Ana Sortun

a flour scone, a sofra donut and some social media

[amazon-product image=”51uIJ1u3EWL._SL160_.jpg” region=”us” type=”image”]081186944X[/amazon-product]I had a bunch of things lined up yesterday which is always great but sometimes I feel overscheduled. Luckily, I had to be in the car a fair amount and that means NPR,  so I learned a lot. Like that Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery has a new cookbook and I want it, and heard this food scientist talking about among other things, the difference between baking powder and baking soda and wooden vs. plastic cutting boards: “It turns out that wooden cutting boards are good in a couple of ways — they’re porous so they tend to soak up juices from cutting meats and fish, for example, and that carries the bacteria down into the cutting board where they’re not at the surface anymore. And woods often contain anti-bacterial compounds in them so there’s kind of a natural antibiotic in the surface of the wood. Plastic cutting boards are easier to clean and are safer to put in the dishwasher, for example, but they also will tend to develop scars and bacteria will lodge in the scars and cause problems later. So I actually have a couple of each and use both. When a plastic cutting board develops scars, I replace it.” The book is a good resource for food safety which I am also all about.

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NPR has a link to Joanne Chang’s cheddar-scallion-scones which I sent to a friend last night (I knew she would love it). Amazingly, she had creme fraiche on hand (!) and is making them today. I may casually drop by or, if she wants to prevent scone-stalking, she can drop one or two at my door (subtle hint).

Speaking of generous friends, a particularly sweet one gave me her farm share (this is not the first time). It is from Siena Farms which means that everything in the box is gorgeous and the pickup is at Sofra Bakery.  Yes, I know, my day is not difficult. I am (only a little) glad is not any closer or I might have a problem – yeah, like getting any of my clothes to fit.  Maybe it is my food choices…my favorite was the dukka donut (cardamom and sugar and other gorgeous-ness) but there weren’t any and I quickly scanned the bakery case for a replacement. When my eyes fell on the persian spiced donut,  I bought one and ate it alone in my car. No sharing. I smiled the whole way home (sugar and halvah all over the place).  My super sweet, super nice foodie friend also sent the email that comes with the farm share. While I am happy with my farm share, I am thrilled with hers. Pretty, pretty produce and Ana Sortun‘s recipes?

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Ana’s Parsnip Skordalia

So, skordalia is a traditional potato and garlic sauce that is served with just about anything in Greece.  As is always in Greek dishes, it’s all about the garlic.   It doesn’t always have nuts.  This is our twist when parsnips and celery root are in season and garlic is finished curing in the fall.  We serve this with halibut braised in cinnamon & milk.

Makes 4 cups

6 pounds parsnips

6 baking potatoes

¾ cup heavy cream

1-cup parsnip cooking liquid

3 T chopped garlic

¼ cup lemon juice

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

at least a quarter cup of salt

Peel the parsnips and cut into chunks.  Place in pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 18 minutes until tender.  Drain (reserve a cup of liquid) and puree while it’s still hot in a food processor with the heavy cream.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, peel the baking potatoes and cut in 4.  Place in a small saucepot with enough water to cover, 1 T salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 18 minutes until tender and drain.  Mash thru a ricer or food mill and mix into the celery root.  Heat garlic in olive oil with reserved liquid from parsnips.

Blend until completely smooth. Mix everything together.

Ana’s Cabbage Confit

We serve this with cod at the restaurant

2 small heads of green cabbage, quartered, cored & washed

remove outer ugly leaves.

1 cups extra virgin olive oil

2 T butter

1 cups white wine

½ tsp. sugar

salt & pepper

¼ cup slivered garlic or garlic flowers

¼  cup finely chopped anchovies

Cut each quarter in half and break into big“lamelles”(half moons)

Toss with the above and well season.  Cover with foil and braise at 300-325 for 1 ½ hours.

Squeeze a bit of lemon and stir in 4 cups cooked *fresh shell beans & plenty of chopped parsley

*Late summer and fall is the season for fresh shell beans

Disclaimer – I do not know if these recipes are in the book shown above.

So what about the social media? Where does that fit in this food fest? I was meeting Pragmatic Mom for a bite (I had a lovely quinoa soup) who, as I sat down said, “I have a few ideas for your blog.” I was unprepared (as in no paper and pencil) but she (ever resourceful) dug out a pen and I proceeded to write on a napkin (we were upstairs at L’Aroma) for over an hour. It was a really appreciated and seriously impressive analysis, discussion and basically genius brain download from the inimitable Pragmatic Mom.  I was able to give her some tech-y tips. I copied the napkin info on to real paper when I got home but not before meeting a new friend at Newton Center’s Pie. I had a lovely time with my friend and another mom friend (and terrific and sweet as pie real estate agent) but did not like the food.  A place called Pie should have really good pie. Note: I did not have the apple pie and the panini sandwich looked great but the filling of our turkey, cheddar and broccoli pie was too diced and had the consistency of baby food. Good if you have a baby. More notes went on the napkin “wrong direction” and “no chunks”. No spoiler alert – you will have to read about these later when I somehow tie them in to something in a clever way.

Are you counting? Did I eat at three separate places and were two of them for lunch? Look, something shiny! Oh, it’s gone. Go click on the books – it will take you to Amazon.
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Iced Tea from Oleana, Cambridge MA

Here is the link: http://bit.ly/cKpd6E to WBUR where I was lucky enough to find this, well, find.

Published July 28, 2010 |

Oleana chef and owner Ana Sortun has a Russian-style iced-tea recipe from her Sofra Bakery that is something special for those hot, summer afternoons:

  • 2 cups freshly brewed, cooled herbal tea (Sortun recommends the Sevan blend from MEM Tea, found at the South End Formaggio or the Sevan Bakery)
  • Juice of half an orange (1/4 cup)
  • Apricot Jam (Greek or Mediterranean is best)

Add the orange juice to the cooled tea and then stir in jam to taste. If the jam is not a smooth consistency, after it has been added, run the tea through a strainer. Serve cold over ice.

A friend, a find and flowers

Sofra - eggs and hummus and whipped feta

Today started a little shaky. Cleaning up dog puke does tend to set the tone.  I did get in a nice walk but then I drove all the way to the store to get dog food…without my wallet.  Okay.  Breathe.  Back home, a quick shower, back to the store for two hundred pounds of dog food (okay, I do exaggerate) and on to the Coffee Shop Bloggers at L’Aroma.  I love my time here and I missed last week but I had to rush off, the library event is only two days away and I left too little time for that lovely part of my week.  Luckily, and as usual, I was kept on track and got help for some technical issues, wonderful advice, inspiration and a few goals for the up-coming week.  Hopefully, I was also helpful.

On to lunch at Sofra which I cannot believe I only found out about today.  Oh, those missed opportunities to pick up Earthquake cookies!  They are only the lightest cloud of chocolate cookie (covered with powdered sugar) on the planet.  Happily, Sofra happens to be very near to my doctor’s office.  Handy.  I almost feel a sinus infection coming on…grin.  There are copper tables dotting the cozy, warm space and  floor to ceiling windows flooding it with daylight.  We sat on a sweet porch outside soaking up the sun on this rare New England spring day.  A dear friend treated me to a deliciously perfect lunch (yummy stuffed flatbread and chicken shawarma, a persian doughnut – more light amazing pastry and an earthquake cookie).  We split everything – oh, and we had a great almond/red pepper dip that I almost forgot about – it disappeared that quickly.  After we had talked ourselves out (barely), I stocked up on the most wonderful food.  Farm fresh eggs, buttered  hummus and whipped feta made it home – the cookies did not fare so well.  Sofra has amazing looking prepared dinners and beautifully packaged spices and teas.  I do travel for food but in this case I don’t have to travel that far.  The owners of Sofra also own Oleana in Cambridge which I have not yet been to but now will absolutely visit and soon.  There is also their farm, Siena Farms that has a CSA (community supported agriculture) shares that you can join.

Back to library, errands, school pick-up and a lovely gift from another dear friend – a blush pink hydrangea plant. The day had decidedly taken a turn for the better. Dinner was going to be fish but I think it will be eggs and hummus and feta. I have some great greens and a crusty bread

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