Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Winter Menus
May 2007 Cookbook of the Month: Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin.
Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the section on the Winter menu items here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.
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Tonight I made the torchio with cauliflower, cavolo nero, currants and pine nuts from menu 26. I ran into a few problems but overall the dish came out great.
My first problem was enitrely my fault. I used a very spicy chili, which made the dish entirely too hot. Next time I will omit the chili from this recipe as it seemed to have a wonderful flavor without it.
The other thing worth mentioning is that there is a lot of advanc prep opportunities available for this dish and I would encourage you to do everything you can ahead of time, as the last minute prep alone is subtantial. That said, this is a great rustic pasta dish. I made it with three different colored cauliflowers which really added to the presentation.
The thing the caveat about the advance prep is true for many things in this book. Often a short looking recipes turn out to have many steps that could have been done earlier. I don't mind too much but I'm learning to do ahead.
I could not find this recipe online so I'll have to wait to get the book from the library again. I'm not sure I like the currant/pine nut combo in general, but it sounds good in this context.
I love her use of a small minced chile arbol pepper in many things. Usually it is just a hint of heat.
Made the Halibut a la Nicoise yesterday, with a few modifications.
Used grilled blackfish instead of halibut. It's local to the Northeast and we eat a lot of it when they're running. Marinated fish in olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. We grilled it Saturday for dinner, with extra held for the Nicoise dish on Sunday. Served room temp over the vegetables.
Started the weekend with plenty of fresh spinach, but there was none left yesterday, and there was too much gardening to do, so no time for a grocery run. I don't think the dish suffered at all from its absence.
Recipe called to cook tomatos in 6 Tablespoons of butter. I used extra virgin olive oil instead, and less than 6 Ts. The recipe seemed to me to be about bright, clean flavors and healthy eating; just couldn't wrap my mind around introducing butter to an essentially Mediterranean dish. A personal thing.
A pretty basic Nicoise, but I liked some of the non-basic things she had going. The warm vegetables were a nice, unexpected touch. Particularly liked the lightly cooked tomatoes with anchovies and lemon juice as a sort of sauce to put on top of the fish. The fresh thyme and basil added a welcome herb note. A beautiful presentation that we all agreed was a keeper.
re: Old Spice
Tonight I made the caramelized bread pudding with chocolate and cinnamon from Menu 30. All I can say is make this as soon as you can, it was perfection. The bittersweet chocolate is key as it undercuts the richness of the dish. I made it for a group of friends tonight, and I will be making a second batch tomorrow for my family. I did not add the granulated sugar on top as I don't have a torch but I can't imagine it could be any better. What's more, it was easy to prepare.
Blood Orange, Dates, Parmesan, and Almonds (p. 343).
Well, two salads (the Green Goddess and Romaine on the summer thread), and two winners. I think I'm going to really love this book.
Even though it's not blood orange season, I picked up a couple to make this salad since I had some dates leftover from Arabesque. This is one of those simple salads, like those in the Zuni Cafe book, where the combination of quality ingredients really shine. It's simple and gorgeous. I halved the recipe since E decided he wanted quesadillas tonight, and it was the perfect amount for me to have a light dinner. For prep, I toasted raw almonds, sliced some reggiano, sliced pitted dates in half, and sliced blood oranges into pinwheels. Then I simply layered these ingredients with baby arugula, drizzled with EVOO, sprinkled with fleur de sel, and finished with a squeeze of blood orange juice (I used the uneven ends of the oranges). All the ingredients are key and complemented each other. I can only imagine how much better this would be with blood oranges in peak season, Deglet Noor dates, and artisanal almond oil as she suggests. I know I'll be making this again. It will be a perfect starter for guests since it's very easy but looks impressive on the plate.
Hazelnut-Brown Butter Cake (with sauteed pears)
I made this yesterday afternoon - at first I thought the recipe was quite similar to the Almond Financier cake I made last weekend, but here you beat the egg whites until stiff, and don't refrigerate the dough before baking (thank goodness given my timing at that point). The cake has a wonderful hazelnutty flavor and is a bit denser that the other one, but also has a bit of a meringue flavor on the crispy edge/top. It reminded me a bit of the kind of torte you might have in "Mittel Europa" with some jam in between layers etc. I served it with sliced macerated plums and a little vanilla ice cream. I made a sweet cherry compote this morning from the spring menus and plan to have it with a slice of cake tonight. Also was delicious with my coffee this morning! My husband preferred the other cake, but - given my love for hazelnuts - I think I prefer this one. Will post photos in a bit - the battery on my camera needs to be recharged.
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