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November 2008 COTM The Art of Simple Food: A Little Something & Sauces

MMRuth Nov 1, 2008 04:34 AM

November 2008 COTM:

Alice Waters - The Art of Simple Food

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for 'A Little Something' & Sauces here, including those recipes that fit in these categories that are in the first section of the book. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

Thanks for participating!

  1. Carb Lover Nov 3, 2008 06:16 AM

    Tomatillo Salsa, p. 232

    I made this recipe last weekend to accompany avocado quesadillas from A Platter of Figs. I had about a pound of tomatillos from my CSA box. The sauce comes together very quickly. She says to reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid to blend w/ the cooked tomatillos, jalapeno or serrano chiles, cilantro, garlic, and salt. I was hesitant to add all the liquid at once before blending as she instructs because the tomatillos looked pretty watery after cooking, so I blended everything first and then added cooking liquid as needed. I barely used any of the reserved liquid. After tasting, I decided that I wanted a little creaminess so added a couple spoonfuls of whole milk yogurt.

    Overall, the flavor of this salsa was very nice but w/ only a few ingredients, it was not as complex as other tomatillo salsas that I've tasted. I'm sure that Rick Bayless has a roasted tomatillo salsa that has more depth, but I still enjoyed this simple version that worked perfectly w/ avocado quesadillas for lunch.

    The beauty of these simple recipes is that I often have all ingredients on hand and can quickly put something together for a weekend lunch that is different than our usual fare or leftovers.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover
      MMRuth Nov 6, 2008 06:22 AM

      Are you enjoying A Platter of Figs? I really want to get it ....

      1. re: MMRuth
        Carb Lover Nov 6, 2008 07:27 AM

        I ordered it for my boss/work and borrowed it for a week to look at. Some of the recipes look really good, and I like the overall styling of the book. Definitely in the Chez Panisse approach of simplicity.

        I'm not sure if I need another book like this, but I'll try a few more recipes and then decide...it may be more of a book for inspiration than anything...

        1. re: Carb Lover
          MMRuth Nov 6, 2008 08:02 AM

          Thanks - do let me know. I love Goin & Stitt, and since they both worked at Chez Panisse, I thought I might like this one too.

        2. re: MMRuth
          Tom P Nov 7, 2008 07:59 PM

          I am loving A Platter of Figs. Gorgeous book, easy and fun to read, and I am salivating to try many of the recipes. Well worth it in my opinion; I hope we try it here sometime.

          1. re: Tom P
            MMRuth Nov 8, 2008 03:19 AM

            Thanks - maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list - I browsed through it the other day and it is indeed beautiful.

        3. re: Carb Lover
          MMRuth Nov 26, 2008 06:58 AM

          I made this last night and served it with seared tuna steaks and sliced avocado. We really liked it, and agree with you that a smokier flavor would be nice here as well.

          1. re: MMRuth
            oakjoan Nov 26, 2008 01:26 PM

            Not to come down on MMR, but sometimes, with all the inserted messages that come between the original post and the responses, it's hard to tell what the poster is talking about. MMR, am I right in thinking you're talking about Carb Lover's salsa?

            I mean, it was pretty obvious once I opened all the threads above, but sometimes there are 20 or more posts in between and it gets confusing.

            1. re: oakjoan
              MMRuth Nov 26, 2008 02:20 PM

              I see what you mean - yes, I was talking about the tomatillo salsa. I then had to make myself a quesadilla for lunch and had some more of it.

        4. The Dairy Queen Nov 5, 2008 05:04 PM

          Salsa verde, pg 45

          We tried this over some steamed halibut (pg. 331) and liked it a lot. It was super easy. Next time, I'd use half the amount of olive oil. She encourages you to experiment with the amount of olive oil--but says she uses "less" when the salsa is for roasted meats and grilled vegetables and "more" when it's for fish. Still, I thought it was too oil.


          1. greedygirl Nov 6, 2008 11:52 AM

            Vinaigrette, page 44

            I hesitate to review this, as I think we all know how to make a vinaigrette, but hey ho.

            In the true spirit of Waters, I cracked open my best red wine vinegar (Spanish Forum cabernet sauvignon vinegar - amazing) and followed the recipe faithfully. I used 1T of vinegar to 3T of Greek olive oil and it was perfectly balanced for my tastes. A pretty good dressing, but then I can drink Forum vinegar straight from the bottle!


            (It's not quite as expensive as that over here or in Spain, and a bottle lasts a long time.)

            8 Replies
            1. re: greedygirl
              oakjoan Nov 6, 2008 08:27 PM

              I can't get the picture of you swilling vinegar from the bottle out of my mind! Helllllp.

              Do you ever use garlic in your salad dressing? I use it most of the time and am probably overpowering the greens, but we're used to it now. I don't use a lot, less than a clove.

              1. re: oakjoan
                greedygirl Nov 6, 2008 11:31 PM

                I do, and I usually pound it in my pestle and mortar first with a little bit of salt.

                I have to confess to being a bit of a vinegar addict.

                1. re: greedygirl
                  oakjoan Nov 7, 2008 09:15 PM

                  It just seems to me that most folks do NOT put garlic in their salad dressing...at least not as often as I do, which is almost every night.

                  My husband loves vinegar and his favorite dish is chicken with tarragon and vinegar. He actually moons over it.

              2. re: greedygirl
                NYCkaren Nov 10, 2008 06:00 AM

                I made the basic vinaigrette, p.44, also, although my vinegar wasn't up to greedygirl's.
                I got the book from the library, and I don't think I would buy it. This recipe is a good example. She says to use olive oil and red wine vinegar. Or you could use part lemon juice. Or nut oil. You could add garlic. Or herbs. And so on.

                OK, I know that there are a lot of ways to make salad dressing. But what I want from a cookbooks is a recipe, not necessarily a theme with variations. It seems like a lot of the recipes in this book are more like suggestions than actual recipes. And there may be lots of value in that. But it's not my cup of tea.

                1. re: greedygirl
                  MMRuth Nov 10, 2008 10:03 AM

                  I made this on Saturday with a French cabernet red wine vinegar, grey sea salt, and my nice geek olive oil. I really liked it, and was glad I made it because I tend to be lazy and just dress salads directly with olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper, and this was a good reminder about how a vinaigrette can actually be nicer. I tossed it with some wild arugula from the farmers' market, and added slices of a wonderful sheeps milk cheese from same, and some pomegranate seeds that were lingering in the fridge.

                  1. re: MMRuth
                    yamalam Nov 12, 2008 09:58 AM

                    "my nice geek olive oil. "

                    Hee hee, I love my geek olive oil too, and my nerd vinegar, and dork sea salt.

                    1. re: yamalam
                      MMRuth Nov 12, 2008 11:52 AM

                      Oops! Sometimes I feel like a geek, a nerd and a dork, given how many kinds of olive oil, vinegar and sea salt that i have at any given time.

                      1. re: MMRuth
                        yamalam Nov 12, 2008 02:10 PM

                        no kidding...and how much time and energy I put into seeking them out:)

                2. Gio Nov 7, 2008 04:25 AM

                  Pesto, Pg. 230

                  Ah the Pesto... my nemesis...I used the mortar and pestle as Ms. Waters recommends and which I was dying to try. What a job it is to pound all the basil. I used half a large bunch and scaled down the EVOO and nuts to compensate.
                  Instead of pine nuts I used walnuts which changed the flavor of the pesto making it milder, IMO. I was all out of pine nuts but they're on my shopping list for Saturday. I must make this pesto again with the PN. After considerable blood, sweat and pounding the finished product was schmeared over a piece of Pollock which was then baked. The whole dish was very nice. DH Loved it, and so far we have been very satisfied with everything we've made.

                  1. Gio Nov 10, 2008 04:47 AM

                    Bagna Cauda, Pg. 230

                    This is literally a hot bath for vegetables. I made it to serve with steamed cauliflower. A combination of anchovies, butter, EVOO, diced garlic, lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper.... I used Tellicherry peppercorns. The mixture is cooked over a medium flame till the anchovies are melted. Usually the sauce is served in a communal serving dish and everyone dips crudités. Ms. Waters pours the sauce over steamed veggies. It was OK... I have added either cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes in the past to give it a little kick, but this version was satisfactory.

                    1. MMRuth Nov 10, 2008 08:44 AM

                      Herb Butter, p. 48

                      I made half a batch, and used sage, though I missed her comment that sage is better cut up and sauted in a little butter, and cooled, then added to the softened butter, rather than adding it raw to it. I also added lemon zest, per the recipe, salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne. It was delicious on the pork chops.

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