Turkey Tales

uncooked beans2I lived in Turkey on two separate occasions in the 1990s. The first time, in the early 90s I was teaching English and then second time in the late 90s I was doing research in the archives for my thesis. While living there I developed a love for Turkish food, especially Turkish meze and borek. My favourite type of borek is su boregi, and while I have made it at home, it takes a while so I usually make a cheat version of it.

On Saturday our two friends Pete and Alfie came to tea. They also kindly agreed to help us move our turkeys to their new home in the future goat enclosure.

future goat, current turkey enclosure

future goat, current turkey enclosure

Pete and James had made them a nice new perch during the afternoon. Operation turkey-move  started at dusk and was a success. We waited for them to perch on the hay feeder and then went in and grabbed them. They are quite settled in their new home now.

Turkey shelter and feeder

new turkey shelter and feeder

I thought therefore that it might be cute to stick with the turkey theme and make borek and some meze for dinner – using, of course, swiss chard and leeks!




Yufka (or filo pastry – yufka is the Turkish version of filo pastry and you can get it in Turkish stores in London and probably elsewhere as well); eggs; beyaz peynir (literally white cheese – you can use feta cheese); swiss chard; butter. All quantities are approximate – it all depends how much filling you like.

Wash, chop and cook the swiss chard. Crumble in the beyaz peynir. Add in about 4-6 eggs – it should all be quite sloppy. Melt the butter. Brush butter on a shallow square (or oblong – or round) pan or dish. Layer in some yufka (filo pastry) brushing each sheet with butter after adding it. Let some of it hang over the edge of the dish. I usually have about 4 layers. Then add half of the swiss chard mix.

making borek

making borek

Add another 4 layers of yufka, brushing with butter. Add more of the swiss chard mix, then add the final 4 sheets of yufka and fold over the edges to make a neat parcel.borek1 Brush with butter. Beat up another egg and pour on top. Bake until golden brown in a hot-ish oven (about 200c). Leave to cool and cut into squares.

cooked borek

cooked borek







Terbiyeli Pirasi (leeks with egg and lemon sauce) – adapted from Claudia Roden Arabesque (167)

6-8 medium leeks; 2 egg yolks; juice from one large lemon; tsp sugar; little bit of butter; salt and pepper

Cook leeks in boiling water. Beat egg yolks with sugar and lemon juice. Drain leeks, but save 200ml of cooking water and add back into pan after you have drained leeks. Bring water to the boil again, add a spoonful to the egg yolk mix then add this back into pan with the water. Cook very gently until it starts to thicken. I add a bit of butter at this stage. Then add salt and pepper to taste and pour over leeks. Serve at room temperature.

leeks with egg and lemon sauce

leeks with egg and lemon sauce







Yogurtlu Dereotu Yoghurt and Dill

yoghurt; dill; large glug of olive oil, dash of white wine vinegar; salt and pepper. Mix it all together.dill yoghurt





Barbunya Pilaki – Baked Borlotti Beans

Dried borlotti beans (I used my haul from last year – dried in the pod and kept all winter in a paper bag!); 4 frozen tomatoes; lots of olive oil; rosemary; garlic.

dried borlotti beans

dried borlotti beans

As my beans were dried, I soaked the borlotti beans for a few hours, then boiled them  for 20 minutes – you can skip this step if you are using fresh beans. Put beans in a casserole dish. Fill up with water to nearly (but not quite) cover the top of the beans. Add rosemary, garlic and tomatoes. Pour in lots of olive oil to cover the beans completely. Put the lid on and roast in a hot oven for an hour. If there is still quite a lot of liquid left then remove lid and cook for a little longer. When the beans are cooked add salt and pepper to taste. I added some lemon olive oil before serving.

cooked beans

cooked beans

I served it all with home-made pita bread. As I was too tired to make a dessert so we had home-made vanilla and chocolate icecream and red currant sorbet from the freezer for afters. We had a lovely time.


Happy Turkeys

Happy turkeys


N.B. we also ate swiss chard and leeks on Friday as well. We had Chinese slow braised pork belly served with noodles adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall The River Cottage Meat Book (277). Ingredients: pork belly, cubed; chicken stock; 6 leeks; big handful of swiss chard; egg noodles; 50ml soy sauce; 40ml Chinese rice wine; large splash or two of rice wine vinegar; I tbs brown sugar; star anise; ginger (we used puree as we didn’t have any fresh); chilli. Pour  boiling water on pork, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes then drain and rinse. Put back in clean pot with soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, two of the leeks sliced, sugar, star anise, ginger and chilli and cover with stock. bring to boil, cover and simmer for 2-3 hours. Add in 4 sliced leeks and chopped up swiss chard and cook uncovered for a while. Serve spooned onto noodles. No photo as it was Friday night and we were hungry and tired.


7 responses to “Turkey Tales

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  4. Dear Claire, I’m still busy discovering your blog. And still love it. Thank you for these marvellous turkish recipes. Must make them soon. They bring back lots of memories. I’ve tried the su boregi in it’s original way earlier this year, with some aid of youtube: What a mess…. But so tasty. – So nice: I’ve been in Turkey in the 90th too, several times, several places and spent a few months in Ankara at the Goethe-Institute (having a practical due to my German-as-a-foreign-language university studies – my other subject has been archeology :-)). — And oh, isn’t it funny: I’ve got a Claudia Roden cookbook too – a German translation of “Invitation to Mediterranean Cooking”. – I hope you are fine…

  5. Hi Irmi, Oh su boregi is amazing. I lived in Turkey twice in the 1990s and used to eat it for breakfast a lot. I have made it once – it took a long time, but it was delicious. Did you like living in Ankara? The BIAA (British Institute at Ankara) is there and they have a great archaeological library and collection and some excellent scholars work there – did you visit at all? Glad you are enjoying the blog, it is lovely having people visit. Hope you have a great weekend. I am going to harvest my borlotti beans today so might make some more barbunya pilaki.

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