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Tag Archives | appetizers

Green lentil salad with delicious sumac dressing & Our memorable trip to the States

Green lentils salad with vegetables and sumac & pomegranate molasses dressing; wholesome and refreshing

Green lentils salad with vegetables and sumac & pomegranate molasses dressing; wholesome and refreshing

Refreshing salads are the choice of food for us, especially during the hot summer days. We have been revisiting this lovely green lentils salad often recently; healthy green lentils make the salad wholesome and filling. They also pair with the vegetables so well. Dried lentils are a year-round staple in our kitchen, essential for delicious salads like this during hot weather and hearty soups, like this Spicy red lentils soup, Ezo Gelin Corba,  in the winter months.

I also added the aromatic fennel to this salad; its crunchy texture and mild anise flavor worked well in the salad. If you are not a big fan of fennel, simply omit it.

Tangy sumac adds a lemony, refreshing taste to salads.

Tangy sumac adds a lemony, refreshing taste to salads.

The star of the salad has been the delicious sumac; this tangy, lemony spice is often used in Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern cooking. Try this Piyaz salad with sumac, tomatoes and red onion slices with grilled vegetables and meat, utterly delicious. You can find sumac and pomegranate molasses at Middle Eastern or specialty stores (Whole Foods Market and Central Market carry sumac in the US). Turkish online supermarket Tulumba.com also have them  and I could find sumac in major supermarkets like Waitrose and Sainsburys in the UK.

I hope you enjoy this delicious, substantial salad. We had it with soft boiled eggs and pitta (or flat bread, pide bread) aside, it made a complete meal for us. Olives would also work well in this salad too. You can also serve this salad as an appetizer or with grilled meat, fish and vegetables.

Serves 2 -4

265 gr cooked green lentils, liquid drained and rinsed

2 spring (green onion), finely sliced

50gr baby spinach leaves

½ red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

A handful (about 100 gr) radishes, coarsely chopped

1 small fennel, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced – optional

2 eggs

For the dressing:

15ml/1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1-2 tsp. ground sumac

½ tbsp. pomegranate molasses or 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar – optional, for a sharper taste-

1 tsp. Turkish red pepper paste – optional

Salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the lentils in three times more water than the pulse for about 35 – 45 minutes. Drain the hot water and set the cooked lentils aside. If you are using pre-cooked lentils in can, drain its juice and rinse well.

Combine the red onions with the Turkish hot red pepper paste, Biber Salcasi, if you are using  and extra virgin olive oil and knead well with your hands; this will soften the onions and help the paste blend in well. Stir in the rest of the vegetables and the lentils.

Stir in the sumac to the salad mixture and combine well.

Stir in the sumac to the salad mixture and combine well.

Add the sumac and, pomegranate molasses or the balsamic vinegar (optional; if you enjoy a sharper taste like I do) to the mixture and combine well. Season with salt and pepper.

For soft boiled eggs; bring a pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Once boiling carefully set the eggs in the water. Cover and turn the heat to low. Set your timer for five minutes (six if you like thicker yolks). Gently remove the eggs from the water when the timer goes off. Immediately run them under cold water and peel carefully.  I like to cut them in half and serve with the lentil salad.

Delicious and wholesome green lentils salad with sumac dressing.

Delicious and wholesome green lentils salad with sumac dressing.

Afiyet olsun,

Ozlem

Our Memorable Trip to the States

A delicious and a very warm welcome with Turkish breakfast :)

A delicious and a very warm welcome with Turkish breakfast 🙂

We have been travelling in the US during the last few weeks; it was wonderful to see our old hang outs and dear friends. First stop was Houston; our dear friends Hande & Lenny welcomed us with this delicious Turkish breakfast, infused with wonderful Texas style egg & cheese burritos. With glasses of  Turkish cay and in great company of friends, it was special reunion!

It was wonderful to return to Central Market Cooking School and teach my Turkish cookery class with them; here we're about  to prepare the eggplants with dear Cindy

It was wonderful to return to Central Market Cooking School and teach my Turkish cookery class with them; here we’re about to prepare the eggplants with dear Cindy

 We lived in Austin, Texas for about 6 years; a special place for us that we can call a 2nd home. I was delighted to return to the Central Market Cooking School and have a chance to teach my Turkish cookery class at this wonderful school. Folks from my previous classes, friends, dear participants of  my Culinary tours to Turkey, new Turkish food lovers all gathered and graciously shared their love of Turkish food and Turkey. It was a day to remember and I was grateful to their company and generosity in appreciation.

While in Texas, one needs to make the most of the barbecue Texas-style, and we had more than our fair share!

Here I am working on the great big BBQ sauce at Rudy's, loved every bit of it : )

Here I am working on the great big BBQ sauce at Rudy’s, loved every bit of it : )

Here is another special photo, with my dear friend Peri. Peri is the owner of the fabulously delicious Indian food blog, Peri’s Spice Ladle; our friendship goes a long way, since the days we both lived in Austin. I was so glad to be able to see this dear friend, as Peri & family had literally just arrived from their trip from India. In spite of their jet lag, they very kindly drove to come & see us before we departed, it was special reunion! As Peri said “what matters at the end is the hugs and the memories of a good time, not the travel and fatigue and the jet lag! “, I so agree.

Seeing dear friends like Peri, from Peri's Spice Ladle was a very special highlight.

Seeing dear friends like Peri, from Peri’s Spice Ladle was a very special highlight.

Austin, Texas has a lot of special things worth mentioning; being the capital of Texas, its live music scene (the city hosts brilliant music festivals like South by Southwest), home town of  UT and many more. Austin is also the place to find the country’s biggest urban softball bat community; a lot more than 750,000 Mexican Free-Tail bats make their house underneath the beams from the Congress Avenue bridge. We took a Town Lake river cruise in Austin and watched the bats taking off under the Congress Avenue Bridge; “thousands of them!”, as my 9 year old son said with amazement!

Watching thousands of bats taking off at Town Lake, Austin - Texas; a sight to see.

Watching thousands of bats taking off at Town Lake, Austin – Texas; a sight to see.

 We then headed to Park City, Utah. Park City is a scenic mountain community and its crisp clean air, from biking to hiking all things outdoors, the gorgeous mountain scene have been very welcome, relaxing and enjoyable.

Beautiful mountain scene and all things outdoors; we really enjoyed Park City.

Beautiful mountain scene and all things outdoors; we really enjoyed Park City.

We made this delicious Spinach and Cheese fillo pastry, Ispanakli Peynirli Borek with Aunt Jayne while we were in Park City; it was delicious! It’s such an easy, tasty treat and left overs freeze beautifully.

IMG_1486

Spinach and cheese pastry, Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek; delicious and easy to make.

As always, it’s been the people that have made a place special. I hope you have enjoyed the photos, as much as we enjoyed the trip.

Precious time spent with dear friends; and I loved these sunflowers : )

Precious time spent with dear friends; and I loved these sunflowers : )

My best wishes to you all. Now back at home, I look forward to sharing more new recipes here with you!

Ozlem

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Cheese and Parsley filled Tray Pastry – Peynirli Tepsi Boregi

This wonderful pie has to be the most popular and loved pastry in Turkey, and due to popular demand, it is reappearing:)We just baked it again yesterday, for a friend, as it is her daughter’s favorite pastry. It has been cooked at homes often, and you can eat almost in every café or restaurant at home. I use the fillo pastry sheets for this recipe and it works well (traditionally, we use the fresh paper thin pastry sheets called yufka and it is wonderful, if you can find it). If frozen, you need to defrost the fillo pastry overnight in the fridge and leave at room temperature about 2 hours before using. I like to combine the feta cheese with mozzarella in this recipe to make it moister. Another good tip is using the egg and milk mixture amongst the layers of the pastry sheets; that really makes the pastry moister.

At home, boreks, savory pastries are a very popular snack with ladies’ tea time gatherings and immensely popular with children too. It also makes a wonderful lunch or appetizer with a little green salad by the side.

Cheese and parsley filled tray pastry; Peynirli tepsi boregi; easy and delicious for the whole family

Cheese and parsley filled tray pastry; Peynirli tepsi boregi; easy and delicious for the whole family

Serves 6-8
Preparation time – 25 minutes Cooking time – 35 minutes

150gr/7oz feta cheese, mashed with a fork
115 gr / 4oz shredded mozzarella
2 eggs, beaten
15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil to grease the tray
1 pack or 24 sheets of fillo pastry (24cmx25cm/about 9″x10″)
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the egg&milk; mixture:
2 eggs, beaten
120ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup milk

120ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup water

30ml/2tablespoons olive oil

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

In a bowl, mix the feta cheese, shredded mozzarella, parsley and two of the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining eggs, olive oil, water and milk (for the egg&milk; mixture).

Grease a rectangular baking dish with a little olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets along its long side and trim or cut if needed, as the size of the sheets vary in each country. 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 two 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 until you reached the 12th sheet (or half of your pack). The pastry may look like swimming in the milky mixture a little, don’t worry, that’s the way it should be. Once cooked, the pastry will absorb all this moisture and you will have a lovely, moist pie.

Spread the cheese filling over the 12th sheet evenly. Continue laying two sheets of fillo, pouring over each the milk mixture, until you reach 24th sheet. Sprinkle the milk mixture on the top of the pie.

Bake the pie in the oven for about 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into pieces. This dish can be successfully reheated.

Afiyet Olsun!

Important tips: If you would like to cut back on the amount of the eggs, you can omit or decrease them in the cheese 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 180C/ 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.

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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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