November/December 2009 COTM: Simon Hopkinson [Apr 08 revisited]
[We've taken the liberty of posting the "master thread" with links to the various threads for this COTM. Oakjoan - you are welcome to email us if you want us to add/replace text!]
FISH and SHELLFISH (Anchovy, cod, crab, hake, etc.) - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505098
MEAT - LAMB, PORK, RABBIT, STEAK and VEAL - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505162
BRAINS, KIDNEYS, LIVER, SWEETBREADS and the rest of the OFFAL - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505099
CHICKEN and GAME BIRDS (Grouse, etc.) - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505103
VEGETABLES (Asparagus, Cepes, Eggplant, Endive, Garlic, Parsley,etc.) - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505105
OLIVE OIL, EGGS and CHEESE - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505106
SWEETS (Custard, Cream, Chocolate) - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505107
SAFFRON - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/505108
Here's the link to the earlier discussion thread on this book:
Since that thread is already long and the month has just begun, it may make sense to continue discussion here, so that the thread doesn't become unwieldy. Lots of great tips there though for those who haven't seen it yet.
Hmm, I wanted to love this book, but it just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed the anecdotes, but the recipes either seemed too simple (like something I already cook not even using a recipe) or too fussy. Not that I mind working at recipes, but somehow, his didn't generally appeal enough to me. It strikes me that I felt similarly about the Elizabeth David book. Oh well, different strokes!
So I've returned Hopkinson to the library and am concentrating on All About Braising instead, which I totally love.
I know exactly what you mean. I love my little Hopkinson "Roast Chicken" and "Second Helpings" books--for the sweet illustrations, the charming anecdotes, and even the lovely paper in these editions. But the recipes just don't inspire me, probably because they are mostly very basic. These could, however, be useful and reassuring little books for beginners.
"The most useful cookbook of all time." That's what Britain's Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine said in 2005 about "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" after surveying English food writers, restaurateurs and chefs.
That excerpt is from the introduction to the book. When I cooked from this book when it was the sole COTM there were a few recipes we enjoyed but I just couldn't understand that praise. And, after my recent 2nd Roast Chicken fiasco I'm concentrating on AAB too.
While I think the whole "most useful cookbook of all time" business is head-scratching, I do love this little book, and made many great things from it. The rabbit with cream and rosemary, the smoked haddock and curry soup, the basque chiorro, the anchovy and onion tarts - all of these were stand outs. I did, however, ruin a pan with the roast onions. I wish I had more time to cook this month, but unfortunately I don't, so haven't really gotten to the batch of recipes still on my to try list.
Still and all, I can see your point, especially given the hyperbole that came with the book's publication. But I think there are some real gems in it.
Since I was (and am) such a huge fan of his, I'll try to moderate my thoughts. I agree that it is not the most useful cookbook of all time. I was completely enchanted by his writing. One thing that I found from cooking from his books is that I tried things I'd not made before - simple maybe, but new to me. Like the crepes - which are now my favourite vehicle for leftovers. His amazingly simple and successful recipe for Hollandaise Sauce. In his latest book, I made the mac and cheese - I had quibbles with it, but now make macaroni and cheese, withy my own twists, which I'd never made before. (Not that I need more pasta and cheese in my diet.)
To my mind, some of his very simple recipes are deceptive, because the end result is so fabulous. And, some of his more complicated ones are well worth the trouble. Though not in this book, his duck soup (using a carcass) and the Champagne Sea Trout are two of my very favorite dishes ever.
Edit - And, yes, I also wasn't a huge fan of his roast chicken recipe. The roast potatoes, on the other hand ... and the mashed potatoes with olive oil, and the ones with saffron, delicious.
Consider me a huge fan as well. But no matter how much I love this book (and the second helpings one) and no matter how charming I find the writing, I do have to admit that there are definitely more useful cookbooks. I was so thrilled when I made the pastry for the tarts, but ... reading his instructions wasn't as helpful as if I'd made pastry dough before. But (and this is a huge point in his favor) he was the one who enticed me to make that pastry, and to put those olives and anchovies and onions on it (and get HUGE praise from my husband). I think the trick with this book is to go beyond the obvious (no roast chicken, no roast onions, and for me, no asparagus vinaigrette which was just eh) and delve into the more british/euro oddities (to us at least).
I have to say, I haven't found his recipes to be that inspiring, but everything I've made from the book has been delicious. It may not be the most useful cookbook of all time, but given how skinny it is, there's certainly room for it on even my heavily-laden bookshelves.
I do confess, though, I cut back a lot on the quantities of fat his recipes call for. Still, delicious!
I'll have to give his hollandaise sauce a try. If it is good AND simple, that one recipe would make the book more than worth the investment (although I don't begrudge the modest investment in these books even if the recipes don't seem to inspire me; there are all kinds of reasons to love cookbooks, imo).
This discussion is one of the main reasons I love Chowhound. Where else could we get this give and take, this intensity of feeling.....about COOKBOOKS! I do have several friends who seriously cook and love to talk about it, but they never heard of Ottolenghi or Hopkinson or Rose Carrarini (unless I told them). Here, after a while, one gets to know the regular posters and their likes and dislikes and so doesn't have to start from the beginning each time.
I bought this book sight-unseen based on the mouth- watering posts by MMRuth and reviews I'd read. Then I got a little nervous as some people described hard to find ingredients or undoable recipes. But I have to say, I had a LOT of fun cooking from this book. I marked 28 recipes to try, and got to 11 of them during the month. Only 1 catastrophe (the roast onions) and 1 bomb (the choc. st. emillion), but the other things ranged from pleasant to absolutely spectacular (that basque fish soup and rabbit - or chicken for me - in rosemary cream).
Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed continuing to cook from this book. My only regret is that I didn't get into the offal beyond chicken livers, but next time I make it up to Arthur Ave., I'm going to buy some tripe and give it a whirl. Almost everything I made turned out very well, aside from the garlic soup, and the recipes were all ones that I'd make for "company", in addition to making for us again. The salmon w/ the ginger and currants is a real stand out for me, and I love his easy way of making hollandaise. Also really liked the crepes with asparagus and the mussel soup w/ saffron. I need to go through and cull some vegetarian recipes to make this month, to supplement Flexitarian!
I still have plenty to try too, and hope to do that some month when there isn't a CotM that I'm loving. I agree that most of these recipes are company worthy. And of course for me it was a really big deal to get that pastry made. I wouldn't have attempted it without this push.
. . . and because I'm still trying to take off a few pounds (or at least keep off the ones I've already taken), I haven't begun to explore this book in the way that I hope to. I have some sweetbreads in the freezer that are waiting for me. And I, too, want to try the tripe . . . and the kidneys . . . and . . . and . . . .
I'm glad this book got chosen as I probably would have never checked it out on my own. I was happy to see that my library has two copies so picked one up last week. First impressions: this is a charming little book with an engaging author and delightful illustrations. I found myself chuckling a few times at Hopkinson's opinions and stories.
The recipes are short and sweet which make them very approachable, but it will be interesting to see if there's enough detail for me and if the recipes do really work. I appreciate his inclusion of organs/offal, but probably won't delve into that. He doesn't skimp on the butter, oil or cream, so I may cut back to suit my taste. Recipes I've bookmarked to try, although I'll realistically just get to a few this month:
anchovy and onion tart
roast chicken (of course!)
poulet saute au vinaigre
cilantro and coconut soup
garlic and sorrel soup w/ parmesan croutons
olive oil mashed potatoes
crisp parmesan crackers (served w/ a dry martini as he suggests!)
slow-braised pork belly w/ soy, ginger and garlic
re: Carb Lover
Look forward to your participating! I've loved the poulet saute, the olive oil mashed potatoes (if you have or can get some fruttato - do try it with that - amazing) and the crackers. Another poster, I think on my thread about the book in December, highly recommended the pork belly dish, but I've not tried it yet.
I'd been meaning to post a couple of thoughts on this thread with "tips" from my cooking so far, so this is a good opportunity.
1. Some recipes, like the poulet, took longer than I thought - saute sounds quick to me, but I think the whole thing took about 1.5 hours.
2. In some cases, if I'm making something new to me, I've done some poking around in other books - like how to use the leaf gelatin for the Bavarois. Sometimes his methods seem unorthodox - the hollandaise for a salmon recipe - a couple of lines vs. two pages in MTAFC - but it worked out perfectly and was easy.
3. Soups - his recipes tend to make very "dense" soups, and I've thinned them out a bit at the end with more liquid.
4. Salt - as I'm sure you saw, he doesn't say how much to use - I'm still working on salting appropriately, and salt, taste and salt some more, etc., and sometimes it really "pops" the flavors in his dishes.
re: Carb Lover
i had gone through the book to see if there were any recipes i wanted to try and didn't find a one...but i must have missed the entire parmesan section, because those crisp parmesan crackers and the parmesan fritters sound yummy...i may just cook something out of this book yet...:o)
Quick question - I've made a couple of recipes from this book (and several of his others) since I got them in December. Wondering if it would be useful for me to cut and paste my comments about those on these threads, or if that is too outside the COTM "experience"? Just let me know!
Yay - we can get started. Here are the links that Gio, TDQ & I found on line:
ROAST CHICKEN & OTHER STORIES:
Jeremiah Tower's Montpellier Butter
Old-Fashioned Egg Sauce
Anchovy and Onion Tarts
Grilled Breasts of Chicken with Provencal Vegetables and Aioli
Petit Pot au Chocolat
Milk Chocolate Malt Ice Cream
Coriander and Coconut Soup
This recipe varies a bit from the U.S. one, which calls for 3T butter, ¼ cup sugar, ½ cup short grain rice, 3 ½ cups whole milk, ½ vanilla bean, ½ cup heavy cream, pinch of salt – instructions look the same – use 275 degrees for oven.
Eggplant Baked with Herbs and Cream
Salad of grilled aubergines with garlic cream dressing and basil
Nasu dengaku – Grilled Eggplant with Sesame – Recipe is quite different from the one in the US book though.
Potato Purée with Parsley
Ingredient list only in link – coarsely chop olives, mix in parsley, onions, capers and garlic. Chop anchovies (small pieces), mix w/ lemon rind, lots of black pepper, olive oil, mix w/ other ingredients, add lemon juice to taste, add thin slivers of Parmesan. In the book there is a recipe for biscuits to serve with the salad.
Piedmont Roast Peppers
Note, the book calls for dif. Amounts – 4 garlic cloves, 8 ripe tomatoes, 16 canned anchovies, drained, ½ cup olive oil, doesn’t mention basil, though that sounds like a nice addition
Pork Pieces and Bacon Bits
Prosciutto with Warm Wilted Greens
Poached Salmon with Beurre Blanc
Salmon in Pastry with Ginger and Currants
Roast shin of veal
OTHER SH RECIPES:
New Potatoes with Caviar
Salad of raw cepes with Parmesan and olive oil
Salad of Green Beans with Anchovies
Chili Crab Salad with Grapefruit and Avocado
Duck Soup - Ingredient List in a post further down the thread
Salmon with sorrel sauce
Smoked Haddock with Spinach and Chive Butter
Sea Trout in Champagne Sauce
Ray With Potatoes And Red Wine Vinaigrette - Original recipe calls for using Skate
Scallops Grilled in the Shell:
Roast Quail With Butter And Lemon
Roasted leg of rabbit with bacon and mustard sauce
Coronation Turkey – scroll down
Grilled Veal Kidneys With Creamed Onions And Sage
Cold ham soufflé with Cumberland sauce
Sirloin Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce
Apple and Horseradish Sauce – Nice with porkchops, so putting it here
Summer Vegetable Stew With Watercress and Mint - Vegetarian
Fried Eggplant with Chilli and Salad Onions - Vegetarian
Flamiche - Leek/Pastry Pie
Leek Pie - Vegetarian
Sticky Italian Rice With Herbs, Mozzarella And Parmesan - Vegetarian
Mushroom Cannelloni - Vegetarian
Garlic Mushrooms - Adapted from a book written w/ SH
Cepe Fried With Potatoes, Garlic And Parsley
Zucchini Custards With Pimiento Sauce - Vegetarian
Fried zucchini with skordalia - Vegetarian
Fagioli E Fagiolini Con Basilica
Clementine granita with "Mandarine" cream – made this granita - wonderful
White coffee ice-cream “For the finale, Simon bought along his own delicious coffee ice-cream. The recipe was given to him by the Cipriani Hotel in Venice and is a sworn secret, so I've come up with my own version.”
French Toast with Apples - I got a message about a security problem with this site
Pink Grapefruit Granita
Pain Perdu aux Pommes - in French
Hot Strawberry And Almond Pie