Milk Street: The Turkish Kitchen (Ep 511)
Turkish Flatbreads (Yufka)
Start to finish: 13⁄4 hours (45 minutes active)
Makes six 8- to 9-inch flatbreads
The Turkish flatbread called yufka is fast and easy to make largely because it’s unleavened (that is, yeast free). As chef Ana Sortun, whose recipe from “Soframiz” we adapted, explains, yufka is more slender than a flour tortilla but more substantial than phyllo. Yufka stuffed with filling, folded and toasted in a skillet becomes a gozleme (p. TK), or the flatbreads can be used to make sandwich wraps or for scooping up dips and spreads. This dough comes together quickly, requires only an hour of rest, is a breeze to roll out and each bread cooks in just a couple of minutes in a pan on the stovetop. A cast-iron skillet works best for getting nice brown spots on the flatbreads, but nonstick will work, too, if that’s what you own. As the breads come out of the skillet, we slip them into a plastic bag to keep them soft and pliable. Once all the rounds have been cooked, let cool to room temperature, then seal the bag and store at room temperature for up to a day
(the breads are best used within 24 hours of making).
Don’t cook the flatbreads on both sides or they will become too crisp and
crackery for folding and wrapping. Browned on only one side, the breads will be fully cooked and ready to eat, but they will remain soft and pliable.
1⁄2 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
260 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
2⁄3 cup warm water (about 110°F)
Coat a medium bowl with 1⁄2 teaspoon oil; set aside. In a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix the flour and salt on low until combined, 10 to 15 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the water and 2 tablespoons oil, then mix on low until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Increase to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut six 9-inch squares of kitchen parchment; set aside.
Transfer the dough to the counter. Using a dough scraper or bench knife, divide the dough into 6 pieces, each about 70 grams (21⁄2 ounces), then form each portion into a taut ball. Dust the dough balls lightly with flour and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Lightly flour the counter, set 1 ball on top and, using a rolling pin, roll it into an 8- to 9-inch round about 1⁄8 inch thick. Place the round on a parchment square. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and stack the rounds on top of each other, placing a square of parchment between the layers.
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high until water flicked onto the surface immediately sizzles and evaporates. Place 1 dough round in the pan and cook until slightly puffed and the bottom is spotty brown, 1 to 11⁄2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the flatbread browned side down to a 1-gallon zip-close bag (this keeps the breads soft and pliable). Cook the remaining dough rounds in the same way, stacking them in the bag (no need for parchment separators). Wipe out the pan if excess flour begins to build up and smoke, and adjust the heat as needed. Use immediately or cool, seal the bag and store at room temperature for up to 1 day.
Turkish Flatbreads (Yufka): Spinach and Cheese Gozleme
Start to finish: 40 minutes
Gozleme is a savory stuffed Turkish flatbread. To make it, yufka, an unleavened flatbread, is folded around a savory filling, then toasted until warm and lightly crisped. A spinach and cheese filling is classic. To approximate the flavor and texture of the Turkish white cheese that’s used for gozleme, in her book “Soframiz,” chef Ana Sortun uses a combination of feta, kasseri and ricotta. This is our rendition of her recipe, which includes a trio of fresh herbs balances the richness of the cheeses. Homemade yufka is best, but 8-inch flour tortillas are a reasonably good stand-in.
Don’t use a conventional (i.e., not nonstick) skillet or the gozlemes will stick to the pan as they cook.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
31⁄2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (3⁄4 cup)
2 ounces kasseri cheese or Gruyère cheese, shredded (3⁄4 cup)
1⁄3 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped
1⁄3 cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped
1⁄3 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
5-ounce container baby spinach, chopped
6 Turkish flatbreads (yufka, see previous recipe)
or six 8-inch flour tortillas
In a 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; wipe out the skillet and set aside. To the onion, stir in the ricotta, feta, kasseri, dill, mint, parsley and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, then taste and season with salt and pepper. In another medium bowl, toss the spinach with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt.
Spread the cheese mixture onto the flatbreads (on the unbrowned sides, if using Turkish flatbreads), dividing it evenly and leaving a 1- inch border around the edge. Divide the spinach among the flatbreads, placing it across the center third, then fold the spinach-free ends to cover the center, like a business letter, and press to seal.
In the same skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil until shimmering. Add 2 of the filled flatbreads seam side down and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack. Cook the remaining flatbreads in 2 more batches in the same way, using 1 tablespoon oil for each batch. Serve warm.
Turkish Tomato and Onion Salad with Olive Oil and Pomegranate Molasses
Start to finish: 45 minutes (20 minutes active)
This is our version of the bright, bracing salad that we had at Manzara Restaurant in Söğüt, Turkey. The dish often is part of a Turkish meze spread, but we think it also is an ideal accompaniment to just about any type of grilled meat or kebabs. The salad comes together easily, but it’s important to use ripe, flavorful tomatoes. We find cocktail tomatoes (sometimes sold as Campari tomatoes) to be dependably sweet and tasty no matter the season. Also, look for pomegranate molasses made without sugar (check the label), as its flavor is fruitier and more nuanced than brands containing added sweetener.
Don’t bypass the step of allowing the onion to marinate in the pomegranate molasses-
lemon mixture. The acidity mellows the allium’s pungency. It’s also important to allow
the salad to stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving to allow the
tomatoes to soften slightly and to give the flavors a chance to meld.
1⁄2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
11⁄2 pounds cocktail tomatoes, cored, each cut into 6 wedges
2 teaspoons dried mint (optional)
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, torn
1⁄2 cup lightly packed fresh dill, minced
In a large bowl, combine the onion, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper; let stand for 10 minutes.
To the onion mixture, add the oil and whisk to combine. Add the tomatoes, mint (if using), parsley and dill, then toss. Let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving bowl.
Rib-Eye Steaks with Rosemary & Pomegranate Molasses
Start to finish: 240 minutes, plus marinating, grill prep + resting
At Manzara Restaurant in Söğüt, in southeastern Turkey, we tasted a superb grilled rib-eye steak prepared by chef Naci Isik. We thought the fruity, tangy-sweet flavor of pomegranate molasses, the savoriness of onion and the resinous notes of fresh rosemary in the marinade worked together as a delicious complement for the richness and smoky char of the beef. Our adaptation hews closely to Isik’s recipe, with a few modifications for cooking in a home kitchen and using ingredients available in the U.S. We recommend seeking out pomegranate molasses that does not contain added sugar; its flavor is purer and more intense than types made with sweetener. This recipe cooks the steaks outdoors on a charcoal or gas grill; see additional instructions to cook the steaks on the stovetop in a cast-iron grill pan (if cooking indoors, be sure to turn on your hood or open a window to vent any smoke).
Don’t forget to scrape off the marinade and pat the steaks dry before grilling. The
marinade contains moisture and sugar that inhibit browning and cause sticking. Making
sure the steaks are as clean and dry as possible when they hit the grill grate will help with better browning and easier release.
1 medium white onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into quarters
1⁄4 cup pomegranate molasses, plus more to serve
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 3⁄4 teaspoon sweet paprika plus 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Two 12- to 14-ounce boneless rib-eye steaks (about 1 inch thick), patted dry
Grapeseed or other neutral oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Set a box grater in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Grate the onion quarters on the large holes, allowing the pulp and juice to fall into the baking dish. To the grated onion, stir in the pomegranate molasses, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon of rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper. Add the steaks and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours; flip the steaks once or twice during marination. If refrigerated for longer than 1 hour, remove the steaks from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite three-fourths a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 minutes, then clean and oil the grill grate. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high and heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
Scrape any excess marinade off the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Brush one side of the steaks with oil, then place oiled-side down on the grill (on the hot side if using charcoal). Cover and cook until nicely charred on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Brush the side facing up with oil, then flip the steaks. Cover and cook until the second sides are nicely charred and the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare), another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a serving platter, sprinkle each with the remaining rosemary and top each with 2 pieces of butter. Tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and cut into thin slices on the diagonal. Return to the platter and pour over the juices from the cutting board. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and, if desired, drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses.
To Cook in a Stovetop Grill Pan
Follow the recipe to marinate the steaks; if refrigerated for longer than 1 hour, remove the steaks from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Brush a 12-inch cast-iron grill pan with 2 teaspoons oil and heat over medium-high until barely smoking. Meanwhile, scrape any excess marinade off the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Add the steaks to the pan and cook without disturbing until well browned on the bottom, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the steaks and cook until the second sides are well done.
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PHOTO CREDITS: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES