This recipe is perfect for overcast winter-ish (We're in Palo Alto, cloudy sky is as winter as it gets!) Sunday afternoons. In Turkey, afternoons like this would be incomplete without a brewing teapot on the stove. And tea, of course, requires a companion. My favorite tea companions are not the sweet ones like cookies and sweet cakes, but savory ones such as boreks, poğaças, or savory cakes (I'm dreaming about a whole new category for the blog on savory cakes). This recipe is a flexible one in terms of ingredients. You can replace mozzarella with white cheese or feta, or cheddar; you canskip the cornmeal and do all flour; you can add herbs; etc. You get the idea. In Turkey this cake is usually vegetarian or sometimes made with beef franks, but I love making this savory cake with Middle Eastern pastrami or pastırma. I think leeks and ME pastrami are a perfect couple. Yet, you can skip that completely or use crispy bacon bits, smoked ham, or whatever kind of meat you like.
(You can fortunately find Middle Eastern pastrami made in America, right here in California from Ohanyan's --If you're following this blog for a while you know that I don't do product endorsement, at all!)
2 leeks, washed well and chopped as thinly as possible
2 tbsp butter or olive oil (this we will use to cook the leeks)
1/3 cup olive oil or sunflower etc (this one is for the cake batter)
1 cup corn meal or flour, they both work
1 cup flour
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese (you can use a different kind as well)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp aleppo pepper flakes or any spicy pepper flakes (this is optional, but leeks love spice)
1 tsp or more salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup pastrami, chopped in however way/size you prefer
-Preheat the oven to 375F.
-Heat butter in a frying pan and add the leeks and cook ~10 minutes on medium. Leeks will first sweat, then wilt, and they will finally surrender. If you like browned veggie taste, you can brown them as well but I find the taste to be overwhelming for baking. Take them off the stove and let cool aside.
-Beat eggs well with olive oil and yogurt. Add cheese and pastrami then mix.
-In a separate bowl, mix flour, corn meal/flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes.
-Add the eggy mixture to the dry one, and mix well.
-Pour the batter in an oven dish (I used a 10 inch round baking pan)
-Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes clean.
Set aside to cool for 5 minutes then enjoy with tea or an ice cold pilsner!