Turkish Delights

Before I begin to offer my favourite Turkish recipes, I will share a few interesting facts about Turkish foods. Did you know that Turkey provides 70 percent of the world’s hazelnuts? Or that Mezze, a selection of small bits of foods, may include a thick roasted eggplant dip that is flavoured with garlic and lemon, a dip of yogurt with fresh chopped dill, or stuffed grape leaves known as “dolmas” that have rice, parsley, ground lamb, pine nuts, and lemon juice? You might have heard of “boereks”, which is a pie of thinly rolled flaky pastry that may be stuffed with cheese, meat, potatoes, or spinach. They are all just divine to eat!

Although I have never visited Turkey, I do have several friends that are from there. Thus, while we lived in the same town, we shared recipes.I have included a two from my collection of Turkish recipes for you to try!

Kebabs, which can be made of chicken or cubes of lamb meat, are grilled gently over wood. You may like to add a small tomato or pieces of onion between your meat. If you decide to make “koftas” you will be taking finely minced meat and mixing it with spices and onions and cooking it on a metal skewer until cooked. Here is a simple koftka recipe to try!

First preheat your oven to 350F. Next, saute in olive oil 1/2 pound of ground beef until brown, roughly about ten to fifteen minutes. Remove from stove when cooked and then place in a bowl in which you can add salt and Aleppo pepper. Stir in 3 tablespoons of finely chopped parsleyturkish-kebabs-1_2, 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, and 3 beaten eggs. Using your hands, place meat mixture around a well-greased metal skewer. Press together, about an inch thick, then place on a greased baking sheet. Once you have your skewers prepared, put them into the oven for about twenty minutes, or until browned. If you enjoy outdoor cooking, try using a grill and charcoal. Your meat will have a nice smokey flavour. You can also make this recipe without using the skewers.

Another favourite of mine is to make grape leaves stuffed with rice, parsley, and pine nuts. A traditional meze dish is called in Turkish, zeytinyagh yaprak sarma. This means vine leaves stuffed or rolled with olive oil.

First, I usually go to my grocery store and buy vine leaves in a bottle. If you are a gardener, you may grow your own vines. Either way, your vine leaves should be picked young. They are then soaked in brine. Thus, make sure you rinse off the salt before using. Otherwise, your dinner may be overly salty.

Next, I like to line an olive oiled deep braising pan with open vine leaves. Then I begin the preparation of my stuffed vine leaves. In a separate pan, with a bit of olive oil, I quickly brown uncooked, rinsed, white rice. I add my pine nuts to my rice, at a !:1 ratio.  I have already prepared chopped up parsley, so once my rice and pine nuts are browned, I then add my chopped up parsley. Then take this mixtudolmasre off the stove and let it cool.

For your final preparation, make sure you cut out the vein of each vine leaf before filling with your mixture of rice, pine nuts, and chopped parsley. Leaving the vein will make your meal tougher to eat.  I will gently add salt to my mixture. Once I roll each leaf up, stuffed with my mixture of rice, parsley, and pine nuts. I place them with the closed section down on the vine leaves that line the braising pan.  I completely fill up the bottom level of the pan, then add lemon juice. I may have a second layer of rolled stuffed vine leaves placed on top of the first layer. If I do this, then I place a heavy cast iron skillet on top. I make sure to add water to cover the vine leaves before placing my skillet on top. Finally, I place the lid on top and put the pan on a simmer for about an hour. Your rice will puff up and you should have a nice plateful of stuffed vine leaves. Use lemon slices to decorate your plate. It makes an awesome appetizer! Enjoy!

October 5th -Next Culinary Discussion


Greetings to all Foodies! We will be meeting in the Central Library Book Club room, located next to the Urban Eats Cafe, on Wednesday, October 5, from noon to 1 p.m. Our topic will be “Whole Grains.” Come and learn about whole grains and what you can make with them. All welcome!  Bring your recipes to share. Learn new ones. If you have any questions about this culinary discussion group, please call Spruce at (314) 539-0390 or email sfraser@slpl.org. Looking forward to meeting you.

Garlic Lover’s Delight

Garlic has been used by humans during prehistoric times. Although it was wild garlic, this plant has been harvested and stored for use for several months.  Apparently, remnants of garlic have been found in old cave paintings that are over 10,000 years old.

The Latin name for garlic is Allium sativum. What I find interesting about garlic is that it is rich in minerals, especially sulfur compounds.  It also contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin C.  Garlic is low in sodium, but high in protein and carbohydrates. It has been said that an average sized clove of garlic only has 2 calories.  garlic

I remember my mother always telling me to eat garlic when I had a cold. I am not sure why she said that, except that it would keep people away from me if they did not like garlic. According to medical literature, garlic is believed to lower cholesterol, control high blood pressure, and help prevent cancer.

My favourite way of eating garlic is fresh in a salad. Although I was taught to rub a cut piece of garlic along the inside of a wooden salad bowl, I usually ended up adding the garlic slices to my salad.

Another method of eating garlic is to roast it. If you bought a small unglazed garlic roaster, you can place your cloves of garlic inside it and then roast at 350F for fifteen minutes. The longer you roast your garlic clove, the more roasted it becomes.

One of my favourite ways to eat garlic is to make roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  First you take your garlic and roast it (see about method). At the same time you can be boiling a few potatoes in water until they are soft, which is when a knife can be gently removed from the potato.  Once the potatoes are cooked, I drain the cooking water off, add a few tablespoons of unsalted butter, milk, salt and freshly ground pepper. Some chefs prefer to to add sour cream and/or cream cheese. However, at this point, I simply add to my recipe the roasted cooked garlic. Mash everything together and serve right away. Yum!