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October 2011's Cookbook of the Month will be THE SPLENDID TABLE by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

The winner of the October 2011 Cookbook of the Month vote is THE SPLENDID TABLE, by Lynne Rosetto Kasper. If you’ve been lurking, please join us, we’re a welcoming bunch. If you're new to Cookbook of the Month, the COTM archive thread explains how it all works: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

If you’re interested in finding out how we picked this book here are links to the voting: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807374 and nominating: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/800883 threads.

Please use this thread to discuss techniques, ingredients, meal planning, along with interesting tidbits about this book and recipes. If you discover any online sources for recipes from this book, please feel free to post them here.

On October 1 I will post the official threads for reporting.

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  1. I have been reluctant to get involved in the COTM nominating and voting threads since I have been very remiss in participating. However, I have had this book for a long time, and I have cooked from it very little, so I am looking forward to going through it and cooking from it this month!

    2 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        Ditto - I've had it since college. The weather is FINALLY starting to cool off so some of this hearty stuff will be just perfect!

      2. Would anyone object to an adjunct thread for The Italian Country Table?

        roxlet and bayoucook- looking forward to reading your posts.

        3 Replies
        1. re: BigSal

          I think it would be great to have an adjunct thread. There were four votes for doing both books, so there is definitely some interest. I didn't vote, but do have Italian Country Table, so I'd be up for it.

          1. re: BigSal

            Yours too, BigSal. I 'd love the adjunct thread!

            1. re: BigSal

              I certainly wouldn't object, Sal... in fact I was hoping someone would post an adjunct thread for The Italian Country Table.

            2. Many thanks for sorting all the nomoinations and voting for us, LLM. My birthday is in October so The Splendid Table will be a nice present for me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gio

                Many welcomes! It was so much easier this month it felt like no work at all. And an early happy, happy birthday!!!

              2. I've already made a shopping list to start with a brodo and a ragu.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Jay F

                  Over-achiever! ;-) Of course, I hope you come back and tell us how it goes. In the meantime, I shall hit up my library. October sounds like it will be a splendid month! (Someone was going to say that sooner rather than later!). I hope there are some "easy" weeknight-type recipes in there, or, at least some freezable ones. If anyone has recipes along those lines to recommend, I would certainly appreciate it. I'm struggling to participate these days...

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'd be interested in hearing about any "easy" weeknight-type meals too. And TDQ, you have the best excuse in the world for not having time to cook.

                2. Just back from vacation, and I can't believe it the book I snuck onto the computer to vote for won!Hurrah! Looking forward to next month.

                  1. I got a pasta machine recently so this is really good timing! I can get the book easily too. Just hope I'm not too daunted by the recipes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sarahcooks

                      You don't have to make pasta to cook all month long from that book. ;)

                    2. I refrained from voting this round, as I will be away almost the entire month of October. But I'm glad the Italian choice won. Although in a different region, I will be in Italy, so I feel like we'll all be eating Italian food together.
                      Buon Appetito!

                      25 Replies
                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Thanks LL'sMom, we are very excited about it!

                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                          What part of Italy will you be visiting?

                          1. re: roxlet

                            We are going to a cooking school (you know, not a pro school, a tourist type deal) in the countryside near Arezzo in Tuscany. On either end of that we'll be visiting Florence and Rome.

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              You must report back as to what you get to make in class. i wanted to do this in Italy but I couldn't find the time away from the kidlets. Did visit a balsamary and a parmesan factory - both in Emilia Romagna. Wonderful.

                              1. re: dkennedy

                                We do have an excursion one day, which includes olive oil and wine tastings, and a visit to a pecorino cheese farm. Other than that we'll be cooking for a week, so I hope I will have plenty to report!

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  Oh my, sounds fabulous! Have a wonderful time.

                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                    So, you'll be doing your own COTM while away. I'm so envious. I hope you have a wonderful time! I can't wait to hear (read) all about it.

                                    ~TDQ

                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                        Thanks for all of your good wishes. Rest assured, I will be taking plenty of notes and plenty of pictures!

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Have a wonderful time, LN! Can't wait for your report. Maybe you'll want to start travelling Hounds' thread?

                                2. re: L.Nightshade

                                  well, its not far from Arezzo to Emilia-Romagna, (and the train from Florence to Bologna is fast) if you get a car, you might want to consider participating in the COTM by eatiing some of the food in situ! Have a great trip!

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    I have been reading some of your posts on the Italy board jen, so I know you know whereof you speak. But our schedule is pretty locked in. Other areas will have to be saved for our next trip! Thanks for you good wishes.

                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                      Thatta girl. Just keep planning those trips.

                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                        Im so envious, really!
                                        Im not one of the big Florence fans, but I love Rome and the tuscan countryside.
                                        I guess you could "participate by checking out Colline Emiliane in Rome in any event!

                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                          I don't know much about Florence, except that I am a painter, and I've wanted to visit the Uffizi my entire life. I've put Colline Emiliane on my list, it sounds like just the kind of spot we would like. Thanks for your recommendation! I should probably start posting some inquiries on the Italy board. Reading all the existent posts is so overwhelming!

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            I love Florence! I remember getting some really amazing pizza there, though it didn't jibe with what I thought "pizza" was at the time. It might even have been "tourist" pizza, but I loved it anyway. I think my only other salient Italian food experience was of crusty rolls and cofffee in the morning, which I also enjoyed.

                                            Please learn how to make pizza and then come back and post about it! Well, come back and post about all of your amazing food experiences, even the non-pizza-related ones.

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              yes, the Uffizi is definitely worth it. and there are other things. - the Masaccios in Santa maria della Carmine in Oltrarno, the bits of Giotto in Santa Croce, the Bargello, the doors of the baptistery, the view form Piazzale Michelangelo etc.,.... as well as the good simple local food. Do go over to the Italy board and ask your questions....

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                The Uffizi is amazing. And the gardens behind one of the Medici (I think it was theirs) palaces - take a picnic (I think I broke the "no food allowed" rule, but hey, this is Italy, rules are made to be broken) and sit there and enjoy. Gorgeous. Have a wonderful time. And if you can make the side trip to Sienna, by all means do!

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  dont miss the Masaccios over in Santa Maria della Carmine, or the bits of Giotto in Santa Croce. , the baptistery doors, the art in situ in churches like Santa Maria NovelloSan Miniate al Monte and the view of the city from there. Saying Florence is not my fave doesnt mean there are not a lot of amazing things to see there and good simple food to eat. Enjoy!

                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                    I adore Masaccio! I spent three months in Florence when I was in college, and I remember dragging a Masaccio Forma E Colore all around Europe.

                                              2. re: jen kalb

                                                Thanks to your recommendation, jen, we did eat at Colline Emiliane when in Rome. So I feel like I participated in this month's COTM, not by cooking, but in spirit! We had an antipasto which included the best mozzarella we've tasted, and mortadella from Bologna (of course). Mr Nightshade had pasta Bolognese, which he has declared the best dish he had in Rome. The woman there walked us to the dessert display, and proudly told us what she had baked. She was delighted when Mr NS chose her lemon tart. Many years ago his Italian grandmother rose from her deathbed to bake a lemon tart for him. This tart compared well, and the taste brought back memories for him. We are both grateful for your recommendation, jen!
                                                We are cooking in Tuscany now, will report more in another thread later.

                                          2. re: L.Nightshade

                                            Oh what marvelous experience...! I know you'll make the most of the culinary classes and have some great meals too. Have a gtreat time and Viaggi Sicuro.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              Thank you Gio. I'm so honored by everyone's good wishes!

                                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                                          I've taken notes on everyone's comments and well wishes. Thank you all!
                                          If anyone would like to share further ideas or experiences with respect to Rome and Florence, I've posted my inquiry thread here:
                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/808970

                                        3. Yay, a friend up the street has this -- I have borrowed it before -- and I have The Italian Country Table so I am good to go. The one or two things I have made from TST in the past have been fantastic. Must go back and see what they were.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: GretchenS

                                            Unfortunately it is very unlikely that I'll see TST before October is out (weird library situation) unless the person who has it now decides to bring it back early.

                                          2. Well, I told myself that I was not going to purchase another cookbook for a while, especially this one, since it's $45 new!! But as fate would have it, I discovered a used copy online for $13 including shipping to Canada! The obvious excitement that everyone has for this book has really been contagious--I hope that I enjoy it as much as my fellow chowhounds do.
                                            Now that it's autumn-ish, things are settling down into a routine, and I can hopefully commit to cooking from the cotm selections more that I have been. Something about frosty days and blustery winds makes me want to spend the day keeping warm in the kitchen....

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                              There are no frosty days or blustery winds here in October (and rarely in November or December). Still and all, a coolish (to us) and gray day makes it nice to have something simmering away.

                                            2. FWIW: There are two "S" in RoSSetto. ;)

                                              1. Very excited about this selection as it is one of my most beloved and battered cookbooks--and I expect to be home for most of October and able to get back to some serious cooking. TST has been somewhat neglected of late, but I can't wait to get back into it.

                                                If anyone is interested, here are some of the recipes I've tried, some that I've made several times:
                                                >Lasagne of Wild and Fresh Mushrooms (love, love, love this dish)
                                                >Rabbit roasted w/Fennel--made this once w/rabbit, but always w/chicken thighs after that as DH just won't eat "bunny."
                                                >although the Ragu Bolognese is not my go-to Bolognese, I've made both her Classic Bolognese and the Country-Style Ragu; both were delicious.
                                                >Linguini w/Braised Garlic and Balsamic is easy-peasy and very good.
                                                >Dh hates anchovies, but I made the Lemon Anchovy Saucefor lunch once and served it over linguini; both my girlfriend and I loved it.
                                                >Salad of Tart Greens w/Prosciutto and warm dressing is an excellent, hearty salad
                                                >Many of the sides most of you probably wouldn't need recipes for, but these inspired me to first try oven-roasted radicchio, which has become a regular on our table, as well as the grilled winter endives and marinated baby onions. Sweet Fennel, Jewish-style, is also delicious.
                                                >the Hot Caramelized Pears w/Prosciutto--simple and absolutely delicious

                                                My dilemma will be trying new recipes when I want to go back and revisit those I've loved so much. Should be a delicious month, and I could sure use one.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                  Thanks for mentioning your favorites, ncw! I was curious to see some of them (I don't have the book and can't get it from the library), and and happy to note that they were easy to find online, which I hope bodes well. The mushroom lasagne is very like one I made sans recipe for a family get-together last holiday season with a wild mushroom ragu and bechamel. The rabbit recipe looks great (I would also sub chicken thighs).

                                                  Lasagne of Wild and Fresh Mushrooms: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/19...

                                                  Linguine with Braised Garlic and Balsamic:: http://www.publicradio.org/columns/sp...

                                                  Rabbit Roasted with Fennel: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/19...

                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                    glad to hear the Rabbit roasted w/ fennel is on your list, it is one I tagged as soon as the book came in from inter-library loan.

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                      This list is great, thanks for sharing it! What is your go-to Bolognese?

                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                        I'd like to know this one, too!

                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                          Here you are, Big Sal. This is my go-to (although every now and then I try a different recipe); it was given to me by the (now long) ex-wife of a friend, and makes a lot--enough ragu for two large dishes of lasagne (which is what the recipe was for and why the cream factors into the construction of the lasagne rather than the sauce). I usually make a dish of lasagne and freeze the rest of the ragu for later use. But it halves easily, and like most recipes of this type, responds very well to tweaking of all kinds.
                                                          *****************************************************************************************
                                                          RAGU BOLOGNESE
                                                          1/3 c. olive oil
                                                          ¾ c. diced carrots
                                                          ½ c. chopped onion
                                                          ¾ lb. pancetta, finely chopped (I often use less)
                                                          ¾ lb. coarsely ground veal (shoulder)
                                                          1 ½ lb. coarsely ground pork (shoulder or butt)
                                                          4 – 28 oz. cans plum tomatoes, chopped &drained, juice reserved
                                                          1 c. veal, chicken, or beef broth (optional)
                                                          1 ½ - 2 c. cream (or milk) *
                                                          Salt, freshly ground pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg to taste

                                                          In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over med. low. Add carrots; sauté 2-3 minutes. Add onions; sauté until soft, 6-8 minutes. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Add pork and veal; cook, without browning, about 12-15 minutes. Add tomatoes, about 2 c. of juice from cans, and 1 c. stock. (If not using stock, use about 3 c. tomato juice.) Bring to boil. Lower heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 ½ to 3 hours until ragu reaches desired thickness—should be thick and meaty. Season to taste w/salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

                                                          *About cream: if you want cream, add it (or milk) by ¼ cupfuls during the last hour of cooking. The sauce comes from a lasagna recipe, which goes on to have you mix the cream with copious amounts of grated parmigiano cheese to make a paste, which is layered (spooned over the ragu, béchamel-like) between sheets of pasta. This is what I usually do. (I freeze the remaining ragu, without cream, for later use. When I thaw it to use as sauce for pasta, sometimes I add milk when I reheat it, and sometimes I don’t. Either way, it is delicious.)

                                                        2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                          I'm excited about cooking from this selection, too, even more now that you have listed your favs, nomadchowwoman. Before I saw your post I had already bookmarked several of your very same recommendations in my newly-arrived (very good) used copy from Amazon.

                                                          The book is lovely to read, too--she writes so beautifully and with such affection for northern Italy. I remembered that my very first experience with true italian food was in Emiglia-Romagna. We had just arrived in Italy for a month's visit, after a year of living in Germany. We were driving south and our first dinner was at a small, relatively simple restaurant in Modena. The food was a revelation.

                                                        3. I didn't vote, but looking forward to this one in October. Just ordered a "'used-very good" copy on Amazon for $10.

                                                          1. Hello from Sicily, where the food has been delicious, but very different to the stuff you get in Emilia Romagna. Am excited as ever about a new month's cooking, even though I am a bit Italianed out for now. I have some pecorino and ricotta salata and oil in my luggage though! Will have to see if I can get a cheap used copy of The Splendid Table.

                                                            1. I need to break down and buy this book. I love Italian.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: margiehubbard

                                                                Super excited that October 1st is upon us as I can't wait for it to be Splendid Table month! My husband leaves today for a 10 day business trip so I don't expect to be cooking any elaborate dishes for myself while he is gone. But luckily, I can make all the ragus and the other freezer ready items from this book and have them in my freezer for when he returns.

                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                  I can't seem to find the link for this month's COTM selection. Is anyone else having this problem. It doesn't seem to be popping up at the top of the COTM archive page.

                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                    This is the site for the main selection this month--does it help to click in it?

                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810102

                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                      I noticed that it wasn't at the top of the COTM archive page too. I guess whoever is in charge of that hasn't caught up with us (maybe they have the weekend off?). Just go to the home cooking board and you'll find it stickied. (PS - Lulu is LOVING the fairy books you recommended - many, many thanks!).

                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                        Thanks for posting the link, I am eager to participate. It is so weird that I couldn't get it to come up when I did a COTM search. Oh well, problem solved for now. Glad to hear Lulu is enjoying the fairy books. I will be sure to tell Claire. Plan on making the pears with balsamic and parmesan tonight. Will post in the appropriate thread later.

                                                                2. I’m Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s assistant, posting a message from Lynne, below:

                                                                  Thanks so much for selecting The Splendid Table. I wish there were time to respond to all the messages, but hopefully this will cover some ground.

                                                                  When I wrote The Splendid Table in the late 1980s through 1992, so much in the recipes had to be explained – things that today we take for granted. For instance, extra virgin olive oil, true Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (there is only one), what balsamic vinegar was, why imported Italian pasta was desirable, etc. In fact, prosciutto di Parma hadn’t been available in the United States for nearly 20 years, but that’s a tale for another day.

                                                                  Would it were possible to respond to every comment and question, but right now there is another new book, The Splendid Table®’s How to Eat Weekends. So I am on the road with this one and the day job is still going full blast. Time is short. Still, I can’t resist adding a few thoughts:

                                                                  1. Measuring Flour
                                                                  Measuring flour is a bear. You can get anywhere from 3 ½ to 6 ounces of flour into a cup, depending on how you do it. Tapping, tamping, dipping the cup into the flour, shaking it down in the cup, each of these changes the amount of flour in that measure. In turn, each changes your recipe. In The Splendid Table I used a 4-ounce cup. You get a 4-ounce cup by lightly spooning the flour into the cup and leveling it. Skip over all these problems by getting a scale and measuring your flour. This simplifies everything.

                                                                  To respond to the pasta and bread questions: the kind of flour you use, the moisture in the air, and many other variables change the amount of flour a dough absorbs which is why recipes usually say things like “1 to 1-1/2 cups.” And this is why recipes describe how dough should feel. Often it is softer than you would imagine.

                                                                  2. Balsamic Vinegar
                                                                  With balsamic vinegar, much of what I wrote in The Splendid Table still holds. Balsamic vinegar made by the ancient method described in the book is controlled and tested by a consortium and it is still labeled “tradizionale.” If it is from Modena, it is available either as extra vecchio (25 year old) or simply “tradizionale” – which is 12 years old. These are tasted, evaluated and passed by master tasters.

                                                                  That said, “tradizionale” is expensive and it is not salad dressing. It never was. It has always been precious, used by the drop over pasta, scrambled eggs, a boiled potato, grilled fish and much more. For everyday cooking in Emilia-Romagna, people use boiled down grape must (that is where balsamico begins) mixed with wine vinegar. This is what the best of the modest-priced balsamicos on the store shelves should be.

                                                                  Any other balsamic vinegar stating an age has no legal regulation behind it, so buyer beware. What is on the label is merely marketing. Some manufacturers producing these non-traditional vinegars created their own consortium to gain credibility. Most of what we buy is at best boiled down grape juice mixed with good wine vinegar. Sometimes it is caramel mixed with very bad wine vinegar.

                                                                  There’s a lot of money to made with balsamico so there’s a lot of politics around this product. People are attempting to produce it outside of its home in Emilia-Romagna-- in other parts of Italy, in Newark, NJ; in California and other parts of the world. This is not to say that it isn’t possible to make it elsewhere. But for the moment, put your trust in the place that has made it for more than a thousand years.

                                                                  You probably know this trick, but I will relay it anyway:

                                                                  Take a relatively inexpensive bottle of balsamic vinegar, add some brown sugar and carefully boil it down until it’s syrupy. Chefs use this to streak our plates and to make us think they have a stash the good stuff. It doesn’t come close, but it tastes pretty good.

                                                                  Again, thanks for selecting The Splendid Table. Best, Lynne

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: leonegetten

                                                                    Fascinating. Thank you for this reply.

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      Thanks very much for the kind response!

                                                                      wondering what rices Lynne now recommends for the risotto dishes, since we have access to Vialone Nano and Carnaroli now, in addition to arborio.

                                                                      Also, whether the saba one can buy in the US - from sources in ER or say Sicily - is appropriate to use rather than the homemade version she offers in The Splendid Table.

                                                                      for example I have the DeNigris in my cupboard.

                                                                    2. re: leonegetten

                                                                      Thank you so much! One question though. I really want to make the balsamic glaze. Is there a ratio of brown sugar to ounces of balsamic? Such as 1/2 tbl to 8oz balsamic, etc...

                                                                      Thanks!