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Apr 30, 2007 06:50 PM

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

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  1. Corn soup with avocado cream and cilantro (p 180)

    I made this last summer, and found the soup labor intensive, but tasty. The flavors are much more pronounced when the soup is cold, and obscured when the soup is heated. The avocado cream is simple and lush (my adaptation was to use greek yogurt instead of creme fraiche) and made a delightful topping.

    1. For dessert last night I made the Almond Financier with Nectarines and Berries. The cake itself is easy to make - I couldn't find almond meal, knew it was different from almond flour, but went home and found in my refrigerator what I think were ground almonds (no label!) - but not blanched as called for - and so used it anyway. I did discover after I started making the batter that it is supposed to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour, but fortunately I had the time to do so. I also only had an 8" pan, not a 9" one, so I just put in a little less batter. It was done in 40 minutes as indicated - it wasn't quite even in thickness, so next time I'll take more care in smoothing out the batter in the pan before putting it in the oven. The cake has a lovely almond/vanilla flavor, and I liked the addition of honey. It's rich without being heavy. No decent nectarines, so I bought some lovely small apricot/plum hybrid, and mixed the slices with raspberries. The addition of the creme fraiche to the unsweetened whipping cream gives a nice tartness that complemented the cake. Definitely a winner and I'll be making this again - I haven't been baking much over the last year or two, and this is a quick and easy cake to serve with all sorts of summer fruits. Would also probably be nice with some lemon or orange zest.

      Just had a slice for breakfast - perfect with coffee!

      4 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        I too have made the Almond Financier cake and was bowled over - it is incredibly good - dense crumb, definite almond taste without that overly sweet almond paste flavor. It is amazing plain or with almost any fruit.

        1. re: celeste

          Did you use the almond meal called for in the recipe? I think made from blanched almonds? I wonder what would happen if I used almond flour, which is easier to find, or just ground the almonds myself in the FP.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I did use the almond meal - it was very fine in consistency. I happened to be at a store that had some a few weeks before I made the recipe.

        2. re: MMRuth

          I love these financiers! They are so easy and the brown butter is a great idea. Best fresh out of the oven or toasted. I make them in a muffin pan, one recipe is good for a dozen, and the recipe is easily halved for those trying to watch their waistlines.

          I ground my own blanched, skinned almonds. Any commercially ground almond meal will do fine.

        3. Green Goddess Salad with Romaine (p. 126)

          Well, right out of the box, my first recipe for this month was a winner, even with all the changes. I had some romaine and avocado, and thought this would be a great salad to go with a spur-of-the-moment Baked Stuffed Lobster (recipe linked below) dinner.

          It's two steps - making a homemade mayonnaise (egg yolk and oil) and then adding a herb mixture - and tossing with Romaine and avocado (and cukes which I didn't have).

          For the herb puree, I used minced chives, garlic, salt-packed anchovies, lemon juice, olive oil, and instead of the mix of herbs, what I had on hand which was arugula (about 2 cups). I accidently added 3/4 cup of oil to the mayonnaise instead of 1/2 cup, but it still turned out delicious. Whisk the herb puree into the mayonnaise with champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. I tossed it with chopped Romaine and sliced avocado. We loved it. It was so good, l might just stick to the arugula version I made. As she mentions, this lemony dressing would be good on everything - as a sandwich spread, a dip for grilled shrimp, on fish, etc.

          Baked-Stuffed Lobster recipe:

          10 Replies
          1. re: Rubee

            Another delicious use for the dressing.

            Had some leftover lump crabmeat from the lobster stuffing so decided on crab quesadillas. Mixed the crab with chopped roasted poblanos, cilantro, and some Penzey's adobo seasoning. I was going to add some lime juice, but instead added spoonfuls of the lemony dressing. Excellent. It was a great combination and made some tasty quesadillas, and would probably have made nice crab cakes too.

            1. re: Rubee

              I can see why Rubee loves this dressing. I do too and I even messed it up. It was still delicious.

              I also used arugula instead of watercress. I did have parsley and chives so I also threw that in to the dressing. Where I made the both is in the mayo part. Instead of just the egg yolk, I threw in the whole egg. I even wondered why it wasn't thickening as much. When I was waxing poetically to a friend about the wonders of the dressing, I smacked myself in the head and realized my mistake.

              I've been making various salads using this dressing and it tastes good with everything. I've been thinking of putting the dressing into half an avocado but that could be a dangerous road.

              FYI, this would taste good on an old tire. Any vehicle to go from bowl to mouth is fine with me.

              1. re: Rubee

                Question for those who have made the Green Goddess Salad Dressing:

                I just made this, and it is delicious. I have lots of left over fresh herbs and would like to put them to good use. I'm thinking of making a big batch of the puree to freeze, and then add mayo to the defrosted mix on an as-desired basis. Do you think the puree would freeze well, or will I be wasting time and ingredients? Thanks in advance!

                And I admire those who were able to make the mayo themselves. I had three failed attempts. Gave up and bought fancy mayo at D&D.

                Many thanks.

                1. re: jens

                  My mayo attempts have tended to be disastrous. A friend told me one huge key is that all the ingredients are room temperature, which Goin does not suggest. Did you try it that way?

                2. re: Rubee

                  I finally made this and it was fantastic. I had to use a white wine vinegar instead of the champagne vinegar, and scallions instead of chives (we were on vacation and some things just weren't available). I think it would be even better with the ingredients called for. The next day I made deviled eggs and used some of the dressing for the filling along with the egg yolks and a little mayonnaise and we all loved them.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Green Goddess Salad with Romaine (p. 126)

                    Well, this was a disaster for me, and I'm not sure what my problem was, but I'm sure it was mine and not the recipe's given the glowing reviews here. I've made mayo before, but always using the cuisanart. But I figured it wouldn't be a problem. Wrong. I used the cuinsanart to do all the herbs/watercress, and used my whisk and a metal bowl to make the egg/oil emulsion. I noticed later that the recipe called for grapeseed oil, and I used olive, but surely that can't have been the problem. I whipped and whipped and on and on, and it still just really wasn't taking. I did the whole 1/4 cup first slowly part, and thought it *might* be starting to firm up, but ... anyway, I eventually transfered it to my mini-prep, and STILL it didn't really get to the right consistency. I made the dressing anyway with the not quite right mayo. Husband and daughter loved it, so all was not lost. I thought it had a weird, wet dog sort of scent/taste to it. Again, my fault, but when a recipe takes as much time as this one does (all that chopping, separating leaves, etc.), you really want it to be great. Anyone have any ideas why it didn't work out? Was it the olive oil? Just bad luck?

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      I'm not sure if this is directly on point with your recipe, but according to Julia Child:

                      "You will never have trouble with freshly made mayonnaise if you have beaten the egg yolks thoroughly in a warmed bowl before adding the oil, if the oil has been added in droplets until the sauce has commenced to thicken, and if you have not exceeded the maximum proportions of 1/4 cup of oil per egg yolk. A mayonnaise has turned when it refuses to thicken, or, in a finished mayonnaise, when the oil release itself from suspension and the sauce curdles. In either case, the remedy is simple.

                      Warm a mixing bowl in hot water. Dry it. Add 1 tsp of prepared mustard and 1 T of sauce. Beat with a whire whip for several seconds until they cream and thicken together. Beat in the rest of the sauce by teaspoons, thickening each addition before adding the next. This always works. Just be sure you add the turned sauce a little bit at a time, particularly at first."

                      -- MTAOFC, Vol. 1, p. 88.

                      1. re: DanaB

                        Thanks DanaB - I definitely didn't warm the bowl. Maybe next time. I appreciate your help.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          In her book "The Way to Cook" she also has a FP method that works well - let me know if you want the directions.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            MMRuth, I've missed you around here! I *think* I have that book, pretty sure. Finding it amonth the ever-growing cookbook pile here is the only problem.

                  2. Okay, as part of a light supper before watching the Sopranos tonight, we kind of jumped the gun seasonally and made the "Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata, Torn Croutons and Opal Basil," (p. 135). I reported on the other dish we made (the Fava Bean Puree, p. 68), under the spring menu section.

                    We got some early tomatoes from the farmer's market in Los Angeles -- although they will only get better as the season goes on, this was definitely a GREAT use of good tomatoes. We are also lucky to have a good source of burrata cheese in the area (we got it from the Cheese Store of Silverlake, for anyone interested).

                    Needless to say, this recipe is fantastic! I pretty much followed it to a "T," with the exception that we didn't have access to heirloom tomatoes this early in the season, so used standard red tomatoes, yellow tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. I also didn't have "opal" basil, only genovese basil I grow in my garden, so used 4 T. of the regular basil rather than the 2 T. opal basil and 2 T. green basil called for in the recipe.

                    I highly recommend that everyone try this recipe once they can get their hands on good tomatoes. Oh, and I think it would be almost as good with buffala mozzarella for those who don't have access to burrata -- that was going to be our fall-back if we couldn't find fresh burrata.

                    Here are pictures of the dish in the serving dish and as prepared on the plate (with the fava bean puree on garlic toasts and some roasted cauliflower):

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: DanaB

                      DanaB, that looks absolutely delicious! I will try that recipe when tomatoes are in full force. Your fava bean crostini also look brilliant. Great, now I will have to consider buying this book...

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I have been having very good luck with tomatoes (from BerkBowl) that are called Romanitos or somesuch. They have been delicious. Also, if you want to spent $4/lb you can get those dark reddish brown and greenish tomatoes (can't recall the name) -I bought one last week and it was very good. I've made our summer breakfast staple several mornings recently - chopped tomatoes, green onions, cukes, parsley, red pepper flakes, crumbled feta served in a pita.

                        1. re: Carb Lover

                          Now that tomato season is in full force and I picked nearly 50 lbs. of tomatoes from a local farm this past weekend, I finally got around to trying Goin's riff on panzanella!

                          I used a combo of heirlooms and sungolds and didn't have burrata so used fresh mozz instead. Lemon basil added a nice touch, and I did sneak in some roasted beets from our CSA box. The vinaigrette went very well w/ the tomatoes, and the toasted bread soaked up all the sexy juices. The only thing that could make this better is the burrata. Make this before tomato season slips away...

                          PS. MMRuth and COTM devotees: I would love to revisit this book for COTM! Everytime I peruse the book and these old threads, I'm reminded of all the exciting dishes I have yet to make!

                          1. re: Carb Lover

                            <I would love to revisit this book for COTM! Everytime I peruse the book and these old threads, I'm reminded of all the exciting dishes I have yet to make!>

                            I agree! I just noticed your post, and MMRuth's reply re: Green Goddess Dressing, and it reminded me not only of all the dishes I still want to try, but all the ones I loved that I want to make again.

                            Hmmm...I think I'll go through the book tonight and make something this week.

                            1. re: Rubee

                              I would love to revisit the book as you mention. I have a copy and haven't used it yet. And everything looks good.

                              1. re: karykat

                                In last month's COTM suggestions thread I suggested that we might want to consider doing a group of the books again - you're welcome to suggest that any time.

                                And, yes, this is a fabulous book.

                              2. re: Rubee

                                I love this cookbook. It is hands down my favorite of the past several years. Everything I have made from it has been a big hit, with both me and my diners.

                                Hmmmm I have an abundance of herbs. Will have to look into that Green Goddess!

                                Yes, I would love to have this book reprised as COTM!

                                1. re: ChefJune

                                  Goin is known as my husband's girlfriend at our house! We've both loved pretty much everything I've made, except for a couple of baking failures.

                          2. re: DanaB

                            I made this a few days ago and love this salad. I like the homemade crutons. I actually used sourdough bread for them as I had that instead of the country white bread which the recipe calls for. They were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but I had to leave them in the oven a few more minutes than the recipe called for. Both slicing and quartering the tomatoes adds an interesting element to the dish.

                            1. re: DanaB

                              DanaB's beautiful pictures inspired me to make this salad, and this weekend I had an opportunity to bring it to a friend's get-together at his boat dock last night.

                              I bought burrata from a local source in our North End at Salumeria Italiana, and used an assortment of tomatoes from Whole Foods. The bread for the croutons were from Iggy's, and I bought a purple basil "Red Robin" plant last week at the farmer's market. Didn't have fresh oregano so I used a bit of dried with the garlic and salt in a mortar. This is then mixed with both red wine and balsamic vinegar, and olive oil to make the dressing. Will definitely make this again. In fact, carrying it down in the elevator sparked a conversation with two women who then wrote down the name of the cookbook so they could buy it. Talk about the dish selling the book!

                              1. re: Rubee

                                Rubee, this dish was really fabulous. The multi colored tomatoes were just beautiful and the burrata was so rich and creamy. Yum!

                                1. re: gini

                                  Aww, thanks Gini! Glad you liked it. I'll definitely make this again and again, especially in August when we get some great tomatoes. It's going to be one of my go-to dishes when asked to bring something....

                                2. re: Rubee

                                  Your photos are really lovely, too!

                                  From the looks of it, this book has turned from the book for "May" to the all-the-time book. I had to return my copy to the library last week and boy, was I sad to see it go. I'm pretty choosy about adding books to my cookbook library (I have so many already so it's got to be special), but I think Suzanne Goin's book has earned its place :-)

                              2. Grilled Bluefish wrapped in pancetta with yellow tomato sauce and aioli (pg. 154)

                                Overall, this was a fairly quick recipe (it's all relative, isn't it?).

                                To start off, summer has hit full force here in New England. Given the temperature, there was no way any "cooking" was going to happen, so I was looking for a "grill" recipie. While we have the weather, we still don't have the produce so I made everything with either red ugli heirloom tomatoes or red hothouse tomatoes. There was no yellow tomato sauce going on.

                                I also fudged a bit with the measurements. I didn't want to make bluefish for 6 since there are only two of us. Instead of 36 oz of bluefish, mine was less than a lb. I marinated the fish with lemon zest, thyme and parsley. I then wrapped two slices of proscuitto around the fish and it sat in the fridge for about 7 hours.

                                Later, I sliced up 2 heirloom tomatoes and seasoned it with fleur de sel, pepper, olive oil, red wine vinegar, shallot, basil and parsley. This marinated for about an hour.

                                I also made the tomatoe sauce which called for skinless, seedless tomatoes sauteed lightly with an onion and salt. I didn't buy enough tomatoes for the sauce so it was fairly skimpy. Consequently, I'm not sure my version added anything to the dish, but it certainly didn't detract from it. FYI, in the picture, the sauce is not visible. I bought too many heirlooms mostly because I was really excited to see them.

                                Lastly, I made the aioli. I think this wasn't necessary to the recipe because the fish was wonderful without it.

                                The dish overall was great. The flavors permeated into the fish, esp the lemon zest. The pancetta was nice and crispy and a great contrast to the bluefish itself. The whole dish was a taste of summer and I'm eager to try this recipe with a the yellow tomatoes to see the contrast in colors.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  That looks wonderful - I've not tried any of her fish dishes yet - other than the crab salad. Wish I had a grill ...