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Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables; Firinda Sebzeli Tavuk

Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables, Sebzeli firin tavuk

Baked Chicken Casserole with Vegetables, Sebzeli firin tavuk

In Turkey, we use a lot of fresh vegetables – usage of frozen vegetable and fruit is minimal. With this abundance, you can create endless casseroles with adding meat or keeping it vegetarian.

This recipe appears a lot in our home; it is so easy to make, healthy and very delicious too. You can add or replace your favorite vegetables of the season; peas, eggplants and zucchini work well too. I like to double the recipe and freeze the half, as it freezes so well. You can make it a complete meal with plain rice a side and a dollop of plain yoghurt.

Please remember; Turkish cooking is all about using fresh produce and flavoring the dishes with artful use of spices. It is wonderfully amazing to see that you can have healthy food without compromising the taste, thanks to the spices. Make your casserole as fiery as you would like with more red pepper flakes! Afiyet Olsun!

Serves 4 – 6

Preparation time: 35 minutes  Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

450 gr/1 lb chicken breasts(cut in chunks) and thighs
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
450 gr/1 lb potatoes, cut in half and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon red pepper paste (or tomato paste)
45 ml/3 tablespoons olive oil
400 gr/14 oz can chopped tomato
240 ml/8 oz/1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C/350F/Gas mark 4

In your casserole dish marinate the vegetables with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, red pepper paste (or tomato paste), salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes. Make sure all the vegetables are well coated with the olive oil, paste and spices using your hands.

Add the meat and blend well with the marinated vegetables. You can add a little more pinch of salt if you like. Cover and let the flavors blend for about 15 minutes in the fridge.

Add the water to the marination, mix well. Bake in the oven uncovered. Half way through baking (after about 20 minutes), take the casserole out of the oven and give a gentle mix; this will give a chance for the vegetables and the meat to golden brown evenly. Put the casserole back in the oven and cook for further 20 minutes or until nicely golden brown on top.

Serve warm with plain rice and a dollop of natural plain yoghurt by the side.

Tips: You can marinate the meat with the vegetables in the morning or even a day in advance; cover and leave it in the fridge for the flavors to blend even more.

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Apricot Cake – Kayisili Kek

Apricot is one of Turkey’s most prolific fruit. 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; being packed with fiber and antioxidants, very healthy too. We love to eat them fresh, dried as well as in cakes and desserts in Turkey. Afternoon tea is a great ritual at home, where ladies prepare lovely cakes and pastries for friends and family, enjoyed over a glass of cay – tea – (this ritual still keeps going strong in our home in England and very popular with my children!). This apricot cake has been inspired by the artisan bakery Popina’s lovely plum tart; it is light, tasty and great with coffee and tea!

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes

100 gr/3.5 ounces/1/2 cup golden caster sugar
1 egg
40 ml/1 1/3 lf oz groundnut oil (or any vegetable oil)
60 ml/2 lf oz whole milk
140 gr/ 5 ounce plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A few drops of vanilla extract
100 gr/3.5 ounce dried apricots, halved
1 1/2 tablespoon apricot jam to glaze

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

Put the sugar and egg in a mixing bowl and mix with an electric whisk. Add the oil, milk, flour, baking powder and vanilla, mix well until thoroughly combined.

Transfer to a greased cake tin and spread evenly. Place the apricot halves cut side up, over the mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until deep golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.

In the meantime, put the apricot jam in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted and runny. Brush the jam all over the tart with a pastry brush and leave for a few minutes before serving.

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