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Everything posted by sazji

  1. Estağfurullah! N'oldu ki, bi yemek yedik yani...
  2. I got a bunch of stuff today! It's been interesting doing this blog; and good for me because I'm not always extremely good at approaching perfect strangers. But this has forced me to. I've had only one really negative reaction and that was this morning at our neighborhood yufkacı (maker of yufka which is more or less like phyllo). I had hoped to take pictures of the rolling out and preparation process as it's fairly interesting. The guy was having none of it, he said "Is this some sort of commercial?" (meaning commercial for me...?) I told him nobody was making any money off this but he said "ahhh, but you'll find your way to profit from it....forget it!" I've been in the shop many times before but never met the owner, it was always a young and very nice woman who helped me there. I imagine if I'd known the owner and not been a complete stranger he would have been more than glad to hear what this was really about. Still I was just a bit hesitant when I asked at the Hatay food store in Aksaray if I could take pictures for a "web diary." But generally people who specialize in something are proud of what they are doing and like to talk about it; the owner was happy to get a bit of exposure. I told him I couldn't promise him any instant profit but he might get some curious "pis boğaz" (literally "dirty throats," the Turkish equivalent to "foodie") at some time in the future. So here's his storefront - sorry for the tilt - he's on the last street to the west behind the Aksaray Metro Station, right on the corner, if you are in Istanbul, give him a visit and say Bob sent you! He was curious to know if there were similar stores in the U.S. and were non-Turks really interested in this kind of stuff? Here, aside from certain things that have become pan-Turkish, most people pretty much stick to what was familiar. They were shocked to learn that I knew what sürk was (see below) and even more so that I actually liked it. To prove the point, he asked three people who came in buying run-of-the-mill items if they knew what sürk was, each time they said "no," he looked satisfied and said "işte, gördün mü?!" (There, you see?!). They invited me to share their çiğ köfte or "raw köfte." This is made of pounded meat, pepper paste and bulgur. The version best known in Turkey is the one from Urfa, it is dark, loaded with hot pepper, and generally served either wrapped in lavash or eaten rolled in a lettuce leaf with a squeeze of lemon. The Antakya version is much milder, and is eaten along with this cooked meat "sauce." You take the köfte and drag it through the sauce and get what you can on it. It was quite good. The told me that right down the street was a restaurant (which he owned) specializing in Antakya style kebap and home cooking. Next week I'll go try it. This little neighborhood is populated mostly by people from the area around Urfa and Antakya, which is reflected in the restaurants and shops on the street. Antakya, or Antioch as it is known in English, is in Turkey's Hatay region, the little "tail" projecting down towards/into Syria. It has some of the most interesting food in the country, a blend of Anatolian and Levantine influences. One of the more unusual specialties of the area is sürk cheese. This is a sheep's milk cheese that is mixed with hot pepper and other spices, salted and aged. It tastes very sheepy, and is extremely sharp. It's served as a meze, or appetizer, grated, with olive oil drizzled on the top. A little goes a long way. If the regular one isn't corrosive enough, there is a küflü (moldy) variety available too; now I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of it. They sold their own yogurt, made in flat pans, tepsi in Turkish. I hadn't thought of getting any but Ferda thought we should. I'm glad she suggested it; it's hands down the best and most velvety smooth yogurt I've ever bought in Istanbul. I'll be getting more yogurt from there! I'm eating it as I write... One of the things people from various regions seem most attached to are dairy products from home. Factors like climate, what the cows/sheep/goats eat and local methods mean that often nothing else quite tastes "right." Besides yogurt and sürk, this shop sold a variety of other local cheeses. The most interesting of the two were örgü peyniri (braid cheese) and ip peyniri, or "rope cheese." The braid cheese is familiar to me (see my avatar)... ...but the rope cheese was new. Both of these, as well as a cheese that was obviously flattened into irregular rounds in the palms of the hands, are kept in strong brine. Before using, one pours boiling water over them and lets them sit for 15-20 minutes. They lose some of their salt and become softer. Another cheese is lor, various versions of which exist all over the country and in Greece as well, where it is known as mizithra. Behind it is butter, also from Hatay. Another specialty of the area is their version of kabak tatlısı, squash sweet. This is completely different from the common version served around Turkey; the squash pieces are first soaked in lime water. Quicklime is dissolved in water and allowed to boil out and settle, the water is then skimmed off and the squash is soaked in this, then washed well, and boiled in sugar syrup. The result is that the squash doesn't get mushy, it has a delicate crispness that is very hard to describe. The interior is translucent. This process is used on other fruits as well, notably on green walnuts (though I like the non-limed version better) and on the island of Tenedos/Bozcaada off the Aegean coast, tomatoes. And no Antakya grocery would be complete without a selection of peppers. Here are various grades of Maraş pepper, as well as sumak, pepper pastes, and a big bag of isot on the left. My food buddy Ferda didn't have lots of extra time so we had to make sure we had time to eat. We went next door to the kebap restaurant "Asmalı Edessa" (Edessa with the Vines). Edessa is the ancient Greek name for the city of Urfa, less than an hour from the Syrian border. It's a statement about the people in the southeast especially, and in Turkey in general, that if you go to a restaurant more than once, you are treated like old friends, you are greeted at the door with handshakes and welcomes, everyone will come to say hello. At a place like this, asking if I could take a picture in the kitchen was merely a formality! Here the cook is roasting some hot peppers. If you go here in the summer you will find the special short green peppers brought from Urfa; they are quite hot with an incredibly rich flavor. Unfortunately they are not available in the winter; the peppers we had were decent and supplied the heat but were not nearly so good as the others. As soon as you order they bring a series of side dishes. Here are lebeni, yogurt with boiled whole wheat kernels and chickpeas; a finely chopped salad with pomegranate molasses, pickled red cabbage, and bulgur pilaf. There were also onions with oil and isot pepper, and a plate of parsley and lemon wedges. The only thing that really disappointed me was the salad; it's usually great but today it tasted like it was chopped the day before...and it looks like it too. Seeing me taking pictures of everything, the waiter said "don't you want your picture taken as well?" We are drinking şalgam, a drink that really took me some getting used to. As in, the first time I tried it, I almost hurled. It's made of turnips, black (dark red) carrots, water, salt and bulgur, which is left to ferment. The aroma is wonderful; it reminds me almost of cranberry, but the drink is salty and sour, like pickle juice, and there are hot peppered versions as well. It's something that you have to try at least once. I also had an içli köfte (stuffed köfte) for an appetizer. This is a meat and onion filling, sometimes with finely chopped walnuts, in a shell of fine bulgur kneaded with pounded meat and pepper paste, then deep fried. As it was Ferda's first time here, we ordered a mixed kebap to get a good variety. This included patlıcanlı kebap (eggplant kebap) - eggplant interspersed with unspiced ground lamb; Urfa kebabı, a spiced lamb mixture but with no hot pepper; Adana kebabı, similar to Urfa kebabı but with heat; kuzu şiş (marinated lamb on a skewer); tavuk şiş (marinated chicken breast on a skewer), kanat (chicken wings); and ciğer (liver). We also got a side of one of my favorite things, grilled whole onions in pomegranate molasses. The onions are cooked till sweet and a bit caramelized but not mushy, the molasses is fruity and sour. Ferda was in ecstasy! Well, if we'd had room we would have ended the meal with künefe, but we didn't...so sorry there is no picture of that! (I was actually looking forward to taking that picture...) But I have visitors coming soon, a good camera now, so it may show up in the "What did you eat for dessert" thread in the near future... As it was a beautiful sunny day today and those are at a premium this time of year, I decided to walk home. The Fatih district up on the next hill was glowing in the setting sun and light haze, and I liked the contrast between the vaguely mysterious look of it at a distance and the up close and pedestrian... Tomorrow is the last day of this blog, I'll try and do something nice!
  3. Well, let me just weigh in here and say that there is disgusting lokum to be had in Turkey as well. Really there is hardly anything here that someone hasn't found a way to make more cheaply and with lower quality. But of most things you can usually still find the decent version as well. I would go for pistachio myself, though a good walnut is not to be sneezed at. Rose I find to be a bit cloying. I do like mastic, and one winter specialty (which unfortuntely cannot be shipped so don't get any hopes up!) is kaymaklı, where the kaymak is sandwiched between two thin pieces of usually mastic lokum. Then there is the saray lokumu, a long sausage type with walnuts down the middle (different from the cevizli sucuk made with grape juice) and usually rolled in shredded coconut... I just got a call confirming a lunch date for kebab at restaurant in the "Little Urfa" (my appelation) neighborhood in Aksaray. Expect some nice food photos tonight.
  4. Do I dare get into this one? Actually I remember writing about gyros/shwarma/döner somewhere else but I couldn't find a post from me in this thread so here goes. I won't get into who the first one was to stack the meat vertically, cause I don't know. Iskender, as wannabechef mentioned, was invented in Bursa and is named after its creator. Was he inspired by someone/something else? Possibly. But it's called iskender kebabı in Turkey because of him. The original restaurant is still there. And it's expensive. By the way, the photo submitted as "iskender" didn't look like iskender to me; it looked like a plain portion over rice. Iskender is generally strips of döner laid over cubes of toasted pide, topped with tomato sauce, with melted butter poured over the whole thing, and a blob of yogurt on the side. It's more or less a döner version of "yoğurtlu kebap," which is available in many kebabçıs. The most amazing one I ever had was at an Antep place near Fındıkzade in Istanbul. That could change of course. (Antep has become my Mecca in recent years...I'll have to make a pilgrimage soon, and will also have to either diet a month before I go or take a couple pairs of bigger size pants when I do...) As far as I'm aware, in Greece all the döner (gyros, means the same thing) is now the slice version, and the most common meat seems to be pork. When I lived there in the mid 70s, they still had the ground meat version and I remember a wonderful one in Thessaloniki on Aristotelous square that is long gone... A scandal emerged that some gyros vendors were using the ground version to get rid of bad meat, so it was outlawed. I've been back several times but have not seen the ground meat version for sale so I assume this has not changed. As for food poisoning - I'm sure it happens; I've had "the gurgles" twice from döner but always during hot spells in the summer, which leads me to believe that it was not from the meat (which, being on a grill anyway, shouldn't really be affected) but rather from the chopped lettuce and tomatoes that sit out in the heat waiting to be put in a sandwich. I remember hearing that gyros is not allowed in some states in the US because of concerns about lukewarm meat in the middle. Can anyone confirm that? The thing that drives me nuts in the US is that generally they don't let it brown on the grill! I.e. instead of cooking it vertically and cutting it as it as it browns (building up a bit of a reserve for the rush times), they tend to hack it off the spit and fry it. This rather defeats the purpose...? As for serving - my personal preference is a tossup between "pide" (which in Turkey is a thick chewy bread that is cut crosswise, it has no natural pocket) or "dürüm," in which it's wrapped in lavash with some tomato, lettuce and pickles if you are lucky, as well as a few fried potatoes. In Greece it used to be with a splash of yogurt, tomatoes and onions, salt and sometimes a bit of red pepper, and sometimes some mustard. They were generally small, you might easily eat two. Or not. The intensely fatty sour cream "tzatziki" that they fill them with in the US is (to me) disgusting, and the portion size is absurd. Now they are going the same route in Greece - rich sauces, big portions. This seems to be the trend across the board, not just in gyros and souvlaki. Is it any wonder Greece now has the highest rate of childhood obesity in Europe and almost every other person seems now to be overweight?
  5. Hehe I'm glad I've caused an addiction! Okay, let's see - yes as I suck on a piece of loğusa şekeri there is definitely cinnamon in it! I can't detect the red pepper but maybe. That's the stuff. I was actually surprised when the batch I got was not in diamond shapes; it's the first time I've ever seen it in squares. Thanks for doing the search! I think the reason the açma had no hole is that it was a large one. Usually they are more or less round with at least the idea of a hole in the middle, though they often rise to fill it. The stuffed simit are a new innovation, about 3-4 years old, and they aren't round. Those aren't sold on the street, only at the "simit sarayı" type chain establishments. But the traditional ones are still the same. Poppyseed paste - I've only had it in one thing, a "çörek" from Safranbolu that was layered with that and chopped walnuts and was wonderful, not sweet at all. I did a short web search and didn't find much more than that for it. But I'll ask around. The burner things: one often comes with stoves, which also have a small burner for the Turkish coffee pot; but they are sold in most street markets here as well. The thick one is sort of a "flame tamer;" I use it when I cook in a thinner-walled pot. Perhaps I should start exporting them? Dried peppers and eggplant are used mostly for stuffing. You simmer them for around 5 minutes, and stuff them with whatever favorite filling you would use for other dolma/sarma. My all-time favorite is the style from Mardin, I'll post a recipe. For it to be right though you need pepper paste and isot, the dark roasted-oiled pepper from Urfa. If you have a Turkish grocery there you should be able to find both. The eggplant is a little tough compared to fresh. The peppers are sometimes hot, you never know. You can use them in all sorts of vegetable dishes, soups. You can crumble them, or if they have gotten a little humidity, just cut them up with scissors. I used them in my lentil-bulgur spluck I posted earlier. (Which by the way was great with the pickles, it was just what it needed...) Other than that I just stuff them!
  6. What are these? ← This is called loğusa şekeri, or "loğusa sugar." A loğusa is a woman who has just given birth. This sugar is served to people visiting a woman who has given birth. (I think it's also given to the woman herself to give her strength.) I asked what the red color was from, the guy at the spice shop didn't know. It has some clove in it for sure. Yeah, quinces are an unappreciated fruit in much of the west. Rarely available and when they do show up it's often not very good varieties. After peeling, quartering and coring three large quinces, I melted this sugar in some water, packed the quince quarters into the pot, then filled with water to just cover. To keep them under the liquid at first (because they want to float) I put a plate on top of the pan. When it boiled it went all over the place Simmer them till they are tender but not falling apart, about 15-20 minutes at most, then let cool in the syrup. You can use the syrup for another batch if you have it left over. There is another quince sweet that is boiled along with the seeds etc. so that it gets very thick, jelled; maybe even baked in that liquid, I"m not sure. It shows up at sweet shops. To my taste it's just way too sweet. After making quince jelly, the remaining pulp can be boiled down till it is very thick, then spread in a pan to set. This is cut into diamonds and packed with bay leaves. I've had it mostly from Greeks and Armenians (who would make a "sandwich" with a couple pieces of this and walnuts). It's not something I've found readily for sale in Turkey though. What else - stuffed quinces is not much made in Turkey any more but was an Ottoman palace dish; Iranians still make it. Hollowing out quinces is a bit of a job but it's good. I've also had a nice tas kebab with quince. I don't have a recipe for it though.
  7. ....and it shooting the assembled dessert (Braised quince with kaymak - clotted cream), I came as close as I ever have to "food porning." (Ah, I love English, anything can be a verb...) Trying two different platings, panicking when the kaymak started melting a bit, trying to daub out an irregularity in pooling of the liquid...! I liked the first one okay (perhaps a different surface would have been better though): But I think the second one is "the one." That's it...yeah, make love to the camera, baby....
  8. The next thing to be cooked involved three of these; two of these; And one of the prettier boilovers I've had in my kitchen!
  9. So, a bit more culinarity today. I headed out to another market, very early- many were still just setting up. In each area where there is a bazaar, all the stands are stored in a particular depot somewhere in the area. The members pay a certain price for the right to sell, to the municipality (It's not a huge fee). Evidently the tax police don't control it too strictly either because there are often some people who are mostly likely unregistered aliens selling watches and what have you. I bought quinces, celeriac, dill, then went by my favorite local spice place to get some ground pistachios. (You'll see what for later.) Actually, "spice shop" is a bit of a misnomer, they are a combination spice shop and dry foods place, such as dried fruits, nuts, teas, herbs, and one of my favorite things, dried eggplants and peppers. The immediate project at hand is with the celeriac however; I decided to make celeriac in olive oil. Out of the whole of Turkish cuisine, the "zeytinyağlı" or olive oil dishes, are some of my favorites, and the only ones to which I claim any particular skill! There is a recipe for this in RecipeGullet. Which may be missing the onions; I can't seem to make corrections there now. Here's most of the ingredients laid out. Minus the lemon. You can either cut it into chunks, or cut into concave rounds. Since I wanted a really nice rendition for y'all, I decided to do it that way. And the finished product!
  10. Perhaps, but for pure onomatopoeic value, I think "miznikh" sounds much more zankha. Frowsty is an entirely new word to me!
  11. Bingo! Persian Karafs > Turkish Kereviz > English Celeriac. So then, one has celeriac, red pepper, carrot and ___________. The other has celeriac and ___________. It's been guessed twice, but always in among other ingredients. For a box of lokum, the final ingredient is: ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? (C'mon, if you lived in the Mediterranean, what would you put in?!) ← I thought we already agreed on garlic? ← We have a winner! Well, garlic had been mentioned twice but always among other ingredients. Just like celeriac; Kouign Amann guessed it along with another ingredient. Heh - I was almost out the gate when I realized I was going to a spice shop and really should bring my camera, as long as I was back in, I decided to reload the page and check if someone had responded. So send me your postal info in a pvt message and I'll mail the lokum off as soon as I can get back to Haci Bekir's!
  12. Bingo! Persian Karafs > Turkish Kereviz > English Celeriac. So then, one has celeriac, red pepper, carrot and ___________. The other has celeriac and ___________. It's been guessed twice, but always in among other ingredients. For a box of lokum, the final ingredient is: ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? (C'mon, if you lived in the Mediterranean, what would you put in?!)
  13. Oops! As I was writing the last post, Kouign Amann guessed it. Which of the three?
  14. Okay, red pepper and carrot were in the stuffed pepper, but not in the cabbage, which leaves two ingredients. One of them has been guessed two times, lastly by Kouign Amann, before by Chef Crash. Which leaves just one. Should I drop another hint or take into account that many readers are probably asleep right now and give them a chance? Yeah, I think I'll go to the market now and buy myself a kilo of this vegetable, some olive oil, some parsley and some dill! There should be an "evil grin" choice in the emoticons.
  15. Dialup? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeew! Okay, for you - the last ingredient is white, or when cooked, slightly translucent. HINT #4: You can find it in almost any produce section, and 90% of people have no idea what to do with it. In Turkish, it starts with "K". And in honor of this little-respected but very tasty subterranean, I will cook it today.
  16. By the way, this is breakfast today: Fried hellim/halloumi, heated lavash, and a packaged ginger latte, courtesy of a Canadian friend.
  17. Two ingredients right, one ingredient dead wrong. Of the two wrong ingredients however, one is in the right plant family. ← Oooh! Oooh! Carrots, Garlic, Red pepper and er..Radish? ← Hee hee. One more right ingredient! Here's a cutaway view, which should rule out the wrong one. The last one may be a bit tricky. Perfectly available in the US but generally not given the respect it deserves. A close cousin of something quite commonly used in the US but completely unknown here.
  18. Two ingredients right, one ingredient dead wrong. Of the two wrong ingredients however, one is in the right plant family.
  19. There are carrots inside the pepper, but not inside the cabbage. No cabbage inside either. HINT #3: 3 of the ingredients grow underground, one above ground.
  20. Yep, that's two of them! These are not the ingredients both have incommon however.
  21. ....nein. I'll let more people guess and then supply more hints if necessary.
  22. BTW, Behemoth - I did try melting the helva later today. What a difference! This could become a very bad habit... Yes it's "gloopy" but almost immediately chewy once it gets in the mouth, which I really liked. I tried a little hellim with it, it was better this time. But I think I'll keep having my hellim fried for breakfast. One thing I noticed, it melts at a very low temperature and burns at only a slightly higher one. So if folks try it, turn the heat way down, you won't have to wait very long!
  23. Yes, we are having "echte Nederlandse weer" in Istanbul! (Actually today was quite sunny.) Spring and fall are the best; you get the cool without the smog. But in winter you get boza and salep! Thanks for your nice words!
  24. Now I must say that though this has been very fun, there is one little thing that has disappointed me. Remember the pickles in the market? Remember the intriguing little stuffed bundles and other stuffed ones? To jog your memories, here is a lineup of the suspects (accompanied by a pickled gherkin for added security). Hasn't anyone wondered what's inside? Perhaps it's time for a contest. Whoever guesses correctly (either one, they are different) gets a box of mixed lokum from Hacı Bekir in the mail! HINT #1: The stuffing for the cabbage bundle consists of two ingredients only. The other includes the same two, plus two more. HINT #2: Three of the ingredients are also for sale there pickled in their own right, one is not. This one, they both have in common. And it is shredded.
  25. Yes, kebap is definitely in the plans, I just have to arrange the day with a friend. Not really much fun to go to a kebap restaurant all alone; my upstairs neighbors are vegetarian (formerly vegan but that's nearly impossible here), another friend doesn't eat kebap (but he's good for Çiya I'm sure!). Ιn the meantime, here are a couple teasers: I'll let you just imagine how they will be cooked! Hey - if this is food porn, does this make me something like a food pimp?
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