*July 2009 COTM* SPICE: Oregano, Summer Savory, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme
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 Ten:
Oregano, Summer Savory, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme, page 274 to 299. 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!
Maria’s Shrimp Saganaki Flambéed with Ouzo (page 296)
You know how people often say that a dish was so much more than just the sum of it’s ingredients? Well, this one wasn’t. In fact, it was almost surprising how very distinct each ingredient was in the finished dish.
Shrimp are buried in a sauté of onion; red and green peppers; peeled, seeded, and diced plum tomatoes; and chopped garlic and oregano. It’s sprinkled with crumbled French feta, baked for 20 to 25 minutes, and then flambéed with a quarter cup of ouzo.
There was nothing bad about it. I just didn’t think it was anything special. And that was a real disappointment since I now have one not inexpensive bottle minus one-quarter cup of ouzo to use up. Recipes, anyone?
I think there's a recipe in the Glorious Flavours of Greece for Shrimp Saganaki with ouzo which was well reviewed.
The sainted Ottolenghi has a lovely-sounding recipe for buttered prawns with tomatoes and arak (which is an anise spirit so similar to ouzo). I can't find it online but would be happy to paraphrase it if you're interested. Or borrow the book from MMRuth!
Arak! I'd completely forgotten about it. I’ve since learned that it’s popular in Lebanon, but I first heard about it in northern Sulawesi where you had to know somebody who knew somebody to get the good stuff. Brilliant suggestion. I’ll see if I can work something out in terms of a cookbook swap.
I made the Potato Risotto with green olives, walnuts, and rosemary on page 294. Preceding on pages 292-93, Ana writes on ode to just-dug potatoes. I had just bought some just-dug potatoes, from Ana's husband's farm, no less, and decided to try it, if though I was put off by the two cups of heavy cream called for.
Ana has you cut the just-dug potatoes into a very small dice and then cook them in the cream so they absorb it in the manner of risotto. Once tender you add chopped green olives, toasted walnuts, fresh rosemary, and 2 tbs parmesan cheese.
I love the classic walnut/green olive combination and really wanted to like this dish. I followed the recipe mostly except that I substituted half and half for the heavy cream, and did not add the cheese, as I felt it would be rich enough. Maybe it would have been very different with the cream instead of half and half, and with the cheese, but what I got seemed gummy, pasty, and I didn't get enough of the fresh potato flavor. Also the olives and walnuts kind of got lost in the dairy deluge.
I've loved everything else I've tried from this cookbook, and I've been admiring Ana's cooking for decades, for Aigo in Concord to Holyoke 8 in Cambridge to Casablanca to Oleana. But this one just didn't work for me.
Fried Green Tomato Parmesan (pg 287 )
Prepared this with Mr. Palmito last week and we both give it the thumbs up!
This recipe is made with the Tomato Sauce of another dish (see Grilled Skirt Steak pg 26) We made the Tomato Sauce the night before—big time saver. Main ingredients of the sauce; diced tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, s+p, and caramelized butter, all pureed in a blender until smooth. The addition of the caramelized butter was a bonus.
Note: This only made about 1 1/4 cups total but the Fried Green Tomato recipe calls for 2 cups of sauce so be sure to factor that in.
The unripe tomatoes were a bit hard to find but we have access to a good market in Boston and I just had to ask the produce guys to search in the back. We also had to use about 8 small tomatoes (the recipe calls for 4 large). The result was a rich, bubbly dish with varying levels of creaminess (sauce and cheese) and crunch (light, Panko crust). We ate it as the main course with some salad greens but recommend it as a side instead.
The sauce was especially fantastic. Very subtle, in a way, not heavily spiced--just a very rich, flavorful buttery tomato sauce. I agree this dish is a bit rich for a main. Definitely want to try it again with something else... maybe that grilled skirt steak item.
Who took those great pictures? ;-)