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March 2012 Cookbook of the Month: The Olive and the Caper

Welcome to the March 2012 Cookbook of the Month! This month we will be cooking from The Olive and the Caper: Adventures in Greek Cooking, by Susanna Hoffman.

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

If you are curious about the selection process, and the accompanying discussion, the nominating thread is here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832974
and the voting thread is here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/833780
Also, there is some discussion to be found in the announcement thread here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/834315

I've divided the book into six sections for reporting on recipes. I've tried to keep the divisions in the order they appear in the book, but divided so that they each have a roughly similar number of recipes. (For example, Sauces and Toppings is coupled with Birds, and Wild Game, because none of those three categories had a great number of recipes.) I hope this works out for reporting. The page numbers are for the US 2004 edition.

Here are the links to the reporting threads:

Drinks; Small Dishes; Savory Pies (pages 4 - 113)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836484

Breads; Soups; Salads (pages 118 -213)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836483

Eggs; Sustaining Grains; Vegetable Parade (pages 214 - 321)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836482

Fish and Shellfish; Meat (pages 322 - 405)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836481

Birds; Wild Game; Sauces and Toppings (pages 406 - 487)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836480

Fruit as Finale; Sweets (pages 488 - 563)
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/836479

In addition to using the above threads to report on specific recipes, please feel free to use this thread for general impressions, menu ideas, ingredient sources, and links to online recipes.

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Gosh, I really fell way behind during the Feb. COTM. I hope I don't do as badly this month. There are still quite a few Japanese recipes I want to cook and perhaps I'll be able to slip one in from time to time.

    OTOH, I have singled out some intriguing recipes from this Greek book. The goat for one plus I see that I can use my clay pot for a few of the lamb recipes. From another cookbook I have, Mediterranean: Food of the Sun by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow, I noted 2 recipes: Kleftiko (lamb) and Afelia (pork) that I hope to find in The Olive and the Caper... or something similar. The recipes in this book seem different than the Kochilas book, The Glorious Foods of Greece.. Thanks to Lulusmom for the tip about seasoning.

    Thank you, L. Nightshade. for coordinating everything seamlessly...!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Hi Gio,
      Regarding clay-pot recipes--I found one that isn't listed as such in the index, but the recipe instructions say to cook in a clay pot--so that's what I did. The recipe is Beef with Kalamata Olives and 100 Cloves of Garlic, and I will post my review on the appropriate thread.
      Yes, L Nightshade, the coordination you provided was really great.

    2. Even though I won't be cooking from the COTM this month, I am still quite interested in each and every posting. (I cooked a little a few years ago from this book.)

      I am posting just for a simple reason, to thank everyone for making cooking more exciting for me, and wanted specifically to say that I particularly like the page numbers after the sections. For some reason it was confusing to me to sift through the categories - pages identified: I like!

      Edited to include - further thought:
      By posting here now, this will bring up further postings into my personal threads - :-)

      1. Woohoo! I can't believe it's March. I'm hoping to receive my book today. I'm also hoping to get at least a COTM recipe or two under my belt this month. I have very easy access to a greek grocery, so I'm hoping that it will be "easy" for me to participate this month. I'm a little worried about the confusing layout of the recipes everyone has been talking about, though. It seems even the smallest of inconveniences turn into giant barriers for me lately when it comes to COTM participation...

        ~TDQ

        5 Replies
        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Don't be worried about the page layout, TDQ. It really isn't as bad as it seems at first. Just take care moving from one column or page to the other, making sure you have the right recipe after the move...IYKWIM. That's the only thing I had to be careful of when I started reading the recipes. As for the other writings: stories, history, etc. I read them only if I'm interested at the moment and go back later if I think it's something I need to know about the recipe... I always read the header notes and tips, though.

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Hey TDQ, would that Greek grocery be Bill's Imported Foods, by any chance? I have very fond memories of Bill's when I lived in that neighborhood.

            I hope you manage to participate too. I always enjoy your takes on recipes! (Heck, I hope *I* manage to participate as well. Haven't been doing much in recent months.)

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              Karen, yes! Bill's Imported Foods! http://www.billsimportedfood.com/ I'm always looking for an excuse to go there...

              Gosh, I'm not sure if I knew you once lived in Minneapolis. Small world.

              And, yes, let's hope we both find time to dive in this month.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Yep, between 34th & 35th on Colfax. That was 15+ years ago, but I'm glad that Bill's is still around. Did you ever go to the butcher on Bryant and, hmm, 35th or 36th? They closed probably 20 years ago, but I still mourn their beef jerky. It was big chunks of real meat, the moistest, most delicious jerky I have ever eaten. A really great butcher shop in every respect. There was a fantastic old-fashioned hardware store next door, the kind of place that had everything needed to repair old houses, because they still had it in stock from when the houses were built. Ah, nostalgia. Now I'm making myself feel really old.

                Anyhow, I picked up the book at the library today, sat in the parking lot to browse the recipes, then went to Trader Joe's to pick up what I needed. Success!

                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  Unfortunately, no, that butcher would have been long closed by the time I moved to MN. I've been here less than a decade (although, surprisingly close to a decade, which boggles my mind because I still feel *new* here. Probably always will). Too bad the place closed, you could have posted about it in this MSP beef jerky thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/835955

                  I have my book now, too, and am planning my strategy. I still have high hopes even though early reports from the book aren't consistently spectacular. I have a convenient TJ's too (which is definitely new since you lived here!), but I'll go to Bill's first. ;-).

                  ~TDQ

          2. Thank you for the job well done, L.Nightshade. I thought your approach to the COTM process was a bit different and very effective. I really liked how your narrowed the selection to two books for voting. It was so much easier to choose between the two - than three and more. I also liked that you added page numbers to the sections that you divided the book into. I always find that there are too many reporting sections and maybe next time you'll choose to devote 150 pages to a section and maybe it won't make sense:) Congrats!

            2 Replies
            1. re: herby

              Thanks herby, and everyone else for you kind comments! I really didn't try to do anything differently, just followed the footsteps of my able predecessors. The nominations narrowed naturally to two books, as they each had at least twice as many votes as the next runners up.

              I know what you mean, herby, by the many reporting sections. Sometimes it feels like we are not cooking together. One month, some time ago, I found myself to be the only person reporting in one of the threads. It was lonely! On the other hand, in an active month, the threads can get long and unwieldy. Oh well, we can strive toward a happy medium.

            2. I haven't received my copy of book as yet. I am looking forward to starting-
              I have found a few shops which carry Greek specialty items and a wholesaler own here in Broward County, Florida

              2 Replies
              1. re: jpr54_1

                I intended to pick up my copy of the book yesterday but ran out of time. I'm hoping for today. In the meantime, there are a number of pages available through Google Books: http://books.google.com/books/about/T...

                and there are these online recipes that BigSal posted in the announcement thread:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8343...

                ~TDQ

                1. re: jpr54_1

                  Book arrived early this morning--
                  I will look it over an read preface, etc. and then go shopping Monday/Tuesday