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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Spinach Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Chestnuts & My Turkish Cooking Classes in Surrey & Istanbul in February!

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

Spinach salad with celery, red onions, sauteed chestnuts and pine nuts; delicious & refreshing

As much as I love indulging in rich festive food during the holidays, I look forward to returning to my salad days. Salads made with seasonal ingredients form an important part of Turkish cuisine and this refreshing spinach salad with jewel like pomegranates and seasonal chestnuts became a big hit with us.

Roasted chestnut stall in Istanbul; they are iresistable.

Roasted chestnut stall, Kestaneci, in Istanbul; they are irresistible.

Roasted chestnut stalls are a frequent sight in Turkey at this time of the year; straight from the roasting tin, I love their delicious, warming and comforting taste. You can use roasted or cooked chestnuts in this salad. Precooked chestnuts are also widely available in supermarkets these days. We often use nuts in Turkish cuisine; I also added some pine nuts to my salad and sautéed it with the cooked chestnuts, for a nice texture and a delicious bite.

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama - Turkey

Very inviting pomegranates and its freshly squeezed juice, in Pergamum, Bergama – Turkey

The star of this salad is really the pomegranate seeds. Packed with goodness, antioxidants and a deliciously vibrant, sweet & tangy flavor, they just bring the salad together so nicely. A drizzle of pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi is my choice of salad dressing here; we use this dressing a lot especially in Southern Turkish cuisine, as in Kisir, Bulgur wheat salad with vegetables and Turkish hot pepper paste, or the Gavurdagi Salad of tomatoes, onions and walnuts. You may use a good quality balsamic vinegar instead, if you can’t get pomegranate molasses.

 Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts - delicious and wholesome

Spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and sauteed chestnuts & pine nuts – delicious and wholesome

I hope you enjoy this easy, delicious and refreshing salad. Here is another idea; why not add some pomegranate seeds to plain yogurt, with some walnuts, dried apricots and a drizzle of honey for breakfast ? A delicious, wholesome start for the day 🙂

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Yoghurt with dried apricots, walnuts, pomegranate and blueberries

Serves 2 – 4

175gr / 6oz fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and pat dried

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

2-3 celery sticks, roughly chopped

45ml/3 tbsp. pine nuts

110gr/4oz cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

15ml/1tbsp pomegranate molasses

Seeds of a pomegranate, about 8oz / 1 cup (you can use less if you prefer)

Slices of crusty bread or Turkish pide (flat bread) to serve

 

Arrange the washed spinach leaves, sliced red onions and chopped celery in a salad bowl, combine well.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Gently sauté pine nuts and chestnuts until pine nuts turn to golden brown.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the cooked chestnuts and pine nuts. Gently sauté until pine nuts turn to golden brown (keep an eye on especially the pine nuts, as they burn quickly after browning).

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Refreshing spinach salad with celery, red onion, pomegranate seeds and sauteed nuts.

Toss the sautéed nuts to the salad mixture and combine well. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses and stir in the pomegranate seeds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately, accompanied by Turkish pide (flat bread) or some crusty bread. This salad also complements grilled fish and meat very nicely.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

My Turkish Cooking Classes coming up in Weybridge- Surrey and Istanbul in February!

Refreshing crumbled feta salad with spices

Delicious crumbled feta cheese salad with spices & olive oil; Cokelek Salatasi

I am delighted to be teaching 2 Turkish cookery classes in February;  on Saturday, 8th February, from 10am to 12 noon in Weybridge, Surrey and on Wednesday, 19th February at the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Istanbul.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year;  it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

Teaching at Istanbul Culinary Institute last year; it was wonderful to have mother at the class.

From Feta Cheese Salad with red onions, tomatoes and spices to Stuffed Courgettes (Zucchini) with ground meat and chickpeas in Pomegranate Sauce and to Revani, Semolina sponge cake & More; Please join us to learn how to prepare delicious and wholesome Turkish Cuisine and artful use of spices.

You can find the details for the classes at this link, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes. I would be delighted to have your company to share and enjoy Turkish cuisine together, if you’d like to join us. Participation is limited and early booking recommended.

 

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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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Fresh, Delicious and Fun Cooking; Turkish Food Made Easy

I guess the teaching bug instilled in me, while watching my mum teaching and then while I was doing my degree on English Language and Literature at the University of Marmara, Istanbul (anyone from Marmara University? 🙂 I used to teach English language privately to secondary school pupils. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to make a little difference to their learning and infuse love of languages to the children.

Turkish cooking classes are a wonderful opportunity to learn about Turkish cuisine, culture and delicious recipes

I have been living abroad now almost 10 years (gosh, that is a revelation, haven’t realized that up to this very moment!!). For the last 6 years or so, I have been doing another, a very delicious kind of teaching, Turkish cooking. One of the best parts of living abroad for me has been realization and appreciation of the richness of my homeland, and a desperate need to share all wonderful things Turkey offers. (A very special thanks here to the Central Market Cooking School in Austin,Texas, for believing in me and giving me the chance to teach Turkish cooking, a real turning point).
Tahta Saray Ocakbasi Kebab House in Istanbul; it is a joy to indulge in those amazing kebabs, though we love our vegetables and salads too

Now living in England, it is a joy to carry on the classes. Many folks still think Turkish cuisine is based on mostly kebabs, and they are pleasantly surprised to see the many wonderful vegetable courses, like vegetables cooked in olive oil, refreshing salads and mezes we have too.

A vibrant fruit stall at the Sali Pazari (Tuesday Market), in Levent, Istanbul

A special aspect of the cooking classes is a chance to talk about the freshness of ingredients and importance of seasonality in Turkish cuisine. In Turkey food is bought fresh daily, and each meal of the day would be taken into account, with as much attention paid to breakfast, lunch and dinner. As well as having a balance of nutrients, the food should also be appealing to the eye, and of course tasty. Turkish cuisine is healthy and nutritious and the Turks are purist in their culinary taste; their dishes bring out the flavor of the main ingredient rather than hiding it behind sauces.

Another aspect of the class worth noting is a chance for the folks to “taste” Turkish hospitality and culture. Today in Turkey food and mealtimes is still the hub of everyday life. Always time is taken to share meals with family members or friends, to relax and enjoy conversation. Everyone wishes each other “afiyet olsun”, literally meaning “may you be healthy.” This is followed by a tribute to the creator of the meal, “elinize saglik”, meaning “health to your hands”. Guests are always received with the highest cordial hospitality and it is believed that no one should ever leave a Turkish table without feeling satisfied and happy! And I must say, the classes are such a special time for me to connect with home, and I am grateful for these  moments, I so look forward to them!:)

A genuine Turkish hospitality by Sultan Sofrasi, Antakya; they showered us with wonderful regional delicacies

Well, my next Turkish cooking class on Saturday, June 16th is almost sold out -many thanks to all the folks signed up!- There are only few spots left; if you are in the area and would like to join in, do please let me know. You will be showered with Turkish hospitality, delicious food blended with history and stories from my homeland.

If you can’t, here are some of the courses and recipe links from the class menu, for you to have a go at home. They are so easy to make, healthy, delicious and fun to share:

Spinach and Cheese fillo pastry – Ispanakli, peynirli borek (a wonderful appetizer, great for healthy lunches too; freezes very well)

Spinach and cheese fillo pastry; so easy to make and very delicious

Baked Turkish meatballs with summer vegetables (a real crowd pleaser one pot dish, freezes well too) – Firinda Sebzeli Izmir Kofte

Baked Turkish meatballs with peppers, tomatoes and potatoes

Yoghurt and cucumber dip with dried mint A wonderful accompaniment to any grilled meat, roasted vegetables and casseroles. It is also a great party food, for dipping veg like carrots.

Turkish Coffee – Our ultimate, fragrant coffee, a great experience. A little sip of Turkish coffee is enough to transport you to that quaint café in Turkey!

The wonderful Turkish Coffee

I do hope you enjoy the recipes and have a chance to go at them sometime. I would love to hear your experience with Turkish food (or your travels inTurkey), so please drop a line if you can.

Afiyet Olsun!

And Here Comes the Awards; One Lovely Blog and Versatile Blogger

Peri’s Spice Ladle has again been very kind to nominate Ozlem’s Turkish Table with Versatile Blogger and One Lovely Blog Awards. Thank you very much Peri! Peri’s Spice Ladle is a wonderful gateway to the fascinating India and Indian cuisine, I look forward to her posts every week. Please check out this great blog.

 

The Rules of Acceptance:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award
  • Include a link to their blog
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those bloggers for the Awards
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
  • In the same post, include this set of rules.
  • Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

I’d like to nominate the following blogs (some of which I am delighted to discover recently) for the Versatile Blogger Award and One Lovely Blog Award, I very much enjoy reading their posts, travels, recipes, photos…Please check them out :

Turkish Travel Blog

 As Strong As Soup

Nadia Swindell Photography

 Back to Bodrum

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey

Create Amazing Meals

Cuisine de Provence

Inside A British Mum’s Kitchen

Anissas

Istanbul Eats

My Italian Kitchen

My Turkish Joys

Turkey’s For Life

Turquoise Diaries

 Adventures in Ankara

Tuesday Recipe

I wouldn’t like to bore you about 7 interesting things about me again, though here is the link if you’d like to refresh your memory 🙂 One more thing I forgot to add on about myself in that list is that, my love for music. I was a (proud!) radio DJ in the late 1990s in Istanbul (can you believe??) The private radio stations just started by then, and I was thrilled to have a chance to host two radio programs for Kent FM with my dear friend, uber music guru Eralp (great memories, Eralp!!:) We did Friday Night Fever Show on Friday nights and Golden Oldies on Sunday morning, happy days!!

 

 

 

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