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Tag Archives | walnuts

From Menemen to Izmir Kofte; delicious and easy Turkish meals when you are on the move

We have just moved in to our new home; very exciting yet also busy with packing and settling in. I gathered a few of my favorite recipes here that can be easily prepared, yet delicious and wholesome – I know I will be turning to them and knowing I have good food ready to enjoy & serve will give me peace of mind, at the end of a busy day. These dishes can also be prepared ahead of time or can be cooked all in one pot. I hope these also may inspire you for wholesome and easy meals; look forward to sharing new recipes from our new home soon!

Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, oninons and feta cheese, Menemen

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

Menemen; Turkish scrambled egg with tomatoes, peppers, onions and feta cheese.

What do you cook when you are loaded with boxes and busy unpacking? Well, this delicious scrambled egg and vegetables is packed with flavour, it is nutritious and gets ready in minutes. Menemen is one of my homeland’s favorite brunch item, and a great street food. There are many versions of it – garlic, onion, any choice of cheese, spinach would go well too. Served with nice crusty bread and a little garlic yoghurt by the side, this dish can make a wonderful light supper or a substantial lunch option.

Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato; Izmir Kofte

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, onions, peppers and potato

How about this melt-in-the mouth Izmir Kofte; Casserole of meatballs, peppers, onions and potato? This is a popular meatball and vegetable casserole (not only with the children but with the adults too!) that can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. It makes a complete and hearty main course served with plain white rice or a slice of crusty bread. Delicious, easy meal; you can add as much red pepper flakes as you would like for a spicier flavor.

 Zucchini fritters with feta, dill and green onions –  Mucver

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini fritters with feta, spring onions and dill; Mucver; delicious

Zucchini, kabak in Turkish, are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This surprisingly easy and  wonderful vegetarian fritters, Mucver, are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack. They are easy to make and delightful. Here is my Mucver recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with vegetables; Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Bulgur pilaf with onions, peppers and tomatoes, Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi

Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgur wheat is a grain made from cooked whole wheat berries, which have had the bran removed, and is then dried in the sun and crushed. As it has already been cooked, it requires little cooking to reconstitute itself. It is available coarsely and finely ground. For pilaf, the coarser type is used, to create a nutty and delicious dish, which is a meal in itself and served with yoghurt. Bulgur has been a major staple in many rural areas in Turkey; during the Ottoman Period, the rice was a very precious commodity that only the rich could afford. This made the bulgur a very popular option and healthy one too. It is reach in fiber and provides good source of protein.  I love this delicious and wholesome bulgur pilaf with vegetables; you get a complete, satisfying meal in no time. You can serve Cacik dip, yoghurt with cucumbers and dried mint as a side for a refreshing accompaniment.

Eggplants, green lentils and vegetables cooked in Olive Oil; Mercimekli Mualla

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

Aubergine with green lentils, aubergine onions and peppers; Mercimekli Mualla- such a delicious treat

We have a whole section in Turkish cuisine called “Vegetables cooked in Olive Oil”, Zeytinyaglilar, where we cook vegetables in olive oil and serve them either cold or at room temperature. Once cooked, it is important for the dish to cool down in its pan and rest, allowing all the flavors to blend. Usually served with a wedge of lemon, this style of cooking is very healthy, tasty and refreshing. This traditional recipe, Patlicanli Mercimekli Mualla, is from Antakya, Southern part of Turkey, where my roots are from. The amazing flavors of green lentils, olive oil, eggplant and dried mint blend so well and take me back to Antakya immediately. Again, all-in-one-pot, delicious vegetarian meal you can prepare ahead of time.

Turkish beans salad with vegetables, olives, boiled egg in sumac dressing; Fasulye Piyazi

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs - Fasulye piyazl

Bean salad with onions, tomatoes, olives and boiled eggs – Fasulye piyazl

What do you cook when you have limited time? Well, this bean and vegetable salad, fasulye piyazi, can be ready in a flash, it is very delicious and healthy. At home, traditionally we serve fasulye piyazi with grilled meatballs, koftes. There are traditional restaurants, lokantas, at home that solely serve Turkish style meatballs, fasulye piyaz and pickled cucumber and peppers. This salad is also a great alternative for lunch, served with some nice crusty bread or in can be a part of a meze spread. I would happily have this salad with some nice bread aside for a light supper.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts – Cevizli kayisi tatlisi

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

Baked dried apricots with walnuts; delicious, easy and packed with goodness.

One of Turkey’s most prolific fruits is the apricot. Because of their abundance, some of the yearly harvest is allowed to dry in the hot summer sun in order to be enjoyed all year round. Malatya, a city in southeast Turkey, is particularly famous for excellent dried apricots which are exported throughout the world. Apricots are great snacks; they are packed with fiber, antioxidants and their naturally rich, wonderful flavor is icing on the cake. This delicious & easy baked dried apricots with walnuts dessert is great for sharing with friends and family or just indulging yourself.

Delicious, frothy Turkish Coffee – Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

Turkish Coffee, Turk Kahvesi; More than a Drink

For me, nothing more relaxing than taking a break with a  nice cup of Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee, Turk kahvesi is one of the most popular traditional drinks at home in Turkey and I love the whole ritual, the experience of it. In Turkish, we have a saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kirk yil hatiri vardir” which means “The memory of a good cup of Turkish coffee lasts 40 years”. Turkish coffee is a drink of friendship; you are offered this traditional, aromatic drink wherever you go in Turkey; when visiting friends and family, in the shops, while waiting in the bank, in hairdressers.. We take time to pause and enjoy this special drink with a friend or family or sometimes simply reflect with every precious sip. A glass of water and Turkish Delights, Lokum by the side complete the Turkish coffee ritual. And I always look forward to putting the feet up and enjoy a sip of Turkish coffee at then end of a busy day.

Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

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Candied Pumpkin Dessert with Walnuts, Turkish Style; Kabak Tatlisi

Turkish candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; so easy and scrumptious

Turkish candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; so easy and scrumptious

We all have pumpkins in our minds at this time of the year; I love its natural sweetness and comforting, luscious flavor. This scrumptious candied pumpkin dessert is popular in Turkey and it is so very easy to make. Pumpkin is baked here in its very own juice with sugar and the result is an exquisite dessert with the full flavor of pumpkin, also fancy enough to share with family and friends.

This lovely light dessert, Kabak Tatlisi, is wonderful served with crushed walnuts. In Turkey, it is also served with our thick clotted cream, kaymak. If you can’t get kaymak, clotted cream also complements this dessert well. You can also add a few cloves or cinnamon sticks to its juice before baking, if you’d like to spice up this dessert.

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; great for entertaining

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; great for entertaining

I hope you can give this delicious, glistening pumpkin dessert a try; it may also be a lovely addition for your holiday entertaining and a pleasant surprise for Halloween, if you are celebrating.

Serves 6 – 8

1kg/2 ¼ lb. pumpkin flesh, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunky cubes or rectangular blocks (about 3” long)

250gr/9 oz. / 1 ½ cup sugar

225gr/1 cup crushed walnuts to serve

Turkish clotted cream, Kaymak or clotted cream to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Sprinkle sugar over the pumpkin pieces evenly.

Sprinkle sugar over the pumpkin pieces evenly.

Line the bottom of a large baking dish with the prepared pumpkin pieces and sprinkle sugar over them evenly. Then layer the rest of the pumpkin chunks and pour the remaining sugar evenly over them. Cover the dish and let it rest overnight.

Let the sugar coated pupmkin pieces rest overnight; even after 30 minutes, you notice the juices coming up.

Let the sugar coated pumpkin pieces rest overnight; even after 30 minutes, you notice the juices coming up.

The next day, you will notice that the pumpkin has released all its juices and that the pieces are nearly covered with all that wonderful juice. This liquid is all you need to bake the pumpkin, no need to add any extra water.

Baked, candied pumpkin, utterly delicious.

Baked, candied pumpkin, utterly delicious.

Bake the pumpkin in the preheated oven, uncovered. Every 20 minutes, spoon the syrup in the baking dish over the pumpkin pieces so that they all absorb the syrup and start glistening. After 45 minutes of baking, check the sweetness of the pumpkin; if you like it sweeter, you can sprinkle a few more tablespoonful of sugar. Also, after 45 minutes of baking, turn the pumpkin pieces around so that all pieces keep moist with the juice. Bake for about an 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours in total, until all the syrup is absorbed and the pumpkin pieces are cooked and candied.

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert with crushed walnuts; Cevizli Kabak Tatlisi

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert with crushed walnuts; Cevizli Kabak Tatlisi

Let the pumpkin dessert cool down. Decorate the candied pumpkin pieces with crushed walnuts just before serving; you can serve this delicious dessert as this way or also with Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak or regular clotted cream aside.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

 

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Homemade Oruk, version of Kibbeh or Baked Icli Kofte, from Antakya

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh; these bulgur balls with walnut and ground meat stuffing are a real treat.

Oruk, or (Sam Orugu as they are also referred) the baked oval bulgur balls with delicious ground meat and walnuts filling, is a very popular dish at my hometown, Antakya (Antioch). It is a very special dish that turns up at my mother’s table at every festive event and family gatherings.

Antakya’s Oruk is a version of the delicious Kibbeh, which is considered to be the national dish of Lebanon. A very popular dish, kibbeh has variations in the Middle East, Cyprus (where it is called koupes) and Turkey.  I suppose the difference between them is the spices & some ingredients used (for instance, there is allspice and pine nuts in Kibbeh), as well as the cooking method (Oruk is baked whereas Kibbeh is generally fried). There is also the Turkish Icli Kofte; this one is similar to Oruk, but rather than being baked, icli kofte is first boiled in water then sautéed in oil. If you have made any of these, I would love to hear your experience and perhaps stories behind them.

Whenever we go back to Turkey, oruk welcomes us at the first night of our visit, along with mother’s other specialty dishes like Mevlubi; the layers of rice with eggplants, meat, onion or potatoes, Cevizli Biber; walnut & red pepper paste dip or this delicious yoghurt based soup with bulgur balls in it. Surrounded by this special food and the company, we always know that we are back home.

Oruk or baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh

Antakya’s Oruk or baked icli kofte, a version of kibbeh

I have been getting requests from readers on how to make oruk or baked icli kofte. Making oruk is a grand event at home; I grew up watching my grandmother and mother making this special treat with family and friends gathered around a big table in Antakya. Some would make the filling, some to prepare the bulgur dough and some to do the stuffing. Since there were no food processors around in those days, they would ground the meat and bulgur with hand held machines. There were lots of kneading and mixing involved and since they would make vast amounts to share and it would almost take a day for this feast to get ready. A lot of effort, but well worth it.

Taray baked Sini Orugu is easier to make and equally delicious.

Tray baked Sini Orugu is easier to make and equally delicious.

A few tips here to ease the process. I suggest you to prepare the filling a day in advance, if you have a limited time. The filling anyway needs to be cool and this really helps with spreading the work. A few readers emailed to say that their bulgur dough couldn’t stay intact. Semolina is the key here; it works great as the binding agent in the bulgur dough. You also need to have water aside and continuously wet your hands while shaping the dough. Ground meat that goes in the bulgur dough needs to be extra lean and double ground (you may ask your butcher to do this for you or you can pulse the ground meat in your food processor a few times). You may also prepare the easier Sini Oruk; tray baked bulgur spread with ground meat and stuffing in the middle. They are both very special treats at the end, quite a sacred food for me and worth all the effort.

If you are an oruk, icli kofte or kibbeh fan, I hope you would give it a go and make these delicious treats at home. Yes, it does take a bit of a time & effort, but it is totally worth it; a very rewarding, satisfying experience and makes any day special. The leftovers also freeze beautifully.

Serves 12 -14 generously

For the filling:

250gr/9oz ground beef (medium fat)

100gr/4oz shelled walnuts, finely crushed to small pieces (but not ground, needs to have a bite to it)

3 medium onions finely grated

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

30ml/2tbsp. olive oil

10ml/2tsp. ground black pepper

10ml/2tsp. red pepper flakes/ pul biber

Salt to taste (at least 2 tsp. recommended)

For the bulgur dough:

450gr/1lb. fine bulgur, koftelik bulgur (if you can only get coarse bulgur, you can pulse it a few times in food processor)

12fl.oz/ 1 ½ cup warm water to wet the bulgur and another 1 cup warm water to knead bulgur

167gr/ 1 cup semolina

4 fl.oz./½ cup warm water for semolina

250gr/9oz extra lean (double) ground beef

60ml/4 tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi

15ml/3tsp. ground cumin

10ml/2tsp. red pepper flakes/ pul biber

Salt to taste (bear in mind that the pepper paste is quite salty too)

Bowl of cold water for shaping the oval balls

Grease a small baking tray for the oval balls and a 32cm/12” round baking dish (or equivalent size) for tray bake oruk

Preheat the oven to 160 C/320F/Gas Mark 3

Oruk, icli kofte filling with ground meat, onions, walnut and spices.

Oruk, icli kofte filling with ground meat, onions, walnut and spices.

First make the filling, as it needs to cool down (to save time & spread the work, you can also prepare the filling a day in advance and keep in the fridge, covered). Heat the oil in a heavy pan and stir in the medium fat ground beef. Sauté and stir the meat, breaking the lumps into smaller pieces, over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, until all the juice evaporated. Add the grated onion, salt, ground black pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 5–8 minutes until onions softened and begin to color. Then add the finely crushed walnuts and the chopped parsley, mix well and turn the heat off. Leave aside to cool down (This really is a delicious filling, we couldn’t help having a few tea spoonfuls, it would also make a great pasta sauce).

Now, let’s make the bulgur dough. Place the fine bulgur in a large mixing bowl (big enough for you to be able to knead). Stir in the red pepper paste, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes and using your hands, mix them all well. Then slowly pour the 1 ½ cup warm water all over it.  Again using your hands, give the bulgur mixture a good mix and make sure all bulgur is wet. Let it rest and absorb the water for 10 minutes. In the meantime, place the semolina in a separate bowl and stir in the ½ cup warm water over it. Using your hands, knead and turn the semolina mixture into a soft dough. Semolina is important here as it helps binding the bulgur dough.

Have the ½ cup warm water bowl next to you and start kneading the bulgur mixture for about 5 minutes. Wet your hands continuously while kneading. Stir in the semolina dough into this bulgur mixture and wetting your hands, knead for another 5 minutes, you will see that the dough is getting more elastic and binding together.  Add the double ground extra lean beef to the mixture (you can use your food processor for the meat) and again with wetting your hands, knead for 10 minutes, until you get a smooth, elastic dough.

Spoon the filling into the bulgur shell

Spoon the filling into the bulgur shell

Now, have a bowl of cold water aside to shape the oval bulgur balls; to avoid sticking bulgur dough into your hands and for the balls to stay intact. Wet your hands with the cold water and take a small tangerine size bulgur dough into your palm. Roll it into an oval shape and then using your thumb, hollow out an opening in the middle.  Shape the ball into a thin-walled (about ¼”-thick) oval with an opening at one end by molding ball around finger, gradually tapering closed end. Mend any cracks in the shell with a moistened finger. Fill the bulgur shell with about 1½ tbsp. of the filling.

Pinch the edges of the bulgur ball to seal

Pinch the edges of the bulgur ball to seal and roll into an oval shape.

Moisten edges of opening, then pinch the edges of the ball to seal. Wet your hands and gently form the stuffed bulgur ball into the shape of an oval with slightly pointy edges. Place it on an oiled tray. Repeat the same shaping with remaining filling and bulgur dough. (I made 5 oruk, oval stuffed bulgur balls and a baked sini oruk, in  32cm / about 12” round baking dish. Alternatively,  you can make about 18 oval oruk balls if you like). Place all the finished oval bulgur balls in a well-oiled baking tray and coat them all with olive oil.

Sini Oruk is another type of baked icli kofte and this tray baked version is much easier. To make it, divide the remaining your bulgur dough into two. Grease a (preferably) round baking dish of 32” diameter with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Wetting your hands with cold water, spread a thin layer of half of the bulgur dough onto the oiled baking dish. Make sure the spread stays intact; wet your hands and seal any broken parts. Spread the ground meat and walnut filling evenly over the bulgur dough spread, press gently.

 

Place the stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish and bind all together.

Place the stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish and bind all together.

Grease a chopping board or a work surface with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Take a handful of the remaining bulgur dough and spread with your hands to form a thin layer (about 1/3cm). Place this stretched bulgur dough onto the filling over the round baking dish. Continue until you finish the dough and the top layer is covered, like a patchwork. Wet your hands and bind all the loose ends. (We need to prepare the top layer on another oiled surface so that we won’t press too hard over the filling and break it into parts.). Oil the top layer of the bulgur spread, with about 2 tbsp. olive oil and cut into diamond or triangle shaped slices.

Oruk, baked icli kofte and tray baked sini oruk; both equally delicious

Oruk, baked icli kofte and tray baked sini oruk; both equally delicious

Bake both the oval shaped oruk and the tray bake sini oruk in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, until crispy and golden brown at top. Bulgur absorbs olive oil quickly, so coat both oval bulgur balls and the tray bake with extra olive oil towards the end, so they won’t crack.

You can serve the Sam oruk, oval bulgur balls warm. For the tray bake sini oruk, it is best to wait for about 10-15 minutes to cool down so that they won’t break apart. Cooling and refreshing Cacik dip of yoghurt with cucumber and dried mint complements this delicious treat very well.

Delicious, crispy oruk with ground meat and walnuts filling

Delicious, crispy oruk with ground meat and walnuts filling

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

A visual feast of Antakya (Antioch) 

I wanted to finish this oruk, baked icli kofte post with a visual feast of  Antakya, Ancient Antioch, a cradle of many civilizations; a hope you can make it to my homeland sometime.

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