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Tag Archives | Istanbul

Kreativ Blogger Award

I have been very much flattered for the Kreativ Blogger Award nomination by one of my favorite blogs, Peri’s Spice Ladle; thank you very much Peri, your blog is truly inspirational for me and I have been very much touched by this special honor : )

So, in accordance with the “Rules of Conduct” for bloggers who win this award, I will now do the following:

  1.  Thank the blogger who gave me the award and provide a link (as above).
  2.  List 7 interesting things about myself that my readers might find interesting.
  3.  Nominate 7 other bloggers, provide links, and let them know.

Here are 7 interesting things about myself:

  1. Share food. One of the biggest pleasures of life for me is to share a delicious bite with family and friends – in Turkish we say “food tastes better when shared;” and I very much believe that. I am thankful to my parents for teaching us the value of good food and importance of sharing; which I hope to pass on through my blog.
  2. Teaching. I always loved food but the teaching part came much later in my life. Central Market Cooking School in Austin, Texas believed in me and gave me the chance and confidence to have a go on teaching Turkish cooking classes with them in 2006. Since then, I taught Turkish cooking classes with Central Market Cooking School in Austin, San Antonio and Houston for over 5 years. This has been such a milestone in my life, I can never thank them and all the wonderful foodie folks in Texas enough to help me find what I truly love – thank you !! I can’t wait to come back toTexas to teach more, hopefully in 2013!!
  3. Istanbul.. I am very passionate about my homeland, Turkey, and I am very much in love with the fascinating city of Istanbul. I have been lucky enough to live in Istanbul over 15 years; it is one of those places you feel alive 24 hours. It’s old but not tired, ancient yet alive; a vibrant, breathtaking, cosmopolitan city. One of my favorite parts of Istanbul is the Bosphorus strait (river) that flows through the city; a stroll and a glass of tea by the Bosphorus may just make the perfect day.

    Boats by the Bosphorus, Istanbul

    4. Travel. When I was a little girl, I always had a little bag (of my few favorite toys and a piece of clothing) ready by the door. I always loved going to places and visiting, and whenever a visitor to our home would say “Wouldn’t be nice to have Ozlem around to us?” I would wear my most charming smile and grab my bag to go – and truly hope they meant what they say! : )- I absolutely love traveling, seeing places old and new, and still have a bag ready to go, anytime.

    5. Patlican (Aubergine/Eggplant). Between us, my nickname, given by my husband is patlican (aubergine or eggplant in English). Patlican, eggplant, is our national vegetable (actually fruit, as it has seeds in it). I cooked Angus, my then boyfriend, now husband, my first Turkish dinner, the stuffed eggplant, Karniyarik,  about 15 years ago. He loved the dish and more than that, the name of it so much that he decided to call me “Patlican” or as short Patli! Though a little strange it sounds when we go back home, I thought it’s very cute and love it : )

    6.  Pilates & smelling the flowers. When I am not thinking of food, family or traveling, I would love to do pilates. A wonderful exercise for body and soul and a great reason to pause. The same way, I find being outdoors in the nature very uplifting, especially at the moment, when the earth is waking up, great excuse to be out and about and smell the flowers!

    7. Last but not least, importance of my family. My husband and our two beautiful children; my most precious treasures in the world. I am ever grateful for their unconditional love, support and the positive energy they give, a reason to smile every day 🙂

    The 7 blogs I am nominating for this award are:

    1. A Seasonal Cook in Turkey. Claudia is a fantastic foodie, who lives inIstanbul and writes about wonderful seasonal produce in Turkey and Turkish & International recipes. She also shares wonderful eateries and markets from Turkey, which I always look forward to. We are determined to meet up next time I am inIstanbul!!

    2. Cuisine de Provence. Barbara’s wonderful blog of Provence cuisine is always inspiring and delicious. One of the joys of  blogging is to meet wonderful bloggers like Barbara to share love of food. I have my eyes on her wonderful cooking classes Provencal style in Provence,  a dream to work in progress!

    3.  Tuesday Recipe by Tori Richie. I have been grateful to be connected toSan Francisco based award winning  cook/author/teacher Tori (thank you Gillian for this!). Her recipes are delicious, simple, and inspirational; I turn to them very often.

    4. Café Fernando.  Café Fernando’s Turkish food blogger Cenk  is a serious foodie, novice photographer, seasoned home baker and a shameless chocoholic from Istanbul, Turkey. His multiple award winning photography and recipes are truly amazing, so proud of him!

    5. As Strong As Soup. I really like Phil’s straight forward and easy to cook at home recipes. Try his Carbonade Flamande; just what I fancy at the end of a long day.

    6.  La Tavola Marche. American expats Jason and Ashley’s wonderful blog is all about local seasonal Italian recipes, organic gardening, food festivals & markets, day trips in LeMarche,Tuscany, Umbria & beyond. This blog takes me to the wonderful Italian countryside and the recipes are delightful.

    7. Istanbul Eats is a serious eater’s guide to Istanbul, aiming to bring you into the best undiscovered local eateries you might not always find on your own, and they do it so well, a great source of information, well worth checking out.

    I hope you enjoy strolling through these wonderful sites.





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Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts – Fistikli ve Cevizli Baklava

Baklava with pistachios and walnuts, such a delicious treat

Baklava with pistachios and walnuts, such a delicious treat

An Ottoman legacy, baklava is one of the greatest creations from the pastry chefs at the Topkapi Palace. Generally, baklava is enjoyed as a mid-morning sweet snack with a cup of Turkish coffee, or as a mid-afternoon treat with a glass of tea or after lunch or dinner. There is no bad time for a good piece of baklava! The real thing shouldn’t be very sweet and heavy; on the contrary it should be light enough to tempt you to eat a small plateful. Baklava recipe and many delicious Turkish recipes are included in my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, available to order at this link.

This recipe is an adaptation from Ghillie Basan’s The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, one of my favorite Turkish cookery authors.  My version of baklava is less sweet and more fragrant and lemony, must say really pleased with it. With using filo pastry sheets, baklava is much easier to make than you think. I hope you would give it a go sometime and enjoy this wonderful treat.

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Home-made baklava; delicious and easier than you think!

Serves 12
Preparation time :20 minutes                 Cooking time: 45 – 50 minutes

230 gr/ 8oz / 1 cup melted unsalted butter
440 gr/1 lb. 2 packs of filo pastry sheets – total 24 sheets –
375 gr/ 13 oz. walnuts and unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
10 ml / 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the syrup:
450 gr/ 2 ¼ cups sugar
420 ml/ 14 fl. oz. / 1 ¾ cup water
Juice of ½ large lemon

30cmx19 cm (12inx7in) baking dish to bake

To serve:
Ground pistachio nuts to sprinkle over the baklavas

Preheat the oven to 160 C/ 325 F / Gas 3

Make the syrup first. Put the sugar into a heavy pan, pour in water and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sugar is dissolved, lower the heat and stir in the lemon juice, them simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens. Leave to cool in the pan.

Melt the butter in a small pan and then brush a little over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.

To thaw frozen filo sheets, it is best to place it in the fridge the night before and bring it to room temperature 2 hours before using. If in the fridge, take out the filo pastry sheets 20 minutes prior using, to bring to the room temperature. Place two sheets of filo pastry in the bottom of the greased pan and brush it with melted butter (trim from the edges to fit, if needed). Continue until you have used 12 filo sheets, brushing every two sheets with butter. Ease the sheets into the corners and trim the edges if they flop over the rim of the pan.

Spread the walnuts over the 12th buttered sheet and sprinkle with the cinnamon, and then continue as before with the remaining filo sheets. Brush the top one as well, then, using a sharp knife cut diagonal parallel lines right through all the layers to the bottom to form small diamond shapes.

Bake the baklava into the oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden – if it is still pale, increase the temperature for a few minutes at the end.

When the baklava is ready, remove it from the oven and slowly pour the cooled syrup over the piping hot pastry. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes to soak up the syrup, then take it out and leave to cool.

Once the baklava is cool, lift the diamond shaped pieces out of the pan and arrange them in a serving dish. Serve baklava pieces with ground pistachios over them, always at room temperature.

Note: Baklava should never be stored at the refrigerator, as the fat congeals, pastry absorbs the moisture and it becomes soggy.

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Baklava with walnuts and pistachios

Afiyet Olsun,


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