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Turkish Cooking 101 – Aegean Style

Aegean cuisine is wonderful using their fragrant olive oil, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. We did an Aegean cooking class and got hands on learning Mousakka Agean style, Purslane with onions, tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, Gozleme – the Turkish pastry with various fillings and a semolina helva – just right a day before the start of Ramadan, as it is a festive dessert. A wonderful experience, thanks to Bizimev Hanimeli:)

Purslane is a very common vegetable with a great, mild flavor. We cooked the purslane with sauteed onion,garlic and tomatoes in olive oil. Then we added a little rice and cooked covered for about 20 minutes. Using olive oil is the key in this vegetable course; in this style of cooking in Turkish cuisine, we simply let the vegetables cook in their own juices and with olive oil.

The result is a wonderfully refreshing, tasty and a light vegetable course, that we enjoy eating at room temperature or cold – ideal for summer!

No Turkish cooking is complete without the mention of patlican, eggplant (or aubergine), the king of vegetables in Turkey. The key with eggplant is to make sure to get all the moisture out to avoid the bitter and soggy taste/texture. So simply slice the eggplants, season with salt and leave aside for at least 15 minutes. You will see lots of moisture coming up and squeeze dry the eggplants to take out all the moisture. This stage makes such a difference.

We made the moussakka Aegean style; this version involves lightly frying the eggplants and topping them up with a sauce of ground meat, tomoato, onion, garlic and green peppers. First we layered the fried eggplants and topped them with the meat sauce. Then decorated the top with sliced tomatoes and peppers, and off it went to be baked in the oven!

And this is the result! Juicy, wonderfully flavored moussakka without the heaviness of the bechamel sauce, highly recommended.

Another course we did was the Gozleme – delicious thin pastry filled with various fillings (potato and onion, spinach and onion, ground meat, onion and parsley). Here is Hatice Hanim showing us to strech the dough on the rolling pin.

Once we add the filling, we fold the pastry to make it a rectangle shape, and it is ready to bake!

And here is how the gozleme is traditionally baked on Sac ovens (the ovel shaped traditional ovens)

Time to tuck in! Here is our generous lunch spread with all the wonderful Aegean style cooking; stuffed zucchini flowers, grapevine leaves, yoghurt with cucumber and dill, eggplant and peppers cooked in olive oil, Turkish style dried beans cassesole and many more – cok guzel!:)

And best way to finish off Turkish style is with a cup of Turkish coffee:)

Turkish cooking is delicious, healthy and easy to recreate – I hope these inspires you to try sometime.
Afiyet Olsun!

4 Responses to Turkish Cooking 101 – Aegean Style

  1. Dzoli July 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    Love to follow you on your journey and imagine I am there.Could learn so much!
    One thing:I want that cup of turkish coffeee..badly!:)

  2. Ozlem's Turkish Table August 1, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    Hi Dzoli,

    Turkish coffee is wonderful-hope we can have a cup together sometime!

  3. Phil in the Kitchen August 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    That lunch spread looks wonderful and the moussakka sounds so much nicer than most I've eaten. That's a great trip you're having.

  4. Ozlem's Turkish Table August 2, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Merhaba Phil,
    Many thanks for the comment; the moussakka here in Aegean style is delicious and wonderfully light, you can easily recreate at home. I hope you make it here sometime, so much to see, so much to taste:)

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