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January 2012 COTM: Essential Pepin: Vegetables and Side Dishes

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

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  1. Sauteed Haricots Verts and Shallots p. 412

    I made this recipe exactly as described. As these ingredients are always good, the technique is the key in this dish. I used small string beans.

    Served as a side dish along with rice of 'Tagine T-Faia' a tagine of a whole chicken with only 2 spices. This recipe was from "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food" p. 221.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Rella

      Sauteed Haricots Verts and Shallots p. 412


      Classic comibination. We made these with haricot verts and is was a great side to the potato cased salmon. The touch of butter adds a lovely richness to the haricots verts. My husband ate these without any coaxing. :)

      1. re: Rella

        Sauteed Haricots Verts and Shallots. p. 412.

        I also made this dish just as described, along with M. Pepin's Red Snapper (I used cod) with Leeks, Mushrooms and Shallots, p. 222.

        The ingredients are few but each has its role: the slender green beans, blanched ahead of time to the exact moment of tenderness; the chopped shallots tamed in butter and neutral peanut oil; and salt and pepper added when the beans are reheated in the sauté pan just before serving. I thought I would want another touch of flavor--lemon juice? chives? But no. Didn't need it.

        1. re: Goblin

          This recipe is soo simple and so good. I've made it 3x this month.

          Yesterday early in the day as a snack when I got the hungries, I re-heated a small bit of these green beans quickly (induction) with a tablespoon of water and about 3 tablespoons of rice added while heating, then gobbled it down.

        2. re: Rella

          I prepared this dish, too. Its got a good crunch (bean cooking timing was perfect), and the flavor was excellent. This is also a very easy dish to prepare.

        3. Stewed Crinkled Kale – p. 436

          I was excited to find some Lacinato Kale at the market this weekend and, delighted to find a COTM recipe I could use to prepare it since my COTM participation has been pretty abysmal over the past few months!!

          The ingredients in this dish are pretty common however the preparation method was new to me. Kale is washed and trimmed, garlic is chopped then oil is placed in a pan over medium heat along with the chopped garlic and hot pepper flakes. Once the garlic sizzles and starts to brown, the kale is tossed in along w 1.5 cups of water. The mixture is then brought to a boil over medium-high heat until the water has almost evaporated. JP indicates it can be served hot or, at room temp.

          We opted to serve it at room temp alongside our NY Strip Roast (an Epi recipe). This was a tasty dish and I can’t honestly say I noticed anything particularly different in terms of flavour vs other kale dishes I’ve made without “stewing” the greens. I will say that the greens were much softer for the boiling process…a feature that appealed to mr bc (who’s not a lover of anything green unless it’s furniture or paint). I wouldn’t repeat this recipe as I prefer a simpler prep and crisper greens.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Your photos show that the kale retained its color and has a nice glisten. I like that.

          2. Glazed carrots with Olives p. 419 (half recipe)


            Simple, yet surprisingly good. Cook baby carrots (I used regular carrots, but cut them into smaller pieces), water, butter, sugar covered for 8 minutes, and then add capers and oil-cured black olives for a minute just to heat through. Sprinkle with chives. This was a colorful and flavorful dish. I enjoyed the combination of the briny capers, earthy olives, and sweet carrots. My husband doesn’t really care for capers or olives and was just as pleased eating only the carrots.

            3 Replies
            1. re: BigSal

              Glazed carrots with Olives, p. 419.
              Made this tonight and was surprised how much flavor and interest the preparation added to those ubiquitous 1-pound bags of baby carrots. That's what I used because the recipe said "i pound baby carrots, peeled." I usually don't use these, preferring to laboriously peel my own, larger varieties, but I was hurriedly concocting a company dinner and I thought, OK, go for it! So I dumped a bag-full into my saucepan, boiled them with the water, sugar, s & p until tender, and then added the Kalamata olives and capers that I had on hand. Sprinkle with chopped chives and you have a carrot dish that everyone liked. The recipe said to cook over high heat for about 8 minutes until tender; mine took about another eight minutes.

              1. re: BigSal

                Glazed Carrots with Olives p. 419
                I used regular carrots, and even though I didn't cut them in small pieces, they were done enough in 8 minutes. I didn't add chives, as I had none. Chives certainly would have added a color dimension to the dish, but it was certainly tasty without the chives.

                1. re: BigSal

                  Glazed Carrots with Olives, page 419.

                  I made this dish as part of a dinner for a largish group, so I doubled the recipe. I don't always like the baby carrots sold in bags, but I couldn't find any bundled carrots, so I bought a couple bags of organic babies. They were very tasty, as it turned out, even just for raw munching. I used oil cured Moroccan olives, and pitting the olives was the only real labor involved in this easy dish. I think perhaps I should have halved the olives, just for a more even distribution.

                  I didn't really get a glaze as described, just a trace of a buttery coat. I thought this dish was quite good, and very colorful. I'm happy to have some leftover, as they still taste quite nice the next day.

                2. Black-Eyed Peas and Kale Ragout, Pg. 416

                  Having a large head of gorgeous Savoy cabbage to use up this recipe seemed like a perfect vehicle for the side dish I needed... and given the choice of greens: either kale, collard greens or turnip greens it was. So: no B-EPs just Savoy Cabbage Ragout, although I wouldn't call what I made a ragout. While the peas are cooking the greens are cooked.

                  Using either VA ham, pancetta or bacon render the fat in a large sauce pan. (I used applewood smoked bacon) Add diced onions and sliced garlic, cook a minute then put washed and sliced greens - chopped leaves and stems - into the pan. Don't bother to dry the greens because the water clinging to the leaves will steam the greens. (Since I didn't cook the peas with jalapeno pepper as that part of the recipe calls for I chopped 1 and threw it in with the onion.) Cook til greens are "wilted and soft." At this point the black-eyed peas are combined with the greens and served with Tabasco.

                  We loved this semi-ragout and indeed did serve the Tabasco along side. The main dish was the Chicken Diable on page 259.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gio

                    Black-Eyed Peas and Kale Ragout, Pg. 416

                    We made this last night and this time we adhered to the recipe as written. black-eyed peas, pancetta and American kale. It's a simple preparation and doesn't take very much time to cook and the final result is hearty, warming and satisfying. Each ingredient adds so much flavor. Very nice for a cold Winter's evening. The side dish was the Tomato and Bread Gratin on page 466. We liked both dishes.

                  2. Piquant Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Sauce, Pg. 416

                    Since, as the title indicates, broccoli florets are simply and quickly steamed Lemon Sauce makes the dish.

                    The sauce is a combination of: fresh lemon juice, EVOO, Tabasco and a pinch of salt. The direction is to place the prepared broccoli on a heatproof plate and steam in a steamer. I just put the broccoli into my non-collapsable steaming basket and carried on as I usually do. When the broccoli is tender toss with the sauce. Supremely easy and quite tasty. I've made a sauce like this a hundred times, but I usually add a few minced garlic cloves and FGBP, and sometimes a couple of chopped anchovies. This was a nice variation.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      Mine was not a success: I did everything wrong.

                      I forgot to put the broccoli on a plate inside the steamer; my steamer was large and I did not have to pile them up, but I believe it overcooked.

                      The olive oil I used didn't seem that fresh.

                      My lemon was perfect.

                      I had no Tabasco, but I added something similar, but it the hot sauce that I used did not have the musty Tabasco flavor.

                      Better luck next time.

                      1. re: Rella

                        Oh Rella... what a shame. I didn't use a heatproof plate either. I have several sizes of steamer baskets and because my broccoli was rather large I used a mid-sized one that fits on top a medium size saucepan. It's wise to keep an eagle eye out when steaming vegetables like broccoli, caulifower and such. Overcooking those is Very easy. Since your lemon was perfect the oilve oil must be the culprit. I'm so sorry...

                      2. re: Gio

                        Piquant Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Sauce, Page 416.

                        Nothing much to add on this recipe. I steamed my broccoli on a plate in a bamboo steamer, then added the mix of lemon juice, olive oil, Cholula (same ingredients as Tabasco), and salt. Easy, tasty, healthy. No photo, because it just looks like, well, broccoli.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Piquant Steamed Broccoli with Lemon Sauce, p. 416

                          My turn for this simple but surprisingly tasty treatment for basic steamed broccoli. It is well-described above. What I liked abut this recipe was the fact that it uses olive oil rather than butter to achieve a piquant sauce nicely balanced between acidity (lemon juice) and a touch of heat (Tabasco). So easy; everybody ate it up. I'm going to remember this easy way to perk up steamed broccoli.

                        2. Broccoli Velvet Puree, p. 417.

                          A very simple, rather subtle way to serve broccoli, which preserves its fresh taste and color even if you make it ahead and reheat in the microwave later (as I did.) You place 1 1/2 pounds of broccoli florets and peeled stalks in water to which salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic, and 1 tsp chopped jalapeño pepper have been added. Cover; boil for 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is very tender. Then the broccoli, 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid, 2 TBS of butter and 1 TBS of EVOO are all pureed in a blender for about a minute or until very smooth. Check for seasoning and serve.

                          The result is a smooth, spring-green puree that is indeed velvety and light. My notes say to check again for seasoning before serving and possibly adding a dash of Tabasco if you want to heat up the flavor. I served this as a side with a savory oven-baked chicken dish (Chicken Supremes Kiev-Style, p. 256) and I liked what it added. The puree would also be very pretty served in a half-tomato that has been hollowed out before baking.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Goblin

                            Broccoli Velvet Puree - p. 417

                            Inspired by Goblin's review and mr bc's distaste for broccoli, I thought I'd give this cooking method a try and see if the dish might pique mr bc's interest. I'm delighted to report that it was a major hit. Excepting the grilled steak on his plate, mr bc declared this dish to be his favourite dish of the evening. He even went back for a large second helping!

                            I was really pleased with the velvety texture achieved with only 2 tbsp of butter. Very impressive. I should also note that I mis-read the recipe and added just over 1 tbsp of roughly chopped jalapeno (vs 1 tsp). That said, I've made note of this in my book as I believe it was the subtle heat and peppery flavour that countered the broccoli's somewhat pungent flavour and added a lovely freshness to the dish. I'll definitely be making this dish again. Thanks so much for discovering it Goblin!!

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Broccoli that looks like guacamole: that could be the trick to converting some of the less broccoli-enthused.

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                You know ncw, that's a very good point. With less of the cooking liquid you could actually make this less loose and I'll bet it would be lovely served cold as a dip...imagine the possibilities for add-ins too!! LOVE your idea!

                          2. Cucumbers with Tarragon (page 428)

                            I was looking to use up some wilting tarragon and I had a hot-house cucumber that claims it has fewer seeds but was not the seedless cucumber called for.

                            I made a total rookie mistake and started prepping the cucumber before I’d read through the instructions. He goes into detail on how to cut the cucumber into tourné, and I’d already started cutting before I realized what he was doing. I was cooking for one, not looking to get onto “Chopped” with my plating skills. I should have just peeled the cucumber, cut it in half, seeded it, and cut it into shape. Lesson learned. Yet again.

                            Blanch the cucumber, toss it with s&p in butter, sprinkle with chopped tarragon and serve.

                            This is not a recipe I’d have paid the least bit of attention to had I not searched EYB for a way to use up the tarragon.. As he says in the intro, cooked cucumbers “make an absolutely delightful light side dish, particularly for fish.” I might edit out the word “absolutely,” but it was indeed a lovely accompaniment to the Crusty Salmon on the Skin (page 194).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JoanN

                              That cucumber is "absolutely" photogenic, Joan. Especially patriotic, too, with the tomato relish(?) on a blue plate... And, that crusty salmon recipe in on my To Make list. A local supermarket that everyone loves to hate has begun selling wild sustainable seafood and will have sockeye salmon next week. I hope it's as good as it should be... and with skin.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                This is one of the sides I have on my to make list. Glad to read your report first. I'm absolutely sure I would have cut it across without even thinking about it!

                              2. Tomato and Bread Gratin (page 466)

                                Yet another excellent dinner courtesy M. Pepin using fridge and freezer ingredients. This book is definitely growing on me.

                                I played so fast and loose with quantities here that I wasn’t sure I’d even bother to report on it. I didn’t have the right kind of tomatoes. My bread cubes were too large. I probably used more cheese than called for. But, as with some other recipes I’ve tried, I don’t think quantities make much difference at all. I made, more or less, half the recipe and it was ready 10 minutes before the full time called for--although I will warn that at ten minutes less some, not all, of the garlic slices were still a bit raw.

                                The recipe: Toss together cherry or grape tomatoes (I had small tomatoes, so quartered them), cubed day-old bread, sliced garlic, chopped parsley, s&p, olive oil, and grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (I had Parmesan). Bake for 40 minutes. That’s it.

                                What could be easier?

                                I served it with flounder fillets drizzled with chive butter that was inspired by his recipe for Grilled Dover Sole.

                                The gratin was idiot simple to prepare and was a great side with the fish. The cheese wasn’t as pronounced as I expected it to be; neither (except for those few raw pieces) was the garlic. It was just a terrific, very tasty, extraordinarily quick to throw together dish and one I wouldn’t hesitate to make again.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  OK, that's a definite must-do. Looks and sounds great.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Tomato and Bread Gratin, Pg. 466

                                      Since this recipe, as Joan says, is "idiot simple" this idiot had to make it. And, the verdict is: Absolutely Delicious. We loved it. It's a great dish to make when you don't want another rice or potato dish. Dare I say too that it's perfect for stale bread and waning tomatoes? For the record, I used Romano and regular tomatoes that I chopped up to the size of cherry tomatoes. Will definitely be making this again. Black-Eyed Peas and Kale Ragout was the main dish.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I'm very pleased to read your confirmation, Gio. It was so quick and easy, I was beginning to think maybe I was just really hungry as I gobbled down two servings. Only problem for me is that I don't usually have bread in the house so I will have to plan. But plan I will.

                                      2. re: JoanN

                                        My turn w/ TOMATO & BREAD GRATIN (p.466).
                                        What a great find--thanks JoanN! Had less than half a pint of cherry tomatoes, stale bread, so made a half-recipe to accompany a grilled rib-eye last night. Couldn't believe how delicious this was; welcome alternative to potatoes. DH mentioned it again this morning--as in, "I hope you'll make that gratin again--very soon."
                                        Sure will.

                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          Tomato and Bread Gratin, p. 466.

                                          And my turn as well to make this easy, flavorful, and nicely-textured dish. Really nothing to it: just toss tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes) with bread cubes, olive oil, s & p, sliced garlic, cheese (I used Pecorino Romano as suggested but I think almost anything goes) and chopped parsley. The result surprised me: there was nothing mushy about the finished dish after 40 minutes at 375 F. The tomatoes held their shape, the bread cubes (I used some country white I had) kept theirs as well, and the sliced garlic gave a bit of bite without being overly strong. No part of the dish took over, just a fresh tasting gratin that is also pretty. I served it as a "starch alternative" along with M. Pepin's Chicken Chasseur. Worked well together.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Tomato and Bread Gratin, p. 466

                                            Count me in. Yum!

                                            1. re: qianning

                                              Made this last night to go with the braised lamb, and was pleased with it even though I left it in the oven a shade too long and some of the bread cubes were a bit too dark. Had the leftovers mixed with some leftover pasta for lunch.

                                              Per JP's suggestion, I used two types of grape tomatoes--red and orange. With the parsley and the bread cubes, this made an incredibly beautiful dish. The blend of colors and shapes was lovely.

                                              I would be a bit more careful of cooking time next time, and would probably cut the bread a bit smaller.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                It looks as though Jacques may have published a number of different versions of this recipe. In addition to the one you link to, Caitlin, I found a few others, all of which varied, some more, some less, from the one in the book. Not sure it makes a lot of difference, but for the record, the ingredients as listed in "Essential Pepin" are:

                                                1 1/4 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes (about 3 1/2 cups)
                                                3 ounces day-old bread, preferably from a country or whole wheat loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
                                                6 garlic cloves. sliced
                                                1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
                                                1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                                3 tablespoons olive oil
                                                1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

                                            2. Skillet Sweet Potatoes


                                              This is a fast and easy way to cook a sweet potato, with simple but delicious results. A large sweet potato of about one pound is cut in 1/4-inch-thick rounds, which are laid in a single layer in a large nonstick skillet. Half a cup of water, some salt, and a tablespoon each of butter and corn oil (I only used the butter) are added, the pan is covered, it's brought to a boil over high heat and cooked 5 minutes, until most of the water is gone and the sweet potato is cooked through (it took about 7 minutes for me). The potatoes are then cooked for a couple of minutes on each side, until a little bit browned. That's it.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                Isn't that a neat trick? I haven't made these sweet potatoes yet but he does the same thing with other small vegetables, such as snow peas, sugar snaps and cherry tomatoes. For those he first just uses the water and when that's almost evaporated in go the seasonings and they finish as you describe. What a time saver that is.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  As a result of this technique in EP, I tried it with broccolini last night (about 8 oz). Perfect!

                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                    Good to know, Rella. I made broccolini last night too but I did it My Way, a little EVOO, a little chopped garlic, a small dice carrot for sweetness, a tin of anchovies, red pepper flakes, throw in the broccolini, cover and braise till done, maybe about 15 minutes or so. I didn't think to try JP's technique with them.. Did you chop the stems and leaves or just use the leaves?

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      The stems were thin, of course; but I did use the peeler to ever-so-lightly peel the stalk. I left the stem, leaves and main broccolini-florets all intact. They weren't really long, but I made sure my skillet was long enough. I was lucky enough that I didn't use too much water as they are done soo quickly.

                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                        Thanks Rella. I chopped the broccolini stems in about 2" long pieces. I left the leaf section long but then I cut just beneath the florets. I think I'll try it your way next time. I love the taste of broccolini and cook it often.

                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                    Where is this described in this book please for the vegetables you mention. I did a search in the book, but am unable to locate it.....TY

                                                    1. re: angelsmom

                                                      So sorry, angelsmom, I'm just seeing your question now. The veggie "trick" is not in "Essential Pepin" but in "Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home".

                                                      Here's my report from this month's Pepin companion thread with the blanching tip...

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        Just wondering, Gio, how you direct angelsmom directly to your post on the thread.

                                                        I can direct a post to a thread, but then not directly to the post I'm intending. 'Tis a mystery I'd like to learn. Thanks.

                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                          If you right-click (or control-click, on a Mac) on the "Permalink" link at the bottom of your post, you can "Copy Link Location" and paste the link where you want; that link will lead directly to your post.

                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                            Rella to link directly to a post, click the blue Permalink word on the right side of the post you want to reference. Look up to the top of your screen and you will see in the address space (the URL) the address plus a #. Highlight that whole address, copy then paste in the Reply box of the person you're responding to. Then click on Post My Reply...

                                                            I suppose that's as clear as mud but try it a few times to test...

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              And I'll file this information - somewhere :-)) for the next time I want to try this. In the meantime I'll look-see.
                                                              Many thanks, Gio.

                                                    2. Spinach Custards with Cream Sauce, p. 452

                                                      I'm not sure why this rather traditional French recipe appealed to me as I thumbed through M. Pepin, but I have a creamed spinach-loving daughter and I wanted to pamper her. I'm glad I did. Unmolded small ramekins of spinach custard are topped with a dollop of cream sauce and placed on top of a crisp bread round to serve.

                                                      First, six 2 1/2 inch white bread rounds are oiled and crisped in the oven. A mixture of wilted spinach (squeezed dry and tossed with s & p and ground nutmeg) is stirred with browned butter, flour, milk and cream. The mixture is cooked until it thickens. When lukewarm, eggs are added and all is poured into six individual buttered ramekins. These are baked in a water bath until set--mine took 30 minutes at 350 F.

                                                      Meanwhile, a cream sauce is made from melted butter, flour, and simmered with more milk and cream. The instructions do not mention any seasoning with s & p, but the sauce is rather bland without it, so I did. Snipped chives and a coarsely-chopped hard-cooked egg are sprinkled on as a garnish at serving time.

                                                      This is a very pretty presentation which would be elegant as a first course. I made my custards as a side at a buffet dinner; they held together perfectly and were easy to pick up with a flat serving piece. As well as being savory and delicious, the custards can be made ahead and rewarmed in a water bath (I just made mine a bit ahead and kept them warm in their bath on a hot-tray.) I did not top with chopped egg, but this would be nice served as a first-course.

                                                      I feel sort of "retro" as I cook some of these French dishes of M. Pepin--shades of my first forays into Julia and Mastering, Vol. 1. But what they lack in exoticism, these custards make up for in flavor and appearance.

                                                      1. Cauliflower au Gratin (page 423)

                                                        In this recipe you start by cutting a head of cauliflower into florets which are cooked in boiling water for about five minutes, they should still be slightly crunchy. You then make a béchamel sauce by combining butter and flour, then adding milk until thickened. You seasoned with salt, white pepper and nutmeg and add cream. You then pour the cream sauce over the cauliflower in a gratin dish and sprinkle the top with half a cup of grated gruyere and two tablespoons of parmesan cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

                                                        The béchamel did not come out as thick as I think it should of been, which is either due to a lack of patience or lack of heavy cream (which I didn't have on hand). I thought the cauliflower with the cheese was very tasty and a nice flavor combination. I don't know if I would rush to make this again but might try someone else's cauliflower gratin.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: JulesLP

                                                          Cauliflower au Gratin, p. 423.

                                                          I made this the other night as well, and JulesLP has given an excellent description of the method. I agree with Jules that this is a very tasty and classic combination--I'd call it old-fashioned French comfort food. Really nice on a cold January night.

                                                          In my case, the béchamel sauce turned out to be nicely thickened and it coated the cauliflower florets very satisfactorily. I did have heavy cream on hand, and perhaps this made the difference. It was a rich, delicious dish to my way of eating--you don't need a huge portion (the recipe says "serves 6" but I think 8 at least.) I served it with a beef stew and buttered haricots verts and I just told everybody that they were "eating healthfully" because of all the vegetables (forget all the milk, cream, and cheese.)

                                                          Jules mentions that the cauliflower florets are to be cooked for only 5 minutes or so, keeping them crunchy. The recipe doesn't specify what size to cut the florets--mine were about 1 1/2 inches--and five minutes was OK. But they do cook further in the oven and become more tender. Next time I might try 4 minutes so they finish up slightly more al dente.

                                                          Will I make this again? I can definitely see a place for the recipe on a fall-winter menu when something creamy and comforting is needed. It would also be good as part of a dinner party-buffet-table, because it's easy to serve, plus you could easily set it up ahead And the method definitely does a lot for cauliflower.

                                                        2. Zucchini and Tomato Fans, Page 458.

                                                          I know this seems like more of a summer dish, but I had zucchini, I had some tomatoes, and I needed a vegetable side. Zucchini are sliced but left attached at the stem end. They are then fanned out and sliced tomato and garlic are placed between the slices. The fans are then brushed with oil and dusted with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

                                                          I have made zucchini fans like this before, but I liked the addition of the herbes, it really gave it that South of France feel. And although I had very wimpy winter tomatoes, roasting them rather brought out the flavor. Easy to prepare, and bright on the plate.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                              agree with nomadchowwoman, this looks beautiful.

                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                I can just taste the garlic - umm umm.

                                                              2. Butternut Squash Gratin p. 456

                                                                Since I had a good-looking butternut squash and a new hunk of Jarlsberg cheese, I thought I'd make this 'perfect companion,' without the companion. I'm not sure that is a fair way to judge a dish, but ...

                                                                First, JP doesn't give the size of the gratin dish. I used a Le Creuset gratin dish that seemed to accomodate the amount. It is the oblong type, but I'm thinking perhaps a round or square might be better; i.e., ingredients piled higher instead of spread out.

                                                                I don't recall that I've ever had butternut squash with cream and cheese, but even though the cheese is mild, IMO, the cheese didn't enhance the lovely butternut squash taste, but seemed to be the boss of the dish.

                                                                I bought the butternut squash for a tagine dish, so I'm not adverse to butternut squash taking backseat to other more prominent tastes, but now I know that butternut and cheese is not my favorite combination. Of course, it's not the same thing, but I liken it to my dislike for sweet potatoes and marshmallows - the dish that may still be in favor on Thanksgiving dinner tables.

                                                                Forgive me, Jacques.

                                                                1. Wild Mushroom Toasts, p. 439

                                                                  Not that I really needed a recipe for this, but I used this one, making half a recipe as a starter last night before a light-ish dinner of grilled halibut, braised fennel, and salad. I sauteed cut-up chanterelles, hedgehogs, and black trumpets in a bit of olive oil and butter w/thinly sliced shallots, s & p, chopped parsely, chives, and a little thyme instead of oregano and then piled the mixture onto some toasted ciabatta slices and drizzled w/a bit of very special EVOO (brought home from France by a friend). I couldn't resist grating a little parmigiano over the tops, but I'm sure Jacques wouldn't mind.

                                                                  Simplicity itself. So delicious.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    Ooooh. I hadn't seen that, and that's one of my all-time favorite appetizers. Heck, who am I kidding. I make that for myself for dinner. And I'd be right there with you on the Parmigiano.

                                                                  2. Sauteed Fennel pg. 436

                                                                    Straightforward and easy with simple but nice results. Split fennel bulbs in half, pan steam for 10 minutes (I used less water than JP called for), drain, slice into 1/2 pieces, saute in butter (he calls for 2TBS, I used 1 in a non stick skillet, it was plenty) 1-2min/side, salt and serve.

                                                                    Nothing fancy or tricky, but I was pleased to learn that by steaming the fennel first and then slicing, the pieces remained more intact than they usually do if sliced thin from the get-go. Also I was afraid the steam boiling would leave the fennel too damp to brown, but in fact these browned/caramelized perfectly. As JP indicates, this is a great simple side for grilled meat or fish, we had it with a grilled steak and it was a hit.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                      I will not get around to making this recipe this month, but it is a recipe I will keep to try thanks to your review.

                                                                      Perhaps this recipe and the green bean recipe that I'm fond of are the two recipes that I will learn from this book. Both are techniques: simple and straightforward.

                                                                    2. Garlic Mashed Potatoes – p. 115

                                                                      Before making my usual mash I thought I’d check to see if Jacques had something I might like to try w my Yukon Gold’s and lo & behold, I found this recipe.

                                                                      Committed to following JP’s recipe, I resisted the temptation to adapt and followed this very straight forward preparation. I must say, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of combining good, simple ingredients. No bells and whistles here just a few cloves of garlic and some potatoes cut into 2 inch pieces, covered with water, boiled then with heat reduced, kept at a gentle boil for approx 20 mins until potatoes are tender. JP has you put them through a food mill however I don’t have one and opted for a ricer instead. At this point butter, milk and salt are added and mixed until incorporated.

                                                                      I made these potatoes to accompany a slow cooker pot roast dish that we’re serving tomorrow but of course we couldn’t resist the urge to “sample” this evening. Definitely a dish where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. Excellent in its simplicity. The lovely flavour of the Yukon Gold’s truly shone through. This recipe is a nice reminder that sometimes, less is best. Yum!

                                                                      1. Cauliflower w/ Toasted Crumbs pg. 422

                                                                        Simple and tasty, we had this with dinner several days ago. I made one change to the recipe, dry pan cooking my cauliflower rather than boiling it, just 'cause I prefer to cook cauliflower w/o water, but otherwise I did what JP told me to, arranged cooked cauliflower florets on a serving plate, topped w/ toasted crumbs that have been quickly tossed in a pan w/ o. oil, butter, scallion and ginger, scattered the mixture over the cauliflower, serve, and it all worked fine.

                                                                        The crumbs add a nice bit of crunch to the cauliflower and the butter/oil/scallion/ginger add just a hint of sauce.

                                                                        1. Zucchini-Tomato Gratin, Pg. 460

                                                                          This gratin is similar to the recipe that L. Nightshade reports on upthread called Zucchini and Tomato Fans on page 458. The slicing technique is the main difference. For this gratin the zucchini slices are made lengthwise after cutting the whole zucchini in half crosswise. The tomatoes are sliced into 1/2" rounds.

                                                                          The slices of each vegetable are arranged in an alternating pattern in a baking dish, then drizzled with olive oil. A crumb topping of whole wheat bread, Parmigiano, fresh or dried oregano, S & P and EVOO is sprinkle over the vegetables and the baking dish is set into a pre-heated 400F oven to roast till golden.

                                                                          This is a very nice, fresh tasting side dish. As I ate it though, I thought it needed an herbal something or other. Initially I thought chopped parsley would have been a good addition but after reading LN's description I think the perfect herbs to use would have been herbes de Provence. Also, no garlic is used here and that also would have made the dish perfect for me. It's certainly worth a remake since it's so easy and tasty as is.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            That sounds sensational Gio. I can definitely see garlic making a difference and you could likely go with any herb to align the flavours with whatever else you are making. I'll definitely tab this one!

                                                                            I'm making a gratin tonight by coincidence. Mine isn't quite as light...it's a leek and mushroom gratin from Gourmet Today. I picked up some spring leeks yesterday at the farmers market along with some freshly picked mushrooms so this seemed like the perfect dish! We'll have to find a more virtuous main to go alongside!

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              Hi BC... your gratin sounds delicious! You know, when I just re-read my post I seem to recall that although there's no garlic with the zucchini & tomatoes I seem to recall some minced or pressed garlic mixed in w the breadcrumbs. I may be thinking of another recipe tho....