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May 2011 COTM, PLENTY: Tomatoes, Leaves Cooked and Raw

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  1. This is the reporting thread for this Month's Cookbook of the Month, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The chapter is: Tomatoes, Leaves Cooked and Raw

    1. Am I right in thinking "Tomatoes" and "Leaves Cooked and Raw" are separate chapters? AFAIK tomato leaves are poisonous. (If this is obvious to some of you, please excuse my ignorance.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: al b. darned

        Indeed. Aren't tomatoes in the deadly nightshade family? This may be taking the shoots to roots trend a bit far!

        1. re: al b. darned

          Tomato leaves are definitely poisonous, but it's toxic only in large quantities: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/co...

        2. Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile (US. pg. 140)

          This recipe immediately caught my eye. In the US version, the picture of this dish is on the back cover and I had to find and cook asap.

          And, we loved it. It was a great breakfast dish. I did make some slight changes.

          Saute 3/4 lb of arugula in a large saute pan (I used a one lb). Then, make 4 holes in the wilted arugula and crack an egg in each hole. Place it in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 300 degrees.

          Meanwhile, melt 4 T butter and add kirmizi biber (I used Ottolenghi's suggestion of chile flakes and paprika) until the butter browns. then add chopped sage leaves. Also, on the side, mix 3/4 cup greek yogurt with a chopped garlic clove.

          When the eggs are finished, spoon the yogurt over the dish and then the butter sauce.

          So, the changes, I started the oven at the required 300 degrees. But, it was too low so after 10 minutes, I went to 325. That's what I would start at next time. Also, I moved the wilted arugula into a smaller dish and then cracked the eggs in it. That was a mistake bc the skillet was hot and the dish was not. Next time, I would leave it in the same skillet, despite the bigger size. I also used less yogurt and butter overall.

          Like I said, we loved this. It was so flavorful and a nice way to start the weekend.

           
           
          8 Replies
          1. re: beetlebug

            Thanks so much for that review beetlebug! I went through the book cover-to-cover today and so many dishes caught my eye but like you, I thought this was a stand-out. We'll definitely have this for breakfast this month. I was thinking of doing this w basil instead of sage...how do you think that would be?

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Not sure about the basil substitution. I love fried sage in butter but am not sure how basil would work with butter. It does kill me to buy these herbs right now but it's still to early to plant things in the Northeast.

              1. re: beetlebug

                Hi beetlebug, I didn't remember that the sage was fried. I agree, that just wouldn't work w the basil. I love fried sage as well but I thought mr bc would say this reminded him too much of "Christmas Turkey" . . . maybe I could still go w basil but just not fry it first. A little more "Thai"

            2. re: beetlebug

              Baked Eggs with Yoghurt and Chilli - p. 140

              Made a loose version of this a couple nights ago and loved it. I thought I had everything on hand, but when I opened the fridge, I realized I had only a handful of arugula left and was out of Greek yoghurt. So I supplemented the arugula with some kale and sorrel, and instead of yoghurt, I dotted some fresh goat cheese on top. I also decided I wanted some bread with this, but instead of having it on the side, I tore it up and sprinkled it on top before the dish went in the oven. So I took some liberties with the recipe, that's for sure. What really made this dish, though, was the fried sage and chile butter over the top. I really loved the sage in this dish. Made a nice quick and easy supper.

              1. re: beetlebug

                Baked Eggs with Yogurt and Chile

                Woke up this morning wanting to do something atypical for breakfast. I was happy to see in MelMM's review that the arugula substitution was successful, so I made this with spinach and sorrel. While the spinach turned bright green in the pan, the sorrel immediately turned brown.

                I agree with beetlebug that a 300 degree oven is too slow, at least when you turn the eggs into a cold dish for baking. But I had difficulty with the eggs anyway, by the time the whites had solidified, the yolks were a bit overdone. But still delicious. I used piment d'espelette with chile flakes and sage in the butter. Very tasty. I'll be happy to try this again with arugula (if my market ever again decides to carry it).

                 
                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  I baked mine in the same dish I used on the stove, and didn't have any issues. The recipe says to transfer to another dish, but it seems that this may not be the best solution, based on the reports so far. The key then, would be to have a short-handled skillet to start with that fits well in the oven.

                2. re: beetlebug

                  I've made this a few times since this report. I used the same skillet to crack the eggs and to cook in the oven with much better results. Also, I've set the oven temperature a bit higher, somewhere between 325 - 350.

                  I had a huge amount of greens from the CSA. So, today, instead of the arugula, I used a head of kale, chard and beet greens. There were a lot of greens, probably a bit over a lb. These were just as delicious as the arugula and we felt extra virtuous in eating all these vegetables.

                  Next time, I may also stir fry some garlic before I wilt the greens.

                  This has been a delicious brunchy type of dish for us.

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    I'm so glad you posted this beetlebug! I had shied away from repeating it, but you've confirmed that my problem was probably the cold pan and the slow oven. I, too, have greens from the CSA, so your post is a great reminder of something tasty to do with them!

                3. Lettuce salad, p146

                  I am a salad freak - I just love it and always have. Apparently one of my favourite foods as a small child was salad, especially cucumber! Anyhow, this is a lovely version. I didn't have quite the mix suggested, which is gem, curly lettuce and red endive, so substituted a mixture of cos and lamb's lettuce. I'm sure the suggested mix would be better. You add spring onions (didn't have any so used a shallot), radishes and semi-dried tomatoes. The dressing comprises a garlic clove, lemon juice, olive oil, rapeseed oil and seasoning - the oil in quite modest quantities for an Ottolenghi recipe! Toss your salad and sprinkle capers over the top.

                  Very nice, exploding with flavour, fresh and tangy. Will definitely be making again.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Wow, sounds great gg, how can we resist something "exploding with flavour"! I definitely look forward to trying this one!

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      I made this salad on 8 May and forgot to report but made it again last night to serve with the quesadillas. The first time I had all the various components but yesterday I siimply used bibb lettuce and fresh tomatoes but everything else remained as listed. The dressing is light and refreshing. Instead of rapeseed oil, however, I used extra virgin olive. A fine salad which can be made using a variety of vegetables...

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Lettuce Salad

                        I read greedygirl's review here and decided to throw this together for dinner last night. I had a spring mix of lettuces, and some purple spring onions, but other than that I followed the recipe. I agree with the "exploding with flavour" description. I loved the tomatoes roasted with thyme, I could have eaten an entire plate of them. Mr. Nightshade, however, felt the dressing was too lemony, and consequently the salad too tart. No accounting for taste!

                         
                      2. I just realized that I posted my report on the green pancakes (p. 150 UK) in the wrong thread. I had been thinking it was in the Green Things chapter, but it's in Leaves Cooked and Raw (for the spinach). Here's a link to my report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7819...

                        1. Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato – p. 126

                          I’m a sucker for a lovely photo and this book is chock full of them! In addition to a beautiful picture, Ottolenghi notes “this is probably one of the simplest, yet finest starters you can offer.” . . . Sold! I’ll make that!!

                          As promised, prep is super-simple. Fennel seeds are toasted then transferred to a mortar and pestle to be crushed before combining with fresh lemon zest, basil, oregano, olive oil, grapeseed oil, crushed garlic, sea salt and pepper to make a marinade. Buffalo mozzarella is pulled apart and smeared with the marinade then set aside for at least 15 mins before serving along w some tomato wedges.

                          I was delighted to find that Costco has started selling buffalo mozzarella imported from Italy – for a song I might add! The marinade is full of fresh, vibrant flavours and aromas and together, this dish is like having a lovely plate of sunshine. The additional herbs and lemon zest take this beyond the traditional Caprese salad and really do make this something special.

                          This is the first recipe I’ve made from Plenty and you can bet I’ll be looking for more this weekend because we just loved this one! I’d highly recommend this recipe and will most definitely make it again.

                          I served this as a starter along w some freshly baked (but not by me!) Olive Fougasse. Truly scrumptious!

                           
                           
                           
                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            That looks lovely, and will be on my list come July or so, when local tomatoes really hit their all.

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              I've made this too, BC. It couldn't be simpler, or more gorgeous but your ingredients need to be top-notch.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato, page 126

                                Based on Breadcrumbs' review, this recipe shot to the top of the list. My oregano plant is about to move outdoors, and needed a good trimming. This recipe used those trimmings well!

                                I served the mozzarella/tomato with freshly made Pain Ancienne [by me!], a green salad and a small slice of leftover Eggplant Parmesan.

                                This whole idea of marinating the cheese is fascinating. I can imagine changing the flavors to complement any number of meals. This is worth investigating!

                                Thanks for the tip Breadcrumbs!

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  Marinated Buffalo [Fresh Hand-rolled Cow's Milk] Mozzarella and Tomato pg 126

                                  Made this last night and loved it. Not much to add to Breadcrumbs & Smtucker's excellent reviews above, will say though that with gloriuos late summer tomato it couldn't be beat. Also, at first I thought the marinade might be a bit too salty, but once the tomato was added and served on good toasted bead, I didn't notice the saltiness at all, and would probably still add a little (1/4 tsp) salt to the marinade in the future. And yes I'll definitely make this again.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    Marinated [Buffalo Mozzarella and] Tomato, p. 126

                                    I kind of turned this recipe on its head. I didn't have any mozzarella, buffalo or otherwise, but I did have lots of lovely end-of-season tomatoes. I used the marinade to dress the tomatoes, and let them sit for a few minutes before partaking. It was all delicious.

                                    Photos are of my tomatoes before and after dressing.

                                     
                                     
                                  2. Chard Cakes with Sorrel Sauce, p. 149 (UK ed)

                                    I made a substitution here, of some young tender kale (various types) and spinach for the chard. Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty much as written. These cakes were very heavy on the greens, which is not a bad thing at all. We thought they were delicious, both with the sorrel sauce and on their own. The browned pine nuts added an almost meaty flavor. The cakes alone could be used like a veggie burger - they were that savory. The sorrel sauce, on the other hand, was all about being bright and tart. It was a great contrast to the cakes, but I could also see it doing well with fish. Sorrel has a natural tang to it that makes it a great accompaniment to many dishes. We had some leftover sauce, so I intend to try it with eggs. Should be a good match.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: MelMM

                                      These sound wonderful! I loved the chard pancakes from AMFT, the flavors here sound a bit more complex. I look forward to trying it, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

                                      1. re: MelMM

                                        Chard Cakes with Sorrel Sauce

                                        These are wonderful, just delicious. I was thinking how different this recipe is from many of his, not calling for any fresh herbs, onions, garlic, etc. But they have so much flavor with just the chard, salty cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, pine nuts. As MelMM says, they're all about the greens - they're chard cakes like crab cakes are crab cakes, with the main ingredient as the bulk, with the rest to flavor and fill them out. I did need to add some extra egg to get them to hold together.

                                        This is the first time I've had sorrel that I'm aware of, but it's in season and so I was able to buy some. The sauce is very bright, tart, and tangy, and seemed to work best used sparingly on the cakes. I have leftovers, so I'll get to play with it. May follow Mel's lead and try it with eggs.

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          Here's the online recipe
                                          http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...
                                          and a picture.
                                          Thank you both!

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                            Way after the fact, but I wanted to note that my favorite use for the sorrel sauce, which is made from sorrel with a bit of Greek yogurt and olive oil, was to top sliced avocado. That pairing was just brilliant, the buttery richness of the avocado set off by the bright, tangy, slightly astringent sorrel.

                                        2. Vine Leaf, Herb and Yoghurt Pie - p. 158

                                          My CSA offered fresh grapevine leaves last week, so I jumped on them and the chance to do this recipe. That said, the recipe does say you can use jarred leaves, so don't let a lack of fresh grape leaves scare you off. The grape leaves are steeped in hot water (they almost immediately turn a dull olive green), and then are used to line a shallow baking dish. A mixture of sauteed shallots, toasted pine nuts, greek yoghurt, and copious amounts of herbs are mixed with lemon zest, lemon juice and rice flour. This forms a fairly stiff mixture that is spread over the grape leaves. Then the leaves are folded over the top, and more added to seal it off. Breadcrumbs and a butter/olive oil combo go on top, and the whole "pie" is baked for 40 minutes.

                                          I absolutely loved this. The grape leaves got crisp, almost crunchy, and the yoghurt mixture inside the pie was firm and wonderfully seasoned. This makes a nice starter or even a main dish for a light supper, if accompanied by a pilaf or other substantial side. It's a real winner, so if you are even a little tempted, give it a try.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Grape Leaf, Herb and Yoghurt Pie - (US pg. 158)

                                            Another hit. I have grape leaves growing all over my fence. I've never done anything with them but when I saw this recipe, decided I had to give it a try, especially since I had all the ingredients already.

                                            I did have some minor missteps but with no bad ramifications. I chopped all my herbs and threw them in the bowl. I did the same with the shallots. Then I saw that I had to saute the shallots, d'oh. so, I picked most of the shallots out. Without learning my lesson, I wanted to measure out the flour before I had to measure a wet ingredient. D'oh. I was supposed to add the yogurt, then season and taste. Well, I added the yogurt, seasoned, stirred and hoped for the best. It was fine.

                                            MelMM described this beautifully. It was crisp and delicious and the yogurt turned into such an interesting texture. I never would have guessed it was yogurt. Plus, I loved the pine nuts within.

                                            Some more notes: I subbed cake flour for rice flour and I used a standard pyrex pie dish.

                                            This is a winner and the two of us ate the whole pie.

                                            The first two pictures are the uncooked pie.

                                             
                                             
                                             
                                             
                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              Stunning beetlebug, another one to add to the list! Thank-you.

                                            2. re: MelMM

                                              Vine Leaf, Herb and Yoghurt Pie, p. 158 (UK ed.)

                                              Due to several circumstances, I totally half-assed this recipe: I didn't saute the shallots, I didn't use the pine nuts or melted, I used only the parsley and tarragon (not the parsley or mint), and I baked it at a higher heat for a shorter time. Despite all this, I very much liked the result, and I look forward to making it again, only next time I'll do it closer to as written.

                                            3. Quesadillas, Pg. 134

                                              These were Terrific. Radically simple, even. I used fresh corn tortillas, Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar, and lot's of other delicious ingredients...here's what we did:

                                              Made a paste of:
                                              Cooked black beans, coriander/tumeric/cayenne, a bunch of cilantro, lemon juice and salt. Whizz all this up in a FP, tinned black beans are fine.

                                              Make the salsa:
                                              Bathe sliced red onion in white wine vinegar while the other vegetables are chopped. Scallions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh red chili (I used a jalapeño) cilantro, avocados are chopped then lime juice, salt and the sliced onions are added and everything is gently tossed to combine.

                                              Put it all together:
                                              On a tortilla plop a couple of tablespoons of the black bean paste in the center and spread it to within an inch of the edge, lay some salsa on one side of the paste, then top it with sour cream, freshly grated cheddar, and chopped pickled jalapeños. Fold over the other half. The tortillas were so fresh the edges stuck with just a little pressure.

                                              Cook them on a hot griddle pan a couple of minutes on each side. I didn't bother slicing them in half as recommended in the recipe...we ate them with knife & fork. Resist the urge to shout, "Yummo."

                                              The Lettuce Salad on page 146 was served along side.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Don't resist, Gio. Shout it loud and proud so the neighbours know you're a terrific cook, even if they think you're crazy. ;-)

                                                This has just shot to the top of my list.

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  Haha... thanks Greedygirl. My neighbors don't think, they know I'm bonkers.
                                                  It frees me up for all sorts of behavior.

                                                2. re: Gio

                                                  I made the quesadillas as well, and they were so good I made them again the next day. It was such a lovely day outside that I really wanted to use the barbeque, but couldn't think of anything to make on it. I resigned myself to cooking out of Plenty instead (not that it's a chore, of course!), and lo and behold, I flipped to the quesadilla page, and they were to be grilled! I was thrilled!

                                                  I adored the salsa. It's like a lavish version of pico de gallo. The avocados were excellent in the mix. I may or may not have eaten the rest of the salsa straight out of the bowl.

                                                  I can only imagine how much better they would be with fresh corn tortillas. Alas, mine were dried and crumbling, a sad fact of life when you live in the middle of the prairies. Despite that little snag, they were still excellent!

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Thank you for posting about these - I probably would have skipped over them, and they were delicious. A tasty, really quick, weeknight supper. When I realized how much salsa I had made, I didn't stir the avocados into it, but put them separately into the quesadillas. There is a lot of delicious salsa left over.

                                                    1. re: mirage

                                                      Allegra and Mirage,

                                                      I'm so happy you both liked the quesadillas. This recipe is now my go-to recipe. I imagine pinto beans would work here as well as other kinds of cheese. But for now this recipe is the one I'm using... And, I loved the salsa too

                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                      Quesadillas, p. 134

                                                      Made these tonight and they were absolutely delicious, and so quick! I used whole meal tortillas and they were so yummy. Great heat provided by the jalapeños and the salsa was so fresh. Very happy.

                                                    3. Caramelized Endive with Gruyère, Pg. 157, English Edition

                                                      This was probably the Best endive dish I've ever eaten. I love bitter greens. Having grown up with dandelion salads, and broccoli rabe I just love the flavors and Mr. Ottolenghi is a master of flavor combinations. The procedure is quite simple but the outcome is wonderful. The recipe calls for 4 whole endives but I only used two and kept the other ingredients in original amounts.

                                                      To begin, heat a bit of olive oil, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt in a skillet. Slice the endive lengthwise and place cut side down in the sauce. Leave alone to cook till golden. Remove from heat and put the endive, cut side up and close together, in an oven proof baking dish...I used a 9" pie plate. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of finely chopped thyme leaves. Place slices of Gruyère on top of the endive and sprinkle with another teaspoon of thyme.

                                                      Into a preheated 375F oven it goes to bake for about 12-ish minutes Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle with fresh breadcrumbs and freshly ground black pepper. Turn up heat to 400F and put the endive back into the oven to cook till cheese has melted and breadcrumbs are brown.

                                                      It looked luscious coming out of the oven, and tasted like no other endive I've had. The usual bitter end note was mitigated by the small bit of sugar and the wonderful nuttiness of the Gruyère, not to mention the herbal thyme.

                                                      The main dish was grilled rosemary and lemon marinated chicken breasts and another riff on the potato salad on page 20.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Wow, does that sound good. Do you think a break in time between the stove top browning and the final two steps in the oven would matter?

                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                          Curiously, I was thinking about that very same thing, qianning. It was a simple matter for us since we cook and then eat. But needing more time, I would stop at the end of the first sautee. Don't add the cheese and thyme on top. Then when ready to serve, place the cheese etc, in the oven and continue with the rest of the baking.

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            Your take sounds logical to me. Was thinking about doing the "split" just because with some other braised endive dishes i've found the timing on the braising unpredictable, so don't dare to make it for guests, where as with this method some of ot could be done ahead. Anyway, thanks for the report.

                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                              FWIW, I tried making this in two steps this weekend, and unfortunately it was not a success. I stopped after the first saute and then did the final two oven steps about an hour and a half later. The endive came out of the first saute looking great.

                                                              But in "holding" it what happened was the endive gave off a lot of juice and turned color (think over-cooked artichoke hearts). The final result was certainly edible, but no where near as wonderful as when I've made this dish straight through.

                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                What a shame, qianning. Did you remove the endives from the pan and refrigerate them? J/W It probably wouldn't matter anyway, though. I'm sorry the 2-step method didn't work.

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  i did remove them from the pan, but left them at room temp. Not sure if the fridge would have helped, maybe it would have improved the water retention. anyway, it is still a great dish, just not one i'd use again when the kitchen is busy with lots of other stuff.

                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                          Caramelized Endive with Gruyère, pg 157

                                                          Finally made this tonight, (and finally bought my very own copy of Plenty yesterday) and it is just as good as Gio said. Thanks to her for pointing it out.

                                                        3. Tomato Party, p. 131 (UK ed.)

                                                          A more fanciful recipe name than most of Ottolenghi's, this is a salad of roasted and raw tomatoes, couscous, fregola (I used his suggested sub of Israeli couscous), and a bunch of herbs. Quartered tomatoes are sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic, along with salt and pepper and a bit of brown sugar (I skipped the latter) and roasted a while, then the heat i turned up and cherry tomatoes are added and all is roasted. Couscous (I used whole wheat) is hydrated with boiling water, and Israeli couscous is cooked and rinsed with boiling water. The two pastas are mixed with the roasted tomatoes, raw tomatoes, garlic, and fresh oregano, tarragon, and mint.

                                                          This was good, with the sweet roasted tomatoes and the contrast of the raw tomatoes, and the fresh notes of the herbs, but I think it would have been better moistened with a bit of dressing, which would bring it together and add a welcome bit of acid, perhaps more olive oil and some red wine vinegar.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            Tomato Party, p. 131 (US ed.)

                                                            Loved this. Like Caitlin, I also skipped the brown sugar in roasting the tomatoes. After I put it together, I thought it was a tad dry (even with all the lovely tomato juices) so I added some olive oil to it. I *think* in the US version, Ottolenghi does suggest it as well.

                                                            A minor quibble, I thought the raw garlic added to all the ingredients was a bit, well raw. I may try roasting garlic with the tomatoes next time.

                                                            Anyway, this was delicious. It tasted like tomato sunshine. Although, upon reflection, this is a really grown up version of pasta with tomato sauce.

                                                          2. Bittersweet Salad, pg. 162

                                                            This is the first time Mr. Ottolenghi has really let me down. This salad wasn't awful, but it won't be making a return engagement around here either. Hunting around for a way to use up some lovely ricotta that I had, this composed salad of bitter greens, fresh ricotta, oranges and nuts finished with a maple-citrus syrup looked like it might be another of his "who'd a thunk" flavor combinations. Instead it was more of a "should have known better" ensemble. In fairness it should be noted that I didn't have the Treviso (just regular radicchio) nor recommended garnishing of pomegranate seeds, but I don't think those would have put it over the top for us.

                                                            1. Herb Stuffed Tomatoes (US pg. 136)

                                                              Loved this. It's so simple and pantry ready (as long as you have the tomatoes). And, it just tastes like summer.

                                                              Basically, you scoop out tomatoes, salt the inside to draw and the water and drain. The recipe called for 4 medium tomatoes but I used 6. Saute chopped onions, garlic and olives until the softened. Add panko bread crumbs, capers and herbs (oregano, parsley and mint). Dry out the tomato shells, stuff and bake for about 40 minutes.

                                                              The beauty is that six tomatoes easily fit into my toaster oven so I didn't have an absurdly hot kitchen. This is meant to be a starter and I agree with that. I had two as a quick lunch and was still hungry.

                                                              I did wonder if adding a bit of meat would make this more substantial but it would take away the delicateness of the dish itself.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: beetlebug

                                                                Made this, a year later :). Simple, though I hated throwing away all the yummy homegrown tomato insides. Nice, unusual flavor. Next time I'd chop the onions smaller, and I think a little feta would be fabulous.

                                                              2. Chard, Tomato and Tamarind Stew

                                                                I made this last night, and substituted kale for chard and also omitted the caraway seed. It is so delicious, I'm having it for lunch today with rice, at room temp. A bit fiddly with some multiple steps - for instance, he has you blanch the chard for two minutes before adding to the stew. Not sure why, as it's cooked for 30 min. in liquid anyway?
                                                                It has you add a TB and a half of sugar, which seemed like a lot to me, but I think it's made me realize how much sugar you actually need to add to tomato-based sauces and soups. It really cut the acidic quality of the tomatoes, while still having quite a few acidic ingredients in the final product, if that makes sense. Serving it wtih yogurt on top wasn't necessary, but did add a bit of creaminess.
                                                                Anyway, I'm always looking for new ways to use tamarind, and this is definitely a keeper. We had it with Indian-spice chicken patties (my own version of keema muttar), and it was fabulous. I love this book!

                                                                1. Tomato, Semolina, and Cilantro Soup

                                                                  I've liked smoky tomato soups and semolina thickened soups in the past, so I gave a go at this recipe.

                                                                  Herbs (cilantro & thyme), spices (cumin & coriander), onion, and celery are sauteed, followed by the addition of tomato paste. Sugar and water are added, it's brought to a boil, simmered for 20 minutes, and a cup of semlina is added to thicken it up.

                                                                  The initial sauteed bit smelled and tasted great, and I wished I stopped there. The resulting soup had a bitter taste to it. There was no noticeably scorching in the pot, but I probably had the soup at a boil without realizing it or kept it at too high a temperature for the tomato products. Or maybe I should have deseeded the tomatoes, which he doesn't say anything about. In any case, I've encountered this before one of the times I cooked a smoky tomato soup from a cookbook from Greens Restaurant (a great recipe when cooked right, BTW).

                                                                  The resulting product, bitterness aside, was "rustic and hearty" which is a nice way of saying it wouldn't be out of place at a 1970s college vegan pot-luck. A salad made with the same ingredients, or tomatoes dressed with the sauteed stuff, could have been tasty. The celery was still a bit crunchy, which was one nice point.

                                                                  He recommends adding some Greek yogurt. That didn't do the trick, but some creme fraiche nicely perked things up and covered up the unpleasant flavors.