Lunch at The Mansion

September 23rd, 2008  | Category: Friends, Turkish Cuisine

Lunch at The Mansion

No recipe today. Just some snaps from a lunch we had at The Mansion last week. We were sitting around the table, reading the paper and having tea and all of a sudden we realized that it was way past lunch time. The lady of the house started listing what she had in the fridge from the day before: “Let’s see… We have braised Romano beans, borek… We can prepare a simple salad, reheat the fish left over from dinner.. And Cenk brought a Peach Crumble!”. Not a single word from anyone. This is so typical. In a matter of minutes, she’ll suggest that we set the table for a late breakfast and everyone will agree. Sliced tomatoes swimming in extra-virgin olive oil, local cheeses, black olives, homemade sour cherry jam, Nutella and toasted bread. No one will say no to those. Instead, she proposes “Menemen”! And we’re sold. We are SO sold.

Lunch at The Mansion 3

Lunch at The Mansion 12

Lunch at The Mansion 5

The above dish is called Water Borek. Instead of buying store-bought dough (called yufka), you prepare the dough yourself, boil the thin sheets of dough in water (hence the name) and arrange layers in a baking tray with cheese or any other filling and cook it on a stove-top until the top and bottom get crusty. Next to it is Braised Romano Beans.


As always, Ralph is strategically located under the table, closest to the clumsiest guest. He is the smartest dog when it comes to food. He can determine who will drop the maximum amount of food with a single look at the crowd.


Here’s the Menemen prepared with lots of tomatoes and peppers. As you can see from the first picture of the post, some of us dove right in. Menemen is a Turkish dish that is prepared with eggs, onions, tomatoes and green peppers. I like it heavily seasoned with freshly-ground black pepper and hot red pepper flakes. We like it on the light side, so we use olive oil instead of butter. The dish is very similar to the Tunisian Shakshouka. First you fry the diced onion in oil, add the peppers, then lots of tomatoes and stir until everything gets soft. Then you add the eggs that are whisked with salt and pepper and cook just until the eggs are set. Allow me to experiment with ingredients and I promise to revisit this dish with a recipe.

And here’s the Peach Crumble made with the freshest and sweetest peaches of the season. You can find the recipe here.

Peach Crumble

I took a short cut this time. Instead of poaching the peaches in vanilla and star anise syrup, I’ve used vanilla sugar for an instant kick. Hope you are not throwing away your vanilla pods after you scrape the seeds. If a recipe calls for just the seeds (rather than the whole pod going into the pot for poaching), I always stick the used pods into a jar full of granulated sugar.

Vanilla Sugar

A week later, you’ll have a jarful of vanilla-scented sugar. And after a month, the smell gets even stronger.

And of course, tea with dessert.

Lunch at the Mansion 2

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  1. 1 - Peter G on September 23rd, 2008

    Lovely pictures! Nothing beats getting together with friends and eating…sounds like you all had a great time.

  2. 2 - farida a.k.a feride on September 23rd, 2008

    Am I first to comment on your post? OK.

    Cenk, first of, you have an amazing blog. I’ve been reading it for quite some time, but have been shamefully avoiding leaving comments for no reason at all:) Except I commented on your About Me once. Anyway, you have a great blog and an amazing talent. Everything you cook/bake looks so professional!

    I think you are lucky to be in Turkey, where food is one of the best in the world.

    Borek, Menemen and Your Crumble all look mouthwatering!

    Tum islerinde basarilar diliyorum!


  3. 3 - farida a.k.a feride on September 23rd, 2008

    Ha ha, Peter was first:)

  4. 4 - sara on September 24th, 2008


  5. 5 - renai on September 24th, 2008

    Loving this! Great pics as usual and lovely, simple, tasty food! Cenk, can you tell me where to find real/heavy cream in Istanbul? I’m desperate to make your lemon poppy seed cake.

  6. 6 - serra on September 24th, 2008

    looking forward to the water borek recipe…a more practical one than usual please..

  7. 7 - Stacy on September 24th, 2008

    Hi there
    I loved this post, the dishes look absolutely fantastic! The borek sounds complex but yummy. Sounds like a perfect, lazy late lunch!

  8. 8 - Stacy on September 24th, 2008

    leaving a vanilla pod in sugar…my grandmother has never let me forget that use for vanilla pods!

  9. 9 - Cenk on September 24th, 2008

    Peter G – Thanks! Yep, we had a great time.

    Feride – Thanks for all the nice words!

    Sara, Stacy – Thank you.

    Renai – You can find heavy cream in most supermarkets (Migros, Tansas, Makrocenter). The brand I like is “Tikvesli” and can be found in the dairy/milk aisle. It is simply labeled as “krema”.

    Serra – I don’t have any plans to tackle the water borek recipe at the moment but let me think about it.

  10. 10 - semsa on September 24th, 2008

    Actually the cream that is being sold in supermarkets doesn’t even come near to the real stuff. At the restaurant we get it from an actual mand?ra (creamery), and it is heavenly. All the pre-packaged brands are too heavy tasting, almost greasy. Try getting it from patisseries, creameries or even, if you wish, from Kantin.

    Great blog!

  11. 11 - Cynthia on September 25th, 2008

    What I like about meals like these is how un-planned they are.

  12. 12 - Bea on September 26th, 2008

    Lovely atmospheric pictures. Makes me hungry!

  13. 13 - renai on September 26th, 2008

    Thanks Cenk. I guess the Turkish version of ‘krema’ isn’t what I had in mind (compared to the good stuff from back home! I miss the organic, clotted and thick options!) But I will give Tikvesli a try; I do like their yogurt!

    semsa, thanks for your tips too. I have to agree with you on the supermarket stuff. You might just see me at kantin one of these days asking for some ‘real’ cream.

  14. 14 - Cenk on September 28th, 2008

    Semsa – Thanks! You’re right. Nothing comes close to the real stuff. I’ll stop by Kantin next time I’m around Nisantasi.

    Cynthia, Bea – Thank you.

    Renai – Tikvesli does carry clotted cream, but as Semsa said, you’d be better off with Kantin’s version.

  15. 15 - Andrea on October 1st, 2008

    What beautiful pictures! I always find it such a treat to eat with someone who really cares about food. Your friends are lucky people!

  16. 16 - Syrie on October 7th, 2008

    I’m very excited to have found your blog through your hosting of DMBLGIT. Your photos are gorgeous. I look forward to reading more.

  17. 17 - Cristina on March 23rd, 2010

    I can not believe it! I can not find heavy cream and condensad milk at any place in this “cosmopolitan” city.

  18. 18 - Hela on March 29th, 2010

    We make Su Boregi too, but since I am a bit lazy person I tend to use puffpasty sheets instead which according to my mum is a fake Su Boregi version

    Sometimes i used diffrent types of cheese at once (depending on the availability) like to add dill parsley .

  19. 19 - Megan on April 28th, 2010

    I have looked on your site but can’t find the promised Menemen recipe anywhere! This dish has such potential to be wonderful or gross, and I would love if you would post your version.

  20. 20 - Cenk on April 28th, 2010

    Megan – You’re right. I completely forgot about it . I’ll write up the recipe and take photos soon.

  21. 21 - granolagirl on August 2nd, 2010

    The Beans!!! I have been looking for a recipe for those very Turkish for years. I know it is simple but could you post it for me. I lived in Istanbul for 4 years and my boyfriend (at the time)’s aunt made the BEST feuliye!! I can’t believe it took me this long to stumble across your blog. Very excited

  22. 22 - Cenk on August 5th, 2010

    granolagirl – Thank you! I don’t have a recipe for fasulye as it is not a favorite of mine, but here’s a recipe you can try from another Turkish blog. Hope you like it.

  23. 23 - Defne on January 5th, 2011

    Hi Cenk. I would like to kindly remind you the promise you gave on the 28th of April about menemen recipe 🙂

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