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APRIL COTM AMFT/Greenspan: Nibbles and hors d'oeuvres; soups; salads, starters, and small plates

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  1. GERARD'S MUSTARD TART - really, really good.

    I love mustard, so this was a must. I am NOT a baker, though, and have never mastered dough (no patience) so while I was tempted to buy dough, I tried the full recipe anyway.

    The dough was not too difficult but it takes a lot of time. Make it the day before, it sits in the fridge overnight, you roll it the next day, put it in the tart pan AND then (which I missed) it has to chill again before pre-baking. Well, even without the hour chill before prebaking it came out pretty good. I don't think I rolled it thin enough, will do so next time. Short version: if I can do this, and the crust come out pretty good, anyone can.

    The filling was terrific. I ended up making four small tarts rather than one large tart and it worked perfectly (picture attached). You could easily do this without the steamed veggies on top. And it was just as good room temp the next day as it was right out of the oven.

    I made it when a friend came to dinner and when it came out of the oven, we had to pop some bubbly, it just seemed to call for it. Well worth the effort, which, other than time, is not too difficult. I'll make this again many time.

     
    5 Replies
    1. re: Tom P

      I like mustard just fine, but have only used it as a condiment. These are savory egg custard tarts, would you say, flavored with mustard? New to me, I'll look further. Your picture is a nice one!

      By the way, the "Gerard's...Tarts" are page 154 in the book,
      are the Batards called Batons on page 15?

      1. re: blue room

        Blue Room -

        That is a pretty good description! It is fairly unique, but very good. Give it a try! There are a lot of pages on the web where people have tried it, with lots of advice and comments. One such example:

        http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandfor...

        And those are indeed the page #'s. I did not have the book in front of me when I did the post. One website called the Batons Batards ... I should have waited until I had the book with me :)

        1. re: Tom P

          The recipe in Bon Appetit omits the ice water in the pastry ingredient list. Since it calls for mixing the water with the egg, it would be nice to know the least amount. Then you could add a bit more until the consistency is right.

      2. re: Tom P

        Tom your photo is beautiful and your description has inspired me to add this to my list of dishes to try. Hats off to you for giving the pastry a try as well. I've made a lot of pastry but lately I've fallen in to the trap of selecting convenience over authenticity. Be sure I won't do that when I make this dish, I'll be thinking of you! Love the bubbly too, lucky friend!!

        1. re: Tom P

          Gerard's Mustard Tart

          I spotted the most lovely, thin leeks at this week's farmer's market and I knew exactly what to do with them. As noted by Tom, you make the dough on a different day. [I did it on Monday since I had time.] After the dough has chilled overnight, the dough is rolled out and placed in a butter tart pan. WHOOPS! Missed that the first time. Believe it or not, I flipped the dough out being careful to keep its shape upside down, buttered the tart pan, and then re-inserted. At this point, the dough goes into the freezer or fridge. The poor dough had been manhandled so it went to the freezer. Then you par-bake the dough. And then you chill it again. [Darn good thing is was tasty dough eh?]

          Meanwhile you steam the vegetables for 10 minutes. I only did leeks. The last step is to make the filling which couldn't be any easier. Whisk up some eggs with mustard and creme fraiche. Then pour it into the prepared tart pan and bake for 30 minutes.

          This was really, really good. Served with a carrot-ginger soup and some French bread. A salad would have been a great addition.

        2. MUSTARD BATARDS - good.

          These were not as amazing as I was hoping, though to be fair, everyone who ate them at my house both times I made them loved them a lot more than I did. I think I had too high of expectations.

          PROS: ridiculously easy to make. I mean, EASY. I made both the mustard version and, because I always have homemade tapenade in the fridge, the tapenade version.

          CONS: not really a con, but unless you use a killer, spicy mustard, they are a little bland. The second time I made them, I used a really spicy mustard, a lot of course sea salt sprinkled on them, and some herbs and black pepper inside, and they improved. The tapenade version was very good.

          Also, I used Trader Joe's Puff Pastry, which I had, and which I do not like nearly as much as Pepperidge Farm. I look forward to trying them again with PF Puff Pastry.

          Very well worth trying.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Tom P

            Pepperidge Farm IS really good. I feel no guilt about using a frozen puff p. with that stuff. Hope I haven't just blown any cred I had (not that I expect it was much).

            1. re: LulusMom

              OH NO! LulusMom! I was going to nominate you for the James Beard award and now I read THIS! I no longer have the will to live!

              Actually, I use frozen puff pastry every once in a while, along with filo.

              1. re: oakjoan

                There goes ANOTHER award out the window ...

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Too funny oakjoan!

                  Puff pastry is one of those things that I don't see myself ever making since the frozen I have access to is really good and it seems like it would be one of those time consuming recipes w a high likelihood of something going wrong (especially w me at the rolling pin!)

              2. re: Tom P

                If you really want to be blown away by something made with purchased puff pastry, and are willing to lay out some serious dough (har har) for a special meal or treat, I recommend getting Dufour, which you can buy at Whole Foods (have seen/bought at WF in NY and CA, assume they stock it elsewhere in the country). It's around $10, but is all-butter and bakes up extremely well. I've made something as simple as puff pinwheels, which have nothing besides a dot of jam in the center and a sprinkle of sugar, and had them just inhaled with raves about the flavor of the pastry, using Dufour.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Wow, I'll look for the Dufour, definitely. Thanks for the tip.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    For years I made my own pie dough but I've just started using store bought puff pastry... Trader Joe's. It's good to know there are other brands out there that are better.

                    Tom P: Bravo for making those tarts and the pastry. I minimally scanned both recipes then turned the page. Now I think I'll at least try for the mustard one. Do you think Maille grainy mustrad would work?

                    1. re: Gio

                      I think the Maille would be wonderful, I love that mustard.

                      Just FYI, my favorite current mustard is a Trader Joe's Dijon with White Wine that has a really nice kick to it. Not a grainy mustard but it really does the job.

                      Cannot wait to save up and try the Dufour!

                    2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      They carry Dufour puff pastry at the Whole Foods here in Raleigh. I discovered it last month when I made JO's sweet leek chicken pie, which has a puff pastry crust. I think it has ruined me for any other. Man, is it good! It is also $12, which I find totally scandalous.

                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                        Well the price for the Dufour has gone up $2 since Caitlin McGrath posted 2 days ago--
                        :)
                        but I know I won't be able to resist trying it. Thanks (I think) for the recommendation.
                        Can anyone compare it to homemade? I know homemade takes time, but it's mostly inactive time, while dough chills. Very roughly, one package of Dufour would cover --
                        how many 8x8 square casseroles ?

                    3. re: Tom P

                      A late-ish response to the batons: Bought the TJ's Dijon for these and was underwhelmed; far too bland. Tapenade indeed much better.

                      However, I baked them a day before using, put them in airtight containers and discovered the next day a pervasive sogginess. Irritated, I returned them to the oven on a perforated sheet I use on the barbecue and ran them @ 350 for about 25 minutes, ? a little more. Much butter, and the crispness has persisted even with the leftovers the following day.

                    4. Tzatziki – p. 24

                      Ok, so one of my first recipes isn’t French at all but since DG included it and, it worked well w my other dishes, onto our menu it went.

                      Nothing especially unusual in terms of prep though DG does suggest that you “finely cube” the cucumber vs grating it. The ingredients also are standard w the exception of the 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil that DG calls for. She suggests you add equal amounts of dill and mint whereas I chose to do a 3:1 ratio of dill to mint.

                      I picked up some wonderful, super-thick Greek yogurt at a fabulous Persian market I discovered during Arabesque month so, no draining required. DG has you mix all ingredients together once the cucumber has drained for 30 mins whereas I prefer to mix all the ingredients except the cucumber together to allow the garlic flavour to develop and then I just stir in the well-drained cucumber right before serving.

                      This was good, as we expected it would be. I’d skip the evoo next time as I didn’t feel it added anything.

                      Sardine Rillettes – p. 25

                      DG had me at “made in under 10 minutes”!! Quick, delicious and different; we loved this and will definitely make it again!

                      DG calls for 2 x 3.75 oz cans of sardines. Since I wasn’t sure how fish-forward we wanted this to be, I opted to use just one can for our first go at this dish. Once you’ve boned your sardines you combine all the other ingredients in a bowl then add them by mashing them in w a fork. DG calls for Neufchatel or cream cheese. Since I had Quark, I chose to use that. Shallots, green onions, herbs (I went w dill and parsley), piment d’Espelette or cayenne, S&P and lemon or lime juice are added. This is a case where a specific quantity of citrus juice is not specified. DG calls for juice of 2 limes or, 1 lemon or, to taste. I found 2tbsp to be just right. I might have wanted more if I’d used the 2 cans of fish but in our case the tang of the Quark still came through so 2 tbsp of lemon juice was enough.

                      In my experience, Rillettes have been rather dense, similar to pate but w larger pieces of meat. In this case, my mixture was loose, like a dip and it would have been even if another can of sardines had been added. Perhaps this is partially due to the fact that Quark is much looser than cream cheese. I’ll be interested to see how others make out if they prepare this dish.

                      I’d whole-heartedly recommend this dish. It’s flavours far exceed the effort it takes to prepare the dish and it’s a different option to serve dinner guests. I served it w grilled pitas and, an assortment of crackers. Saltines were my preferred option in the end. Do try this; it’s wonderful!

                      Our main course included another COTM dish, some yummy mashed potatoes. Here's a link to that review if you're interested:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

                       
                       
                       
                       
                      26 Replies
                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Very interesting about the sardine rillettes, as I just made (again) the tuna mousse from last year's Patricia Wells month (the Italy book), and this sounds fairly similar. We like canned sardines but always go ahead and eat the bones; do you think the step of deboning them was necessary? With the mousse (which basically has the texture of a pate) you put it all in a cuisinart - it seems with the rillettes you skip that step. Maybe doing so would mean the bones would be ok? Very interested in your thoughts.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Hi LM, yes I de-boned the sardines since DG recommended it however I don't think we'd have noticed them in the final dish if I'd left them in since they are so fine. I don't think I'd bother w the cuisinart for this since it was so quick and easy to mix by hand. If you'd prefer not to de-bone then maybe you could just mash the sardines separately prior to incorporating into the other ingredients.

                          I'll have to take a look at the Wells mousse you mention, I think we'd like that too.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            I think I might just try this, sounds good, and different. Nice on crackers for a fairly healthy snack. Thanks!

                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                          "Ok, so one of my first recipes isn’t French at all..."
                          Oakjoan mentioned this before--this book is food she puts on her table in France, not French food. Slightly tricky title.
                          I'd love to try the Rillettes, but with salmon. I know mashed sardines would be met with resistance in my house! By the way -- how is "rillettes" pronounced? I tried to listen on one of those audio sites, but I just got sort of "RYAY".
                          Yes, saltines are crisp, unobtrusively flavored, and you can get them with unsalted tops.

                          1. re: blue room

                            blueroom, there is a recipe for Salmon Rillettes on the very next page (p. 26) in the book. Haven't tried it yet, but it looks good.

                            1. re: foodtrip

                              Oh thank you -- ! Some go through new cookbook front to back, bookmarking -- I'm afraid my method is catch as catch can.

                            2. re: blue room

                              I think the salmon would work well with the tuna recipe too - basically canned tuna (or salmon), lemon rind and juice, butter, oregano, a little olive oil, S&P ... hope I'm not forgetting anything, and then zapped to blend.

                              I've always heard rillettes pronounced -rey-ette (but I'm far from French, so please take with a grain of salt).

                              1. re: blue room

                                Hi br, thanks for pointing out Oakjoan's observation, good to know and, it also explains some of the other dishes that appealed but, didn't seem at all French!

                                As for the Rillettes, do give them a try, I think they'd be wonderful w salmon or even smoked salmon. As for the pronunciation, we say "rea –yeht."

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  It's definitely "ree-yette" (French degree and have acutally just been there for the weekend - the joys of being European!) and it doesn't sound to me like these really are rillettes, which have to be gently cooked in fat. I love them but they are sooo rich. This dish sounds good but more of a quick sardine paté than proper rillettes.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Greedygirl makes a good point about the distinctive character of rillettes. I made the Salmon Rillettes on page 26. While the recipe turns out a tasty salmon spread (a combination of fresh and smoked salmon), it was nothing like the rillettes I've had in France. They always had that rich, embrace your tongue feel that only comes from quantities of fat.

                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                We made the sardine rillettes with neufchatel and cilantro. I did not debone the sardines and gently mixed everything in my mini-processor.

                                1. re: BigSal

                                  How did you enjoy them BigSal?

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    I enjoyed them very much. I can see making different variations of this with different herbs.

                                    1. re: BigSal

                                      I totally agree w you and w the growing season just starting, our options are going to be abundant in the months ahead. I figure this is a perfect summer dish because its so quick and easy to prepare.

                                      Next time I'm going to try lime juice instead of lemon and I'll use thyme and a couple of dashes of hot sauce to give them a Caribbean feel.

                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  I made the Sardine Rillettes as part of a dinner consisting of appetizers and sides, which will be posted somewhere further down this thread.
                                  I started trying to debone the sardines, but the bones were so tiny and soft, I decided it wasn't worth the time and trouble, so I stopped about a third of the way through.
                                  I used neufchatel cheese and lime juice. I only used the juice of one lime, it seemed to me that any more would have been too liquid. I used chives, parsley and dill.
                                  Dorie has a sidebar that explains how a bistro in Paris serve this with a cornichon sorbet, and the home cook can simulate this concept by adding cornichons or capers. That was all it took for me to want to make a cornichon sorbet. I pureed a handful of cornichons with a dash of vodka (to impair hard freezing). This was weird. I added a little salt and pepper, hoping for improvement. Still tasted weird, but I froze it anyway. After it became sorbet, it tasted fine, and was a great accompaniment to the rillettes. This dish was a big success, very tasty. Mr Nightshade ate it by the forkful. (I daintily placed dabs on crackers, of course.)
                                  Photos show the rillette in the chilling dish, and then "plated" with the cornichon sorbet.

                                   
                                   
                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    So, so beautiful! I love your silver serving dishes :)

                                    1. re: tall sarah

                                      Thank you, tall sarah! The sidebar states that the Paris bistro serves the rillettes in martini glasses. Mine are silver. I kept feeling like I should raise a toast with my sardines.

                                    2. re: L.Nightshade

                                      LN how elegant this looks and congrats on making that sorbet, I can imagine how perfectly it would match w the flavours in the rillettes. I'm salivating!!

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Thanks, Breadcrumbs! I think the flavor combination could be captured equally well with a couple cornichons on the plate, but the sorbet was a quirky little twist that made for an interesting texture and fun presentation.

                                    3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      My turn with the Sardine Rillettes. I made a half recipe and used cream cheese. I used small sardines and did not debone them (figured I could use the extra calcium). I used lemon juice and cilantro. As BC and LN have described, this is an easy dish with a great payoff. I made this on a whim as we were waiting for dinner one night and it was really no sweat. I gave some on a cracker to my husband and he said "great tuna salad". Inspired by that, I made a sandwich with the leftovers and packed it in my lunch. Delicious, but only appropriate if you will be working alone all day!

                                      Next time I will get some cornichon to serve with (not sure I'm up for the sorbet, but sounds like a great flavor compliment.)

                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                        Glad you enjoyed them genh. Your "only appropriate if you're working alone" comment made me laugh out loud. Also reminded me of a woman I used to work w who would bring a raw fish to work each day and cook it in the microwave!!

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Yes, I don't want to be "that girl"! Between the sardines and the raw onion, it's a little much for the community lunch room :)

                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                            That's right, I'd forgotten about those pesky red onions . . . what a combo! . . . and so delicious though!

                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        While in Albania a few years ago (where the food is heavily influenced by Greek and Italian cuisines), I had tzatziki once where the hostess added finely shredded sweet pepper (red and yellow) along with the cucumber and it was not only colourful but very tasty. Have never seen it done this way since but make it sometimes at home.

                                        1. re: herby

                                          What a lovely idea Herby; thanks for sharing your memory. I'll definitely give this a try!

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Let me know how you like it, BC.

                                      3. Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Flans page 146
                                        I have been dying to try these flans. I made them for a first course last night, part of my first COTM menu where every dish disappointed!
                                        The flan is made with 15 ounces of canned pumpkin, 3 eggs and one yolk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, salt and pepper. The ingredients are whirred in a blender, poured into ramekins and topped with crumbled gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. They are baked in a water bath for 35 or 40 minutes.
                                        Too much egg or cream, or too much whirring. Too flan-y (light, creamy, and mousse-like) to stand up to the gorgonzola and walnut. I'd like to make them again, but make the pumpkin denser, like a savory pumpkin pie, because the flavor combination did appeal to me. Mr Nightshade suggested that we just mash up a sweet potato and bake it topped with gorgonzola and walnuts.

                                         
                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          I'm going to back off on this critique a bit. I think we just had a bad taste bud night. I had one left over, and warmed it up a couple days later. The mousse quality had given way to a firmer custard. I have to say that I really enjoyed this rich little dish. Great flavors.

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            Funny how that happens sometimes, isn't it? Glad to hear that on second tasting it was better.

                                        2. The vanilla vegetable salad...so light and unusual.
                                          Baby Bok Choy, Sugar Snap Peas en papillote...very east and light.

                                          1. Spaghetti and Onions Carbonara/Recipe-Swap Onion “Carbonara” – p. 153

                                            nomadchowwoman prepared this dish in the fall and with her review in mind, I made some modifications to DG’s recipe and I’m happy to report that the resulting dish was a hit here at Casa breadcrumbs! Here’s the link to ncw’s review for your info: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7313...

                                            After reading ncw’s comments I simply couldn’t imagine this dish w steamed onions so instead, I melted some butter in a large pan and slowly caramelized the thinly sliced onions then set-aside for later. I also chose to cook the bacon ahead used the bacon fat as a base for the sauce in place of the 1 tbsp butter DG suggests. (this also saved dirtying another pan!!).

                                            Though DG mentions that when Michel Richard originally created the dish he intended the onions to replace the spaghetti in an original Carbonara, we took DG’s “Bonne Idee” from the side-bar and decided it would be tasty over spaghetti.

                                            A quick and delicious meal, especially if you prep the bacon and onions ahead. The sweetness of the caramelized onions is what took this dish from good to great in our books.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              I didn't follow the book exactly for this either - I started out steaming the onions (decided to use red instead of white), but they were taking too long, so I sauteed them in the skillet with the cooked bacon and tossed in a healthy amount of white wine. I also subbed them in for half the spaghetti instead of a full replacement, and I believe she calls for a bit of milk or cream in the sauce, which I ignored since my regular carbonara recipe doesn't call for it.

                                              But it was delicious! We're big onion fans, and this was a fast, lower carb version of one of our favorite dishes - not that the carbs matter when you're piling on bacon, egg and cheese, but it let us eat garlic bread with the dish virtually guilt-free. =) I think we may onion swap our carbonara from now on, it was that good.

                                            2. Orange and Olive Salad, Pg. 117

                                              What can you say about cool large juicy sweet oranges... So refeshing, and the combination of salty and sweet was perfect with the roast chicken we served as a main dish. This is really a riff on a traditional Moroccan orange salad. I used 2 large navels and 1 blood which was surprisingly sweet as well, a small red onion, pitted Nicoise oilves, EVOO and S & P. Slice the onion very thinly and soak them in cold water while you prep the oranges.

                                              Before the oranges are peeled DG advises to zest them first to save for another time. I did that and put the zest in the freezer. Slice the peel from the oranges keeping the pith on the peel. Slice the oranges in rounds, place on a platter. Drizzle EVOO over top. Drain onions, pat dry and strew over the oranges. Scatter the olives over and season with S & P. Although the oranges were very nice the salad didn't have the pazazz of other orange salads I've made. Most have other spices and a few herbs. But, as it was the combination of flavors suited the rest of the meal quite well.

                                              1. Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Salad – p. 138

                                                Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner here! Love, love, love this dish! We served this alongside the Chard-stuffed pork roast another COTM recipe that delighted us.

                                                If you’re a fan of quinoa, and even if you’re not, I’d highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It comes together in no time and is absolutely delicious. mr bc, who turns his nose up to most anything called “salad” said he’d give this a 9 out of 10, he loved it!

                                                Quinoa is rinsed then added to boiling water that is then turned to a simmer for 15 mins then set aside for another 5. Quinoa is drained and brought to room temp. An assortment of nuts, seeds and dried fruit are measured. I chose sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, dried apples, apricots and raisins. A mix of herbs are chopped. I used basil and flat leaf parsley. A dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, ground ginger is mixed. Everything is tossed together once the quinoa has cooled. DG also suggests that this dish can be topped w some plain yogurt and plated w mixed greens. I thinned out some plain Greek yogurt w some skim milk and stirred in some freshly chopped garlic and we drizzled this over top.

                                                I could eat this hot, at room temp or cold for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We love the pop of the quinoa and the wonderful addition of fruit and nuts. Top marks for this dish.

                                                Here’s a link to the our photos and thoughts on the wonderful Chard-stuffed Pork Roast from the COTM which we served alongside:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  oops! Forgot the photos:

                                                   
                                                   
                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                    Putting this on my menu for Passover, so thanks Breadcrumbs.

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Thanks for the review, BC. We love quinoa and I have a 5 lb bag sitting in my pantry (gotta love Costco). I'll have to try this!

                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                        I made this tonight and loved it. I used Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous, which is ready in 5 minutes. I added regular and golden raisins, orange flavored craisins, and a few prunes. Sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and almonds. MMM!!! I think I'll have the rest for breakfast!

                                                        1. re: rmperry

                                                          So glad you loved this too rmperry, it's such a versatile and super-quick dish as you say. Love the idea of whole-wheat couscous too, I'll give that a try as well, thanks!

                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Confused! Is this a savory side for dinner, or something sweet?

                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                              br it is a side dish but very versatile. The Quinoa version that I made was great as a side dish for the pork roast . . . the fruit and nuts were a nice contrast to the bitterness of the chard and of course, play beautifully w the pork. That said, you could easily serve leftovers for breakfast . . . hot or cold. In my view, a perfect dish!

                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                Ok! I always feel guilty eating quinoa with meat -- since it is protein enough on its own. The meat, starch, vegetable habit is hard to break.

                                                  2. Salade Nicoise – p. 125 (Salads, Starters and Small Plates)

                                                    While DG goes the traditional route and calls for canned tuna in this recipe, we prefer this salad w grilled or pan seared tuna and that’s what we used in this otherwise fairly classic dish. I dressed this salad w the Everyday Vinaigrette recipe that DG includes in her “Fundamentals” section at the back of the book. If anyone is interested, I did review that recipe and will post a link to it at the bottom of this review.

                                                    Prep is straight-forward and, I took full advantage of the fact that a number of steps in this recipe can be done in advance. Potatoes are boiled until tender then brought to room temp. Green beans are trimmed and cooked until tender crisp then shocked in an ice water bath and placed in the fridge if you’re doing them in advance. Eggs are boiled, cooled and peeled then refrigerated if you’re doing them in advance. Just prior serving potatoes, beans, eggs, tomatoes and shallots are cut or chopped to size. A platter is covered w your greens, in this case Bibb lettuce. Leaves are sprinkled w shallots, S&P and lightly dressed then the remaining ingredients are arranged on top to your liking. I usually like to use fresh tarragon to finish this dish but I couldn’t get any at the market so I went w the standard chopped parsley.

                                                    I coat my tuna in olive oil then crust it w salt, pepper and fennel seeds before grilling. In this case I used a stove-top grill pan.

                                                    We thoroughly enjoyed our very French dinner and the Vinaigrette was very good as well. Nothing new or extraordinary here, just a good, classic dish. We served this w a warm, crusty baguette.

                                                    Here’s the link to my review of the Vinaigrette if you’d like to take a look:

                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                     
                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Except for the fact that you were probably posting while I was prepping, it's almost like we all had dinner together! I'm with you on the fresh tuna. I bought some extra when I was buying for another recipe, seared it rare and broke it up with a fork. I like the look of your slices better.
                                                      Oh, must go, Mr NS is pulling up, time for dinner!

                                                       
                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                        Oh how funny LN, we must have been channeling each other's energy on this one!! Right down to the yellow and red tomatoes, our meals are almost identical!! Beautiful plate!

                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                          BC & LN... those platters look just like a Spring garden. What gorgeous presentations...!

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            Thank you Gio. I'm very impressed with Breadcrumbs' salad composition, it looks so rhythmic and striking.

                                                          2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            Gorgeous salads, both of you!

                                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                              Thanks so much! I really enjoy preparing a composed salad.

                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                Thanks genh, this was a fun dish to make. Not too much effort but tasty results and, you get to "play" arranging it on your plate!

                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              Wow - that salad looks gorgeous! Great photos! How did you get your eggs to come out looking os beautiful? Do you have a special technique for hard-boiled eggs?

                                                              1. re: audreyhtx1

                                                                Thanks so much Audrey. No technique for the eggs per se. I always use large eggs, bring them to a boil then reduce heat to medium for 5 mins before plunging in cold water to cool. I keep them in their shells until as close to serving time as my schedule permits. I also prefer not to use freshly laid eggs for boiling as the shells aren't as easy to remove for some reason I find.

                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                  Sounds like a technique to me! I do simmer mine for 5 mins on the stove, but I haven't done the immediate plunge into cold water thing. I'll try your way. Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: audreyhtx1

                                                                    Great, thanks Audrey. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

                                                            3. Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad, page 118
                                                              This recipe combines cherry tomatoes with strawberries, which are seasoned with fleur de sel, pepper and olive oil, served alongside slices of fresh mozzarella, and topped with basil, pink peppercorns, and optional raspberry vinegar. We're getting wonderful organic strawberries from Mexico, and pretty decent cherry tomatoes, so I got the jump on summer. I deviated from the recipe in a couple ways. I could not find pink peppercorns, and I had run out of raspberry vinegar, but I happened to have a small bottle of raspberry puree with red and green peppercorns. I used a very tiny dash of that, which was rather sweet, so I added a tiny dash of red vinegar. Dorie says the dish should be made just before serving, but I tossed the tomatoes and strawberries with the other ingredients, and let the flavors meld for a short time. I love strawberries in salads, but haven't paired them with tomatoes before this. What a stellar combination. These flavors tickle every bud on the tongue map. This one definitely goes in my do again list.

                                                               
                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                Beautiful -- red on red ! I've read about using maple syrup (just a little, probably) with pepper on fruit.

                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                  L.Nightshade, thanks so much for signaling this, it made a perfect starter for dinner last night. Made it for guests with plum tomatoes cut into 12ths that I tossed with salt, a bit of sherry vinegar, and a tiny pinch of sugar and let sit for a couple of hours. Cut the strawberries in similar-sized pieces, and added them to the tomatoes with the fresh mozzarella and slivered basil, tossed it, took it out of the juices the tomatoes had thrown, and served it with a drizzle of olive oil over.

                                                                  I was sceptical of the combination of the tomatoes with the strawberries (as were the guests, who were wondering what the heck I was up to but were too nice to say so) but the flavors are amazingly complementary. One of those dishes whose whole far exceeds the parts. Even my husband who doesn't like either tomatoes or strawberries loved it. It will be to die for in the summer with day-neutrals.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    Happy this worked out well. Brave of you to serve it for the first time to guests, and to a husband who doesn't like tomatoes or strawberries! Your summation is perfect: "One of those dishes whose whole far exceeds the parts."
                                                                    I had to google day-neutrals, never heard of them before.

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      Our friend Pete is a very good cook and likes unusual things, so he was a good candidate as a taster.

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Sounds like the perfect guest, and lucky to have you as the hostess!

                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                          Made this again last night and my husband and I put ourselves around 3/4 of the 4-serving recipe. Soo good!!!
                                                                          mamachef mentioned somewhere that peaches are also good with tomaotoes in this type of thing. Roll on summer so I can try that, it sounds beyond heavenly.

                                                                  2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                    Mozzarella, Tomato and Strawberry Salad

                                                                    We made this last night and really enjoyed it, despite the fact that I used out of season supermarket grape tomatoes and strawberries (they were organic, though). I can't believe I'd never noticed before making this dish that strawberries and tomatoes have such similar, and complimentary, flavors! I subbed an aged balsamic vinegar for the raspberry vinegar and freshly ground black pepper for pink. I also marinated the tomatoes for a bit in the vinegar with a splash of EVOO before making the salad. With these subs, which worked well, the dish was decidedly Italian -- that worked for us, we love Italian food! This was the best recipe we've tried yet from AMFT, and I'm excited to repeat it this summer when I can get lovely fresh strawberries and tomatoes from the greenmarket.

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      Fresh strawberries are finally available! I've been waiting to make this since April and boy was this worth the wait. Surprisingly delicious. I made this with balsamic vinegar and burrata (thanks to kattyeyes for the idea). A great start to any summer meal.

                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                        Love that dish.

                                                                      2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                        Mozzarella, Tomato, and Strawberry Salad

                                                                        I've been intrigued by this recipe ever since reading L.N's report in April and checking out the recipe, where Greenspan describes the flavors of strawberries and tomatoes as amazingly complementary. Whodathunk? I've been waiting until good local strawberries and tomatoes are both available, and that time has finally come. (We have good strawberries for four or five months of the year here, but tomatoes happen in mid-summer.)

                                                                        I chopped up two larger tomatoes, and an equal volume of strawberries. After salting and peppering and olive oiling, I tasted as the recipe instructs, and decided I didn't need any vinegar. I had bocconcini, so I cut them in halves or thirds and gently mixed them in with the fruits, along with the basil and a little drizzle more of olive oil. I had no pink peppercorns, so skipped them.

                                                                        L.Nightshade said above, "I love strawberries in salads, but haven't paired them with tomatoes before this. What a stellar combination. These flavors tickle every bud on the tongue map. This one definitely goes in my do again list." That about sums it up for me. This was so unexpected, and so perfect, with summer tomatoes, berries, and basil all from the farmers' market. I'll be having it again while everything's still in season, as well as next summer. I've also been recommending the combo to a bunch of people!

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          I love this recipe - our tomatoies are great right now and strawberries not too bad either, so we had it on Sunday night with feta instead of mozzarella - my husband likes it better with the sharper cheese. Also well worth trying.
                                                                          The combination of the tomatoes with the strawberries is indeed unexpectedly wonderful.
                                                                          Everyone I've served it to LOVES it too.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            So glad you liked this Caitlin. I think this is one of those recipes that is worth the price of the book! It's so easy, and just unusual enough to be dinner party-worthy.

                                                                        2. Spinach and Bacon Quiche pg 160

                                                                          So I pretty much followed the recipe for both the dough and the filling. In the dough I did reduce the sugar from 1tsp to 1/8 tsp, and in the filling I used light cream not heavy. For the dough I did the chilling, rolling, rechilling, pre-baking exactly as instructed.

                                                                          For the filling, steamed, drained, chopped spinach, cooked bacon, sauteed onions and garlic, mixed it all together adding some pepper, black and white, whipped two eggs with the cream, assembled, and......it leaked!

                                                                          See the pictures below.

                                                                          So what is the tried and true way to make sure a quiche doesn't leak? Help!

                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                            Gosh that looks spectacular qianning! Congratulations on making your own crust as well, it sounds fabulous. I'm afraid I don't have a solution to the leaking either, I usually put my pie plates on a pan because of this typical issue.

                                                                            Lovely dish, thanks for your review, I've added this to my list!

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              thanks, it was tasty, including the crust. just wish i knew how to get rid of the cracking problem.

                                                                            2. re: qianning

                                                                              I love quiches & tend to make them when there are bits of leftovers to use up. When you say "leak" are you referring to watery run-off (from spinach, i.e.) or filling that escapes the bounds of the crust? I'm thinking the second issue (when I encounter it anyway) is because the edges always sink more than I think they're going to during pre-baking, so the filling overflows.

                                                                              Waiting for a library copy of Around My French Table, so I don't know her ingredient list--but I assume the (non-cheese) dairy ingredient is all cream? I've found the leaks stop if I replace some (or all) of the cream with yogurt--maybe not as silky, but that quiche looks [delicious] pretty full of veg and meat and cheese as is, and I don't miss it.

                                                                              I think it is a matter of either thickening the filling (yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, chevre) or leaving some leeway between top of the crust and the filling. Or, you can accept the leak and plan for it :)

                                                                              Looks so good! I think I know what I'm doing with tonight's leftover asparagus...

                                                                              1. re: Esculenta

                                                                                Yes, definitely it was the second issue. iIthink that in the pre-baking the crust formed some hair-line cracks. I tried plugging them with the spinach, hoping it would hold until the custard set, but no luck. Your suggestion of a yogurt addition might well have done the trick. I'll keep it in mind.

                                                                                I liked the texture and taste of this crust better than my usual tart shell pastry, but it is a very dry raw dough, I wonder if that is the issue. Anyway, if you do make it I'd love to hear how it goes. good luck.

                                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                                  A quick, easy way to seal a prebaked crust is to brush both bottom and sides with a beaten egg white. Some recommend baking the crust after brushing with the egg white for a few minutes to set it, but that's not necessary if the filling has to be baked anyway. I've also seen tips recommending use of a whole egg, but when I first learned this it suggested egg white so that's just the way I've always done it.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    That is exactly the kind of tip I was looking for...bless you!

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      Great tip Joan, thanks so much! btw, as of yesterday, I now have all my "new to me" Giobbi books and I'm just loving the illustrations at a very quick and cursory glance! Thanks so much for your recommendation.

                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                        Giobbi is a treasure. I have only a couple, but they're well loved. Perhaps I should add to the collection while I still can.

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          He's an artist as well as a gastronome, and at least one of his children has followed him into the food game.

                                                                                2. Tuna-Packed Piquillio Peppers p. 174

                                                                                  Simply delicious. The filling is made with tuna (Bonito del Norte), capers, minced shallots, olives (I’ve tried this with nicoise and oil-cured black- liked both), minced parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, piment d’espelette and olive oil. I like to make the tuna in advance giving the flavors a chance to meld and it is good enough to eat on it’s own. The tuna is then stuffed into piquillo peppers which add a sweet and smoky flavor with a little bite. I like to eat these at room temperature rather than warming them through.

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                                    Thanks for the great review BigSal, these are on my list and I've made note of your very good idea to make the filling ahead to let the flavours develop...good call!!

                                                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                                                      Tuna-Packed Piquillo Peppers
                                                                                      I forgot to post this when I made it, so here it is now. I had tuna leftover from the tuna confit (reviewed here; http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758... ) and I used that instead of canned tuna. I just broke the steak up with a fork and added the other ingredients. BigSal nicely describes the ingredients and the method, so I won't go into that further. I did put this under the broiler to heat up briefly, but I think it would also be good at room temperature. I added a little dab of the preserved lemon/sundried tomato/onion mixture from the confit on the side of the peppers. A nice little tapa dish with strong, compelling flavors, plus those little stuffed peppers are pretty darn cute.

                                                                                       
                                                                                       
                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                        That looks beautiful, L.Nightshade! I love your cazuela....your presentation always looks stunning! (I also very much enjoyed your tagine and servingware from another post; one day, I'd like to have a worldwide repertoire of serving dishes, as well)

                                                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                          Thank you Allegra_K! I just came home after a rough day, and your compliments lifted my spirits!

                                                                                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                          Wow - stunning photos and settings again Nightshade! Are you a professional food stylist? Sure looks like it!

                                                                                          1. re: audreyhtx1

                                                                                            Thanks so much! My photos are pretty hit and miss, but I'm having a great time doing it! I am a painter (rather inactive at present), Mr. Nightshade says I'm putting my art into my food these days.

                                                                                      2. We made the Côte d'Azur Cure-All Soup and the Paris Mushroom Soup.

                                                                                        Followed the Cure-All recipe almost exactly - we were a little weirded out by the thought of the egg yolks in the soup, though we love Spaghetti Carbonara so we thought we'd give it a try (the barely cooked yolk kind of thing...) We opted for just 3 yolks, and the one change we made was to toss in some fresh green garlic with the cloves and a little more on top as garnish. Delicious! It was light tasting but filling and really did feel like a cure-all. We often make garlic-heavy recipes if we're feeling under the weather, and this is our new standby. Easy and quick as well, which is great for both weeknights and especially if you are indeed feeling a little poorly and don't want to fuss with something time consuming.

                                                                                        We modified the Paris Mushroom soup a bit because we had just gotten a bag of mixed mushrooms from the farmer's market - brown, white, shitakes, I think there was an oyster mushroom in there and an Enoki... Obviously the blend of mushrooms is going to give a more woodsy complex flavor than white buttons, but oh my goodness the soup was divine. We had soup night and made both of these the same day, intending to save some for lunch, and we couldn't. We floated away from the table. Really excellent, and again, very simple.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: thursday

                                                                                          Thank you, thursday--I was wondering about especially about the "cure all", it seemed to good to be true!

                                                                                        2. A series of first courses for dinner, multiple recipes.
                                                                                          I finished work unexpectedly early, so I decided to play in the kitchen. We will be out dancing later in the evening, so I wanted to prepare a dinner that would allow us to eat a small amount beforehand, and have something later if we wanted to snack when we got home. There had been several first course appetizers or sides that I'd wanted to try, so I made several of them for dinner.

                                                                                          I started with the Lyonnaise Garlic and Herb Cheese, page 20
                                                                                          I used ricotta (homemade thanks to Breadcrumbs' posting the recipe) which had already had a long nap in a cheesecloth hammock, so I didn't drain it further. The cheese is simply mixed with chopped shallot and garlic, fresh herbs, a little vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper. My market, which always has it, was out of tarragon. The produce man said everyone was asking for it. So maybe some pop star on the food network is hyping it up. I used fresh chives and parsley, and threw in a small amount of dried tarragon. You could probably use any combination of herbs you like for this. This goes into the refrigerator to mature for a few hours. It comes out great! It's a recipe you could play with a lot, more garlic, cracked pepper, etc. It has a lighter, crisper feel than the boursin you buy in the market. A success here.

                                                                                          I also made the Sardine Rillettes. This dish has been well covered but I added my two cents here:
                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

                                                                                          The next course was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup Sans Cream, page 68.
                                                                                          I love pureed vegetable soups, and this one was no exception. Onion, garlic, celery and fresh thyme are sautéed (I used only olive oil, Dorie calls for half butter) and they sweat for 20 minutes. Then cauliflower and chicken stock go in to simmer for another 20 minutes. While the recipe called for six cups of stock, I added only four. When I make pureed soup I start with less liquid. I like a thicker soup, and stock can always be added later if needed. When the cauliflower is soft, the soup is pureed. I used an immersion blender which is said to be less than ideal, but the texture seemed fine.
                                                                                          Dorie offers several possible toppings for the soup, I chose a little bit of sour cream and a little bit of caviar (the cheap stuff). That is another reason I didn't want the soup too thin, I didn't want a plop of caviar to just sink to the bottom of a bowl of liquid.
                                                                                          I liked this more than Mr. Nightshade did, although it grew on him. But, as I said, I love pureed veg soups, and I thought this one had a very nice flavor, and a creamy mouth feel without any cream.

                                                                                          With the soup I served mini chard pancakes, a recipe also well covered in another review, so I posted to that thread here:
                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...

                                                                                          So, in sum, a fun day cooking and an enjoyable, varied dinner.

                                                                                           
                                                                                           
                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                            Wow LN, what an amazing array of dishes you made. Your soup looks outstanding, what beautiful plating!! So glad you made the ricotta w success too. I'll have to try that Herb Cheese recipe. . . I missed it somehow so thank-you!! Can't wait to read your other reviews!

                                                                                            btw LN, I'm having the same issue w tarragon. . . .what the heck is going on?? I've tried several stores now and there's none to be found!

                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                              Thanks, Breadcrumbs. The herb and garlic cheese is a definitely a fun spin-off from your ricotta recipe. Odd about the tarragon, I didn't realize there was an international shortage!

                                                                                            2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                              I must make that cauliflower soup. You're a dab hand at finding appealing recipes, L.Nightshade!

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                Thanks, Buttertart. I look forward to reading your take on the soup when you make it. I'm looking forward also to warming up the leftover soup!

                                                                                            3. Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup – p. 98 (Soups)

                                                                                              Despite the sunny skies, there was still a crispness in the air today so a spicy soup definitely seemed appropriate, especially since I’m made a note that this looked like it would be quick and easy to prepare.

                                                                                              This is definitely one of my favourite dishes from this book; I just loved it! Hot, sour, salty and sweet; this soup had it all . . . in spades! Note I didn’t say “we” loved it. Mr bc gave me a “yeah, I like it” which is a 10/10 at casa bc since he hates coconut milk and, brace yourselves, isn’t a fan of soup!! . . . much to my dismay of course. Nonetheless, it passed the mr bc taste test and that’s a win in my books!! Oh, and another plus . . . it’s super easy and quick to prepare, just as I’d hoped.

                                                                                              Prep really is straightforward. Spices are measured and tied in cheesecloth (or placed in a spice ball in my case). An onion, garlic and ginger are chopped. Chicken broth, brown sugar and lime juice are measured. Spices, onion garlic, ginger and some dried chilies (I used 3 fresh Thai bird chilies which I chopped), chicken broth and coconut milk are all placed in a soup pot or Dutch oven The mixture is then seasoned w fish sauce, brown sugar and salt (which I skipped given the use of fish sauce which I find to be salty enough). The pot is then placed stove-top and brought to a boil, then turned to a simmer before adding chicken breasts which are then poached in the covered pot for 15 or 20 mins or until cooked through. The chicken is then removed from the pot to cool and the heat is turned off the soup. DG notes you can make the dish ahead to this point, good to know. While the chicken cools, rice noodles are prepared then rinsed under cold water and drained. Chicken is shredded (DG suggests using your fingers but I find a fork to be more effective). Soup is then returned to a boil, turned to a simmer before adding the chicken and noodles to heat through. Fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro (I used basil instead) and S&P if using, are added to taste before plating. Optional garnishes are basil and mint leaves, lime wedges, bean sprouts, Hoisin sauce and chili oil.

                                                                                              I can’t say enough good things about this. If you like spicy food, I’d definitely recommend using the Thai bird chilies vs the dried as they added a wonderful warmth to the broth. I added 3 tbsp of lime juice to the finished pot and passed the remainder at the table so folks could add more if they elected to. The chili oil was a nice touch on top and since I only used 2 tbsp of the fish sauce (in total), we stirred a little Hoisin in our individual bowls. As you’ll see in the photos, I used the “large” rice vermicelli and we liked the texture it added to the bowl. Two spoons up, this is a great meal that I’d be happy to make again.

                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                               
                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                Looks/sounds delicious, another goodie, Breadcrumbs!

                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                  Are the Thai bird chiles something you buy fresh? I see them mentioned a lot on these boards, but I've yet to find them in a market.

                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                    Hi LN, yes you purchase them fresh. They're my absolute favourite chili. Donna Hay first introduced me to them and I've never looked back. I've pasted a link to a photo I found online for your reference. They tend to be 1 inch to 1.5 inches in length. I hope that helps.

                                                                                                    http://www.tastespotting.com/detail/3...

                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                      Thanks, Breadcrumbs. Cute little peppers! Maybe I'll have more luck when I get to an asian market.

                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                        FWIW...the chilies can also be purchased dried. I have a bag of the dried in my pantry, and in the freezer there are TBCs I've bought fresh then froze for later use.

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          btw Gio, DG also provides a "Curried" variation of this soup in the book...I'm just saying! ; - )

                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                            tkx, BC. It's aleady on my to make list. (^_^)

                                                                                                  2. Garbure from the supermarket...page 86

                                                                                                    Yesterday was dark, blustery and stormy out here on the island, so it was a perfect day to make this hearty soup of winter vegetables and ham. One duck leg and one garlic sausage are also called for, but listed as optional. Well every time I tried to get the ducks in the yard, they ran away, so they're safe....for now.

                                                                                                    The recipe calls for either pork shoulder or a a ham bone. No ham bones around, so I got some thick slices of deli ham to dice up and add to the soup. Lo and behold, the deli had Pancetta for the first time in 9 months, so I picked up a half-inch slice of that too. I diced that up and started the recipe by browning those smoky bits. They are removed and then onions, shallots, leeks and garlic are added to the pot. When they have cooked for 10 minutes, carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips and cabbage are all added along with broth or water. Cannelini beans go in here too. If using the ham bone, it goes in here also. So back in went the pancetta along with the diced ham.

                                                                                                    This is simmered, partially covered for a long time. The recipe calls for 3 hours. With 2 hours to go, one adds salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes. This needed very little salt and just a few dashes of Tabasco. With one hour to go, one is supposed to add the duck leg and the sliced up garlic sausage. My soup was plenty done after 2 hours of simmering.

                                                                                                    This recipe met my greatest expectations for a warm bowl of reeeaaallly delicious soup. Of course how could one go wrong with Pancetta in there....

                                                                                                    Served with: Saint-germain-des-prés onion biscuits page 8.

                                                                                                    I guess this is pretty much a regular biscuit recipe with the addition of [small] diced and cooked onion. I don't know....it's been years and years since I made biscuits. Don't know why. These were very easy to execute, and one gets to rub the butter into the flour with one's fingers - so fun to make too.

                                                                                                    I will never again use the mental excuse that one can only make good biscuits in the South. They were excellent up here in the Northeast. A keeper recipe!

                                                                                                    Here's my not-so-well-staged picture:

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                      Great report and what a scrumptious meal, perfect for a blustery day. Your biscuits look perfect clams! Like you, I haven't made them in a while but I'll be keeping my eye on that recipe. You've got me craving them! What island are you on?

                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                        I'm on Block Island. It's usually a wonderful place to be, but yesterday was just nasty! And run to that biscuit recipe. I think I've avoided making biscuits because the last time I tried them they were awful....but since then i've learned that baking powder has a shelf life....

                                                                                                        BTW, DG says these freeze well before baking, and can subsequently just be popped onto a baking sheet, still frozen, when needed.

                                                                                                        1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                          I Googled it cc and Block Island does look lovely but I know what it's like when winds pick up, especially on the coast.

                                                                                                          Thanks for sharing that those biscuits can be frozen before baking . . . that's a great tip. I love having things in the freezer that can be pulled out in a pinch if guests drop by or, inspiration fails and you want a quick meal/snack. Thanks!

                                                                                                      2. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                        Loved reading your report, clams, and the photo looks very homemade in New England, if you ask me. Yesterday I read through that recipe thinking I had most of the ingredients at hand, but didn't. As for the biscuits, the last time I made biscuits was when I was doing the Bon Appetit Y'All cooking back in April/May 2009... I must read DG's recipe now that you're endorsing it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          Aww, shucks, thanks Gio. The RI library system took over 3 weeks to deliver the book, and I just got it on Friday. Looking forward to jumping in!

                                                                                                          1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                            Good... welcome aboard then.

                                                                                                            (BTW: My mother Summered on Block Island in the late '20's - early '30s.)

                                                                                                      3. Café-Style Grated Carrot Salad p. 107

                                                                                                        Grated carrots are tossed with a vinaigrette made of olive oil (Dorie suggests grapeseed oil), Dijon mustard, honey, cider vinegar (I used lemon juice), salt, pepper and parsley. This was a fresh, crunchy salad. I quite liked it, but my husband was not as excited by it, although he is not much of a raw vegetable fan. I found that I like the salad even more after it has marinated a little bit. The carrots still have some texture, but the flavors have a chance to marry a bit. Dorie also suggests raisins and walnuts as additions to the salad - maybe next time.

                                                                                                        1. Cheating-On-Winter Pea Soup p.59

                                                                                                          Finally picked up this book at the library, and even though it was late, I just had to try something from the pages today. After gazing longingly at all the beautiful desserts, I convinced myself that there was already enough nutella in my diet and that it was time for some vegetables.
                                                                                                          Hence the soup.
                                                                                                          This was a perfect quick, light meal. I was a bit skeptical about the recipe at first because it only lists a few ingredients, but I suppose when they are high quality, it doesn't matter. I had some lovely, recently-made chicken broth that I used as the base, which was added after sauteeing an onion with butter. Since I halved the recipe, I just estimated the amount of peas to go in-probably about 2-1/2 c.-along with half a head of romaine lettuce. I've never used cooked lettuce in a soup before, but I needn't have worried. It gave a fresh, vegetal flavour that went well with the peas. After a quick simmer in the pot, the contents are then pureed. I tried an immersion blender, but ended up using my food processor to obtain a smoother texture. Added a dollop of sour cream. Served warm. A very nice tasting soup. And may I add--easy, 'peas'y! (ba-dum tish!)

                                                                                                          Socca from Vieux Nice p. 51

                                                                                                          This is a crumbly chickpea flour-based crepe. Very easy to throw together, just water, chickpea flour, olive oil, s+p, and rosemary, although the batter does have to sit for a couple of hours before cooking. The batter is then poured (quickly!) onto a preheated, oiled pizza pan and baked at high heat, then broiled until starting to burn in spots. I liked it straight out of the oven, still sizzling, still crispy, still burning my fingertips. The trick is to have the batter evenly spread; I had thicker, less alluring pieces that were ignored. The thin, crispy, slightly burn-y edges were highly coveted. A decent snack that would probably have been better if I had a thinner crepe. Alas. Still good with plenty of pepper!

                                                                                                           
                                                                                                           
                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                            Really nice report, Allegra, and lovely photos too. That Socca from Vieux looks and sounds delicioua..

                                                                                                            The first time I made a peas and lettuce recipe was when Gourmet Today was COTM in June 2010. I was totally surprised at how tasty the combination of ingredients were. I'll have to take a look at the Cheating-on-winter recipe ASAP.

                                                                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                              I put lettuce in my quick-lose-5-pounds-haha diet soup
                                                                                                              (chicken broth, onions, lots of lettuce, curry powder)
                                                                                                              and it is delicious! Emeril Lagasse has a creamy lettuce soup that's very good too.

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                Actually, that sounds like a good way to use up all the various green leafy veggies languishig in the fridge...

                                                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                  I love lettuce soup! Skeptical at first, but instantly won over.

                                                                                                                2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                  Cheating on Winter Pea Soup
                                                                                                                  Just a brief note, I used this soup as a sauce for the Cod and Spinach Roulades, reviewed here if you are interested:
                                                                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7758...
                                                                                                                  This soup looks so bright and pretty as it starts to cook, and it makes a nice sauce for fish!

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                3. Cheese-Topped Onion Soup p.56

                                                                                                                  Dear leftover onion soup,

                                                                                                                  Although you were beautiful to look at, and showed such promise at the beginning, I'm afraid we're through. Don't worry; it's not you, it's me. After many heart-wrenching failed attempts to procure a soup of onions worthy of my affection, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that you are I are never meant to be. I lovingly sliced and slowly, painstakingly caramelized the bulbs for over two hours, waiting for the time when the colour would change from pine to mahogany. I used my best homemade chicken broth, some lovely dry white wine, freshly baked country bread, and cave-aged gruyère, but it just wasn't enough. Even the splash of cognac in the bottom of the soup bowl did nothing to kindle a fire. There was hope in the form of bubbling cheese on toasted bread under the broiler, but even that fell short. With such a wonderful recipe, I can only deduce that I just do not like you, onion soup, regardless of the ingredients or method.
                                                                                                                  I hope that you find someone who can appreciate you for who you truly are.

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                    Oh Dear. So sad. Such a short time on earth.
                                                                                                                    Resquescat in pace darling Cheese-Topped Onion Soup on page 56...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                      condolences.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                        awwwww, loves labor lost.....:{

                                                                                                                      2. Provençal Olive Fougasse ... page 48 ...

                                                                                                                        I made a half recipe, one "loaf" rather than two.

                                                                                                                        This is a flat bread made with olive oil and black olives--rosemary and lemon zest for flavor.

                                                                                                                        I just don't like rosemary -- resinous and perfumey -- so I used oregano.

                                                                                                                        (My real name is Rosemary, sad, huh?)

                                                                                                                        The bread is a yeast bread and rose beautifully in about 1 1/2 hours. Then it gets chilled for 6 hours (not sure why--anybody?) Then rolled out and slit in a leaf or ladder pattern--brushed with more oil and sprinkled with coarse salt. No rules on shape, I think--just so it has several slits, and you tug a little to open these. The book says it won't get too brown--mine didn't, but the one in the book did, grumble grumble.

                                                                                                                        The bread is flavorful! Makes me wish I could be sure I'm using the best olives, the best oil, etc.

                                                                                                                        D. Greenspan, haha elite that she is, likes this "on its own" with a glass of wine.

                                                                                                                        But I turned to page 19 and made a bowl of canned chickpea hummus, it's very good with the bread.

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                          That's a beauriful bread, blue room (or should I call you Oregano? [g]). It sounds delicious.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                            Oregano Clooney, that'd be a lyrical beaut of a name, huh?

                                                                                                                          2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                            There's a delightful French cooking program on the Cooking Channel called French Cooking at Home with hostess Laura Calder. She has made the fougasse and it looked quite similar to yours. She made a "big thing" about getting the leaf shape just right. Here's her recipe:

                                                                                                                            http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipes/App...

                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                              I see that I should have "opened" the bread up more, and made it flatter. In a book I have called "Flatbreads & Flavors" this fougasse is subtitled "Olive Ladder Bread." Next time I'll be bolder with the rusticity :)

                                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                You shouldn't worry at all blue room (um, oregano). Yours is gorgeous.

                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                  Oh I do agree LLM... it's interesting, though, to see how others have interpreted a recipe...

                                                                                                                            2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                              That looks great, and I'm with you on the rosemary, Rosemary!

                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                Tonight:

                                                                                                                                I am finally breaking my silence to post that tonight I am having 22 people over for Passover dinner. I am serving a one pot main course from last month's COTM (Jaime's lamb neck stew) and along side it Dorie's quinoa with dried fruit and nuts (mine will have pine nuts, pecans and pistachios, apricots golden raisins and sour cherries); Dorie's strawberry, mozzarella and cherry tomato salad; and finally, Dorie's chocolate mousse for dessert. Can't wait!!

                                                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                  Chag Sameach. DK. Your dinner sounds delicious.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                    Thank you Gio. I just got back from the Farmer's Market where I bought 3 different sizes and shapes of cherry tomatoes for the salad (orange, red, and a deeper red), along with perfect, fragrant strawberries, so I have high hopes for the salad. Plus, I have the oven on Sabbath mode (where it turns itself off) so I came home to aromas of lamb, corriander, rosemary, onions and garlic wafting through the hallways. Yum!

                                                                                                                                  2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                    YUM.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                      The whole thing sounds just perfect, I'll be watching here for your comments with interest.
                                                                                                                                      Completely missed J. Oliver's lamb stew, I'll check it out!

                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                        Reporting back after dinner which by the way was a huge success. Every recipe was a keeper.

                                                                                                                                        The quinoa is an amazing dish. I served it as described above with a baby green salad on the side lightly dressed with lemon infused olive oil and a lemon vinegar. I served greek yogurt alongside as well. Nothing to add except this is a perfect buffet choice. Beautiful to look at, delicious to taste.

                                                                                                                                        The strawberry tomato salad was a show stopper. Really pretty on the plate with the orange, red, and deeper red tomatoes, fragrant strawberries and hand pulled mozzarella. All my ingredients were at the peak of season (I am in L.A.) and as it says in the book, it made all the difference.

                                                                                                                                        The chocolate mousse was also a big hit. I didn't love it, but everyone else did.

                                                                                                                                        All three dishes were super easy to put together.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                          I have to look up that stew recipe, DK. We're going to our daughter's house today but that lamb dish will be perfect for us later this week. I'm glad your dinner was such a success.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                            Wow you're very prompt, dkennedy... thanks for getting back.
                                                                                                                                            "...red and deeper red..." It'll be fun choosing tomatoes for this!
                                                                                                                                            I don't know how the bejeweled quinoa will be greeted by my non-adventurous Mr., but I want to try it.

                                                                                                                                  3. Quiche Maraîchère page 158

                                                                                                                                    I wanted to test the filling for this before I committed to baking a crust -- unnecessary test, I know, but I'm glad I did, makes tweaking easier. So for now, this is *crustless quiche* -- just as nice as it could be, finely diced celery, leeks, red bell pepper, and carrot. Cook in butter 'til soft, season. I divided these vegetables into 2 small baking dishes and poured the cream mixture over each--

                                                                                                                                    Cream, (I used half & half), and 1 egg and 1 yolk (I used 2 eggs instead). Bake, sprinkle with cheese, bake a bit more.

                                                                                                                                    The cheeses mentioned are Gruyère or Cheddar, I used a mix of Cheddar and Swiss.

                                                                                                                                    The taste is of course a mild experience, I was almost sorry I topped them with cheese -- could have tasted the vegetables more.

                                                                                                                                    I think guests especially would be pleased to see the trouble you took to provide a confetti-filled tart. D. Greenspan notes that there's a lot more vegetable than custard, = a little bit o' healthy.

                                                                                                                                    Would definitely make again -- next time in a buttery crust.

                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                      Crustless quiche in a cazuela! I love this idea. A crustless quiche in a pie plate looks so sad, but these look lovely. I'm learning something new every day in COTM. Half of my cooking is gluten free, so I will definitely try your crustless "test" method.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                        Another recipe I have yet to try...and the cazuelas are a super idea for that dish, BR. Just yesterday I was searching for the same dishes. What size did you use?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                          The use of cazuelas was just a happy accident, but the thick pottery and straight sides worked well. These, which I got here http://www.tienda.com/table/cazuelas....

                                                                                                                                          are 8 inches, but the *inside* measurement is actually only 6 3/4" across.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                          These sound great br and, I love your idea of making a crustless version! Beautiful!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                            Quiche Maraîchère page 158
                                                                                                                                            Blueroom described this well ... more vegetable than egg.

                                                                                                                                            I made the tart dough and had some trouble with it. It just would not roll out without cracking and I ended up having to do a lot of patching. I think the dough needed a little more water, but I'm so bad at judging this and I don't make pastry enough to really nail it down.

                                                                                                                                          2. Celery-Celery Soup ... with curried apple ... page 65

                                                                                                                                            Great-great soup-soup. It contains both celeriac and celery, explains the name. Also apple and onion, chicken broth, thyme and bay. No milk or cream, but you'd swear it was in there.

                                                                                                                                            After simmering for about half an hour you make it smooth with whatever tool/machine you use for that. My immersion blender worked fine, took just a few seconds. The apples I used were Gala -- the thyme dried, the chicken broth canned -- and still I'd call this impressive. As a "bonne idees" side note, D. Greenspan dices apple small, cooks just a for a short time in butter and curry powder. Put a spoonful in the bowl before the hot soup goes in--very nice touch!

                                                                                                                                            Oh -- this http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ti...

                                                                                                                                            was helpful when faced with the rough rough root root.

                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                              Oh that looks and sounds scrumptious blue room! Just lovely, I can imagine how well all those flavours would work together.

                                                                                                                                            2. Leek and Potato Soup, Chunky and Hot p. 66

                                                                                                                                              In my failed love affair with french onion soup, I found solace with a creamy bowl of softened leeks and potatoes speckled with woodsy herbs.
                                                                                                                                              The night starts with the well-known dance of butter and chopped onions with a hint of garlic, swirling in harmony until softened. Thinly sliced leeks are added (I wish there were more, maybe doubled) along with the old companion, reliable baking potatoes, peeled and cubed. I doubled to increase the viscosity of the dish. Milk and chicken broth are stirred in, along with the musty, earthy flavours of thyme sprigs and sage leaves. The blend is left to simmer in the pot until 'mashably soft'. After a top-up with salt and pepper, the soup is ladled out. I capped the bowl off with a liberal toss of crusty butter-herb sauteed croutons, a sprinkling of picked thyme leaves and minced chives, and slivers of parmesan. C'est Magnifique!

                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                Trop beau Alegra!! Truly, a lovely photo and a great review. So glad you tried this, I have the "w Fennel" version on the menu this week and wondered how it would all turn out. I think I'll up the ante w the leeks per your suggestion and since we adore all things leek-y!

                                                                                                                                                Nothing like the warm embrace of a potato leek soup to make things right in the world!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                  Very lovely, soup and photo. Your entries are such enjoyable reads!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                    Merci, Mademoiselles Breadcrumbs et L.Nightshade! Thanks for enduring my odes to soup and other nerdy tales. I'm sure there's plenty more to come!

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for posting this, Allegra. I have 2-3 leeks sitting in the fridge - must go to the store to get sage and potatoes (I only have baby ones on hand). I like riced potato in soups and mash better than mashed - will report later if I get around to it. Very inspiring photo!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, nice nice picture!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                                                        Leek and Potato Soup – w Fennel – p. 67

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks to Allegra’s beautiful description of the prep process, I needn’t repeat anything here. The only change I made was to adopt DG’s “Bonne Idee” of adding fennel to this soup. The fennel is sliced thinly and added at the same time as the onions.

                                                                                                                                                        When it comes to serving, DG also provides options noting that the soup can be served as is (which is what Allegra did above) or, you can mash the veg or, she says her preferred choice is to puree the soup. Since mr bc doesn’t love soup and, the likelihood he’ll enjoy it increases if the soup is creamy, I decided to go the puree route. We skipped the croutons as I was serving this w sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                        So, what’s the verdict? Unfortunately we didn’t love this. Even w the addition of the fennel, it was a bit bland for our tastes. On the up side, it was quick, easy to prepare and nourishing . . . just not fantastic for us. I don’t think I’d make this again.

                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                          Too bad you didn't like this. Nice presentation, however, so restrained and elegant. Allegra did the country French presentation and you did the city bistro presentation. Perfect illustration of the possible variations.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Gougeres

                                                                                                                                                        I was unable to get to the library in time to snag this book for the month, but I found a recipe online.

                                                                                                                                                        http://minneapolishunter.com/2010/12/...

                                                                                                                                                        I've actually never made gougeres before so I decided to halve the recipe just in case things went horribly wrong. The recipe calls for water, butter and salt to come to a rolling boil. You then dump all the flour (i used a little more than 1/2 cup due to the egg ratio) in at once. While stirring vigorously. And turning the stove to low all at the same time. Eek. Task overload. I just took the pan off the heat while I dumped in the flour and stirred for a couple minutes to dry out the dough a bit.

                                                                                                                                                        Next came the eggs. The recipe calls for 5, so I erred on the side of more egg and used 3, put in one at a time. I tried a couple different methods since I couldn't get the egg to incorporate correctly. First a small wooden spoon, then a whisk, and finally a rubber spatula. The dough finally came together and I tossed in the 3/4 cup of grated cheese. I never have the right cheese on hand, so I used a couple slices of smoked gouda (cut up), and about a 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                        By this time, my arm was killing me. Stirring thick dough by hand is harder than it seems. I really wished I had a mixer to use as suggested in the recipe. Made 1 tbsp size doughballs and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Ended up with 18. Baked in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                        Out came the lightest, loveliest, and tastiest little puffs of cheesy goodness. I think I will do a full recipe next time, as the egg ratio seemed a bit off. My gougeres were quite yellow inside.

                                                                                                                                                        I have pictures and will try to post them later. After I've eaten the rest of the gougeres. They go down surprisingly fast.

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soypower

                                                                                                                                                          Made a full batch of this today for the Christmas buffet table. Soy above outlined the process quite well. I am not absolutely sure that I cooked the flour quite long enough before starting the egg addition. I used a stand mixer for that part. As she warns, the mixture broke around egg number 3, and reintegrated at egg 5. I prepared two full sheet trays and still had a ton of batter left. Threw those two into the oven and then dropped some to freeze.

                                                                                                                                                          I used a 5 year old aged Canadian cheddar cheese. These cheese puffs are miraculous! So completely and totally delicious. I can't wait to have a reason to serve these again.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Savory Cheese and Chive Bread, p. 34 (I think...too lazy to go back and look)

                                                                                                                                                          This was very good and reminded me of quick breads my mother used to make. It's simple and easy to put together. I served it with a big salad which included some chunks of leftover BBQ pork I made the night before (marinated in crushed bay leaf, thyme, sage, garlic, cumin and olive oil).

                                                                                                                                                          I had some ementhaler (sp?) and some sharp cheddar, so I grated them both and mixed them in. I had no chives and so used some green onions and some chopped red onion I also had on hand.

                                                                                                                                                          It was also extremely good next day as toast.

                                                                                                                                                          I love this kind of quick bread and it'll become a staple at our house.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                                                            Glad somebody tried this. I'd been on the fence about whether to give it a go. Sounds like it is worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Salmon Rillettes p. 26

                                                                                                                                                            I made this today as part of our Christmas brunch table. The first step is to create the poaching liquid, and then cubed fresh salmon is poached for one minute. This is then combined with smoked salmon, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, shallots, and a chili pepper. Since one guest can't handle any chilis, I substituted capers. At the very end, you add the five tablespoons of butter.

                                                                                                                                                            No, this isn't a real rillette, but it is darn good! Served with thin little rye crackers and people couldn't eat enough of this. This is another great appetizer to put into the rotation.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Ricotta-Filled Zucchini Blossoms - p. 187 (Bonne Idee for Shrimp-Filled Zucchini Blossoms)

                                                                                                                                                              I saw some zucchini blossoms at the farmer's market yesterday and couldn't resist buying them. I've never made them before, so I turned to EYB for suggestions. As luck would have it, I'd also picked up some local sheep's milk ricotta from the market to go with the garlic scape pesto recipe mentioned in the CTN thread. I put my bf to work making this while I worked on the rest of the dinner and we finished about the same time, so the prep is a bit involved, but it's worth the effort.

                                                                                                                                                              To make the filling, ricotta, egg yolk, finely minced shallot, and minced herbs (he used basil and mint) are whisked together until smooth. Per her suggestion, he also seasoned with a dash of cayenne. The blossoms are then wiped clean, pried open, pistils and stamen removed, and the filling placed inside, twisting gently to seal. To make the batter, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper are whisked together and then club soda is added and whisked until the consistency of heavy cream. In a skillet (she suggests large, we used small to reduce the oil amount), pour in 1/2" oil and heat until hot. Dip the blossoms in the batter, fry on both sides, and drain on a paper towel lined plate. She suggests serving with mayo or other sauces, but honestly, ours didn't need it. The blossoms came out incredibly light and the filling was fantastic with the fresh herbs. I didn't get much of the cayenne but didn't miss it. I think a good quality ricotta is key on this. I'd make this again (or get him to make it again).

                                                                                                                                                              1. Provencal Vegetable Soup (page 83)

                                                                                                                                                                This is a great late summer soup with lots of fresh vegetables. The broth (I used chicken) is bolstered by aromatics and herbs (onion, garlic, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, and a bay leaf). It is loaded with vegetables (carrots, potato, green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, corn) along with pasta and chickpeas. You top it with basil pesto and parmigiano. It is really flavorful.

                                                                                                                                                                1. you know, there have been so many raves about this book (which I think I was out of town during the month of, or about to go out of town) and I see it is on kindle. This might just be my first kindle cookbook. Seriously, it seems like everyone loves the stuff in it. Any detractors?

                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: this is a the perfect example of why it is always a good idea to go ahead and post to an old COTM thread.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Cheez-It-Ish crackers
                                                                                                                                                                    page 10

                                                                                                                                                                    Foodelf on EYB states that s/he reviewed these crackers here, but I can't find that review so I am starting a new entry.

                                                                                                                                                                    Very cold [frozen] butter, gruyere cheese, salt, freshly found white pepper and Aleppo peppers are pulsed in the food processor until you have that sand texture, or what she calls curds. The flour is added and pulsed just until the mixture comes together and curds are formed.

                                                                                                                                                                    The dough is chilled before being rolled out to 1/8" thick and then cut into circles. Suggestions are for a circle about 1 1/4" in diameter, but my smallest biscuit cutter is just a tiny bit bigger and that is what I used.

                                                                                                                                                                    These suckers are AMAZING. In the future, I would use more Aleppo pepper. I can imagine Parmesan with thyme, or aged cheddar crackers as well. These have a huge payoff for very little effort.

                                                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                    20 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                      Cheez-It-Ish Crackers, p. 10

                                                                                                                                                                      I had been considering making these for pre-dinner nibbles, and reading smtucker's report a few days ago sealed the deal. "These suckers are AMAZING," she said, and that pretty much sums it up!

                                                                                                                                                                      They're also extremely easy to make, especially if one takes the easy route, as I did, and uses her sidebar bonne idée and does them slice-and-bake style. I made them with a strong Irish cheddar, and used about 1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper, but could've used more. My butter/cheese mixture clumped up in the FP instead of forming curds, but all was fine once I added the flour.

                                                                                                                                                                      Made with cheddar, these had that familiar cheese cracker flavor (not only of Cheez-Its, but also PF goldfish) but so, so much better. The cold butter gives them a wonderfully flaky texture. No one could leave them be, so if making them for a larger gathering, I'd double the recipe. It'd be super easy and handy to keep logs of this dough in the freezer to bake and serve warm for last-minute nibbles with drinks but they're so addictive I'm not sure that's a good idea!

                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                        Could one of you two give me the amounts needed? These sound so good, and I've been asked to bring some sort of snack to a New Year's Eve family gathering on Tuesday. Children will mostly be eating them so I'm thinking I should go light on the aleppo. Any thoughts? Also thinking I'll go with a good cheddar this time around to make them palatable to the younger set (L aside).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                          I am flipping through AMFT looking for something yummy but healthy to make for work lunches and saw your question. There is a picture of these crackers in the book and they do look amazing :)

                                                                                                                                                                          Here you go:
                                                                                                                                                                          1 stick cold unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                          1/4 lb Gruyere, grated
                                                                                                                                                                          1/2t salt
                                                                                                                                                                          1/8t white pepper
                                                                                                                                                                          pinch of Aleppo or cayenne
                                                                                                                                                                          1C + 2T AP flour

                                                                                                                                                                          Place everything but flour in FP and pulse until butter is broken up into small curds. Add flour and pulse again for a minute or so. Turn the dough out, gently knead to bring together, pat into 2 disks and cool for 1 hour to 3 days. Roll to 1/4", cut into crackers and bake on parchment at 350F for 14-17 min until golden and firm.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                            The only things I'll add to herby's instructions are that the butter is meant to be cut in 16 pieces, and for slice-and-bake crackers, I made two logs of dough about 1 1/4" diameter and froze, then let them sit out for 45 min. or so before slicing 1/4" slices, and these were the perfect size. Oh, and if you think the children will be the ones eating them, well...just don't let the adults near them!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                              That is very smart, Caitlin! I wish I didn't put that junk of Gruyere back on the shelf while grocery shopping yesterday. I thought I was being very "good" but bought very nice European butter and now kick myself. Oh, well, not all is lost - I just need to remember about this recipe :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you both so much. I really appreciate the help. I do think I'll be doing the slice and bake version (thanks for the idea Caitlin) so those instructions help a lot too. So ... do I cut back on the Aleppo? I'm guessing that tiny amount won't really make a big difference, but these kids are not very adventurous eaters and I'd really like for them to be surprised by how much they like something homemade like this.

                                                                                                                                                                                again, big thanks for the help to both of you.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Aleppo is almost nonexistent. Either use far more, or none. If none, I think a sweet paprika would work well. If you have no Gruyere, a nice aged cheddar would be a delicious substitute.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I did the rolled version, but will be tempted by the slice and bake in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am down to blue and would love to make something out of it especially if it could be a cracker that sits comfortably in the freezer until called to duty :) Not this one, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                      It would be delicious! But, you might need to reduce the amount of butter due to the amount of moisture in the blue. I think you could start with a bit less of butter, and then add as needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Tell us how this comes out, because a blue cheese cracker sounds brilliant!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'd love a really good blue cheese cracker! Please try it and let us know herby.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                          It does sound good now that I am thinking about it. Maybe some cracked black pepper instead of Aleppo? I'll post if I make :) Have a few cooking projects planned for today - faro/tuna salad, lentil/cauliflower soup, kale salad and something chickpeas, not sure what yet but probably humous.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                            You are right. Aleppo is not the right flavor profile. Black pepper, dried rosemary, something else if you need something else at all. Really depends on the blue cheese doesn't it? I would taste that all alone, and then imagine what would enhance.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for taking this one for the team!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                                                                              Rosemary? Really? Interesting..., well, maybe... Thank you for the suggestions, SMT! I'll taste as I go.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been lurking here. This cracker sounds wonderful. definitely would have made in days past.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Gio, all is done in FP - maybe G could help make it? Or is it that you do not want to eat it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hah... If we made the crackers herby, I'd definitely eat more than 1 I can assure you. When I go down stairs later today, I look at the recipe. It would be a week-end task I'm sure G would help with. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And how about a walnut half smack in the middle of the cracker if you did it with blue cheese?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good suggestion, LLM, next time I'll try it. So, I made the crackers. Didn't have fresh rosemary but had lovely thyme and put good tablespoon of it in - couldn't taste any! Pepper came through but barely and I am glad I didn't add any salt, it was just right with the saltiness added by the cheese. My blue cheese was old and very dry and regardless of how creamy and high fat the butter was the whole business came out of FP a grainy mess. I added 3 1/2 tablespoons of cold water to made the dough pliable enough to make a log. I put a large log in the freezer and cut the other one after chilling for a couple of hours and baked. It was nice but would've been better if I sliced them thinner and maybe bake at a bit higher temperature. Will try that next time. Definitely good tasty cracker though the colour was somewhat grey, not terribly appealing :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Must've been an "off" cooking day for me - run out of turmeric and my lentil soup that started very prettily with pink lentils ended up sort of beige-y colour - tasted good regardless.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                Big thanks to smtucker and Caitlin McG for their reviews. I needed something fairly easy for a small party with kids who aren't used to eating adventurously. This sounded great (what kid doesn't love goldfish?) and I happened to have a chunk of supermarket sharp cheddar in the fridge. Made these (and included the pinch of Aleppo - agree with Caitlin that next time I'll use more of that) and they were perfect. We all loved them too (you should have seen the family scrabbling for the ones here at home this morning), and agree that we'll make again and again, next time with a stronger cheese. A really delightful little snack that you can throw together easily (although you have to keep in mind the freezing/etc. time). I did the log technique Caitlin mentioned and it worked beautifully. I noticed that the thinner the slice the nicer they were (for me).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm so slow to update anything these days, it's a bit pathetic. As my first batch of these was so successful, I made another batch for a New Year's Day thing (actually, a double batch, of which I still have a third in a log in the freezer). This time I used half aged cheddar and half cheddar with caramelized onions from Trader Joe's, a lot more Aleppo (it showed as red specks in the dough and was definitely detectable), and a tablespoon or so of chopped fresh rosemary. Really good. As smtucker says, there are so many ways you can go with cheese and seasonings, and most are bound to be good.