Culinary tour: Turkey

This week Foodalogue’s Culinary Tour will take us to the Republic of Turkey. Do you have your passport? It’s ok, you don’t really need it, I can get you through. We’re going to Turkey this week. Not the bird, the country. Turkey calls Bulgaria, Greece and Syria neighbors–among others. Turkey is a relatively young country, established in 1923 after the defeat of the Ottoman empire. I’ve never been, but I hear it is simply breathtaking and exciting.

I can’t say I am intimately familiar with Turkish cuisine, but Google is my friend and I know more about it today than I did yesterday. Since Turkey was ruled by the Ottomans for a while, you will notice their cuisine harmonizes with that of Central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans. As with most countries, the cuisine will vary from region to region, but there are still some common ingredients, such as eggplant, green peppers, lentils, pistachios and a number of herbs.

There is also an emphasis on desserts. Turns out, baklava is a Turkish specialty! Yes, I know. I always thought this was a Greek specialty, just as I thought it was always made with honey. How did I ever survive without the Internet, I will never know. What I do know is that baklava has strong ties to Turkey, that there are other desserts similar to it and they don’t have to include honey!!! A definite win in my book.

Wikipedia provided a very detailed compilation of Turkish desserts. The list started off with baklava and then mentioned other similar treats. Enter Sobiyet. I’m going to say that Sobiyet is the baklava’s uppity cousin. Or the fat one. Just like baklava, Sobiyet starts off with layers upon layers of buttery pastry, but it is then crowned with a creamy filling. I found an excellent recipe here.

Following Joan’s Culinary Tour, I have a choice as to how I honor the destination. I can:

  • go traditional: make one of the country’s national or traditional dishes.
  • choose a contemporary approach: take a traditional recipe and contemporize  it.
  • or go for a wild card and use the flavors and techniques of the country we are visiting, and create my own recipe.

This time I opted for a contemporary approach and tweaked the traditional Turkish recipe by substituting with my Latin stuff. Actually, I Panamanianized it, as the substitutions are very common ingredients in Panama. I added cashews, instead of using regular sugar or honey, I went for raspadura–unrefined sugar cane and I also added orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cloves for aromatics.

Cashew & Pistachio Sobiyet

I came across a delicious recipe by Mercedes over at Dessert Candy and followed it pretty closely except for the following changes:

For the custard filling: I allowed the milk to steep with a few cloves and a cinnamon stick, which I strained before adding the semolina. Once the custard had thickened, I added a bit of nutmeg and pureed raw cashews.

For the syrup: I replaced the sugar with raspadura, added the zest and of an orange, and a bit of vanilla extract.

For the assembly:  I sprinkled chopped cashews and pistachios over the custard. Also, when I had 2 or 3 sheets left, I topped the layer with more pistachios, I wanted the color to show through the top. I finished with more buttery phyllo.

I kinda free-formed it into a round; once all the layers were in place, I used the last 2 layers to  tuck all the edges under.

The result was a crisp, moist, sticky pastry that was (still is, there are a few pieces left) just sweet enough. The raspadura gave it a taste of caramel that seems to be perfumed with anise. It makes me think of toffee. Well, there are a lot more shots, if you care to look here.

This was an exciting destination, be sure to stop by and visit with my fellow travelers. Joan made a sinful looking dish with eggplant and my dear Norma made a 2-layer rice pudding. Join us at the next destination, Japan.

Cookingly yours,
Anamaris

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7 thoughts on “Culinary tour: Turkey

  1. I sometimes think I must have been a real walking-around ignoramus before google. I never wonder about anything anymore. The moment a question pops in my head, my fingers are on the keyboard. Although I could still be an ignoramus b/c not everything you read online is accurate. 🙂

    I’ve had my fair share of baklava but I don’t think I’ve ever had a custard filled one. As with other mid-Eastern desserts, this looks really rich. I guess that’s why they drink such strong coffee! Great job, Anamaris. I love that you made it ‘your own’.

  2. Bueno Anamaris, otra vez the botastes. I though also of making the baklava, but adding guava to it then changed my mind. I love this version and I advise people to look at the other photographs.

  3. Did someone mention custard?! Love the sumptuous layers of this dessert or baklava’s big fat cousin! You must have a lot of patience.

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