(This is Appendix B)
Page as of May 7, 2000
The Turkish cuisine, along with the French, Italian, and Chinese menus, is one of the 4 major cuisines in the world. Nothing can match the taste of the Turkish meat - beef and lamb - dishes. And the crown for meat dishes belongs to the "döner (rotating) kebap" which is sold as "gyro" by Greek restaurants in America, which is a rough emulation of the Turkish "döner," which the Greeks adopted from the Turks when Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Unlike the Chinese who often quick-fry their food, the Turkish people eat their's well done, like other Mediterranean people. Unlike America, meat is not eaten "rare" and, like the Jews, the Turks do not eat pork. All Turkish vegetable dishes start with fresh vegetables, handpicked locally. They are cooked until the ingredients blend and taste delicious.
Köfte. Köfte, or meat patty, is the Turkish equivalent of hamburger, and it is a very popular dish. It is usually served with home fries, French fries, or pilaf. Begin the works with a package of lean ground chuck. The meat should not be ultra lean, as a little fat adds considerable flavor to the patties. Place the meat in a salad bowl and add the following ingredients to it, say for a three-pound package: one large finely graded onion, one egg, the insides of two slices of bread (crumbled), fresh chopped parsley, oregano, pepper, and salt. Work this mixture thoroughly by hand, like dough.
Köfte is served in 2 shapes: as circular patties of about 2 inches in diameter and half-inch thickness, or as 3-inch sausage-like shape, the ends tapered. They are fried in vegetable oil - or, even better, grilled medium-well. The patties should be turned over several times to make sure that the meat is cooked evenly. A little oregano may be added while the meat is on the grill, and whole jalapeno peppers and chunks of tomatoes may be also grilled next to the meat. Köfte may be eaten cold too. In the old days, it was a favorite travel snack.
Kimyonlu Köfte. "Kimyon," is the Turkish word for cumins. The "lu" extension implies "with." So this dish translates to "Meat patties with Cumins." Start with a package of ground meat and prepare it exactly as described for köfte. The only difference is in that you also add a little ground cumins, which gives the meat and the final dish the distinct flavor. However, this dish is cooked differently. After preparing the meat patties, peal 2 or 3 medium-size potatoes, cuttting them in circular slices.
The potatoes are fried in a pan of vegetable oil over low heat until they turn light brown. Use the same oil to fry the meat patties until they are done medium-well. Next, distribute the potatoes and meat patties in layers in a flat tray, adding sliced carrots, green pepper, and tomato to each layer. Then add a cup of water and a little margarine. After sprinkling the contents with salt and pepper, cover the tray with aluminum paper and cook it at 375 degrees for about an hour. The idea here to give the meat and potatoes a fried and cooked taste.
Dolma. Dolma means "stuffed," as in stuffed peppers. The Turkish cuisine has a variety of dolmas, some eaten cold. The filling for dolma is similar to the one used for köfte, but for the rice. Mother adds into a salad bowl a package of ground chuck, 1/2 cup rice, one large minced onion, the insides of one large tomato (grated), parsley, and salt and pepper. She works these ingredients thoroughly by hand.
Then she prepares the vegetables to be filled: small green peppers - large ones are not as tender - large tomatoes, zucchini, and small zucchini-size egg plants. She cuts the hoods of the zucchini and eggplant and carves out their insides. With tomatoes, she cuts the top part close to the top and carves the insides and uses this as part of the filling above. With green peppers, she cuts around the hood and removes it. She keeps the hoods.
Mother fills the vegetables almost to the top with the filling, as the latter, with rice, will expand when cooked. She places them neatly, with the open parts facing up, in a deep pot, placing the hoods on them. She usually has enough vegetables to produce 2 or 3 layers in the pot. Finally, she adds 1.5 cups of water to prevent the bottom layer from burning and to steam-cook the vegetables evenly. She adds a little margarine and salt and pepper for flavor. The covered pot is cooked at 350 degrees for about an hour. This delicious meal and its juice are eaten hot, usually with fresh bread.
Sarma. "Sarma" in Turkish means "wrap." The Turkish cuisine uses only two vegetables for wrapping: cabbage and grape leaves. The cabbage must be boiled a few minutes and then cooled so that it is soft enough to be used as a wrapping. Since grape leaves taste very different from cabbage, this dish is prepared with one or the other. The filling is the same one used for dolma above. Mother wraps the filling carefully, producing bite-size pieces that are about 2 to 3 inches long and an inch in diameter, and places each neatly in a deep pot in several layers. If she has some wrappings left, she places them on top of the sarma and adds 1.5 cups of water. She cooks the sarma under closed lid at 300 degrees for about one hour - about 15 minutes less for the cabbage leaf. This dish is eaten hot, also with a touch of lemon juice.
Yalancı Dolma. "Yalanci" - "i" is like the "e" in butter - may mean a person who lies, or an imitation, fake, or bogus thing; in Turkish cuisine, it also implies dishes that are prepared with olive oil, as these may be eaten as cold "meze" (appetizers), or as full-course meals. Vegetables cooked in olive oil also use sugar as an ingredient. As with dolma, one can also use green peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. These dishes are eaten cold or cooled. To start, heat a cup of olive oil in a pan and add one minced onion, a cup of pine nuts, salt, two teaspoons of sugar, a cup of currant, parsley, 1.5 cups of rice, and a teaspoon fresh lemon juice.
These are stir-fried over medium heat until they turn brown. Add about 1/2 cup of water to this mixture and continues to cook until the rice is soft but not fully cooked. The mixture is then cooled and rolled in grape leaves, into cylindrical shapes of about 2 to 4 inches in length and one inch in diameter. (Since the grape leaves that are sold in USA in jars are very salty, they should be soaked in a bowl of hot water for about 1/2 hour to remove the excess salt; the water should be changed several times in that interval.) Arrange these rolls neatly in a cooking pot, cover them with grape leaves, and add a little water to prevent the bottom layer from burning. Cook them over low heat for about an hour, until the grape leaves are soft and edible. The dolma is then removed from the pot and arranged, one-by-one and neatly, in a serving dish. Decorate the top with a few slices of lemon, also for color and appearance. The plate is then placed in the fridge until the dolma is cold. This heavenly meal is eaten with a little lemon juice sprinkled over each piece. The filling described here is also used to stuff mussels and shellfish that are also eaten cold.
Note: Since the ingredients are "wrapped," not "stuffed," this dish should be "yalancı sarma," not "yalancı dolma." However, when olive oil is used to prepare a cold vegetable dish, for some reason it is not called "sarma," perhaps because the same filling is also used to fill zucchini, green peppers, tomatoes, and egg plant. They are cooked and cooled the same way, and also served with a little lemon. These "yalancı dolma" and are very tasty and popular.
Börek: kıymalı ("with ground beef") or peynirli ("with cheese"). The name börek applies to any recipe of THIN sheets of dough (Filo) containing one or more layers of a filling of something. Sometimes the dough is wrapped around the filling. If the dough is THICKer, it is called "Pide."
For meat filling, begin by frying two diced onions with fresh parsley, spicing them with salt and pepper. When the onions are "dead" - a Turkish term, meaning when the onions are cooked, add lean ground beef and a little margarine to the mixture to keep it juicy. When the meat is no longer red, remove the mixture from the frying pan into a dish. For cheese filling, prepare a mixture of feta and cottage cheese together with fresh parsley and salt. The idea here is to add enough cottage cheese so that it blends with and melts the feta cheese when the mixture is baked, but not so much that it becomes liquid. Both mixtures are then rolled separately in two or three layers of ready folio sheets to produce rods that are about a foot long and 1.5 inches in diameter.
Place each rod into a flat tray which is greased with molten margarine. As a final touch, brush molten margarine over each rod and shove the tray into the oven. The börek is baked at 300 degrees until the outer layers turn light brown and crisp. Each rod is then cut to about 5-inch pieces and eaten hot, and later also at room temperature. You may serve hot çay (tea) with this treat.
Pide: kıymalı or peynirli. On days when he feels like it, Father prepares a variety of pide - thick dough layers - that is very popular in Turkey for late breakfast on Sundays. The filling is the same one used for börek. He starts with frozen pieces of off-the-shelf bread dough which are left outside - usually overnight - until they turn soft and start to swell. Father divides each dough piece into 3 equal parts. He stretches and rolls each piece into a size that is about 20 inches long and 5 inches wide. This flat bread is called "pide," whereas Turkish bread, that looks like the French and Italian bread, is called "ekmek." Turkish bread fresh out of the oven is the tastiest bread there is. We found such a bread at a Jewish deli near us in Miami Beach, the first time after 38 years. The bread is so tasty that people often eat it alone with Turkish Kaşar cheese - like Italian provolone - and/or with olives, chasing it with hot çay.
The ground beef and/or cheese mixtures that are used for börek are ready in two separate dishes. Father uses a spoon to distribute each liberally lengthwise in the pide. Then he wraps the two sides of the pide over the mixture and pinches them together so that the top remains closed during baking. The wrapped pide is about 2.5 inches wide. He places the pide in the tray after he is done with it, about 4 or 5 in each tray. Then he uses a kitchen brush to spread molten margarine over each piece and shoves the tray into the oven where it bakes at 300 degrees until the pide turns golden and is chewy-crisp like pizza bread. Each pide is cut into about four five-inch pieces and chased with hot çay.
Karnı Yarık. The name translates (unappetizingly) to "split stomach," but fortunately the operation is performed on an egg plant. This very tasty meal requires careful preparation of the egg plant, to avoid the bitter taste otherwise. The filling used for pide and börek is also used here. Mother begins with about a dozen 4 to 5- inch-long eggplants, of the size and shape of zucchini. (The "boxer glove" like eggplants sold in America are too large to cook evenly, and they contain too many seeds which give the cooked eggplant a bitter taste, so require longer soaking in salt water.)
First prepare the eggplant, by peeling off part of the skin in long strips to reduce the bitter taste. The rest of the skin is left intact to keep the eggplant together when cooked, and to add color. The eggplants are then cut in half lengthwise and placed in salty water for about 1/2 hour until the water turns black. Discards the water and rinse the eggplants. Quick-fry them in vegetable or olive oil until they turn pink and soft but remain intact. Then place the eggplants on paper towels to remove the excess oil and spread them flat into a tray. They are now soft enough to be "split" into small containers. If there are still too many seeds, remove them. Fill each container liberally by the mix of ground beef that is used also for börek and pide. Slices of tomato and green peppers are placed on the eggplants, to add color and flavor. Add 1.5 cups of water to the tray, seal it all around with aluminum paper and cook it at 300 degrees for about one-half hour. This is a delicious dish.
Pilaf (etli = with meat). Mother begins with a package of lean stew meat. She removes most of the fat out and cuts the larger chunks into bite-size pieces. She puts the meat into a pot and adds a diced onion - one medium onion for about 2 pounds of beef - salt, pepper, and some oregano and stirs the mixture well. This mixture is cooked slowly over low heat until the meat loses its juice and becomes extra tender. She stirs the mixture about twice during the entire process, to insure that the meat is cooked evenly. She leaves it on the oven until the meat starts sizzling. The idea here is to add a slight "broiled" taste to the cooked meat, which takes about two hours. Mother adds more oregano toward the end.
Next, Mother boils the water for the pilaf. She uses long-grain Uncle Bens or Mahatma rice. When the water boils, mother adds the meat and rice and mixes them well. She spices the mixture with salt and pepper and cooks it over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally toward the end. When done, she turns off the heat and gently stirs the pilaf. Then she covers it with a towel to allow the rice to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Pilaf (tavuklu = with chicken). This is a more elaborate version of the meat pilaf. Large chunks of boneless chicken are boiled until they become tender and ready to eat. The broth is saved and mixed half-and-half with water - to reduce the fat content - to cook the rice. When the water boils, Mother adds the chicken, rice, chopped fresh parsley, raisins, pine nuts, and a touch of lemon juice. She spices the mixture with salt and pepper and other herbs, like Italian seasoning. She cooks and simmers this pilaf dish as she does the meat pilaf.
Çerkez Tavuk. The Çerkez (Circassian, derived from Turkic Cherkess) are a subculture of people of Northwest Caucasus, including Georgia but specifically of Adyghe, Abkhaz, and linguistically vanished Ubykh near the Turkish border. So this dish is essentially "Chicken Çerkez style." It is prepared with the breast meat of the chicken. The meat is boiled until it is ready to eat. To prepare the sauce, pour into the blender a cup of milk, 1/2 cup chicken broth, 2 cups of walnuts, and the insides of 2 or 3 large slices of white bread, salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder. Blend the mix at fine level, until all is blended, adding milk to insure that the sauce is thick and smooth, not crunchy. Spread the meat in layers in a deep serving dish, pouring the sauce over each layer. Finally, sprinkle a little paprika and arrange a few fresh parsley leaves for looks. Because this dish is always eaten cold, it is left in the fridge until it cools. It is an acquired taste, but do try it..
Fish in Olive Oil. Start with about 5 large filets of Halibut or similar fish. (The skin must be removed.) The filets are cut in large chunks that are 3 to 4 inches in length and 1 or 2 inches wide. Next, slice 4 potatoes, 3 onions, 2 carrots, 1 green pepper, 2 tomatoes, and 1 lemon and add sections of one round garlic. After mixing the vegetables, place the fish and vegetables in layers in the tray; distribute fresh parsley, 1/2 cups of cut almonds, a small jar of mushrooms, oregano, and bay leaves on each layer. Then sprinkle the dish with salt and pepper and pour over it evenly a cup of olive oil mixed with corn oil, also adding 1.5 cups of water. Covers the tray with aluminum paper and bakes the dish at 350 degrees for one hour.
This dish may be eaten hot or cold. If hot, the aluminum paper is removed and the contents are left to simmer for a few minutes. To eat it cold, arrange the contents into a large serving dish and cool the dish in the fridge. This recipe may be an acquired taste for an American, but once the taste is acquired, it is one of the most delicious ways of eating filets of fish.
Leg of Lamb. Prepare the meat by trimming the fat. Then, sprinkle it all around with salt, pepper, and oregano. Place the meat on a tray and cover it with slices of onions, about half-a-dozen bay leaves, and lots of mushrooms. Bakes the meat at 350 degrees until it is well done. (Note that if the lamb is not cooked well-done, it emanates a distinct, perhaps unpleasant, odor.) Depending on the size of the meat, you may need to cover it during the last half-hour of baking at 350 degrees, to prevent the meat from drying; no nmeed to cover the meat if cooked at 300 degrees.
Fried Fish, Smelts. To prepare the flour mix as a coating for the fish, pour about 2 cups of regular flour into a bowl and add salt, pepper, oregano, chopped almonds, crumbled bay leaves, and basil. Mix these well and transfer the flour onto paper towels spread on a tray. Any fish that is cut in large filets will do for this dish, though some taste better than others. Dip the fish in the flour until the meat is covered. Then place the pieces into a hot frying pan with half olive oil and half vegetable oil. She fries the filets until they are medium brown. When done, remove them from the pan and place them on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
If the fish used for this dish are small fish, like smelts, the flour mix is poured into a plastic bag with the fish. The bag is then shaken until the fish are covered by the mix. Fry the fish to golden brown. I eat them without removing the head and tail, with a little lemon juice.
Anne's Kval Tağaney. This is the phonetic spelling for a very popular (ethnic) Lâz dish. Melt about 2 spoons margarine in a large frying pan. Add a combination of provolone and/or mozzarella, feta and cottage cheese to it. While the mixture melts and becomes gummy, add garlic and salt for flavor and small broken chunks of homemade hard-and-salty corn bread for texture. (Martha's Corn Meal produces the best results.) The mixture is stirred lightly until all the ingredients blend. The dish is served hot.
Baklava. Like the "döner" sold as gyro in America, the "baklava" that Americans know would be rejected in Turkey. A good baklava is never soggy; it is kept and eaten at room temperature; it dissolves in the mouth. Even in Turkey, the baklava prepared by only two outlets, Hacı Bekir and Güllüoğlu, are considered the best of the best, though some home-made baklava is also good. Mother is not an expert, but her baklava is the best we have eaten in the States.
Begin the works in 3 phases: 1) the nut filling mix, 2) the syrup, and 3) the baklava layers. Pour into a blender a 5-pound bag of hazel nuts, about one teaspoon sugar, and 1/2-teaspoon cinnamon powder. Grade the mix until the nuts are of small granular size. (This may have to be done in several sessions to make sure that there are no large chunks left.) Next, prepare the syrup by adding about 2.5 cups of sugar to 1.25 cups of boiling water. (Honey may be substituted in part.) The syrup should be thick enough to form a droplet when poured from a spoon. While the syrup cools, prepare the layers.
Next, grease the bottom and sides of a flat rectangular tray with molten margarine. Open a box of strudel leaves - ready Athens Fillo - and spread 2 thin sheets into the tray, carefully, without tearing the sheets, at least not excessively. Brush molten margarine on the top sheet and pour some of the nut mix sporadically over it. Then place 2 sheets on top of that layer and repeat this process until you have about 20 layers - 40 sheets of Fillo. Brush molten margarine on the top sheet and place the tray into the oven. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour, until the top layer is medium brown.
Finally, take the tray out and place it on a table. Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava all the way thorough, either diagonally or in straight lines, to produce pieces that are about 1.5 to 2 inches in all dimensions. (Care must be taken not to damage the top sheet and the layers excessively while cutting.) Then pour the syrup evenly over the baklava, making sure that it seeps through the cuts to all the layers, evenly but without drowning them. The baklava is then cooled and eaten at room temperature. The remaining portion is left outside to maintain its flakiness for several days during which it should be eaten. (Baklava should never be kept in the fridge, which would make it soggy, doughy, and chewy.)
Laz Böreği. This is a fine desert (similar to bread pudding in USA) of the Laz people of Eastern Black Sea in Turkey. In a pot, melt a stick of margarine and add to it 4 cups of milk, 4 eggs, 3/4 cupsof white flour, 1 cup of sugar, some salt and (more) pepper to taste. Mix these under medium heat until the ingredients are thickened. Pour the mix into a serving bowl and put it in the oven for about 10 min, turning on broil for the last 5 min. until the top is brown. Cool down and serve while warm.