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MAY COTM Flexitarian Table SPRING MEAT and VEG MAINS

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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.

          ~TDQ

          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.

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43410...

              ~TDQ

              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!)

                  ~TDQ

              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