Vişne reçeli in my cookie: A “Turklish” twist on Thanksgiving

Adding sour cherry jam to thumbrint cookies for Thanksgiving, Turklish-style

A few days ago, my dear friend J. took me (and my mental Karagöz puppets) over for my twice-weekly physical therapy torture for what Emsa ths hippie puppet calls “my damaged wing,” and the very proper Kenne, Queen of Manners Puppet calls “my rotator cuff.”

By the way, this voice recognition software hears “Karagöz: as “Cairo guys,” and while I thought that the software was off, Hacivad Bey, the Sufi elder puppet, reminded me that Cairo was indeed part of the Ottoman empire from which these puppets come – so I guess the software is more intelligent than I could have realized.

But in any case, there we were, me and the “Cairo guys” puppets, doing all sorts of gentle stretches and weight lifting at the rehabılıtatıon center. And while the “Cairo guys” were curious about the medicine balls, yoga twists and silent war Veterans with tears in their eyes at the pain of their exercises, they were most interested in the conversation that I had with the woman that is my physical therapist.

She is a young American woman, who is really lovely and smart. As I went through my repetitions of weight lifting, we started to talk about my husband as well as her wife, and we started to talk about Thanksgiving traditions. She is cooking her first Thanksgiving this year I think she is newly married and nervous about cooking the turkey for the family first time. And I can relate to that very much.

At this point, one of the “Cairo guys” said “Why is she nervous – do they think Turkey is going to invade United States of America? And of course, I said no, “Cairo guys”they’re talking about the bird, “not the big yellow one,” I explained reminding the puppets about the Robama debate, “the one you roast. And as all of this was going on in my head, the physical therapist turned her head ever so slightly as she asked the question I get at least once per Thanksgiving season:

So, how do people in Turkey celebrate Thanksgiving?”

Drum roll please. Silence. I didn’t expect that from someone so smart and nice. Here’s how the puppets reacted in the moment:

Karagöz himself swirled and jumped while squealing with laughter and said “another dumb American!”

Esma the hippie puppet, well, she just sighed, putting her hand on my shoulder, and said “this is just one of those moments were going to have to kindly explain to someone that they said something really stupid.”

Kenne the Queen of Manners and Maintenance of Ladylike Behavior agreed with that.

Safiye Rakkase, the vainglorious dancing girl puppet was too busy dancing to the music in the boombox there in the physical therapy room to pay attention.

Yehuda Rebbe, the wise Jewish elder puppet looked down put his hands on his religious book and begin to pray.

So, left to my own devices as the puppets waited and watched, I very gently told her that “well, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey as it is an American tradition,” with a hopefully kind smile on my face of course. As she blushed, I ransacked my mental pantry in order to fill the gaffe gap, and told her quickly about all of the Turkish flavor traditions we have woven into our American Thanksgiving. And this is something that many immigrants or immigrant-infused families do, tabı canım.

For us, our “Turklish” approach to the holiday usually involves a bit of sun-dried kekik (thyme) in the stuffing, or pul biber (red Aleppo pepper) rubbed into the butter that goes on the bird, but this year, it was the addition of visne recelı (sour cherry jam), in thumbprint cookies. These ones have coconut on them – and M. says they would be more “Turklish” if it were nuts, but for this year, it’s a blend, just like every other day of our life!

And before I get to that Turklishified recipe, please check out the fascinating blog from which this (new to me) word has sprung – TURKLISH!!!

This is what the final product looks like – we have eaten ours all up, so I only have the pre-baking photos from our batch….

Ina Garten’s Thumbprint Jam Cookies – alla Turca


3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (or nuts, crushed)
Raspberry and/or apricot jam (I used visne receli)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.




This entry was posted in Turkish Food!, Turkish-American Matters, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Vişne reçeli in my cookie: A “Turklish” twist on Thanksgiving

  1. But if you’re an expat living in Turkey, you do your damnedest to still celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey! 😉 At least, I still turn the day into a feast. And your coconut cookies look delish!

  2. E. says:

    Thanks so much for the compliment!

    And it looks like you did your damnedest – those pies on your post today look SO good! Were there any Turklish twists on your table?

    My sister has lived in Rome for 18 years – always has trouble finding a plump Turkey – is that an issue for you in Ist?

  3. Anonymous says:

    One of these delicious treats found its way into my home and then into my tummy. It came by way of a mysterious Turkish mystery man, a little devilish and impish jovial fellow. He lit up our home and delighted us all and then he was off. I hope he comes again. jc

  4. Alan says:

    . . they’re not thumbprint cookies, they’re fingerprint cookies. Signed, Observant of Tunbridge Wells 😀

  5. This year’s Thanksgiving only had to Turklish items – storebought dinner rolls from a small bakery and Turkish wine! Usually I make my pecan pies with walnuts and pekmez instead of molasses here and I swear you’d never know the difference.

  6. E. says:

    Pekmez – what a good idea! Might add a slight interesting tang? I’m thinking of what pekmez does in firin-baked tahine…

    Hope you are enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers!

  7. E. says:

    Dear Observant,

    Indeed! LOLing…


  8. E. says:

    Those adjectives capture him to a T! Xo

  9. Turklish says:

    I love you Turkish twist on Thanksgiving – coconut and cherry – sounds like a perfect combination to me. I hope you had a lovely Turkey Day!

    – L.

    P.S. Thanks for linking to my blog 🙂

  10. carinaragno says:

    omg girl i just ate 3/4 pumpkin pie already 🙂 … drooling here

    i have nominated you for the Blog of Year Award 2012, hope you accept ….

  11. E. says:

    Hi my friend, sorry to make you drool / but you’re making me drool back because I never got any pumpkin pie this year! Will have to make a baking storm in between political activity. All my best, Liz

  12. E. says:

    Dear friend Turklish, Thank you so much for the comment it was indeed a good twist that felt right. This weekend we actually tried it again with round up pistachio nuts. And it was really really good I would recommend it. I have been so enjoying getting into your blog a little bit. I have also been meaning to write you back but have been all caught up with medical visits as I have wanted to take time to say so much. I think we have So much in common as academics and the American side of Turkish mates. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Best, Liz

  13. carinaragno says:

    am so sorry 😉 … i roasted two medium size pumpkins and have enough puree for three pies and bread, much more cost effective
    love and blessings :), Carina

  14. E. says:

    Dear Carina, I totally agree on the cost-effectiveness, and it also helps the local farmers especially the organic ones who are so easily driven out of business by the corporate machine. And also frankly I think that kind of fresh Pumpkin tastes better. You might also try making a pumpkin stew that’s pretty good as well. Sending all my best to get and a strong hug, Liz

  15. carinaragno says:

    thank you
    hugs and blessings to you cara mia 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s