I just had the best night ever, filled with new friends, wine and most importantly, delicious food. A small group of impassioned home cooks were able to gather together and share recipes from Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey by Robyn Eckhardt.
This was our first time meeting one another and just as the cookbook is broken into different regions of Turkey, each of us came from our own pocket of Toronto with stories, pasts and cooking passions to share.
We had a table filled with Turkish delights from Lentil Soup with Mint to Lamb and Bulgur Stuffed Peppers along with bright, zesty salads, beautiful flatbreads, and Turkish coffee and Creamy Fig Puddings to round out the feast.
Thanks to Robyn Eckhardt for taking the time to chat with us and delve a bit deeper into the flavors of Turkey, it made our night! The book is a treasure for anyone who enjoys cooking, travel stories and beautiful photographs (shout out to the brilliant David Hagerman!) It offers recipes that vary from simple to complex and truly takes you on a journey through the lands and cuisines of Turkey.
I enjoy a challenge so I took on a few recipes that I found unique, these were my contributions to our Istanbul and Beyond supper club:
1. Spicy Bulgur Kofte (Cig Kofte) spiced with smoky Urfa pepper, tomato and Turkish pepper paste. It’s served with crisp lettuce leaves, arugula, mint and a to-die-for Pomegranate and Tomato Relish
2. Spicy Meat-Filled Bulgur Dumplings with Tomato and Mint Sauce (Icli Kofte) This was my favourite both in terms of cooking and eating! Shaping the bulgur dough can be a challenge, but after making a few it becomes a methodical and meditative process. The first bite pulled at my taste buds with a burst of spicy onion and lamb filling. So good.
3. Creamy Fig Pudding (Incir Uyutmasi) this sweet fig and milky pudding uses simple ingredients and technique. Mine was quite creamy, it’s a rich ending and paired well with Anita’s Turkish coffee.
If you haven’t seen the book yet, take a peek, it’s one that most will cook from often, I know I will. In reading through the recipes what really grabbed my attention was the sense of community, in fact, I learned that in some parts of Turkey bakeries open up their ovens to the community to use for cooking and baking. It reminded me of the Nonnas in Italy going to the mill to grind their flour –– something from our not so distant past that has been lost along the way. I think urban communities should bring this tradition back as a way to learn, build community and share good recipes — to all the bakeries and wood-fired oven owners in Toronto let’s get communal!
Thanks to all the girls I met last night for such a fabulous time and for creating such delicious food, until the next one ❤