Eating fresh and healthy food has never been more important for everyone given the Covid epidemic still looming on our doorstep, and the change of season to Winter in the Southern Hemisphere anyway. I've been taking note, and I've noticed that now more than ever before, a lot more men, younger and older, professional, hard working or retired, are doing their share of the cooking for their partners, families or themselves, as a lot of women are at work as well and the guys have discovered that they enjoy cooking. Guys, this style of cooking is for you, and a great meal to plan for the weekend. And of course ladies I know that many of you just like me, love to eat lots of simple fresh salads and vegetables and these are the mainstay of a healthy diet and a Turkish menu like this one.
*If you wish, go straight to the recipes at this link with a minimum of photos:*
When we were planning this Turkish style food feast, Mr. HRK volunteered straight away to make the Turkish flatbread, because he knows it requires much the same technique as making pizza dough which he likes to do, but Bazlama, can be cooked very quickly on the BBQ. He found the recipe, which worked perfectly and looked exactly like the Turkish bread we ate in Turkey and tasted just as good. He used a pizza stone for the cooking, which is an off cut from our granite kitchen bench. I prepared the kofta mince, the day before, let it rest in the frig in a bowl overnight and threaded them onto the skewers on the day we ate them. Once again, these were cooked on the BBQ plate by Mr. HRK and were delicious. I've given you some salad choices, but I discovered when we ate this with friends that if the kofta is to be eaten in the flatbread, all that is required is a tangy yogurt sauce, a delicious tabbouleh, and a simple salad of iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, a few chopped herbs of your choice and some crumbled feta. A dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and you can be eating vicariously in Istanbul, but much more safely.
However if you or members of your family are watching what you eat, and not eating bread, then kofta and salad is also delicious eaten in Cos lettuce leaves, packed with the flavour but not the bread calories.So many options with this casual but very tasty way to eat.
We started our Turkish feast with some homemade Turkish dips, Pumpkin hummus, Baba Ganoush, (my recipe), and Beetroot Hummus, eaten with my sourdough Cob loaf baked the day before. Mr. P makes wonderful dips.
Bazlama, Turkish Flat Bread
Here's the recipe for the best Turkish Flat bread we have tasted, and can be cooked simply on the BBQ plate in your own home. In Turkey it is normally cooked in an outdoor oven, but it works just as well on the stove top in a cast iron pan. It is best served warm if you can. Mr. HRK found this recipe at https://www.allrecipes.com, 04/25/2021.
Firstly the Cooks note: This recipe makes 4 large flatbreads, however if you prefer them smaller like pita bread, cut the dough into 8 portions.
If you can't find Greek style yoghurt, use regular yoghurt and reduce the water in the recipe to 1 1/4 cups.
The flatbreads also make crispy and delicious bases for pizza. The smaller ones are excellent as pita or pocket breads.
Use plenty of plain flour when you are rolling out the flatbreads to prevent them sticking to the bench, and use a floured rolling pin
(No oil needed to cook)
4 cups Plain Flour
1 sachet (7 grams or .25 ounce) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C, if you are pedantic, we're not)
1/2 cup Greek-style yoghurt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt (the original recipe used 1 tablespoon but we thought it was slightly too salty, up to you)
1. Dissolve the yeast, sugar and salt in a small bowl with the warm water. Add the water and the yoghurt to the flour and mix well. The dough will be nice and soft but not sticky. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured bench and shape it into a ball.
Now cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rise at room temperature for 3 hours. ( We place ours in the warm laundry, where our hot water system happens to be, and close the door, and it sure did rise!)
2. Cut the dough into four triangular portions. Shape the dough into rounds and flatten each round on a well floured bench as though you are making pizza dough. We flattened ours out further with a floured rolling pin so that it was a larger and thinner flatbread and it was perfect.
3. To cook your flatbread, choose either the BBQ or a cast iron skillet. As Mr. HRK was cooking, he chose to use a pizza stone in the BBQ, which worked like a dream. Preheat the BBQ or stove to a medium-heat. Place one round of dough on the BBQ or skillet and bake until the brown spots on the bottom, about 1 minute. Flip the bread and bake for another minute. Remove the bread and wrap it up in a clean tea towel to keep warm. We separated them with baking paper like you do with pancakes in case they stuck together with humidity around, but it really wasn't necessary.
|Puffing up on the plate, before it flattens out with a pocket inside.|
Yoghurt Sauce ( makes the delicious difference with Kofta)
1 cup yoghurt
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
Combine the ingredients, leave in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes for the flavours to infuse. (I left mine overnight which is preferable if you have the time.)
Lamb Kofta eaten with Lettuce Wraps or Turkish Flatbread
The beauty of making Koftas, is that I had most of the herbs and spices already in my spice drawer. I just needed to buy fresh mint and coriander, however at a pinch if time is at a premium, you could use all dried herbs and spices.
(It's easy to just double this recipe if you are cooking for a crowd)
Olive oil for frying the kofta on the BBQ
400-500g lamb mince (ground)
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground coriander + (2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander, optional)
1 tablespoon dried mint or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons mild paprika
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
8 large Cos (romaine) lettuce leaves or Turkish flatbread to serve
Use your hands to knead together the lamb mince and the spices, garlic, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, mint and coriander until all well blended together (all the ingredients.)
Divide into 8 portions and roll into football shaped ovals with your hands. Put them on a plate in the fridge and cover. This can be done the day before, or on the same day while you make the salad.
|Ready for the BBQ Cook|
Thread the koftas onto metal skewers or bamboo ones that have been pre-soaked in water to prevent burning. Heat the oiled BBQ plate (or your chargrill pan or frying pan) on high and add the koftas and cook 3-4 minutes. Don't move them until a crust develops, then turn over and cook each side. Remove from the heat.
|Sizzling on the BBQ|
Cover with foil, and rest for 5 minutes and then serve to your hungry family and guests.
To assemble the Turkish Flatbread, place a spoonful or two of the yoghurt on the Turkish bread and spread over the bread, then add spoonfuls of the salads, then the kofta. Enclose the ends of the bread and roll to enclose. I'm sure your guests will know what to do anyway.
To assemble the kofta in lettuce leaves, place a spoonful of yoghurt onto each lettuce leaf, add a spoonful of salad or tabbouleh, and top with a kofta. Fold the lettuce around the filling and eat.
|Tabbouleh with Yoghurt Sauce and Lettuce Wraps|
Tabbouleh recipe (from a previous post of mine):
1/2 cup rinsed quinoa (tri-colour for impact if you like), or wholemeal couscous
150 ml chicken stock for extra flavour, (just water will also work well)
1 Lebanese cucumber, deseeded and diced
3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into 1 cm dice (I used 4 Roma tomatoes)
3 spring onions, green ends only, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, or about 1/2 bunch, rinsed and patted dry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (not the stuff out of the bottle)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Add a crushed garlic clove if you like, but not necessary
*A large avocado cut into 1 cm dice can replace the cucumber
If using quinoa:- Place the stock in a small saucepan, add the quinoa and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender to taste. Remove from the heat,and stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and leave it to cool.
If using couscous:- Place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl and add the stock to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or something plastic free (preferably), to store the heat, and stand for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff it up and to separate the grains. Season it slightly to your taste, and set it aside until cool.
Gather the bunch of parsley, form into a tight bundle in your hand and finely shred the leaves with a sharp knife.
Do the same thing with the mint leaves.
My coriander in our raised garden is still growing well, so a little bit of that went into the salad as well.
Add the cooled grain, quinoa or couscous to the rest of the ingredients, and mix through gently.
Making The Salad dressing:
In a smallish bowl, gradually whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice and garlic (if using) until it starts to thicken slightly and emulsifies. Stir the dressing through the tabbouleh ingredients and season with a little salt and ground black pepper if it needs it. A little salt will really develop the flavours.
On a nutritional note, eating salads like tabbouleh is a healthy alternative, as the herbs, parsley, and mint are rich in sources of Vitamin K and C, some beta-carotene, folate and flavonoids. I feel better already.
Simple Turkish Salad:
1/2 an Iceberg lettuce
Two large ripe tomatoes
65 g or 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
Handful of fresh herbs, preferably marjoram or oregano washed and chopped.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 g chopped pistachios or toasted hazelnuts with skins removed
Remove the outer leaves of an iceberg lettuce, pull off enough lettuce leaves to line your bowl when cut fairly finely.
Wash the leaves and dry.
Shred them and place them loosely in the base of your bowl. Chop two large ripe tomatoes and place on top of the lettuce.
Add half the fresh herbs, then the cheese then the rest of the herbs.
Garnish with chopped nuts if you wish, such as chopped pistachios or chopped toasted hazelnuts with skins removed.
If you plan on serving your kofta with just lettuce wraps, a second salad such as Tabbouleh might be nice to eat off the plate.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice and lightly whisk to make the salad dressing. Put this in a glass jug and dress the salad just before serving or leave everyone to dress their own.
For our Turkish dessert, this platter ticked all the boxes. P & J made the delicious Baklava with a lovely hint of orange, and the Turkish delight, the Halva, and the dried fruits were bought from a locally owned Fruit and Vegetable shop in Mackay called Mifsuds, which also doubles as the best Deli in town.
This was a wonderful finish to our Turkish meal.
Somehow during all of this Turkish mayhem, Mr. HRK found time to give our Locky a bath. He really does love his bath, even though he looks a bit sad here. I was hoping he would smile at me for the photo. Happy days!
It is our 44th Wedding Anniversary today, so we have some special things planned, and some delicious seafood on the menu to celebrate.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone, hope you can plan to do something very enjoyable. Stay safe.