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Leite's Culinaria: Entrees

Katie Nell Feb 28, 2007 05:46 PM

March 2007 Cook"book" of the Month: Leite's Culinaria. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on entrees here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

Leite's Culinaria: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating.

  1. leanneabe Mar 2, 2007 01:51 PM

    Pork Chops with Vinegar and Sweet Peppers by Cook's Illustrated
    Skillet-Roasted Shrimp by Andrea Froncillo

    But not in the same meal...

    I loved the pork chop recipe for how simple it was to throw everything together (it was a fairly quick meal to prepare, too). I think I was on a balsamic vinegar kick at the time I made it, which went well with the peppers. Mmmm... add a hunk of crusty bread and you're good to go! It was the first time I brined anything, so I was a little scared I would mess it up. But I didn't! You always hear that anchovies in sauces disappear but add great flavor (because people don't like anchovies) and they really do... chopped up and simmered into a sauce, they blend in and you'd never be able to identify them. Timing for cooking was just about as the recipe lists.

    The shrimp is like a fancy (but messy) version of peel-n-eat shrimp. It makes for a great communal meal (with more crusty bread!), but with garlic (I now use fresh smushed garlic in place of the garlic powder) and butter how could you go wrong? Too bad we're getting into diet season because shrimp dipped in butter sounds really good right now.

    1. daily_unadventures Mar 5, 2007 09:32 AM

      I made the Chicken Marbella. Honestly I wasn't all that impressed. I thought it was too vinegar-y tasting and even though I had halved the prunes there were still too many. The leftovers never got eaten :(


      6 Replies
      1. re: daily_unadventures
        coconutz Mar 5, 2007 09:56 AM

        I recently made this dish since I read how many people here like it. Sheila Lukins used her recipe for Chef on a Shoestring. It is just okay for me. I love vinegar so that was not the problem to me. I just didn't find the overall items meld. In fairness I only marinated it on the counter for a couple of hours and not overnight. I would not avoid the leftovers though. But I do a Moroccan Chicken braise that uses prunes and it is a much more delicious dish to me. I can see this as an easy dish in bulk since you pop it in the oven in tray's. The 2 people I cooked for thought it was pretty good.

        1. re: daily_unadventures
          leanneabe Mar 5, 2007 11:24 AM

          I've made a dish similar to this but it used a mix of prunes and dried apricots and I don't remember olives in it... I think the addition of apricots cut down on the prune-heavy part and it blended into the vinegar-based sauce nicely. Sorry the Chicken Marbella didn't work for you!

          1. re: leanneabe
            daily_unadventures Mar 5, 2007 11:43 AM

            Thanks for the tips. I did marinate it over night - but I suspect it was just a set of flavors that didn't do it for me. It just wasn't fabulous - not inedible or anything :)


            1. re: leanneabe
              free sample addict aka Tracy L Mar 20, 2007 08:19 PM

              Apricots would make a nice addition. I make the dish a little different every time I make it. It is a real easy dish to tinker with. I think the dish is about finding the right balance of sweet and briny.

            2. re: daily_unadventures
              David Leite Mar 6, 2007 09:54 AM


              So sorry you didn't like the recipe. I really enjoyed it when I made it. Let me ask you: Did the recipe "work," in the sense that everything flowed properly, and the method was accurate? It always bothers me when someone doesn't like one of our recipes, but I always try to separate personal preference from a recipe that doesn't work.

              1. re: David Leite
                daily_unadventures Mar 6, 2007 10:41 AM

                It was personal preference - but I believe that is also important when reviewing recipes as well. Did you like it you know? I would say yes it worked. I served it to four people and the conclusions were generally that it was fine but not great.

                It won't stop me from trying more of your recipes :)


            3. mimilulu Mar 6, 2007 11:40 AM

              Made the Chicken Piccatta last night. It was yummy, one of my husbands favorites... he's crazy for capers. The recipe doesn't make a lot of sauce - just enough to coat the chicken with its lush lemony goodness (and that's the way I like it). This will be my "go to" recipe for piccatta.

              1. King of Northern Blvd Mar 6, 2007 04:25 PM

                I made the Kung Pao Chicken tonight for dinner. It was Excellent! At first I was a little aprehensive with her use of Sichuan peppercorns as she keeps them whole and most other recipes I've seen calls for finely ground but it turned out perfect. I always used Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Kung Pao but not any more. This is far superior..

                4 Replies
                1. re: King of Northern Blvd
                  Dommy Mar 6, 2007 06:30 PM

                  Good to hear! It's on the list here too! :)


                  1. re: Dommy
                    daily_unadventures Mar 6, 2007 07:55 PM

                    Oh! That sounds great, was it really spicy?

                    1. re: daily_unadventures
                      King of Northern Blvd Mar 6, 2007 08:05 PM

                      Well I used her minimum of 10 dried chiles. I'm not really sure what kind they were, they were just in the misc. dried chile selection in my cupboard. They were just the small Asian variety I guess haha..It was perfectly spiced, but I think next time I will put in more to push the boundary a bit. I guess it really depends on what peppers you are using. The numbing factor from the Sichuan peppercorns was great. My knife skills are not that great so I didn't get quite the uniform dice that history dictates but I don't think it mattered much.

                    2. re: Dommy
                      Dommy Mar 23, 2007 12:59 PM

                      So we made this a couple of nights ago... It was delish and makes me want to make more and more asian dishes. :)

                      So I started with the Chiles. I used a dried Mexican Puya Chile:


                      I then started toasting with the Schuwan Peppercorns... the smell was intoxicating!


                      I added the marinated chicken. Great flavor in the chicken...

                      And then added the sauce and peanuts!


                      We served it over brown rice and with a spicy mushroom soup (Diana Kennedy recipe). Not as good as the Kung Pao I've had at Oriental Pearl and other Schuwan places, but still REALLY tasty. The only complaint SO had was that there was not enough sauce... but he grew up eating Chinese Food in Boston, so I let comments like that slide... :



                  2. Candy Mar 10, 2007 01:50 PM

                    I made Madhur Jaffrey's Paalag Gosht from Curries and Kebabs this afternoon. it is finished and I am letting it coast until we are ready eat. It is very good. I noticed someone's review on the recipe at the site who complained it was not worth the effort but I disagree and did not find the recipe arduous at all. I did use my food processor for the onions and spinach and bought boned and cut up lamb from my butcher. What took the longest was getting the onions browned and crisp. The recipe called for 1 lb. of spinach and the bag I bought was 10.5 oz. after adding about half of the spinach to the dish i realized that was plenty and reserved the rest. Will sprinkle a bit on each serving so it looks more like the photo. Make it again? Oh yes.

                    The reviewer suggested that the dish needs cardammon and cloves. I did add a bit of each and will do that in the future.

                    1. z
                      zataar Mar 10, 2007 03:44 PM

                      We loved Fuchsia Dunlop's version of Kung Pao Chicken. I picked up some sichuan style dried red chiles at United Noodles in MSP last year and they were perfect with this dish. Much better than Thai dried chiles. It was very spicy and numbing, almost smoky and earthy tasting, though, so be forewarned. It was also nicely complex in flavor, not just hot. We had pickled cabbage and lots of rice. We will certainly make it again. It went together very quickly and easily.

                      1. bklyngrl Mar 10, 2007 09:17 PM

                        My first cook book of the month adventure! I made Thomas Keller's skirt steak and caramelized shallots with red wine jus with the watercress salad recipe included. I also made the mashed root vegetables using parsnips, turnips and potato. The meal was excellent, and the first time in a long while that I've prepared a meat and potato meal in a long while. I couldn't find veal stock for the jus, so used beef stock instead. Not exactly sure why the recipe was so specific about how the vegetables were cut for the jus, since they simmered in a bottle of wine for so long.


                        The jus was great for the steak and the whole meal was so rich! I'll use the leftover jus again, but if my next preparation of steak doesn't have all that butter and oil I will finish it off with a pat of butter to add the silky richness to it.

                        The mashed root vegetable were delicious, sweet and very flavorful. I look forward to participating again (will keep perusing this months options, too!).


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bklyngrl
                          Rubee Mar 20, 2007 10:54 AM

                          Impressive! That looks great. If I have time before the end of the month, I'll have to try that exactly as you made it, with the root vegetables.

                        2. King of Northern Blvd Mar 11, 2007 07:44 AM

                          "Not exactly sure why the recipe was so specific about how the vegetables were cut for the jus, since they simmered in a bottle of wine for so long."

                          because it's Thomas Keller, that's why. hehe..

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: King of Northern Blvd
                            Candy Mar 11, 2007 08:22 AM


                          2. Candy Mar 11, 2007 03:38 PM

                            I just finished off some of Walter Kei's Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs from Breath of a Wok as an appetizer even though the recipe is in Entrees. very very good and even though I spaced the butter and lime juice at the end it is something worth doing again and is even party worthy food. The Chinkiang vinegar and dark brown sugar makes a very different and delicious glaze.

                            1. g
                              grover78 Mar 11, 2007 06:21 PM

                              She then turned her hand to Fuschia Dunlop's Dong'an Chicken ... a fair amount of prep work, but the result was bright and sharp -- quite different from the thicker-sauced Szechuan recipes we've done in the past. We agreed that it needed something darker in contrast, like the Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs we'd already polished off! We'll do this one again.

                              1. Candy Mar 12, 2007 05:15 PM

                                tonight was Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns by Grace Young from Breath of a Wok. The only problem I had with this dish was the lack of heat. I really expected it to be hotter. Whole dried chilis, ground white pepper, chili oil, toasted and ground Sichuan pepper, I was surprised. There was a nice little back bite but It was mild enough that I could give 2 of my girls (the dogs) a taste, the third turned up her nose, she is pickier, she is the one on the left in the avatar. The baby finished off her taste. I had about 1 C. of chopped spinach from the Jaffrey Lamb and Spinach I made on Sat. PM. I tosssed it in at the end of cooking. It added a nice bright green color to a dish that might otherwise been boringly brown. It needs a balance of a veg dish next to it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Candy
                                  King of Northern Blvd Mar 12, 2007 07:47 PM

                                  I always find that when you stir fry with whole dried chiles and then remove them they provide flavor but very little heat. I usually break them in half and dump out the seeds then crush up a little bit more so you can actually eat them.

                                2. Carb Lover Mar 15, 2007 08:31 PM

                                  Chicken w/ 40 Cloves of Garlic by James Beard

                                  Ever since the Zuni roast chicken made me realize that I do, in fact, like chicken, I've taken it upon myself to try all kinds of bone-in, skin-on chicken recipes. This month's cook"book" gave me a nudge to finally try James Beard's infamous chicken w/ 40 cloves of garlic. I heard Ina Garten refer to it on her show once, as she was making her modified version of it.

                                  Now, I'm not one to shy away from my own modifications if I know I prefer a slight alteration. So I deviated a bit from the original recipe by preseasoning the chicken w/ S&P, browning the chicken first, reducing some of the oil, sauteing the onions for a minute, deglazing the pan w/ the vermouth, and using parchment paper instead of foil. Oh, I may have thrown in a few more garlic cloves for a total of three whole heads of garlic. I did follow the ingredient list and timing though and can assure you that I didn't peek for the first 90 minutes as instructed.

                                  Browning half the chicken:

                                  Laying down the "raft" of aromatics:

                                  Chicken and garlic all nestled snugly before going into oven:

                                  The savory aroma of chicken and garlic intensified during the 90-minute braise, teasing my husband until he couldn't stand it a second more. This is the man who can eat two heads of roasted garlic in a sitting.

                                  Here's what I pulled from the oven:

                                  Plated w/ some asparagus:

                                  Roasted garlic "butter" slathered onto bread:

                                  Overall, we enjoyed the chicken w/ some caveats. The meat was succulent and luscious, and the chicken flavor was very concentrated from the moist braising environment. The meat was at that perfect stage of nearly falling off the bone but still having some texture to sink our teeth into. The garlic flavor wasn't overwhelming at all and part of the larger flavor profile infused by the cast of aromatics. I'm really glad that I browned the skin first since I don't think it would have tasted or looked as good, although it does add another step and make things a little messier.

                                  I couldn't wait to taste the slow-roasted nuggets of garlic and was surprised when they didn't deliver much flavor. I can see why Katie Nell (in another thread) described the garlic as "underwhelming." It was obvious that much of their flavor was transferred to the sauce. We discovered that their gentle warm flavor was released when laced w/ a sprinkling of salt, and after a few bites and shifted expectations, I came to like their subtle sweetness and the way they balanced w/ the rest of the meal. For those who may want the intense flavor from dry-roasting, I recommend that you roast a couple of heads alongside the braising pot.

                                  While the sauce was delicious, it was much too oily. I would make this dish a day ahead of serving. I'd then separate the chicken from the sauce and strain out the aromatics, making it very easy to skim off the layer of fat that congeals at the top. I did this w/ the leftovers, and the next-day sauce sparkled. Another chicken recipe added to the files!

                                  PS. I served this w/ an Oregon Pinot Noir and it paired w/ the dish AMAZINGLY well.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Carb Lover
                                    ScarletB Mar 20, 2007 01:15 PM

                                    Just out of curiosity, can you tell me what size/type of pot you used for this?

                                    1. re: ScarletB
                                      Carb Lover Mar 20, 2007 05:58 PM

                                      I used my 7.25 qt. Le Creuset. Any pot that is large and oven safe should work...Let us know if you try it!

                                  2. Carb Lover Mar 15, 2007 09:32 PM

                                    Tarte Flambe (Onion Tart) by Thomas Henkelmann of Homestead Inn

                                    This recipe says it serves 15 to 20 as an hors d'oeuvre, but it's in the "Entrees" section of the "James Beard House" recipes. It can go either way, really, and would make for a nice brunch dish too. Truth be told, I have never actually eaten tarte flambe, although I've read about it on the SF board and knew it was my kind of thing. Stripped down to its core, it's pretty much like a pizza...

                                    Given that I've owned a KA mixer for years, I couldn't believe that I was making pizza dough for the first time. It was incredibly easy and fulfilling. The surface of the dough after machine-kneading and a few turns w/ my hand was completely smooth and a joy to handle. I just knew it was going to be good. It proofed nicely and yielded a good amount of dough since it's meant for two pans. I divided the dough in half and saved the other half for a little experiment that I will reveal later...

                                    I used Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon and two medium Maui onions (both from Trader Joe's). I didn't know where to get fromage blanc so I used a Russian farmer's cheese in a tub that looked like it had the right consistency (like a firm but spreadable ricotta cheese). I thought the ground coriander was an interesting touch. It took exactly 30 min. to bake.

                                    Tarte from the oven:

                                    One piece plated w/ salad:

                                    Close up:

                                    Golden underside (I did grease pan w/ a little olive oil):

                                    Overall, the flavor was more subtle than I anticipated. I thought I added a good amount of salt to each of the layers, but it needed more S&P at the table. The ratio of bacon to onions was a little off too; I should have added more bacon for the amount of onions. While I'm assuming that blanching the onions is the traditional method, I found myself craving the deeper, sweeter flavors from caramelization and might either lightly roast or saute the onions instead of blanching next time. I didn't detect the coriander, but kept on thinking that fresh thyme would have been nice in the cheese layer. Maybe even some nutmeg.

                                    Ultimately, what I made was probably very different from the traditional Alsatian tart given my modified ingredients. Suggestions for good subs for fromage blanc appreciated. I would make this again w/ my own tweaks and will most definitely use the dough recipe for other tarts/pizzas.

                                    Speaking of the dough, I had reserved half intending to make an Italian-style pizza. The next night, husband and I were craving a sweet snack so I decided to try making beignet-like bites w/ them. Rolled out, cut into small squares, fried in some oil, rolled in cinnamon sugar, and they were delicious! Not too sweet, crisp outside, tender inside. Light and puffy.

                                    Sweet transformation:

                                    Light and puffy inside:

                                    1. Carb Lover Mar 15, 2007 10:14 PM

                                      Feijão à Portuguesa (Portuguese Beans) by Mrs. Leite

                                      So I think it's pretty cool that David Leite has some of his mom's recipes on his website. If I had my own website, I'd do the same! The recipe was very simple, and the ingredients pretty easy to acquire. I did use linguica instead of chourico and chose great northern beans. I also chopped the bacon first before frying, as opposed to frying whole strips and then crumbling.

                                      This resulted in a very rich and hearty dish. For some reason, I didn't realize how much meat was going into it until I actually made it (1.5 lbs. meat to 1 lb. beans). The beans were enveloped by all kinds of porky goodness. The recipe intro describes this as a side dish for meats, which leads me to believe that the Portuguese must really like their meats! It worked well as a main dish for us.

                                      Overall, the flavor and consistency were very good. This can really vary depending on what kind of meat and bean one uses. At first, I found myself missing the smokey flavor of browned sausage (the sausage is added with the water); however, the smokey bacon jumped in there to give me that note. Eventually, I found myself digging through the beans in favor of the meat.

                                      I've used great northern beans before for other dishes, but I wasn't crazy about them in this prep. They didn't have the creaminess that I wanted; perhaps these were a bit old or I didn't cook them long enough (2 hrs). I'll try navy beans next time and maybe reduce the paprika. Mine looked more red than the website photo, plus my paprika is pretty potent. Thanks, Mrs. Leite!

                                      Pot of Portuguese Beans:

                                      My bowl:

                                      Looking at my series of entree reports, I better choose a light dish for my next project! :-)

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: Carb Lover
                                        Dommy Mar 16, 2007 09:43 AM

                                        That all looks wonderful! I'll def. have to try that Thomas Keller Chicken... Hmmmm...

                                        Actually I made a wonderful Kale Portoguese Soup with Churico for Thanksgiving, if you do ever come across some, GET some.. it's absolutely wonderful these these types of soups... :D


                                        1. re: Dommy
                                          Carb Lover Mar 18, 2007 08:12 AM

                                          Yes, I'll have to get chourico in San Jose. What caldo verde recipe did you use?

                                          1. re: Dommy
                                            oakjoan Mar 28, 2007 09:12 PM

                                            I must be missing something or lacking in search skills, but I don't find the "Thomas Keller Chicken" Dommy mentions above. I looked in several posts from CL above sans success. Plz advz.

                                            1. re: oakjoan
                                              Dommy Mar 29, 2007 09:22 AM

                                              I am so sorry! I confused the name, it's actually the James Beard Chicken that CL posted right above this thread...


                                              1. re: oakjoan
                                                Carb Lover Mar 29, 2007 09:59 AM

                                                Oakjoan, the Keller chicken is at epicurious linked below. I have that one on my to-try list too...


                                            2. re: Carb Lover
                                              Rubee Mar 16, 2007 10:40 AM

                                              Wow - you've really motivated me. Excellent pictures, as always. I'm going to make those beans this weekend. Thanks Carb Lover!

                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                Rubee Mar 20, 2007 02:52 PM

                                                Feijão à Portuguesa (Portuguese Beans) by Mrs. Leite

                                                I liked these too, and like CarbLover, had it as a meal for lunch as opposed to a side dish.

                                                I used CL's tips - chopping the bacon before frying, and instead of great northern beans, I used dried navy beans. Other ingredients were garlic, onions, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, Spanish chorizo (D'Artagnan.com), and Hungarian sweet paprika (Penzeys.com). I didn't use the full amount of tomato paste or chorizo - just what I had leftover which was about 2/3 of a can of tomato paste and 3 links of chorizo. Came out great. Even my husband who doesn't usually like beans had two bowls. Also, I used the bacon for garnish and put some aside instead of stirring it in, as this will last us the week and I wanted the bacon crispy.

                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                  Carb Lover Mar 20, 2007 06:04 PM

                                                  Looks great, Rubee! I'm sure your chorizo from D'Artagnan was great! I too used Penzeys Hungarian paprika. I actually thought the full can of tomato paste was too "tomatoey" for me, so I'll use less next time. I think I may saute the sausage pieces for just a min. before adding the water and other ingredients. The big pot of beans lasted us a good while and I imagine could be converted to a soup quite easily.

                                                  1. re: Carb Lover
                                                    Rubee Mar 20, 2007 06:56 PM

                                                    I think that's one of the reason E liked the beans - because the chorizo had so much flavor. And great soup idea!

                                              2. re: Carb Lover
                                                Megiac Mar 26, 2007 04:41 PM

                                                I made this dish this weekend based on Carb Lover's comments and the delicious looking pictures. I bought great northern beans from Whole Foods, which must not have been that fresh, because after 2 1/2 hours, they still weren't as cooked as I liked. We were starving, however, so we spooned out two bowls of slightly al dente beans and continued cooking the remainer for another hour at which point it was perfect.

                                                I too think that navy beans would have been better, which serves me right for not reading the post closely enough. Overall, the flavor and consistency were wonderful, and it was definitely a main course in our house as well. I'm filing this one away for cold winter nights.

                                              3. Katie Nell Mar 16, 2007 09:21 AM

                                                WOW, WOW, WOW, Carb Lover!! Now I know where you've been the last few days!! The beans look really good, but I love bean and bacon combos- my favorite soup when I was little was Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup; of course, now I make my own! :-) I love what you did with the leftover pizza dough- great idea! Where would the 40 cloves of garlic chicken rank behind Zuni's, ATK's, and Marcella's for you?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Katie Nell
                                                  morebubbles Mar 16, 2007 10:37 AM

                                                  Very impressive Carb Lover! Thanks for the photos too.
                                                  Katie, that was my fav. canned soup too as a kid. Would you share how you make it yourself please - maybe you have a recipe, or how you go about it...? THANKS

                                                  1. re: morebubbles
                                                    Katie Nell Mar 16, 2007 02:20 PM

                                                    I actually posted a recipe a while back: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/36354... I think maybe I did overestimate the amount of thyme- I bet it was more like 2 teaspoons.

                                                  2. re: Katie Nell
                                                    Carb Lover Mar 18, 2007 08:31 AM

                                                    Thanks, Katie and others. I made these recipes over the course of a week and a half but got behind on reporting so I did one big update. I don't think I've had Campbell's Bean with Bacon Soup, but when I saw the finished pot o' beans, I thought, "gee, it looks like frank 'n beans."

                                                    The garlic chicken would be after Marcella's but before ATK's; Zuni still being my favorite, of course. :-) It's not quite fair to compare it to whole roasted chicken though. As far as chicken "braises" (I'm using this term loosely) wherein bone-in, skin-on pieces are cooked in a pot on the stovetop or in the oven, I'd say that this is a high-ranking one, made even better by the tweaks I will implement next time. I like it better than Marcella's cacciatore or fricassee recipes that I've tried. I put it on par w/ Balthazar's chicken riesling which I really enjoy.

                                                    I like that there's not too much liquid so the skin stays dryer and more crisp and that I can leave it completely unattended once it's in the oven. The fact that it's cooked at 375F also debunks the myth that I had that one had to braise at lower heat like 325F or under. This method was like a cross between roasting and braising...

                                                    Oh, and those pizza "doughnuts" were great...like light churro puffs. I made another batch a couple nights later and they were a bit chewy and dense, not nearly as good. Best to use it within a day or two.

                                                  3. Rubee Mar 21, 2007 02:50 PM

                                                    Pollo A Due Tempi, Il Vecchio Molinetto (Erminia's Pan-Crisped Chicken)
                                                    Lynne Rossetto Kasper from "The New American Chef"


                                                    I had trouble with this one. I thought it would be similar to "chicken under a brick", but the steps were more complicated.

                                                    First you're supposed to sear chicken pieces for one minute over medium-high heat, and then turn over. Then weight them down and cook, turning them once, for 16-20 minutes. Next step is to crisp the chicken to a dark-brown. This is where I had trouble - It says to turn DOWN the heat to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes. Well, they weren't crisping or turning darker, so I ended up turning up the heat to high and, as a result, I overcooked it. Let them cool. Meanwhile pour off the oil and make a sauce with the pan drippings, freezing for 2 hours to remove the solidified fat that rises to the top. Lastly, reheat the chicken to serve. Weight the chicken again, cook over medium heat skin side down for 5 minutes. Turn, moisten with pan juices, cover with foil, and heat for another 5-8 minutes.

                                                    I ended up with dry, overcooked chicken that was not worth the work. The good news is we both loved the Jerusalem Salad from this site, and ended up dipping the chicken into the leftover dressing.

                                                    1. Dommy Mar 21, 2007 03:41 PM

                                                      And finally… the MEAT!!! As noted a few weeks ago (gosh…:P) I decided to give my best try to this Cook Book of the Month assignment and make a dinner out of it. So I first reported on the sides, Whipped Root Veggie (Which Rocked!) and Wilted Greens (Which provided me with a wonderful wine to sip for dinner) and now the main course… MEAT! Spiced Pork Meatballs to be exact…

                                                      Now, I should note that this recipe was not meant as a main course. More of an appetizer. The original recipe includes a Guacamole, which I did not make (Since I had other sides). Still I figured this might be a good way for me to make most of my new source of awesome fresh ground pork right around the corner… Ralphs (My neighborhood one even has super fresh ground veal and lamb!)!

                                                      But then when I went to visit them, they only had one package! I needed two! I asked the guy at the counter, and he said, they only make so many packages a day (so that things keep super fresh), and he was out… ARGH!! Darn Ralph, I’ll never trust him again… So instead I picked up a package of ground beef and assembled the mix…


                                                      The mix is what really intrigued me about this recipe. It included lemon zest, mustard, lots of parsley. It also called for one red chile (hence why they are SPICED meatballs) but instead I decided to use some dried chile flakes… more specifically from super spicy Arizona Chiltipins


                                                      And so with crumbing four in into the mix, I began to make my little meat balls for dinner…


                                                      I tried to make them as close to the recipe as I could… I think I did a pretty good job getting them nice and brown..


                                                      And when all was said and done I think I did a pretty good job making sure they weren’t too dry!


                                                      By this time of course, P. was running and out of the kitchen… is it READY yet… YES! Finally… it was all ready!!!


                                                      As for the taste, the Meatballs were slightly dry… I think next time I need to horde that ground pork! :P And the lemon zest was added quite the punch. I can see how these would be GREAT with Guacamole. Also, since I was following the recipe, I did not add any salt to the mixture. Which I think it did need. But above all, everything worked wonderfully together and P. made his opinion about dinner known the best way he could…


                                                      Thanks David!


                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Dommy
                                                        Rubee Mar 21, 2007 04:17 PM

                                                        Great report Dommy! I used all pork, and they did stay juicy. But what did you think about the 'spiced' aspect of the meatballs? I made them also (link below) and didn't really taste much of the combination of ingredients, except for the lemon zest, which I liked too. However, I did halve the recipe and maybe I should have kept the full amount of the spice ingredients?. Also, I used one fresh Thai bird chile - your peppers looked like they would have packed more of a punch!


                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                          Dommy Mar 21, 2007 04:28 PM

                                                          Yes, I did forget to mention that, even with four of those atom bombs, the heat wasn't all there... The main flavor by far was the lemon. I think next time I'll double the amount to chiles too... :D


                                                      2. w
                                                        wawajb Mar 27, 2007 06:17 AM

                                                        Made the Shrimp Risotto last night: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

                                                        We enjoyed it quite a bit, though it was very rich. (I guess it is risotto after all) The recipie calls for almost a whole stick of butter when it's all said and done (but I reduced that a little), plus heavy cream (I used half and half), but the whole thing is a little low on flavor as written. I ramped up the garlic and onion a bit (not a lot...just heaping tsp and tbsp instead of flat) and salted regularly throughout the whole process instead of "to taste" at the end as directed. Even with that my BF commented that it was a bit bland, but he prefers very bold flavors. With the shrimp stock as the liquid and the very generous 3/4 lb of shrimp I thought the delicate shrimpy flavor was much the star of the show and I'm glad i didn't overwhelm it with garlic or anything else.

                                                        I also didn't think that it was worth the trouble to pull out the food processor to 'roughly chop' the shrimp, so they just got dumped onto my cutting board and chopped by hand. That worked out fine, though I suppose my shrimpy chunks were a little more uneven then they were supposed to be. I actually enjoyed that though, the occasionaly extra-shrimpy mouthful.

                                                        Andd i was impressed: the stock recipe ended up with EXACTLY the amount of liquid I needed for the rice to reach the perfect creamy al dente stage. This is why I just like to cook and other people actually make money doing it...the amount of trial and error that must take would drive me nuts.

                                                        I served it with a handfull of whole shrimp scattered over top that I had sauted in butter and garlic with a splash of lemon juice. That and a salad of mixed greens and it was a very nice dinner. This is definately going into the regular rotation of risotto flavors at our house.

                                                        Sorry no lovely food porn pictures...one of these days I'll learn how to do take good close-ups.

                                                        1. Carb Lover Mar 27, 2007 08:34 AM

                                                          Steak Fajitas (Tacos al Carbon) by Robb Walsh from The Tex-Mex Cookbook

                                                          Never heard of this book before, but I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather this past weekend and grill something quick and easy. I usually don't use a recipe for fajitas since I'll just throw together a marinade. What intrigued me about this recipe is that it calls for sirloin instead of my usual cuts like flank, skirt, sometimes tri tip. I don't really use sirloin and it didn't look that marbled at my butcher's, but I looked forward to trying something new...

                                                          The marinade on this one is super easy since it just consists of chili powder, olive oil, and salt. I used Penzeys medium hot chili powder, which I like alot. Garlic slivers are embedded into slits made in the meat. The recipe doesn't suggest long-term marinating, but next time I'd try to let it sit for 8 hrs. to overnight for a more penetrated flavor.

                                                          The grill master of the house, husband, took it out and did his thing while I prepared the sides and condiments: Robert Lauriston's cilantro rice; Cuban black beans already prepared in a can from Trader Joe's; quick blender salsa made w/ Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes; sliced avocado; cotija cheese crumbles. And of course, the flour tortillas...storebought but warmed in foil in the toaster oven.


                                                          Grilled sliced sirloin w/ condiments in the right rear:

                                                          Cilantro rice:

                                                          Beans from a can w/ a little doctoring from me:

                                                          My layered fajita:

                                                          Wowee, were these tasty once assembled! It hit all the right flavor notes...smoky, salty, herby, spicy. The creaminess of the beans and avocado played wonderfully against the other layers. My first time trying TJ's cuban beans, I thought they were pretty tasty after I cooked on the stove and evaporated some of the water content. We LOVED the cilantro rice and think it deserves to go in CH's hall of fame recipes.

                                                          So how was that sirloin? The steak was more tender than my usual cuts, but the flavor wasn't as deeply beefy. I liked how it was seasoned and cooked, but I'll probably go back to the other cuts I know and love for fajitas. I'm so glad it's grilling season here again!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Carb Lover
                                                            Caitlin McGrath Mar 27, 2007 06:17 PM

                                                            Great report, and photos that are making me hungry (as per usual, CL!). I don't want to stray too far from this thread's topic, but I do have a question about your sides. I've been wondering about those TJ's Cuban black beans, so I'm glad to hear they're worthwhile; did you do any doctoring while cooking, or were you just referring to your presentation w/the cilantro and cotija? (As an aside, this made me recall a recipe card my mother had when I was a kid for a tasty black bean dish; I don't remember all the details, but it was nicely spiced and included orange juice. There were two versions: Puerto Rican, with some meat, and Cuban, without - because, as my mom explained to me, presumably Cubans couldn't afford or didn't have access to meat for an everyday dish.)

                                                            I've wanted to make the cilantro rice ever since Robert first posted it (and I wrote it up for the Home Cooking digest), but haven't because my co-hound isn't a fan of cilantro in any significant quantity. I think it would still be a great idea, though, to use with another compatible herb (unfortunately, basil won't work for the same reason). I'll have to put my thinking cap on.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                              Carb Lover Mar 27, 2007 07:29 PM

                                                              Thanks, Caitlin. Those beans were pretty good, as far as pre-seasoned canned beans go. Of course, it would be better "homemade" but sometimes the open and heat approach can be a lifesaver.

                                                              The main issue that I had w/ them was that "oogy" slimey quality that canned beans have. I normally drain that stuff and rinse the beans, but because these were already seasoned, I was afraid that doing so would take away from their flavor. So I cooked them down a bit and let some of the water content evaporate. The flavor was pretty good, nicely balanced w/ a little heat, tang, and smokiness...they almost had a meaty flavor. The consistency had also firmed up, and the beans became more creamy. The minor problem w/ reducing was that it tasted more salty than I would like, but it wasn't a problem in tandem w/ the other layers of my fajita. My "doctoring" was simply that and the little garnishes...

                                                              If I were to use these beans again, I might mix one can of Cuban beans w/ the plain black beans, cook down a bit, season to taste, and mash a little. Same convenience w/ minor tweaks to suit my taste.

                                                              You should try that cilantro rice, even just for yourself, since the quantity is completely adjustable. I'm not sure what other herb would work just as well...I can't imagine parsley being as good.

                                                            2. re: Carb Lover
                                                              Candy Mar 28, 2007 12:38 PM

                                                              i have flat iron steak marinatng for tacos al carbon tonight. I am using a Rick Bayless Frontera chipotle rub, lots of garlic, lime juice, salt and will serve up with warm conr tortillas and charro beans and sliced avacado. Love those things!

                                                            3. Rubee Mar 28, 2007 09:56 AM

                                                              Mozambique Prawns
                                                              Chef Manuel Azevedo at LaSalette Restaurant, Sonoma, CA


                                                              We both really enjoyed this tasty dish of plantains and shrimp in a spicy tomato-based sauce. First I made the spice blend - a mixture of salt, paprika, cayenne, sugar, allspice, and chili powder. The only pure chili powder I had was ground anchos, which I didn't think was what this recipe called for, so I ground some dried and seeded red Thai chilis in a spice grinder. I halved the shrimp and plantains - 1 lb of medium shrimp and one plantain - but kept the other ingredients the same (I had shells from 2 lbs of shrimp in the freezer from a previous dish). The sauce is made with these shells, tomato juice, coconut milk, peanut butter, and some of the spice mix. The directions say to bring to a boil, season, and "bring back to a boil", so it's omitting a step. I figured that it should have said bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, so that's what I did (about 20-25 minutes). Another change I made was to marinate the shrimp in a little olive oil and the rest of the spice blend for about a half-hour. I also added some chopped cilantro to the coconut rice. I didn't know how the sauce is supposed to taste, but ended up adding a bit more cayenne and allspice (recipe says "a pinch"), and a couple of tsp more of creamy peanut butter.

                                                              Pretty easy to put together - I simmered and strained the sauce, and sauteed the plantains ahead of time. When the rice was almost ready, I reheated the sauce, cooked the shrimp over high heat on a cast iron pan, removed, and added the plantains to re-warm. Last step was to put it all together, and garnish with more chopped cilantro and peanuts. Very good - especially the sweetness of the plantains with this dish. Next time I would add more ground chili to make it spicier.

                                                              Adding pics isn't working for me either now. Link on Shutterfly:


                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                                4chowpups Mar 28, 2007 12:53 PM

                                                                God Rubee that looks fantastic!!! I never have success with plaintains, were they really black before you sauteed them? Mine are always very starchy and I'm always trying to get the flavor that I've had at various restaurants, slightly sweet and not too firm.

                                                                1. re: 4chowpups
                                                                  Rubee Mar 28, 2007 01:03 PM

                                                                  Yes, I've had that same problem, and was glad this time they were just right. I bought the plantain green and then let it ripen for about a week and a half until it was deep yellow with some black. They were just sweet and soft enough after cooking (over high heat on a cast iron griddle with a little oil - about a minute and a half a side).

                                                                2. re: Rubee
                                                                  oakjoan Mar 28, 2007 09:24 PM

                                                                  Wowie! That looks great! I've been lax in my book of the month chores this month and must get cracking!

                                                                3. LindaWhit Mar 28, 2007 05:37 PM

                                                                  This is my first post on one of the CH "cookbook" threads, as I never seem to have the cookbooks that are chosen as the month's choice. I've found myself using my MasterCook or the Internet more and more over the past few years.

                                                                  So when Leite's Culinaria's website was chosen, I thought "Hmmm, this might work for me!" And then promptly forgot about it until I had a craving for something with culinary lavender this past weekend. Searching via Google actually had a hit on Leite's website, with this recipe - Braised Chicken with Saffron, Cinnamon, & Lavender:


                                                                  It was especially intriguing to me because of the ingredients having been listed in an anonymous 13th century Andalusian cookbook. Plus, the ideas of three very strongly flavored ingredients working together just screamed out at me that I had to try it.

                                                                  So this past weekend, I got both skin-on/bone-in chicken thighs and breasts, and made this recipe. While I would LOVE to say that it was that WOW! recipe I was hoping for (and as described by Leite's testers), it just wasn't all "there there" for me. While the chicken was moist, and the meal was good, the major flavor to me was more cinnamon with slight saffron undertones than anything. The lavender in this recipe was completely lost, whereas when it's used in a fresh herbes de Provence, the scent/flavor of the lavender is more pronounced. Yes, I know the cinnamon and saffron are much stronger spices - I even cut back on the cinnamon because of my expectation that it might overwhelm (and I wasn't even using a good Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon - it was still the old McCormick's cinnamon I still had in my spice cabinet). In fact, I'm really not sure of the reasoning behind steeping the lavender buds in vodka and then adding the strained vodka to the sauce. I got absolutely no lavender scent or flavor once added to the sauce before serving.

                                                                  I've had the leftovers for the past two days, and while the cinnamon flavor became more muted after "aging", it was, to me, an "OK" recipe - not one I'm likely to make again. But I was glad I tried it, and definitely plan on trying out more on Leite's Culinaria site.

                                                                  1. beetlebug Apr 10, 2007 03:20 PM

                                                                    Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns by Grace Young


                                                                    I made this fairly early in March. I was still in my Asian cooking stage (leftover from February's Hot Sour Salty Sweet and my own foray into Fushia Dunlap's Land of Plenty).

                                                                    I was sorely disappointed in the recipe. Despite my upping many of the flavors, the chicken dish, overall was bland. It had promise but didn't meet up to it.

                                                                    1. beetlebug Apr 10, 2007 03:26 PM

                                                                      Jalapeño-Baked Fish with Roasted Tomatoes and Potatoes by Rick Bayless


                                                                      This recipe didn't disappoint, although I should have cooked the potatoes a bit longer. The recipe has you microwaving the potatoes until they are tender. I did this but should have zapped it a bit more.

                                                                      Meanwhile, blend canned tomatoes, jalapenos, jalapeno juice, garlic and cilantro to form a paste. This was drier than I thought it would be but it had a fantastic flavor. That jalapeno juice added the bit of tang to the paste that gave it the extra oomph. Then, place the fish on top the potatoes and the paste on top of the fish and bake.

                                                                      This is an excellent weeknight dinner because the oven time was only 20 minutes.

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