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Author Archive | Ozlem Warren

Homemade red Pepper Paste – Biber Salçası

Summer is the time, where juicy, meaty, red peppers are turned into our flavour packed biber salçası, pepper paste  in southern Turkey. It is a fundamental ingredient in southern Turkish cuisine. In my hometown of Antakya, village women cook huge batches of freshly picked spicy and mild red peppers and spread them out on top of their cloth covered terraces to dry under the hot summer sun, until the peppers dehydrate and turn into this robust, flavour-packed condiment.  I am unable to sun dry my peppers as I live abroad, so I make my own version of red pepper paste at home, cooking them over stove top. It takes a bit of time to make but really is worth it. The homemade version is fragrant, delicious – not as intense as the commercial ones but packed with flavour; fantastic even spread over bread.  Add more chilies if you like it spicier, it also freezes well.

I use pepper paste in so many ways, in the way I use tomato paste; it adds  richess, enhances and adds depth of flavour to sauces, salads such as Spicy bulgur wheat salad, Kisir, marinades, dips such as Muhammara.

Here is how I make red pepper paste. It is also at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, signed copies available here

Makes 90ml/3fl oz pepper paste

3 long, large red peppers or bell peppers, cleaned, deseeded, cut into 4cmx4cm chunks
1 red chilli pepper, deseeded, finely chopped (use a few more if you like spicier)
240ml/8fl oz water
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

Place peppers in a wide pan and add the water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring often for about 35 minutes or until the peppers are cooked – gently press down and turn around as you stir, they will start to break apart and soften and the liquid has almost evaporated. Turn the heat off and allow the peppers to cool.

Place the cooked peppers in a food processor and process until the mixture is almost a smooth purée (I like the texture of small bits of peppers in it). Return the puréed peppers to the pan. Season with salt and cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring continuously so the purée doesn’t burn and the juices will have evaporated. The purée will shrink half of its size and turn into a soft paste. Turn the heat off.

Spoon the paste into a small sterilized glass jar while still warm, top with olive oil and seal.  When cool, keep your prepared paste in the fridge and use within two weeks.

Afiyet Olsun.

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Spinach and Cheese Pie – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek

 

 

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Ispanakli, Peynirli borek; spinach and cheese pie

Merhaba (means Hello in Turkish);

I hope this lovely borek recipe inspires you to go back to kitchen and make it for friends and family – or why not just treat yourself?-

This wonderful pie has to be one of the most deliciously pleasing and easy borek around. If you can get yufka, fresh paper thin fresh pastry sheets, it would be best. Alternatively, filo pastry sheets for this recipe also work well. If frozen, you need to defrost them overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. At home, boreks, savory pastries are a very popular snack with ladies’ tea time gatherings and immensely popular with children too. I remember fondly looking forward to my mother’s tea parties to enjoy these tasty treats, and now my children totally love them anytime of the day.

Here’s also my YouTube video to make this delicious and easy borek:

 

I love our savory pastries in Turkish cuisine; boreks, gozlemes, pogacas and more; there’s a Savory Pastries chapter in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, with all these savoury treats and regional specialties included. Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table is available to order at this link and delivered worldwide – and signed copies are now 20 % off, as a gift from us to enjoy healthy, delicious Turkish recipes at home. Also our new item, this lovely Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron, can also make a wonderful gift to a foodie. There is now lower delivery costs  of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book for the US, Canada and Mexico at this link 

Delicious spinach and cheese pastry with fillo sheets; Ispanakli, peynirli borek

Delicious spinach and cheese pastry with fillo sheets; Ispanakli, peynirli borek

This borek is a great addition to a weekend brunch or a dinner party appetizer, Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 8 -10
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Cooking time – 40 minutes

150 gr / 7 oz spinach leaves
150 gr/ 7 oz feta cheese, beyaz peynir, mashed with a fork
100 gr / app. 4 oz grated mozzarella
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup / 125 ml milk
1/2 cup / 125 ml water
3 tablespoons mild olive oil
12 sheets of fillo pastry (cut in half vertically, which makes 24 sheets)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 180c/350 F/gas mark 4

Remove the stalks of the spinach, wash and chop roughly. Mix together in a bowl with the feta cheese, shredded mozzarella and two of the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and milk.

Grease a rectangular baking dish with the remaining olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets along its long side and cut in half vertically. Open the sheets only when you are ready to use them and cover the rest with a damp towel so that they don’t dry out.

Lay three sheets in the greased baking dish. Pour a little of the milk-olive oil-water mixture (about 3 tablespoons) all over the sheet. Repeat this layering two more times, using three fillo sheets each time.

Lay three more sheets over and spread the spinach filling evenly. Continue laying three sheets of fillo, pouring over each the milk mixture, three more times. Lay the remaining sheets on the top of the pie, sprinkling the milk mixture. Whisk together the remaining beaten egg with a little olive oil and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.

Bake the pie in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into pieces. This dish can be successfully reheated.

Important tips: If you would like to cut back on the amount of the eggs, you can omit or decrease them in the spinach and feta filling. 2) Once cooked, if you keep the pie covered with flax or parchment paper, this will keep the pie moist. 3) This pie freezes wonderfully. Once cooled, put the pie in a freezer bag and seal. When you’d like to reheat (at 350 F for about 15 minutes), put the pie in a greased baking tray and sprinkle the top with a little milk and water mixture to give some moisture.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

Vegetarian Coiled/Swirl Filo Pie (Kol Boregi) and Bulgur Wheat Salad (Kisir) Zoom Cookery Class

Saturday, April 17th 2021, 6 pm – 7.30 pm (BST) 

I love our savoury pastries, boreks, with a variety of fillings, at home; I am repeating this delicious Vegetarian Swirl Pie, Kol boregi zoom cookery class, due to your kind interest. I would be delighted to see you at  my zoom cookery class on Saturday, April 17th, 2021, 6 pm – 7.30 pm (BST), where I will show you how to make this impressive and so moreish Coiled / Swirl filo pie with zucchini/courgette, dill, cheese and onions, Kol Boregi, as we call in Turkish. The class also includes one of my favourite salads, Spicy bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, Kisir, from my southern Turkish roots.

You can see the class details and registration at this link, as well as all my other zoom cookery class on offer.

 

 

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Turkish Walnut & Red Pepper Paste Dip – Cevizli Biber


Hosgeldiniz! (Means “Welcome” in Turkish)

Turkish cuisine is a healthy, delicious cuisine, and we use lots of grains, nuts, olive oil and vegetables. This is one of my favorite mezes of all time; it is very easy to make and very, very more-ish, you just can’t stop eating them. It is one of my mother’s recipes and whenever I make it, I feel like I am home. You can find the red pepper paste in specialty stores and in many big supermarkets.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 15 minutes

3 slices of white stale bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons Turkish red pepper paste or 2 tablespoons Amore chili paste
1 cup English walnuts, shelled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of Salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water

To serve:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Toasted baguette slices or wide crackers

Ground the walnuts with the onion, cumin, salt and red pepper paste in the food processor. Soak the bread into water and squeeze the excess water. Crumble the bread and add to the mixture in the food processor. Add the olive oil and water and blend to make a smooth spread. If it appears to be too thick, add a little more olive oil.

Place the spread on a small salad plate or bowl. Pour the extra virgin olive oil all over and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve the spread with toasted baguette slices or wide crackers.

Afiyet Olsun!

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