Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean

Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean

by Ana Sortun


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On a trip to Turkey as a young woman, chef Ana Sortun fell in love with the food and learned the traditions of Turkish cooking from local women. Inspired beyond measure, Sortun opened her own restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the award-winning Oleana, where she creates her own interpretations of dishes incorporating the incredible array of delicious spices and herbs used in eastern regions of the Mediterranean.

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

  • Beef Shish Kabobs with Sumac Onions and Parsley Butter
  • Chickpea and Potato Terrine Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, Onion, and Tahini
  • Crispy Lemon Chicken with Za’atar
  • Golden Gazpacho with Condiments
  • Fried Haloumi Cheese with Pear and Spiced Dates

Absolutely alive with spices and herbs, Ana Sortun’s recipes will intrigue and inspire readers everywhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060792282
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/02/2006
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 363,837
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.35(d)

About the Author

Ana Sortun was named the “Best Chef: Northeast” at the 2005 James Beard Awards for her restaurant, Oleana, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she opened in 2001. Known for unique Arabic-Mediterranean food, Oleana has received much local and national praise. Sortun holds a degree from Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

Read an Excerpt


Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean
By Ana Sortun

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Ana Sortun
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060792280

Chicken Egg-Lemon Soup
with Grano and Sumac

Makes 8 cups

This variation of the classic Greek egg-lemon soup called avgolemono is for lemon fans. It's one of my favorite soups; its smooth, velvety texture comforts me. See note on grano, page 88.


1 cup grano, soaked in water overnight
8 cups rich chicken stock,
preferably homemade
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 1/4 lemons)
4 egg yolks
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon sumac


In a medium saucepan, bring 8 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Drain the soaked grano and add it, little by little, to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the grano for 30 to 40 minutes until it is soft. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil and add half of the cooked grano (about 1 ¼ cups). Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to concentrate the flavor of the broth and make the grano as tender as possible.

Allow the soup to cool down to a warm temperature, and then puree it in a blender until it is very smooth and thick enough to coat the backof a spoon. If the soup is very hot when you blend it, it may cause a suction in the blender and pop the top, so be careful to cool the soup.

Pour the puree back into the soup pot and add the remaining grano. Bring it to a boil on medium heat and reduce the heat again to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and egg yolks.

Ladle a cup of the hot chicken soup into the yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat with another cup of hot soup. Add the egg-lemon mixture to the pot, still whisking.

Bring the soup back to a simmer slowly, still on low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the egg yolks from curdling but allowing them to cook through and thicken the soup a little more.

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle each serving generously with sumac.

If you have bits of shredded chicken from a homemade chicken stock, you can stir in a cup or two of shredded meat. The grano will keep absorbing liquid (semolina is known for this), so this soup may get a lot thicker when left in the fridge overnight. You can thin it out with more chicken stock.

Baby Sole with Crab and Raki

Serves 6

We've had this elegant dish on the menu at Oleana since we opened in the winter of 2001. I was inspired to create it after I had a delicious meal at a fish restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul, where I dined on creamy eggplant with crab that was broiled with raki. I also sipped on raki as I ate, and discovered that the liqueur matches perfectly with the flavors of eggplant and crab.

Raki, also called Arak, is a fennel-flavored liqueur similar to Greek ouzo that brings out the wonderful flavors in this dish but won't overwhelm it. If raki is unavailable, you can substitute ouzo or even the French pastis or pernod. If raki or ouzo doesn't appeal to you for sipping, try a clean pinot gris from Oregon, with ripe stone fruit flavors.

Serve Eggplant Souffle (page 265) with this delicate fish dish.


1 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound Maine or Dungeness crabmeat
1 plum tomato, quartered and seeds removed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Six 4- to 5-ounce sole or flounder fillets, boned and skinned
1 3/4 to 2 cups fish fumet (page 161)
1/2 cup raki or ouzo
4 tablespoons butter


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a small heavy saucepan, over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 12 minutes, until the cream is thick and reduced by half.

Meanwhile, drain the crabmeat in a colander and press on it, extracting as much water as possible without tearing up the meat.

Chop the tomato into a small dice and place it in a medium mixing bowl with the crabmeat.

Add the fresh herbs and gently stir in the cream, seasoning the mixture with salt and pepper. The thick cream should bind the crabmeat but not make it soupy or too creamy.

Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper and place them; skin-side up, into a baking dish or roasting pan.

Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the crab mixture on the bottom third of each fillet and roll the fillet over and around the crab mixture, making 6 roulades. Make sure the roulades are tightly rolled for a nice presentation.

Add the fish fumet and raki to the pan and bake the fish for 16 to 18 minutes, until it is just cooked through.

Remove the fish from the baking dish and set it aside under foil to keep it warm. Reserve your pan juices in a small saucepan.

Just before serving, heat the saucepan with pan juices over high heat. Boil the juices until they reduce by a little more than half and are slightly thickened and concentrated, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the butter is incorporated, remove the saucepan from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the fish and serve immediately. You can also pass the sauce around the table in a gravy pitcher for guests to pour themselves.


Excerpted from Spice by Ana Sortun Copyright © 2006 by Ana Sortun. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Clifford A. Wright

“Only a brilliant chef like Ana could have created such a warm and evocative cookbook filled with enticing recipes.”

Paula Wolfert

“This book beautifully codifies the marvelous dishes I’ve eaten at Oleana, all of which bear her special inventive touch.”

Customer Reviews