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Baked Tahini Halva with Pine Nuts; Firinda Tahin Helvasi

Sweet and flaky tahini &and honey based halva or helva, a real treat

Sweet and flaky tahini &and honey based halva or helva, a real treat

Weather is turning cooler for most us and we look out for delicious, comfort food.  Tahini and honey based helva or halva, is a delicious treat enjoyed in Turkey; I especially love the baked tahini halva served in kebab houses and restaurants at home, such a heavenly taste.

Helva, the Turkish name, derives from the Arabic ‘halva’ meaning ‘sweet confection’. Halva is a very popular candy in Turkey, Armenia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East served in cafes and kebab houses. Halva is made primarily with honey and tahini and there are many variations of it.  In the old days they would grind oily sesame seeds into a paste (tahini) and then mix it with hot honey.  Nowadays prepared tahini is widely available in Middle Eastern stores abroad and at online stores like Best Turkish Food. Aside from the plain version of this sweet and flaky sesame based confection, there are many popular variations of Halva including chocolate and pistachio. The Turkish food store in North Cheam (address: 565-567 London Road, SM3 9AG, North Cheam) in the U.K. also carries Halva in packs.

This nut-butter-based Halva is made from tahini/tahin (sesame paste) or other nut butters e.g. sunflower seed butter with primary ingredients of nut butter, glucose and sugar or honey. This halva has a dry, crumbly texture and keeps in the fridge well for a long time. You can slice the halva and have with crackers or toasted slice of bread; the taste is just wonderful.

Baked tahini halva or helva with sauteed pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Baked tahini halva or helva with sauteed pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

I was inspired by dear fellow blogger, Claudia for this delicious recipe and slightly adapted with the addition of pine nuts. Please check her wonderful blog, A Seasonal Cook in Turkey, where Claudia uses the seasonal produce in Turkey for her delicious recipes.

Here I chose to bake the tahini halva in the oven with sautéed pine nuts over the top. This dessert takes only minutes to make and it is so delicious; great for sharing with friends and family. The sautéed pine nuts add a lovely additional flavor and texture; I hope you enjoy it.

Serves 6

350g  precooked helva/halva– plain or with nuts

juice of half a lemon

100ml/4fl oz. whole milk

For sautéed pine nuts:

30ml/2 tbsp. pine nuts and drizzle of light olive oil

Ground cinnamon to serve

Plain crackers to serve

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients, for a loose hummus consistency.

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients, for a loose hummus consistency.

Mash the helva with a fork and then add the other ingredients. If you like, use an electric hand mixer to reach a smooth consistency which should become like ‘a loose hummus’. Pour into a large baking dish or 6 individual or small ovenproof dishes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and place in the hot oven for about 5 –  10 minutes, depending on how deep you filled the ramekins.

Sauteed pine nuts add a lovely texture and taste to the halva.

Sauteed pine nuts add a lovely texture and taste to the halva.

In the meantime, sauté the pine nuts in a drizzle of light olive oil for a few minutes in a pan, until they are golden.

Baked tahini helva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Baked tahini helva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

Once the halva is baked, sprinkle the sautéed pine nuts over the halva and serve hot, with plain crackers by the side.

A heavenly taste of baked tahini halva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

A heavenly taste of baked tahini halva with pine nuts, firinda tahin helvasi

 

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

 

 

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Yoghurt with Dried Apricots, Walnuts, Pomegranates Seeds and Honey & More Ideas for a Delicious Brunch – Turkish Style

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and blueberries; healthy, delicious, refreshing start for your day. 

Dried apricots, figs, prunes and raisins; not only very nutritious but also very delicious.

I wanted to share a delicious, healthy and refreshing breakfast that we like to do in my family; yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and berries, drizzled with honey. This delicious treat is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Back home in Istanbul, my parents still start a day with a few walnuts and dried fruit like apricots and prunes. Walnuts are power food; they are so rich in antioxidants that a small amount is more than enough. Just a handful of walnuts per day will help reduce the chances of heart disease, and other cardiovascular-related issues. Some of the best apricots are produced in Malatya, Turkey and the excess produce is being dried to be enjoyed all year around. Dried apricots and prunes are excellent sources of several important nutrients, including fiber, potassium and antioxidant carotenoids. Dried apricots and walnuts also pair very well, try the caramelized apricots stuffed with walnuts as a dessert; a delicious and nutritious treat. 

I have been eating this delicious yoghurt with dried and fresh fruits as a breakfast a lot recently; very refreshing and make you feel good. Yoghurt, another nutritious food that boosts your immune system, features a lot in Turkish cuisine. We use yoghurt in mezzes and appetizers, in soups, in marinating meat and many more.

I love the marriage of creamy yoghurt with the crunchy walnuts and juicy & zesty apricots, berries and pomegranates seeds. It is very easy to make and hopefully it will jump start your day!

This yoghurt with dried fruit, berries and walnuts is also suitable for gluten-free diet.

Serves 2

225 gr/8 oz/1 cup plain natural yoghurt

45 – 60 ml/ 3 – 4 tbsp walnuts, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp dried apricots, chopped

30 ml/ 2 tbsp blueberries (or a berry of your choice)

30 ml / 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

15-30ml/ 1-2 tbsp natural honey

Place the yoghurt in a bowl and simply stir in the walnuts, dried apricot, berries and pomegranate seeds, give a gentle mix. Drizzle the honey over and sprinkle extra few pomegranate seeds or berries if you like.

Afiyet Olsun!

 

Plain yoghurt, cheese, olives, oats and grains are also a part of Turkish breakfast.

We Turks love a good brunch especially at the weekends and to welcome the New Year; here are some of my favorite Turkish brunch treats, if you would like to indulge later in the day:

Sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. eggs with Turkish dried beef sausage, sucuk, variety of cheese, sesame seeded bread rings, simit, honey with Turkish thivk cream, kaymak – a heavenly brunch to welcome the new year!

Eggs with Turkish dried beef sausages – Sucuklu Yumurta-

Sucuklu yumurta - Turkish dried beef sausages with egg; so irresistable.

This is for me the center piece of the Turkish breakfasts/brunches. The spicy Turkish sausage, sucuk, goes so well with the runny egg. This with a crusty bread and a glass of cay – Turkish tea – by the side, would be my ultimate brunch 🙂

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, spring (green) onions and feta cheese – Menemen

Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onion and feta cheese, a delicious vegetarian breakfast.

 If you rather like a vegetarian option for your eggs; this scrambled eggs with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese would just fit the bill; delicious, juicy and healthy.

 Fillo pastry rolls, stuffed with mashed potato, cheese and parsley – Patatesli, Peynirli Borek

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

Fillo pastry rolls with cheese, parsley and mashed potato; a winner with children, as well as adults!

No Turkish brunch is complete without boreks – paper thin pastry, yufka, stuffed with cheese and vegetables. If you can’t find yufka, fillo sheets work well. This recipe also makes use of any left over vegetable like potatoes, delicious.

Olive salad with onions, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses – Zeytin Ufeleme

Olives with tomatoes, onion, parsely flavoured with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, a delicious treat from Antakya, Antioch.

This delicious olive salad hails from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. Olives are deliciously flavoured with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Wonderful for brunch, as well as an appetizer.

Sesame encrusted bread rings – Simit

Simit, sesame encrusted bread rings must be the most popular street food in Turkey.

Simit is indeed the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings must be the most popular snack and street food at home. Most folks in Turkey have simit for breakfast with a cup of cay (tea), sliced cucumber, tomatoes and feta cheese. Simit has a wonderful crust and softer inside, and easy to make at home.

 Cay – Turkish tea

A glass of cay, Turkish tea by the Bosphorus is the ultimate treat for me ; )

Well, Turkish tea, cay, goes down very well to accompany all above! Especially if you are by the Bosphorus, Istanbul, you may loose track of  how many glasses of cay you consumed : )

 

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