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Spice: Flavors of The Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun

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Notes about this book

  • MWFhome on March 20, 2014

    This book changed how I approach seasonings, providing creative inspiration for many wonderful meals and dinner parties. Love it. The dishes are as good if not better than what is served in her restaurant (Oleana).

  • jenno on January 21, 2010

    LOVE Ana Sortun. Whenever Im in the Boston area, I always make sure to go to Oleana and it is always the highlight of my trip. Four out of five stars because recipes are a bit too labor intensive but i guess thats why her restaurants are so successful! But as a professional chef myself, I appreciate and respect the skill required and ingredient combinations in the recipes.

  • nakedbeet on December 27, 2009

    I love the concept behind this book, grouping recipes by spice combinations. One of my favorite cuisines but this also has a modern approach to Middle Eastern cooking that can be incorporated into other recipes.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Braised beef short ribs with vanilla-glazed carrots

    • mirage on January 16, 2010

      The carrots were not bad but....odd, but the short ribs were excellent.

  • Caramelized onion tart with poppy seeds, bacon, and dates

    • smtucker on December 10, 2017

      This tart was absolutely delicious. One does need to plan in advance by making the Crick-Crack dough a day ahead. Rolling the dough was simple and not too fussy. I chose not to add the bacon. I made an herbed goat cheese which I had planned to substitute for the bacon, but in the end, we ate the cheese mixture with crick-cracks alongside the tart. I was worried that the dates would seem too sweet, but the flavors balanced nicely. I made one tart equal to about 4 individual tarts. Intense flavor so we found that just a quarter of a tart was plenty for one person.

  • Grilled skirt steak with tomato, caramelized butter, and cumin

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Used flank steak - Very Good

    • MWFhome on March 20, 2014

      This dish is easy to make if you have time for a simple homemade tomato sauce. I took the ingredients on a holiday weekend with friends, reduced quantity of butter and served yoghurt on the side. Sauce was delicious and the dish very pleasing.

  • Ground beef and pistachio kebobs

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Very good. Made as patties.

  • Halibut cakes with olive oil-lemon sauce

    • MWFhome on March 24, 2014

      Delicious and easy, these held together well with three large red potatoes and 1.75 lbs of fresh halibut. Sauce was a perfect accompaniment. Definitely sprinkle the spice on the finished cakes. Will try again with a little less potato.

  • Halibut cooked in milk with cinnamon, fried almonds, and spinach

    • hibeez on March 03, 2018

      Do not ignore the instructions to salt the fish. I did so once and the taste was significantly diminished. Excellent dish, that comes together quickly. Spinach can be steamed ahead of time. Milk mixture can be made ahead of time and reheated to cook fish.

  • Harissa: North African chile paste

    • smtucker on June 21, 2015

      Best Harissa I have found. The Urfa peppers are stellar. Found at Sevan, Amenian Market, Watertown.

  • Homemade sujuk

    • mcvl on October 12, 2011

      Sunday, 9 October 2011 I've used this mix of spices three times now, first in the original recipe, then as seasoning for lamb burgers, and most recently as seasonings for a large flat lamb meatloaf. I've been making Claudia Roden's kofta bil sania, ground meatloaf in a tray, for 25 years. She tops hers with tomato paste, and I had always followed suit, but not this time. My tomato guys had no plum tomatoes in this strange year, so I was trying to work with what I had by making tomato paste with regular tomatoes. That doesn't work, or at least I can't make it work, but I did have a large pot of beautifully reduced small regular tomatoes. OK, so the flat tray ground lamb seasoned with Sortun's sujuk spices plus finely ground onion, garlic, basil, dill, and mint, then heavily topped with a loose tomato reduction. Oh my. Good good good. This is our new flat meatloaf -- I'll never go back.

  • Hot buttered hummus with basturma and tomato

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Very good

  • Lamb steak with Turkish spices and moussaka

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      didn't make the moussaka - the lamb was very, very good!

    • MWFhome on June 30, 2014

      Both are delicious.

  • Mashed potatoes with fenugreek

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      I liked this a lot, but not everyone did.

  • Muhammara: red pepper and walnut purée

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Very very good! Didn't bother with the eggplant, though. Served w/homemade pita.

  • Panforte

    • Jane on October 13, 2017

      This was quite a bit of work. I had to make the candied orange peel (not hard but just needed forward planning) and chopping the dried fruit and nuts was time consuming. But the results were delicious. I made it in an 8” square pan and cut into small squares rather than the traditional round pan and wedges as I was serving it to a crowd. I baked this for 30 mins rather than specified 20 as I felt at 20 it would be too sticky (all other panforte recipes I have bake for 30-40 minutes). The ginger flavor was quite pronounced from the candied ginger and the ground ginger so dial this down if you aren’t a ginger fan. Lovely after dinner sweet treat especially at Christmas.

  • Paopao cocktail

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Delicious - but very sweet.

  • Seared sea scallops with orange-saffron butter and rice cakes

    • mcvl on October 12, 2011

      10 October 2011 No rice cakes (too carby), lemon zest and orange zest but only lemon juice, no o.j. (also too carby), otherwise flat out one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten in my whole life. Lots of leftover orange saffron butter, hard not to eat it straight out of the bowl. One odd note, however: Ana thinks scallops contain a lot of sugar. No, they don't.

  • Shrimp with kasseri cheese, fennel, and fenugreek wrapped in shredded phyllo

    • mirage on June 26, 2010

      Good, but not worth all that butter and fat. A little greasy feeling.

  • Smoky eggplant purée with pine nuts and Urfa pepper

    • mirage on January 16, 2010

      Scott didn't like this but I loved it. So did the ladies.

  • Spicy fideos with chickpeas, vanilla, and saffron

    • MollyB on June 15, 2018

      Pretty labor intensive but a wonderful vegetarian dish. I've made it several times. With only two of us eating it, I find it's worth making a whole batch of the sauce and freezing half.

  • Spoon lamb

    • MWFhome on May 15, 2014

      Made Sartun's Spoon Lamb, essentially braising the meat in red wine, using bone-in section of lamb leg, which was thicker than the chops recommended. It required several hours in a crockpot beyond the 2 1/2 hours in the oven to achieve the meat falling off the bone stage described in the recipe. The flavors are delicious, and this worked well. Sauce is not a thickened gravy, so the dish is lighter than you might expect and relatively quick to prepare if planning ahead.

  • Squash kibbeh with brown butter and spiced feta

    • MWFhome on March 20, 2014

      Made with butternut squash for vegetarian dinner, several times. It's really good. Not necessary to shape in coffee cups but this presentation makes it fancy for a dinner party. Allow time to prepare.

  • Steamed mussels with leeks and smoky paprika

    • mirage on August 03, 2010

      Broth is very good, but Mussels are Excellent.

    • br22 on September 01, 2017

      This is a great recipe. The flavors are fantastic; even as left overs brought gently to temp and tossed with some whole wheat spaghetti.

  • Sweet potato bisteeya

    • mcvl on September 29, 2015

      I used the aromatics and seasonings from this recipe to make twice-cooked sweet potatoes, and they were great but too intense to use at the center of the plate. I think in the future I would use the mixture as a spread on toasts or crackers.

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Reviews about this book

  • Boston Globe by T. Susan Chang

    ...compelling and elegant enough to make the price of innovation -- a splattered, oily, floury workspace covered with discarded pans, measuring cups, gadgets, and peelings -- seem pretty reasonable.

    Full review

Reviews about Recipes in this Book

  • ISBN 10 0060792280
  • ISBN 13 9780060792282
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published May 02 2006
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 400
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Imprint HarperCollins

Publishers Text

An explosion of flavor in ingenious Arabic-Mediterranean recipes from the James Beard Award-winning chef of Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On a trip to Turkey as a young woman, chef Ana Sortun fell in love with the food and spent months learning the traditions of Turkish cooking from local women. Inspired beyond measure, Sortun opened her own restaurant in Cambridge, the award-winning Oleana, where she creates her own interpretations of dishes using the incredible array of delicious spices and herbs by Arab-Mediterranean chefs.

In this gorgeously photographed book, Sortun shows readers how to use this philosophy of spice to create wonderful dishes in their own home. She reveals how the artful use of spice sand herbs rather than fat and cream is the key to the full, rich flavors of Mediterranean cuisine--and the way it leaves you feeling satisfied afterward. The book is organized by spice, revealing the ways certain spices complement one another and how they flavor other foods and create for home cooks a kind of sense-memory that allows for a more intuitive use of spice in their own dishes. The more than 100 tantalizing spice categories and recipes include:

  • Cumin, Coriander, and Cardamom:Galette of Tender Pork with Cumin and Cider
  • Saffron, Ginger, and Vanilla: Monkfish with Ginger, Creme Fraiche, and Seared Onions
  • Oregano, Summer Savory, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme: Potato Risotto with Green Olives, Walnuts, and Rosemary


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