cooking classes · desserts · posts

Turkish Pumpkin Dessert with Tahini and Walnuts

Pumpkin Dessert-9044-2Back from a stay in Istanbul and I am still amazed at how many people could be in one place, the city was heaving with a sea of people. Also, it was an important religious holiday (Kurban Bayrami) and many places closed for four days, but we still managed to fill each day. On this visit I signed up for a Culinary Backstreets Turkish cooking class which I came across on Istanbul Eats. The Pumpkin Dessert was one of the Turkish dishes prepared during the class. Pumpkin and tahini are favorites of mine and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this combination as a dessert, but I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading “Turkish Pumpkin Dessert with Tahini and Walnuts”

baking · Food · food + drink · posts

Orange Ricotta Cake with Walnuts

orange ricotta and walnut cake-0330There are times when I prefer baking homely cakes without the added fussiness of rich fillings and toppings. Who can resist a nice thick slice of homemade cake, to be enjoyed anytime of the day with a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea, or put into lunch boxes and taken to work. Months have passed since I mentioned in an earlier post that I would share the recipe of a delicious cake I enjoyed while staying at the Tas Otel in Alacati. As the recipe for the orange cake “Lorlu Portakalli Tas Otel Keki” was printed in Turkish, the staff kindly penciled in the english translation. Continue reading “Orange Ricotta Cake with Walnuts”

appetizers · posts

Olives, Walnuts and Pomegranate – Zeytoon Parvaradeh

olives, walnuts, pomegranate and mintWhen I get my hands on a new cookbook I cant wait to flick and read through the book, picking up information about ingredients and recipes, reading stories about the author and learning bits of history related to the cuisine! Also, feasting my eyes on the mouth-watering photographs before heading into the kitchen to try out some new recipes… the tasty part!

Some months ago the cosy Words Bookstore and Café hosted a book signing by the lovely Ariana Bundy, promoting her new cookbook Pomegranates and Roses! I am not familiar with Persian cooking so it was a wonderful opportunity to meet Ariana herself and get a signed copy of her cookbook, to learn more about this very colourful cuisine! In fact it was only a couple of months earlier that Suzanne Husseini  visited Words Bookstore and Café for her cookbook signing … another lovely cookbook!

pomegranate paste and seeds, garlic, mint, basil, walnuts, olives and vanilla olive oil

To whet the appetite, Ariana demonstrated two delicious recipes from her Pomegranates and Roses cookbook, Zeytoon Parvaradeh, an olive, walnut and pomegranate appetizer and Mast O Khaiar, a cold yoghurt soup garnished with dried rose petals … both mouth-watering recipes, full of flavour and easy to prepare! Since then, I have made Zeytoon Parvaradeh on a few occasions, nibbled on some sweet Goosheh Feel and used some of the Ekhlas dates from the freezer for Omeletteh Khorma for breakfast and made Joojeh Kabab for a barbecue! There are many recipes that I want to try from this cookbook and I am sure there will be no complaints from the family!

While demonstrating Zeytoon Parvaradeh Ariana did mention that Persian pomegranate molasses/paste is the preferred brand with her recipes! The pomegranate molasses that I use is much thicker and has a more tart taste, so I guess it is finding a brand that has a good balance between sweet and sour! Maybe adding a little honey or lemon juice to a recipe, to balance the sweet and sour where needed! Thank you Ariana for letting me take the rest of pomegranate paste home and as promised I have prepared your recipe! olives, walnuts and pomegranates served in small dishes

The recipe for Zeytoon Parvaradeh has been adapted, with the addition of garlic and a drizzle of vanilla olive oil on top before serving!  I used the Spanish Manazilla olives as suggested but used a sweet Basil (had some in the garden) instead of Asian Basil! Used a mini food processor to blend all the ingredients together, rather than a pestle and mortar to crush the olives! I came across some lovely lemon mint at a farmers market recently, which I will try when I next make this recipe!

As an appetizer for a dinner party, serve Zeytoon Parvaradeh in individual dishes, alongside thin slices of lightly toasted French bread or water crackers! Or, place everything in a serving bowl and let everyone tuck in!

Zeytoon Parvaradeh

Recipe adapted from the  Pomegranates and Roses cookbook by Ariana Bundy.


  • 125g stoned Manzanilla olives
  • 25g shelled walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 6 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed (optional)

for garnish

How to make: Reserve 4 olives for the garnish, then add the remaining olives, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, pomegranate molasses, mint, basil and garlic to a small processor and blitz for a few seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl and blitz again until mixture is very finely chopped. Place the olive mixture into a bowl and leave the flavour to develop for a couple of hours or overnight before serving. Place the olive mixture into individual serving dishes and garnish with whole olives, pomegranate seeds, mint leaf and a drizzle of vanilla olive oil on top, if using. Serves 4.