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Tag Archives | mozzarella

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 recent Turkish cooking class.

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 20 % OFF for a limited time at this link and delivered worldwide.

If you live in the US, Canada or Mexico, you can order a hardback copy here with lower shipping rates.

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

145gr/5oz melted butter

300gr/12oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (dil peyniri in Turkey or  the white kunefelik peynir in southern Turkey works great if you can get)

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,


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Pastry triangles with leeks, onions & cheese – and more delicious brunch ideas

Fresh and dried fruits are amongst the breakfast spread in Turkey

Life evolves around food in Turkey, and it all starts with breakfast. Our traditional breakfast includes fresh and dried fruit, wonderful olives, feta and cheddar cheese, eggs done in different ways, pastries and many more. We also like to have sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, as well as dried fruits and nuts with yoghurt and honey. In rural parts of Anatolia, this hearty lentil soup may well be the main event for breakfast. Although now, with the modern pace of life we mostly turn to cereal boxes during the weekdays, it is at the weekends that we indulge ourselves to a delicious brunch, Turkish style.

Olives, dried fruit, nuts, grains and honey are also a part of Turkish brunch

My sister and family have been visiting us during the Easter break, and we enjoyed one of these delicious brunch moments. Here is the part of the brunch spread we had and I wanted to share. This delicious pastry with leeks, onions and cheese (you can omit cheese if preferred) is very easy to make and the sweetness of onions and leeks really work well with a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes. I like to add some grated mozzarella cheese to the mixture; for a stronger flavor you may enjoy adding strong cheddar cheese or some grated parmesan. I used ready rolled short crust pastry; you may also use ready puff pastry.

Pastry triangles with leeks, onions and cheese

There are more ideas in this post for a delicious brunch or lunch. They all tempt us at home to gather around the table, slow down and enjoy a delicious bite together – I very much hope you enjoy yours too.

Serves 6 – 8

Preparation time: 20 minutes               Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

1 large or 2 medium leeks, finely sliced

1 medium onion, finely chopped

400gr/14oz short crust pastry *, ready rolled

125gr/4oz grated mozzarella (or a cheese of your choice)

5ml/1tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like!)

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

1 egg, beaten

10ml/1tbsp nigella seeds

* Thawing the pastry: If the ready pastry is frozen, take it out 2 hours before using to bring it to the room temperature. If the pastry is in the fridge, it needs to stay at the room temperature for 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F


Sauted onions and leeks with red pepper flakes

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and sauté leeks and onions for about 8 minutes, until they soften. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle the red pepper flakes. Mix well and set aside to cool.

Once cool, add the grated cheese to the mixture and combine well.

Place a spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the pastry squares

Fold over the pastry to form triangles and press the edges firmly to seal.

Place the triangle pastries in the greased baking tray. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture and sprinkle the nigella seeds over them. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until they turn golden brown.

Baked leek, cheese and onion pastry triangles

This pastry is delicious as a hot snack and goes down very well with this refreshing crumbled feta cheese with tomatoes, cucumbers and spring onion salad.

Crumbled feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and spring onion salad with olive oil dressing

No Turkish brunch is complete without eggs, and how would you like yours? Here is the ever popular fried eggs with Turkish spicy sausages, sucuk (made of dried cured beef with garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes).

Ultimate Turkish breakfast; eggs with spicy Turkish sausages, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, sesame coated pastry rings, simit and Turkish tea - cay

If you rather prefer a vegetarian version, here is the Turkish style delicious and healthy eggs with spinach and onion.

I hope all these inspire you to knock up something delicious for brunch next time.

Afiyet Olsun,


MarkeTurk; Online Turkish Supermarket

 I have just come across another wonderful source to get Turkish ingredients in the UK. MarkeTurk, the online Turkish Supermarket, is an excellent source to get extensive Turkish ingredients including spices, legumes, red pepper paste, dairy products, pastries, fruit and vegetable and many more.

They offer a quality and reliable service; if you place your order before 4pm you get your shopping delivered to your door step the same day at the time slot you choose.

If ordering from the US, the Turkish online store offers a great variety of  Turkish ingredients and food items.


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