Ilke describes herself as, “A Turkish Girl Cooking it up in the American South”. And her blog, Ilke’s Kitchen , is wonderful mix of Southern Cooking and Turkish Recipes. Recipes range from a beautiful Baklava (wish I had had the time for this one) to Muhammara (Roasted Red Pepper Dip) to Simit (Turkish yeast bread). Just so many wonderful Turkish dishes to choose from. I knew I didn’t have time for ALL of them, so I settled for just a couple.

I love oatmeal. And I love grits ( I am a southern girl, afterall). But I am always on the lookout for something new and different. And I found it with this Turkish Breakfast dish:


….described by Ilke as, “which is just a simple combination of cornmeal, butter, and cheese”. How can you go wrong with those ingredients?

Love the stringy Mozarella Cheese in this…..

    Cheesy Cornmeal (Kuymak)

      •2 cups of water
      •1/2 teaspoon salt
      •2 tablespoon unsalted butter
      •3/4 cup cornmeal
      •1 cup mozzarella cheese or Oaxaca cheese
      •1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      •1/2 teaspoon paprika to garnish

    1. Boil water, salt, black pepper and butter in a deep skillet.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add cornmeal and stir frequently to break up all the clumps until it reaches a thick consistency.
    3. Add cheese and stir until all melts.
    4. Sprinkle paprika on top and serve hot.

    This was one of the most filling breakfasts ever. But then it is cooked cornmeal. Like Oatmeal and Grits it sticks to your ribs. I cooked it in a cast iron skillet (which is what I think Ilke used) and had plenty of left overs. It is hard to reheat this type of dish so I decided to try browning it in butter like left over grits. WIN!!

    I spooned the leftovers into a small cake pan and cooled. Then I sliced it into large wedges and browned quickly in butter. Perfect!


    You all know I am a big-time Tea Drinker. Earl Grey is one of my favs. I always have some loose tea in the kitchen to make a cup (or 5) of CREAM Earl Grey. I had seen a recipe before for an Earl Grey TeaCake, but had not made it yet. When I saw this one had CHOCOLATE in it I knew I had to try it.

    Earl Grey Tea Cake

      1 teabag of Earl Grey black tea
      1 cup of hot water
      3 large eggs
      1-1/2 cups of sugar
      1 stick of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
      2-1/4 cups of cake flour {no cake flour so made a sub: 1 3/4 cups AP + 1/4 cornstarch = 2 cups cake flour}
      1 tablespoon baking powder
      1/4 cup Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder
      1/2 cups of chopped hazelnuts
      Zest from one orange (optional) {not a single orange in the kitchen so I used a dash of orange oil}

    1. Steep the teabag in 1 cup of hot water for 15-20 minutes.
    2. Beat eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl until all blend well.
    3. Discard the teabag. Add cooled black tea and butter, continue beating until everything is well combined.
    4. Add cake flour, baking powder and cocoa. Stir until all well blended.
    5. Stir the chopped hazelnuts. Pour the batter in a bundt pan or 9-inch cake pan.
    6. Bake at 350-degrees for 45 minutes {since I made mini-bundts mine only needed 35 minutes to bake} or until the toothpick inserted comes clean. (Do not preheat the oven.)

    This cake is not real sweet and the taste of orange from the tea and the oil is subtle but tasty. Because it wasn’t too sweet I knew it wouldn’t hurt it to drizzle with a little Nutella. It is already full of chopped hazelnuts – what’s a little more.


    Finally, a quick and tasty side dish….

    Turkish Pilaf

    Serves 4

    1 cup of basmati rice
    1/4 cup of thin broken vermicelli
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 teaspoon salt
    1-1/2 cups of water or chicken stock {I used veggie broth.}

    1. Wash the rice in a colander until the water runs clear.
    2. Melt the butter in the pan and add vermicelli. Saute vermicelli until it browns slightly.
    3. Add rice and salt, saute the rice for another 1 minute.
    4. Add water and cover the pan, turn the heat up until it starts to boil. Once the water boils, turn the heat down to low and cook another 20 minutes. The rice will be fluffy when all water is gone.

    This is great side dish and a good alternative to everyday rice. Finding this recipe made me very happy I had bought that package of Vermicelli at the local, and very small, MidEast Store last month. I KNEW there was a reason it found it’s way into my kitchen!!

    When you get a chance, go visit with with Ilke in her Southern Turkish kitchen and enjoy some of the recipes I am looking at real closely. Like the Borek.

    And if you want in on our monthly fun come join Amanda and her Secret Recipe Club.