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November Cookbook of the Month 2011: Gourmet II: The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl, et al.

Welcome to our November 2011 Cookbook of the Month, THE GOURMET COOKBOOK by Ruth Reichl, et. al.

Just been lurking up until now? We’d love to have you join us. This link explains how it all works: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

This thread will be used for general discussion, menu planning, linking to recipes from the books available elsewhere on the web, and for discussing the sections at the front and back of the books covering general techniques, ingredients, sources, etc. You’ll also find some recipe links in the announcement post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/813213

The threads linked below will be used to discuss recipes in the chapters listed directly below each link.

GOURMET II: Drinks; Hors D'oeurves and First Courses; Soups: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815181

GOURMET II: Salads; Vegetables: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815182

GOURMET II: Sandwiches and Pizzas: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815183

GOURMET II: Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings; Grains and Beans: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815184

GOURMET II: Fish and Shellfish; Poultry: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815185

GOURMET II: Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815186

GOURMET II: Breads and Crackers, Breakfast and Brunch: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815187

GOURMET II: Desserts (including cookies, cakes, pies, fruit desserts, puddings, etc.): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815188

GOURMET II: Sauces and Salsas; Relishes, Chutneys, etc. and Basics: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815189

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Thanks very much LLM. From now on I'm going into training before we start a new COTM each month. Bench presses should be a required part of any warm up routine before hoisting these "doorstop" books.

    1. Thanks LLM, but I am confused by the Gourmet II designation. Is it because this is the second Gourmet book as a COTM? This was actually the first of the two Gourmet compendiums under Reichl, so strictly speaking, I think of it as Gourmet I !

      2 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        Gourmet I, yes... I wondered about that as well. And, technically the book is titled "The Gourmet Cookbook". The green book is simply, "Gourmet Today."

        Sorry LLM... I don't mean to be picky so early in the morning. Or maybe it's because it Is so early in the mornng.

        1. re: Gio

          Totally understand the confusion. I wanted to do something to make it obvious in the future, when looking up threads, that this was the second Gourmet book that we'd done. I understand that it was actually the first book to be published, but this seemed the clearest way to differentiate. There seemed to be some confusion during buying time about which book it was despite having written The Gourmet Cookbook.

      2. Great job, LulusMom! I am also not clear on Goumet II - I had to go to the top to make sure that I did not get a wrong book from the library.

        1. The good thing is that this book is indexed on EYB. With a book this massive, ity's really nice to be able to search electronically. http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/1... I really hope to join in this month. As always, LulusMom, thank you for your hard work!


          14 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            One thing that might help, given your current time constraints, is that this book (like the other Gourmet book) gives an approximate time each dish will take to make. And while I found those timings a little optimistic in the other book, at least you can rule things out if they tell you in advance that they take 1 1/2 hours.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Good point. I haven't even lugged the thing off my shelf yet. (I hope I can find it! I'm starting to store cookbooks in unconventional places these days.) Do they have a weeknight meals section like Gourmet Today did?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                No, they don't seem to have a section like that. But I do find those timing things helpful. If you know you're not going to have a lot of time, you can skip some stuff, and gravitate toward others.

                Love thinking of your house with cookbooks secreted all around it.

              2. re: LulusMom

                The time estimates are always way too short in part because they assume that all the prep work, the time-consuming peeling, slicing, dicing, trimming, washing, etc. is done before the clock even starts.

                1. re: bitchincook

                  Exactly! When in doubt, check to see how many things you'll need to chop/dice/etc. to get a more realistic estimate. If it's only an onion, I don't worry about it much, but when you add in ginger, lemongrass, leeks, 10 cloves of garlic, it can really make a difference.

                  1. re: bitchincook

                    For what it's worth: awhile back I read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle http://articles.sfgate.com/2005-10-05... wherefore they tested the recipes in various "quick cooking" columns in food magazines for two things: 1) were the time estimates accurate and 2) was the time it took to actually prepare the dish "worth it" or not, that is, did all of the steps make a difference in the final outcome and was the final outcome good?

                    Some of the magazines tested were Rachel Ray, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart, Food and Wine, Fine Cooking, Real Simple.

                    Their conclusion regarding Gourmet's "Quick Kitchen" column was that the recipes they tried were easy to follow and finished exactly in the time promised. The other "winner" was Real Simple Magazine: "The recipes we tried were foolproof, tasted great and many take only 10-15 minutes of hands-on work. " Bon Appetit's recipes consistently overran the alloted time by 15 minutes, but the results were always good. They also liked Fine Cooking, though they said that the recipes often took longer than the recipes in other magazines.

                    Martha Stewart's recipes ran over the time estimates and yielded inconsistent results. Many of the steps were deemed "not worth it". Food and Wine yielded good results, but consistently overran the alloted time and included a lot of steps that didn't seem necessary. The recipes in Ray's Everyday Food were done in the alloted time, but were poorly written and confusing.

                    My impression is that Gourmet tests and tests and re-tests (or DID, past-tense RIP Gourmet) their recipes before putting them in the magazine...and I think they tested and re-tested them again for inclusion in their books. When Gourmet Today was COTM, I noticed a lot of the recipes had been tweaked ever so slightly from how they originally appeared in the Magazine (or, more accurately, how they currently appear on Epicurious).

                    In general, and especially after Gourmet Today was COTM, I trust Gourmet.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Very interesting how the different magazines stacked up. I just bought (with my copy of the Gourmet Cookbook) the Bon Appetite Quick, Fast, whatever (sorry, can't remember the name right now), and I have to say that a quick glance through it didn't excite me much.

                      I, too, trust Gourmet, but I do note that the recipe times given assume that the chopping has all been done before you start.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        You mean Gourmet specifically says in the front matter or something like that that the times assume the chopping has been done in advance?

                        I know what you mean about the Bon Appetit books just not appealing in the same way. I can't put my finger on what it is, though.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          In the Gourmet books (the Green one I absolutely love, so this isn't a slam in any way; I'm hoping to love this one as well) the ingredients list will say 1 chopped onion, 3 cloves garlic sliced, 1 tablespoon minced ginger - things like that, which makes me assume they expect you to have that prep work done when you start the recipe if you plan on making it in the time they've given. This first occurred to me after a particularly labor intensive (lots of chopping) recipe that took a heck of a lot longer than they'd said it would. Now, I'm not the world's fastest chopper by any means, but still, it took a lot longer, and that was the explanation I came up with.

                          Yeah, big mistake on the Bon Ap. book. I saw the low price, know that I like tasty quick dinners and thought "why not?" You know what I find surprising - there are no times given, and some of the recipes that appealed to me seemed like they'd probably take a good chunk of time - certainly more than you'd expect from a book that calls itself fast in any way.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Oh, I see your point about GT... That's sneaky recipe-writing. Well, I guess it does eliminate the variable of knife skills (or lack thereof in my case) from the time estimate.

                            And so weird about the B.A. book having no time estimates given the title.

                            On another note, I found my Gourmet book! Can't wait to pick out some recipes!


                        2. re: LulusMom

                          I subscribed to BA for a dozen or so years (I stopped right before the remakes/dumbing down that have had everyone so unhappy in recent years, because I just had too much going on and didn't have time for it), and I clipped out lots of terrific recipes (none of which ever had times given that I recall). I never was inspired by any of the recipes in the Fast Easy Fresh column, though, so if that's the source of this book's recipes, I can understand its lack of appeal. I've never looked at any of the BA compendiums, but perhaps they're not as well curated as the Gourmet volumes.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            There is one recipe that is in rotation around here that came from that column - a pasta dish with chorizo (I use the soy stuff) and olives. It's a big hit, and I guess that was in my mind as I bought the book. But you're so right - when I try to think of any other recipe from that, I can't come up with one. And now that I think about it ... holy cow, that recipe might not even have come from BA. Jeepers.

                      2. re: bitchincook

                        I have cooked plenty from this book over the last 6 years. By now, I beat the active cooking times on a regular basis. My partner, well, typically you should double the time estimate.

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      So happy to find your link, Dairy Queen. I was just getting ready to take my ipad shopping, and EYB showed no recipes for the book! Turns out I had entered the one I have (with DVD included) which shows as not indexed. But it's the same book, of course. You saved the day!

                    3. LulusMom, you have drinks listed in the thread title of the second thread, along with salads and vegetables, here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815182 You might want to ask to have that edited to avoid confusion.

                      1 Reply
                      1. My book hasn't arrived yet.

                        Taps foot and looks out of window for postman.

                        19 Replies
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I know it's not the same, but you could always find a recipe in EYB you like and then see if it appears in Epicurious... I did that a lot with Gourmet Today. Gourmet is older so it might not work as well, but it's worth a shot if you're really anxious!



                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Piggy-backing on TDQ's reply, GG, just ask if anyone has a recipe you want and one of us will paraphrase it for you... I'm certain. In the meantime: Pazienza, ragazza avida, pazienza...

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Yes, I just did that for Moroccan-Style Carrots- see my posting a few minutes ago on "Vegetables p. 529"
                              But the carrot ingredients in one was 1/2 pound (Epicurious) and Gourmet is 2 lbs. I suppose I will err on side of the book or use my own judgment for poundage.

                              1. re: Rella

                                I assume you checked the other ingredients as well, to make sure that they hadn't just quadrupled the whole recipe? Did you read the reviews to see if people found it needed more carrots compared to the rest of the ingredients? That might help you figure out how to go. Also, I can tell you that definitely at least once epicurious has given the wrong amount on something (salt! - horrible mistake), so erring on the side of the book could be the right way to go.

                                1. re: LulusMom

                                  Yes, I did check the other ingredients against each other and they all matched except for the poundage of carrots.

                                  I just now read the reviews per your suggestion (I missed that previously - thanks), and found only one review that might lead one to think that of the 29 reviews, all used the 1/2 lb. of carrots.

                                  This was the statement:

                                  "Double the seasonings if using a 1lb frozen bag of carrots."

                                  My carrots weighed almost 2 lb. before prepping coming close to the Gourmet recipe. I kept the other ingredients the same as in the book and on Epicurious.

                                  IMO I think that the amount of ingredients called for would make these carrots pretty darned strong with spices. I am used to spices and hot food ,but I think the spices using 1/2 lb.of carrots are too much. But on the other hand, it seems that 28 reviewers and I differ.

                                  One other thing, I cut the carrots as noted in Epicurious, vs. the Gourmet book, edged rounds vs. sticks.

                                  The sugar in this recipe remained gritty - I used Organic sugar.

                                  The recipe turned out better IMO because the carrots came from my garden; i.e., the carrots are sweeter than the stronger supermarket carrots - I think that part depends on individual taste.

                                  I liked this recipe a lot. It was served alongside: fermented/dried mixed beans cooked in Kirkland chicken broth, hot garden pepper, basil leaves and celery leaves.

                                  Also served with organic celery stalks and goat cheese with cumin.

                                  Also served with oven-baked Tilda brown Basmati rice (my first experience with oven baked rice - as seen here first by me (can't find it now or earlier) on chowhound. The recipe is in the New Best Recipe book and the "Light" Cook's Illustrated book. Instead of an 8x8 pyrex w/foil, I used a high-sided skillet with a lid. I liked using the skillet and will continue to make it that way.

                                  1. re: Rella

                                    Just got my copy from the library. As predicted, its massive size is preventing me from wanting to tackle it. I often have this problem with compendium style books. I brought it with me to pick up the other day and paged through it while i waited for school to get out. Only book marked two recipes before I got to the cookies section. But the cookies section got my attention. I think this will be my focus this month. Just in time for holiday gift giving!

                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                      I know what you mean. My copy arrived on Friday, in a massive parcel wrapped in a heavy duty plastic bag! It's in pristine condition - looks like it's never been used. Not bad for a fiver.

                                      Anyway, I am feeling a little overwhelmed, but hopefully the reporting threads will provide some inspiration.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        I find that with these tome-style books I really rely on EYB and simply try to find recipes inspired by what I find at the market or, what's in my pantry. I guess the up-side of a book of this size is that if you do a search, chances are you'll find at least one recipe w that ingredient! With some kale and cauliflower soon to wither in the depths of my fridge I was delighted to find the recipe for Orecchiette with Cauliflower and Kale. That's WFD tonight at casa bc!

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Ditto on what Breadcrumbs said. For myself, I find it pretty useless to browse a book like this. But I had a chicken, so just searched EYB for recipes, and came up with Chicken with Cornmeal Dumplings, a recipe for which I had all the ingredients on hand. Did the same thing for vegetables as I had an excess of butternut squash, came up with Butternut Squash and Green Beans with Sherry-Soy Butter. This is a perfect situation to utilize EYB, even if you don't have the book, if you see something you like, so many recipes are online.

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            I can't wait to read your report. I have left over kale from my minestrone. I also plan on making this soon.

                                            1. re: BigSal

                                              This is definitely a book where the more reports we have, the more helpful. Since it is so big, it helps to get some idea of what has worked for other people. I can't wait for dkennedy's cookie reviews to start coming in. I've started making cookies with the girls when there happens to be a playdate here on a rainy day, and I have to say, it pretty much always works out well. But the better the cookie, the happier everyone is.

                                          2. re: greedygirl

                                            Does your book have the DVD? Why not start with the 4 recipes Ruth Reichl says are her favorites from the book? I only have a vague recollection of what they are or I'd list them. Some kind of gougere, some kind of chocolate cake, some kind of duck with an ancho chile glaze, I think. I have no idea on the last one. But, they are all mentioned on the dvd.

                                            Also, I noted these favorites of JoanN's from some old thread:

                                            "La Brea tar pit" chicken wings
                                            Black bean soup with rum
                                            Summer fruit salad with mint sugar
                                            Parmesan chicken
                                            Crème brulée French toast


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Mine didn't come with the DVD but thanks. The parmesan chicken already caught my eye so will have to try it.

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                I'll see if I can find mine tonight and post them.

                                                The publishers seemed to highlight these recipes (some of which overlap with ones we've already mentioned):


                                                Simple and Exceptional:

                                                "La Brea Tar Pit" Chicken Wings--The recipe, a staff favorite, came from a reader in Boston.

                                                Skirt Steak Fajitas with Lime and Black Pepper

                                                Jasmine Rice with Cilantro and Peanuts

                                                Definitive Classics:

                                                Pasta Primavera — One of the most popular pasta dishes in America, first introduced at New York City's Le Cirque in the 1970s. (I wonder if this is the same recipe that didn't wow back when ENYTC was COTM...).

                                                Oysters Rockefeller

                                                Lobster Newburg


                                                Cappuccino Brownies

                                                Exotic Mushroom Pâté

                                                Glazed Duck with Clementine Sauce


                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  I listed some of my favorites, along with their epicurious links, on the announcement page.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    Here we go:

                                                    Linguine with shrimp and scallops in Thai Green Curry Sauce: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                    Panfried red snapper with chipotle butter: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (I usually use something other than snapper, which tends to curl up a bit when pan fried - at least for me


                                                    Catfish fillets with tahini sauce: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (catfish works great, but I've used other fish as well. Very similar to a recipe in Arabesque. I always add more lemon juice and garlic


                                                    Crispy oven fried cod: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                    Shrimp with corn and basil: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (I always add a small hot chile pepper - very easy and tasty

                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I posted a list of Reichl's favorites here:


                                                  No longer sure where I read it, but I made a note of it and clipped it onto an endpaper in my copy of the book.

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I have been out of the loop for a while because I'm still hypnotized by Slater's Kitchen Diaries. I also got Tender, but that book doesn't pull on my heart and brain strings (I know, there's no such thing as "brain strings" - so sue me) as much. Maybe it's jealousy at his perfect garden with the hedgerows. Sheesh.

                                                      I hope to come out of my trance soon so I can start on the gigantico Gourmet Cookbook. I will, however, continue to post on the Slater threads.

                                  2. Has anyone read the blogs that have covered cooking all of the recipes in this book? Last time I checked, there were three or four of them. I read some of one, a math prof who is nearing completion of all of the recipes. I think she has 11 left.
                                    She's not as witty or as open-minded as Carol Blymire is on her romps through French Laundry and Alinea. Sometimes I want her to be less judgmental about recipes that involve ingredients she doesn't care for. For instance, she downgrades anything that involves bitter greens, like kale, collards etc, and is highly suspicious of lobster. On the other hand, I have to give her credit for doing it all, and trying out things that she finds off-putting. Plus, I have found that looking at someone else's results with a recipe serve as either warnings or encouragement to me.

                                    Anyone else have thoughts on it?

                                    5 Replies
                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                        >I have found that looking at someone else's results with a recipe serve as either warnings or encouragement to me.

                                        That is one nice thing about doing this book - the recipes that are also on epicurious often have very helpful notes from people who have already made them.

                                        1. re: thinks too much

                                          I'm reading The Gourmet Project blog and am fascinated by her endeavor. She actually made a couple of posts on various COTM chapter report threads recently but all were quickly deleted for some goofy reason. Her likes and dislikes are personal as ours are and most of the time her critiques remind me of a scholarly report but since she's a professor of mathematics at Michigan State with a PHD from MIT that's her method. I'm thoroughly enjoying her blog.

                                          1. re: thinks too much

                                            Holy crap, that is a HUGE undertaking! I have daydreams of doing something like this, not necessarily to blog about it, but just to do it, but when I think of doing that they are always much smaller books! 1,293 (right?) recipes... that's insane!

                                            1. re: Katie Nell

                                              Katie, if I'm not mistaken, I think she, the blogger, posted that because some of the recipes have "recipes within recipes" the actual total is almost 1700+ recipes.


                                          2. Just a note that I've put up the nomination thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816926

                                            I realize this is a bit early, but I will be going out of town on the 18th.