Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kohlrabi Fritters with Meadow Parsley

It is spring and the farmers' markets are filled with wild herbs like wild chicory, wild asparagus,common mallow, rumex, nettles, dock and many more. It is my favorite time of the year. Wondering around the local market for hours, looking at all the fresh produce makes me happy. After a long winter spring greets you with its many gifts. I shop and while doing so can't help but to organise my next dinner party in my head, new recipes, who to invite and so on. At the market usually old ladies or couples sell these herbs they hand picked themselves. And I prefer to buy from them since they are still trying to make a living out of this. Although life is tough and especially tough on them, they are content and always smiling.

Usually these herbs are blanched and served with garlic and olive oil or they are served with yoghurt as mezes or salads. Herb fritters are made or simply they are added to eggs to make herb omlets. I especially like wild chervil which we call goose feet in Turkish. The sweetness of kohlrabi goes well with the onion-parsley like flavour of the wild chervils.

2 Kohlrabi
1 potato
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour (+if necessary)
1/4 bunch meadow parsley(corky-fruited water-dropwort)
50 g grated kashar cheese ( yellow cheese not aged)
1 teaspoon baking powder

Peel the kohlrabi and potato.Grate and mix them in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix to combine. Add flour and milk to make a batter. Season with salt and pepper. Add chopped parsley. 

Add oil in a large skillet that is just about 1-1.5 cm high.Heat oil to medium-high heat in large skillet. When oil bubbles when you dip your wooden spoon add the fritters, one heaping spoonful at a time. Flatten a little so the fritter is flat not round. If you want a perfect circle you can put round metal molds in oil and cook the fritters in them. When one side is done simply lift the molds and turn the fritters. 

Control the heat often and check the doneness. Turn when golden. If they are browning too fast turn your heat down.Drain on paper towel. Put some salt on top add chopped chives. You can serve them with a dipping sauce made with Turkish Yogurt and chopped wild chervil drizzled with olive oil on top.

  • Friday, March 31, 2017

    Fava Meze with Purple Carrots

    This is a popular Turkish Meze made from just 3 ingredients, dried fava beans, onions and olive oil. Meze is a selection of food served as an appetizer course usually served with Rakı because they are a perfect complement to the aniseed flavours of the traditional drink. Mezes vary across the country creating a vast array of specialities , many with strong regional associations. But it is more than just a starter. It is an experience. In Turkey, eating meze is a social activity; it’s chatting with friends and drinking rakı around the table for hours on end, while sharing spoons of hot and cold mezes, dipping bread into pickled or olive oil dressings, listening to traditional Turkish music . The beauty of this dish is that you can mold it into any shape you desire which result in aspic-like beauties on your table. This time I added purple carrots to give it a more vibrant color since it is usually a grayish light green. Putting fresh boiled broad beans completes the purple canvas. İt is always and always served with dill,( it is a sin to separate the duo ) sliced red onions and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You can try the original recipe without adding purple carrots. Enjoy!

    250gr dried fava beans
    2 purple carrots
    2 red onions
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup fresh broad beans
    1/4 bunch dill

    Soak the fava beans over night Place the fava beans in a deep pot. Add enough water to reach two fingers above the beans. Add roughly chopped onions and sugar. Bring to a boil. And simmer until soft (25-30 min) Stir occasionally. Eventually the beans will break down and the end result should look like a thick puree. 

    Wash and peel the carrots. Cut them in small chunks. Add little water and cook until soft. With a hand blender blend the carrots. Blend the fava beans add seasoning add the purple carrots and olive oil and mix well. Pour the mixture in a large serving dish or small cups. Put cling film on top and refrigerate at least for 5-6 hours .

    Turn the cups over. Serve with sliced onions, dill and blanched fresh broad beans and drizzle EVOO on top. You can serve this dish while it is warm with toasted bread.

    Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Pear Rose Tartlets

    Makes 12

    Tart Dough
    250 grams flour
    150 grams butter
    3 grams salt
    65 grams icing sugar
    90 grams eggs

    4 pears
    300 ml red wine
    100 grams sugar
    2 cloves
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 star anise
    4 cardomom

    Créme Pâtissiére
    300 ml milk
    2 egg yolk
    20 grams flour
    20 grams corn starch
    1/2 vanilla pod
    50 grams sugar
    10 ml rom 

    Créme Pâtissiére: In a saucepan bring the milk, half the sugar and vanilla to the boil then remove from the heat. Whisk the rest of the sugar and egg yolks and then add flour and cornstarch until thoroughly incorporated. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk over the egg mixture and whisk vigorously.Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk and continue to whisk over a medium heat. Cook until the mixture boils and thickens being careful not to let it burn on the bottom of the pan.Remove from the heat cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Allow to cool at room temperature. 

    Making the dough: Process flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor for a few seconds until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture becomes crumbly Add eggs and keep pulsing until the dough is no longer dry and starts to clump together, about 10-15 seconds. formed; the dough should be quite crumbly with large clumps, the dough should stick without feeling dry or crumbly. 

    Turn dough on a lightly floured surface and form into a ball. It should come together easily without being sticky. Flatten ball slightly with your hands to form a thick disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Take dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly for easy rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into 3mm thick circle. Place your mini tartlets and cut circles 1 cm wider than the shells. Dock them and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

    After ten minutes cover the shells with cling film and fill them with rice and blind bake them at 180C until sides change color. Take the rice out and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the shells are evenly cooked and golden. Leave on a rack to cool down. Poaching 

    Poaching pears: Add the ingredients and wine in a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Peel the pears and core them. With a mandoline cut 2mm thick slices and poach them in wine mixture for 5 minutes. Take the pears out and reduce it until you have a thick syrup. 

    Knock down the Créme Pâtissiére whisking vigorously until smooth. Add the rom and continue to whisk( 1 min) . With a piping bag fill the tart shells with Créme Pâtissiére . 

    Place the pears and roll them to form a rose and place them on top of each tartlet. Brush roses with the syrup using a brush. Sprinkle icing sugar on top and serve.

    Eggplant & Beetroot Salad

    4 eggplant
    2 long green peppers
    1 large tomato
    1 red onion
    1 large beetroot
    10-12 black olives(pitted)
    1/2lemon juice
    4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

    Roast beetroot in the oven at 180 C for about 45 minutes until soft. ( or you can boil until tender) Set aside to cool. 

    Roast the eggplants on an iron skillet. Cut in half and scoop the inside with a spoon. Add lemon juice to prevent oxidation. 

    Dice the cucumber,tomato and beetroot, slice the red onion and green peppers. In a large bowl combine everything. Add olive oil , pomegranate molasses and serve with chopped parsley on top.

    Sunday, February 12, 2017

    Red Cabbage Meze

    Meze is a selection of food served as an appetizer course usually served with Rakı because they are a  perfect complement to the aniseed flavours of the traditional drink. Mezes vary across the country creating a vast array of specialities , many with strong regional associations. But it is more than just a starter. It is an experience. In Turkey, eating meze is a social activity; it’s chatting with friends and drinking rakı around the table for hours on end, while sharing spoons of hot and cold mezes, dipping bread into pickled or olive oil dressings, listening to traditional Turkish music. No need to look at the menus the restaurants have a food on show and you will find yourself gazing at the variety of meze dishes in the long glass fridges. Usually it is so tempting that you order many and skip the main meal altogether.

    1 medium size Red Cabbage
    2 cloves garlic
    1 cup bread crumbs
    1 cup strained yogurt
    1-2 tbs olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    1-2tbs lemon juice 
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    100 gr walnuts
    salt & pepper

    Cut the red cabbage in chunks and place them in a food processor with lemon juice and salt. Shred them to small pieces. 

    Add spices, olive oil bread crumbs, crashed garlic cloves and walnuts and turn for 2 minutes until everything mixes together. 

    Add yogurt, mix and  adjust seasoning. Reserve in fridge for 2-3 hours. Add dill on top and drizzle some olive oil before serving.

    Thursday, February 2, 2017

    Turkish Quince Dessert with Rose Apples

    It is winter and Quinces are abundant now in Istanbul. We love our Quince and that is why the biggest producer of Quince in the world is Turkey. And we have not forsaken this precious fruit even though most of the world did. Once the Golden Apple, the fruit of Aphrodite associated with love and fertility, believed wherever she walked quince trees sprang up, the fruit that started the Trojan war, even poems were written, 10th century Arab-Andalusian poet Jafer al Mushafi wrote;

    ''It is yellow in colour, as if it wore a daffodil tunic
     And it smells like musk, a penetrating smell
     It has the perfume of a loved woman and the same hardness of heart 
     But it has the colour of the impassioned and scrawny lover

     Its pallor is borrowed from my pallor; 
     its smell is my sweetheart’s breath.
     When it stood fragrant on the bough and the leaves
     had woven for it a covering of brocade

     I gently put up my hand to pluck it and set it
     like a censer in the middle of my room.''

    With the quickening pace of life they were increasingly regarded as too much of a hassle to cook and so fell out of favour, oranges,apples and pears were preferred and soon they were forgotten. Such a shame.

    The earliest known quinces grew wild in the foothills of the
    Caucasus Mountains. This seemingly inhospitable area is actually very fertile and many fruits thrived here, like grapes. The valleys below formed many of the ancient trade routes and quinces spread rapidly to east and then to west. They quickly became very popular and were credited with both mythical and medicinal powers. From ancient times right up to the late Middle Ages Quinces were, in most places, more widely used and better known than apples.

    One of Quince’s earliest possible claims to fame is as I mentioned before is the judgement of Paris in Greek mythology. Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and in a foolish miscalculation she was the only god not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Understandably furious, she barged into the wedding ceremony and threw down a fruit inscribed ‘For the most beautiful.’ This fruit was described as a golden apple and was, almost certainly, a Quince. Hera, Athene and Aphrodite each claimed the fruit, so Zeus decided that the matter should be settled by Paris. 

    Hera offered him empire, Athene guaranteed military glory and Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. This was Helen who was unfortunately already married to Menelaus of Sparta. Paris gave the fruit to Aphrodite and she in turn helped him win Helen, thereby sparking off the Trojan War. 

    Like I said we love and cherish this forgotten gem. Leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release its delicate fragrances of vanilla, pineapple, citrus and apple all over your house. We like to eat it raw by gently breaking it into small pieces,( cutting it releases the juices which makes it even harder to eat) sometimes squeezing some lemon on top as a fruit dish on meze tables where our traditional drink Rakı is served. We stuff it with minced meat, or use it in beef or lamb stews. It is a favourite fruit to make jam in fall and winter. And then comes the shiny ruby dessert, a feast to the eyes as well as our tastebuds 'Ayva Tatlısı'. Everything you dreamed of has come together in this heavenly dessert, those fragrances blossoming into a magnificent perfume while magically cooking turns this fruit from a bright yellow tone to all shades of rose. 

    I wanted to give the most plain recipe so that you can enjoy the flavours of this wonderful fruit, poaching in red wine, using ginger or star anise are all options ...


    2 Quinces(serves 4)
    120 g sugar
    2 apples
    50 g sugar
    1 pomegranate juice
    200 ml red wine(or water)
    5-6 cloves
    2-3 cinnamon stick

    Turkish Kaymak(clotted cream) 
    pistachio flakes
    pomegranate seeds

    Peel and cut quinces in half, core the middle. But do not throw away the trimmings. The seeds and the trimmings will turn the fruits to pink and the pectin will jellify the juices. 

    Spread the peels of quince as a layer in a heavy pan, wide enough to have 4 quince halves in one layer. Place the quince halves on top, spread the sugar evenly over the halves and add the reserved quince seeds with cloves, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate juice,wine add water if necessary slightly below top. The juices will make it more reddish and plus it will add more fruity flavours.

    Simmer over low heat for about 45 min- 1 hour. Take the quinces out and let them cool. Sieve the juice.

    Core the apples and cut them in half. With a mandoline slice them about 2-2.5 mm thick . Pour the juice in a pan , add 50 gr sugar , if necessary add more water and blanch the apple slices until soft for about 5-8 minutes. 

    Take the slices out and let them cool.Pour the syrup on top of the quinces.

    Make roses from the apple slices and place them inside each quince. Sizzle some more syrup on top and serve with pistachio flakes, pomegranate seeds and clotted cream. 

    This dessert is traditionally served with clotted cream (kaymak) and you will never find any home or restaurant that serves it without it. It is a must. The sweetness of Turkish Kaymak combined with the sour tangy flavours of the fruits are a match made in heaven.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2017

    Celeriac & Yogurt Meze

    This is another meze dish very quick and easy to make. You can serve it as a side dish or a salad on its own. Celeriac roots are quite often used in Turkish cuisine. I love the earthy flavours of this versatile winter root vegetable cooked or raw.

    2 large celeriac root
    2 carrots
    150 gr walnut
    1 tb orange zest
    2tbs orange juice
    4 pc dried chillies
    2 cloves garlic
    2 cardamom seeds
    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    salt & pepper
    1 cup strained yogurt
    1 tbs mayonnaise

    Grate the celeriac roots and squeeze some lemon juice on top to prevent oxidation.Grate carrots slightly larger than celeriac.
    In a large bowl mix orange zest, grated walnuts, grated garlic, the spices, mayonnaise and yogurt. 

    Add grated carrots and celeriac. Mix well. Add the chillies on top. Reserve 2-3 hours in the fridge before serving. Add some chopped parsley and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top.

    The earthy flavours of celeriac and the fruity flavour of the orange balance well with the chillies and the yogurt.

    Monday, January 30, 2017

    Creamy Purple Carrot Soup

    Who wouldn't want to tuck in to this creamy flavourful purple madness. I do. I love purple carrots. Not only they are in my favourite colour but also they are very nutritious root vegetables. You can also steam or boil them and add them to your mashed potatoes if you are a purple freak like me. 

    The earliest vegetable to be known as carrot dates back to the 10th century in Persia and Asia minor and it is considered that carrots were originally purple and white. A mutation occurred which removed the purple pigmentation resulting in a new race of yellow carrots from which orange carrots developed.

    One of the most popular uses of purple carrots in our Cuisine is ''Şalgam Suyu'' It is a local drink around Adana(çukurova) and Mersin the southern part of Turkey. It is made from bulgur, yeast purple carrots and salt. First the bulgur is fermented for a week then this is transferred to special wooden barrels, the boiled purple carrots are added and reserved for another week. Salt is added then the juice is filtered. There is a spicy and non-spicy version.It is a digestif, hangover cure, or an accompaniment to kebabs, cig kofte, and/or raki. Sour, salty, and spicy, it has counterintuitive refreshment powers. 


    1 kg Black Carrots
    2 Red onions
    2 tablespoons Olive oil
    1 teaspoon Caraway seeds
    1 teaspoon Ground coriander
    250 ml Beef stock(or water)
    200 ml Double cream
    20 ml Brandy
    Salt & Pepper
    Fresh coriander leaves( or Parsley)

    Wash and peel the black carrots. Cut in equal pieces. Cover with water and cook until they are soft. 

    Add olive oil in a pan and sweat the diced red onions. When soft deglaze with brandy (or red wine 40 ml). Add lightly toasted caraway seeds and ground coriander. 

    Blend the cooked purple carrots by adding hot beef stock. If necessary sieve through a fine sieve. Pour the mixture in a pot, adjust seasoning. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes. 

    Serve with a spoon of whipped cream and fresh coriander leaves.

    Saturday, January 28, 2017

    Eggplant Papucaki

    Aubergine( eggplant) is the queen of vegetables and the meat of the poor, since due to its flavour and versatility it is the vegetable prized above all others in Turkish cuisine. What other vegetable when raw is bitter and inedible but when cooked, roasted or fried turns into a magical rich flavorful delightness. Particularly in the summer months its privileged status is unrivalled, both in regional cooking and in the haute cuisine of the cities. Aubergines are used in nearly two hundred different recipes; stews,dolmas sun dried or fresh, roasted in mezes and salads, pickles and even in jam!

    In the past when the aubergine season arrived the constant frying and broiling of aubergines was held responsible for many of the fires which spread through Istanbul's neighbourhoods of wooden houses like a whirlwind in dry weather, and edicts were issued forbidding aubergines to be brought into Istanbul for sale.

    This is a typical dish which you can find on both sides of the Aegean Cost, Turkey & Greece. Pabuc means shoe so you can guess why this dish is called Pabucaki. You can either roast or boil the eggplants. Boiling them helps to maintain the shape while roasting them gives that distinctive rich flavour.


    2 Eggplant(globe)
    1 onion
    1 clove garlic
    5-6 sun dried tomatoes( or 1 fresh)
    1-2 long green peppers
    1 tablespoon tomato puree
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 bay leaf
    Fresh kaşar cheese( feta or mozarella)
    1fresh chilli

    Cut them in two .Brush olive oil on top of a baking tray.Place eggplants skin side up. Poke holes and roast in the oven at 250 C until the flesh is soft. (30-45 minutes depending on the variety ) If you use long eggplants just poke and roast them. 

    Once they cool down, scoop out the flesh without damaging the skin. (cut lengthways for thin ones) .Cut the sun dried tomatoes in cubes. In a pan put olive oil heat then add onions, mashed garlic, bayleaf and peppers. Stir until soft on low heat. 

    Add sugar , salt and tomato puree and nutmeg. Dice the roasted eggplant flesh and add them with the sun dried tomatoes and sautee for 2-5 minutes on low heat with lid on. Adjust seasoning and stuff the eggplants. 

    Place stuffed eggplants in an oven dish .Put grated fresh Kasar on top, drizzle some olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15-20 minutes. 

    Add chopped parsley on top and serve immediately while it is still hot. 
    Bon Appetit