Leek Fritters (Pırasa Mücveri)





























Although "the" fritter, or mücver in Turkish, dish in Turkish cuisine is the zucchini one (here's the recipe), variations are popular as well. Among the different versions of mücver, leek is the best, if you ask me.

2-3 stalk leeks, washed and trimmed-the end dark green parts

3 eggs
1 cup feta
1/4 cup parsley, chopped finely
1/4 cup mint, chopped finely
3/4 cup flour
salt
black pepper

1/2 cup frying oil (I use olive oil but you can use corn, sun flower, or canola)

-Put the leeks in a food processor or chop them well, very fine
-Mix all the ingredients. If the batter is too runny, add more flour.
-Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
-Drop scoops of batter in hot oil. Make sure they don't touch.
-Fry them on each side until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.
-when done, place fritters on paper towel to drain excessive oil.
-Serve with plain yogurt or garlicy yogurt sauce. 
(For garlicy yogurt sauce beat 1 cup of yogurt with 1 clove of minced garlic and a pinch of salt.)

Sunchokes in Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Yer Elması)





























This ginger look-alike, hard-to-peel root has many names in English among which I like sunchoke or sunroot the best. I liked the sun in those names but never really understood why a root that probably never sees the sun has that name, but then I saw the plant; it looks like, I thought, sunflower, and to my surprise it apparently is related to the sunflower plant. It is called yer elması, i.e. "earth apple," what French call potato, in Turkish.

Sunchokes, although not very common Turkey-wide, are very common in the Aegean and in Istanbul. The sunchoke season here in Northern California and in Turkey run from late November to to early Spring, and you can find them in stores and at farmers' markets. They are great in Turkish olive oil dishes (here's a recipe with orange juice) or raw in salads. This low in calorie, high in fiber root is quite rich when it comes to health benefits. It has a distinct sweet rooty and slightly nutty flavor, but it is not for everyone. I'm the only one who likes it cooked in my house. So you need to try and see whether you like it simmered in olive oil or raw, or like it at all. Below is a very traditional olive oil dish recipe.
   












serves ~4 people
1 lb sunchokes, peeled and left as a whole or diced
1 lb baby or regular potatoes
1/2 lb pearl onions peeled or one medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced or halved or 1 cup baby carrots
1/3 cup olive oil (yep, it is an olive oil dish and the amount is normal)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt
1/2 bunch fresh dill
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup water

-The hardest part of the recipe; peel the sunchokes. It is easier to peel them when left in water for 20-30 minutes beforehand. Leave them as they are or dice them.
-Put olive oil in a medium size pot on medium heat.
-When heated add pearl onions and sugar. Stir for 4-5 minutes until softened. Do not let them brown.
-Add sunchokes, carrots, potatoes, and half of the dill bunch, unchopped, for flavor.
-Stir for a minute.
-Add water, lemon juice, and salt.
-First let it boil, and then simmer it on low heat covered for 30-40 minutes, until cooked. If unsure, pierce sunchokes with a knife.
-Let the dish cool down in its pot with the lid on. Transfer to a serving plate only after cooled down.
-Serve with finely chopped fresh dill on top.

*This is an olive oil dish; it should be served at room temperature or cold. Olive oil dishes tend to taste even better the next day.

*I do like sunchokes in olive oil in round shapes, but you can cube or dice all the ingredients. It's just a matter of presentation.





























For a non-traditional, or an almost Turkish, twist try with a splash of balsamic vinegar.


Savory Cornmeal Bread (Mısır Ekmeği)











Savory corn meal or corn flour bread was something my mom used to bake for breakfast on cozy/lazy weekends. And hers is a special one because corn bread is usually quite plain. However, to make it into a wholesome breakfast mom added white cheese, olives, parsley, etc. It was always a special treat not only because it was delicious but also because my aunt would bring the corn flour from my dad's hometown, a small town in the Black Sea Region. 
No worries, though, the recipe is so delicious that it works with any corn flour or meal. 
Corn flour can easily get bitter. Store 'it in the fridge or freezer, in an airtight container, or better, buy fresh in small quantities.   
2 cups of corn meal
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 cup yogurt
3/4 cup oil (corn, sun flower, or light olive oil-if you use olive oil it might make the cake bitter)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (depending on your feta cheese)
1 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and sliced (you can use canned olives but the flavor will not be the same)
1 tsp pepper flakes
1/2 bunch parsley or dill, chopped finely (if you don't have parsley or dill, you can use thyme)










-Beat eggs in a bowl and add all the ingredients. Mix well.
-If the dough seems too dense, lighten it up by adding one table spoon of milk or yogurt at a time until you have soft dough. This shouldn't be a dense cake.
-Grease the owen dish (I used a 2 inch deep 8.5 x 11.5 inch one)
-Put the dough in the owen dish. Sprinkle black seeds on it if you wish.
-Bake approximately for an hour in a preheated owen at 375ºF. After 45 minutes, start checking with a knife every 10 minutes. When the knife comes out clean, the cake is baked.

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