Tag Archives: Recipes

Seasonal Sauces

Last week we were invited to a Christmas dinner, nothing unusual, these things happen this time of year.  It was really nice, thanks Mike.  We contributed by making cranberry sauce which was appreciated and we were asked for the recipe.

Cranberries are known locally as yaban mersini, not to be confused with kizilcik which are something completely different or kuş burnu which are rosehips.  Fresh cranberries are generally not available but dried are so we bought a good Cranberry-saucequantity of dried cranberries on the market.  Unlike packet ones these do not contain added sugar.  Then Ashley poked around on the internet but did not find a good recipe for making cranberry sauce with dried cranberries.  Nothing looked really good, but it did serve to inspire some ideas.  The objective was to get the dried cranberries to swell up and then burst, achieving what is much easier when starting with fresh cranberries.

Method.  None of the quantities here are critical.

Take two good handfuls of dried cranberries and put into a bowl.  Add orange zest and sufficient orange juice to cover.  Put to one side for a few hours or overnight.  Then add a tablespoon of pomegranate sauce (Nar Eksili) – we used a village made sauce rather than the mass produced supermarket varieties.  If you like to spice cranberry sauce this would be a good time to add spices.  We added some finely chopped fresh ginger.  This really is a matter of personal taste, cinnamon or allspice would also in our view be good.  Transfer everything to a lidded saucepan and simmer as gently as possible.  To get the cranberries to really swell and burst may take a couple of hours, if the lid does not fit tightly you may need to add some water, check this from time to time.  Once they have burst gently reduce the sauce to desired thickness.

We have no idea how long it will keep for.  Essentially it is preserved fruit so should be OK in a bottle in a fridge for some time.  We don’t intend to try to find out, it is delicious and will be eaten within a day or two.

On the subject of condiments, especially those popular this time of season, we triffidhave fresh horseradish growing in a big pot – kept out of our limited garden space because it is really invasive.  At some stage we are going to try making chrane (horseradish and beetroot) with it, when we are brave enough to face the task of grating fresh horseradish.  Any tips on grating horseradish would be appreciated.

Sweet and Sour Aubergines from Claudia Roden


We’ve been wracking our brains for a blog post for a few days now, so Hilary thought, ‘why not do a recipe?’.  She was actually surprised to find we hadn’t posted this one before.  We make it constantly (and used to make it frequently in the UK where aubergines were higher in price and lower in quality).

It’s not Turkish but it does use ingredients readily available here year round.  Quantities are difficult as I tend to make it with the aubergines I have on hand and am not saving for something else…

Today I used two long, fairly thin aubergines (just under half a kilo), a medium to large sized onion, two cloves of garlic, a huge tomato, three dessertspoonsful of vinegar and one dessertspoonful of sugar (less in summer when the tomatoes are very sweet).  A good handfull of chopped parsley and a largish quantity of dried mint.  Salt and pepper.

First I cut the aubergines into chunks.  I quarter it lengthwise then chop the four pieces into wedges.  Then I put it in a colander with salt for twenty minutes to half an hour.  I don’t always do this with aubergines, but I do for this dish as it helps stop the aubergines from absorbing too much oil.  Whilst that is happening I chop the onions into half moon rings (piyazlık), chop the garlic up fairly small and put those to one side.  Then, in another bowl, I put the chopped up tomatoes (yes, in the UK I often used a can of plum tomatoes – usually a small can), along with the chopped parsley, dried mint, some pepper, the vinegar and the sugar.

onions-fryingHeat quite a lot of oil in a wide, shallow pan (I have an Ikea sautée pan which is absolutely ideal for this) and fry the onions till they are soft but not coloured.  Then add the garlic.

While this is happening I rinse the aubergine wedges, squeeze each handful and salted,-rinsed,-squeezed-andry on a towel.  As soon as the garlic has been stirred in, I throw in the aubergine wedges and stir, frying for about five minutes (or till they take on a bit of colour).  I then tip in the rest of the ingredients stir till it all combines, put on the lid and turn the heat down.

frying-nicelyThe time it takes from here on in depends a lot on the aubergines.  It should end up pretty mushy and combined and this usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.  It doesn’t need much attention, just the occasional stir to ensure it doesn’t burn.

I guess it could be eaten hot, but it’s much nicer if you allow it to cool down.  It keeps in the fridge for three to four days (much like any zeytinyağlı mezze).

Baking in autumn

StormsAfter a stormy autumn day and night we have had a few cooler days.  This has resulted in eating indoors and the doors and windows being closed.  It was chilly at night.  The new duvet has come out, Hilary made soup, we have started buying winter vegetables – the celeriac looked really good and the leaves go really well in lentil soup.

The temperatures are back on the rise, by mid-week the days should be really pleasant and the evenings cool rather than cold, but it is another reminder that the seasons are changing.  As they change so does what we eat.  There will be more soups for breakfast, less fresh fruit.  Soup is commonly lentil, usually with whatever else is around, beet leaves, celeriac leaves, cauliflower or broccoli stems, anything that might otherwise go to waste.

Swedish-Apple-CakeWe have also been experimenting with baking.  Today we have Swedish apple cake in the oven, made with local eating apples rather than Bramleys.  It was meant to be topped with a butter, sugar and cinnamon syrup which would soak into the cake, instead we ended up with toffee.  So we have toffee apple cake.

Recently we have discovered that caramelised onions, classically French, go really well with kaşar and yufka.  So a French / Turkish fusion, caramelised onion and cheese tarte tatin  borek.  Delicious.  One recipe for caramelising onions we have used in the past was was originally from Ainsley Herriot Meals in Minutes, has a cheat and fast method for caramelizing the onions.  This one does not cheat, being retired we have time not to cheat and to do a bit of experimenting to find the best shape for the actual borek….

The Recipe

For four borek you need one yufka, about 200 gm of butter, enough grated kaşar or similar yellow cheese to go round the perimeter of the yufka and as many onions as will sensibly fit in your frying pan when sliced.  I use 5-6 depending on size but it would be less if they were really big.  Slice the onions really thinly into half-moons (piyazlık) and put them in a frying pan on low heat with a slosh of oil (I use Riviera olive oil, not the virgin oil for this) and a bit of butter – maybe 15 gm.  Leave them there for a long time, stirring them occasionally.  Leave them until they are caramalised (it takes about an hour, sometimes more, and they need stirring more towards the end).  I put in a small slosh of balsamic vinegar (again, I would not use the good stuff for this, even if I had it) and stir it round till the onions are evenly brown.  Then take them off the heat and let them cool down a bit.

The yufka gets spread out on the counter and brushed all over with melted butter.  That’s what most of the butter is for.  Keep a little back for the top.  Cut the yufka into four segments (I use a pizza cutter which is perfect  for the job).  Now arrange the grated cheese and caramalised onion around the perimeter of your yufka.

Start rolling.  Take each segment separately and roll up from the perimeter to the centre, enclosing the filling.  Once you’ve done that, wind the sausage shapes into spirals, tucking the ends underneath and put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  When they are all done, brush them generously with butter and put in a preheated 200 degree oven where they should get nicely done in about forty minutes.




Another sign of spring here in Selçuk is the arrival of bakla on the market.  Bakla are broad beans but, this time of year, you don’t get big seeds in the pods.  The inside beans are tiny and tender and you eat the entire thing.  Like runner beans.  They are a very Aegean thing.  And wonderfully easy to cook to deliciousness.

This is how I do it:  Take half a kilo of bakla and remove the tops, tails and any dodgy-looking bits.  Break them in half or, if very long, three bits.  You don’t even really need a knife for this.  Then take a medium sized onion and cut it piyazlık (I nearly always cut onions this way for zeytinyağlı dishes, in thin, This-much-oillongitudinal half moonish strips).  And some garlic (depending how much you like) cut in thin slices or strips.  Put lots of good olive oil in a sauté or frying pan with a cover and warm it up before softening the onions, then the garlic.  Add in the bakla and stir it round for a bit.  About half cover it with water (I used a mugful), add a sugar cube and salt if you like it (I don’t).  Bring to the boil and, now for my secret ingredient…

The rinsed peel of about a quarter of a preserved lemon.  I’ve not found a place topreserved-lemons-1 buy them here and I’ve not really looked.  I make my own.  This is not traditional and certainly not essential.  Turn it all down to a simmer, cover it and leave it on a low light till well done.  30-40 minutes.  Longer doesn’t hurt as long as it doesn’t fall apart.  Towards the end, throw in some chopped dill.

As with all zeytinyağlı, it keeps well in the fridge and improves for the first couple of days.

Affiyet olsun.

Fresh peas (and recipe), flamingos and other early signs of spring

Flamingosfeb2013Today, after what seems like more than a week of rainy days and grey skies, the sun came out. We went for a walk along the beach and through the wetlands at Pamucak.  Amongst a mass of gulls, a pair of migrating flamingos, an adult and a juvenile.  They were later joined by another juvenile which appeared to be injured, hard to be sure, wild flamingos do not tolerate people getting close to them.  Both of us, however, thought that it had an injured leg.

There was also a marsh harrier, larks, masses of plovers, gulls in weaving flocks, almost like a shoal of fish, shining in the sun, migrating geese, wild flowers, and tortoises freshly out of hibernation.  It really was a lovely afternoon out.

On the market spring fruit and vegetables are starting to appear. The first fresh peas and broad beans.  Tomatoes from Antalya, no doubt grown under glass.  Sorrel, gathered wild.  This all makes a nice change from the winter vegetables.    The Turks are very fond of the first fresh fruits and vegetable of the seasons, so are we.

The recipe Hilary used for these peas comes out of our Turkish Cookery book – ‘Lezzet peasSofrası’.  Hilary does tend to adapt everything…  First she sautéed an onion, cut in half moon rings (what they call piyazlık) in plenty of very good olive oil, then she threw in a cubed carrot, a potato cut into smallish dice, then she put in the peas, sauteed a little bit more,  seasoned the lot with salt, pepper and a cube of sugar then poured on hot water about half way up, covered the pan and cooked on low-medium heat till everything was done.  Towards the end she threw in some dried mint and finely chopped fresh dill.

Recipe for Winter Tea

our-winter-teaOn Saturday we got some winter tea from the market.  This was made up for us by our favourite herb and spice lady.  She showed us the pot they had brewing on the stall and asked if we would like the same mixture.  We got the impression that winter tea is not a single thing – everyone seems to have their own formula.

We were given three bags.  One contains linden tea, one contains hisbiscus, rosehips and juniper berries.  One contains cinnamon sticks, ginseng, turmeric root, dried ginger root, black peppercorns, cloves, camomile and echidna.   This is for seven days of tea.  You take one of each root and a cinnamon stick and some of the contents of that bag and some of the contents of the other bags and steep them with half a cup of water in the bottom part of the teapot.  We guess it is diluted when you drink it…  Not tried it yet.

Later we went to Carpouza and Hilary took a photo of the poster saying what their winter tcarpouza-teaea contains:  Hisbiscus, rosehip, liquorice root, eucalyptus, camomile, linden, quince leaves, sage, cinnamon, ginger,  cloves, turmeric and havlıcan (which we have not yet managed to translate).

We have now tried out the tea at home.  It is not precisely like Carpouza tea but itis good.  We filled the bottom teapot and put water in the top pot in case it needs dilution.   Ashley’s comment ‘needs more honey’.


Barbeque Season (and beef marinade recipe)

We are going to light the barbeque tonight.  We have some beef, entrecote steaks, not quite the same as they are back in the UK, the beef is younger, not exactly veal but not exactly matured beef either.  It is fairly inexpensive, a bit over £5 for a pound of steak, which is vastly cheaper than the Scottish, organic, named herd, Aberdeen Angus, filet steak we were partial to back in the UK.  It’s also somewhat chewier, but the flavour is good.

It is in a marinade right now, one we invented and seems to compliment and bring out the flavour the beef really well.

The marinade
Finely chopped chilli pepper
Olive Oil
Sour Pomegranate molasses
Soy sauce
Ground cumin

None of the quantities are vastly critical.  We make a small amount as we need it since we always have the ingredients.

Later, when the beef is off the barbeque we will put a large aubergine over the coals and leave it to cook for a few hours.  This becomes the basis of a creamy aubergine salad which we usually top with something spicy.