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Nov 1, 2008 04:39 AM

November 2008 COTM The Art of Simple Food: Vegetables

November 2008 COTM:

Alice Waters - The Art of Simple Food

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for vegetables here, including those recipes that fit in this category 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. Braised Savoy Cabbage, Pg. 296

    I love Savoy cabbage in any preparation so I was looking forward to this.
    The cabbage is quartered then sliced through each quarter once more. It is braised with diced carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic and seasoned with salt - no pepper. After a few minutes dry white wine then chicken broth are added in stages. All is simmered till the cabbage is tender. It didn't take too long at all. I did this during the last hour that the Braised Pork with Dried Chilis (page 139) was cooking.

    We liked this dish but thought it was very mild given all the savories included. It was a good side for the braised pork. though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I love savoy cabbage too! I'm looking at the book now and it does say to season the raw cabbage w/ salt and pepper. It looks like the cabbage only cooks for about 15 min. so I can see why the short braising wouldn't develop the flavors a whole lot. There's a braised cabbage recipe in All About Braising that got lots of raves when it was COTM. I think it cooked for at least 1.5 hrs. though.

      I like the idea of a short braise for the convenience and vibrancy; sometimes I don't like things cooked down too much. I have regular cabbage in my fridge now so may try it later this week.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        Yes, you're right about the pepper. I just didn't read my notes correctly....
        It is a short braise, but because the Savoy was fresh, fresh the flavor of the vegetable really came through....and it was tender but not mushy.

    2. Long-Cooked Broccoli (page 294)

      I made as directed (chopped broccoli including peeled stems, 6 cloves of sliced garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper cooked in a cup of water) but at the end of what was supposed to be a one-hour cooking time, the broccoli was still waaay too soupy. Had to boil it down for probably 10 minutes to get it to a texture that looked like something I might want to eat. It tasted fine, but it certainly wasn’t anything special. And it looked like khaki mush on the plate. I’ll stick with roasting my broccoli.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        I'm so glad to read your report JoanN. This was on my list to cook and I was very wary of the "long cook" process. I either steam or roast fresh broccoli. Thanks very mush... LOL

      2. Winter Squash Puree, page 324

        I'm not really sure if this is a recipe. She just tells you to cut a bunch of winter squash in half, de-seed them and place them face down on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until tender. Remove, let cook, remove flesh, then mash with a potatoe masher. Season with oil or butter (we used EVOO) and salt and cream if desired (we skipped the cream). She has a couple of suggested variations we didn't follow, but that sound good.

        This is hardly a revelation, but, baked squash is delicious nevertheless! We used a combo of acorn, delicata, and carnival...


        24 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I discovered that method for baking squash (cuts out that dreaded and dangerous peeling) about a year ago and now I don't cook it any other way. I think the flavor is superior - even my daughter has been converted from a "eww, squash!" gal to a "yay, you made squash!" chow-pup. I don't use parchment paper though. Instead I rub a bit of olive oil on the cut side. I can see how parchment paper would be easier to clean up...but then I don't do the dishes...

          1. re: clamscasino

            I still have a hard time cutting the squash in half, to be honest... I fear for my fingers. Waters says you can just oil the baking sheet, so, I'm sure your method of rubbing oil on the cut half would be fine, too. :)


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I roast the entire thing for a bit. When soft enough to handle I take it out and cut it, scrape seeds, and stick it back on there. Works fine.

              1. re: jeanmt

                That's a good idea! What do you do if you want to chunk it up for soup?


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  If it's for a blended soup, then it doesn't really matter ... just scoop out the innards into the pot. I do it this way all the time, so much easier. Not sure what I'd do if I wanted chunks of squash though.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Oh, my difficulty iscutting the squash open in the first place. jean was suggesting that I bake it for a little bit, then slice it open. I was wondering if she used the same technique when she needed the flesh for soup--would she bake it first? Just curious, as I'd hate to heat up the oven in that case if I didn't have to... Still, it's better than cutting your hand!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Here's another little trick - poke a few holes in it and nuke it for about 10 minutes. Makes it much easier to cut into (and then roast for the flavor). But I do feel your pain on cutting them. Recipes that say "peel and cut your squash" always make my eyes roll back into my head.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        That seems like a good tip, for when you don't otherwise need to have your oven going. I shall try that next time. I can't believe it, but I am, indeed, intimidating by the lowly squash!


                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        In that case, I microwave it!! For five to seven minutes, then keep sticking it back in there until I can cut it. You have to let it cool down, which is time consuming. But better than trying to cut it unheated. Whoops, I see LuLusMom had the same tip.

                      3. re: LulusMom

                        Nuke a large butternut on medium power for 10-15 min, not even pricked. Allow to cool before handling. This softens the skin and flesh just enough to allow easier peeling and slicing.

                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                    This is by far the best knife for cutting squash, or any rooth vegetable for that matter. Even my chef borrows it from me when he needs to cut squash. It's relatively cheap, to:

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I only use this method for several years now -- slice squash in half, roast with EVOO, S, P.
                  Deepened, toasty flavor and no drama of squash-cutting!

                  However -- I would like to make butternut squash lasagna with the CUBES again, but I recall an agonizing hour of battling with the squash when I made this a couple of winters back... I just don't know that I want to deal! I also tried a yummy little treat at Whole Foods sample night recently -- cubed squash in kind of a salad with cranberries etc... I would like to find a low-maintenance way to cube. Or someone to come to my house and do it for me -- ha!

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    Formerly I used my huge long Wusthof chef's knife ....sliced the squash in half around the middle then in half the long way, then pared the skin. Even with that Excalibur it wasn't easy. Now I buy butternut already pared and sliced in halves....from there it's very easy to slice the cubes.

                    Instead of buying a big acorn or other squash, I now buy several smaller ones. Much easier to slice. We love squash.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I've been using the OXO-Good Grips Swivel Peeler:
                        It works pretty well on most everything.

                        They also make a pro model of the one you linked to that looks like it would peel anything...

                        1. re: Gio

                          I think that's the same one that I linked to. I've got one and it's a marvellous thing.

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            Oh right - I just glanced at it the first time... Thanks for the recommendation!!

                      2. re: Gio

                        I have a heavy-duty knife that is somewhat dull, yet verrry sturdy. I use it to cut squash with a mallet. I have to poke a hole in to get it started. I don't like to try to slice it in half due to fear that it might slip and take off a finger or worse.

                        So, I stick it in and then pound it with a mallet. Since I don't care about this knife, I don't worry when I smack down on it.

                        I don't have a microwave, but putting the squash in the oven or a steamer for a bit to soften it up sounds like a better idea than the one I'm using. My method DOES get rid of tension and is somewhat cathartic...nothing like giving something a whack, eh?

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          I recently bought a cleaver from a Chinese supermarket. It's GREAT for cutting squash, and I really enjoyed using it to joint a chicken. THWACK!

                          I did worry slightly about what would happen if I got stopped by the police on the way home from the supermarket though.... It's not an offensive weapon, officer.....

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            You could always offer to demonstrate on a chicken if threatened with arrest for carrying a deadly weapon.

                      3. re: foxy fairy

                        When I make butternut squash lasagna, I just cut the squash in half (lenghwise), roast and then scoop. The squash gets mixed and mushed with the bechamel sauce anyway, so there is no reason for it to be in cubed shape. So much easier then peeling and chopping (she says with a huge gash in her pinky from a losing battle with peeling an acorn squash).

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I have to chime in, I loved this squash discussion. Two Thanksgivings ago, I made from Suzanne Goin's LUCQUES cookbook the Warm Kabocha Squash Salad. Cutting through that squash was easily one of the hardest %@#$ things I have ever done in my life. The salad was so good I have always wanted to make it again. I guess like childbirth you forget the hard part. I could not believe how difficult it was, though.

                          Given that, I confess I love to get Trader Joe's peeled and cubed butternut squash when I need that one. I realize that is being a bit of a baby but sometimes you have to move fast.

                          1. re: Tom P

                            It's being a very sensible baby, if you ask me!

                        2. Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onions (page 295)

                          I played fast and loose with quantities, using up some cut up thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon I had in the freezer. It was probably more like three and half slices than the two called for. Had a stalk of sprouts from the farmers market; no idea what they weighed. I don’t think proportions matter much.

                          You parboil the sprouts (small ones cut in half; large ones into quarters), cook bacon until rendered but not crisp in some olive oil, remove the bacon and cook a diced onion along with savory or thyme sprigs (I used thyme) in the bacon fat, add the sprouts and cook until beginning to brown, then toss in the bacon. I let the bacon get a little crispier than she recommended, but I prefer it that way.

                          This was an excellent rendition of a standard that I’d definitely make again if my scale were telling me I could indulge in some bacon fat.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: JoanN

                            Glad they were good - I made a note to try these (well, and I seemed to have made the same note next to anything with 'bacon' in the title!).

                            1. re: JoanN

                              JoanN: Please tell us where you bought your scale.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                You want my scale, which deducts pounds for any weight gained due to bacon intake.

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  Salter ones are good and I think you can get them from Amazon.

                                2. re: JoanN

                                  I made these last night and they were really delicious. I made 1/2 a pound of brussel sprouts, which I parboiled for about 3 minutes (she says 'until tender' or something like that). My husband asked me to "please add extra bacon because brussel sprouts can be boring", so I used two slices of bacon, not one. I also used red onions because I had half of one to use up, and I really liked the sweetness they added to the dish. Will definitely make this again.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    I made these last night but minus the bacon as we were having them with pork stroganoff. Really lovely - we wolfed them down, with - ahem - explosive results later on! I imagine would be even nicer with the bacon, so will do that next time.

                                3. Roasted Sliced Cauliflower, p299

                                  This was a revelation! And very easy for a quick after work supper. All you do is slice a head of cauliflower into 1/4 inch slices, brush will olive oil, season and roast. It's done when the edges have started to brown, and it's tender - about 20 minutes.

                                  I served it with some very tasty toulouse sausages, and a green salad with some cooked new potatoes tossed into it. We were very happy indeed with the meal, and Mr GG praised the cauliflower without being prompted and asked where the recipe was from. Yay! A winner, and I'll definitely make it again now that cauliflower season has started in earnest.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    "Mr GG praised the cauliflower without being prompted and asked where the recipe was from". This gave me a good laugh !

                                    I bought a head of cauliflower yesterday and not I am torn between this recipe and the salad with capers.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      mmm, I really like roasted cauliflower.

                                      Try it with melted butter, too - I find it makes it even sweeter.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        I adore all roasted vegetables, but cauliflower is one of my favorites. Rather than slice and brush, I cut into florets and toss with olive oil. And instead of cooking it just until it starts to brown, I cook it about an additional ten minutes--until some of the smaller bits are just short of beginning to burn. The more caramelization, the sweeter and better. Great, great, stuff, isn't it? I've often made it just to snack on. Even love it cold from the fridge.

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          What temperature do you use to roast the cauliflower? I have some home right now, and I could make it for dinner tonight.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Roasted Sliced Cauliflower, p. 299
                                            Marinated Beet Salad, p. 244

                                            Thanks for the heads up on the roasted sliced cauliflower. I've roasted a whole head of cauliflower or florets, but have not done the sliced method. I came home from work a little late on Fri. night. Husband looked at me w/ those "i'm hungry" eyes. I had no meat or fish to design a meal around and didn't have the time or energy to comb through books for a good vegetarian recipe to use up all my CSA veggies. So I decided to make some simple vegetarian "tapas."

                                            While the oven was preheating to 400F, I sliced the two small heads of cauliflower that I had. Get this: one was purple and one was yellow. Pretty and psychedelic. They tasted pretty much the same as white cauliflower. They were a bit past their prime so were on the dry side. Instead of brushing w/ olive oil, I drizzled a little on and then tossed w/ my hands. Sprinkled on some salt, pepper, and caraway seeds. Roasted for about 20-25 min. and then finished w/ chopped cilantro. Overall, I liked the flavor of these, but I think I should have used a touch more oil. Solid but nothing revelatory for me. I want to try her steamed cauliflower w/ bagna cauda next.

                                            I had a bunch of roasted red beets awaiting their destiny in my fridge, so I took some inspiration from her marinated beet salad. I decided to cut them into large dice. I then added a little sherry vinegar and EVOO and based on her variations, I added some orange juice and zest and fresh dill. This was as it sounds...simple and tasty. The beets were super sweet. I think I like roasted beets better w/ greens and other goodies. I've got leftovers that I will toss with little gem lettuce, orange segments, and either blue or goat cheese.

                                            My other "tapas" were things that I just threw together based on what I had. Sauteed beet greens w/ garlic and lemon juice. Sauteed carrots and radishes cooked in butter. The beet greens were probably my favorite item of all. Don't toss out those beet greens, people!

                                            I was fearful that husband would protest this veggie tapas concept, but he happily ate it with a glass of French red wine. Another meal I felt good about making and eating. Of course, I promised him vanilla ice cream w/ chocolate sauce afterwards. :-) That was pretty darn good too...

                                            1. re: Carb Lover

                                              Roasted cauliflower
                                              Last night I made the roasted cauliflower too. Sprinkled with salt and cayenne pepper (needed the pick me up) and brushed with melted butter as gooseberry suggested(thanks!). 20 minutes in the oven and it was perfect for my Friday evening tapas.
                                              On my way home from work I had stopped by fairway and picked up garlic cabarnet salame, some marinated mozzarella and almond stuffed olives. We washed it all down with a bottle of red wine. My husband just ate the cauliflower, and my daughter just ate the salame.

                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                CL: The combo of cauliflower and caraway seeds sounds intriguing. We've been getting broccoli on parade in our CSA box the past few weeks. Wish some caulif would appear.

                                                One gripe I have about The Art of Simple Food is that, e.g., under Salads in the index, the recipes are listed by name rather than ingredient..."marinated beet". Hard to find. However, under "Shellfish", everything is listed with ingredients first, e.g., "clams, linguini with". I'm probably being too picky..

                                                I've probably written more times about this salad I had at A-16 in SF a few years ago than anything else...they steam the beet greens and chop them and include them in their sliced beet salad. I've been doing that ever since. Sauteeing the greens with garlic and lemon juices sounds pretty danged good, too.

                                                I also always use her method of cooking beets - roasting in the oven with a bit of water in the bottom of the pan, covered with foil.

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  Regarding cooking beets, my favorite method is from a Jamie Oliver recipe and it's less messy than in a pan covered with foil. He puts the beets on a sheet of foil, adds a little olive oil, a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and some seasonings (I usually just use S&P), and wraps the tin foil packet tightly. Place on a baking sheet just in case of leaks and roast until done. No cleanup. And the balsamic vinegar really brings out the sweetness of the beets.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    I roast beets w/ the foil-wrap method, which I think is nifty. I make a loose purse w/ air above the beets. It's how I roast garlic too. But I roast beets w/ nothin' on 'em (nekked); garlic I rub olive oil on.
                                                    Works great.