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Turkish cuisine provides healthy, hearty, delicious food for family and friends.
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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir

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We made Kisir today with the children. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

So here comes kisir, from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate molasses) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Note: There are two main varieties of bulgur wheat available, fine and coarse bulgur. Fine bulgur is traditionally used in  salads like kisir whereas coarse bulgur is used in pilafs or As as we call it in Antakya. If you can’t get the fine bulgur wheat, you can also make this salad with coarse bulgur, widely available in supermarkets. In that case, use 240ml/8 fl oz hot water for 175gr/6oz coarse bulgur and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

350gr/12oz fine bulgur wheat
240ml/8 fl oz hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
5ml / 1 teaspoon pul biber, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/ 2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Small bunch of finely chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
5ml / 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Image by Sian Irvine Photography, from Ozlem’s Turkish table cookery book

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds (if preferred) and  lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

New! Ozlem Turkish Table Apron on Sale and Special Offer

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that we also designed this special Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron, just in time for the holiday gift giving season. It is special to my heart, as it is made in Turkey, with my hometown Antakya’s celebrated daphne leaves in the hand embroidered design – this lovely apron would make a wonderful gift for the festive season, you can get yours at this link. Delivered worldwide including the US. We also have a special offer for Ozlem’s Turkish Table readers;  for a limited time, to  you can get a  signed copy of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book bundled with this apron at a special price of £27.99. This special offer ends on 21th November 2020, if you like to get yours here is the link. Delivered worldwide including the US.

 

Ozlem’s Turkish Table Interview with TRT Radio 1 (Turkish National Radio 1)

It’s been an honor to be interviewed by the Turkish National Radio, TRT Radyo 1, at the Gunebakan Program today, talking about Turkish cuisine abroad. A special moment for me, talking in Turkish, at my homeland’s national radio channel. As we talked during the interview, our  recipes are valuable gateways to share our thousands years of our culinary heritage with the world and pass on to the next generations. Also living abroad, I well know how precious our food is to connect us to our homeland, our memories and bring our stories to life. It is such a privilege to share my homeland Turkey’s amazing culinary heritage, traditions, recipes, hospitality, through these precious opportunities and  my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. My sincere thanks goes to GB Publishing and Pinar Foods UK for helping me spread the word on wholesome, delicious Turkish cuisine.
Here is the link to our interview with TRT Radio 1, I hope you enjoy it:

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Turkish Hot Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi


Turkish Hot Red Pepper Paste – Biber Salcasi

Red pepper paste is being used a lot in southern Turkish cooking and with my roots being from there, I do use quite a lot too. It brings a wonderful, rich texture and flavor to salads like spicy bulgur wheat salad – kisir -, stews, meat marinating. At home, the ladies in the villages cook big batches of the spicy red peppers and spread them on the top of their terraces to dry out all the juices so that you get the wonderful, concentrated flavor of the hot red peppers. The dried red peppers, as I put a photo on the headline, are also such a wonderful landmark at home, you see them hanging on spice markets and bazaars all around, a feast to the eye and to your stomach!:)

The red pepper paste is available thru the Middle Eastern markets, and the Turkish website www.tulumba.com carries them too. In London, Tas Organic carries a wonderful red pepper paste in jars, and I have been very lucky to get great batches of them, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law, Judith. In the US, Phonecia Bakery (in Austin and Houston) and Sarah’s Deli in Austin carries them.

In case if you can’t get hot red pepper paste, here is a simple recipe (an adaptation from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Turquoise) to make at home.

Serves 4 – 6

3 long red peppers
3 long red chiles, seeded
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roast the peppers and the seeded chiles for 20 minutes on a tray. Turn them once, until the skins blister and char. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

When cool enough to handle, peel the skins away from the peppers and pull away the seeds and membranes. Roughly chop the peppers and put into a blender. Use a sharp knife to scrape the flesh of the chiles away from the skins – this is easier than trying to peel them – Whiz to a fine puree, then add the salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Cover and keep in the fridge. This should keep the fridge for a week or more.

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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 25 % 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.

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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