I have to admit that I’ve never been to Turkey but have visited a couple of Turkish restaurants here in Edinburgh so I do know that I like the food. I was pleased to be given the chance to review a copy of Ozlem’s Turkish Table by Ozlem Warren and what better way to try out a cookbook than to cook some recipes from it? You’ll notice though that my food photography isn’t up to the standard of that in the book – sorry about that!
About the Book
An unmissable addition to any kitchen, this stunning cookbook is a passionate gastronomic journey by chef Özlem Warren, unveiling Turkey’s rich culinary heritage with fascinating personal history, eye-catching photographs and mouth-watering meals.
Paying tribute to the vibrant and diverse cuisine of her homeland, Özlem divulges her own favourite and treasured family recipes and shares the secrets of signature Turkish dishes. Her regional specialities from the southeast and hometown of Antakya invite the reader to try, test and enjoy the many tastes of Turkey.
This exploration of Turkey’s melting-pot reflects the warmth of spirit and generosity of the country and author, as Özlem’s love for her native land and its food shine through on every page.
The first thing I must say about this book is that it is beautifully illustrated with photographs throughout. There’s not just gorgeous photos of the finished dishes but wonderful photos of the colourful ingredients you may find in the recipes.
The recipes themselves are written in a clear and easy to follow format. Some of them take quite a bit of preparation time but I would say that most people would be able to make the dishes to a good standard whether they are accomplished cooks or not.
I made menemen for our brunch over the weekend. This was a simple but delicious Turkish style scrambled egg dish. First I chopped and cooked spring onions, peppers, chilli flakes and tomatoes. Into that went a mixture of egg and feta cheese which were then scrambled with the veg. I think I didn’t put enough tomato in it but it was absolutely delicious.
In the evening my husband and I cooked together and chose to make karniyarik which is aubergine stuffed with lamb mince and vegetables. You could also have chosen to make this with beef mince. In fact, one thing that I found quite useful about the book is that alternative ingredients are suggested if you might it find it difficult to source the traditional Turkish ingredients.
I have to say that this was absolutely delicious and well worth the time it took to make. First we prepared the aubergines by salting them. Then we cooked the filling which was onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and lamb mince. When it was ready and the aubergines had also been browned on both sides, we just put the filling in the aubergines, topped with some red peppers and cooked in the oven. I was interested to find that you add an oil and water mix to the baking tray as I’ve never done that before.
The karniyarik was a simple dish to make and full of flavour. The aubergines were so tender. We loved it and also enjoyed the time in the kitchen preparing it. Aubergine and lamb are common ingredients in many of the recipes and since we really like both of them, I think we’ll be trying out a lot more recipes in this book.
I also enjoyed learning about the author, her heritage and love of Turkish cooking at the beginning of the book. She explains that the recipes in the book include classic Turkish recipes and that there is a focus on specialities from Antakaya in Southern Turkey where she and her family are from. It was interesting to read about her own Turkish roots and see the fabulous family photos she included as well as finding out about Antakya’s history and Turkish culinary traditions in general.
If you enjoy the flavours in Turkish food and would like to try making them at home, then you should definitely give Ozlem’s Turkish Table a try. From simple soups to more complicated baklava, you’ll find recipes for all abilities, from breakfast to meze, veggie feasts to sweet treats, from fish to meat to grains. There’s sure to be something which you are inspired to make and will become a firm favourite. We’ll definitely be making the karniyarik again!
My thanks to at Nancy at GB Publishing Org for sending me a copy of the book. It’s worth a look at the book’s page on the GB Publishing website where you can find out more about the book and listen to some interviews with the author, as well as watch videos of some of the dishes being prepared. You can see that here: Ozlem’s Turkish Table. You’ll also find some buying links and the book should be available to order from any good bookshop.
About the Author
Born and raised in Turkey, Ozlem is passionate about sharing the historical and cultural riches of her homeland through its cuisine. Her journey into the culinary world started on a different continent and a long way from her homeland. In 2005 she joined Central Market Cooking School in Texas teaching Turkish cookery classes as a guest chef in Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Then her family moved to England in 2009 prompting her to launch her Turkish recipe blog “Ozlem’s Turkish Table” (www.ozlemsturkishtable.com) so she could connect with Turkish food lovers around the world. 10 years on and her love for Turkish cuisine has opened up new and exciting opportunities for her teaching classes at JA University in Amman, Jordan; London’s Divertimenti Cookery School, Blid and Hatton Gatherings and the Istanbul Culinary Institute in Istanbul.