HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

July COTM voting thread -- VOTE BY June 16 please

Hi there!

Whew. That was quite a nomination process! I've taken the two books with the highest number of nominations for our voting thread, here. This thread will be the opportunity to vote on which of these two books you would like to win for our Cookbook of the Month, July 2009.

Where can you get these books? The nominations thread raised questions about accessibility, so refer to that link (below, here) for more information on getting either of the two books. Also, THANK YOU to our hounds who have offered so generously to help with making recipes available to all of us participating in COTM.

Please cast your vote, in all capitals, BY THE END OF THE DAY Tuesday JUNE 16, Pacific Time.

So, our top two contenders are:

SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

http://www.amazon.com/Spice-Flavors-M...

and

OTTOLENGHI: THE COOKBOOK by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

http://www.amazon.com/Ottolenghi-Cook...

I have posted the amazon link for each book so you can peruse the professional reviews and check out the impressions of other home cooks who have purchased the book.

Also, refer to our suggestions thread, offering information about these books from participants here at Cookbook of the Month:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/625103

ANYONE CAN VOTE HERE :) :) :) If you have not participated in Cookbook of the Month previously, but would like to try it out in July, welcome! Here's your chance to vote on which book appeals to you!

Thank you, many happy creations in the kitchen, and it's my pleasure, as always--

foxy fairy

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. OTTOLENGHI: THE COOKBOOK

    this is a proxy vote for 'greedygirl' who is on holiday.

    1. OTTOLENGHI - I am voting for BOTH the cookbook and the Online recipe material

      1 Reply
      1. re: jen kalb

        OTTOLENGHI - I am voting for BOTH the cookbook and the Online recipe material.

        (Thanks, Jen!)

      2. foxy fairy - do you think you might edit the post so that it's clear that Ottolenghi includes all online recipes?

        1 Reply
        1. re: MMRuth

          I also vote for OTTOLENGHI COOKBOOK AND ONLINE RECIPES

          Here's a link to some of the many online recipes

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

        2. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

          1. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
            (I'd rather than have a book than online recipes)

            1. OTTOLENGHI
              Won over by the O fans--for this month anyway!

              1. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

                Having friends over on Sunday and making some recipes this weekend:

                Paopao Cocktail with prosecco and cardamom (p. 36)
                Haloumi cheese with spiced dates (p. 10)
                Celery root skordalia (p. 341) and Muhammara (p. 154)
                Chicken lamejun with roasted peaches and pistachio (p. 94)

                Grilled skirt steak with caramelized butter and cumin (p 26)
                Steamed mussels with leeks and smoked paprika (p. 150)
                Sliced heirloom tomatoes with basil and walnut tabouleh (p. 258)
                Chopped romaine and cucumber salad with yogurt dressing (p. 256)

                (I was looking at the Strawberry and Lavender Tart (p. 326), but CH ArizonaGirl is bringing a coconut ouzo cake....mmm)

                3 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  Since it looks like O is going to win, I thought I'd link to my report of how the Spice recipes turned out. I don't know what I was thinking, planning on all these recipes, when there were only four of us and I had a bunch of other dishes I was making! So I ended up only doing three - the Paopao cocktail (sparkling wine combined with a simple syrup infused with cardamom, lemon juice, and pear puree), tomato salad with tabouleh, and the mussels with aleppo pepper and smoked paprika.

                  With pics:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6264...

                  1. re: Rubee

                    I don't know -- Spice seems to be gaining last-minute momentum.

                2. OTTOLENGHI. (But Spice is also an excellent book.)

                  1. I feel like a traitor for not voting for spice. At the same time I want to keep the ottolenghi momentum going. Sorry Rubee.

                    OTTOLENGHI: BOTH COOKBOOK AND ONLINE

                    1. Just wanted to point out that despite the fact that Ottolenghi hasn't been published in the states, some large library systems may have it. The Los Angeles Public Library has two copies, but alas, the Madison Wisconsin branch has none. For that reason, I'm going to refrain from voting, since I won't be able to get my hands on the book, but I hope it's the one you all end up selecting, as it looks great!

                      1. Ohhh... that's a tough one. I love both books. Since O already has it's own (long) thread, I vote for SPICE. I've been waiting so long for this one to win!

                        1. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun.

                          1. OTTOLENGHI :: absolutely worth buying this uk book and a scale. in all fairness, spice would be a lovely book to devote a month to, so nothing lost if it wins.

                            1. There are only four public libraries in the US that own Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, and three of the four are in California. So, I vote SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: amyzan

                                My library system owns one copy, but it is out and there are two people who have it reserved. Minuteman Network in Boston.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Worldcat says only four libraries, one in a suburb of Chicago, three in California. Maybe your library isn't on Worldcat? At any rate, this book isn't widely available in the US, and though it looks great, I just think it's not an option for those of us who aren't flush enough to buy the COTM. Besides, I usually don't buy a cookbook until I've cooked from it, and know it will be useful. Thus, I use the library system to preview.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    That's my system as well. but there is only one copy in one town out of the entire network. The network encompasses a total of 42 cities and towns. Many of these cities and towns have numerous branches (my city has 7 branches total). I also know that my city, for the librarian to buy the book, it has to be in the book buying system. Unfortunately, since Ottolenghi is not published in the US, my branch library can't purchase it.

                                    I know way too much about the library...

                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                      I love the library...... a recent rediscovery I have made due to COTM. Sit at home, review the copies, order a transfer and my favorite, renew!

                                  1. OTTOLENGHI, though if Spice wins I'm okay with it. I think I'd be more prone to cook from it more in the fall. So much of OTTOLENGHI is so bright and refreshing that I look forward to it in our very hot sticky summers.

                                      1. Both sound delicious, but OTTOLENGHI sounds great for July and maybe Spice for August...

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: chowfamily

                                          I would support this - the two books are an interesting contrast in styles,Ottolenghi bold and exuberant, Spice a more studied and classic training based chef's book. Each book has a chicken with zaatar and lemon recipe but its hard to imagine more different approaches..

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            I like your idea of doing these back-to-back -- would be very interesting, and they're both great summer cookbooks.

                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                              I also like this idea of doing them back to back, it will offer a nice comparison of styles.

                                          2. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Palmito

                                              SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

                                              If it wins, I'll be helping.

                                            2. SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun

                                                1. Although I'll be away for a bit over a week, I'd love to cook from OTTOLENGHI.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    hi, i'm wondering about concrete counters, and saw an earlier post from you on these, do you have a minute to chat? thx,

                                                    1. re: corriesue

                                                      I should have a bit of time to chat around 11 eastern time ... Basically I love mine, although I should warn you that they stain, or get water marks, quickly. But I think they look great. Ours have been in for about 5 years and there are maybe 2 tiny chips. They give you a sealent for fixing chips but the ones we have are so minimal that we haven't bothered.

                                                  2. Well, I've been holding off on voting, but I've decided to go with OTTOLENGHI. The passion of the O supporters has piqued my interest. I'm also curious to see how well it's going to work with the majority of the (potential) participants needing to cook from the web or from paraphrased recipes.

                                                    I do hope that an ardent O supporter creates a good index of recipes that are available. That list from the Guardian is such a hassle to skim since they don't always name the recipes very clearly.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                      Karen: I used the Guardian's Ottolenghi recipes for a few months before I bought the book. I don't understand what you mean that they don't name the recipes very clearly. At the site I used, there were pages and pages of photos of each recipe (mostly veg.) along with the recipe itself. I guess I should go there and see it again. Maybe they changed it.

                                                      Ah, now I see what you're getting at about the names. The recipes have more descriptions than names. It'd probably be difficult to quickly find a recipe for a dessert, then a salad and then a main dish. The Guardian site seems to be more suited to browsing through pages of recipes and photos to see what strikes you rather than planning a dinner party...especially if that dinner party is spur of the moment.

                                                      I'm sure those of us who have the book will be posting paraphrased recipes for those who don't have it.

                                                      EUREKA! I found another Ottlenghi site with lists of categories with recipes, e.g., Thanksgiving, etc. They seem to be clearer as to the title AND there are meat receipes.

                                                      http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/sitemap/

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        Well, what I'd prefer to see is a list of recipes and links to them, without so much excess verbiage around them. The page I'm looking at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl... is formatted with the date and his name in bold-face followed by a sometimes discursive description of a recipe ("adds a Malaysian twist to a southern Indian snack"). If they had even just made the recipe name boldface instead of the date and his name, it would be easier to skim the list.

                                                        Ideally I'd like to see a list of recipe names and links posted in the corresponding book sections (if O wins). That would make it obvious where to post reviews of the on-line recipes and also organize them in categories. (Yeah, I'm a stick-in-the-mud that likes to see recipes organized as main dish, side dish, desserts, etc.

                                                        )

                                                        But whatever happens happens.

                                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                          I guess I would be willing to work on something like this as well as post the book index., which hardly covers the multiplicity of recipes available online. But I find a simple google search , such as for Ottolenghi + (type of dish or ingredient name) + recipe turns up enough attractive recipe options that I would quickly run out of cooking time.

                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                            I'm happy to work on it too - I suspect that the index itself may be copyrighted though. I do understand the attraction of being able to browse through an available list of recipes, in addition to googling.

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I( dont see that a list of recipes is likely to be copyrighted any more than a list of ingredients,. we can cross that bridge if we come to it.

                                                      2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                        Well, I've been holding off voting too, mainly because from all the recipes I've read from both authors, neither book is thrilling so much that I'm Dying to cook from it. I had planned to cook from Ottolengi on-line anyway, and there are sufficient Sortun reipes on-line as well. So should I see somethng that appeals to me I'll cook and report, but other than that I'll just coast through the month. It's a really close vote though, isn't it?

                                                      3. OTTOLENGHI since all these posts made me go ahead and order the book from Amazon UK (total incl shipping $39.00 or so).

                                                        12 Replies
                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          buttertart lol I'm trying to hold out -- just a few more hours to know which one to get--but I'll probably end up with both anyhow. Though there are MANY online recipes to choose from I'm like a kid who doesn't want to go to bed--I'm afraid I'll miss something!

                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            I had Spice from the library and was underwhelmed, hence my interest in the other. And it really takes absolutely no pressure from anyone to get me to buy a cookbook, any excuse whatsoever, there must be over 500 in my kitchen collected over many years. I have also been getting some from the library to see if I would really use them (The Art and Soul of Baking and My Bombay Kitchen- which latter I am crazy about - are 2 I bought after vetting them) - so have restricted acquisitions somewhat that way. SOMEWHAT!

                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                              I am feeling slightly ill about the number of cookbooks I keep acquiring. I agree that Bombay Kitchen looks interesting tho I would have to give the library book a solid try before being purchased given the number of very fine Indian books I have already. Mango and Curry Leaves did not pass the library test. I have been examining library copy of Spice and so far am not convinced, but we shall see.

                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                I have to say, I had the same feeling when I took Spice from the library.

                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                  I know, it really is an obsession. That being said, I would really recommend the Bombay Kitchen, because it is all Parsi recipes which are covered to a limited extent in Madhur Jaffrey et al. The flavors are quite different - unusual masalas and spice pastes - and quite divine (a seafood stew was a standout). My sister-in-law is from Calcutta and has added Indian-published ones to the collection over the years - and I gave her a copy of this last time I saw her. PS agreed about Mangoes and Curry Leaves, bought but never cooked from - in fact have used very few recipes from any of their books which are interesting to read and have beautiful photos but I do not care for the authorial voice which I find smug and offputting.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    I've cooked a great deal from M&C and love it. That said, it's the only "Indian" cookbook I've used.

                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      Hmm, will reconsider it since I value your tastes (which seem to dovetail with mine in most regards). My Indian standby is Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking, a paperback that came out in the 80s, published by Barron's. And another favorite is one my sis-in-law gave me, The New Indian Cooking Course, published by Hermes House. Both available dead cheap on Abebooks.com.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Thanks for the tips.

                                                                        In case this helps - a thread on a lot of my cooking from that book. I'm having a college friend who has become a Buddhist monk (I think - haven't seen her for 24 years!) to dinner on Saturday, and plan to cook her a veg. meal from the book this weekend.

                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/344418

                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                          I read and enjoyed that thread. Will have another look.

                                                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                                                    Gosh, i ordered and received Mangoes and Curry Leaves before it was due back at the library.

                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                      OK OK, I'll have another look at it this weekend. High praise from 3 respected cookbook mavens must not go unheeded!

                                                                  3. re: buttertart

                                                                    I found Spice underwhelming at first glance, as well. But the more time I spent reading it, the more recipes I found myself marking. And I've had some really great results.

                                                              2. Well this is getting excruciatingly exciting--neck and neck. Maybe next time foxy fairy should put all the nominees into a hat (or bowl, or saucier, or Dutch oven) and pick one that way. It might be fun to be surprised -- or is that just me?
                                                                Some people have said they'd go for Ottolenghi or Spice in July, then the other the next month-- but aren't they similar, enough that these 2 in a row wouldn't be a good idea?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                  They are two very different takes on food as it's prepared around the Mediterranean. I just bought a third today, Vefa's Kitchen, a Greek cookbook that uses many of the same ingredients in very different ways. For me, cooking dishes from the cuisines of this part of the world, spells "summer!"

                                                                2. SPICE

                                                                  I have cooked a little from this book before, with utterly yummy results. I discovered Aleppo chile while trying some of the recipes, and now I use Aleppo all the time! Whipped feta -- yum. Lentil koftas --- mmmm. Hot buttery hommus -- more, please. These dishes are really pretty, too.

                                                                  I really do enjoy cooking from the actual book as opposed to a group of online recipes, and I can't afford to buy a book right now.

                                                                  1. SOLD! Okay, foxy fairy. You did it for me. I wasn't going to vote. I'm so far behind on COTM recipes I want to make I could opt out for a year and not get caught up. But . . . if I'm going to participate, I'd prefer to have a book in hand as well. And since that means library and the library only has one of the two we're voting on, I'll vote for

                                                                    SPICE

                                                                    1. The votes are counted -- close, but we do have a winner. Our July 2009 Cookbook of the Month is:

                                                                      SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN by Ana Sortun.

                                                                      I just reserved my copy from the library :)

                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                      1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                        I have put in a request for a book to be delivered to my local library branch. Ana has two restaurants in the Boston area and I haven't eaten at either of them. Looking forward to meandering through the book to see if it fits well into my life.

                                                                        Thanks for your work foxy. This was an exciting month for the COTM.

                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                          For the heck of it this morning when I saw foxy fairy's post I searched my local library and lo & behold there was the Sortun book just sitting there on the shelf. I ordered it and just got a call to pick it up today.

                                                                          I have eaten at Oleana, but I was not happy with my meal. This was a few years ago so I can't remember what I ordered, but knowing me it was probably seafood. That I thought the dish was very salty I remember clearly, however I don't use much salt in my cooking and all my DCs (there were 8 of us) loved their food so I kept quiet. Now I can see for myself how she uses her spices and seasonings.

                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                            You're welcome and we are LONG overdue on the Oseland ingredient exchange... :)

                                                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                              Anytime. I have a box full of ingredients. You know how to reach me!

                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                I know that those candlenuts are anxious to meet me, right smtucker? :) Wow -- isn't one of the great benefits of COTM joining this fabulous community of home cooks?!?!? Yay! This endeavour has been so life-enhancing for me.

                                                                                I hope that a bunch of new people will cook with us in July as we explore SPICE! As I mentioned, I discovered fabulous Aleppo chile while experimenting a little with the book when I checked it out of the library in the autumn of 2007. I am so looking forward to learning more as I cook from the book.

                                                                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                  Every night the candlenuts quietly call "foxy, foxy, oh where is my foxy?" and then they roll over and go back to sleep.

                                                                                  Learning to use new seasonings and spices is one of life's great joys.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                    "Learning to use new seasonings and spices is one of life's great joys." Amen to that. You might even say it's the spice of life!

                                                                                    Seriously, though, from the spice perspective, COTM has made me a much better 'hound because, now, instead of wondering what that unfamiliar aroma/flavor/texture is, I know what it is!

                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      I was delighted to read, in this month's COTM "Elizabeth David Classics" that ED doesn't much like sage or rosemary -- (me neither!)
                                                                                      These "exercises" in cooking have made me better 'hound too--learning to trust my own taste. SPICE will be so interesting.

                                                                                  2. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                    I've got candlenuts on my shelf right now. What I have not been able to get is pandanus leaf. I can find imitation pandan extract but not the real thing.

                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                      put those candlenuts in the refrig or freezer - the go rancid fast. Pandan is an item you should look for in the freezer chests in asian stores. Imitation pandanus (aka screwpine essence) can be pretty awful. YOu can also buy cans of extracted screwpine juice in the aforementioned asian stores - if they have it it might be near the coconut milk and such.

                                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                        Oh they are there. We have about 5 Asian groceries in town and only one had the imitation. The others did not have it frozen or in any other form. An Indonesian friend whose daughter lives in the Netherlands had her send some over here. It was too late to make the recipe for the cookbook testing but I may try it this summer for my own satisfaction.

                                                                                        Living in a town with a major university and a wide ethnic population we are pretty lucky with the variety and selection we do have.

                                                                          2. Are there a lot of SPICE recipes online? I did a quick search and didn't come up with that many. It would be nice if someone with the book have a look. :-)

                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              I don’t have the book. I took it out of the library when it was first under consideration many, many months ago and now have it on order again.

                                                                              But I did find a lot of recipes online. So many, in fact, that I quit looking after the 16 listed here. Nearly all of those that follow say they are either from the book or have been adapted from it. I also found a copy of the index online ( http://browseinside.harpercollins.com... ) so that anyone who comes across a Sortun recipe online can double check and see if it’s listed in the index.

                                                                              Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers
                                                                              Chopped Romaine and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Dressing
                                                                              Trout Spanakopitta with Avocado and Salmon Roe
                                                                              Künefe with Champagne-Cardamom Syrup
                                                                              http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/recip...

                                                                              Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Spicy Feta Sauce
                                                                              http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/wa...

                                                                              Caramelized Onion Tart With Poppy Seeds, Bacon And Dates
                                                                              http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/16834...

                                                                              Spinach Falafel With Tahini Sauce
                                                                              http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/16824...

                                                                              Ground Beef And Pistachio Kebabs
                                                                              http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/16816...

                                                                              Circassian Pilav for Dolma
                                                                              http://www.starchefs.com/features/tap...

                                                                              Spoon Lamb
                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/din...

                                                                              Spicy Carrot Purée
                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/14/din...

                                                                              Fried Mussels With Almond-Garlic Sauce
                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/din...

                                                                              Frozen Almond Cream With Sugared Almonds (Cremolata
                                                                              )http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/din...

                                                                              Flatbreads With Spiced Chicken, Pistachios and Roasted Peppers
                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/din...

                                                                              Heirloom Tomato Kibbeh
                                                                              http://www.delish.com/cooking-shows/f...

                                                                              Moroccan Spiced Radishes
                                                                              http://www.delish.com/cooking-shows/f...

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                Thanks for that Joan. As I can only participate in July's COTM using online recipes, it's great to have a copy of the index.

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  A few more:

                                                                                  Paopao Cocktail (p. 36) and Sliced Summer Tomatoes with Walnut and Basil Tabouleh (p. 258)

                                                                                  http://harvard.com/upload/chef_displa...

                                                                                  From Food and Wine (though not all are in the book - maybe we can include online recipes too?).
                                                                                  http://www.foodandwine.com/chefs/invo...

                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                    I'm definitely in favour of including on line recipes - I'm unlikely to buy the book this month. Perused it at the bookstore and, while it looked nice enough, I didn't feel moved to purchase it.

                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                    After taking a look at those first few links, I may just have to give in and buy this one! Whipped Feta, lentil kofte, watermelon and tomato salad all look amazing:)

                                                                                    1. re: yamalam

                                                                                      One that has my attention is "Spoon Lamb"... wow!

                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                        That looks good to me too! mmm...lamb so tender you can eat it with a spoon ; )

                                                                                        Yamalam, that whipped feta is great. It's one of the first recipes I made when I first bought the book, and I know another CH - Palmito - recently made it and really liked it.

                                                                                        I've been cooking from Spice this month already and got an early start for COTM. Three new favorites in the last couple of weeks are the fideo with chickpeas, swiss chard, vanilla and saffron, the fried squid with avocado "hummus" (my first time cooking fried calamari and it came out perfect - E's top favorite so far), and the grilled shrimp with spicy feta dip and watermelon and tomato salad (BTW, for AZ Chowhounds, I used Padrón peppers for the feta dip, and yellow watermelon for the salad - both locally grown by Seacat Gardens and available at Phoenix-area farmers markets).

                                                                                        I also love that she has a wine pairing suggestion with every recipe.

                                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                                          I have some swiss chard from this week's veg box delivery, and I found an online recipe for the fideos, so I'm going to try that this week. Thanks Rubee.

                                                                                          Link for anyone interested:

                                                                                          http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ch...

                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            There's no vanilla in the online recipe though. I assume they've taken it out - have to say I can't really see vanilla working with that combo but I may be convinced. What did you think, Rubee?

                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                              I really liked it - such unique flavors. I'm actually making it again when I have a CH friend over for dinner in July. With all the ingredients, the vanilla isn't that noticeable - more like a hint of subtle flavor in the layering. I don't really think you'd need it, though in the book it's under the chapter on "Recipes with Saffron, Ginger, and Vanilla".

                                                                                              The simmering and straining is the most time-consuming step so I did that the day before. We used half for the two of us, and the other half is in the freezer. The recipe in the book calls for simmering onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, saffron, vanilla bean, ground coriander and fennel, ancho chiles, canned tomatoes, cocoa powder and stock or water. Once pureed and strained, this makes an intensely flavored rich-colored broth.

                                                                                              The pasta - I used Spanish fideo - is toasted in the oven (I over-toasted but it didn't seem to affect the dish). To finish, heat the broth, add thinly sliced swiss chard and chickpeas, and then the pasta added and simmered until it absorbs all the seasoned broth. Finally, lemon aioli is stirred in to make it creamy. She gives the variation for orange aioli too, but I made the lemon.

                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                          That lamb is on my list as well, although I don’t think it’s going to be easy to find shoulder chops as thick as she specifies. Certainly not in the supermarket. I suspect I’m going to have to get the butcher to cut them for me.

                                                                                          One thing that’s bothering me about this book, and I find it mighty annoying, is that some editor really fell down on the job when it came to the index. In a book not divided in the traditional way so that you can flip through a chapter on fish or poultry, a thorough index is critical. In this book, under “fish,” there are a couple of listings for broth or spices, and then a “see also specific fish” cross reference. How the hell are you supposed to look up specific fish when you haven’t got the vaguest idea what’s in the book in the first place? Makes it very difficult to shop, buy what looks best, and come home to look for a recipe for that ingredient. And it makes the book much less useful for me.

                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                            The quality of an index makes a huge difference in the usefulness of a cookbook. I just couldn't agree more. However, I have marked a surprising number of recipes that sound good, so I remain optimistic.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              if you have a costco, they have some thick boned out lamb cuts that might be usable - even the leg..

                                                                                              I have this book home from the library and am rather lukewarm on it since it seems to fall in the category of chef's book, fusion category. In these, the chef takes a basic culinary approach (in Sortun's case, based on her french training) and grafts on flavorings and bits from other cuisines (I make an exception for Ottomanelli who is just wildly creativeand seems to transcend classes) (Chef's books also tend to have fussy steps and procedures)- Personally, Id much rather go to the source and work on the flavors of the exotic cuisine, Nevertheless Im hoping to find some dishes I like here.

                                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                Am just guessing here you meant Ottolenghi, not Ottomanelli? Easy slip when discussing cuts of lamb. ;-)

                                                                                                Unfortunately, no Costco. But I'm sure Citarella will cut shoulder chops for me. I'll just pay rather dearly for what is usually a comparatively inexpensive cut of meat.

                                                                                                Totally with you on the lukewarm part. At least so far. I took it out of the library once before when it was under consideration, tried one recipe, and had no desire to try more. I think the book annoyed me for exactly the reasons you state. But now that it's been chosen I've taken it out of the library again and have a few recipes I'm going to try. In fact, already tried one idiot-simple one with great success so that, at least, encourages me to try more.

                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                  It's interesting to read this latest discussion of The Book. I too took it out of the library just-to-see. It's sitting right here as I type. I'm totally ambivalent. There are a few recipes for seasoning blends and some others I've made note of intending to try. But some of her combinations just make me roll my eyes, they seem so - awful. I did go looking for a recipe for cod on the weekend and found 2: 1 for salt cod and the other with fillets and Truffled Leek Sauce and Sweet Potater (sic) Tots.....unappealing to me. I ended up using something from Fish Without a Doubt which was wonderful.

                                                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                JoanN:

                                                                                                This is one of my pet peeves as well. This type of index seems to take for granted you either have loads of fresh fish, etc. on hand and just need a recipe instead of having none on hand and expecting to be inspired by the fish recipes before going shopping. I have a couple of other cookbooks set out in this way. Is this some chic trend?

                                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                  "Is this some chic trend?"

                                                                                                  Yes. It's called laziness. Lazy indexer, who figures doing a mediocre job will take less time, pay more money, and not be noticed. Lazy editor, who barely pays any attention to the index because s/he knows it won't make a bit of difference in how many copies the book sells.

                                                                                                  In some instances indexers will use cross references in lieu of entries when space is extremely tight. But that's not true in this book. There's a whole bunch of blank pages at the end.

                                                                                                  And not that this should have anything to do with it, but it's shocking how often it does: "Spice" was published by Regan Books, known for celebrity blockbusters, not cookbooks.