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Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Fall 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 Fall menu items here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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.

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  1. Wow! It's a bit lonely here on the fall menu thread!

    Chilled red pepper soup with sumac, basil and lemon yogurt (p 209-210)

    1/2 cup evoo
    1 small sprig rosemary
    1 chile de arbol, crumbled
    2 cups diced onions
    1 3/4 lb red pepper (about 7 large ones, she says), cut into rough 1 inch pieces
    2 tsp ground sumac
    1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
    Salt, pepper

    1 cup whole milk yogurt
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    2 tbsp sliced opal basil

    Quick approximation of the instructions:
    Heat Dutch oven on high heat for two minutes.
    Add olive oil, rosemary, chile. Cook for 1 minute or so.
    Add onions, thyme, 1 tsp salt, ground black pepper.
    Reduce heat to med-high, cook, stirring often until onion is soft/ translucent (took me 8 minutes, recipe says about 10)*
    Raise heat to high. Add peppers, 1 tsp sumac, sugar, 1 tsp salt, more pepper.
    Saute for 5 minutes, stir often.
    Add 8 cups water (I used 6, more on this below**), bring to boil, turn heat down to low, simmer 30 minutes.
    Strain soup over a large bowl. Puree half the peppers and 1/2 cup of the liquid. Add more liquid as necessary to get the soup the consistency of heavy cream. Puree the other half.
    Taste, adjust seasonings, chill.

    Mix the greek yogurt, lemon, salt.

    Serve cold soup with a dollop of lemon yogurt, opal basil, and some sumac.

    * This is the point at which I fell in love with this recipe--the smell at this point was fantastic, and I loved the way in which the chile del arbol bled into the oil
    **I don't see the need for so much water. I now have lovely flavored peppery, herby broth in my fridge and have no idea what to do with it, but can't bear to get rid of it. I'd love any ideas.

    Overall, this was a lovely soup--rich, creamy (despite the lack of cream), spicy, smoky/ sumac-y. The heat was pretty intense on night one, when we were eating it sorta lukewarm (no patience). Cold leftovers were a bit more mellow and balanced, and still complex and rich.

    Served with the cilantro rice:http://www.chowhound.com/topics/328780 which made for a great, flavorful, tangy accompaniment.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rose water

      Rose water, that looks gorgeous.

      Well, I'll be joining you on this thread soon - Now I have to make that soup!

      1. re: rose water

        Used up the leftover liquid to make risotto in the end. I had about 2 1/2 cups of peppery, herbed broth left over from making this soup, and added water to make up the difference. The flavor was great, and we really enjoyed it.

      2. Pan-Roasted Rib Eye "Marchand de Vins" with Watercress and Grossi's Potatoes, p. 261

        Compared to some of the other recipes, this had less prep (especially if you bake the potatoes ahead of time), and made a great dinner tonight.

        Earlier I had roasted whole unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes with crushed garlic, EVOO, thyme sprigs, and a bay leaf, covered in tinfoil, for about an hour. This smelled so good while in the oven that I wanted to eat them the minute I took them out. When cool, peel, and slice into wedges. To finish, they are cooked in a hot pan with toasted bread crumbs, thyme, olive oil, and butter until everything is crispy.

        For the steak, I used filet instead of rib-eye and salted them the night before a la Zuni. These are seared in a hot cast-iron pan with butter. While they are resting, you make an easy red wine and shallot pan sauce finished with more butter (yep, there's a lot of olive oil and butter in this menu). The last component is a simple salad of watercress (I used mache) tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and S&P.

        As all the recipes I've done from this book thus far, we really enjoyed this. Every item complemented each other nicely - the classic red wine sauce with juicy steak and its great crust from a hot iron pan, the acidity and freshness of the salad, and the crispy, decadent potatoes. If you're a fan of the crispy edges of roasted potatoes, this one is for you - especially with the buttery bread crumbs that stay crunchy. The potatoes absorb so much flavor from roasting in the oven with the herbs and garlic. In fact, I'll use this technique again, maybe just serving them roughly mashed with their peels and the garlicky olive oil they're baked in.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rubee

          I made this dish last night - Rubee has described it so thoroughly that I won't go into too much detail. I didn't use my cast iron pan as it has still not recovered from the tarte tatin use, but used my Swiss Diamond pan instead for the steak - amazing "crust" on the ribeye and her timing was perfect for medium rare. We both loved the potatoes, though I missed the step about scraping and turning them constantly for the last 8 minutes and also let them get a bit too brown, I think. Also, I used Panko instead of fresh bread crumbs, since that is what I had on hand. I skipped the watercress, as I also made the roasted pear salad, but I can see how it would be a nice complement to the richness of the meal.

        2. Yes, why is everyone shying from fall?? Some of the best recipes in the book are from Fall. A few I love:

          PASTEL VASCO

          Trust me, you must make this. It is the best dessert I have ever made and one of the best I have ever eaten. I have now made it four times, and at Holiday Gatherings such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, with 20 around the table and it has been demanded it is not a ‘must’. It is so much more than it appears in the picture.

          First, when you make it, the berry compote in the cake bursts all over. It is not as ‘clean’ looking as in the picture in the book but it is stunning to see. And the taste… if you do it right with compote on the side, ‘frying the bread in butter’ at the end and pouring cream all over it… honest, this is to die for.


          This is also an incredible salad. The squash is a pain in the $#% to cut, but once cut, the salad is relatively easy to prepare and the combination of tastes is truly delightful. If you have a Whole Foods near you, you can easily get all the ingredients.


          This is every bit as disgustingly good as it sounds.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Tom P

            TomP--Ah-ha, somebody did make the pastel vasco! This is the recipe that is really calling out to me. Do you think the fruit compote could be made with a different fruit? Say, perhaps, blueberries? Any advice appreciated...

            1. re: Smokey

              I LOVED the pastel vasco - report forthcoming. It really lives up to Tom P's description , and beyond.

              Just tonight, my husband said, can you make this with blueberries? So, I'm going to try it this weekend (and he even suggested chocolate). The actual pound cake is fantastic on its own too.

              1. re: Smokey

                I say give it a try! I do love the bite the blackberries give it. But I bet blueberries would work fine. And I have to admit... when I make the compote, I do a batch with just blackberries for inside the cake, and then have added strawberries and/or blueberries to the remaining compote that you warm, then spoon over the cake with the cream, which I drizzle all over the cake, compote and plate to serve.

              2. re: Tom P

                Potato-Bacon Gratin (page 272)

                There are three other reports on this page of the Potato-Bacon Gratin, but I figured I’d add mine to Tom P’s since his was the first.

                Tom P says: “. . . every bit as disgustingly good as it sounds.” MMRuth says: “. . . really a splendid dish, but . . . potatoes, cream, bacon - how can you go wrong.” Conspicuousconsumption says: “Wow! I thought nothing could be more rich than Potato Gratin!” Not much more for me to say other than “ditto.”

                MMRuth (who details the procedure below) notes that she could have unmolded hers (she made half a recipe in a terrine mold with hand-cut potatoes). I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Perhaps mine had more cream in it. Also, I used a mandoline so my potatoes were probably even a bit thinner than the 1/16th of an inch called for. Mine wasn’t the least soupy, just not so firm as to be unmoldable.

                Made this as a side dish for my grandson who adores potatoes and bacon and has lost 10 pounds in his first five weeks of college (so much for the freshman fifteen!). He started drooling the second the casserole hit the table and didn’t stop raving until he’d finished his second helping.

              3. Once again, I was mulling skipping out this Cookbook of the month… I had my finals due, we were traveling… It just seemed that May was just escaping me… But then… it all seemed to fall into place…

                On our trip to Vegas in the beginning of the month, I actually scored a copy of the book for ½ off!! Then as I flipped through it, the recipe that most caught my eye, I realized I had most of the ingredients already on hand! And with a holiday weekend coming upon us… I decided to make Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta, Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata

                But first… *Start Rant* As with the Zuni Café, these recipes were ALL about technique. She gets PAINFULLY detailed on how to do it and when… At one point I was pretty upset at how ‘strict’ she was… thinking if she had to wash by hand all the dishes she calls for prep (like I do!) she wouldn’t be so picky about using “Two sautee pans” to do one vegetable dish… Nevertheless I am glad to I had two days to cook this… although It did come under the nose… *End Rant*

                So I started day one with making the Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata. I had never had a Gremolata, a mixture of Lemon Zest, Garlic and Parsley, but it intrigued me. I started with the zest getting it as close to just lemon essence as possible. …


                Then chopped it all up… the smell of the mixture was intoxicating!


                I chopped up the Veggies… a Combo of Carrots, Parsnips and Turnips (Three of my favorite things!).


                And then instead of doing them in TWO sautee pan… I used one big Le Crueset. I Caramelized them up, tossed in the gremolata and voila!!!


                Although I was saving them for the big night… I still had to take one bite! They looked so good!

                Next up was the Polenta. I had never made Polenta before! Even though we always keep a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Polenta! But we use it to put on the Pizza Stone when we make Pizzas.


                Unlike the rest of the recipes, I gave in and followed all her directions to the letter…. Stir, stir, stir for almost two hours…


                And in the end I had lovely corn jello. Then went to start on my last bit of pre-prep…

                Part of the reason I was attracted to this recipe was because it called for Pork Shoulder… one of my favorite cuts of meat…although unlike other parts of meat, to work with it, it does seem like you are hacking into a human shoulder…


                After cubing up the meat, I then made the RUB. Which was a wonderful mixture of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cayenne, smashed garlic, oregano leaves and thyme.


                Tossed, wrapped up and then called it a night… Everything was indeed falling into place...


                The following day, we decided to go for a LONG bike ride. And somewhere along mile 8, my parents, brother, and grandmother got invited for dinner to have Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta, Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata. How quickly it all seemed to fall apart... I worried about the timing... would Grandma even LIKE polenta... Yeesh.... We peddled quickly back home.

                This is when P. took over because the stress of the parents and grandma visiting and the stress of doing the recipe ‘just so’ would have driven me over the edge… Luckily P. LOVES recipes that are “just so” and so he relished in the technique, detail and dirty dishes…

                I entertained the family… he slaved away and put on the timer for 3 hours…

                The problem was... at about an hour and a half cooking time it was supposed to be dinner time… And as much as I hated to it… I cut it the cooking time short… and pulled it all out of the oven…


                The aroma of it all was just amazing… so much, the spices, the pork, the veggies. Everyone at the table was looking forward to it…and so… we began to plate…


                Luckily, the pork was indeed fork tender. The flavor was wonderful. Although I can imagine that cooked the full time, it would have beyond melty and even more flavorful. But the final verdict came in when I asked Grandma how she liked it…

                She gave this far away look and told a story of the time she was invited to a very special dinner by some Italian clergy (She was involved in all sorts of social justice movements with the church) and how they served her Polenta for the first and only time. She said, she always hoped to have it again…. And was so happy that I had made this for her. I almost cried with joy, making my grandma so happy was the biggest badge of honor I could ever have both as a granddaughter and a cook.

                And so, Thank you Suzanne and hounds for picking such a great book. Even though I didn’t do it ‘just so’… it still all indeed fall into place...


                8 Replies
                1. re: Dommy

                  Oh Dommy! That's a beautiful dish, and a beautiful story.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Indeed, Dommy! Good to know you're a sap like me! ;-) Isn't it so much fun to make our grandmas happy?

                  2. re: Dommy

                    Dommy, thanks for taking the time to write this up; it warmed my heart. Even though I've only made a few dishes out of the book, Goin's flavor combinations are very distinct and bold. I haven't found her to be as nitpicky as Rodgers in the Zuni book, but then again, I've only chosen the less complicated recipes.

                    Um, did you really cook that polenta for 2 hrs. or was that an exaggeration?

                    1. re: Carb Lover

                      From start to finish... Pretty much... a bit over an hour and half...

                      Boil Water...

                      add polenta and let absorb for 20 minutes...

                      Then for an hour cook and stir for an hour adding water every 20 minutes.

                      I didn't stir continously for the hour. I did other things with the recipe such as toast the spices and make the pork rub. But I did stir a LOT everytime I passed the pot and thankfully nothing stuck! But I knew I had to set a timer go off for every 20 minutes or else I would loose tract of time...


                      1. re: Dommy

                        I made the spiced pork stew (p. 281).
                        The rub, after toasting the spices, was fantastically full-flavored and made for very tasty pork. Occasionally I've made a simple Mexican-style stewed pork, but this is off the charts in pork yumminess.

                        I had country style ribs w/ some bones in 'em. Toasted and mortared and pestled the spices, and rubbed into "ribs" (aren't these really cuts of the shoulder, or butt??), seeing later that they should be cubed, which I did afterwards. Since it was Sunday, I didn't have overnight to let rub sit on pork (oops!), but cooked after about 4 hours.

                        I did pretty much everything as Goin dictates except subbed celery for fennel since I didn't have fresh fennel on hand and it calls for very little; a splash of chicken stock and white wine vinegar instead of white wine to deglaze pan, all (homemade) chicken stock since I had no veal, and ix-nayed the cilantro. I was not in the mood to use fresh thyme for the rub, so I used dried, and then for the braise, threw in a handful of thyme sprigs (which is easy -- all you're left w/ are the stems to pull out later.
                        I used the Molly Stevens method of parchment paper on top of meat while it braised in oven for 2-1/2 hours. The pulling out of the oven and separating meat, sauce and veggies was perplexing -- I know I ended up throwing out some meat. Then I caramalized meat at high temp, put liquid in refrigerator to scoop off fat today when I made the caramalized root vegetables.
                        I am skeptical of in effect sauteeing rutabega -- which I will sub for turnips. I have carrots, parsnips, rutabega and celeriac. I'm thinking I might roast in oven. Thoughts?

                        1. re: NYchowcook

                          Hi NYC... We made this stew last night using a 4 lb. pork shoulder and absolutely loved it. The large amount of spices made this taste terrific. We used all the requsite ingredients including the fresh fennel but I couldn't detect that anisey flavor at all in the finished dish. No veal stock here so it was just the wine and a nice chicken stock.

                          Regarding the "roasted" veggetables: I prepped tiny turnips. parsnips, carrots and a large rutabaga...but I roasted them in the oven. They were delicious and no two skillets to clean. The Gremolata was a good accompaniment.. We didn't make the polenta, though - DH thought it was too much food as it is, and we'll have leftovers for Soup Tuesday adding more broth and mashing the veggies.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I made this recipe last weekend and it was fantastic. I would make the roasted veggies with the gremolata again as a side for anything. It was quick, easy and really beautiful.
                            The fennel flavor in the leftover stew the following day was much stronger than on day one, and I didn't like it as much, but that's just personal taste. My son heated the leftover stew and wrapped it in a tortilla for a killer burrito.

                      2. Pastel Vasco with Blackberry Compote and Poured Cream, p. 217

                        The flavor in this poundcake is just fantastic, and then frying the slices in butter and the addition of warmed compote and cream just puts it over the top.

                        First the compote is made by making a caramel with sugar, water, and vanilla bean. Some blackberries are cooked, and others are left fresh, and added to make the compote, which also includes brandy (I used cognac). Yum.

                        The pound cake is so delicious with its flavors coming from the addition of dark rum, vanilla and almond extract, and fresh orange juice, and the layer of compote. Mine actually didn't cook right - whether it was because I used a dark non-stick pan or too large (I used the larger of two loaf pans I own). I had to take it out at 40 minutes instead of an hour, and it was a little burnt around the edges, while the very center was still a bit undercooked. Nothing that ruined it though! This was so good. E's been eating it for breakfast, and has been reminding me for 2 days now to make another one. He loves blueberries, so I'm going to try that, though he also suggested a chocolate swirl. This time I'll try it using my narrower/deeper loaf pan.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          Blackberry Compote, p. 218

                          1. re: Rubee

                            So glad you liked it. Mine always comes out looking a bit more, um, 'rustic', as the compote bubbles all out of it on the sides in places and crisps up. Probably because I can't resist putting in more compote than called for. I am going to make it 4th of July, I will try to remember to take a picture of it. My loaf pan is definitely thinner than yours, so I bet if you use your other loaf pan, the cooking time will work out.

                            1. re: Rubee

                              I've made a compote like that one to use over ice cream when I was out of hot fudge or caramel sauce and didn't have any cream in the house. Caramelizing sugar and adding thawed frozen fruit or fresh makes fantabulous sauce, over anything desserty, I imagine.

                              1. re: Rubee

                                Made this delicious dessert again - and yes, it was definitely the loaf pan I used that resulted in it cooking unevenly. This time I used my smaller pan (about 8-1/2 x 4-1/2), and baked for about 50 minutes. I served it as a dessert to a Spanish-themed dinner party, just sliced and topped with a scoop of honey ice cream.




                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Thanks for following up on that Rubee. one of the concerns I had about the recipe was that I have a slightly smaller than average loaf pan, so her simple description to use 'a loaf pan' had me worried mine would be the too small size it so often is.

                                  I've decided I'm going to wait for blackberries to come into season before I mess with it and try blueberries...

                                  1. re: Smokey

                                    My husband still wants me to make it with blueberries (or a chocolate swirl variation!), so if I do, I'll post. Though I'm trying to convince him baking a pound cake every week is not exactly good for us, or is it ; )

                                  2. re: Rubee

                                    I made this over Thanksgiving weekend and it was all that. I used blueberries and it tasted lovely.

                                    A few things - I did use a smaller loaf pan and it was too small. (I thought it was an 8.5 x 4.5 but I haven't measured it). Mine was finished at around 35 minutes and the top was a bit scorched. I also only used about half the egg wash because all I could picture was scrambled egg on top of the pound cake. Moreover, I ran out of room on top of the loaf pan.

                                    Regardless, it was delicious and I would definitely make it again. Oddly enough, I liked it better prior to the fry up but am glad I tried it that way too.

                                  3. re: Rubee

                                    Darnit. I'm trying to cut back on the sweets for the summer. But, this cake is tempting me beyond belief. Thank goodness it is going to be 1000 degrees this week.

                                    So, did you toast the slices prior to eating? Is this really a necessary step? It looks like the second time you made it, you didn't toast the slices.

                                    Also, did you find that 2 pints of fruit gave you too much compote? How much of the compote did you have leftover? Would halving the recipe yield enough for the filling of the cake?

                                    When I try this, I want to use blueberries too.

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      You MUST slice and toast the cake, and add the creme, at least the first time you make it. Good Lord, it is amazing.

                                      Though I only use blackberries for the cake, when I make the compote in the second step, I always add strawberries and blueberries and enjoy it that way. This is worth having some sweets for, even if you are cutting back.

                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                        As Tom P says, of course it's fantastic fried in butter and served wth cream (which I did the first time). To save last minute fiddling for a dinner party this week, I didn't toast, and just served topped with a scoop of ice cream (didn't have time to hit the farmer's market so went with Haagen Dazs Hawaiian Lehua Honey & Sweet Cream). Delicious.

                                        I did have leftover compote and actually had frozen it, which is what I used for this second pound cake. It tasted fine though of course broke down a bit, which is why I didn't use it for drizzling.

                                        Two more desserts on the agenda from the book this month - I'm going to make the creme fraiche panna cotta with strawberries tomorrow, and then next will be the churros.

                                    2. Pastel Vasco -- didn't live up to the hype for me. Pound cake was just ok, a bit dry and not too flavorful despite all the butter and flavorings. Blackberry compote was excellent, though. Finished dish was very good, but that was mostly due to the compote and cream. I think if I'd poured the compote and cream over a piece of buttered toast, it would have tasted quite good as well.

                                      1. FINALLY! I made the Pastel Vasco. I was bringing it to a potluck, so there was no frying in butter and pouring cream. That's ok by me, however, because I agree with one of the earlier posters who pointed out that you could give that treatment to wonderbread and it would be delicious. I wanted to see if this dessert could stand on its own. IMO, it can.

                                        I needed to bake the cake for pretty long time (closer to 70 or 75 min?), but I loved the 'crust' I got from that treatment. I ended up using black raspberries instead of blackberries (snafu with friend who picked them up for me at the farmers market). The compote is truly amazing. I'm going to remember that technique for making other fruit sauces because I loved the bitter notes that caramelizing the sugar provided. I wish that I had put more compote into the cake than she called for in the recipe. I would have rather had the 'bursting all over the place' effect.

                                        But, my bottom line was that the cake was really, really good. And, I think it could be delicious with other fruits (to answer my own question as others have!). I'm actually thinking that tart cherries, caramelized like the compote, would be a wonderful addition and counterpoint to the richness of the cake. Oh, and by the way, I loved how the cake wasn't hyper sweet.

                                        Mmmmm, pastel vasco.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Smokey

                                          I'm in the middle of making this and have the batter resting - quick question - is supposed to be a bit lumpy?


                                        2. Now that it's Fall, I decided to dive into SG's Fall section, and am I glad I did!

                                          Braised chicken (p. 249) (to serve w/saffron onions, Italian couscous & fresh dates)

                                          Simple, exotic and yum!!

                                          Basically you mix together cumin, coriander, fresh garlic, fresh thyme, dried chiles & paprika, rub it into whole chicken legs and marinate for 4 hrs to overnight. Then you smear salt & pepper on the chicken, brown the chicken, and remove. Saute onions, fennel, a bit of tomato, sherry, white wine & sherry vinegar. Reduce and add chicken stock, bring to a boil, add cilantro and braise. Wow!

                                          I took some short cuts, and have not yet made the accompaniments, but I had to taste, since as Suzanne suggests, as with all braises this is best made day ahead.
                                          I did not roast and grind whole cumin and coriander seeds; I used powdered. I didn’t have chile de arbol, as called for, so I substituted some aleppo pepper and guajillo peppers. I used a fresh roma tomato in lieu of San Marzano canned, since I have a supply of fresh tomatoes still. And I didn’t bother adding parsley to the marinade, because well, I just didn’t feel like it.

                                          I’m going to complete the full meal tomorrow, and will be returning to this recipe as a great change of pace from my usual chicken cacciatore when I want braised chicken parts.

                                          Suzanne Goin is a master of flavor! I highly recommend this for a fall dinner.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: NYchowcook

                                            Thanks - I looking forward to delving into her fall and winter recipes as well!

                                          2. I was out of the country when everyone was posting about Sunday Suppers and I thought I’d just pass on it entirely. But just recently, when I began reading everyone’s reports, I went right out and bought the book. Braised Chicken with Saffron Onions, Italian Couscous, and Dates is the first recipe I’m trying.

                                            There are two things that disturb me about how this recipe is written. First, Goin says “chicken is even better when it’s braised the day before.” Fine, but she doesn’t say anything about how to keep it overnight. I assumed I was to refrigerate it while the chicken was still in the pan with the vegetables and braising liquid and that’s what I did. But in a book that’s so compulsively detailed (dare I say anal?) as to tell me to heat the pan for two minutes and the oil for one minute, I would expect the do-ahead instructions to be spelled out more clearly. Second, I’m a bit surprised she doesn’t give at least alternate measurements by weight. One-half cup of dates? It’s really not easy to know how many dates are going to make a half a cup. I find weights easier to deal with. She gives them in some recipes for some ingredients, but not as often as I’d like.

                                            I prepared the recipes as written with only inconsequential changes in ingredients. (Had Japone peppers, not Arbol for instance.) But I did cut the recipe in half, everything but the marinade, and braising vegetables and liquid. I thought the proportions were a bit off. Half the couscous recipe seemed way more than necessary and I could easily have used the full amount of Saffron Onions (Oh my! They were good.). Just curious. In general, those of you who have halved recipes, did you halve everything across the board? Did that usually work for you?

                                            NYChowcook describes the braised chicken above and I was equally impressed. But I was a bit disturbed that after braising the chicken, you strain all the lovely onions and fennel out of the liquid and just throw the solids away. I didn’t, of course. Not sure what I’ll do with them yet, but they’re sitting in the fridge. Soup base, probably.

                                            Anyway, I did the whole nine yards and thought it was just outstanding. When I first tasted the Date Relish I wasn’t particularly impressed. I thought, well, no need to do that again. And then I tried it with the chicken. Goin’s flavors are so bold, so unusual, so brilliantly compatible. You obviously just have to trust her. The relish on its own was a bit weird; with the chicken it was genius. I went out and bought Italian couscous for this, but the box didn’t say “fregola sarda” and I think I bought the wrong thing. My couscous wasn’t all that different from regular couscous and didn’t have the nutty flavor or the chewy texture that she describes (and which I think would have been excellent; I’ll have to see if I can find it.) The caramelized onions? Who doesn’t love caramelized onions? And the touch of saffron and chile? Just brilliant. The recipe was a bit fussy; but most of it can be done ahead of time. And the flavors are just so wonderful, I’ll definitely be doing this again.

                                            12 Replies
                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              I am always amazed when I read 'throw away the solids' in recipes. I guess if you are a chef and you have to focus on presentation, or want to make a luxurious, silky sauce, it makes sense. (Well...maybe.) I never throw away the solids. They just stay right there on the plate. They are often the best part of the dish!

                                              That said, I love love love this book (I am blessed enough to be able to eat at Lucques a few times a year, given I am in LA, it is wonderful) but have never tried this particular dish. I will this weekend!

                                              1. re: Tom P

                                                I agree about keeping the solids. Who cares if they look less than gorgeous.

                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                Yes, I too was puzzled that there were no instructions on storing or re-heating the next day. And I guess I just missed the part about throwing out the onions and fennel, which I most certainly did not!
                                                I halved the recipe, using a bit more garlic and a fair amount more of chicken stock. It came out fine.
                                                I think the couscous she is referring to is the large Israeli type couscous (the size of large tapioca), although she doesn't make that clear either!

                                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                                  She doesn't actually tell you to throw away the onions and fennel, she just doesn't do anything with them after straining the broth and pressing down on them to extract the juices. Then you reduce the broth; no further mention of the vegetables. The conclusion seemed obvious. I think when I make this again I'll chop them up and mix them with the couscous. Right now they're sitting in my fridge awaiting inspiration.

                                                  As for the couscous, you’d think I’d have learned this lesson by now: do your research before you buy your ingredients, not when you’re thinking about reheating the leftovers.

                                                  The couscous part of the recipe calls for “Italian couscous, or fregola sarda." Couldn’t find fregola sarda, so bought Italian couscous. Well, it turns out that fregola sarda is a toasted semolina pasta, not a grain. It’s not on the shelf with the other grains, rices, and couscous, it’s with the imported pastas. Who knew? Anyway, I now have some sitting on my counter and will cook it up to have with the leftovers tonight.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    That sounds and looks delicious - I love her recipes and haven't tried this one. Love Fregola Sarda. I often cut her recipes in half, though if it is something that requires braising liquid, I don't reduce it quite to half.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      Well couscous is also a pasta. It's not a grain. I don't think Goins could have meant Israeli couscous because that is large pearls and certainly not nutty and chewy.

                                                      Ah, now I see that it was fregola sarda. Always a good practice to read the message to which one is replying. Duh.

                                                      You guys have forced me to actually BUY this book. I have been ever so good for so many months, actually getting rid of books and not buying replacements....but one has only so much resolve!

                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                    BF was so over the moon for this dish (Braised Chicken with Saffron Onions, Italian Couscous, and Dates) that he asked me to make it again for a friend he invited to dinner. I have a few updates from the second go-round.

                                                    Since the leftovers were so good, I made the full recipe for six for the three of us. The recipe calls for braising the chicken 1-1/2 to 2 hours. The first time I braised for 1-1/2 hours; this time for 2. The 2-hour braising reduced the vegetables to mush. I still saved them, but this time it was easier to see why they were discarded. I put the dinner leftovers into individual plastic microwaveable containers. Two nights later it was—BF declared—every bit as good as the night it was served.

                                                    There’s a lot of leftover braising liquid—even after adding some to the leftover chicken. I used that braising liquid, plus added homemade chicken stock, to make an adaptation of Goin’s Shell Bean Risotto. (I’m not posting on that separately because I made too many changes to evaluate the original, but essentially you make a shell bean ragout and stir it into the risotto when the rice is finished.) That braising liquid is a treasure. The risotto was terrific (although I kept thinking of it as a fancy Italianate rice and beans and it’s not a combination—outside of Latin cuisine--I feel I need to return to.) I still have some leftover braising liquid in the freezer and will use it as the basis for a soup. This recipe seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. And every incarnation is a delight.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      Hi there, i've made this dish twice with fregula sarda that i purchased online a while ago. I'm out, and apparently so is all of America since its out of stock everywhere.

                                                      Do you all think I can make this with Isreali couscous? I bought a box from Whole Foods and they are smaller and more couscous like.

                                                      By the way, I just love this dish. This and the devil's chicken are my favorite dinner party dishes from the book.

                                                      1. re: mrs lilo

                                                        I think Israeli couscous is made of hard wheat instead of semolina but is otherwise quite similar in flavor and texture to Italian. I’m sure the recipe will be fine with it. In fact, the first time I made the recipe I bought the wrong kind of couscous entirely (see my photo a bit upthread) and it was still terrific. That chicken is just sooo good, I think you could put it on almost anything. I’ve been thinking it’s time to make it again since it’s more than a year now since I last had it. I really love that recipe, too. Haven’t tried the Devil’s Chicken yet. Must make up for that omission.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          Thanks Joan N. I will report back on how the chicken turns out with the Isreali cous cous and I'm going to keep checking on the availability of the italian. Hard to believe its out of stock everywhere.

                                                          I can't say enough about the devil's chicken. Its the one recipe I've made so often I think i;ve really perfected it. It's the perfect small winter dinner party dish. That and the hazelnut and arugula salad are my all time favorite recipes.

                                                          1. re: mrs lilo

                                                            I'll be eager to hear how it turns out, but I'm sure it will be just fine.

                                                            Luckily, I have one source I have so far been able to count on for the fregula. Great stuff, and I can't believe I hadn't even heard of it a year ago. Once you do find it, here's a link to a clam soup recipe that uses it that MMRuth posted a while back. It's a wonderful recipe; something I now make regularly.


                                                            Haven't tried that salad yet, either. I think I see a small dinner party in my immediate future.

                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                        I made this dish for a dinner party last night. (It feels like fall with the cold rainy weather)

                                                        WOW! what a hit. I will definitely make this again and again.

                                                        I only marinated the chicken in the spice rub for 3 hours, but will do so for longer next time. I also used a few small fresh farmer's market tomatoes, rather than open a can for 1/4 cup.
                                                        I did use Israeli couscous - and it looked JUST like the picture, so I think that the "italian" couscous might be a typo.

                                                        All of the accompanying side dishes were fantastic flavor additions. I did have leftover braising liquid and *wish* that I did not throw it out.

                                                        I think the right schedule is Day 1: shop for ingredients. Day 2: prep spices/marinate chicken. Day 3: chop vegetables, make braising liquid in the a.m., cook chicken in the afternoon. It took a full 3 hours of cooking time (including braising liquid prep).

                                                        My nod to spring was serving this dish with the Asparagus/Prosciutto with mustard creme and strawberry (modified from peach) shortcake recipes (both from the same book.) Both easy and great.

                                                    2. Roasted Pear Salad with Endive, Hazelnuts, and St. Agur, p. 228

                                                      This salad combines some of my favorite flavors. I used 2 Comice pears for the two of us, 2 endives, and about half the ingredients for the dressing. I used a Stilton we had on hand, but think it would be even more delicious with the St. Agur - creamy, saltier and sharper in flavor.

                                                      1. Grilled Tuna with Potato-Tomato Gratin and Rouille, p. 220

                                                        Made this last night, but not the Gratin, as it takes about 3 hours to make and did not have the time. Loved the tuna with the rouille (basically a mayonaise, with a pureed roasted red pepper added to it, along with a paste of salt, garlic and saffron, as well as some lemon juice. We used larger steaks than she called fo and cooked them in a grill pan, and have lots of rouille leftover. The green beans were my own concoction - par boiled, then sauteed in olive oil, added a dab of dijon mustard, tossed, then added the toasted bread crumbs left over from the Lucques Grossi roasted potato recipe the night before. These bread crumbs have now been added to my husband's list of things that make anything taste better (includes bacon, olive oil, and butter ....).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Wow MMRuth that looks so delicious. I loved those Grossi potatoes too.

                                                          Last month I bookmarked recipes from the book I still want to try, but haven't gotten around to them yet. Thanks for the inspiration!

                                                        2. Parsnip Puree (pg. 279)

                                                          I made this many times over the fall but I did play fast and loose with the proportions. Needless to say, the technique is excellent leading to smooth and tasty purees.

                                                          I had an overabundance of parsnips from my CSA box and not enough potatoes. Hence the loose approximations. Goins calls for an equal amount of parsnips to potatoes but mine was always parsnip heavy.

                                                          Oddly enough, she calls for the two root vegetables to be boiled in separate pots. As much as I enjoy this cookbook, Goins will always make it more labor intensive, more dishes and pots used, then necessary. Anyway, two separate pots were never going to happen, if the two were going to be married in the dish, they could start by living together.

                                                          The cream and milk are heated in a separate small pot. Once the veggies were finished, I put them through a ricer and back into the pot. I found that if I partially cored the parsnips, the ricing portion was easier. She also suggests running the veggies through a tamis to get a smoother finish. I didn't do this, well, because extra step and lack of equipment. Plus, I like the consistency after ricing. Dry out the veggies in the pot and then add the butter (recipe called for 8 oz, I used 8 T) and slowly add the dairy. Season with salt and pepper.

                                                          I love this technique of having the butter incorporated and then adding the warm dairy products. It ensures that the veggies fully absorbs all the flavors. I've also started making mashed potatoes this way with great success.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                            I also made that - but also played fast and loose. Did use equal amounts of potatoes and parsnips, and I did do them in separate pots - and discovered that one cooked faster than the other - I think the potatoes. I didn't use a tamis either, for the same reason! They were delicious.

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I used more parsnips and minimal potatoes. Mine cooked fairly equally, I cored the parsnips and cut them into smaller pieces and only halved the potatoes.

                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                I didn't core mine, so that might have been why. Smart about doing the different sizes.

                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                Parsnips and potatoes do take a different amount of time to cook, hence the different pots. I made this last night using significantly less butter, and about half a pot of single cream mixed with semi-skimmed milk. It was plenty rich enough for me and my guests loved it. Nice sweetness from the parsnips - you definitely need all the salt she recommends.

                                                                I found you can make this ahead by incorporating the butter and half of the cream/milk mixture, and then reheating gently adding the rest of the warmed creamy milk when ready to serve.

                                                            2. Pumpkin Cake with Pecan Streusel Topping (pg. 284)

                                                              This was a loser.

                                                              There, I said it. This was a loser recipe and I was sorely disappointed. Especially, because it was my Thanksgiving dessert.

                                                              It was flavorless which shocked me because the thing smelled great in the oven. It wasn't very pumpkiny at all and the spices didn't come through. The pecan streusel topping was great though and I'm thankful that I used more pecans than called for.

                                                              Streusel topping - toast the pecans (I used 1/2 cup v. her 1/4 cup), roughly chop and salt. In a food processor, pulse butter, brown sugar, regular sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the nuts and keep in the fridge until you're ready to use.

                                                              Cake - she roasted a butternut or kobacha squash. Goins also noted that she's been told that canned pumpkin could be subbed in. So, that's what I did. I also added a bit more pumpkin then called for since I wasn't roasting a squash.

                                                              The cake is huge (10") and the recipe only calls for 1.5 cups of squash. There is also a lot of dairy (1.5 cups of whole milk and 1.25 cups of heavy cream). I think the proportions of the squash and other stuff don't quite match. Hence, the lack of flavor.

                                                              It was kind of pretty though and it tasted slightly better the next day.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                I keep coming back to this post. Sorry I didn't see it sooner....

                                                                I don't have the book here to look at, but I am curious. Was there any salt in the recipe? If not, 1/2 teaspoon of salt likely would have lifted the flavor. I always add salt to desserts, whether the recipe says to or not.

                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                  I'm very glad (but sorry for you) to see your post on the pumpkin cake. I roasted some squash and mixed up the struesel, but now I think I'll go back to the Ellie Krueger semi-healthy pumpkin muffins using Goin's struesel, which tastes fantastic

                                                                  1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                    That streusel topping is great, isn't it. I still think the squash to liquid ratio is off in the recipe.

                                                                    Chefjune - As for salt, I don't have the book in front of me, so I don't know. But, if I remember (ha!) I'll look it up when I get home.

                                                                2. Balsamic glazed brussel sprouts with pancetta
                                                                  I'm *pretty sure* it was from the fall section, although I don't see it reported on here so now I'm not so sure...

                                                                  Anyway, delicious. (No shock there - what a great book this is!)
                                                                  I used guanciale instead of pancetta, and tomato vinegar instead of balsamic.
                                                                  And pork stock instead of veal stock.
                                                                  I usually use the Batali recipe for pancetta and panroasted brussel sprouts, but this was a nice difference with the vinegar. Greens and pork, good any way you combine them.
                                                                  It worked as a perfect light meal with a puddle of soft polenta.

                                                                  Another alt version, we tried some citrus zest on the second bowl (the helping we ate when we were full but it was just soooo delicious) and it was lovely. I had kumquat, but lemon or orange would be great too.

                                                                  I'm dying to try the kumquat marmalade butter on spice cake that is a few pages before . . .

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pitu

                                                                    My first post for Dec/Jan COTM. Is this the right place?
                                                                    Anyway, last night I made the Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta.
                                                                    These are delicious. Smoky sweet and tender.
                                                                    I used teeny tiny green cabbages I found at the farmers market, slightly larger than golf balls, which I quarted and treated just like brussels. Also subbed bacon lardons for pancetta and my balsamic was an Apple balsamic from Philo, CA. It really came together quickly and I loved the results. I didn't use as much salt as Goin calls for, and the dish was just right, maybe a hair too salty but my SO other wanted the full amount of bacon even though I halved the recipe. So, there's that. Will be making these again.

                                                                    1. re: rabaja

                                                                      I think I need to make these this weekend.

                                                                  2. Warm Squid Salad with Spinach, Chorizo and Black Olives, p. 211

                                                                    We had this for dinner on Sunday night - it was a great one dish meal after a big pasta lunch. As always, I loved the combination of flavors and textures. Much as I dried my squid, it didn't really sear properly, but was still good. I did cook it for just 2 minutes total, as I find squid gets tough if you cook it longer than that.

                                                                    1. I've made the famous Pastel Vasco twice, and both times I ended up with burned cake...as well, the first time I made it, it was kind of dry...(haven't tasted the second one yet, it's cooling.) Based on this, I think the oven temperature of 400 is way too high.

                                                                      24 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jaykayen

                                                                        I had the same problem too, and just realized that I didn't post here about it - sorry!


                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                          Braises beef short ribs with potato puree, swiss chard and horseradish cream

                                                                          This is probably her most discussed recipe and for good reason. I made this for dinner guests on Sunday (no coincidence) and it was amazing. I am still thinking about how well the different flavors worked together and wishing there were leftovers. I made a few changes but they were really just substitutions and I think they enhanced the dish. Instead of balsamic vinegar I used my favorite new condiment. It is called Fiq Bouquet. It is caramelized fig juice and fig vinegar and it added a touch of sweetness and depth to the sauce. The short ribs were so good that we were actually moaning. I used spinach instead of chard because my husband refuses to try it. It did not stand up to the rest of the ingredients as well as chard would have but it was fine. The potato puree is over the top in butter and I could not justify one stick, let alone 2 sticks of butter. I used 4TBS butter and I cut the cream to 1/2 cup. They were perfectly delicious and no one was the wiser for my changes. All in all, a wonderfully satisfying cold winter meal that hits all comfort food buttons in one fell swoop. You walk away from the table as if your taste buds have all been at a love fest.

                                                                          1. re: greenstate

                                                                            Thanks for posting that - I've still not made her short rib recipe and am going to put it on the list for dinner Sunday night! That Fig Bouquet sounds interesting - I don't have regular balsamic vinegar, just a really aged one that I dilute with red wine vinegar when needed.

                                                                            1. re: greenstate

                                                                              This is the first recipe that my husband homed in on when he looked at the book. I'm sure we'll be having it soon, so I am glad to hear how great it is!

                                                                              1. re: roxlet

                                                                                A fantastic beef dish is the beef nicoise stew - b/c of the spinach/vegetables in it, once you serve it with some papparedelle (sp?) or other noodles, you've got pretty much a one pot meal. I'm adding that to the list too!!

                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                  I also am totally in love with the braised short ribs. As I've probably written several times on several different threads, the taste combos are amazing. The rich, sweetish sauce from the meet, the bitterness/tanginess of the chard and the bite of the horseradish sauce is something that I love every time I make it.

                                                                                  Haven't tried the beef nicoise stew.

                                                                                  I think it's pappardelle, but you won't know from the spell checker here.

                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                    I tried to talk my husband into making this short rib recipe, but he says that he doesn't like horseradish. How necessary to the taste of this dish is the horseradish do you think?

                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                      It is not necessary, but it is very decadent and delicious, particularly when it is mixed into cream fraiche.

                                                                                      1. re: greenstate

                                                                                        The beets with the horseradish creme fraiche are also terrific.

                                                                                        1. re: greenstate

                                                                                          I've also used a combo of non-fat yoghurt and "lite" cream cheese to make the horseradish sauce. Tastes great and is less decadent.

                                                                                          The dish IS good without the horseradish, but the combo of rich, sweetish, beefy flavors and the tangy horseradish/sour cream is heavenly.

                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                            I've got an idea! He doesn't have to eat it!!

                                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                Interesting! I've made the Pastel Vasco three, maybe four times, exactly the way it says, and, damn, it is my favorite dessert ever. Sorry it has not turned out for you both!

                                                                              3. re: jaykayen

                                                                                My oven is extremely hot regardless of what the setting is. I alwasy turn it down at least 25 degrees for any recipe. also our flour is very very dry, so when baking I tend to use a bit less. Just minor adjustments I've learned by trial and error but make a big difference in many outcomes

                                                                                1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                  So, I'm going to be making this yet again some time this week. I can't believe it's only been a month since the last time. (That last one turned out to be undercooked in the middle, but burned a bit on the outside.)

                                                                                  Adjustments I plan on making:
                                                                                  2 cups flour instead of 2 1/4 cups + 1T
                                                                                  oven at 350. (-25 degrees to alleviate the burning, -25 degrees for my dark pan.)
                                                                                  resting it for 30 minutes on the countertop instead of the fridge, to help the middle heat up faster.
                                                                                  10 T of butter instead of 14 (my wimpy attempt to cut some fat; 12 1/2 T would have been the proportional adjustment to my flour reduction.

                                                                                  1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                    Well, it looks like I've finally learned all there is to learn about this cake.

                                                                                    Tip: If you don't want your berries to sink, smash 'em a little with a potato masher. They'll stay where you put them.

                                                                                    1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                      So were you happy with the result this time? Thanks.

                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                        Yep. It was pretty good... this time, it actually had the texture and moistness of pound cake.

                                                                                        I followed my adjustments above, and then "adjusted to taste," such as 2 T milk to make up for the missing 2.5 T of butter.

                                                                                        1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                          Warm Kabocha Squash Salad With Dandelion, Bacon, Roncal and Pecans, p. 237

                                                                                          Well, I made this last night and I must say it was disappointing. I still don't know how something with so many great ingredients could be so blah. Maybe it couldn't live up to my high expectations. When I first saw the recipe, I thought it sounded fantastic.

                                                                                          You roast the squash after cutting it into wedges and tossing it with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme. I didn't have any fresh thyme and so used dried.

                                                                                          You toast the pecans and, she says to toss with olive oil and salt which I didn't do.

                                                                                          The bacon gets sliced into rectangular shapes and sauteed until just browned. I added some chopped onion as I had no shallots. The vinaigrette is added to the pan just before serving.

                                                                                          I also had no dandelion greens, but did have some very peppery arugula and some mizuna

                                                                                          The dressing is sherry vinegard, olive oil and salt. I only had white wine and balsamic and so combined them to sub for the sherry vinegar.

                                                                                          All of this is combined and the cheese is supposed to be grated with a veg. peeler and sprinkled on the salad along with the pecans.

                                                                                          Since I also had no Roncal cheese, I subbed some very good goat cheese for it.

                                                                                          The whole dish was (a) way to oily; (b) not particularly tasty unless you bit into a piece of bacon; and (c) sort of a weird consistency because of the crisp greens and the gooshy squash and the crunchy nuts.

                                                                                          I probably screwed it up by subbing the cheese and the greens, but this was not a dish I'd make again. If someone else tries it using the correct ingredients, and it turns out to be delicious....I'll think about redoing it.

                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                            I tried this recipe a few months ago and had the same results. It sounded like it should be so good, but was horribly disappointing.

                                                                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                              This is not good news. I have some kabocha squash in the fridge and was going to give it a try. But the two of you have convinced me. I'll go with the kabocha squash risotto, instead. That, if I recall correctly, was a superb recipe. Thanks for taking one for the team.

                                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                Perhaps all the substitutions caused it to go awry. I made this as a first course last Thanksgiving for about ten and it was a huge hit. I've always intended to make it again, I enjoyed it so much, but the squash was such a pain in the ass to cut I've yet to buy another one.

                                                                                                1. re: Tom P

                                                                                                  I'd agree, Tom P., but emily (post above) mentions no substitutions. I don't think it was my subs, as most, except for the goat cheese, were close to the original ingredients (e.g., arugula rather than dandelion greens - both peppery). I did use kabocha squash (from my CSA box) and Applewood smoked bacon from Nieman Ranch.

                                                                                                  I also think that not tossing the pecans in oil before toasting was a good change on my part, as there was lots of oil in this recipe.

                                                                                                  I hope at least one other person tries it. The more info the better.

                                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                    I admit that I used some substitutions, as well. I couldn't find dandelion (not sure what I used instead), nor did I use Roncal. Perhaps those 2 ingredients really do make the dish.

                                                                                                    And I totally agee with oakjoan on the weird consistency.

                                                                                                    1. re: emily

                                                                                                      I should try again - maybe mine was the fluke! I do like the dandelion greens as they have quite a bit of a bite. And Roncal is terrific. But who knows. I don't remember mine being oliy... but I am also pretty sure I did not use the pecans. I will check the recipe when I get home tonight, which will help me remember.

                                                                                      2. Vanilla Pot de Creme with Chocolate Sables, p. 235

                                                                                        I made this for dessert for a small dinner party last night. I made the pot de creme first - infused the cream/milk with vanilla beans/seeds - bring to a boil, let sit for 30 minutes. [This would be a good time to make the dough for the sables, but I was working on other things.] Whisk egg yolks in mixture, reheat cream/milk, add slowly to temper eggs, strain, let rest for 20 minutes. You then remove "all traces of foam" from the mixture. Well, I did that, and probably had a good six ounces of 'foam' that I removed. I had bought four six ounce ramekins, since that is the number of guests we were having, but after putting six oz of liquid in each of them, I only had the tiniest bit left, so I put it in a 4oz rameking with all the 'foam'. Put in water bath, cover, cook at 325 for 30, or until just set. Mine took 40 minutes to set.

                                                                                        Then removed from water bath, using tongs - a dicey proposition. Decided to put them on a tray to place them by an open window to cool before putting them into the fridge. Lost one ramekin which overturned onto the counter while being transferred. Cooled a bit, put in fridge. She says to cool for at least 4 hours, which I did.

                                                                                        Sables - the dough is very, very soft. She doesn't say to use room temperature butter to cream with the icing sugar, but I did, and am guessing that's the right thing to do. Add an egg yolk and coffee extract (optional - I used hazelnut instead). You then add flour, cocoa and salt that have been sifted together. Right before the dough comes together, add 1/2 cup of bitter chocolate shards. I, of course, had forgotten to 'shard', so took a time out to do that - used a swivel vegetable peeler - it takes longer to get half a cup than you might thing. I used Lindt bittersweet chocolate. Then shape into logs - well, with the dough so soft, this was easier said and done, and next time I might chill the dough a little first, so that I could make nice round logs. I used wax paper to form the logs, then rolled them in granulated sugar as instructed (put the sugar in an oval cazuela, put in the log and rolled it around by shaking the dish), then wrapped in saran wrap. One log was smaller in diameter than the other. I put them both in the freezer a bit to help them really chill/firm up, then transferred to the fridge. I baked them in the oven with the short ribs - raised the temp to 350, sliced them using a measuring tape and knife, placed on parchment paper in a pattern such that the dutch oven wouldn't be on top of any of the cookies, burnt the first batch. Put in second batch - I'd start checking the cookies at 10 minutes, rather than twelve.

                                                                                        So, ended up having five guests, who brought along some ice cream at my request just in case, but their son was watching TV and falling asleep during dessert, so I took the small ramekin and gave my guests and husband the three six ounce ones. The pot de creme was excellent - fabulous vanilla taste. I thought the sables were slightly dry, but maybe that is how they are supposed to be. Great chocolate flavor though, and nice with a bite of the cream.

                                                                                        Sorry for crappy photos.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                          So was the foam pot de creme edible? Did it turn into a regular pot de creme or was there cooked foam in it?

                                                                                          I was just looking at the above sentence and thinking what an archaeologist from 2690 would make of it.

                                                                                          Thanks for all the info and the photos! You are a gem.

                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                            Oh - the foam pot de creme was indeed edible and tasted great, and I ate it as the fourth one. Didn't taste like cooked foam to me! Might try it next time without removing the foam.

                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              The foam is just air bubbles and if you have a blow torch (miniature or hardware model, either will work) you can get rid of the foam in seconds and not lose a drop of your custard base.
                                                                                              Pour your base into your ramekins, lightly torch the tops of the unbaked custards and watch as the bubbles disappear. It's like magic and also kind of fun!
                                                                                              I usually do this after my ramekins are in my hotel pan with the water bath, before covering with foil and popping into the oven.
                                                                                              Hope this helps.

                                                                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                            Looks great, MMR! I'm impressed that you got the vanilla beans to stay suspended on top; mine always sink to the bottom in custards like creme brulee or panna cotta. How many vanilla pods did you use?

                                                                                            You might try the World Peace cookies from Greenspan's book which are essentially chocolate sables. They aren't dry at all and are highly addictive!

                                                                                            Link to thread w/ recipe:

                                                                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                              Thanks - it was two vanilla pods. Didn't too anything special to keep the specks of vanilla on top! I keep hearing about those cookies and the raves - will check them out.

                                                                                          3. Barbara's Apples and Asian Pears with Radicchio, Mint, and Buttermilk Dressing, p. 276.

                                                                                            My guests and I really loved this salad. You make a mayonnaise with an egg yolk and grapeseed oil, combine chopped shallots, lemon juice and salt to sit for five minutes (she says to do this after making the mayonnaise, but I did it first, so that it would sit while I made the mayonnaise), then add buttermilk and creme fresh to this mixture, and gradually wisk that into the mayonnaise. Taste and season as needed - tasted perfect to me, so I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.

                                                                                            I couldn't find ripe Asian pears, so I just used two nice ripe Bartlett pears, and a very large red apple that I'd bought at the farmer's market the week before. I used one large head of radicchio rather than one. You slice up the pears/apples into 1/8 slices, tear up the radicchio (I was cutting at this point as I was in a rush to get every thing on the table), toss w/ 2/3 of the dressing, add lemon juice and more dressing to taste, transfer to platter and garnish with chopped mint and parsley.

                                                                                            This is definitely a salad I'll make again, and was very refreshing after the short ribs and potato puree.

                                                                                            1. Roasted Beet Salad with Fried Chickpeas, Nyons Olives, and Ricotta Salata, p. 265

                                                                                              I had already roasted beets, ricotta salata and some dried chickpeas on hand, so thought I'd make it for dinner. I had some lovely tiny Italian dried chickpeas, and cooked them per her instructions. After about 1.5 hours, they were still quite hard, so I just added water and kept cooking them. I think the chickpeas must have been old, as they just never got tender. I took out 1/2 cup from the pan, drained them on paper towels, and then fried them up. They tasted pretty good, but quickly got soft again. I did pop them back into the oven just before assembling the salad, which helped a bit. However, while I might try this once again with some fresh dried chickpeas, I think another nice, and quicker option, would be to toast some nuts with the spices she uses for the chickpeas - this would still give the salad a nice crunch. This problem aside, we both really liked this salad, and the hint of cumin in the dressing. I did combine the sliced beets, shallots, dressing and olives ahead of time, then just added in the parsley later. I do think the salad would be prettier with different colored beets, as she suggests.

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                Forgot the photo. I kept the broth and leftover chickpeas and am going to try to make some kind of soup out of it - maybe if I puree the peas .....

                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  Roasted Beet Salad with Fried Chickpeas, Nyons Olives, and Ricotta Salata (page 265)

                                                                                                  I had some ricotta salata left over from a Batali recipe and decided to give this a try. (What did we ever do before EYB?)

                                                                                                  My chickpeas also needed more water and took about 2 hours to cook. Once tender, they were so good I kept nibbling on them. Mine stayed fairly crisp after frying, even once they were in the salad. But much as I liked the chickpeas before they were fried, I really didn’t think they added much to the dish. The leftover chickpeas, though, made a pretty spectacular hummus.

                                                                                                  I see where MMRuth is coming from in trying to get that crispy element into the salad without using chickpeas, but I thought the roasted beets with the wonderful cumin vinaigrette and ricotta salata would be just fine on their own. If I make this again, I’ll just skip the fried chickpeas. I am making a note, however, to use her chickpea recipe next time I make hummus.

                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                    That looks and sounds spectacular Joan, it honestly made me hungry just reading about it!! I'll definitely have to give this one a try.

                                                                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    Roasted Beet Salad with Fried Chickpeas, Nyons Olives, and Ricotta Salata, p. 265

                                                                                                    This was a fabulous recipe. Unlike MMRuth and JoanN, I didn't have a problem cooking my chickpeas. The issue I had was frying them. They never crisped up. I think I overcrowded the pan so there was a steaming effect. Next time, instead of frying them, I'm going to try drying them in the oven. The chickpeas and their spices were just delicious on their own and would make a lovely snack.

                                                                                                    The beet salad was so pretty and that cumin just added a different taste to the traditional beet salad. Even the kids at the bbq were eating this salad (I told them beets were nature's candy. C rolled his eyes at this).

                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                      I love those chickpeas too...and also can't get them to crisp up. In NYC, the restaurant Prune has ridiculously delicious deep fried chickpeas. These are much more richly flavored, but a crisp outside would make them so much better!

                                                                                                      1. re: rose water

                                                                                                        I really think drying them in the oven would do the trick. I have a recipe, buried in my stuff, that was an herbed dried chickpea. And, those were crisp. I ate them like wasabi peas.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          I sometimes make a snack of roasted chickpeas with paprika (I think it is) and salt. They're nice and crunchy and tasty, so yes, I think this would be a great way to get them to be the consistency you'd like.

                                                                                                    2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                      Roasted Beet Salad, p. 265

                                                                                                      My first recipe from the book, and it was an unqualified success! I thought this was a very delicious salad and especially liked the ricotta salata with the beets. I used canned chickpeas. I dried them in a towel prior to frying and they crisped up nicely. I lIked their texture in the salad, and they also made the salad more filling and nutritious. This dish was enjoyed by all, including my toddler, and was not too difficult or time consuming. Looking forward to trying a few more things from this book.

                                                                                                    3. Grilled Duck Breasts with Creme Fraiche, Roasted Grapes and Potato-Bacon Gratin, p. 271

                                                                                                      I had two very large Moulard duck breasts (from Hudson Valley Foie Gras Co.), which I scored and seasoned as instructed in the morning. I wish I had seasoned both the top (fat) and the bottom, in restrospect. I then made the gratin - 1/2 of the recipe, and made it in my LC pate mold. I didn't have slab bacon, so didn't quite have lardons. I cut the potatoes by hand, but was able to get them pretty thin. The layering instructions are quite long, so I took out my pencil and noted the order in list form in the margin so that it would be easier to follow. I didn't have any more thyme, but plenty of sage, so used that instead. I did this ahead of time, and then returned it to a 425 degree oven while I cooked the duck. This is really a splendid dish, but, as Tom P wrote about - potatoes, cream, bacon - how can you go wrong. Half a recipe could serve six, if you just sliced up the gratin and served it on the plates but, with the terrine on the table, the two of us ate all of it. I think that if I had buttered the bottom and put parchment paper in it, I could have inverted the gratin and sliced it up nicely - in which case I would have put the decoration on the bottom. Also, I sliced my potatoes in half, so that I would have a nice clean edge on each slice to put against the wall of the terrine.

                                                                                                      I roasted the grapes after taking the gratin out of the oven and turning up the heat - I loved the transformation.

                                                                                                      Duck - I cooked on my stove top in a cast iron pan as she suggests. She says to cook on medium low, skin side down, until the fat is rendered and the skin crispy. I got a little impatient, and turned it up to medium, and when the skin was crispy, but a layer of fat still visible, I turned them over and cooked them very slowly to a beautiful medium rare. One of the few times I've not overcooked duck breasts! I let them rest about five minutes, then sliced, arranged on top of a bed of arugula, added the roasted grapes, and smeared some creme fraiche across the duck breast slices.

                                                                                                      Once again, a fabulous meal courtesy of Ms. Goin. My husband wasn't inthralled with the roasted grapes, but I was. The duck was not particularly warm, and we couldn't decide whether it just hadn't gotten hot due to the low cooking temperature, or if it had cooled off so much during the resting period.

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                        Gosh MM, If Michelin gave 5 stars you'd certainly get them.... Those dishes look Absolutely Fabulous! And the aroma... Fantastico!!

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          Thanks, Gio. We ate really well this weekend. Figuring out leftovers for tonight! Glad the scratch & sniff that I imbedded in the photos worked.

                                                                                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                          I once had roasted grapes with a pork tenderloin at one of my favorite restaurants, and I absolutely loved them. My husband, on the other hand, can't stand fruit in savory dishes... maybe it's a guy thing! ;-) The duck looks wonderful!

                                                                                                          1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                            Yeah, KN, my sister is the same. She hates stuff with, e.g., prunes and pork roast, but I love that kind of dish.

                                                                                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                            Last night we had lovely Lucques leftovers:

                                                                                                            The chickpeas from the beet salad - I pureed the hell out of them in the FP, adding quite a bit of water, sauteed some curry powder in olive oil, added some chopped red onions, put the chickpea mixture in the sauce pan, mixed well, added some diced apples at the end. Will have some for lunch, and may try a swirl of buttermilk.

                                                                                                            Leftover sliced duck breast - I made those Batali mozzarella fried sandwiches, but used thinly sliced duck, a smear of creme fraiche and thinly sliced Roaring 40s blue cheese in the middle, used sage in the batter.

                                                                                                            Leftover beets - tossed with leftover arugula, and buttermilk dressing from the pear apple salad.

                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                              Sorry photos are so small ....

                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                Your husband is one lucky man, MMR! The duck looks divine, and I too love roasted grapes! I make a roasted cornish game hen dish stuffed w/ red grapes and roasted on a bed of sliced fennel and carrots.

                                                                                                                Thanks for trying the roasted beet and chickpea salad. I had marked that to try soon since I have all ingredients on hand. I was going to be lazy and use canned chickpeas to fry; do you think that would work ok?

                                                                                                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                                  I think you could use canned ones if you cooked them for a while first in the liquid/spices - they do have a nice flavor that contributes to the salad. Let us know how that goes if you try it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                                    the one time i made this, i used canned, and it worked fine. they're delicious.

                                                                                                            2. Roasted Pear Salad with Endive, Hazelnuts, and St. Agur, p. 228

                                                                                                              Pears + blue cheese + hazlenuts = classic combination, but Goin's take on it elevates it into the realms of the sublime.

                                                                                                              You cook the pears in butter and grapeseed oil until golden and then mash six of the pear halves in a pestle and mortar, and add to a vinaigrette which is made from shallots, vinegar, hazlenut oil and rapeseed oil. Then you toss the rest of the roasted pears with endive and some of the vinaigrette. Add rocket and toss again. Sprinkle with hazlenuts and add shaves of blue cheese. I used a lovely, creamy Irish cheese, cashel blue, rather than St Agur because that's what I had.

                                                                                                              I had problems with the presentation of this, partly because I didn't want to dirty another platter so just served it in the salad bowl I'd used to toss the ingredients in. I also found it difficult to shave the cheese using an old-fashioned cheese pull, as she suggests. I gave up in the end and just crumbled it using my fingers.

                                                                                                              So not particularly pretty, but the flavours were just divine. I keep thinking about how good it was.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                I have this on my list to make. It sounds absolutely wonderful. Quite a great sounding meal you had last night!

                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                  It looks I just crumbled the cheese as well - I used Stilton:


                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    It was great, but felt like about a week's worth of cooking rolled into one. I was glad to be taken out for curry last night!

                                                                                                                2. Cranberry-Walnut Clafoutis with bourbon whipped cream (p. 245).

                                                                                                                  Made exactly as written. At first the batter seemed weirdly thin to me (even compared to other clafoutis I've made) but it worked beautifully, and the results were fantastic. The walnuts are great ... they give it some texture, something wanting in clafoutis. This isn't a very sweet dessert. The bourbon whipped cream was wonderful, but not necessary. Goin is right - there is a huge difference between eating this last night and this morning (gave my husband some with his breakfast). Much more eggy/custardy now than it was last night. This is a really easy dessert and I loved it.

                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                    LulusMom: Thanks for writing this. I'd meant to try this clafoutis, but had forgotten about it. I have walnuts and cranberries. Will report back. I love clafoutis! I've almost always made it with apples and brandy. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

                                                                                                                    You didn't say whether the "huge difference between eating this last night and this morning" meant that it was not so good this morning or just different? I actually like cold clafoutis, but it isn't ethereal the way it is when served just after taking it out of the oven.

                                                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                      I like it with prunes and cognac. Love them prunes (and that cognac).

                                                                                                                      I liked it both ways, although I think maybe I had a slight preference for the way it tasted right out of the oven - slightly lighter, puffier taste, not quite as eggy.

                                                                                                                      I hope you try it - I thought it was absolutely wonderful. And after my weird problems with the self-rising cake flour recipes in the Nigella book, this sort of brought my baking mojo back.

                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                        Well I hope our roles aren't reversed as I've had almost complete success with Nigella these past couple of months.

                                                                                                                        I certainly will try it with prunes and cognac. I've also made it with apples and Calvados. Mmmmmmmmm.

                                                                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                          I love Nigella, and have usually had really good luck with her recipes. I think the problem is this whole self-rising cake flour thing. I'm still going to try a couple more things from the book ... just things that do NOT call for self-rising cake flour.

                                                                                                                          apples and calvados ... mmmmmm.

                                                                                                                    2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                      Looks delicious LuLusMom! Thanks for reporting on this - I had it on the list, but your report made me move it up the list. I'm going to try it this weekend.

                                                                                                                    3. Braised Rice Soubise, Pg. 215

                                                                                                                      This was absolutely heavenly!! In a Dutch oven 1 1/2 lbs. of sliced large white onions and 1 cup of diced LW onions are cooked gently for about 10 minutes till they're soft but not colored. The Dutch oven is then removed from the heat, covered tightly with aluminum foil and baked at 350* for 30 minutes. When the Soubise is taken out of the oven it is left to rest, still covered for another 30 minutes. A small amount of cream and grated Gruyère are added, and after tasting for seasoning, chopped parsley and salt are added to finish.

                                                                                                                      I've never tasted anything like this. It was like the creamiest risotto I've ever had. The color was whiter then white and the aroma was out of this world. It became the perfect sauce accompaniment for the main dish of Zuni Chicken Bouillabaisse and sautéed chard,.

                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        confused and intrigued and not in reach of my book . . .
                                                                                                                        what is LW?

                                                                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                          I had to look it up, too. But it wasn't in the book. I'm guessing LW = "large white," although Goin never does--at least in my copy--specify that the onions be large. And once I read the ingredients I became really confused. Is it 1.5 pound of onions sliced *plus* one cup diced, or 1.5 pounds *total* consisting of 6 cups sliced and 1 cup diced?

                                                                                                                          You sold this one too well, Gio. Now we're all looking at the details so we can make it, too.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                            Oh Gosh - sorry for the confusion. Yes... I mentioned the Large White onion then just used the initials. Guess I won't do that again.

                                                                                                                            It's 1.5 llbs Large White onions *sliced thinly* then 1 cup of *diced* Large White onions. What happens is that the during the time frame of the cooking the onions cook down considerably and really become mush.... but a delectable mush generating a sauce. The rice is secondary giving a little thickness to the sauce. It's all about the onion sauce. Not the rice ... OMG - this was so good!!! And... from what I've read subsequently, this sauce can be used for just about anything savory.... flesh or vegetables. In all my days, I've never heard about it nor seen it on a menu.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                              got it, and got to my book, which says
                                                                                                                              it's a *total* of 1 1/2 lbs of onions (approx) -- 1 cup diced plus 6 cups thinly sliced
                                                                                                                              to 1/4 cup arborio rice (and a little gruyere, cream, parsley etc)
                                                                                                                              although I don't think it would make a difference one way or the other when you are cooking down so much onion. It's like the panade in Zuni.
                                                                                                                              Thx again Gio for pointing this one out!

                                                                                                                              (soubise is a velvety sauce made of onions, according to the internets...béchamel + onions = soubise. now can someone with a classic french cooking education give me the pretty name for a compound butter made with cheese, shallots, mustard and herbs?)

                                                                                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                Been taking a trip down memory lane with my old "Larousse Gastronomique" and "Paul Bocuses's French Cooking." Each has several pages (Larousse in index-sized type) devoted to compound butters. Not one has all four ingredients. Are you certain that the one you're thinking of has both mustard and cheese? I found a few with one but not the other; nothing with the two together.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                  thanks so much for looking it up!!
                                                                                                                                  the one I'm thinking of is just something I made, ate, enjoyed mightily
                                                                                                                                  (a chunk of stilton, around half a stick of butter, minced shallots, a wee bit of dijon, black pepper and fresh parsley. on pasta, but it seemed like something one would put on a steak.)

                                                                                                                                  must be Italian ; )

                                                                                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                          Thanks Gio. Never even glanced at this recipe and now, this is popping up straight to the To Make pile. Maybe for New Year's Eve or New Year's night.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                            I made the Soubise last weekend after reading about it here. It was indeed delicious, I loved the way the onions cooked down and became so meltingly sweet and tender.
                                                                                                                            I actually subbed the arborio rice for a short grain brown rice (Massa from CA)and was thrilled it still cooked up creamy. I used the full amount of butter but halved the salt, 1 tsp seemed plenty to me, I've noticed I need to cut back in most of Goin's recipes.
                                                                                                                            It was so easy, and largely unattended.
                                                                                                                            Some how I forgot to add the cream and cheese at the end, completely forgot, and didn't miss it a bit. My first senior moment, I suppose!
                                                                                                                            We enjoyed it with lamb chops and brussels sprouts, which I lovingly separated into leaves. The texture of the onion/rice dish really worked well with the brussels this way.
                                                                                                                            The next morning I warmed up a T. of the Soubise before adding my whisked egg for a nice scramble. Looking forward to lots more ways to use up the 1 1/2 c we have left over.
                                                                                                                            Love the onions with rice aspect, satisfying but not a ton of starch!

                                                                                                                          2. For a New Years Eve Dinner I made the following dishes:

                                                                                                                            Warm Kabocha Squash Salad with Dandelion, Bacon, Roncal, and Pecans (pg. 237)
                                                                                                                            This salad was time consuming, but very worth it. It's similar in feel to warm spinach and bacon salad. I substituted mixed field greens for the dandelion greens because I prefer more greens in my salad, and compensated by making additional vinagarette to dress the greens. It was delicious with the lardons, pecans, cheese, and squash, but actually very rich and heavy, and probably not a great choice for the chicken dish I served it with. I would have preferred a lighter salad with my menu. I substituted manchego for the roncal because I couldn't fine it. I also made all the components in advance, and then reheated them before serving.

                                                                                                                            Braised Chicken with Saffron Onions, Italian Coucous, and Dates (pg. 249)

                                                                                                                            This was about the 4th or 5th time I've made this dish, so I feel like I've got the process down a bit. Through trial and error, Ive learned to cut the braising time down a bit so that the meat doesn't overcook when I'm reheating it. I braised the chicken in the morning for 1 hour and 15 minutes, then let it cool on the stovetop for about 20 minutes. I then chilled until close to dinner time. Right before my guests arrived I took it out of the fridge and degreased it, then let it come to room temp. I then put it in the oven just long enough to warm the broth, then followed her instructions to brown the chicken on a baking sheet and reduce the brasing juices. The first couple of times I made this dish it was good, but I felt like the chicken was a little overdone. Now that I've got the process down it comes out perfectly. I also substituted isreali couscous for italian couscous and it turned out just fine, although I have to say I absolutely love the italian couscous with the dish. It's got a nuttier flavor that goes perfectly with the onions and and dates.

                                                                                                                            I served the chicken with Barefoot Contessa Green Green Vegetables from the Barefoot at Home book. This is a great, light green vegetable dish that is perfect when you need something crisp to balance the richness of the other dishes. I make it so much its become a running joke (here comes the 'medley' again!)

                                                                                                                            Vanilla Pot de creme with Chocolate Sables (pg. 235)

                                                                                                                            This was actually the hit of the night, and suprisingly the guys loved it. I served it in small coffee cups, and with the size of cups I used I only had enough for 4 cups. I served 2 cookes per person, which is what the recipe ended up yielding, so I went ahead and served them on the side. The combination of the deeply chocolately cookies and the custard was delicious. The cookies weren't too sweet, and the pot de creme was surprisingly light. I would highly suggest this as the perfect light ending to a meal with lots of strong flavors.

                                                                                                                            1. Potato-Bacon Gratin

                                                                                                                              Wow! I thought nothing could be more rich than Potato Gratin! This dish was such a success that the next time around, I made it with sweet potatoes. I hate to toot my kitchen timer, but it may have been even better...

                                                                                                                              1. Vanilla Pot de Creme, pg 235.

                                                                                                                                Another rip-roaring success from Sunday Suppers.

                                                                                                                                I had problems straining the custard; I only had a fine nylon mesh one, so I just did not strain it, and it was completely fine.

                                                                                                                                It took longer than 30 minutes for me, more like 40.

                                                                                                                                1. We were having some friends over to dinner on Saturday, and since we happened to have a dozen quail in the freezer, my husband decided to make the Grilled Quail with pancetta, ricotta pudding and Sicilian breadcrumbs. This was ab absolutely spectacular meal, and it is definitly going into rotation as a dinner standard. My DH was very dubious about the ricotta pudding because he felt it would be far too plain, but it was delicious. The one slight hiccup was that the puddings colapsed a bit when they came out of their cups. Also, my husband felt that he would like to make more spinach than the recipe calls for to have more of a bed for the quail. Everyone -- myself included -- felt it was absolutely delicious as it was. Looking through the posts for this book, I'm really surprised that no one has posted about this yet. It is a great dish.

                                                                                                                                  1. The spiced pork stew was fantastic. I used 2 lbs of fatty pork shoulder and it turned out amazingly tender. The spicing was great, as well. I didn't pick up the flavors of the fennel, even a day later. I thought the parsnips with the gremolata were very tasty, but I didn't care for the turnips as much.

                                                                                                                                    1. Farro with Butter and Parsley, p. 225

                                                                                                                                      This is a simple recipe for a farro pilaf. A bit of onion is sautéed in olive oil with aromatics of a cinnamon stick, dried chili, bay leaf and thyme leaves. Farro is toasted, salt added, then water added, bring to a boil, then simmer till done. Drain the farro and toss with parsley and butter (the recipe called for 4T but I used 2 (it is a weeknight after all). This is a nice side for a saucy main course (she served it with a Tunisian- inspired stew). I liked how the farro was gently infused with cinnamon, but I think I would like it better if I added less water so that it became entirely absorbed by the farro. There was a lot of flavor in that water, so it seemed silly to toss it down the drain.

                                                                                                                                      1. Potato Tomato Gratin, p. 221

                                                                                                                                        This was yummy! I made a half recipe, which cut the prep time considerably. Start by caramelizimg onions. While the onions cook, thinly slice potatoes and put them in a bowl with s&p, fresh thyme, and a bit of heavy cream. Thinly slice tomatoes, salt and pepper them. Build the gratin with a layer of caramelized onions, then alternating potatoes and tomatoes, more thyme, sliced fresh basil (or parsley in my case), then do it again, then pour the cream and olive oil over. All went smoothly and mine looked just like the picture in the book until I realized I had forgotten to add the second layer of onions! So I had to peel up my potatoes and tomatoes and tuck the onions underneath, and it wasn't so pretty by the time it was done. Still tasted great though. This gratin bakes for 21/2 hours so it definitely isn't an after work meal, but it is rich and delicious (though much lighter than a regular all-potato gratin). She paired it in the book with grilled tuna, but I think it would be great with lamb. We had it though as the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.