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Jan 31, 2011 07:56 PM

December 2014 & February 2011 Cookbook of the Month: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 5-8

Welcome to our February COTM: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 5-8: Vegetables, Potatoes, Corn, Legumes, Pasta, Rice, Grains, Stuffings, Sandwiches, Pizza and Savory Pies

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. I've got a few quick reviews, as the recipes weren't anything big, just everyday recipes.
    First I made the String Beans with Ginger and Garlic (p.260). Because the original recipe served 10 I cut it in half, and it came together quickly and easily. Basically just blanch the beans(I used haricot verts), then saute them in some olive oil with ginger and garlic until heated through. As an everyday recipe it was pretty good, although nothing really special. To be honest I've had much better easy green bean dishes, so I don't think I'll make this again, but it wasn't bad served with the rest of the meal.
    We also had Mashed Potatoes Anna (p. 294), a basic mashed potato dish with some butter, cream, and milk. It tasted like most mashed potatoes, pretty good, and just how I expected it would. As a simple goto mashed potato recipe I'm happy with it, because we just needed some mashed potatoes to go with the meatloaf we made so we used this. Again, nothing special but a good overall recipe if you just want some comforting mashed potatoes.

    17 Replies
    1. re: JVHcook

      JVH, I'm very interested in "every day" kinds of recipes (not just the fancy ones), so I'm glad you're reporting on those. Sorry to hear about the green beans. I think I have those marked.


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Well, they weren't bad, just not amazing. If you like ginger I'm sure you will like them as a simple side dish, so I wouldn't necessarily avoid trying them.
        I don't have too much time for all the elaborate recipes, so I too go for the everyday recipes, glad I can help you.

        1. re: JVHcook

          If you like extra gingery green beans, there's always Yin Yang beans from Grace Young: (no garlic in hers, I think). I know what you mean. Good and bright, but not the "best ever."


        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          I have an everyday review for you. The macaroni with ham and cheese is our house recipe!
          I watched Pierre Franey make this on TV one Sunday morning 25 years ago and have been making ever since. I never saw the recipe in print before but it's almost exactly mine. I use 1/2 and 1/2 instead of heavy cream and have never measured it- I just free pour until the sauce looks right. And i bake it at 350, not 425 but I think next time I make it I'll go with 425.
          BTW I bought the cookbook but its been too crazy in the new snowbelt to try anything new so far this year so I'm living out of the freezer for now.

          1. re: Berheenia

            Oh, very kind of you for pointing this out, thank you.

            And I completely understand your point about "living out of the freezer for now." Ditto.


            1. re: Berheenia

              Macaroni with Ham and Cheese Pg. 319

              Well nearly 3 years on from Berheenia's report and this macaroni and cheese is still delicious?

              It has been cold and wet around here recently (surprise surprise) so the thought of a big bowl of rich and sinful mac and cheese was irresistible. I usually make my mother's recipe which has some greens and gouda in it, but given this recipe in ENYT I thought I would give it a try.

              The dish is very simple to put together. You simply boil some noodles (she doesn't say to go al dente since they will bake after boiling but I undercooked mine as per usual for mac and cheese), slice some onions, mince a bit of onion, dice equal parts of cheese and ham, and then make a rather thin béchamel with a fair amount of nutmeg in it.

              I say rather thin because there is only 1 tb of flour/2tb butter to two cups of milk. The result before adding the cheese is much thinner than my usual béchamel. The cheese does help thicken it up, but I was still worried it was a bit too loose. That said, I stayed true to the recipe and left it as is. The onions, mushroom, and ham, get a quick sauté before the cheese sauce goes into the pan with them, along with a touch of cayenne. Add a bit of cream (book calls for 1 cup but I went with 1/2). Lastly your noodles get mixed in and you pour the lot into a buttered baking dish, and dust with some parmesan.

              Into the oven for about 10 minutes, followed by a few minutes under the broiler and dinner is done.

              Flavour wise be careful with the salt because you have ham, parm and cheddar in there already. For me the results were rich and creamy, savoury, and toothsome. All the things one wants from a mac and cheese. The thin cheese sauce set up very well in the oven, and the balance between pasta and sauce was just right for us. Definitely a repeat.

              1. re: delys77

                I wish I already had this ready in the house for the weekend. Looks fabulous.

                1. re: pistachio peas

                  I must admit, I'm having the leftovers for lunch today and they actually seem to have improved. Too bad I can't send you some ha ha.

                2. re: delys77

                  Macaroni with Ham and Cheese Pg. 319

                  Thanks to Delys for bringing this gem to my attention. Some of my first cooking adventures were from Franey's 60 minute gourmet books, which I still use. They are very reliable. I followed the recipe with only a few substitutions; mezze penne, and Allepo pepper for macaroni and cayenne.
                  The result was delicious and is a definite repeat for me as well.

                3. re: Berheenia

                  Macaroni with Ham and Cheese, pg. 319

                  I'm afraid to put my glass baking dish under the broiler so this isn't browned, but I agree with the three previous reports it's a *really* good recipe. Mr. blue room loved it, I did too, nobody wouldn't!

              2. re: JVHcook

                Hi! I also made String Beans with Ginger and Garlic (p. 260) and I will make this again. (I halved it as well for 6 people.) The "tag words" for me are Fast, Easy and Fresh. Once you've got the beans prepped and refreshed ahead of time, it's so easy to complete the recipe even in the midst of making three other dishes at the same time (I was having a ENYTC testing-marathon!) I liked the slight crunch of the minced ginger and chopped garlic as well as the savor and aroma they added; next time I might toss a handful of chopped almonds in. I agree with everyone else that it is definitely not complex: "simple side dish" describes it very well. I think it goes well with other, richer dishes and can see it as part of a holiday buffet, for instance. I also often cook for a 5 and a 7 year old and they loved the beans this way. Oh yes; I made it with olive oil rather than the vegetable oil in the recipe and it was fine.

                1. re: JVHcook

                  I made the String Beans with Ginger and Garlic last night, since it was just my husband and me, I divided the recipe by 5 or so. I thought these were delicious and I will definitely make them again. I also used haricots vert. I loved that once the beans are blanched and the garlic and ginger cut up, the whole thing comes together while you are waiting for the chicken to cool off a bit. Very quick.

                  1. re: JVHcook

                    String Beans with Ginger and Garlic, Pg. 260

                    My turn for this homely dish and we liked it. Love garlic and love ginger so it's a dish I'll make again certainly. Used grapeseed oil instead of vegetable which I have foresworn along with corn oil and tasted a difference. Nice and light. and clear tasting. We steamed the beans for a bit instead of blanching then quickly iced them. Went well with pan fried "Dover" sole and the Crostini Romani pg. 77

                    1. re: JVHcook

                      String Beans with Ginger and Garlic, p. 260

                      I halved this recipe and steamed instead of blanching the beans. Actually, I halved the beans and ginger, but used the full amount of garlic. Quick, simple, and good, the kind of everyday dish you don't really need a recipe for, but here it is and it was a nice complement to Nina Simonds's broiled fish with miso glaze, also from the book.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        I think I'll try this as a quick side with my next complicated entrée. I like your idea of steaming instead of blanching.

                    2. Bulgur Salad With Pomegranate Dressing and Toasted Nuts (I don't have the book with me, so I'm not sure on the page number.)

                      This was kind of one of those recipes that the more I tasted it, the less I liked it. In fact, my husband said he liked it at first, but by the time we were cleaning up, he decided we shouldn't keep it for leftovers. (Thankfully, I halved the recipe!) It was just too tangy, between the lemon juice, the tomato paste, the pomegranate molasses, and the coriander. I would say it definitely needs something to counteract the tart factor... a creamy cheese, perhaps? Regardless, we decided it wasn't worth tweaking for us. I served it with the Chicken Roasted With Sour Cream, Lemon Juice And Mango Chutney and some roasted carrots.

                      8 Replies
                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          Thanks for the review (and taking one for the team). I was thinking about this one (trying to get more whole grains into the family) but looks like I will skip it based on your experience.

                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                            Rigatoni With White Bolognese page 344

                            I actually found this recipe in Cooking for Mr. Latte, which I decided to read and finish before starting The NY Times Cookbook. The sauce is on the stove right now and my house smells divine! The only variation I made from the recipe is to increase the amount of the carrots, onion and celery as it seemed like it needed it. I also used stock instead of a bouillon cube and a mixed wild mushroom pouch instead of straight porcini, as that is all I had on hand. I am planning on freezing 1/2 the batch prior to adding the cream and cheese and serving the other 1/2 for dinner tomorrow night. Will write again when I have my family's feedback.

                            1. re: dkennedy

                              cannot wait to hear about the bolongnese. The mixed wild pouch sounds like a good sub.

                              1. re: apple342

                                Went out of town for my sister's birthday, so I am a little late reporting back on the White Bolognense. Rave reviews from my family (kids ages 10 and 12). Comments like "make this again" and "can I have another serving of just the sauce?" come to mind. We all agreed that this was a keeper, but next time I think I will 1/2 the amount of the sausage and replace it with an equal amount of ground veal. My son is gluten/dairy free so we served him the sauce prior to adding the cream and the cheese and it was still wonderful. I had enough left over to freeze about a 1/2 of a container, enough sauce for a light lunch for two.

                                1. re: dkennedy

                                  Thank you for posting this, a definite dinner soon!

                              2. re: dkennedy

                                Rigatoni w White Bolognese – p. 344 – Chapter 7

                                As Italian food lovers, this recipe had immediate appeal and since the butcher was putting out freshly made sweet Italian sausage when we arrived yesterday, it seemed the time was right to give this recipe a try. I’m certainly glad we did. We agree w dkennedy, we thought this dish was a winner, we loved it! Actually the sauce reminded us quite a bit of that from one of our all-time favourite Tuscan pastas, a dish called Pinci alla Boscaiola.

                                Prep is fairly quick and very straightforward. The “holy-trinity” of carrots, celery and onion are diced. Dry Porcini mushrooms are re-constituted, drained and diced (liquid reserved). A beef bouillon cube is dissolved in 2 cups of simmering water (I just left this on the stove until needed). Sausage is removed from casings, parmesan is grated, white wine and heavy cream are measured. That’s it, you’re ready to cook!

                                The holy trinity is added to a pan over medium-high heat and cooked ‘til the onion is translucent at which point Hesser suggests that salt and pepper be added. I skipped this step given the later addition of the bouillon as I felt there may be adequate salt in that ingredient to season the dish to our tastes. Meat is added to the veggies and once it has browned, heat is increased and wine is added to simmer until almost fully evaporated. This process is then repeated w the bouillon. Mushrooms are then added along w enough soaking liquid to cover the meat half way. Things continue to simmer away until, as Hesser says, the sauce is “loose but not soupy” At this point the cream is stirred in and the sauce is set aside until pasta is ready. Pasta is drained and sauce is folded in. Hesser suggests additional mushroom liquid or, pasta water may be required to loosen but this was not necessary in our case. Pasta is plated and cheese is passed at the table.

                                As I said, we really loved this dish. The sauce was rich and flavourful (I did add about 1/2tsp of salt btw) without being too heavy. Only 1/3cup of full cream is added so the sauce is not overly creamy, rather it just provides a nice coating for the pasta. Our sausages had very little fennel seed and I did miss that in the final product. I also think some fresh thyme would be a nice addition to this sauce. The meat flavours are fairly predominant, so I’d highly recommend using quality ground beef and, a good Italian sausage. Without hesitation, I’d recommend this dish.

                              3. re: greeneggsnham

                                ditto here KN - I agree w greeneggsnham, thanks for sharing this. Life's to short for underwhelming recipes!

                            2. Crispy Potato Crowns, page 284

                              Meh! Melt some butter, and while the butter is hot, brush half of the butter on the bottom of a gratin pan. She recommends a porcelain gratin pans, but I own metal All Clad ovals. Chill the pans for 10 minutes until the butter hardens. [My kitchen is so cold right now, the refrigerator wasn't required.]

                              Slice potatoes using a mandolin. Her cooking note indicates that you must use a mandolin, but doesn't give the thickness. I used my thinest v-slicer setting which is 1/16". The potatoes were certainly wafer thin, but very watery. Artfully place the potatoes into the gratin pan, creating a second layer if required. Then brush the remaining butter over the top. Though salt and pepper is listed in the ingredients, at no point does she say when to add it. So, I added after the final butter application.

                              I cooked for 30 minutes, and these were not crispy. The potato was too mushy and watery. With the exception of the edges, the potatoes steamed more than they baked.

                              Things to do differently: slice a little thicker, at least 1/8", spread the potato slices on a dish towel to remove some of the water, plan to remove them from the gratin pan and crisp in a frying pan or move onto a better recipe.

                              Served with grilled skirt steak and Raw Spinach Salad, page 175

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                Thanks for the great review. Sorry this was disappointing. Sounds like a fair amount of work for something to turn out "mushy and watery". Why is your kitchen so cold?

                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                  Ah the cold kitchen... the cold kitchen == (old_house + 39_windows + northeast + low_temperatures) * cost_of_oil. We are keeping the thermostat very low.

                              2. Italian Roast Potatoes, p. 300
                                Another simple and easy side dish that surprised me by being better than I expected. Basically this is just 1-inch potato cubes tossed with olive oil, 12 cloves of unpeeled garlic and lots of oregano ( I also used fresh rather than dried because I had it growing) and then oven-roasted for about an hour. So simple, but these turned out just as Hesser described: delicious crispy browned cubes with soft pillowy centers. One-half cup is more olive oil than I usually use in roasting 6 medium potatoes but they sure were delicious! The directions about not crowding the potatoes in the roasting pan and not salting until just before serving also did make a difference. I KNEW about this before but I usually don't take such care. The roasted garlic turned into savory chewy little nuggets--also good. Finally, the 5 and 7 year olds who come for dinner really liked these too.

                                21 Replies
                                1. re: Goblin

                                  goblin, i was looking at that recipe, but 1+ hours at 425 seemed like a long time for one inch cubes. may i ask what type of potato you used?

                                  1. re: qianning

                                    Qianning, I think that it IS a long time and I set my timer for 45 minutes because my sister's oven, where I was cooking, is notoriously "hot" about 25 degrees. At this point the potatoes were quite browned (but I like them that way, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside,) . I'd watch them and check sooner than an hour; maybe after 30 minutes if you don't want quite such a brown coating, nor such chewy garlic "nuggets."

                                    The recipe specified "waxy potatoes," which I took to mean ones not floury nor high in starch like russets are. My supermarket had three types available: the round red ones, the round white ones (White Rose variety I think) and some long white ones which I chose because I find that the long ones are easier to peel and dice. I think the variety is actually just called "Long White Potatoes." They were quite satisfactory.

                                    1. re: Goblin

                                      thanks for the reply. i'm planning on making this early next week. since i usually never cut the potatoes that small, and usually pre-heat the oil, i'm curious to try this methodology and see how it works.

                                      1. re: qianning

                                        Good--please tell us how it went.

                                        1. re: Goblin

                                          Italian Roasted Potatoes pg. 300

                                          Not much to add to Goblin's excellent write up. The recipe does come true, although checking on them at 45 minutes is a good idea. This is definitely the type of roasted potato that has a very crispy exterior, personally I like the type of roasted potato that is a bit less crispy and a bit more carmelized, but Mr. QN loves anything crunchy, so these were a big hit with him.

                                      2. re: Goblin

                                        I wanted to add to the discussion of potatoes: I made this again last night with some potatoes I had in storage in my garage (harvested them in late Sept.) and although they were the "waxy" type when I harvested them, over the four months in storage they had turned floury--I guess this happens to potatoes over time. Anyway, they were definitely not as crispy on the outside, though the interior tasted just fine! The skins were a bit too wrinkly and not as delicious, IHMO.

                                    2. re: Goblin

                                      Italian Roast Potatoes p. 300 (a Nigella recipe from 2003)

                                      We tried these last night and they were indeed delicious. I thought the potatoes were perfectly crisp. However, I though the garlic cloves were overdone, and our garlic cloves are HUGE even cut in half as we did. We did these on 2 jelly roll pans because they still seemed crowded in our largest roasting pan. We used Kosher salt. We used older potatoes and they only needed 50 mins instead of the hour she called for, so the suggestion about to check after 45 mins. We wish maybe we'd cut these a wee bit bigger.

                                      She says serve right away. We didn't because we needed the broiler for about 15 minutes to cook the 6666 Soppin' Sauce T-Bone Steaks pg 539. We tented the potatoes with foil while the steaks were broiling, then put them back in the oven for 5 minutes untented. They got soft while tenting, and did firm up some upon reheating, but a bit of the magic was lost. (Maybe this extra 5 mins is what did my garlic in?) Anyway, don't cry for me as I snacked on the potatoes the entire time I was broiling my steak, so I got my fill. But, next time, I will serve them right away as intended.

                                      I also wonder if this much (1/2 c) EVOO is needed, and I'm guessing it is, and we actually used 3.1lbs potatoes, slightly more than the 2.5lbs the recipe called for and 14 cloves of garlic (7 half huge cloves) instead of 12.

                                      Wow. A real winner.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I was wondering if this much oil is needed too, as there was quite a bit of oil in the bottom of the pan when all was said and done. I might try decreasing the amount by a tablespoon or so, what do you think? Garlic cloves were way over cooked, might try the Bittman method of adding them at the 1/2 way point.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          Good suggestions on both counts. Let us know how it goes if you're the one to try it first!


                                          1. re: qianning

                                            I'm also going to try these again using a bit less oil--maybe 1-2 Tbs less. That seems reasonable--but I suspect that using more oil than I'm generally used to does increase the final "crunch" of the potato cubes.

                                            Good idea to add the garlic half-way through. I actually liked the cloves really chewy, but I did miss being able to squeeze the roasted garlic out onto the potatoes while consuming them.

                                            Funny how such a simple recipe can garner so much conversation!

                                            1. re: Goblin

                                              would not be surprised if you are correct about the more oil=more crunch.

                                              my garlic came out on the wrong side of the carmelized/bitter divide.

                                              simple sides are my favorite thing to nail if possible, it relieves so much stress in the kitchen.

                                        2. re: Goblin

                                          Been reading through the reports of the Italian Roast Potatoes and at first thought they must be the potatoes from Molto Italiano that so many of us had great success with a few years back. Interesting how similar the recipes are: same number of similar potatoes cut the same size and roasted at the same temperature. Major differences: Mario blanched the potato cubes for two minutes before roasting them, used half the amount of oil, didn't peel the garlic cloves, and roasted them for about half the amount of time. I haven't tried these, but I've made the Batali ones numerous times and they've always been crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, with the garlic not overcooked.

                                          For anyone who might be interested in comparing the two, here are the reports from when Batali was COTM.


                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Italian Roast Potatoes p.300

                                            Not much to add to all the comments above, just to say I thought these were really good. though I wish I'd read all the comments before I cooked this as my garlic was completely overcooked and rock hard. I left the cloves unpeeled but it didn't help. Next time I will add them half way through as suggested. I loved the crunchy exterior and soft insides of the potatoes.

                                            I served these with Breaded Chicken Breasts with Parmesan Cheese p.465 and Broccoli Puree with Ginger p.253.

                                            1. re: JaneEYB

                                              My garlic was also overcooked and hard and bitter. I didn't use waxy potatoes, but floury ones peeled and they were still good. An hour at that high temperature is definitely way too long in my oven (which is fan-assisted). They were done after about 40 which was annoying as I had to leave them out a little while before serving so they lost some crunch. Still. we liked them very much. I used a third of a cup of oil for three large potatoes (maybe a scant 2 lbs?) and that was plenty. I'd probably cut the potatoes a little bigger next time as well.

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              Joan-I just had a chance to look at the link, and although I don't have the Batali book, these do look similar, but not quite the same.

                                              The Hesser recipe yields a REALLY crispy potato on all sides of the potato cube, where as the Batali (looking at the pics some posters attached, and comments) looks decidedly more crispy on the bottom. Personally I'd probably prefer the Batali, and it looks more like my usual pan roasted potatoes, but Mr. qn, who is a sucker for anything crunchy, preferred the results from the Hesser method.

                                              1. re: qianning

                                                Perhaps it's because I toss them during roasting that mine are always crispy all the way around. Also, I no longer pay much attention to the time, but roast until they are the amount of crispy I want them. One other step I take with the Batali potatoes that isn't in the instructions is to make sure the cubes are really dry before I roast them. I'm sure that adds to the crispiness as well.

                                                Anyway, as I said, I haven't even tried the recipe from ENYT since the Batali recipe and my minor adjustments has become such a staple for me.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Once in the oven, no need to tosser the Hesser version of the roast potatoes. Very low maintenance. Of course, now I have to try the Mario recipe!


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    And I'll have to try the Hesser version!

                                            3. re: Goblin

                                              Italian Roast Potatoes, p. 300

                                              My turn to make these. I used skin-on russets since that's all I had, a little less oil, seasoned with a mixture of Penzey's Mexican and Turkish Oregano, along with Shallot Salt, and roasted for about 45 minutes with no tossing. They were good as they were, but even better when they soaked up some of the lemon sauce as I served them with "Elizabeth's Frink's Roast Lemon Chicken". The leftovers made excellent home fries this morning.

                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                Italian Roast Potatoes, p. 300

                                                My partner made these last night, following the directions, ingredients. I had read this thread before but didn't want to interfere, so didn't mention the garlic issue. We LOVED the potatoes - they kind of tasted like perfect French fries - and the smell of the oregano was so warm and cozy. The garlic had turned into hard pucks, but the potatoes were top notch. We don't potatoes very often (more of a rice and pasta household as far as carbs are concerned), so I think I would stick with the amount of oil in the recipe if we do this one again in the future. A good, basic recipe.

                                              2. Crispy Tofu with Shiitakes and Chorizo p. 302

                                                Well not exactly. The tofu never got crispy and I didn't have the nerve to use chorizo, just used ground pork seasoned my own way -- black pepper & a little smoked salt.
                                                Actually very tasty -- the sherry and soy sauce flavored the tofu, which was underneath nice nice mushrooms and green onions. Made a nice lunch. The pork should have been used more as a flavoring, as you can see I have a little patty, but everything went well together.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  I've been making this since the recipe was published in the Times several years ago, in the vegetarian variation suggested in the article (twice the mushrooms, no chorizo). The tofu gets slightly crisped on the outside, but I don't know that I'd describe it as crispy. Still, it's good enough that I've made it perhaps 8-9 times in 3-4 years.

                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                    Crispy Tofu with Shiitakes and Chorizo, p. 302

                                                    I just keep thinking to myself, "what a pointless recipe." I know that sounds harsh, but I really wonder how well it was tested. The problem was not with the flavors. I'm not sure what the tofu is doing in this recipe, and there is nowhere near enough liquid to have a "sauce" at the end, which the recipe claims it will. I made one substitution: I used fresh chorizo, cooked separately and then diced, instead of the cured called for, because that was what I had. And I made a pleasant discovery that chorizo and shiitake mushrooms taste fabulous together. I can't even imagine how the cured version would taste. This was just so DRY. That said, I'd use the mushroom/chorizo template for the future and leave out the tofu. I agree with GilaB's post above that the tofu does not really get crispy. This was originally a Melissa Clark recipe and I feel like a good number of her recipes that I've tried have a similar problem that is hard to describe: combinations that don't really make sense, or aren't really optimal. And there aren't any head notes, which makes me wonder why this was included in the first place. Too fussy and not very special.

                                                    1. re: pistachio peas

                                                      This was an odd one, I agree, and it's the only tofu recipe in the whole book.