May 2011 COTM, PLENTY: Green Things, Green Beans
This is the reporting thread for this Month's Cookbook of the Month, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. The chapter is: Green Things, Green Beans
Green pancakes with/out lime butter*, p. 150 (UK edition)
In which I detail my intentional change to the recipe, as well as my unintentional error.
This is another in the vegetable pancake genre. A pancake batter is made, and to it are added steamed, squeezed, and chopped spinach leaves, lots of sliced spring onions (scallions), and sliced fresh green chile (I used a large jalapeño), as well as ground cumin. He calls for self-r(a)ising flour as well as baking powder; as I had only plain flour, I looked up equivalencies and determined that 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder and a bit of salt would work for the 110g flour, in addition to the other 1 T. baking powder, however I only had 1 T. baking powder left. Oh well. Milk, more salt, an egg, and melted butter are called for, as well as a softly beaten egg white folded in. The pancakes are cooked in olive oil. I decided to use 2 whole eggs and skip the egg white, as I was pressed for time and wanted to increase the overall volume of batter slightly, adding a bit more flour if needed (it wasn't). Despite having a bit less baking soda than called for and not folding the egg white, these rose nicely. I didn't meaure the batter exactly, but probably used more like 3 T. per pancake than 2, and got around a dozen. Unfortunately, only later did I realize that I forgot to add the melted butter (see: pressed for time). I had intended to use half what was called for, which would still be an ounce or so. Oops.
*He calls for a compound butter to be melted over the finished pancakes. Having decided I didn't want to add more butter (ha!) to my meal, I took inspiration from Breadcrumbs's serving of tzatziki with the vegetable pancakes in the Greenspan COTM and made a sauce of Greek yogurt, chopped cucumber, and the flavoring components called for in the lime butter: lime juice and zest, garlic, chile flakes, and salt and pepper (he also calls for a bit of cilantro, but I had none).
I thought the pancakes were full of bright flavor from the spinach, scallions, and chile, and was happy with my egg jiggering. The cucumber-yogurt sauce was a nice complement to them, so kudos to Breadcrumbs for the pairing idea. Would they be improved by the addition of melted butter? No doubt about it; the texture was just a tad dry and lacked richness, given I had used lower-fat dairy. I look forward to making them again *with* butter in the batter.
I have a photo, but will have to add it at a later point.
re: Caitlin McGrath
Caitlin you must have read my mind because these are at the top of my list! I'll follow your lead w the eggs on this and, know I won't forget the "butta in the batta" thanks to you!! I've made notes based on your post and look forward to your photo too!
Thanks for the shout-out on the tzatziki, we're totally addicted to it lately!!
Mee Goreng p185
Sounds promising, looks tasty, yet somehow fails to deliver.
I began by marinating my tofu strips in kecap manis to avoid bland-soy-syndrome. Stir fried some onions and green beans until browning, added the tofu and let it sear in the bottom, hoping to obtain the highly desirable wok-hay stir fry flavour. That done, added bok choy and fresh egg noodles. I did not cook the noodles at all, they went straight into the wok. I should have at least let them have a quick dip in a pot o'boiling water, as it took a lot of extra water in the dish to rid the noodles of the starchy raw flour taste. A sauce containing sweet soy, soy sauce, coriander, cumin, chilli paste and water is added, as are bean sprouts. Done. Top with lettuce and crisp fried shallots.
I had to add plenty of extra soy sauce and kecap manis to my bowl, hoping I would find a good balance. Never really did. The best part of the meal was, somewhat surprisingly, the soy product. My eldest offspring inhaled it, and then promptly declared a new love for tofu. So something good came out of this after all!
Cucumber Salad with smashed garlic and ginger p.166
This was as Mr.Ottolenghi described-"a dish shouting freshness". Sliced red onions are marinated with rice vinegar, sugar, oil and sesame oil. Ginger is pounded to a paste in a mortar with salt, and garlic is added and pounded until broken in small pieces. Sliced cukes are added, along with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. Very nice. I will imagine that this would be a lovely topping for soba noodles. Would reduce the onion and garlic next time, they were very,very pungent. Nice and quick to prepare.
In our house, Mee Goreng, page 185, was a major winner and QUICK.
There were a couple of modifications.
I used no green beans, but had a big bunch (400 g) of choy sum. Threw in the stems toward the beginning and the leaves at the end with the sprouts.I think this was better than beans would be. Didnt marinate the tofu, no need- it browned a bit with the onions and took on plenty of flavor. I used the very skinny HK precooked noodles, recommended by my tofu dealer for this dish. They worked just fine, still firm to the tooth but not floury. I did add another tbst kejap manis and water to steam a bit more at the conclusion of cooking. I bought some malaysian sambal badjak and used that in place of the sambal oelek (too much like the chili garlic already in my frudge). It has dried shrimp and added a nice extra flavor. I skipped the shallots and lettuce and didnt miss them, with the added greens. We really loved this dish - more than ample for two people, and it came together in less than 15 min altogether. I was dubious about the coriander and cumin but they worked. Think a sprinkling of cilantro leaves would have been a nice garnish - the lemon was essential in picking up the flavors, and we enjoyed spooning in bits of the sambal badjak as well.
They were nice, but felt like more work than they were worth to me, mostly the washing, blanching, squeezing, chopping of a massive amount of chard. (I made a double batch for a party.) The vegetarians present were thrilled however, which was the desired intent -- having something a little special for a minority in a meat eating group. A (carnivore) friend remarked that these were self-conscious Good Vegetarian recipes. I like the sorrel-yogurt sauce very much -- very handy when sorrel is in season and you don't know what to do with it! Sorrel is very astringent and slightly lemony.
When I see the words "plenty" and "green beans", I think of the year our green beans produced and produced... We canned our last green beans on Veteran's Day that year. My husband did most of the picking, I snapped and my son did the pressure cooker part. We canned 256 quarts that year. And,yes,we still have some and they're still yummy.