more fun with Turkish food

Serendipitously, I just came across a good food quotation from The Instructions of Kagemni, who was a a vizier of the 4th dynasty pharaoh Snofru (27th-26th c. BC):
“He who is blameless in matters of food, no word can prevail against him. The shy of face, even impassive of heart, the harsh is kinder to him than to his (own) mother, all people are his servants.”
I think he’s overstating things, but maybe I’m just jealous because I’m far from blameless in matters of food, as my recent attempt to make Turkish desserts indicates.
We recently got together with some friends for dessert and to show off my Turkey pictures, and I decided to attempt some Turkish desserts. The one I really wanted to make was some interesting stuff I had there, the name of which I can’t remember but which we described as “cheese with Shredded Wheat, but sweet.” That’s exactly what it was like, so you can easily imagine it, but yet again, it’s much better than it sounds.
That’s the title of my second cookbook, by the way: “Much Better than It Sounds.”
Anyhow, I decided to make Mosaic Cake, Creamy Pudding, and Sekerpare. Mosaic Cake was extremely simple, although my ratio of chocolate to tea biscuits (which are basically graham crackers, as it turns out) was much lower than in the picture. Creamy Pudding was also easy to make, tasted good with cinnamon sprinkled on top, and combined nicely with the other two.
I had a little more trouble with Sekerpare. To begin with, I did not know what “semolina” was and couldn’t find it at Meijer (fyi, it’s Cream of Wheat), so decided to use the recipe in my Turkish Cooking cookbook instead of the online one, as it calls for flour only. However, in addition to having its measurements in European rather than American units, Turkish Cooking also uses some units of measurement unique to it: such as a “soup spoon” or a “glass” of something. Some of these it explains, others it doesn’t. So I found an online conversion thingy for the European-style measurements, and used my best guess on the others.
However, I hit a snag. The online conversion thingy indicated that I should use 1 cup of butter and 5 of flour for the cookies, which seemed like way too much flour and was way more than in the online recipe. So I began to triangulate between the book recipe, the online recipe, and the way the dough looked to me as I progressed.
Further, it suddenly hit me as I was in the midst of combining ingredients that even the seemingly clear-cut measurements–“tablespoons” and such–might be different from what I thought. Some googling indicated that indeed, European tablespoons etc. are different from American ones. Now, the Turkish cookbook would certainly use the European versions, but what about the web site? It’s Canadian–did it use British or U.S. type tablespoons, and if the former, were British tablespoons American or European sized ones? Here google failed me: some conversion sites opposed European Tbs to British & American, others had European & British vs. American.
So I just put in what seemed like a reasonable amount of different stuff and commenced to cookie-making; then dumped the syrup on the cookies as directed. However, the cookies didn’t soak up the syrup as they were supposed to. Upon further reviewing the recipe, I realized I’d made the cookies way too big, and had thus sabotaged their ability to soak up the syrup.
But, they were still good. Sort of good. Well, you could see how they would be good if somebody made them the right way. And, they didn’t go to waste…unless you consider my single-handedly consuming half a pound of butter mixed with some flour and sugar to be a waste. I didn’t.

23 Responses to “more fun with Turkish food”

  1. Dear Old Dad says:

    I enjoyed your adventures with Turkish cooking. Try that cookie recipe again. DOM believes that the measures could be tinkered for the right combinations. By the way, cookies always go to waist for me.
    Have a joyous and restful weekend. Good luck on the new school year.
    DOM says Hi!

  2. michele says:

    Thanks, Dad! I have the same problem with cookies, so I think I’ll wait a while before I make them again.
    Hi, DOM!

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