Menemen – Turkish Style Omelette With Vegetables

Here is a simple breakfast dish, a staple food in Turkey, especially when it’s summer.

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

3 tablespoons of olive oil,

1 onion, grated,

4-5 yellow banana peppers, capsicums and/or hot peppers, chopped into 1 cm pieces,

2-3 tomatoes, peeled and diced,

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3-4 eggs or 50 g grated cheese (or you can leave these out completely)

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Zeytinyagli Kuru Dolma – Stuffed Sun Dried Vegetables In Olive Oil

I’m quite happy today, because I just received a job offer, one that is related to my profession. I already have loads of other work stuff to do, but I am very much inclined to quit everything else and accept this one.

Anywayz, other than the good news, “Eid” has passed already and we of course visited my parents and in-laws in. On the eve of Eid I baked a cake with damson plums and cooked stuffed sun dried vegetables in olive oil. I took those to Gallipoli with me hoping to be the star of our family gathering :). I don’t know if I succeeded but everyone seemed quite satisfied with both the dolma and the plum cake.

I had bought the sun dried vegetables from Kahramanmaras last month. I also took pictures of the home-prepared ones in the process of drying. They hang carved vegetables on balconies on a clean thread and everyday around noon time covered the vegies with a huge clean cloth to avoid any discoloration from the direct sunlight for around 2 weeks until they dry out completely.

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Zeytinyagli Taze Fasulye – String Beans In Olive Oil

Jeanne Calment, a French lady who holds the record for the longest confirmed lifespan, said that she owed her youthful appearance and longevity to olive oil which she poured on all her food and rubbed into her skin. That’s olive oil for you! It’s the fountain of youth and also makes vegetables taste superb, while preserving their color.

String beans in olive oil is a classic Ottoman dish which holds its title in contemporary Turkish kitchen as well. For this recipe, flat, thin and non-stringy types of green beans should be used. A steel pot is also a must, olive oil dishes always taste their best in steel pots.

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Yogurtlu Semizotu Salatasi – Purslane and Potato Salad With Yogurt Sauce

This one’s not so Ottoman. The ingredients are very Turkish though. I like it because it’s simple, delicious, fulfilling and healthy.

Ingredients:

300-400 of purslane

2-3 medium size potatoes

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Fellah Kofte – Bulgur Gnocchi In Garlic Tomato Sauce

Bulgur was never a favorite ingredient for chefs in the Ottoman palace. They preferred white rice over this nutritious cereal, whereas bulgur was a staple food item for the general public in the Ottoman land. Bulgur is simply parboiled, dried and partially de-branned wheat. It is available in most Western countries in natural and organic food stores, some mainstream supermarkets, Turkish, Arab and Greek grocers. It’s high in fiber and protein, makes a wonderful ingredient for a lot of vegetarian dishes.

Fellah Kofte is a widely known recipe in Eastern Mediterranean region of Anatolia in places such as Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Adana, Mersin and Hatay. The recipe calls for fine-ground bulgur, (“#1 Fine Grind” in the U.S. and “koftelik bulgur” in Turkey). It’s easy to make and the outcome is definitely worth the effort.

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Imam Bayildi – Stuffed Aubergines In Olive Oil

Here comes one of the most famous olive oil dishes in Turkish cuisine: Imam Bayildi, literally means “the Muslim cleric fainted”. There is a dozen of stories surrounding the name of this meze, some claim that the imam in the tale fainted because he was so overcome with the flavor of this dish, some other accounts focus on the cost of the ingredients. Imam bayildi has also been an inspiration to the confit byaldi dish in modern French cuisine.

Nowadays people have no time to cook such classic dishes and follow the original recipes religiously. Imam bayildi would still taste good even if you skip adding pine nuts or nutmeg, but IMHO we should pay our respects to the cooks of the Ottoman palace by sticking to the original recipe as much as we could, trust me, there is a reason for every ingredient to be there in the recipe. I think, cooking is about great attention to detail, picking the finest ingredients and treating them the way they deserve to be treated.

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Lorlu Biber Mezesi – Stuffed Red Capsicum With Ricotta and Pine Nuts

I love cold dishes in summer, that’s why I keep coming back with more meze recipes. This light and easy but still elegant recipe looks really good. If it looks good, it tastes good. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this, e.g. the previous monstrous looking samphire meze.

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Taratorlu Deniz Borulcesi – Marsh Samphire With Tartar Sauce

Meze dishes are the stars of Ottoman cuisine. The word meze refers to side dishes that accompany alcoholic beverages or main dishes. The other day, I saw a news report on a national TV channel saying that some freaks (yeah I am jealous, I should have thought of that before those guys) decided to take the Guinness challenge of cooking 1500 mezes in one day, original recipes from Ottoman cuisine and they succeeded. I am sure this samphire meze was one of those 1500 dishes. It’s a widely available dish in Turkey, especially at seafood restaurants. I suppose the plant is also quite common in the UK and Australia, I don’t know about the US though. In  Turkey the best deniz borulcesi, i.e. marsh samphire, is available in spring through early summer. The greener the better, as it reddens it gets saltier and coarser, you wouldn’t want that on your plate, considering the stringy bits in the cores of the stalks. Another trick is buying or picking them with the roots still intact, as this makes the process of removing the strings easier. If you ever decide to make this into a salad or meze, make sure that you season it with garlic, the two go really nice together.

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Sumakli Nar Eksili Semizotu Salatasi – Fresh Purslane Salad

I made this last weekend at my parents’ place and everybody loved it. Fresh Purslane Salad with walnuts is a regional recipe from South Eastern Turkey, I don’t know if Ottoman palace chefs made purslane this way, but I know that there is an extremely delicious meze recipe calling for purslane, yogurt and garlic. I’ll write about that later. This one is simple, delicious. Highly recommended if you like sour and nutty salads and if you have access to these ingredients.

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Visneli Zeytinyagli Yaprak Sarma – Stuffed Vine Leaves With Sour Cherries

This one’s absolutely my favorite! No need for an introduction paragraph, here it is, with all its glory, a unique Istanbul delicacy. Olive oil meets onion, rice, pine nuts, black currants, herbs and spices and the delicious sweet and sour filling is embraced by grape vine leaves and garnished with sour cherries. Divine! I’ve always wondered who came up with this idea first? To roll all that goodness into the leaves of some climbing plant. I wish I could thank him/her for making me fatter! Anyhoo… Making stuffed vine leaves in olive oil with sour cherries is not that hard, it is just time consuming and needs great attention to detail.

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