One of Turkey's best-loved breakfasts, menemen, is explained to us by the country's best-loved food blogger, Cenk. Join us for a delicious dish of eggs, vegetables and cheese, the perfect thing to spread on a piece of crusty toast. Cenk's Blog, Cafe Fernando, is an imaginative culinary exploration of foods from Turkey and beyond. His photos are exquisitely composed and always sumptuous, poignantly capturing his creative recipes. Cenk lives in Istanbul but has spent time in the Bay area, and his experience living in San Francisco made a big impression on the writer/photographer. Both cities on the water, San Fran and Istanbul, full of blustery wind and fresh produce, inform his seasonal recipes and accompanying images. While living in Istanbul last winter, I used Cenk's recommendations and informative posts as a guide. I happily ate my way through one of the world's most enchanting locales.
About this breakfast Cenk says:
Tomatoes, feta cheese, green peppers and eggs are all staples of a traditional Turkish breakfast. Add simit (a circular bread covered with sesame seeds, which is very close to a bagel) to these, and I can live on them forever. Menemen is a very smart way to transform these ingredients into a creamy dish that not only intensifies the tomato flavor, but also helps integrate some other favorite ingredients of mine that I'd never dream of eating for breakfast, like onion and garlic
Cenk's vivid description of all the details are so helpful in creating menemen make for an outstanding breakfast dish. This meal will satisfy you to the very core. The richness of the eggs is divine with the slight tang of feta cheese, and the smattering of parsley brings a note of freshness and contrasting flavor. I did my best to find the green peppers recommended, but wound up throwing in one red pepper because the green looked a bit dreary (I'm in Portland, OR in mid-spring, what can i say?). Menemen is a Turkish delight any egg-lover will fall for.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
2 long Turkish green peppers (or 2 long fresh green chiles; prefer a mild type, such as Anaheim), seeds removed and sliced thinly
3 tomatoes on the vine
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 medium free-range eggs
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Few grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-based skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently until softened, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes. Add the pepper and cook for another minute.
In the meantime, skin the tomatoes and dice them finely. Do not discard the vine; it will add extra tomato flavor to the dish. Add the tomatoes together with the vine, cayenne pepper and salt. Turn the heat up to medium-high, cover and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, for about 5-8 minutes.
Turn off the heat, take the lid off and discard the vine. Crack the eggs into a bowl, stir with a fork to break them up and add to the tomato sauce. Stir with a spatula while the heat from the sauce cooks the eggs slowly, for about 2 minutes.
Add the crumbled feta cheese, give it another stir, cover and let the cheese soften for a minute.
Serve in the pan, with slices of toasted crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with chopped parsley right before serving.
Thanks Cenk for contributing to our Breakfast with a Blogger series!
• Visit Cenk's blog: Cafe Fernando
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross, image of Cenk provided by Cenk)