Özlem Warren returned to Fethiye this week where she held a number of events promoting recipes from her award-winning book, Özlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland.

“This book is my tribute to the diverse, scrumptious Turkish cuisine and it is a celebration of my southern Turkish roots with regional recipes especially from my home town of Antakya. My cooking has, and continues to be, inspired by this magical land and its people. Let me take you on a Turkish culinary journey – to learn, taste and enjoy for yourself the delicious foods of my homeland and along the way I hope you will feel the warmth and generous spirit of our Turkish culture.” – excerpt from Özlem’s Turkish Table: Recipes from My Homeland.

We joined Özlem on her culinary journey whilst she was here and would like to share more from her hands-on cookery classes with you.

The classes are an opportunity to make delicious dishes with Özlem as she shares her stories from growing up and preparing meals with her mother and grandmother. Özlem truly brings Turkish cookery to life.

The menu for the classes was a mouth-watering selection:

Aubergine and meatball kebab – Patlıcanlı Kebab

Stuffed aubergines with vegetable and lentils – Mercimekli Karnıyarık

Yufka triangles with cheese and spinach – Muska Böreği

Cacık dip with cucumber and yoghurt

Künefe -Kadayıfı with oozy melting cheese

We have selected one recipe from each class to share with you, each with an introduction from Özlem.

GP Cookery School in Kalkan

Guru’s Place Cookery School in Kalkan has been hosting Özlem’s cookery classes since 2019 and the first event of this visit was held there on Sunday (1 May). Owner Hüseyin Kayır has recently moved the cookery school to a wonderful new location in the centre of Kalkan.


“This glorious baked pastry strands in syrup called künefe is a signature dish from my hometown, Antakya. I remember as a child watching the delicate pastry strands (kadayif) being squeezed through a huge sieve at our local künefe shop. My grandmother would prepare künefe in her garden as we waited excitedly for any leftovers of the buttery soaked pastry strands.There is a particular unsalted cheese called beyaz künefelik peynir we use for künefe in Antakya. Unsalted fresh mozzarella will work just as well. I also like to add a little clotted cream to the filling (or kaymak, Turkish thick cream from water buffaloes, if available).  Künefe can be baked in one large pan or as smaller individual portions.”

Serves 6

225g/8oz shredded kadayifkünefe pastry strands, thawed if frozen

145g/5oz melted unsalted butter

300g/12oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (or Antakya’s white cheese for künefe, künefelik peynir or dil peyniri in Turkey if you can get it)

45ml/3 tablespoons kaymak or clotted cream – optional

For the syrup:

225g/8oz granulated sugar 

120ml/4fl oz water

Juice of ½ small lemon 

30ml/2 tablespoons crushed pistachios for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas Mark 4

First make the syrup. Place the sugar and water in a pan and simmer over a low to medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the lemon juice  and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup coats the back of the spoon. Then remove from the heat and leave the syrup to cool. It is essential that the syrup needs to be cool when poured over the cheese filled pastry strands.

Using some of the melted butter, grease a large baking tray.

Soak the pastry strands well in the melted butter. Use more butter if necessary, as it is important that the pastry is well soaked in order to prevent it burning during baking.

Divide the pastry strands in two. Spread half of the strands in the base of the baking pan, press it down with your fingers.

Spread or crumble the slices of the fresh mozzarella cheese and the clotted cream or kaymak (if used) over the top of the pastry. Then cover with the remainder of the pastry, pressing down firmly.

Bake the pastry in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the strands are a deep golden colour.

Cut the hot, baked pastry strands into portions and pour the prepared cool syrup over it.

Serve immediately while still hot and the cheese is gooey. Serve künefe with kaymak or maraş dondurma and a sprinkling of ground pistachio nuts over the top if you like.

You can find more photographs of the class at Guru’s Place here:

Blossom Hill, Üzümlü

Nestling in the pine-clad mountains of Üzümlü, Blossom Hill is a small complex of six spacious, well appointed holiday rental properties with a large swimming pool and children’s splash pool offering panoramic views from the private poolside terrace.

Please contact rental@essenceofturkey.com for further information on holiday rentals. 

Facebook: Blossom Hill, Uzumlu

Blossom Hill was a new venue for this year and the class took place on Monday (2 May). It was a pleasure to meet owners, Bee and Mehmet. Some of you may know Bee and Mehmet from Sumak cafe in Üzümlü, which they aslo own and about which we have heard great things.

Baked Aubergine Kebab with Meatballs – Fırında Patlıcan Kebabı

“We greatly enjoy this delicious southern Turkish style Baked Aubergine Kebab with Meatballs – Fırında Patlıcan Kebabı, especially popular in Gaziantep region in Turkey. I love the ease of this all in one bake dish. Please make sure to sprinkle salt over the aubergine slices and squeeze out their excess moisture with a paper towel. Then simply coat olive oil and seasoning over the aubergine slices. There is no need to sauté or fry the aubergine slices and the meatballs before baking. They bake all together very well, infusing their flavour to one another. You can prep this dish ahead of time and freeze leftovers successfully.”

Serves: 4-6

For the köfte (meatballs):

450g/1lb minced/ground lamb, beef or mixture

1 medium onion, grated

60g/2oz stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry

1 egg, beaten

1 small bunch finely chopped flat leaf parsley

5ml/1 teaspoon ground cumin

5ml/1 teaspoon Turkish pul biber or red pepper flakes

5ml/1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Small bowl of water for kneading kofte and getting your hands wet

And the rest:

2 medium and long (or 3, if smaller) aubergines / eggplants

1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced in chunky wedges

2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

45ml / 3tbsp olive oil (to coat the aubergine slices)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the sauce:

3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped

30ml/2tbsp double concentrated tomato paste

30ml/2tbsp olive oil

200ml/7fl oz warm water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First prepare your meatball mixture. Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the köfte, meatballs ingredients except the ground/minced meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the minced/ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles a soft dough. Cover with cling film and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Slice the aubergines/eggplants into about 1.5cm / 0.6in circles and spread over a large tray. Sprinkle some salt over them and leave for about 10 minutes. Gently squeeze out their excess moisture with paper towel. Place them back on a clean large tray.

Drizzle 45ml / 3tbsp olive oil over the aubergine/eggplant slices. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using your hands, gently rub the olive oil and seasoning over the aubergine/eggplant slices.

Now, shape your meatballs. Have a bowl of cold water near you. With damp hands, take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a round meatball, as large as your aubergine/eggplant slices, and slightly flatten. Place them on large dish or a tray side by side.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Have a round baking dish with 25cm/10in diameter near you (a 25cmx25cm square baking dish would work well too). Place a slice of aubergine upright and place a meatball alongside. Repeating this, place all the aubergine slices and meatballs side by side, quite tightly, so they can stay upright. Gently tuck in the coarsely sliced bell peppers around the aubergine slices and meatballs. Place the tomato slices around the middle part of your round baking dish, in between aubergine and meatball layers, or if you are using a square baking dish, in between layers.

For the sauce; combine the finely chopped garlic, 200ml/7fl oz warm water, 2tbsp tomato paste and 2tbsp olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and ground black pepper and combine well. Pour the sauce over the prepared aubergine, meatballs and vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes.

Then take the cover off, gently spoon the sauce in the baking dish over the aubergine and meatballs and bake further 20 – 25 minutes, until the meatballs and vegetables cooked and slightly charred.

Drizzle the sauce from the baking the dish over the aubergine and meatballs again. Serve with plain pilaf rice and cooling Cacık dip of cucumber and yoghurt .

You can find more photographs of the class at Blossom Hill here:

Yakamoz Hotel, Ovacık

Hidden away, just off the main road, is the Yakamoz Hotel and Restaurant. This charming, traditional hotel provides an oasis of calm and relaxation, ideal for those who want to escape from the rat race and enjoy a tranquil, restful holiday.

This hidden gem is nestled far enough away from the busy resort of Hisarönü but near enough to Fethiye, Ölüdeniz and Kayaköy to make them easily accessible to guests.


The Yakamoz Hotel has been hosting Özlem’s cookery classes since 2018. This year was no exception and the final cookery class of the visit took place on Tuesday (3 May)

Baked spinach and cheese filo triangles – Muska Boreği

“These small triangle-shaped pastries, muska boreği, are delightful and perfect for entertaining. They are traditionally made with fresh Turkish yufka pastry sheets. I substitute with filo pastry sheets living abroad and it works just as well. Turkish white cheese called beyaz peynir, is traditionally used in these pastries and I love it. if you can’t find beyaz peynir, closest I can find outside Turkey is feta cheese. It is drier so I add a little grated mozzarella with the feta for a creamier consistency and to balance the flavours. Chopped parsley is a good alternative to spinach in the filling.”

Serves 6-8

12 sheets of filo pastry – 48cm x 25cm/19 x 10in each, thawed or yufka

150g/5½ oz spinach leaves                                                 

150g/5½ oz beyaz peynir or feta cheese, mashed with a fork

110g/4oz grated mozzarella (use beyaz peynir instead, if you can get it)

3 eggs, beaten

45ml/3 tablespoons mild olive oil

Small bowl of water to seal the pastry

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Remove the stalks of the spinach, wash and chop roughly. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the beyaz peynir or  feta cheese & grated mozzarella, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and two of the beaten eggs. The filling is now ready.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Also grease a baking tray with a little olive oil.

Lay the pastry sheets on a clean surface and cut into 10cm x 25cm/4in x 10in stripes. Stack the stripes on top of another and cover with a damp towel so that they won’t dry out. Keep a bowl of water near you.

Lay two strips of filo sheets at top of one another. Place 15ml/1 tablespoon of the spinach and cheese mixture at the end of the filo pastry strip near you. Fold the end of the strip over the filling diagonally so that it forms a triangle. Continue folding the strip in triangles until you get a small, triangular stuffed pastry.

Seal the pastry with the water; water really helps to keep filo sheets intact here. Repeat with remaining filo until you have used all of the filling. 

Place the stuffed triangle pastries seam side down on the greased baking dish. Brush them with the egg and olive oil mixture.

Bake the triangles in the oven for about 20–25 minutes, until they are golden brown. Serve hot as an appetizer or as part of a meze spread.

A huge thank you to Hüseyin and Hatice at GP Cooking School, Bee and Mehmet at Blossom Hill and Mehmet and Maxine at the Yakamoz Hotel for their warm welcome, hospitality and hard work in supporting Özlem to make the classes such enjoyable and informative events.

Where can you buy the book?

If you live in the UK, you can buy a copy of Özlem’s award-winning book at this link: https://www.gbpublishing.co.uk/ozlemsturkishtable

If you live in Turkey, you can buy a signed* copy of the book from us here at Fethiye Times (*while stocks last). Please email us at fethiyetimes2017@gmail.com for more details.

We also have a limited number of aprons, made in Turkey with Antakya’s celebrated daphne leaves in the embroidered design.

Visit Ozlem’s Turkish Table at: https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/