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March 2012 COTM: The Olive and the Caper: Breads; Soups; Salads

Please use this thread to discuss the recipes in the chapters on Breads; Soups; and Salads (pages 118 -213)

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  1. Chickpea soup with garlic, sage and tarragon (p. 162)

    Made this when it was just Lulu and me, and used canned chickpeas instead of soaking dried ones. Very very easy when done this way. Chopped onion, garlic, sage sauted until soft; add the chickpeas and water, bring to a boil. Add salt, pepper lemon juice and puree. Garnish with tarragon. The tarragon was what made this dish, which is otherwise pretty much just a bean soup recipe (Not that there is anything wrong with that - love bean soups). Lulu loved this and asked for seconds. I thought it was perfectly fine but not really special.

    1. The chickpea soup was easy to make.

      I liked the explanations and comments.

      Since I don't know much about GreeK cuisine, geography and customs I found explanations helpful.

      If there r any ppl of Greek heritage chatting? what is veracity of explanations and recipes?

      1. Chicken Stock, Pg. 170

        We make our own chicken stock every week so try to use a recipe from current COTMs if there is one. This stock is particularly satisfying, It's a typical stock recipe using chicken parts (3 whole leg sections in my case) and water, optional onion/carrot/celery, and thyme which I included and threw in a few peppercorns for good measure. I never salt the stock and this recipe doesn't call for it. It was good enough to make a second batch just yesterday using a leftover meaty carcass from a roasted chicken.

        1. Tomato and Bread Salad, Pg. 195

          I jumped the gun on this one and made it pre-March. It's kinda/sorta Panzanella Greek- style. One of the main ingredients is Greek barley rings, a rusk, was unknown to me so I used the recommended alternative, a crusty country bread. I have since learned that the barley rings are easy to make from regurar bread... here's the link:

          So, the salad consists of the tomatoes and barley rings, Kalamata, capers, red wine vinegar, feta, black pepper, salt, EVOO, and shredded basil leaves. Place the chunks of bread on a platter and sprinkle a bit of water over all and set aside for a few minutes. Arrange the olives and capers on the bread, sprinkle with salt and vinegar, add crumbled feta then sprinkle pepper and olive oil over that. Top off the salad with shredded basil - I included minced parsley as well.

          Very nice and tasty salad. Will make again to fill the extra side dish slot or as a... salad.

          1. Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki Salata), Pg. 192

            Didn't Someone have to make a Greek Salad?? Allá fysiká...! (But of course) and this one was particularly tasty with lots of flavors. I kept to the original concept of the salad and did not use fresh greens. That's the Greek American version says Ms Hoffman.

            My salad included red bell pepper strips, half moons of peeled cucumber, thinly sliced white onion, tomatoes cut into wedges, 24 Kalamata, 1 T capers, crumbled feta, S & P, Greek EVOO, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, and dried Greek oregano. It was the best Greek salad I've ever had.

            20 Replies
            1. re: Gio

              WOW - the best Greek salad you've ever had?! Impressive.

              1. re: LulusMom

                Haha... maybe I should have paired it with that Best Pasta Dish I've Ever Had from the River Cafe...

                1. re: Gio

                  Best Pasta dish ever is soooo hard, but I do remember you had one recently that fit the bill. Remind me what it was? I love the porcini mushroom one from River Cafe, and we're all pretty stuck on Bloke's pasta from Jamie Oliver (in fact, I'm likely going to be teaching a small group of Lulu's friends how to make it and (and maybe that blue-cheeseless version of JP's ceasar salad) and then we'll all sit down for a meal together.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I've seen you mention bloke's pasta more than once; which book is that one in? Any recipe that this group raves or writes about repeatedly always piques my curiosity, so I'll have to do some further investigating!

                    1. re: Allegra_K

                      Erp, sorry - I *am* a bit of a broken record on this particular pasta. Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pa...

                      I usually use penne instead of fusilli, and spicy turkey sausage.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Splendid, thank you! This one will be added to my nearly bursting list of recipes to try.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Thanks Gio! We love pasta in this house, and that one (with the duck bacon recommended by roxlet) sounds so good.

                        1. re: Gio

                          I've made this twice in the past month or so, Gio, and I have to say it is now one of our (top) favorites. Love it.

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      Thanks Gio, this will be the first recipe I'll make out of this book!

                      1. re: dkennedy

                        The greek salad and the tzatziki. Raves all around.

                    3. re: Gio

                      Did the recipe call for red or green peppers, Gio? Every Greek salad I've ever had in Greece, or Crete, had green peppers - and Susannah Hoffman is right about the salad greens.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Right, green peppers were the peppers of choice but they don't agree with me so I always sub red bells instead.

                      2. re: Gio

                        Greek Village Salad (Hoiatiki Salata) Pg 192
                        I agree that this is a scrumptious little salad. I've made my own tossed together version of greek salad for years now based on what I guessed was in the salad at our favourite greek place, and this is much better than my version.
                        To start with I alwasy emulsified a regular olive oil and lemon vinaigrette and then poured it over the salad, much like I would with any other salad. The result was often fine at first, but as the tomatoes and cucumber released their liquid (from the salt) I ended up with a relatively tasteless dressing that wouldn't stick to anything in the salad. This recipe calls for you simply to add a bit of evoo, a bit more than I would have had in my dressing, and some acid in the form of vinegar or lemon, a bit less than I would normally put into my dressing. The result is a much less watery, somehow better dressed salad.
                        I also liked the addition of the capers and the oregano which definitely jazzed it up quite a bit.
                        Lastly, I usually go for red peppers whenever I use them but I decided to go with green, and they were much better with this salad. My version with red peppers simply doesn't have the same balance as this recipe has because you end up with too much sweetness from the tomatoes and peppers, this way the green pepper adds a slightly bitter note that is offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes, the richness of the oil, the aciditiy of the capers and lemon, the saltiness of the feta and olives, and the slight sweetness of the tomato.
                        Forgive the slight rough shod picture below as my guests were getting a bit hungry.

                        1. re: delys77

                          Delys, I totally agree with your comments about this salad. I have made variations of the Greek Village Salad several times now (but never with tomatoes, which are considered an essential ingredient, so I haven't felt right to review it). Although a simple thing, I think her method of dressing it makes all the difference. I also think the addition of capers is great and something I will do from now on.

                          I am looking forward to making the real thing when really good tomatoes are available, but I've been thoroughly enjoying all different incomplete variations of this.

                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                            Yeah the tomatoes in Vancouver are usually abysmal in Vancouver during the winter, but I was lucky enough to find some pretty good hothouse romas at a local market.

                          2. re: delys77

                            what a beautifully written review! You have a gift for language and i will make this just as you did.

                            1. re: Madrid

                              Oh thanks so much, you have me blushing!

                          3. re: Gio

                            Greek Village Salad Page. 192
                            This is a good recipe. I was very pleased with the results. I followed the directions almost exactly. The tomatoes I have access to now are grape tomatoes - which I quartered. These come in 10 oz. Packages in my market... So I threw in a few more that were leftover from yesterday. This recipe justified my purchase of a Japanese mandolin which I used to slice the onions paper thin. I have a work-related potluck later this month and this is what I'll be bringing. I used red vinegar since that's
                            what I had on hand - but lemon juice would have worked out as well.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Greek Village Salad

                              This was so good, and it held up really well. We had it for lunch and I was able to eat the rest at dinner and it was still just as good (or better!). That's the wonderful thing about salads without lettuce. Next time I'd add olive oil to coat it, rather than just dump in the measured amount because there was a puddle at the bottom of the salad bowl.

                            2. Double Lemon Avgolemono Soup [Soupa Avgolemono], page 169

                              This is one of my favorite soups and over the years I have tried numerous versions, and this one wins the prize! But for the life of me, I have no idea why. It seems so similar to the other versions, so my guess is that I was just lucky. The ingredients I was using tonight were just all very good.

                              I started with chicken stock and arborio rice in a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 12 minutes. My rice was perfect at 14 minutes. Meanwhile whisk eggs until frothy and then add some lemon juice. Whisk some more. When the rice is ready, slowly drizzle some hot stock into the egg mixture to temper, and then put the eggs into the broth. There are a number of suggestions for add-ins. I added some poached chicken and some fresh dill.

                              My chicken stock was the Jacques Pepin version from Cooking at Home. The tarragon in this stock is not Greek but it was pretty good anyhow. Since I knew that I had almost no salt in this broth, I added some to the stock and rice to start. My lemons were not terribly acidic so the finished soup had a really nice round flavor. The eggs were from a local farm.

                              We really enjoyed this version of the soup, and will happily make this again. Served with Fried Squid with Parsley and Lemon, page 62.

                              p.s. I made a half recipe.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker

                                I think Greek and Spanish and to some extent Italian cooking in the simpler forms are all dependent on truly superb ingredients. The local eggs, the relatively non acidic lemons, the arborio and especially the great stock...I had some of the best meals of my life on beaches in Cataluna, Spain...yes, the setting, the sun, the ocean smell, the incredibly fresh fish...but also the amazing local potatoes, tasted nothing like potatoes I'd ever had in the US at that time (long ago, early 80's) and the local lemons...that's when I started squeezing lemons on fries or oven baked fries.. I will try this soup with y own favorite stock and meyer lemon juice.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Ohoohohohoh! I'm so excited you liked this.


                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    So glad this was a success. I love Avgolemono soup. I am excited to make this! Will need to wait until I have some homemade stock to really do it justice.

                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                      Double Lemon Avgolemono Soup, pg 169

                                      Made a full recipe of this tonight with homemade chicken stock, jasmine rice, organic eggs and fresh squeezed lemon juice. This is a very simple recipe as mentioned above and very quick to put together. SMtucker did a beautiful job of describing the technique so I won't rehash. Had my kids helping me and they enjoyed squeezing lemons and measuring rice. I also added some leftover roasted chicken to make it a bit more substantial. I neglected to chop herbs to garnish, but I think dill, mint or parsley would have been welcome.

                                      The end result is delicious. Avgolemono soup was one of my favorite foods as a kid and I still love the flavor combination. I never got in the habit of making it at home, but will probably start. The family was pretty enthusiastic. I served this with leftover ground lamb kebobs, tzatziki, beet tzatziki, cabbage salad and naan (as a stand in for pita). My oldest and my baby both liked it quite a bit. The baby kept dipping her kebob into the soup, which actually made a very nice flavor combination. DH ate 2 bowls. My almost 3 year old is the only one who didn't like it. She usually is the most adventurous when it comes to spicy food, but I think sour is not her thing.

                                    2. re: smtucker

                                      Double Lemon Avgolemono Soup [Soupa Avgolemono], page 169


                                      This was my first time trying avgolemono soup and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it sounded intriguing enough to give it a go, especially after reading smtucker’s rave review. I made this with the chicken stock from the book (thanks Gio- it is delicious) and kritharáki (orzo). I used black pepper and some chopped dill and mint to finish. This was a surprisingly delicious soup. It is lemony, but also creamy and luxurious because of the eggs. The color is a lovely soft yellow. This made for a quick dinner tonight. I really love eating soup and this is so quick to put together that even on the busiest of work nights, I can make this quickly.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Double Lemon Avgolemono Soup pg. 169

                                        Nothing much to add except to say we liked it too. I made the simplest version; stock, rice, eggs, lemon. Quick easy and nourishing, perfect for a blustery Monday night in March.

                                      2. Big Beans with Fresh Herbs and Fruity Olive Oil p. 208

                                        I did not make the whole recipe (its just two of us), but kept the proportions the same. Cook gigantes beans until tender and drain (my beans required a little more cooking than indicated). Add chopped parsley, thyme, olive oil and salt. Once the beans are done, this comes together quickly.

                                        This is my first time trying gigantes. These beans are big, meaty and creamy. I did like the simply dressed beans, but they could be a little too one note depending on what other dishes you were eating this with. A nice, fruity olive oil really helps this dish with so few ingredients. The next time I make gigantes, I’ll add lemon, shallots, cooked cauliflower and kefalotyri cheese (just got it this weekend) to add another dimension to the dish (reminiscent of a lima bean appetizer at a local Minneapolis restaurant). Surprisingly, even my husband was snacking on these (not a bean lover- in fact, he avoided eating beans during a week in Mexico).

                                        Corona beans or judiones could be used instead of gigantes. The author suggests cannellini or large limas as alternatives.

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: BigSal

                                          Your alternate sounds JUST like the Ottolenghi Fava bean salad recipe. It would be delicious!

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            Ooh, I don't know this recipe. I'll have to try it when favas are available. Thanks!

                                          2. re: BigSal

                                            and they might be even better a night after cooking..I'd also wonder if a tbs of really good tomato paste might add a good note.

                                            1. re: BigSal

                                              I tried to find gigantes after having them in a restaurant once and couldn't, not even on the internet. Too bad, I really like them.

                                              1. re: sarahcooks

                                                I purchased mine at Bill's Imports in Minneapolis. The staff there is always very helpful, especially the matriarch. They even accept Visa now.

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    They were dried. I didn't even think to see if they had canned giganteds. That would make this dish even quicker.

                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                      Dried, of course! Makes total sense. I think I've seen the canned ones there, but I can't be certain. They have a lot of stuff!


                                                  2. re: BigSal

                                                    So so handy having locals on here, thanks!

                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                  Big Beans with Fresh Herbs and Fruity Olive Oil, p. 208

                                                  I sent DH on a wild goose chase, looking for gigantes, but his search was in vain (I later remembered where I'd seen jarred ones, but I kept that to myself in the name of keeping the marriage intact), so I used cannellinis, canned cannellinis which I rinsed, drained, and warmed by pouring very hot water through the colander. I then tossed them w/fruity OO, chopped parsley, thyme, and salt, and let them sit for a couple of hours. They seemed a bit bland, but were very tasty served w/the Pork stew w/olives, anchovies, and cilantro (p. 398). Guests actually remarked on how much they liked these beans.

                                                  I'm looking forward to a luch of the leftover beans tossed w/some fresh lemon juice, OO-packed tuna, lots of black pepper, and some wedges of campari tomatoes that actually taste good. But I'm going to look for gigantes, dried if I can find them, and try it with those next time.

                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                    I found the gigantes beans this morning-they are soaking. It is also the first time I am using them.
                                                    I also purchased good xvoo.

                                                    I am going to make this tomorrow

                                                    1. re: jpr54_1

                                                      Hope you like it. Keep in mind that the recipe as written is rather simple (one note), but I did love the creaminess of the gigantes. You may want to add an acid and shallots, etc to zip it up or pair it with another small plate that will add the acid and zip that is not in the original recipe.

                                                      1. re: jpr54_1

                                                        The beans brand arosis-gigantes-elefantes. Thebeans were from Kastoria.
                                                        In addition, to the above recipe I made dry beans in the oven plaki.
                                                        after soaking and cooking beans-i placed olive oil,2 tomatoes cut ,salt peper, celery,
                                                        garlic, thyme, 1 onion with a little water in pot-let boil for 5 minutes.
                                                        place beans in casserole dish pour above mixture onto beans and bake in oven for 30 min. at 400 degrees.
                                                        I also added lemon juice to completed beans.
                                                        I find many of dishes r bland.

                                                    2. The Single Vegetable Salad, Pg. 189

                                                      And the vegetable of the day is... Cabbage ! There are 13 single Fresh Vegetable Choices so there's a variety of salads that can be made. I used half a head of a medium sized green cabbage.After the cabbage has been sliced in very thin ribbons toss in the dressing of your choice on pages 190 & 191.

                                                      Oil and Vinegar (Ladoksido), with Six Add-Ons, Pg. 191

                                                      Whisk together red wine vinegar, Greek EVOO, pinch each of S & P. My additions per the suggestions given were: 3/4 t dried Greek oregano, 1 t cumin, 2 pressed cloves of garlic, large t salted capers - rinsed and drained, 3 minced scallions, scant t local honey. After mixing the oil and vinegar, add the oregano, if using, and let it infuse the O & V mixture for a few minutes. Then, add all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more S & P if needed. It did. Pour over the cabbage, toss then let sit for about 1/2 hour. If you can wait that long. Delicious.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        The Single Vegetable Salad, page 189 (plus note on page 196).

                                                        There is not much to this as a recipe, but the outcome was quite nice. I also made this salad using shredded cabbage, green and red, and that is about all there is to it. Instead of the Greek salad dressing, I made the oximeli described in the side note: honey is simmered and skimmed, then vinegar is added to taste. The ancient Greeks added water, the author suggests adding olive oil instead, which I did. After reading the note on page 196, I elected to add pomegranate seeds to the salad. These worked very well with both the cabbage and the honeyed dressing. I thought this salad needed a dash of salt and pepper, and I chose to use Aleppo instead of black pepper. Easy and appealing.

                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                          LN... that looks just like an Easter bonnet...

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            Single vegetable salad, pg 189.

                                                            This is more a method than a recipe. I did this 2 different ways. For the first salad, I admit to shamelessly copying L. Nightshade. Her salad looked so appealng that picked up a red and green cabbage at the market the other day. I shredded the red and green cabbage but I used just olive oil, salt and pepper and a touch of red wine vinegar. This was quick, easy, beautiful and delicious! I made this for lunch with the kids. My husband is working this weekend so time was at a premium, but I was able to throw this together in the same amount of time that it would take me to microwave some frozen veggies and it was SO much more appealing! The kids are not big veggie eater but are all forced to at least try the veggie at every meal. This colorful dish generated more interest than usual from the kids and my baby, who's 14 months and who has just gotten her molars chomped away on this.

                                                            My second version was made with TJ's prepackaged cooked beets (the leftover from making the beet tzatziki). I dressed this one with just olive oil and salt and again delicious. I must admit I ate this all while making dinner (I really like beets), so no one else got to try, but I loved it. I think this recipe reminds me that sometimes less is more!

                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                            The Single Vegetable Salad, p. 189 with Oil and Vinegar Dressing, p. 191

                                                            I made a reduced amount of single vegetable salad for a single diner, using a medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced and 1 tsp red wine vinegar with 2 tsp olive oil (because a 1:2 vinegar-to-oil ratio is more to my taste than 1:3), with pinches of dried oregano, ground cumin, salt, and ground pink peppercorn, plus some minced fresh dill. Super simple; would have enjoyed having the garlic and capers to set it apart, but I needed super simple and quick, and this fit the bill fine.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              The Single Vegetable Salad, Pg. 189

                                                              The second time around for this salad but using broccoli. This time I made the original simple vinaigrette using just Greek olive oil, red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black Tellicherry pepper and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. The broccoli florets were steamed till just tender, the dressing poured over and all tossed together. I usually use lemon juice for a simple dish like this but in this instance the vinegar enhances the broccoli considerably. This is a salad with an infinite number of variations and makes a fine side dish

                                                            2. Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Zest, Chive, and Chive Flowers, Pg. 198

                                                              When is a salad not a salad? When it's a side dish. Good pairing, this, with the Sauteed Chicken with Shallots et al. I steamed the cauliflower florets instead of boiling the entire head. It really makes no difference in the end since the cauliflower is served in pieces and we were not going for presentation but ease of cooking.

                                                              The dressing is Oil and Vinegar Dressing page 190 with add-ins.
                                                              To lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt add:
                                                              more oil: 1/4 cup
                                                              Salt and FGBpepper
                                                              chopped lemon zest
                                                              chopped fresh chives or scallions (my chives won't make an appearance till early June)
                                                              chive flowers (a nice touch, and I often use the flowers, but see above)

                                                              This is whisked together and poured over the cauliflower just before serving. I dressed the cauliflower and let it take up the flavors for a few minutes and even then it needed more S & P and even more lemon juice. But, all in all it's a nice little salad. Ms Hoffman says it's a venerated salad dish. Actually, I wouldn't go that far...

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Zest, Chive, and [optional--I chose to omit Chive Flowers], Pg. 198

                                                                Eh. We didn't like this and won't make it again. And I wish I hadn't called it a salad when I served it to my husband as he kept complaining it wasn't a salad. I tried to explain that the Greeks call practically everything a salad, but he couldn't let that go. Once I got him past that, we agreed that it just wasn't that interesting. I didn't think the cauliflower absorbed the flavors of the dressing at all. I followed the recipe exactly as written. I used chives (she says you could use scallions instead and omitted the optional chive flowers. I served it at room temp (you can also serve it warm).

                                                                One thing that confused me --so maybe I made a fatal error-- is that the recipe calls for the Oil and Lemon Recipe on page 190 "made with 1/4 cup of oil." I was confused by this direction. The dressing recipe on page 190 calls for 1 tbsp lemon juice + 3 tbsp EVOO (plus a pinch of salt). So, is she basically calling for 1/4 cup of dressing from page 190, i.e., calling for you to make a bigger batch of the dressing keeping proportions of lemon and EVOO the same? Or, is she asking you to make the dressing with the same 1 tbsp of lemon juice + 1/4 c EVOO? I decided she meant the latter, only because I couldn't do the math to scale up the proportions in my head, so I took the path of least resistance. Maybe this dish was meant to have more lemon?


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  I would have interpreted it exactly as you did.

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Oh TDQ.... I'm so sorry that recipe didn't work for you. Like others here I get embarrassed when someone cooks a recipe we like and the recipe turns out badly. You and I prepared the cauliflower differently. Instead of boiling the whole head, pouring the dressing over and serving slices per the recipe, I sliced the cauliflower in medium sized florets, steamed them till just tender, then tossed them in the dressing which I made using the Extra 1/4 cup of oil as Hoffman instructs. That's how I interpreted the dressing directions.

                                                                    Again, I apologize.

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      Gio! No need to apologize. As you know, some of it is simply personal preference or user error.

                                                                      Also, it's not as if this was a recipe you raved over! You gave it a pretty mild endorsement. I wish I'd cut the cauliflower into florets as you had. :(. Please, please, please do not feel bad.


                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      (So here's my review, which I mistakenly posted earlier today under the vegetable parade category, and thus hadn't read any of the previous reviews before. I agree that the lack of flavor in the dressing-recipe is a problem, but I think that with some additions this could be made more delicious.)

                                                                      Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Zest, Chives, and Chive Flowers, p. 198. Served with Oil and Lemon Dressing, p. 190, as directed by author.

                                                                      This is a very pretty presentation, and very easy. A 1 1/2 pound cauliflower head is trimmed of its outer leaves and stem, then boiled for three minutes, top side up. Then the head is turned over, boiled for another minute until just tender, and drained and cooled until serving. I was amazed that the timing was so accurate--my larger 2 # cauliflower head took just another minute to become tender.

                                                                      Incidentally, the instructions say nothing about checking for tenderness--just how long to cook it. I used a knife to check that the head was fork-tender but definitely not mushy. The whole cauliflower head cooks quickly, which surprised me.

                                                                      At serving time, which can be just after it's cooked and still warm, or at room temperature, place the cauliflower on a plate and drizzle lemon oil dressing over it, and then top with 2 tsp coarsely chopped lemon zest, 2 TBS chopped chives or green scallion tops (what I had) and the optional chive flowers, torn apart.

                                                                      My daughter remarked on how really lovely the dish looked. ( Memo to self, get out the camera next time!.) The whole cauliflower head is attractive on a platter, and its pure white color contrasts so well with the yellow lemon zest and green chopped scallions. If I'd had them, the purple chive flowers would have added even more to the palette.

                                                                      However, the lemon-oil dressing did not pack enough punch. The instructions say whisk together 1 TBS fresh lemon juice to 3 TBS EVOO, plus a pinch of salt. I should have tasted carefully before pouring it over and put in something more--black pepper? A touch of Dijon? A little chopped garlic? Something. But I will definitely use this presentation again, because it is pretty and easy.

                                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                                        Just wanted to add that I made this cauliflower "salad" again last night, at least, the whole head of cauliflower part. It's easy and attractive on the plate, sprinkled with lemon zest and your choice of chopped green garnish (used chopped dill last night.) This time I ignored the lemon-oil dressing that was suggested; instead serving it with a bowl of the tzatziki recipe on p. 465. Delicious!

                                                                  2. Winter Vegetable Soup, Pg. 167

                                                                    According to the calendar it's still winter in the Northeast even though the thermometer read 74F yesterday. Since we had lots of vegetables planned for this soup I decided to go ahead and make it. It's quite simple to prep and it cooks up in a very short time. The vegetable prep took the longest time. I omitted the 1 1/2 cups white beans and shredded salami, subbed dried marjoram and basil for savory and chicken stock for water.

                                                                    I increased some items and left others as written: 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1 medium onion, 1 gigantic leek sliced in half then cut into thin ribbons, 1/2 head of green cabbage sliced in ribbons, 2 stalks celery sliced in thinnish pieces.

                                                                    Using a 6 quart Dutch oven G heated some olive oil, and gently sauteed garlic, onion and leek. After a few minutes add the cabbage and cook, stirring every now and then, for a few minutes. Add celery, water, wine, tomato paste, bay leaves, savory, S & P. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer vigorously uncovered 30 minutes... till the liquid has reduced somewhat. At this point add the potatoes and cooked beans. Cook till the potatoes are cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add if necessary. Serve garnished with dill and the salami. We just used fresh chopped dill.

                                                                    It seems that this month G and I have not agreed on many of the recipes we've cooked so far. Either he likes something and I don't or vice versa. This was another instance when he went back for a heaping second helping and I didn't even finish. I'm not sure why this soup was not bursting with flavor. But for me it was just ordinary even with 1 1/2 cups red wine, stock instead of water, 1/4 cup tomato paste. Perhaps the savory and salami would have added more intense flavors...I don't know. I made a full recipe so there's quite a bit left over. It will sit in the fridge for the next few days and maybe the second time around the flavors will have matured.

                                                                    1. Russian Salad with Caper Mayonnaise (Salata Russiki), Pg. 36

                                                                      This salad is a combination of 5 different vegetables, all except peas are sliced into 1/4 inch dice: green beans, carrot, limas, potato. All are cooked at different times then drained and the water brought back to boil for each vegetable. That would have taken almost a half hour. I simply started with the potatoes which cook the longest at 6 minutes... then timed and staggered the remaining vegetables ending with the peas which take only 1 minute. All were cooked during the same time frame - 6 minutes then drained. Place vegetables into a bowl and set aside.

                                                                      It's the dressing that really make the salad delicious. First make the sprightly Lemony Mayonnaise on page 470 then enhance that with capers and salt. I included a pressed clove of garlic and FGBpepper because I always do. When ready to serve toss the vegetables with half the dressing. Form the veggies into a log on a platter then slather with the rest of the dressing over top like a frosting. Decorate with wedges of hard boiled egg and lemons. I feel it's very important to season this dressing to your own liking. Salting the water to begin with is a must. It's a very pretty salad.

                                                                      1. Radish salad with pickled onions and feta cheese, p. 201

                                                                        I had 3 black radishes wasting away in the fridge, so I decided to give this recipe a shot. I didn't have any greens, so the salad was sadly lacking in much color. It also seemed like the salad was missing something, but that may be because the radishes were a bit on the mild side. I'd be curious to try this again with regular radishes.

                                                                        To make this, you first need to have made pickled red onions on p. 75. The radishes are trimmed and thinly sliced. The leaves are washed and dried. On a platter, spread out radish slices and leaves. Sprinkle with s&p, then top with feta cheese and pickled red onions. Drizzle with red wine vinegar and olive oil.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                          Radish salad with pickled onions and feta cheese, p. 201.

                                                                          I made this salad tonight to accompany a ratatouille and sausage pot pie. Not because I thought the pot pie was calling out for this dish, just because i wanted to do a little something from the COTM. TxnInMtl describes the simple assembly of this dish above.

                                                                          Personally, I'm not a big radish fan. So that fact considered, this salad was a big success. Mr. NS thought it was "terrific"! I thought it was quite nice, and just different enough to be interesting. The pickled onions are the overriding flavor, and I can't wait to use the remaindered onions on a sandwich or with a meat dish.

                                                                        2. Zesty Lentil Soup with Tangy Greens and Herbs, p. 157

                                                                          I just realized that I had neglected to report on this recipe, which I made back in February. It's a pretty basic lentil soup, and though the discussion here regarding increasing the seasonings had yet to happen, it was obvious enough that it would be necessary. I made a half recipe, but used the full amount of seasonings; I also used a box of veg broth in place of most of the water. Tomato paste, onion, a bay leaf (which I left whole, though she says to crumble), oregano, thyme, and a chopped small dried red chile are sauteed, then lentils, chopped greens (I used mustard, one of her suggested choices), water (the aforementioned broth), pepper are added, all is brought to a boil and then simmered until lentils and greens are tender. It's finished with salt, plus lemon juice to taste.

                                                                          As I said, a basic soup with some greens. It was fine, if not memorable, but would have been awfully bland made with water and half the aromatics and herbs.

                                                                          1. Pita Bread, page 134

                                                                            Tonight we decided to have "gyros" sandwiches for dinner using this pita recipe and the ground lamb kebabs [page 391] along with some dips. Though I followed the recipe with the best of intents, as a frequent bread baker, it became clear that improvements in both the formula and process should be made. This report is what I actually did.

                                                                            I believe in weights for bread recipes and decided to convert the flour to weight immediately. King Arthur all-purpose flour is 4.25 oz per cup, so my goal was 25.5 oz of flour. I chose to use half white and half whole wheat flour. For the whole wheat, I used Indian Atta flour which has a lovely soft texture. I did not add any vital wheat gluten. Next the amount of yeast is just ridiculous! She calls for two packages of yeast. Each package is 2.25 tsp of yeast which is just too much for this amount of flour. I want my bread to ferment, not taste like commercial yeast. So I reduced the amount of yeast to 2 tsp. which still seemed high, but I was trying to stay with the program. She doesn't say what kind of salt so I assumed that she was indicating table salt, so I used 2 tsp of kosher salt. Though I usually make pita bread with honey, I used sugar as indicated. Finally, she calls for warm water but I like a long rise time, so I used cold.

                                                                            I used a stand mixer with the paddle to integrate the ingredients before switching to the dough hook and kneading for 6 minutes. The dough is then placed in an oiled bowl and left to double in size. Oh my! Even after reducing the yeast by over 50% this bread rose fast. I put the dough in the fridge to slow it down, but it wanted to rise.

                                                                            The dough is then "punched" down and left to sit for 20 minutes. Then divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll. Again, this will never work. So instead, I divided the dough and rolled it on the counter top to make roll shapes and then let those rest to relax the dough. Each dough ball was between 3 7/8 oz and 4 oz. I had 11 balls. The dough is then rolled into 8-9 inch rounds, 1/8 inch thick. Well, you can do 1/8 inch or 8-9 inches. I chose the 1/8 inch thickness which was about 7 3/4 inches in diameter. The dough then rests, covered, for 20 minutes to 1 1/2 hrs. Mine rested for the longer time period. [Warning: I needed 6 half sheet pans with covers! Ran out of counter space quickly.]

                                                                            The bread is baked at 500º for five minutes with one rotation of the pan in the middle. The bread puffed up brilliantly. The bread is stacked until ready to eat.

                                                                            Next time, I will reduce the yeast even more, weigh out 3.5 oz balls and use honey instead of the sugar just for the flavor. So my new formula:

                                                                            2 cups cold water
                                                                            1 tsp honey
                                                                            1.5 tsp instant yeast
                                                                            15 oz all purpose flour
                                                                            10.5 oz whole wheat flour
                                                                            2 tsp kosher salt
                                                                            1/3 cup olive oil

                                                                            This was the best flat pita bread I have ever had. It was pliable and easily curled around the meat with vegetables.

                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                Oh wow. They look beautiful and I'll bet they were delicious.


                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                  Pita Bread Pg. 134

                                                                                  Oh they do look good. Unfortunately for me I am not as savvy a baker as smtucker and I followed the recipe exactly. I can now attest to the fact that the recipe as written doesn't yield the best results.

                                                                                  I also went with half whole wheat and have white flour, and the amount of yeast suggested had the batch at least triple in volume within just over an hour. With the dough overflowing I decided to beat it down a bit earlier and proceeded with the rest of the recipe as normal.

                                                                                  The resuls definitely tasted of the yeast,and the breads were somhow still doughy, despite the fact that the few I cooked longer were too dry. It didn't seem as though the dough was going to hit that sweet spot of cooked but only lightly browned as she stated.

                                                                                  Overall they were edible but I definitely wouldn't make again.

                                                                                  1. re: delys77

                                                                                    Oh I am so sorry. Yes. Your bread appears to have over-proofed during that first rise. So much yeast. So much yeast.

                                                                                    If you are up for the adventure, consider retrying with the measurements I used above. Even a half recipe would give you some nice bread.

                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                      I think I defintely will smtucker. Novice baker that I am, even I thought it was a bit odd when I was scooping out teaspoon after teaspoon of yeast.

                                                                                  2. re: smtucker

                                                                                    Pita Bread, page 134

                                                                                    I, too, wish that I had read your changes to the recipe before starting on mine! I made a half recipe using only ap flour and instant yeast, so I cut the yeast in half again. I made it one day ahead of time, so I followed the suggestions to place in the fridge after the initial rise. Mine rose a lot, but my apartment is definitely on the cool side, so it was still manageable. In the fridge, it outgrew the plastic wrap, so the ends had to be cut off. I had no difficulties with the cooking. They puffed up nicely and wrapped well around the souvlaki, but they could've been a bit better. Next time I'll try smtucker's modifications!

                                                                                  3. Carrot Salad with Fresh Fennel, Dried Figs, and Preserved Lemon page 199

                                                                                    So, my first COTM attempt in many months, perhaps even my first in a year. We liked this, although I'm not sure I handled the preserved lemon correctly.

                                                                                    Basically, you shred 1 1/2 lbs carrot. Add to that a fennel bulb and 12 dried figs, all thinly sliced. Toss all with 1/2 c lemon juice. At serving, sprinkle chopped fennel fronds over the top, transfer to a platter around which you have arranged 6 slices preserved lemon. She refers you to a preserved lemon recipe on the next page where lemons are quartered lengthwise, then preserved. I used jarred preserved lemons instead of her homemade ones (which take about a week to make; not bad, actually). I couldn't figure out what she meant by a "slice" of preserved lemon. Does she consider each quarter of a lemon a "slice"? That would make sense in terms of presentation (I can visualize the little wedges of lemon circling the edges of your platter), I guess, but it kind of sounds like overkill. I mean, how are you to incorporate the lemon wedges as you eat the rest of the salad?

                                                                                    I decided she couldn't mean a wedge of lemon=a slice, and therefore she must mean for you to slice up one of the wedges, which is what I did. But, that turned out mushy and kind of ugly and a little too precious (serving suggestion-wise) for my current lifestyle, so I just chopped it up and tossed it with the rest of the salad. In the end, I don't think she meant sliced lemon the way I interpreted it, but I'm still not sure. If by 6 "slices preserved lemon" she meant 6 preserved lemon wedges, then I probably didn't have enough preserved lemon in my dish. Since the recipe already called for 1/2 cup lemon juice, it seemed plenty lemony. But, the preserved lemons are really salty, so maybe my dish would have been both saltier and lemonier? I'm just not sure, but lemonier would be fine, I think, and since the preserved lemon is the only salt in the dish, saltier might be fine, too.

                                                                                    Anyway, next time I might try it with 6 wedges of preserved le--I will still probably chop it up and toss it with the rest of the ingredients-- and see how it goes.

                                                                                    I will say that in both of two recipes from this book I tried thus far, I've had some minor confusion about the recipe, which isn't deadly, but it does leave me wondering in both cases if the dish turned out the way it should. I'd give this dish a B. But, if I understood what she meant for me to do with the preserved lemon, could it have been a B+ or an A? Maybe, it's just hard to say. This is a good recipe to have in your back pocket for when carrots and fennel are both in season and you need something to do with both.

                                                                                    Sorry, no photos.


                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Carrot Salad with Fennel, Figs, and Preserved Lemon

                                                                                      I made this as a half recipe the other day, and was just as perplexed as TDQ about the amount of lemon called for in the dish. I took it that the author meant each slice was a quarter lemon wedge, so in my case, I used 3 from my stash. In the end, I actually found that there was too much lemon in there, so I would decrease it next time. Maybe we can find a happy medium?
                                                                                      I didn't have any fennel, just some leftover fronds, so I used those and added a bit of thinly sliced celery for crunch and a splash of ouzo to the mix. I actually liked the ouzo in there and may use it again.
                                                                                      This is something I would make again, if the ingredients were on hand and something unique was desired.

                                                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                        I'm glad I'm not the only one confused. Did you end up slicing up your 3 lemon wedges and tossing them with the rest of the salad as I did with my 6 slices of lemon wedges?


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          I sliced the lemon up as well; I can't imagine that eating an entire forkful of preserved citrus in one bite would taste too appealing.

                                                                                    2. Beef and rice meatballs in tomato rosemary broth - p. 173

                                                                                      After being a bit worried about this recipe because the meatballs refused to hold their shape during cooking, this surpassed my expectations. It was even better the next day as leftovers after the flavors had a chance to meld a bit more. I did take quite a few liberties with the broth ingredients due to trying to use up the ingredients I have on hand before a move.

                                                                                      The recipe itself comes together quickly and would be easy enough for a weeknight as long as you thicken the yogurt ahead of time and cook rice ahead of time. The meatballs are made using a recipe on page 376. They're a mixture of ground beef, cooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped parsley and mint, ground cinnamon, salt, pepper, and egg. My rice was room temperature as called for, but did not want to stick to anything which was a bit frustrating. After the meatballs are formed, a broth is made from beef or lamb stock (I used a mixture of turkey and duck in an attempt to clean out the freezer), white wine (I used a mixture of white wine and sherry as I didn't have the full amount of wine), diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and rosemary (I upped the rosemary a little bit). The broth simmers for 15 minutes while the meatballs are browned. My meatballs didn't do a great job of staying together during the browning process. The browned meatballs go into the broth and are simmered until they are cooked through. Serve with the thickened yogurt and a little bit of fresh mint. I forgot the yogurt for the first half of my bowl and was quite pleased with the little extra tang after I added it for the second half. I used Liberte Greek yogurt to make the thickened yogurt.

                                                                                      Despite their stability issues, the meatballs in this dish came out nicely and not too dense. I thought the sherry gave the broth a nice bit of extra depth, so I might keep it in there in the future.