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Greetings from Istanbul!- Istanbul'dan Merhaba – A Snapshot of Tastes, Sights and Delights

Dear Mother, Anneanne, with the grandchildren – time for a feast!

Greetings, or as we say in Turkish, a warm Merhaba to you all from Istanbul! It has been a few days since we have been at home, Istanbul, and it feels wonderful. Here I wanted to share a few snapshots of tastes, sights and delights that welcomed us here. As always, it feels amazing to be at home, spending time with family and friends. Mealtimes are always special in Turkey; the family and friends gathers around the table – the more the merrier! – sharing a delicious bite and catching up with each other. My dear parents prepared us a wonderful feast, and they always taste even better when enjoyed together.

Mother’s yoghurt soup with bulgur balls

Here is Mother’s Yoghurt Soup with bulgur balls from Antakya – this is a similar dish to Gaziantep’s Yuvalama – Yoghurt soup with bulgur balls and chickpeas; very delicious and healthy. It can be a meal on its own with some nice crusty bread aside.

Mevlubi; Antakya’s upside down rice with sauteed eggplants, potatoes and meat; a delicious regional specialty.

Mevlubi on a plate; the eggplants, potatoes and meat & rice melt in the mouth

Mevlubi was on our table; a special dish from Antakya; we cook the sauteed eggplant, potatoes and meat together with the rice on a slow heat and then turn the dish upside down. All the flavors blend and complement each other so well, a feast for the senses. Here is the recipe if you’d like to have a look.

The Turkish breakfast; sucuklu yumurta, cay, simit – my favorite meal of the day.

 

Ali passing the second round of cay – Turkish tea; the most popular drink at home

We indulged, enjoyed the wonderful dinner and thought we won’t be able to eat for another week. But no, by the time it was morning, we were ready for the Turkish breakfast! Turkish sausages, sucuk with eggs, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, cheese, olives, honey and more, crowned with cay, Turkish tea; – my favorite meal of the day.

The Bosphorus bridge and a passing traditional ferry, Vapur at Ortakoy – Istanbul

Ortakoy Market is full of decorative items, ceramic pottery and more

A good brisk walk was in order to after all that indulgence and we headed to the vibrant Ortakoy Market. You can find many stalls selling  jewelry, pottery, decorative items as well as delicious streetfood in Ortakoy on Sundays.

Asli Borek in Besiktas; delicious variety of boreks, savory pastries with vavious fillings awaits you there.

I was off to Besiktas the next day. Besiktas is one of my favorite districts in Istanbul; you can still find the village atmosphere there; the borekci, savory pastry shop selling all kinds of boreks, vibrant fish market, groceries selling seasonal produce and all small scale shops still exist and everyone knows one another. Asli Borek in Besiktas Carsi (Market) is a favorite with freshly baked cheese & parsley filled borek, tepsi Boregi and cheese and spinach filled boreks, Ispanakli Borek; they melt in the mouth.

Peynirli, Ispanakli borek; Cheese & Spinach filled pastry – goes so well with a cup of tea, cay.

 With a glass of cay, these boreks go down so well. You see locals popping in an out and getting their freshly baked boreks with a cup of tea, for their breakfast – my kind of start for the day.

Tulumba tatlisi; syrup soaked crispy outside but soft inside pastries are amongst the sweet treats offered at Borekcis and Pastanes – Patiseries

The main event on Monday was my Turkish cookery class at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. We cooked and enjoyed Pistachio lamb kebabs, lentil soup, kunefe  with enthuiastic food lovers together. Nice to hear that they felt they can have a go at them at home and that the class inspired.

Cooking together at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

I had a special guest, my mother, in the class on Monday, for the first time. It was lovely to share with her and her presence was vital as being the kunefe expert! 🙂

Preparing the kunefe with my mother at the class, a very special guest.

And here is the glorious, syrup soaked, cheese and Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak filled kunefe from the class! The crispy golden pastry strands makes such a wonderful contrast with the syrup soaked melted cheese in the middle; a very special treat.

Syrup soaked, cheese filled baked pastry strands, Kunefe – a very festive dessert.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the highlights of our Istanbul trip, and I hope the recipes can inspire you to have a go. They really are not difficult and they can help make any day special. There are plenty more to share, hope soon.

Until next time, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

 

 

 

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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,

Ozlem

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 Tulumba.com offers a great variety of  Turkish ingredients and food items.

 

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