Mini Pizzas with Olives, Cheese and Tomatoes; Zeytinli Mini Pizza

Mini Pizzas with Olives, Cheese and Tomatoes; Zeytinli Mini Pizza

By Ozlem Warren -

Ozlem: 'I love the savory pastries, pogacas and these little melt-in-the-mouth mini pizzas with various fillings sold in bakeries, firin and patisseries, pastanes, in Turkey. We Turks love them for breakfast as well as for a morning or afternoon snack with cup of tea, cay; such a delicious treat. They are easy to make at home and a real crowd pleaser, hope you enjoy them - afiyet olsun'

Serves: 35 mini pizzas
  • 375 gr/ 3 cups all-purpose plain flour
  • 7gr dry yeast (1 sachet)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 ml/ 2 tsp. sugar
  • 240 ml / 8 fl. oz. / 1 cup warm milk
  • 15 ml/ 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 50 gr / 2 oz. butter, melted
  • For the filling:
  • 3 small tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Handful - about 15- green and black olives, roughly chopped
  • 200 gr / 7 oz. / 2 cups grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • For the topping:
  • 1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F

Combine the warm milk, sugar and dry yeast in a small bowl and mix well. Let it stand for 5 minutes so that it gets foamy.

Stir in the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the melted butter and slowly pour in the milk & yeast mixture.
Knead well with your hands for a few minutes, until the dough comes together. Have a drizzle (about 1 tbsp.) of olive oil in your hands if the dough gets too sticky; knead and shape the dough like a ball.
Place the dough in the large bowl and cover with a cling film and a tea towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
Prepare the filling while the dough is rising. Deseed the tomatoes and olives and chop finely. Place them in a medium sized bowl and stir in the grated cheese and olive oil. Combine and mix well. Set the filling aside.

Once the dough has risen, punch down and divide 3 equal pieces and roll into balls.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the ball of dough with a rolling pin into thin flat rounds in ⅓ cm (0.14”) width. Using a round mold or round glass of 8 cm/3” in diameter, cut the flat dough into circles. Repeat until all the dough is used.

Line baking parchment paper on your baking tray and place the dough circles on it. Using your finger, make a little dent in the middle of each dough circle.
Place a dessert spoonful of filling in each dough circle (in and around the dent).
Brush the pastries with the beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven (180 C/ 350 F) for 15 minutes or until golden around the edges.

Serve hot immediately. This recipe makes 35 mini pizzas; afiyet olsun!
Sergen Erkarslan
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Eggplant kebab with yoghurt marinated chicken; Patlicanli Kebap

Eggplant kebab with yoghurt marinated chicken; Patlicanli Kebap

By Ozlem Warren -

Ozlem: 'This is a southern Turkish style kebab, prepared at homes. The aubergines (eggplants) are double baked in this recipe, Southern Turkish style, which intensify their flavor. Marinating the chicken in yoghurt, olive oil, tomato paste and red pepper paste is well worth the effort, as it tenderizes the chicken and enables the flavors to blend well. I hope you enjoy this delightful, home style baked aubergine kebab with chicken and vegetables.'

Serves: 6
  • 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
  • 700 gr / 1.5 lb. chicken thighs or chicken breast, skinned and cut in 4x4 cm (1.6” x 1.6”) chunks
  • 2 red Romano (pointy) or bell peppers, deseeded and sliced in chunks
  • 1 green (pointy or bell) pepper, deseeded and sliced in chunks
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 45 ml / 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • For the chicken marinade:
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. plain whole milk yoghurt
  • ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish hot pepper paste (optional)
  • 5 ml/ 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp. olive oil to sauté the marinated chicken
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ tbsp. red pepper paste or 1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ tbsp. tomato paste
  • 12 fl. oz. / 1 ½ cup water
Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F

Peel the aubergines (eggplants) in zebra stripes, using a vegetable peeler or a small knife. Cut the aubergines in lengthways then in 1cm (0.4”) thick slices. Place the slices on a tray and sprinkle salt over them (The salt will help extract the bitter juices out of the aubergines).
Set aside for 15 minutes.

Prepare the marinade for the chicken. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Stir in the yoghurt, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, red pepper paste (if using) and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste and combine and mix the chicken pieces with the marinade. Cover the marinade and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes (you can prepare this marinade ahead of time, even overnight and leave in the fridge).

Using kitchen paper towel, squeeze the excess moisture out of the aubergines. Place the aubergines on a tray and drizzle 3 tbsp. olive oil over them. Coat the pieces with the olive oil and partially bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan and stir in the marinated chicken pieces. Sauté over medium to high heat for 4 – 5 minutes, turn the heat off.

Once the aubergine slices partially baked, prepare the chicken & aubergine bake with vegetables. In a large baking dish, place a chicken piece next to onion, pepper (alternating red and green pepper pieces) and aubergine slices. Keep on placing chicken and vegetables in this order side by side, until all the chicken and vegetables are layered. Spread any remaining aubergine slices at the top.

To prepare the sauce, stir in the red pepper paste, tomato paste, red pepper flakes and the water to the pan used for sautéing the chicken. Combine all, also using any leftover chicken marinade sauce in the pan. Pour in this mixture over your tray with the chicken, aubergine and vegetables.

Bake in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, until chicken and vegetables are cooked and turned light golden color.

Serve hot with plain rice or bulgur pilaf aside.
    Sergen Erkarslan
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    Artichoke, aubergine & lamb moussaka

    Artichoke, aubergine & lamb moussaka

    By Good Food Magazine -

    A lightly spiced lamb bake with artichoke hearts, a cherry tomato ragu and layers of fried aubergine and potato. A Greek masterpiece! Often seen in other cuisines in different variations, a fantastic blend of good food!

    Serves: 8-10

    • Olive oil
    • 1kg lamb mince
    • 2 large onions, finely chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 2 x 395g cans cherry tomatoes in thick juice
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • pinch of sugar
    • 2 medium aubergines
    • 700g large potatoes
    • 2 x 390g cans artichoke hearts, drained really well (see tip)

    For the sauce:

    • 100g butter
    • 100g plain flour
    • 900ml milk
    • very generous grating of nutmeg
    • 125g grated Gruyère
    • 25g grated parmesan
    • 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
    Heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a broad, heavy-bottomed pan until hot, then fry the lamb until golden brown all over, about 10 mins (it’s important that the oil is hot, otherwise you’ll end up steaming the lamb instead of frying it). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl. Pour off all but 2 tbsp oil in the pan (the lamb will release quite a bit). Heat this and fry the onions over a medium heat until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for another few mins, then add the tomatoes, bay, cinnamon, oregano, sugar and seasoning. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Return the meat to the pan, cover and cook for 40 mins over a low heat. Take off the lid and cook until you have a thick sauce (it shouldn’t be too ‘soupy’).


    While the meat is cooking, cut the aubergines into rounds. Cut the potatoes into thin slices. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook the aubergine in batches until golden on both sides (get two pans on the go if you have them), then turn down the heat and cook until soft. Season and remove from the pan. Add a little more oil and cook the potatoes in batches, on both sides, until pale gold, removing them as you go. You’ll need to add more oil to the pan when you fry each batch. Season and set aside.

    Fry the artichoke hearts in olive oil over a high heat to get some colour, but be careful that they don’t fall apart. Season.

    Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick from the meat and taste for seasoning. Layer up the moussaka in a dish measuring roughly 32 x 23 x 6cm. Start by putting all the potatoes in the bottom, then add half the meat. Arrange a layer of aubergine on top of this, then the rest of the meat. Spoon the artichoke hearts on top.

    Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and stir in the flour until it becomes slightly dry and sandy in colour. Take off the heat and start to add the milk, a little at a time. Beat well after each addition and keep the mixture smooth. Keep adding until you have used up all the milk. Put the pan back on a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously, until it thickens to form a sauce. Add lots of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Turn down the heat and cook gently for about 5 mins – this just helps to cook the flour in the sauce. Add three-quarters of the cheese and stir to help it to melt. Check the seasoning – it needs assertive seasoning. Leave to cool a little, then beat in the eggs.

    Pour this over the layers in the dish and scatter the remaining cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30 mins until the top is brown and bubbling. Leave to cool for about 10 mins – Greeks never eat it piping hot – then serve.

    Sergen Erkarslan
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    Spinach and Cheese pie – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek

    Spinach and Cheese pie – Ispanakli, Peynirli Borek

    By Ozlem Warren -

    This borek is a great addition to a weekend brunch or a dinner party appetizer, Afiyet Olsun!

    Serves 8 -10
    Preparation time – 15 minutes
    Cooking time – 40 minutes

    • 150 gr / 7 oz spinach leaves
    • 150 gr/ 7 oz feta cheese, mashed with a fork
    • 100 gr / app. 4 oz shredded mozzarella
    • 3 eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 cup / 125 ml milk
    • 1/2 cup / 125 ml water
    • 3 tablespoons mild olive oil
    • 12 sheets of fillo pastry (cut in half vertically, which makes 24 sheets)
    • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
    • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

    Preheat oven to 180c/350 F/gas mark 4

    Remove the stalks of the spinach, wash and chop roughly. Mix together in a bowl with the feta cheese, shredded mozzarella and two of the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and milk.

    Grease a rectangular baking dish with the remaining olive oil. Lay the pastry sheets along its long side and cut in half vertically. Open the sheets only when you are ready to use them and cover the rest with a damp towel so that they don’t dry out.

    Lay three sheets in the greased baking dish. Pour a little of the milk-olive oil-water mixture (about 3 tablespoons) all over the sheet. Repeat this layering two more times, using three fillo sheets each time.

    Lay three more sheets over and spread the spinach filling evenly. Continue laying three sheets of fillo, pouring over each the milk mixture, three more times. Lay the remaining sheets on the top of the pie, sprinkling the milk mixture. Whisk together the remaining beaten egg with a little olive oil and brush over the pastry. Sprinkle with sesame or nigella seeds.

    Bake the pie in the oven for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Serve hot, cut into pieces. This dish can be successfully reheated.

    Important tips: If you would like to cut back on the amount of the eggs, you can omit or decrease them in the spinach and feta filling. 2) Once cooked, if you keep the pie covered with flax or parchment paper, this will keep the pie moist. 3) This pie freezes wonderfully. Once cooled, put the pie in a freezer bag and seal. When you’d like to reheat (at 350 F for about 15 minutes), put the pie in a greased baking tray and sprinkle the top with a little milk and water mixture to give some moisture.

    Sergen Erkarslan
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