Zeytinyagli Pirasa – Leeks In Olive Oil

This olive oil dish can be found on the dinner tables of most Turkish homes quite frequently at all times of the year. Just like her cousins, onion and garlic, leeks have antiseptic qualities. What’s more interesting about these long, sleek, layered tubes is that during Roman times a variant of this vegetable with opium-like qualities was consumed at the end of dinner to induce sleep. Turks, people of the Ottoman land in wider terms, also serve this olive oil braised leek dish at the end of meals. I don’t know if there is any connection between the two cuisines, Ottoman and Roman (if there is such thing) so to speak, but I should note that Ottoman Sultans, starting from Mehmet II the Conqueror, held the title “Kayser” (meaning Ceasar), referring to the Ottoman rule as the heir to Eastern Roman Empire.

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Zeytinyagli Portakalli Kereviz – Celeriac Braised in Olive Oil and Orange Juice

Celeriac is the root of what is called “celery”. In my university years, in Sydney, I hadn’t seen celeriac anywhere for quite a long time,  then one day I came across this non-starchy root vegetable in the vegie isle of a supermarket. As soon as I saw this prince charming hid in the form of an ugly frog, I started jumping up and down like a child. At the check out, I noticed that something was wrong, as the girl kept skipping my lovely celeriac and finished checking out everything else I bought. Then she said she would be back in a minute and left. When she returned, she seemed quite anxious, turned to me and said “please don’t get me wrong, what do you call this thing? I tried to find it in the isle but no luck “, she obviously thought that I would be offended by her ignorance of our cultural habit of eating this weird substance. I smiled and replied, celeriac, celery-root in other words. She was relieved by my calm reaction, glad that I didn’t turn out to be the furious Muslim she was afraid that I was.

Anyhoo, another time at the same supermarket checkout, an old lady asked me about how I prepared “this thing”. I gave her a quick recipe of this olive oil dish and she seemed happy, she said “there is one other Polish lady buying this, I haven’t seen anyone else”. I don’t know how the Polish make this into a dish, but my favorite is an olive oil based recipe.

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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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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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