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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Flourless Chocolate, Nut and Prune Torte

We have been well due for a nice, sweet treat:) I saw this lovely torte at the Good Housekeeping magazine; the original recipe used ground hazelnuts in the torte, my version has ground almonds – just because we love it- . It turned out to be a wonderful, moist torte that we enjoyed at the end of a meal with friends. The ground almonds make the torte really moist and torte stays moist for good 3-4 days, if there is any left!

Vanilla ice cream or double cream goes very well by the side.

Serves 8
Preparation time: 25 min Cooking time: 35 min

75gr (3oz) unsalted butter, cut in cubes, plus extra to grease
100gr (3 1/2oz) ground almonds
Handful of whole hazelnuts, blanched to decorate
75gr (3oz) caster sugar
125gr (4oz) good quality plain chocolate, broken into pieces
10ml/ 2 teaspoons rum, optional
3 medium eggs, separated
75gr (3oz) prunes, chopped

Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Mark 4

Grease and line a 20.5cm (8in) round tin with baking parchment. Mix the ground almonds with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar. Set aside.

Next, put the chocolate, butter and rum (if using) into a small pan and melt gently over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Put the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar into a large bowl and the egg whites into a separate large bowl. Using a handheld electric whisk beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Next, beat together the yolks and sugar mixture until thick and moussey, about 3 minutes.

Using a large metal spoon, fold the chocolate mixture into the yolk bowl, followed by the ground almonds mixture. Stir a spoonful of whites into the chocolate mixture, and then carefully fold in the rest. Empty mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface, then sprinkle over prunes and the whole hazelnuts.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is risen and feels springy to the touch. Take out of the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin. Take out of the tin, peel off the paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve in slices with cream or ice cream, if you like.

Hope you have a sweet start of the week, Afiyet Olsun!

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Pasta with eggplant (aubergine), garlic and tomato sauce – Patlicanli Makarna

Our family, especially the children love pasta and I like to try different sauces to make it exciting, delicious and that I can prepare ahead of time. Patlican (eggplant or aubergine) is an ingredient we use a lot in Turkish cooking, and its meaty, sweet flesh adds a wonderful flavor to the pasta. Eggplant has a lot of water content and the trick is to get all that moisture out before cooking, as shown in the recipe, so that they won’t go soggy.

You can prepare this sauce ahead of time and freeze any leftover sauce. It is a wonderful, comforting dish that may save that weekday supper!

Serves 2-3
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

350gr/12oz penne pasta (about 100gr per person is suggested)
1 medium eggplant (aubergine), diced into small chunks
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil
10ml/2teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated parmesan or pecorino romano to serve

Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and then dice each eggplant into bite size chunks. Spread them on a wide tray, sprinkle salt over and leave aside for 15 minutes. With using paper towel, squeeze excess water out of eggplants.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and lightly sauté the eggplant for 3-4 minutes. This will help eggplants to soften up and start bringing out their lovely sweet flesh. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes, give them a good mix and cook for a further two minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, add the oregano and mix well. Simmer for a few more minutes.

In the meantime, place the pasta in a saucepan of boiling water, add a little salt and a dash of olive oil. Stir occasionally and boil for about 10 minutes (for penne), until “al dente”. Towards the end of the cooking, take 2 tablespoons of the pasta’s cooking liquid and add to the pasta sauce, mix well. Once pasta is cooked, drain the water and mix in the eggplant & tomato sauce.

Serve hot immediately, with some grated pecorino or parmesan over the pasta, if you like. Plain green salad with lemon and olive oil dressing goes well with the pasta.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Time to be Thankful and Share the Love of Food

I prepared a Turkish stall for my son’s school’s Christmas event; there were yummy Turkish Delights all the way from Istanbul (my heartfelt thanks to my sweet sister Oznur and my parents who very kindly provided them); lovely Turkish “blue eyed” key chains and necklaces; wonderful dried peppers, baby okra, aubergines (eggplants);

I made some spinach and cheese fillo pastry and let folks try them. There were copper pots, Turkish coffee pots and lovely little hand painted pottery for spices and dips. It was just wonderful to talk about food, hear everyone’s happy memories visiting Turkey. And it was wonderful to share all good things Turkey, my homeland has offered.

I just wanted to express how grateful and thankful I am for all the support from my family, friends and you all, who kindly share love of cooking.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and Festive Season; it is time to be thankful. And why not revisiting some wonderful appetizers like the cheese & spinach pastry, or red pepper paste & walnut dip or a lovely aubergine (eggplant) recipe from the blog to share with family and friends? I feel they all taste better when shared 🙂

My best wishes,

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