HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


December 2011 COTM: 150 Best American Recipes: Side Dishes

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapter about side dishes.

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tonight I made the butternut squash rounds with sage. They were super simple to make and disnt take long in the oven--important forme since I'm a working mom with a 30-40 minute commute. The garlic oil carmelized nicely on the slices and the little bits of sage were crispy. I would definitely make this again. It was doable on a work night, not something I can say about the majority of my usual squash recipes that require me to cook the squash a night ahead of time.

    The only corrections I would make would be to peel an extra layer of squash off under the skin and brush it with the oil as our rounds were a little tough around the edges. My husband actually nibbled them off before eating the more tender center.

    We ate it with a simple salad I threw together of leftover kamut, a dressing of olive oil, pomegranate molasses, agave nectar, salt and pepper, some chopped parsley and dried cherries and cranberries.

    5 Replies
    1. re: kellyts

      Perfect! Now I know exactly what to do with my butternut squash!


      1. re: kellyts

        Butternut Squash Rounds with Sage

        I made a take on these last night. Used a Kiri squash cored, peeled, cut into two-bite sized triangles, tossed (rather than brushing) them with the garlic oil and chopped sage, turned into a baking dish and cooked as the recipe instructs. It worked just fine, and as Kellyts mentions it is a faster way to roast winter squash.

        1. re: qianning

          Tossing it makes so much sense. I will do that next time. DUH! I like this recipe well enough that I suspect I will be making it again before the month is over. Garlicky oil, sage, and butternut squash ... so simple and yet so yummy!

          1. re: kellyts

            I think it might be yummy roasted with ginger oil from carrot-ginger soup recipe - going to try soon.

            1. re: herby

              I think you are spot on, there are a lot of flavor combinations that would work. I often cook cut winter squash low and slow in flavored olive oil in a covered saute pan, which yields a very similar result, but the nice thing about this recipe is you really don't have to watch it too carefully, and it is a bit faster than the stove top method.

      2. Pan-roasted Carrots, pg 197

        Baby carrot season is a distant memory around here, but the recipe notes tell how to make these with "big old carrots", and so I did. Not as pretty as the baby carrots, but still very nice.

        Slowly pan roast carrots, in a saute pan with olive oil over very low heat, until tender and lightly browned. Toward the end of cooking add some rosemary sprigs. Just before serving add honey and butter, and toss. For us half the called for amount of honey and butter was still a bit too much, about a quarter of the amount called for in the recipe would have been just right.

        3 Replies
        1. re: qianning

          Pan-roasted Carrots, pg 197

          Had some lovely rainbow carrots from the FM so I decided to make these. We loved them--total surprise b/c we usually find carrots boring, and there's not much to this recipe. But this particular combination of carrots, OO, butter, honey, and rosemary works exceedingly well. I made half a recipe, but followed the proportions. Nice. And very easy.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            I usually find carrots fairly boring too, so didn't even think about making this. But given that you feel that way too, and liked this, maybe I need to try it.

            1. re: LulusMom

              It's so easy that even if you don't like them, you won't have invested a lot of time or ingredients. But we really liked them. Who knew!

        2. Roasted Potato Crisps with fresh herbs p. 209

          Ok, I hope someone else tries these and either has more luck or figures them out. I tried them tonight because the picture looks so amazing and this is right up my alley. And I had the ingredients in the pantry. But it mostly made a sticky hash-browny kind of mess for me.

          Basically you slice potatoes very thin on a mandoline and layer them on a cookie sheet with olive oil, slat and pepper and herbs. You boake them at 425 for 20 minutes and then begin to turn them, cooking another 20 minutes or so until they are very thin potato chips. Well, not for me.

          I think the recipe is lacking in specifics... and I am very much a fly by the seat of my pants cook so I don't tend to need specificity. But I followed the recipe exactly and the potatoes did not get crisp by the time I was supposed to do the first turn. I kind of figured this was going to happen but I curious to see what happened. At the first turn, the potatoes mostly just kept stuck together, and made, well, not a mush but more a weird terrine.

          By the end, I did have some wonderful crisps here and there, but not many. The crisps tasted great, though and I'd love a big tray of them! I ended up eating all of it, as it was basically well-cooked potatoes with herbs. Just not like the recipe was supposed to be.

          If I did it again, I would wait to do the first turn until the bottom layer was pretty crisp. But I actually think I might only do one layer on a number of sheets, rather than stack all these layers. I don't understand how the layering of the slices causes them to brown… anyone?

          1. Double-Corn Polenta, p. 203.

            I've posted about this recipe before, but it bears repeating. Made with summer corn and heirloom tomatoes, it's incredible. Made with frozen corn and quartered grape tomatoes, it's almost as good. I use stone-ground polenta, and usually add about 1 cup extra water over the course of cooking, and cook for about 30 minutes. Tonight I used chives as the only herb, and that worked just fine.

            7 Replies
            1. re: pikawicca

              I was thinking about adding this to my Christmas Table... what do you think, pikawicca?

              1. re: pikawicca

                Double-Corn Polenta, p. 203

                Made this last night. Pretty simple recipe: you cook medium-grind cornmeal in a combo of water and heavy cream. Add in some fresh corn kernels (I used frozen), fresh herbs (I used chives, thyme, and parsley), and parmesan cheese. Top with some diced tomato that has dressed with a touch of olive oil and salt (I used cherry tomatoes). The polenta is supposed to cook in about 20 minutes, but mine took quite a bit longer. This would be great in the summer with fresh corn and tomatoes from the garden, but even with my wintertime make-do ingredients, it was quite good. Leftovers made for a nice breakfast this morning.

                1. re: MelMM

                  I was thinking of this for one of my side dishes at Christmas... do you think it turned out well enough?

                  1. re: Tom P

                    Oh, yes. It turned out great. If it sounds like something that you and your guests would like, I would go for it.

                    1. re: MelMM

                      I'm going to give it a try, then, thank you!

                      1. re: Tom P

                        I made this and a few other recipes from the book for Christmas. This was my least favorite, though the crowd at the dinner table all enjoyed it very much, much more than I. Nothing was wrong with it. I guess I tend to like my own polenta better. And, as some of us have noted, with the title of the book, I keep expecting amazing flavor and dishes rather than "that was very good'. Anyway, it was indeed easy and, as noted, the crowd loved it.

              2. Mushy Zucchini

                I made this yesterday in my ongoing effort to get my kids to eat veggies. I must admit that zucchini is not my favorite vegetable, but I had some in my fridge, and I figured that drenching a vegetable in butter seemed like it might be a big improvement to a fussy 4 year old.

                So the recipe calls for a full stick of butter. I used 1/2 a stick because that just looked like sea of butter as it melted and I couldn't quite bring myself to add the other half a stick. To this, you add 4 cloves garlic minced. Cook that a bit then add your sliced zucchini, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 15 minutes until starting to break up. Adjust seasoning and serve. Super easy.

                The verdict... as you might expect, this tastes like delicious garlic butter with a garnish of zucchini. 4 year old made wretching sounds and refused to eat it. 2 year old prefered braised kale. I ate this with a simple cheese sandwich and some braised kale and felt quite satisfied.

                Don't think this will go into my regular rotation as I'm not a huge zucchini fan and the kids turned up their noses. But I am looking forward to the buttery leftovers.

                1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Pecorino, p. 195

                  Another very simple but tasty veggie recipe. I try out a lot of brussels sprouts recipe, and I've done many similar versions of this one, but this is still a winner.

                  First, you toast some walnuts. Meanwhile, toss trimmed, halved BS in olive oil and S&P to coat. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet and bake at 450F until sprouts are tender and slightly charred. (I did mine in my toaster oven; they were done in about 12 minutes.) Cool on sheet. In bowl, toss cooled BS w/toasted walnuts, a little EVOO, and some fresh lemon juice. Shave some pecorino over the top.


                  6 Replies
                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    Cauliflower with Garlic and Paprika, Pg. 198. (From Savoring Spain and Portugal/Joyce Goldstein)

                    This was quite a different preparation of cauliflower for us. Cauliflower is a vegetables we cook every other week or so and thus have made many variations on numerable themes. G liked it very much. Me? My mental jury is still out. It's an easy dish to pull together.

                    First cut the florets from a large head of cauliflower and place them in a bowl of acidulated water. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, put in 2 or 3 slices of crust less country bread. (I use a bread from Portugal called Saloio.) Fry the bread till golden on both sides, remove from pan, break into pieces, toss in a blender or food processor. (I used MFP.) To the skillet add a Tbsp of Spanish paprika. (I used a sweet smoked Spanish paprika.) Heat this till fragrant then add 2 cups of water. Drain cauliflower, season with salt, cook - uncovered - about 15 minutes. While the cauliflower is cooking into the FP add garlic, chopped parsley, pine nuts, pulse till crushed. Add 1/4 cup cooking water, pulse once, add to cauliflower in skillet, mix well. Cook this over low heat till flavors are well blended.

                    I served the cauliflower with brown basmati rice cooked in homemade saltless chicken broth. It was really quite a substantial meal and we didn't need the side diah of sauteed yellow squash I had prepared...

                    1. re: Gio

                      now THIS is an interesting recipe! (leave it to joyce!) This treatment is very similar to a chicken recipe i have which also has sauteed almonds, mayo and lemon juice in the ingredients to be pureed. i believe this reflects the arab muslim influences during their long stay in Spain; also has some similarities to taratour sauce. thnx much for sharing this.

                    2. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Sorry, Nomad... I hit the wrong reply button.

                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        We made this for Thanksgiving and then again the week after - for a family of non-brussel sprout lovers this recipe is a definite keeper. crispy and a great mix of flavors. Parmigiano or any hard, flavorful cheese also work well with this.

                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                          I really like this method--it's a snap to throw together too. Somehow all the flavors--toasted chopped walnuts, EVOO, the sprouts, and the aged pecorino--just meld together. A spritz of lemon juice, a little S & P, and you're serving a very pleasing dish of fresh-tasting brussels sprouts! The roasting creates attractively browned specimens.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            I'm going to try these tonight on my visiting brother, who has always hated BS (but Mom never made them this way), and try to convert him.
                            It really is a great combination of ingredients though.

                          2. Creamy anchos and onions, p.206

                            The sauce in this dish functions as a delicious gravy with roast chicken, potatoes, noodles, or (in my case tonight) a slice of great bread.

                            The work is in prepping a pound of pearl onions (halved, trimmed so that the root end holds together). De-stem and de-seed four or five ancho chiles and toast them in a cast iron skillet on medium. Tear into half-inch pieces and set aside. Chop 4 cloves garlic, and strip a quarter-cup of fresh tarragon leaves.

                            Saute the onions in a wide skillet or saute pan with a tablespoon of butter until they begin to soften, adding the garlic for a minute or two, and then a cup of chicken stock. Cook on medium until the onions are pretty much done. Then add two cups of heavy cream, the anchos, and the tarragon. Cook on medium-low for ten minutes or so; the cream thickens a bit and the anchos soften. Salt to taste (didn't need any IMO), add a squeeze of lime juice, and serve.

                            Sweet and peppery, with a warm finish. Num. Because it's so rich and creamy, a refreshing and crunchy salad is a nice accompaniment.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ellabee

                              I've never read (iirc) a traditional Mex. recipe w/ tarragon in it, so this really intrigues me as a creative riff.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I was skeptical, but it's muy, muy sabroso! I probably used less tarragon than called for, because it's easily overdone, and I didn't want to mask the ancho taste.

                                Sadly, that's what happens as the leftovers sit in the fridge; the tarragon intensifies while the ancho flavor and heat dissipates, so the balance goes off and into a very un-Mexican place. Because I love tarragon, it was still tasty to me with a bit of pasta; the SO, who liked the onions on their opening night, did not care for v.2 at all.

                            2. Arroz Verde, p. 221

                              I've made "green rice" dishes before, but the intriguing thing about this one is the inclusion of milk. You blend up spinach, cilantro and chicken broth, then blend in some milk, and salt. Melt some butter and a bit of oil in a saucepan, and saute your uncooked rice until nice and toasty, then add chopped onion and garlic. Add the green liquid from the blender to this, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook covered. The recipe has you gently stir once, near the end of cooking, then remove from heat and let sit for awhile.

                              This was an easy, uncomplicated way to really dress up some rice. It tasted almost like it was made with coconut milk instead of cow's milk. Very fragrant, just a touch of richness, but not creamy or really milky tasting. Very, very good. I'll be making this again.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: MelMM

                                Sounds good, thanks for pointing it out, I had completely missed this recipe.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Arroz Verde p. 221

                                  Made this tonight. Nothing much to add to MelMM's description of the recipe, she's nailed it. We also liked it, although not quite so enthusiastically, but still in all it grew on me to the point where I had seconds of rice, which is a pretty rare thing for me. Served with some very spicy chicken, ENYT's Staff Meal Chicken, and a tangy salsa the rice made a very nice mellow foil.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    Arroz Verde. We really liked this one, too. The milk was an interesting addition that I never would have thought of on my own and is hard to pick up in the finished dish, although it does have a certain richness that most rice dishes do not. I will be putting this in the regular rotation-- if for no other reason than that I can trick my family into eating spinach and not sacrifice deliciousness. Oh yeah, and I doubled the spinach with no ill effects.

                                  2. Zucchini with Cilanto and Cream, p. 216

                                    Cook zucchini in butter with a little garlic until almost tender. Add a little cream and cook a bit longer. I left out the garlic (husband can't eat) and cooked a little longer than instructed, until the cream was very reduced. Served over rice, along with the Salmon with Lemon-Ginger Butter. I think I actually liked this more than the salmon, and I liked the salmon very much indeed.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      I have this one on my list too and keep waiting for the right thing to pair it with; somehow I'm thinking southern european (since it is Corsican, if I remember correctly). I imagine with the garlic is it over the top good, considering how much you liked it without.

                                    2. Green Bean Salad with Cream, p. 71

                                      Very simple, very lemon-y, but mellowed with the suavity of creme fraiche. You simply toss 1 1/4 pounds of tender green beans that have been boiled or steamed until crisp-tender and refreshed with cold water, and refrigerated until needed. Meanwhile, combine the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper, stirring to dissolve the salt; then stir in a minced shallot and 1/2 cup creme fraiche. Refrigerate this dressing until just before serving time, when you combine the beans and creme dressing. At this point garnish with fresh chopped chives and serve.

                                      I felt that the lemon flavor was almost too pronounced, but my other guests liked it. The recipe also suggests sprinkling with snipped dill, which I think would be good.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Goblin

                                        This did not go well for me. But I made the dressing the day before and I guess that was a problem. It foamed up in a weird way over night. I should have made it again but was in a rush so I tossed it with the beans. Our least favorite of the table at Christmas. But the beets...wow, see below.

                                      2. Beet Salad with Horseradish and Fried Capers, p. 82.

                                        Very savory; a briny-mustardy vinaigrette smoothed out with a bit of sour cream that works well with the sweetness of roasted beets. Topped with crunchy fried capers, which are very easy to do and which the recipe contributor (Amanda Hesser) suggests using on other dishes.

                                        You first oven-roast 1 1/2 pounds of trimmed beets (wrapped in foil, 350 F--my relatively small ones took an hour) and then when they are tender, peel them, cut them in wedges, and reserve. BTW, I find that peeling roasted beets works really well using a paper towel to rub off the skin.

                                        Meanwhile you have fried 2 tablespoons of salt-packed or brined capers in 1/2 inch of olive oil in a small saucepan until they "fluff up and begin to brown around the edges, 30 to 60 seconds." Drain on paper towels and reserve. Note: If using salt-packed capers, first soak them for 10 minutes in water. Then drain and pat dry.

                                        While hanging around your kitchen waiting for the beets to cook, you have also made a vinaigrette by whisking 1 1/2 Tablespoons of prepared horseradish, 1 Tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 Tablespoon of white wine vinegar together. Then you whisk in 4 Tablespoons of olive oil till thickened, followed by 1 Tablespoon of sour cream. Plus sea salt to taste (I didn't feel the vinaigrette needed this.)

                                        Toss the warm beets with half of the dressing and then spoon them onto a platter which you have rubbed with a crushed clove of garlic. Sprinkle the fried capers over the top and serve.

                                        The recipe doesn't specify EVOO but that's what I used. It also doesn't say what to do with the other half of the dressing after you've tossed the beets with it. I passed it at the table. My guests, all admittedly beet-lovers, really liked the way the slightly smoky yet bright horseradish flavor contrasted with the beets, while mixed with the Dijon and vinegar but tempered with the sour cream. I think this would also make a great buffet dish.

                                        Here's a not-very-good photo. You will note that I forgot to toss the beets with half the dressing! I just drizzled it over.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: Goblin

                                          This was incredible. A dish that lived up to the title of the book. I used prepared beets from Trader Joe's... normally I roast my own but I was pressed for time and they have freshly roasted beets that are quite good. Anyway, Goblin did a great job describing it so I won't do so again but this was for many of us one of the surprise hits of the Christmas Buffet. I will make this again and again.

                                          1. re: Tom P

                                            Glad to hear this went well and I'm glad you mentioned the prepared beets from Trader Joe's. I have seen those but not tried them. I thought about this as an addition to the Chirstmas table, but just couldn't manage one more side dish--- the pre-roasted beets might have made it doable.

                                            I will put this on the list to try.

                                            1. re: Tom P

                                              Where does one find the prepared beets at TJs? The produce aisle? Frozen? Sounds like a huge time saver.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                I've seen them in the produce aisle. I think they were next to packages of pre-cooked lentils in the refrigerated section of the produce area. I love beets-- but getting red fingernails from peeling roasted ones, not so much. This is a convenience food I can get behind-- I will report back after my weekly TJ's shopping trip.

                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                  If they are the ones I'm thinking of, I think they are steamed, not roasted. Good, but when I tried some time ago I didn't think they had the flavor of roasted. I may be misremembering though, so others please chime in.

                                                  1. re: mebby

                                                    Greeneggs is right, they are in the cold produce section.... lately they've had some fresh peeled pearl onions, too, which are terrific! The beets indeed do not have the flavor of roasted but they do taste good and in a pinch, particularly with this dressing, worked fine.

                                                    1. re: Tom P

                                                      This is really great news. I'm with greeneggs; the process of cooking beets can be less than enjoyable (or maybe I should say the process of cleaning up after). I remember once after roasting them my kitchen looked like a scene from a Scorcese movie. Wonder if you could roast them at a high temp for just a bit to help add flavor?

                                            2. re: Goblin

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

                                              This is the very first recipe I made from the 150 Best Recipe book on 1 December. I posted it in the Salad thread. Here's the link to my report.


                                              As for roasting beets, I like to peel beets using 2 paper towels, 1 in each hand. The beet skin rubs off quickly and relatively cleaning with the towels. However, i'll have to try TJ's jarred beets and see is the difference suits.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                I do the same as Gio - paper towels. If one wants to absolutely keep hands free of the red, use nitrile gloves during the process.

                                                I use nitrile gloves a LOT. (Latex if you prefer.) For those who find this unnecessary for themselves, I add that these gloves provide me with a lot of benefit in food preparation. Just a couple of reasons: peelers will often cut into fingers peeling any kind of round vegetable, such as turnips, rutabagas, celery root; or even uncooked beets, if you will. Peeling/cutting with a knife, it can lessen a paper-cut type knife cut. etc etc etc

                                            3. Braised Green Beans with Tomato and Fennel, p. 190

                                              A flavorful and incredibly easy way to serve those husky green beans of fall/winter. A medium yellow onion, thinly sliced, is softened in either 2 tablespoons of baking drippings OR EVOO (which I had). Add a pound of trimmed green beans, a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes, two thick slices of diced bacon (my choice) or a ham hock. and 1 tablespoon of freshly ground fennel seeds. Simmer over very low heat for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with S & P and serve.

                                              This was surprisingly interesting--the fennel seeds really add a nice depth of flavor combined with the salty bacon. The notes suggests adding ground black pepper with a heavy hand if you want more kick. And they can be made ahead and reheated with no ill effect. Who knew green beans would accept three hours of simmering? They turned out tender and not at all mushy. I think this would be great at a buffet--you could keep them warm with no ill effect.

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                :: Who knew green beans would accept three hours of simmering? ::

                                                Southerners. ;> I'm eager to try this as soon as any green beans appear in the market. Right now, nothing, husky or otherwise.

                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                  Hi Ellabee! I well remember my incredulity when a friend of mine--a very good cook-- from Georgia confided that she habitually simmered her green beans for 3 hours. I was a California girl and couldn't believe this would produce anything but mush. Not so, as I found!
                                                  Hope you find some good-sized beans soon!

                                                  1. re: Goblin

                                                    i'm sure that they were as you described- not mushy- but it still reminds me of my (Southern) mom saying that "Southerners like vegetables cooked so that you can push them through your teeth" :-}

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      Oh, that's an unforgettable image! So funny.

                                                  2. re: ellabee

                                                    I am from the south and the elderly folks in my family will not eat a green bean that has not simmered at least three hours. I love the 'new way' of cooking green beans, also... blanched, lightly sauteed in garlic and lemon, with a wonderful crunch. Yum. But you can't beat long simmered beans, particularly fresh pole beans off the vine. Check the link for my favorite way to do them.

                                                    I'll note that one Christmas I did the beans the 'new way' and it was very upsetting to many at the table :)


                                                    (adding some homemade pepper vinegar to these beans is a must in my family)

                                                  3. re: Goblin

                                                    " Who knew green beans would accept three hours of simmering?"


                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                      Braised Green Beans w/ Tomato &Fennel

                                                      We had these last night, and really enjoyed them. They were a great side served with a piece of fennel and lemon flavored grilled fish.

                                                      Nothing to add to Goblin's excellent review except to note that I halved the recipe with no ill effect, and I used a diced "fresh" (from the supermarket) plum tomato in place of the canned, and that worked fine.

                                                    2. SWEET POTATOES WITH FRESH GINGER AND APPLE CIDER

                                                      this Rozanne Gold recipe was a winner in my house, pureed cooked sweets, seasoned only with reduced apple cider (a delicious syrup, a goodly quantity of fresh ginger and a bit of butter. I think roasted sweet potatoes would give a more intense, caramelized effect to this dish than the steemed sweets I used. Im not a big fan of fresh ginger in this type of dish (seems too raw for me) but it grew on me/mellowed over a day or two.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                        jen, i completely agree w/ you. would be better w/ roasted swt potatoes and sauteed ginger. same w/ carrot ginger soup.

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          glad I am not alone in this.even a reheat in the microwave mellowed the taste of these for me.

                                                          ps I do like fresh ginger, for example shreds on my congee, but not in these applications.

                                                      2. Sardinian Bread and Tomato casserole (p. 224)

                                                        This is basically like a vegetarian lasagna with bread instead of noodles, and only pecorino romano for the cheese. Make a sauce from a large can of plum tomatoes pulsed in a processor with a little salt, then heat that with sliced onions until reduced (at this point someone came by the house and remarked that it smelled wonderful). Take stale crusty bread slices (I used a rosemary olive oil loaf) and dip them in boiling water for just a second or two. squeeze out a bit of the water, then layer in a casserole dish, put half the tomato sauce, half the cheese, and then do again with another layer of each. Bake for about 25 minutes. We liked this, it was perfectly pleasant on a cool night served with some turkey sausages. Was it one of the best recipes I've ever had? Far from it, but still perfectly pleasant. The rosemary in the bread was maybe what we liked best about it. So not a bad review, but not a rave either.

                                                        33 Replies
                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          "Was it one of the best recipes I've ever had? Far from it, but still perfectly pleasant." Don't know about others, but seems to me with that sentence LLM has summarized this book very aptly.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            My feeling too, Qianning. There's not one truly memorable dish that I've made this month that I'm dying to make again. They're all quite serviceable recipes that would make a decent family meal and a couple that I would be pleased to serve to guests. But that's about it. There are a few still on my To Make list that I'm going to try to squeeze in during the last few days of the month. For instance, tonight the sausages and grapes recipe is on the menu. We'll see how it goes.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              I've made the sausages and grapes recipe, and thought it was just ok. But I think that may very well be because of using turkey sausages, which aren't going to let off as many juices to give flavor. I will look forward to hearing out it turns out for you.

                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                oh that sausage and grape dish, can't wait to hear your report.....didn't get my act together enough to find good sausages, so not making it this week anyway, but it did catch my eye. that said when we were living near providence al forno wasn't really on our list of favorite (except for the grilled pizza, which really was wonderful) places.

                                                                and as for the book, it may be in consolidating down to 150 recipes, the recipes from the series with any funkiness or difficulty to them got dropped, and what's here are good, even better, but not best. (desserts/baking may be a different matter, but i'm a strictly special occasion dessert person, so haven't explored that chapter)

                                                                1. re: qianning

                                                                  LLM & Qianning...
                                                                  The sausages I have are "home made" spicy chicken sausages from our local salumeria. We've had them in the past and G thinks they're not as spicy/hot as the pork ones but we seem to be eating a lot of pork lately so I thought chicken was a better if not healthier choice. We shall see.

                                                                  LLM... thanks for the warning about the juices. I may add some wine...or broth?

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    It's been a while, but I'd say keep an eye on them. And you know me, I'd go straight for the wine if I felt something needed a bit more liquid.

                                                                    Homemade spicy chicken sausages! Impressive. What do you use for casing?

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      "Home made" as in not My home but the Italian deli. I have no idea what they use for casing. Probably something porky. LOL

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        Aha! Yes, they usually use pork in the casings - either that or lamb skin. When we first moved to Chapel Hill the local WFs *only* sold the kind that had pork casings. I asked them if any Jewish customers had complained and they looked at me like I was from Mars. So ... I guess not!

                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                  This is also my feeling. I've been disappointed given the title of the book. I've made quite a few, liked them all but only with the skillet Blueberry cobbler have I felt a recipe lived up to the title. Yet I am going to try some more and even have a few planned for the Christmas table (5 hour duck, double corn polenta, green bean/creme fraice salad/beet salad)... hope springs eternal I guess!

                                                                  1. re: Tom P

                                                                    i haven't thought of that phrase in a looooong time. Love it. as dave barry says, 'would make a great name for a rock band", yes? !!

                                                                3. re: qianning

                                                                  Exactly. I think the title might be raising expectations to a level that would be hard to achieve. I will say that I really really loved the chicken fricasse and would call that one of the best chicken recipes I've made. And that corn bread and sausage salad was awfully good. But at least on savory items, while things vary from very good to just ok, few seem to me to be 'the best." And that is a shame. I loved this series so much, and have so many favorites from earlier books (in fact tonight's black bean burgers will be accompanied by the Zesty Coleslaw from the 2002-2003 book).

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    LulusMom, I think you've hit it on the head. If these recipes had been "packaged" under a different title: "150 Perfectly Good American Recipes for the Home Cook," for instance, our expectations might have been more than met. Would it have sold? Probably not.

                                                                    Having said that, I really enjoyed this book and found some good recipes that I will make again. I also thought that the photos, notes, and tips were extremely helpful. I had the feeling that the recipes themselves had been thoroughly tested and I could depend on them.

                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                      Absolutely agree with you on all counts. I have found many very good recipes that I'll make again, and the tips are often invaluable. And "150 Perfectly good American Recipes for the Home Cook" while perhaps more fitting, wouldn't have sold as well.

                                                                      When the first of these books came out (1999?) I had just started cooking (well, I'd cooked before, but not often) and I got that first book and almost cooked my way through it. It helped me so much, having those notes and tips, and I learned a heck of a lot and made many great meals. So I just kept buying each new book that came out. I'd still do so if they decided to start up again, although I doubt they will.

                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        I love those books, and each is marked w/tabs as either my favorites or "to try." But very few of those made it into this 150 Best book. Still I've found a few new things, things I'd bypassed in the other books, with which I've been pleased.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                          This would be a terrific book to give a 'starting out' cook.

                                                                      2. re: LulusMom

                                                                        llmom, i don't know if this is too much trouble, but I am new to reading the CBOM series on CH. When you have time, would you name the best books of this "150 Best" series of books, IYO, so i could pursue them and any threads connected to them? also any other CHs, plse chime in! thanx so much.

                                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                          In the end we didn't have any threads going with this book, so I don't think there are any about the other books. I'm in the midst of cooking Christmas Eve dinner but will make a note to myself. If pressed right this minute I'd go for the first one just because I bought it first and cooked my way through it, but I have many many favorite things from other books. The skillet souffle with goat cheese and herbs is fantastic (not sure what year without looking it up); the zesty coleslaw is great and very simple to make. Once the holiday is over I will try to go through my books and note some favorites from each one. Hope this isn't putting you off too much!

                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                            I was going to make the same request, LulusMom, so I look forward to reading your top favorites from the series! thanks.

                                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                              I've got a free moment so let me look over the 1999 book first.
                                                                              Starters: Cumin Crisps: I remember liking these very much, although I've never made another batch. Maybe it is time.
                                                                              Parsi Deviled Eggs: love these
                                                                              Peperoni Alla Piemontese (roasted peppers with anchovies): fantastic.
                                                                              Green Olive and Lemon Risotto: i love this one too
                                                                              Salad of smoke Trout, pink grapefruit and radicchio: Liked this a whole lot, and should remake it.

                                                                              Soups: Chilled Fennel soup with Pernod: loved it
                                                                              Yellow Pepper and pine nut soup/ Curried Summer Squash soup: both just so-so for me

                                                                              Salads: Watermelon-Goat Cheese salad: great

                                                                              Not big on brunchy foods, so didn't make anything from that chapter

                                                                              Mains: Wheezers Cheese Pie: yummy
                                                                              Raji's Steamed Mussels (with cilantro and tomatoes): very good
                                                                              Salmon in Sweet red curry: tasty
                                                                              Jerk chicken: I thought this was ok, but needed more heat
                                                                              Tandoori-style cornish game hens: ok
                                                                              Zuni-roast chicken with bread salad: I've only made the chicken, but just read the mains second of this month's selection to see what a hit this is.
                                                                              The Amazing Five-Hour duck: another one that made it to this month's book. We liked this, but I think we'd been on a bit of a "too much fun" afternoon and realized we had to rush home and put it in the oven, so dinner ended up late, and we were not in the mood. I really need to re-try.
                                                                              Straccotto of Lamb with olives and oranges: I really made a mess of this by subbing chicken for the lamb. An experiment that didn't work. I hear the lamb is wonderful; I think it showed up in one of the Mario Batali months.

                                                                              Sides: Roasted Green Beans with garlic: how can you go wrong?
                                                                              Cumin-roasted sweet root vegetables: cumin seeds make this hauntingly good (to me).
                                                                              Roasted Cauliflower and red onions with rosemary: simple, delicious

                                                                              Desserts: Walnut and Prune cake, Perigord Style: great

                                                                              I also made the dog treats for my dog (since departed) who loved them.

                                                                              I know there are more things in here that I've made, but am not remembering and the book doesn't have any additional markings. Will get around to another book soon!

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                From the 1999 book, I would add to LM's list the cheddar-walnut crisps, the asparagus-pecorino soup (although I puree the asparagus before adding the cheese and egg), and the recipe I've used over and over again, the Amazing Five-Hour Duck--minimal fuss, great dinner party recipe; depending on the duck, this often takes, as many have noted only 4-4 1/2 hours.

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                  i don't know how i missed this,mom. Well thank you so much for taking the time to post this! I have copied it and will pursue! thanks again for all your generosity.

                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                    I'm really sorry that I haven't had a chance to go through the other books. Is there an email on your favorites page? If so maybe I can try to get to you next week (when my daughter is back in school) and tell you some of my favorites from the others. Cheers, LulusMom.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                      hi mom, yes, email on my favs page. but i bet evbody in this thread would love to see your list as well. whenever you get to it; no rush. thx much.

                                                                            2. re: qianning

                                                                              For some reason I hadn’t seen this exchange of mini-reviews for the book until just now as I was going through all the threads and noting which recipes people had recommended. I was very surprised to see that so many of you were lukewarm about the book because I’d just listed 20 recipes that people said they or their guests liked a great deal. I made 5 recipes myself and gave four of them four or more stars out of five. And that’s not counting recipes I’ve made in the past such as the duck and the Zuni chicken. Maybe it is that “best” moniker that sets the standard too high. But in reading everyone’s reports in one sitting, it certainly seemed as though the book had a lot of winners in it.

                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                Yeah, you know, in making a list of those I'd make again, I found that I had 9 (new to me) that I would most definitely do again, which is pretty darned good. But I do think putting that "best" in the title puts the pressure on the book. It's like when someone tells you they've just seen the best movie ever, and you see it and think "eh, it was ok but ..."

                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                  "Perfectly pleasant" is in some ways faint praise, but really I liked this COTM quite well because there are lots of very nice easy weekday ideas in it. When I went to return my library copy, I was startled at how many pages I had tagged for xeroxing, there certainly were plenty of winners.

                                                                                  "Best" though is so subjective, and what I didn't find, for me at least, were show stoppers. Also, unlike some of the more focused books we've done, I didn't feel that I learned very much from this book, technique or ingredient-wise.

                                                                                  Still and all a good month.

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    I am in complete agreement with both of you, LulusMom and Qianning. I was making a sticky note to go inside the book cover with dishes that I made and liked enough to make again and the other ones that I would like to try. There are many recipes that interest me and I was not too pleased when the book was chosen:) pepin is completely different story - I have the book and looked forward to cook from it but now can't find anything that inspires me - go figure....

                                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                                      Funny, my library copy of Pepin finally showed up today, and so far at least, not a single flag....but that's an aspect of COTM that I really like, it "forces" me to look at stuff I'd never think of, and in the process some of my prejudices get over-turned, and some, well, re-enforced.

                                                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                                                        Oh gosh, I thought it was just me. I've managed to flag maybe 7-8 recipes in Pepin, but that is about it.

                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                          When I first flipped through the book I was disappointed as well. But now I'm using it to help me clean out my fridge, freezer, and cupboards before leaving for 2+ months and I've quite liked all four things I've made so far. It's certainly been enough of a success that I'm not putting it aside. Especially not since he has a number of relatively simple recipes for most of what's left in the freezer.

                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                            That's kind of what I'm hoping for. And certainly my experience with the one recipe I've made so far has been just what yours has. I made the soup with sausage, potatoes and cabbage, which doesn't sound especially exciting, but we all loved it. I've got my eye on that tarragon chicken and the north african chicken right now, and a few fish dishes.

                                                                            3. Roasted Green Beans with Garlic (pg 189)

                                                                              Made this last night to serve with the Chicken Fricasse. Pretty straightforward recipe, roast green beans at high heat with some olive oil, garlic and thyme, S&P. Once that is done (which would be a perfectly lovely side dish by itself, by the way) you dress it with anchovy, lemon juice and lemon zest.

                                                                              I have to admit, this one really jumped off the page for me and when I first read it, I thought it would be awesome. We love roasted green beans anyway, and I thought adding anchovy and lemon could only make them that much more delicious. The amt of lemon juice specified is 2-3 tsp to taste. I added less than that, maybe only a tsp and I still thought that in addition to the lemon zest was a bit more lemony than I would like. Maybe it was in part the combo with the CHicken Fricasse which is pretty lemony itselt. Or maybe I'm just a lemon-juice hater. Not sure, but I know I will make a modified version of this again, but probably sub in white wine vinegar for the lemon juice and maybe even up the anchovy. I wanted more salty-savory anchovy goodness and less lemony brightness.

                                                                              My husband loved it. Kids not so much. My daughter actually normally loves roasted green beans, but said this was "too sour".

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                Roasted Green Beans with Garlic – p. 189

                                                                                How ironic that one year, to the day, I made the same dish that greeneggsandham did! ge&h did a great job of explaining how this comes together. I used French beans so I should have reduced the cooking time by 5 mins but, we loved these despite the fact that some of our beans were a bit toasty! I used less olive oil…approx 3 tbsp to roast 1 lb of beans and that was plenty. I spritzed the finished dish w the juice from one wedge of lemon so I likely used approx ½ tsp of juice and, drizzled the dish w some wonderful lemon-infused evoo that I buy on visits to Old Town Oil in Chicago. My anchovies weren’t mincing well so I tossed them, along w a tiny bit of evoo and the lemon zest into a pan and warmed them atop the stove until I could break them up.

                                                                                I’d hoped to have these as antipasti for the two of us over 2 meals but the beans were so utterly delicious that we greedily gobbled them all up in one sitting. I love this recipe and because of its bold seasoning, I think it’s best suited as antipasti. Fabulous.

                                                                              2. Chard with Ginger p. 201

                                                                                This recipe calls for ginger, then says that it is optional. Yesterday I shopped to include ginger, but none being 'organic ginger,' I didn't buy, thus leaving it out of this recipe. That did not affect my making this dish because, even though I like most every green that I've eaten, chard is not to my liking as well as not being able to digest it. Strange, I know.

                                                                                This recipe is made almost exactly the way I make other greens (minus the ginger), particularly rabe, so I decided to give chard another chance.

                                                                                I used after cutting off the larger stems, about 1lb. 2 oz. chard, I decided to use the regular whole dried red chilis. Normally in these green dishes (the rabe specifically), I will use the red pepper flakes. I really could discern the difference in the red pepper flakes from the whole red chili - I did not empty the seeds from the chili, nor did it empty out the seeds on its own. 1 red chile was enough to make it 'hot' - and garlic-ky;

                                                                                If I were making an Asian meal, I would use ginger. Tonight I served as a side dish to Bolognese/Spaghetti.

                                                                                Organic chard used, Garlic from our garden used. extra virgini olive oil used.

                                                                                Actually I liked the chard prepared this way, and will buy more of it.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Rella

                                                                                  Chard with Ginger, p. 201

                                                                                  I too found it odd that ginger is listed as optional though it is in the recipe title. I certainly used it, along with two dried red chiles and the minced garlic. This is nothing more than a standard, quick stir-fry: the ginger, chiles, and garlic are quickly cooked in peanut or olive oil (I used the latter), then washed, shredded chard leaves are tossed in and cooked until wilted and tender. I simply sliced the chard thinly crosswise. The recipe specifies serving at room temperature, but I served it hot, as an accompaniment to a Jacques Pepin salmon recipe.

                                                                                2. Oven-Roasted Asparagus with fried capers p. 188.

                                                                                  Roasting at a high heat (door closed) seems to produce a better tasting asparagus spear, as I have in the past broiled asparagus (door open). The capers were not overwhelming, actually they were subtle.

                                                                                  Served as a side with an omelet (made free range eggs, 3-yr cheddar, Kerrygold butter).
                                                                                  Served with a baked kokuma sweet potato.
                                                                                  Dessert: Apple/pear crostata (Martha Stewart's pate brise recipe).

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                                                    Oven-Roasted Asparagus with Fried Capers, p. 188

                                                                                    I made a half recipe. Couldn't be simpler, just asparagus tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted at 500F for 8 min., topped with capers sizzled in more olive oil. My asparagus was fat, but 8 minutes turned out to be a bit longer than it needed, I think because it was in the toaster oven and so was closer to the elements than it would be in the oven. In future, I'd give another sprinkle of salt before serving.

                                                                                  2. Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Capers, Pg. 200. (from The Maccioni Family Cookbook/Egi Maccioni & Peter Kaminsky)

                                                                                    Just a few ingredients here that produce a satisfying accompaniment to an especially well seasoned savory main dish. Cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, drained and rinsed capers, salt & pepper. That's all.

                                                                                    Boil the whole head of cauliflower for about 15 minutes or till just tender. We steamed it. Slice into florets and after sautéing chopped garlic in the olive oil add the florets and stir cook for 5 minutes, till beginning to brown. Remove from heat, stir in the capers. Season with salt and pepper. I sliced pimento stuffed green olives and grated some black pepper instead of using salt. Fine side dish for Monte's Ham.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      Made this recipe tonight. I had never boiled a whole head of cauliflower, and was wondering if this technique would produce less watery florets, as stated in the recipe. I believe it did.

                                                                                      However, after reading Gio's remarks, I see why my recipe was just so-so. Darn, I forgot the garlic, even though I had them out to use in another dish; it would've been so easy to have done a mis en place. I usually 'mis-en-place' for my upcoming meal, no matter, noon or evening.

                                                                                      I'm going to try this again - and the olives sound like a nice addition, too.

                                                                                    2. Beet Salad with Horseradish and fried capers p. 82

                                                                                      Instead of baking the beets in aluminum foil, I decided that I would like a more pronounced/roasted taste of beets for this salad, so I skinned the beets and cut them into uneven chunks, rolling them around in olive oil and baked 1 hour at 350F. I turned them at 30 minutes.

                                                                                      I used brined capers and fried them in olive oil. I think 1/2 inch of oil as called for is too much olive oil to fry these capers.

                                                                                      We decided rubbing/using using a crushed garlic was not worth the effort for the taste it would afford.

                                                                                      I poured the sauce (only half of it) and mixed.

                                                                                      The pictures I took of this dish turned out looking like beef stew meat - not a pretty sight.

                                                                                      1. Nutty Roasted Cremini, p. 205

                                                                                        I recently discovered how wonderful and how easy whole small mushrooms roasted for a bit at high heat are. Big payoff for little effort if you're a mushroom lover.

                                                                                        In this recipe, small whole cremini are used, and though it says "stems discarded" I didn't, because why would I? A pound and a half of mushrooms are tossed with a tablespoon of sherry, a teaspoon of five-spice or ground fennel seeds or aniseeds (I used the fennel), salt, and 2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil, and roasted at 450F for 10-15 minutes, until browned and cooked through (mine took about 18 minutes, but they weren't really in a single layer; I did stir them after awhile). Once done, the mushrooms are tossed with chopped toasted, husked hazelnuts and pepper.

                                                                                        This was good, and was eaten up, but not as wonderful as the mushrooms I roasted over the holidays at the same temp and time, which I had tossed with olive oil, lots of minced garlic, and chopped fresh thyme. Those were amazing, and I could not stop eating them. Though hazelnuts are a good match for the nuttiness of cremini, I think I've concluded that there's little point in cooking with expensive, good hazelnut oil. It can handle the heat without burning, but it loses all its nuances. From now on, I'll reserve it as a finishing oil or for dressings.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                          caitlin. your comments are very smart; thx. i have terrif recipe for mushroom haz soup, if you want it.and a mushrm sautee w/ fennel seed, red wine,tomatoes, herbs......

                                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                            I am a big fan of your recipes, OC - everything I made was yummy! Would love to try your mushroom sautee recipe. I have two friends over for a working supper after work next week and just about to sit down with 150 recipes to see what I can make a day or two ahead and just re-heat/finish last minute.

                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                              hi herby, that's so great! so many times i spend hours uploading and correcting recipes and get no CH response at all, so i am really happy to hear from you. i'll work on getting that for you and will post here.

                                                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                Thank you, OC! I bought some white mushrooms tonight in anticipation of your recipe and have a couple of portabellas to use and some dried mixed 'rooms if called for. I have not tried your salad dressings yet but they are definitely on my "to make" list:)

                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                  herby, in my catering business, i used to serve these on crostini that were topped with sundried tomato butter and a spoon of this mixture. They might be good tossed w/ pasta and served hot. They are very pungent.

                                                                                                  I have another great mushroom recipe that is basically raw marinated mushrooms that are put on an open faced sandwich that is topped w/ grated gruyere and curry sauce and heated til melted and bubbly. let me know if that one is better for you.

                                                                                                  WINE BRAISED MUSHROOMS adapted from a Silver Palate book

                                                                                                  3/4 C Oil , canola or EVOO

                                                                                                  5 ½ Lbs Sliced white Mushrooms

                                                                                                  kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

                                                                                                  3 chopped Onions

                                                                                                  1 ½ T Minced Garlic

                                                                                                  3 T Fennel Seeds

                                                                                                  3 T dry Basil (rub between palms of hands, w/ marjoram)

                                                                                                  2 T dry Marjoram

                                                                                                  2- 2 lb Cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

                                                                                                  5 C Dry Red Wine

                                                                                                  1 C Balsamic Vinegar

                                                                                                  Saute mushrooms in hot oil with the salt and pepper to taste; cook until liquid is evaporated. Remove from pan. Saute onions and garlic. Add fennel through marjoram for a few minutes; add remaining ingredients and cook down a bit til thickened before adding mushrooms.

                                                                                                  Yield 12 cups

                                                                                                  makes 384 crostini ( from 6 baguettes)

                                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                    OK, I just came across your recipe because I could not remember which thread we had this exchange on... Many thanks for the recipe - will try this week as mushrooms are still in the fridge waiting:) I have an open jar of marinated mushrooms which I bought but found too bland and now have no clue what to do with - please send your recipe, maybe to my email so that we do not take over the thread.