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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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Lamb Kebabs with Pistachios on Flat Breads in Cherry Sauce

Lamb kebabs with pistachios in cherry & tomato sauce - Fistikli, visne soslu kebap

Lamb kebabs with pistachios in cherry & tomato sauce – Fistikli, visne soslu kebap

The pistachio lamb kebabs I posted earlier has been a big hit and I have been experimenting a little more with these delicious treats. They are easy to recreate in your home, delicious and look impressive. Children love them as well as the adults, so they are great for entertaining. Having pistachio nuts in kebabs is a Southern Turkish specialty; I love the rich nutty flavor the pistachios add to the kebabs. They kebabs are wonderful when chargrilled in summer time, but equally delicious grilled or baked in the oven. With flat breads as the base and roasted vegetables by the side, this succulent kebab is a real crowd pleaser, and can make any day special.

The cherries in the tomato sauce add a lovely refreshing flavor to the pistachio kebabs.

The cherries in the tomato sauce add a lovely refreshing flavor to the pistachio kebabs.

This time, during my recent Turkish cookery class, I prepared the kebabs in cherry and tomato based sauce. Cooking meatballs in (especially) sour cherry sauce is a Gaziantep specialty. This way of incorporating meat & fruit dates back to the Ottoman, Persian and medieval Arab cookery. The sweet & sour combination of meat and visne (sour cherries) is just marvelous. You can get frozen cherries in most supermarkets when they are not in season. If you’d like a stronger cherry flavor, also try dried cherries, like dear Claire did after our cookery class. Apparently  it was a delicious hit. I greatly look forward to trying out this recipe again when sour cherries are in season, in June-July time.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 35 minutes               Cooking time: 60 minutes

For the kebabs:

500 gr/1 ¼ lb. / 2 ¼ cups ground lamb (or half and half with ground beef)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

60ml/4 tbsp pistachios, shelled

1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

5ml/1 tsp red pepper or paprika flakes;

5ml/ 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

A bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil to help shape the kebabs

For the cherry & tomato sauce:

1 onion, finely chopped

400gr/14oz can of chopped Italian tomatoes

½ tbsp. red pepper paste

400gr/14oz frozen cherries, stones removed

15ml/1 tbsp olive oil

For the roasted vegetables: 3 colorful bell peppers, deseeded and cut in thick slices lengthways and a few chilli peppers deseeded, OR 10-12 sweet and chilli small, colorful peppers, cut in half lengthways and deseeded

4 medium tomatoes, halved and cut in chunky slices

1 medium onion, halved and cut in chunky slices

45ml/ 3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 large flat bread; pide, or 4 pitta bread, sliced lengthways

Preheat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F

Roasted vegetables ready to complement the kebabs - make sure to save the juices to drizzle over the flat bread.

Roasted vegetables ready to complement the kebabs – make sure to save the juices to drizzle over the flat bread.

First roast your vegetables. Place the onion, peppers and tomatoes in a baking tray. Drizzle the olive oil over, season with salt and pepper. Give them all a good mix to make sure all the vegetables are coated with the olive oil and the seasoning. Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, giving them a mix half way. I like to roast the vegetables rather than grilling, to save and enjoy all the wonderful juices of them over the flat bread.

Pistachios add a rich, nutty taste to the lamb kebabs.

Pistachios add a rich, nutty taste to the lamb kebabs.

While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the kebabs. First have a bowl of water, drizzled with olive oil ready aside, to knead and help shape the kebabs. Pulse the shelled pistachios in a food processor a few times, until it is grainy. Place the ground lamb in a bowl, stir in the pistachios, chopped onions, garlic and parsley. Season with salt and ground pepper, add the red pepper flakes. Wet your hands in the water & olive oil mixture and knead well to a smooth paste. Cover and rest for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are roasted in the oven.

Once the vegetables chargrilled, take the tray out of the oven, cover  and set aside (you may need to warm the vegetables before serving).

Wetting your hands with the water & olive oil mixture helps shaping the meat and keep the meat moist and intact.

Wetting your hands with the water & olive oil mixture helps shaping the meat and keep the meat moist and intact.

Now start shaping the kebabs. With the bowl of water & olive oil mixture by your side, take a handful of the meat mixture, and make it into a shape of a flat sausage. Good tip; wet your hands with the water & olive oil mixture; this will help shaping the meat and keep the meat moist and intact.

As soon as the kebabs are shaped, you can cook them under the grill/broiler for about 6 -8 minutes, turning over half way until they are golden and cooked through that side (this method especially great for summer.) Alternatively, you can lay the kebabs side by side in a greased tray and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until they are cooked and chargrilled.

Cherries in the tomato sauce bring a refreshing flavor and goes well with the pistachio kebabs.

Cherries in the tomato sauce bring a refreshing flavor and goes well with the pistachio kebabs.

While the kebabs are cooking, prepare the cherry & tomato sauce. In a heavy pan, sauté the onions in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper paste, chopped tomatoes and cherries to the pan and combine well. Season with salt and ground pepper and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickened.

While the sauce is simmering, place the sliced flat bread on a tray and put in the preheated oven (180 C/350 F) to warm up. Also at this stage place the roasted vegetables and kebabs back to the oven to keep warm.

Lamb kebabs with pistachios in cherry & tomato sauce - Fistikli, visne soslu kebap
Time to enjoy the feast; lamb kebabs with pistachios in cherry & tomato sauce – Fistikli, visne soslu kebap

How about serving the kebabs with this sautéed carrot &  garlic yoghurt dip? This refreshing and mild dip complements the rich flavors of the pistachio kebabs beautifully.

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Sauteed carrots in olive oil with garlic yoghurt

I hope these recipes inspire you all; 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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