The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Vegetables
January 2008 Cookbook of the Month, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert.
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I'm surprised to read that. I haven't cooked a lot from this book, but the two recipes I did try (Pork Coddled in Olive Oil with Tuscan Beans and Arugula and Slow Roasted Rack of Lamb) were both wonderful. For me, it's mostly cold weather, company coming food so I haven't had much opportunity to explore it. But my two experiences have left me with very positive thoughts for the book.
Oven Baked Cauliflower with Yogurt Garlic Sauce (pg. 244)
This was ok. Not quite worth the minimal effort it took. It's a simple recipes but there are a lot of steps for the preparation of the cauliflower.
1. Soak head in vinegar for 5 minutes.
2. Steam head.
3. Chill head.
4. Cut head into pieces and place into an oiled dish.
5. Bake head with topping (3 (!) beaten eggs, 1.5 cups sheep cheese, lemon juice and parsley and only 1 T of bread crumbs).
6. Flowerets are served with a yogurt garlic sauce (yogurt, garlic and salt).
I think the proportions for the topping were off. It was really eggy and not bready enough. I actually added more bread crumbs then called for and it still wasn't enough. Reading the description, it sounded like it would be crispier. But, the end product was more of an eggy cauliflower (on the bottom of the pan, there was baked egg adhered to the bottom of the floweret.). I wonder if the recipe should have been one egg to 3T of bread crumbs.
If you wanted to make this, prep the head the night before and keep it in the fridge. Once those little steps are completed, the recipe is a snap to put together.
Here is a pic of the dish, sans sauce.
Golden Potato Gratin - page 265
In this dish you slice some yukon gold potatoes very thinly using the mandoline, put them in overlapping rows in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then prepare the sauce - milk, eggs, flour, s & p, and cheese. I used gruyere, although the recipe says French Chaource, or California Teleme, or Mozzarella. I happen to like gruyere. You pour that over the potatoes and put back in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes. The top gets brown and crusty, the edges are crispy and the potatoes are soft and tender. What's not to like?
I made the potato cabbage gratin and it turned out great. Cabbage is parboiled and then chopped and mixed with some chopped Serrano ham and garlic, juniper berries and fresh thyme and bay leaves (ham and all are sauteed for a bit in olive oil and then mixed into the cabbage). Sliced potatoes are spread on top of the cabbage, s&p are sprinkled, the baking dish is covered with foil and baked. When it's pretty much done, you remove it from the oven and pour over milk/cream and chopped gruyere cheese, then bake sans foil until the top is brown and bubbly. Amazing.
I made it for a dinner party Sat. night and it was a huge hit. Several people gasped when I said that cabbage had been one of the main ingredients. They all HATED cabbage, yet the baking dish almost needed no washing due to their scraping every last bit off the sides.
Casserole of Black-Eyed Peas with Fennel and Tomatoes
This was a lovely foil for grilled bluefish. I added more than a "tiny pinch" of fennel seed, and about a teaspoon of grated orange rind. This is also a very pretty dish. It could stand on its own as a vegetarian main.
I love this dish--maybe my favorite and most frequently cooked one in the whole book. Orange zest sounds like a great idea. I usually use twice as much chard leaves as she calls for because they cook down so much anyway, and who wants to have a few lonely leaves of leftover shard in the fridge? Same thing with the tomatoes or the fennel--an overabundance of either does no harm to the finished dish. I usually have it over brown rice as a weeknight dinner. I'm making it as I type this!
Sounds excellent. I received this book for Christmas after cooking from it last January (I think it was the one I cooked from most of the 2008 COTM selections). Just tonight I was paging through deciding on a few side dishes to prepare for someone I love* * * I am glad to read these reviews and to turn back to a former COTM thread for inspiration. When I've made black-eyed peas before, I have been like Eh, not so exciting. But this sounds like a great preparation. YUM. I also really like chard and seek more ways to use it... plus I am always up for a great weeknight dinner!
Tomorrow I am making the asparagus in parchment pouches with caper mayonnaise (p 236) No reviews yet on that recipe. I bought the parchment today and I think I'll also use it for some fish-in-a-packet from Fish Without a Doubt.