Friday 29 July 2011

Kitchen Miracles, The Tomato

When you think of Summer Vegetables and Im sure that the tomato has to be one of the first that come to mind.  There are so many different kinds too, from the tiny to the huge, from the green, yellows, pinks and reds.  We should all know by now that the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable and that it is very healthy for us.

Tomatoes are an wonderful source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium, and vitamin B1. In addition, tomatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, folate, copper, niacin, vitamin B2, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, vitamin E and protein.

This makes them very good against all kinds of cancers especially prostate in men.  Heart disease and as well high cholesterol. They say that cooking tomatoes or consuming tomato sauce(ketcup) is better than eating raw as it delivers more of the anti cancer fighting goodness to your bodies.

Dr Saraçoğlu says that besides being a powerful antioxident, good against cancer it is also excellent for those with eye problems as it relieves high tension in the eyes, stops the heart from getting bigger for those who regularly do heavy lifting, good against cholesterol and for balance problems.

He has given a protocol for those with high blood pressure and for althetes or those who do regular heavy lifting.

Blood pressure and heavy lifters he recommends a glass of tomato juice half an hour before a meal 2 or 3 times a weeks.

For athletes a glass of tomato juice with breakfast to help protect thier hearts from growth.

This Summer buy tomatoes in bulk and preserve, make your own sauces and chutneys.  Eaten any way the tomato really is a Kitchen Miracle.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Gül Suyu, Rose Water

Who dosnt need something cool and refreshing on a hot day! Rose water is just the thing.  We had these the other weekend on a hot hot day. Floral water with a light, delightful fragrance was just what we needed.  Rose water as a cool drink is one of Turkeys famous sherbets. İt is very easy to make at home.   Can be drunk straight or add some vodka for a bit of a punch.  All you need is a bottle of rose water to start with.  (If you cant find it try looking at an Indian grocer or a Middle Eastern store) Make a simple syrup with 2 cups sugar - 1 cup water.  Boil for 10 minutes, cool and add to a tall glass that is half filled with water and the desired amount of rose water.  Stir well and taste.  Adjust to your palate. Add in some ice and serve.

These photos were taken at a park where they have been selling rose water for generations along with Bicibici and other traditonal delights.  Several years ago it was served over large pieces of ice but they have changed it to meet the changing culture and made a kind of slushy.  Which was lovely but I prefer the more traditional one as a long drink.

If you just cant find rose water but you have a garden full of roses why not make your own.  I have and its very easy to do and very rewarding.  You need to have a pink fragrant climbing rose that you havent sprayed.  Put several handfuls of the petals into a large clear container, fill with water and leave in the sun for a day until the colour is a lovely dark pinkish red.  Drain the water off the petals and add a tbsp of citric acid and store in the fridge.

Monday 25 July 2011

Kömbe, Antep Style

When I was over teaching english, the students mother started making börek as she had visitors coming.  She said it was Kömbe.  I was surprised as I thought she would have to make more dough and as you can see in the photos she only prepared 2 large balls.  I questioned her about it and she said no Im making Kömbe.  This woman comes from the same area as my husband even from the same village but this was not the Kömbe of that area.  I asked her which region is this from.  She said it is Antep Kömbe, that started making a bit more sense to me then.  Her husband is from Hatay and she said they aslo make it there.  This Kömbe is different to the other recipe I posted here, instead of being multi layered it has a bottom and a top with the filling in between so more like the pies I am used to.

She made the dough and kneaded it.  Made the filling and par cooked it.  Placed the pastry base on the tray.  Put on the filling.  Put the top on.  Made a steam vent then decorated it.  This was all cooked on a large tray then taken to the local bakery to be cooked. 

500gr - 1 kilo flour (depending on how large your tray is)
olive oil

500gr chicken breasts or left over chicken meat
5 onions

Make a nice soft dough and let sit for 30 minutes.  While that is resting finely dice the chicken breast and put into your frypan with a splash of olive oil.  Add in chilli powder to taste.  Finely slice onions and add into the pan.  Cook this for about 5 minutes until the chicken turns colour and take off the heat.

Divide the dough in half.  Take one of the balls and roll it out and fit to your pan.  Spread all the cooled filling ontop.  Roll out the other ball to fit your tray and place on top.  Roll the edges together then take a knife and cut in a steam vent in the middle.  Using a spoon, press lightly onto the börek surface and decorate. Spread over a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough. If you dont have a local bakery that will cook for you.  Cook this is a very hot oven until the pastry is done.

I have no photo of it cooked as I had to leave before she had come back from the bakery.  Her daughter came knocking on my door about an hour later with a plate of Kömbe.  We enjoyed it so much that we forgot about taking a shot of the end product.

Friday 22 July 2011

Kitchen Miracles, The Carob Tree

Carob is usually recognised for its use in baking as a chocolate substitue.  Some love it, some hate it.  I quite like it and have made many things using carob.  After coming to Turkey İ found out that they make Pekmez out of it as well.  Carob has come to my attention recently in regards to finding a natural remedy for asthma and broncial infections.  I again went to the famous herbalist Dr Saraoğlu and consulted his records regarding this and found out that Carob is very benificial for asthma and allergic asthma, plus a few other things.  He has a protocol to follow that he says can greatly reduce the symptoms.

Carob is native to the Eastern Mediteranien Area and has been cultivated here for thousands of years.  Some even say that John the Baptist ate carob pods while he was out in the wilderness. Carob is celebrated every year in Israel during the festival of Tu B'Shevat which is an annual festival celebrating trees. 

Carob is not only very nutrional for humans it can also be fed as a supplement to livestock.  Carob is full of vitamins A,B,D and E and packed with protein.  It has alot of fiber so is also said to be good for weight loss .

Carob will stop diaherra and constipation.  Carob can be used as a treatment to help prevent lung cancer.  Carob will increase sperm count, quality and movement.

This table was taken off Dr Saraçoğlus webpage listing the benefits of Carob
Ağrı kesici
Alerjiye karşı
Astıma karşı
Bakteri yok edici
Bronşite karşı
Kansere karşı
Karaciğeri toksinden arındırıcı
Serbest radikalleri yok edici
Bağışıklık sistemini stimüle eden
Mikroplara karşı etkili
Kansere karşı koruyucu
Nitrozamin yok edici
Bronş genişletici
Çocuk felcine karşı

The protocol for asthma uses the whole pod.

Get 6 - 7 carob pods and wash under cold water, break into 3cm to 4cm lengths then place into a kettle with half a litre of water.  Boil on a light to medium heat for 8 minutes.  When it cools strain and place into a glass bottle in your fridge.  This can be kept in your fridge for up to 3 days.  Drink 125ml every morning with breakfast and every evening before dinner.

Do this for 20 days.  Then after the 20 days continue for another 15 days.  So no break in between.  For the 15 days do the same thing morning and night but with one difference.  Add in half a teaspoon of honey in with the carob tea at breakfast time.  Just adding at breakfast not at night.

So for 20 days just the tea.  For 15 days after that the tea plus honey at breakfast time.

If you want do to this for your child just give them the tea at breakfast for the full 35 days.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Poğaça, Little Savory Buns

Poğaça are little stuffed savory buns(rolls).  They can be filled with many things just like the various Böreks out there.  They can also come in various sizes and shapes.  There are many Poğaça recipes out there, this recipe is a good one as it is light and close to what you would find at the average Pastane.

A plate of Poğaça served to me at an afternoon tea

1 kilo flour
1 pkt yeast
1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 eggs
hot water

Fetta or cottage cheese
Nigella seeds

If you have a kenwood or large electric mixer with a dough hook feel free to use that, if not you can easily make these by hand as I do.

Put the flour, yeast, oil, sugar, salt and one egg into a large container and then gradually add in some hot water(not boiling)until you have a nice soft dough.  Knead for several minutes until the dough has the texture of an earlobe.  Let this rest for 15 minutes.  Take large plum sized pieces and roll into balls.  Let this rest for another 15 minutes.  After they have rested take a ball and flatten out gently with your hand.  Take about 1tsp of cheese and place into the centre.  Roll up into a ball and repeat until all the dough has been used.  Using the other egg, whisk it and brush the poğaça gently with the egg then sprinkle with nigella seeds.  Let these sit for half an hour then place into a hot preheated oven and cook in a 200 degree oven until they are a nice light brown colour.

For those out there that are on a gluten free diet you could probably make these with a good quality gluten free flour.

Poğaça - Different shapes and textures but all one in the same.  The herbal ones at the back were very nice and they had a bit of potato in the dough.

Monday 18 July 2011

Yağlı Köfte - Bulgur Köfte

Life can be interesting if you are open for it and sometimes even if your not.  I go to the Bazaar on Sundays and on the way there and back there is a woman.  She would look at me and talk to whoever was next to  her and even pointed.  I felt uncomfortable but kept going.  This continued for over 6 months then one day she finally approached me.  I was unsure at first because of the whispering, sideway glances and outright staring.  I decided to smile and brave it.  I was pleasently surprised when the contact was friendly.  She asked me a few questions as only the Turks can do and then proceeded to ask me to her place for coffee at some time in the future.  I smiled politely and moved on.  Yesterday I decided to take up her offer and went to her house.  She was very gracious and hospitable and very happy we came.  We had coffee, fruit, tea, biscuits and we stayed for lunch.  She was even happier when I asked if I could take photos.  This is what she made for us.  Yağli Köfte is a köfte recipe famous in Gaziantep and made from the fine form of Bulgur.
Simit Bulur - Fine Bulgur

2 cups Fine Bulgur
2 tbsp pepper paste/tomato paste
2 tomatoes
1 cup of parsley
3 onions
1 head of garlic
1 cup of oil
chilli powder

This köfte is kneaded and takes about 15 mintues of good kneading to get the desired consistency.  (you can of course use your food processor to get the same results). She took the bulgur, chilli and pepper paste and started kneading that together then the onions and garlic.  Once you have that all kneaded in add in the tomatoes until they have been absorbed in.  Add in the parsley and continue kneading.  With all the kneading the ingredients disappear into the bulgur mix.  Add in the oil at this stage, she heated it up and added it in.  Continue kneading for another 5 minutes.  Hand form and serve.  

To make this in your food processor just put everything in together but not all the oil.  Process this with the metal blade until it is a paste.  If it is too dry add in all the oil or if it is too wet add in more bulgur.  You need to be able to form this in your hands with it staying in shape and not falling apart.  Take a small handful amount and shape into an oblong form.

Getting ready

Daughter cutting the veggies


More Kneading

Forming the köfte

I enjoyed the köfte and made a new friend.  What adventures will you discover yourselves in today?

Friday 15 July 2011

Kitchen Miracles, The Cherry

I love Cherries, most people probably do.  The country I come from dosnt really grow that many cherries and because of that they are expensive, very expensive.  Most people in Australia probably eat a handful of them on Christmas in the sweltering heat and that is thier yearly indulgence.  So coming to a country where they are bountiful is a blessing.  I eat as many as I can during the very short season.

Im not going to be talking about what we can do with the cherry meat.  Ive seen wonderul recipes out there for Cherry handpies, Sour cherry pies, Cherry drinks and desserts.  I am going to tell you all what you can do with the Cherry STEMS.  Yes the stems of this wonderful fruit has benifits.  My guy Dr Saracoglu discovered them and has been all over the tv telling everyone how wonderul they are and what they are good for.

Cleans out the urinary tract, good for kidneys, speeds up the metabolisim, gets rid of toxins especially uric acid, good for arthritis, rheumatisim, good for a few other things I could find the translations for plus very good also for weight loss,and getting rid of excess water.

You need to save the stems from the cherries you buy and dry them in the shade.  Store them in an air tight container.

15 -20 stems
1 glass water

Put the stems in the water and boil for 5 minutes.  Drink this tea once a day and wait for the results.  Like all of Dr Saracoglus suggestions he says to drink this for 15 days then take a break before repeating.

For more Cherry Recipes go to Cherries Pickled and Jammed.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Pirpirim Asçi, Purslane Soup

Purslane as a soup! well here it is and this is one of the famous dishes of this region.  

  • !/2 cup brown lentils
  • !/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 250gr purslane
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red capsicum/sweet pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs sweet pepper paste/tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tbs dried mint
  • 1tsp chilli powder or sweet paprika
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • oil

  • Finely chop the onion and using some oil sautee.  Add in the lentils and bulgur and stir.  Pour in 4 cups of water and cook until the lentils are soft.  Add in the cooked chickpeas and tomato paste stir through well and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add in the finely chopped red capscium and continue to cook.  When the capscium is soft and in the chopped purslane.  Let that cook for a further 3 minutes then turn off the heat.  Add in the lemon juice and salt(to taste). Add in more water if needed and taste. 

  • In a small saucepan add some oil and fry the minced garlic for a couple of minutes then add in the mint and chilli powder, fry for a further minute or two.  Pour the sauce ontop of the soup.


Monday 11 July 2011

Bazaar, My local Markets

Come with me for a walk through my local Bazaar.  Its a Sunday afternoon and the streets are lined with people selling fresh fruits and veggies, cheeses, eggs, lentils, chickpeas, dried herbs and whatever is in season at the moment. Men, women and children all keen to sell thier wares all vying for everyones attention by yelling out the prices as loud as they can.

Serbetci - old tradditon of selling cold drinks

Walk down the other street and you will find dresses, shirts, trousers all flying high with tables piled with shoes and sandles.  Walk a bit more until we come to the kitchen and house wares where the ground is stacked with every sort of plastic container, pots, pans and probably everything you need for your kitchen.  People are elbowing thier way through the crowds, little kids hanging on eating corn on the cob or a green bean or two.  Older people are sitting in the shade of the park watching everything pass them by.

Vine leaf seller


Kitchen Dept

Friday 8 July 2011

Kitchen Miracles, The Peach

The other day when I took my daughter to the doctor she told me to feed her Peaches, Yogurt and Bananas.  I thought that the yogurt and banana was fairly self explanatory since she is taking antibiotics yogurt helps with the flora in the stomach and the banana since it is good for diaherra and a mood lifter.  The peach had me stumped, what are peaches good for except for being so delicous.  When I came home I googled it of course and was surprised that the peach is very good for respitory disorders including asthma as it has mild anti inflamatory properties. İt is also good for alot of other things.  I checked with my herbal guy here Dr Saraçoğlu and he said the main thing peaches are good for is to prevent constipation, good for the kidneys, cleans the blood and softens the skin when used as a mask.

Health Benefits of Peach :
  • Anemia
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
  • Nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys)
  • Acidosis (deficiency of alkalinity in the body)
  • Bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes)
  • Asthma
  • Poor digestion
  • Bladder and kidney stones.
  • Helps improve the health of the skin and adds color to the complexion.
  • Helpful in the removal of worms from the intestinal tract.
  • May help prevent cancer in organs and glands with epithelial tissue due to its high Vitamin A content.
Peach Tea

fresh peach leaves

Boil the water, take off the heat and steep the leaves in the water for about 5 minutes.  This is good for kidney stones.

Peach Serbet

The Ottomans had a sweet tooth so they ate and drank many sweet things.  Of those Syrups were favorites.  Peach serbet was one of the many they drank to indulge in thier sugar cravings.

Different types of Serbet
1000 grams of soft peaches 
sugar - to taste
1tsp citric acid

What you do is cook the peaches with sugar and 2 cups of water.  Sugar is to taste because some of you out there like more whilst others prefer less, so I leave that up to you but take into account that it is a syrup and syrups are sweet.  When that is cooked down so that the peaches are soft take off the heat and cool.  Add in the citric acid.  Either using a cheese cloth or a fine mesh drainer process the peaches so that you get all the liquid out.  You should be left with the skins and a bit of pulp.  Taste the syrup at this stage. If it is too watery or you want more sugar or more liquid add it to the saucepan and put back on the heat until you get the desired consistency.  This should be a nice thick syrup that you can make a refreshing drink from either with cold water or tonic or even mineral water.

Wednesday 6 July 2011


When you think about Turkey what is one of the first things that comes to mind? 

Camel wrestling?
Oil wrestling?
Yogurt festivals?

If your like me Baklava would have to be one of the first things.  

Now here Baklava can be a labour of love because we make the pastry sheets by hand, rolling it out as thin as possible so that it is transparent.  For the baklava purists they say it isnt baklava unless you use 77 sheets of pastry. I am not a Turkish woman so I havent grown up making it from the age of 7.  For me to make 77 sheets would take all day.  I make mine with 30 sheets and that still takes quite along time.  If I wanted to cheat I could go to the pastry shops and buy the sheets from there.  They sell them at a very reasonable price, in fact the other day my husband came rushing home from work telling me that there is a pastry shop near his work selling 20 sheets for 4 lira (thats a good price) and then in the same breath said do you want me to buy 60? While I enjoy making the sheets myself I think this weekend I will surprise him.  

Making baklava is very easy and if you make it people will rave.  

1pkt phyllo pastry-defrosted
2 cups crushed walnuts
250gr butter/margarine

3 cups water
3 cups sugar
few drops lemon juice

Try and use a baking tray that is about the same sheet as they phyllo or you will have to break it up making it all a bit messy.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Oil your baking tray first then lay your first sheet of phyllo onto it.  Using a pastry brush, brush the sheet with the melted butter.  Lay on the next sheet and continue until you have used half the pkt.  Take the walnuts and spread evenly over the pastry.  Then start by layering the rest of the phyllo sheets.  Dont forget, pastry then butter then continue. Taking a sharp knife cut into squares or diamonds.  You want to cook this in a moderate to hot oven for 15 minutes until it is a golden brown.  Keep a check on it you might have to turn the temp down depending on your oven.  While that is cooking make the syrup.

Put all the ingredients for the syrup and bring to the boil then boil for about 10 minutes until it has thickened.

Take the baklava out of the oven and pour the syrup over it slowly.  You want both the syrup and baklava to be hot when you pour.

Let it sit until they syrup has soaked up.  Then you can serve.  It looks nice if you have some crushed walnuts sprinkled ontop.  If you want a higher baklava just use more phyllo sheets.  Will you go as high as 77?

Tray of Baklava
Because this is a Turkish food blog I am giving you the typical recipes.  The baklava is made just like this all over Turkey.  I am living in Gaziantep and it is very famous for its baklava, they make it just like I have described.  There are many recipes out there saying you can include cinnamon in with the walnuts or cinnamon sticks with the syrup.  You can add honey in with the sugar syrup and you can even layer the walnuts in with the phyllo layers.  All of those are very nice so it is really up to you on how you make it.

Having said I am living in Gaziantep and that Antep is world famous for its baklava I also have to mention that they make it with Pistachios.  Everywhere else they use walnuts but here Pistachios are favoured because they are grown  locally in the mountain heat.

This is green from the pistachios, my favorite - Sarma and it is absolutely divine

Sunday 3 July 2011

Pekmez - Mulberry, Carob and Grape Syrup

Pekmez is the name given to the syrup made from either Mulberries, Carob pods and Grapes.  It is very very healthy even being prescribed by doctors to infants, children, the elderly, infirmed, pregnant women and various other illnesses.  Pekmez is widely available at the local supermarkets and bazaars or you can make them at home.  You need a quantity of either grape or mulberry juice.  I would start with 5 litres as you need to boil this down to syrup consitency thus reducing the end volume.

Mulberry juice boiling down
Boil the juice in a large saucepan, go from a rapid boil in the beginning to a gradual one until you reach the desired thickness.  Check on it throughout and using a spatula scrape down the sides of the saucepan.  That is all you have to do to make it.  Being a syrup it stores well without further processing.  If you made a few jars of pekmez you can water bath them for a better seal.

Dosnt this look delicous! 
People eat this by mixing pekmez in with tahini(sesame seed paste)for breakfast, drink it straight or mixed with a bit of water for a tonic.  You can use pekmez in various recipes instead of sugar as well.

Pekmez is an amazing product and very easy to make.  If you can get your hands on good quality grapes or mulberries I highly recomend trying it, replacing refind sugars in todays diet will play a big role in helping you towards a healthier diet.

Pekmez and Tahini are sold together sometimes.  This shows you how popular a staple it is for breakfast.

For those wanting to know Pekmez can be bought from most local supermarkets and small shops.  The price goes by the kilo usually and ranges from 6lira to 10.