BBQ’s/garden parties; mostly food that can be eaten with your fingers.
Dinner party food; more time consuming recipes.
Midweek family meals; mainly what your family will eat and enjoy.
For those of you who may not have read my ‘About’ section, should know that I love to use food as a means to socialise. One of the biggest social events, my family and I have is our annual barbecue. This garden party is special because we get to share so many of our wonderful Turkish dishes with our friends and family. Now, depending on the numbers of guests we have invited (or not!) I sometime use paper plates. I therefore avoid saucy foods (dips are fine) and grainy foods like rice.
At the end of it all, I am the the one who has to clean up! So I take precautions. There are often children running around and I don’t fancy picking up bits of rice off my lawn for weeks to come. So save the rice for a midweek family meal.
Instead why not try some chicken, beef or lamb kebabs? How about some prawn kebabs with chilli flakes and coriander? (Have you ever tried some sliced helloumi (hellim) cheese cooked on the barbecue?) Such simple recipes can change your whole party.
Having said that, have you ever thought of dolmas (stuffed bell peppers and vine leaves) as finger food? Such additions beautiful looking dishes can make a wonderful centre piece to you garden party. What about some Tepsi Böregi (pastry with potatoes or any kind of filling). Tepsi means tray, in this case baking tray.
Oh the list can go on… (My mouth is watering as I am writing about these beautiful dishes).
I usually “wow” my guests with the kebabs and dolmas (I have simple guests, you know who you are!) I often include börek as well, and sometimes even some lentil koftes (meatballs, yet in this case with lentils – lentilballs, I suppose) and pogaça (little pasties with filling, I often use feta cheese and dill or parsley).
With the last big barbecue we had, I prepared a separate table for the kids. Now I know my daughter loves Mediterranean food, yet I wasn’t sure if my guest’s children would enjoy it too. So I made some “child friendly” things like fish fingers and pizzas, but all the kids did was take a bite, and leave them on their plates. However they managed to munch their way through the adult selection. Some of the kids liked the vine leave dolmas as well, but not so much the stuffed bell peppers, the adults loved those. Anyway in the end I was left with most of the ready-prepared stuff, and all my homemade food vanished.
Take it from me, if you do decide to cook any of my recipes, even the children will enjoy them, and your garden party will be talked about for a long time to come.
Please don’t be afraid of all the preparation. If I can do it, believe me so can you. Don’t forget, there’s no pressure, you have plenty of time to prepare your dishes IN ADVANCE. Oh and get your family or friends involved, encourage them to help and be part of the whole process. You’re not on a cooking program, nor are you a Michelin Star Chief, and if you think you are, what are you doing reading this? Remember this is all about YOU being able socialise and host a great party. What’s more enjoying yourself and being proud of your achievements.
Now when you come to reading my recipes, you will find that the herbs and seasoning I use are pretty much the same. I tend to use a lot of paprika and chicken seasoning. Why? Because this is what my family and I like. If you and your family enjoy cumin, or cayenne pepper, then add as much or as little as you wish. I tend not to use rosemary or sage in any of my cooking. This is because Turkish cuisine tends not to include such herbs, (well not very often anyway), and due to this fact I never acquired a taste for either of these herbs, therefore they are absent from my recipes, (as with many traditional Turkish dishes). This of course does not make me right. So if you don’t like something, find an alternative, always bearing in mind that you want your food to be eaten, and if you and your family dislike a certain herb/spice, why include it?
You may also notice that salt, black pepper and chilli is used in moderation or not at all. This is because I have a six year old child who doesn’t like any of the above. If you and your family do, then use as much as you wish. It’s that simple!
So go on…. try a least two or maybe three of my recipes and see what you think and let me know.
Afiyet olsun. (That means bon appetit in Turkish)