Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza). For those of you who dislike minced meat or are vegetarian, then do not bother to read on.

Lahmacun is an Arabic word, (I am assuming it means ‘minced meat with dough’). It is usually made on a very thin piece of dough with a minced meat topping and cooked in a clay or stone oven.

However I do not have a clay or stone oven. I have an electric fan oven in my small kitchen, and I often cook this dish during the week for my family after a long days work. So forgive me if I cheat on the dough.

Now if you have more time than I do, then of course make your own dough base. Which isn’t hard I know, but for a midweek family meal, I just use ready made tortilla wraps instead.

Traditionally apart form the dough base, the minced meat is placed on the dough raw. It is then cooked in the oven as individual Lahmacuns, and then served hot.

In Turkey (as with most Easten countries) there are special public clay ovens that you can take your food to be baked in.  So each Lahmacun is cooked at the same time. Failing that there are many little cafes serving only Lahmacun and Pide (No not pitta bread) another type of dough with topping. Anyway that’s altogether a different recipe which is now making me feel very hungry at the thought of eating one.

What’s really good about my Lahmacun dish (apart from the fact that it tastes great), is that it can last for ages, which means you don’t have to cook for a few days, well or at least two.

Lazy Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)

You will need;

Tortilla wraps (however many your family can eat) or 
Gluten/wheat free pita breads
(for those of you who have a gluten/wheat allergy try this recipe with free from pita breads or a baked potato).
Approx. 400g of minced meat (beef or lamb of your choice)
1 large finely chopped white onion
5-6 cloves of finely chopped garlic
3 colourful bell peppers, diced into small squares 
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or 400g fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato purée 
25 – 30g finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons of olive oil or as much as you wish to fry your onions in
2 teaspoons of paprika 
2 teaspoons of steak seasoning
3 teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon of All Purpose seasoning
1 beef stock cube or if you are using lamb mince then use lamb stock
Chilli flakes and black pepper (these can also be added to each individual plate when serving according to taste and child)
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar 

For the garnish; 
2 finely chopped red onions
25 – 30g of finely chopped parsley 
1 lemon cut into wedges

Pour your olive oil into your sauce pan and start frying off your onions. When soft, add your meat, giving it a good stir and breaking it down into mince. Try not to get clumps or balls developing, so keep mashing the mince down during the cooking. Next add your garlic and all your seasoning together with the stock cube. Keep stirring well until your meat is starting to brown, then add your chopped tomatoes and a tablespoon of purée. Leave to cook on a low heat stirring regularly.

Meanwhile, get your garnish ready by chopping up your red onions and parsley and mixing both together. Place in a serving dish and put to one side. Next start to chop up your bell peppers and after about 30 minutes add them to your mince. Cook for a further 5 minutes stirring all the peppers into the rest of the ingredients. Once you are satisfied that your meat is cooked, turn off the heat and leave to rest for a few minutes, with the saucepan lid tightly on.

If you are going to serve straight away, then begin heating up your tortilla wraps. Place a tortilla on a plate and spoon your mince meat around it. Sprinkle with the garnish and squeeze a lemon wedge over the whole lot. Make sure everyone has a napkin ready, then wrap up and enjoy.

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Taze Fasulye (Green Beans)

This is a lovely side dish to have with grilled meat or chicken or any food that requires a sauce to accompany it. This green bean recipe has it’s own delicious rich sauce, yet it is healthy and not heavy on the stomach and it still tastes great.

In Turkey, this dish is usually eaten on it’s own as a main course, with lots of bread dipped into the tomato sauce. However, I always serve it as a side dish or simply have it with some rice. A good vegetarian option.

Taza Fasulye (Green Beans)

You will need;

700 – 800g of green beans, both ends snipped off and each bean washed and cut or broken into two.
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or 400g of fresh finely chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
3 teaspoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt according to taste

Quite simply, fry off the onions in the olive oil. When softened, add the green beans, salt, sugar and tomatoes and leave to cook on a low heat with the saucepan lid tightly on. Keep stirring regularly.

TIP: Rinse your tomato tin out with a little water and add to your beans. You want all the remaining tomato to go into your dish and not to be thrown away with the tin. Do the same to your plate if you are using fresh tomatoes.

After 25-30 minutes turn off the heat and leave to rest in the pan before serving. The cooking time can of course vary according to taste. Some people like their vegetables slightly crisp and raw, where as others more cooked. So please keep checking and tasting your dish whilst it is cooking. If you do need to cook your beans slightly more, then make sure you have enough water in the saucepan to do so without burning your dish.

Traditionally in Turkey this dish is eaten cold. However I like to take the chill off it, by heating it up slightly, before serving. Your choice!


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Courgettes With Dill Weed

This is a dish that I put into a pita bread and eat, at my desk. Really it is a side dish. It is another very healthy option that has lots of flavour, its not just a plain, bland vegetable dish.

Courgettes with Dill Weed

Your will need;

A grill
A flat baking tray
1 kilo of courgettes, sliced ever so thinly
Juice of 1 lemon
3 – 4 cloves of garlic
25 – 30g of dill weed
Salt according to taste
1 tablespoon of olive oil and enough to either spray or drizzle onto the courgettes

It’s up to you of course, but I tend to remove all the dark green skin off the courgettes using a potato peeler. So I am left with a lighter coloured courgette. I find that sometime this dark skin can be slightly bitter, so I peel it off.

Once you have sliced your courgettes as thinly as possible then, start placing them onto your tray as tightly together as you can. Spray with olive oil and season as you wish.

Each side should take approximately 3 minutes, depending on how thin you managed to slice your courgettes. Keep checking. When you turn over your courgettes, spray and season the uncooked side. If you are satisfied that both sides are cooked, place into your serving bowl.

Now with the garlic, most people tend to add it to the dish raw. However, I fry it off ever so slightly in a tablespoon of olive oil. Next I add the lemon juice to the garlic and stir it well, before pouring it all over the courgettes. Give it all a good stir again. Once the garlic and lemon are mixed in with the courgettes, garnish with dill weed and serve.

I always think this dish is best the next day, once it has absolved all the lemon juice and garlic, and has just come out of the fridge. Yum!

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Turkey Steaks in Thai Green Sauce

I hope my cousin’s wife, does not read this recipe, as she is the best Thai cook I know. However, this is a mid-week family meal, that is easy and very simple to make. It is another one of those dishes that can last for at least two days, so it saves you from cooking and worrying about what to feed your family when you get home from work.

Turkey Steaks in Thai Green Sauce

You will need:

A casserole dish or any dish that is oven safe
Tin foil, if your oven dish does not have a lid
Turkey steaks or chicken breast approx. 1kg 
3 large potatoes, sliced into circles of about 1cm thick
4 – 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
25 -30g fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger (optional)
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional). I don’t use oil for this dish as the sauce has it’s own.
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of All Purpose seasoning
1 teaspoon of chicken seasoning
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 chicken stock cube (dissolved or crumbled into the dish). I usually use 1 tablespoon of liquid stock.
Chill flakes and black pepper. Add according to taste, either to your plate when serving or to the dish itself.
Salt, add according to taste (optional). I tend not to use salt as the both the sauce and seasonings contain enough already.
1 jar of ready made Thai Green sauce approx. 415g
If you do not like Thai green sauce, try making this dish with either one of the options below;

Option 1 – with tomato and garlic

1 tin of  chopped tomatoes
4-5 cloves of garlic
25 – 30g fresh basil chopped coarsely or 1 teaspoon of oregano (do not add if you are going to make the carrot dish as well)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar.
Do not add garlic to the turkey as well, if you choose this option.
For both options, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and pour over your turkey steaks and potatoes

Option 2 – with lemon

Juice of 3-4 lemons
Juice of 2 limes 
3 tablespoons of Olive oil
1 tablespoon of soya sauce
Approx. 800 fl.oz of water or enough for your potatoes to cook in

Place all your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir all the seasoning etc. together. Line the base of your dish with some of the turkey steaks, then on top place your potatoes. Next do another layer of turkey, then potatoes, until your dish is full. If you are using the ready made sauce pour, it on top.

Fill up your now empty jar, half way with hot water and rinse out any left over sauce, pour onto your dish. (If you have opted not to use ready made sauce, simply pour your home made marinade or sauce into your dish).

Place some tin foil or the lid, onto your dish and place into a pre-heated oven. Cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes at 200°c fan, 220°c non fan, 400F Gas Mark 6. Keep checking regularly and stir occasionally. If you feel your potatoes are cooked enough, then leave to cool down for a few minutes before serving.

Whilst the oven is on, I usually stick some sliced carrots into a dish, sprinkled some  oregano on top with a drizzle with olive oil. I cook this for about an hour with tin foil over the dish, checking and stirring occasionally. If you do choose to cook this dish as well, then I would suggest you leave out the oregano from the turkey dish (your choice of course).



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Pogaca (Pasties)

Pogaca (Pasties with feta and parsley)

Delicious to have with tea or as a snake. Could be presented as a started at a dinner party, or have a plate full for your guest to indulge into at a garden party/BBQ.

Pogaca (Pasties with feta and parsley)
You will need;
A flat baking tray
A rolling bin 
For the dough
500g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
6 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil)
300g plan yogurt
50g – 100g of melted butter (your choice in how much you use)
1/8 teaspoon or pinch of salt (optional)
1 egg yoke for glazing the pasties
For the filling, which can be any thing you like however I used;
200g feta cheese
40g – 50g of flat leaf parsley finely chopped. Alternatively you could use dill or basil etc.

Apart from the egg yoke (and the filling), place all the rest of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and start to make a dough.

Knead your dough until you are satisfied that it is ready and place to one side.

Now for the filling, using a folk to mash the feta cheese (do not purée it). Next add the parsley and mix together.

My daughter and I had so much fun making these pogacas. If you have a child please try and get them involved, yes you will have a bit of a mess afterwards but think of the fun you will have.

Ask your helper to divide the dough into little balls for you, roughtly about the size of a fist. If you don’t have a helper you will have to do this bit yourself. Next roll the dough out as thin as you can get it to go. Place a tablespoon or so of filling into the centre. Fold over your dough and cut around to shape your pasty. If you do not have any cutters, a pizza cutter, or a small plate (saucer) will do just the job. Press down the edges with a folk, as you do not want the filling to burst out whist baking.

When you have finished all your dough, you should have about 25 pogacas. Once you have placed them onto your baking try. Brush you egg yoke onto the tops of each pasty. If you do not own a food brush, just use a spoon and your fingers to do the same job.

Pre heat your oven to 150°c(fan oven) 190°c (without fan) 300F or gas mark 2 and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

Ball shaped Pogacas (no need for a rolling pin)

Alternatively, you could divide your dough into small ball shaped pieces and using your index finger poke a large whole into the centre of the dough ball for the filling. Then re-shape your ball once stuffed, closing the whole completely. Glaze the top parts of each pogaca with egg yoke (if you wish you could even add a sprinkle of sessemi seeds on top).

Pre heat your oven to 180°c (fan) 200°c (without fan) 350F or gas mark 4 and bake for 35-45 minutes. Please keep checking as the cooking time will vary according to the size of your dough balls. This time is only an estimate.

Once cooked allow your pogacas a little time to cool down before serving.



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Potato Salad

A simple potato salad that can go with any fish, chicken or a meat dish. Lovely to have at a garden party or at a barbecue. Best served chilled.

Potato Salad

You will need;

750g – 1kg of new potatoes
1 medium size red onion and/or a bunch of spring onions approx. 100-125g
1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
1/8 teaspoon of ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Approximately 50g fresh mint
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon sumak (this is optional). Sumak is a type of seasoning that is used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. It has a sharp lemony taste. I wouldn’t worry too much about not using it if you cannot find it.

Boil your potatoes, with or without the skin on (your choice). Personally for this dish I peel my potatoes. Once cooked, drain and leave to one side to cool down .Depending on the size of your potatoes either slice into two, or leave whole if they are small enough.

Slice your onion into little rings, halving them if you wish, (same goes for the spring onions) and place into your serving dish.  When your potatoes have cooled down, add them to the onions with the rest of the ingredients. Gently stir to mix all the flavours together and serve as a side dish.

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Celeriac chunks with potatoes (Zeytin yagli Kereviz)

Celeriac is one of those root vegetables you either love or loathe. Personally I love celeriac and this dish is one of my favourite recipes. I just find that the egg and lemon mixture gives the whole dish a beautiful creamy texture together with the earthiness of the celeriac. It is a taste that I believe most people will enjoy. It is both healthy and suitable for vegetarians.

Total cooking time 25 minutes

Celeriac chunks with potatoes (Zeytin yagli Kereviz)

You will need;

A saucepan of approx. 25cm diameter 
1 large celeriac approx 900gm – 1kg peeled and chopped into 2 ½ – 3 cm cubes
1 large white onion, chopped approx. 150gm
1 large carrot, sliced approx 150gm
25gm-30gm finely chopped dill weed
25gm-30gm leaves of celery finely chopped
300gm small potatoes diced into 4
1 egg, beaten
Juice of one lemon, mixed into the egg
6 tablespoons 90ml olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoons of salt (optional)

Fry off your onions in the olive oil until they slightly soften. Add the celeriac, potatoes, carrots and sugar, (salt if you wish). Stir the all the  ingredients together, turning down the heat to the lowest temperature possible. Place the lid of the saucepan on and leave to cook, yet keep checking and stirring occasionally.

After about 15 minutes, add 200ml 7fl.oz of boiling water. 5 minutes later add the dill weed.

Check to see if the potatoes and celeriac are cooked, if so turn off the heat.

Now stirring very quickly, add the lemon juice and egg mixture into the dish. Be as fast as you can to avoid the egg curdling.

Leave the dish to rest in the saucepan with the lid tightly on for a further about 10 minutes before serving. Once in your serving dish, garnish with the chopped celery leaves.

Note: an alternative to dill or celery leaves could be flat leaf parsley.
Your choice, but I would recommend this dish to be eaten cold.

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