anatolian stuffed flat breads) at the next class?” asked one of my regular Turkish cooking class  participants, few months ago. I greatly enjoy their requests, enthusiasm to learn more and have a go at them; that’s all I could hope for from the classes. “Sure, why not!” was reply; I was excited and my heart was set on tackling the much loved gozleme, Turkish flat breads with stuffing, the proper way. During my recent visit to Turkey, I got myself a proper non-stick oval gozleme pan to have a go at these delicious treats.

Local ladies preparing Gozleme at Hanimeli Restaurant, near Sirince - Turkey

Local ladies preparing Gozleme at Hanimeli Restaurant, near Sirince – Turkey

Having said that, the prospect of preparing Gozleme from scratch; preparing the dough and opening, stretching the dough as thin as sheets of paper was a little daunting at first. I call myself a cook more than a baker and greatly admire local ladies making it so effortlessly at home, in Turkey. Could I tackle it, I wondered. Thank goodness the sheer excitement of having a go at gozleme weighed much higher and I am so glad I tried. The sheets stretched beautifully and gozleme tasted heavenly. I owe a big thank you to David for the inspiration and that precious request!

Gozleme is traditionally prepared on giant non-stick round pan

Gozleme is traditionally prepared on giant non-stick round pan

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. And they go down very well with a glass of cay, Turkish tea or ayran, traditional Turkish yoghurt drink.

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme - Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme – Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

Have you ever had or made gozleme? What is your favorite filling? I would love to hear from you. As you will see here, making gozleme is much easier than you think and it is very rewarding. All you need is  a little encouragement and perhaps “a request” that you can’t resist, as was in my case; I hope you can give it a go.

In the filling in this recipe I added a little Turkish red pepper paste, biber salcasi to the filling for a spicier version; it flavored the spinach and onion really well. If you would like a milder taste, simply omit the red pepper paste (or the pepper flakes).

Makes about 5 Gozleme

1lb./ 16 oz. / 3 cups plain flour

8g / 1 sachet instant dried yeast

Pinch of salt

45 ml/ 3 tbsp. olive oil

30 ml / 2 tbsp. plain natural yoghurt (preferably whole milk)

260 ml/ 9 fl. oz. / 1/5 cups warm water (150 ml/ 5 fl. oz. warm water to be mixed with the yeast)

For the filling:

200gr/7 oz. baby spinach leaves

1 onion, finely chopped
5ml/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes or 2 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste (optional)
230gr/8oz feta cheese

15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

Non-stick pan or griddle to cook the Gozleme

Combine about 150 ml/ 5 fl. oz. warm water, yeast and salt in a small bowl, stir and cover. Stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.

Divide the gozleme dough into  balls, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for 30 minutes,

Divide the gozleme dough into balls, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for 30 minutes.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast, water & salt mixture, olive oil, yoghurt and the remaining warm water (about 110 ml/ 4 fl. oz./ ½ cup) . Using your hand, draw in the flour from the sides and work the mixture into a dough. Knead thoroughly to form a soft dough. Divide the dough into 5  pieces, knead them and roll into balls. Place the balls on a floured surface, cover with a damp cloth and leave them to rest for about 30 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.

Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste first with your hands; that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well.

Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste first with your hands; that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Stir in the feta cheese to the spinach mixture and combine well.

Stir in the feta cheese to the spinach mixture and combine well.

 

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Chop the washed spinach leaves roughly. Knead the onions, spinach, olive oil and if you are using, red pepper paste (or red pepper flakes) with your hands for a few minute or so – that will soften the onions and blend the flavors well -. Stir in the feta cheese and combine well.

Roll the gozleme dough with a rolling pin until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

Roll the gozleme dough with a rolling pin until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

 On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the balls of the dough with a rolling pin into thin, flat rounds, about 40cm/16in diameter. Sprinkle a little flour as you roll the dough so that the dough won’t stick. Roll until you achieve a thin sheet of a flat round.

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle and  spread the filling in the middle.

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle and spread the filling in the middle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered.

Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold the left and right sides of the dough in a way for the edges to meet in the middle.  Spread about 2 ½ tablespoon filling into the middle part of this flat sheet. Then fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, making sure all the filling is safely covered. Press edges together well to seal. Repeat the same procedure for the rest of the dough balls.

Brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown.

Heat a griddle or a non-stick pan, and brush one side of the gozleme with a little olive oil and place on the pan to cook for about 2 -3 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush the uncooked side with a little olive oil and then flip it over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.

Cook the gozleme for about 2 -3 minutes on a non-stick pan, or until golden brown.

Cook the gozleme for about 2 -3 minutes on a non-stick pan, or until golden brown.

Brush both cooked sides of gozleme with a little olive oil -this will keep the gozleme moist. Cook the rest of the gozleme the same way.

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme - Anatolian Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach, indeed easier than you think!

My Ispanakli & Peynirli Gozleme – Turkish Flat breads with cheese, onion and spinach stuffing; they are indeed easier than you think!

You can either roll the Gozleme to serve, or you can cut in halves or quarters. Ayran Turkish yoghurt drink or  Turkish tea, cay would go really well next to Gozleme.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Spring in Istanbul; Tulips, Spectacular Chora Museum, Glorious Turkish Food and More

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Gorgeous tulips greet you everywhere in Istanbul in spring

Istanbul’dan Merhaba! – Greetings to you all from Istanbul! There are so many things to share from home, especially at this time of the year with a lovely balmy spring air. Here are a few snapshots from Istanbul, I hope you enjoy them.

Istanbul welcomed us with a lovely spring air and gorgeous tulips dotted all around the city; their colors are simply mesmerising.  Apparently the Municipality in Istanbul planted 2 million tulip bulbs, they are a feast to the eye.

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the tulips, lale, in Istanbul

The Ottomans had an immense fondness for the tulips; as a matter of fact, there was  the Tulip Period  when  Ottoman Empire  have begun to orient itself towards Europe and the elite, high-class society of the Ottomans enjoyed tulips in their courtyards, gardens and in various occasions. Tulips defined nobility and privilege, both in terms of goods and leisure time. Continuing this heritage, you can enjoy the many varieties of tulips in in Istanbul in spring.

Turkish tea, cay - with a smile; a very warm welcome

Turkish tea, cay – with a smile; a very warm welcome

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

Cay, most probably the most popular Turkish drink

One of the things that warmly welcomes you at home is a glass of cay – Turkish tea (you can see the influence of the Tulip era even at the shape of the Turkish traditional tea glasses) – with a warm smile from the locals, that is a wonderful welcome. I gratefully accepted Armada’s “Hosgeldiniz” cay : )

Apple tea, elma cayi - not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

Apple tea, elma cayi – not traditinally a Turkish drink but still very pleasant

How about apple tea, elma cayi? On the contrary of belief, it It is not a traditional Turkish drink, you wouldn’t see a Turk drinking apple tea at home. It is widely offered at cafes around Sultanahmet, Old Istanbul and still a refreshing, pleasant drink – and goes down very well sitting outside in a nice spring day over looking Old Istanbul!

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Shoe-shine with a view, over looking the Hagia Sophia

Have you had your shoes polished while in Turkey? It is a great, friendly experience – with a top notch service- and value for money; my husband saves his shoes to be polished at home. On this traditional stalls, experts like Mehmet here cleans and polishes your shoe up to the standards of brand new! If you are in Sultanahmet area, look out for him, as his spot offers the fascinating view of Hagia Sophia.

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

Sultanahmet Koftecisi is a delicious, quick stop for Turkish style meatballs and bean salad

And soon we were hungry. Sultanahmet Koftecisi has been making delicious Turkish meatballs served with the bean salad with onions, lettuce, shredded carrots and pickled peppers, for over 90 years. It is a locals hub and popular with tourists too. We enjoyed this quick, delicious and healthy lunch.

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran - make a delicious lunch

Turkish meatballs, piyaz salad with beans and ayran – make a delicious lunch

Fasulye Piyazi, the bean salad with onions, tomatoes, using the canellini beans is a delicious, healthy salad that you can make in minutes. I use the pre-cooked canellini beans and add a boiled egg to it; the salad itself makes a wonderful, healthy lunch and it is a great accompaniment to grilled meatballs and any grilled meat too. Here is my recipe for the bean salad, if you would like to try.

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazi

If you haven’t already been to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, I highly recommend it. Tucked away behind the Topkapi Palace, the magnificient museum is divided into three buildings; the Archaeology Museum, the Museum of Ancient Orient and the Tiled Kiosk. The museum hosts the Palace collections, formed druing the 19th century by the archaelogist Osman Hamdi.

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is a must see

 

Sarcophagus of Mourning Women - Mid 6th century BC
Sarcophagus of Mourning Women – Mid 6th century BC, Archaeology Museum, Istanbul
Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Sipping Turkish coffee and taking it all in at the Archaeology Museum, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Divine Wisdom, Istanbul

No matter now many times I may have visited the Hagia Sophia, this divine place always calls me back. Hagia Sophia, the Church of Divine Wisdom, was completed in 537, and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the city was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1453, then turned into a mosque. In 1935, Ataturk proclaimed this amazing place a museum for everyone to enjoy. Take your time and arrive early to enjoy this masterpiece.

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

The wonderful Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

Right accross the Hagia Sophia is another masterpiece, the Blue Mosque, built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I; he set out to build a monument that would rival and even surpass Hagia Sophia in grandeur. The Blue Mosque is decorated with 20,000 Iznik tiles, absolutely beautiful to look at. This is a functioning mosque that welcomes visitors and offers much pleasure and peace.

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Chocolate and pistachio pudding- Sutlu, fistikli puding, so delicious

Need a break? Hafiz Mustafa has been making delicious puddings, desserts like baklavas, Turkish delights since 1864.Their store in Sultanahmet has a wonderful cafe and a little library, a good place to pause and enjoy the break. We enjoyed this luscious chocolate and pistachio pudding with shredded coconut, almonds and nuts over the top – always have time for food : )

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

Turkish carpets are of high quality with beautiful designs

During our tour, we also had a chance to watch how the famous Turkish carpets are made. Turkish carpets are made of double knots, very durable and of high quality and all hand woven; they are a labor of love too, as especially the a silk carpet can take 4-6 months to be completed – really a work of art.

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

Chora (Kariye) Museum, Istanbul

If you haven’t been to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora (“Kariye Muzesi”) in Turkish, I hope you make it there when you visit Istanbul. The church, now museum, is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine Church and covered with beautiful, immaculate mozaics. The museum is at Edrnekapi, a little further than Sultanahmet but so worth the visit. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the church was converted into a mosque and, finally, it became a museum in 1948. The interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes in great condition.

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

Chora Museum hosts fine examples of mosaics and frescoes

 

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

The mezze feast; hummus, abagannus, walnut & red pepper paste dip and more

Soon, we were ready to eat again. I love the mezze culture we have in Turkey’; a small plateful of delicious appetizers like this hummus with red pepper flakes infused olive oil, the walnut and red pepper paste dip, the stuffed vine leaves and many more. They are a feast to all senses. You just need to control yourself not to over eat otherwise you are too full to have the main course!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds - so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop!

Turkish flat breads with nigella seeds – so dangerously delicious, as it is hard to stop eating!

These Turkish flat breads that come with the mezzes are my weak point; they are so delicious that it is hard to stop eating and they complement the mezzes so well. As soon as you sit down at the restaurants, you are served generous portions : )

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

Boats getting ready for the day at the Sea of Marmara

I woke up this morning to be greeted by all these fishing boats getting ready for the day, the seagulls hunting for their first bite and the brew of cay at the background. It felt so good to be at home.

Look forward to sharing more of Istanbul and our visits to other parts of Turkey with you again soon.

Istanbul’dan Selamlar – Warm Greetings from Istanbul;

Ozlem

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