What a feast it was, with dishes from her native Turkey mingling with Italian food, Greek specialties, a Moroccan chicken tagine (above) and French pastries. The mix reflects her taste for Mediterranean food. "To me there is no better place in the world," she said.
Her Greek salad is "the original," she said. Instead of crumbled into the salad, feta cheese is layered on top of tomatoes, cucumbers and red onions. One of the seasonings is oregano-flavored olive oil.
Fresh oregano was crushed with olives to give the oil its intense flavor. From western Turkey, it is distributed by Turkish Fair Trade Imports. The brand name is Hatun, and Smith is its ambassador.
Claypot shrimp is common in wineries in Turkey, Smith said. To make this, she heated Turkish butter, added cooked shrimp and seasoned it with paprika and lemon juice. The version above was topped with mozzarella cheese.
If you served this creamy roll as a party spread, no one would guess that it was from Turkey. The components include feta cheese, another cheese similar to ricotta, garlic, dill, toasted almonds and walnuts.
Cornbread isn't exclusively American. This version is Turkish, from the Black Sea region, where corn is an important part of the diet. The bread contains green onions as well as heavy cream, butter, eggs and fine cornmeal.
Smith prepared many more dishes, including moutabbal (above), which is what baba ghanoush is called in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. And pirpichika, from the Caucusus, a blend of strained yogurt (labneh), green onions, red pepper paste, coriander, garlic and olive oil.
A standout among the meats was kasap kofte, also known as butcher's meatball. Unexpected seasonings such as ground ginger and coriander gave it lots of flavor along with red pepper flakes, white and black peppers, oregano, olive oil and parsley.
Smith also served grilled ribeye steak to go with the chimichurri. This green sauce may not be Mediterranean, but Smith uses it extensively in her cooking, for example, brushed on the bread for bruschetta (above). It also seasons her stuffed mushrooms.
At this point there was no room to eat anything more. But it was impossible to resist a table filled with almond tuiles, macarons in flavors such as passion fruit and rose, shortbread cookies, thin chocolate coins topped with dried fruit and toasted nuts and other sweet nibbles. To these she added a Turkish dessert, poached quince.
Although located in Orange County, Smith handles events in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties as well. To contact her, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to see more of her work.