#28: Turkey – Tavuk Kebabi + Gozleme + more!

This meal was a perfect example of me getting very excited to have people over to “christen” the new place and make an absolute disaster in my kitchen. I have long wanted to travel to Turkey as I’m convinced it might be my new favorite food destination. But like so many things in the past year, I’ve had to experience new places through cooking. We had two friends over for dinner and I decided to make not one, not two but four Turkish or Turkish-inspired dishes. The dessert I had made a few times, but the other three were completely new to me. While this kept me busy for the better part of a Sunday, I always find my best way to decompress is by cooking for others, and this did the trick. And I found a great feature as part of Saveur’s online magazine which gave me two of these four recipes.

The first recipe was for a Mint and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Chicken Kebab which did require a few new ingredients to add to my pantry, namely Aleppo Pepper and a Turkish Sweet Pepper paste. I think it was key to marinade this for a solid two hours before cooking. It’s a little sweet and a bit more spicy and has great flavor. I cut down a bit on the oil but maintained the other marinade quantities. These were fantastic and since I have a large jar of the sweet pepper paste sitting in my fridge, I’ve already made this two additional times. Here’s the recipe: https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Tavuk-Kebabi-Mint-and-Aleppo-Pepper-Marinated-Chicken-Kebabs/

The second recipe was for Gozleme, which is a stuffed Anatolian flatbread. This one was a bit more problematic to put together and turned into more of a messy stuffed pita pocket than the beautiful dish pictured in Saveur. The homemade dough was a bit easy to tear if rolled two thin, but then almost pizza dough like in thickness if left to its own devices. But the filling was great and I loved dipping this in hummus. Here’s the recipe: https://www.saveur.com/spinach-filled-anatolian-flatbread-recipe/

The third dish is called Kisir and it’s a bulgur salad with diced vegetables, similar to a tabbouleh. I happened to already have pomegranate molasses in my fridge from a pomegranate walnut chicken stew I had made last year (really glad I didn’t pitch this in the move) so it made sense to make a light side dish to accompany the heavier main dishes. Here’s the recipe : https://www.carolinescooking.com/kisir-turkish-bulgur-salad/

Lastly, I made Apricot Pistachio Squares for dessert which isn’t technically a Turkish recipe, but the combination of apricots and pistachios was definitely inspired by the region. I’ve made these a few times before and in fact, Matt has asked if these could be included in my regular holiday baked goods rotation. Finding apricots in the winter may be a bit tricky, but this is definitely up there in one of my favorite dessert recipes. It’s courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, which has all sorts of great recipes (I’m also a big fan of her cookbooks): https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/08/apricot-pistachio-squares/

Overall Level of Effort: 4 (for the whole meal, individually, these were rate a bit lower)

Skill Level: Intermediate (though Beginner for some like the kisir salad or chicken kebabs)

Would Make It Again? Yes to the chicken and apricot squares, both I’ve made several times and sit in my all-time favorite recipes cooked list.

Additional Notes: This certainly won’t be the last time I go a bit “all in” when it comes to cooking the food of a region. But what I liked the most about this meal is that I came away with two dishes that I will make time and time again, and everyone enjoyed the meal!

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