Binnur's Turkish Cookbook - Delicious, healthy and easy-to-make Ottoman & Turkish recipes

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Spinach Cake

(Ispanakli Kek)

Spinach Cake
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
~500 gr spinach, roots cut off*, washed, drained
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder

For on top:
1 cup whipped cream

3L Pyrex

Puree the spinach in a food processor, put aside. Whisk the egg and sugar in the mixer or by hand. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, vanilla extract and pureed spinach in it and mix. Then add flour and baking powder. Mix for a few minutes. Pour into the oiled Pyrex.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Check with a toothpick to see if it's done, bake until it comes out clean. It takes about 30 minutes.

Let it cool down, then take it out of the Pyrex. Cut off the sides about 1 inch wide, and mix these using a blender to get them in powder form, put aside. Place the cake on a service plate. Spread whipped cream on the top, then sift the powdered cake on top of the cream. Slice it up and serve.

* Don't throw away the roots of the spinach, instead make Spinach Root Salad.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Apple Compote

(Elma Kompostosu)

Apple Compote
2 red apples, peeled, seeds discarded and seed bed removed, sliced
3 or 4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup water

Cook all the ingredients in a medium sized pot until the apples are fork tender. Let it cool down and store in the fridge. Serve with any meal with Pilaf or after meals as a light dessert.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Make this compote especially if the apples you have are tasteless, which is what I do:)

* If you like, add a few cloves instead of vanilla while it is cooking, then add a pinch of cinnamon before serving:)


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stuffed Dried Eggplants with Walnuts

(Cevizli Kuru Patlican Dolmasi)

Stuffed Dried Eggplants with Walnuts
12 dried eggplants

100 g medium ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 tbsp rice, washed, drained
1 tsp red pepper paste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp mint
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp walnuts, crumbled
4-5 tbsp water

1 tbsp crushed tomatoes, canned + 1 cup warm water
1 tbsp butter, in small pieces

Soak the dried eggplants in hot water for half an hour and drain. Meanwhile mix all the stuffing ingredients with a tablespoon in a bowl. Stuff the eggplants with the filling using a teaspoon. Leave some space at the top though. Squeeze the tops of the eggplants together to close them up.

Arrange the eggplants in a medium-sized pot along with 1 cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp crushed tomatoes. Sprinkle butter pieces over the top. Put a small plate upside down over the Dolma - this is to prevent the tops from opening during cooking. Cover the lid halfway and cook over medium-low heat until a little bit juice is left. Serve Yogurt with Garlic on the side.

Makes 3-4 servings.

You can find dried eggplants, dried pepper or dried okra at local Turkish Grocery Stores.

Meal Ideas:
- Sweet Pea Soup and Dried Figs with Walnuts.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Turkish Bagel with Sesame Seeds


Turkish Bagel with Sesame Seeds
7 gr dried instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour, unbleached
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup lukewarm water

For on top:
Some water in the medium size bowl
One bowl of sesame seeds

In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Stir well so the yeast dissolves. Let it rest for 15 minutes - it will become bubbly.

In the meantime, place flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl to prepare them for making the dough. Add the bubbly yeast mixture and 3/4 cup lukewarm water in it slowly while kneading. Put the dough on the counter and knead 15 minutes, until it becomes very smooth. Don't flour the counter to knead the dough!

Grab a large bowl and oil the inside with 1 tablespoon liquid oil. Put the dough inside (picture). Cover it with plastic saran wrap. Leave it at room temperature for about 1 hour for it to double in size (picture).

Put the dough on the counter and punch it to release the air. Give it a baton bread shape. Cut into 6 pieces with a knife and give each a ball shape (picture). Cover them with plastic wrap again. Let them rest for 20 minutes on the counter.

Make 40 cm long strips with each dough ball. Then stick the ends of the strips together to make a ring shape (picture).

Place some water in a large bowl* and dip the rings in it, then dip them into the sesame seed bowl. Cover them equally with sesame seeds (picture).

Place parchment paper on two oven trays. Arrange 3 rings on one and the other 3 on the other. Leave them like this for 45 minutes, they will rise more. If you don't want them as big, you can shorten the waiting time.

Preheat the oven to 450 F at least 20 minutes before you start baking. Spray some cold water on the sesame rings using a spray bottle, then place the two trays on the second rack of the oven side by side. After 7-8 minutes turn the heat down 425 F, this way they will become crunchy on the outside but soft inside. Bake for 18-20 more minutes and take them out. Serve them while they are warm.

Simit is generally served with feta cheese, olive oil and Turkish Tea for breakfast, supper or lunch. You can find it almost at every corner of the streets in Turkey, sold by street vendors, and you can also buy them off the shelf:)

This recipe makes 6 Simit.

* If you like, you can add 1 tbsp grape molasses in the water, I did not add it however.
** During baking, do not open the oven!
*** Simit is very delicious when they're fresh. After the first day you should store them in the fridge in sealed Ziploc bags for up to 3-4 days. Or you can also store them in the freezer for up to 3-4 weeks. To heat them up, place them in aluminum foil and broil in the oven for a few minutes.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Jerusalem Artichokes in Olive Oil

(Zeytinyagli Yer Elmasi)

Jerusalem Artichokes in Olive Oil
500 gr Jerusalem Artichokes, peeled, washed and cut in big chunks
1 onion, chopped
65 ml extra virgin olive oil (half for cooking, rest for after cooking)
1 small carrot, peeled, cut in bite sizes
2 tbsp rice, washed
1/4 cup dill, chopped (half for cooking, rest for garnish)
1/2 lemon juice
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1 1/2 cup hot water
1 tsp sugar

Saute the onion with olive oil in a medium sized pot for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients with 1 1/2 cup of hot water. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat with the lid covered. After about 15 minutes check the vegetables and water. If necessary, add a little bit more hot water.

Let it cool down first in the pot. Then, place it on a serving dish. Sprinkle the remaining half of the dill and pour the rest of the olive oil all over and serve the Jerusalem Artichokes in Olive Oil at room temperature or chilled.

Meal Ideas:
- Lady's Thighs Kofte, Couscous and Tahini & Grape Molasses.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tahini Bread

(Tahinli Ekmek)

Tahini Bread
7 gr instant yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk, warm
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 cup sugar

Start by mixing the filling ingredients. In a large bowl, melt the yeast with sugar and milk. Add in the butter and flour slowly, knead well. Cut the dough in 5 equal pieces with a knife. Roll out each piece until they are thin and a round shape (doesn't have to be perfectly round).

Spread the filling with a spoon on the doughs equally (picture). Roll them up (picture) and let them sit for 30 minutes at room temperature on the counter. Then hold with each hand the ends of the roll and swing them in circles to get it longer and thinner (picture). Then wrap them up like a cinnamon roll (picture).

Place parchment paper on an oven tray and arrange the doughs on it. Let them rest for 10 more minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake for about 30 minutes.

Tahini Bread is a traditional Turkish Pastry which you can find at every Patisserie in Turkiye. You can have this very tasty pastry with your afternoon tea or coffee:)


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Tahini & Grape Molasses

(Tahin Pekmez)

Tahini & Grape Molasses
1 cup tahini (ground sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup grape molasses (thick grape juice syrup)

Place the tahini in a deep bowl, then slowly add grape molasses and mix them well. This traditional Turkish dessert should be eaten with Turkish Bread (if not available, fresh French or Italian bread) for breakfast or as a dessert. We especially like to eat Tahin Pekmez on cold winter days, it gives energy and is very filling. My mother used to say "if you have it every morning, you will never feel the cold".

Tahini is very healthy, does not have cholesterol and lasts long. It also contains B vitamins and protein like milk.

Grape Molasses
Grape Molasses are a good source of energy and carbohydrates because of the high sugar content. It is ideal for daily doses of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium plus it contains lots of minerals.

You can purchase Tahini (Tahin) and Grape Molasses (Pekmez) from Turkish or Middle Eastern Grocery Stores or online at

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Istanbul Pilaf

(Istanbul Pilavi)

Istanbul Pilaf
1 chicken breast, ~150 gr, skinless, boneless, cut in cubes
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup hot chicken stock

2 tablespoonful almonds, blanched, slivered
2 tablespoonful pistachios, soaked in hot water, drained and peeled

1 pinch saffron, soaked in 3 tbsp warm water
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 cup hot chicken stock
2 tbsp butter

Melt 1 tsp of butter in a pot, add chicken cubes in and saute for about 2-3 minutes while stirring. Then add 1/4 cup chicken stock and cook until a little bit water is left. Put aside.

Roast almonds and pistachios in separate small pan for about 2-3 minutes. Put aside.

Wash the rice several times with warm water and drain. Then cover the rice with hot water and leave out for 15 minutes, drain. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cooking pot. Saute the rice with butter for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Pour 1 cup of hot chicken stock and soaked saffron with water in it. Season it with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cover. After 5 minutes add the lightly cooked chicken, almonds and pistachios and gently stir with a fork. Put the lid on again. Cook until the rice absorbs all the water.

Take the cooking pot away from the heat. Remove the lid, place a clean kitchen towel on the rim of the pot covering the top and cover. Let the Pilaf stand for about 5 minutes (we call this the brewing time) before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Raisin Compote, Celery Root in Olive Oil, Revani and Turkish Coffee.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Turkish Rustic Bread

(Köy Ekmeği)

Turkish Rustic Bread
Sourdough Starter:
1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp + 3 tbsp + 2 tbsp warm water

7 gr or 8 gr (1 packet) instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water

3 cup flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water

Getting the starter going takes a few days. On the first day, mix 1/4 cup flour with 3 tbsp warm water in a bowl very well and cover. Let it sit at room temperature.

On the second day, add 1/4 flour and 3 tbsp warm water, mix very well, cover. Let it sit at room temperature.

On the third day, add 1/4 cup flour and 2 tbsp warm water, mix well. Let it sit at room temperature.

The starter will be ready on the fourth day. In a small bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir well so the yeast dissolves. Let it rest for 10 minutes - it will become bubbly (picture).

Sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the bubbly yeast mixture, 1 cup warm water and the sourdough starter. Mix and put the dough on the lightly floured counter and knead well for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth.

Place the dough on a floured tray, sprinkle some flour over it (picture) and cover with a clean kitchen cloth. Let it stand in a warm spot*. After 2 hours the dough will double in size (picture).

Place the dough on the lightly floured counter. Press all over it with your hands to get rid of air bubbles (picture). Knead for about 3 minutes and give it an oval shape (picture). Sprinkle some flour all over, cover it with a clean kitchen cloth, and put aside for about 40-45 minutes until the dough doubles again in size.

If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle some cornmeal on it. If not, place parchment paper on an oven tray and sprinkle some cornmeal or some flour on it. Then gently arrange the loaf on it. With a razor or very sharp knife make a few 1 cm deep slashes on the dough (picture) for the steam to come out.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and put some hot water in an oven-safe bowl. Place it at the bottom of the oven. Place the tray on the middle rack. Bake for about 40 minutes. Place the Turkish Bread on the wire rack to cool it. Then slice and serve.

* I turn the oven 175 C for 5 minutes and then off. After 5 minutes it was warm enough to make the dough double in size so I placed the tray in the oven for 2 hours:)


Friday, January 05, 2007


(also known as Sahlep)

1 tbsp Salep, dried powdered roots of a mountain orchid (see below for more info)
1 teacup of milk, cold
Pinch of nutmeg

Cinnamon, powdered

Place Salep in a small saucepan. Slowly add the cold milk and nutmeg, stirring constantly over low heat. When it reaches a smooth consistency, remove from the stove.

Pour into a teacup and sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Serve while still hot.

What is Salep?

Turkey is the major Salep producing country. Salep is made from the dried powdered roots of a mountain salep orchid in the Eastern Mediterranean woods. Salep is a traditional Turkish hot drink which was also served during the reign of the Ottoman empire. The roots are rich in starch and the mixture thickens naturally. You can still taste salep, in summer time; famous Turkish Maraş ice cream is also made from salep!... it has a great aroma and smells delicious:)

We love to drink Salep on cold days. It also has medicinal traits, such as for sore throats. It has been used for a long time to treat chronic diarrhea, digesting problems and gum disease.

You can purchase Salep from local Turkish Grocery Stores or the following website:


Monday, January 01, 2007

Cabbage with Chicken


Cabbage with Chicken
1/2 head of cabbage, cut in medium-size chunks
4 pieces of chicken, dark or white
3 tbsp rice, washed and drained
1 red bell pepper, discard the seeds, cut in medium-size chunks
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red pepper paste
4-5 tbsp canned crushed tomatoes
1 tsp red pepper, crushed
Juice of half lemon
1 or 1 1/2 cup hot water

Place the cabbage in a large pot. Add the chicken pieces along with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook for about half an hour at medium heat. Check the water towards the end to see if more is needed. Don't put too much water in the beginning as the cabbage will leave water during cooking.

Makes 4 servings.

Meal Ideas:
- Potato Salad and Sekerpare.