Gastro

A Mediterranean Plant Capers

Date: Tuesday, 01 April 2014

KNOWN AS “CAPARI” IN MEDITERRANEAN COOKING, CAPERS ADD ZEST TO SALADS AND OTHER DISHES, AS WELL AS BEING USED AS A GARNISH. PLUS THEY’RE GOOD FOR YOU!

From time immemorial, people have made culinary use of the herbs and spices that grow in their environment, and the capers that grow in Turkey are no exception. The Caparis bush, which sends roots down as far as 12 meters especially in poor, dry soil with high salt or limestone content, are used not only in food and medicine but also in the paint industry. Before being consumed, capers must first be pickled in brine. The name “caper”, for this small berry that was used to enhance the taste of food in regions without mustard or spices, is derived from the Aramaic word, “qapar”. Known by a number of different names around Turkey, capers today have settled into the language as “capari” under the influence of their use in western cooking. Nevertheless, in Ottoman cuisine, capers are known to have been pickled in vinegar and mandrake root as far back as the 14th century. Based on Ottoman palace kitchen records, capers and pickled caper blossoms were procured from the town of Osmancık in Çorum province. The sources mention a dish called caper soup but little is known as yet about how it was made. Considered by the experts to have therapeutic value, capers are used in local dishes all along the shores of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is also a leading producer of capers.

The Rich World Of Balkan Cuisine

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Friday, 28 February 2014

THE GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION OF THE BALKANS, WHICH BLEND EUROPE WITH ANATOLIA AND RUSSIA WITH THE MEDITERRANEAN, IS ALSO REFLECTED IN THEIR RICH CUISINE.

Slavs, Greeks, Albanians, Latins and Turks are the communities that make up the Balkans’ ancient and vibrant cultural life. Distilled in a retort of culture and faith, the distinctive elements introduced by climate add a unique richness to the Balkan cuisines. A fondness for livestock and grains brought about by the mountains is tempered in the Balkans by fish dishes from the Danube and the waters of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. At the same time, olive oil has pride of place in Balkan cooking. But what gives value to the hundreds of Balkan flavors lies hidden in an intricate web of dishes interwoven with stories. Without a doubt one of the greatest population movements of the 20th century, the mübadele, or population exchange, had a direct impact on our gastronomic world. Many tastes familiar today in Istanbul and Western Anatolia especially are tastes we came to know through the mübadele. Since the preservation of food was a major issue in the cuisines of the Balkans, pickles, dried meats and salt-cured fish emerge as nutritional solutions imposed by typically harsh winters. Opening the door on this rich gastronomic world, we encounter scores of dishes as yet little known and, following their trail, take a closer look at the Balkan cultures.

The Taste of the Wild

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Wednesday, 29 January 2014

WILD ANIMALS ARE ONE OF OUR OLDEST SOURCES OF FOOD. REDEFINED LATER AS "GAME", THEY FOUND A SPECIAL PLACE IN OUR TRADITIONAL REPERTOIRE OF GOURMET OFFERINGS.

In former times, the hunt and hunting were one of the main activities of both the Ottoman palace and palace circles. Consequently, just as many hunting lodges were built around Istanbul - and have now been surrounded by urban development - so did recipes for game, such as deer, wild duck, partridge and woodcock appear in contemporary cookery books. Even though all this demonstrates a fondness for game meat in that period, it also reveals an Ottoman sensitivity on the subject of hunting, as witnessed by the fact, for example, that hunters are warned against shooting animals during the breeding season in the charter of the Foundation created by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Wild animals roam free by their natural instincts, and, even more importantly, they feed on rich natural and seasonal foodstuffs. Because they are continuously active, their muscles are more fibrous than those of domesticated animals, making their meat both leaner and richer in nutritional value. It is especially rich in unsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids.
On the other hand, game animals are one of the foods cooks most shy away from, because their preparation demands such painstaking care. Today we can enjoy these natural flavors in the form of farmed game birds and meats and the products of regulated hunting.

QUAIL IN POMEGRANATE SAUCE WITH CRISPY FENNEL

INGREDIENTS
4 quail
1 small head of fennel
40 g olive oil
20 g pomegranate molasses
10 g fresh thyme
10 g fresh rosemary
10 g garlic
5 g sea salt
10 g black peppercorns, crushed

PREPARATION
Marinate the quail in the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, thyme, rosemary, garlic, sea salt and black pepper mixture for 24 hours. If you are going to grill, four minutes per side will suffice to cook the quail. If you are using the oven, you’ll need close to ten minutes. Quail quickly dries out and loses its flavor, so don’t overcook. Divide the fennel into four and brown quickly in hot oil until crisp.

OVEN-BAKED TANDOOR RABBIT

INGREDIENTS
1 rabbit
2 large onions
1 carrot
5 bulbs of garlic
2 tbsp butter
1 pkg new potatoes
10 g fresh thyme
10 g rosemary
Juice of 2 pomegranates
1 tsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup orange juice
1 g salt salt

PREPARATION
Divide the rabbit into four pieces and place on a baking tray. Add one spoonful of the butter, the grated orange rind, garlic, carrot and fresh herbs. Then add a cup of water and the salt and rosemary. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 160° C oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake 5 more minutes at 200° C until ready to serve. Place the remaining butter in a skillet with the orange juice and mandarin juice and cook the potatoes in this mixture for about 15 minutes.

FOR THE SAUCE
Puree the vegetables that cooked with the rabbit in a blender. Then remove to a pot and bring to a boil, adding water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. Serve with the rabbit.

OVEN-ROASTED WILD GOOSE

INGREDIENTS
1 whole goose
1 large onions
2 carrots
4 red Charleston peppers
Juice of 2 lemons
15 g fresh rosemary
10 g fresh thyme
2/3 cup olive oil
5 g sea salt
5 g black peppercorns

PREPARATION
Rub the goose well with the salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice and bake, covered, with the previously peeled and diced carrots in an 180° C oven for about two hours. Then uncover and bake at 200° C for about 10 minutes. Arrange the Charleston peppers on a baking sheet, add the fresh herbs and garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 140° C for 80 minutes. Remove from the oven and skin the peppers.

POMEGRANATE-POACHED PEARS

INGREDIENTS
4 pears
175 g sugar
250 g water
Juice of 5 pomegranates
3 cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
1 lemon

PREPARATION
Peel the pears and let stand in water with the lemon for 10 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, water and sugar to a pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Then add the cinnamon, cloves and pears and cook for about 2 hours. Chill and serve.

Modern Turkish Cuisine

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Friday, 03 January 2014

THE CONTRIBUTIONS TO WORLD FOOD CULTURE OF TURKISH CUISINE, WHICH DRAWS STRENGTH FROM ITS RICH TRADITION AND THE COUNTRY'S CLIMATIC DIVERSITY, CANNOT BE OVERLOOKED.

The sheer nature and number of ingredients and cooking methods used in Turkish cuisine are of a richness to astonish experts. That rich heritage has been squandered in the last 150 years, but a new awareness emerging in today’s world is reshaping gastronomy. Promoting their regional character through precise recipes, contemporary cuisines are finding their niches now in the world gastronomic spectrum. And in a broad-ranging initiative, Turkish cuisine, too, is being rediscovered in our country by producers and consumers alike. “Gastro tourists” from around the world are opening up a new chapter in our country’s tourism offerings. Their experience of Turkish cuisine in all its many facets will be unforgettable for these visitors. We have a traditional cuisine and the rich resources to go with it, but unfortunately our cuisine has not yet blossomed in such a way as to reflect the period in which we live. Skilled and experienced chefs therefore need to come together to accelerate the process, because cuisines have become the new determiners of the world’s intangible boundaries.

Tree of the Mediterranean: The Olive

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Saturday, 02 November 2013

A LITTLE GIANT, THE OLIVE—BOTH FRUIT AND OIL—IS A TURKISH DINING STAPLE.

It would be no exaggeration to say that no other tree is so closely intertwined with human history as the olive. A long-lived tree, it is known in mythology as the “Immortal Olive”, and the “olive branch” continues to symbolize peace and reconciliation between cultures even today. Going back thousands of years, the olive and the production of olive oil have traditionally been one of the world’s leading food sectors. The Mediterranean region is the home of the olive. In addition to the scores of varieties of olives produced in Turkey, you can also find many different species in Spain, France and Italy. There are serious producers too on the Mediterranean’s southern shores from Morocco all the way to Syria. This tiny fruit, which yields the world’s most valuable and nutritious oil, is also consumed in several other ways. Here are a few of them:

Immigrant Cuisine

Article: Vedat Başaran Date: Monday, 30 September 2013

THE SOCIOCULTURAL MOBILITY TRIGGERED BY THE POPULATION EXCHANGE INFLUENCED CULINARY CULTURE AS WELL. WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOK HERE AT SOME OF THE NEW TASTES THAT CAME TO ANATOLIA.

There is no doubt that the population exchange between Anatolia and Rumelia is one of the most important events in Turkey’s recent history. But it was not only people who came and went during that often bittersweet social upheaval. As established cultures traded places, culinary traditions were added into the mix, taking pride of place in the lands where they were relocated. So much so that many dishes whose ingredients and cooking methods are similar still grace tables today under different names in the various regions affected by the population exchange.
Among those meat and vegetables dishes, numerous examples can be cited, such as Alivra, a meat dish with a thick sauce similar to Béchamel, Armiro, a Bektashi chicken dish, and Petura, a dish made of chicken or red meat with walnuts and red pepper atop crumbled “yufka” (phyllo) pastry and fortified with a meat or chicken broth-based sauce, not to mention Maşkulu, Tizpera, and Patatufayi- all of them immigrant recipes that are still made frequently today. Among those made with pastry, Prasopta leek beurek and Triopsumi cheese bread are particular favorites.

Fruitful Flavors

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Friday, 30 August 2013

FRESH FRUITS ARE THE MOST FLAVORFUL INDICATORS OF ABUNDANCE AND PLENTY.

With their appetizing appearance and diverse tastes, fresh fruits are a rich source of nutrition. So much so that even their beneficial acids are good for you. And when it comes to flavor, fruit is a perennial favorite that is not only consumed as is but is also used to enhance the flavor of cooked dishes. In Ottoman cuisine, fruit was used both for flavor and as a main ingredient. Among palace staples, for example, were meat and fruit stews in which fruits such as quince, apples, plums, sour cherries, green almonds, apricots, and loquats were preferred for their tart, sour taste.

Tastes Of The Black Sea

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Wednesday, 31 July 2013

BLACK SEA CUISINE CONTINUES TO BE ONE OF THE RARE CUISINES THAT STILL PRESERVE THEIR UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS.

The climatic and geographical characteristics of the Black Sea ensured that it developed a nutritional system unique unto itself, influenced by almost no other culinary culture. But in this region, which spreads over a broad expanse, the cuisines of the coastal strip and the mountainous hinterland exhibit distinct differences.
Thanks to the temperature and composition of its waters, the Black Sea is home to some of the world’s most flavorful fish. Besides the quintessential anchovy, migratory species such as blue fish and tunny also have a place in the regional cuisine. And of course kale, aka black cabbage, is one of the best known and loved symbols of Black Sea cooking.

Taking Top Honors Even When Stale...

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Monday, 01 July 2013

BREAD İS PURCHASED İN LARGE QUANTİTİES İN THE BELİEF THAT NO MEAL İS COMPLETE WİTHOUT İT. BUT THE İNEVİTABLE EXCESS GETS STALE AND GOES TO WASTE. AND YET, THERE ARE SOME RECİPES THAT EXPLİCİTLY CALL FOR STALE BREAD.

Regarded as a blessing in Turkish culture, bread is accorded great respect.  Unfortunately, however, this respect does not keep bread from being increasingly wasted. Some 12 percent of the bread produced in Turkey today sadly becomes garbage. The amount of store-bought bread that is wasted in large quantities at cafes, restaurants, snack bars, school canteens and commercial catering services is equivalent to 450,000 tons of wheat. At a time when the world is threatened with malnutrition and hunger, is it not high time we made use of the bread produced from hundreds of thousands of tons of wheat rather than letting it go to waste? Now, when Turkey’s Soil Products Office has launched a ‘Don’t Waste Your Bread’ campaign, you too can take a step towards preventing wastage. It’s very simple: Instead of tossing your stale bread in the garbage, turn it into a tasty dish!

The Glory Of Cheese

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Saturday, 01 June 2013

INDİSPENSABLE AT BREAKFAST, ESSENTİAL AT DİNNER PARTİES, CHEESE DİSHES ARE HOLDİNG THEİR OWN İN CUİSİNES AROUND THE WORLD.

There are certain basic nutrients that are part and parcel of our eats and drinks menus, foods that have preserved their place on our dining tables since they were first discovered. Cheese is one of them. Its history dates back so far that definitive information on how and when cheese was first produced has yet to be uncovered. The earliest records researchers have come across are in documents dating back to the Sumerians. Thought to have been used purely to supply nutrition in the earliest periods in which it was produced, cheese developed and diversified over time to become the gastronomical delicacy it is today.

Gaziantep Capital Of The Silk Road

Article: Melih Uslu Photo: Erkan Tabakoğlu Date: Wednesday, 01 May 2013

BRINGING TOGETHER THIRTY COUNTRIES LOCATED ON THE HISTORIC SILK ROAD AT THE 7TH SILK ROAD MAYORS’ FORUM, GAZIANTEP IS PREPARING FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE WITH A 5.5-KILOMETER CULTURAL PROMENADE FILLED WITH SHOPS AND EATERIES, TEN NEW MUSEUMS, AND A SCIENCE CEN

Blending its eight thousand years of history with the features of a modern city, Gaziantep is a colorful feast set up in the southeast of Anatolia with its kebabs, baklava, bazaars, and caravanserais. Home to numerous civilizations from the Commagene to the Ottomans, the city entered the domain of the Turks starting in the 11th century. For the brave struggle it waged in the Turkish War of Independence, it was granted the honorific title gazi, meaning “veteran.”

Small, Red Delicacy: Strawberries

Article: Vedat Başaran Photo: Serkan Eldeleklioğlu Date: Wednesday, 01 May 2013

STRAWBERRY IS A FRUIT BELONGING TO THE ROSOIDEAE SUBFAMILY WHICH CAN GROW IN THE NORTHERN REACHES OF THE EARTH UNLIKE MANY FRUIT VARIETIES OF AMERICAN ORIGIN.

A species of berry, the strawberry does not grow on tall trees or bushes as other berries do. To the contrary, it grows on a plant that clings to the ground in a horizontal fashion. Because it grows on a horizontal plane, it requires a large area; for this reason, and because it bears fruit for only one or two months annually and must be rotated every two or three years as it drains the mineral content of the soil, the strawberry is one of the most recent fruits to be cultivated.

From Anatolia To California

Date: Monday, 01 April 2013

THE ANATOLIAN CULTURES AND FOOD FESTIVAL IS TAKING PLACE MAY 16 TO 19 IN LOS ANGELES, HEART OF AMERICA’S FILM INDUSTRY.

Now in its fourth year, the festival has welcomed 130,000 people in past years combined. The world’s largest Turkish festival, it is being held at the close to eleven and a half acre Orange County fairgrounds. Throughout history, the civilizations that have flourished in Anatolia have influenced Turkish culture and cuisine, and the festival reflects just that, across a broad spectrum ranging from regional handicrafts and foods to folklore ensembles and whirling dervishes. 

Calling All Nature Lover

Date: Monday, 01 April 2013

ALAÇATI HERB FESTIVAL, APRIL 13 AND 14, IS AWAITING VISITORS WITH TASTY AND HEALTHY AEGEAN FOOD AND AN ENTERTAINING PROGRAM.

Alaçatı is mounting an Herb Festival this year to promote its natural riches. In addition to a slew of tasty dishes made with herbs unique to Alaçatı, some exciting prize competitions also await nature lovers at the festival, April 13 and 14. Located at and around Alaçatı Market Place Mosque, the festival is offering visitors a fun and flavorful program with concerts and cultural and artistic events spilling into the streets. 

A Taste From The Deep: Turbot

Article: Mutfak Sanatları Akademisi Photo: Jacqueline Roditi Date: Monday, 01 April 2013

ALTHOUGH THE ANCHOVY LEAPS TO MIND, THE TURBOT IS THE TRUE KING OF THE BLACK SEA. CALMLY AND QUIETLY, IT HAS CONQUERED THE DEPTHS.

Once abundant in all Turkey’s waters but especially in the Black Sea, this popular fish is a boon for fishermen when the nets are drawn in, because for a long time it has topped the list as the world’s priciest catch. The dignified turbot shuns movement and adapts itself to the rhythm of life, swaying slowly, coyly and elegantly in the depths when necessary. A repository of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, the turbot is a tasty fish with firm, bright white flesh. This scaleless, slightly fatty fish is distinguished...

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