Dill with currants, feta cheese in phyllo dough, and grape leaves don’t usually come to mind as I’m putting together dinner, but after my first encounter with Turkish Flavours these items have officially entered my kitchen repertoire. The wonderful combination of new tastes and the mouth watering food found throughout Turkey was amazing. I came excited about the turkish delight and left with a recipe book and lots of new dishes to try when I have a kitchen again.
Every dish in Turkey was memorable, the slow cooked lamb, fluffy pastries and sweet desserts. I knew from Turkey’s reputation among other foodies that it was a place that I would definitely want to seek out a cooking school. After just a little research it was clear that the best choice would be a cooking class with Selin through Turkish Flavours. I´m so happy that Selin helped me unlock a few of the secrets of Ottoman cuisine and can enjoy a home cooked Turkish meal upon my return home.
Unlocking secrets is exactly how it felt as Selin walked us through the steps in making a lavish Turkish feast. The class was held in her own kitchen, in the home where she was born. And it felt as though she was an old friend from the moment she greeted us at her door. We enjoyed getting to know the other participants over a glass of wine and loved hearing Selin’s story.
The recipes on offer in Selin’s home change based on the seasons. We were treated to a seven course meal along with wine. All of which we cooked ourselves. The meal started with stuffed grape leaves, an olive salad with the uniquely Turkish spice of sumac. We moved on to cheese borek and a zuchinni frittata before the marquee dish of lamb slow roasted with apricots, currants and raisins, which was amazing! Dessert was just as tempting as the rest of the meal with rivani and sweet butternut squash.
We left Selin’s home with a new set of friends, a wonderful foodie mentor in Istanbul and a whole new repertoire of dishes to try at home. For all of you cooks at home, here is the recipe for the deceptively simple and delicious butternut squash dessert. Enjoy!
Sweet Butternut Squash (Kabak Tatlisi)
500 gr butternut squash
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp water
Crushed pistachio nuts or walnuts
Cut the squash in chunks a bit larger than bite-size. Place them in a large pot. Add sugar and water. Cook on low-medium heat for approximately 30 minutes without the lid on. You’ll know they’re done when the water has been mostly drained, the color of the squash darkens and they look somewhat shiny.
Place on serving plate and let cool, then garnish with the pistachio nuts and serve.