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I teach Turkish cooking classes in England,Turkey & USA, hope you can join us!,
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Recipes    

Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Appetizers and Mezes

Watermelon and White Cheese (Feta) Salad; Karpuz, Peynir, Ekmek

Watermelon and Turkish white cheese (or feta) Salad;  Karpuz, peynir, ekmek

Watermelon and Turkish white cheese (or feta) Salad; Karpuz, peynir, ekmek

Watermelon, or karpuz, as we call it in Turkish, is a much loved summer fruit and my daughter’s favorite. I remember as a child, cooling the watermelon at my grandmother’s little fountain in her courtyard in Antakya (and we children dipping in and out of the fountain to cool down, along with the watermelon). We would eagerly wait for our cool slice of watermelon, and that heavenly very first bite into the sweet, refreshing fruit – happy days.

This is a typical, refreshing and delicious salad we Turks love. A very simple one too, with only watermelon, Turkish beyaz peynir, white cheese (or feta cheese) and a few fresh mint leaves in it. Ripe, juicy and sweet watermelon doesn’t really require any other dressing in this salad and complement the mildly salty white cheese or feta cheese very well. We love this salad as part of our summer Turkish breakfast, for lunch or as a side to grills. With fresh Pide bread, ekmek by the side, this watermelon and feta salad is one of the highlights of summer for me.

Beautiful flowers in Bodrum, Turkey

Beautiful flowers in Bodrum, Turkey

We will be off to Turkey shortly; I can’t wait to see family, friends and take in all the sights, smells and tastes my wonderful homeland offers. I wish you all a lovely summer in delicious food and company. I look forward to being in touch from home to share the delights of this magical land.

Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice and minced meat, Sarma

We will learn how to make Stuffed grapevine leaves with aromatic rice and minced meat, Sarma, during our  Turkish Cookery class at Divertimenti Cookery School

Before I sign off; delighted to let you know that I will be teaching a feast of Turkish Cookery Classes with the wonderful Divertimenti Cookery School in London, on Tuesday 13th October and on Sunday, 13th December. Please save the dates, I would love to see you there, if you can. Places are limited and the bookings will be through Divertimenti Cookery School website as of 2nd September, you can see the class details at  Ozlem’s Turkish Table – Cookery Classes.

Afiyet Olsun, Happy Summer – Guzel bir yaz dilegiyle,

Ozlem

5.0 from 1 reviews
Watermelon and White Cheese (Feta) Salad; Karpuz, Peynir, Ekmek
 
Watermelon, karpuz is a much loved summer fruit in Turkey and this watermelon and feta salad is one of the highlights of summer for me. Ripe, juicy and sweet watermelon doesn’t really require any other dressing in this salad and complement the mildly salty white cheese or feta cheese very well. We love this salad as part of our summer Turkish breakfast, for lunch or as a side to the grills.
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy Turkish Salads
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 slices of medium, ripe and cool watermelon
  • 200 gr / 7 oz. Turkish white cheese, beyaz peynir or feta cheese
  • Fresh mint leaves to decorate
Instructions
  1. Keep the watermelon in the fridge for 2 hours to cool, prior to cutting.
  2. Slice the watermelon and cut the skin. Take out the large seeds in the watermelon (smaller seeds don’t bother us and we leave, you can take them out if you prefer).
  3. Cut the watermelon into about 1 in (2,5 cm) cubes or small wedges. Place the watermelon in a serving plate.
  4. Drain the juice of the Turkish white cheese or feta cheese and cut into small cubes (again about 1 in/ 2,5 cm).
  5. Gently toss the feta cheese and watermelon in the serving plate and garnish with fresh mint leaves.
  6. Serve immediately with fresh Pide bread or pita bread slices by the side. This refreshing salad is delicious as part of Turkish style breakfast or lunch. You can also serve watermelon and feta salad with grilled fish, meat and vegetables.
 

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Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice - a favorite street food in Turkey, easy to make at home

Midye Dolma; stuffed mussels with aromatic rice – a favorite street food in Turkey, quite easy to make at home

Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious treat we love as a nation. A favorite street and beach side food in Turkey, we would get a plateful of stuffed mussels from the local vendor at the beach in Turgut Reis, Bodrum. My son would tuck them in straight and they disappear far too quickly. You would also be welcomed by the street stalls, selling stuffed muscles in Istanbul, especially at Beyoglu district. You gently break off the top shell, give a good squeeze of lemon juice over the mussel with aromatic rice then scoop this delicious mixture with using the loose shell as a spoon, just heavenly.

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Local vendor, selling stuffed mussels, midye dolma at the Turgut Reis beach, Bodrum

Midye dolma - stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

Midye dolma – stuffed mussels vendor at Beyoglu, Istanbul

I was greatly inspired by Somer Sivrioglu’s amazing Turkish cookery book, Anatolia; Adventures in Turkish Cooking and encouraged to have a go at making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home. My recipe here is slightly adapted from Somer’s recipe in Anatolia cookery book.

This stuffed mussels recipe along with other authentic 90 recipes are included in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. If you’d like to get a Signed copy, you can order at this link, for a limited period.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, signed copies available here

. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.

Some important tips on making stuffed mussels, midye dolma at home:

1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

Homemade stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, Midye Dolma

I was very glad to have a go at this delicious delicacy, midye dolma. It was well worth the effort and we as a family greatly enjoyed these stuffed mussels. The juicy currants and crunchy pine nuts go so well in the aromatic rice with herbs- they are a marriage made in heaven with mussels.  Midye dolma would make an impressive, delicious starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.8 from 6 reviews
Homemade Stuffed Mussels with Aromatic Rice; Midye Dolma
 
Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, herbs and spices, is a delicious street food we love as a nation in Turkey. They are well worth the effort to make at home; these scrumptious stuffed mussels, midye dolma would make an impressive starter or if you really like them like my 11 year old son, it may be your main course!
Author:
Recipe type: Seafood; mussels with aromatic rice
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 25 - 30 stuffed mussels
Ingredients
  • 25 - 30 large black mussels, cleaned and bearded
  • 2 medium to large onions, finely chopped
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. currants
  • 30 gr / 1 oz. pine nuts
  • 110 gr/ 3 ¾ oz. / ½ cup short grain rice
  • 1 tomato, very finely chopped or grated
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Handful (about ⅓ cup) finely chopped fresh dill
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 – 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 240 ml/ 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the currants in a bowl, cover with warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
  2. Place the rice into a sieve and rinse well under cold running water. Drain the rice and set aside.
  3. Make the stuffing first (you can also make the stuffing a day ahead of time). Heat the oil in a medium sized pan and stir in the onions. Sauté over medium to high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pine nuts to the onions, sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice, currants, chopped tomato, tomato paste, spices and season with salt to your taste. Pour in the hot water (about 240 ml/ 8 fl oz. / 1 cup) and combine all well. Bring to the boil then cover to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Rice will be “al dente” and still have a bite to it. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  5. Once cool, stir in the chopped dill and parsley to the aromatic rice and combine well. Check the seasoning and add more salt or ground black pepper if you’d like. Set aside to cool. You can cook this delicious aromatic rice a day ahead of time and keep in the fridge, covered. This really helps the flavors to blend in and phase your cooking time wise.
  6. Now, open the mussels. If you’ve bought the mussels in a vacuum bag, open the bag over a bowl to catch any liquid inside. Place the mussels in a large bowl and rinse under cold water. Scrub the shells clean and scrape off any dirt. Using a blunt knife, carefully force the point of the knife into the gap at the pointy end of each mussel (if opening the shells become challenging, soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels). Slice through the meat so the shell opens with half the meat attached to each half shell – once you cut through the thick, round connecting muscle at the bottom of the mussel, it will be easy to open.
  7. Pour the juice from the mussel to a bowl. Snip off the beards and using your finger, remove any grit at the base. Spread the half shells to tear the muscle of the mussel, but leave the two halves connected. Put about 2 tsp. of stuffing into the middle of each mussel (try not to overfill) and push the half shells together again.
  8. Place the mussels on a wide heavy pan, with the tips pointing outwards towards the edge of the pan, with the shells slightly overlapping (to prevent them opening). Build a tight spiral of shells in the center of the pan. There should be one layer of mussels, so if you have mussels left over, use another pan to keep on the layering. Place a wide plate over the mussels to prevent them from opening too wide while they cook.
  9. Strain the mussel juice through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin (cheese cloth) three times to remove any grit. Mix the mussel juice with water, make it up about 250 ml/ 9 oz. / generous 1 cup water (have another 1 cup of water ready if you are using two pans). Pour this mixture to the pan; the water level should only reach to the half of the shell. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the mussels from the heat and leave to cool at room temperature. Then cover and keep them in the fridge for 30 minutes – 1 hour to cool further and for the flavors to settle. Serve stuffed mussels with aromatic rice, midye dolma on a big platter with lemon wedges by the side. They are best enjoyed eating with your hands, using the top shell to scoop the mixture out of the bottom shell, with a generous squeeze of lemon over the mussel with aromatic rice.
Notes
1.Opening the shell of the live mussels may seem a little challenging at first; soaking them in warm water helps to open the shell, as it relaxes the mussels. Make sure to discard any broken or open shells. Tap any half open shells; do not use any that do not close immediately.
2. The herby, aromatic rice itself is really delicious and you can make it ahead of time. I made mine a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge, covered; it really helped for the flavors to settle.
3. Plenty of onions in the aromatic rice really go well; they pack a lot of flavor combined with currants, pine nuts, herbs and spices. I like to add a little red pepper flakes to bring a delicious but not over powering heat to the mussels.
4. Try not to over stuff the mussels with the aromatic rice, as the rice will need a little space to cook further.
 

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Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions; Karnabahar Mucveri

Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions; Firinda Karnabahar Mucveri

Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions; Firinda Karnabahar Mucveri

Inspired by the delicious Zucchini/courgette fritters with feta; Mucver, as we call it in Turkish, this time I made this wonderful dish using cauliflowers. Rather than frying, I baked the cauliflower florets flavored with feta, dill, onions in the oven. The result has been equally delicious and lighter in flavor, served with a refreshing wedge of lemon aside.

Inspired by the delicious zucchini/courgette fritters with feta (Mucver, as we call it in Turkish), here comes baked cauliflower florets flavored with feta, dill, onions. Delicious with wedge of lemon aside.

Here comes baked cauliflower florets flavored with feta, dill, onions. Delicious with wedge of lemon aside.

I love cauliflower’s firm texture and you can flavor it easily with herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. During our Culinary tour to Turkey a few years ago, we made the cauliflower fritters with feta and dill at our Aegean style cookery class in Sirince; they were scrumptious with garlic yoghurt aside.

Stir in the chopped red onions, spring (green onions), parsley, dill, olive oil and the crumbled feta cheese to the bowl with the cauliflower florets.

Stir in the chopped red onions, spring (green onions), parsley, dill, olive oil and the crumbled feta cheese to the bowl along with the cauliflower florets.

I am happy to report that baking rather than frying works very well in this dish. It is easier, lighter and still packed with flavor. Dill, parsley, spring onions, red onions pack a punch and flavor the cauliflowers very nicely, along with feta cheese. You can add some red pepper flakes to the mixture for a pleasant heat, if you like. There’s also no need to cook the cauliflowers beforehand.

You can serve this baked cauliflower florets with Cacik dip of yoghurt with cucumber and garlic or the Shepherd’s Salad; it would make a delicious lunch or light supper with crusty bread and wedge of lemon aside. Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions, Firinda Karnabahar Mucveri would also accompany grills well – delicious hot or cold.

Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions, Firinda Karnabahar Mucveri

Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions; Firinda Karnabahar Mucveri

 

If you enjoy wonderful hot and cold mezes, vegetables cooked in olive oil like this dish and more, I have included a large variety of vegetarian courses in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, available to order at this link.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Cookery Book – available to order at this link

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

4.8 from 8 reviews
Baked Cauliflower with feta, dill, onions; Karnabahar Mucveri
 
An utterly delicious vegetarian Turkish appetizer, featuring cauliflowers, flavored with feta cheese, onions, dill, parsley. Baking works very well here, the result is a lovely, light vegetarian dish; delicious hot or cold.
Author:
Recipe type: Vegetarian Turkish Appetizers
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 850 gr), cut into small florets
  • 180 gr / 6 ½ oz. feta cheese, drained and crumbled
  • 4 tbsp. / 60 ml all purpose (plain flour) – use gluten-free flour for gluten-free version
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 spring (green) onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Small bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. red pepper flakes or chili flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Wedges of lemon to serve
  • 22 cm x 22 cm (7”x7”) baking dish recommended
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F
  2. Cut the cauliflower in small florets, wash and drain the excess water in a colander/sieve.
  3. Beat the eggs in a small bowl.
  4. Place the drained cauliflower florets in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the chopped red onions, garlic, spring (green onions), parsley, dill, olive oil and the crumbled feta cheese to the bowl.
  5. Season with salt, ground black peppers and chili (red pepper flakes). Using your hands, combine all the ingredients. At this stage, you can check the seasoning – add more salt or peppers to your taste.
  6. Stir in the beaten egg and flour to the cauliflower mixture and combine well.
  7. Grease your baking dish with 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil and pour in the mixture to the baking dish.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven (180 C / 350 F) for 25 – 30 minutes, until the cauliflower florets have a nice light brown color on top.
  9. Slice and serve hot with a wedge of lemon and crusty bread aside. Cacik dip of yoghurt with diced cucumber and garlic or Shepherd’s salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and spring onion in lemon juice and olive oil dressing would go well with this delicious dish.
 

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