As it’s well-known that I love cooking and cookbooks, and so I am fortunate to be given interesting publications from time to time. Including one called simply Turkish Cookery which can be an inspiring start to finding a new recipe.
There’s only one problem, the 1992 book from Net Turistik has its own style of English to work around. The pictures of the food always look very authentic Turkish food even if the names of the dishes may be lost in translation – how do you fancy an egg dish called woman’s thigh for example?
As you’d expect, there’s a good number of lamb (mutton) dishes and a recipe for ‘meat with bones cut from the loin’ caught my eye as it included pairing the meat with dill. More usually associated with fish, dill is a lovely soft herb and, hoping that this wasn’t simply a mistake, I was interested to see how it went with the new season lamb.
A quick google search revealed that this combination is quite common in other parts of the world including Sweden where lamb, lemon and dill seems popular. So, translating ‘3 salads’ to handfuls of baby spinach, and adding in some potato to make this a one pot dish – I cam up with a whole new recipe.
On a couple of recent business trips to Istanbul I’ve been fortunate to stay in a residence where an amazing breakfast spread was prepared from the small kitchen each day.
Cheeses, fruit, meat all laid out – plus some baked tasty, freshly-made that morning pastries of a different style every day but usually involving egg or cheese. The city that truly never sleeps has a great tradition of morning baked goods with shops and cafes selling filled pastries opening early in the day.
As the rest of the household slept, I ventured in to see what was cooking one morning and got this instruction on making the delicious hot cheese and dill pastries while sipping chai and being invited to take these pictures.
It starts with spreading out the large sheets of very thin floured pastry which is sold fresh.
Next comes the filling, but first each of the large sheets are cut into four squares. As far as I know, the exact ingredients aren’t easily available in the UK (or maybe they are in large cities with a Turkish population) but I think it would be possible to create something very similar using filo pastry and a 50/50 mix of mozerella cheese (in place of the stringy Turkish version) and a slightly sharper, harder cheese such as feta. It takes about half a cup of each plus a generous handful of dill only in the centre of the squares.
Finally, each quarter is folded over itself before being brushed by bean egg and sprinkled with seseme seeds. It’s te little touches of seseme seeds or poppy seeds that really add to the pastry’s flavours. They are then cooked in a medium oven for about 10mins until golden on the top and gooey within. Serves hot. What could be a better start to a busy day!