Milk and cheese play an important part in many cultures. First country people think of when dwelling on this subject is most likely France. However, whilst traveling you can also come across some gems in unexpected places. After reading a blog article on Istanbuleats.com , this place caught my attention. They make their own Buffalo cheese and other products from a farm they are in business with. For more details about the background of this little business, have a look in the references. Otherwise, when you are there, talk with them directly, they are more than happy to share their experience and passion with customers.
Finding the place was not the easiest, but it certainly was worth it, despite the shabby look of it. You can really feel the passion of the products, and we could taste it throughout all the small dishes we ordered. The buffalo kaymak cheese with honey was like a little cloud of freshness covered in golden sweetness. The honey is also the result of their own product range, and this pine nut version is unique. We couldn’t resist, and bought a pot of liquid gold for home.
For a little contrast, we also endulged in having fried buffalo salami. It was crispy, and had a little of a tangier flavour. Together, they paired up for a nice meaty, creamy sweet and sour combination.
To top this off and to remain in the milk products, I decided to taste a milk pudding which is as surprising as it is tasty. Tavuk göğüsü’ (tah-VOOK’ go-OOZ-oo’), is a pudding made with chicken breasts. The texture of it is a nice creamy milky pudding, with very fine strands of chicken breasts, giving a subtle note at the end. This very unctuous dessert is sprinkled with a little cinnamon, and is an ideal low calorie and low fat treat. Making it is also the result of a long process, and most certainly skills to make it this delicious.
Other cheese in Turkey follow the classic Mediterranean style harder sheep or goat cheese, which are brine cured cheeses. They are great as fillings in pastries, or as a melted topping on grilled vegetables, as well as simply sprinkled in salad. One great use of it, is combined with spinach in a filo pastry. In my previous posts about the Balkans, I mentioned the burek (or borek, depending on where you are). Whilst in Istanbul, I came across a very nice variation of it for breakfast, although it’s versatility can also be used for snacks, starters and so on.
The principle is the same as for the burek. Prepare a base mixture, then roll it up, cook and enjoy. So I thought, why not add a little recipe for you to enjoy gastro travels at home.
- 500g of spinach
- 300g of sheep cheese (feta or similar, but not too dry)
- 1 medium onion
- Oil or ghee / clarified butter
- Filo pastry
- 1 egg (for the coating)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Ras el hanout
- Sesame seeds for a sprinkle (optional)
- Sautée the onions until they have a golden colour
- Add the washed spinach, and sautée until it has wilted
- Set aside and allow to cool
- Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add the cheese and thoroughly mix
- Season to taste
- In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg yolk and some oil
Depending on which variant you choose, you should get the appropriate pastry. The Yufka or flakier and thinner one is best for the triangle version called Muska Boregi in Turkish. The slightly thicker ones, which you can also get pre-cut into pie slices are great for the rolled up cigar style snacks.
Keep in mind, that whilst preparing either one, you should cover the rest of the pastry with a damp cloth. This will avoid it getting dry and crumbly.
For the Muska Boregi, after folding once or twice, I like to add a quick brush of the egg between layers, for it to stick and a little taste.
For the rolls, once you past rolling the filling, pinch it just a bit on each side, to prevent the filing from flowing out when melting.
- Place a 2 teaspoons of filling at the base of the pastry, and roll or fold accordingly
- Place on a baking sheet and brush with the egg yolk
- Sprinkle some sesame seeds if you so wish
- Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 C until golden brown (about 20-30 min)
- Serve and enjoy
- More about the shop : http://istanbuleats.com/2014/06/last-of-the-milkmen-fehmi-o%CC%88zsu%CC%88ts-kaymak-from-buffalo-to-table/
- Recipe for ras el hanout : http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/ras-el-hanout-101070
- Chicken breast pudding : http://turkishfood.about.com/od/DessertsSweets/r/Turkish-chicken-Breast-Pudding