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Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Spring 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 Spring 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.

Thanks for participating!

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  1. Hi everybody. This is my first time participating in this cookbook club, and it looks like I picked a great month to start! The first recipe I tried was the endive salad with meyer lemon, fava beans and oil cured olives. Wow, it was fantastic. The creamy sauce created a wonderful contrast to the bitter endive. Take Suzanne's advice and eat it with your fingers!

    7 Replies
    1. re: kennedy

      The swiss chard tart with aged goat cheese is fabulous! Because it's just 2 of us, we can't do the entire menus, but the tart was great with a salad and fruit for dessert.

      As far as modifications, I used regular whole milk ricotta from the grocery store and drained it well, and made homemade creme fraiche. Splurged on the goat cheese.

      1. re: zataar

        Continuing on with Menu 1, last night I made the hawaiian snapper with green rice and cucumbers in creme fraiche. It came together very nicely and I would highly recommend this entire menu.

        I was a little worried when I started because my fish monger did not have hawaiin snapper so I had to substitute red snapper. He assured me it was even better but it looked so flat when I bought the fillets I wasn't sure it would cook for the same time.

        Once I put the fish in the hot pan it plumped right up and looked surprisingly like the picture on page 38! The fish was very flavorful, even without the sauce, but the lemon and drizzle of olive oil were key.

        We also really enjoyed the rice, though I must warn you it was far more work than I anticipated, so leave enough time when you plan to do this menu.

        The creme fraiche was somewhat blander than I was expecting. Next time I am going to try to substitute yogurt and see it that creates a better balance.

        1. re: zataar

          I keep wanting to make some of the puff pastry tarts in her book, but I'm wondering why she says to assemble them in the morning and then bake later? She doesn't specifically say "this can be assembled ahead of time" and I'm wondering if there is any reason why it needs to be? Or can I just go ahead and follow the instructions and stick it in the oven? TIA

          1. re: MMRuth

            She calls for real puff pastry in her recipes so the pastry may need to chill a bit after the tart is prepared. Shouldn't take more than an hour. Other than that, I can't imagine a reason why it couldn't be baked sooner.

            1. re: JudiAU

              Thanks - I found two packets of Dufour pastry dough in my freezer and really want to make some of these - I was aware of the "rechilling" - glad to know I don't need to do all day. Since I work at home mostly, this would be a good midafternoon break to put it together, then cook at dinner time.

            2. re: MMRuth

              SWISS CHARD TART

              I’ve made every one of the tarts in the book, and begun making variations on them all, I love them so much. Once you get the hang of them, these are quite easy. I always make a large batch of the ricotta base, so I can make a series of them over a week. One thing I learned that is quite important: don’t overload them. When I first started making them, I loaded them up with ingredients… you can’t have too much great topping right? (The same for the ricotta base.) Sure they tasted fine, but the pastry was a bit soggy and drooped when you picked up a piece. If you do a lighter coating of the mixture and a healthy amount of topping without overloading the tart, it truly tastes better. Also, let it sit when it comes out of the oven for about 5 minutes before cutting it. This also helps the pastry be crisp.

              As MMRuth notes above, there is a comment in the book about preparing it in the morning. I think she just does this to indicate if you have a busy day, you can make it in the morning when you might have time and then the tart is ready to go when you get home from work, etc. I have done this often… even made them the day before, to save time for a larger party… and it works beautifully. I actually have two in the freezer right now. I wondered how they would do frozen. So the last time I made them, I put two up. I will let you know if they work well.

              1. re: Tom P

                Great tip about not overloading the tart, I am making a note in the margin of my book!

        2. Last night I made the the endive salad with meyer lemon, fava beans and oil cured olives, as an appetizer to a roasted duck dinner. Fabulous - a bit time consuming - blanching and peeling the fava beans, trying to slice Meyer lemons paper thin with varying results, pitting and slicing the olives, but all well worth it. The dressing is beautiful - I have some left over and am thinking about using it as a sauce for some poached salmon this evening. The dish is light, but with a wonderful contrast of flavors.

           
          1. Just after I first got the book and was looking for recipes that did not need advance planning, I made the Orrecchiette carbonara with english peas and pea shoots.

            I couldn't find any fresh peas, so used frozen, and no pea shoots to be found, so I omitted those. I did have some beautiful fresh eggs, and had coincindentally just bought some applewood-smoked bacon. The dish was delicious - and I liked the addition of peas and thyme to the traditional idea of carbonara. I found her "note" about adding the eggs rather confusing - about them being "warmed just enough to thicken them so they coat the pasta". At the time, I thought that she meant that I was supposed to warm the eggs first, but on typing out that phrase, I think she means that by adding the eggs to the pasta in such a way that that happens. But, all's well that ends well - a wonderful and quick Friday night supper in the country.

             
             
            7 Replies
            1. re: MMRuth

              Now I'm REALLY glad I'm making this dish this week! Looks delicious.

              1. re: Rubee

                Enjoy! I forgot to mention that I'd never had orchiette before and loved the shape - really "caught" all of of the delicious sauce.

              2. re: MMRuth

                Orecchiette Carbonara with English Peas and Pea Shoots, p.80.

                I made this tonight (chopping, grating cheese, and prepping everything earlier in the day). You're right MMRuth, I loved how the ears caught the sauce, especially the ones with chunks of pancetta or bacon in them! I used thick-cut applewood smoked bacon and ventreche from D'Artagnan, frozen baby peas, and bought a bag of pea shoots in Chinatown. They looked bigger/older than the picture at the beginning of the Spring section, so I used the tips. Carbonara is usually rich, but the greens really 'lightened' this and made it a pretty spring dish. I halved the recipe and thought it should have been saucier, but that's probably because I only had large eggs instead of extra-large. I also really liked the combination of both pancetta and bacon, of course.

                 
                 
                1. re: Rubee

                  I think I did have xtra large eggs, but don't recall it being particularly saucy - thanks for the pics of your ingredients - my pea shoots - the snow peas ones - had v. thin stems and much smaller leaves - almost like very delicate cress - the kind people use in tea sandwiches.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I think the ones you had are true pea shoots/sprouts.

                    The ones I've used are a misnomer I think. In addition to pea shoots, I've heard them called pea tendrils and pea pod stems. It's confusing so I thought this was interesting:

                    http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatinga...

                    Mine looked like this:
                    http://www.agrohaitai.com/images/bean...

                    1. re: Rubee

                      Yes - mine look like the ones in the first link ....

                2. re: MMRuth

                  Orecchiette Carbonara with English Peas and Pea Shoots – p. 80

                  I couldn’t resist a beautiful bundle of fresh, locally grown pea shoots on a visit to a gourmet grocery yesterday and was equally delighted to find this recipe to put them to good use. We love Carbonara and this version sounded magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish and will likely add peas to our Carbonara going forward as they compliment the flavours and textures of this classic dish perfectly. Like MMRuth and Rubee, we also loved the Orecchiette for its ability to cup the peas and the sauce. I’m getting hungry again just typing this!!

                  As MMRuth notes, the instructions around incorporating the eggs are a bit confusing. When making Carbonara I always bring my eggs to room temperature. In this case I followed my usual technique and simply removed the pan w the Orecchiette and bacon from the heat and incorporated the egg mixture. At that point the sauce was still a bit loose so I put the pan back on the burner on med-low heat for about 30 seconds until it thickened properly. By the time I brought the pan over to plate, the sauce was quite thick so I stirred in a little pasta water to loosen.

                  I particularly liked the idea of adding egg yolks to bring extra richness to the sauce and we all liked the freshness and crunch that the pea shoots brought to the dish, not to mention their vibrant colour. This is a special version of Carbonara and our friends said they preferred it to the typical preparation. I should note that I also added a little Aleppo pepper which was lovely in this dish.

                   
                   
                   
                3. For a Sunday lunch in the country - initially just for the two of us but some friends dropped by - I made the Dungeness Crab Salad with Avocado, Beets, Creme Fraiche, and Lime. I was inspired to make it because I'd bought a tin jumbo lump crab meat at Costco, and so used that instead of Dungeness Crab - which I really don't think I've seen here in NYC in the fish markets, though I'm sure it must be available. Fortunately the avocados I bought were good - no black spots. The only real "plan" ahead item is roasting the beets, and I did them the day before while cooking something else. I made a composed salad in a large bowl, and then served it from there. No photo sadly, but there's a wonderful contrast of colors and flavors - I think that is one of the (many) strengths of her recipes. Another dish that I would make again.

                  As a lunch main course for four people, there was just enough - maybe could have had a little more - probably the perfect amount for an appetizer for six. I used a pound of crabmeat rather than the 3/4 lb called for.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Made this today for a ladies lunch for two. Also used the Costco lump crap. Discovered after I cut into it that my avocado was past (waaay past) it's prime, so ditched it. Instead, I mounded watercress in the center of a chilled platter; scattered the roasted, seasoned beets around the watercress; piled the lumb crab tossed with the vinaigrette of shallots, jalapenos, lime juice, and olive oil on top of the watercress; and topped that with some creme fraiche, an additional sprinkling of the vinaigrette, and a few turns on the pepper mill.

                    Really sorry I didn't take a photo (new friend and I was inhibited) because friend, a decorator, kept going on and on about how beautiful the presentation was. And I couldn't have been happier with how all the flavors worked together. Perfect luncheon for a hot, humid, day--even if today was overcast and drizzly.

                  2. I think that my favorite dish so far is the Boeuf a la Nicoise: Braised Beef Stew with Red Wine, Tomato, Olives, and Buttered Noodles - p. 63.

                    I was unable to find boneless beef short ribs, and so boned them myself. I think I bought 3 lbs - since I was just cooking for two of us. The recipe calls for marinating overnight - mine ended up with a bit of a tortuous path - marinated overnight, then ended up having to take it home from the country due to impending storm, I froze the meat, brought it back to the country the next weekend, put in the refrigerator, and then brought it to room temperature the day I was going to cook it! Did not seem to suffer any ill effects from this. I also ended up braising it on the stove top, as the place where we were staying didn't have an appropriately sized pot that could go in the oven. I made sure to cover tightly with foil and then put the lid on. I've wondered here, and in some other recipes, about her use of balsamic vinegar. The only kind I have at home is an aged balsamic, and I can't imagined using 1/4 cup of it for a stew. My friend had a cheap bottle of so-called balsamic vinegar - the kind I'd never use, so I used a little bit of it and topped it up with sherry vinegar. Another point is that she calls for reserving the garlic and orange zest used in the marinade - I'd used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest, and then chopped it up - which of course made it a pain to "reserve" though I did pick through it. Next time I might try just using larger pieces of zest. However, the dish had the most wonderful orange flavor - really interesting, not overwhelming, but would just "hit you" at the right time in certain bites. I couldn't find any fresh paparadelle, but bought some horribly over priced Cipriani dried pasta ($5 for 1/2 pound - thought I was buying a whole pound, based on the size of the box!). I liked the fact that you toss the pasta with the braising juices. I'm getting hungry for this just writing about it! A real winner - for those spring days where there is still a chill in the air - and certainly a great winter stew with a lot of fresh flavors.

                    Edit - I also liked the addition of the baby spinach at the end - means that you really have a balanced one dish meal. The fennel was also an interesting ingredient that would not have occurred to me for a beef stew.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Hi MMRuth:

                      She mentions somewhere in the book not to use the aged vinegars - that she uses those only as condiments (she recommends cooking with the regular balsamic vinegar from Modena).

                      Wow - you've been cooking up a storm! I can't wait to try my first recipe.

                      1. re: Rubee

                        Ah - thanks - it had crossed my mind that she might have discussed that somewhere but didn't look it up. Some of this cooking was actually back in April, but I hadn't gotten around to posting until now!

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        I love this dish as well. I actually leave the bones on the ribs. I love them that way and I think it adds even more flavor. By the time it is cooked, some of the meat comes off the bone. You can just remove the bare bones, if you like. I love to serve it rustic style with the bones in the bowl, even if they are meatless. This truly is a great dish and, yes, the spinach at the end is a must.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          Darn, I didn't realize the spinach was a must.

                          We made the Boeuf a la nicoise tonight for a wine tasting evening. I really think that this is one of my favorite recipes from this book, along with the chicken Paillards and the persimmon arugula pomegranate salad. We forgot to do the tomatoes, and we didn't have fresh San Marzanos, so we roasted some of our heirloom garden tomatoes instead, we split them in half, salted and peppered them, drizzled with olive oil ad fresh oregano, and roasted them in a pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees farenheit. We also couldn't find good spinach today, so we skipped the spinach. We substituted Kalamata olives for the nicoise olives.

                          This recipe is made for wine! It was absolutely delicious with the Leon Barral Faugeres "Le Jadis" 2005, and Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" Chateaunneuf-du-Pape 1997. The recipe made two wonderful wines completely transcendent. I will definitely be making this dish again, as it really showcases wine perfectly. I love the saltiness of the olives, the tang of the orange zest, the sweetness of the roast tomatoes and buttery lusciousness of the noodles. What a marvelous dish.

                          1. re: moh

                            I think I've used arugula instead of spinach sometimes. So glad you liked the dish - reminds me to make it this fall as well.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              MMRuth, thank you for that suggestion! I bet arugula would be wonderful in this dish, it would add a lovely peppery note that goes well with citrus. It would be fun to try this with the arugula and a nice spicy peppery Syrah. I also think the green would add a very beautiful touch of colour to the dish, just as the tomatoes do.

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          I'm thinking of making this for a dinner party at the weekend. We've talked before about how short ribs are not routinely sold in the UK. Could I substitute any kind of stewing beef, do you think - I'm thinking that shin would be good for this recipe. Thanks.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            How funny - I just replied to your post on the GT board. I'm pretty sure you could use stew meat - I usually use what we call chuck.

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_steak

                            Edit: For some reason I thought you were thinking about making the braised short ribs. I have indeed made this dish with stew meat, and it's very good.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I used chuck in the end, which was what the butcher recommended. He said there was no point in boning out the short ribs.

                              Anyway, I thought this stew was sensational with a real depth of flavour. Perfect for a cold winter's evening. The orange zest (actually I used clemetine because my oranges were a bit old and tired) really made it sing.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                I just made this again over the weekend and we still love it! I had found a great deal on boneless shortribs at Costco, and the meat was very tender. Glad you enjoyed it too.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Those boneless ribs at Costco are fabulous. I also love the boneless pork ribs. This dish is one of my all-time faves, although I love the short ribs with horseradish cream, chard and mashed spuds the best of all.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    I'd never noticed them there before - about $15 for a little more than 4 pounds. I used half of them and froze the other half, which made the dish v. economical.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              Braised beef stew with red wine,tomato, olives and buttered noodles P. 65

                              This is a fabulous recipe; my guest raved about it and I loved it too.
                              Followed the recipe for the most part with a few changes here and there.
                              Due to lack of time, did not season the meat a day ahead, but simply put the ingredients in at the later step.
                              Also, did not bother to strip the thyme but just put the sprigs in whole and removed the 'sticks' at the end.
                              I also used bone-in (rather than boneless) short ribs and it worked out well, as the meat was falling-off-the-bone tender.
                              I made the full amount of everything - except the butter. Since I was only cooking for 2, there was just no way on God's green earth I was going to add 6 Tablespoons of butter to the sauce at the end. So I buttered the Pappardelle (enough for 2 people) with about a Tablespoon and used another half Tablespoon to thicken the sauce. It was more than enough for both of us and we both thought the stew was delicious. Surely the sauce would have been even more delectably silken with the full amount of butter, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
                              I did not really taste the orange zest and I'm sure it's because I skipped the season-a-day-ahead step - which next time I will do.
                              The leftovers just got better and better - this dish really tastes better the next day.
                              Will make this again in the very cold weather.