Sunday, August 28, 2011

Appetizers from from the Oleana cookbook

I live too far from Oleana to go there for dinner, so the next best thing is to cook from Spices, chef Ana Sortun's cookbook.

We were having company for dinner on Saturday, so Friday I decided to make the Chickpea and Potato Terrine Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Spinach, Onion, and Tahini. Not having a terrine pan (I suppose I could have used a loaf pan), I decided to give the jelly roll variation a try. For the outer portion, I made everything exactly as she said except that I used 3 cups canned garbanzos instead of cooking my own, and I substituted 1 tablespoon olive oil for 2 tablespoons butter when mashing the potato.
I couldn't believe how easy the mixture was to work with! I was careful to keep it from being too wet, which was tricky since I didn't know what just-moist-enough looked like, so I was relieved when it was really easy to pat into shape on the plastic wrap I laid out on the counter.
Then I topped it with the spinach mixture. I used a 10-oz package of frozen spinach instead of fresh, and omitted the currants since I didn't have any. But I did add the chopped dried apricots -- yum! I had to make a batch of Middle Eastern Five-Spice just to get 1 teaspoon's worth (I probably could have substituted garam masala), but now I have about half a spice jar full to use for other recipes.
As Sortun suggested, I used the plastic wrap to help me roll it up. Worked like a charm! Really simple. Then I put it in the fridge until Saturday.
Meanwhile, I made the Whipped Feta. Oh, so good!!! Our guests thought it was outstanding, and Brian and I love it. I wasn't able to get Urfa chilies, so I just used all Aleppo chilies. The New York Times printed her recipe here.
Before serving, I sliced the loaf and drizzled muhammara sauce over it (she suggests chopped tomatoes), both for color and flavor. It was good (a couple people had seconds, and it was just part of the appetizer course) and looks pretty spectacular given how easy it was to make. I did feel I needed to warn people that the outside was not dough (it looks like it), and I think it could have been a little more flavorful. Next time I may try adding more flavor to the garbanzos (garlic olive oil instead of plain EVOO?) and I will add more chopped apricots to the filling. But it's good!