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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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Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes with Ground Meat and Rice – Dolma

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Stuffed peppers and tomatoes in ground meat, onion and aromatic rice; domates ve biber dolmasi – delicious and also gluten-free

Some of the food we eat has the ability to transport us to our childhood, have a special link to bond us with those precious memories. These stuffed peppers and tomatoes have such power on me; they are the delicious gateways to take me back home, right to my mother’s as well as my grandmother’s kitchen. Preparing the dolma is quite a grand ritual at home; cousins, sisters, whoever available, gather around a big table; filled with trays of vegetables and stuffing. Some prepare the vegetables, scooping the flesh out, some make the filling, and some do the stuffing. These all happen, of course, with constant flow of Turkish coffee and tea (cay) and catching up! We would then eagerly wait for the dolmas to be cooked; then me and my sister would eat the dolma with a dollop of plain yoghurt on top. We used to call them our “savory ice cream”; I am now trying this trick on my own children 🙂

A dollop of plain or garlicky yoghurt over the dolmas is delicious

A dollop of plain or garlicky yoghurt over the dolmas is delicious

We Turks love stuffing vegetables. The word dolma is used for the vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes, tomatoes that can be stuffed. I like to save the scooped flesh of the tomatoes and use it in the sauce of the dolmas. Stuffed tomatoes are especially a staple of the summer season when tomatoes are abundant and at their peak. For a richer taste, you can also add red pepper paste, biber salcasi or tomato paste to the sauce.

This dish is made from wholegrain basmati rice and it is also gluten-free. Garlicky or plain yoghurt by the side complements the dolmas very well.  We made these dolmas at my recent Turkish cookery class; it was a highlight for the participants and they were surprised how easy the dolmas were. I hope you enjoy them and can have a go too.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 40 minutes                        Cooking time: 45 minutes

3 medium size bell peppers – or 5-6 small bell peppers

4 medium tomatoes

6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the filling:

110gr/4oz/ 1/2 cup ground beef/lamb or ground turkey

115gr/4oz/generous 1/2 cup wholegrain basmati rice, rinsed

2 medium onion, grated

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

10ml/2 tsp dried mint

10ml / 2 tsp ground black pepper

Salt to taste

For the sauce:

The flesh of the scooped tomatoes, finely chopped

15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste – optional-

 

Red pepper flakes to serve – optional-

Bowl of plain (natural yoghurt) or garlicky yoghurt to serve

 

Filling ingredients for the dolmas; dried mint and parsley add a delicious, refreshing flavour

Filling ingredients for the dolmas; dried mint and parsley add a delicious, refreshing flavour

Put the ground meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Season and knead, until all blended well. The filling is ready.

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers; save the flesh of the tomatoes

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers; save the caps of the peppers and tomatoes.

Now, let’s prepare the vegetables. Cut the stalk ends of the peppers and save them aside (we will need them to cap the stuffed peppers later). Scoop out the seeds of the peppers.

Save the flesh of the tomatoes to go at the sauce of the dolmas

Save the flesh of the tomatoes to go at the sauce of the dolmas, stuffed peppers and tomatoes.

Slice the tops of the tomatoes and save them aside. Using a spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, chop them finely and reserve in a bowl. Take care not to pierce through the skin of the tomatoes.

Stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling until they are about ¾ full.

Stuff the tomatoes and peppers with the filling until they are about ¾ full.

Take a few spoonfuls of the filling and pack it into the vegetables, until they are about ¾ full. Take care not to overfill to the top, as the rice filling will need some space to expand. Place the stalk ends and tomato tops as lids.

Once cooked, pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper, tomato before serving.

Once cooked, pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper, tomato before serving.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in to a heavy pan.  Place the stuffed vegetables upright, packed tightly, in the pan. For the sauce; combine the chopped tomato flesh with 1 tbsp. red pepper paste or tomato paste (if you are using, for a richer taste) and stir in to the pan. Then pour a couple of cups of water around the stuffed vegetables, until it covers just about the half of vegetables. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in the cloves of garlic and cover. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the filling cooked.

Domates ve biber dolmasi; stuffed tomatoes and peppers; delicious & gluten-free

Domates ve biber dolmasi; stuffed tomatoes and peppers; delicious & gluten-free

Once cooked, I like to take their cap off and pour a little of the dolmas’ delicious sauce over each stuffed pepper and tomato before serving and put their cap back on. Serve hot with plain natural or garlic yoghurt by the side. You can also  sprinkle red pepper flakes over the dolmas if you like.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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Ezme; Delicious Spread of Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and Herbs with Red Pepper Paste

Scrumptious spread of Ezme; makes a great appetizer and goes really well with grilled meat and vegetables.

Have you ever tried the delicious Turkish mezze, Ezme? This tomato based delicious appetizer has a wonderful mixture of sweet, spicy and acidic flavors and it is one of my favorite mezzes served in the kebab houses at home, a very memorable gastronomic experience.

Humble and fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, peppers transform to a magical taste with a touch of red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil.

Ezme is a very typical Turkish mezze, served in kebab houses throughout Turkey. With a touch of hot red pepper paste and extra virgin olive oil, these simple but fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onion, herbs and good olive oil produce this surprisingly complex yet refreshing and a very more-ish mezze. You can make Ezme ahead of time, so it is very entertaining friendly too.

Biber Salcasi; Turkish hot red pepper paste add a lot of flavour to dishes; you can also easily make at home too.

There are quite a few variations for Ezme; my favorite is the way it is done in the Southeast Turkey, where my roots are from.  Biber Salcasi,  Turkish red pepper paste is a major staple in the regions of Gaziantep  and Antakya and a little of this wonderful paste adds such a rich, complex flavor to the Ezme. You can find red pepper paste in Middle Eastern stores, online Turkish market Tulumba.com also carry it. You can also make red pepper paste in your home, easy and delicious. An important trick to Ezme is to rub the red pepper paste and tomato paste to the onions with your hands so that the paste infuses; these also soften the onions and make them more palatable.

 

Ayran; Turkish traditional drink of yoghurt, water, salt and ice. A few fresh mint in Ayran gives a great refreshing taste to it.

You can serve Ezme over crackers or pita bread as an appetizer; it can also accompany kebabs, grilled meats and roasted vegetables beautifully too. Why not try Ayran, delicious Turkish traditional yoghurt drink to accompany this wonderful feast?

Serves 4                                   Preparation time: 15 – 20 minutes

4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, halved and seeds removed

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2-3 small spicy pointy green peppers –(use less or more depending on how spicy you like)

15ml/1 tbsp red pepper paste (or a little less if you prefer less spicy) – If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

15ml/1 tbsp tomato paste

Juice of half a lemon

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

30ml/ 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rub the tomato and red pepper paste to the onions so that the flavours blend well; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.

Combine the red pepper paste and tomato paste with the onions in a bowl. Knead and mix them well with your hands so that the paste infuses to the onions; this also softens the onions and make them more palatable.  If you can’t get red pepper paste, you can add a touch of spice with 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes and infuse them to the  onions with the tomato paste.

Ezme is ready to be enjoyed; though not traditional, I like to add a few walnuts over Ezme when serving, for extra texture and taste.

Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, parsley and mint, combine well. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over. Season with salt and ground pepper and give them all a good mix. Cover and keep in the fridge until serving. It would be best if you can let the Ezme sit for an hour or so before serving; this will help the flavors mingle & settle.

You can prepare Ezme ahead of time; it tastes even better the next day!

Ezme is delicious over flat bread, crackers, pitta bread. I like to add a few walnuts over when serving, love the added texture and taste it adds.

Though not traditional, I like to sprinkle a few walnuts around Ezme when serving; I love the added texture and taste walnuts brings to Ezme.

I hope you enjoy making your own Ezme, and that it brings happy memories of your visit to Turkey or inspires for a visit! : )

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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