Monday, December 23, 2013

Cooking Class - Istanbul, summer of 2011

Interest in Turkish food has skyrocketed. I think the reasons are pretty obvious. First, the food is delicious. Second, it combines great, fresh ingredients. Third, it's healthy. Fourth, it's not really complicated to make. I took a cooking class at my Hotel Sarnic, with about 11 other students. We were paired off and about three (or four?) chefs were involved in teaching. In reality, the cooks did most of the key work. The hotel manager is also a gourmet cook and led the class expertly, explaining step-by-step what to do. We were given handouts with the recipes and most o fus took notes as we went along. The dishes we made included spicy red lentil soup, cheese pastries (sigara boreki) in phyllo (they used the word "yufka"), green beans in olive oil, lamb with smoked eggplant, and stuffed figs with eggplant. Some recipes used olive oil, others used sunflower oil; our guide said he prefers sunflower oil for main dishes and olive oil for "meze" (appetizers). You'll notice that the pastries are called "boreki," a stuffed dough similar in some ways to Albanian bureks and Sephardic burekas, which are both savory; this one is an example of a sweet. I've put together a selection of photos of dish preparation. We concluded with a meal on the hotel roof. This was really fun! \ By the way, I bought an English-language book of Turkish recipes, "Turkish Cuisine" by Tugrul Savkay (sorry - all the diacritical marks are missing!) choosing this one mostly because it had a recipe for one of my favorite dishes and also because there were precise photos of each dish. The dish I loved is stuffed chard. In the restuarant I went to, the stuffed chard was placed on a thick, delicious layer of yogurt.

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