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*May/June 2010 COTM - GOURMET: Pasta, Grains/Beans, Veg. Mains

Caitlin McGrath May 3, 2010 12:15 PM

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:

Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings
Grains and Beans
Vegetarian Main Courses

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Rubee RE: Caitlin McGrath May 6, 2010 09:13 PM

    Poblano Tortilla Gratin, p. 318

    This was a delicious cheesy vegetarian tortilla casserole and was not only good as a side dish last night, but leftovers for breakfast today with a fried egg on top like chilaquiles.

    Earlier in the day I had fried a big batch of tortilla chips so used those (recipe calls for baking 9 cut-up tortillas). Arrange chips on the bottom of a baking dish, then a layer of sauteed roasted poblanos, onions, tomatoes (I used a can of diced), and garlic, and another layer of tortilla chips. Make a cheese sauce with a butter and flour roux, milk, and cheese (I used Monterey Jack), pour over, and garnish with poblano strips. It says to put the dish in the upper third of the oven, but I ended up moving it back to the middle of the oven since it was getting too brown. I also used more tortilla chips than the recipe called for, enough to make even layers.

    Recipe link:

    4 Replies
    1. re: Rubee
      mebby RE: Rubee May 7, 2010 09:25 AM

      That looks delicious and decadent!

      1. re: Rubee
        The Dairy Queen RE: Rubee May 21, 2010 06:45 PM

        Mushroom Barley Pilaf, page 274

        I was going to make this for dinner last night, but ran out of time, so, we served it tonight with the buffalo tenderloin steaks with gorgonzola butter (which I've reported on in the applicable thread.) I realized that I would be too tired to cook it tonight, too, if I didn't get a head start, so, I did half the prep in the morning and finished it after work. This is a departure from the recipe, which has you do it all at once, which is probably more efficient.

        This morning before work I cooked the barley (with home made chicken stock) and soaked the shitake mushrooms (then strained the soaking water and reserved for later use). I put the barley and the soaked mushrooms in the fridge (I put the shitake mushrooms in a bit of chicken stock so they wouldn't dry out.)

        When I got home from work, I chopped the vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, and garlic) which I sauteed in a bit of butter and olive oil, then turn the heat down and let it cook on low for 15 mins or so I cut the quantity of fat by about 1/4 versus the recipe, which was probably too much as I had to add a bit of stock later to get it from sticking. Anyway, then you quarter some cremini mushrooms and toss those in with some salt and peppers and cook for another 10 mins or so. At about that point, I added a couple of tablespoons of chicken stock to the refrigerated barley and warmed it in the microwave (this step is not needed if you do it the book's way, because the book doesn't have you put the barley in the fridge). I also warmed the mushroom soaking water. I chopped the shitake mushrooms and stirred the barley, soaking water, chopped shitakes and some diced parsley, stirred it all together, and served.

        This was nice, but I didn't love it. (I'm sure it would have been more delicious with the 3/4's oil and butter added back and cooked straight through as per recipe, of course.) But, it's very healthful and hearty.

        However, my husband really loved it, saying he thought the mushrooms brought an earthiness that paired super well with the bison tenderloin steaks.

        I have the feeling this barley dish will age well and be good as leftovers.

        EDIT: I forgot to mention that my barley needed about 15 minutes less cooking time than the recipe suggested, and it turned out pretty al dente. Next time I might add a little more stock or water when cooking the barley.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen Sep 24, 2010 05:29 AM

          Oops, forgot to add the photo (somehow this got attached in a weird place - but it is the poblano tortilla gratin).

        2. re: Rubee
          LulusMom RE: Rubee Sep 24, 2010 05:28 AM

          Finally got around to the Poblano Tortilla Gratin (p. 318).

          I baked my tortillas, but do wish I'd reread Rubee's post and added more. Still and all, absolutely delicious. Basically a gussied up version of nachos (but hey, that is my favorite comfort food, so I wasn't complaining). I served this as a main with a large salad on the side with a lime dressing.

        3. mebby RE: Caitlin McGrath May 7, 2010 09:24 AM

          Mint and Scallion Soba Noodles, p. 239

          Super quick and flavorful accompaniment to Korean Marinated Beef (reported on in Meat thread). Soba noodles are combined with a simple dressing of rice vinegar, vegetable oil, soy sauce (I used reduced sodium), sugar and salt. Tossed with chopped mint and sliced scallions. I heavied up the amount of mint and scallions as I like a lot of flavor. I liked it and so did my husband, but we both felt like it could use just a little more flavor boost -- next time I would probably add a little more salt (reduced sodium soy may have been an error), a pinch of red pepper flakes and a smidge of chopped garlic and ginger. Picture with Korean beef below.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mebby
            beetlebug RE: mebby May 26, 2010 07:19 AM

            Mint and Scallion Soba Noodles, p. 239

            Not much to add except I wish I read mebby's report prior to cooking. The soba was tasty but it mostly tasted of rice vinegar. I think the scallion to mint ratio is off as well. My mint is gorgeous right now but I couldn't quite taste the mint in the dish. Also, it could use a bit more soy sauce and maybe a bit of sesame oil. I agree with mebby about it needing a flavor boost. Dunlop's salted chiles may be too much but garlic and ginger with a bit of hot peppers may do the trick. Also, some grated daikon or carrots would also be nice. Oooh, and maybe some seaweed.

            This is a refreshing dish for a warm summer's eve though.

            1. re: mebby
              greeneggsnham RE: mebby Dec 11, 2010 04:32 PM

              Mint and Scallion Soba noodles, p. 239

              Thanks to Mebby and beetlebigs comments I made some changes to this one and ended up really liking it. Made it to go with the Steamed Bass with ginger and scallions and was planning to make rice as well. Given that this would be the second starch and given what beetlebug and mebby had thought, I upped the mint and added a lot of chopped cilantro as well as chopped cucumbers to make it more of a salad. I also added some sesame oil and grated ginger and upped the soy sauce to vinegar ratio. With these modifications, we thought it was great. Even the super picky 3 year old ate it :)

              We have some leftovers and I was thinking that with a little shredded up rotisserie chicken (which I happen to have in the fridge), this would make a great light lunch. Maybe that'll be on the menu for tomorrow.

            2. pikawicca RE: Caitlin McGrath May 8, 2010 03:33 PM

              Scallion-Wild Rice Crepes with Mushroom Filling, page 311.


              Don't attempt this unless you feel like spending all day in the kitchen, which I did. (All parts can be made a couple of days ahead and assembled on the day.)

              If I ever have to make a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal, this will be the main event. My DH is not fond of meatless meals, but he loved this.

              My crepe pan is larger than the one called for, so I used about 1/3 cup batter per crepe. Still ended up with 12 crepes. The wild rice grains in the crepe batter makes it a little hard to swirl around the pan, but they are very pretty and add interesting texture. Don't worry if your crepes aren't perfect: You can manhandle them into shape later.

              I had some Taleggio in the fridge, so added bits to the top of the assembled crepes. Glad I did -- the added flavor was nice.

              I made the whole recipe, but there were only two of us, so I'll find out how this does in the freezer and will report back.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pikawicca
                pikawicca RE: pikawicca May 11, 2010 07:20 AM

                Reheated some for lunch yesterday. It was, perhaps a little dry, so next time will sprinkle on a few drops of water before nuking.

              2. amyzan RE: Caitlin McGrath May 10, 2010 12:20 PM

                Egg Noodles with Cabbage and Onions, p. 238, I made as a side for roast chicken with crispy kale. Frankly, I found the step of squeezing the salted cabbage by hand to remove liquid messy and a pain. So, I used a large heavy flat weave cloth to squeeze it out the way I do to make pierogi. Delicious, but I think I'll stick with my usual method of parboiling the cabbage in salted water before proceeding with the rest of the recipe. This is a good way to stretch egg noodles if you're trying to cut carbs but still want generous portions on the plate. I used whole wheat egg noodles. Poppy seeds are a pretty garnish. Rich with butter!

                Korean Style Noodles with Meat and Vegetables (Jap Chae), pp. 246-7, I used fresh shiitakes and subbed a shoulder cut for the ribeye. I've never seen the Korean restaurants here use ribeye on this dish, unless it was a raw garnish? So, I'm not sure what's traditional, but the shoulder steak was flavorful. The method here was a bit of a pain, all that tossing each cooked ingredient in sauce before adding to the bowl. Since the first time I've made this dish, I've gotten lazy and just added the sauce over everything at the end in the nonstick saute pan instead of using a serving dish. It works fine, and it makes for fewer bowls to wash! We enjoy the thin omelet strips particularly in this dish. I've had it where the egg is just scrambled, and the omelet technique makes it a little more refined.

                Dosas with Two Fillings, pp. 312-14, I just made the potato filling, forgoing the zucchini-tomato. This recipe is remarkably similar to the one I make from Yamuna Devi's cookbook, only hers doesn't include onion in the filling. I prefer it with the onion. Frying these is a bit of an art. Their recommendation of a spoon to spread the batter isn't best, IMO. I'd go with something flat bottomed, as it's quicker and more likely to evenly spread the batter. Well seasoned cast iron browns and crisps the dosas much better than nonstick, if you have it. We don't usually bother with storing the dosas in a hot oven, but rather eat them fresh, one diner at a time. It's difficult to keep them crisp otherwise. Highly recommended for experienced cooks. These will make a full meal when served with a soup like sambhar and a chutney on the side, neither of which are recipes in this book. I suppose the cold curried squash soup with chutney on p. 111 might serve in a pinch, but this was an oversight on the part of the editor, IMO. They really should've included a sambhar and a chutney recipe with the dosa recipe.

                3 Replies
                1. re: amyzan
                  oakjoan RE: amyzan May 11, 2010 11:22 PM

                  amyzan: Masla Dosas are among my favorites of all time! I have tried to make them a couple of times and given up because my batter never spread around thinly enough so that it got crisp. Since I live near a place that makes some of the best dosas I've ever had, I have been just too lazy to try again.

                  Mine ended up like crepes rather than the wafer-thin crispy covering I get at Vik's Chaat Corner in Berkeley.

                  1. re: oakjoan
                    amyzan RE: oakjoan May 12, 2010 11:58 AM

                    Yeah, mine aren't as thin and crisp as the ones in restaurants, either. Part of it, I think is that they have big griddles in restaurant kitchens. When you don't have the freedom to spread the batter quickly as wide as possible to make those huge dosas served in restaurants, well, it just doesn't work as well at home. so, I just figured I'd make MUCH smaller dosas with much less batter at home. Sometimes, you have to add more water to get the batter the right thickness. It's supposedly to be the thickness of "light cream," a product not available in the Midwest for comparison. So, I just go for a very thin pancake batter. But, yeah, I'll keep eating them in restaurants most of the time. They're not expensive out, so why not?

                  2. re: amyzan
                    BigSal RE: amyzan Jun 1, 2010 06:39 PM

                    My turn at making jap chae (p. 246-247). I have been meaning to try this recipe, but never got around to it. We just came back from a long weekend and I knew that I had most of the ingredients so this was dinner tonight. You start by making a sauce out of soy, garlic, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar, salt and pepper. You add some sauce to the beef (I used some chuck I had in the freezer) and set aside, add the sauce to blanched spinach, add some sauce to the cooked sweet potato noodles (dang myun), cook eggs, slice and then set aside. Now the cooking... saute the mushrooms (I used dried shiitake), add sliced onions, then add carrots (matchsticks), green onions, red bell pepper (I omitted since I did not have any in the fridge) and saute. This vegteables are set aside with the sauce while the beef cooks. In the end, all of the components come together. This did make a lot of dishes, but we enjoyed it (this turned out better than a previous attempt to make jap chae). This could easily be made into a vegetarian dish.

                  3. Rubee RE: Caitlin McGrath May 11, 2010 12:32 AM

                    Green Rice (Arroz Verde), p. 253

                    I made this as a side dish along with Grilled Corn with Lemon and Herbs to serve with Grilled Lemon-Coriander Chicken, and everybody went back for seconds. Nice flavor and a bit of heat from the seasoning puree.

                    I used a mix of roasted spicy New Mexican and poblano chiles I had in the freezer, along with cilantro, parsley, and homemade chicken stock. This is pureed, strained, and put aside. Soak rice in hot water - the intro says this softens it and makes it "absorb the flavors of the other ingredients" - and then drain and let dry. Saute onion and garlic in oil, coat and toast rice, add the seasoned stock, and cover and simmer. It went well with the other dishes too, another keeper from this book.

                    Poor quality pic - took it fast on the stove because it took longer than the recipe said, and we were hungry!

                    1. buttertart RE: Caitlin McGrath May 11, 2010 07:03 AM

                      I'm not sure where the recipe for a crepe torta with Italian sausage and broccoli raab is in the book but: I made this recipe for New Year's Eve and we loved it. Rather a lot of work but absolutely packed with flavor. Highly recommend it be kept in mind for cooler weather.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: buttertart
                        Caitlin McGrath RE: buttertart May 11, 2010 12:42 PM

                        That's on p . 235, in the pasta chapter, and also here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                          buttertart RE: Caitlin McGrath May 11, 2010 12:48 PM

                          It's now known chez nous as the three G&Ts recipe. Takes a while to make it.

                      2. BigSal RE: Caitlin McGrath May 11, 2010 06:49 PM

                        Spinach and Rice with Lemon (p. 253) Saute shallots in butter, add rice and cook in chicken broth. In another pan, saute garlic, add spinach, salt and pepper, and cook to wilt. Add lemon juice to spinach. The add rice to spinach. This was just ok for us. I did add extra lemon juice to brighten the flavor. It did turn out to be a good way to sneak in more veggies on the boyfriend's diet- he can be veggie averse at times.

                        1. LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 12, 2010 05:49 AM

                          I took a number of deep breaths and finally made my food resolution come true: I made gnocchi!! Now, this wasn't potato gnocchi, so I still feel like I have another hurdle, but I was just so happy and pleased, and I owe it all to COTM, and the encouragement I get here. Thanks everyone!

                          OK, so Gnocchi alla Romana (p. 232). I was really worried about this. The dough came together very easily (stir/heat semolina, milk, salt; add a little butter, an egg and half the cheese) but putting it flat on the baking sheet was a bit more of a problem. Still and all, done. Now, here is where I thought I was smarter than I really am - I don't have a 2 inch cookie cutter, and didn't see one at the store, so just thought "what the heck, I'll use a 2 inch shot glass!" Only problem: you can't push the dough out the other end of a shot glass. Oh well, so it wasn't as pretty as it could have been, it wasn't the worst idea of all time, and you know what? This was delicious. Absolutely heavenly. Very light and fluffy but with the comfort food aspect of a great mac and cheese. So once the gnocchi have been put in the baking pan you brush on 4 tablespoons melted butter and 3/4 cup grated parm and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let sit for 5. Perfection on a surprisingly cool night for North Carolina in May. And the frisee salad with fennel seed dressing was a great side with this - cut through the richness a bit. Yay!

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: LulusMom
                            pikawicca RE: LulusMom May 12, 2010 06:05 AM

                            My, that sounds great!

                            1. re: LulusMom
                              Gio RE: LulusMom May 12, 2010 06:20 AM

                              Brava, LLM ! {insert sound of clapping hands} That's something I could dive right into. Literally.

                              1. re: LulusMom
                                greedygirl RE: LulusMom May 12, 2010 06:32 AM

                                Wow LLM, that sounds great and congratulations! Can you send some over here as it's FREEZING and there's post-election gloom in GG mansions....

                                1. re: greedygirl
                                  buttertart RE: greedygirl May 12, 2010 06:48 AM

                                  We New Yorkers feel your gloom (and it's freezing here too).

                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                    LulusMom RE: greedygirl May 12, 2010 07:23 AM

                                    Thanks everyone. truly, without COTM and the support, advice and friendship I've found here, I don't think I'd have attempted it. And it wasn't hard at all! And it was delicious. So thanks thanks thanks from the bottom of my heart and belly.

                                    GG, so sorry. I feel your pain (and I'm not talking about the weather).

                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                      toveggiegirl RE: LulusMom Jun 11, 2010 04:54 AM

                                      LLM, that looks so yummy. Here is a link to the recipe for everyone you've inspired to try this dish!

                                  2. re: LulusMom
                                    The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 14, 2010 06:29 AM

                                    Well done! It sounds just heavenly. I don't own a 2 inch cookie cutter, either. Could one use a can of tomato paste opened at both ends (and washed and label removed, etc. of course).


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                      LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 14, 2010 08:12 AM

                                      Yes, certainly, but you'd need something long enough to shove it out the other end (I think a wooden spoon would work). Great thinking.

                                      1. re: LulusMom
                                        buttertart RE: LulusMom May 14, 2010 08:13 AM

                                        I never saw a cookie cutter until I left home - my mom always used glasses, cans, saucers, etc. If you dip them in flour first the cookie or whatever comes right off.

                                  3. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath May 14, 2010 04:49 AM

                                    Ginger Basmati Rice Pilaf with Cumin and Scallions, Pg. 257

                                    The title says it all. Wash the rice till water runs clear.. Heat oil. Cook sliced scallions and ginger a few minutes. Add toasted cumin seeds and rice. Coat well. Add water and cook till rice is tender. Let sit 5 minutes then fluff with fork. Eat.

                                    Not bad...just not as flavorful as I would have liked. Needs more than the 3/4 tspn of salt recommended. And I don't use a lot of salt. But it was nice and went well with the spicy meatloaf I served with it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Gio
                                      LulusMom RE: Gio May 14, 2010 05:35 AM

                                      Thanks for the warning about the spicing. Nothing more disappointing than something you've been looking foward to lacking oomph.

                                      1. re: Gio
                                        oakjoan RE: Gio May 27, 2010 10:28 AM

                                        I also made the Ginger Basmati Pilaf a couple of nights ago with good results. Nothing spectac, but tasty. I made the mistake of using brown basmati rice. I really love this stuff, but it just took too long to cook and never got soft enough. It was quite good anyway. I like the combo of ginger and cumin seeds. I added some chopped onions to the scallions because I didn't have enough.

                                        Served it with a big green salad and a bbq'd butcher steak that I'd marinated for a few hours in ginger, garlic, black pepper, sesame oil and soya.

                                        Next time I'll try it with regular basmati.

                                      2. BigSal RE: Caitlin McGrath May 16, 2010 02:14 PM

                                        Coconut Rice (p. 253)
                                        Rinse rice, cook in butter until opaque and simmer in water, coconut milk and cinnamon stick. The rice was wonderfully fragrant. The smell of the coconut was intoxicating, but the rice was a little bland. I could see this rice pairing well with a spicy dish where it would add frangrance and help cool the palate from the main, spicy dish.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BigSal
                                          mebby RE: BigSal May 23, 2010 07:53 AM

                                          I made this as well -- and even the kids found it bland. The headnote does say that it is a Caribbean-style coconut rice rather than an Asian one, and I agree that it would work better alongside a really spicy jerk or something similar. The smell was fantastic though and it was hard to understand how all those fabulous aromas didn't translate into taste. Even the kids found it bland.

                                        2. The Dairy Queen RE: Caitlin McGrath May 16, 2010 05:51 PM

                                          Wild Rice with Roasted Peppers and Toasted Almonds

                                          We eat a lot of wild rice because it's a native to Minnesota. I followed the recipe to a tee, which, I know, is unusual for me. (Oh, wait, I chopped my almonds instead of using sliced almonds--yeah, a small cheat. I don't think it affected the outcome in any significant way...).

                                          When I took a taste prior to serving it, I thought it was good, but not amazing. We served it alongside a simple piece of grilled salmon. They were pretty terrific together. My husband turned to me at least three times during the meal to tell me how awesome it was.

                                          The recipe serves 8, so, we are going to have lot of leftovers this week and I have the feeling that this dish will only get better with age.

                                          Sorry, no pictures. Maybe I'll take a couple later.

                                          I also made this vegetable casserole dish tonight [ Vegetable Casserole with Tofu Topping
                                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... ] with the intention of heating it up for tomorrow night's dinner (as the notes say you can do.) I did cut a sliver out for a taste. I thought it was going to be a like a berry crumble, but savory, a vegetable crumble, but instead the topping was a bit mushy. I'll give it another change tomorrow. Maybe it will improve with age and re-heating in the oven.

                                          Oh, I forgot to include the onions with the sauteed vegetables on this one. I don't think that had any impact on the texture of the topping, but, you never know I suppose. I'll report back tomorrow.


                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            buttertart RE: The Dairy Queen May 17, 2010 07:20 AM

                                            That does sound good - must try it for wild-rice loving hubby (born in St Paul and left for IA at the age of six weeks, still says he's from MN, stubborn midwesterner). It reminds me in flavoring of a favorite also from Gourmet a few years back: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... - my husband spotted this in the magazine and wanted it made, I didn't think it would be very exciting but it is wonderful, very flavorful. Sherry vinegar really makes things sparkle, doesn't it?

                                            1. re: buttertart
                                              The Dairy Queen RE: buttertart May 17, 2010 07:31 AM

                                              Wow! A former St. Paulite! (At least nominally! Plus, IA isn't THAT far away!)

                                              Oooh that recipe sounds good too. I'll put that on my must-try list.

                                              I really wanted to add more sherry vinegar than the recipe called for, but it was lovely the way it was. (I have a bad attitude when it comes to ingredients sometimes: if a little is good, more must be great. I really have to fight hard against that kind of thinking!)

                                              I remembered this morning I made one more alteration to the recipe and that is I toasted the almonds in a little bit of olive oil instead of in butter. I'm sure it would have been even more delicious with butter, but I decided we didn't need it.


                                          2. The Dairy Queen RE: Caitlin McGrath May 18, 2010 05:15 AM

                                            Vegetable Casserole with Tofu Topping, page 318, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                            I made so many mistakes with this recipe, it's really hard to know whether it's even fair to write about it. It got 3 1/2 forks from about 40 reviews on Epicurious. Of course, none of those people actually followed the recipe (as they never seem to), but, then again, neither did I.

                                            The recipe has you sautee (in stages), then steam, sliced onions, cabbage, kale and carrots with a little olive oil, soy sauce, and water. In the meantime, "pulse" together breadcrumbs (I used dried whole wheat breadcrumbs) , tofu, grated parm cheese, olive oil, and various spices.

                                            Put the vegetables in a casserole dish then "sprinkle" topping over the top and bake uncovered.

                                            First of all, I forgot to buy onions, so I just made it without. The vegetables were still flavorful and addictingly delicious, even without the onions. So, I'll bet it's even better with the onions.

                                            Second of all, don't shoot me, I was super tired, but instead of grating the parm for the topping, I just put chunks of it into the food processor with the tofu and breadcrumbs thinking it would just work itself out. Of course, what this meant is that I nearly had to puree everything to get the cheese to break down. There was no way to "crumble" this puree over the top of the vegetables, I had to spread it over the mass with a rubber spatula and, for some reason, I felt compelled to practically press and mash it over the top, which was really unnecessary and strange. I think this "pureeing" of the topping was my first critical mistake. If I could just "crumble" the topping over the top, I imagined I'd probably get all of these yummy crispy bits of topping after baking, which would be very appealing, texture-wise I think.

                                            Next, I realized that the recipe called for a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish. I don't seem to own a dish like this. Well, that's not true. I own one, I just couldn't find it, and was too tired to go on a search for it. So, I used a smaller dish. I thought this would be okay because I had a smaller amount of vegetables (because I forgot the onions, right?). This was my second critical mistake because it meant that there was less surface area over which to spread the tofu topping. So, instead of getting a thin, sort of crumbly maybe crispy later, I got a thick, spongy layer. Even though the topping had basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and paprika, I thought it was bland. And oh so very ugly brown (due to the whole wheat bread crumbs).

                                            But, despite all of this, the vegetables were really addicting. I just couldn't stop picking. And the bits of casserole topping up against the edge of the baking dish, which got a little crispy, were pretty good. Even my husband, an avowed meat lover and kale hater (seriously, the only other time I've gotten him to like kale was in Portuguese kale soup and I'm sure that's because he liked the sausage) said it was pretty good "for a vegetarian dish." (And then grumbled how great a bit of bacon would be.) After he finished it he said, he'd eat it again. "Not every day. Maybe once a month." He completely forgot to hate the kale.

                                            So, I think this recipe shows some promise, if one were to actually follow the recipe. The one thing, though, that I really couldn't get over is just how seriously ugly it was with the dull brown topping. Sure the veggies underneath are colorful, but the way they make you slice the vegetables means there are long strands that don't serve neatly when you slice it into squares. Someone on Epicurious mentioned their son had served it at Thanksgiving. Honestly, I can't imagine serving it to guests. Maybe it's prettier if you follow the recipe. (There is a pic on Epicurious if you want to have a peek).

                                            EDIT: one more thing. The recipe itself calls for fresh breadcrumbs, but in the head notes, they say you can use either fresh or dried, depending on whether you want a more "tender" texture or a crisp texture. I think this dish really wants a crisp topping. Like a fruit crisp, except savory and vegetable-y.

                                            Anyway, I might make this again. In a month. ;-).


                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                              pikawicca RE: The Dairy Queen May 18, 2010 05:49 AM

                                              I think you're married to my husband.

                                              1. re: pikawicca
                                                greedygirl RE: pikawicca May 18, 2010 06:43 AM

                                                And mine, although we're not married!

                                                1. re: pikawicca
                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: pikawicca May 18, 2010 07:31 AM

                                                  Well, that would be quite a long commute!

                                                  He is thankfully a very adventurous eater (thanks, I believe, to my mother in law who fed him all kinds of "unusual" foods growing up--in additional to all of the typical ones, too, but always avoiding processed and packaged stuff-- which can't have been easy in the rural Midwest--making her own tofu etc.) and has never refused to eat anything I've made for him. But, he's also not the type who comes home and says, "Yum, tofu for dinner."

                                                  In fact, here's how it went down.

                                                  Him: "What are you making?"

                                                  Me, pureeing away at the food processor: "Oh, just some kind of vegetable casserole thing." Gesture towards giant green book open on the counter.

                                                  Him: "Okay, but what's the tofu for?"

                                                  (Darn! I knew I should have put away the unused half of the tofu block away immediately.)

                                                  Me, hopeful: "It has cheese in it!"

                                                  Him: "We'll see."


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                    buttertart RE: The Dairy Queen May 18, 2010 09:25 AM

                                                    "It has cheese in it": brilliant sideways move. This conversation could have taken place in my kitchen except the beast has no problem with tofu and I wouldn't have thought of the cheese feint. Casserole would have had to have meat alongside it to be truly acceptable however...you know those midwestern boys....

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      oakjoan RE: The Dairy Queen May 27, 2010 10:36 AM

                                                      Fab! I nominate "It has cheese in it." for the cover-up statement of the year...make that of any year.

                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                    mebby RE: The Dairy Queen May 18, 2010 09:21 AM

                                                    LOVE your report -- so entertaining and informative, including foibles and miscalculations and all! And despite all the problems, oddly enough, your report has me interested in trying a dish that otherwise would sound pretty bleck to me. And I'm no tofu lover -- too much of the stuff growing up in Berkeley with a hippie mom (although she's from MN too). Kale on the other hand...mmmm. Maybe I haven't fallen as far from those hippie roots as I think, huh?

                                                    1. re: mebby
                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: mebby May 18, 2010 12:08 PM

                                                      Oh good! I've lured someone else into trying this recipe who might actually make it right!

                                                      Sadly, usually because I'm too lazy or too much in a hurry, many of my reports include some kind of mistake, some of which are occasionally catastrophic. But, I do find that I often learn a lot from my mistakes. And, at least I can maybe prevent some of you from repeating some of my doozeys. (Yeah, check out the Dunlop threads for my Easter egg blue steamed "yolkless" eggs! HAHAHA! I'm pretty sure that was my most aggregious COTM attempt ever.)

                                                      If you try the casserole, please do report back!


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        mebby RE: The Dairy Queen May 18, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                        TDQ - I actually did recently go back to the Dunlop COTM to see what all the enthusiasm was about (as I said to you and buttertart on another thread) and -- don't take this the wrong way -- but it made me SO HAPPY to see that blue egg post! I decided immediately that we were separated at birth -- refusing to take on regular-sized challenges and jumping straight for the doozies and sometimes leaving well-intentioned disasters in our wake! I love that you nonetheless report every last gory detail -- and even posted that great photo of the blue eggs just in case the description wasn't vivid enough. I sat here cackling at my computer -- in only the best way. It definitely helps me not to be intimidated to join this much more experienced crowd to see a kindred enthusiastic and over-scheduled spirit!

                                                        1. re: mebby
                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: mebby May 18, 2010 12:40 PM

                                                          Oh yes, do not be intimidated. There is so much to learn from all of the wonderful and supportive COTM 'hounds!


                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                          eugenia22 RE: The Dairy Queen Jun 9, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                          I had previously posted a couple random times in the Lucques COTM, although I usually just lurk, but was encouraged to participate more thoroughly in this one after reading some of the great posts.

                                                          I made the Vegetable Casserole with Tofu Topping last night for dinner and was not wowed by it either. The kale, cabbage and carrots were all from my CSA box and were good, but I had some of the same problems as TDQ with the topping. I used fresh, white breadcrumbs, skipped the dried basil, and used crumbled feta instead of parm. The topping had a somewhat off, spongy texture and was surprisingly bland, even though I sprinkled more feta on top after tasting the topping. The topping didn't seem to be browning much either, so the last few minutes in the oven I cranked up the heat to around 450 to try to crisp up the topping. The very top crisped a bit, but it was still spongy underneath. Maybe substituting the feta for parm-reg contributed to the sponginess. In hindsight, it may have been better to toast the breadcrumbs in advance, also. Totally agree with TDQ that this would be best with a crisp topping. My specimen was no beauty either (not helped by my mediocre knife skills)! Overall, I would've much preferred a simple stir fry with these same veggies, so won't be making this again.

                                                          With the leftover tofu, I made the Creamy Tofu Salad - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                          It's not going to fool anyone into thinking it's egg salad, but it's very simple, quick, and pretty tasty and light. Lunch today will be the creamy tofu salad on toast with a side of the veggie casserole. There are only 2 in my household, so we'll be eating that veggie casserole for lunch all week.

                                                    2. m
                                                      megmosa RE: Caitlin McGrath May 18, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                      Last night I made the Pasta with Lentils and Kale. The recipe is on epicurious: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                      In a small pot, you cook french lentils (I added a bay leaf). In a skillet you slowly cook a pound of onion in a whole lot of olive oil. This cooks for over 40 minutes combined, and it becomes amazingly sweet and flavorful. Meanwhile, you cook the kale, and when that is done, the pasta. And then at the end combine and drizzle with more olive oil.

                                                      It's so very simple, filling, cheap, surprisingly flavorful, and even vegan. It's just a little time consuming. I'll definitely make it again though. I'm looking forward to leftovers for lunch.

                                                      1. LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 18, 2010 02:14 PM

                                                        Spicy Singapore-Style Rice Noodles (p. 242).

                                                        Not sure how much of this is my fault (probably a lot - martini involved), but this was just ok for me. Another one with LOTS of pre-chopping, but once you've done that it comes together very quickly. My only sub: italian sweet turkey sausage instead of the sweet chinese sausage. Never having had chinese sausage, I have no idea how much of a difference this would have made, but I can tell you that the sausage was a high point in the dish so I don't think it was the problem. I think the main problem lies with the fresh rice noodles, which are probably normally lovely, but they don't really give any clue as to the cooking time. It just says: add noodles and stir fry gently untll noodles are cooked through and tender. I really just had no idea how long this was going to be, and there were only so many times I was willing to burn my mouth to find out. In the end, they were overcooked and mushy, and I think that made the dish suffer. So, again, probably mostly my fault. That said, the spicy in the title here seems entirely misplaced. The only spicy thing in this is 1 tsp. sliced fresh mild red chile. C'mon. Even the headnote (which I wish I'd paid more attention to) calls this sweet, salty rice noodles. Last but not least (remember that martini) the freshly chopped cilantro sitting right there next to my plating area remained there untouched until I came back to wash the dishes. d'oh! Basically this seemed like something sort of gloopy and semi-bland, like you'd find in a not-that great asian place. Probably not that bad, but not great. Maybe when I have the leftovers I'll rethink my initial impression.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                          LulusMom RE: LulusMom May 18, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                          Oops, forgot photo (which I think proves gloopiness). Sorry this is a bummer report!

                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                            beetlebug RE: LulusMom May 18, 2010 02:35 PM

                                                            I bet Dunlop's salted chiles would perk your leftovers up.

                                                            1. re: beetlebug
                                                              LulusMom RE: beetlebug May 18, 2010 03:36 PM

                                                              Yes, they'd perk up pretty much anything.

                                                            2. re: LulusMom
                                                              megmosa RE: LulusMom May 18, 2010 02:37 PM

                                                              Did you leave out the Sriracha or sambal oelek? I guess that is where the spicy is supposed to come from.

                                                              1. re: megmosa
                                                                LulusMom RE: megmosa May 18, 2010 03:36 PM

                                                                Nope, I used the sriracha (and in fact used extra) and still, just not that exciting. But I think my bigger problem was the gloppiness. I do, however, question the use of the word spicy in the title (especially when they use the word sweet in the headnote -and again, I take all the blame for not having fully read that).

                                                              2. re: LulusMom
                                                                mebby RE: LulusMom May 20, 2010 07:49 PM

                                                                Too bad -- I had my eye on that one as well, especially as husband came back from a trip to Singapore raving about the food. But I think you've helped me dodge a bullet on this one. How were the leftovers -- or could you not even work up the enthusiasm to try them?

                                                                1. re: mebby
                                                                  LulusMom RE: mebby May 21, 2010 02:28 AM

                                                                  Thanks Mebby - but maybe if the noodles weren't overcooked it could have been better. But still, I tried the leftovers and just thought "blah." Worse than the first time around. We eat a lot of food from Singapore/Malaysia because we have a local restaurant that serves it, and this was (to my mind) nowhere near as good.

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom
                                                                    LulusMom RE: LulusMom May 22, 2010 09:27 AM

                                                                    Maybe third time really is the charm. I had the rest of the leftovers for lunch today, and actually enjoyed them. Now, I was hungry as a horse, having spent the morning grocery shopping, stopping at the farmers market, and rearranging Lulu's room, but still, the meal seemed significantly better. No idea why. So ... maybe Mebby should give this a try afterall? Just please, please be careful about overcooking the noodles.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                      mebby RE: LulusMom May 22, 2010 09:12 PM

                                                                      Thanks, LLM -- maybe I'll try, but I've read enough of your reports over a long enough time of COTM lurking to trust you on the first (and second) bad report. I don't think I'll jump in as quickly as I might -- but luckily you and others have pointed out recipes I wouldn't have put at the top of my list -- plus there' s still about 900 untried by any of us COTMers!

                                                              3. The Dairy Queen RE: Caitlin McGrath May 20, 2010 07:21 AM

                                                                Apologies, but can someone who has the book handy please look up the prep time for the Mushroom barley pilaf? I'm trying to do meal planning for tonight and I can't remember how long that pilaf is supposed to take. Busy night for us: I worry we may not have time for it, but would like to try if I can because I know I have all of the ingredients on hand.



                                                                11 Replies
                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                  LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 20, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                  Active time: 40, start to finish: 1 hour. Ingredients list includes 1 chopped onion, 2 cut up carrots, 2 cut up sticks of celery, and 2 minced garlic cloves.

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom
                                                                    The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 20, 2010 07:49 AM

                                                                    Thank you!


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                      buttertart RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                      Plus 20 mins in my case for the flub factor. I found their prep times a bit on the optimistic side.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                        LulusMom RE: buttertart May 25, 2010 07:38 AM

                                                                        That is putting it nicely. I'm loving this book, but take the prep times with multiple grains of salt.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                          The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 08:02 AM

                                                                          I thought I was just slow in the kitchen. Also, from here on out, I'd like recipes to disclose how many pots and other dishes get dirtied in the process. I swear I use every pan in the house for these recipes.

                                                                          Funny thing, I read in the San Francisco Chronicle's The Working Cook column awhile back where they'd rated all of the cooking magazines that claimed to have "quick" meals (I think Gourmet had 20 minute mains or something like that) on two factors: 1) whether the prep time was accurate and 2) whether the recipes were any good.

                                                                          The winner was, surprisingly, Real Simple. I think Gourmet and Bon Appetit were in there, too. Everyday Food was very accurate in the prep estimates, but was ranked as have a lot of time consuming steps that weren't worth it.

                                                                          Anyway, I had expected the time estimates to be a little more accurate in Gourmet Today based on that article.


                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                            LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen May 25, 2010 08:25 AM

                                                                            As I blathered on about elsewhere, I think the thing you have to watch out for is the ingredients list. Instead of it saying "1 onion" it will often say "1 onion, chopped." Now if it is just the onion, no big deal. But if it also includes 3 finely minced shallots, 2 thinnly sliced carrots and 5 cloves of garlic mashed with salt, then that is a lot of work they're saying has already been done. And all that work adds to the prep time.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                              buttertart RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 08:28 AM

                                                                              Prep times maybe (as I think was pointed out here by someone) if you have a support staff.

                                                                              1. re: buttertart
                                                                                LulusMom RE: buttertart May 25, 2010 09:30 AM

                                                                                I think I'm asking my husband for a support staff next birthday ...

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                  buttertart RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 09:34 AM

                                                                                  Tell him the support staff can be 21 years old and a cute blonde and you may get somewhere ;-)

                                                                                  1. re: buttertart
                                                                                    LulusMom RE: buttertart May 25, 2010 10:04 AM

                                                                                    You are wise beyond your years buttertart! That, and just wait until he does something that fits into the "bad husband, bad" category.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                      buttertart RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                                      A little leverage is a good thing to have in your marital back pocket.

                                                                2. Rubee RE: Caitlin McGrath May 20, 2010 04:09 PM

                                                                  Afghani Spicy Scallion Dumplings with Yogurt and Meat Sauces (Aushak), p. 249

                                                                  Yum. What a unique combination of flavors - dumplings stuffed with a spicy scallion/red chili filling, creamy garlic-yogurt sauce, and spiced beef with ginger, onion, garlic, ground coriander, ginger, water, tomato paste and s & p. I also liked how all the components can be done ahead - ground beef mixture, yogurt sauce, dumpling filling - which I did the night before. Last night I made the dumplings, boiled them (5 minutes), heated the meat sauce, plated and garnished the dish with fresh mint. Some suggestions on an earlier Chowhound thread recommended sauteeing the scallions, and I may try that next time.

                                                                  I used regular yogurt which I had drained overnight, and round gyoza wrappers. E doesn't like the flavor of ground coriander so I was hoping with everything else he wouldn't notice, but he immediately said "what's that funny taste". However, his picky son happened to be over and after saying he was only going to have a couple, ended up having thirds! We both loved it and between the two of finished off the whole batch. I did save a bit of the sauces and a few uncooked dumplings and had a nice lunch today.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                    LulusMom RE: Rubee May 21, 2010 02:29 AM

                                                                    I would have skipped right over this recipe, but it looks and sounds fantastic.

                                                                    1. re: Rubee
                                                                      LulusMom RE: Rubee Jul 25, 2011 03:41 PM

                                                                      It has taken over a year, and having told many friends how much I wanted to try this (including one of our own) but I have finally done it! Thanks again to Rubee for test-driving this one. I did all the prep yesterday - the meat sauce, the scallion filling and the yogurt sauce, and then just put together the dumplings (with a large margarita at hand since this was my first ever experience with dumplings/wonton wrappers) and boiled them and reheated the meat sauce at the last minute. Chopped the mint. Wow. I liked this very much, as did the rest of the family. Sort of surprised how much Lulu took to it (and told her the aforementioned chowhound friend would be impressed). I think each component really added something special. I don't think I'll make it again, just because it was a fair amount of prep work beforehand (although really, not all that bad), but we really did enjoy this, and it was nice to have something with such different flavors.

                                                                    2. LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 21, 2010 05:40 AM

                                                                      Broiled Tofu with Cilantro Pesto (p. 327)

                                                                      Mine was more like "cooked at a very high temp" tofu since my fancy-schmancy oven can't broil. Still this method works really nicely - you get a nice sort of chewy crust (think fried egg edges) on the outside of the tofu slices. Basically cut the tofu, pat dry, then broil (or cook at high temp) for about 15 minutes with a bit of oil. Meanwhile I made the pesto: cilantro, pine nuts, lime juice, soy sauce or fish sauce, sesame oil, sugar, salt and pepper. For my taste this needed a bit more lime and salt so I added them, and it was a huge hit. First when Lulu tasted the sauce she said to me "This tastes really good, thank you for making it for us Mommy" (me: heart melting) and then she gobbled up the tofu and wanted more. Even my fairly tofu-adverse husband was a big fan. We both agreed that this isn't as good as that wonderful Flexitarian Table recipe with the wine, soy, butter, shallots, but still - very good.

                                                                      20 Replies
                                                                      1. re: LulusMom
                                                                        Gio RE: LulusMom May 21, 2010 06:15 AM

                                                                        Awwww..... what a sweetiepie!
                                                                        So, LLM...you didn't broil the tofu, you roasted it at 450F??? or higher? The cilantro pesto sounds good. Something like I made for another recipe recently.

                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                          yamalam RE: Gio May 21, 2010 09:56 AM

                                                                          I had my eye on this one, you've inspired me to try it tonight, except I'll be grilling instead of broiling, as it's supposed to hit 100 here in AZ today!

                                                                          1. re: yamalam
                                                                            LulusMom RE: yamalam May 21, 2010 10:30 AM

                                                                            Ooooh, let me know how the grilling goes. I've never done that before, but I like the idea.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                              yamalam RE: LulusMom May 22, 2010 08:18 PM

                                                                              The grilling went great! This was a real winner. I added garlic & extra lime to the pesto and it was perfect. I was going to make the Grilled Corn with Chipotle Mayo to serve with this, but my mom had a hunch that the pesto would be excellent on grilled corn, and it was, plus we did a side experiment and used some as salad dressing, and that was great too. So make extra cilantro pesto and go nuts! Grilling tofu was easy and fast, I think a new summer staple this year will be grilled tofu with a tasty sauce...peanut, tzatziki, the possibilities are endless...

                                                                              1. re: yamalam
                                                                                LulusMom RE: yamalam May 23, 2010 04:05 AM

                                                                                This is great news about the grilling. I would love to try it. About how long did you leave it on the grill? Sort of just until it got that golden color?

                                                                                And I agree- with this method you could use pretty much any sauce you have a hankering for. Wonder how a dry rub would work on the tofu ...

                                                                          2. re: Gio
                                                                            LulusMom RE: Gio May 21, 2010 10:29 AM

                                                                            Yeah, she's a real sweetie (95% of the time), and I feel so lucky about that, and about the great and adventurous way she eats.

                                                                            I roasted it at something like 500 - maybe even 525? The cilantro pesto was a nice touch (but again, I felt it needed just a bit more lime). I was thinking - pretty much any sauce you like would go with this. Just roast the tofu and add the sauce! Easy peasy.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                              Gio RE: LulusMom May 23, 2010 04:35 AM

                                                                              Thanks LLM. I hate my broiler so I was glad to read Yamalam's report of grilling. My plan is to make the tofu & cilantro pesto for Tuesday's dinner. I'll be sure to report on which cooking method I use. So, thanks to both of you.

                                                                          3. re: LulusMom
                                                                            Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom May 21, 2010 10:06 AM

                                                                            Here's the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                            This one has been on my agenda since I first glanced through the book, so I'm glad to hear it turned out well. I had checked out the reviews, and they did indicate that the pesto needed salt and more lime.

                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                              LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 21, 2010 10:31 AM

                                                                              Thanks for adding that link Caitlin, hadn't even occurred to me to look it up on epicurious. I'm sort of happy to hear I'm not alone in thinking it needed more salt and lime. I wonder if the powers that be bothered checking reviews and thinking of adjusting them before they put the book out.

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 21, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                                                and quickly reading through those reviews, I agree that a bit of garlic would have been a nice addition to the pesto.

                                                                              2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                Rubee RE: LulusMom May 21, 2010 01:41 PM

                                                                                Oh that looks and sounds delicious. And how sweet of Lulu : )

                                                                                I love tofu. Another one to add to the list! (and I still haven't made the Flexitarian tofu recipe yet, need to do that too).

                                                                                1. re: Rubee
                                                                                  Caitlin McGrath RE: Rubee May 22, 2010 11:18 AM

                                                                                  If you love tofu, you really owe it to yourself to try the Flexitarian tofu with white wine, soy, lemon, and butter. It's really an inspired combination and so simple to make.

                                                                                2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                  mebby RE: LulusMom May 22, 2010 09:20 PM

                                                                                  What a super cutie! I envy you your lovely Lulu's adventurous taste buds. Although the Korean beef a week or so ago did prompt my kids to pose as Top Chef judges and rate me 5 stars...the closest I get to that bit of ultra -sweetness Lulu bestowed upon you! Someday, someday I swear they will surprise us...but in the meantime, I am making a boatload of dull dinners for them (and separate dinners for us).

                                                                                  1. re: mebby
                                                                                    LulusMom RE: mebby May 23, 2010 02:34 AM

                                                                                    Aren't you sweet! She's been very well taught by teachers and babysitters and her dad to be grateful and appreciative of her meals, and believe me, I feel the love. But I have to admit, in the name of fairness, that last night's dinner (GT's catfish nuggets - will report once more awake) was pronounced by her "pretty good." Not the highest praise.

                                                                                    And hey, I'd take the 5 stars!

                                                                                  2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                    beetlebug RE: LulusMom May 26, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                                    Broiled Tofu with Cilantro Pesto (p. 327)

                                                                                    My turn with this dish. I loved it. While it may not be as good as the Flex tofu recipe, this is still delicious in it's own right. I made a half portion but I kept the amounts of lime juice and salt the same. And, the cilantro pesto came out perfect. I loved how all the flavors combined together.

                                                                                    I did broil it, despite our unseasonably warm weather (90 degrees and no ac, eeks). I just put it in a saute pan and I forgot to oil the bottom. Bad mistake so my tofu was a bit torn up.

                                                                                    Also, next time, I would put the pesto on top of the tofu (v. the bottom). This way I can be sure each tofu has just the right amount of pesto.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                      Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom May 30, 2010 07:36 PM

                                                                                      This wasn't a home for me (maybe a double). I did make sure it had enough lime and salt, and I added a garlic clove. I didn't have pine nuts, so I used almonds. I liked the flavors, but the texture was more minced than blended; I think that to make a more cohesively textured sauce, it would need double the oil. I wasn't inclined to futz in the moment, as I had plenty of other things going on. It does use a modest amount of oil compared to many pestos, so perhaps it was my expectations that were to blame more than the recipe.

                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                        LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 31, 2010 02:51 AM

                                                                                        Huh, my sauce was very blended, very smooth. Sorry it didn't work out!

                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                          Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom May 31, 2010 10:23 AM

                                                                                          I did like the flavors, so perhaps I'll try it again sometime and see. Did you throw eveything in the processor bowl and blend as the recipe says? I am thinking maybe drizzling the oil in as it runs would help.

                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                            LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 31, 2010 10:28 AM

                                                                                            I actually just tossed the oil in at the end, because I was using a mini-prep with no drizzle hole. So it all got zapped together.

                                                                                      2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                        LulusMom RE: LulusMom Nov 29, 2010 02:50 PM

                                                                                        Made the broiled (baked at high temp!) tofu with cilantro pesto again tonight. I figured that since even LulusDad, who isn't a tofu fan, loved this last time, it was ok to do it again. This time I added more lime and a little garlic. Absolutely delicious. Everyone had seconds.

                                                                                      3. mebby RE: Caitlin McGrath May 23, 2010 08:27 AM

                                                                                        Spinach and Chickpeas with Bacon, p. 283

                                                                                        OK, first off I took a few liberties with this one in the name of lightening it up (we have a weekend away with friends coming up that is going to involve a somewhat unfortunate amount of time in a bathing suit!), so this is the "virtuous with a bit of bacon" version. Also, this dish is intended as a side dish to serve 4, but we made it as a quick lunch for 2 between kids' soccer games on a Saturday. I am a big fan of beans'n'greens in most forms, husband is not as much so, but we both said we'd make it again with couple adjustments (see below).

                                                                                        Recipe calls for boiling bacon for a couple minutes "to remove excess salt and smokiness" -- I skipped this as it seemed fussy and I don't really have a problem with bacon flavor. Also, I didn't use thick-cut bacon as called for, just Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon from TJ's -- and I only used 1.5 slices instead of the 3 called for. Cut bacon, cooked pieces in large skillet, spooned off most of the bacon fat (more than they said, so it was more like a drizzle of bacony fat left in the pan), added olive oil (again, less than they called for -- more like 1 Tbs instead of 2). Browned 1 can of chickpeas in the oil/fat with red pepper flakes for a few minutes, stirred in 1 bag of baby spinach and minced garlic until wilted (I added garlic first just to get a slight cook on it before spinach went in), added salt. Recipe also calls for drizzling with remaining 1 Tbs olive oil, which I'm sure would be delicious, but I passed on.

                                                                                        So, with all that, it turned out yummy -- satisfying with a good kick from the red pepper flakes (I was pretty liberal with those) and good bacon flavor despite cutting it down quite a bit. But the chickpeas were a little dry (I guess that happens when you keep taking all the fat out, huh?) and the dish needed just a little note of extra flavor. Husband and I agreed that just a dash of sherry vinegar added in when the spinach and garlic go in would give it that bit of acid it was missing and some flavor -- he voted for a dash of good paprika as well. Reviewers on epicurious said similar things and all seemed to add cumin, which I think sounds very odd and off the Barcelona inspiration of the dish -- and some added tomatoes as well. But they gave it 4 forks overall (although, as noted by many here, what dish are they reviewing by the time they've replaced the spinach with other greens, left out the bacon, added cumin and tomatoes and changed to a different bean?!). No pix, as we were sprinting out to the soccer field.

                                                                                        1. honkman RE: Caitlin McGrath May 23, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                                                          Orecchiette with Rabbit Ragu (p. 215)

                                                                                          We normally make our pasta dough with eggs but wanted to try this pasta dough without eggs from Puglia and it turned out to be some of our best homemade pasta yet. The rabbit ragu was also outstanding and even though everybody tend to say that rabbit taste likes chicken we think it has a slight gaminess compared to chicken which we like. The dish might be even better with hare.
                                                                                          Overall very good recipe and even though pasta making always takes some time definitely worth the effort.

                                                                                          For more background information, step-by-step photos etc: http://twofoodiesonejourney.blogspot....

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: honkman
                                                                                            Rubee RE: honkman May 23, 2010 07:32 PM

                                                                                            I wish my husband liked rabbit as much as I do. Your homemade orecchiette look fantastic.

                                                                                            1. re: Rubee
                                                                                              honkman RE: Rubee May 23, 2010 10:52 PM

                                                                                              Make the dish without your husband at home and just tell him it is chicken. I have seen it so often that people like eating certain things (even if they normally claim not to like them) when they don't know what they are eating.

                                                                                            2. re: honkman
                                                                                              JoanN RE: honkman May 24, 2010 06:37 AM

                                                                                              I was tempted . . . until I looked at your photos. Really impressive. Afraid I have neither the space nor the patience. This is one I'll just enjoy vicariously.

                                                                                              1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                honkman RE: JoanN May 24, 2010 11:08 AM

                                                                                                We live in an apartment which is not too big so there is really no big space necessary. At first we also thought it would take very long to make the orecchiette but after a short time you realize that once you get in the right "rhythm" it becomes a kind of relaxing (and fast) exercise.

                                                                                                1. re: honkman
                                                                                                  The Dairy Queen RE: honkman May 24, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                                                                  WOW! Impressive. Do you recall approximately how long it took you? Two hours? Half a day?


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                    honkman RE: The Dairy Queen May 24, 2010 11:39 AM

                                                                                                    The orecchiette took about three hours but that includes the one hour the dough has to rest at room temperature. The ragu it self is very fast (about one hour) since it is very easy to overcook the rabbit. So it was a perfect dish for us for a Sunday afternoon.

                                                                                                    1. re: honkman
                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: honkman May 24, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                                                      Sounds like a lovely (and delicious) way to pass a Sunday!


                                                                                            3. BigSal RE: Caitlin McGrath May 24, 2010 07:30 PM

                                                                                              Fried Rice with Eggs and Scallions p. 255.
                                                                                              We made this with leftover jasmine rice. Simply pantry items (rice, eggs, green onions, sesame seed oil and salt). In a hot wok, one heats oil and cooks the eggs for 30 seconds and then adds the rice and salt, and cooks for 2-3 minutes, then finish with scallions and sesame oil (I find the aroma of sesame seed oil very addicting). This was good, but not great. I suspect this had to do with the cook's shortcomings. I have not mastered cooking in a wok yet. I thought my oil was hot enough, because the eggs cooked quickly, or maybe I did not let the rice cook enough. The components are there, but I did not execute them well enough. Has anyone mastered making basic fried rice? Any tips would be welcome.

                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                amyzan RE: BigSal May 24, 2010 11:48 PM

                                                                                                I hesitate to say this, but sometimes it just takes lots of uses before the wok tastes right. By that, I mean, that anything turned out of a wok will taste better after the wok's been used and used and used. I don't know why that is, but it's similar with cast iron. Not only do they perform better with time, but the food tastes better, too. Call me crazy...but is your wok an inheritance or new?

                                                                                                1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                  BigSal RE: amyzan May 25, 2010 02:43 AM

                                                                                                  It was new when I bought it some time ago. You are probably on to something.

                                                                                                  1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                    Gio RE: BigSal May 25, 2010 04:35 AM

                                                                                                    Oh Yes... a wok definitely needs to be seasoned. I believe the flavor from a seasoned wok is call wok hay. Here's a link to a good definition CH ricepad posted 4 years ago:

                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                                      amyzan RE: Gio May 26, 2010 03:23 PM

                                                                                                      Off to research 40,000 BTU "turkey fryer" rings for outdoor wokking...I learn more on Chowhound every day, thanks Gio!

                                                                                                2. re: BigSal
                                                                                                  Caitlin McGrath RE: BigSal May 25, 2010 10:23 AM

                                                                                                  Sal, this thread has a lot of good info about cooking fried rice: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/669895

                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                    BigSal RE: Caitlin McGrath May 25, 2010 05:42 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks Caitlin (and Gio) good info.

                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                      karykat RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 14, 2010 07:29 PM

                                                                                                      I'm going to check this thread myself.

                                                                                                      You may be onto something in thinking about the oil temperature too, Big Sal. A little bit ago I decided I wanted to make better fried rice. I read a bunch of things and decided that the big variable I had been missing was the oil and pan heat. So I upped the heat on my last try and it was noticeably better.

                                                                                                      1. re: karykat
                                                                                                        BigSal RE: karykat Jun 14, 2010 07:42 PM

                                                                                                        Thanks for the tip. I will try this out and see if it helps.

                                                                                                  2. LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 25, 2010 05:59 AM

                                                                                                    Penne with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (p. 209)

                                                                                                    Simple, classic, perfect. And very easy. Cook penne, drain. Add goat cheese and stir (I used a local one that had a bit of sun dried tomato in it); add halved cherry tomatoes (that you've salted), chopped kalamata olives and torn basil, S&P. Really nothing else needed. We all loved this, and agreed it should go into heavy rotation. Lulu had thirds, which is a first for her on anything.

                                                                                                    27 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                      roxlet RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 08:58 AM

                                                                                                      That looks fantastic!

                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                        LulusMom RE: roxlet May 25, 2010 09:30 AM

                                                                                                        Thanks roxlet, it really was. And SO easy.

                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                          roxlet RE: LulusMom Aug 28, 2010 05:57 AM

                                                                                                          We had this the other night, and I liked it though I wasn't wowed. Maybe it was because the rigatoni -- which was the only pasta I had on hand -- was these very thick tubes, and it sort of didn't marry well with the sauce. They were just too thick and doughy (so much for expensive artisinal pasta!). Overall, the taste was good. I would say, despite the fact that the recipe indicates penne, that shells would be the perfect pasta for this. I liked how quick it was to make and I will definitely try this one again.

                                                                                                      2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                        Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 10:18 AM

                                                                                                        I had flagged that one, too, figuring, how could it not be good? I've not really been able to cook this month, but the more I look through the book, the more I look forward to getting into the kitchen with it.

                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                          Gio RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 10:24 AM

                                                                                                          I completely overlooked that recipe...cuz I make it all the time. I thought *I* made it up, LOL
                                                                                                          Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes, sometimes Pastene Kitchen Ready...sometimes Hunts organic diced. Always with what I call "short cut pasta": penne, ziti, large rigatoni, even farfalle. BTW: TJ's sells an 11 oz log of Vermont Butter & Cheeze goat cheese for half the price of a much smaller log sold else where..

                                                                                                          1. re: Gio
                                                                                                            LulusMom RE: Gio May 25, 2010 10:29 AM

                                                                                                            Ah! Good to know that canned will work in the summer (down here, we've already got at least some tomatoes showing up at the farmers markets - and they're GOOD). Thanks so much for that Gio. And I'll keep in mind the TJs cheese, although I do like using the local product when I can.

                                                                                                            Caitlin, I'm really having fun cooking from this book and am kicking myself that I won't have much more time to do it, what with travel and husband being away (although travel means I -fingers crossed- will get to meet the famous and much loved greedgirl). My list of recipes to try is one of the longest since, hmmm, maybe Fish without a Doubt and Simon Hopkinson, if not longer.

                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                              Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom May 25, 2010 10:56 AM

                                                                                                              LLM, there is so much in this book that I have a feeling it will become a staple on many our shelves far beyond June.

                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                                The Dairy Queen RE: Caitlin McGrath May 25, 2010 11:15 AM

                                                                                                                But, that would be Gourmet TOMORROW!

                                                                                                                I do like this book. I haven't really found a situation yet where I couldn't make something from this book. They cover a lot of ground and seem to do it pretty well. I even think I can fit into my bikini by the end of the summer if I continue to cook (judiciously) from this book,


                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                                  LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath May 25, 2010 01:31 PM

                                                                                                                  Totally agree. There is just so much there that I want to try.

                                                                                                            2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                              beetlebug RE: LulusMom May 30, 2010 07:24 AM

                                                                                                              Penne with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (p. 209)

                                                                                                              We really enjoyed this. Not much to add except that this dish will really shine when summer tomatoes come into season. Also, I don't necessarily think that one has to use cherry tomatoes. I think you could easily sub in de-seeded chopped summer tomatoes as well.

                                                                                                              Thanks for the post, I would have passed this over without the rave review.

                                                                                                              1. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                Gio RE: beetlebug Jun 29, 2010 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                Penne with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese, Pg. 209

                                                                                                                My turn for this very nice dish, perfect for a very warm Summer evening. We used a wonderful Fresh Goat Cheese (Chèvre) from the Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. which made a delicious creamy sauce when the hot penne hit the cheese.
                                                                                                                I did have to use 2 1/2 lbs. organic vine-ripe tomatoes instead of the cherry tomatoes called for. While the pasta is cooking tomatoes are halved (I chopped the larger ones) and tossed with salt to release the juices. In a serving bowl toss the cooked pasta with crumbled goat cheese till is melta and coats the penne. Add the tomatoes and 2/3 c chopped Kalamata olives, pitted of course, and 1/4 c chopped fresh basil. Taste and season with salt if necessary ( we didn't) and freshly ground black pepper. Lovely flavors even though we restrained ourselves and didn't add any red pepper flakes. Perhaps another time I shall.
                                                                                                                I served this with a celery salad from Italian Two Easy... but more about that later....

                                                                                                                1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                  LulusMom RE: Gio Jun 29, 2010 08:45 AM

                                                                                                                  So glad you liked it too! It will go into heavy rotation around here.

                                                                                                                2. re: beetlebug
                                                                                                                  greedygirl RE: beetlebug Aug 28, 2010 05:46 AM

                                                                                                                  I made this last night for dinner when I was exhausted and needed something quick after work. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't wowed. I think though that was partly because my goat's cheese wasn't young and fresh but rather goaty. Anyway, it sustained us through a rather grim night in the ER (which is another story)!

                                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                    LulusMom RE: greedygirl Aug 28, 2010 05:50 AM

                                                                                                                    Ew, sorry about the ER part! Hope all is well now.

                                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                      roxlet RE: greedygirl Aug 28, 2010 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                      Ditto, gg. Hope all is well!

                                                                                                                      As they say, there's no goat like an old goat!

                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                        greedygirl RE: roxlet Aug 28, 2010 06:42 AM

                                                                                                                        Mr GG's in hospital unfortunately - but nothing to do with the goat! Hopefully all will be well - he's mainlining antibiotics and having fish and chips for lunch!

                                                                                                                        1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                          roxlet RE: greedygirl Aug 28, 2010 07:28 AM

                                                                                                                          I'm sure you'll take god care of his culinary needs while he is there, gg. With the horror-show foods they serve in hospitals, it's a miracle that anyone ever recovers!

                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                            Gio RE: greedygirl Aug 28, 2010 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                            So sorry to hear this, GG... Speedy recovery!

                                                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                              buttertart RE: greedygirl Aug 28, 2010 01:34 PM

                                                                                                                              Oh no, all best wishes from us!

                                                                                                                      2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                        Rubee RE: LulusMom Aug 18, 2010 03:39 PM

                                                                                                                        Penne with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese (p. 209).

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the report, I had also overlooked this. Not much to add - made a very nice lunch for the both of us today. I had a little tub of garlic and chive goat cheese in the freezer that I had bought at a local winery. It was the perfect amount for a half recipe. I used a 7-ounce package of macaroni, about 3.5 oz of goat cheese, two large tomatoes, basil, and salt-cured olives.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                          LulusMom RE: Rubee Aug 18, 2010 04:57 PM

                                                                                                                          Rubee, your dish looks incredible. Thanks so much for the reminder on this one. We all loved it, and I think the family would be thrilled to get it again soon. I'm really glad you liked it too.

                                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                          roxlet RE: LulusMom Aug 25, 2010 08:11 AM

                                                                                                                          Can anyone who has made this tell me approximate amounts? I'm out on Long Island with amazing award-winning local goat cheese and the most delicious tomatoes ever due to the hot, dry summer. Since it is neither hot no dry, I think this would be perfect for tonight's dinner! Thanks for the help.

                                                                                                                          1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                            LulusMom RE: roxlet Aug 25, 2010 09:21 AM

                                                                                                                            I've got it on my menu for next week, so I happen to have the recipe handy! Here you go:

                                                                                                                            1 pound penne or gemelli
                                                                                                                            2 3/4 lbs cherry toms, halved
                                                                                                                            5-6 ounce soft mild goat cheese, crumbled
                                                                                                                            2/3 cup coarsely chopped kalamata or other brine-cured black olives
                                                                                                                            3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
                                                                                                                            salt and pepper

                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                              roxlet RE: LulusMom Aug 25, 2010 12:16 PM

                                                                                                                              Thanks so much, LulusMom! Can't wait for dinner tonight!

                                                                                                                              1. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                                LulusMom RE: roxlet Aug 25, 2010 12:41 PM

                                                                                                                                Hope you enjoy as much as we did. I'm looking forward to it again next week.

                                                                                                                            2. re: roxlet
                                                                                                                              JoanN RE: roxlet Aug 25, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                                                              The tomatoes this season have been extraordinary, haven't they? Is this a tri-state area phenomenon or has it been true throughout the country? I remember last years' tomatoes being scarce, bad, and very expensive. Makes me even more thankful for the abundance this year.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                roxlet RE: JoanN Aug 25, 2010 02:27 PM

                                                                                                                                Yes, we can't buy a bad tomato at any of the farm stands, which isn't always the case. Maybe this is just the tri-state area -- or wherever else they may have had hot weather and very little rain. In any event, we are enjoying the tomatoes tremendously!

                                                                                                                          2. amyzan RE: Caitlin McGrath May 26, 2010 06:15 PM

                                                                                                                            Farro Risotto with Cauliflower (pp. 275-6) I made as a side dish for roasted chicken and asparagus. This will be a keeper for us, as farro's lower in carbs and higher in fiber than arborio rice. This has a more toothsome, grainy texture than risotto made with arborio, but the generous amount of parmesan and butter does lend creaminess. I added more parsley than called for, because we like the flavor. One note, and this is in the recipe's text, but the amount of chicken broth called for in the ingredient list wasn't necessary. I'm not sure why they listed that much? Maybe because they expected the farro to cook slowly, and thus as the stock simmered, a lot would evaporate. I used a semi pearled product from Costco, and didn't find it took that long to cook, best estimate 15 minutes?
                                                                                                                            So I had a lot of leftover stock. YMMV...

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                              Rubee RE: amyzan May 26, 2010 07:42 PM

                                                                                                                              I love farro, and cauliflower is one of the few vegetables E likes. Thanks for the report - I will definitely have to make this.

                                                                                                                            2. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath May 27, 2010 09:45 AM

                                                                                                                              Grilled Tofu with Sautéed Asian Greens, Pg. 327

                                                                                                                              Well the queen of substitutions had to do it again. Fresh beet greens instead of Asian greens. And the verdict: Absolutely fabulous. So all of you who want another green leafy vegetable on your plate... this recipe is for you.

                                                                                                                              I haven't used tofu for a while so was excited to see this recipe. The grilling takes place indoors on a grill pan but I suppose it would be wonderful on the Weber as well. The tofu is sliced into 6 portions, blotted, weighted with more paper towels to drain then marinated for 8 minutes. Reserve the marinade. Soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, Tabasco, salt and oil for the marinade. Grill 5 minutes on each side. What a beautiful golden crust !! In a skillet a bit of oil is heated and the well washed greens, either baby spinach or the Asian greens are added. I sliced the stems and leaves of the beet greens into ribbons. After cooking for a few minutes, just to wilt, add the reserved marinade, toss and cook for another 2-ish minutes. To serve place greens on a plate and top with 1 or 2 pieces of tofu. This was delicious along with the spicy napa cabbage on pg. 163.

                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                LulusMom RE: Gio May 27, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                                Yay! I have this one on my list too. I'm trying to serve at least 2 veg dinners a week (sometimes even more - very easy when I do pasta) and having more tofu recipes under my belt will help a lot. This one sounds like a winner. Thanks for the report.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                  Gio RE: LulusMom May 27, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                  I've been doing the same thing re the vegetarian meals. It just feels so much better. I'm lucky that DH likes tofu... or at least he doesn't complain about it. Frankly, LLM, other leafy vegetables would be just as tasty using that marinade. I have a feeling that once my CSA starts (in a couple of weeks) I'm going to be using this book right through the summer. Along with Plenty, of course.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                    LulusMom RE: Gio May 27, 2010 01:30 PM

                                                                                                                                    Hugely helpful tip about the greens - helps me at the farmers market. I can't wait to try this one. My husband isn't quite as big a fan of tofu as yours, but I've found enough preparations that he's kept happy enough. And I always make sure to serve something on the side that I know he loves!

                                                                                                                                2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                  JoanN RE: Gio May 29, 2010 04:35 PM

                                                                                                                                  I came home from the farmer's market with some Asian greens I'd never seen or heard of before--choy sum. The farmer said to saute the stems as well as the leaves. Didn't know what I was going to do with it, but came home and found this recipe.

                                                                                                                                  Well, the ratio of leaf to stem was not in my favor, the stems weren't as tender--even after cooking quite a bit longer than was necessary for the leaves alone, and the greens were really too bitter for the marinade which, despite rather intense ingredients, was just overpowered. I may have just prepared the greens incorrectly. Anyone hanging around here who can give me the lowdown on choy sum?

                                                                                                                                  I really liked this dish though, and would definitely make it again--probably with the baby spinach next time.

                                                                                                                                  I'm curious, Gio, about your "beautiful golden crust." As you can see in my photo, mine had good color, but not really a crust. The only crusty parts of the tofu were left in the bottom of the grill pan. In fact, I made a note for myself--before I read your report--to not use a grill pan next time but to use a skillet to try to get the tofu a bit crispier around the edges.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                    Rubee RE: JoanN May 29, 2010 05:00 PM

                                                                                                                                    Hi Joan.

                                                                                                                                    That looks so good!

                                                                                                                                    When I cook choy sum, if the stems are thick, I usually blanch them first.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                      LulusMom RE: JoanN May 29, 2010 05:41 PM

                                                                                                                                      It *looks* beautiful, and seems fairly crusty. Love the grill pan marks.

                                                                                                                                      I've never heard of, let alone cooked, choy sum. Shame it was so bitter.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                        Gio RE: JoanN May 30, 2010 05:28 AM

                                                                                                                                        Good Morning Joan... I've never heard of or seen choy sum. A new Asian market opened recently near me that I have yet to visit. I'll have to keep an eye open to see if they carry this vegetable..I like bitter greens. IRT the tofu, DH remembers it being slightly crispy but not exactly crusty. In fact it did look a lot like your picture, but my piece of tofu definitely had a crusty aspect. Perhaps he just cooked some pieces a bit longer. All in all though the dish was delicious, In this case I think very bitter greens would have spoiled it, so I'm glad I used the beet greens.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                        LulusMom RE: Gio Jun 14, 2010 06:36 AM

                                                                                                                                        My turn on the grilled tofu with asian greens (p. 327). But ... thunderstorms and a husband due on a plane sort of kept me from a) grilling (since we have an outdoor grill I don't own a grill pan) and b) totally enjoying since I was concerned about a husband who was over 2 hours late home because of the storms. I loved the marinade - wanted to slurp it up with a spoon. Because at first I kept thinking husband would be home any minute, I let the tofu sit in the marinade for something like an hour. I don't think this hurt it at all, in fact it probably made it even tastier. And since I couldn't grill it, I did the high temp "broiling" (about 550) for 15 minutes. It was nice and crispy on the outside. Perhaps could have been cooked slightly less time. I used spinach in place of the greens and served with rice. Lulu and I sat there at the table, worrying whether husband would make it home that night, just sort of eating without really paying a lot of attention to the food (they'd run out of fuel while circling the airport and gone to a different airport ... somehow this makes no sense to me, but ... I'm not in aviation), so I don't think I can give an honest evaluation. We both liked it well enough, certainly finished our plates (as did my husband when he finally did make it home), but it didn't seem as interesting as the tofu recipe with the cilantro pesto. The spinach was the big hit on the plate. But again - is even reviewing it at all even fair? Probably not.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                          LulusMom RE: LulusMom Jun 23, 2010 11:33 AM

                                                                                                                                          Meant to come back and say that the leftovers on this were really very good. So - will definitely make again.

                                                                                                                                      3. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath May 30, 2010 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                                        Bean Burritos, Pg. 300

                                                                                                                                        Made this for Friday night's easy peasy dinner. Love pinto beans so was happy to see this recipe.
                                                                                                                                        First, an onion pickle is made by boiling 2 cups of water with RW Vinegar, sugar and salt. A red onion halved then sliced in 1/2 moons is added and simmered uncovered for about 5 minutes. Drain and cool.

                                                                                                                                        Chop 5 garlic cloves and fry them for a minute in hot oil with ground cumin, salt & pepper. Add +/- 14.5 oz of pintos (I had the exact amount left from a batch I made earlier in the week but canned can be used too), mash them with a fork or potato masher, add a little water and 3 finely chopped scallions. Cook till water has been absorbed. The burritos are then assembled using the bean mixture, pickled onions, chopped cilantro, grated pepper jack cheese (I had to used finely chopped jalapeño & grated fontina).
                                                                                                                                        Roll them up, fry till lightly browned on both sides. Serve with salsa and sour cream (I used plain no-fat yogurt). An accompanying dish was roasted potatoes, onions and parsnips with S & P, cumin, cayenne, and smoked paprika.
                                                                                                                                        Nice dinner after a busy day.

                                                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                          LulusMom RE: Gio May 30, 2010 06:34 AM

                                                                                                                                          I love burritos, and these sound delcious. But I'm wondering what is with pickling the onion. Do you think that was necessary?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                            Gio RE: LulusMom May 30, 2010 06:49 AM

                                                                                                                                            Actually...No. But I did it anyway because we were having a simple meal and I thought the more the merrier. LOL

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                              LulusMom RE: Gio Jun 1, 2010 02:44 AM

                                                                                                                                              I just don't remember ever having the onions pickled in a burrito before. Does it add a sourness? Thanks for answering my yammering questions on this!

                                                                                                                                            2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                              greedygirl RE: LulusMom Jun 1, 2010 01:18 AM

                                                                                                                                              It sounds similar to a Mexican pickled onion recipe I've made a few times. Adds a real zip imho. Plus I like the psychedlic pink you get from the red onions!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl
                                                                                                                                                Gio RE: greedygirl Jun 1, 2010 04:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                Yes...zip is a good description. It doesn't have a sour note. I make a quick cucumber and red onion pickle/salad regularly but there's no water involved and I don't boil it so it adds a nice crunch to a sandwich or wharever. I wanted to make the GT one to see if I'd like it better. I didn't but it was worth trying.

                                                                                                                                          2. Caitlin McGrath RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 4, 2010 07:58 PM

                                                                                                                                            Lentils with Curried Butternut Squash and Walnuts, P. 285

                                                                                                                                            Except I used sweet potatoes ("yams") instead of butternut squash. I used 1.5 pounds, figuring that was about equivalent to the 2-lb. squash called for once it is peeled and seeded. The squash (sweet potatoes) is cut in half-inch pieces and tossed with shallots, olive oil, salt, pepper, and curry powder (I added a bit of ground cumin, too), spread on a sheet pan, and roasted for 15 minutes. Then chopped walnuts are added, and it roasts until the vegetables are tender and the walnuts toasted. Mine were done in about 20 min. total. Meanwhile, French lentils are cooked in salted water. Recipe says 20-25 min, mine took about 30 to get tender enough. They're drained, and tossed together in a bowl with the squash and walnuts, plus cilantro and lime juice.

                                                                                                                                            This turned out tasty, and I think leftovers will be equally as good at room temperature. It says this makes four side-dish servings, but I'd say it's more like four main-dish servings, so maybe six as a hearty side.

                                                                                                                                            1. k
                                                                                                                                              Karen_Schaffer RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 9, 2010 09:32 PM

                                                                                                                                              Gemelli & mushrooms with parmesan crumb topping, p. 217

                                                                                                                                              Bottom line: it was pleasant enough, but not worth the number of dishes dirtied. I won't bother paraphrasing since you can just read the on-line version. Notice that the Epicurious commenters are even less enthusiastic than me. I used portobellos instead of cremini + dried porcini, so maybe my version actually ended up with a little more oomph. Oh well, I had mushrooms and stale bread, so it seemed like a good idea, but I won't make it again. (Maybe I should have made the savory French toast instead.)

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                                                                                                                LulusMom RE: Karen_Schaffer Jun 10, 2010 02:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                Whew, glad I read your report. I have this on my "to make" list, but it DID look like it was an awful lot of work, and if it isnt' really worth the effort, nevermind. Sorry to hear about your disappointment, but thanks for letting us know. You've saved me some effort.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                  Karen_Schaffer RE: LulusMom Jun 10, 2010 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Happy to have helped! DH quite liked it, but agreed, as he was doing all of the dishes, that it wasn't really worth that much effort.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                                                                                                                    LulusMom RE: Karen_Schaffer Jun 10, 2010 10:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Funny how being the one doing the dishes can do that about a meal...

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                    Caitlin McGrath RE: LulusMom Jun 10, 2010 11:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Me too, exactly. I was planning on making that next week, but perhaps I'll look for a different dish, based on Karen's report.

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Karen_Schaffer
                                                                                                                                                    Caitlin McGrath RE: Karen_Schaffer Jun 10, 2010 11:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Karen, am I understanding correctly that you *did not* use the dried porcini?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                                                                      Karen_Schaffer RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 10, 2010 11:33 PM

                                                                                                                                                      Right, since I was using portobellos instead of cremini, I figured they had pretty good flavor already. Besides, it was one less thing to do (soak & clean dried mushrooms). And the mushroom mixture did taste nice (I used fresh oregano too).

                                                                                                                                                  4. Rubee RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 16, 2010 12:12 AM

                                                                                                                                                    Quinoa with Mango and Curried Yogurt , p. 275


                                                                                                                                                    I actually changed this quite a bit. I had started making the dressing with yogurt, lime juice, and fresh ginger, but couldn't find the curry powder. Instead, I decided to make it spicy with Penzey's Jerk Seasoning, Aleppo Pepper, & Shallot Salt, with some minced fresh red thai chili. I also added shrimp that I had marinated in some lime juice, Jerk Seasoning, and evoo. Even though I completely changed the flavor profile, this was delicious and one of the things I enjoyed most was the combination of mango, mint and peanuts (added peanuts after pic). I'll definitely be trying this with the curry powder too.

                                                                                                                                                    I didn't like the method for cooking the quinoa though. It was more complicated than what I usually do (link below). And it probably didn't help that I left it unattended and came back to a kitchen full of smoke and a smoldering dish towel.

                                                                                                                                                    Cooking quinoa

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                      karykat RE: Rubee Jun 21, 2010 05:09 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I might try this with couscous. Have never used a yogurt sauce with that but why not? Flavors look good.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                        JoanN RE: Rubee Jun 20, 2014 06:16 PM

                                                                                                                                                        Quinoa with Mango and Curried Yogurt (page 275)

                                                                                                                                                        Add lime juice, curry powder, grated ginger, and black pepper to plain yogurt. Whisk, then add oil. Prepare and cook quinoa and add it to the curried yogurt. Stir in mango chunks, diced red pepper, minced jalapeño, chopped mint, and chopped salted peanuts. For dietary reasons, I cut back considerably on the amount of oil and omitted the peanuts, and I used only one mango and should have used two, but otherwise made it as directed. (Although I wish I’d read Rubee’s report first; the instructions for the quinoa really are a bit of a pain.) It can be served either warm or at room temperature, and can be made a day ahead.

                                                                                                                                                        I served it with Tuna au Poivre from “Fish Without a Doubt.” Not a good pairing; I knew it wouldn’t be as soon as I tasted it and should have shifted gears on the tuna. It would have been much better with something simply roasted or grilled that didn’t overwhelm it.

                                                                                                                                                        This was simply delightful, very fresh and flavorful, although the curry wasn’t as pronounced as I expected. And probably because I cut way back on the oil, the dressing didn’t permeate the quinoa as much as I’m guessing it should have. Nonetheless, I was quite taken with this. It would be lovely, I would think, on a summer buffet table or brought to a pot-luck BBQ.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 16, 2010 05:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Zucchini Curry, Pg. 331

                                                                                                                                                        This was Sooooo tasty and full of flavor. We loved it. First mustard and cumin seeds are toasted. Garlic, chopped jalapeño, ginger and salt are pounded with mortar and pestle. Then Madras curry powder, coriander and the toasted seeds are added. A sliced onion is cooked in hot oil tll golden then the curry paste is added then zucchinis which has been sliced in 1/2" rounds. This is cooked till the zucchini is just tender. Cilantro and cashews are strewn over top. Although at this point the curry is absolutely wonderful I had about 1 1/2 cups of leftover steamed cauliflower and the same of rice so I added it to the curry. The extra vegetable was bland enough not to have much influence on the final dish. As I said above... we Loved this and feel any vegetable will benefit from the curry sauce. I served it with Black Beans with Garlic, Cumin and Cilantro on pg. 281...except I used leftover Jacob's Cattle beans. Perfect and very filling.

                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                          BigSal RE: Gio Jun 19, 2010 04:56 AM

                                                                                                                                                          This sounds so delicious! I can't wait to try it. Thanks for the posting! It's not something I would have sought out myself.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                                                                            toveggiegirl RE: BigSal Jun 22, 2010 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                            That sounds really unique and tasty.
                                                                                                                                                            Here's a link to the recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                            LulusMom RE: Gio Dec 4, 2010 02:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks to Gio's rave, I tried this (zucchini curry), and she's absolutely right. My husband heard what we were having, and lets just say his face didn't exactly light up. But man, did he love it! We discussed how most vegetables would work with this treatment (we immediately ruled out fennel - Lulu's current favorite) - pretty much anything that when cooked doesn't have huge amounts of flavor: the cauliflower Gio mentioned, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, green beans. Instead of strewing the cashews over the top, I just tossed them on in with the curry. We loved the crunch they give this dish. And I didn't serve with rice, I heated some naan instead. Delicious, as I'm sure the rice would be (lots of juice to soak up). I'd made raita, but LulusDad didn't think it needed anything at all. He was VERY surprised by his love of this veg. entree.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                              Gio RE: LulusMom Dec 4, 2010 05:29 PM

                                                                                                                                                              I'm so happy your family liked this LLM. I often wonder if I'm too effusive in a report when I /we like a COTM recipe. But I think this is a very nice recipe.

                                                                                                                                                              I'm so far behind my reporting... I better get busy.

                                                                                                                                                          3. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 16, 2010 06:37 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Black Beans with Garlic, Cumin and Cilantro, Pg. 281

                                                                                                                                                            This is possibly the easiest dish I've ever made. A tin of beans, EVOO, chopped garlic, cumin, tomato juice, a bit of salt and cilantro. I substituted leftover Jacob's Cattle beans for the black beans because I've made a decision not to buy canned beans and instead cook a pot of dry beans each week. It's a very easy thing to do, especially if a slow cooker is used. (Soak the beans overnight in the insert and in the morning drain, throw in a chopped onion, carrot, water, seasoning of your choice...turn on low and let the beans cook all day.) The other substitution I made was a cup of leftover basic marinara sauce for tomato juice. There are so many dishes where this bean recipe can be used, as you can imagine. We liked it very much. The main dish was the Zucchini Curry on pg. 331.
                                                                                                                                                            Delicious meal.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                              LulusMom RE: Gio Jun 16, 2010 10:20 AM

                                                                                                                                                              This, minus the tomato juice, is something I make a lot as a side. Oh and I often use green onions or shallots in place of the garlic, and add a bit of lime juice. Always always love gussied up beans. Sounds delightful.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Caitlin McGrath RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 18, 2010 05:18 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Beet Risotto, P. 263

                                                                                                                                                              I was very intrigued by this recipe, and decided to try it even though I wasn't sure if it would add up to as much as I hoped.

                                                                                                                                                              It's pretty standard, with onions and garlic, plus the stems of the beet greens, sauteed in butter (I used olive oil instead), then rice added and sauteed (I used carnaroli), white wine, liquid added gradually, lots of stirring. The liquid it's cooked in is made by pureeing roasted beets with water and diluting with more water (I used some boxed Pacific vegetable broth that was open in place of about half the water, figuring it could only help). More chopped roasted beets and the chopped beet greens are added toward the end, and it's finished with some Parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                              As it turns out, it was really nice, lots of flavor but not too sweet, which I'd somewhat feared. It's quite striking looking. However, there's a lot of prep work with the roasting, peeling, and pureeing of the beets, plus chopping, and then the stand-and-stir nature of risotto, and plenty of beet juice mess (at least if you're not-very-neat me).

                                                                                                                                                              I served it with the green beans with ginger butter, reported in the vegetable thread. That was a colorful plate of food!

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                                                                                                                                                mebby RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 18, 2010 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                                                                I agree this is a very different recipe, Would you make it again, given the work-to-flavor ratio? Beautiful photo!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mebby
                                                                                                                                                                  Caitlin McGrath RE: mebby Jun 18, 2010 06:17 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I might make it again, after a while. But I would try to stagger the prep work, probably, so I'm not spending a couple of hours, plus the time to roast the beets, all at once, to make dinner.

                                                                                                                                                              2. BigSal RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 19, 2010 04:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Israeli Couscous with mixed mushrooms (p. 237)
                                                                                                                                                                I wanted to try another recipe with Israeli couscous other than Mario's 2 minute pasta Sicilian lifeguard style (which I enjoy very much). Shallots are cooked in oil and butter, then chopped mushrooms (I used porcini, chanterelles and cremini), soy sauce and sugar are cooked for 10 or so minutes and then seasoned. In the meantime one cooks the Israeli couscous. This is then added to the mushrooms with parsley and butter. I had higher hopes for the recipe, but is was just ok for us. Not terrible, but nothing that would be crave-worthy.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal
                                                                                                                                                                  LulusMom RE: BigSal Jun 19, 2010 06:10 AM

                                                                                                                                                                  Huh, sorry to hear it. But thanks for bringing up that Batali recipe. I LOVE that, and haven't made it in a while. Good reminder.

                                                                                                                                                                2. amyzan RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 21, 2010 05:05 PM

                                                                                                                                                                  I used a 100% buckwheat noodle to make Mint and Scallion Soba Noodles (p. 239) last night. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... My only complaint is that the instructions are to "cook noodles in a large pot." Well, for 12 ounces of 100% buckwheat noodles, 5 quarts is not enough pot. I should have known better, but I rarely cook this many servings of noodles. So, the noodles weren't as chewy and intact as I would've liked, because I was having to stir the pot like a maniac to keep the floury water from boiling over. Ay. Next time I will cut the recipe in half or thirds. Be sure to rinse the noodles well, by rubbing them with your fingers gently, so that all the starch is removed. Otherwise, they'll just soak up the dressing like mad.

                                                                                                                                                                  At any rate, with fresh scallions and mint from the garden, the vinegar and oil dressed cool noodles are delicious, great for summer weather. I usually associate soba with winter, as it's fairly hearty in flavor, but this has made soba an all weather noodle for me. I served it with grilled bison shoulder, eggplant salad, sauteed summer squash, and kinpira. Delish!

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: amyzan
                                                                                                                                                                    mebby RE: amyzan Jun 21, 2010 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                                    How did you find the flavor of the dressing, amyzan? Just curious -- both beetlebug and I felt like it needed a little something extra (see above). I can definitely see how it would be refreshing on a summer evening though -- I'll have to try it again with some tweaks.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. LulusMom RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 23, 2010 05:46 AM

                                                                                                                                                                    Eggplant Souffle (p. 323)

                                                                                                                                                                    I loved this. I think the other members of the family only liked it (although husband went for seconds), but I'm a huge eggplant fan. My husband commented that it was sort of like a fluffy baba ghanouj (sp?). Roast the eggplant, scrape out the meat of it and zap in the cuisinart, then add egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, S&P and zap again. Beat the whites until just stiff and incorporate. Cook 25-30 minutes. Mine wasn't cooked quite as long as it should have been, even at 30 minutes and 25 degrees hotter than it should have been (because I know my oven and its problems). Still, even a little runny in the middle it was great (to me). Served with a salad of tomato, cucumber, parsley and some pita slices and olives. As you'll see, I forgot about taking a picture until after the first plate. Oops.

                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                      The Dairy Queen RE: LulusMom Jun 23, 2010 07:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                      How can you go wrong with a fluffy baba ganoush?! I hope we get some eggplant in our CSA this year!


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                                                                                                                                        LulusMom RE: The Dairy Queen Jun 23, 2010 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                        If you're an eggplant fan, I really do recommend this. Light but tasty. One issue: at least down here in the south, it gets HOT and humid in the summer, and it takes a lot longer than the 10 minutes they give as active time to get your egg whites to get to the appropriate state. So make sure the kitchen is on the cooler side when you try it, unless you've got a bit more time.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                          toveggiegirl RE: LulusMom Jun 24, 2010 02:23 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          That looks scrumptious!
                                                                                                                                                                          Here is a link to the recipe online for those who have yet to buy the book.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Caitlin McGrath RE: Caitlin McGrath Jun 28, 2010 08:49 PM

                                                                                                                                                                      Indian Lentil Stew, p. 286

                                                                                                                                                                      The only change between Epicurious and the book is that the former calls for a jalapeño and the latter for a serrano (which is what I used). I made a few alterations, mostly in preparation. I didn't bother tying the cinnamon and cardamom in cheesecloth. I didn't make the Indian Spice Mix, because I wasn't much interested in using a tablespoon and having a cup of it in my pantry. Instead, I toasted 1 1/2 teaspoons each cumin and coriander seeds and ground them with 1/4 teaspoon or so peppercorns and a few whole cloves. I used this, plus about 3/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/2 tsp. or so ground ginger, and some red pepper flakes in place of all but the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods (the latter of which I used 3). I didn't cook the lentils until they were "very soft," but until they were tender. The recipe calls for too much water, I think, and I ended up trying to boil some off at the end. I also did a sauté/steam combo of the zucchini in a bit of oil in a nonstick skillet and mixed it in at the end, as I'm not fond of straight steamed zucchini (too watery). In the interests of making it more of a one-ish meal, I stirred in a couple of handfuls of baby spinach at the end to wilt.

                                                                                                                                                                      This was a good dish (not bland as the Epicurious reviewer said), even better reheated the next day (except the veggies don't look as bright). Heat can be adjusted depending on whether the chile is seeded and how much chile/pepper flakes used. I served the walnut and cilantro raita from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking alongside.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Caitlin McGrath RE: Caitlin McGrath Jul 4, 2010 08:34 PM

                                                                                                                                                                        Pasta with Lentils and Kale, p.209

                                                                                                                                                                        Normally, I might think of a recipe like this in the fall, but I was given some young and tender kale from the gaden of someone I know.

                                                                                                                                                                        The recipe is quite minimal, including only caramelized onions, French green lentils, kale (it calls for cavolo nero; I used my gift of tender, small green curly leaves), rotini, salt and pepper. Instead of blanching the kale, I threw it, damp from washing into the skillet with the onions when they were done, and let it steam down. Thinking I wanted a bit ore seasoning, I added some capers and red pepper flakes. I used multigrain rotini, and I only used 8 oz (half what the recipe called for), which was still plenty in terms of pasta-to-other stuff ratio. I didn't drizzle on the extra olive oil at the end, per the recipe, but I did toss in some grated parm-reg.

                                                                                                                                                                        I thought the sweet onions and earthy kale and lentils worked well together. The capers and pepper flakes gave a welcome bit of piquancy. Served with the last local asparagus to be had, which I cooked in a bit of dry vermouth in a skillet.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Katie Nell RE: Caitlin McGrath Jul 20, 2010 10:00 AM

                                                                                                                                                                          Tuna Pasta Salad, p. 192

                                                                                                                                                                          Good. Cheap. Easy. I made this for my husband and dad for a fishing trip, and they both loved it. I used sun-dried tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes, as neither of them likes big hunks of fresh tomatoes. I could see using lots of different herbs, but I really enjoyed the basil with the white beans. Love that almost everything is in the pantry.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Katie Nell RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 6, 2010 08:54 AM

                                                                                                                                                                            Porcini and Onion Stuffing, p. 426

                                                                                                                                                                            We made this for our post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving lunch on Sunday. We didn't have a traditional meal this year, and we decided that the only things we really missed were the stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy. So, we made a flat-roasted chicken, the stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed corn, honey oatmeal bread, and apple dumplings. Anyway, the stuffing was excellent! I used chicken stock in place of the boiled water to soak the porcinis in, because we had some good smoky chicken stock. The stuffing was just the right consistency, with some crispy bits on top. The flavor was so rich from the porcinis, and I'm sure the chicken stock added to that flavor too. We will definitely be making this one again!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. blue room RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 9, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                                              Potato Cumin Filling pg. 313

                                                                                                                                                                              This is meant to be a filling for dosas, crepe-like flat round wrappers made of ground rice and beans. I *only made the filling* -- wrapped it in phyllo, and baked it.
                                                                                                                                                                              The filling is delicious-- nice yellow Yukons, popped (from heat) mustard seeds, cumin seeds (mine was ground cumin) chopped onion, green chile, turmeric. The potatoes are boiled and chopped small. Mixed and mashed a little with cooked onion and spices. Now they are a filling for just about anything--I layered and buttered 3 sheets of phyllo, cut that in half, put a mound of filling on each half, folded each up like blintz. Repeat 'til filling is used up. Baked for 30 minutes 375F until browned.

                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                Rubee RE: blue room Dec 9, 2010 01:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for this timely report! I'm having some girlfriends over to watch Eat Pray Love for a good excuse to cook Italian, Indian, and Indonesian, and this will be perfect. I'm thinking phyllo triangles for a perfect appetizer.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                  Breadcrumbs RE: blue room Dec 9, 2010 03:53 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                  These look wonderful blue room. The filling as you've described it reminds me of a samosa filling I made years ago and we loved it but unfortunately I could never remember where I got the recipe. I think I'll give this a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lovely photos!

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 11, 2010 04:43 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                  Linguine with Zucchini (and Mint), Pg. 208

                                                                                                                                                                                  Catchy title. Sounded pretty good in the reading but we weren't bowled over. However, that may have been because the fresh mint G thought was in the fridge was actually cilantro. Dried spearmint was in the spice cabinet and fresh parsley was at hand so...well you know the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Zucchini is sliced thinly and and fried in hot oil. I included 2 thinly sliced leeks. These are removed to a paper lined platter while chopped garlic is fried till just golden. Quite a bit of EVOO is needed because that garlic oil is essentially the sauce. The recipe calls for 1 cup of oil but we used 3/4. When the macaroni is cooked it's tossed with the garlic oil and zucchini, S & P, lemon zest and chopped mint. I mixed 2 teaspoons of dried mint with 1/3 cup chopped parsley. After tasting we decided it needed something else and of course that would be crushed red pepper flakes. That didn't work so G grated Pecorino Romano over, tossed again and added more grated cheese when he served.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think the garlic should be fried first and the zucchini then fried in the garlic oil, seasoned with S & P. Zucchini really needs to be aggressively seasoned to be appreciated. Also, a few anchovies melted into the garlic oil would be a nice addition, I think. That's all she wrote...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 12, 2010 06:07 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                    (Beef) Chow Mein, Pg. 245

                                                                                                                                                                                    I made: Chicken Chow Mein. And... it was very good. Because I wanted to cook a nice bunch of choy sum and use the left over linguine with zucchini (pg. 208), and because I already had 2 chicken breasts marinating in sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce and cornstarch this was a perfect recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The recipe calls for fresh Chinese egg noodles but since we had quite a bit of the linguine DH simply made the fried "noodle cake" with that pressing and rotating the noodles in the wok and cooking till golden. The cake is flipped over and that side is cooked for 3 more minutes. Remove from wok and slide onto a paper toweled plate.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Next, heat wok and add the marinated cubed meat in one layer, cook without moving for a bit then stir fry about a minute and remove to a plate with all the juices. Add a little peanut oil to the wok and when hot chopped ginger/garlic/scallions are added and stir fried. Rinsed and chopped choy sum (sub bok choy ) is added next and stir fried for about 3-ish minutes. A mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, oyster sauce, cornstarch and white pepper is sloshed in and stir fried till thickened. Add the meat back in, bring to boil and pour over the noodles.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Although this was slightly salty we both liked it. It was filling and though there are a few preps and cooking steps it went together easily. It's worth making again.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. blue room RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 13, 2010 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                      Couscous with Dates pg. 236

                                                                                                                                                                                      A nice surprise! We're not very familiar with Middle Eastern combinations -- cinnamon and allspice in rice for dinner? Sounds more like rice pudding ingredients, dessert. So I'm very glad I tried this. In addition to cinnamon and allspice there is cayenne (I went easy with the cayenne I always do.) Also orange zest (I used lemon) and chopped green onions and chopped dates. The result is just right, not too much of anything, and that delightful couscous texture of course. The couscous is "toasted" with the spices in olive oil first.
                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll look for other dishes from this kind of cooking, would love to serve this as part of a fancyish (for us) meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                        LulusMom RE: blue room Dec 13, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                        Try finding Arabesque at your local library. I love that book, and you can read reviews for certain recipes from when it was cookbook of the month.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom
                                                                                                                                                                                          blue room RE: LulusMom Dec 13, 2010 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am aware of that book, Arabesque, will be reading that thread! I own a copy of "Spice" by Ana Sortun--I think that too will give me ideas.

                                                                                                                                                                                          p.s. when Lulu begins posting, will she post as "Lulu", or as KarisKid ?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                            LulusMom RE: blue room Dec 13, 2010 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                            laughing! That is a very good question.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I love those Middle Eastern flavors so much. I hope you have fun with Spice (and Arabesque, if you can find it).

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                              Rubee RE: blue room Dec 13, 2010 09:57 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                              I just tried a new recipe from Arabesque a couple of months ago that I think you would like: Roast Chicken with Couscous, Raisin, and Almond Stuffing.


                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                blue room RE: Rubee Dec 13, 2010 10:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, a roast chicken with those flavors, that's the kind of thing I'd like to try.
                                                                                                                                                                                                And haha I love the statement from your husband:
                                                                                                                                                                                                "I can tell that it's really good even though I don't like it." I once got "Yeah, I like olives just fine--but I'd never pick one up and eat it." (??)
                                                                                                                                                                                                However, the "I can tell that it's good but I don't like it" idea could possibly apply to myself -- when it comes to whiskey, bourbon. So I'm sympathetic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Meanwhile I'll keep the Arabesque thread in mind. Luv lamb -- lucky us.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                                Caitlin McGrath RE: blue room Dec 13, 2010 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                It wasn't a high-participation month, but Spice was also a COTM, so there's some feedback to read: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/633214

                                                                                                                                                                                                I like this recipe as a fast version of a Moroccan tagine-type dish with similar ingredients: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                                                                The sauce is vastly superior the next day, so I make it a day in advance. Chicken thighs work better if reheating (plus better flavor, IMO), but I have made the sauce the day before, then the next day browned breasts and let them finish cooking in the sauce as it reheats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rubee RE: blue room Dec 13, 2010 01:14 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I should add that I made quite few recipes when Spice was COTM (as Caitlin McGrath links above), and I loved the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                                    JoanN RE: blue room Dec 14, 2010 07:30 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wasn't able to participate much that month, but I did take Spice out of the library and discovered her Charmoula for Grilled Fish. Ever since, I am never without that spice blend on hand. It's great on both fish and chicken. There are times when I use it twice a week and I still haven't tired of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN
                                                                                                                                                                                                      blue room RE: JoanN Dec 14, 2010 08:08 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you! Nice to know--I found the formula, pg. 205, mixed up half a recipe, will try it tonight on shrimp sauteed in butter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      But *ground ginger* -- the dry powdered stuff? I micro-grated fresh, using less since it's full-o'-flavor! I just keep the root in the freezer, take a little off when I need it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                                        JoanN RE: blue room Dec 14, 2010 08:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, I keep fresh ginger in the freezer as well, but for the Charmoula I do indeed use the dry powdered stuff. Well, ground, actually. But, yes; the dry stuff. One batch of the mix lasts a while, and I keep in in a spice jar on my spice rack so I can just sprinkle it on whatever I'm seasoning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Rubee RE: blue room Dec 14, 2010 08:49 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I use both dried (and fresh of course) spices a lot, depending on the recipes. Don't think of dried ginger, garlic, onion, for example, as a replacement for fresh. Think of it as another type of seasoning with its own flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Rubee RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 17, 2010 09:51 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Potato and Cheese Puree with Horseradish Cream, p. 623

                                                                                                                                                                                                  My husband loved this, though I didn't as much. This was all my fault though as I didn't use Gruyere. It was still very good - how can you go wrong with cheesy mashed poatoes - but a bit thick and gluey and not as silky and flavorful as aligot (cheese/potato puree) is supposed to be. I just used what I had, which was russets (instead of Yukon Gold), and odds and ends of cheeses in the refrigerator including a bag of pre-shredded Italian blend. The horseradish cream on top, however, was delicious. I think for leftovers I'm going to stir in some additional milk to loosen it up and then reheat in the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Breadcrumbs RE: Rubee Dec 18, 2010 01:23 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rubee, sorry you didn't love this dish but it sure looks amazing! I'm drooling!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Gio RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 18, 2010 06:17 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper, Pg. 206

                                                                                                                                                                                                    There's really not too much to say about a pot of macaroni dressed with 1 cup of the cooking water, 2 teaspoons of toasted crushed black peppercorns and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Romano. I had doubled the recipe. It was decidedly unappetizing. This was my grandmother's favorite dish. She used melted butter, several chopped fried garlic cloves and finely ground pepper. So... we fried some garlic in EVOO, melted 1/2 stick of butter, added more cheese and threw in 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, then tossed all that with the already dressed spaghetti. That made it more palatable and G even went back for seconds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Served with roasted vegetables: broccoli florets/chopped tomatoes/onions/garlic seasoned with EVOO, S & P and dried oregano.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                      blue room RE: Gio Dec 18, 2010 06:31 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's hard to believe that someone would prefer the first phase of this dish (before you fixed it) !

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Breadcrumbs RE: Gio Dec 18, 2010 01:27 PM

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the enhancements Gio, I wonder if this is on Epi and how it fared w others. You're so right it sounds bo-ring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio
                                                                                                                                                                                                          greedygirl RE: Gio Dec 19, 2010 12:19 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          There's nothing that half a stick of butter can't fix! (Not that I even know how much butter that is, you understand.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. blue room RE: Caitlin McGrath Dec 25, 2010 08:14 AM

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fresh Corn Spoon Bread p. 272
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Never made, never tasted spoon bread, 'til last night (Chistmas Eve) Made it to go with a baked ham (brown sugar/mustard/bourbon glaze).
                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think I made it wrong-- it was only slightly more moist than corn bread. Since I made 1/2 recipe maybe it was simply overcooked, though I was aware of the temp and time. The flavor was OK, but I think I just wanted it to be...wetter, custardy. This didn't need a spoon, it could easily be held by hand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe somebody knows more than I do about spoonbread.. :)

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