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*May/June 2010 COTM - GOURMET: Drinks. First Courses, Soups

Welcome to our May and June 2010 COTM, Gourmet Today: More Than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from the following chapters:

Drinks
Hors d'Oeuvres and First Courses
Soups

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  1. Hunan Scallion Pancakes, p. 55

    This was a great short-cut method using fresh flour tortillas from a local Mexican market, though next time I would use more scallions. Minced scallions, sesame oil, salt and egg wash is sandwiched between two tortillas. They're weighted, fried, drained, and cut into wedges. I also tried to make sure the edges were sealed with the egg wash so that they wouldn't be too oily. I served these with a dipping sauce of soy, Chiankiang black vinegar, and Sriracha.

     
    1. These are recipes I made prior to this month, so my recall may be a bit fuzzy:

      Mint Lassi, p. 30, is a nice alternative to the mango lassi that is so common in America. Toasting, then grinding cumin seeds, which I did in a mortar and pestle before putting everything in the blender, makes all the difference in flavor here. I suppose the blender would do a fine enough job if you have one with a powerful motor. I particularly like this recipe with buffalo milk yogurt, which has become hard to find here.

      Spiced Milk Tea with Saffron and Pistachios (Kashmiri Masala Chai), p. 33, was a total indulgent treat. We make chai on winter evenings fairly often, but it's usually more like the other recipe in the book. This version is gorgeous yellow with bright green bits floating and shimmering from the fats pounded from the nuts. This recipe would impress guests after an Indian style dinner party, and offers special pampering for any evening. We like it with honey in place of the brown sugar, and substantially less than the recipe specifies, about a teaspoon per person. I usually add whole cloves to masala chai, but this version has none, as well as no assertive ginger root, so the cardamom shines through, which I like. It reminds me a little of golden milk, without the slightly bitter edge of turmeric, of course.

      Vietnamese Summer Rolls, p. 94, we made without bean sprouts due to allergic sensitivities, with the Nuoc Cham recipe, p. 80, for dipping. Be sure to find palm sugar if you can, though brown sugar will work in the sauce. I actually like these better with added perilla leaves, which most southeast asian grocers will have in the produce department. They're also good with seasoned cooked shiitake mushrooms and tofu in place of the shrimp for vegetarian diners. I'm accustomed to pickling the carrots for these rolls, but the sugar rub is a nice quick alternative to soften and enhance their flavor. I do think they're probably best with the added crunch of bean sprouts if you don't have anyone allergic to that in your household. One note, and this is an important one, the recipe says they can be assembled and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead of time. This is a BAD IDEA! The rice paper wrappers that you carefully hydrated in warm water will dry out and become unpleasant, if not inedible, in the refrigerator. This is why you usually find summer rolls unrefrigerated at southeast asian grocers where snacks are sold. They'll sell them by a certain time, then mark them down to half price by 5 pm rush, because they need to be eaten the day they're prepared, unrefrigerated. So, if you're squeamish about storing cooked seafood at room temperature, make these fresh.

      1. Lentil, Sausage, and Escarole Soup, Pg. 134

        It just wouldn't occur to me to combine lentils and escarole though I love both individually. This soup was delicious, very satisfying... quick and easy for a week night meal. Lentils, water, stock, bay leaf and garlic are combined and simmered while the second part of the soup is prepared and cooked. In another pot sliced sausages are browned in oil then removed to a bowl. (I used TJ's spicy turkey sausages) Next, chopped carrots, celery, onion and more garlic are softened in the pan, seasoned with salt and pepper, then the lentils with cooking liquid and sausages are added in. This is cooked for about 10 minutes. Chopped escarole is now added and cooked for about 5 minutes. That's it. The recipe calls for red wine vinegar to be added at the end but after tasting I decided not to. Crusty bread and a simple tomato and red onion salad completed the meal. Very, very nice ! There's plenty left over for another meal. If I had left over rice or boiled potatoes I'd add them into the mix for the second time around.

        1. Mint Julep, p. 19

          Classic Mint Julep with a nice balance of the mint, bourbon (I used Eagle Rare), and sugar.
          The recipe calls for making a batch of 8. I used the ratios, but mixed them individually (the one in pic needed more ice), and served them on Kentucky Derby Day.

           
          1. Mushroom Strudels, p. 61

            I really liked the flavor of the filling in this, esp the rehydrated porcinis with their strained liquid, along with regular mushrooms, butter, shallots, whte wine, s&p, and parsley. I used the suggestion of brushing with duck fat (from D'artagnan), though forgot the truffle oil. I actually brought it to ArizonaGirl's house and she (of course!) had truffle oil. We tried them both with and without and thought the truffle oil gave a nice extra layer of flavor.

            I would make these again, probably freezing a batch to keep in the freezer. Presentation-wise, however, I would make these as phyllo triangles. It was hard to cut the logs into neat pieces without the phyllo tearing and flaking.

             
            3 Replies
            1. re: Rubee

              They look cute and thank you for the report, Rubee. I enjoy phyllo so much. What are those goodies peeking out behind the mushroom logs?

              1. re: twilight goddess

                They were these delicious onion and poppyseed tarts with bacon and dates I made from a past Cookbook of the Month - Ana Sortun's "Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean". I'm overdue to report on it. Will be sure to this week!

                1. re: Rubee

                  I have cooked from that book, with great enjoyment! Mmmmmm. Looking forward to seeing the report. Maybe you could add the link here too. thanks!