Monday, 26 January 2009

TORTILLA WRAP with mince,egg and cheese( kiyma,yumurta ve peynir DURUM )

Hi all, there are so many variations for tortilla wraps. Today I used cooked beef mince, egg and cheese mixture and the result was very nice. 
You can vary the ingredients and use cooked chicken, ham, spicy sausage, tuna and so on.. 
For a vegetarian alternative use pre cooked vegetables. 
This serves 1

  • 1 large tortilla wrap
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pre cooked mince and onion
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley or pinch of dried parsley
  • 2 small eggs
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.
Heat  the oil in a large non stick frying pan. Add mince, cheese and the eggs. Place the tortilla wrap over the mince and egg mixture in the pan. Press lightly and cook on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Turn in over with a spatula and heat the other side. Flip the tortilla over again and cook until the cheese is golden.
Transfer over a serving plate, roll and cut into slices.
Serve with a side salad.


1) Cheese and onion
2) Sun dried tomato, mushroom and cheese
3) Spicy sausage and cheese
4) Bacon and egg
5) Egg and cheese
6) Roast vegetables and cheese
7) Cheese and tomato.


During our visit to Mexico, we enjoyed wonderful local dishes including tortillas. The cheese tortillas was made by melting cheese in between two tortilla wraps and served with cream cheese, jalapeno and various dips. Here at home I tried a different variation with the wraps. I hope you enjoy...

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


  • 2 medium zucchinis (courgettes ) about 250 g
  • half a tsp of salt
  • 2 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 1 small onion or half a red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp grated Edam cheese or any medium fat cheese(50g)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
  • pinch of chili pepper ( optional )
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for frying.
1) Wash and grate the zucchinis coarsely. Mix with salt and let it stand for 12-15 minutes. Then squeeze out excess liquid. ( I used colander to get rid of all the liquid )
2) Add flour to the zucchini and mix. Add red onion, grated cheese dill, chili powder and egg to the zucchini mixture and mix well until all combined.
3) heat the oil in a non stick frying pan and drop tablespoons of zucchini mixture and flatten slightly. Cook on medium heat until browned lightly on both sides and cooked through.
Makes 10-12 fritters.
Serve with garlic, mint yogurt.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 3 cups stock or water
  • 5 tbsp red lentils
  • 1 tbsp rice
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • salt and pepper
  • dried mint to serve
1) Cook the onion in a dip pan with the oil until it is lightly browned and soft. Add the flour and mix. Add the water or stock slowly making sure we don't have any  lumps and mix well with flour and onion. Bring it to boil.
2) Wash the lentils and rice together and add into the pan. Mix the tomato puree with little water and pour it into the boiling pan. Turn the heat to medium and cook for 25- 30 minutes or until the soup is cooked.
3) Turn the heat off and add salt and black pepper to taste. Serve it with sprinkled dried mint. Serves 4.

Friday, 16 January 2009

SPICY MUSHROOMS with sumak ( Baharatli mantar )

This spicy mushroom dish is  great for lunch over toast with some salad or serve it as a side dish to accompany a main meal. This recipe serves 1, but the ingredients can be doubled to serve 2 or more.

  • 1 spring onion or 1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of chili pepper
  • 100 g button mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic, diced finely
  • 5 tbsp water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, and mint, chopped finely
  • salt to taste
  • Sumak for sprinkling and lemon slices
1) First wipe the mushrooms and leave them whole. No need to wash them. Brown the onion in olive oil in a non stick frying pan.
2) Add cumin seeds, chili pepper, mushrooms and garlic. Stir and add the water. Cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes or until all the juices absorbed. Add the fresh herbs and salt. Turn the heat off.
3) Sprinkle with pinch or two of sumak and squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

COOK'S NOTE : You can use pinch of dried herbs instead of 1 tbsp of fresh herbs. Also pinch of cumin powder to replace 1 tsp of cumin seeds, if the cumin seeds are not available.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Hi All, today I enjoyed making this sweet dish with semolina, honey and ground nut. It is different from the traditional helva and not so fluffy because of the honey but I loved the combination and it is a lot lighter than traditional helva. Serve it on its own or with whipped cream.

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 4 tbsp fine semolina
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp ground almond or ground nut
  • 250 ml half and half water, milk
  • 1 good heaped tbsp runny honey
  • ground cinnamon for sprinkling

1) Place butter and pine nuts in a non stick frying pan. Cook the nuts over a medium heat until lightly browned.
2) Add the semolina and sugar, ground nut and cook further 3-4 minutes stirring all the time until the semolina is browned lightly.
3) Add  water and milk mixture and and honey. Stir and mix until all the liquid is absorbed, for further 5  minutes on low heat.  Turn the heat off. Cover the helva with 3 sheets of kitchen paper. Place a lid and let the helva stand for 25-30 minutes.
4) Take the cover and the lid off, spoon helva  into a serving plate and fluff it with a fork. Sprinkle with cinnamon before serving. Serve it warm or cold.

Saturday, 10 January 2009


This dish traditionally is made with firm fleshed whole fish but I used  smoked and white fish chunks as I had them in my fridge. Mixture of smoked and white fish worked very well for  this recipe. Cod or any other white fish can be used instead of haddock.

  • 1  large carrot
  • 2 medium potatoes 
  • half a cup water or stock
  • 150 g smoked haddock ( 2 medium  fillets )
  • 100 g haddock ( 1 medium fillet )
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Half a tin of tomato with tomato juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of hot pepper or half of green chili pepper
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • bunch of dill, chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper
1) Peel and cut the potatoes and carrot into small chunks. Place them into a pan with some water just to cover the vegetables. Bring it to boil and cook the veg on high heat for about 5 minutes.
2) In the meantime wash the fish and cut into chunks. Set aside.
3) Saute the onions  in olive oil until just turning brown, add tomatoes, garlic, chili pepper, bay leaves.
4) Arrange the  chunks of fish over the vegetables, then pour the onion and tomato mixture over the fish. Sprinkle chopped dill, lemon juice and black pepper. Cook on low heat for 10- 12 minutes with the lid on. Do not stir.
5) Serve with extra dill and crusty bread. Serves 2.

NOT : I didn't add any salt to this dish as the salt from the smoked fish was just enough.

Thursday, 8 January 2009


Topkapi Palace was ordered by the Sultan Mehmet 11 and was built in mid fourteen hundreds. The palace was home to as many as 4.000 people. At the end of Ottoman Empire in 1921, the palace was transferred and today it is used as a museum.


This is another wonderful  chicken dish from palace kitchen with aromatic flavours.

  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 350-400 g diced chicken
  • 1 or 2 good pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 10 small button mushrooms ( optional )
  • 1 heaped tbsp of almonds
  • 8 apricots, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 2-4 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste.
Brown the chicken with the onion in a non stick pan with the oil. Add the cinnamon and stir. Mix the honey, tomato paste and lemon juice with the little of the water. Pour it in the pan. Add the mushrooms, almonds, apricots and the rest of the water. Coat the chicken well with the honey  mixture and cinnamon. Bring the chicken to boil, then simmer gently with the lid on for 20-25 minutes until it is soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper just before taking off the heat. Garnish with lemon slices. Serve it with plain boiled rice and salad.
Serves 2.


This is a great rice dish, again from the ottoman period. The Sultan liked this dish so much that it was  named after him ( Sultan Resat Pilavi )

  • 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tsp mix spice  powder
  • 1  level tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • 1 cup rice, washed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked chick peas
  • 10 very small button mushrooms
  • half a red pepper, diced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • good bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cups hot water
  • salt to taste.

Chop the aubergine into cubes and place into a bowl.  Cover with salted cold water, keep them submerged and leave to soak for  15 minutes.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a large heavy pan add the onions to soften. Then add the pine nuts and cook until golden. Add garlic, cinnamon, black pepper. Stir in the currants, rice, chick peas, mushrooms, diced red pepper, dill and lemon juice.  Drain the aubergines and squeeze them dry and add to the pan. Mix everything until the rice coated well with herbs and spices. Pour the hot water  into the pan and bring rice to boil. Boil for 5 minutes then turn the heat to low and place the pan lid on. Cook rice for about 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.. Turn the heat off. Cover the rice with 2-3 sheets of kitchen paper and press the lid tightly to cover it. Let the rice rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve it with extra chopped dill.

NOT: You can pan fry the aubergines in olive oil before adding into the rice ,if you wish.


This is a great lamb dish from the period Ottoman Empire, from the Palace kitchens and still enjoyed today all over Turkey. It was so enjoyed by the sultan of the Topkapi Palace that it has the name Hunkar Begendi which literally means Sultan's favourite dish.

  • I large aubergine
  • 450 g tender lamb, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, 1 chopped one left whole, peeled
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped mint
  • half a can of chopped tin tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp  fromage frais
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour
  • half a cup milk
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp of grated Edam cheese
  • salt and black pepper to taste.

First  SMOKE THE AUBERGINE  by placing the washed aubergine directly on to the medium heat gas flame on top of the stove. Turn the aubergine until the skin is charred on all sides and the flesh feels soft. This will take about 15 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes then hold the aubergine under running cold water and gently peel off the charred skin. Set aside.

In  the mean time, brown the meat, in  a non- stick large pan with  2 tbsp of oil. Transfer the meat into a plate and cook the onion in the same pan and oil. When the onion is pale in colour, return the meat  into the pan and mix with the onion. Add the tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Add the hot water just enough to cover the meat  and let it simmer for about one hour on the low heat. During cooking if the meat gets dry add little bit more water to prevent it sticking. Turn the heat off , season with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Cut and mash the aubergine in a bowl with fromage  frais  and lemon juice . Set aside. In a separate bowl mix the cornflour with the milk. add the cheese, salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in anon stick pan, add the milk, cheese and cornflour mixture and mix and cook it into a smooth white sauce. Turn the heat to low and add the aubergine mixture into the pan with the sauce. Mix well and turn the heat off. Transfer the creamed aubergine into the serving plate. Arrange the lamb over the aubergine and decorate with fresh mint and thyme leaves.
Serves 2.

Monday, 5 January 2009


Grand Bazaar ( Kapali Carsi ) is one of Istanbul's most intriguing sights, with 4 thousand shops, 61 streets, 10 wells, 4 fountains and 2 mosques along with cafes around the old Bedesten. Grand Bazaar has been an important trading centre since 1461. It was constructed by Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmet 11, in the 15Th century. This maze of winding alleys has been a trading centre for more than 500 years.
Over the centuries, the visitors to Istanbul have found the exotic atmosphere of grand bazaar irresistible. Today gifts and souvenirs seem to dominate with the rugs and jewellery a close second. Some tradesmen still tend to group together along particular streets to do their trading.
A leisurely day spent exploring the bazaar, bargaining for purchases, sitting in one of the cafes and watching the world go by, is the perfect way to recapture the romantic atmosphere of OLD ISTANBUL.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


I decided to make this dessert to finish off the lokums left over from the New Years Eve party. The pudding turned out quite nice and light. It was sweet enough with 1 tsp of honey but you can add more if required.

  • 3 heaped tsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 2 Turkish delights, diced into small cubes
  • Half a cup milk
  • half a cup double cream
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1 tsp pistachio nuts
  • pinch of cinnamon
First mix cornflour with cold water in a small jug and set aside.
Dice the Turkish delights into small cubes and place it in a pan together with milk and cream. Heat gently and add the honey and rose water. When it is just starting to boil add the cornflour and water mixture and mix it well into a smooth paste. Take it off the heat and add nuts and cinnamon powder. Pour it in serving dessert glass and let it cool before serving. Decorate with extra nuts and lokum.

NOT; This  serves 1, but will serve 2 if divided into to serving dishes and topped up with whipped cream.


Turkish delight is produced in Turkey since 15Th century. The recipe with sugar and starch was invented by Haci Bekir Company in Istanbul during 19Th century. Lokum is sold in shops and patisseries all over Turkey with hundreds of varieties to choose from. They are made with fruit, nuts, rose water, fruit juices, mint and so on..
It is enjoyed with Turkish coffee or as a sweet snack. It is also tradition to take box of Turkish delight as a gift to family and friends when visiting them. It is enjoyed all year round as well as very  popular  during Bayrams and special holidays.

ZEYTINYAGLI YAPRAK SARMASI ( stuffed vine leaves with aromatic rice )

Vine leaves are used in many dishes in Turkey but most popular ones are filled with minced meat ( etli yaprak sarmasi) and vegetarian sarma which is  made with aromatic rice and olive oil ( zeytinyagli yaprak sarmasi). Stufffed vine leaves served  warm or cold.  I will be posting etli  yaprak sarma in coming weeks.

  • 1 jar of 400 g of preserved vine leaves in brine
  • 2 large onions, chopped finely
  • 1 cup long grain rice, washed
  • 1 bunch of dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs currants, diced
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts or chopped mix nuts
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
To add to the pan just before cooking
  • juice of half a lemon
  • extra, olive oil for drizzling
  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • hot water 

1) First wash vine leaves under cold running water, let in drain in colander. Layer the base of the pan with 2-3 vine leaves. ( This will prevent the stuffed vine leaves sticking to the pan)

2) Prepare the filling: Wash the rice and place in a bowl. Add diced onion, parsley, dill, currants, nuts, salt, cinnamon, black pepper and 3tbsp of olive oil to the rice. Mix well to coat the rice with herbs and spices. 

3) Lay one of the vine leaves on a flat  surface and spoon 1-2 tsp ( depending on the size of the leaf )of the rice mixture along the stalk end of the leaf and fold once. Then tuck in the sides of the leaf and roll it up tightly to make a cylindrical parcel.
Repeat this  with the reaming leaves and rice filling.
4) Arrange the stuffed vine leaves, seam side down in the prepared  pan, as you roll them. Pack them tightly together in circles. Making 2-3 layers, depending on your pan size.
5) Squeeze the lemon juice over the sarmas and drizzle over with olive oil. Add enough hot water to cover the stuffed vine leaves . Peel 5-6 medium potatoes and arrange them on top of the stuffed vine leaves. Cover the pan with the lid and bring it to boil. Then lower the heat and steam the sarmas gently  for 45-50 minutes. until the rice is cooked.  Let it stand for 20 - 30 minutes before serving

NOTE: Potatoes are used  as a weight to prevent sarmas from unravelling, also potatoes draw excess salt from the vine leaves. I use the cooked potatoes in soups or use it to make potato salad.

Saturday, 3 January 2009


Istanbul is the world's 4th largest city and Europe's most populous city with 12 million in population. It  was historically Byzantium then Constantinople. Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Ottoman Empire. 
Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world which is situated on the two continents by extending both on the European and the Asian side of the Bosphorus.