Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Living abroad is all about making connections.

Sometimes you make those connections in person or sometimes online through today’s various social media outlets. And every once in awhile, those two worlds collide.

That’s what recently happened to me.

Last Friday, I met up with Ozlem Warren of London-based Ozlem’s Turkish Table here in Istanbul.

Warren grew up in Antakya, a southeastern city in Turkey near the Syrian border, fell in love with a British man, moved away from Turkey, but took her love of Turkish cuisine with her. Now, she teaches private lessons and at cooking schools in England. She is currently spending a few weeks visiting her relatives and vacationing in Turkey.

But last night, lucky me, I got to take a Turkish cooking class with Warren at the Istanbul Culinary Institute. The same place where I teach here! (My next baking class, Introduction to Pastry, will be Aug. 28. You can sign up here, and you too can learn how to make NY-style cheesecake, a rich Devil’s Food Cake and more.)
Ozlem and me at the end of a hot night of cooking at the Istanbul Culinary Institute.
Warren’s Turkish cuisine class was interesting, filled with good tips and, most importantly, fun! The students were five Turkish women, two Istanbul expats and two tourists from Austria. I even met a Turkish woman who owns a cafe near Emirgan. 

In the class, we learned how to make two Antakya mezes – walnuts, red pepper paste and olive oil dip (cevizli biber) and smoked eggplant salad with garlic yogurt (patlıcanlı yoğurtlama). I’ve eaten cevizli biber meze several times, but this one had just the right level of spice. Not too hot!
Ozlem making the cevizli biber meze at the Istanbul Culinary Institute.
The creamy, garlicky eggplant meze that would be delicious would Ramazan pidesi!
The main course, where we got our hands dirty, was tray kebab with vegetables (tepsi kebabı). The potatoes aren’t traditional, but that’s how Warren’s mother makes it. To me, meat and potatoes always pair well together.

Mixing the ingredients for the kebab reminded me of my mother making Sunday meatloaf in Nebraska. And I mean every Sunday!

Of course, this kebab was much more flavorful than your standard, boring American meatloaf. The kebab was spiced with fresh parsley, cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper and covered with a tomato-red pepper paste sauce.
Ozlem with the finished version of tray kebab with vegetables (tepsi kebabı).
For dessert, we stuffed dried apricots with walnuts and sugar to make cevizli kayısı tatlısı and served it with Turkish kaymak and ice cream. WOW!
Our stuffed apricots all lined up in rows ready to be baked and caramelize in the oven.
After working together in the kitchen for about 2 and a half hours, we all sat down, toasted glasses of wine and dug into our wonderful meal of Turkish cuisine from Antakya.

Thanks Ozlem! It was a delight and a pleasure to meet you and cook with you!

You can also read about Warren here: UK-based Turkish Chef Returns Home to Teach in Istanbul in the Hurriyet Daily News.

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Tina Maxima said...

Great woman on the same place!
Food looks delicious, and could easily be lost, that I show up there :)))

Joy said...

@Tina Maxima, the food was wonderful! Can't wait to try and make it in my own kitchen someday. :-)

BacktoBodrum said...

I'm green with envy. Teo top bloggers cooking in one place.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i miss all the fun stuff! i love her blog and visit it all the time. i've made lots of her recipes too. it was so nice that you two got to meet and cook together!

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum and Joyce, Wish you both could've been there too. Ozlem was a lot of fun to meet and cook with. Recipes were delicious and fairly easy. :-)

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

Dear Joy, thank you so much for this lovely post, I am just having a chance to check the posts, so very kibd of you:) it was a pleasure to meet you and honor to cook together! Just hope you can visit in England and we cook again together:) xx Ozlem