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Jul 1, 2009 01:29 PM

*July 2009 COTM* SPICE: Favorite Chilies (Aleppo, Urfa, and Paprika)

Our Chowhound July 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun.

Please post your full-length recipe reviews here for dishes from Chapter Five -- Favorite Chilies (Aleppo, Urfa, and Paprika), page 140 to 171. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. Let us know if you would like to make the recipe again, and if you would change anything in the future, too. Photos welcome!

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating and enjoy!

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  1. Steamed Mussels with Leeks and Smoky Paprika, p. 150

    I made this as part of a Sunday afternoon "Spice" menu with ArizonaGirl and her husband (full menu and pics at link below). I really liked the combination of sweet leeks and smoked paprika - next time, would add even more - and everyone commented on how good the mussels were.

    For the broth, I used Plugra butter, as she suggests, evoo, garlic, leeks, white wine, Spanish smoked paprika, and aleppo pepper. Finish with a bit more butter and lemon juice. I served these with za'atar bread from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day".

    1. Muhammara, p. 153

      Like Oakjoan, my go-to recipe for muhammara has been Paula Wolfert's, but I loved Sortun's too. They're different enough that I will still be making both versions.

      Sortun's recipe calls for urfa chiles, which I don't have yet, so I doubled the aleppo. Other ingredients are roasted red bell peppers ("about 1 pound" equaled three), scallions, olive oil, garlic, walnuts and pine nuts, bread crumbs, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, cumin, and yogurt. Great flavors with this combination of ingredients, with a bit of heat from the Aleppo.

      I also love her technique of serving it rolled in thin slices of a roasted eggplant to make bite-sized roulades, and will try that the next time I have guests over.

      I served it with Flatbread with Za'atar (p. 240) and the next day as a veggie snack rolled in slices of small Japanese eggplants from the garden, along with Padron peppers.

      Recipe link here (only difference is book also calls for 1/3 cup toasted pinenuts):

      3 Replies
      1. re: Rubee

        I made this for the first time last night and loved it!! Pomegranate molasses is my new favorite, I can't wait to experiment more with it. (Found a cool recipe online for lentil soup with pom mol, and I want to try it in cocktails and salad dressing, woo!)

        Back to the muhammara, I followed the recipe as written, except I omitted the bread crumbs, and subbed ground anchos for the Urfa chiles (btw, I think anchos are a better sub for the urfas than just doubling the aleppo, for my taste anyway).

        We loved it with toasted pita and bell pepper strips, and since I only made a half batch in my mini food processor, it went fast, so I couldn't try it with the eggplant, or in sandwiches or salads. I bet it would be great with grilled chiles, maybe even as a sub for cheese in bacon wrapped jalepeno poppers, mmm. Rubee, I've been meaning to grab some Padrons from the farmer's market, maybe this will be the week, yours are making my mouth water!

        1. re: Rubee

          Just wanted to add that this froze great! To me, it tasted even better though, a bit spicy for some. I'm definitely going to keep a batch of this in the freezer from now on . I served it yesterday as part of a "Spice" dinner with Crick-Cracks (p. 176).

          1. re: Rubee

            I made the muhamarra earlier this week, and have eaten it in various ways: rolled into thin slices of roasted eggplant, stuffed in chicken breasts with feta, on sandwiches, and with pita. I think I like Sortun's recipe better than Wolfert's, which has been my standby for a few years now. Sortun's seems better balanced, with more bitterness, which I evidently like! I do have to note that I made a couple subs: no urfa chiles here, so just aleppo, and I didn't have a lemon, so used sherry vinegar, which worked fine. I seem to remember that Wolfert doesn't use cumin, pine nuts or yogurt, which seem to really round out the flavors. I'd recommend this recipe, a great summertime staple.

          2. Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers p 149

            After a much awaited trip to the Middle Eastern market (Baiz for Phx folks), I finally had the ingredients to make this recipe, which I feel like I've been eagerly anticipating for months.

            Creamy French feta is blitzed in the blender with olive oil, Aleppo, roasted red bell peppers, lemon juice and a touch of paprika. You are supposed to use Urfa as well, but I couldn't find any, so I added extra Aleppo.

            The results were very good indeed. I think the Urfas add the heat, or I have spicier taste because I didn't find this hot at all, next time I'll add some red jalepenos or thai chilies:) I added a little honey, beacuse my bells were kind of old and I wasn't getting any sweetness. This was the first time I've used French feta, and I almost ate it all plain, it was so good and creamy and BETTER than what I usually get at Trader Joe's or the grocery store.

            I'll defintiely add this to my repertoire of dips and spreads, it was wonderful with grissini, carrots, celery, jicama and cherry tomatoes, and I can't wait to use it on sandwiches this week, or maybe as part of an omelette.

            3 Replies
            1. re: yamalam

              I made this using a jarred roasted pepper but otherwise with the ingredients specified - really didnt like it much the first day -I didnt think it worked as a veg dip - it improved in flavor over the course of several days to the point that it was acceptable and daughter and husband finished it off. I think an extra roasted red pepper would have improved this and sweetened it.

              1. re: jen kalb

                I made this last night as part of a mezze - I quite liked it and one guest asked for the recipe, but it wasn't a stand-out for me. I used jarred roasted peppers as well, and a tsp of regular chilli as I didn't have any Urfa. There's lots left over, so will see how it fares over the next few days.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  I've had this at Oleana and loved it. However, when I tried to make it at home, I must have used feta that wasn't creamy enough, because mine turned out a bit curdled and definitely not whipped. I ended up throwing it away.

            2. Chicken and Walnut Pate with Smoky Paprika, (p. 146)

              As she mentions, this is more of a "creamy chicken salad recipe", made creamy with a sauce of reduced stock, soaked bread, and ground walnuts.

              A whole chicken is poached in wine, water, carrot, onion, allspice, peppercorns, and bay leaves. The broth is reduced, and the chicken cooled and the meat shredded. Next, in a food processor, bread soaked in broth, walnuts and garlic are ground to a paste (pic below). This is thinned with more broth, walnut oil added, and then folded in with the shredded chicken, sour cream, scallions, Aleppo pepper, and paprika.

              I actually made this last weekend and it froze as well as Sortun said. Yesterday, I served it as one of the dishes for a "Spice" dinner I had for ArizonaGirl and her husband, and she mentioned it was one of her favorites. I served it with Crick-Cracks (p. 176) and the suggested condiments of radishes and romaine leaves.

              1. Harissa: North African Chili Paste
                page 152

                I love Harissa, but each recipe I try lets me down. Based on recommendations from folks on this site, I purchased some Dea in a tube. Nope.... way too salty with dull flavors. So, I found some Urfa chills at an Armenian market and got to work. Measure the chilies, chop some garlic, soak some sun-dried tomatoes, whir them in a blender with salt, water, Ras el Hannout and olive oil. I decided to use the tomato soaking liquid in place of the plain water. I did need to add a bit more water than the recipe stated to get the mixture to the thickness of ketchup.

                This stuff rocks! I have added some to the Merguez sausage meat that is "curing" in the fridge now. Tomorrow will be the true test when we cook some of this sausage up. I am pleasantly surprised.

                Though I only made a half recipe, I will be hard-pressed to use it all within a few weeks. I am thinking I should freeze in ice cube trays. Would love to hear if someone knows that this is a bad idea.

                1 Reply
                1. re: smtucker

                  Glad to read this report, I must try making it sometime. I would freeze it flattened in a zip lock so you can easily break off pieces when you want them.