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The March 2012 Cookbook of the Month will be The Olive and the Caper!

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The winner of the vote for the March COTM is The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking, by Susanna Hoffman.

If you are curious about the selection process, and the accompanying discussion, the nomination thread is here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832974
and the voting thread is here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833780

On March 1st, I will be posting the individual threads for reporting your culinary experiences with The Olive and the Caper. In the meantime, you can use this thread for general discussion, and for posting any online links to recipes from this book.

If you haven't ever participated in the Cookbook of the Month discussion, we hope you'll give us a try in March. We have a lot of fun, and we learn from each other's experiences. The basics of COTM, and the archive of past books, can be found here:
http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

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  1. LN first off, congratulations on your inaugural COTM voting session, you've done an amazing job. Lucky us!

    I'm really looking forward to March. This is a wonderful book and we love Greek cuisine so we're keen to jump in to a fun-filled month of cooking and dining w our COTM friends.

    Thanks again LN!

    1. I second BC's congratulations - well done, L. Nightshade!!!

      My TO&TC is in UPS hands and they already made two attempts but of course I am at work during the day - hopefully will get it next week. For the rest of this month it will be Japanese food since I finally made dashi last night:) I love Greek food and it does not intimidate me - what a fun month March will be.

      1. τεράστιος!

        (Lest you think I know any Greek--I don't. Means "terrific" according to my translator!)

        Can't wait to learn more about this cuisine; meanwhile thanks, LN, for a great job coordinating and motivating!

        1. Great job L. Nightshade! Thank you so much.

          I'm excited about this cookbook. This is food I love, and Lulu is obsessed with olives (and capers, but really really obsessed with olives). Chickpea hating husband is out of town right now, so the two of us are going to test drive one of the recipes today - a chickpea soup with tarragon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LulusMom

            Thanks for all of your kind comments, but it was really a breeze! Thanks to LulusMom for her fine example the last six months, and her step by step instructions.
            Plus, I think you all made it easy on me for my first time out. Clear votes, clear winner. Thanks everyone!

          2. Many thanks LN. Superb job keeping everything well sorted. I'm looking forward to Greek cooking again, I've been reviewing my records of The Glorious Foods of Greece, the former COTM, and realize we cooked a fair amount of recipes and liked most of them. We'll teach G that Greek cuisine is something to be savored... his overall favorite being Italian.

            1. Yay! I've never participated in COTM before, but I've been lurking for a while. I got TO&TC from the library and I'm ready to participate this month. DH and I love Greek food, so I'm quite excited.

              1 Reply
              1. re: michaelak79

                Welcome michaelak79! So happy you'll be joining us. We always have a lot of fun. I, too, am excited to dig into this book, it looks great!

              2. Wow, two months in a row the COTM is one I already own and this month it's one I've actually cooked from!

                19 Replies
                1. re: rasputina

                  Can you tell us what you've made from O&C and how it was?

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Got my copy of O&C from the library and am looking forward to participating.

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      Have you had a chance to look through it yet?

                      I went to the library on Saturday and asked them to find a copy of Moro for me. I should know within about 10 days.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Just a cursory read through. Finding the meat section most intriguing so far. I also picked up Casa Moro @ the library which really caught my attention. Things like Moroccan Eggs with Tomatoes and Cumin, Claims with White Beans and Saffron, and Winter Leaves with Frisse, Fresh Cheese, Pomegranates and Walnuts to name a few. Since it is not available via library I am guessing it will be a long shot for COTM but maybe for an ancillary thread.

                        1. re: dkennedy

                          Is everyone having the same library problem with Moro? If (hoping some library in state has the book) I get it and love it, I'd be more than willing to buy it. But of course I'll have to wait and see.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Zero copies of Moro or Casa Moro statewide in NH libraries.

                            1. re: qianning

                              That is a shame. I may find out the same thing here. I guess that seriously lowers the chances of it being COTM.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Unfortunately UK published cookbooks aren't easy to get through the NH library system.

                                1. re: qianning

                                  UK published? I have a hardcover from when it was first released and it shows Workman Publishing in NY.

                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    really? on amazon the edition i saw was uk published....that was moro, can't remember for casa moro.

                                    1. re: qianning

                                      Just to clarify, "Moro" and "Casa Moro" are UK published; "The Olive and the Caper" was published in the US by Workman.

                            2. re: LulusMom

                              Only one library in our entire extensive Northern CA interlibrary loan system has a copy of Moro.

                              I'm still waiting for an interlibrary loan copy of Mighty Spice to become available so I can request it.

                          2. re: LulusMom

                            No copies of any of the Moro books in my library system. Same with Mighty spice. (So I guess I was secretly rooting for Olive and Caper!)

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              the way these books get into the system is for folks to ask for them. given that the Moro books are basically inexpensive paperbacks (I think the book I have was available $11 on Amazon) eventually US library systems will pick them up if requested. Note the well funded library system I use (Morris Country NJ) doesnt have them either.

                              Finally, we would have never done Ottolenghi if library availability was the criterion. I am not claiming equivalency in quality (no basis to judge, yet), but its a similar situation.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                I agree about the library availability not being a hard and fast criterion. And I would have bought either of the other books if chosen. But I am currently in a position to do that. I do think it's nice that some of our selections are available in libraries, so that everyone feels they can participate.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  If memory serves me correctly, didn't Ottolenghi have lots of online recipes? I have no idea if the same is true of Moro. That, of course, would help.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    That, and a critical mass of COTM participants (or voters, anyway) already owned and were fans of Ottolenghi.

                          3. re: LulusMom

                            I've made the mushroom and retsina pie a few times. It's really good. And the squash and cardamom one. We liked the mushroom one better, but I'm sure that is because mushrooms are very popular at my house lol.

                            I've made the baklava recipe a bunch of times, but my notes in the margin show as usual I adapted it to our families taste and used my usual orange flower water syrup recipe instead of hers that uses mahlepi.

                            I tried the dolmades but frankly didn't like them. It was probably me though. I prefer meat stuffed ones anyway.

                            I'm sure there is more, but I haven't cooked from this cookbook in a couple years and those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. I'm glad to be reminded of these, since Lent started today and I think I might make that mushroom pie Friday for dinner.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              Whether Moro is a future COTM contender or not it is going on my short list to buy. I am loving CASA MORO! Whenever we get around to having Spanish month, it could always be included on an ancillary thread. Virtually every recipe I have looked at has made me think, I want to make that one!!!!!

                        2. I must say I am very excited as this is my first COTM. I too have been lurking about for months now checking out the progress all the wonderful cooks on here have made, but I hand't decided on making the plunge.
                          My partner is away on business for a few months which means I am cooking for just me, with no one to talk to my culinary experiments about ha ha. I figured I would at least have someone to share my results with if I did COTM while I'm home alone.
                          I've ordered the O&C and our friends at Amazon should have it here just in time. That is if it isn't delayed at the border ha ha.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: delys77

                            Welcome, and we'd be more than happy to be the wall you bounce off. Good luck with the cooking, and can't wait to hear about how things go.

                          2. Has anyone cooked anything from this book yet?

                            I have been trying to read this book for the last two days and it is so confusing to me that I can't focus. I really wanted to give it a dry run this weekend but can't find anything that I want to make. Huge disappointment....

                            19 Replies
                            1. re: herby

                              Hi Herby,

                              I can relate to what you've said, because this book seems to me to be as much a travelogue/diary/cultural history of Greece as it is a compendium of recipes. The layout takes some concentration to work through, and I needed a strong light to read some of the type!

                              But I did spend some tonight looking through the book, and mindful of dkennedy's statement above: " Finding the meat section most intriguing so far, " I went to this section first and did find several things that I want to try. I generally stick to fish or poultry, but the recipes for Beef With Olives: Beef Kapama with Wine, Brandy, Coffee, and Honey; Beef and Rice Meatballs: Stuffed Veal Roll-ups With Fennel and Bread Crumbs: and Pork Stew with Olives, Anchovies, Cilantro, and White Beans, all sounded so savory. Maybe because it's still winter around here (despite warmer than average temperatures), I can imagine enjoying making these. And I think I could easily adapt them to my new friend, my slow-cooker, if I wanted.

                              Anyway, I do also have my eye on some of the poultry recipes as well: Sauteed Chicken with Shallots, Tomatoes, Capers, and Sage; Sesame-Crusted Roast Chicken: and Clay-Pot Chicken with Eggplant, Gartlic, and Green Olives. And there're a ton of bulgar pilafs to try. The author suggests menus along with the main dishes, which I am finding nicely suggestive.

                              I haven't made any of these yet, but I intend to start very soon--Leap Year's Day!

                              1. re: Goblin

                                Many thanks for your reply, Goblin! I am making a note of the dishes that you mentioned and will go back to the book tomorrow - hopefully something desirable will emerge :) I was looking to make a nice lamb roast with lemon infused potatoes, a simple filo pie for an appertizer and an interesting salad... I do make Greek dishes and have a basic cookbook from Greece that I use now and then (lots of oil and difficult to follow measurements); was hoping that this book will give me clear directions and the yummiest recipes....

                                1. re: herby

                                  The book is giving me vertigo. I hate the layout, the colors, the fonts, it's making me crazy! I don't know whose brilliant idea all of that was, I had no idea these things could affect me so much. I'm going to need to spend more time with the book before I can cook from it.

                                2. re: Goblin

                                  Oh, the Sesame-Crusted Roast Chicken is calling to me!

                                  ~TDQ

                                3. re: herby

                                  I really identify with this, herby, having got the book the other day. I am beginning to think that I just don't find Greek cooking that exciting. I've only been to mainland Greece once, but Crete several times, and I have to admit the food does get a bit dull fairly quickly.

                                  Having said that, I haven't had much time over the past couple of days due to work and haven't got to the meat section yet!

                                  ElenaRose - a huge yes to the layout thing. Why do some cookbook publishers feel the need to make their books wacky and "different" in some way. I was given a cookbook yesterday by the owner of a small chain of cafés that I got into conversation with in said café and it suffers from the same problem. Way too many anecdotes, pictures of friends/family who I don't know and don't care about, little stamps saying "tested by X" - again someone I've never heard of. Who cares? I actually rejected said cookbook (having bought the first one - The Leon Cookbook - partly because it was so irritating. But who turns down a freebie? All I want is good, clearly laid out recipes, and maybe some photos of finished dishes! Aagh!

                                  Actually, Mighty Spice is a good example of the kind of style I like. Unfussy and uncluttered, with interesting recipes that work.

                                  I think I am becoming a Grumpy Old Woman.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    gg, couldn't agree more about the layout of Mighty Spice. The book is attractive, and very easy to cook from. One page, one recipe, and lots of them with photos. As you said: unfussy and uncluttered. I also love those 2 little ribbon place holders. Maybe silly of me, but they are very convenient.

                                  2. re: herby

                                    I hadn't given the layout any thought at all, but you're all right. It definitely is busy and unattractive. I'm not having any problem reading it though.

                                    I have made one soup so far, and it was fine. A solid B (it was the chickpea soup with garlic, sage and tarragon). Making two more things in the coming week (rice and noodle pilaf with artichokes, pine nuts and saffron and the vegetable moussaka). I've found quite a bit that sounds good to me - so herby, stay away from it ; ) We'll see if the recipe results are as good as they sound to me on the page.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Instead of staying away from it (wise suggestion, LulusMom!), I spent more time with the book this evening and thanks to the meat chapter advice, marked five (!) dishes to try plus two condiments - tapenade and tzaziki, both sound interesting. Will try Clay Pot Chicken tomorrow and will report once the threads are up.

                                      No Greek food in sight for the Monday dinner with my financial advisor; it is going to be Short Ribs Chinese Style from the "150 Best" with mashed potatoes and that fabulous winter salad from the same book whatever it is called:) She (the advisor) is bringing Pavlova for desert, which should go OK with the rest.

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        Will report much with more detail once the threads go up, but I made the two things I mentioned earlier (rice and noodle pilaf with artichokes, pine nuts and saffron and the vegetable moussake), and I noticed one thing they have in common that maybe needs looking out for in these recipes: both were desperately in need of salt. Will be interested to hear if others find this with other recipes. Just thought I should put this info out there so that we can all auto-correct if we find it to be the case with all the recipes.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Hi LLM, That recipe was calling my name! I understand that a lot of typically Greek food is salty: olives, capers, feta, anchovies...Did you use salt or sea salt? I have lately been in love with sea salt. have a jar of preground Penzey's sea salt on my stove and a little sea salt grinder on the table.

                                          Regards,

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Curious indeed. Did the recipes call for salt at all? Or was it completely absent?

                                            ~TDQ

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              The moussaka recipe's only salt is the tiny bit in the bechamel sauce. However, I didn't feel that this would be enough, so I salted both the eggplant and the potatoes (how can you not salt potatoes when cooking them??) as I cooked them (I roasted both instead of frying, and this was no problem at all taste-wise). Of course there is a layer of salty cheese over the top (I couldn't find the Greek kind called for, so used romano, which is supposedly similar). This meant that the top was salty enough, but the insides were very very bland. With the pilaf, she doesn't have you salting it until after the cooking process is over, which also seemed wrong to me, but I decided I really wanted to try it the way it was written. I don't want anyone else to make the same mistake, because it *was* a mistake. We had to keep the salt shaker close at hand at the table. The moussaka was definitely good once salted (without the salt, Lulu took one bite and looked down, sadly, not wanting to say she didn't like it - once salted, she ate the whole plate); the pilaf was still kind of blah. I think it could be saved, but mine was very mushy and just bland and eh. Salt while cooking would help, and not having it sit for 20 minutes after (as she calls for) would likely help too.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                How odd. Well, thank you for the heads up!

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  Good to have this information--I am making a mental note to check the seasoning as I go along and add more if I think advisable.

                                                  1. re: Goblin

                                                    Use your own judgement and I think you'll be much happier.

                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                      Thanks for the heads up. I have been trying to hold off on delving in to The O and the C too much because I still wanted to focus my attention on the Japanese books.

                                                      I am breaking down and making one of the O and C chicken dishes tonight though and I will use my regular liberal salting habits. Undersalted IS sad.

                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                        Me to the heavens: please don't let her dinner be oversalted, please please please!

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          Not to worry. Ended up well-seasoned :) full report tomorrow....

                                              2. re: LulusMom

                                                The Clay Pot was not undersalted but I did not measure. Looking back at the recipe, she calls for 1 teaspoon of salt for two checkens and two eggplants! I made 1/2 recipe and salted as I normally would. I would follow LulusMom's warning and use my own judgement when it comes to salt. I also upped the other flavourings by mistake and it was a good thing:)

                                          2. Hello All! I've only recently discovered the COTM thread and am excited! I ordered the Olive & Caper from Amazon and received it a couple days ago. I haven't cooked from it yet, but I find the descriptions of Greece fascinating. I've never been (and probably never will), but I do wonder about how recent some of the descriptions of the life are. That said, I wish the book was divided into a recipe section and a trivia section...or at least the recipe pages devoted to recipes. The pages do match the cover, so I guess I should have expected something similar. It kind of reminds me of a home made cookbook with family get togethers written about between recipes.

                                            So far I have found several of the meze and chicken recipes interesting. What's not to love about olives, capers, and mushrooms?

                                            Haven't tried anything yet :-)

                                            19 Replies
                                            1. re: debojay

                                              Welcome, debojay! So glad that you're going to be cooking with us! You are right--this cookbook is almost more like a family scrapbook. I think your idea about dividing the book into two sections, recipes in one and and commentary/trivia in the other, would have reduced some of the clutter. But as a novice to Greek Cooking, I liked having all the information about spices, history, culture, and cuisine (goats--who knew?)
                                              Anyway, nice to have you on the board.

                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                I had goat for the first time at a friend's house when I was about 17. They lived on a smallholding and we'd just been to see their baby goats. They didn't tell me that I was eating kid until I'd finished it (I thought it was lamb - why that would be any better I have no idea, lambs are cute too).

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  I've never had goat and just discovered that my local Asian market now carries it. Hoping for a few goat recipes in the March COTM. The book I ordered from an Amazon reseller just arrived so I'm going to have a windy Saturday afternoon reading The Olive and the Caper...

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Gio, there are two recipes that I see right away in the book: Grilled Marinated Goat With Lemon, Dill, and Oregano, and [Oven] Roasted Goat with Mountain Herbs and Potatoes. Both sound savory.
                                                    I've never eaten goat (that I've known anyway) and will be interested in what you think of it. I don't know where to acquire it here on the Cape--we don't have a nearby Asian market ;-( Wonder if I could get it frozen somewhere (or if this is even a good idea! LOL)
                                                    Very windy here today as well.

                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                      <"Grilled Marinated Goat With Lemon, Dill, and Oregano, and [Oven] Roasted Goat with Mountain Herbs and Potatoes. Both sound savory.">

                                                      Both sound terrific. Thanks Goblin. And, thanks for the reminder that I have to renew my supply of Greek oregano. I only grow the Italian variety in my garden...

                                                      The local market I referred to is one town over in Malden: H-Mart, the former Super 88. Are there no Asian markets anywhere on the Cape? Of course, I've never looked. I don't see why you couldn't use frozen, though. And then there's mail order, if you're so inclined.

                                                      Up here it's really a pre-March fierce wind.

                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                        you might try in with hispanic, halal, indian or or portuguese markets or butchers. Goat is popular in many cuisines. Its often found frozen. Ask your butcher/large supermarket if you cant find it.

                                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                                          Also any Caribbean market.

                                                          We had the insane wind yesterday. It was mid-70s but so windy it felt like hurricane weather.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            mid 70s - in February! How fabulous. It's unseasonably warm here too, but nowhere near that warm.

                                                        2. re: Goblin

                                                          halal markets in mass and nh definitely carry goat....usually locally sourced and fresh......ridiculously enough in s. nh I can get good goat/kid more easily than good fish......don't know if there is a halal market on the cape itself though....but would guess there might well be a Lebanese market on the cape (there are certainly plenty on the south shore)

                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                            A quick google search found this halal market on the Cape. Might be worth a phone call:
                                                            http://www.livingnaturally.com/ns/Dis...

                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                            THANK YOU everyone, for the suggestions regarding sources for goats' meat! I'm definitely going to call the two Natural Markets (Dennisport and Harwich) which supply Halal foods. The suggestion to ask my local butcher is a good one as well--

                                                            I do appreciate the prompt and helpful advice. You guys are great.

                                                            1. re: Goblin

                                                              OK; I'm learning a lot here--the quote below is from a recent Washington Post article that i just googled:

                                                              "It’s no surprise [the popularity of goat-meat recipes] given that goat is the world’s most-consumed meat: almost 70 percent of the red meat eaten globally. Its cultural caveats are few, as it can be kosher and halal as well.

                                                              Nutrition-wise, goat meat is a wonder. A similarly sized serving has a third fewer calories than beef, a quarter fewer than chicken and much less fat: up to two-thirds less than a similar portion of pork and lamb; less than half as much as chicken.

                                                              More good news: Goats represent sustainability, without the curse of factory production. They are browsers, not grazers."

                                                              The world's most consumed meat!!? I feel really provincial all of a sudden.

                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                Wow Goblin, Thanks for sharing that. I've never eaten goat, nor seen it in stores. To discover that it is "70 percent of the red meat eaten globally" is indeed a surprise! We have a large number of Mexican grocery stores in the area...I wonder if they would have it? My husband doesn't care for venison nor for lamb...How does the taste of goat relate I wonder?

                                                                Regards,

                                                                1. re: debojay

                                                                  goat is a red meat leaner meat than lamb more similar to lamb or beef than to venison. recommend trying in curry or stew dishes and see how you like it.

                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                    Goat is my SO's favorite red meat. I've found that goat chops respond well to any lamb preps, and they taste delicious. no need to stick with curry unless that is what you prefer.

                                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                                      I completely agree, just think it is a good starting point. We got some amazing baby goat rib chops a couple years ago from a halal butcher for a kashmiri dish, and it was one of the best meat dishes I can remember.

                                                        3. re: Goblin

                                                          Thanks for the welcome! I agree that the information is fascinating. In fact I took the book with me on a road trip out of town this weekend and really enjoyed the bits and pieces.
                                                          Regards,

                                                        4. re: debojay

                                                          Great to have you joining us debojay. I'm completely with you on the olives, capers and mushrooms!

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Thanks!

                                                        5. I spent most of yesterday reading through The Olive and the Caper and I think we're going to love this book! First of all let me confirm that the layout and page set up really Is goofy, but it's also manageable... by "selective reading" LOL. Quite a few recipes were chosen to start with including the 2 goat recipes Goblin mentioned. There seems to be much more seasoning here than in The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas, the former COTM. Also, there's much more cooking with Greek wines and liquors. I like that she includes variations in her header notes and suggests menus. I am surprised, though, that she does not include a suggested pantry but that can be overcome easily.

                                                          Yesterday G brought home from Trader Joe's a 10 oz. tub of delicious sheep's milk feta imported from Greece. Naturally I couldn't wait to use some in our dinner salad. It was way less salty than other feta I've had. I made our weekly chicken stock from the book and it was one of the best yet. Several whole leg quarters poached with the usual vegetables for 1 1/2 hours The whole house smelled wonderful and the chicken wasn't simmered to death so it tasted great. Yup, I think we're going to love this book.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            My favorite, of TJ's many fetas, is the Israeli one that comes in a yellow and white plastic package. Very creamy and not salty. (I think I got the tip to try it here on CH.)

                                                          2. just ourchased a copy of the book on abebooks.com
                                                            looking forwr to getting starte-
                                                            this my first time participating

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: jpr54_1

                                                              Welcome, jpr. We have a lot of fun with these COTMs and we learn so much in the process.

                                                              1. re: jpr54_1

                                                                Welcome jpr!

                                                                So, despite my recent lousy record of participation and the fact that my SO is not a fan of Greek food...I just picked up a cheap copy of the book. I'm in!

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                              2. I am about to start on Clay Pot Chicken - will post when the threads are up. Wish me luck:)

                                                                9 Replies
                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  I noted that recipe too. What kind of clay pot are you using, herby? I'm interested to know whether or not I can use my Romertoft.

                                                                  1. re: herby

                                                                    I am eager to hear about this dish, herby, although I guess I'll have to wait for March to begin! The first recipe I'm planning to try is one of the clay pot chickens. I will be using my Romertopf.

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      That was my thought too, LN. But I better learn to spell Romertopf first...

                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                        I thought I saw more than one clay pot recipe, now I only see one. Perhaps I was confused by the other page that just lists types of clay pots? Don't know. But I'll be trying the chicken recipe soon, and I'm eager to hear how it came out for herby. Can hardly wait until March!

                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                          I am planning on trying the clay-pot chicken as well, in my Romertopf. Have to dig out any instructions; the pot has been languishing on my shelves for quite a while, which is why I'm looking forward to getting it out again!

                                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                                            Goblin - If you don't find your instructions, the most important thing to remember (aside from soaking it in water first) is to NOT put it in a preheated oven like the recipe states. It must go into a cold oven. Or else you could have a shattered mess on your hands!

                                                                            I was going to start the month with the clay pot chicken, but realized it's too similar to the chicken with olives and serrano ham I made in the clay pot a few nights ago. So, still browsing...

                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                              Thank you, LNightshade! I had remembered something about soaking the pot and cover first but had completely forgotten about starting the cooking in a cold oven. I just went on the net and found some instructions for using my Romertopf. Glad for your heads-up before I embarked on the recipe from this book.

                                                                              My mouth is watering at your description of chicken with olives and serano ham in the clay pot--where is this recipe from?

                                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                                It was from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. The chicken is stuffed with olives, Serrano ham, onions, garlic, chopped chicken livers, and bread crumbs. It sits on a bed of carrots, leeks, and celery, and is doused with a bit of brandy and sherry vinegar. A very tasty dish!

                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                  My goodness does that ever sound flavorful! I'm going to check out Wolfert's book, now that I am re-inspired to bring my Romertopf out of exile in the basement. Thank you!

                                                                    2. Soliciting your opinions please...
                                                                      I will have to be out of town, perhaps without reliable internet, some time in March. There is a 50:50 chance that it will be from the 15th to the 20th. If I started the nominations on the 10th, they could close in the late evening on the 14th (still giving us about 5 days to nominate). I could immediately begin the voting late on the 14th, then count and report when I return, probably the 20th. That would be quite a bit longer vote than usual, and a little later in the month to try to obtain the book for the following month.
                                                                      This is one possiblity, there can be others, or I may be able to get internet where I'll be, but I'd love some input from you all, as to what you need, and on what matters you can be flexible.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                        Another option is to start nominations earlier so that the voting is finished by 14th - this will give people more time to get the book. Just a thought.

                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                          I'm completely flexible as well--feeling extra accommodating either way because I am hoping that Mighty Spice gets another chance for COTM, and I've already got the book so won't need extra time to acquire it.

                                                                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                          I'm completely flexible. Your plan sounds like a good one (and March is a long month, so it would still give people 11 days to get the book, although of course for some that might not be enough). I'm also willing to be the counter upper if you need someone to help.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            I offer to be the back-up counter-upper if Ms. LuluMom is unable to fulfill her duties as counter upper. Though, I've never been a COTM coordinator...

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              In case certain photos are found? ; ) I did realize I'll be out of town March 11-13, but I doubt that would be a problem.

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                I'll do the heavy looking on...

                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                  Exactly. Mostly, I just wanted to offer to help, but you beat me to it!

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    You're still at the hands full stage TDQ, and we all understand that.

                                                                            2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                              I think your proposed timeline makes sense, L.Nightshade, and to be honest, there have been plenty of months in the history of this endeavor when the final vote wasn't tallied until around the 20th. And on the flip side, I do seem to remember times when people were uninspired when the process began too early in the month. As in a feeling of, Didn't we *just* finish doing this, and we've barely begun to get into the new book!

                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                Thanks for everyone's input. My impression was pretty much what Caitlin said, that when people are just getting into the current book, it's hard to plunge into nominations for the next one.
                                                                                This may not be an issue at all, depending upon which days I will be gone, or even if I can get internet while I'm away. I'll let everyone know the plan, as usual. Just wanted to cover my bases!

                                                                            3. I've been unable to find kefalotyri or any of the other k cheeses around here.....are there any substitutes?

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                Somewhere in the book I read that we can substitute Pecorino Romano for Kefalotyri. Some of the cheeses can be bought on line though. Trader Joe's has a wonderful imported cheese case. I'm going to look there first and if I can't find it I plan to revert to the Romano.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Yes, on. p. 28 the author notes that kefalotyri is "hard and sharp, an excellent grating cheese that all Greeks lavish over their makaronada. At its best, it is as good as or better than Romano or aged Asiago. It is a goat's-milk cheese."
                                                                                  In the recipe for Fried Cheese Cubes on p. 40, the author also adds Parmesan to the list of substitutions.

                                                                                2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                  I used Pecorino Romano when I made the moussaka, and was happy with it. Wish I'd been able to find kefalotyri, but I couldn't either.

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Thanks for the quick reply, all. With a book as busy as this, it's easy to overlook tidbits of information, so it helps having so many eyes reading it.
                                                                                    I picked up some myzithra, but nothing else, so pecorino romano it is for the remaining recipes.

                                                                                    I do have another question regarding a recipe that has me a bit confused. The instructions seem a tad unclear, so maybe you kind folks could help me sort it out.
                                                                                    For the recipe on page 301, meat and rice stuffing for vegetables (I plan on using peppers) is the filling mixed together raw, and then cooked in the filled vegetables? Or is the filling precooked and then stuffed? Am I missing a step here? I've read the recipe over and over and just am not sure.
                                                                                    Thanks again!

                                                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                      This has got to be about the most confusingly structured recipe I've ever read! There are some directions on page 300. For stuffing peppers you go to page 304 and do steps 3 through 6. This seems to indicate that, aside from the sauté of ingredients, the stuffing cooks inside the peppers. Sheesh.

                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                        Hi Allegra,
                                                                                        I find this as puzzling as you do. I'm pretty sure some steps were left out. The clue for me is when the instructions say " Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Use right away, or ALLOW TO COOL, then cover and refrigerate. . . " The phrase "allow to cool" when the instructions have said nothing about heating up, tips me off that something has been left out from the recipe and that the ingredients were supposed to be precooked in some way.

                                                                                        Other stuffed pepper/ tomato recipes instruct the cook to sauté the onions and ground meat and pre-cook the rice before stuffing. Do other folks think that this is necessary in this recipe?

                                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                                          It sounds to me like the rice cooks while the vegetable is in the oven with water. You just have to move to another page to get the complete instructions.

                                                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                                                            The 'allow to cool' phrase is what perplexed me to begin with. So the rice is already cooked, but the onion and the meat go into the peppers raw? Then bake/simmer for 25 minutes? Would that be enough time to cook everything through, if the meat/rice filling is cooled to start with? Maybe I'll split the recipe and do it both ways.

                                                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                              I find this totally confusing. When I answered I was reading the other recipe on page 301, so, sorry. This section is written very poorly, especially the jumping back and forth between steps and pages. And I do think it is strange that the rice is precooked in this one recipe. Anything I've ever stuffed with meat, the rice cooks along with the meat. I'll be eager to hear your outcome.

                                                                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                            Your question got my curiosity going, Allegra, particularly with the discussion that you started. So, I took the book off the shelf and read p. 300-305. In the Meat and Rice recipe on p. 301, Ms. Hoffman specifies that the rice is cooked but nothing else is. I think that she is refering to hot rice when saying "allow to cool". The following Rice and Almond recipe does not call for rice to be cooked, only fried with onions, ect. ina manner similar to Mexican and Spanish rice preparations. The flavours of both recipes sound very nice - hope your peppers will turn out great and can't wait for your report. I like stuffed veggetables and my favourite recipe in Indian. Would be nice to have good Greek one too. I checked a Greek cookbook from Greece that I've had for ages. The author's method is to saute onions and once they are done, add meat and saute, add the flavouring, tomatoes and some water and cook for one hour, add rice and cook some more. Stuff peppers and roast. The other mediterranian book that I have has basically the same method but cooks the meat for only a few minutes. Maybe we should ask the author to join in and help to answer our question?

                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                              I think I'm going to go with my gut on this one. I flipped through Wolfert's 'Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean' and every single one of her stuffed vegetable recipes cooked the meat before stuffing. I'll follow her lead. Also, judging by how terribly undercooked my dolmadakia were that I made last night (despite cooking for 1/2 hour longer than the recipe undicated), something seems to be amiss in the recipe instructions throughout this book......

                                                                                      2. Wow! I have that book, and I love it. I think I'll try to participate this time. ;)

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          Wow, it's looking like we've got a great group going for March!
                                                                                          It's almost here...

                                                                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                            ChefJune, I'd love to hear what some of your favorites are. And ... have you had any of the issues with salting that I've had (with 2 of the 3 recipes I've made)? I'm excited about this book, and would love guidance on favorites, and to find out if I'm imagining this lack of salting issue.

                                                                                          2. This is my first COTM participation and love the Olive and the Caper suggestion. We made the Eggplant Slippers (page 306 in the paperback version) last night and it was really good. The only thing we changed was reducing the amount of olive oil. It looked like a bit too much and we were glad we made the adjustment.

                                                                                            Really looking forward to other reviews of recipes in this book!

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                                              Welcome Fowler! Our ranks are growing!
                                                                                              I hope you will post a full report of that recipe. The threads will be up and running by tomorrow.

                                                                                            2. Just in case anyone wants to join in that doesn't have the book, here are some recipes.

                                                                                              Eggplant Salad City Style http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/eggpla...

                                                                                              Eggplant Salad Country Style http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/eggpla...

                                                                                              Taramasalata with Bread http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/tarama...

                                                                                              Taramasalata with Potato http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/tarama...

                                                                                              Taramasalata with Bread and Potato http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/tarama...

                                                                                              Grape Leaves Stuffed with Pine Nuts, Currants, and Golden Raisins http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/grape-...

                                                                                              Leek and potato pie http://tinyurl.com/6t52798

                                                                                              Warm greens http://tinyurl.com/88gnons

                                                                                              Roasted Lamb Shanks with Garlic and Thyme http://tinyurl.com/7lbh67t

                                                                                              1. FYI, I have posted the threads for The Olive and the Caper. I know it's not technically March yet for some of us, but I have to get to work early in the morning, so I've posted tonight.

                                                                                                Happy cooking!
                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836485