The chefs gathered again in San Rafael for an evening of palate tantalizing Turkish cuisine. I had missed the last couple, and it was great to be back in deep conversation about a sophisticated cuisine. One of the interesting things we learned about Turkish cuisine is that it developed a certain refinement from the populace inventing and creating things for the taste of the royal family over time. Here is a visual tour of our meal.
Since I made an appetizer of Turkish Hummus with organic whole grain pita bread, and it shows the lovely table setting, I'll show this one first. Looking at the recipe, it seemed to follow closely they way I've been taught to make it. Upon closer inspection, the main differences were that cumin is used to season it, and all the skins on the chickpeas have to be removed before processing. Removing the skin leaves a smoother, more refined spread.
Janice brought Dolmas, which were stuffed with a mixture of ground lamb and beef, rice and spices, including curry, cumin and a little cayenne. These don't photograph so well, but this rendition was converting those who don't like dolmas to even requesting seconds.
Tom M's Etli Enginar Dolmasi, or Artichokes stuffed with beef also had rice and an unusual addition of dill.
Janis also brought some wonderful lentil soup, or Mercimek Corbasi as it's called in Turkey.
Karen's Borek stuffed with Leeks came out with the soup, and it made a nice pairing as the pastry was more crisp than expected.
Tom H. was thoughtful enough to bring Raki to accompany our meal, and particularly the appetizer portion. Caren, who actually lived in Turkey in the late '60s, said it was very reminiscent of times in Turkey. Very similar to Greek ouzo, the licorice flavored liqueur turns milky when mixed with water.
Emil brought Ahtapot Salatasi, a light salad of octopus. Even among food connoisseurs, there are some foods that are 'challenging' to borrow a word used in sushi bars. Light and delightful as though this is, having a ceviche like flavor infused with lime, one would not even try it, and a couple of others still would have preferred shrimp, although saying it was remarkably tender and flavors nicely balanced just as it was.
Although Gillian was not able to attend, she sent her dishes along with Tom H. Now that's dedication! And this Hunkar Begendi – or Sultan’s Delight that she made was one of the most outstanding dishes of the evening. This was a stew of tender lamb with an ethereal eggplant sauce. Everyone wants this recipe!
Tom H. brought the lovely salad featured on the magazine cover, a Gül Yapraklý Marul Salatasý, or a Rose Petal Salad with Parsley and Mint. The base of the salad was romaine lettuce, with generous amounts of the herbs. It was tossed lightly with a meyer lemon and EVOO dressing.
It was the perfect foil to his Yogurtlu Kebap, or Lamb Kebap with yoghurt sauce. This was also a stellar dish. The minced lamb infused with herbs and spices were flattened, skewered and grilled in the Turkish method. Another absent member, Judy, sent along a lovely Turkish red wine which paired nicely.
Finally, we are on to the desserts. First we enjoyed Caren's refreshing Anatolian Figs, and she had to go back and pour the cinnamon and vanilla infused orange sauce into a small pitcher as it was so good everyone wanted to smother the fresh figs with it!
Gillian also sent along a exquisitely light yet sweet and satisfying Turkish Yogurt Cake which we had with a strong expresso.
And finally, along with the previous dessert we exclaimed delight over Stephanie's Goat Cheese Cakes Baked in Syrup from another authentic source. It was sweet and slightly tart at the same time. One of our professional chefs, she took it to another level by adding the walnuts and a three honey sauce instead of a simpler one. We also applauded Stephanie for her recent television appearance where she demonstrated making chocolate soup.
So we had another fine evening with wonderful food and interesting culture. The group is exploring making a cookbook together from our experiences. Could be fun! After some lively discussion I had the privilege of making the call on our next cuisine to explore - Polynesia!
Here are links to our previous events:
Supper Club - Austria (I missed this event)
Supper Club - India (I missed this event)
Supper Club - Holiday Traditions
Supper Club - Sicily
Supper Club - Cuba
Supper Club - Greece
Supper Club - Vietnam (I missed this event!)
Supper Club - Chocolate!
Supper Club - Regions of Italy
Supper Club - Spanish Tapas
Supper Club - States of Germany
Supper Club - States of Mexico
Supper Club - Cuisine of Japan
Supper Club - Persian Style
Supper Club - Does Southern
Supper Club - French Regions
Supper Club - Morocco (Before I joined)