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Tag Archives | zucchini

Let’s have a go at Turkish Cuisine; Sultan’s Delight, Zucchini Fritters, Kunefe (Kadayifi); Easier than You Think!

“Thank you for the wonderful Turkish cooking class; I learned so much about the Turkish cuisine, and couldn’t believe how easy it is to cook delicious, healthy food”; this has been one of the comments at my recent Turkish cooking class. It is always a pleasure to see participants’ enjoying the class and realize how easy to make Turkish dishes, using fresh ingredients.

It is a pleasure and lots of fun sharing Turkish cuisine, recipes, traditions at the cookery classes

Well, I have a new Turkish cookery class coming up on Saturday, 20th October, and I wanted to share what we will be up to.  The classes are friendly, informal with step by step demonstration of the recipes, and packed with useful information on where to source ingredients,  substitution ( when needed) and on Turkish cuisine and culture. If you are in the area and would like to join us, please contact me. If not, I hope the recipes may still inspire you to have a go to treat yourself, family and friends; they are delicious and easier than you think! Here is our menu for the class:

Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters flavored with Feta and Dill – Mucver. This appetizer is a wonderful way to flavor the zucchini; dill and feta really goes well with the zucchini. An important tip here is to squeeze out any excess water of the grated zucchini with a paper/tea towel. This will prevent the fritters to get soggy.  You can enjoy mucver  warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. It is truly delicious with garlic infused yoghurt by the side.

Zucchini fritters are utterly delicious; garlicky yoghurt would complement them well.

Sultan’s Delight –  Ragout With Pureed Eggplant And Béchamel Sauce – Hunkar Begendi

Hunkar Begendi; delicious ragout on a bed of smoked eggplant puree; for a vegetarian option, you can serve the puree with grilled vegetables.

This Ottoman classic is served with smoky tasting eggplant with cheese in a béchamel sauce. When Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, visited Topkapi Palace – Istanbul as a guest of the Sultan, she admired the puree so much that she sent her chef to Topkapi Palace to learn the technique. Once you’ve mastered the eggplant puree, it goes well with any grilled meat or vegetables.

Smoking the eggplants is an important step to make the Hunkar Begendi, Sultan's Delight.

Important tip; if you cook the eggplants on stove top or burner, you get a wonderful smoky flavor for the eggplants. As an alternative, you can also bake the eggplants in the oven – make sure to prick the eggplants before baking.

Hunkar Begendi is one of the landmarks of our cuisine and very popular at home. It is great for entertaining; looks very inviting and the marriage of the eggplant & béchamel sauce with the ragout is divine. For a vegetarian option, why not serving the puree with Fried Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce; Saksuka ? 

Kunefe – Kadayifi

Syrup soaked delicate pastry strands with cheese; kunefe is an ultimate treat.

This dessert is one of the signature dishes of my hometown, Antakya (please click here for more delicious recipes and photos from Antakya). I can still remember getting the freshly baked Tel Kadayif (pastry strands) from the local bakery, watching the delicate strands forming from the huge sieve. And I can still visualize 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….glorious days .

Tel kadayif is a dough, pushed through a sieve to form delicate strands, which looks like vermicelli. In Antakya, there are specialty shops like this, making the fresh pastry strands for kunefe.

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 – mozzarella works well too. It can be baked in one big pan or smaller ones as individual portions.

Kunefe recipe will be in the blog shortly.

We will finish the class with the aromatic Turkish coffee, Turkish way. Always a wonderful experience.

Turkish coffee; delicious way to end a Turkish meal.

Have you ever made any of these dishes? Could I tempt you to have a go?:) I would be more than happy to help you along the way and answer your questions, just let me know. I bet yours will be more delicious than mine:)

My late grandmother's 450 year old stone house in Antakya; the house has been a very happy place to cook and enjoy delicious food, and an inspiration for us to keep the recipes, traditions alive.

Happy Cooking, Afiyet Olsun!

Ozlem

 

 

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Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini with Bulgur, Ground Meat and Spices; Antakya Style – Kabak ve Biber Dolmasi, Antakya Usulu

Stuffed peppers and zucchini with bulgur, ground meat & onion

Stuffed peppers and zucchini with bulgur, ground meat & onion

Some of the food we eat has the power to transport us to our childhood, have a special link to bond us with those precious memories. These stuffed peppers and courgettes (zucchini) have such power on me; they are the delicious gateways to take me back home, right to my mother’s as well as my grandmother’s kitchen in the ancient city of Antioch, Antakya.

My Grandmother’s 450 year old house in ancient Antioch; we used to gather around a big table in the courtyard for wonderful feasts

Preparing the dolma is quite a grand ritual at home; cousins, sisters, whoever available, gather around a big table; filled with trays of vegetables and stuffing. Some prepare the vegetables, scooping the flesh out, some make the filling, and some do the stuffing. These all happen, of course, with constant flow of Turkish coffee and tea (cay) and catching up! We would then eagerly wait for the dolma to be cooked; then me and my sister would eat the dolma with a dollop of plain yoghurt on top. We used to call them our “savory ice cream”; I am now trying this trick on my children:)

My mother rolling the stuffed vine leaves; we would all help preparing the vine leaves, removing stalks, or making Turkish coffee!

We Turks love stuffing vegetables. The word dolma is used for the vegetables like aubergines, peppers, courgettes that are stuffed. Fruits such as apples, quince and plums can be stuffed too. We also stuff vine leaves (that is called sarma, here is the link for the recipe) and cabbage leaves (lahana sarma, here is the link for that recipe), either with an aromatic rice, pine nuts and currants or with ground meat, rice, herbs and spices.

Stuffed peppers with aromatic rice and herb filling

This recipe comes from the ancient town of Antakya, Antioch, where my roots are from. This is the region where bulgur, red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses and spices like red pepper flakes, cumin, and mint are used frequently. All these add such rich, wonderful flavor to the dishes, and very healthy too. I used bulgur instead of the traditional rice for stuffing, like we do in Antakya. Bulgur’s nutty, wonderful flavor adds another dimension to the dish, with bonus of bulgur’s many health benefits. In Antakya, once the flesh of the vegetables taken out, they are given a little wash with pomegranate molasses & little water. The tangy and sweet flavor of the molasses adds to the richness of the flavor. You can use a good balsamic vinegar if you can’t get hold of pomegranate molasses.

 I hope you enjoy this delicious, satisfying dolma packed with flavor and memories and have a chance to visit the fascinating Antioch sometime.

Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table book, available to order at this link

I am passionate about sharing authentic Turkish recipes from my homeland; this lovely recipe and many more (over 90 recipes) are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. You can order Signed copies at this link, delivered promptly worldwide. From March 13th to end March 19th, 2019, we are also offering 10 % discount on Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, as a little Mother’s Day gift from us; to use this promotion during this period, please enter promotion code mothersday at check out at this link.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 40 minutes               Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

3 medium size courgettes (zucchini)

3 medium size bell peppers

30ml/2tbsp pomegranate molasses or good balsamic vinegar, mixed with 1tbsp water

3 small tomatoes, cut in half (to cap the dolmas)

6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed

For the filling:

110gr/4oz/ 1/2 cup ground beef/lamb or ground turkey

115gr/4oz/generous 1/2 cup coarse bulgur wheat

1 medium onion, finely chopped or grated

Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

10ml/1tbsp olive oil

10ml/1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste or red pepper paste

5ml/1 tsp red pepper flakes/chilli flakes

5ml/1tsp ground cumin

5ml/1tsp dried mint

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bowl of plain (natural yoghurt) or cucumber, yoghurt dip, cacik  to serve

Stuffing ingredients all together

Put the ground meat in a large bowl and stir in the rest of the filling ingredients. Season and knead, until all blended well. The filling is ready.

Stuffing ingredients, after mixing

Now, let’s prepare the vegetables. Cut the stalk ends of the peppers and save them aside (we will need them to cap the stuffed peppers later). Scoop out the seeds of the peppers.

Scoop out the seeds of the peppers to prepare for stuffing

Cut the courgettes in half. Scoop out the flesh of the courgettes with the help of a long coffee spoon (in Antakya, we use a long and thin scooping device made just for that purpose). Carefully remove some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff. Take care to leave the bottom of the courgettes intact.

Taking the flesh out of the courgettes (zucchini); long coffee spoon would work here

I Iike to save the flesh of the courgettes, as they go very well in the bulgur, tomato and courgette recipe. You can keep them in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer up to 3 months.

Give a little wash to the peppers and zucchini with pomegranate molasses and water mix

Mix the water with the pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar) and wash the inside of the peppers and courgettes with this mixture. Add the left overs of this delicious juice to filling mixture, mix well.

Take spoonfuls of the filling mixture and pack it into the vegetables. Take care not to overfill to the top, as bulgur will need a little space to expand. Place the stalk ends and the halved tomatoes as lids. Place the stuffed vegetables upright, packed tightly, in a heavy pan. Pour a couple of cups of water to the pan, until it covers the half of vegetables. Stir in the cloves of garlic and cover. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Cap the stuffed peppers and zucchini with the pepper stalks and halved tomatoes

Serve hot with plain natural yoghurt or Cacik; yoghurt and cucumber dip.

Stuffed peppers and zucchini; they go so well with plain yoghurt by the side

Afiyet Olsun!

Snapshot from home, Turkey: Ancient city of Antioch, Antakya 

Here is a new section in the blog! Whenever I can, I would like to give a little snapshot of fascinating places in Turkey that I have visited. Food and travel complement one another so well, and I hope this part could bring the places alive and inspire you to visit sometime.

Ancient Antioch, Antakya; cradle of many civilizations

Here, I would like to introduce my beloved, ancient home town Antakya, located in the southern part of Turkey.  Antakya was one of the three biggest cities of the Roman Empire and the capital of the east.  Antakya was founded in B.C. 4 by the Syrian King, Seleukos, and he named the city after his father, Antiochos.  Over the centuries, the city was under Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and French rule.  As of 1939, Antakya became a part of the Republic of Turkey.

One of the many grand mosaics at the Antakya Mosaic Museum

Antakya Mosaic Museum is the world’s 2nd biggest mosaic museum in terms of the richness, quality and the size of the mosaics.  The mosaics you’ll see there are from the Roman and the Byzantine periods, and they are simply fascinating.  The museum also hosts magnificent sculptures; the most important of them is the 3 meter high figure of Apollo.

Friendly children of Antakya, guiding us towards the Church of St Peter

St Pierre Church (Church of St Peter) is another fascinating sight. St Peter’s Church, built in a cave, on the skirts of Habib Neccar Mountain in Antakya, is known as one of the first places that the early Christians gathered.  St Petrus, one of the followers of Jesus (A.D. 29- 30), came to Antakya and used this “cave” to expand Christianity. St PierreChurch is regarded as the first church of Christianity outside Jerusalem.  Due to its importance, Pope Paul 6th declaredSt Pierre Church a pilgrimage for Christians.  Every year on June 29th, Remembrance of St Petrus ceremonies take place in Antakya, with the participation of thousands of Christians from around the world.

Church of St Peter, Antakya

Another wonderful visit in Antakya is the Long Market, Uzun Carsi, city’s ancient market. This is the place I visited many times as a child, to get our daily bread, yoghurt, cheese and vegetables, when we used to visit my Grandma. The smells and colors are simply mesmerizing. Antakya’s cuisine has an incredible richness of fresh herbs and spices, packed with flavor.  A type of wild oregano, zahter, cumin and red pepper flakes are used very commonly.  The red pepper paste, biber salcasi, is one of the landmarks of Antakya too.  The richness of this red pepper paste adds a wonderful flavor to casseroles and meat dishes.  Another specialty food item worth mentioning is the nar eksisi, the syrup made from concentrated sour pomegranate juice.  This incredibly rich, concentrated flavor is a must for many traditional salads and meze spreads.

 

The Long Market (Uzun Carsi) in Antakya, packed with mesmerising spices, olive oil based soaps and many more

Hand carved wooden spoons in the Long Market; I use them everyday!

This is the Tunel of Vespasion, in the village of Kapisuyu, Antakya. It was built as a water channel in the 2nd century. Another fascinating visit.

The Tunnel of Vespasion, Antakya – Hatay

There are many more photos of my travels to Turkey here, if you would like to have a look.

Happy travels to you all!

 

 

 

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Zucchini Stuffed with ground meat and chickpeas -Nohutlu Sih-el Mahsi



Zucchini (courgettes) stuffed with ground meat, onions and chickpeas; Kabakli Sih el mahsi

Zucchini (courgettes) stuffed with ground meat, onions and chickpeas; Kabakli, nohutlu Sih el mahsi

This is a wonderful dish from Antakya (Antioch), where my roots are from, and an exciting way to cook zucchini. It is also known as Sih-el Mahsi, originates from Syria and higlights the Arabic influence on Antakya cuisine. Traditionally, the locals in Antakya would stuff the zucchini as a whole and they would lightly brown them before cooking with the sauce. I prefer cutting the zucchini in half and lengthways and baking them; healthy, delicious and pretty to have on the plate. You can prepare this dish ahead of time and the leftovers freeze beautifully. Please save the flesh of the zucchini that you scooped out. They are delicious cooked in bulgur pilaf with zucchini.

I am passionate about healthy, delicious Turkish cuisine with a rich culinary heritage. My cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, focuses on southern Turkish cuisine with authentic, regional recipes like this one, from my hometown Antakya. I hope to pass the legacy of this rich culinary heritage to the next generation with my book; Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book is available at this link, for a limited period and delivered worldwide.

How wonderful to share the food with friends and family. Living abroad and changing locations often, cooking and sharing food have been my salvation and a wonderful way of meeting new folks, making new friends. I hope you enjoy the recipes with friends and family and give yourself and everyone the gift of good food.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 50-55 minutes

3 chunky zucchini/courgette
250gr/9oz ground (minced) lean beef or lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) chopped tomatoes
200gr/7oz (1/2 can of) cooked chickpeas, rinsed

30ml/2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
30ml/2tablespoons olive oil
120ml/4fl oz/ 1/2 cup water
15ml/1tablespoon tomato paste
5ml/1teaspoon dried mint
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

To serve:
120ml/8fl oz plain yoghurt
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed with salt and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180F/350C/Gas 4

Cut the zucchini in half and then in lengthways. Using a dessert spoon, carefully scoop out some of the flesh to create a cavity that is large enough to stuff (Please save the flesh of the zucchini that you scooped out. They are delicious cooked in bulgur pilaf).

Mix 1 tbsp. water with the pomegranate molasses and wash the inside of the courgettes with this mixture. Add the leftover of this delicious juice to filling mixture.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until light golden. Add the ground (minced) meat and sauté for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, left over pomegranate molasses sauce and the cooked chickpeas, mix well. Add the red pepper flakes and the dried mint, combine well. The filling is ready.

Place the zucchini in a greased baking tray. Take a spoonful of the filling and stuff the zucchini quarters. Take care not to over fill them. Dilute the tomato paste with the water and pour on the tray. Cover and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. After this, uncover and bake for a further 10-15 minutes for a lightly browned finish.

In a bowl, mix the plain yoghurt and the garlic. Serve the stuffed zucchini hot, with the garlic yoghurt by the side. You can make a wonderful bulgur pilaf with zucchini using the flesh of the zucchini we scooped out; it complements this zucchini dish very nicely.

Afiyet Olsun,

Ozlem

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