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Tag Archives | baklava

A Very Festive dessert; Syrup Soaked, Cheese Filled Pastry Strands – Kunefe

Glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, a centerpiece for special occasions.

This glorious syrup soaked, cheese filled pastry strands, Kunefe, is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya, and it was one of the highlights at my Turkish cooking class last Saturday, on October 20th.

Proudly showing and sharing the kunefe at my Turkish cooking class on October 20th – many thanks to dear Nadia for the photo!:)

I spent many happy holidays in Antakya in my childhood; I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (the pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve from Long Market (Uzun Carsi) in Antakya. And the golden memories of my grandmother cooking Kunefe in her stone oven in her garden, and, we, her grandchildren excitedly waiting for any leftovers of the butter soaked pastry strands is still vivid in my memory, glorious days.

The Master at work in Long Market, Antakya. The dough is pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, called Tel Kadayif.

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli and when soaked in butter and baked, resembles golden shredded wheat. It is the basis for many desserts but this is the most impressive. The hot cheese should ooze out giving an interesting contrast to the syrup soaked, crunchy casing. Any unsalted cheese which melts easily can be used – fresh mozzarella works well. I also like to add a little clotted cream; my mother would add the wonderfully thick cream we get in Turkey, called Kaymak.  Kunefe can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe can also be baked in individual portions, like Sultan Sofrasi in Antakya does wonderfully.

You can get Kadayif, packs of pale strands that look like vermicelli- in Middle Eastern stores (like the Turkish Food Market in Cheam, Surrey – England), online Turkish supermarkets carry them.

This Kunefe recipe and many more are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, along with stunning photography and personal stories. Signed copies are now 30 % OFF for a limited time at this link and delivered worldwide including the USA.

Here are also other festive dishes like baklava and other festive desserts  if you would like some more inspirations.

Syrup Soaked, Cheese Filled Pastry Strands – Kunefe

Serves 6

Preparation time: 20 minutes             Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

225gr/8oz ready-prepared kadayif pastry, thawed if frozen

115gr/4oz melted butter

350gr/12oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (dil peyniri in Turkey or  the white kunefelik peynir in southern Turkey works great if you can get)

2-3 tbsp kaymak or clotted cream – optional-

For the syrup:

225gr/8oz sugar

120ml/4fl oz water

Juice of 1/2 small lemon – about 2 tbsp (you can use less, if you prefer)

1-2 tbsp crushed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C/350 F

First make the syrup. Place the sugar and water in a pan and simmer over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat through and simmer for about 10 minutes, until it coats the back of the spoon. Then remove from the heat and leave the syrup to cool. The syrup needs to be cool when poured over the cheese filled pastry strands.

Using some of the melted butter, grease a large baking tray.

Soak the pastry strands well in the melted butter to prevent it burning during baking.

Soak the pastry strands well in the melted butter. Use more butter if necessary, as it is important that it is well soaked in order to prevent it burning during the baking time. Divide the pastry strands in two. Spread half of the strands in the base of the baking pan, press it down with your fingers.

Spread or crumble the slices of the fresh mozzarella cheese and the clotted cream (if used) over the top of the pastry and cover with the remainder of the pastry, pressing down firmly.

Cover with the remainder of the pastry over the cheese spread, pressing down firmly.


Once you spread the remainder of the pastry over the cheese and pressed down firmly, it is ready to be baked.

Bake the pastry in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the strands are a deep golden color.

Cut the hot, baked pastry strands into portions and pour the prepared cool syrup over it. Serve immediately whilst still hot and the cheese is gooey. You can decorate with a sprinkling of ground pistachio nuts over the top if you like.


Afiyet Olsun & Mutlu Bayramlar !


Gorgeous autumn colors in Wisley Gardens, England.

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Treats for Seker Bayrami, Eid Al-Fitr – Gullac, Baklava and more

Wonderful blue tiles at the Blue Mosque

There is a wonderful excitement in my parent’s home in Istanbul, as the holy month of Ramadan is now reaching to its end soon. My mother has been fasting, and we are all look forward to being together this year to celebrate the end of Ramadan in Istanbul. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement, charity, as well as increased devotion and worship. I love seeing family and friends visiting each other, elderly eagerly waiting for the young ones to pay a visit; little ones eagerly waiting for their sweet treats. Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community, share what you have and visit one another. A wonderful time when feelings of tolerance and charity are foremost in people’s minds.

Inside of the Blue Mosque; a special time to visit during Ramadan


My mother has so many treats in her mind for the family and friends to share. One of her favorite dessert for this time of the year is the traditional dessert, Gullac. This lovely, light dessert is prepared with Gullac wafers which is made with corn starch and wheat flour. You can find Gullac wafers at specialty or Middle Eastern stores, or at Turkish online shops like Tulumba or Marketurk in the UK.

Güllaç contains walnuts or almonds between the layers which are soaked in milk. It is light and wonderful dessert for warm summer days. You can decorate Gullac with pomegranate seeds in winter or dried fruits like apricots in summer; crushed pistachios are also wonderful over gullac.

Delicious and refreshing Gullac dessert, very light too

Delicious and refreshing Gullac dessert, very light too


1 pack gullac wafers

600gr sugar

3kg milk

6 tbsp rose water

400gr crushed almonds

Chopped dried apricots and crushed pistachios to decorate


Combine milk and sugar in a heavy pan and bring to a boil. Add the rose water to the boiling milk.

Moisten the gullac wafers with milk. Spread the half of the wafers on top of each other on a wide tray. Sprinkle crushed walnuts or almonds in the middle, and stack the rest of gullac layers, soaked in the milk mixture. Pour the rest of the milk mixture over the top wafer and let it cool.  Garnish with dried apricot and crushed pistachio and serve.

 Here are some more ideas for end of Ramadan treats; who can resist baklava? It is easy to make home made baklava using fillo sheets.

Scrumptious baklava with pistachios

Here is Ekmek Kadayifi – Turkish bread pudding dessert, served with kaymak, our thick clotted cream.

Ekmek Kadayifi; a traditional dessert especially at the southern Turkey

How about our dried fig dessert with stuffed with walnuts? Here, the dried fig is first poached in hot water for a few minutes to soften up then stuffed with nuts.

Poached dried figs stuffed with nuts, decorated with pistachio nuts

As you see, the sweets are the stars for the end of Ramadan festivities. If you rather prefer savory to sweet, then boreks are your best bet. Su borek made  with paper thin yufka sheets or with fillo pastry sheets, with cheese and parsley filling, may be just the thing.

Cheese and parsley filled borek; lovely treat


Whatever treat you may choose, I hope you enjoy them and have a chance to share with others.


Blue Mosque from the terrace of the Armada Hotel

Afiyet olsun!




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Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser & Some Delicious Nibbles to Share

I was delighted to be a part of a good cause last week; Petersons Fund for Children Charity Fundraiser in Surrey, England.

Peterson’s Fund for Children’ is a registered local charity that supports children who struggle with cerebral palsy and other similar mental / physical disabilities. It has been in existence for nearly 4 years and through extensive fundraising efforts has provided therapy and equipment otherwise unavailable at the NHS in England. The aim of the charity is to help as many local children in need as possible in the hopes of improving their quality of life and offering them opportunities in order to maximize their individual growth and potential.

Twice a year, Charlene Peterson hosts this fundraiser and kindly opens her house to vendors to raise money for the charity. Wonderful vendors from different lines of businesses have joined forces together last week to help raise funds for the charity, and it was a big pleasure to be a part of this wonderful event. Here are some wonderful vendors from the fundraiser:

Ilgen’s Peshtemal towels can be used as beach towel or sarong or other outdoor use.

Here are Ilgen’s wonderful Turkish Peshtemal towels and natural soaps from the fundraiser event. Her light, super absorbent 100% cotton peshtemal towels (or mixture of luxurious blends including bamboo and silk) are simply wonderful and practical. llgen’s website Cotton & Olive will be up and running within a month, for further enquires please email

Anila’s delicious home made curry sauces

I was delighted to meet Anila’s and taste her award winning curry sauces and samosas!!

Maro’s wonderful herb infused olive oil

Maro’s Kitchen was another wonderful vendor, with her herb infused extra virgin olive oil from Crete, so delicious. She also carries individually made spice mills; for further enquires, please email

Home made baklavas for a sweet treat

I had some delicious home made baklavas, walnut, red pepper paste and olive oil dip over crackers at my table. I served the dip with rocket salad over the top; very easy to prepare and great for entertaining. The spice bowls are hand painted from Turkey, they have been a big hit. My heartfelt thanks goes to my parents and my sister for providing them 🙂

Walnut and red pepper paste dip on crackers and spice bowls from Turkey

Olives with Red Peppers, Spring onion and Parsley

I would like to leave you with this easy to prepare but very tasty, refreshing mezze, appetizer. It’s ready within minutes and goes very well over crackers or toasted bread. I also like to mix it with cooked pasta, bulgur or couscous for a healthy and delicious meal. Pomegranate molasses, a southern Turkish dressing, adds a wonderful, sharp and tangy taste to it. If you can’t get pomegranate molasses, you can replace with a good quality balsamic vinegar.

Seasonal, fresh ingredients make refreshing, healthy, delicious meals

Serves 4

Preparation time:10 minutes

175gr/6oz Turkish, Greek, Italian or Spanish olives, pitted

1 small red pointy or bell pepper, quartered and sliced coarsely

1-2 spring (green) onions, finely chopped

Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

10ml/1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

5ml/1 tsp pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Simply mix the chopped vegetables and olives in a bowl. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil and the pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar) over them, combine well. Season with salt and ground black pepper.

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Olives salad with red peppers, spring onions and pomegranate molasses; summer on a plate

Serve the mezze over crackers or mix with cooked pasta, bulgur wheat or couscous for a delicious and light meal.

Afiyet Olsun!



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