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Tag Archives | Vegetables cooked in olive oil

Simply delicious Aegean flavors;Eggplants, tomatoes, onions, peppers cooked in olive oil & Fascinating Didyma

Kusadasi Bay, Turkey

Kusadasi Bay, Turkey

The Aegean cost of Turkey has a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is the many happy childhood holidays we spent in local resorts in Ayvalik, Gumuldur and Cesme, where many Turkish families have summer houses. As soon as the schools close, we all would dream about the coast, swimming at the turquoise Aegean, playing for hours at the golden sandy beaches and the next ice cream – a piece of heaven.

Fig trees at the Ephesus

Fig trees at the Ephesus

Spring in the air at the Aegean region, Turkey

Spring in the air at the Aegean region, Turkey


I don’t have the chance to go back to the Aegean as often as I like and every opportunity is very welcome. Once a year, I host and organise a Culinary & Cultural tour to Turkey, aiming to show my homeland from a local’s perspective – I greatly look forward to these trips and enjoy every minute of sharing this special land with folks. It has been delightful to be back to the breathtaking Aegean region again this April. Spring has been in full bloom; artichoke fields everywhere; the silver, beautiful olive trees welcomes you along the way; fig trees surprise you at the Ephesus – such a beautiful, bountiful region. During our tour, we always enjoy the local cuisine and learn how to cook delicious Turkish food together. This time, we again stopped by the lovely Bizimev Hanimeli to cook  and enjoy delicious Aegean flavors with Hatice Hanim.

Hatice Hanim and family, at Bizimev Hanimeli

Hatice Hanim and family, at Bizimev Hanimeli

I have met Hatice Hanim a few years ago; always with a smile at her face, she has been sharing her love of Turkish cuisine and feeding a remarkable crowd everyday at their Bizimev Hanimeli Restaurant, as well as teaching the local cuisine to enthusiasts like us. It is a real family affair; her husband, son, daughter, daughter-in-law all involved running this wonderful business. I love the fact  that they grow all their fresh produce, herbs, vegetables and fruits  in their beautiful garden and make their own olive oil. It is very remarkable that they grew their business all by themselves with a lot of hard work and maintained the same friendly service and the offer of high quality, consistent, delicious food. When I asked Hatice Hanim what kept her going in tough times, she smiled and said;If you respect your land, the nature, treat your helpers, family well and keep your spirits up, you find a way at the end. Hard work with a kind heart opens the doors for you; always believe in yourself.” How true; her words sealed in my mind.

Cooking together at Hanimeli, near Sirince, Turkey

Cooking together at Hanimeli, near Sirince, Turkey

We prepared a delicous 4 course meal with Hatice Hanim, in just over 1 hour – look forward to sharing all these recipes in the coming weeks- .Using their fresh produce from the garden and the olive oil, we made this wonderful Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants, onions, garlic and tomatoes cooked in olive oil; simple, seasonal ingredients produced such a delicious, memorable taste. We like to eat Zeytinyaglis, Vegetables Cooked in Olive Oil in room temperature. It is also delicious when served cold. I hope you enjoy it and can have a go sometime.

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; Eggplants, Onions, Garlic, Peppers and Tomatoes Cooked in Olive Oil

Serves 4

3-4 small Holland (dark purple) eggplants/aubergines

2 medium onions, halved and chopped in thin slices

1 green pointy pepper, coarsely chopped

1 red pointy pepper, coarsely chopped

3-4 medium tomatoes, halved and sliced

5-6 garlic cloves, quartered

3 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped finely or 14oz/400 gr Italian chopped tomatoes

45ml/3 tablespoon olive oil

Handful of flat leaf parsley

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to serve – optional

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants in zebra stripes. Cut each eggplant in half length wise and then about 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay them on a wide flat tray and generously season with salt. This will help the moisture to come out of the eggplants. Leave for about 15 minutes. Drain the water that came out of the eggplants and squeeze them with a paper towel to extract the excess water.

Layer the sliced onions, garlic, pepper and eggplants one at a time.

Layer the sliced onions, garlic, pepper and eggplants one at a time.

Pour the olive oil in a heavy pan and spread the half of the sliced onions and garlic. Then spread half of the sliced peppers and a layer of sliced eggplants over them.

Repeat the layering with the remaining vegetables

Repeat the layering with the remaining vegetables

Repeat the same layering procedure for the 2nd half of onions, garlic, peppers and eggplants, and pour over the diced tomatoes. If you have any remaining eggplant slices left, layer them over the top.

Add the sliced tomatoes and a handful of parsley over the top.

Add the sliced tomatoes and a handful of parsley over the top.

Spread the sliced tomatoes over the very top and place a handful of flat leaf parsley. Season with salt and ground pepper and cover the pan. Start cooking at a medium heat for the first 5-8 minutes, then turn to heat to low and cook for  a further 3o minutes, until all the vegetables are cooked.

Delighted with the outcome :)!

Delighted with the outcome :)!

The vegetables here has been cooked in their own juices over low heat, and each of them just melt in your mouth!  The cooked  eggplants, garlic onions so scrumptious, packed with flavor. Seasonal produce cooked this way are not only healthy, but also very easy and delicious too.


Zeytinyagli Patlican; eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables

Zeytinyagli Patlican; eggplants cooked in olive oil with vegetables


I hope you enjoy this delicious eggplant dish, as you see, delicious food can also be healthy and easy. A few good seasonal produce, some olive oil and fresh herbs can produce wonders. You can drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the dish before serving and decorate with sliced peppers if you like.  Traditionally, we like to eat Zeytinyaglis, Vegetables Cooked in Olive Oil, in room temperature or cold.


It is very rewarding to cook together and share a delicious bite with others. We have a fabulous healthy eating event with my Turkish cookery demonstration on May18th; if you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me, I would be delighted to have your company.

 Afiyet Olsun, May you be happy and healthy with the food you eat;










Fascinating Didyma and Its  Exquisite Columns

Temple of Apollo, Didyma (Didim), Turkey

Temple of Apollo, Didyma (Didim), Turkey

We made it to the fascinating Didyma, at the Aegean region, Turkey, at a rainy, windy April day and the temple looked even more stunning and dramatic. The huge white-marble temple is simply amazing and so worth seeing. The gigantic Temple of Apollo at Didyma (Didim in Turkish) was among the most famous oracles in the ancient world, equal in importance to the oracular temple at Delphi in Greece. There has been a temple here since very early times, but the older structure was destroyed by Cyrus of Persia in 494 BC. Construction began on the present stupendous structure soon after.

Head of Medusa, Didyma, Turkey

Head of Medusa, Didyma, Turkey


Head of Medusa at Didyma – we have been comparing it with the Medusa at the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul.














Beautiful base column details at Didyma

Beautiful base column details at Didyma


But most of all it was the delicate, exquisite columns of Didyma, that fascinated me.

Originally, 122 enormous Ionic columns surrounded the temple; today only three remain intact. Dating from the 2nd century BC, the columns are 60 feet tall (the height of a six-story building) and have a diameter of 6 feet at the base. Even the stumps of columns that fell are impressive in size and display beautiful carvings at their base, like designs of Daphne leaves.

It's all in the details - beautiful carvings at the marbel columns of Didyma.

It’s all in the details – beautiful carvings at the marbel columns of Didyma.





















Make sure to have enough time to walk all the way around the temple to get the full effect. Didyma is well worth visiting, hope you can make it here sometime.

Happy Travels,


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Inspirations from Trilye; Baked Sea Bass with Vegetables in Olive Oil & Lemon Sauce; Sebzeli Levrek Pilaki ve Trilye Restaurant

I had the pleasure  of meeting  Mr Sureyya Uzmez, the food writer and owner of Ankara’s Trilye Fish Restaurant; undoubtedly one of the best fish restaurants in Turkey. I greatly admired Sureyya Bey’s (Mr Sureyya’s) passion for seafood and efforts to source the freshest possible fish and shellfish at home, and preparing them in a way to bring the best out of them. This is also the essence of Turkish cooking; we aim to bring out the freshness, the actual flavor of the produce, rather than hiding it behind sauces.  I very much look forward to the Trilye experience in Ankara, and I hope you can too.

Trilye Restaurant’s Mr Sureyya Uzmez and myself at Covent Garden, London, before our interview

My dear cousin, Ahmet Sabuncu is an accomplished photographer (please check out Ahmet’s award winning pinhole photography) and a TV producer for TRT (Turkish Radio and Television). Teaming up with Mr Uzmez and the wonderful Sofra Restaurant’s ambassador of Turkish food, Mr Huseyin Ozer, they have been shooting a TV program in London about how Turkish and British cuisines have been shaped throughout the history, the ethnic influences that has contributed to Turkish and other food cultures. They kindly included an interview with me for the program, which is planned to go on air in Turkey – very exciting! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience – my sincere thanks to them.  I will keep you posted on the air time of the program 🙂

Southeast coast of Turkey, bountiful with fish, just as at the Agean and Black Sea

Regarded as a symbol of fertility, fish is very much enjoyed at home, especially at the coastal regions. Turkey is bounded by the sea on three sides – the Mediterranean, Aegean and the Black Sea. With the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and Dardanelles at northwest, Turkey has over 7,000km (4,350 miles) of coastline. The plentiful fishing waters provide daily catches of bluefish, red and grey mullet, swordfish, sea bass, tuna, bonito, turbot, plaice, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and many more. In most of the coastal regions, fish is bought very fresh, straight off the boats at the daily fish market, still swimming around in the buckets or beautifully arranged on ice.

One of the many fisherman by the Bosphorus, Istanbul, getting ready for his daily catch

Inspired by Sureyya Bey’s passion for seafood, I adapted one of the recipes at Trilye’s wonderful book “Trilye’s Passion for Sea Food” (Trilye’nin Balik Sevdasi). This delicious baked sea bass makes a complete meal with all the fresh vegetables in it, and so easy to make. I poached the sea bass and the vegetables in olive oil, lemon juice and a little water, just as the same way we cook ‘Vegetables cooked in olive oil’, Zeytinyaglis. This delicious and healthy way of cooking retains all the wonderful juices of the fish and vegetables. The result has been a refreshing, utterly delicious supper that disappeared very quickly.

Baked Sea bass with vegetables in olive oil

Baked Sea bass with vegetables in olive oil

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15-20 minutes                               Cooking time:  about 35-40 minutes*

4 fillets of sea bass – or any fresh white fish-

1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly

4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped coarsely

1 small green (bell or pointy) pepper, quartered and sliced thinly

1 small yellow (bell or pointy) pepper, quartered and sliced thinly

3 medium tomatoes, coarsely sliced

2-3 medium potatoes, cut in half and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 bay leaves

8fl oz/1 cup water (or fish stock)

45ml/3 tbsp olive oil

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes – optional

Salt and ground pepper to taste

Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped – to decorate

Lemon wedges to serve

* Please check the recommended cooking time for the fish of your choice on the packaging.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Stir in all the prepared vegetables and the bay leaves in a baking dish. Coat them with the olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if used).

Coat the vegetables with olive oil, seasoning and red pepper flakes; they complement the fish beautifully

Coat the fish fillets with 1 tbsp of olive oil and place them amongst the vegetables. Mix the lemon juice with water or fish stock and spoon this liquid all around the fish and vegetables. Cover the baking dish with foil and put it in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the fish and vegetables are cooked. Once cooked, take the foil out and sprinkle chopped parsley over the fish. Serve immediately with wedges of lemon by the side.

Sea bass baked with vegetables in olive oil; a delicious all in one dish.

Sea bass baked with vegetables in olive oil; a delicious all in one dish.

For a light and delicious finish, you may serve the Baked Apricots with Walnuts as a dessert.

Afiyet Olsun (May you be healthy and happy with the food you eat);


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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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