Siron – Baked Pastry Rolls With Yogurt

Dear Reader, I can’t promise you a very exciting intro to this post, sorry but you’ll have to bear with me till the end of this memoir which I’m about to tell you.

Last year, mid-July, we, my hubs and I, were driving back to Istanbul from Gallipoli where my in-laws reside each summer. While in the car, browsing through radio channels, Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian ones… We stumbled upon one and were quite puzzled because we could swear we recognized the language, it sounded exactly like the Eastern Black Sea Region accent of Turkish. It felt like we could understand what it was saying but no, we couldn’t. Then we found out that it was the radio channel of Pontic Greeks who migrated to Greece from Black Sea Region of Turkey in the last century. There were dozens of words I could recognize in the songs besides the accent and the sound of it as a whole. “Sirona gel sirona” (come and join the siron) was one phrase upon hearing we went “hey, did you hear that?”. Yes, dear reader, Black Sea Region is where siron and Pontic Greeks come from. It is the name of both a dancing style and a manti-like dish. The song was probably talking about the dance unless the songwriter was a food-maniac like myself and took the trouble of writing a song about a dish. Oh no, even I haven’t done anything like that, yet!

I’m an epic fail when it comes to dancing, but here is the recipe to the food version of siron:

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Misir Ekmegi – Corn Bread

Corn bread is quite popular in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It’s usually made without any raising agent in most local cuisines, therefore has a hard and dry texture. But in some regions and from the Ottoman times, there are recipes calling for yeast or baking soda and cream, milk, yogurt, butter or olive oil. This one’s from Kastamonu region, turns out really soft and fluffy, better consumed quick or re-heated before being served.

Ingredients:

1 egg

2 teaspoons of sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup cream

1 cup of corn flour (finest type, sun dried or oven-roasted)

1 cup sifted wheat flour (bread type)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

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Su Boregi – Turkish Cheese Lasagna

This borek is very famous all-over Turkey, especially in the Black Sea Region, in the north. The crispy outer layers, squeaky soft layers of lasagna-like sheets, warm and melting cheese taste in-between might be the reason for its popularity. Store-bought versions are also available in Turkey and those are nothing short of being delicious, but home-made borek with the finest ingredients is always better IMHO.

So many people are intimidated by the idea of making pasta from scratch. If you can find semolina flour, it makes the process a lot easier and affects the outcome quite positively.  To get semolina flour you’ll look for ‘semola di grano duro’. Also, flour types made from the harder wheat grains are very much suitable for this borek recipe. The harder the wheat that flour is made from, the more protein and gluten it contains. Harder flour types are good for making this borek as the pastry sheets will be boiled.

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Pacanga Boregi – Fried Pastry With Pastrami and Kashar

As a dance, pachanga has been described as “a happy-go-lucky dance” of Cuban origin. There is also a borek named pacanga -pronounced “pachanga”- in Turkish cuisine. I don’t know if or how the two are related in any way. What I know is this crispy borek recipe is a perfect appetizer. Once you have access to the ingredients, it’s fairly easy to make.

Pastrami (pastirma – “pressed”) was obviously brought by the Turkic tribes from the Asian steppes. Apparently Turkish horse rider men would carry the pastrami between their leg and the horse’s back and this way the meat would be cured. You can substitute this with beef prosciutto as well.

Kashar cheese is one of the most consumed cheeses in Turkey and it is a semi-hard cheese produced by heating and stretching the curd. It is classified as fresh and mature in terms of ripening level. Its taste is somewhere in between sweet provolone and cow’s milk caciocavallo, the latter is also a commonly used ingredient in Turkish cuisine. I heard that 1 kg of fresh kashar cheese is produced from 12 liters of cow’s milk in average. You can easily find this type of cheese in Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Georgian etc. shops or substitute with mozzarella, if not available.

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Pide – Turkish Pizza With Various Toppings

Nothing delicate or sophisticated, just simple, cheerful, comfy and filling. This is what pide is or Turkish Pizza in other words. This archaic way of combining a hearty dough base and meaty, cheesy or vegetarian toppings is divine, especially when it meets the goodness of a wood oven. Still tastes great even if you do not have access to a wood oven.

By the way, Ramadan starts tomorrow. I am planning to throw several dinner parties for friends and family, seems so hard  though, considering the weather and long hot days of fasting ahead…

Back to our recipe… This one in the pictures were made by me and my cousin Birsel in the weekend at my parents’ place and enjoyed by around 15 people. I’ve adjusted the recipe to 4-5 people. In case you have any left overs, you can reheat them in the oven, on the stove in a pan with the lid on or just in a microwave. They are good for breakfast as well.

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Enginarli Ispanakli Tavuk Pidesi – Chicken Pide With Artichokes and Spinach

Pide is Turkish pizza. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate artichokes into your diet and don’t know how, here’s a free-of-guilt way of eating pizza, ooppps sorry, I was supposed to say, “here’s a healthy dinner recipe” instead.

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Patlicanli Borek – Borek With Eggplant Filling

Borek, byrek, burekia, piruhi, pierogi, whatever you may call it, is an intriguing way of utilizing wheat grain in food recipes. It’s basically called pastry in English language, but it’s got a lot more to it. In a Turkish home, there is always some kind of pastry on the table. It may be borek, gozleme, pogaca, you name it.  As long as the ingredients are fresh, your borek can’t turn out bad. It might only be good, better, the best, amazing, killer…

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