Julia Child said, "Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
I love food, cooking and experimenting with simple ingredients. Growing up with a mom who was a wizard in the kitchen gave me many opportunities for tasting scrumptious dishes. As a teenager I adored my mother's afternoon tea gatherings. There would be pastries, cakes, salads --- a sophisticated array of Turkish dishes served on fine linen and her best china... and of course tea in crystal glasses. I am blessed to have a heritage in great flavor and taste.
My mother is suffering with advanced dementia. I miss her voice and her kitchen. I have decided to honor her this year in my culinary adventures by cooking and adapting Turkish cuisine with everyday ingredients.
While specialty stores carry Turkish food, it is difficult to find ingredients like yufka (Turkish phyllo pastry) even at Wegmans. Of course there is Amazon... still fresh is always the best...
The year began with two good fortune dishes -- an appetizer and pastry: Stuffed sausage with feta cheese and herbs topped with mozzarella and thyme... Rolled phyllo pastry with spinach, ricotta and herbs...
The recipe is adapted from http://www.writekolik.com/sosis-dolmasi-tarifi.
I used large size German frankfurters. They were cut in the middle and stuffed with a mixture of feta cheese and dill topped with slices of mozarrella. After a few minutes under the broiler they were topped with chopped thyme and cooked until cheese is golden.
A version of spanakopita! Three layers of phyllo pastry (used local Wegmans brand) filled with a mixture of wilted fresh spinach, ricotta, feta and pecorino cheeses rolled and shaped into a swirl... brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with nigella seeds... baked at 350 until brown and crispy.
Tonight I tried my hands on easy manti. My husband James calls them "little ghost people." Usually one Sunday a month my mother would make the dough and ground beef filling. We would gather around the table as she rolled out the dough and cut it. We would then fill the cut pieces with the mince meat mixture. Once ready they went into the boiling water and cooked until tender. She served them with tomato paste in melted butter and yogurt.
My easy version is made with potsticker wrappers folded in half filled with a mixture of ground beef, onion, sriracha sauce, salt and pepper. They are dropped in rapidly boiling salted water and cooked until floating... served with tomato paste in melted butter and Greek yogurt with minced garlic... Yummmm....
I am looking forward to great adventures in Turkish cuisine. I pray I will continue to honor the gifts my mother imparted to me.