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  1. Asian Noodles in Broth with Vegetables and Steak (or Tofu) - (Spring menu 9, p. 85).

    I really liked this - very clean flavors, pretty, healthy, and easy too. My initial thought was to make it with tofu, but the poor husband almost never gets meat at home (don't worry about him too much - he eats out 2-3 times a week). So I thought I'd butter him up for the Flexitarian month with some meat, and in the end I think it was the right choice. The flank steak gives it a nice amount of chew that the tofu wouldnt' have done. It has a slight sweetness from the mirin - I found this really nice. He liked it a lot the first night, but his leftovers (served without the sesame oil and hot sauce recommended) made him think it was a little too sweet. For me this was a big winner from this book.

    11 Replies
    1. re: LulusMom

      That sounds great - we are actually "going veg" at home for May, so I see a lot of tofu in our future!

      1. re: MMRuth

        Then you really have to try that Tofu with Lemon, soy, white wine and butter sauce. That would be my way of pushing tofu on the unsure. But this soup was also really lovely, and definitely light.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I love that tofu with lemon, soy...etc. etc. I'm glad to hear the Asian Noodles soup was good, too.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I made this last night and really liked it, but my tofu didn't not look nice and brown like the one in the photo - did anyone else have that issue? I used extra firm rather than firm, but I can't see that making a difference ....

            1. re: MMRuth

              I'm glad you liked it... Here's a photo of mine, but...I used silken rather than firm! I have to say, it doesn't look that brown. The second time I tried it, I used firm (as the recipe calls for), but I don't really remember a big difference in the look. Only in texture, as you would expect.



              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Yes - mine looked like Beetlebugs - http://www.chowhound.com/photos/71998 - from the picture, I expected it to some how get nice and browned, though given the cooking method, unlikely to happen. I might try browning the tofu first next time, and then proceeding as he suggests.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  That looks browner than mine. I wonder if I'm doing something wrong--not letting it simmer long enough? (I'm not sure I actually care, though, I love it the way it is!)


              2. re: MMRuth

                Mine didn't get brown and crispy looking either. But I didn't find that to be a problem at all, taste-wise.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Did you try pressing the tofu first? I read somewhere that that's a way to help the tofu get more of a crust to it. Haven't tried yet. Excited to though.

                  1. re: bite bite

                    Yep, did the pressing - didn't seem to do much good in terms of making it crustier. Not a problem though.

        2. re: LulusMom

          Asian Noodles in Broth with vegetables (Spring menu 9, pg. 85)

          I really liked this. I didn’t use either tofu or steak, instead, I served this with the pressed chicken thighs (pg. 38). I especially l liked how easy this dish was and manageable after a busy day. I overcooked the snowpeas a bit because I underestimated the time it would take to finish the chicken AND I had doubts about the broth. I always am suspect about water based broths and the mirin smelled really sweet. But, once I put all the components together, there was a great balance of flavors. I put sesame oil, soy sauce, hot sauce and scallion in the bottom of the bowl, and then added the noodles and broth.

        3. Smoked Salmon/Sun-Dried-Tomato Croque Monsieur Page 50

          I'm not really sure this is where I should be posting this but I can't find anything else appropriate.....so here goes:

          I made my own oven-dried tomatoes using 5 halved cluster/on the vine organic tomatoes...seasoned with Kosher salt, FGBP, herbes de Provence, EVOO. Roasted them in a 300* oven for 4 hours then let them come to room temp. till I was ready to incorporate them into the sandwiches. I made two salmon/cheese & two tomato/cheese and I have to say I LOVED the tomato/cheese better. (I had one half of both - but DH scarffed all the rest... I just had to mention that.)

          Frankly, I did not have high hopes that these sandwiches would taste very good or be filling , but the intense flavor of each of the preparations proved me wrong. Now I can't wait to do tomorrow night's dinner. In fact I'm doing Sat. & Sun. from the COTM...
          I'll let y'all know how it goes.

          17 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Oh goody! I'm glad to hear that these worked out so well for you. Especially the sun-dried tomato ones, which I have on my try list - I have made the Le Bernardin smoked salmon ones and they are truly killer, so I wanted to try something different. I think it is amazing and kind of wonderful that those were the winners for you. What kind of bread did you use? I'm thinking I'm not likely to use the multi-grain he suggests....

            1. re: LulusMom

              I'm making this this weekend with the sundried tomatoes - so glad Gio liked them! I bought a loaf of organic whole wheat bread to use rather than multigrain.

              1. re: LulusMom

                The tomatoes were fantastic. Felt like summer. For some reason, the combination of salmon and emanthaler was just too salty...and I Love smoked salmon! I used artisan Italian Scali bread. It's a crusty bread with a nice soft tooth. I had the baker slice it on the machine. The multi-grain would have been difficult for me to digest. The mustard I used was a grainy Dijon. This recipe is a keeper!!

                1. re: Gio

                  The Le Bernardin recipe calls for a possible addition of caviar (we just used the cheap grocery store stuff), and talk about salty! Every time we've made it since we've left it off. But you're right - it is definitely a salty meal. You've got me really salivating for the sun dried tomato ones now. I like the idea of an italian bread for this.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    LLM: If you have a chance try oven-drying the tomatoes. You have no idea how intense the flavor is. Very easy to do...all you need is 4-ish hours at 300* in the oven, and you can use any combo of favorite herbs & spices. I never buy the jarred ones anymore

                    I think the next time I make the tomato & cheese sandwiches I'll add a few whole basil leaves. .

                    1. re: Gio

                      Do you use any particular kind of tomatoes? The stuff at the store right now is pretty tasteless.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Here in the northeast we buy a tomato called Backyard Beauty. It's a cluster/on the vine, organically and hydroponically grown It has a nice tomatoey flavor even in the Winter. Other times I might use a Roma or other type of on-the-vine cluster. Until I'm going to use them, I leave the tomatoes attached to the entire stem. I know others remove them, but I think they retain their flavor if left on the vine.

                        But I tell you, no matter which variety you buy, once they are dried, the flavor is intensified, since you are seasoning them agressively, as Mario would say.

                        1. re: Gio

                          I've done something similar and loved it (but it had a bunch of other things besides the tomato), so I will likely try your idea. LulusDad will be out of town a lot of this month, so time is going to be a little shorter than usual, but if I can find the time, I will do it! Thanks so much.

                        2. re: LulusMom

                          Agree with Gio. Just the other night I had some of those pretty tasteless tomatoes that I needed to use up and slow-roasted them with a bit of oil, s&p, and thyme for a shellfish stew. I didn't dry mine; just roasted for about 3 hours @ 250F. I don't know that I'd puposely buy crummy tomatoes just to roast them, but it is a great treatment that makes them a whole lot less crummy. Really quite good, in fact.

                2. re: Gio

                  This lunch, our second "vegetarian meal" in a row (he doesn't eat breakfast), led my husband to announce "One CAN eat very well vegetarian!" I used some marinated sun dried tomatoes from the deli counter at Citarella, and used 3 "halves" on each sandwich (using organic whole wheat bread from same). Though he doesn't call for mustard on the tomato sandwich, I thought it sounded wonderful and made one with and one without, and we both really liked the whole grain dijon mustard on it. Much as I love smoked salmon, I don't think I'd like it with the cheese.

                  I used my cast iron pan and I think I heated it up just a little bit too much as the first side got a little on the brown side. Weighted it down w/ the LC grill pan. I think I cooked about 2.5 minutes on one side, just over one on the other.

                  I served this with the Spring Greens in Dill Vinaigrette on the next page.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Looks beautiful. I'm glad to hear that your husband isn't feeling too miserable this month.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Ha ha! He immediately asked what was for dinner - I think I'm making the Tofu w/ Garlic/Mint, Risotto style brown rice & Shaved Spring Vegetables for dinner tomorrow night, and maybe the Navy Bean/Peas/Leek Soup for lunch tomorrow. One thing is that he is starved when he gets home from work, as he refuses to eat breakfast or lunch, and so I'm going to try and make some of the things in the 2nd menu (Yogurt Dip/tapenade/Stuffed Eggs/Bulgar /w Roasted Chickpeas) for him to nibble on during the week before dinner (instead of pate etc.!). I'm thinking maybe that Goat Cheese Frittata w/ the rice for dinner.

                      Edit: I told my husband your comment, and reminded him of how miserable he was during Vegetable Harvest month, and he said "But that was BAD book!"

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Good lord - I thought I was a good wife. Does he realize how lucky he is?? If something happens to him, will you marry me???

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Well, not SO good - we had the quinoa leftovers for dinner last night, in the end!

                  2. re: Gio

                    Made these sandwiches last night with oven-roasted tomatoes (just olive oil and salt) and I really liked them a lot. I don't like those oil-packed sun dried tomatoes in the jar much, so my eye would probably have skipped right over this recipe if you hadn't mentioned using oven roasted tomatoes! Thank you.

                    1. re: Gio

                      I made the sun dried tomato croque monsieur for lunch today, and must say: Yum!!
                      I used high quality commercial oil-marinated roasted tomatoes which I drained, chives from the herb garden, and a local NY Alpine-style cow's milk cheese which I sliced 'cause my comte had gone too hard. I sprinkled on black pepper, melted butter in pan, and weighted down per instructions. Hard to flip successfully (my quesadillas are nearly always a mess!) but worked out okay. I salted the finished product.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Finally got around to trying the Sun-Dried Tomato Croque Mousieur. I had planned to make Gio's roasted tomatoes for it, but at the last minute we (husband and I) got a chance to take the afternoon off and go see a movie so ... hopefully next time. Used some sliced sourdough bread, but otherwise stuck to the recipe, and liked it very much. Incredibly rich ... I wasn't even able to finish a whole sandwich.

                      2. Gratin of Cherry Tomatoes and White Beans/Sardines, page 54

                        I made both dishes again and of the two we liked the Gratin better than the sardines, but not my much In spite of the variety of ingredients there didn't seem to be very much flavor to either dish. Although the recipe for the Gratin calls for 2 cups of thinly sliced spring onions, I used a combination of spring onions, leeks and red onion. The addition of red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, thyme, garlic, parsley didn't seem to help...I even found day old sourdough bread at the farm where we shopped yesterday! DH is being quite a good sport with this COTM thing but made sure to tell me to scratch these dishes from the list. As the Raven spoke, "Nevermore."

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          Thanks for posting about this - do you think anything would improve it - could it have needed more salt? It looks so good in the photo! I'd be making the non-sardine version .....

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I definitely think it would benefit by the addition of more salt and anything else you can think of. I bumped up the amount of red pepper flakes called for.

                            Forgot to say I made steamed basmati rice, too.

                            1. re: Gio

                              I have found that some of the recipes need quiet a bit of salt to bring ou the flavor (particularly thinking of the zucchini rice soup). Shame about the gratin!

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                And the gratin is one that's probably hard to taste & salt as you go.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  Good point. I've found with gratins that they can fall flat tastewise sometimes.

                            2. re: MMRuth

                              MMR: I've made (and posted) about my results with the cherry tomato/bean gratin. We also decided that there was hardly any flavor in the gratin. It was also pretty dry. It may have been the tomatoes, but I did use Baja California plum and cherry tomatoes that tasted quite good raw. I dunno, maybe it needs some crumbled feta. As it's printed, the recipe doesn't do anything for me at all. PS: I don't think salt would help much, the lack of flavor is more basic. We both thought it was a loser.

                            3. re: Gio

                              I made this last night with canned beans and both red and yellow grape tomatoes. Based on the comments of other posters, I seasoned and tasted repeatedly while cooking the ingredients. I made half a batch, and used the full amount of red pepper flakes called for for a whole batch, and also added some chopped up sundried tomatoes leftover from the sandwiches. I thought that the bread crumb topping was really amazing - nice and crispy and lots of flavor - I probably used a little more parmesan than called for. While the tomato/bean part was v. flavorful, my husband and I agreed that it did lack a depth of flavor. My husband suggested that maybe it would make sense next time to add the beans earlier on, or to cook them in some stock first, as the beans themselves were pretty flavorless.

                              We nibbled on the Stuffed Eggs w/ Capers and Garlic before hand, and then I served this with the Aspargus & Fiddlehead Ferns with Garlic.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                This is one that I've been looking forward to trying! I wonder if making it with dried beans would improve the flavor at all. Hmmm. I am always looking for new ways to delight in beans AND tomatoes, so I thought this would be great. I may try with feta as suggested above as I have some fantastic French feta in the fridge. Or maybe adding some olives too?

                            4. Navy Bean, Fresh Pea, and Leek Soup, p. 49 (Not sure where this goes, but since I had it for lunch, I'm putting it in "Main" Courses!)

                              No photo as battery died, but it looked just like the soup in the photo, other than the peas, which were greener - I used baby frozen peas and really wanted to keep the vibrate color, and so I cooked for just about 2 minutes, and I used a different white bean (Great Northern? Couldn't find canned navy beans) that were larger. Quick and easy recipe - I did forget to add the mint w/ the leeks, so just added it w/ the peas and beens. I didn't use the bean liquid and rinsed the beans, per my husband's request, then just used water for the liquid. However, even after adding a bit more salt, the broth still lacked a certain depth, so I did "cheat" and add some Better the Bouillon (sp?) chicken stock - I'll buy some veggie stock for next time. I only added 1/2 cup of sauerkraut b/c I don't really like sauerkraut, but it melded into the soup nicely and added just a little acidity. I think I'd actually add more next time. My husband's comment was that it needed more beans, and next time I might just throw in the whole can, rather than just 1 cup of them. He suggested that I blend the leftover beans with some of the broth and add it to the leftover soup. This wasn't a "blow me away" soup, but very good, quick (total cooking time about 12 minutes), a taste of spring, and one that I'd make again.

                              I served it with an off-the-cuff and inauthentic huitlacoche quesadilla that we shared. My husband had ordered some jars of huitlacoche online last year and I'd been eying one all week, so bought some flour tortillas on Friday. I sauteed some chopped red onion leftover from making the FT tapenade in a little oil with a couple of thyme sprigs and added drained huitlacoche and some salt and heated through. I grated a combination of a mild cheddar that I'd bought at the farmer's market and leftover comte from the FT sandwiches. Layered the tortilla with half the cheese, sliced scallion greens, the huitlacoche/onion mixture and the rest of the cheese. Cooked in a preheated cast iron frying pan about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool just slightly on a plate and sliced and topped with chopped cilantro. If I'd thought of it before, I might have put in just a little charred jalapenos or something, but fantastic without it. No photo, but just imagine a quesadilla with huitlacoche melded with cheese oozing out of the edges and some cilantro sprinkled on top!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I didn't know what huitlacoche was so googled it. I think I like the other name better - corn smut! (I'm immature, so it made me laugh).

                                It doesn't sound particularly nice. What does it taste like?

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  It doesn't sound nice - it tastes like wonderful smoky mushrooms.

                              2. I made the crispy pressed chicken (no tofo), p. 38.
                                Flavorful and good, though technique is less than ideal. He has you sear chicken under pressed pan for 10 mins which was longer than I could leave before it burned. Turned heat down and cooked more and eventually just put into the oven (while Alice Waters' potatoes were roasting)
                                You are supposed to heat up the marinade, but since there was little left, I heated in sauce pan w/ vermouth. then just poured over chicken when it went into the oven.
                                Served w/ steamed asparagus.
                                I would try again, but w/ the adapted technique off stove/in the oven.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                  I made that dish with tofu last night, and caught your post just as I was cooking the first side - mine was a little burned on the first side, so I cooked for less on the other side. I'm noticing that when he calls for medium high heat, it tends to be too high on my stove - regardless of the size of the burner that I'm using. I didn't know where the oil was supposed to be coming from after the cooking - I had none (cooked it in a dry cast iron pan) - and took your suggestion and threw some rose from my glass into the pan, then added the marinade and sauced the tofu. I did like this dish, and preferred the texture of the tofu here to the one in the dish that uses wine and soy sauce. Served it with the "risotto" and salad in the menu.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    OK. I have a confession. I cannot follow a recipe...baking recipes I can follow for the most part, but when it comes to cooking improvising is just too much in the blood and I never end up sticking to the recipe!

                                    Made the tofu with lemon and mint last night. I found part way through the pan frying thzat I just wanted more flavor, so I ended up almost deglazing the pan with lemon juice and microplaned some ginger over it. Added some salt and tamari, so it ended up more like that tofu dish, but with mint and aleppo pepper. It was very good. I served to guests who all very much liked it. I served it with sauteed spigarello (kale relative) and a porcini mushroom risotto that got a bit gloppy from my poor timing.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      I encourage you to try the chicken -- it was even better the next day. The mint is a nice change of pace. And aleppo pepper is my new favorite spice.

                                      You ARE ambitious -- cooking the whole menu! How'd you like the salad? (or does that get posted elsewhere?)

                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                        I posted the salad in the other thread - I'm thinking now that maybe I shaved my vegetables too thin though. Chicken - we're using this book to do all vegetarian cooking this month - but next month I'll try it!

                                    2. re: NYchowcook

                                      I made this with chicken last night. Rather than using a cast iron skillet & another weighted pan I used my terra cotta mattone (chicken press) that I have only used one other time. This method provided for nice juicy thights, but they took a LOT longer to cook and unfortunately the skin didn't crisp up quite as much. The flavor was very nice though, I liked the interplay between the mint and the garlic. Next time I might chop up salt preserved lemon rind (rinsed of course), I think that flavor might be good with the mint & garlic. I'm considering doing this with some tofu, but we loved the other tofu dish so much I may just make that again.

                                      1. re: ErikaK

                                        what's the other tofu dish that you prefer?
                                        I think you may have not gotten crispy skin if the press creates a seal so steam builds up.
                                        I popped my chicken in the oven to finish cooking through.

                                        1. re: NYchowcook

                                          The Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine & Butter Sauce, p 126

                                    3. Pan Seared Baby Lamb Chops with Lemon and Green Olives (Spring menu 6, pg. 62)

                                      I’ve made this before and really liked it. I didn’t like it as much this time around because 1) my chops were a bit too fatty and 2) I didn’t put enough green olives in the sauce. The olives is what really makes this dish special.

                                      I would make this again but will change the above. I served this with the fregola risotto style (pg. 90)

                                      1. Fregola Risotto Style with Chard and Feta Cheese (Spring menu 10, pg. 90)

                                        Another winner from the book. I used israeli cous cous instead of the fregola simply because I had some. I also used this red swiss chard that gave the dish a lovely pinkish color. What I really liked is that it called for using the stems and leaves of the chard. Everything just worked well together, veggies, starch and feta cheese.

                                        I served this with the baby lamb chops (pg. 62).

                                        24 Replies
                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                          Could you post a rough recipe for this please as I have most of the ingredients to hand, and no book!

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Vegetable Stock - there's a recipe for it, let me know if you would like it too.


                                            2 T unsalted butter
                                            2 T EVOO
                                            1 cup finely chopped onion
                                            1/2 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
                                            1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed, stems thinly sliced, leaves shredded (about 8 cups loosely packed leaves) and kept separately
                                            1/2 cup finely chopped celery
                                            8 oz white button mushrooms or cremini, stems removed and reserved for the stock, caps thinly sliced (about two cups)
                                            2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
                                            2 tsp finely chopped thyme
                                            1 cup Fregola
                                            7 oz feta, pref. French, crumbled, about 1.5 cups
                                            Sea Salt & freshly ground pepper
                                            EVOO for drizzling

                                            Paraphrased instructions:

                                            Heat butter/oil over med. heat in heavy pan - 3-4 quart or small Dutch oven.
                                            Add onion, carrot, celery, chard stems, cook until softened, stirring, about 3 min.
                                            Add mushrooms caps, thyme, garlic, turn up the heat a little, stir occasionally until mushrooms have released juices and vegetables are lightly browned, about 7-8 min.
                                            Add fregola, stir 1-2 min - should "smell toasty".
                                            Pour in stock, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, simmer gently for about 15 min, until fregola is al dente.
                                            Add chard leaves, simmer w/o the lid 2-3 min, until leaves are tender.
                                            Add feta and heat through.
                                            Season w/ salt if needed and add "plenty of pepper".
                                            Serve in wide soup plates and drizzle w/ EVOO.

                                            Note - it looks like the stock is reduced to 4 cups, to give you an idea of quantity.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Many thanks. How much fregola and how much stock do you need?

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                Oops - 1 cup Fregola - I fixed the recipe to reflect that! On the stock, he doesn't say in the Fregola how much to use - just to add the stock that you've made, which reduces to 4 cups. Here's the stock recipe:

                                                1 med. onion, thinly sliced
                                                1 med. carrot, peeled & thinly sliced
                                                1 celery stalk w/ leaves, thinly sliced
                                                Reserved mushroom stems (from Fregola recipe), sliced
                                                2 sprigs thyme
                                                2 lemon slices, seeds removed
                                                1 4 inch piece kombu (optional - no idea what that is)
                                                6 cups water

                                                Combine all ingredients in large sauce pan, bring to boil (high heat). Reduce heat, simmer w/o lid for 30 min., or until reduced to 4 cups of liquid. Strain in sieve, press down "hard" on solids to extract liquid.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Thanks MMR. Kombu is a type of seaweed used in Japanese cooking, I think, to give it that "umami" flavour.

                                                2. re: greedygirl

                                                  I used box chicken stock as a time saver. I probably put in more stock then necessary (a hair over four cups) so it was probably more watery than called for. Still tasty though.

                                                3. re: MMRuth

                                                  This recipe sounds really good. And I do have some israeli couscous begging for a use. But if you aren't wild about feta, would you substitute another cheese, or just go without. It sounds like the feta might melt a bit into the dish. Is that so? And what kind of cheese would you use instead?

                                                  1. re: karykat

                                                    I haven't made it yet - it's on the list for this week and I bought French feta, which I like much more than Greek feta. If you like goat cheeses, I'm sure you could substitute with that. I just made the green olive frittata and substitute comte for ricotta, since I don't like the latter and have the former, and it was excellent even though the two are such different cheeses. So, I'd just go with a cheese you like that might melt nicely.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      So MMR, you LIKED the Green Olive, etc. Fritatta? We didn't at all...the flavors didn't meld somehow. As I said in an earlier post on this, maybe I cooked it a bit too long....I dunno. What did you like about it?

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        We loved it. Yes, the olive flavor was strong, but the funny thing is, my husband didn't realize it had olives in it. Now, I did use comte and not ricotta, and I imagine that changed it quite dramatically in terms of flavor. The eggs were tender, it had strong, but not too strong, flavors, and great crunch from the pine nuts. I must have missed your post on it or I would have posted under it!

                                                    2. re: karykat

                                                      I think a goat cheese would be wonderful.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        I agree. I think the big drawback of this dish as written is the ricotta. It adds bulk and not much else. Ricotta is very nice, but it's usually a base for other flavors (i.e., J. Oliver's chocolate orange ricotta tart which is just so divine it was my favorite dessert for a couple of years). Anyway, I'll try it again with another.

                                                4. re: beetlebug

                                                  Quick question: I had planned to make this (the fregola/risotto) tomorrow night for dinner, but thought that my husband would be away. Turns out he's going to be around after all. Is this enough food for the two of us (with a little left over for a toddler)? Or do I need to serve something else on the side?

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    It should be enough for 4, easily. I wanted a more solid protein (other than the cheese) so I had the lamb chops with it.

                                                    We had the fregola with dinner. Then I had a large single serving for lunch for the next two days. It was a pretty big batch.

                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                      Thanks so much. I had started worrying that I was going to have to scramble to figure out what else to serve once he told me he'd be here afterall, and when I read that you'd served it with lamb chops I got REALLY nervous. You've just made me so happy.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        The Fregola "Risotto" was the first main dish I tried when I got the book about a month ago. We all absolutely loved it. A friend who was over for dinner said that he was worried when he first saw it because it looked kind of "murky and mushy", but he ended up having several helpings.

                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                          It was reading your post about it that made me go back and look at the recipe. My initial thought had been ... eh ... but now I'm excited about it.

                                                  2. re: beetlebug

                                                    I made this too last night, we had it as a main dish. I found fregola at Whole Foods so used that. I liked it, I did the veg stock without the kombo too. We all liked it, but thought that the dish seemed too earthy to be a "springtime" meal. I loved the fact that the fregola did not get mushy at all, and that the chard leaves provided some crunch. More pics on my blog http://toomanycookbooksofe.blogspot.com/

                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                      I made the fregola, er, couscous (Israeli) w/ chard and feta last night. It was good. Definitely not "fresh food fast" (one of his earlier books)! What with making the veg stock, cleaning the chard, chop, chop, chopping vegetables, we finished the bottle of wine before dinner!

                                                      I made some extra stock 'cause what's the use of making stock if you don't have some in storage for later(??) I can't not put garlic and parsley stalks in my veg stock, so I did. I liked his suggestion of adding lemon slices. Also using the stems in the stock (I usually trim the stems and then use caps and remaining stems in a dish). No kombu on hand, which I'll try to remember to pick up since I'd like to throw some in the pot.
                                                      I had some young local chard so the stems didn't add alot of crispness, and couscous is mushy; I'd like to find some fregola since maybe that holds a firmer consistency.
                                                      Served w/ the chicken w/ lemon and mint (p. 38) 'cause hey, I really like that dish, and it's great for leftovers.

                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                        My turn with the Fregola Risotto Style with Chard and Feta Cheese. Had planned to make this earlier in the week, but we've had a stomach flu going around the house, hitting us consecutively, and last night was the first night I could even contemplate being in the kitchen. anyway ... this was my first experience with chard, and I have to say I was getting irritated with the amount of chopping and deleafing, etc. but that might just be because I was still a little under the weather. I found that I didn't have a carrot, so left that out, used regular old low sodium chicken broth, and realized when I only had an hour to go that I needed to soak my feta. Oh well. In the end, I really enjoyed this. I agree with an earlier poster (sorry, can't remember who right this second) that this seems maybe more like a fall or winter dish - very hearty, but it is good. Two-year old Lulu loved it too, and had more for lunch today and gobbled it right up. It is a full meal in itself.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          Had nearly all the ingredients on hand and with all the good reports decided to give the Fregola Risotto-Style a try. I had spinach, so used that instead of chard. I had low-fat Greek feta, so soaked it in milk for a few hours as he suggested and was surprised that the finished dish wasn’t too salty at all. And had about 3-1/2 cups of boxed chicken stock in the fridge so used that instead of making my own. I don’t think I’d go out and buy the ingredients just to make this, but what a wonderfully tasty dish from a bunch of stuff that needed to be used up. I’m really looking forward to the leftovers.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            We had the leftovers of the fregola earlier this week (frozen, so lacking a little of the earlier quality) and they were delicious. I think doing it with the spinach is probably more likely the way I'd do it next time, simply because the chard seemed so labor intensive. Glad to hear you liked it.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              I kept forgetting to report on this - we really liked it as well. I used boxed vegetable broth, French Feta and chard. I think I might try it with arugula or baby spinach - just thrown in at the end so that the heat softens it.

                                                            2. re: beetlebug

                                                              Not much to add to everyone else's reports. I thought this was very good, too. The fregola was bought at a local specialty store ages ago with this recipe in mind, then forgotten. Luckily, pasta keeps! I didn't make the broth, but used some I already had. After the simmer, there was still a ton of liquid, and I had to turn up the heat and boil it down some before adding the chard. My only complaint was that it was oversalted, but that was entirely my own fault (spaced out on the fact that I should have been sparing because I was adding salty cheese).

                                                            3. Gratin of Cherry Tomatoes

                                                              Made this last night to go with lamb chops (non-FT recipe) and the brown rice risotto from pg 41. Made some major changes here in that I added neither the sardines OR the white beans and I subbed in blanched peas and favas to bulk up the 3/4 c of cherry tomatoes I had and was just trying to use up in the first place.
                                                              We really liked this dish, and it was so easy! Mostly due to having blanched peas and favas and breadcrumbs all on hand.
                                                              I had read other posts about being underwhelmed about this dish, so I carefully salted my spring onions and didn't skimp on the herbs in either the veg or the breadcrumb mixture.
                                                              In the breading I used parsley and Grana, and lots of black pepper.
                                                              Sauteed the onions as instructed, and I used green garlic and aleppo pepper. I added my tomatoes(whole, sweet100's, just didn't feel like halving them, and I like the way they burst in the gratin, and stayed a little more intact than halved tomatoes might have), favas and peas and then hit the pan with a healthy glug of white wine-this was a half batch of the original recipe, btw. Seasoned again, threw this in my oiled gratin and spooned the herby, cheesy breadcrumbs mixture over the whole thing. There wasn't really a ton of cheese, but it added a nice flavor point.
                                                              I was really tempted to add crumbled feta to the gratin before covering it with crumbs, but mine had gone south, so I went without. Glad I tried it this way, it was a nice side dish to the other dishes, and not too heavy.
                                                              This is a pretty simple recipe and I think I'll be doing more veg gratins this spring and summer. They are pretty quick, they showcase the flavor of the veg and with a light hand on the breadcrumbs, they are healthy too! Great to have this recipe as a jumping off point for future concoctions.

                                                              1. Goat Cheese Frittata, p. 74

                                                                Mmm, mmm, mmm. This was awfully good, and I didn't even use/make the red onion marmelade - just used sauteed red onions instead. My only deviation - which I guess is kind of a big one - is that I didn't cook it his way, but Marcella's way. I used an oiled souffle dish and cooked in the oven for about 18 minutes at 350, then at about 3-4 minutes more at 500, to finish it up. My broiler is beneath my oven and tends to burn, so this works better for me. I was worried it would be too creamy for me, but it wasn't - the parmesan adds a nice bit of sharpness that complements the tang of the goat cheeee.

                                                                1. Lentil & Rhubarb Curry with Potatoes and Peas, pg 20


                                                                  I want to make this tomorrow, along with the raita and the naan, and given the reports, am wondering if anyone who has made it has suggestions to improve the dish, which seemed to get less than rave reviews. I do have all the ingredients and have no problem using all the cumin. Thanks!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    Made this last night and it was terrific - one of our favorites from the book. I made it ahead of time, since I knew I'd be dealing with the naan, and just reheated and added the peas at the last minute. I tasted and salted quite frequently. As others have said, the rhubarb isn't really highlighted in the dish, but presumably gives it a bit of tang. I served it with the Cucumber Lime Raita and Naan.

                                                                  2. Green Olive Frittata with Ricotta and Thyme.

                                                                    I made this with comte instead of ricotta, which I don't like. It was absolutely wonderful and the pine nuts give it a nice crunch. I baked it my way - about 15 at 350, then a couple more at 500 to get the top a little brown. I used a ceramic tart pan, which was quite shallow, and some of the chunks of comte stuck up over the eggs and melted nicely on top. Definitely a winner, and one I'll make again. It says it will serve 2 as a main course, but we had it for lunch with a little salad, and have half of it left.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      Sheesh! I seem to be batting pretty near zero here! The lentil/rhubarb curry was okay, but nothing spectac. It may be because I make lentil curries quite often and this one wasn't much different or better. We also usually have it with naan or kulcha and raita. That may be why it got a yawn at our house.

                                                                      My other strike-out opinion is the thumbs-down re the Olive Fritatta. I think I must be living in a parallel universe here!

                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                        I don't think you are living in a parallel universe. I have tried a few recipes I like, but many I think just need more flavor. I am not in love with the book, but I like the inspiration it gives.

                                                                        1. re: jsaimd

                                                                          Don't get me wrong ... I'm not head over heels w/ this cookbook - the way I've been w/ SH, or Mangoes & Curry Leaves, or my Sicilian cookbook. But, the last couple of recipes have been awfully good - the frittatas and this curry. And I did have fun making the Naan, even though I didn't end up using the Flexitarian dough. But, is there anything that I've made that I'd make for "company"? No. I do think that seasoning w/ salt is key - I taste and salt, taste and salt, until I think it tastes right.

                                                                          And - if you look at the photos - my olive frittata was v. thin - which might make it nicer than a thicker one. And Comte sure is different from ricotta, so the results may well have differed b/c of that!

                                                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                                                        I made this last night per the recipe. It sort of fell flat for us. The ricotta was rich but bland. We did like the toasty pine nuts, but the other flavors were too subtle. I usually make a fritatta with goat cheese or boursin cheese, something with a bit more tang & flavor. The rosemary from my garden is strong and overwhelmed the other herbs too, even though I cut down on the amount. Couldn't even taste any olive flavor either. Pretty meh.
                                                                        Maybe will try again sometime with a more flavorful cheese.

                                                                        1. re: ErikaK

                                                                          I used some really big green olives that had a pretty strong flavor, so that may have helped.

                                                                      3. I made the Polenta with Sauteed cherry tomatoes (pg. 114) which is mentioned several times in Beetlebugs post here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/434103 & served it alongside a simple veggie chili. This was a very delicious, super-easy quick meal. My husband devoured it & you can serve the chili on top if you like. I brought some of the polenta to work for my co-workers to try because it was so fast to make & yummy. The whole meal probably took about 20 minutes. I will definitely make the polenta again, & probably try it with the harissa shrimp as in the book. Only change for the polenta was that I didn't have fresh corn so I used canned unsalted corn, which was just dandy until the seasonal corn is here in CA.

                                                                        A definite thumbs up that I recommend you try if you haven't yet.

                                                                        1. Crispy Pressed Chicken with Garlic and Mint (Spring, p 38)

                                                                          E doesn't like mint, so I substituted with cilantro, and I love aleppo pepper so used a little more (about 1-1/2 tsp). Otherwise, followed the ingredient list for the marinade (garlic, salt, lemon zest, evoo, fresh lemon juice, and the cilantro and aleppo pepper). I salted/dry-brined the chicken thighs about two days ahead, and marinated for about 10 hours. I used a cast iron pan, and then weighted them with a smaller saute pan in which I put a Le Creuset. Everybody's reports above re: this dish came in handy with the cooking time. I just followed everybody's tips instead of the recipe. I ended up starting them on high for a couple of minutes, cooking them on medium, and turning up the heat at the end to crisp the skin. To finish, remove chicken, pour off oil, and then simmer marinade, scraping the bits on the bottom of the pan, to make a glaze.

                                                                          This was really good - so much flavor and very very juicy. E had two helpings, and his comment was that when I make this again, "don't change a thing". I served it with a simple salad with buttermilk dressing.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            You know, reading your report I realized that the mint was what was holding me back from this one - and I love the idea of using cilantro instead. I think you may have put this onto my try list with your changes and report.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              Great, would love to know you think!

                                                                            2. re: Rubee

                                                                              Crispy pressed chicken/tofu with garlic and mint (Spring menu 3, pg. 38)

                                                                              I made both these versions and had more success with the tofu. Mostly because I learned from my own mistake with the chicken (made this first) and then went and read the posts on CH. Should have read post, read recipe and then cooked, but I digress.

                                                                              The chicken mistake was entirely my own fault. I’m going to revisit this recipe because I really liked the flavors but botched the cooking. I remembered previous posts about the temperature being too hot so I had the flame down. Unfortunately, the directions called for first high heat then medium heat (with the brick on the meat), to crisp the skin. I went from medium to medium low so my chicken ended up steaming, resulting in a steam effect, lots of water being thrown off the meat and soggy skin. It also took longer to cook and then skin never browned (since this took longer, I ended up cooking my soup base for too long, resulting in overcooked snow peas.).

                                                                              I really liked the tofu dish (shocker) and would make this again. I liked how there was sauce for both dishes. Since I realized my previous mistake, my tofu came out nice and brown and crisp. I served the tofu with the quinoa salad (pg. 128) and the asparagus (pg. 56)

                                                                            3. Has anyone made the crispy pressed chicken with chicken breasts rather than thighs? I was thinking about getting smaller chicken breasts. Or may go with the thighs. WIll probably do this tomorrow.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: karykat

                                                                                Is it ok to post on a COTM thread after the month has come and gone? I'll assume the answer is yes, at least for the moment.

                                                                                I made the crispy pressed chicken last night and it won rave reviews. The marinade is just wonderful and I think it will have other uses, like for chicken we do on the grill and maybe other things. I did use the chicken breasts I had been thinking of using and that worked. They were smallish chicken breasts, and I gave the meat a few more minutes on each side.

                                                                                One thing I wasn't expecting -- a lot of liquid seemed to come out of the chicken as it was cooking. So when I took the meat out of the pan, there was all this liquid there. But it looked ok, so I added my reserved marinade and cooked that as the recipe instructs and it was good. It was a good brand of chicken (not my very best local brand here because those looked too fat for this use but a very good amish brand that is natural etc. so I was surprised.) Anyway, it all tasted great. And I have some leftover chicken and some of the herb rice to heat up for a late lunch today.

                                                                                When I was casting around for a brick or something to use to weight down my pan on top of the chicken, I spied the "sauerkraut rocks" my grandmother and greatgrandmother used to weight down the lid on the sauerkraut crocks on their farms. I use them for door stops and they are a prized possession. So I used those. And thought that somewhere in heaven those two great cooks are looking down and smiling knowing their sauerkraut rocks were being put to good use!

                                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                                  Yes, it's okay to post after the month has ended--you'll notice Dunlop and Sunday Suppers with Lucques still get frequent bumps!

                                                                                  What an excellent use of your sauerkraut rocks!


                                                                                  1. re: karykat

                                                                                    I love the suaerkraut rocks story!