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December 2014 & 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.