I have returned from my adventure in Turkey, and I must say, the food there (and my cooking class) was absolutely one of the best things about that country. Especially if you are a vegetarian, as they have amazing vegetable dishes and, at least in the touristy parts, understand when you say you are vegetarian. People didn’t even ask if that meant I ate fish! I ate so many amazing things while I was over there, but unfortunately there are way too many to stick in one post. So here are some of the dishes I had, loved, and remembered to take pictures of. Also – the Turks love cheese, which made me love the food even more.
This comes first because it was so freaking amazing and one of my favorite things there – I had it an an Ottoman restaurant (aka making ottoman-era food, mostly from the palace based on historical records). Apparently, they use seven different kinds of cheese and wrap it in filo to make a spiral, and then fry it til golden. They served it with a couple things, including honey, which was perfect with it. I don’t know if I want to attempt to recreate it or not, I’d hate to try and have it not be as awesome as it was there.
Borek is a pretty general term for various pastries in Turkey. I had a few different kinds of boreks while I was over there. One, a cheese and parsley borek, was kinda like a sauce-less lasagna. Soft egg-noodle-esque layers, with cheese mixed with herbs, in between and presumably baked. The other kind I need to learn how to make myself – the are cheese cigar boreks, and its basically cheese wrapped up in a little filo cylinder, and I think fried? Maybe baked, but probably fried. When I make them, they will be baked
So the picture is of the stuffed eggplant I made in my cooking class, but I had it other places too when I was in Turkey, it was very common on menus in Selcuk. The version I had in Selcuk didn’t have mushrooms, it was just tomatoes, onions and various herbs and spices from what I could tell. It, however, was also served with yogurt and a side of rice, and was insanely good too. I think I might just omit the mushrooms when I make this myself. Also, and I did this with most veggie dishes, you can scoop it onto flatbread maybe add a bit of the yogurt, and eat it that way. Eggplant dishes work particularly well when you do this.
Pide is basically Turkish pizza. I made a version pide a while back, and I still make it on occasion. This, however, tasted less healthy and flavorful than what I made, and am used to. That said, it would be an amazing drunk food. The one I had there was a good with beer and I’ve had a couple food (which is the stage of the evening I was in), and would be a bad sober food. At least in my opinion.
Song of the week: The Suffering, by Coheed and Cambria. I’ve been listening too this song a lot lately not sure why. It’s hard rock, with an awesome combination of upbeat and darkness. Hell, maybe my emo teenaged self is just coming to the fore for some reason this week. But its awesome, so you should listen to it. One caveat – this is hard rock, you need to listen to it very loudly for the proper effect.
As I am writing this, I am sitting in Turkey, in the midst of my current travelling adventure. Woo! As you may know from previous posts, I like to document the foods I eat when I travel around the world. This time, however, I managed to do one better – I found a Turkish cooking class in Istanbul that would accommodate vegetarians – Cooking Alaturka. Now, if you intend to go to Istanbul in the vague or near future and enjoy cooking I highly recommend this class. The instructor is extremely knowledgeable, the chef is incredible and hilarious, and no matter how good a cook you are, you will pick up some new tricks. Now, the class of six of us, plus the experts teaching us, made six recipes: hot yogurt soup, beans cooked in olive oil with tomatoes, zucchini pancakes, stuffed eggplant, bulgar pilaf, and stuffed dried figs. No, I’m not going to stick all six on this blog, that would be ridiculous. If you want all six, you will have to take the class yourself. However, this is one of the most straight-forward recipes, and Eveline, the instructor, assured us the method could be adapted for other veggies as well.
Green Runner beans cooked in olive oil
1/2 pound runner beans or green beans, trimmed and cut in two if very long
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water or so
Prep all the veggies first. Then assemble them in a saucepan. First, put a layer of the onions-tomatoes-and garlic, then a layer of the beans, then an onion-tomato layer, then more beans, then the last of the onions-tomatoes-garlic. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, lemon juice, salt. Taste to make sure you like the balance of ingredients. then add the water and whisk it in.
Add the liquid mixture, which should almost, but not quite cover the veggies. Cover and cook on medium-low heat until softened, maybe 20-30 minutes (check as I’m not sure about the timing). Remove from heat and let the mixture cool in the liquid. Fish out the veggies and serve when at room temperature.
The result – extremely tasty. I’ve always liked Turkish foods, but this trip has made me completely and utterly love them. This veggie recipe is tasty and light, and (if I hadn’t had it as part of a 4-course meal) would make a great meal with some bread and cheese. I had this with a Turkish rose – which was extremely good, albeit less fruity than roses that I’m used to. Song of the Week: Istanbul, Not Constantinople, by They Might Be Giants. Very nearly every time I mentioned going to Istanbul to my parents, they referenced this song. Which is a fun and cute regardless and I was definitely humming it to myself walking around the city so it is nothing if not appropriate for this week.