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Boreks, Simit, Turkish Breakfast and More – Some of My Favorite Turkish Treats & How to Re-create Them

Living abroad, there are certain Turkish food, especially the Turkish street food, places (and of course, people) that I dearly miss – and I am sure it is the same for many of you, who live outside of your homeland.

The Bosphorus, cruising through Sea of Marmara in ferries, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia - some of my favorite things in Istanbul

Once settled down at your “new home”, the feeling of  missing replaces itself with “how to recreate these treats in your new home phase”. This is how I started blogging about my homeland, Turkey, and Turkish food, and I am grateful to have a chance to connect and share the many wonderful things my homeland offers with you. I am delighted to see that we can recreate many of our favorite food, with a little substitution or tweak here and there.

Patatesli & peynirli borek; filo pastry rolls with cheese and potato

Take the boreks; one of my favorite parts of Turkish cuisine, the stuffed, filled pastries. Traditionally, we would use the fresh, paper thin sheets of pastry, yufka, widely available at home. Living in England, I cannot get yufka, but the filo pastry sheets you can get at the supermarkets work as a good substitution to make boreks. One thing to bear in mind that they can get dry easily, and that you need to keep them moist with a damp cloth over them, while working. Here is a good demo on handling filo pastry.

Borekci, borek shops in Turkey sell all kinds of freshly made savory pastries with different fillings, one of my favorite stops!

We use different kinds of fillings for our boreks; some with leek and cheese, some with potato, cheese and parsley, onion and ground meat and many more. You can bake these pastries using filo pastry sheets ahead of time, and leftovers can be frozen successfully. My children love these boreks;  if frozen, grease a baking tray and place them on the tray. Then reheat in the oven at 180C/350 F for about 15-20 minutes. They magically appear on the table and are gone very quickly!

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are the ultimate Turkish street food.

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are another favorite. With a cup of cay -Turkish tea-, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese by the side, they are the ultimate Turkish breakfast for me . And yes, you can bake your own sesame encrusted, golden rings, simit, easier than you think : )

The wonderful Turkish breakfast with simit, cay, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, cheese, eggs with Turkish sausage, sucuk, honey and more..my favorite meal of the day!

And, a leisurely Turkish breakfast shared with friends and family by the Bosphorus is simply unbeatable, for me.

Balik & ekmek, Turkish grilled (or lighly fried) fish sandwich is another delicious street food at home. Fisherman prepare the catch of the day in their boats; a simple grill with salad, slices of onion on a fresh loaf of bread; just wonderful.

Fisherman preparing "balik&ekmek" in a traditional boat in Golden Horn, Istanbul

I re-created my version of balik ekmek with a delicious, refreshing piyaz salad with sumac, onion rings, parsley and tomatoes by the side – all I need to do is to I close my eyes and visualize myself to be by the Bosphorus in Istanbul!

Grilled fish sandwich goes so well with the refreshing piyaz salad of onion rings, tomato and parsley with sumac dressing.

Turkish delight, lokum with rose water, pistachios, walnuts, or plain – sade -; all delicious treats.

Fragrant, melt in the mouth Turkish delight is another treat I dearly miss – my children prefer Turkish delight over chocolate! – Then, you find a way to re-create it, and delighted to see that this Turkish delight recipe works really well! It is a wonderful treat to make for your friends and family for special occasions.

Fragrant, home made Turkish Delight, easier than you think.

I hope you can have a go and start re-creating any of your favorite food from your homeland; it is easier than you think, and can be really rewarding too.

Cooking together with participants at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

One way of getting in to re-creating your favorite dishes maybe attending a cookery workshop and see at firsthand how to break down the recipes and follow them. Many of participants attended my cooking classes expressed how pleasantly surprised that they can make the dishes easily and the experience was inspirational. My next Turkish cooking class in Istanbul Culinary Institute will be on Feb 19th 2013.

I am also grateful to be able to connect some wonderful bloggers who blogs about Turkey, Turkish cuisine and its people, with wonderful, inspirational photos and insights. Here are some of them that regularly follow and get a wonderful dose of home:

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: Claudia’s delicious blog follows the seasonal produce in Turkey with wonderful market photos. Claudia also does great Old City Walks with Istanbul Eats, be sure to check out.

Entrance of Misir Carsisi, Spice Market - Istanbul; a foodie heaven.

Turkey’s for Life, Turkish Travel Blog  and Archers of Okcular  feed us with fabulous photos, stories, news around Turkey, they are a joy to follow! My Turkish Joys is another lovely blog, with wonderful recipes and travel photos from home. Joy is also a brilliant pastry chef and know all things about pastry, so be sure to check her blog out.

Let the children guide you in Antakya; they are always happy to help.

Like many things, it is the human factor, friendly people; a warm smile, hospitality that makes a place special that makes us to go back there again and again. I think that sums up my homeland for me.

A local in Pergamum, selling region's delicious honey and pine nuts - and letting us have a little sample:)

Last but not least, I am also very grateful for your company to share a dose of home with me, following my blog, your comments and feedback; they are very precious, thank you very much. I hope these photos and information inspires you to explore Turkey, have a go at the recipes to treat yourself and family, friends.

A glass of cay by the Bosphorus = happiness 🙂

Afiyet olsun & happy travels to you all,

Ozlem

Sharing a delicious feast in Antakya during my culinary tour in 2009.

If you would like to join us and explore Turkey from a local’s perspective in my next culinary and cultural tour in April 2013 please contact me.

 

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Ozlem's Turkish Table at the Hurriyet Daily News! – 7th August, 2012 –

UK-based Turkish chef returns home to teach in Istanbul

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish cook and blogger Özlem Warren has been giving workshops on Ottoman cuisine. Warren is visiting Istanbul to conduct a class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

Warren is not only a cook but also an admirer of Ottoman cuisine. She is conscious of the fact that it owes much to diversity of cultures that nurtured it through the centuries.

“Warren is not only a cook but also an admirer of Ottoman cuisine. She is conscious of the fact that it owes much to diversity of cultures that nurtured it through the centuries.

It may sound a little exaggerated when an expatriate says she has become a cook just because she could no longer do without her national dishes, but this is the story behind the longing that brought Özlem Warren back to her homeland to teach a workshop at an Istanbul’s culinary arts institutes…..”

Hellos and Merhabas again from Istanbul! I am delighted to share that we had an interview with the Hurriyet Daily News. It was wonderful to be able to talk about Turkish cuisine, express the great interest abroad and what can be done furthermore to promote Turkish cuisine. You can read the rest of the article at UK based Turkish chef returns home to teach in Istanbul

Today is my Turkish cooking class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute, and we have a full house : ) I very much look forward to sharing an evening of Turkish cuisine with Turkish and foreign participants, many thanks for all your support and interest.

Fasulye piyazi; a delicious, substantial salad for warm summer days

And here is a refreshing salad idea for the hot summer days; Fasulye Piyazi – Beans with red onion, tomato, boiled egg, olives . This salad is ready within minutes, it is substantial as well as delicious and healthy.

Below are a few photos about our time in Istanbul, hope you enjoy them:

I am getting the dried peppers and aubergines ready for the class tonight!

 

Dried peppers and aubergines not only make great decoration, they are very tasty too. You need to soak them for a few minuted at boiling water to soften up. Then you can stuff then witrh rice, herbs and ground meat, if you like. They are wonderful when baked with a dollop of yoghurt by the side.

As always, I can't keep my eyes off the wonderful fruit and vegetable stalls, packed with seasonal produce.

Midye Dolma - Stuffed mussels is one of the most popular street food in Turkey

 

Stuffed mussles with aromatic rice; a favorite street food, you just need a squeeze of lemon over them, delicious.

 

Another, very famous treat; Maras style ice cream, Maras dondurma. This wonderful ice cream is so thick, that you can slice with knife, a must try!

And this is my share of the wonderful Maras ice cream!

 

Some fine examples of Turkish pottery with an Ottoman design touch, loved them all.

 

 

Until next time, happy travels to you all!

Ozlem

 

 

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Let’s Explore My Homeland; Fascinating Istanbul and Breathtaking Land of Turkey

It’s that time of the year, and we have holidays, travels, exploring the exotic and perhaps the unknown in our mind and hearts. I have the travel bug in me again, as I will be departing for Istanbul in August. But before that, I wanted to share an exciting itinerary with you; our 2013 Fascinating Istanbul and Grand Turkey Tour Brochure, from March 29th to April 8th 2013.

Grand entrance of the Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul

I was born and bred in Turkey, lived and travelled in my homeland extensively over 30 years. No doubt, I love my homeland, and it is a joy to share all the treasures of Turkey through my blog. While I was teaching Turkish Cooking Classes at Central Market Cooking School in Austin, Texas, folks coming to my classes expressed an interest to see Turkey from a local’s perspective. Now, thanks to them (especially to dear Pam Wood, for the initiation) once a year, I team up with Four Seasons Tours, organize and host a culinary and cultural tour to Turkey.

We are having a hands-on experience on carpet making at Nakkas Rugs

So, what do we do in our tours? My foremost aim with the tour is to show my homeland, through a local’s perspective; the places we Turks go for a delicious bite to eat; the markets we shop for the best spices, baklavas; the sites and many more. With our highly knowledgeable guide Kaan Gulcur, we visit some of the finest and most fascinating sites in Turkey. Here is a taster of what happens in our tour:

Fascinating Hagia Sophia, as seen from the grounds of the Blue Mosque

 

The fascinating entrance of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

I lived in Istanbul over 15 years; it is a city where old and new exists together, it is old but not tired, ancient, yet alive. Here is the breathtaking Hagia Sophia; a pioneer of architecture and once the largest church in the world prior to the St Peter’s in Rome. I must have visited Hagia Sophia over 15 times, it still amazes me.

Entrance of Hotel Armada, with their vintage car in front

I have been staying at the Armada Hotel at the heart of Old Istanbul over 15 years. The location is superb and their hospitality and Turkish breakfast overlooking the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia is unforgettable.

The very inviting Turkish Breakfast at the Armada Hotel

Istanbul is a big city with a population of over 12 million, and the Bosporus strait divides the city into two parts. One of the best ways to appreciate both the old and the new parts of Istanbul is to take a boat cruise, like we do at the tour. Try to take a small size boat, where you zig zag at the both sides of the Bosphorus to see the Yalis (wooden, residential summer houses for the Sultan and high official’s at the Ottoman Empire), Palaces, or just simply to witness how the day goes by at the side streets. Local ferries, Vapur, might also be a good and cheap way to explore Istanbul in both sides.

Traditional ferries, Vapur, provide an affordable way to cruise along the Bosphorus, and you can get to see a part of locals’ daily rutine

How can we not visit the Spice Market when in Istanbul?  Spices are an important part of Turkish cuisine, that’s the way we add flavor to our dishes. So a visit to the Spice Market is a must to stock up wonderful spices, Turkish tea, Turkish Delight, nuts and many more. I could spend hours at my favorite spice shop, Malatya Pazari at the Spice Market.

Entrance to the ancient Spice Market, Misir Carsisi

Spices, nuts, dried fruit, tea, Turkish Delight galore at Malatya Pazari, Spice Market

Now comes the Grand Bazaar; renown as the world’s oldest shopping mall, it is so worth seeing for its architecture, colorful shops selling a huge variety from gold to leather, to china and many more. I would be careful to shop there for big items like rugs, as you will most likely to get tourist prices there. But the atmosphere is magical and well worth it.

Ancient Grand Bazaar is well worth a visit even for its magnificent architecture

Baklava is a delicacy that is perfected at the Ottoman Palace kitchens and Gulluoglu Baklava is one of the best places to sample the real thing. We also like to take demo baklava classes there and witness how this delicious treat is made; it is one of the highlights of the tour!

We are having a go at making the delicious baklava wth Gulluoglu experts

Why not have a go and make baklava at home? It is easy to make baklava with fillo pastry sheets at your home, and you can adjust the syrup to your liking. Here is my recipe, you will be amazed with the results.

My home made baklava with walnuts; so easy to make at home, so delicious

Turks are a very hospitable nation and they regard the visitors as “God’s guest” and their door is open to them. Wherever you go , you will be offered tea, Turkish coffee, or like  in this case some pine nuts and local honey by this local village man near Pergamum.

Friendly local nearby Pergamum, offered us his pine nuts and local honey

You will be offered Turkish tea or Turkish coffee wherever you go in Turkey

At the Aegean, a visit Ephesus, provincial capital of Asia Minor for the Roman Empire and one of the seven churches of the Revelations is always a highlight. As one of the best preserved Roman cities, its monumental theater was where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians. Ephesus also boasts one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis, and the resting place of St. John the Evangelist is in the Church of St. John.

Ephesus and the library, breathtaking site, still intact

Entrance of the Virgin Mary’s House, Ephesus

While we are at the Aegean, we take a hands-on Aegean style Turkish cooking class, where we knock up wonderful casseroles, mousakka,  gozleme  (Anatolian flat breads with various fillings), and delicious salads dressed with the local olive oil. This experience stay with us a long time, and it is always lovely to hear participants making all these wonderful dishes they learned to their family and friends back at home.

Local ladies showing us how to make Gozleme, cheese and vegetables filled traditional pastries

Hatice Hanim and I making the Mousakka, Aegean style

 

Enjoying the delicious spread we made at the end of our class

Kusadasi is a wonderful port we stay while at the Aegean. Dining out overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean is a real treat.

Gorgeous colors of Kusadasi

View from Kismet Hotel overlooking Kusadasi Bay, so inviting

On the way back to Istanbul, drive towards the Dardanelles to see the battlefields of Gallipoli, view Mount Ida,  the site of the beauty pageant that led to the Trojan War.

It is always a pleasure to share the wonderful treasures of my homeland and this is a tiny little snapshot of what Turkey offers. Participation for our tour is limited to 15 people. If you would like to join us to explore the fascinating land of Turkey, do please contact me, and also view photos from my previous tours. If you can’t, I do hope this post may inspire you to visit Turkey sometime, and give some ideas.  For some additional and fantastic travel posts from Turkey, please also visit Turkish Travel Blog; Natalie’s travels, stories and photos across Turkey are simply mesmerizing.

The entrance to the Dolmabahce Palace through the Bosphorus

Have you ever travelled to Turkey? I would love to hear your experience, please share with us.

Happy Travels to All!

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

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