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**November/December 2009 COTM: Simon Hopkinson & All About Braising**

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The Holiday COTM winners are in!

Roast Chicken and Other Stories, by Simon Hopkinson
&
All About Braising, by Molly Stevens

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  1. What are your thoughts on organizing the threads for these re-visits? Last year, we just used the old threads and added on, right? Did that work well, or should we try something different this year?

    4 Replies
    1. re: yamalam

      I think using the old threads is the way to go. That allows all the information to be collected in one place, which I think is important in the long term, and also makes it easy for present users to revisit and learn from the experiences people posted about the first time around.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Yes, I agree.

      2. re: yamalam

        I'm really thrilled! And yes, I think we should just do the same thing we did last year - add on to the old threads.

        1. re: LulusMom

          Sounds good!

      3. I apologize if this information has been stated elsewhere, but are both books for November and December? Or will it be one book per month?

        3 Replies
        1. re: newfoodie

          Last year we did both books over the two months.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Great, All About Braising is already in transit to my branch of the NYC Library!

            1. re: newfoodie

              Yup, both books spread over the two months.

        2. I'm so excited about doing Hopkinson again! I don't have All About Braising, and didn't participate that month, but will take a look at it. My husband when through the entire new book by Hopkinson (The Vegetarian Option) and said it looks just fabulous. And he isn't a big vegetable fan - cooking from Vegetable Harvest could have cost me my marriage, if I hadn't quit half way through the month!

          8 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            Can you tell me more about The Vegetarian Option please. Haven't had a chance to get to a bookshop yet to have a look. :-)

            1. re: greedygirl

              I haven't seen it yet - husband arrives in a couple of hours. Or are you teasing me? (grin)

              1. re: MMRuth

                Well, it is a beautiful book (photos), and Hopkinson's wonderful voice comes through, as always. Lots of delicious looking recipes. Unlike Wells' Vegetable Harvest, Hopkinson doesn't stint on butter, olive oil, cheese, cream, etc.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  Photos? That's a departure for him, no? (I've only seen Roast Chicken...)

                  That is my one recollection of cooking from Hopkinson, is that he really loves his fats. But, who can argue against the deliciousness of fats? I was hard core on Weight Watchers last time we did Hopkinson and I actually had some decent success in cutting some of the fat down in order to participate. I'm a little less intense right now than I was then, but I will probably continue to shave here and there this time around, too. It is possible to use less fat (though very difficult to completely eliminate it and still stay true) if you're timid about (delicious) fats.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Week In, Week Out, which hasn't been published in the U.S., is a large book with gorgeous photos as well.

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    What did you think of the recipes you tried, MMRuth? Should I be asking Santa for a copy of this book?

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Yes - so far so good. Will try to post over the weekend about it.

                  3. re: MMRuth

                    I'm just impressed that you have this book in your hot little hands before I've even had a chance to look at it! ;-)

              2. Hi:

                We've changed the title of this thread a bit - from "Roast Chicken and Other Stories" to "Simon Hopkinson" - because, as we discovered last time, having the title of this book in the thread title led to lots of false positives for those searching for roast chicken recipes.

                Happy Cooking!

                1. Well OK.... this is good. I have both books and now have to do some planning. At least I don't have to buy more exotic ingredients that will languish in the pantry for a few months.
                  Rose water anyone?

                  Many thanks Yamalam!!

                  26 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Today I was cleaning the pantry and discovered orange blossom water and I can't remember which recipe or cuisine I bought it for. Anyways I have given myself one month to use it or not.

                    1. re: cpw

                      I'll bet the orange blossom water was for Ottolenghi.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Or maybe Arabesque?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          That's a good guess, too.

                          Here's a good thread on using up rose water and orange blossom water. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6380...

                          ~TDQ

                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Right , I bought the rose and orange waters for the Ottolenghi month and only used the orange water. I have no idea how to use them now. I *did* like that Ottolenghi book, though.

                          Ever since MMR has been sighing over Hopkinson I now have the urge to get his other books. In fact I just pre-ordered the Vegetarian book from Amazon and expect to get the second Roast Chicken book too. I read his interview at the Telegraph web site and am very intrigued....

                          1. re: Gio

                            One that I don't have is The Prawn Cocktail Years, though I've perused it several times.

                            "Full colour cookbook sets out to rehabilitate food we have once loved and found exciting by adding good fresh ingredients to former favourites such as spaghetti bolognese, chicken kiev and even coq au vin. "

                            Also, I didn't realize that The Vegetarian Option was going to be so readily available in the U.S. One thing that is odd is that the book is 20 pounds in the U.K. (the copies my husband got had a 4 pound discount), and on Amazon they show the list price as $24.95, and the discounted price $16.47.

                            http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Opti...

                            Edit - this explains it - "Hardcover - April 1, 2010" is the availability date!

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I have the Prawn Cocktail Years - it's great fun, and I've made the prawn cocktail several times as it's a bit of a guilty pleasure (that everyone likes!).

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                gg: What in the world does the prawn cocktail have in it to make it a guilty pleasure? Whipped cream?

                                1. re: oakjoan

                                  Nah, it's just considered a bit naff and seventies, but everyone secretly really likes it, I've discovered.

                              2. re: MMRuth

                                I've pre-ordered from Amazon in the past and many times the delivery date was much sooner than the stated availability date. I can wait.... there's so much to do in the next few months.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I wonder if this one will have U.S. measurements.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    That's really not a problem for me. I've cobbled together a conversion chart of my own and along with the inclusive charts in "Jean Anderson Cooks" I can do the conversions quickly as I read through a recipe. I don't know why some people get thrown by the difference in measurements. I look at it as another learning experience. Gotta keep the brain cells active!

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I shoul really do that myself - I tend to use the scale and measuring cups, but it would be easier if I had a little cheat sheet.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I have a printed out cheat sheet, but I still find the process a bit daunting sometimes. But Gio is right - gotta keep those brain cells active.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Lulu's Mom: I find it daunting as well. The measurements for a cake, e.g., don't come out to round number U.S. measurements. They can be something like 1.6 cup or .7 Tablespoon... It'd be fine it all measurements were weights, but they're not, and it'd be pretty irritating to pour a small amount of vanilla into a cup to be put on the scale.

                                          I think I'll just have to finally get "foreign" measuring cups and spoons. I plan to do this next week so I can make the Olive Oil Apple Cake in Ottolenghi! For the 3rd time!

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            We don't have measuring cups though - just weights. And the difference in American vs British tbsps is so small that I've never found it a problem.

                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                              I do just weigh everything on the scale - other than tsps and Tbs - or use my Pyrex measuring cups that have ML marked on them. I'm making two dishes for tonight from my new book, and have done no math in getting the ingredients ready.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Oh yes, I forgot that you probably need a pyrex jug. Mine has both fl oz and ml on it. (Be sure to report back on your new book, btw!)

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  As far back as I can recall, Pyrex measuring cups have always had both, so there's no equipment burden for Americans there.

                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    Caitlin: Unfortunately, I have a tres chic set of measuring cups that I got as a gift which are nesting and only have the gross measurements - 1/4, 1/3, etc. Turns out they are tres useless. Pyrex here I come.

                                                  2. re: greedygirl

                                                    Yes, all of mine have both as well.

                                                2. re: oakjoan

                                                  Right ... its the baking that makes me nervous. Other stuff I'm not so worried if its slightly off.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    LulusMom - what is it about the scale that you find difficult to use?

                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                      It is electronic and digital. I am of an earlier age (at least mentally) and find it hard to even figure out how to turn it on.

                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                        Here are some recipes from SH's new cookbook, The Vegetarian Option:
                                        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life...

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          I just finished eating a fabulous souffle from that book.

                              3. How fun! I haven't cooked from either of these, so I'm looking forward to it. I didn't vote because I was curious to see which the people who had participated in the original COTMs wanted to come back to. It was clear that Braising would be in, and I was hoping that Hopkinson would be the second.

                                Regarding the pantry, yeah, I'm wondering what to do with the leftover belachan and candlenuts! Maybe try a different Indonesian cookbook, because as charming as Cradle of Flavor was, most of the recipes just didn't wow me.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                  I'm looking forward to these books. I didn't participate in the All About Braising month a while ago and am interested in giving Hopkinson's another go. I hardly cooked anything from it the first time around.

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    Same here.I wasn't participating when we did the Braising book, but wish I had been. I did cook a fair amount from Hopkinson and am delighted to revisit it.

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Me too! I just need the weather to cooperate. Current Phoenix temp is 92...not quite braising weather, groan.

                                      I have started loaning out my favorite cookbooks, my brother got Batali, my stepmom got Bon Appetit Y'all, my recent college grad niece got Alice Waters, all with notes and post-its on my favorite recipes and a clause entitling me to rescind them at any time. Any day now I'm waiting for a "Can you believe how rude" post about me on the Not About Food thread but I do have room for Braising and Hopkinson now!

                                2. Dear Dr yamalam

                                  I regret to inform you that I've just been looking at the old threads for All About Braising and I think I may have to forget my groaning book shelves and buy it. I am beyond help.

                                  Yours,
                                  Hopeless Cookbook Addict.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Dear Ms Greedy Girl,
                                    That's not your real name, now, is it? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Just go out and buy the damn book. You'll be glad you did.
                                    Everlastingly yours,
                                    Simon Ruth-Stevens

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I am so excited about the November/December choices. I just ordered one from Amazon, the other from my local library (for once, it wasn't already taken!) so I am good to go. Meanwhile, I am going to look up the old threads and get a head start!!! Happy early holidays to all of us COTMers.

                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                        Here a link to the COTM archive, which then links to Hopkinson and Braising, for head start purposes:)
                                        http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                      Dear HCA,

                                      In these uncertain times, one thing is certain: ikea bookshelves are cheap!

                                      -The Doc

                                    3. Oh, I'm excited about the choices! I just took out Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken & Other Stories from the library this week, without ever seeing this thread, so I think it means I have to cook from it & participate in COTM. Just flipped through the book and it looks wonderful. Can't wait to read it & use some of the recipes.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: always_eating

                                        Welcome to COTM always_eating! I hope you enjoy this adventure as much as I do. The discussions are insightful, informative, often hilarious, and that's apart from the reports themselves. There are some very clever cooks here but don't be intimidated... it's all fun and great eating.

                                      2. I received my copy of All About Braising yesterday. Haven't had time for a proper look yet, but it did come with a very handy laminated conversion chart which I don't really need but some of you would just love it! I thought it was a nice touch and that more publishers should do it.

                                        1. So where are the Chapter headings already??
                                          I have posts to make and reports to mis-type. LOL

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I think we just go back and use the old threads:

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/505153 - Hopkinson

                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/330177 - All About Braising

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Yes, but surely someone is going to sticky the links to the top of the Home Cooking page, so we don't have to go find them, right?

                                              I read through the Hopkinson book and have marked a few recipes to try, but I fear I find it rather uninspiring personally. Even reading through the past threads (which I did search out last night) failed to inspire me. Ah well, Braising is waiting for me at the library, and I suspect it will be more my sort of cookbook.

                                              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                My library has 3 copies of braising and they are all out. I tried to buy a new one on Amazon about 2-3 weeks ago (when it was clear to me that it would be one of the choices this month) and they still haven't shipped it. I then ordered a used copy and am waiting for that to arrive. Sheesh!

                                                My plan/hope is to see if any of these Stevens recipes can be adapted to the slow cooker. Such a hard time of year for me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but I could really use some elevated crock-pot ideas!

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                  Agreed ... can't we sticky those posts? Or have links to them on this thread?

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    They are there now, I've asked the mods to retitle them to make it clearer, sorry for any confusion!

                                                    1. re: yamalam

                                                      Thanks!

                                                      1. re: yamalam

                                                        Thanks a million!