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February 2011 Cookbook of the Month: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 1-4

Welcome to our February COTM: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 1-4: Drinks, Cocktails, Punches, Glögg, Hors d"oeuvres, Snaks, Small Dishes, Soups and Salads

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from these chapters of THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK. Give us the name of the recipe along with the page number. Photos are welcomed.

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. Alright, I might as well kick this thread off. I made the Butternut Squash and Cider Soup (p.136) Sunday afternoon for a nice lunch. I doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers, and it definitely tasted as good if not better the next day.
    It turned out great, and I received some good compliments from the family. We all agreed it was better than the butternut squash soup I made for Thanksgiving, which was a lot more labor intensive and didn't have the sweet apple flavor hidden inside. This recipe was very simple, only got a few dishes dirty and really looks great with the suggest garnish. However I did make one change which I think really improves it. At the end after I had added the cider, sour cream, and salt (last step before garnish), I tasted it and felt like it needed a bit more spice. So I decided to add a good amount of the pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice), and I think it really improved the flavor, my family agreed.
    So overall a successful recipe I'll probably come back to, with one change being some added spices.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JVHcook

      Sounds like a winner JVH and good to know it may have been better on day 2 as I've planned to make this in advance for a dinner party later in the month. Good to know it doesn't dirty a lot of dishes too . . . a big bonus!

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        I've had me eye on this one. A question. On my side of the pond, cider is an alcoholic drink made with apples. Am I right in thinking that this recipe requires what I would call apple juice?

        1. re: greedygirl

          Good Morning from snowy Toronto gg! You can definitely use apple juice in place of what we call cider here. Apple cider is similar to apple juice however it's unfiltered and sometimes (if you purchase directly at the cider mill), unpasteurized. The resulting beverage has a more intense, crisp apple flavour than traditional juice. If a more pronounced apple flavour appeals to you, it might make sense to reduce your apple juice a bit to intensify the flavour.

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Yep, the only ingredient in the cider I used was apples, no alcohol. Breadcrumbs seems to have gotten the description just right.

          2. re: greedygirl

            I think that English cider would be excellent in this soup, as I found the original a bit too sweet.

        2. re: JVHcook

          Could you paraphrase the recipe? It sounds wonderful but I am trying to refrain from buying any more cookbooks. My husband is ready to revolt if I get one more. :-)

          1. re: italy531

            Sure. First you cook some garlic and a shallot in a 1/4 cup water for about 5 minutes, then add squash (3 cups) and chicken broth(1/2 cup) and simmer that mixture until the squash is softened up. Then you blend it all up and add some apple cider, sour cream, and salt and blend that stuff in. Then finally serve and garnish with diced apples and pepper. In my version you add a bunch of pumpkin pie spices in with the cider and sour cream.

        3. Nicole Kaplan's Gougères. (p.76) Outstanding. These were gone in under 15 minutes. Everyone commented on how light and airy they were. The cayenne really gives this dough a nice flavor...keeps it far from bland. Could not be simpler to make. Although I used one, you do not need a pastry bag to pipe these. Freezer bag snipped would work fine. Since it was strongly suggested to refrigerate or freeze to achieve a good "puff", I refrigerated mine overnight. (My pan does not fit in the freezer). They puffed up beautifully. I will definitely be making again. Since the dough can be made in 15 min or so, perfect to make in the afternoon and refrigerate before a dinner party. Loved these.

          7 Replies
            1. re: apple342

              These look stunning apple. No wonder they didn't last long!

              Are they topped w parmesan?

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Thank you much, Breadcrumbs! No, I used grated gruyère cheese for these. You could definitely sub parmesan or manchego for the gruyère cheese though.

                1. re: apple342

                  Thanks apple, I think we'd like the gruyere, I just didn't have the book if front of me. You're right, I'll bet manchego would be good too!

              2. re: apple342

                So round and perfect!
                I've recently gone crazy over asiago cheese -- might work too.

                1. re: apple342

                  Nicole Kaplan's Gougères. (p.76)

                  These sounded very promising in my ongoing quest for the perfect gougères. I made them as written except that I used 8 ounces of Gruyère including the amount needed for sprinkling on top (instead of six ounces plus extra for sprinkling).

                  What I liked: No hand stirring at all; it’s all done in the mixer. Use of bread flour instead of AP. The sprinkling of salt on top before baking. While they were still warm, they were crisp and ethereally light. One of my guests just couldn’t get over how light they were.

                  What I didn’t like so much: Sprinkling cheese on top was a bit of a pain, perhaps because the grated Gruyère tended to clump a bit; sprinkling grated Parmesan might be less of a pain. And I’m not convinced that the bit of cheese on top added significantly to the cheesiness of the gougères. Fitting two baking sheets of piped dough in the fridge takes some finagling; fitting them into the freezer isn’t an option for me. And finally, once the baked gougères cooled, they lost some of their crispness and lightness. Hesser says in the headnote to serve them IMMEDIATELY!. But unless you’ve got a crowd stuffing them in their faces as quickly as possible, they’re going to cool down; no way around it.

                  All in all, I thought these were very, very good. Definitely better than many I’ve made. But I think I’m still going to rate these behind the ones in “Around My French Table.” Next time I may experiment and combine parts of each recipe, both ingredients and technique, and see if I can get even closer to my ultimate, ideal, gougères.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Oh that picture! Yours is the 2nd review (apple342) that has guests commenting on the unbearable lightness of these.

                2. Raw Spinach Salad, pg 175-176

                  I had a bag of spinach, searched EYB, and chose this recipe for tonight's meal. We both really liked this salad a lot. In fact, this is the best bacon-based spinach salad I think I have ever had. I split the recipe in half.

                  Dice the bacon and onion and sautee until the bacon is crisp. I substituted an equal amount of shallot for the onion, since my shallots are much nicer than the last batch of onions I bought. When the bacon is crisp, toss in vinegar and bring to a simmer. Her cooking note indicates that she used Champagne vinegar. I had some of this, but not quite enough, to I extended with a bit of Colavita Aged White Wine vinegar.

                  Add the dressing to the spinach in a warm bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to coat every leaf. My salad bowl is wood, it doesn't warm, so even though she says I must warm the bowl, I didn't. I used a tiny amount of crunchy sea salt which was perfect.

                  [NOTE for non-pork eaters. I think you could substitute a half olive oil, half vegetable oil for the bacon. And it might work nicely to melt an anchovy in the oil while sauteeing the onion.]

                  Served with a grilled skirt steak and Crisp Potato Crowns. page 284.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: smtucker

                    Wow smtucker, that's high praise. I'll definitely mark this one! Sounds delish!

                    1. re: smtucker

                      Made this again last night. This time I used onion and rice vinegar, plus I reduced the amount of bacon. This was almost as good as the first time, perhaps 97%. Due to the cost of Champagne vinegar, I am more likely to make this with an alternate. Next time I will try an aged white wine vinegar, but first I have to buy some more.

                      1. re: smtucker

                        Thanks for the report SMT. I am putting the spinach salad on my menu for tonight or tomorrow. I have a rather large, ever growing, collection of vinegars, flavored and otherwise, for which I am always glad to find another use. I belong to an olive oil and vinegar club, they send me a shipment every 3 months. This, coupled with my far too frequent shopping outings, has resulted in a surplus of vinegars.

                        1. re: dkennedy

                          Which club do you belong to, DK? Can you opt out of shipement if you have no use for extras? Are there many choices available?

                          1. re: herby

                            It's called Global Gardens and it is through a small olive oil shop just outside Solvang, California. No choices, they send you one of their olive oils and one of their flavored vinegars, plus some extra every three months, at a cost of $44.00 plus shipping. My last shipment consisted of one bottle of their gold medal winning Mission Blend olive oil, one bottle of Mediterranean Glaze (to drizzle on pasta, veggies, or flatbread), and a bottle of Peach Cinnamon Golden Balsamic. Let me know if you want more details. I am a big fan. The owner just published her first cookbook, which is getting a lot of buzz. If you decide to join, you can add other items to your cart (to be shipped along with your order) for no additional shipping charge. This is a nice perk if you need gifts. I always keep a bottle of their walnut oil and truffle oil in my fridge. But my favorite product is their trail mix. Beyond words!

                            I like it because it is kind of like sending yourself a present. When my shipment comes I always rip it open like a small child at Xmas time. If you do order, mention my name as members get a $5. credit for every member that joins.

                            1. re: dkennedy

                              I do not know how I managed to miss this but miss I did. Thank you, DK, for all the info - I will investigate and possibly subscribe if they ship to Canada.

                    2. Pasta and Bean Soup, p. 156

                      Well... I wasn't crazy about this... I feel bad because that's 2 out of 3 that I haven't been excited about. The one change I made was I used parsley instead of rosemary... somehow, I just skipped over that ingredient when I was making the grocery list and I didn't bring my rosemary inside in time this winter. Anyway, I feel like the mashed potatoes made this too clunky... I kind of wonder if I wouldn't have liked it without the potatoes much better? It still would have plenty going on even if you left out the potatoes. The leftovers are very thick, almost like a chunky paste, so I will definitely have to thin them out. My husband liked it, but I think he would have liked anything after shoveling 12 inches of snow!! I served it with grilled cheese, which was another bummer, because there wasn't much broth to dip in. Oh well, maybe I'll like the leftovers better! On the upside, I made a pain de mie (from Martha Stewart's Hors d'Ouevres book) and it turned out beautifully! That will be used for the German Toast on p. 621 eventually!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        Katie that's disappointing. I had to pull the book out when you mentioned mashed potatoes . . . I thought maybe she'd speak to the origin of doing this but no such luck. That was a new one for me. Glad Martha's recipe was a hit though!

                      2. Warm Eggplant Salad with Sesame and Shallots

                        Looking for something to do with an eggplant, I searched EYB and came up with this -- simple, quick, unusual, and delicious. Clever use of the microwave, too.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pikawicca

                          I've been watching COTM for a little while, this is the first time our library has had the book available during the correct month, so this is my first post!
                          I made this Warm Eggplant Salad last night, and I agree it was delicious. Using the microwave to cook the eggplant made it a very easy dish to prepare. I used tahini in the dressing, not having japanese sesame paste or peanut butter, and I briefly toasted the sesame seeds. I also used the mint and basil combination. What a wonderful and surprising combination of flavors.

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            Welcome to the COTM. Beautiful photo. Thank you for sharing.

                        2. Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Pine Nuts

                          I come home from the farmers market with Brussels sprouts every Saturday morning, optimistically hoping that I'll find a preparation my family likes. This recipe did it. Because the sprouts cook quickly, they are crisp and don't develop that sulfurous smell. And, of course, there's the bacon... Try this; it's really good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pikawicca

                            I think I will have to try this one-- thanks for pointing it out! Shockingly, brussels sprouts is one if the few green veggies my 4 year old will eat. And, as you say, with the bacon.... :) (it's on page 235 if anyone's looking)

                          2. Chilled Sesame Spinach

                            Another very nice recipe with Asian flavors. This made a good accompaniment to grilled sea bass.

                            1. Broccoli Puree with Ginger

                              Another success in getting my family to eat winter veggies. (We liked it so much that the three of us managed to scarf down what's supposed to serve 4-6!)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: pikawicca

                                This has become a favorite in my house -- glad you liked it!

                              2. Faki (Greek Lentil Soup) (pg. 121)

                                This was a pretty good lentil soup. Given the snow/ice storm, I was looking for a pantry lentil soup. It was really hard not to make Marcella's lentil soup which is my favorite. Marcella's is wonderful with proscuitto, tomatoes and a meat stock. But, I decided to try a healthier version and one from COTM.

                                And, for a meatless, water based soup, this was pretty good. We both enjoyed it and it hit the spot. While it did take non-active time, it was super quick to put together.

                                I made half the recipe since it's a big recipe. Soak the green lentils in warm water for an hour (I did use the le Puy lentils despite Hesser's instructions to use regular green lentils). Then, boil the water with lentils and add chopped onions, garlic, celery, and canned tomatoes (I used one small can of fire roasted diced tomatoes with chipotle chile). Simmer with the lid on for an hour. Then add herbs (bay leaf, sprigs of parsley and either mint, basil or oregano), salt and pepper, and a couple of T of olive oil. I used dried oregano. Cover and simmer for another 1.5 hours. Stir in red wine vinegar.

                                What gave this recipe an extra boost was the red wine vinegar. It made an ordinary lentil soup recipe into something a little more special. Like I said, this isn't as good as Marcella's recipe. But, it is healthier and still tasty.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  Thanks for the review. This was on my list of things to make. Healthy and still tasty sounds like something I can go for...

                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                    What was the lentils' texture like? I can't really picture simmering lentils for 2.5 hours without them turning to complete mush, but I could be wrong.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      I used the French Le Puy. While they weren't as toothsome as other lentil soup recipes, these still had a slight bite. Very slight. But they weren't mush.

                                      In teh recipe, Hesser keeps talking about how the soup gets really thick. It must be because other lentils do turn to mush. My soup never got that thick, which was fine with me.

                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                      Sounds really good bb, great review!

                                    3. Green Goddess Salad (page 176)

                                      A very intense dressing, based on mayonnaise with added garlic, white wine vinegar, worcestershire, chive, anchovie, and black pepper, used to dress a simple lettuce and parsley mix. It is unusual in that there's no tarragon (a plus for me this week, as my tarragon is buried under three feet of snow), and there's a lot of worcestershire.

                                      We enjoyed this salad, although in flavor it seemed less of a Green Goddess, and more of a Ceasar Salad less the cheeese and plus parsley. There's a lot of umami to this dressing, but it comes at the price of extreme saltiness (1 tbsp worcestershire + 6 anchovies!). Anyway, it certainly brightened up winter lettuce. And definitely do use the parsley, the salad would be way off without it.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: qianning

                                        I love green goddress dresssing, and really missed the inclusion of tarragon in this recipe.

                                        1. re: foodieseattlelady

                                          Once tarragon is back in season, I probably wouldn't use this dressing. In mid-winter in NE it was fine, not phenomenal.

                                      2. Turkish Split Pea Soup with Mint and Paprika, p. 140

                                        In her headnote, Hesser says "This is a split pea soup without ham, and you will love it even more." I have never been a huge split pea fan, preferring white bean soups with my leftover ham bone. But this one sounded healthy, interesting and pretty easy so I gave it a go.

                                        It comes together pretty easily. Soak split peas overnight. Saute onion then add broth, peas, carrot, bay leaf and cook until soft. Then you add spinach and paprika. Wilt the spinach and then puree (I used immersion blender). Season with s and p and then serve with greek yogurt, mint and additional paprika.

                                        This was tasty and quite healthy. 4 year old didn't like it (averse to soups and green food, so I knew wasn't going to be a winner with him) but my 20month old liked it. I was surprised because it actually had a decent kick from the paprika that I used. I just had the leftovers for lunch and tastes even better the third day. This isn't going to win any beauty contests, so I didn't take a pic. Oh, and I thought a drizzle of EVOO added a lot as an additional garnish. I served with Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style p. 181, a recommended pairing.

                                        Would I make this again? Probably. To be honest, if it weren't so healthy and easy, I might not on deliciousness alone, but I felt virtuous eating this and feeding it to my family and as long as you remember to soak the beans the night before, it doesn't take much longer than takeout. Also it was a nice change of pace for us, especially with the orange salad

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                          A pea soup (love it) *without* ham that I'll like better? I'll have to prove that one to myself. Interesting, though. I'm making a salad tonight (from the book) that has an orange and lemon dressing, so that might fit too.

                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                            I made this today as well. Definitely an ugly soup. I plan to swirl some greek yogurt on top to beautify it. Very healthy - full of spinach. Tasty too, the paprika gives it a nice flavor. Mine didn't come out very thick like I imagine a split pea soup would be. I've put it in the refrigerator and perhaps it will thicken overnight. I did use the 6 cups of chicken broth, next time, if there is a next time, I would cut back.

                                          2. Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style, p. 181

                                            I had this with the Turkish Split Pea soup, reviewed above. I had never had an orange salad before and was pleasantly surprised. My husband was shooting me doubting glances while I was putting this together, but he was a believer once he started eating.

                                            Pretty simple, cut up orange with black olives (I used Kalamata) dressed with a vinagrette with cayenne, paprika, garlic and a good bit of parsley. She never says what type of vinegar to use, and I actually had some indecision about what to use. i ended up using a white wine vinegar (not sure why) and that tasted fine. The vinegar flavor is not very central given the strong flavors of other components, but anyone know what would be more authentic?

                                            This made a very beautiful and colorful salad which was a nice counterpoint to the rather drab split pea soup. I agree with the headnote that the combo of olives and oranges was great. Not sure I agree with Hesser's assertion that she "would happily eat this salad every day" but I counted it as a success.

                                            Oh one note, I thought it could use more olives and threw a bunch more in as we were eating.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                              "I...threw a bunch more in as we were eating."

                                              That's pretty funny if you picture it! :-)

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                :) Wouldn't be the first time food was flying around our dinner table :)

                                              2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                There a similar salad in Arabesque by Claudia Roden that was also a big hit with the COTMers.

                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                  Spicy Orange Salad Moroccan Style, Pg. 181

                                                  We made this salad last night to accompany the Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives, pg. 482. Not much to add to greeneggsnham's review except to say that we liked it. I increased the amounts of the cayenne and garlic, used red wine vinegar, and Greek olives I had to pit. The dressing is outstanding. The oranges I used came from California and I have to say, Florida oranges are better...more flavorful and jucier. The CA oranges, while they looked picture perfect, were mealy, and not very juicy. The dressing was the main focus, but I would have liked a more pronounced orange flavor. It went well with the chicken, though.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    has anyone made more than one version of this salad? i.e. Wolfert's & Roden's & Hesser's? Just wondering if there is a clear preference?

                                                  2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                    Spicy Orange Salad Moroccan Style, p. 181

                                                    My one complaint about this recipe is that "preferably Greek or Italian" is insufficient guidance given the variety of olives available in our markets these days. I had a few different types of Greek, Italian and Spanish olives on hand, and after tasting a bit of orange and a bit of this or that olive, I also went for the Kalamatas. But who knows what was intended here?

                                                    This salad, along with some spicy greens, and a tagine of lamb meatballs, made for a nice dinner. Mr. MM, who claims not to care for olives, or uncooked parsley, gobbled this up, despite the presence of both. I imagined the leftovers would be even better the next day, but this was not the case. It was perfect the first night after only a short rest to let the flavors blend. I would definitely make this again.

                                                  3. Avocado and Beet Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette, p. 193

                                                    rThis is a pretty salad from the year 2000, with the sliced red or yellow beets (some of both would be attractive--you'd have to bake them separately to preserve the yellow color, I'd think) along with the green of the avocados which I arranged next to the beets in a fan shape. I think a few leaves of butter lettuce, for instance, would be nice placed under the beets too. The method of oven-baking the beets worked well. What was disappointing to me was the vinaigrette and it was probably my fault for not adding more of the various acids: 2 TB white vinegar, 1 TB fresh orange and 1 TB lemon juice. This wasn't enough to give the 3/4 cup of olive oil the flavor that I felt the beets deserved. I was trying to make the recipe exactly as specified; it may have been that my fresh orange juice was slightly anaemic. I'm going to taste more and add more of the juices/vinegar next time, because I liked the recipe otherwise--the buttery ripe avocados were so nice with the firm sweet-ish flavor of the baked beets. I didn't have any fresh chervil, so Italian parsley it was.
                                                    Beets and avocados are not an unusual or creative combination--this comes from the year 2000 and I've noticed in this book that the "historical element" of the recipes sometimes means that they have become quite familiar over time. The citrus vinaigrette and lemon zest was supposed to make it a bit more zippy. Maybe someone else has a beet salad recipe that is really special 'cause I love beets!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                      Goblin--I made that recipe when it was first publishd and I've made it several times since (minus the chervil, as I've never ever seen it here), but I too like a sharper dressing with beets. I reduce the oil and up the acid so it's more like 6 T (3 OJ/1 lemon/2 white wine vinegar) to 1/2 c.oil. And I think it needs a generous sprinkling of salt as well as some pepper. I often marinate beets (and red onion if I'm using it) in the dressing for a bit before adding them to (usually spooning them over) other salad ingredients--such as the butter lettuce you suggest or any number of other things. Great with grapefruit, too.

                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                        Thanks, nomadchowwoman! Glad to have your vinaigrette proportions and seasoning suggestions! I'm writing in the recipe margins as we "speak"!

                                                    2. Pho Bo, page 144

                                                      Could some who has made Pho before take a look at this recipe? I have the oxtail and beef bones but I am surprised by the sugar and lack of fish sauce. Before I spend the hours making this recipe, I would appreciate a review. Thanks!

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        A solid comparison would be against Andrea Nguyen's pho recipe . It has fish sauce and sugar. http://vietworldkitchen.typepad.com/b...

                                                        or Mai Pham's http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... also with fish sauce and sugar.

                                                        I've made Pham's. Can't remember if I've made Nguyen's. I don't have ENYTC in front of me, but are they using soy sauce or something in lieu of fish sauce--perhaps because it's easier to find? If so, I'd just swap that out and swap fish sauce back in.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          They aren't that different. Pho is a go!

                                                        2. re: smtucker

                                                          Pho Bo, page 144

                                                          All did not go as planned, but in the end, I have just finished a lovely bowl of pho. My only regret is that I didn't double the batch!

                                                          Yesterday, I began the process. As stated, I had 2 pounds of oxtail and 3 pounds of beef neck bones. For the first step, I didn't follow the instructions. Instead, I put the bones in the pot, just covered with water and boiled for 3 minutes to remove the impurities. From there I followed the recipe exactly. Burn the onion and ginger. Bring the bones slowly to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a simmer. Add the aromatics and let broth simmer for 3 1/2 hrs. Imagine my surprise when the broth only yielded 4 cups instead of 8.

                                                          Since it was late, I put the bones into a tupperware and the strained stock into a separate container.

                                                          This morning, I notice a bag of unknown origin on a fridge shelf. Oh my goodness! Two of the packages of beef bones!

                                                          So, I started over. Boil the bones. Strain. I decided to do a small amount of onion and ginger, plus a few star anise, etc.... then added the used bones, and the stock from the fridge. I don't recommend this method of pho making, but it is really delicious.

                                                          Prepared the rice sticks per the package instructions, blanched the beef round for 10 seconds since the butcher sliced them too thickly and into the bowls. Served with Thai basil, Thai peppers, lots of lime, and mung bean sprouts.

                                                          Next time I will try Nyugen's version, but this time I will double the recipe and have some extra in the freezer.

                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                            Oh no! So much work to have to do it twice! I'm glad it worked out, though.


                                                        3. Pickled Shrimp p. 95 (adapted from a Frank Stitt recipe)

                                                          These are fine little things! I was astonished to discover that I had all 14 ingredients (including fennel and coriander seeds, bought for...?)
                                                          The shrimp are cooked just 'til done, pink. Then no more cooking, just slice and squeeze and measure and pour and mix, then marinate overnight. From now on I'll probably always make some of these everytime I make regular shrimp-cocktail shrimp. For me, already a favorite.
                                                          The recipe calls for 3 pounds of shrimp, and 14 bay leaves! I made only 1/2 pound for this first try carefully dividing everything by 6 as best I could. Very good combination of flavors, very nice recipe.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                            Oooh, these are going on my list!


                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                              These look terrific br, don't know how I missed them but I know I'd love them too. Thanks for the great review.

                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                Nice! I too managed to miss these when going through the book. The (Besh-owned) restaurant at the WWII museum here serves pickled shrimp (in one of those cute cup-size canning jars) that look very much like this.

                                                                I just may have to add these to my Super Bowl menu. May I ask what kinds of hot peppers you used?

                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                  I just have a jar from Penzeys, the little red-blackish flakes w/seeds kind. I *think* it is a mix of more than one kind of pepper. Not a heat lover, I'm afraid. I could taste (and feel) the pepper in these shrimp, but only just -- and I'm fairly certain that everyone else in the whole world would have upped the amount.

                                                                  I must say visiting a World War II museum would not give me an appetite!

                                                                2. re: blue room

                                                                  Pickled Shrimp

                                                                  After reading blue room's review, I decided to make these for our Super Bowl spread. I had 1 1/4 lbs. shrimp, but halved the remaining ingredients in the recipe w/ a few minor changes. I used 5 bay leaves (mine seem gigantic), only 1 dried (Arbol) chile; I added about 2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes. Easy peasy. Used my mandoline for all the slicing. Mixed everything together in the morning; refrigerated; served them in the evening.
                                                                  Everyone seemed to like these, said they were like what is referred to as "shrimp boil" (very similar spicing) in these parts (w/out individual eaters having to peel the shrimp). I didn't think to put bread out with these, but the marinade would be good for sopping up w/crusty bread. I'll probably make these again.

                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    blue room, I've just started reading the threads today, and am bowled over by how many recipes you've made. Thanks for really digging in and trying out my book. I like these pickled shrimp, as well. They've become a go-to hors d'oeuvres for me because you can make them in advance, and everyone loves them.

                                                                  2. Winter Slaw with Lemon-and-Orange Dressing p.185

                                                                    Not a success. It's made with shredded Napa cabbage and red bell pepper, and dressed with
                                                                    2 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil and 4 1/2 tablespoons of citrus juice and water. Some onion and pepper, tiny amount of salt. I should have known, but thought I'd try, A. Hesser said it was one of only two good things to come from the low-fat craze of the early 1990s.

                                                                    But I think the salad was woeful. We simply poured Bottled Movie Star over it -- Paul Newman's balsamic, and ate it that way.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      So, apparently there was only ONE good thing to come from the low-fat craze of the early '90s. Wonder what it was?

                                                                      I still might try this anyway because, well, it's winter and I'm trying to lose weight. Hopefully I'll like it well enough you won't have to say, "I told you so!"


                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        That's hilarious DQ! Good point! I'm kinda hoping I don't find out now!!

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Oh, the *other* is on page 187, "Morrocan Carrot Salad". It calls for 1 pound of carrots and 2 teaspoons of olive oil. More spices than my Napa slaw, though.
                                                                          But no, me no try soon.

                                                                      2. Florentine Dip – p. 58

                                                                        Two forks up, this one’s a hit!

                                                                        Coming off the egregious all-nighter Hesser calls “Le Cirque’s Spaghetti Primavera” I was keen to find a dish that I could make in a reasonable amount of time without dirtying every pot and bowl in the house. This fit the bill.

                                                                        I was surprised to learn that this recipe first appeared in the NYT in 1959, in many ways it seemed fresh and new to us. Essentially this is a dip/spread made w sour cream/cream cheese mixture that’s flavoured with anchovy paste, chopped parsley, chives, capers garlic, lemon juice S&P. Once all these ingredients are mixed together they are refrigerated to allow flavours to develop.

                                                                        The book suggests this be served w fresh vegetables and/or potato chips. We elected to serve it w the veggies and crackers. It was especially good spread on saltines. The anchovy flavour was balanced by the other ingredients. We just loved this and would definitely make it again. It was a real hit w our guests. Everyone agreed its very “wine friendly”.

                                                                        For our main course tonight, I served the Fettuccine Alla Romana from the Pasta section of this book. Here’s my review and photos of that wonderful dish if you’re interested:


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          Florentine Dip, page 58.

                                                                          I was happy to find Breadcrumbs' review on this dish while I was considering it. I needed something quick to contribute to a grilling party in which all the main and side dishes were supplied by the host. This fit the bill.

                                                                          I used mashed up salt-packed anchovies instead of anchovy paste. Six whole, large anchovies, once filleted and mashed, made up the two tablespoons called for. I did not add any additional salt; even after rinsing, the anchovies and capers were salty enough. Everything else was by the book. I served this with a plate of raw vegetables, some water crackers, and some wheat crackers. Very tasty, and I never would have guessed that the recipe was from 1959. (But I wasn't doing too much cooking in 1959!)

                                                                        2. Ginger Daiquiri, p. 36

                                                                          I made this as the cocktail for a Chinese NY dinner this week. A 1:1 sugar and water simple syrup is made with fresh ginger. For the cocktail, combine white rum (didn't have any so used gold) with Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, and the ginger syrup. Nicely balanced, though I forgot to do the raw sugar rim. I made the syrup the day of and doubled the ginger since it's supposed to stand for 2 days.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                            That sounds (and looks) wonderful. I'm crazy about anything ginger, and love it in cocktails. Must make.

                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                              Ooh, ooh. Hadn't seen this. On the short list. Thanks.

                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                That does sound great. I think I have everything I need!

                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                  Oh wow -- I'll make a Big one and mix it in my wok.
                                                                                  A fresh ginger cocktail -- !

                                                                                2. Salade A La Romaine p.171

                                                                                  I made this salad to go along with the brisket in sweet and sour sauce. I really love the menu suggestions. They are helpful sometimes when I do not want to think about sides.

                                                                                  I used half butter lettuce/half romaine. Procuring the onion juice did hurt my eyes a bit, but the result was nice. I went with 3 tablespoons of onion juice. I think I might prefer it with 2, and maybe a bit more lemon juice. I couldn't find the lemon juice in it at all.

                                                                                  My husband loves oniony dressings and he finished off the salad after dinner. I really enjoyed the hardboiled eggs in it. This was very easy and quick.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Becca Porter

                                                                                    Thanks for the report and tips! I'm making it on Valentine's Day along, along with the Swiss Fondue (per handy menu suggestions).

                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                      Onion juice on Valentine's Day?

                                                                                  2. Guacamole Tostadas – p. 67 – Chapter 2

                                                                                    This recipe first appeared in the NYT in 1985. Hesser encourages readers to “think of this as a Tex-Mex version of terrine". Call it what you will, we’d describe it as delicious!

                                                                                    This layered bean dip caught my eye as something that would be a great fit for our Superbowl Sunday menu. Although I’ve made a number of different layered bean dips over the years, I’d say this one is among the best. What really sets it apart is the uniquely seasoned bean layer.

                                                                                    In the interest of keeping things simple, I opted to used canned Pinto beans vs dried. Prepared beans are put in the food processor along w salt, cumin, chili powder, white vinegar, butter, tomato paste, coriander and hot pepper sauce. While the recipe doesn’t specify a brand of hot sauce, Hesser’s cooking notes indicate that she first made the dip w Tabasco but found it too mild so she then used Sriacha. I have a Bahamian hot sauce that we’ve been enjoying lately so that’s what went into our dip. All ingredients are then processed ‘til smooth. Not sure what results would have been like if I’d used freshly prepared beans but my mixture using the canned Pintos was quite stiff and dry so I added some water until a desired consistency was achieved. Likely about ¼ cup of water.

                                                                                    Avocados are mashed w lemon juice, salt, pepper and in our case, some freshly crushed garlic. . . after all, its just not guacamole without garlic IMHO!

                                                                                    Sour Cream is then mixed w chili powder and cumin.

                                                                                    To serve, beans are spread on a serving plate then topped w guacamole, sour cream mixture, chopped tomatoes, green onions, black olives and cheese. We elected not to use the cilantro Hesser suggests.

                                                                                    The combinations of flavours in this are terrific. There’s a great balance of richness and tang, heat and sweetness. Mr bc would have eaten the whole thing on his own if I’d left him to his own devices! I’d definitely make this again.

                                                                                    This appeared on our buffet w a number of dishes including another COTM dish, the Sausage Bean and Corn Stew which was also delicious. Here's a link to my review and photos if you'd like to take a look:


                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                      oh my, Breadcrumbs...does that ever look delicious--Perfect for today! Your photos are terrific. I bet your Bahamian hot sauce was a good addition, as was the garlic. I bet this puts other bean dips to shame!

                                                                                      1. re: apple342

                                                                                        Thanks apple! If I'd made a double batch it wouldn't have been wasted, this was completely devoured in no time. It really was a hit.

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          I made this for a BBQ party on Saturday night - it was universally loved as well and there wasn't a scrap left. Definitely a keeper.

                                                                                    2. Caesar Salad (page 174)

                                                                                      Made this to accompany Steak au Poivre. It’s a fairly traditional recipe in terms of ingredients (except that she doesn’t use Worchestershire which I like in a Caesar and she does use mustard which many recipes don’t), but there were a few things about the technique I thought a bit odd. She has you toast the cut up bread and then stir the toasted bread into oil that’s been cooked with a crushed garlic clove. I’ve always skipped the toasting step and just stirred the bread in the garlic oil until it browned a bit. Ends up about the same with one less step.

                                                                                      She also has you put all the dressing ingredients and the lettuce into the salad bowl separately, then add the coddled egg, toss, add the garlic croutons, and toss again. I prefer to stir the dressing ingredients together in the bowl, drizzling in the olive oil. I added the optional anchovies and because they weren’t stirred into the dressing they weren’t well dispersed throughout the salad.

                                                                                      There was nothing wrong with the flavors here, but because of the technique, it won’t be my go-to Caesar.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        Carrot and Fennel Soup, page 151-152

                                                                                        In a rush so I haven't checked above to see if there are other posts about this soup so sorry if this is duplicative.

                                                                                        Surprisingly delicious. As I have posted in other areas, I coincidentally bought both TENYTC and Cooking for Mr. Latte by mail, not knowing they were both by Amanda Hesser and they arrived on the same day from different vendors. So I started reading Mr. Latte first, which is more of a diversion than a true cookbook, (and a delightful read I must add) and I earmarked several Mr. Latte recipes to try before embarking fully with the NY book. This soup is in both so I have managed to kill two birds as they say.

                                                                                        I mainly selected this recipe because I had fennel and OJ in my fridge and I never have either of those on hand unless I am planning to use them for a specific purpose, but on this day I did so I figured it must be fate. The soup is at once both light and satisfying. I was surprised by how the addition of the orange juice at the end really married the rest of the ingredients. I finished my soup with creme fraiche instead of sour cream and I pureed it (as Amanda did in Mr. Latte). Yum!!!! Perfect week night fare. Excellent with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                          Oh, I love this soup. Creme fraiche is the perfect touch here, imo.

                                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                                          Caesar Salad, Pg. 174

                                                                                          I made this salad last night to go with the Buttermilk Roast Chicken, pg. 403. It was full of flavor and not too different than the Caesar I usually make. Like Joan I combine the dressing ingredients in the bowl first. It made a super accompaniment to the chicken.

                                                                                          I toasted the croutons in a cast iron skillet after tossing them with S & P and garlic olive oil. I put the Romaine into the salad bowl but pushed it aside when I added the dressing ingredients and the coddled egg. I whisked in the oil, tossed all together then added the croutons and tossed. As Joan did, I included the anchovies just because we prefer them in this salad.

                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                            I made this to go with the lasagna. It was fine, nothing earth-shattering... I would have liked it to be a little more pungent. I'm slightly annoyed that some of the optional additions weren't in the actual ingredient list of the recipe. Just because I based my grocery list off of that, and I would have gotten the anchovies too, but didn't even think about it until I started making the salad. Which, is really my fault I know, but irritating nonetheless. Our new puppy chewing on the bottom of my suit pant legs while I was typing up the list didn't help either! I may try again with anchovies next time to up the flavors of the dressing.

                                                                                          2. Buckwheat Blini p. 81
                                                                                            Ah, I'd call this a perfect recipe--the end result is exactly what I had in mind before I started. They are a little bit of trouble -- they need yeast and a rise and egg white beaten to "soft peaks", but worth it. Miniature puffed buckwheat crepes, sturdy little platforms for a topping. The recipe calls for creme fraiche and caviar to be the topping, but the fresh cheese topping suggestion in the notes sounds fine also (to caviar-challenged me.)
                                                                                            A little salty, very tender, and they're just 2 inches in diameter, BTW.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                              They look lovely, blue room. I am a fan of buckwheat. What did you ultimately top them or eat them with?

                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                I just barely made them an hour ago. According to the recipe notes, they freeze very well, so they're headed for the freezer for now. (Though they can be eaten now, bare, immediately .. like potato chips!)
                                                                                                Maybe thick yogurt and honey or something savoury -- bacon, lettuce, and tomato?

                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                  I guess smoked salmon and cream cheese is the obvious choice but when I saw your lovely blini and read the "fresh cheese" suggestion I immediately thought of ricotta.

                                                                                                  Inspired by a crostini topping from Mario Batali, lately I've been making ricotta and infusing it with tasty delights such as chili flakes and oregano, crumbled pancetta and honey, cucumber and diced onion.

                                                                                            2. Mezzaluna salad

                                                                                              I decided to give this a try tonight as a side dish for the Fettucine a la Romana and it was very tasty indeed, and simple to put together. It uses one of my all time favourite ingredients, marinated artichoke hearts, which you slice and add to chopped fennel. Stir in a TBSP of olive oil. Place some salad greens in individual bowls (I used a bagged mix of rocket and baby leaves) and top with the fennel/artichoke mixture. You're then supposed to add more oil, but as there were only two of us I didn't feel like we needed any extra, especially as the artichokes were marinated in oil to start with. Drizzle over some balsamic - about half a TBSP per portion, and top with shaved parmesan. We both thought this was delicious.

                                                                                              1. Blue Cheese Dressing, p. 464

                                                                                                I know someone posted on this--it's what drew my attention to it--but I have scrolled all through here twice, and I can't find the post.
                                                                                                Anyway, I used this as the dip for my SB crudite tray, and suffice it to say that only some crudite remained on the tray, not a lick (literally) of the dip. I made a couple changes: used 1 1/2 c mayo and 1/2 c sour cream (instead of 1:1), grated the onion instead of mincing it, omitted the vinegar and added 1 1/2 T. buttermilk. I debated with myself as to whether I should use my excellent Rogue River blue for a dip, but I couldn't face yet another trip to the store for a more pedestrian version(and didn't dare ask DH to make a third!), so I threw caution to the wind and went with it. Wow, did it make for a fabulous dip/dressing.
                                                                                                Plain old carrot sticks and broccoli florets have never been so well-dressed.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                  I think Gio reported on it here. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7632...

                                                                                                  Either way, it sounds delicious!


                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    OK--I see that this recipe doesn't actually appear in the salad section, as it is attached to a recipe for chicken wings. (I thought I was losing my mind.)

                                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                      Oh poor NCW ... not losing your mind. The dressing was delicious, wasn't it. Funny thing is I was going to use what was left over as a crudités dip but G wanted more salad tonight so I added several pinches of sea salt, freshly ground Tellecherry pepper and a large pinch of cayenne to refresh the dressing. Still delicious two days later.

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        Oh, yes, Gio--it is delicious (would that it weren't! why can't I fall in love w/things less devastatingly lush and caloric??). Salad will be coveted in this house any time this is what it comes with.)

                                                                                                  2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                    It will be fun to compare this with my usual (excellent I think) blue cheese dressing. "Big" recipes like meat and main dishes, cakes, can't easily be double-prepared side by side to see which one is preferred. But easy to mix up a half and half batch of salad dressing, I'll do it next time!

                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                      Well, I've hardly ever met or made a (homemade) blue cheese dressing I didn't like! And this one is pretty similar to my usual one. At any rate, it's delicious.

                                                                                                  3. HOT BUTTERED RUM p.24

                                                                                                    This is an easy and conforting drink perfect for winter. We were snowed in two weeks ago and this drink saved my sanity! I have made it several times since.
                                                                                                    It has cinammon, nutmeg, cloves and rum. The strange part is adding a tiny amount of butter at the end.

                                                                                                    1. ROASTED FETA WITH THYME HONEY p.92
                                                                                                      Very easy and good. I added the roasted feta to a lentil salad and it worked very well. On another occasion I served it with olives, pita bread, and tzatziki as a starter.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Endivia

                                                                                                        Love your idea of adding it to a lentil salad -- thank you!

                                                                                                      2. Laotian Catfish Soup – p. 154 – Chapter 3

                                                                                                        This dish has so many of the flavours I love and I couldn’t wait to try it out. Glad to report it didn’t disappoint, we loved this dish and would happily recommend it.

                                                                                                        Prep is pretty straightforward and relatively quick. Fish, garlic cloves, Thai bird chilies, lemongrass, shallots, ginger and basil are chopped or diced. Peanut butter is mixed w some of the coconut milk and set aside and fish sauce and lime juice are measured.

                                                                                                        Oil is heated in a large skillet to sauté the garlic, chilis, lime leaves (I only had dry so used 3 dry plus the zest of one fresh lime), lemongrass and shallots. Chicken broth, fish sauce (which appears in the ingredients but is missed in the instructions by the way), lime juice and ginger are added and brought to a slow simmer. Next in is the peanut butter mixture, then the fish and, remaining coconut milk. All this is simmered until the fish is cooked through then plates are topped w chopped basil. Hesser also suggests cilantro as a garnish but we didn’t use it.

                                                                                                        This was absolutely fabulous. At Hesser’s suggestion we served this over Jasmine rice. The warmth of the chilis added just the right amount of heat and balanced the creamy coconut milk and layered citrus flavours. This soup was fresh, flavourful and perfect for a bone-chillingly cold winter’s night.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                          I just made this today as well. Actually the instructions say to add the fish sauce at the end, with the basil. I couldn't find lime leaves, so I used a lot of lime zest. I've never made anything quite like this, using these ingredients and these flavors. I think it came out terrific though. I also have jasmine rice to go with it. Too bad it was 60 degrees here today, I agree this would be great on a chilly evening.

                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                            Laotian Catfish Soup, p. 154

                                                                                                            When I lit upon this recipe, I didn't recall seeing any posts about it, but lo and behold...and I concur with the earlier reports: This is terrific. Full of flavor. And easy. And quick, once you've got all the aromatics chopped (food processor assisted in that respect).

                                                                                                            This was mellower than I expected, given all the aromatics (a dozen cloves of garlic!), but nevertheless complex and zingy. In order to make it more of a one-dish meal, I added sliced fresh shiitakes when the stock went in and simmered them for a few minutes, and stirred in baby spinach leaves along with the basil and cilantro. I did use catfish, but any firm white fish would do, and shrimp would also be great in this. Next time (and there definitely will be a next time), I might reduce the amount of stock because it was a bit too brothy, esp. when not serving over rice. On the other hand, I think rice noodles would be an excellent addition to this soup and if I go that route, I might not cut back on the liquid.

                                                                                                            Recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/8293/l...

                                                                                                          2. The other night I tried the green goddess salad. The dressing was good but not amazing. I found it a bit too mayonnaisy. I didn’t have the patience to let the dressing sit for a full hour, so that may have had something to do with it.

                                                                                                            1. I think this is my first time in a really long time posting to the COTM section. I made the Mulligatawny Soup that is on page 113. It's a Craig Claiborne recipe from 1968. First you put a cut up chicken in a big pot with some vegetables, salt, pepper and 6 cups of chicken broth (it says you can use water or chicken broth). Cook that for 20 minutes and take out the chicken. Strain all of the vegetables out of the broth. Then blend coconut with some of the broth, and put through a cheesecloth lined sieve, pressing out all of the liquid. Put that liquid back in the blender and add chickpeas, blend that together. Add some of the remaining broth to make 4 cups total. Then you melt butter, add flour, and the spices - turmeric, ginger, coriander, garlic, cayenne pepper. Make that into a paste, and whisk the broth mixture into it. Add cream (yum). Put the chicken back in, and serve with rice.

                                                                                                              I ran into a problem in only cooking the chicken for 20 minutes. It wasn't done. So I put it back into the broth I had left over, added some water and cooked it for another 20 minutes. The recipe doesn't specify taking the meat off of the bones, but I did. I wish I had a better blender, I would have liked the coconut/broth mixture and chickpea/coconut liquid mixtures to have been less grainy. Although the final product didn't seem grainy. I used white jasmine rice.

                                                                                                              I also thought that there must be a way to use all of the broth, rather than have 2 cups or so left over (it says, "Save the rest for another use").

                                                                                                              The flavor is delicious, maybe a little heavy on the turmeric, but really good. Creamy and with a little heat. I recommend this recipe.

                                                                                                              1. Creamy Farro and Chickpea Soup - page 143

                                                                                                                From Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Grains and Greens 1998.

                                                                                                                The ultimate comfort soup. I would eat this every day until summer arrives. I've just discovered farro, and I love it. It is the most pasta-y of any grain I think. This soup involves soaking and cooking dried chickpeas, and I have to say next time I will use canned chickpeas which will save a lot of time - like half a day. First you cook the chickpeas (after soaking them for 8 hours), drain them reserving their liquid, and puree them in the food processor with some of the reserved liquid.

                                                                                                                You saute onion, proscuitto (just a little) and celery in olive oil, add the farro and chicken broth, marjoram and nutmeg. Cook that for an hour or so.

                                                                                                                Add the pureed chickpeas to the farro mixture, salt and pepper, and that's it.

                                                                                                                Very creamy and thick, can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, low fat and delicious. I just wish farro wasn't so expensive!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Linda513

                                                                                                                  Both these soups sound wonderful, thanks for posting about them.

                                                                                                                2. Moroccan Carrot Salad p157
                                                                                                                  I made this salad to go along with the Choresh Qormeh Sabzi. It was the perfect contrast of color and taste. This dish is very simple to prepare, you just need to allow for six hours of marinating after preparation. I used a rainbow bunch of carrots, so the yellow, white, orange, and purple carrots looked great with the chopped cilantro (I used the slice and boil method, not the grating method). The dressing is a tasty mix of salty and sweet, plus coriander and cumin. I'm looking forward to trying the same dressing over roasted golden beets.

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                    Like the beet idea -- going to try that sometime. Thanks for testing out my book!

                                                                                                                    1. re: amandahesser1

                                                                                                                      It's been a total pleasure! I got my copy form the library, I've already ordered my own. This could be my desert island book (provided the island had a decent stove and a good market!)

                                                                                                                    2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                      Oops, just a note, this Moroccan Carrot salad is on page **187** .

                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                        Thank you. This proves I'm ready for stronger glasses!

                                                                                                                      2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                        I also made this salad the other night, to go with the Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives, as recommended in the recipe notes. The consensus of the diners at our table was that the cumin-coriander-lemon dressing was tasty but could have used just a touch of sweetness. I think that using it over roasted beets would provide this very nicely.
                                                                                                                        I wonder if adding just a touch of honey would provide the balance that my diners wanted?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                                                                          I thought the sweetness was perfect with the amount of sugar called for in the recipe. But my carrots were pretty sweet tasting.

                                                                                                                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                          Moroccan Carrot Salad p. 187
                                                                                                                          I made this tonight to go with Buttermilk Roast Chicken. I used raw shredded carrots and thought that the dressing was a bit "whimpy" - it was great once I doubled it. Will definitely make it again and try with cooked carrots

                                                                                                                        3. Speedy Fish Stew with Orange and Fennel, Pg. 133

                                                                                                                          This really is speedy. Twelve ingredients but each lends a particular essence to make a final dish that is light and full of flavor. I used a 4 qt. DO for this. Onion and garlic are sautéed till the onion has softened. Dry white wine, crushed tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, orange zest, fennel seeds, dried thyme, bay leaf and S & P are added. Cover pot and cook for 10 minutes. White fish fillets or steaks are sliced into 2" pieces and added next. I used Haddock. The stew is cooked for a few minutes...just till fish is done. The recommendation is to serve this over boiled potatoes, but I steamed them instead: Yukon golds quartered.

                                                                                                                          We loved this. The stew was perfumed by the orange zest and that lovely flavor along with the fennel seeds came through with each spoonful. As a side dish I served Stir-Fried Napa Cabbage with Prosciutto from Stir-Frying To the Sky's Edge.

                                                                                                                          1. Pan Con Tomate – p. 91 – Chapter 2

                                                                                                                            I love tomatoes and bread so of course this dish appealed. We’ve had variations of this in the past but it also seemed like the perfect accompaniment to Lidia Bastianich’s Swiss Chard and Scallion Frittata which was also on today’s brunch menu.

                                                                                                                            Since this is my “Birthday Weekend” mr bc was making his annual appearance in the kitchen to prepare these dishes. Though this is always a fear inducing process given some past results (food poisoning being the worst outcome . . . twice!) I truly needn’t have worried at all today because everything turned out beautifully!

                                                                                                                            Hesser’s description of prep is very straightforward. Bread is toasted, rubbed w garlic, drizzled w oil, sprinkled w S&P and rubbed w halved tomatoes.

                                                                                                                            Mr bc reports this was easy enough to do and instructions were clear. Hesser does note the “garlic should be submissive” but ours was quite bold so mr bc said he’d use a lighter hand next time. I actually enjoyed the boldness but I LOVE garlic.

                                                                                                                            I’d never tire of eating this dish and would recommend it in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                                            Link to review/photos of Lidia Bastianich’s Swiss Chard and Scallion Frittata if you’re interested:


                                                                                                                            1. Just wanted to thank all of you for joining in to test out my book -- after working on the book for 6 years, there's nothing better than getting a chance to see how you use it, and to hear your thoughts on recipes. I'd like to point out two errors in the book so you can correct your copies. In the Purple Plum Torte on page 764, the ingredient list should call for 1 teaspoon cinnamon, not 1 tablespoon. And in the brined turkey recipes on pages 475 and 478, step 5, the temperature for doneness should be 165, not 130. If you have any questions about these recipes or anything else in the book, please don't hesitate to ask on these threads and I'll try to respond promptly. Also, you can always find me at www.food52.com (a cooking community, which I founded with Merrill Stubbs) or on Twitter @amandahesser -- thanks again!

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: amandahesser1

                                                                                                                                Thanks Amanda for joining in with our posts. This has been a great COTM with so much recipe choice. The book is definitely destined to be an American classic cookbook so it's well worth the 6 years work.

                                                                                                                              2. Crostini Romani, Pg. 77

                                                                                                                                This first course comes from a woman who owns a vinyard in the Roman hillside and who has become famous for her cooking. She has two other recipes in the book.

                                                                                                                                The recipe calls for 10 slices of country bread or a baguette sliced thinly on the bias and thinly sliced fresh mozzarella to be placed between the slices of bread. I used an Italian loaf and halved both the bread and cheese but kept the 3 other ingredients the full amount.

                                                                                                                                Into a heavily buttered small casserole stand up alternate slices of bread and fresh mozzarella. Recipe says to "dot" with butter, but it was more like spread the butter, over top of the bread. Next time I'll melt the butter and pour over.

                                                                                                                                Casserole is placed into a 425F oven and baked for 10-ish minutes...we needed 15 min. While this is baking a sauce is made by melting butter in a small saucepan, adding anchovy paste and a small amount of milk then combing all till smooth. After tossing out a tube of anchovy paste that had been in the fridge since goodness knows when, I used a tin of drained anchovies, also I used 1/2 & 1/2. When the casserole comes out of the oven spoon the sauce over the bread and cheese. Each serving should have a slice of bread, cheese and a little sauce.

                                                                                                                                Frankly I wish there was a photo of the finished dish. Although I have a very good imagination I was a bit preplexed about how this should look. It was delicious, and maybe it was the type of bread I used, but I wasn't quite satisfied. I think I'll make it again using a baguette sliced, as she says, diagonally. The bread I used was from an local Italian salumeria, baked fresh in the morning, and sliced at the bakery. The slices were thin enough but I think they were too tall. Oh well, guess I'll just have to try again, because this has great potential.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                  Crostini Romani, Pg. 77

                                                                                                                                  Made this again last night. I halved the recipe and used a baguette sliced diagonally. Instead of spreading the butter over top of each slice of bread, the butter was melted then spooned over. Much easier prep and a better tasting finished dish we though. Served with the String Beans with Ginger and Garlic pg. 260 and pan fried "Dover" sole.

                                                                                                                                2. Park Avenue Cocktail, p. 19.

                                                                                                                                  Another nice cocktail. This one is made with champagne, Grand Marnier, and cognac (I used a VSOP brandy), and I made them as the pre-dinner cocktail for Valentine's Day.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                    How festive and perfect for yesterday (or any day!) Love the name.

                                                                                                                                  2. Billi-Bi Au Safran - page 125

                                                                                                                                    This is mussel soup and I enjoyed it with a few changes that I made. I found measuring mussels in quarts to be odd. The recipe calls for 1.5 quarts and I had about 3/4 lbs. It has you start by cooking onion, shallot, garlic ans affron in butter. I sauteed shallot, onion and saffron in butter until softened and then added garlic for a minute or so. The next step is add mussels followed by Tabasco, parsley and wine. I deglazed with vermouth since I did not have white wine and then added hot African sauce (do not like Tabasco) and mussels, cooked covered for a few minutes and then added half-half, S&P and parsely for a short minute just to warm up the cream. The recipe calls for 1 cup of wine and 2 cups of heavy cream. Though this is soup, I thought that it was too much liquid, particularly cream and used about 1/2 cup of vermouth and 1/4 cup half-and-half. It was very flavouful and calling for a chunk of crusty bread which I did not have:(

                                                                                                                                    I will definitely make it again with the changes.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                      glad you wrote this up...i've been looking at it but kept thinking 2 cups of cream, or even 2 cups of half/half was a little over the top...i like your suggestions.

                                                                                                                                    2. Cream of Carrot Soup, page 119

                                                                                                                                      This was the best carrot soup I have ever made, in fact, that I have ever eaten. Instead of playing up the sweet side of carrots, this soup is savory.

                                                                                                                                      Start with 1/2 cup onions in 2 tbl of melted butter. After some unmentioned time [I softened, didn't brown] you add 6 cups of chicken stock, cut carrots and cubed potatoes. Here I made my first deviation. The stock I was using is one I made and it is very rich. So I used 3 cups of stock and three cups of water. Also, since my stock isn't salted at all, I added some salt to the onions while they were wilting.

                                                                                                                                      Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add herbs, and then let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. For me, this took 45 minutes. Use a food mill and let the soup cool. And here I went off the rails again. The instructions indicate using the food mill, cooling the soup, and then putting the soup into a blender. I didn't. Using the food mill already gets two pots dirty, and the idea of then having to clean up the blender was just one step too many.

                                                                                                                                      To serve hot, bring the soup back up to temperature, add Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce, sugar, 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk. Again, I freelanced. I added the 1/2 tsp of Worcestershire and substituted 1/4 tsp of cayenne for the Tabasco. I added no milk, no cream and no sugar.

                                                                                                                                      At this point, I thought the soup was delicious. I put less than a 1/8 cup of milk into the bottom of the two bowls and poured the hot soup on top. It was still delicious, but I might like it a little better without the dairy. In fact, a dab of creme fraiche might be perfect.

                                                                                                                                      I found I wanted a tad of crunch so I sprinkled a few pepitas on my soup. I bet crunchy garlic/thyme croutons would be fabulous. I will be making this soup again for sure. For company, I might use the blender, but for just the two of us, no reason to. Tomorrow I will have the leftovers with no dairy, and I bet it will be perfect.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                        Cream of carrot soup, no cream--definition of a good cook! I look longingly at soup recipes but my household-of-one (Richard the Reactionary) prefers chewable meat and potatoes. Aaagh!
                                                                                                                                        Anyway, you've made me want to try this. I've always wanted to try creme fraiche, and pepitas I love. Thanks for posting this one.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                          Oh make it! The full recipe only makes 4 servings [cause I love soup] or divide it in half, and freeze the leftovers or take them to work for lunch the next day.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                          Small update. I served the leftover Carrot Soup last night for dinner accompanied by a composed salad. Just heated slowly in a pan, no dairy this time, and it was just as good as the first night.

                                                                                                                                          I am always looking for soups that I can make one day and serve a day or so later. Makes having a group to dinner so much easier.

                                                                                                                                        3. Bagna Cauda, p58
                                                                                                                                          In my ongoing attempt to broaden my kids' eating, I made this last night and served as a pre-dinner deconstructed salad appetizer. Now, mind you, my kids don't like dips (including the usual kid-friendly ones like ketchup and ranch), don't eat salad, and are notoriously picky, but somehow I decided that garlic and anchovies would be the way to their hearts.

                                                                                                                                          Olive oil, butter and "tissue-thin" (not in my case) slices of garlic are heated over very low heat for 15 minutes (I went more like 7 minutes -- we were hungry), then chopped anchovies added and stirred until dissolved. Add salt (I didn't) and serve immediately. Kids had it with cherry tomatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, sliced baby hearts of romaine, snap peas and bread sticks. Grownups ate the same as well as lightly roasted radicchio and broccoli.

                                                                                                                                          Kids and grownups alike loved it and at least some new vegetables were consumed! Probably didn't hurt that I served it picnic-style on the living room floor and gave them fondue forks for dipping. It will definitely go into the regular rotation. And I'm happy to have made at least one thing from the COTM this month even one so simple -- I've been so enjoying reading along with all of you, but too crazed to cook anything new.

                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                            Beautiful. (And anyone who can get kids to eat anchovies, not mention all those veggies, deserves a medal, imo.)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                              I know *adults* that won't eat anything this healthy! I would've bet against kids and anchovies, but I didn't know about the picnic ploy.
                                                                                                                                              But now, you can no longer say "...my kids...don't eat salad, and are notoriously picky."

                                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                You guys are giving me (and them) way too much credit -- the operative word there was *some* new veggies were consumed! The breadsticks were by far the most popular but my daughter declared the romaine "fresh-tasting" and my son consumed more broccoli than usual without complaining nearly as much. And "healthy" was definitely mitigated by the stick of butter and 1/4 cup of oil in there.

                                                                                                                                                As an anchovy lover myself, I will take the victory on that though -- and I even told them about the anchovies (after they decided they liked it of course!). They're odd in their pickiness though -- my son doesn't like french fries or potato chips or hamburgers and neither of them like juice or soda (not that I'm complaining about those, the problem is just how few things they like at all). But both their favorite dinner is rack of lamb (he once said he would choose lamb over TV) and they both like pesto, so I kind of bet that this might oddly fall into a similar umami-ish category.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                  Glad it was such a success! I love the picnic idea! I will have to do that. Although I have a feeling my kids are younger (or just messier) than yours because I am imaging oil and vegetables all over the living room. Maybe as it gets warmer we'll have front porch picnics.

                                                                                                                                                  re: anchovies, Oddly enough, my very picky toddlers lapped up with sauce in the Braised Ligurian chicken that I made (from this COTM) which contains 4 anchovies. I didn't tell them it was in there but I think salty-umami can be a universal preference. I think I will copy your idea once it gets a little warmer. Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                                                                    I've already got that Ligurian chicken on my short list based on your report -- I know I'll love it regardless. And, yes, my kids are older than yours (6 and 10) -- I don't think I'd brave the oily picnic with toddlers either! But I have to say that I am tremendously impressed with the number of great dishes coming out of your kitchen, particularly with such young kids and a newborn.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, mebby! Although I have a lot of help. I am only working half time right now for the last portion of my maternity leave and I still have a full-time nanny. Unfortunately the party's over in March when I go back to work full time. I am hopeful that Jamie's quick and easy family dinners can live up to their billing!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                Nice! You've inspired me to add this to the (very very long) to-do list.

                                                                                                                                              3. Fried Chickpeas, p.88
                                                                                                                                                Simple and delicious pre-dinner nosh last night. Canned chickpeas are rinsed and dried, then fried and sprinkled with salt and smoked paprika (I used hot and didn't have the Maldon sea salt called for). Yummy and enjoyed by all.

                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: mebby

                                                                                                                                                  I'm considering making these for a very casual small-plates nosh/supper with cocktails before a concert. The recipe says nothing about whether they need to be served immediately or can hold for a while. Or might they even possibly be made earlier in the day? What do you think?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Joan -- so sorry to miss this until now. I'm not much of an expert on such things and I'm tickled that you're asking me for advice, as I value yours so, but I suspect these are best done shortly before serving -- the warmth and fresh fry are probably important. That said, I have seen (but not tried) similar recipes that are baked and I think indicated they could be made in advance. Cheers, Mebby

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                      Haven't made this recipe, but have made basically the same thing in the oven, just roasting the chickpeas, and they last for a while in a sealed container. But then again they aren't warm like Mebby's were.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Craig Claiborne's Swiss Fondue, p. 55

                                                                                                                                                    I made this as part of a Valentine's Dinner, with chunks of bread, summer sausage, and hot Italian sausage to dip. While the flavor was delicious (I used TJ's Gruyere, an unoaked chard from Chile, garlic, cornstarch, kirsch, and black pepper), it never became creamy and smooth. I blame it on two reasons: Not adding the cheese slower and more gradually (even though the recipe didn't call for it) and too many of NY's Stork Club's "Park Avenue Cocktails" (see above!).

                                                                                                                                                    Leftovers were great in grilled cheese sandwiches though ; )

                                                                                                                                                    1. Edamame with Nori Salt p. 92

                                                                                                                                                      The first time I tried this, I made a 1/4 recipe (5 nori sheets). The sheets are toasted and ground up in a spice grinder. This makes a ton of nori flakes and I didn't even use half of it with the edamame. The flakes are then added to warm edamame with salt. The nori was overwhelming, but thought there was potential. I made these again, but this time I made them with some Korean seaweed that was seasoned with salt and sesame oil (addictive to eat as is). I toasted the seaweed, crumbled them into flakes and then added to the edamame. This iteration was much, much better. I did not need to add much salt since the seaweed was already salted. This was an addictive little snack. The Mr. is not crazy about either edamame or seaweed and enjoyed this too. One word of caution, because the Korean seaweed is seasoned with oil, it is easy to burn while toasted. The next time, I may toast in a skillet rather than over the flame directly.

                                                                                                                                                      1. Olive Oil-Tuna Spread with Lemon and Oregano, p. 95. Should have known that since it came from Patricia Wells it would be tasty, and so it was. Yes, definitely some black pepper and just a little hit more of salt,k which I didn't expect it to need with the tuna. I used a can and a half at 5 oz./can. Didn't kick up any of the other ingredients except the oregano a little; I think mine is getting weak. Love, love, love it, sharp and magical. My only quibble is that this yielded maybe 8 liquid ounces, one measuring cup, and the recipe says it serves 10-12. !!!!! No...unless most of the group doesn't have any. Anyway, four stars.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Pork Belly Tea Sandwiches, p. 89.

                                                                                                                                                          I took a lot of liberties with this Fatty 'Cue (NY) inspired recipe, but decided to post anyways since I plan a repeat when I have all the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                          Since I had run out of kecap manis, I used soy sweetened with some brown sugar and honey (not even close), lemon instead of lime, Chinkiang black vinegar, fish sauce, and dark soy to marinate a 1-pound piece of pork belly overnight. Braise for 3 hours, let cool, and slice to make sandwiches. Instead of sambal-garlic mayo, I just added some Sriricha to mayo, and had no rice vinegar to dress the scallions. Instead of bread, I used Andrea Nguyen's short-cut steamed buns technique with Pillsbury biscuits.

                                                                                                                                                          All that said, however, these were delicious little sandwiches with flavorful tender pork. I'm restocking at the local Asian market this week, and I'm looking forward to following the recipe next time. I made three different kinds: One with hoisin and scallions, one with kimchi, and one with the spicy mayo and cilantro.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                            Not having kecap manis in the pantry is no longer an option in this house. Gosh do I love that stuff! I amy well have to try this. The picture looks marvelous.

                                                                                                                                                          2. I'm thinking I'm going to be the last poster of the month here...wanted black bean soup, so tried p. 129 without the corn muffins. Used water in place of broth; homemade stock is too precious to use on a strongly flavored soup.

                                                                                                                                                            I should have known better than to add the tomato paste to the sauteed vegetables before adding the beans to cook. I think it's our local water's pH, but adding tomato before beans are done makes them take forever, and sometimes not even then. Went looking on the internet to confirm my theory (Bittman agrees). Not tender after 3 hours. Put them in the fridge overnight, brought them back out to cook some more, and decided to add a pinch of baking soda to offset some of the acidity. This seemed to help some.

                                                                                                                                                            Four MORE hours out, I was close to dinner time. Added some locally made Spanish-style chorizo cut in small cubes, a little less than the quarter-tsp. of cayenne, and the juice of a single lime, and the soup went from ho hum to excellent. I did not add the extra cumin, and it didn't need it.

                                                                                                                                                            Served with a cilantro slaw and some roasted butternut squash thinly cut, which were perfect with it. Will make again!

                                                                                                                                                            1. Buttermilk Herb Dressing

                                                                                                                                                              Made as directed, except that I subbed yogurt for the recommended sour cream.

                                                                                                                                                              A pretty standard Buttermilk Dressing, and works quite well. The base is sour cream (or in my case yogurt), buttermilk, mayo, grated cheese (Hesser says either Asiago or Parmesan, I used Asiago, but I think Parm would be better more assertive), various herbs, vinegar, sugar worcestershire. Nothing remarkable, but a very servicable buttermilk dressing.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Cucumbers in Cream, p. 225.

                                                                                                                                                                I was looking for a low carb side dish to serve with prosciutto-wrapped salmon and this was perfect. I like the technique of salting the cucumbers for half an hour, and the addition of both lemon juice and zest to the sour cream. I made it as is with chives for the salad, and added parsley and Aleppo pepper to the leftover dressing to top the salmon. Delicious combination, I'll be making this again.

                                                                                                                                                                1. Marina Anagnostou’s Spanakopetes (Spinach Triangles ) (page 63)
                                                                                                                                                                  Pickled Shrimp (page 95)
                                                                                                                                                                  Potted Salmon (page 388)
                                                                                                                                                                  Fried Chickpeas (aborted)

                                                                                                                                                                  I had friends over for drinks before a concert and made a supper of hors d’oeuvres. Also on the table were Nicole Kaplan’s Gourgères, freezer stock, which I reported on above. The Potted Shrimp is actually in the Fish and Shellfish chapter, but it seemed like an hors d’oeuvres to me, so I’m reporting on it here.

                                                                                                                                                                  I have very little experience with filo and it took me a few triangles to get into the rhythm of making them without tearing the dough to shreds. And I’ve never made Spanakopetes before, so I have nothing to compare this recipe to. I did, however, take a look at some recipes on the Web, and this one seems to have a lot more ingredients in it: spinach, olive oil, butter, chopped onions, chopped garlic, chopped scallions, crumbled feta, chopped dill, chopped parsley, one egg plus one egg yolk, s & p, and pine nuts. The filling came together pretty quickly and easily, especially with the food processor.

                                                                                                                                                                  I used up all the filo sheets in the package that I didn’t screw up—actually, I think it was only two of them—and had about a cup of filling left over. I thought I was being generous with the filling, but perhaps not. She says the recipe makes 12 to 20 triangles; I had 28. That’s a pretty big discrepancy.

                                                                                                                                                                  But to cut to the chase, my guests adored these. (Had to ask them to stop grabbing them so I could take a photo.) I had figured on three per person, but a couple of people were reaching for more than their “share.” Next time I’ll know better.

                                                                                                                                                                  Evidently these freeze very well. She says nothing about it. Found instructions on the Web to layer between sheets of waxed paper, which I did. I put them in the freezer until they were solid so I could vacuum them in a FoodSaver bag. But when I went to take them off the wax paper to put them in the bag, the bottom layer of filo stuck to the paper and I had to be very, very careful not to completely break off the points of the triangles. Maybe I shouldn't have brushed them with butter before trying to freeze them? Anybody have any tips for me on a better way to go about freezing the unbaked triangles? These were such a huge hit, I’m sure I’ll be making them again. And, like gougères, it’s something I’d love to have on hand in the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                  Pickled Shrimp
                                                                                                                                                                  Not much to add to what blue room and nomadchowwoman have already reported except to say that I made half the recipe and I shouldn’t have. No leftovers! Boo-hoo. Also, seems like the marinade to shrimp ratio is unnecessarily high. Wonder if it would still work with less.

                                                                                                                                                                  Potted Salmon
                                                                                                                                                                  Was going to make the Fresh and Smoked Salmon Spread from Le Bernardin, but this was considerably more diet friendly—something I knew at least one of my guests was concerned about.

                                                                                                                                                                  Shred poached salmon into a double boiler, stir until hot, then stir in butter, mashed anchovy fillets, cayenne, ground mace, tarragon vinegar, and salt. She doesn’t say to rinse the fillets, but I did.

                                                                                                                                                                  Because the amount of butter (four tablespoons) isn’t much compared to the amount of salmon (one pound), this really isn’t what you’d call a “spread.” You sort of have to pile it up on your bread (what I used instead of the recommended toast points) and hope some of it doesn’t fall off as you lift it to your mouth. My guests liked this well enough; each had more than one serving. But it’s nothing to write home about. I’ll probably doctor up the leftovers and make a salmon salad of it.

                                                                                                                                                                  Fried Chickpeas
                                                                                                                                                                  I neither photographed nor served these and am posting about it only as a caveat to those who follow.

                                                                                                                                                                  I was completely seduced by mebby’s report above, had a can of chickpeas in the cabinet, and decided to give these a try. The problem is that she tells you to heat the oil until a breadcrumb toasts in 30 seconds. Well, with pouring drinks, getting food on the table, and dealing with guests, it’s a real pain to have to stand there and keep toasting breadcrumbs while you count to 30. Why not just give us a temperature for the oil as she does in some other recipes? (Always looking for an excuse to use my still-somewhat-new Thermapen!) The chickpeas are supposed to be encased in “a delicate shell.” Mine weren’t. Oil too cold? Fried for too short a time? I don’t know. But the texture wasn’t interesting and they just tasted like cooked chickpeas. I had in mind something that could be picked up with your fingers and eaten like popcorn. Perhaps it was my expectations that were off.

                                                                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                    JoanN, I have done these twice
                                                                                                                                                                    and was very happy with the result.

                                                                                                                                                                    I will (and have) put almost anything inside filo. (Seasoned mashed potato in a little shattery buttery filo envelope!) You can't beat spinach and feta, though!

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                      Those sound terrific. I'm preheating my oven right now to see if works with my aborted chickpeas. Don't see why it wouldn't. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                      Any recommendations on how best to freeze the file packages?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                        I think it best to lay them out on a (parchment-lined) pan in a single layer and freeze, then transfer them to a freezer bag. Definitely skip the final brushing of butter before freezing. Don't thaw, bake from frozen, and brush with melted butter before baking.

                                                                                                                                                                        The filling ingredients sound right to me. You need both onions and scallions, and lots of freh dill (the dill is key) to have the right spanikopita flavor, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                        On the roasted chickpeas front, I've made this for nibbling with drinks: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm sure you're right. Brushing them with butter before freezing them just wasn't a good idea.

                                                                                                                                                                          And thanks for the epicurious link. I love both cumin and pistachios. I'd better add pistachios to the Costco shopping list.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                            I've never tried to freeze anything once I've baked it in filo--glad you answered this!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                              Just to be clear, with anything in filo, the key is to freeze it before baking, so you can still have those shattery-crisp layers freshly baked.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                Oh--before baking--I see. So the filo is thawed, made into packages, strudel, whatever, then refrozen before baking. So that it can be a do-ahead dish. But I brush *each* layer with butter as I'm assembling--is it just the last top layer you don't butter?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                                  Right - assemble the dish in the normal way, buttering the layers, folding, rolling, etc., then freeze, but skip the brushing the top with butter that you do before it goes in the oven, until you are actually going to bake. Little triangles and the like can be baked from frozen.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                  If I make an apple strudel with filo, can I freeze it unbaked? That is, will it be as good just baking it frozen when I need it? I've tried making it and to me, it's only good for a couple of hours, then gets soggy.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've only ever done the freezer thing with little hors d'oeurve-sized things like Joan's spanikopite, not a larger thing. I'm sure it would be fine frozen, but I'd worry about it cooking through if baked from its frozen state. I might freeze and then thaw before baking. I know that sounds like a bad plan due to the nature of filo, but I will share that many years ago, before I'd read the advice to bake from frozen, I froze and thawed little spanikopita triangles, then baked them. While they looked dammp when thawed, they baked up golden and crisp as can be, and were gobbled up.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                      I know I am a little late in responding to your question about freezing bakery items wrapped in filo prior to baking, but I think it is an important question and so I am answering for those of us who check back for new responses. I am Sephardic and my family makes a lot of savory pastries wrapped in filo. From my experience, I would advise you to prep the item, freeze it briefly to set the butter/oil, then bake it through before serving or freezing for a later use.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Two reasons for this:
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. if you freeze it through and through the stuffing will take too long to cook in its frozen state, and you will end up with a burned filo shell;

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. it seems to be more prone to frost bite if it is not frozen first. I don't have a scientific explanation for this one, just know it to be true from experience.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Question about the spanikopita: Can I make them in the afternoon, store in the fridge and then bake them in the evening when company arrives for dinner? I know I can freeze them unbaked; would this be a better course of action?

                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                            That was exactly what I did. I made the spanakopetes in the afternoon, put them on baking sheets and covered them with a damp cloth, put them in the fridge, and then put them in the oven before my guests were due to arrive.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                                                              So, you waited until just before popping into the oven before final basting with butter?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                No, I basted them with butter before I covered them and put them in the fridge. That was really because at that stage I was just following the written instructions. But I don't think I'd do it that way again. I think I would brush them with butter just before putting them in the oven, even though it's a bit messy, especially if you're baking the entire batch at once.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Red Lentil Soup with Lemon page 163
                                                                                                                                                                            A very easy and attractive soup. After a few minutes prep, cooking time is only one half hour. The red lentils and carrots make it a pretty color, sparked by the cilantro and a dusting of chili powder. The sweetness of the carrots is balanced with the tartness of lemon juice and the earthiness of cumin. A shot of color and flavor for a winter day.
                                                                                                                                                                            Because I filled a big bag of lentils at the market, I've actually made this recipe twice. The second time I thought I'd do it in the slow cooker. So I just threw everything in and checked it in a couple of hours. Big mistake. Even after that short time (in slow cooker world) the lentils were mushy and the beautiful color was faded. It still tasted OK, but texture is as important as taste. That will teach me not to play with my food. It's very easy to prepare on the stovetop.
                                                                                                                                                                            After posting it, I noticed that the photo makes the soup look rather gruel-y and greasy, but it's not, it's really quite nice looking.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                              I do believe this is the same soup a lot of us have made from ITKWAGA! How funny.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Moscow Mule, p. 20

                                                                                                                                                                              I love a classic, refreshing Moscow Mule and this was perfect on a warm night. Easy too. Just pour a little vodka over ice, add some fresh lime juice, and fill with ginger beer. The ratios for this one was 1-1/2 onces of vodka, 4 tsp lime juice, 6 ounces of ginger beer. I used Turi vodka and Saranac Brewery ginger beer.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Warm Cabbage Salad with Goat Cheese and Capers (pg. 183)

                                                                                                                                                                                This was ok. But, in fairness to the recipe, I had all the ingredients except for the goat cheese. I may have liked it more with the cheese instead of liking it well enough but not enough to make it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                Essentially, the is a partially wilted red cabbage salad. You start by toasting pine nuts and cutting the cabbage into fine shreds. Then, heat olive oil and add shallots and the cabbage and toss quickly until the cabbage is partially wilted. Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and capers and toss until mixed. Add salt and pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                                Toss the salad with the pine nuts and cheese and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                I found that it had too much acidity in it with both the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. The cheese may have balanced it some, but I think I just had too much lemon juice. I did really l like the capers in the salad because the brininess just worked well with the cabbage.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Spicy Cucumber Salad (pg. 183)

                                                                                                                                                                                  I was going to make Dunlop's cucumber salad but saw this since it was on the same page as the cabbage salad. This was delicious and I suspect I'll be making it again. The bonus is that you can make it ahead of time.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Pound the cucumbers lightly and then peel and cut it up into pieces. Each piece will be about 1.5 inches. Add soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and white vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I made a slight change. I pre-salted the cucumbers and let the drain for a couple of hours to draw the water out. Because of the extra salt I cut back on the soy a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                  The was light and refreshing. I've always loved sesame oil with my cucumbers and this was a very nice rendition. Next time, I may try it with rice wine vinegar instead of the white vinegar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                                                                                                    sounds good. i too prefer salt to soy in an "asian" cuke salad, not least of all because it looks better, and either seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar are nice too. do you have seductions of rice? their version of this salad is pretty good too, the "twist" is a little grated ginger.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Roasted Squash Soup with Cumin, page 147

                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a very simple soup. You roast the butternut squash for 45 minutes, scoop out the flesh and add chicken stock, garlic, cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp sugar and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes and then whizz it around in the blender. Back into the pan, add some cream and heat. Meanwhile, clean the seeds and roast with cumin and salt. Serve soup garnished with the roasted seeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My squash was purchased at the farmer's market after a rainy period so it lacked a deep "squashy" flavor. I had two cups of home-made chicken stock so added 2 cups of water to get the required 4 cups of liquid. I increased the amount cumin and dropped the cayenne. I only used half the called for cream. I used a food mill since I prefer the texture from a mill over the blender.

                                                                                                                                                                                    This was a very lovely first course soup [but I served it as a main course soup.] In the future, I will cube the squash and roast much longer to get more flavor. The squash seeds were too woody to enjoy, so I would substitute sunflower seeds or garlic croutons. Some crunch is absolutely necessary. I also think that some sauteed shallots would add something nice to this soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I will make this again, but as a prelude to a heavier meal. 3/4 to 1 cup of soup per person would be sufficient.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Scotch Broth (pg. 116)

                                                                                                                                                                                      This was a delicious soup and was a huge hit at an annual brunch. The nice thing was that a lot of it could be done ahead of time. Really earthy and comforting. The soup is really a lamb barley soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                      So, in a large stock pot, add chopped onions and garlic along with 2 lbs or lamb shoulder (I browned the lamb at this stage). Add 8 cups of water along with a whole onion, celery, carrots, turnip, bay leaf, parsley and thyme. All these ingredients are either added whole or in big chunks which makes prep really easy. Skim and simmer for about an hour and a half.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Strain the broth saving the lamb, carrots and turnips. Shred and cut into pieces and set aside.

                                                                                                                                                                                      At this point, I stuck the stock in the fridge until the following day. Then I defatted the broth, brought it to a simmer and added my soaked barley. After about 30 minutes, add the shredded lamb and vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Ta da. A delicious soup that I'll re-visit sometime this winter.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Fennel, Orange, Watercress, and Walnut Salad, p. 186

                                                                                                                                                                                        Pretty much what the recipe name says: sliced fennel, sliced navel oranges, watercress leaves, and chopped toasted walnuts, plus minced fennel fronds, orange juice, and just one tablespoon of olive oil. The recipes tells us to use 1/3 cup orange juice and add more if needed; I used 1/4 cup because that was the yield of my third navel orange. The recipe also tells us to mince the fronds of the fennel, but all the fronds from a fennel bulb would make a salad unto themselves; I used a few tablespoons.

                                                                                                                                                                                        This was crunchy and refreshing, a nice light dish that also feels seasonal. I have a feeling it will hold up well as leftovers, which I will eat for lunch tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Asparagus and bulgur with preserved-lemon dressing, p190

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am obsessed with asparagus at the moment, as it's only just come into season, but I already had it roasted a couple of times and was looking for something different. I did an EYB search and voila!

                                                                                                                                                                                          This was just OK for me, partly because the flavours in the dressing seemed a bit unbalanced, but my cat loved it! More on this later.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Here's the recipe, slightly adapted by a blogger


                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm conflicted about this salad - I wanted to like it but it was a bit meh if I'm honest. The dressing was bitter and not in a good way. I added some more lemon juice to add brightness, which helped a bit. There was also tons of it - I added half to the asparagus, with the intention of using more if necessary, and perhaps adding a bit of honey to balance the flavours. But while rummaging in the overstuffed cupboard for the honey, I managed to tip the remaining dressing all over the floor and myself! Aaaaagh! Oily dressing everywhere, even on the ceiling.

                                                                                                                                                                                          But here's the thing. While we were having dinner, I noticed our funny little cat Dylan was licking my shoes, and then my tights - ie where I'd spilt the dressing (I'd cleaned myself up as best I could but figured there was no point in getting changed as I was spending the night in the house). He then tried to lick my cardigan as well - again where the dressing had been. I should obviously start mixing it with his food. He's such a weird animal - no interest in tuna, chicken, steak etc, just toast crumbs and preserved lemon dressing!

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a feeling I might like the leftovers better once the flavours have had time to mingle. I hope so - it's tomorrow's lunch!

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Winter Borscht (pg. 142)

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a WOW soup. It was a fair amount of work and messy, but it is so worth the effort. I spread the prep over two days. Also, if you are like me and don't take the food processor out because it's a PIA to clean, well, this recipe is one you need to take it out. I would have saved a lot of time and finger skin if I just got the grating discs out instead of being too lazy to want to wash the darn thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Every year, my friend has a small latke party. Every year, I bring soup and dessert. I always look for a soup recipe that has some protein in it and it can't have potatoes (bc of the latkes) or greens (bc one friend will pick it out). Last year I made the scotch broth which is posted above. This recipe was perfect bc it looked like it would go well with potatoes and I had a lot of the ingredients already. I did make some minor changes.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Cook the beef shin (I used bone in short ribs) with water, carrot and onion and simmer for about 1.5 hours. Strain it and discard the vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Add to the beef and broth, whole beets and simmer for about 30 minutes (until beets are tender). Remove the beets, peel and coarsely grate (hand grating was horrible. Those beets were slippery buggers. Food processor would have been faster and smarter). Return the grated beets to the soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Dissolve 6T of tomato paste with 1/2 cup of soup and stir it back into the pan. Stir in garlic, grated carrots, sliced cabbage, chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, vinegar and sugar. Simmer for about 1.5 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Remove the meat and bones and slice the meat. Return it to the soup along with diced potatoes (I used turnips instead). Add dill as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                            For serving, the suggestion was to place half a potato in a bowl and to ladle the soup on top. I skipped this and just served it as is.

                                                                                                                                                                                            This was a huge hit. It was a beautiful color and perfect for a cold day. And, one woman who didn't like beets, loved the soup. So much that she is going to make it for her beet loving husband.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I need to use this cookbook more since the dishes are so delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Salted and Deviled Almonds, p. 51

                                                                                                                                                                                              Had some friends over and decided to make these to add to the table of snacks. I did the variation - I put 1 cup whole almonds in a small casserole dish with 2 tbsp olive oil and a large pinch of smoked paprika. 350 degrees until lightly toasted. Fabulous. Though they needed a bit more than the 1/2 teaspoon of flaky salt called for. Have you ever noticed that when you use something like smoked paprika that has a deep warmth, you need a bit more seasoning. I find it especially with that spice, for some reason. The original non-variation of the dish has butter and cayenne in place of the olive oil and smoked paprika.