Almond Butter Cookies

Ingredients:
3/4 c sliced almonds
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c unsalted butter, sliced and softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 2/3 c wheat flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 c confectioner’s sugar

Directions:
1. Pulse the almonds and sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the butter and process until smooth. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Pulse. Add flour and salt. Pulse to create dough. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed paper and roll into a log about 15 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
3. Cut the chilled dough into 1/2 inch pieces and roll by hand into balls. Space the cookies evenly on the prepared baking sheets and bake until slightly golden, rotating the sheets once, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Briefly cool the cookies on a rack, then gently toss in the confectioner’s sugar until evenly coated.

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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!

Saksuka

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 eggplants (long type)
2-3 peppers, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium size potatoes (optional)
1 courgette/zucchini (optional)
Tomato purée/paste
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed or finely sliced
Olive oil

Directions:
Peel alternate strips off the aubergines (eggplants) lengthwise to create a stripey pattern. Chop into chunky cubes, sprinkle generously with salt, and leave to soak in a bowl of water for about half an hour. You can make şakşuka with or without potatoes and courgettes. Without offers a much purer appearance and set of flavours. With provides additional colours, textures, and tastes. Why not try it both ways. If you decide you would like to include them, then chop them into cubes like the aubergine and fry them up until golden. The potatoes need a bit longer than the other vegetables so give them a little extra time.

To soak or not to soak: A debate continues to rage as to whether salting and soaking aubergines really does help to remove any bitterness, but the main orthodoxy is that is better to do than not.

Rinse the aubergine chunks, pat dry, and then fry in a light olive oil until golden brown. Stir in the finely chopped peppers and the tomatoes and cook over a gentle heat. When these start to break down and disintegrate, add the tomato puree/paste and garlic, and continue to simmer for a few minutes. If the tomatoes aren’t especially juicy then feel free to supplement with a little water. You should be aiming for a really moist and juicy consistency.

Leave to cool. Serve chilled. It’s superb eaten with hunks of fresh bread or with some cool fresh yoghurt on the side.

Doogh

This drink is called “doogh” in Farsi and “ayran” in Turkish.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 tsp chopped fresh mint or a dash of dried mint flakes, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups club soda or spring water, chilled

DIRECTIONS:
1. Pour yogurt, mint, salt, and pepper into a pitcher. Stir well.
2. Add club soda or spring water gradually, stirring constantly. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and mix again.
3. Serve chilled.