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September 2011 COTM, Slater/Tender: Celery through Jerusalem artichokes

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters from celery to Jerusalem artichokes.

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  1. A Simple Sauté of Chicken and Celery, Pg., 158

    It Was a simple sauté indeed. But oh so luscious. Butter, olive oil, garlic, celery, and a combination of any chicken parts you like. Then parsley, dry vermouth. lemon juice at the end for the sauce. I used 3 thighs and 3 drumsticks.

    Melt butter and add olive oil then put well seasoned chicken into the pan. Color the skin side first then turn to other side. Add garlic (4 peeled cloves), cover pan and cook for 45 minutes. In the meantime prepare the celery. One half head, stalks separated and scrubbed are sliced into short pieces. When the chicken has cooked for 20 minutes add the celery and continue cooking.

    Chop a handful of parsley. When the chicken in done remove it and the celery. Pour a glass of vermouth, bring to boil scrapping up the fond as you go. Whisk in a pat of butter, parsley, and a squirt of lemon juice. Return chicken and celery to pan and stir everything together...plate and serve. Oh yes, we loved this. Silky, slightly sticky and syrupy deliciousness.

    I served the chicken on a bed of green leaf lettuce combined with steamed purple string beans lightly dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      That sounds lovely, and so simple and comforting. Loved that you served this over salad, too.
      I can't wait for my copy to arrive next week, I may actually get to cook along with you all with this one.

      1. re: rabaja

        I certainly hope you are able to cook along this month Rabaja! I've already made several different recipes from 3 of Slater's books and every one has been delightful...

    2. Baked Vegetables with an Eggplant Sauce (p. 221)

      We liked this a lot, but I made a couple of changes: toasted cumin, cardamom, and coriander seeds, along with about an inch of cinnamon stick. Let cool, then ground. Added last 5 minutes of cooking, along with a large pinch of Aleppo pepper. Added a glug of tahini and the juice of half a lemon to the sauce. I think this would have been awfully bland without the tweaks. (didn't salt and let stand the eggplants -- our local ones are perfect right now, and don't need it.)

      1. An aubergine (eggplant) bruschetta, p49 UK edition

        Since our garden is overflowing with aubergines (eggplant) at the moment, I have been working my way through the chapter dedicated to them. This simple recipe was surprisingly delicious and made wonderful leftovers as well, which I added to a frittata.
        Although my aubergines were fresh and not bitter in the least, I still salted the slices and let them drain because it gets rid of some of the excess water. After grilling, they are tossed in a lemony dressing, to which coarsely torn basil and mint is added and the mix is then piled on to thick slices of warm toasted country bread. The lemon zest and juice and mix of herbs cut through any oiliness and made these bruschette disappear in minutes!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Taureau

          Many thanks for thie report, Taureau. Putting this on my to-make list.

        2. Moutabal - a heavenly purée, p50 UK edition

          A Middle Eastern flavour to this aubergine (eggplant) dish. Roast a couple of aubergines in a hot oven until very soft (about 40 mins). When cool enough to handle, remove the flesh and mash in a bowl with 2 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon, 3T of olive oil, 2T of tahini and a bit of salt.

          My lemon was very juicy, so I added it to taste as I didn't want the acidity to overwhelm the other flavours.

          This was very nice. I wasn't very hungry tonight after going out for Chinese this lunchtime so I had this with some good bread and called it dinner. How very Nigel! It would be great as part of a meze platter, or with some grilled lamb, stuffed in a pitta or flatbread.

          9 Replies
          1. re: greedygirl

            This is on my list - sounds delicious. Glad it worked out for you, bodes well for us.

            1. re: greedygirl

              OK, so this sounds like Baba Ghanoush which I love. Totally missed it as I went through the book. Thanks GG.

              1. re: greedygirl

                Moutabal - a heavenly puree - p 50 (UK ed)

                This is also known as baba ganouj. This calls for two large aubergines. I used just one, but I suspect my American eggplant might be larger than Slater's, so I used the full amounts of the other ingredients. The garlic I grated, and used about 1/4 of a very large clove. You bake the eggplant in a hot oven - it should be blackened outside and tender throughout. Scrape the flesh out and mix with lemon juice, tahini, garlic. olive oil, and salt. There you go! I used a whisk to mix it - not a fancy balloon whisk, just a plain small whisk.

                Really good. Would it be even better if you cooked the eggplant over hot coals? Sure. But this proves you can do a simple version of this dish and it is still sublime. Add some some parsley or cilantro if you like. Drizzle extra olive oil if you like. This is a solid base to serve as is or embellish as you see fit.

                1. re: MelMM

                  I learned a trick in India how to make aubergine dish tast smokey if you can't grill it first. Place an outer skin of an onion in the prepared aubergine dish and pour a bit of oil into it. Heat up a small stone until very-very hot and put it into the onion skin with oil. Cover the dish for an hour or so. Amazing!

                  1. re: herby

                    That's a fascinating technique, and I'll keep it in mind for the future.

                    1. re: herby

                      You might want to be cautious with this technique. I'm no scientist, but I believe that many stones might contain toxic elements that you wouldn't want coming into contact with your food. Any experts out there who could clue us in?

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I'm neither an expert nor a scientist, but used to cook on stones all the time during camping trips. We would look for nonporous (not shale, for instance), dry (riverbed and damp rocks can explode when the interior moisture heats up) rocks around the campsite. We'd wash them with soap and water, heat them up on a fire, and cook directly on them. This is a fairly common practice among campfire cooks and I've never heard of any admonitions against it.

                      2. re: herby

                        I like to use smoked salt in these cases. I also find smoked salt really useful when making bean dishes for vegetarians, to add the smokiness I would normally get from meats.

                    2. re: greedygirl

                      I enjoyed this as well, although greedygirl was right to add the lemon to taste. My lemon must have been on the juicy side so it was a bit tangy.

                    3. Baked Finger Aubergines (Eggplant), Yoghurt and Cucumber - p 44 (UK ed)

                      This recipe calls for 8 small eggplant. I had four, so I made a half recipe. The recipe says to bake the eggplant, but in the photo, they have grill marks. A bit of the Batali syndrome here? (where pictures don't match the recipe as written). I baked mine as instructed, split in half and placed cut side down in some olive oil. While the eggplants are baking, you grate some cucumber, salt it, and let drain for 30 minutes. Then you squeeze the cucumber dry, and mix it in with some thick yoghurt (I used a Greek yoghurt). He calls for a clove of crushed garlic to be added. I grated the garlic, and used less than half a clove, as it is very strong when grated. Some chopped mint also goes in, and finally you toast some black onion seeds and add them. The black onion seeds, by the way, are also known as nigella, or black caraway.

                      The eggplant came out very well cooked, soft inside, but crisped up on the cut edge where it was in the oil. This was served with the cucumber yoghurt mix on the side. We just loved this. The cucumber yoghurt was great with the eggplant, but it would be good with other things too, so I think it will make repeat appearance at our table with other dishes.

                      1. Baked Aubergines (Eggplant) with Thyme and Cream - p. 61 (UK ed.)

                        In the introduction, Slater says, "By rights, cream and aubergines should never meet, but here they seem to work splendidly." I couldn't agree more.

                        You slice eggplant thinly lengthwise, salt, and let sit in a colander for half an hour. Cook some sliced onion until soft in a skillet, then add some garlic. Remove the onion and garlic, and when the eggplant is ready, brown it in the same pan, then drain on paper towels. The recipe has you put the onion and garlic in a baking dish, then the eggplant, but the photo clearly shows onion on top. Batali syndrome again. I wanted onion on top, so I layered onion/eggplant/onion. You season with salt, pepper and thyme leaves as you put down the eggplant. Pour some cream over top, grate some parmesan, and bake until lightly browned.

                        This is a soft, delicate dish, with a nice richness from the cream and caramelized onion. Another eggplant winner from Slater, and there are still several more eggplant dishes I would like to try.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MelMM

                          Eggplan with Thyme and Cream

                          I really adored this recipe and the "unlikely" pairing of eggplant slices and cream! YUM. This is a comforting, warming dish and I picture myself making throughout chilly fall and winter days. I layered as instructed, with onions on the bottom, but I took a shortcut with the eggplant slices. Instead of taking the time to brown them in the pan, I used a Cook's Illustrated tip/alternative to salting eggplant to remove moisture, and microwaved the cut slices on paper towel layers for about 10 minutes. I did about 2 batches of this while prepping and sauteeing the onions, so it turned out to be about 20-25 minutes "active time" (prepping and microwaving eggplant slices while slicing and sauteeing onions and garlic) and then the baking time in the oven.

                          The eggplant is so silky and seductive after baking in the cream and thyme, and I added more cheese than suggested over the top to make a bubbling salty crust of sorts. This was so delish, I hid it from my boyfriend in the fridge so I could get all the leftovers.

                        2. Warm Chicken with Green Beans and Chard – p. 260 – UK Version

                          With green beans and chard in abundance at this time of year, this dish had immediate appeal. It also seemed like it was well suited for a weeknight meal since elements could be made/prepared ahead.

                          This year we’ve been fortunate enough to have an organic poultry farmer at our local farm market and even though this recipe calls for 2 plump breasts, I couldn’t resist an even plumper whole chicken to make this dish.

                          Prep of the bird is very straight forward. Nigel has you brush the chicken with oil season w S&P and top w some finely chopped rosemary. Since I was roasting a whole bird, I took my cues from the ingredients in the dressing from this dish and decided to stuff the bird w a lemon and, a shallot to keep it moist. While the bird roasted I prepared the dressing by simply combining a chopped shallot, lemon juice, EVOO, and a little salt. Nigel calls for the addition of fresh mint and since I was making the dressing a day ahead I opted not to add the fresh herbs until the day the salad was being consumed. At that time, I didn’t have any mint on hand so we used basil instead. I also washed and chopped the beans and chard a day ahead so not much more than a quick cook of the veggies and assembly was needed during the week. Instead of dunking the chard in boiling water I decided to stir-fry it in a little bit of oil in the wok (which I omitted from the dressing) then I added the beans (which I’d steamed ‘til al dente) to the wok along w most of the dressing.

                          The idea is to serve the warm chicken over the cooked, dressed beans and chard (divided between tow plates or lovely white bowls as Nigel suggests!!). The night we were serving I simply warmed the chicken in the oven then placed slices over the salad the drizzled with the small amount of remaining dressing.

                          This was really special. The chicken was tender and moist, the greens were fresh and vibrant and the lemon/shallot/basil dressing just tied it all together beautifully. This was such a nice summer meal that was substantial without being rich or heavy. Happy to recommend this one.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            What beautiful photos! Yum, can't wait to try this.

                          2. Chard with black pepper and cream p.189

                            This was good, albeit a little intense. I used kale rather than chard because that is what I had on hand. I had all the other ingredients as well, so we dove in and made it.

                            You saute crushed black peppercorns and juniper berries in butter, than add cream then add chard (kale). A quick, simple creamed greens dish but the juniper berries gave it a definite strange kick. If you have some, or like them (juniper berries) give it a try. As with most of these type of recipes, it was even more flavorful the next day.

                            1. Chinese Broccoli (Eggplant) with Garlic and Oyster Sauce, Pg. 200

                              Rather crazy to use eggplant instead of Chinese broccoli when there are so many delicious eggplant recipes in this book, but that's what I did. It was an issue of expediency for me last night. With five dishes to cook and a week old eggplant in fine shape this recipe was perfect.

                              The eggplant was sliced into a large dice. Heat peanut oil and add chopped garlic and sliced shallots. After a few minutes add oyster sauce and Shaoxing wine, bring to boil. I then added the eggplant and stir-fried till all golden and tender. This was really quite nice in spite of there being no salt/soy sauce or pepper. The rest of the menu was the Vietnamese stir-fry on the preceeding page of Tender, sticky spare ribs from Kitchen Diaries, fragrant brown rice from Real Fast Food, and G's Summer staple corn o/t cob.

                              1. A Vietnamese Stir-Fry, Pg. 199

                                Like so many recipes in this book this stir-fry of Chinese greens is uncomplicated, pristine and delicious.
                                NS has you blanch the greens for a minute before adding them to the wok, but as you might imagine, I skipped this step because the baby bok choy I used was so very fresh and tender they were even good raw.

                                Heat peanut oil and add chopped garlic, ginger sliced in thin matchsticks, and scallions cut into three pieces. Cook till all are fragrant and just beginning to brown. Pour fish sauce into the wok then add the greens. For the greens, you can either leave the stems whole or shred them...I sliced them into large-ish shreds. Add them to the wok and toss everything together.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Gio

                                  Gio, from reading your posts, I'm getting the impression that Real Fast Food (or is it Real Food Fast?) is the book to get. Everything you've made sounds fairly easy, and with lots of flavor. Were you as in love with it as I'm reading into it? How porky is this book? His others are pretty heavy on the stuff.

                                  [Edit: just realized this wasn't actually from RFF! D'oh!]

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    That's ok ..I'll answer the RFF question here. G and I are loving the recipes in this book. You're right about the simplicity of the recipes. They're uncomplicated and very easy to make for a weeknight meal, or indeed Any meal.

                                    As for the pork, I think many if not in all the recipes calling for the principle ingredient to be pork chicken can be substiruted. In fact for the honey pork ribs recipe in KD the next time I make it I'm going to substitue chicken wings.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Thanks Gio. Sorry I got discombobulated on this, but I appreciate the response. I'm going to have a look at the book next time I'm in a bookstore. It sounds like it might be just right for us.

                                2. Baked Aubergine (Eggplant), and Miso Dressing - p. 55 (UK ed.)

                                  Small, long aubergine, iike the asian variety, are cut in half lengthwise, and then scored. The recipe just says to score across the cut side. The picture shows and eggplant scored in crosshatches, much like Mario Batali's "Thousand Ridges Eggplant". I did it like in the Batali recipe.

                                  Some Mirin and oil are brushed onto the eggplant, and it is baked, covered with foil, until very soft. Meanwhile a dressing is made of Mirin, miso, sugar, and togarashi. When the eggplants are cooked, they are mixed with the dressing, then returned to the oven for a few more minutes, until the dressing starts to caramelize.

                                  This was fine, but the fact is, I am sick and tired of eggplant. I have just had too much. I have more waiting to be eaten, but I won't make this recipe, I'll go for something with a brighter flavor. This recipe was good, but was subtle, as Japanese recipes tend to be, and I am too tired of eggplant to appreciate subtle right now. Nothing wrong with the recipe, really. In fact, I think I liked it quite a bit better than the Batali recipe I mentioned earlier. I've just reached my limit, where eggplant is concerned.

                                  1. Baked eggplants with thyme and cream p. 229

                                    Oh My. I love this book, did many for COTM, still cook from it all the time... and have a new favorite. This is an incredible dish. Even the eggplant naysayers went nuts over it.

                                    You saute down sliced onion, with slivers of garlic. These go in the bottom of your shallow roasting dish. Then you quickly brown thin eggplant slices (as for Eggplant Parm) and lay them over the onions and garlic. Top with salt, pepper, lots of thyme, some heavy cream and parmesan. Then bake for 30-45 min until brown and bubbly. It's lighter than an Eggplant Parmesan but still incredibly tasty, rich and wonderful. Looks beautiful too.

                                    This will be a staple for me for years to come.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Tom P

                                      OMG! These veggie-centric recipes sound fabulous. But I am late to the party. Which of Slater's Tender books are these recipes from? I have Toast. Which other Slater book(s) do you recommend?

                                      1. re: soccermom13

                                        These recipes are from "Tender". Here's the master report list so you can see reports of the other chapters from "Tender".

                                        Here's a link to the Nigel Slater companion thread for Sept. 2011. Quite a few of his books were cooked from and reported on here...

                                        I have "Real Fast Food", as you can see, and absolutely loved each recipe we cooked. The other book I love is his "Kitchen Diaries". I'd recommend both of them.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          Thank you very much, Gio. I just requested Tender (veggies) and Diaries from my library.

                                          Also, they don't have Real Fast Food so I can't request it on line. I will go in and ask them to get it via library loan.

                                          Thanks again.

                                    2. A Soup of Lentils, Bacon and Chard – p. 228

                                      Well this soup didn’t impress but it was no fault of Mr. Slater. For my taste, the soup was too “porky” and that was due to the new brand of Italian imported pancetta I’d purchased. While it would undoubtedly shine in other applications, its flavours were simply too overpowering in this dish. Then, an error at my hands. I had a very juicy lemon and since I wasn’t fussed on the porky flavoured broth, I decided to throw caution to the wind and toss all the lemon juice into the pot, oh…along w the grated rind, that the recipe didn’t call for. Now our porky pot of lentils was powerfully pucker-inducing! Some might say bitter. Not me of course! (I posted about this in the WFD thread.) If nothing else, it looked ok!