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March 2012 COTM: The Olive and the Caper: Birds; Wild Game; Sauces and Toppings

Please use this thread to discuss the recipes in the chapters on Birds; Wild Game; and Sauces and Toppings (pages 406 - 487)

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  1. Clay Pot Chicken, p. 417

    This is a simple to execute recipe even on a work night. I do not have a clay pot, my Le Crueset was too small and I ended up making this dish in a Calphalon shallow pot. You cut peeled eggplant (I did not see the need to peel and did not) in cubes, peel lots of garlic, pit olives and quarter two chickens partially removing the skin. I halved the recipe and used one chicken with some skin removed as instructed, one eggplant and half the garlic but the full amount called for thyme, salt and bay just because I got distracted and forgot to reduce. Next you toss together eggplant, garlic, olives, oil, and half of the thyme and salt in a cooking vessel. Arrange chicken skin side down on top and sprinkle with remaining thyme and salt, pepper and crumbled bay leave. Cover the pot and cook in preheated to 450F oven for 50 minutes (I cooked for about 30 minutes); uncover, stir, flip the chicken quarters skin side up and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Garnish with parsley and lemon zest and serve. I served with orzo and liked the combination. It was not a spectacular dish but interesting enough to make again and I will make it again with a number of changes. The most annoying was the crumbled bay leave – you could not tell it apart from little bits of eggplant skin to remove it; it did not soften a bit and was not pleasant. Next time I will add the whole leave and pull it out when the dish is done. I find that cooking chicken breasts and wing parts that are attached to the breasts at such high temperature dried them out and a bit of skin did not help, even worse – most skin bits were flabby... Those of you who are fortunate to have a clay pot might have completely different experience. I would love to hear how the dish turned in a proper cooking vessel and whether I should consider buying one. Probably not as the goal is to downsize unless it is a small gadget or an essential utensil

    What I loved and why I want to make it again is the brilliant use of eggplant, olives and garlic – the mixture created an amazing sauce, velvety smooth and flavourful. The dish did not scream “GREECE!” to me but I am willing to do it all over again with a few modifications. Next time I will definitely up the spices the way I accidentally did, use skinless thighs and cook them covered for as long as it takes – maybe 40 minutes for 8 thighs or even less. The purpose of removing the lid was to crisp the skin but because lots of flesh was exposed to hot oven air and not protected by the skin, it got dry and unappetising. I am wondering about the need for such an aggressive heat during the initial cooking – I loved the way eggplant turned out and mingled with the garlic and olives but would the same magic happen at a lower heat?

    2 Replies
    1. re: herby

      Clay Pot Chicken with Eggplant, Garlic, and Green Olives, page 417.

      I did this dish in a Romertopf clay pot (one chicken, everything else more or less halved). I pulled the skin off the breasts (as I like white meat and no skin), but left most of it on the thighs and legs (as Mr. NS likes dark meat with skin!). The recipe calls for 50 minutes at 475º covered, and then and additional 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. Although I started the clay pot in a cold oven, and let it make its slow climb to 475º, the chicken was still quite done at 45 minutes. Consequently, I only let it brown uncovered for a few minutes.

      I enjoyed reading herby's take on this recipe, describing the vegetables melding into an amazing sauce. I should have looked at it that way! As it was, I saw them as a bit soupy and overcooked, because my expectation was to have nice chunks of eggplant to eat alongside of the chicken. I got big Greek olives, so I halved them. We did enjoy the taste of this dish, especially with the big chunks of garlic and the lemon zest on top.

      1. re: herby

        Clay Pot Chicken with Eggplant, Garlic, and Green Olives, p. 417

        herby's description of the eggplant and garlic led me to try this dish a couple of days ago, taking into account her issues with it. I used one medium-to-large eggplant, around 12 cloves of garlic, 4 skinless chicken thighs, and the full amount of herbs and olives. I cooked it in a covered stainless casserole for 30 minutes, then stirred and cooked for 25 more minutes covered, but dropped the heat to 450. I had unaccountably neglected to get lemons, so unfortunately had to skip adding the zest at the end. After tasting, I thought a bit of acid would brighten it (as I'm sure lemon zest would), so I added a sprinkle of red wine vinegar.

        I liked the way the mellow roasted garlic flavor infused the broth, chicken, and eggplant. My eggplant was meltingly soft, but even with the olives and vinegar, the dish didn't have quite enough complexity for me (again, I'm sure the zest would have helped). There was a ton of liquid by virtue of cooking it covered and in hindsight, I though it might have been a good idea to take out the chicken and let the liquid reduce on the stove, as I had used a burner-safe pot to cook it.

        I wanted to doctor the leftovers a bit, so I chopped some canned tomatoes and sauteed them and their juices in a bit of olive oil, then added a splash of white wine and let it reduce a bit before adding the leftover chicken, eggplant, etc., along with a couple of handfuls of baby arugula that needed using, and covered the pan until the arugula wilted and everything was hot. I also stirred in a bit of fresh dill right at the end. This ended up being delicious, much more balanced and complex. I think the tomatoes and wine added a lot.

      2. Sauteed Chicken with Shallots, Tomatoes, Capers and Sage pg. 411

        This was a nice skillet-braised chicken recipe. Nothing earth shattering, but tasty and pretty easy. I modified this a bit by using all chicken thighs instead of a cut up chicken. I also salted the chicken liberally prior to sauteeing it. as I always prefer to do it that way and due to the warning about possible underseasoning in these recipes (thanks, llm!) I also substituted white wine for red wine since that's what I had open in the fridge and with only 1/3 cup, I didn't think it would make a tremendous difference.

        Anyway, the chicken and a bunch of shallots (halved if large-- I had some monsters that I quartered) go into the pan to be browned in olive oil. She specified 1/4 c olive oil, but I prob used less than this. Once browned, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes (canned in my case), capers, sage and S&P are added. This is brought to a boil and covered for 15 minutes. She then specifies to turn everything over, raise heat and cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. I shortened the overall time since I was using only thighs and probably needed 12 minutes covered and another 5 minutes uncovered. At this point I adjusted for salt and pepper. Tasted good but A LOT of fat in the sauce. I took the chicken out and skimmed off some fat that I could with a spoon, but given the chunkiness of the sauce, it was hard to skim off.

        The final result was very nice. Tasty and satifying-- the capers added a nice briny kick and the large quantity of shallots ( 4 large) was a nice change from the usual onion. I must say that this didn't taste Greek to me, but maybe that shows how little I know about Greek food.

        I will likely make a version of this again. I might add kalamata olives if I make it again. I think they would fit right in and complement the capers. I would also continue to use less oil and probably drain out the excess chicken fat after browning the chicken to make the final result less oily. I also think the sage didn't really come through much (I used fresh). To be honest, this didn't bother me because I'm not the hugest fan of sage. I think lots of other herbs could be added as well-- I always think of oregano as the stereotypical Greek herb, and I think it would taste great here.

        5 Replies
        1. re: greeneggsnham

          Sauteed Chicken w Shallots, Tomatoes, Capers and Sage - p. 411

          Though I haven't made this dish for a couple of months, it is a dish from this book that I've made on a few occasions since first trying it in Nov 2010. I thought I'd add my recipe notes here in case they are of use to others.

          This recipe delivered on all counts and produced a delicious, flavourful dish with a rich-tasting sauce that gave the appearance of being cooked for a much longer timeframe. Changes I made to the recipe were the substitution of canned Italian tomatoes for the fresh (which were flavourless from the supermarket this week) and, I also added 2 tsp of fresh, chopped garlic. I cooked with 4 bone-in, skin-on chx breasts and had to extend the simmering time to account for the fact that these breasts were massive. This worked out well as it allowed the sauce flavours to further develop. I served this over some steamed brown rice. Yum!

          I've also added olives (both green and black) to this dish and we've enjoyed this addition. When serving over rice, we've topped w some crumbled Feta too.

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Very helpful notes. Thanks so much.

            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Thanks for the report. I think adding garlic is a great idea. Will have to try that next time. And I think there will be a next ime for us. Like most braises, the leftovers of this have been great!

            2. re: greeneggsnham

              Sauteed Chicken with Shallots, Tomatoes, Capers and Sage, Pg. 411

              My turn for the sauteed chicken. Heeding all the amendments, deviations, and comments of those who went before me I made this recipe with "everything but the kitchen sink": Less oil, 4 large bone-in chicken thighs, 8 large halved shallots, 4 slivered garlic cloves, 1/2 cup red wine, 1/3 cup Balsamico, 2 chopped tomatoes, 10 pitted Kalamata olives, 1 t salted/rinsed/drained capers, 1 t crumbled dried sage, 1 t dried Greek oregano, 1 t each S & P. I cooked each phase a few minutes longer than the stated times in the recipe.

              The finished dish was absolutely delicious. Well seasoned with distinct flavor notes coming through with each bite. Admittedly there was more oil than usual floating around the dish but I simply pushed it aside and reminded myself of the good health qualities of the organic first cold pressed extra virgin Greek olive oil I used... We both enjoyed this tremendously and will make it again.

              The chicken was plated with another helping of the Tzatziki with a side bowl of Cauliflower Salad found on page 198. I kept dredging florets in the chicken sauce. Terrific.

              1. re: Gio

                My turn for this and I have nothing much to add apart from we enjoyed it very much. I used two skin-on, free-range chicken breasts and only one TBS of oil, which was plenty if you cook the chicken skin-side down to start with. The cooking time was about right and I didn't add salt as the capers were salted. I served with purple sprouting broccoli dressed with oil and lemon and a tiny bit of chilli, and some crusty bread for the delicious sauce.

            3. Chicken Neo-Avgolemono p. 409 (half recipe)

              Let me preface my review by sharing that I do not know what a traditional avgolemono sauce tastes like. Greek cuisine is brand new to me. My husband tends dislike lemony flavored dishes, so I took a chance with this one.

              Saute chicken pieces (we used 3 chicken thighs) in oil until browned. Add lemon juice, shallots, rosemary and salt & pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook (turning) until the chicken is cooked through. Set the chicken aside and make a sauce by adding white wine, then add lemon zest, mint and spoon over chicken with chopped egg.

              The chicken was nicely browned and moist and the savory, lemony (but not too much so) sauce added a nice touch.

              The next time, I would use less oil. Even though only 1 T was used, because the chicken releases its own fat, it was a little much. I think I’ll try 1/2-3/4 T oil and see how it works. I would also watch the shallots more diligently. My shallots ended up quite dark and I ended up piling them up on the side during cooking to prevent them from burning to a crisp. I’m not sure how much the chopped boiled egg added to the dish, but it certainly didn’t distract. Easy to pull together after work.

              1. Sesame-crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce, p. 416

                Despite a kitchen disaster mid-way through this dish which may have contributed to problems with the sauce, I really liked this chicken. The chicken came out moist and the skin crisped up fairly well. The sauce was great with it.

                The oven is preheated to 450F and the chicken is rubbed inside and out with a mixture of sesame seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. The chicken is the placed in a baking dish just large enough to hold it snugly and covered. The chicken roasts until it begins to turn golden, about 55 minutes.

                I used a 9" glass pan and about 25 minutes into roasting, it shattered. Fortunately, the pizza stone caught most of the glass shards, but we had to interrupt the cooking process to transfer the chicken to a new pan and collect the shards. From the sounds of it, I also lost quite a bit of the chicken juices when the pan exploded.

                After 55 minutes, the chicken is uncovered and the pan juices go into a saucepan. The juices get set aside to cool so the fat can be skimmed off and the chicken goes back in the oven to brown and get crusty (the book says 10 minutes more, but my chicken needed 15).

                While the chicken rests and the the chicken fat is skimmed off, tahini and capers are added to the chicken juices. I needed a bit more water, probably thanks to the exploding pan issue. The sauce is whisked and then brought to a boil and whisked again. While this was happened, the BF was cleaning up some of the glass shards that had cooled. He cut himself and I went to see if he needed help and when I came back the sauce had separated. I tried to get it back together, but at that point just wanted to eat, so instead of a sauce, we had more of a grainy tahini butter. It was still good, but not ideal!

                13 Replies
                1. re: TxnInMtl

                  Wow, sorry about the exploding pan. I'm glad no one was seriously hurt. But, thanks for reporting on this recipe. I'm very interested in trying it!


                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                    Eek for the exploding pan! I'd totally missed this one so I'm glad you pointed it out. It sounds like an interesting dish which I'd like to try.

                    1. re: TxnInMtl

                      A dish based on Sesame-crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce, p. 416

                      I made a dish that was inspired by this recipe, but is rather different. Still, it was really good, so I thought I'd report back to you on it anyhow.

                      I had a large, skinless but not boneless chicken breast to work with. So I put the chicken into a ceramic pie plate, mixed 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp tahini, and 1/4 tsp salt together, spread the mixture over the chicken, then sprinkled it with 1 tbsp sesame seeds. I roasted it at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until the thermometer registered 160. (It took longer than I thought it would).

                      My, was that tasty! The chicken was perfectly moist and the lemony, seedy tahini coating was delicious. I suppose I could have garnished it with capers, in keeping with the recipe, but it didn't really need it. Served it with roasted butternut squash and roasted fennel.

                      Happily, no pans exploded! And someday I'll make the real recipe, since that one sounds great too.

                      1. re: TxnInMtl

                        Sesame-crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce, p. 416

                        Made a half recipe of this last night using four smallish chicken thighs. I roasted them covered at 450 for 28 minutes, then drained off the pan juices, and returned the un-covered chicken to a hot oven for an additional 15 minutes, meanwhile I started to assemble the sauce. The gorgeous smooth sauce was ready maybe three minutes before the chicken, so I set it to rest. Mistake! Sometime in those three minutes the sauce seized and separated. It still tasted fine, but gosh did it look like a curdled mess. Oh was I mad--throwing pot holders around the kitchen mad!

                        Anyway, taking this experience w/ TIM's, I'd emphasize that this is a sauce that cannot rest. Still if you like sesame chicken, do try this dish, or various takes on it, because the flavor combination really is very tasty, even if the sauce seizes!

                        1. re: qianning

                          At least they were potholders and not pots, qianning!

                          Thanks for the tip, though. I hadn't noticed this recipe, but it sounds good, and I've got tons of tahini here, and I can never think of things to do with it.

                          1. re: qianning

                            That's so frustrating about the sauce, but it's somewhat comforting to know it wasn't just me!

                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                              TIM: definitely not just you.....compared to your travails, though, i got off lightly.

                              NCW: Mr. QN concurred with your sentiments potholders vs pots & pans.

                          2. re: TxnInMtl

                            I completely missed this--glad you were able to savage the dinner. Wonder what happened with th dish. Scary!

                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              Okay, I know it's a typo, but I did laugh out loud at 'savage the dinner'! Take that, dinner!

                              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                We haven't done a Viking cookbook yet! I laughed too.

                              2. re: TxnInMtl

                                Sesame-crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce, p. 416

                                I was inspired to make this by Karen and qianning. Over the weekend, Mr. MM bought two jumbo packs of supposedly boneless, skinless chicken thighs for something I was making. Unfortunately, they were skinless, but not boneless. Not his fault. The package really did say boneless. I was put in the hectic situation of having to bone out about 20 thighs pronto. Which I did. We set aside four thighs for a later meal. What I was absolutely sure of, was that I did not want to have to bone out those last four thighs. I had enough of that yesterday. So I went looking for a dish, and naturally turned to the COTM. When I saw that Karen had made this with skinless, but not boneless, breasts, and qianning had made it with thighs, I decided this would work for me.

                                So the chicken thighs were tossed with lemon juice, sesame seeds, olive oil, and salt, and put in a pan covered with foil, and baked at 425 for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, I drained all the liquid from the pan into a small saucepan, and put the chicken back in the oven, uncovered, for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I heated the pan drippings and whisked in the tahini and capers. Served the chicken with the tahini sauce over, with some potatoes on the side, and a simple salad of greens with vinaigrette and a dab of feta.

                                So this was quite good, and pretty simple for a nice weeknight meal. Mr. MM, who does not normally care for capers (he gets them anyway), said that he liked them in this dish. The capers provided most of the salt for the sauce, and the tahini is a strong flavor that was not overwhelmed by them. Having made the dish this way, I think I would continue to do it the same way, rather than doing a whole chicken. That's a bit unusual for me, since I typically would prefer to cook a chicken whole. But this really worked, so I'm inclined to stick with it.

                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                  Sesame-crusted Roast Chicken in Tahini and Caper Sauce, p. 416

                                  I decided to make this as my final recipe (for a while, anyway) from this COTM, as it sounded good, despite the various mishaps associated with it. I made a half-recipe and opted for boneless, skinless thighs, which went into an oven-proof skillet. Since there was still plenty of fat on the thighs and the pan was covered, I thought skinless would work ok, but they probably would have benefited from the skin's protection: after 30 minutes at 450 (too long, but the thighs were pretty large), the chicken was obviously overcooked. Since I did want to brown it a bit, I popped the thighs back into the oven anyway for 5-6 minutes while I made the tahini-caper sauce, which turned out great (very similar to the tarator sauce we love on lamb). But even the sauce couldn't save the dish--the chicken was tough and rubbery from the overcooking.

                                  I served this w/Thai red rice, roasted carrots w/pomegranate molasses, and brussels sprouts.

                                2. Tzatziki, p465

                                  So yeah, tzatziki. Not the most innovative of dishes, which I've made loads of times. Which means I didn't have high hopes of this version - but I was wrong! This was probably the best tzatziki I've ever made.

                                  Easy, peasy prep. Chop 2-4 cloves of garlic with 3/4 tsp of salt. I used three smallish cloves. Stir into 1.5 cups of plain yogurt - in my case a mixture of Greek Cypriot-style yogurt and Turkish yogurt (which is imo the best). Add finely chopped, peeled, deseeded cucumber, chopped mint, black pepper and a TBSP of wine vinegar. This last ingredient I think is what really made it for me. I've never added vinegar to tzatziki before but it resulted in a perfectly balanced dish, with a hint of acidity from the vinegar. I also liked that the cucumber was chopped rather than grated. It also wasn't salted and drained, just squeezed a little.

                                  A lovely refreshing dip that I can't wait to make again. I served it as part of a mezze, with some houmous, butternut squash dip (Ottolenghi recipe), pickled peppers and those tinned Greek beans in tomato sauce (gigantes) which I love.

                                  35 Replies
                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    gg, I'm so glad to read your review. We LOVE this Tzatziki which has been our "go-to" tzatziki for a while now. I totally agree that somehow, the red wine vinegar transforms a good dish into a great one. We picked up some pinot noir vinegar in the fall and have been using that recently with wonderful results. We love this tzatziki so much that I make some at least once every two weeks.

                                    I've pasted a link to a thread where I'd recommended the recipe to someone here as I also attached a photo of the pressed Greek yogurt I use in case someone here can read the label for me. Also, I've attached a pic of the O&C tzatziki. I'm making some tomorrow so will post a fresh pic here too..


                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      I'm glad it's not just me that thinks this is stellar. It reminds me a bit of the moment I discovered the Vietnamese Fried Rice in the Pham book - how can a few simple ingredients taste so good?

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Have you tried the beet tzatziki, Breadcrumbs?

                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          I'm actually making it today gg!! I roasted my beets this morning and one of the large ones has been set aside for this dish. I'll be back to report later on.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            Stay tuned for my beet tzatziki report, which I'll be posting in bit...

                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            So as I mentioned above, I made this again today. Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed the dish. Tonight I served it along w the Lamb Kebabs in this book and it was great to contrast it w the Beet Tzatziki the author suggests serving w that recipe. I've reviewed our experience w the Beet Tzatziki below and I must say, once the taste test was complete, we preferred this tzatziki on its own (w pita) but the Beet Tzatziki won out as the perfect accompaniment to the Lamb. Both tzatzikis are winners in our books!!

                                          3. re: greedygirl

                                            Thanks for the great review, and for bringing this one to my attention! I was planning on making it the other day but then went with my standby tzatziki due to all of the recent misses that I've been having in the book. The red wine vinegar is why I skipped over the recipe in the first place. I'm happy to hear that it works so well in the dish. I'll have to give it a try soon.
                                            A bit off topic, but what is this ottolenghi dip that you speak of? Can't recall seeing it in Plenty, but it sounds lovely!

                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                              It's a recentish Guardian recipe - here's the link:


                                              The recipe makes a ton - I sent my friend home with some because he loved it so much and we were never going to get through all the leftovers.

                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                what type of potato do you use? I looked up charlotte and it seems like a yellow fingerling?

                                                1. re: Madrid

                                                  I haven't actually made the potato recipe, but a charlotte is a waxy potato often used in salads.

                                                2. re: greedygirl

                                                  Great, thanks! It sounds superb. Did you use the date syrup?

                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                    I did - found it at a wonderful local shop which sells just about everything you'd ever need.

                                              2. re: greedygirl

                                                My favorite Greek cookbook also uses red vinegar. I have bought some Greek red vinegar for this purpose, and I love the result. The Greek vinegar is less acidic and maybe a tad sweeter? Also is wonderful in a smoked eggplant dip.

                                                1. re: smtucker


                                                  What is your favorite Greek cookbook?

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    smtucker, I made tzaziki that you posted on the other thread and it is wonderful. Was going to make it out of this book but after comparing ingredients changed my mind and made yours:)

                                                    1. re: herby

                                                      That version is from The Periyali Cookbook by Holly Garrison. If you can find a used copy, it is a wonderful book. It is a "restaurant" book though which feels different to me that Olive and Capers.

                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        Thank you! I will look for it. Any other gems in this book that you love?

                                                        1. re: herby

                                                          To be honest, every recipe I have made from this book has been repeated. It may be my favorite cookbook ever. If I had to pick only 10 books to own as a cooking resource, this book would be the first chosen.

                                                          1. re: smtucker


                                                            Just went on Amazon to check out The Periyali Cookbook by Holly Garrison and wasn't able to glean too much info about this book. What makes it your favorite? Can you elaborate on some of your go-to recipes out of this book?

                                                            I really don't have a Greek cookbook in my ever expanding collection and would be open to adding the right one to my library. The closest thing I have to a Greek cookbook is my Sephardic Cookbook that is a collection of Rhodesli recipes (Rhodesli as in from the Island of Rhodes).

                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                              DKennedy, I ordered used copy of this book from Abe's for under $2 plus shipping - tzatziki rcipe alone is worth the cost. Maybe we will get a thread going - cooking from the books most of us have not head about or somethng along these lines:)

                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                This is one of my favorite cookbooks because I love the food I make when using it!

                                                                I am a big meze lover and have made all the recipes [that don't include shellfish] in the first half of the book. As I mentioned before, we make these dishes over and over and over because they are good.

                                                                I haven't spent as much time on the "entree" portions of the book since that isn't my favorite part of the Greek cuisine.

                                                                I have no recollection of where I picked up this book, but it was because we already liked Greek food, especially the meze. To buy all the items we liked in a restaurant was far too expensive so I decided that we could learn to make them at home.

                                                                Hope this helps.

                                                      2. re: smtucker

                                                        I purchased the Periyali Cookbook. I made yogurt out of sheep's milk yogurt and then made the tzatziki. It is delicious indeed. Like you, I will reserve the sour cream for special occasions. Thanks for making us aware of this.

                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                          You are most welcome!

                                                          I have been meaning to post a list of my favorite recipes from the book. This will give me a little more incentive after this "in real life" project is finished.

                                                      3. re: greedygirl

                                                        Tzatziki p. 465

                                                        Thanks for bringing this to our attention. A simple and refreshing version. The vinegar does brighten up the sauce.

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          Two bests out of this book posted today (this and Gio's report on Greek Salad). I know what I'll be making when my husband gets back in town.

                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                            Tzatziki, Pg.. 465

                                                            There's nothing I can add to all the glowing reports of this Tazatziki recipe except to add our accolades too. I increased the FGBpepper amount a tad and used fresh dill instead of mint. We loved this version with the vinegar. I served it with the rice and lentil pilaf on page 237 and grilled and oiled country bread fingers.

                                                            ETA: The Recipe, if anyone is interested:


                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Tzatziki, pg. 465

                                                              I can just add my endorsement to the wonderful tzatziki. I used dill and mint and smashed up the garlic and salt in the mortar and pestle instead of the cutting board. I made this and the beet version and loved them both.

                                                            2. re: greedygirl

                                                              Tzatziki, p465

                                                              Greedygirl describes the process well above. I made this tonight and it was quite good. [Not quite as good as my usual version.]

                                                              I used dill instead of mint and white pepper instead of black. My yogurt was Stonyfield which I drained for five hours.

                                                              Was a delicious accompaniment to the Ground Lamb Kebabs [page 391.]

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                Tzatziki, page 465.

                                                                After all these positive reviews, I couldn't pass this one by. Details are well described above.

                                                                I had leftover Beef Kapama from the other night, and decided to use it in Greek-ish tacos. I made the tzatziki to accompany, with several other taco additions. I made approximately a half recipe. It's hard to tell what a "small cucumber" is; I used half of an English cucumbet, and a combination of mint and dill.

                                                                I thought this was delicious; I had some difficulty not just eating it all with a spoon! Without a doubt one of the best tzatzikis I have eaten. I enjoyed the process also, I did the salt and garlic, and then the herbs, with a mezzaluna, which I found much more rewarding than any kind of electric chopper or processor (which I am prone to rely upon)!

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  Tzatziki, p. 465

                                                                  Add another fan to the roster. I used two cloves of garlic, and both dill and mint. My cucumber was the standard American type with higher water content, so I elected to grate, salt, and drain it before squeezing. I used it to top fresh salmon and mushroom burgers (a Jacques Pepin recipe), which was a good match; and the leftovers went on top of leftover St. Patrick's Day colcannon (mashed potatoes and greens) fried into cakes for my lunch today.

                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                    Tzatziki [Two ways--traditional and beet], p. 465, 467

                                                                    I've had this cookbook a few years and the traditional tzatziki is one of the recipes I had used a few times. Like others, I love this version. I made it again yesterday b/c I knew one of our guests hates red beets and I definitely wanted to try the beet tzatziki. So I made both.

                                                                    I used chopped mint and four cloves of garlic in in the traditional version; chopped dill (and one garlic clove) in the beet version. Per breadcrumbs's tip, I grated my beet (using a Microplane cheese grater) and did like the resulting texture. I served these with warm pita triangles along with our dinner of lamb in filo and lentil-rice pilaf.

                                                                    Both were excellent, but I really loved the beet tzatziki--and love the color. And, lo and behold, the red beet hater tried it, liked it even better than the traditional, and even took some home.

                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                      Tzatziki Pg. 465
                                                                      This makes a lovely thick sauce for dipping or topping meats such as kebabs. Really nice flavour and I love her technique of mining the garlic with the salt. I added a bit of pepper, a bit more salt, and a bit more acid. Tasty!

                                                                      1. re: delys77


                                                                        I wish I had used the grater for the cucumber like I usually do. And I wish I had remembered to run out to the garden to see if any mint was growing because I totally forgot until the last minute and then it was too late. I have some left and I'll do that today and try it again. And I wish I had taken it out of the fridge sooner, it was just too cold. Really liked the technique with the garlic!

                                                                        1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                          I've used dried mint in a pinch when I didn't have any fresh and it still comes out good.

                                                                    2. Chicken Kapama (half recipe) p. 414

                                                                      Brown chicken pieces (we used chicken thighs) in oil (I used 1 T oil instead of 1.5 T) and set aside. After browning, I got discarded half of the oil/fat and then added sliced onions and cooked just to coat with oil, then tomato paste and dry red wine is added until it boils. Next add coffee, brandy, chopped tomatoes (canned for me), bay leaf, honey, cloves, cinnamon stick and s&p. Simmer covered until sauce is thickened (I started checking on mine at the 20 minute mark). Continue to simmer uncovered until the sauce is thick and glossy (I started checking at the 20 minute mark). The chicken then rests 10 minutes before serving. The recipe says to serve with watercress which unfortunately still sitting in my fridge. Oops! We served this with new potatoes with mint and spring onions. Although, the potatoes were tasty, I think a pasta or rice might be a better vehicle to mopping up the sauce. Bread would have been a welcome addition to our meal as well. Next time I’ll use skinless thighs as the skin loses its crispness after simmering so long.

                                                                      We enjoyed this cinnamon spiced stew. The sauce was delicious. It was savory and sweet (but not overly sweet) and the chicken was moist and tender. My husband eschews sauces that have a dominant tomato taste and does not enjoy the taste of coffee (hot cocoa for him). Despite both ingredients being in the recipe, it was enjoyed by the Mr.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                        I was curious about this recipe, but like your husband, my BF also dislikes dominant tomato flavors and coffee, so thank you for your report! I'll have to give this a try soon.

                                                                        1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                          I hope the two of you enjoy it.

                                                                        2. re: BigSal

                                                                          Chicken Kapama pg 414

                                                                          We really enjoyed this too. Not much to add to Big Sal's comments, except to say that following her cue I removed the skin from the bone in thighs that was using, and served the chicken with rice.

                                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                                            ok, I thought I had rotated the picture, and now I can't seem to edit it! oh well.

                                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                                              Sideways picture or not, the meal looks delicious! And unlike me, it looks like you remembered to serve the chicken with watercress. Glad you enjoyed it.

                                                                            2. re: qianning

                                                                              Wow, what a lovely meal qianning...so appetizing! I've just finished my dinner and you've made me crave this!!

                                                                                1. re: Gio


                                                                                  'come on, fess up, how'd you do that?

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    Years ago I downloaded a graphics editing program from a site called IrfanView. It's the Best...


                                                                            3. Beet Tzatziki, p. 467

                                                                              This is a simple dish to make in the tzatziki mold: A clove of garlic crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt is stirred into 1 1/2 cups yogurt (Fage in my case), along with a tablespoon of minced dill and a finely chopped, large cooked beet (I roasted mine). This was a neat, if different, variation on the fresh taste of cucumber tztziki. I liked how the sweet, earthy beet contrasted with the tangy yogurt, the whole set off by the garlic, salt, and dill. Just a note: when I mixed this up, it was bright pink from the beets, streaked with white. When I took it out of the fridge to serve with dinner, the whole had become a shocking fuchsia color throughout. Really something to see, and quite a bright spot on the plate!

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                Beet Tzatziki – p. 467

                                                                                Full disclosure, this recipe did not immediately appeal to me when I flipped through the book and, if it hadn’t been called for as an accompaniment to the Ground Lamb Kebabs I was making, I don’t think I’d even bothered to try it. So fast forward several hours and I’m delighted to report that I gave this a try as we absolutely LOVED this dish…with and without the Lamb Kebabs.

                                                                                As Caitlin points out, the earthiness of the beets play beautifully w the tang of the Greek Yogurt and in our case, proved to be the perfect partner to the unctuous flavours of the lamb.

                                                                                I prepared my recipe w roasted candy cane beets so I didn’t achieve the vibrantly coloured dish that Caitlin reports. Instead my Tzatziki was pinkish in colour. I should also note that while I followed this recipe as set out in the book, I did opt to grate my roasted beet vs dicing it as the author suggests. I didn't think we'd love the texture of small cubes in the tzatziki and felt the grated vegetable would incorporate more effectively.

                                                                                We enjoyed this very much, I know this healthy dish will be part of our regular rotation.

                                                                                Here's a link to my review of the Lamb if folks are interested:


                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                  Beet Tzatziki pg. 467

                                                                                  Thank you Caitlin and Breadcrumbs for highlighting this one. I don't think I would have made it without the positive reviews. But this was actually very easy to make because I used the packaged steamed beets from TJ's so since I was making the regular cucumber tzatziki anyway, it was very easy to make this variation as well.

                                                                                  I served this with kebobs made from a mixture of ground lamb and beef (not the recipe in the book because I just didn't have the ingredients needed) and it is a delightful accompaniment to grilled meat. I think it was wonderful just on pita as well though. The TJs beets were actually quite sweet and that sweetness balanced well with the tang of the yogurt, the garlic and dill. My 3 year old daughter was quite tickled by the bright pink color, but didn't really like it and my 5 year old son really liked it, but asked if I could make it blue next time :)

                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    Beet Tzatziki Pg. 467

                                                                                    I wish I had read these posts before I forged ahead with my attempt at this recipe. I'm not usually over sensitive to presentation but the colour of the final dish was distinctly unappealing to me. I was having the in laws and my sister over and I must have told them a dozen times during dinner that there were no chemicals in the dish, since the colour looked so synthetic.

                                                                                    Flavour wise I thought it was pretty good, although I do think BC's suggestionof grating the beets would likely yield a nicer texture.

                                                                                    Perhaps it would be a fun dish for themed party, or maybe kids would find it fun, but the sight of it just turned me off.

                                                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                                                      Oops, didn't save the picture correctly, but you get the idea.

                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                        Funnily enough an received an email from one of my dinner companions asking for the recipe ha ha, so it looks like the colour was appealing to some. I think the idea of going with a less aggressively coloured beet would like result in a more palatable (to me anyway) colour.

                                                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                                                          Late I know but here it is...

                                                                                          1. re: delys77

                                                                                            Fascinating to compare the picture posted by Breadcrumbs and this one. The colors are almost on different color wheels.

                                                                                            Sorry your dinner didn't turn out as expected. Always a disappointment.

                                                                                            1. re: delys77

                                                                                              That's pretty much exactly the color my beet tzatziki turned out. If you enjoyed the flavor of it, perhaps making it with golden beets, or the striped type Breadcrumbs used, would be a good possibility, as it would take care of the aesthetic issue for you.

                                                                                            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                              Beet Tzatziki Pg. 467

                                                                                              I loved this with the lamb kebabs and thought the color was quite fun. The BF said it's one of the best thing I've done with beets and given how many beet dishes I've done this winter thanks to the CSA box, I'm taking that as high praise! He very finely chopped the beets, so the texture wasn't an issue.

                                                                                            3. Classic Skordalia - Potato Skordalia – p. 461

                                                                                              We love Skordalia and have enjoyed it at a number of Greek restaurants. Until now, I’d never made the potato version. Many years ago, Martha did a Greek Easter feature in her magazine and included an Almond Skordalia recipe that was made w soaked dry bread instead of the potatoes. Martha’s dish was topped w gigante lima beans and has been a staple at our house ever since. Obviously it was the bar by which we’d be measuring this recipe.

                                                                                              While we enjoyed Ms Hoffman’s version, I have to say that we do prefer our T&T favourite from Martha. That said, I do think that this author’s version suffers for being prepared in the food processor which, despite my efforts to ensure I didn’t “over-mix” still managed to produce a gelatinous textured spread.

                                                                                              I will definitely make this again and mash the potatoes w a fork prior to incorporating the other ingredients, as we’re keen to try an authentic homemade version of the classic Skordalia.

                                                                                              FYI, prep is pretty simple. After boiling your potatoes you simply combine them w blanched almonds, garlic, olive oil red wine vinegar and salt. As noted, Ms Hoffman has you process this mixture however I do think it would be best to combine by hand. I should also note that I found the quantity of garlic and olive oil to be extremely excessive. The recipe calls for 1 cup of olive oil and I used ¼ cup…it also calls for 15 cloves of garlic which I found to be an outrageous amount. Instead I used 2 cloves. I didn’t have time to look up this recipe in my other Greek cookbooks but I’ll definitely do so as I’d love to see how the recipes compare.

                                                                                              Nevertheless, this still was a tasty dish that everyone enjoyed. One of my guests even asked for the recipe. I’d also love to try this w roasted garlic vs fresh.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                Classic Skordalia - Potato Skordalia, page 461.

                                                                                                Breadcrumbs made the wise decision here, I wish I had read her review before I threw this together.

                                                                                                I did use the full 15 cloves of garlic with ONE potato. I held back on the olive oil however, probably using a quarter of the amount called for. I like skordalia with a mashed potato consistency, and thought it would be too liquid with a cup of olive oil (not to mention, too oily). So the end result? Edible, but much too garlicky! And I never say that. I usually pair skordalia with roasted beets, but in a hurry last night, I purchased some beets tossed in vinaigrette. This worked OK, and was certainly easy. I will be trying to salvage this dish by adding some additional boiled potatoes and ground almonds.

                                                                                                After dinner I found my regular skordalia recipe. It calls for 5 cloves of garlic to a pound of potatoes!

                                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                  Your photograph is lovely LN and I'm sorry about the garlic. Something must have been lost in translation w this recipe in terms of the quantities/ratios. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you're able to salvage it w your additional potatoes.

                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                    Thanks Breadcrumbs! I should have gone with my intuition like you did. Much too harsh, even for us garlic-lovers. I will definitely try extending it with more potato and almond. Don't want to waste the labor of peeling all that garlic!

                                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                  OOPS wish I'd read your post before making it for dinner tonight-- I imagine this is going to be a garlic-fest (and I love garlic). My question is, what else can I use this with-- I made it to serve on top of the white bean soup, but I know I will have lots left over (particularly if it is as garlicky as I think it is!)

                                                                                                3. Chicken Baked in Yogurt with Red Onion and Grape Leaves p.412

                                                                                                  This lovely oven-baked dish features a creamy, mildly spiced sauce made of tangy thickened yogurt and pungent grape leaves over meltingly tender skinned chicken pieces. I selected this recipe based on the ingredients that needed to be used up in my fridge, and I'm glad it was chosen, as it was quite pleasant.

                                                                                                  A sauce is made of yogurt, mint leaves, a chopped bay leaf (which I left whole after reading Herby's review involving inedible bay leaf bits in another dish) and warm spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric and white pepper. Chicken pieces are packed snugly into a baking dish (in my case a clay pot- I couldn't resist after all of this recent discussion of these cooking vessels, so I pulled out my thrift-store-find romertopf from the far reaches of the cupboard), scattered with red onion and grape leaf shreds, and doused with the yogurt mixture.

                                                                                                  It is then baked, covered, for 40 minutes in a 450 degree oven. Because I did use the clay pot, I started it in a cold oven as per other user's suggestions. After 40 minutes, the lid is removed and it is cooked for another 20 minutes, until tender, and sprinkled with lemon zest.

                                                                                                  I'm not sure if removing the cover was such a great idea, as the grape leaves sitting near the top of the dish were exposed to so much heat that they dried up to a crackly chewiness, and they were quite bit difficult to break down upon masticating. At times, I felt a bit like one of my ruminant friends, chewing my cud at the dinner table. Mooooving on.....

                                                                                                  I was happy with this dish. It was slightly reminiscent of a briny, lemony version of an Indian saag recipe what with all of the spices and the yogurt going on, but it was quite nice. As I was in cleaning-out-the-fridge mode, I only had regular yogurt, and not enough of it to make the thickened version, which I think would have added more richness to the dish. I did cut the recipe in half, and would do the same next time, but leave the sauce, onion, and greens amounts as written. I would make this again.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                    What great timing I am making this today. Thanks very much for the helpful info Allegra_K. Just wondering how you dealt with the partial skinning. I have a whole chicken waiting to be cut up but I was a bit perplexed to just pull at whatever skin would come off. How did you go about it if you don't mind my asking?

                                                                                                    1. re: delys77

                                                                                                      I was pretty diligent with the skin removal, and once my pieces were cut up, it was a breeze to just peel off.. The only ones I didn't bother with were the wing pieces that I had. I just cut off what skin and fat that I could and that was it.
                                                                                                      Good luck with your meal!

                                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                        Thanks very much Allegra, just about to gt started here.

                                                                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                                                                          Chicken Baked in Yogurt with Red Onion and Grape Leaves Pg 412]
                                                                                                          Sorry for the delay in posting this but it has been quite busy here. I made this dish a few days ago and it turned out very well indeed. I only had the one chicken so I cut it up and ommitted the wings (I couldn't skin them and am not a big fan of them anyway), but I did go with the full amounts for the sauce. I actually think this was the right balance between sauce and chicken as the results provided just enough sauce to cover chicken and rice.
                                                                                                          The yogurt does tenderize the chicken quite a bit, despite the fact that the chicken doesn't marinate in it, and the sauce is much like a briny saag (thanks for the metaphor Allegra).
                                                                                                          I was also worried about the leaves over browning so I took the lid off for only about 10 minutes at the end, and this was just right for me.
                                                                                                          I did note that the leaves still had a bit more crunch than I would prefer, not from over browning, just from not having cooked down enough. I might go with smaller pieces than she suggests next time.
                                                                                                          Overall this was an easy weeknight dinner, that definitely had a nice Greek feel.

                                                                                                  2. Avgolemono Sauce

                                                                                                    I'm finally participating again! I was too overwhelmed for months since my husband was travelling every other week for work, leaving me home alone with two little kids. I was barely managing to heat things up from the freezer. But I've started cooking again and managed to get the book from the library, so I started out with one of the easiest recipes in the book. My husband got back late last night, so I was just having a cleaning out the fridge meal. I had some leftover spinach ricotta ravioli (unsauced) and decided to make avgolemono sauce for it since I had broth, a lemon, and eggs. I only made a third of the recipe. It worked just fine, though I should have thinned it out a little more - it was a bit gloopy, but I think that's my fault for cooking it a bit too long.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                                      Welcome back, Sarah! Great to hear from you. I feel your pain. My husband works a lot of evenings/nights and I work days. With 3 little kids, there are days when we would starve if it weren't for Trader Joe's. Cooking while managing little ones just doesn't work that well!

                                                                                                      Luckily I think this cookbook has a pretty good selection of weeknight-type meals, plus some braises that will work well as leftovers.

                                                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                        Sorry to get off the topic but wanted to pass this onto Sarah, GEH, DQ and others with small children and active families. The Everlasting Meal has been praised for offering good recipes for busy people and most importaly ways to cook when life is busy. I have not read it yet (not in my library system) but ordered it because I think this might be THE book that my daughters will benefit from. I will report on it in April after I unite with the book and have a chance to read through. Very good reports and worth looking into.

                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                          herby, I read about that book in my local paper the other day and am VERY INTERESTED in what you think about it. Please do report back! So kind of you to be on the lookout for us! And for your daughters, of course!


                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                            Yes, Herby, would love to hear what you think of it. I saw it mentioned on another thread and looked at it on amazon. Certainly does look interesting. I haven't ordered it (yet) but definitely felt the spark of recognition in some of the reviews on amazon.

                                                                                                      2. Sweet Potato Skordalia, page 463.

                                                                                                        I am a longtime fan of traditional skordalia with a russet potato base, especially served with roasted beets. So this recipe using sweet potatoes intrigued me. Full disclosure, as I was assembling it, I didn't feel it needed as much oil as specified in the recipe, I probably used about half as much. Also, I didn't find the need to add water as stated.

                                                                                                        After boiling and straining the sweet potatoes, they are blended with ground almonds (an alternative offered to the pine nuts in the recipe), garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and cayenne. Here the recipe calls for thinning with water, but I skipped this, as I was quite happy with the texture and consistency.

                                                                                                        As eager as I was to try this dish, I struggled to find the proper vehicle for it. The beets I usually serve with skordalia seemed too sweet to go with this version. So I just served it as an appetizer with pita bread. And I absolutely loved it! It's sweet, nutty, garlicky, with just a little bite from the cayenne. I served it with a couple additional finger foods before dinner: olives, gigantes (from a deli), myzritha cheese, and the pitas. It was a hit!

                                                                                                        I have some skordalia left over. I think it would be lovely in a filo pastry, with some shredded chicken maybe?

                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                          That is really pretty--but much lighter (in color) than I would have expected. I have to try it.

                                                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                            I had a choice only between the pale yellow sweet potatoes, and the deeply colored garnet yams. Hoffman cautions to make sure NOT to use yams. Even though I think a garnet yam is really a sweet potato, and not a yam, I took no chances!

                                                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                              I am not sure I know the difference--and have never noticed whether the markets make a distinction. I need to read up on the issue. Generally, what we have here have bright or deep orange flesh. Occasionally I have seen garnet yams, which are different from what's ubiquitous here--but now I need to determine whether those are yams or sweet potatoes! Because I want to try that skordalia.

                                                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                I just remember reading somewhere that garnet yams and jewel yams are not really yams at all, but sweet potatoes. So I'm sure I could have used them, and gotten a brighter color. But this version sure tasted great! Can't wait to hear what you think if you try it.

                                                                                                              2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                Here is some info from homecooking.about.com:

                                                                                                                The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato.

                                                                                                                Slowly becoming more common in US markets, the yam is a popular vegetable in Latin American and Caribbean markets, with over 150 varieties available worldwide.

                                                                                                                Generally sweeter than than the sweet potato, this tuber can grow over seven feet in length.

                                                                                                                The yam tuber has a brown or black skin which resembles the bark of a tree and off-white, purple or red flesh, depending on the variety. They are at home growing in tropical climates, primarily in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                  Wow, I've never even seen something like that! It seems odd that she'd caution so strongly against using yams, seeing as how they don't really sound like something one would confuse with a sweet potato!

                                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                    I have seen the same warning (not to use yams when called for sweet potato) in many recipes possibly because here in NA the names are used interchangeably. I actually never have eaten a true yam and wonder I can find it here and then find a recipe for it. Would be fun to try:)

                                                                                                                  2. re: herby

                                                                                                                    Thanks, herby--so interesting. People here use the terms interchangeably, but I've heard people say more than once of "candied yams" that those aren't really yams. Shows how observant I am: I have never even noticed what the signs on the bins in the markets say.

                                                                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                                      I don't know why people can't accept that yam and sweet potato are used interchangeably in the U.S. I wish the pundits would stop railing against it. Language isn't logical, much to the dismay of purists everywhere. Yam is now a time-honored word, only one meaning of which refers to the 'true yam' which most English speakers have never seen or heard of.

                                                                                                                      Confusing the issue, I admit, is the fact that many folks try to make distinctions between the terms, e.g. that sweet potatoes are the light-colored ones and yams are the bright orange ones. Or vice versa. Ah, humans. We love to put things into boxes and are confounded when other people's boxes don't match up with ours.

                                                                                                                      Look, we can deal with the pepper/chile/black pepper confusion (plus capsicum, if you throw in British Commonwealth usage). Or currants referring both to small dried raisins and fresh red or black berries. Not to mention all of the American/UK terms: eggplant/aubergine, zucchini/courgette, arugula/rocket, rutabaga/swede, etc. That's language for you.

                                                                                                            2. Lemon and Oil Marinade for Fish, p. 482

                                                                                                              Hardly seems worth reporting on something most of us have probably done before--made a lemon-olive oil marinade for seafood--except as a reminder of how the simplest preps can be truly delicious. I made this super simple recipe--1/2 c ea. fresh lemon juice and olive oil and 1 tsp. ea. fresh thyme leaves and salt (I used kosher)--and marinated two halibut filetsin it for about a half hour tonight, then grilled the fish. DH raved as if I'd done something really special. (I didn't bother to disabuse him of the notion.) Served w/asparagus, quinoa, and a simple avocado-tomato salad, tonight's fish was an antidote to last night's fat fest.

                                                                                                              1. Fruited Chicken, Pg. 420

                                                                                                                What a nice dish this is. I know many do not like the combination of fruit and protein but having grown up with my mother's spicy "canned" peach compote which was eaten all winter with various roasts, I love the combination. This recipe for chicken and either loquats or apricots was just wonderful to me. Of course fresh apricots are not in season here but I had a bag of Trader Joe's Turkish semi-dried apricots so used them. I say "semi-dried" because they were still very soft yet noticeably drier than fresh. And, they were/are delicious. Much sweeter than our locally grown apricots which we devour when in season.

                                                                                                                I followed the recipe exactly but had to adjust the amounts of ingredients because of the weights of the main ingredients, namely: I had 3 1/3 lbs chicken pieces (4 drumsticks and 4 thighs all bone-in with skin) instead of 5 1/2 lbs so used 6.3 oz apricots instead of 16 oz. To plump up the apricots I sliced them in half then marinated them in 2 T Metaxa till needed in the recipe.

                                                                                                                Season the chicken with S & P. Heat olive oil in a pan (we used a large Dutch oven), brown chicken on both sides and remove to a platter. Do this in 2 batches if necessary. When all the chicken has browned and resting on the plate add the fruit to the pan along with chopped onion, garlic, dry red wine, hot paprika, coriander seeds (I used ground), and dried rosemary. Saute this till onion is translucent. Return chicken and any juices to pan, cook 20 minutes with cover cantilevered. Turn over chicken and continue cooking till chicken is cooked through. The sauce should have thickened and deepened in color. Be forewarned, G had to turn the heat to below medium so everything wouldn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

                                                                                                                The finished dish was bursting with flavor. Heat from the paprika was noticeable but not overwhelming, the apricots had mellowed so the flavor of each bite was not too sweet, the dried seasonings added their kick to the foundation of the sauce. We both loved it and G helped himself to another full portion. I'd definitely make this again... perhaps with another type of meat. The basic rice pilaf on page 231 was the side dish..

                                                                                                                1. Orzo and Beans with Mustard Greens, Olives, and Toasted Bread Crumbs, Pg. 257

                                                                                                                  This is one of those recipes one either loves or hates. G and I were split here and I'm sorry to say he Really didn't like this. At. All. To be fair, it took me several spoonfuls to understand the different subtle flavors. However, the more I ate the more I realized what a comforting and nourishing dish this would be for anyone after a hard day's work. Hoffman likens this to the Italian Pasta e Fagioli but I don;t see any resemblance... Here there are three components working almost against each other, orzo, great northern beans, and greens cooked very simply with virtually no seasoning.. I substituted escarole for the mustard greens because that's what I had. Granted the mustard greens would have given the dish a kick but even though I like bitter greens sometimes the MGs are too strident.

                                                                                                                  When I read through the recipe I instantly knew that beans cooked in plain water would be tasteless so I cooked them in a combination of ingredients per a recipe by Molly Stevens: [Escarole Braised with] Cannellini Beans, Pg. 55 - 56 from the COTM of October 2009 All About Braising. Here's the link to my report...
                                                                                                                  However, this time I followed the recipe exactly rather than insert extra ingredients as I did when I made it then. For Hoffman's recipe I chose great northern beans from a list also containing cannellini, navy and chickpeas and cooked them the day before.

                                                                                                                  The directions call for cooking the orzo and setting it aside then cooking finely sliced ribbons of greens. I brought a pot water to a boil, cooked the greens, drained them, put them into a large bowl, and squeezed lemon juice over. Then the orzo was cooked in the same water after it was brought to a boil again. These were then drained and added to the greens. The beans had already been cooked so they were nuked and added to that large bowl. The breadcrumbs are prepared, according to the recipe, by melting a bit of butter in a skillet, adding the crumbs and toasting for 3 minutes. I made the crumb and garlic topping on page 481. I'm glad I did because this gave a garlicky flavor to an otherwise unseasoned dish. The only real flavor here came from the delicious Stevens bean recipe.

                                                                                                                  To the large bowl of greens, orzo and beans add a small amount of pitted quartered Kalamatas. I included 2 t rinsed and drained salted capers. Drizzle with olive oil, toss and serve topped with toasted breadcrumbs. A lot of them. The side dish for us was a single vegetable salad of sliced tomatoes. Those were terrific on top of the plate of pasta and greens.

                                                                                                                  Toasted Bread Crumb and Garlic Topping, Pg. 481
                                                                                                                  This topping was made to use on the Orzo and Beans recipe on page 257 but it can be used on just about anything that requires such a finishing touch. The recipe makes 1/2 cup, I doubled it.

                                                                                                                  The ingredients: EVOO, a bit of butter, not too fine fresh breadcrumbs, chopped garlic. This does need salt and pepper, add it. Simple procedure: heat the oil and butter, add the crumbs and garlic, S & P, cook till a golden toasted perfection.

                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    Orzo and Beans with Mustard Greens, Olives, and Toasted Bread Crumbs, Pg. 257

                                                                                                                    I'm about a week behind on recipe reporting thanks to having one arm in a cast, so thank you Gio for reminding me to post on this one (and shortening the amount of typing I need to do!). I made this with mustard greens and chickpeas. The chickpeas came from a batch I had cooked previously and frozen, so that cut down on the cooking time by quite a bit. My biggest complaint with this recipe was the breadcrumbs. Unlike Gio, I used the plain ones and I found they just dried the dish out for me and didn't add anything to the dish. The garlic topping is a great idea. I like the mustard greens quite a bit with the dish, but didn't like how much they clumped together after cooking. It was hard to disperse them evenly thoughout the dish (particularly one-handed and with less greens available than I needed). Overall, I doubt this will be a repeated dish for me.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      Thought I'd pop back in here to report of our experience with the left over orzo and bean dish. Before reheating the L/Os I sauteed a diced carrot, 2 thinly sliced leek half rounds, and about 5 finely chopped garlic cloves in EVOO. When this soffritto was golden in went the orzo/beans/greens mixture. I added a 1/2 cup of the bean broth, added salt, pepper, Worcestershire, and Tabasco then brought it to a strong simmer to reduce the liquid. A scattering of chopped fresh parsley went over top each serving. We served this with an orange salad and Nigel Slater's Porc au Poivre. Everything went together beautifully and G admitted the rebirth of the horrible orzo dish was terrific.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        That sounds like some smooth resuscitation work there Gio. Good job!

                                                                                                                        1. re: delys77

                                                                                                                          Thanks Delys. I felt so bad when my husband kept mumbling with every spoonful the first time around, I felt I just to do something to save all that food. He was a good sport for taking the leftover challenge when he really didn't think it was going to work. And, truth be told, the original recipe Is a very healthful recipe.

                                                                                                                    2. Herb, garlic, and oil marinade for grilled meats p 483

                                                                                                                      This seemed like it would be really flavorful, but it just wasn't. Probably partly because my husband burnt the chicken on the grill a, so that overpowered the flavors a bit. I also read the recipe several times to find how long to marinade the meat and couldn't find any instructions, so I did it overnight. Only to then read in the intro paragraph it says "The dousing, Greek-style, is short - half and hour to two hours at the most." So I'm pretty annoyed with the format of the book, I think recipes should stand alone without having to read all the intros and side bars. I served this with tzatziki, pita, roast potatoes, and Greek village salad.

                                                                                                                      1. [Grilled] Venison with Sour Cherry Sauce, p. 448

                                                                                                                        We were gifted a venison roast and EYB steered me towards this recipe. I've never cooked venison before except for sausages, but this came out great. The sauce was delicious, just the right balance of sweetness to go with the meat. We don't have a grill right now, so I followed the directions for roasting, cooking to an internal temperature of 140F instead of just using the suggested cooking time.

                                                                                                                        To make, marinate a bone-in loin of venison (I had a boneless venison roast) in a mixture of red wine, balsamic vinegar, chopped onion, minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. I ended up marinating for 48 hours due to a last minute change in plans. The venison is then either grilled or seared and roasted. While the venison cooks, drained sour cherries are added to the strained marinade and simmered until the sauce reduces and thickens. Overall, it was a simple, but elegant dish and a definite success.