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*August 2009 COTM* OTTOLENGHI: Vegetables, Aubergines, Greens

Our Chowhound August 2009 Cookbook of the Month is Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi; and all online recipes by the authors.

Please post your full-length recipe reviews here for dishes from the cookbook chapter Vegetables, pulses and grains sections Fresh fruit and vegetables, Mighty aubergine, Greens, and More vegetables, and online recipes with those ingredients.

Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, or include a link to the online recipe, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. Let us know if you would like to make the recipe again, and if you would change anything in the future, too.

Please see the main Cookbook of the Month thread for some useful links.

Lists of the recipes from these book sections, along with links where applicable, and the opportunity to request paraphrases, may be found at these links:

Fresh fruit and vegetables: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6417...

Mighty aubergine: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6417...

Greens: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6417...

More vegetables: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6417...

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 and enjoy!

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  1. Cucumber and poppy seed salad, page 20

    Seven people came to dinner the other night, and I decided to include this recipe. [Any excuse to make something with cucumbers since I am the only one in the house that will eat them.]

    I used regular American cucumbers bought at the farmer's market instead of the small cucumbers called for. Weight was the same however. Also had to substitute half vegetable and half EVOO for the sunflower oil. Threw all the ingredients together, and let them marinate in the fridge until about an hour before dinner.

    I put them out on lovely platters and was shocked to discover that the 1 and 5 year old had eaten almost all of the cucumbers before we even sat down to eat. This was delicious!

    There was lots of leftover marinade, so I simply added fresh cucumber for my own enjoyment the next day for dinner. [No pictures. With seven people, two under the age of 6, there was no time for a camera but the salad looked just like the picture in the book.]

    16 Replies
    1. re: smtucker

      Excellent. This is on my list to try (many cukes--the American kind-- in the CSA box right now!) I was wondering how it would work with American cucumbers, so, thanks for reporting back on that.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: smtucker

        I also tried the cucumber and poppy seed salad on page 20... I regret to report that I didn't love this dish. I thought it was bland, and way too heavy on the oil. I could have easily used 1/3, maybe even 1/4 the oil the recipe called for and been happy. I think I've been spoiled by Vietnamese cucumber salad, which I prefer, I guess. Still, I need things to do with cucumbers this time of year, so, I might experiment with the peppers a little (I notice that Candy, in her Ottolenghi thread, mentions she used a very sweet red pepper and was happy with the results) and cut back on the amount of oil and see what I think. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used regular American cukes. I scooped out the centers before weighing them.

        I should also mention I'm not feeling great tonight. In fact, I'm specifically cooking to keep myself distracted and "awake"--otherwise, I would have gone to bed at 4pm today! HA! Anyway, that could be affecting my judgment/tastebuds, although, my husband wasn't enamored with this dish either.

        I served this with the Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts, and honey, which I will report on in the appropriate thread.

        I do have a photo though!

        ~TDQ

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Whoops! My photo was too big. Let me try attaching it again, now that I've shrunk it.

          ~TDQ

           
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Hmmm, I have to say this worries me a little. I have planned to make it this week. Like you, I'm pretty sold on asian cucumber salads, although I do tend to love all cuc. salads, so we'll see. I'll be sure to cut back on the oil.

            1. re: LulusMom

              I love cucumber as well and have a couple waiting in the fridge at home. I think I'll try and make this at the weekend.

              1. re: LulusMom

                It's quite possible that the amount of oil is a conversion from metric to standard problem or something and I blew it, but I don't think so...

                It's not that it was awful or anything. It's just that it's got that sweet/vinegar-y thing going on and I think similar Vietnamese versions I've tried work out better. I do think the kind of pepper you use can make a difference. You might consider consulting Candy's thread where this recipe was discussed to see if you can glean any tips from that.

                Oh, and I should probably mention that I didn't use caster sugar. I just used regular granulated sugar. I meant to put it through the grinder but forgot. Maybe that made a difference, too.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Got to the grocery store with your review in mind and looked at the (fairly lame looking) cucumbers and said ... nah. Maybe next time.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I made this for lunch today and we really liked it. So much so that we managed to eat two whole (English) cucumbers between us! Mr GG kept stealing it from the bowl before the meal was ready. Served with grilled steak and my favourite broad bean and radish salad, also Ottlolenghi, made with what I fear may be the last of the broad beans. It's not dissimilar to an Asian cucumber salad, but the poppy seeds give it a bit of a twist.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Hmmm...I just didn't love it. I wonder if I did something wrong, though, it's so simple, I can't imagine what. Did you use sweet or spicy peppers (I used "medium" spicy")? And did you find the amount of oil to be overwhelming?

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I used my regular chillies, which are the relatively mild ones like long fingers (cayenne) and halved the amount of dressing. You leave a lot of that behind anyway.

              2. re: smtucker

                I made this cucumber and poppy seed salad last night. I discovered that I was out of cilantro (had used it for a cold avocado soup earlier in the day, forgetting I needed some for the salad) so used parsley instead, rationalizing that parsley would go better with my italian pasta main course anyway :) I used a red bell pepper for color and a jalepeno for some bite since "mild red chilis" are not really available for me.

                I used half the oil called for.

                This was just ok for me. The poppy seeds were interesting and made it more than a regular cucumber salad, but this just didn't grab me. Maybe the cilantro was the key ingredient, who knows, but I don't think I'll make this again.

                1. re: smtucker

                  I had bought some cucumbers from the farmers market last weekend, and was put off by the reviews. Finally when the cucumbers were not fresh enough, I though WTH, let me just make the salad and then throw it.

                  I had already made up my mind that I am not going to follow the recipe as as, so I was carefully tasting along. I peeled the cucumber as the skin felt hard to me. Again I used my green chutney, instead of cilantro-mint. For chiles, I used fresh serranos and crushed them in food processor, as I thought I would like that more. I added white poppy seeds as that is what I had in my pantry (surprisingly a great addition). Instead of 125 ml of oil, I stopped at 25 ml (it is so much of fun to weigh and measure everything). I tasted the mixture it was as the recipe describes it to be, very pickly (I think that's what it says). Then I put the cucumbers in my tupperware and off to the picnic!

                  I highly recommend this dish.

                  1. re: cpw

                    Did you use less vinegar as well - 25 ml of oil is barely 2 Tbsp, so you would have ended up with a very vinegary dressing otherwise. I'm not surprised it was pickly!

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      You have a point there, but somehow vinegar was not overpowering even with 25 ml of oil. After mixing everything, oil was the last thing I added before the cucumbers, and since at 25 ml it tasted fine to me, I did not any more.
                      Maybe the sugar balance it out (I used regular granulted sugar, instead of caster-which is quite expensive here in whole foods), or maybe the green chutney balanced it out.

                      1. re: cpw

                        If you simply take regular table sugar and throw it in the food processor or your spice grinder, you get caster sugar. A simple [and cheap] fix!

                  2. re: smtucker

                    Made the cucumber and poppy seed salad. This time I chose the rice wine vinegar since I had just bought a special vinegar at the Japanese store.

                    Darn do I love these pickles. Guests rated them at an A+.

                  3. Marinated aubergine with tahini and oregano, page 26

                    I love roasted eggplant and this looked like just the thing for the same dinner mentioned above. I haven't ever roasted eggplant in the oven before, having always used a grill in the past. I used baby eggplant, doubling the recipe.

                    The eggplant slices took far longer than the stated 15-18 minutes to reach the soft stage. They marinated for about 6 hours. Before serving, I brought them to room temperature and drizzled the tahini sauce.

                    I really wanted to love this, but I thought it was just okay. I didn't use anywhere near as much tahini dressing as indicated and still found the flavor a little too overwhelming. I will try this again, making the eggplant on the grill, but will reduce the oil amount dramatically.

                    In fact, everything I have made from the book would taste just as good with a little less added fat.

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: smtucker

                      This is a very good dish, without the tahini, Serious editing problems with this recipe: states that this is one of their few salads not calling for garlic, then calls for it. The tahini sauce is just not right here. (But, it's darned good on fish.)

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        Yea? I have lots of fish [sustainable share] and plenty of that tahini dressing in the fridge. Any fish, any preparation? I would love not to waste that much tahini.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          I've put it on halibut, salmon, and catfish, so I think you're good to go on anything. I add lots of Greek-style yogurt and lemon juice when serving this as a sauce for fish. The quality of your tahini is paramount: Try to find fresh; if you don't have local access, try buylebanese.com.

                        2. re: pikawicca

                          We made the marinated aubergines last night without the tahini .... we loved the ease of preparation and the end flavor....pungent and spicy. Served them on grilled naan as a side with a fish salad made with left over CSF. Like SMT's they did take a few minutes longer to reach the "soft and creamy" stage but in the end they were very tasty. FWIW: I always use less oil or fat any recipe calls for. Never seems to make a vast difference.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Local eggplant should be hitting the markets any day now. I am absolutely going to make this another time with locally grown eggplant, and skip the tahini just to really taste the base recipe.

                            [What is this fish salad?]

                            1. re: smtucker

                              Last week I made the endives with fresh breadcrumbs and Serrano ham. The endives are cut in half and put cut side down into a pan with some butter and sugar (I used oil and some butter to make it just a tad less rich) which has been allowed to caramelize. After they are browned, they're removed to a baking dish and sprinkled with a mixture of fresh breadcrumbs (my own sourdough breadcrumbs - nerny nerny nerny! or is that neener neener neener?) mixed with cream (I used milk) and some seasonings. That is piled onto the cut sides of the endive and the Serrano ham slices are draped over the whole thing. They're then baked until the endive is cooked through and the whole dish browns.

                              Wow! This is rich and absolutely delicious. The caramel taste mixed with the slight bitterness of the endive and the saltiness of the ham work perfectly together.

                              I'd provide the page number, but foolishly I lent my Ottolenghi book to a friend last Saturday night. I'm already wondering if it's too soon to call her and ask for it back.

                              1. re: oakjoan

                                Carmelised endive with Serrano ham, page 49

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Caramelized Endive with Serrano Ham: More Vegetables, Pg. 49

                                  Made this as a side dish last night and as with all the other vegetable dishes we've made so far it was wonderful. Oakjoan describes the procedure and like her we made some substitutions. Instead of whipping cream we used 1/2 & 1/2 and used panko which I made finer with my rolling pin. Slightly sweet, salty, and bitter made a great flavor combination.

                                  Served the endive with pan-fried whiting with Ottolanghi's Green Olive, Celery Salsa.

                              2. re: smtucker

                                The eggplants I used came from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury MA. They were a little larger than the regular Asian eggplants we usually see, and they were a light lavender color, and....Sweeeeetttttt!!!!!

                                (The fish salad was actually a tacos filling from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday cookbook. That was yummy too. Made with leftover CSF share. I'll post it on that board eventually.)

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  I too made the marinated eggplant and skipped the tahini dressing. I loved the ease of preparation for this dish. I split my eggplant in 1/2 lengthwise, roasted it for about 20 minutes at 400 F. and then poured the marinade over it. It was absolutely delicious. I am not sure why but I felt like mint would be a nice addition. I think I will try this next time.

                                2. re: Gio

                                  I made the marinated aubergines as part of our appetizer today. They were spicy and very strong flavoured and we loved it.
                                  My eggplants were fatter than described in the book, but I tried to keep them the same size as described (I liked the fact how the recipe describes to cut the eggplant). Still I had had go few extra minutes to cook them.
                                  I marinated for just an hour before serving them with crostini. Also I have admit that I added extra olive oil as it seem to be required (!) with crostini.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    Another iteration of marinated aubergines without tahini dressing. I used four Japanese eggplants, which I cut into 16 or so wedges. Because these were smaller than what the book indicated, they were fully soft in 15 minutes or so. I discovered I had neglected to get chiles when buying produce, so I added a few healthy shakes of Aleppo pepper to the marinade. I didn't measure the marinade ingredients, just eyeballed the herbs, minced a fat garlic clove, squeezed a lemon, etc.

                                    I had my doubts when I put it together; eggplant looked a bit dry (I used very little oil to brush, since eggplant is such an oil sponge), marinade a tad harsh. But after three hours, I ate, and it was really tasty: creamy eggplant and assertive flavors in the marinade that had meshed well. Next time, I might add some minced capers, which would complement the lemon and oregano well.

                                    I ate mine with some Bulgarian feta, and along with a glass of Côte du Rhône rosé, that was dinner.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Capers sounds good. I am going write in my notes for next time.

                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                    I'm a bit confused by your comment - in the book, it's the next recipe on page 27 which doesn't have garlic, not this one. No editing problems as far as I can see.

                                  3. re: smtucker

                                    I made the Marinated aubergine with tahini and oregano the other night; I really liked it, but used only a tiny bit of the tahini sauce as a drizzle. I used some more of the tahini sauce with some chickpea "burgers" another night. I think perhaps he just called for a full recipe of the tahini sauce for "convenience" rather than that you are supposed to use it. But I loved the flavor of the eggplant. Like others, I cooked it longer than the recipe called for.

                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      Marinated aubergines with tahini and oregano was a big hit in my house. I cut two large eggplants into about 16 pieces each. Roasted in the oven for 22 minutes. Marinated for 3 hours at room temperature. Served with the tahini on the side, along with toasted pita wedges, as an appetizer for 8 people. No leftovers!

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        I made this again and the eggplant with marinade is so good, a tripled recipes disappeared on the first go-round the table. This time I used a Lebanese tahini and the dressing was so much improved. It was thinner and didn't completely take over the flavors.

                                        Wish I could read the label to tell you what kind of tahini it was.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          Marinated Aubergine with Tahini and Oregano, page 26.

                                          I started the eggplant on a grill pan for char marks, so it only took about 10 minutes to finish in the oven. The amount of green herb called for in the recipe is insufficient to make it look like the photo in the book, I'd multiply them next time to assure herbs in every bite. I marinated the eggplant for about eight hours in the refrigerator, brought it to room temperature before serving.

                                          I think I slightly prefer the warm eggplant with sesame dressing from the ENYT reviewed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7632...
                                          but that dish has a more asian taste. This one works well with Mediterranean flavors, so it worked in our dinner which included Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses (reviewed downstream somewhere), and Turkey and Sweetcorn Meatballs, reviewed here:
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6417...

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            The board is acting very funny and wouldn't let me make links or post photos, so trying again...

                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Lovely photos LN, looking forward to reading about those meatballs as I'd flagged that recipe for next week. ... fingers crossed that was a hit!

                                            2. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Marinated aubergine (eggplant) with tahini and oregano p.26

                                              I thought this was so delicious I couldn't stop myself sneaking pieces every time I passed the dish as it was marinading. I made the tahini sauce and although it was good I think I preferred it without the sauce. There seemed to be a lot more herbs in the photo in the book than I had but I thought it was great as it was. Half the recipe was left over (cannot get my kids to eat eggplant) so I'll see if it's even better tomorrow.

                                          2. Saffron Cauliflower

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

                                            This was a delicious side dish to Sortun's Crispy Lemon Chicken with Za'atar. I'm a big fan of the savory sweet/salty flavor profile and this was a great combination. Cauliflower florets are tossed with red onion (I used shallots), saffron, green olives (I used local Queen Creek olives), bay leaves, s&p, olive oil, and sultanas (which I think are yellow raisins; I used brown), and then baked covered for about 45 minutes. To serve, add fresh chopped parsley. Most of mine was wilted, so I also added thinly sliced scallions. I meant to try it drizzled with tahini as suggested, but forgot. It was just as good at room temperature as it was warm, and I'm going to use the rest tossed with pasta for lunch tomorrow.

                                             
                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              I get a lot of cauliflower in my veg box (not at this time of year though) and am always looking for new ways of preparing it. This looks just the ticket - gorgeous.

                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                Oh, Rubee, I was loving the idea of this recipe until you mentioned sultanas. I cannot stand raisins. It's one of two foods I really dislike. Are they essential to the dish or would it be good without?

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I liked the sweetness and thought the raisins balance the flavors. However, E isn't a big fan of raisins either, so I left them out of his serving and he still really liked this dish. If you do try it without, be sure to report back!

                                                  Added some chicken stock, a little butter, and tossed the leftovers with orecchiette for lunch today. Delicious. I've decided this is one of my favorite cauliflower dishes. E picked out all the raisins ; )

                                                   
                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                    Hmmm...maybe I should try it with the raisins, just in case... But, I do like pikawicca's dried apricots suggestion! I can't wait for my CSA cauliflower!

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    I'd try subbing chopped dried apricots.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      You probably have tried both but I think the golden raisins are so much better tasting than the standard. The texture is softer and less sugary too.

                                                    2. re: Rubee

                                                      I made this delicious saffron cauliflower as a side to lamb chops. I think this dish would have been much more tastier if I did not burn it!
                                                      Only now looking at Rubee's post I see that you were suppose to bake it -COVERED! I had missed out this detail in my print out. While the dish was in the oven 25-30 minutes, I decided to check on it, and all the raisins had charred and the olives were dark brown. So I took all the darker looking stuff out and let the cauliflower roast another 15 minute. And after 15 minutes when the cauliflower came out, I mixed the darker stuff black, which was definitely edible, just not presentable. Since it was just three of us in our picnic, I did not hesistate to take it along.

                                                      Even though it was a great dish, it was not such a great accompaniment to the lamb. They kind of worked together like tapas.

                                                      1. re: cpw

                                                        Oh no! Such a small, but important detail. Good thing you checked on it and were able to mostly salvage it.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                      2. re: Rubee

                                                        Saffron Cauliflower

                                                        Rubee summarizes it well above. I made this last night for a dinner party. Very easy to mix up and bake ahead of time. I left it covered with the foil to keep it warm. I didn't have enough parsley, so I used what I had on the Lamb Meatballs in Tahini sauce, since they needed the dash of color more than these did. Frankly, I think the parsley would almost be lost in this dish, it had so many lovely flavors going on. Definitely a winner.

                                                      3. I made the Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yogurt (page 29) the other night. I followed the recipe quite closely except I didn't have the pomegranate seeds. I did a half recipe since it was just for my husband and myself. I cut everything in half, including the garlic, but I still thought the garlic was *too* overpowering in the saffron sauce (and I love garlic). Since it's raw it really stands out. Personally I liked the marinated egglplant recipe on page 26 better.

                                                        40 Replies
                                                        1. re: DGresh

                                                          DGresh, I was eyeing this recipe but the on-line version does not list lemon juice as an ingredient although it mentions it in the directions. Does the book list lemon juice, and if so, how much? When I see raw garlic called for I often soak it briefly in lemon juice to tame it a bit and that's what I planned on doing here, all the more so because of your comments.

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            I just made this recipe for the second time, and we really enjoy it - the contrast between the crispy roasted eggplant and the cool yellow sauce is outstanding. I think the basil is also a fine contrast. re the garlic, we are garlic likers - I suspect it matters very much what garlic you are using and how big the cloves are. I actually put two cloves in this last time and the balance of flavors - tart, garlicy, fresh herbal and salty-roasty was fine. I bet it would be improved by the additional contrast of the sweet-tart pomegranate seeds.

                                                            Note, I have no idea how much eggplant 3 med aubergines are - I used 5 oriental eggplants the last time.

                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                              I just picked up some local eggplant to make this today. Garlic can be really industrial these days. I try to avoid buying garlic from China, which always tastes nasty to me. Lately I have had the greatest success with Mexican and Argentinian varieties. Can't wait for the local garlic harvest!

                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                smtucker: I agree about not buying the Chinese garlic, although I just find it pretty tasteless, not bad-tasting. Luckily, in the past month Berkeley Bowl has been getting Mexican garlic which is really great - pungent and fresh without those rotten or dried-out cloves throughout.

                                                              2. re: jen kalb

                                                                pomegranates are not to be found in my neck of the woods in the summer-- too bad he uses them in a lot of the recipes!

                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                  DGresh--I agree about the pomegranates. Many of the recipes in the book that call for pomegranates also call for ingredients that aren't available the same time of year as pomegranates, (at least, not in my neck of the woods.)

                                                                  However, I have noticed that on a couple of occasions they've suggested dried cranberries or sour cherries in lieu of the pomegranate seeds or said that the pomegranate garnish was optional. I don't think that subbing dried sour cherries for the pomegranate seeds would work in say, the bream dish, but I could see that it might possibly work in this "roasted aubergine with saffron yogurt "dish.

                                                                  jen kalb, if one couldn't get ahold of fresh pomegranate, do you think subbing dried cranberries or sour cherries for them might work in this dish? Thanks in advance.

                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Love the dried cranberries sub suggestion (somehow I'd missed that).

                                                                    Hope you feel better soon.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Oh, thank you! But, not to worry, I'll be fine. I've just been a little sleep deprived and my system is out of whack. I'm sure I'll whack it back into place this weekend with a little rest (and some exercise wouldn't hurt either!)

                                                                      I'm going to try the "fennel and feta with pomegranate seeds and sumac pg 17" tonight or tomorrow night (it looks like my Ottolenghi night of cooking tonight might be pushed to to tomorrow night...) using either dried sour cherries or cranberries (and my gorgeous CSA fennel) and will most certainly report back on how the substitution works.

                                                                      Is sorrel in season? I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never cooked with it and, therefore, have not even noticed whether it's in the markets right now. I have some lovely CSA new potatoes and want to try the "crushed new potatoes with horseradish and sorrel" on page 63. (I see you can substitute arugula if I can't find it.)

                                                                      In other news, on my inaugural use of this cookbook, I managed to get sunflower oil on my lamb pages. Boo!

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        That salad is good, I seem to remember. I made it an age ago. Good to see you cooking along again.

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Ok, reporting back. Want the bad news first or the good news first? How about the bad news

                                                                          fennel and feta with pomegranate seeds and sumac pg 17--oh my, we hated this, both of us. It was just too bitter and I thought the fennel and the tarragon did not complement each other at all. Instead they echoed each other and completely overpowered. I used fresh currants instead of pomegranate seeds and I actually think they were a pretty good substitution, even though they aren't very sweet. But, I don't think they were the problem. I couldn't even put a bite of the fennel in my mouth without thinking yuck.

                                                                          Anyway, this is the second vegetable salad recipe from Ottolenghi that neither my husband nor I have not liked (we didn't hate, but didn't love the cucumber and poppy seed salad), so, unless there's a salad out there that's getting universal love, I'm probably going to skip all of the vegetable salad recipes in the book. I don't know if they are just different than our tastes or if I'm doing something incredibly wrong. I'm trying to be as faithful as possible. to the directions, so, I don't think it's the latter.

                                                                          "crushed new potatoes with horseradish and sorrel" on page 63--these were great, but, oops, I see I'm supposed to post about these in the roots thread. Follow me to the roots thread!

                                                                          Photo below!

                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            Fennel is quite bitter generally though and lots of people hate it for that reason, and the slightly anise taste. Do you like fennel normally?

                                                                            I think the pomegranate seeds in this dish are probably key - they give that lovely sweet-sour taste and "pop" in your mouth.

                                                                            Sorry this didn't work out for you, TDQ. But you liked the green bean dish, so all is not lost!

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              LOVED LOVED LOVED the green bean dish.

                                                                              You know, sometimes I do like fennel, but I don't always like it. I think the real miss here was the tarragon. And, it's true that the pomegranate would have added some sweetness (that I'm not sure the currants added, even though the currents added the sour+pop) but, even so, I just don't see how you could get a bit of pomegranate in every bite. But, if the pomegranate is essential to making this work, then I can seldom have this dish because we seldom have access to fennel bulbs here when the pomegranates are in the stores. :( Perhaps this is just not the dish for me. Such is life, eh! I'm getting plenty of winners out of this book, so I am definitely not despairing!

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                TDQ: So this fennel dish had pomegranate seeds, feta, sumac AND tarragon? Seems like too much of a mush of flavors.

                                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                  Yep, all of that. I agree, too much going on. Now, to be fair, I used fresh currants because I had no pomegranate seeds, and fresh currants have little to no sweetness (although they do have tang and they do have a nice, fresh, "pop"). It's quite possible that was the fatal problem... Alas, my husband and I each took one bite (this is on top of my sampling in the kitchen, of course), and he pushed his dish away... We threw it all out, which is something I seldom do.

                                                                                  It's also possible that there was a proportion problem--maybe fennel in the U.S. is bigger than in the UK and that proportion was off? Also, it called for 1/2 a pomegranate and I just used about 1/2 cup of currants, so, again, how does one know the equivalent amount? It's very possible that this dish only works when you use exact measurements...

                                                                                  I'd like to try this fennel seafood salad, but am a little nervous now!
                                                                                  http://wwwfamilycookbookcom.blogspot....

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                              2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Wow, I don't think I've heard anyone describe fennel as bitter before! But I wonder if it's a time of year thing. I grow fennel in the winter, and that's also when I see it in the stores around here. So I could believe that fennel grown in the summer could get bitter. I do let some fennel reseed itself and grow in the summer because it attracts beneficial insects, but I never harvest it because the bulbs always look shrunken and dry compared to the thick, succulent winter fennels.

                                                                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                  Karen: I agree. To me fennel more licorice-y and that's what it's usually described as in the recipes I've read.

                                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          im not sure. It seems to me that a dried cranberry or cherry would be too large and intense vs. the cool light pop of the pomegranate in the eggplant dish. In heavier dishes, like with grains , or in salads,I think these subs or maybe chopped dried apricots would work just fine..

                                                                          Im trying to think what fresh fruit would work - maybe haved seeded grapes?

                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                            Hmmm...interesting point. Grapes sound pretty close, or, maybe just chopped sour cherries? I'm trying to think of a fresh fruit that is a little tangy like pomegranate seeds are. I think something like gooseberries would be good, but we're slightly out of season for those. We'll, I'll see what I come up with and definitely report back!

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              Pomegranates are not native to England at all and are always imported, so you can pretty much get them all year round, although they are more common from September and especially around Christmastime.

                                                                          2. re: jen kalb

                                                                            I remember from Simon Hopkinson month that there were some issues with just how much produce was called for. He'd call for 2 onions and I'd have a TON too many onions. I think most produce is a lot smaller in the UK.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              I can give you approximate sizes of various vegetables if you like. It could be a fun game and distraction from work!

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Too funny. Eggplants really run the gamut here ... some of them are almost the size of a football (oops, that crazy thing we americans call a football). Most are somewhat, but not hugely, smaller than that. How big does the average british eggplant run? And how about cucumbers? Ours are probably around 5-6 inches long.

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                  Your average aubergine, as we like to call them, is probably about six-eight inches long. I'm talking about the shiny purple Italian variety here.

                                                                                  An English cucumber is about ten inches or so. You can also get Lebanese cucumbers, which are about half the size and ridged or knobbly. They usually need peeling first.

                                                                                  Will people think I'm weird if I take a tape measure to the greengrocer?

                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                    Weird not be the first thing that springs to mind ...

                                                                                    How is the girth of those aubergines? Are they as fat as ours, or more like what we call Japanese eggplant?

                                                                                    I'm guessing your lebanese cucs are the same as our regular ones.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                      I'd say they're quite fat. Definitely on the portly side. And very shiny and a lovely purple colour. Here's a picture:

                                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aub...

                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                        And here's an English cucumber.

                                                                                        http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007...

                                                                                        If you have any other vegetable inquiries, please don't hesitate to ask. ;-)

                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                          "Greedygirl - there for all your vegetable inquiries." I can see the sign outside your office.

                                                                                          We do get "english cucumbers" here, usually at a much higher price.

                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            Your English cucumber is exactly what's sold in the US under the name "English cucumber" [g], always with a plastic wrapper. Our standard American cucumber is shorter and fatter, has a higher water content and more seeds (the seeds are often scraped out for recipes), and a thicker skin, which is commonly waxed for sale and so usually peeled.

                                                                                            http://www.foodsubs.com/Photos/cucumb...

                                                                                            Your aubergine looks to be the same length and color as our standard "globe" eggplant, but not as wide at the wide end. If you consider yours portly, I suppose ours are obese!

                                                                                            (most are actually not quite as fat as this one):

                                                                                            http://www.foodsubs.com/Photos/eggpla...

                                                                                            We can often find many other varieties of eggplant, but the chief alternative is Japanese eggplant: http://www.elysianfarm.com/images/lgJ...

                                                                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            Pretty much looks like our aubergine, although I'd say ours are often fatter.

                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                              I agree. gg's photo looks too slim for an American eggplant! Hey, they say we're a nation of fatsos! We like them thar eggplants BIG! I'd say an "American" eggplant is about 8 inches around and can be bigger. gg's photo looks a bit like what we call "Italian" eggplant.

                                                                                          3. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            the british cukes are usually those long hothouse ones - like we get wrapped in plastic, or the similar burpless varieties we can go.

                                                                                            The lebanese cukes are much smaller than american cukes - 3-4 in, long and slim - you can eat the skin much of the time - costco carries them here (NYC area) in bags and they also available at Fairway Sahadi and other stores catering to mideast populations.
                                                                                            they grow very well in the garden too.

                                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                              jenkalb: I've grown addicted to what are called "Persian Cucumbers" out here in Califa. They're more expensive, but so good that I hold my breath and buy them. Lately, I've also discovered them at Trader Joe's at a much lower price.

                                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                yes, these mideast types seem to be all over the place now - but too expensive. I hope the one cuke seed that came up in my garden this year proves to be one of these.

                                                                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                                                                    I reviewed the recipe and realized that we have not added the specified olive oil in the yogurt sauce either time - I think I am glad not since the main food value of the dish is the yogurt sauce - we used whole milk TJ greek yogurt and there was certainly no need for the additional fat. We didnt view this as a "dressing" - poured the whole recipe over the fried eggplant and it was perfectly fine.

                                                                                  3. re: DGresh

                                                                                    My turn tonight. Last night, we were grilling chicken and zucchini on the charcoal grill, so I prepared the eggplant to grill at the same time. I used six Japanese eggplant since that is what is being harvested here right now. Created thin strips of the eggplant, rubbed with olive oil and seasoned before lining them up in a single layer on a grill mesh tray.

                                                                                    Today I made the yogurt dressing after lunch to give the flavors time to blend. Only made half since we have found the amount of dressing to be too much. Took out the eggplant an hour before dinner to bring them to room temperature, harvested some basil and toasted some pine nuts.

                                                                                    I really like this, but also found the garlic a little overwhelming. Loved the saffron flavor. The dining partner really loved this, and doesn't even really like eggplant. He tried some of the dressing on the steamed green beans and proclaimed this a successful experiment.

                                                                                    As with other recipes, we found the amount of dressing in the recipes to be far too much. As you can see in the picture, I served it in a separate bowl, and I would say we each had about a teaspoon.

                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                      Photo was too large... trying again.

                                                                                       
                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                        Interesting! Especially your comment about the dressing in the recipes to be far too much. I found the oil in the cucumber salad I tried last night to be too much, or, at least the oil in it. My instinct was to cut back, but, since it was my first night cooking from the book, I decided against it. But, maybe next time I'm just going to follow my instincts based on your observation and my own gut feeling.

                                                                                        Thanks for reporting back!
                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                      2. re: DGresh

                                                                                        I made this again last night. I had three different kinds of eggplant from the organic farm. It was quite beautiful with dark purple, white and lilac colors all intermingled. I cut the 6 eggplants into wedges and made them a little bigger this time so that the meat to skin ratio was more pleasing. Once again, I cooked the eggplant on the charcoal grill. For the dressing, I used a local organic garlic and it was fabulous! None of that overpowering garlic taste at all.

                                                                                        I thought I had made enough for two meals, but only a few eggplant wedges went into the fridge at the end of the meal.

                                                                                      3. Radish and broad bean salad, p16

                                                                                        This is one of my favourite recipes in the book, and a simply brilliant preparation for broad beans (favas), which I get a lot of at this time of year.

                                                                                        Cook the beans for a minute or two in boiling water and double pod them. Cut the radishes into wedges and mix with the broad beans, onion, coriander, preserved lemon, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and cumin. Season to taste.

                                                                                        He says to serve this with green tahini sauce and pitta, but I always serve it as a side dish. It's just yummy. Do try this if fava beans are still in season round your parts.

                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                          Quick (and perhaps stupid) question: What does "double pod" them mean? Sorry, and thanks!

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            Favas need to be peeled twice, once to remove them from the actual pod and the second time to remove the outer shell from the bean. It's a pain, but well worth it. The second shelling is somewhat easier to do if the favas have been parboiled, but I love raw favas in a salad with salami and Pecorino (Zuni Cookbook) so happily suffer through whatever is necessary to get to the kernel of goodness beneath all the packaging.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              As Joan says, a fiddly job, but I always take the trouble unless the beans are very young.

                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                And I have never met a fava bean that I've liked raw, so I always parboil and peel.

                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  Wow, MMR, you don't like raw favas? My friend has lots in her garden and we just sit at the table in spring and eat them, second pod and all with a bit of pecorino romano.

                                                                                                  I guess the favas have to be realllly fresh for the raw thing to work.

                                                                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            I made the fava bean and radish salad for dinner tonight. Both are in season here, and were purchased from my farmer's market. So, when I started creating the dressing, I noticed the preserved lemons in the list, but didn't have any in the house. I substituted some lemon zest. And then, it turns out I had finished all of my cilantro, so I only used the parsley. A little extra to try to make up for the now gaping holes in my bowl.

                                                                                            I have never eaten, much less cooked, fava beans. I popped the beans out of the pod, blanched for 2 minutes, dropped them into an ice bath and peeled the beans. The results are a bit mealy. When I rubbed a few to dry them, they split into two pieces. Is this normal, or were these beans too mature?

                                                                                            Since I had the tahini dressing already made for last week's eggplant, I served it in a side bowl.

                                                                                            I really liked the flavor of the salad. The dressing was bright, the radishes with a slight bite against the beans. I just had some issues with the texture of those beans. My guests finished it, so at least a few people were able to rise above this small issue.

                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                              It's quite late in the season now for broad beans, so that probably accounts for the mealy texture. Mine were a bit mealy as well yesterday. It's normal for them to split into two pieces. I think they probably need a bit more than two minutes when they're mature, or that's what I thought yesterday about mine.

                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                Thanks. All of our farm produce is running about about 2-3 weeks late. Lots of rain and clouds during the month of June, meant that plants were not maturing and the fields were flooding. I did like the flavor, so I am not discouraged. Thanks for your thoughts.

                                                                                            2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                              Radish and broad bean salad:

                                                                                              We made this today for lunch, and loved it. Such a beautiful salad, and I loved the original combination of flavours. I also enjoyed the tahini sauce, it is a nice alternative to thicker, denser hummus. Instead of regular radishes, we used the milder French radishes, which worked fine. My thumbs are a little sore from peeling all the fava beans, but it was worth the effort.

                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                Radish and broad bean salad, p16

                                                                                                Loved this salad! My radishes were pretty hot, but were great in the salad with all of the other flavors. I'm not a cilantro fan and my parsley isn't big enough to harvest, so I chopped a combination of mint and lovage instead. We're not huge lemon juice fans, so I skipped the juice. For the preserved lemon, I chopped a wedge of it, keeping the flesh and that yummy thick, salty pectin juice that clings to it. The preserved lemon and the cumin are what transform this dish.

                                                                                                Really delicious! I'll definitely make this again next year when favas are back in season.