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December 2011 COTM: 150 Best American Recipes: Soups and Salads

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about soups and salads.

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  1. Beet Salad with Horseradish and Fried Capers, Pg. 82. (From The NYT Magazine/Amanda Hesser)

    Very nice. A different way to serve beets. I never would have thought to shallow fry capers. Also, though, I don't have the salted capers...must get ASAP. However, the author does allow the use of the ubiquitous brined version. I had roasted the beets the preceding night to lessen the prep time. I stored them in the fridge, covered, overnight and took them out the next night to bring to room temp while I prepped for the evening meal.

    After removing the skin from the beets cut in wedges, place in a bowl. Heat a bit of olive oil in a small skillet. Put in the capers, fry for a minute, drain on a paper towel. In a small bowl whisk together: Dijon mustard, prepared horseradish, white wine vinegar. Whisk in a drizzle of EVolive oil then sour cream. Add half the dressing to the beets and mix gently. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing or S & P to your liking. Rub a platter with half a clove of garlic then discard. Tip in and spread the beets on the platter. Sprinkle with the fried capers and serve.

    We quite liked this. It looked pretty on an antique white ironstone platter... I'm considering making it for Christmas. With some green garnish tucked around the edges it will look quite festive, I think.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I have to laugh at that garlic step. Is that the only garlic in the dish (or, in this case,ON the dish?) Do you think it made a difference?

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        That's not the first time a recipe has called for rubbing half a clove of garlic on a platter or bowl and in my estimation very little flavor comes through. Others may have a different experience with this technique. A salad tossed in a wooden bowl seems to bear the essence well IMO. I know what you mean, though, TDQ. It hardly seems necessary does it?

        It's the only garlic in the dish.

      2. re: Gio

        I made this too, with salted (and soaked, of course!) capers, and we quite liked it. We're a caper-loving household, so this one caught my eye immediately. Although it doesn't match my favorite way to prepare beets--a Turkish prep using yogurt, lots of crushed garlic, and olive oil (Yoğurtlu Pancar Salatası)-- it's a keeper.

        And yes, the garlic is to laugh.

        I used a mix of red, golden, and Chioggia beets, and also roasted the beets the night before.

      3. "The" Lentil Soup p. 54.
        A lentil/dal fan for a few decades, I decided to try "...a unique techique applied to the humble ingredients."
        No food processor nor blender here, only a food mill, with admonitions of "Do not stir."
        This soup seems to me a good one for comfort and gaining strength.

        I used Kirkland organic chicken stock and ground my own cumin seeds. It was hard to accept "...leaving the thin lentil skins behind."

        I did not serve as suggested the pita bread cut into really small squares, IMO. But I used a Kirkland brand of lavash which I use often and like.

        Served with a lettuce salad w/lemon, garlic, olive oil. Served with bitter melon braised solely in olive oil. Served with dasheen (experimenting with) see rice-ing pic. Made homemade pickles to serve, but they weren't quite ready.

        I had a pint jar + to freeze for another time.

         
         
         
         
         
        8 Replies
        1. re: Rella

          I have wanted to make this. I don't have a food mill, only a ricer. Is that what you used?

          1. re: roxlet

            I used a food mill.

            Here is the typical food mill that I've seen that homemaker-cooks use and have used most of my long life. http://www.amazon.com/Mirro-Foley-2-Q...

            I have used a heavier food mill in the past which I liked better, but it was not stainless and necessitated re-buying.

            I am sure that a ricer would not work for this recipe.

          2. re: Rella

            The Lentil Soup (page 54)

            Note: I made this about 6 weeks ago, before leaving for vacation, and wrote my report at that time. So apologies if I'm duplicating info.

            They’re right when they say it doesn’t look like much. Right, too, when they say “arguably the most satisfying soup in the world.”

            Lentils and grated onion are simmered without stirring for an hour. Lentils are passed through a food mill then seasoned with cumin and S&P. Lemon juice is added and it’s returned to the pot and brought to a simmer. The soup thickens quickly. You can thicken as much or as little as you want. Soup is topped with fried pita squares and a drizzle of olive oil.

            They emphasize that you should not omit the fried pita squares and drizzle of olive oil, so I didn’t. But they instruct you to deep fry one large pita cut into ½-inch squares in 2 cups! of olive oil. No way was I gonna do that. I shallow-fried them in a few tablespoons of oil (which they absorbed almost immediately) and just kept tossing them until they were mostly brown and toasty. That seemed to work well enough. They remained crunchy, even after sitting in the soup for bit.

            This was very good and would be a nice soup to have on hand in the freezer. In fact, this was for a dinner for my grandson for whom I packaged and froze the pre-leftovers so he could take them back to the dorm. I suggested he add some cut-up ham, or even a hot dog, for a very quick and hearty meal on those nights (seemingly more and more frequent) when he doesn’t get home from the studio until the wee hours.

             
            1. re: JoanN

              Nice presentation, I enjoyed it.
              I,too, froze a bit. I debated at first if I should halve the receipe. I'm glad I dd not.

              1. re: JoanN

                I think I'm going to get a food mill for Christmas -- I'm asking for one just so that I can try this soup. Looks delicious!

                1. re: kellyts

                  I've had a food mill for decades. I can't honestly say I use it all that often. But when I need it, nothing else will do. Think raspberry sauce--with no seeds.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Sounds like my mortar and pestle. I can't get rid of it though I use it rarely since it's the best for what it does do!

              2. re: Rella

                My turn on "The" Lentil Soup. I cheated. i don't have a food mill or ricer, and just used my immersion blender. Totally against the rules. And guess what? I loved it anyway. We made this on Saturday and Lulu and I couldn't stop having tiny little bowls of it (so much so that I was worried we wouldn't have enough tonight). She kept asking "when are we having the lentil soup we made??" Back in my college days I used to gussy up my cans of Progresso lentil soup with cumin, so that being a hit wasn't surprising, but the lemon juice really brought it up an extra notch. I loved it. I did do the whole 2 cups of olive oil, and wish I'd reread JoanN's review first. Mine did *not* stay crispy the whole time, although they were very tasty. But there will definitely be a next time. This soup is easy to make and absolutely delicious. Even without a food mill or ricer.

              3. Alice Water's Coleslaw, Pg. 67. (From the NYT Magazine)

                As Jason Epstein states in the recipe story, "Leave it to Alice Waters to come up with a formula that highlights the refreshing spicy-sweet flavor of the cabbage." That sums up the essence of a different combination of ingredients that creates a very nice slaw that could easily compliment a variety of main dishes from burgers to roasts.

                Slaw ingredients: green cabbage, red onion, cilantro leaves, jalapeño.
                Dressing: olive oil, fresh lime juice, red wine vinegar, Maldon salt (specified, but a good Kosher salt will do), freshly ground black pepper, sugar to taste.

                Shred the vegetables and toss into a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the slaw, toss well to coat. Let this sit at room temperature for 1 hour mixing and tossing every so often. Drain the liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Taste now and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Wait another hour then toss and serve.

                We didn't change any thing with this recipe. A choice is given for the amounts of a few ingredients...
                1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil. We used 1/4.
                3 to 4 Tbsp lime juice. We used 3T.
                3 to 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar. We used 3T.

                The slaw was delicious although I should have used more lime juice and vinegar. There's some left over and I'll probably add the extras when I serve it again. Also, my jalapeño wasn't very hot and I'll add either another one or simply some red pepper flakes. But it was well received as made and I'll probably make it again. I should say that we didn't wait the second hour. Still, the slaw was very tasty.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gio

                  Alice Water's Coleslaw

                  I am a fan of cabbage but have often been ho hum about coleslaw. Too gloppy and mayonnaise-y often. This coleslaw was fresh and bright and had great flavor. A real winner! I didn't measure, but just added lime juice and red wine vinegar to taste.

                  Served this with tacos made from a slow cooked Southwestern style brisket, pickled onions and pinto beans. A great meal. Leftovers are packed in the fridge and we will see how they fare.

                2. Pea soup with crispy pancetta croutons and sour cream, p.31

                  Delicious, and easy. Cook chopped scallions and mint leaves gently in butter for a few minutes, add frozen peas and chicken stock and a bit of heavy cream, simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat and puree. Salt to taste once pureed, and reheat if needed.. Top with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, and with croutons made by oven-roasting chopped pancetta, torn pieces of bread, and torn pieces of mint leaves -- drizzled with oil and seasoned.

                  Having no heavy cream, I used half and half, and waited to add it until the puree stage. [An immersion blender makes this stage hardly any work at all.] For the leftovers, I made smaller croutons (1/3" bread cubes) in a skillet, and liked them better than the "opening night" large, irregular ones. Thought this might be the rare soup that's not better the second day, but it was (SO agreed), so would be an excellent make-ahead for a dinner party, with only the croutons to pop in the oven.

                  Miint is growing outside the back door, and most of the ingredients are staples here, so this is almost a pantry dish [scallions and pancetta being the shop-fors]. Very encouraging start! Just bought beets for the salad with horseradish and fried capers...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ellabee

                    Pea Soup with Crispy Pancetta, Bread, and Sour Cream, Pg. 31 (From Jamie's Kitchen/Jamie Oliver)

                    We made this last night and Loved it. Ellabee described the procedure very well. As she did, I also used 1/2 & 1/2 instead of heavy cream but I added it after the broth, in my case home made salt free chicken broth, then cooked the soup with frozen petit pois for the full 15 minutes. The mint I had was less than "a large handful" called for so I augmented it with a few teaspoons of dried.

                    This is such a pretty soup. The photo accurately shows the finished dish. The fact that it tastes like a breath of Spring in a bowl makes it all the more appealing.

                    The exact recipe is here, if anyone is interested...
                    http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/...

                  2. Tortilla Soup with Chicken and Avocado p. 48

                    This was my first attempt at tortilla soup. I used this recipe as my guideline and made a couple additions/changes based on Rick Bayless’s recipe. Heat oil and cook finely chopped onion (I added garlic too) until soft, then add chili powder (I used ancho chile powder, Bayless suggests this as a second choice to pasillas) and tomato paste. Add seasoned chicken thigh (bone-in, skinless) and turn to coat and add chicken broth (homemade), simmer, cover and cook 30ish minutes (turning once) until done. Remove from pan, shred and set aside. Remove excess grease from ancho mixture, add remaining chicken broth, cilantro stems and pureed fire-roasted diced tomatoes (taken from the Bayless recipe- this recipe suggests adding diced tomatoes at the end of the recipe) and simmer to reduce by a third. My broth was unsalted so I did add some salt too. Add chicken, corn (less than suggested), and tortilla strips (mine were baked, so the texture suffered once they were in the soup for a while). I omitted the black beans and will probably continue to do so if I were to make this again. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, lime juice. I omitted the sour cream and just noticed that I forgot to add the queso fresco- oops!

                    This was hearty and filling, but not heavy. It had some heat, the corn added a touch of sweetness, and burst of flavor from the cilantro and lime. This may have been more tomato-ey than intended as I pureed the tomatoes and cooked them with the broth rather than adding diced tomatoes to the finished soup. Nonetheless, this hit the spot.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: BigSal

                      I love Tortilla soup. I'll put this on my list. Thanks for the review.

                      1. re: BigSal

                        I've never made tortilla soup either, Sal, and was delighted to read your report. I'll add it to my To Make list too.