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Baby Artichokes Poached in Olive Oil with Peas, Carrots and Almonds – Zeytinyagli Enginar

Vegetable Market in Istanbul – Sali Pazari, Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is very much based on using fresh, seasonal ingredients. A daily trip to Pazar, fresh fruit and vegetable market is a ritual, most Turks do daily at home. Rather than having a recipe in mind, we go to the Market, Pazar, to see which vegetables are seasonal and freshly available in the market and then decide what we will be cooking accordingly.

 Very inviting sweet and spicy peppers at the Cheam Market, England

I had one of these moments when we went to the Turkish Market in Cheam last week. It so wonderful to see great displays of different kinds of peppers (red pointy ones, slim long and spicy green peppers, small spicy peppers and small, less meaty green bell peppers which are great for stuffing), slim aubergines, vine tomatoes and.. baby artichokes.

Baby artichokes at Cheam Market; they are a real treat. Until ready to use, fresh artichokes should be treated like flowers and put in a jug of water.

I rarely can get baby artichokes at my local market, so seeing it was a real treat and the menu for that day is decided; poached baby artichokes in olive oil. We Turks love to poach especially the big, meaty globe artichokes in olive oil with vegetables, dressed with lemon juice and dill. This style of cooking in Turkish cuisine is called “vegetables cooked in olive oil”,  and we enjoy them at room temperature or cold. Dressed with olive oil and lemon juice,they are not only very healthy but a joy to eat during summer time and can be kept in fridge 2-3 days.

I adapted this recipe from one of my favourite cookery author Ghillie Basan’s Complete Book of Turkish Cooking Book. Ghillie added blanched almonds to hers, a brilliant idea for added texture and flavour, worked really well in mine too. This dish would be a wonderful starter, a light lunch or a side dish and you will be creating a healthy, delicious dish using a few fresh ingredients – I hope you can give it a go sometime.

Artichokes in olive oil, Em tennis, almond bulgur, lokum first p 015

Baby artichokes poached in olive oil with peas, carrots and almonds

Serves 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes              Cooking time: 30 minutes

4 large globe artichokes or 10-12 baby artichokes

1 small cooked carrot,diced

90gr/3oz fresh peas (or frozen if you can’t get fresh peas)

75gr/3oz blanched or flaked almonds

Juice of 1 lemon

30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil

5m/teaspoon granulated sugar

15ml/1 tablespoon fresh dill,chopped

Salt to taste

Wedges of lemon to serve

Cut off the stalks and pull off all the leaves of the artichokes

First let’s prepare the artichokes. Cut off the stalks and pull off all the leaves. Dig out the hairy choke from the middle with a spoon (you don’t need to do this stage with baby artichokes). Then cut away any hard bits with a sharp knife and trim into a neat cup shape. Rub the cups – called bottoms – with a mixture of lemon juice and a little salt to prevent them from coloring (tip: until ready to use, fresh artichokes should be treated like flowers and put in a jug of water).

Rub the artichoke cups with a mixture of lemon juice and a little salt to prevent them from colouring.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the artichokes in lemon sauce and the diced carrots. Pour 100ml/4fl oz/1/2cup water over the vegetables, combine well. Cover the pan and poach the vegetables gently for about 25 minutes. Then add the fresh or frozen peas, sugar and almonds, combine well. Cover again and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, until the artichokes are tender.

Toss in the dill, season with salt and turn off the heat. Leave to cool the artichokes in the pan.

Serve this delicious course at room temperature with wedges of lemon by the side.

Baby artichokes poached in olive oil; a refreshing, delicious and healthy course

You can enjoy this refreshing vegetable course as a starter or by the side of grilled meat, fish or pasta.

Afiyet Olsun!

Friendly lady at the bakery, filling us with delicious breads and pastries

And a few more photos to share from the Cheam Market; the bakery is always a big hit with fresh flat breads, sesame seeded pastries, ekmek, Turkish loaf of bread and many more.

Simit, sesame coated bread rings are a big part of Turkish breakfast

Simit is the quintessential Turkish food; these sesame-encrusted bread rings are the most popular snack at home, and they are easy to make too, here  is the recipe, if you’d like to have a go.

Wishing you all a good week ahead, filled with delicious food to share!



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Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant (aubergine) slices – Patlican Dilimli Uskup Kofte

Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant slices.

Turkish meatballs wrapped in eggplant slices – Patlican Dilimli Uskup Kofte

How wonderful it is to be able to post recipes again; my laptop was broken and I couldn’t post for quite a while, sincere apologies for that. So lovely to share food and recipes again!

This is a very special dish that I make when I have a little extra time; it is very delicious and looks lovely, so it’s worth every effort. You can bake ahead of time and the leftovers can be frozen successfully. The succulent slices of eggplant around the meatballs are just heavenly. Served with plain rice and cucumber&yoghurt; dip, it makes a very special dinner to share.

Patlican, (eggplant or aubergine) is our national vegetable – it is actually fruit, as it has seeds- and one can argue we Turks have over 200 recipes featuring the beloved eggplant! They have high water content (and very low in fat), so the trick is to generously salt the eggplant slices and drain all the bitter juices before cooking, otherwise the eggplant gets soggy.

I hope you give this special dish a try sometime and could share with family and friends.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 50 minutes Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

For the meatballs:
450gr/1lb lean ground beef, lamb or mixture
1 medium onion, grated
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 medium eggs
3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5ml/1teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

3-4 medium eggplants
1 medium potato, skinned and sliced
Green or red pointy (or bell) peppers, coarsely sliced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
5m/1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes (or chili flakes)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
8fl oz/1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F

Sunflower or canola oil for shallow frying of eggplants

In order to make the meatballs, combine all the items in a large bowl and knead with your hands until all combined well. Grease a baking tray with a little olive oil (or sunflower oil). Take a walnut size of the meatball mixture and roll like an oval shape, carry on with making the meatballs until all the mixture is finished, and place them on the greased tray. Bake the meatballs for about 15-20 minutes, until they are partially cooked and firm enough to be wrapped with the eggplant slices.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants (aubergines) lengthways in stripes like a zebra. Slice the eggplants lengthways, about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out their moisture with paper towel. Then shallow fry them in the canola oil for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

On a board, put an eggplant slice and place one meatball the middle and roll like a cigar. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant slices. Place the eggplant&meatball; roll seamide down, in a baking tray.

Place the sliced potatoes, onions and peppers amongst the eggplant rolls in the tray. Add the canned tomatoes and water, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the red pepper flakes. Bake the dish in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Please check towards the end if more water is needed and add some to the baking tray.

Serve the eggplant &meatball; rolls and the vegetables hot with plain rice by the side. Cucumber, garlic and yoghurt (Cacik, under Mezes and Appetizers in this blog) meze also would complement this delicious dish well.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Bulgur Wheat Pilaf with Sautéed Mushrooms, Peas and Tomatoes – Mantarli, Bezelyeli Bulgur Pilavi

We consume a good amount of bulgur wheat in Turkish cuisine – in the form of salads, soups and pilaf rice – and I am always on the look out for spicing up bulgur. Packed with fiber and vitamins and low on fat, bulgur is a very healthy option and can be very delicious too. This time I experimented bulgur with sautéed mushrooms; the meaty, juicy flavor of mushrooms worked really well with bulgur. If you can add a few more vegetables into the mix and grate some parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) over, this dish could be a wonderfully satisfying, easy and delicious supper. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with sauteed mushrooms and vegetables; wholesome and delicious.

Serves 4- 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

4 garlic gloves, crushed and finely chopped
3 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
45gr/1/2 cup frozen peas
350 gr/12 oz bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
600gr/1 pint/2 1/2 cups hot water
30ml/2 tablespoons olive oil – and an extra drizzle for the bulgur

A squeeze of lemon

5ml/1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan (or any hard cheese you prefer) to serve

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy pan. Stir in garlic and chopped mushrooms, and season with salt generously (mushrooms and garlic go very well and the salt helps the water to come out of mushrooms). Sauté for 2-3 minutes until mushrooms soften and start to loosen up. Add the dried oregano and a squeeze of lemon and mix well. Turn the heat off, leaving it a side.

On a separate pot, drizzle a little olive oil and add the bulgur and chopped tomatoes, tossing thoroughly over low heat. Add the hot water, season with salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine thoroughly. Bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. At this time stir in the frozen peas to bulgur mixture and stir to combine. Then cover and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and add the sautéed mushrooms into the mixture and combine well. Cover the pan with a paper towel and press the lid on top. Leave to steam for a further 10 minutes.

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables - ready for your enjoyment

Bulgur wheat pilaf with mushrooms and vegetables – ready for your enjoyment

Serve the bulgur pilaf with some grated parmesan over the top. You can serve some steamed vegetables by the side if you would like too.

Afiyet Olsun,


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