Tart Dough

Ingredients:
1 c all purpose flour
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
3/4 c chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tbsp ice water
2 tsp chilled whipping cream

Directions:
Blend flour and salt in processor.  Add butter; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add 3 T ice water and cream.  Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry.  Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk.  Wrap in plastic; chill 1 hour.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep chilled.  Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

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Black Bean Cakes

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp juice of fresh garlic
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg or flax egg (1T ground flaxseed + 3T water)
1/4 cup fine ground yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Combine cooked rice, beans, scallions, 2 T cilantro, cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic juice, salt, pepper and egg in a bowl.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Form bean mixture into four large patties.  Hold a patty in one hand and sprinkle with cornmeal spreading it evenly over the surface.  Turn the patty over into your other hand and sprinkle the other side with cornmeal.  Lay patty gently into the hot oil.  Continue with remaining patties.  Gently fry the cakes about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Garnish with remaining cilantro.

Pineapple Avocado Salsa

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Ingredients:
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 avocado diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

Directions:
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to use.

Pide

Pide is basically the Turkish equivalent of pizza.  The bread is super-thin but rises quite well.  There is no sauce.

Ingredients: (makes 4 pide bases):
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
150 ml water or milk
300 grams flour (approx)
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
First off, warm the water or milk. It must not be warmer than body temperature, otherwise the yeast dies. Just as you would with a bath, use a (clean) elbow to check the temperature if in doubt! Mix in the yeast and sugar. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the salt, then stir in the yeasty liquid, and add the olive oil.

Mix together until all the ingredients are well blended, then knead the dough for about 2 minutes (the more you knead, the more flexible the dough becomes). Put the dough back in the bowl and dust some flour lightly over the top. Then put a plastic bag over and around the bowl and leave it in a warm place (like an airing cupboard or boiler room) for around 20 minutes. The plastic bags stops the dough from drying out and aids the proving process.

Whilst the dough is proving, you can get started with your topping.

Once the dough has raised (it should be about 50 % larger than before), take it out and knead well to get rid of any air bubbles. You may have to add a little flour to stop it from sticking, but do use sparingly so that the dough remains nice and moist.

Cut the dough into four equal chunks and knead each of them well. This helps develop the arm muscles ready for your next bout of Turkish wrestling. Place one of the pieces on a lightly floured surface, and use a rolling pin (substitute a wine bottle – carefully – if you don’t have a rolling pin to hand) to roll it into an elongated oval.

Spread your desired filling on top of the pide, and crimp the edges up 1-2 centimetres, so your pide has a shape rather like a large stuffed aubergine/eggplant, or a flattened boat. Brush the sides and edges with olive oil, then bake for about 15 minutes at 250 degrees Celsius.

Meaty (kiymali) pides:

We love spicy, meaty pides. Normally they’re very simple, like this beef variation, which is also the basis for the very thin, round variety of pide in Turkey, known as lahmacun.

250 grams beef mince

1 peeled and diced tomato

1 onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 pepper (you could use a sweet one, or if you like it fiery, use a chilli pepper as well)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, spread on top of your pide. Bake in the oven.

Lamb Pide

If you fancy trying something more exotic and unusual:

1 tbls olive oil

2 medium onions diced

125 grams minced lamb

125 grams finely diced lamb

150 ml red wine

2 small garlic cloves

2 tblsp cumin

2 tblsp paprika

Warm a saucepan and fry the onions until they are transparent. Add the mince and diced lamb and fry until all the meat is gently browned. Add the wine and enough water to cover the meat. Let the mixture cook for a good hour or more. Then add the garlic, cumin and paprika, and let the mixture cook for another 15 minutes or so. If any liquid remains, decant it off. Your topping is ready! Simply apply and bake in the oven.

Sujuk (Spicy salami) Pide

25 slices sujuk (or spicy salami sausage)

80 grams grated mozzarella cheese

1 tomato, peeled, sliced

1 long green pepper sliced and de-seeded

Apart from the pepper, mix the ingredients together and spread on top of your pide. Then add the slices of green pepper for a decorative and tasty finish. Bake in the oven.

Cheesy (peynirli) Pide

2 tablespoons oilve oil

1 onion, chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 clove garlic (crushed)

100 grams feta cheese (crumbled)

100 grams mozzarella cheese

Black olives

Fry onions in olive oil until transparent, add garlic and fry for a little longer. Add the tomatoes, and let the mixture cook until most of the juice has evaporated. Spread the sauce on the pide.

Throw on some black olives, some feta cheese, and some mozzarella. Add oregano and black pepper. Bake in the oven.

Enjoy!

Imam Bayildi

Recipe

One of the most celebrated of all Turkish recipes. A light, succulent and truly scrumptious dish – part of Turkey’s wide array of ‘zeytin yağlı’ (with olive oil) recipes. It is perfect for a snack, as part of a table of mezes (small plates or starters), or as an accompaniment to a full dinner.

Not only does it taste yummy, but it has a rich story to savour. Imam Bayildi literally means “The imam fainted”. It is said that an imam (Muslim priest) swooned with pleasure on tasting the dish. This is the story you’ll hear repeated right across Turkey. There is however, a rather less charitable account that has the imam fainting at the great cost of the olive oil used to make it. Here’s how the story goes:

“A long time ago there lived a Turkish imam, well known for his appetite and love of good food. One day he surprised his friends by announcing his engagement to the beautiful young daughter of a rich olive oil merchant. At this stage, the imam’s friends were not aware of her abilities as a cook. Part of her dowry was a consignment of the very finest olive oil. The wealthy merchant gave the groom twelve great jars of the prized oil, each one as big as a man.

Following the wedding, the young daughter quickly revealed her talents as a Turkish cook and every day prepared a special dish for her new food-loving husband. Stuffed aubergine in olive oil was his absolute favorite, and so he asked his wife to make it for him every night as the centrepiece of his dinner. Being a good wife, she did as she was told, and made the delicious dish for twelve days in a row. On the thirteenth day, however, when the imam sat down to dinner, his favourite aubergine dish was starkly absent. The imam demanded to know the reason for its disappearance. The bride replied, “My dear husband, I cannot make your favourite dish anymore, for we have no more olive oil. You will have to buy some more.” The lmam was so shocked by the news that he fainted. And so ever since that day, his favorite dish has become known as ‘Imam Bayildi’,(the imam fainted).”

Preparation:

The dish is simple to prepare, but it does take a little while to cook (about 1¼ hours) and cool (it is supposed to be eaten at room temperature), so make sure you allow enough time. And check that you have enough olive oil!

Ingredients (serves 4-8):
8 aubergines (eggplants)
3 medium sized onions
½ cup (4 fl oz, 125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled
¼ cup (1/3 oz, 10g) chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
A good squeeze of lemon juice
A pinch of sugar
½ cup (4 fl oz, 125ml) water

Directions:
Wash the aubergines well and remove the stems. Peel the skin lengthwise in ½ inch strips, to give a nice striped effect. This will help the aubergine absorb the flavours while cooking, even if the stripes disappear to some extent when cooked.

To salt or not to salt:

There is a debate about whether it’s necessary to salt aubergines or not in order to drain out any bitterness. Modern varieties are apparently less bitter than they used to be, and if you choose small and very fresh ones there is probably no need to bother salting them.  If you are of the salting persuasion, then at this stage cover your aubergines with salt and allow them to rest on kitchen towel for about half an hour. Afterwards simply wipe away the salt.

Cut the aubergines in half (lengthwise), and cut a slit lengthwise in the fleshy side of each of the halves, stopping a little short of the ends. Cut onions in half (from tip to tip) and then chop into slender wedges.

Heat half of the oil in a heavy based saucepan or frying pan with a lid, and add the onions. Cook gently until they are transparent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for about a minute. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, and stir in the chopped tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, as well as the lemon juice, sugar and water, to make the mixture used for stuffing the aubergines.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan until it starts to smoke, then add the aubergines and cook over a high heat for about 5 minutes, until they are lightly browned all over, but still nice and firm. Then remove from the heat.

Arrange the aubergines in the pan with fleshy sides upwards, and spoon the filling mixture into the slits. Try to stuff in as much as possible, and spread any remaining filling on top. Put a lid on the pan and cook over a gentle heat until tender (approx 45 minutes). Check on it occasionally, adding more water to the pan only if it is getting dry (aubergines do release a great deal of water).

Alternatively, you can arrange the stuffed aubergines in a covered oven proof dish, and cook for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees.

Remove from the heat, and let the stuffed aubergines cool to room temperature. Serve as an appetizer/meze, or as a light meal with fresh bread and/or yoghurt. It can also be refrigerated and served refreshingly chilled. Enjoy!

Mercimek (Turkish Lentil Soup)

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup (about 8 ounces) red lentils, picked through and rinsed
7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
Lemon wedges and chopped mint for serving (optional)

Directions:
In a large pot, combine lentils, broth, onion, carrot, garlic, tomato paste, cumin and cayenne and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, until vegetables and very tender and lentils begin to fall apart, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion blender to quickly blend the soup until it is creamy but not completely puréed. Or, you can blend about half the soup in a blender, but use caution when blending hot liquids: blend only in small batches, hold the lid down firmly with a kitchen towel, and begin blending on low speed. Add salt and serve with lemon wedges and a garnish of mint if desired.