I once created a cooking class, called 'Zen in the Kitchen'. Then wrote a book called the same. Then started the group with that name and the blog came after. All this happened in Turkish. Now is the time for the English version of it. Let's see what will cook here!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Turkish cuisine book in Dutch

Today I'd like to write about a book written on Turkish food by Karin Vaneker (with Pieter Ouddeken and Erwin Slaats). It's called "Verse Munt Lamsbout & Baklava". Karin Vaneker is a Dutch artist and culinary journalist. She interviewed Meliha Genco, a Turkish mother living in Amsterdam with her family. Meliha is originally from Gaziantep so many of the recipes in the book are from that region (Eastern Mediterranean). In the book you'll read the family's trip from Gaziantep to Amsterdam, a general article on Turkish cuisine, the ingredients that are used in Turkish cuisine. Recipe section starts with breads and pastries. Here you'll see corn bread, "lahmacun" a flat bread with a meat topping, "zeytinli borek", savory pastry with an olive filling and some other pastries. Soups include green and red lentil soups, yogurt soup, mung bean soup and bulgur soup, mostly from Gaziantep region. Rice dishes are called "pilav" in Turkish, so does similar bulgur dishes. In this section, you can see bulgur pilav with vermicelli, bulgur pilav with lentils, pilav with meat and spices. "Kofte" which means meatballs in Turkish are a special section. "Tartaarkofte", grilled kofte, lentil kofte are few. In the book you'll see varieties of pickles, Turkish sweets, kebaps, salads, vegetable and meat dishes all made by Meliha and her family. I especially love the photos. When you look at them, you see that they're made by and for the family. You see family members, ingredients, the process of making some of the dishes. I wish I could read it. I sincerely hope this book will be translated in many languages. Thank you for this enormous effort and putting together a beautiful book. I believe this book will show Dutch readers that Turkish cuisine is much broader and deeper than kebap and lahmacun!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Turkish Restaurant Week DC 2009

If you are in or near Washington DC (US) or are planning a trip to DC in the next weeks, here is good news:

There is a Turkish Restaurant Week, organized by Turkish American Association and sponsored by Turkish Cultural Foundation. Between September 18-26, 2009, you can taste traditional Turkish foods for $25 (four course) at the participating restaurants, watch cooking demonstrations where Chef Channon Mondroux cooks dishes from the Ottoman Palace. There is also a lecture by Chef Mondroux on Turkish and 16th Century Ottoman Cuisine. For more info please visit:

Saturday, August 01, 2009

First figs of the season

It's the time of the season, when black figs start appearing at the market stands. Just the image of them makes my mouth watering. I know the honeylike taste of them. Unfortunately, I don't know how to stop, when I start eating them. One, three, five, seven. Oh no, I should stop now. May be one more. Or two?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Year of Green, Seasonal Eating in Istanbul

Below, you can find a link to Jennifer Hattam's article A Year of Green, Seasonal Eating in Istanbul with lovely photos. You'll recognize the link for Zen in the Kitchen on the 11th photo, where she also talks about the olives. Yes, it's true that I cure my own olives and getting used to this taste, I can hardly buy cured olives. These are the olives I buy at Antalya farmers' markets to prepare to eat all year long. It's called "tavsanyuregi", rabbit heart because of the shape of it's stones:

Monday, May 04, 2009

Interview on Wild Edible Greens

Here is an article by Jane Tuna. She interviewed me on the wild greens of the Aegean:

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Broad beans and fennel spread

A little dish I created last week. By chance. Or lets put it this way, by imagination. Are you like me? I love imagining dishes before I try creating them. Sometimes I like the result, sometimes I don't. But usually they make me smile. This was one of them. I had broad beans (fava beans, for us, it's "bakla") I bought from the farmers' market. In Antalya, farmers who bring goods to the market, clean/unshell and sell them that way. Broad beans are among them in this season. But there is also the outer skin which is hard and not too pleasant to eat. So I discarded them as well. I had about 1.5 cups full of inner beauty. I also had a fennel bulb which I thought would be good with beans. So I cut them in pieces and add. Lovely spring onion bulbs helped with the aroma, 3 of them, cut in small pileces. Also 8-10 spring garlic cloves. Of course I added few tablespoons of virgin olive oil from our friends garden, a little black pepper, some seasalt. I had to add a little water, less than a cup. I covered the pan, cooked until all ingredients are soft. Waited a little bit and when it cooled down a little, I pureed it in the blender. There was a beautiful dish in front of me. A lovely, appealing green that's awaiting to be tasted. I toasted some of my homemade bread and started dipping in it. After a while I realized that I ate too much but who can blame me, it was too tasty...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homemade jam, for spring breakfasts

What is better than homemade jam? Homemade jam on homemade bread. Or homemade cake. I'm serious. And you know I'm serious.

The story began last week. I had a guest from Canada. We had no jam at home. But I had little time to make this easy, fragrant jam. (I call it jam but you may prefer to say jelly.) And yes, I had the ingredients. Two handfuls strawberries, two apples. That was enough for a jar of this lovely creation. I cut the green parts of strawberries, I peeled the apples and diced them. I wanted extra fragrance, something I used to do: Few cloves and a pinch of nutmeg would do it. And it did. I added 5 tablespoons of sugar. This was enough for me. If you prefer it sweeter, add some more. I covered the pot, boiled the jam, lowered heat and uncover. I cooked it for 10 minutes, not more. For the texture, I mashed the ingredients with a potato masher. And there it was, my fragrant little jam. I discarded the cloves and put the jam in a jar. And that was the end of the jam story.

What then? Then one day I wanted something sweet with my afternoon tea. Luckily -these days I'm the luckiest one since there is always cake at home which I bake once a week- I had my sugarless banana and peanut cake in the fridge. Yes, I didn't add any sugar. The sweetness comes from the bananas and the dried figs came as a gift from a friend. There it was, few slices of cake, few spoonfuls of jam and there I was, melted in the moment...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sea samphire

"As fall approaches and the rains begin to bring the parched landscape back to life, wild greens gradually begin to appear in the markets of Bodrum. It takes a bit of knowledge to fully perceive the variety of greens, because the piles of greens on the tables, which seem fairly uniform at first glance, actually contain many different herbs. Collected by village women from gardens, fields, plains and mountains, they are priced according to their availability and where they were collected." These are the beginning sentences of my article called "Wild Greens Popular in Bodrum". As I boiled sea samphire this afternoon, I was thinking of my Bodrum days. The months I lived happily in the beautiful Bodrum, a Turkish coastal town. In those years (1987-9), Bodrum people didn't know much about sea samphire. It was known by Ayvalık people though. So I wrote these sentences: "The real season for deniz börülcesi or samphire is spring; although it is available in the autumn, the most tender shoots are available in spring and summer, and I attribute its appearance in November in Bodrum to lack of knowledge among the venders. It is interesting that while samphire is very popular along the strip of coast from Ayvalık to İzmir, in Bodrum there were people who didn’t know what was three or four years ago. When I asked the vendors what to do with it, how to cook it, they didn’t know. At that time it was sold at only a few tables in the market. They had seen someone collecting it, and collected it themselves from the seasides to make some money. But in Ayvalık, eyes shine at the mention of samphire, and they can give you a host of recipes for it. Samphire is boiled whole and drained. Then the central hard stringy part is pulled out, and it is served with a yogurt sauce, or with olive oil, lemon and garlic."
This time, I will serve it with a garlic tomato sauce I just made with the pink tomatoes I froze last fall. May be I'll add some yogurt, which I believe enhances the taste of this brilliant green. (This article is translated by my friend Bob. Thanks Bob, for the wonderful job you did with this and all the articles at the web site.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mouth watering pickles

They really are mouth watering. Crispy, sour, tasty. They're from a Lebanese restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Perhaps not the greatest restaurant on earth but these pickles definitely won me!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Four days with Chef Michael Smith

I was very fortunate to work with Chef Michael Smith and the film crew (all wonderful people, director Herrie ten Cate, supervisor producer Dugald McLaren, camera person Dean Skerrett ve sound magician Bruce Thomsen) in Istanbul. I was chosen to be the "fixer" for their Istanbul filming for the tv series CHEF ABROAD. This program is produced by Ocean Entertainment and is shown on Canada Food Network. Not only there but at 70+ countries worldwide. We filmed at various locations. One of the places we filmed at was Ciya Kebap, a worldly known restaurant in Istanbul. Owner of the restaurant Chef Musa Dagdeviren showed us many different natural leaveners that are used to make bread. We loved all the bread he made for us. I do hope that readers of this blog will be able to watch this program since it shows many aspects of Turkish hospitality and the variety of breads and wonderful foods (and a drink) made of wheat/wheat flour.