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Nov 1, 2008 04:36 AM

November 2008 COTM The Art of Simple Food: Soups & Salads

November 2008 COTM:

Alice Waters - The Art of Simple Food

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for soups and salads 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!

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  1. Cauliflower Salad with Olives & Capers, p. 247


    I had 3 heads of cauliflower from my CSA box, so was happy to find this simple recipe to serve w/ soup for Sun. lunch. My variations: I also added the chopped cauliflower leaves. She doesn't specify olive type, but I had green picholines which worked great. Added quartered radishes as well.

    Overall, we loved this salad. I've seen this kind of recipe elsewhere but have never made it before until now. Flavors were very balanced, and it helped that our cauliflower was sweet, crisp, and almost nutty tasting in raw form. I will be making this all winter long. Served it w/ a leftover potato, leek, and sorrel soup that I mixed w/ leftover French lentils. This is the kind of meal I feel good about eating, and pouring some leftover white wine for lunch felt decadent. :-)

    12 Replies
    1. re: Carb Lover

      Wow, beautiful photo. This is similar to a salad from the Deborah Madison book. We liked it a lot, but I think the radish adds a beautiful color to this version.

      1. re: LulusMom

        Thanks, the radish did add nice color and a peppery bite. I thought it was odd that she instructs to omit capers if adding radish so I included both. Do you usually use green or black olives for your version?

        1. re: Carb Lover

          I used green - just those bottled things. Totally agree with you about using both radishes and capers.

      2. re: Carb Lover

        Thanks for this report, Carb Lover, my husband hates both capers and olives, but I still really want to try this recipe. We have a lot of cauliflower from our CSA as well as, get this BLACK radishes, so, I think I'm going to try this recipe tomorrow night. (Tonight is leftovers while we watch election returns...)


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

 radishes! Never seen them before. Get this: I have two heads of cauliflower still and one is purple while the other is yellow. Alice Waters' salad goes psychedelic. May be appropriate for watching election results tonight. I'll take a photo and post tomorrow. :-)

          1. re: Carb Lover

            Fun stuff! I assume it all tastes the same as white cauliflower?


        2. re: Carb Lover

          Hmmmm...we tried this tonight and, honestly, didn't love it. I think the problem was our choice of black radishes, which were kind of wood-y and more like a turnip than a radish. I thought the lemon juice overpowered. I would like to try this again, but with regular radishes or with capers.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Sorry you didn't care for it, DQ. I didn't find the lemon juice to be overpowering, but I'm a lemonhead and I used a pretty fruity, unfiltered EVOO that balanced it nicely. I haven't made the salad again w/ my yellow and purple cauliflower. We've had other things to eat through.

            1. re: Carb Lover

              Not to worry--I'm going to give it another go--I have another head of cauliflower! I honestly believe the black radishes were part of the problem...


          2. re: Carb Lover

            I make a cauliflower salad based roughly on a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, which I reviewed at: I was hesitant to try Waters' version because we love Madison's so much. And indeed, we didn't like this one much at all. It seemed bland and boring in comparison.

            For starters, Madison's uses raw cauliflower, so there's more texture. And the cauliflower is sliced thinly, so the dressing coats every piece and there aren't big chunks of just cauliflower. This one, even though I cooked the cauliflower until just barely tender, tasted water-logged in comparison. Perhaps it would have helped if I had cut the florets much, much smaller so the dressing would have distributed over more surface area, but I was trying to follow the recipe. I also missed the garlic and and sherry vinegar flavors. No, this one didn't work for me at all.

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              Madison's recipe sounds tasty! I'll give it a whirl for variety's sake. I kinda liked that Waters blanches the cauliflower since raw can be a bit too vegetal for me. I didn't find it to be waterlogged.

              1. re: Carb Lover

                It's more that in comparison with sliced raw cauliflower in Madison's recipe, the blanched florets were so large and unrelievedly cauliflowery. Which I would have been perfectly happy with if I were simply serving it as a veggie side. But as a salad, I wanted the flavors to mix more. As I said, I could have cut the florets much smaller, because she doesn't say what size. And I could have tossed the florets with the dressing while warm instead of cooling them first, though that wouldn't have been following the recipe. And maybe I should have cooked them far less than I did. It wasn't long, just until I could pierce them with a fork, but maybe that's longer than she intended (her directions, as TDQ pointed out, are vague as to what 'done' means).

                I will say that the Madison recipe is best eaten in one sitting, because the leftovers do develop that old cabbage flavor when stored (though we've eaten leftovers anyhow).

          3. Spicy Cauliflower Soup, pg 257

            This was a super easy soup. Just dice up the carrots and onions and toss them in there with 1/4 cup olive oil (I used 1/8 cup, but 1/4 cup would have been better, I think) and a bunch of spices including coriander, cumin, chile powder, turmeric and chile flakes until softened. Then toss in a chopped up head of cauliflower, cilantro (we used dried because that's what I had) and 3 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water. Bring to a boil then simmer for a half hour, then stir to coarsely puree the soup.

            This was easy and flavorful. Not life altering, but we liked it. I did make the adjustment with the oil and the cilantro, so, maybe that's the type of thing that really makes a difference. She says you can use 3 more cups of chicken broth instead of the water and I will do that next time. I'll bet this soup is great as leftovers after a day of sitting in the fridge.


            7 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              That sounds good - I have half a head of cauliflower in the fridge right now. I do think that fresh cilantro would make a really big difference in this recipe - would brighten the flavours.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I think you're probably correct, MMR. Also, I didn't mention the garnishes--yogurt, chopped cilantro or mint and a squeeze of lime, which, again, I think would brighten everything up. (I just used a squeeze of lime...)


              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                I thought I would mention that I really enjoyed this as leftovers after a day in the fridge...


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I forgot to report on this when I made it earlier in the month - enjoyed the soup - great flavors, and I do think that the fresh cilantro is key. I used part chicken broth, part water, and made sure to taste and salt etc.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    I made this yesterday and took it to work for lunch today. I didn't make any amendments and it was very spicy, so much so that it overwhelmed any other flavours. Perhaps my chilli flakes were superhot or something?

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Weird. I did find that it got spicier as time passed, but i wouldn't say that the spiciness overwhelmed everything else. But, then again, I like things spicy anyway, so, maybe I'm immune to it.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I like spicy too but that's all the soup tastes of, ifyswim. I'm guessing my chilli flakes or powder are super hot. I'll add less next time.

                2. Sorry I don't have the page number, but I've made her kale and potato soup when I had this book out from the library. It's basic, but reliable and delicious. I've made it with added sausage (one of her variations, I believe) as well as the basic soup with homemade chicken broth I had in the freezer. Great soup for this time of year, as it's getting quite blustery out here, and the kale in the garden has sweetened from the first freeze.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: amyzan

                    I made this yesterday with chorizo. I've made a similar soup lots of times before and this was a solid recipe. Not outstanding, but good on a cold winter's day.

                  2. Tomato Soup, p. 261

                    Waters says that this soup is for the height of summer, but we are still getting early girl tomatoes in our CSA box. We've been spoiled w/ a glut of tomatoes all summer long after I picked about 40 lbs. of tomatoes from our CSA's farm and continued to get them weekly in our box. In fact, it was hard to keep up, but husband has become an expert at Marcella's tomato sauces.

                    Knowing full well that these may be the last tomatoes I see from our CSA this season, I wanted to use them very, very wisely. Waters' soup sounded simple and lovely. I couldn't find the recipe online, but here are the basics: Sliced onion and leek are seasoned w/ a pinch of salt and sauteed in a little olive oil and butter til soft but not browned. Water can be added and lid covered to aid in this. Sliced garlic, sliced tomatoes, scant tablespoon white rice, salt, bay leaf, and herb sprig (I used thyme) are then simmered till tomatoes collapse, about 10-15 min. Cup of water and tablespoon of butter are then added and soup is simmered for another 10 min. till rice is soft. Herb sprig and bay leaf are removed before pureeing the whole thing and straining to remove skin and seeds. Adjust for seasoning and add more water to thin out if necessary. As w/ all of her recipes, Waters includes a few variations at the end.

                    I pretty much followed the recipe, and the timing and instructions were solid. I actually used leftover cooked rice, but realized later that Waters means uncooked rice. Straining the soup was the fussiest part, but the resulting creamy consistency was completely worth it. I found the strained soup to be a bit too intensely flavored and thick, so I finished it w/ some whole milk. I served w/ a gruyere crouton floating on top and some chopped parsley. I would have preferred chives if I had them on hand.

                    Overall, this soup was really delicious and embodied the food that I've eaten at Chez Panisse. Clean, pure, the essence of tomato enhanced by a couple of elements. It does serve four as stated but we finished the entire batch between the two of us. The gruyere croutons were a nice touch. This soup was followed by Mario's seared scallops which I've posted a report on the appropriate COTM thread. If, by some good fortune, tomatoes appear in our box again next week, I vow to make this soup again and serve w/ Batali's grilled cheese sandwiches that everyone has been raving about.

                    ETA: I'm going to try this soup during the winter w/ good canned tomatoes.

                    1. White Bean and Butternut Squash Soup, p. 257

                      This tasted exactly as I expected it to - which was a bit of a disappointment. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have recently had so many simple things that were way more than the sum of their parts that I had hoped this would fall into that category - it did not. It was fine, really. Very light flavor.

                      I used navy beans, soaked overnight as directed, duck fat, 4 sage leaves and followed the directions faithfully.

                      Served it with Zuni's Sage Grilled Cheese (which you all know is very good.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mirage

                        I made this last night too, but cheated on the directions at every turn, so I'm glad to be able to compare to your more faithful version. I used canned beans and olive oil instead of duck fat. Your pronouncement of tasting exactly as you thought it would was a good description. DH said it tasted like the kind of vegetarian dish that made him glad the next course was meat. The next course was meat (roast chicken) so it kind of worked for us, but I'm more into soup being so delicious that I eat too much and don't get to the rest of dinner. It was good, but I don't think I'll try it again, given all the delicious squash soup variations out there.