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Jul 1, 2009 01:59 PM

***July 2009 COTM*** Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun

Hi there! Welcome to the links thread for the **July 2009 Cookbook of the Month** -- Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun. You may wish to bookmark this thread for future reference, as it contains links to all the other threads for this book.

We will use this thread for general commentary, recipe planning, links, and any other goodies related to this COTM.

To best honor the spirit of the book, I have followed Ana Sortun's method of organization for our links here at COTM, grouping dishes together by featured herbs or spices. This way, we are following her chapter system, hopefully meaning less confusion when we post individual reports. Plus, I believe this will allow us to explore and discuss individual herbs and spices on the individual links featuring them. SO -- here are the links for the threads for the full length recipe reviews:

Chapter One: Cumin, Coriander, and Cardamom

Chapter Two: Saffron, Ginger, and Vanilla

Chapter Three: Sumac, Citrus, and Fennel Seed

Chapter Four: Allspice, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg

Chapter Five: Favorite Chilies (Aleppo, Urfa, and Paprika

Chapter Six: Three Seeds -- Poppy, Nigella, and Sesame

Chapter Seven: Curry Powder, Turmeric, and Fenugreek

Chapter Eight: Mint, Oregano, and Za’atar

Chapter Nine: Parsley, Mint, Dill, and Sweet Basil

Chapter Ten: Oregano, Summer Savory, Sage, Rosemary, & Thyme

Chapter Eleven: Flower Power (Nasturtium, Orange Blossom, Rose, Chamomile, Lavender, and Jasmine

Chapter Twelve: Nuts, Yogurt, and Cheese

Happy spicing! Yum yum! Enjoy! ♥


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  1. Online recipes:

    Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers
    Chopped Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing
    Trout Spanakopitta with Avocado and Salmon Roe
    Künefe with Champagne-Cardamom Syrup

    Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Spicy Feta Sauce

    Caramelized Onion Tart With Poppy Seeds, Bacon And Dates

    Spinach Falafel With Tahini Sauce

    Ground Beef And Pistachio Kebabs

    Circassian Pilav for Dolma

    Spoon Lamb

    Spicy Carrot Purée

    Fried Mussels With Almond-Garlic Sauce

    Frozen Almond Cream With Sugared Almonds (Cremolata

    Flatbreads With Spiced Chicken, Pistachios and Roasted Peppers

    Heirloom Tomato Kibbeh

    Moroccan Spiced Radishes

    Paopao Cocktail (p. 36) and Sliced Summer Tomatoes with Walnut and Basil Tabouleh (p. 258


    From Food and Wine (though not all are in the book - maybe we can include online recipes too?).

    22 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      Thanks for doing this. Those kebabs sound good. Do you know what aleppo peppers are (or what a substitute would be?)? Actually - I'll go google now!

      And here is a query and response from CH from 2006!

      1. re: MMRuth

        I've been buying Aleppo pepper from Penzey's tor a few years now. It has a nice kind of smoky flavor with a little bite.

        1. re: Gio

          Thanks - I just ordered the ingredients I need to make this tonight, so I think I'll go with the paprika/cayenne mix for now.

        2. re: MMRuth

          Kalustyan sells big bags of Aleppo (used to be sold as Mideast Pepper) along with Urfa, the turkish maras biber, smoked mild paprika and every other sort you can imagine. I am very fond of Aleppo and its deep oily flavor (I think these chiles are somewhat fermented) and use it a lot but would not necessarily sub it in in all the cuisines that Sortun suggests.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Ah, Kalustyan. How lucky you are to live in NYC. I know I live in a great place for finding ingredients, but there's something about Kalustyan, something historic....or am I being overly romantic?

            I just got the book from the Berkeley Library today and can't wait to get started.

          2. re: MMRuth

            Would someone be so kind as to let me know which thread I should post on about:

            Ground Beef And Pistachio Kebabs


            1. re: MMRuth

              My guess is the chillies thread, but I don't have the book either. Looking forward to your report - I'm probably going to make these as well next week.

              1. re: MMRuth

                It's on page 236 of Chapter Eight: Mint, Oregano, and Za'atar.

              2. re: MMRuth

                At Sahadi's in Brooklyn, Aleppo pepper is sold as "halaby pepper" - which might be the case at other places too. I too am just back, just got the book from the library, just got aleppo/halaby etc etc
                : )

              3. re: greedygirl

                Thanks, greedygirl! Yes, I think we can go ahead and include any of her recipes.

                That spicy carrot puree looks good, and quite simple to prepare. I have made my own version before with Aleppo and smoky paprika, roasting the carrots instead of boiling with a little red onion. It is soooo good with crackers. Her version has a couple of Tablespoons of vinegar -- interesting.


                1. re: foxy fairy

                  Reposting that Food and Wine link (one above didn't work for me):


                  Glad we can use all the online recipes too! I planned on making baklava this month. The one in the book calls for black walnuts, but I want to try the one in the Food and Wine - chocolate and hazelnut baklava.

                2. re: greedygirl

                  Sooo -- I'm paging through Spice and wondering -- What are people looking forward to making this July?

                  Prior to the official start of this COTM, way back in fall 2007, I made the whipped feta with sweet and hot peppers page 149, the lentil koftas & pomegranate salsa page 12, and hot buttery hommus with basturma page 200 All outstanding.

                  But I confess that, gulp, I must be feeling less energized than normal because as I'm looking at the steps for the dishes that appeal to me, I'm kind of thinking Wow. That seems like a lot of fuss. For example -- the crispy chicken with za'atar page 245-- I just can't see myself standing over the stove for an hour and a half while the lemons cook down into jam! Maybe I'll try that one in the fall. It does look delicious. I don't have any terra-cotta bricks "like those found at a garden store" either.

                  So I might go for some of the salads. Chopped romaine and cucumber salad with yogurt dressing page 256 might not be as exciting as the chicken crisped under bricks, but it's about my speed in July, apparently. Plus, that salad "is one of the most requested recipes at Oleana" (Sortun's restaurant).

                  I remember a Top Chef contestant pulling out a potato risotto -- I think Martha Stewart was judging?

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    I tried that Crispy Lemon Chicken with Za'atar pre-COTM and was underwhelmed. It wasn't that is was so much fuss as that it wasn't worth whatever amount of fuss it took. I had some problems with the timing of the lemon confit and it ended up being bitter, even though I tried to follow the instructions. I've made chicken-under-a-brick often, and this just didn't seem like a very good version of it. (And I didn't think the deboning necessary, either, usually I just remove the breastbone, and I think that would have been fine here, too.) For starters, it wasn't very crispy. My notes say, “Too many other chicken recipes I like better, most with not so much added fat.”

                    Don't mean to discourage you from trying it. In fact, I'd be happy to hear that my attempt was just one of those everything-goes-wrong experiences.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Try the Ottolenghi version of chicken with za'atar, sumac and lemon - it's wonderful, and easy!


                    2. re: foxy fairy

                      I admit, every time I pick up the book, and leaf through the recipes I marked with a post-it note, I put it back down. Sometimes, I am missing a key ingredient, sometimes a key ingredient is on the 'someone in the family won't eat' list. Or, I have a fresh piece of fish, or peas from the farmer's market, and I can't find the ingredient in the index.

                      I have bought the za'tar and pomegranate molasses, so there is hope that I will eventually just dive in.

                      1. re: smtucker

                        Now that I have the book, I'm a little overwhelmed too, mostly for the reasons smtucker mentioned. The first source I tried, (for a meat called basturma) no longer lists that ingredient. (I hate to start substituting, might as well not make the recipe.)
                        But I'll press on, just a tiny bit more focus and discipline needed!

                      2. re: foxy fairy

                        Some of the recipes I have marked (hmmm..but now not quite sure about the Lemon Chicken):

                        Orange-Coriander Sangria
                        Chicken Lamejun with Roasted Peaches, Pistachios and Sumac
                        Grilled Skirt Steak with Tomato, Caramelized Butter, and Cumin
                        Halibut Cakes with Olive Oil-Lemon Sauce
                        Chicken and Walnut Pate with Smoky Paprika
                        Salt Cod Fritters
                        Crispy Lemon Chicken with Za'atar
                        Caramelized Onion Tart with Poppy Seeds, Bacon, and Dates
                        Chopped Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt

                        1. re: foxy fairy

                          I'm going to do that romaine salad, I think, as it's on t'interweb,

                          I have to admit I'm surprised by how few reports there are so far - it's quiet generally on Chowhound at the moment. Maybe a lot of people are on holiday?

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            I think the summer tends to be quieter - and I still need to load my photos for my report.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Mea culpa.
                              I'm one of those laggard Spice-voters who hasn't yet participated, but I hope to make up for it starting today!
                              I slipped off the COTM bandwagon & Chowhound for the past month. It's summer. I have a huge quantity of CSA produce that drives my meals -- requires discipline and stamina! And I'm obstinate and don't want to purchase any produce. But I did have to buy oregano for Spice recipe today because my plant withered.

                              I was also waiting to get the book back from the library but now that I have it I realize it made no sense to wait. The organization of the book makes one (me!) want to pull their hair! Organized by seeds. Indeed.
                              Nevertheless, with the help of the index, I have decided to embark upon:
                              roasted beets w/ orange aioli, pork, pureed carrots, corn cakes and zucchini fritters.

                            2. re: foxy fairy

                              A lot of the meat dishes do seem to be a lot of fuss so I'm being drawn to the dips, salads, sides and breads. I want to try the carrot puree, the walnut tabbouli, muhammara, lentil kofte, whipped feta, avocado hummus, buttery hummus...

                              I think I'll pull this book back out in 4-5 months and try the wintry main course dishes then.

                          2. I made a spice trip yesterday to stock my pantry. I bought: Sumac, Urfa pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper flakes (even though I haven't understood why everybody likes it so much), Sumac, Zaatar (Jordanian), nutmeg along with pomogranate molasses. I was also looking for black walnuts to make the baklava, but they did not have it.

                            Some of the recipes I bookmarked to start with:

                            Ricotta and bread dumpling with porcini
                            Persimmon pudding cake
                            Corn cakes
                            Flatbread with zaatar
                            Ground beef and pistachip kebab

                            1. Darn, Spice is due back at the library, and I can't renew since there are two people waiting for the book to return. Just pulled all my post-its which made me sad. Will check a few used book stores. Maybe I will get lucky.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                When you return it, do so at the counter and see if you can renew. Often, the holds are fulfilled after you've tried to renew at the computer. I sometimes get lucky with a counter renew.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  copy machines are useful in this situation!

                                2. SOS:
                                  I made the Persian Fried Chicken last night but have no idea which chapter it's from since I used an on-line recipe. Can someone please tell me...
                                  Many thanks in advance!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Persian Fried Chicken is in Saffron, Ginger, and Vanilla.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Thanks for your speedy reply, Joan. I started searching for the correct chapter from the bottom of the links list but gave up just before that chapter....

                                      It was delicious, BTW!