It it nearly two weeks since I returned from Turkey and it seems like it all took place in another world and time. But I keep going back in my mind. I must tell you now, since we are nearing the end of the year. My husband has been gone during the weeks for training and work since last August. I have been surprised how well it all has gone. A couple weeks before my scheduled Turkey trip I was really feeling the toll. Maybe there was too much going on, even if I have tried to really empty the calendar of everything extra. But the truth is that everything cannot be removed from the schedule. And so the trip to Turkey came at the most perfect moment. Usually things work out better than expected if not planned too perfectly in advance. Maybe it is the fact that then the expectations are not so high as well and all sorts of pleasant surprises come along the way.
After our day in Manavgat we started our drive to the Cappadocia region that we would be spending the next several days. Every two hours we would stop for a comfort stop as our guide called it, and often in public areas there were stray dogs that would lazily walk around. On the way to Cappadocia we stopped in Konya which is the ancient Iconium and place where Paul and Barnabas visited and preached to the early Christain congregation in 47-48 AD. It is also the place of the Mevlana Monastery which is currently a museum but also a place of pilgrimage for some. It is the birthplace of the Mevlevi order which joined ideology from Islamic and Buddhist traditions. The monastery had been a place of training for the Dervishes and the Mevlevi Order was well established during the Ottoman empire. In 1925 the Mevlana Order was outlawed but later some parts of the spiritual rituals have been allowed because of it’s tourist appeal. During the actual performance the Whirling Dervishes fell into a trance-like state. They requested that no photos be taken until the end when they would give a short demonstration for photos.
On the right hand side of the photo above, carved into the rock is the Church of St. John the Baptist. Some of the climb was a bit steep and slippier due to loose sand. Our own tour guide could not bring us there as we needed to do the climb at our own risk. A local fellow took us up there and the funniest thing happened on the way down. He told us that we must go down a different path since the one we came up would be too dangerous to descend. I differed in opinion. It really was not that dangerous. But we all followed him down a different route. The reason for this turned out to be that the path he brought us down would go past the shop of his friend and skirt some of the others. As one of the other young men noticed that he was taking the tourist group and potential customers a different route, there was heated debate in Turkish. Too bad I don’t understand the language! Every once in a while the other miffed shopkeeper would yell out to us in English, “Too dangerous!” He thought the path that went past his shop was safer.
The unique rock formations is due to the volcanic eruptions of the three volcanoes: Mount Ercyies, Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz. Underneath the harder layer of basalt was a softer rock that erosion weathered away making for incredible formations that are often called fairy chimneys and look like they could be straight out of a storybook.
I have been thinking that I must explore some of the savory dishes that they make in Turkey especially once fresh local vegetables come into season. This past week I tried my hand at Baklava. I used a ready to use frozen filo pastry dough from the grocery store and it turned out to be quite simple. I think that the flavor would have been significantly better had I used a homemade version. Next time. The secret to Turkish pastry is that they make a honey sauce that is then poured over after it is baked. The same is true with the Baklava.
Baklava with Rosewater and Honey (inspired by the recipe from taste.com.au )
50 g/ 1.75 oz pistachio, roasted
100 g/ 3.5 oz walnuts, roasted
150 g/5.3 almonds, roasted
1 package 375 g/13 oz of frozen filo pastry (allow to thaw for 1.5-2 hours in package before using) and trim to size of pan
zest of one lemon, grated fine
125 g/4.4 oz butter, melted
50 g sugar
100 ml/1 dl/ 1/2 c water
125 g/4.4 0z honey
100 g/3.5 oz sugar
juice of one small lemon, about 30 ml
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp rose water
Allow the filo dough to thaw in its own package so that it does not dry out. Place the nuts on a parchment lined oven pan and roast gently at 160 C/320 F for about 7 minutes. Let cool and grind semi-fine either with a chopper or a food processor. Set aside a little of the ground pistachio for garnish. Combine the finely chopped nuts with 50 g/1.75 oz sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon.
Warm your oven to 190 C/375 F. Brush your square cake pan 25 cm/10 inch with melted butter and layer it with 6 layers of filo pastry dough, brushing each layer with melted butter. Add one third of the nut mixture and then add another three layers of filo dough, each brushed with butter. Add another third and repeat with another three layers of filo brushed with butter. Add the last third of nut mixture and finally add six layers of filo dough brushed with butter each time. Brush the top layer with butter and score the top layers with a sharp knife into 24 servings. I cut them part way through as I had noticed that it was the method used at our hotel Gypsophila Holiday Village. (You may see the Baklava in the photo below on the right hand side) Bake for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.
Meanwhile prepare the honey sauce. Combine the ingredients above in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves over medium heat. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes on low heat and remove from heat. Discard the cinnamon quill and add in the rose water. After removing the Baklava from the oven, pour the honey sauce over the it while still hot. Sprinkle with ground pistachios and allow to cool before cutting all the way through.