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April 2012 COTM: Melissa Clark Month, Cook This Now: Spring

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Please use this thread to discuss the chapters in Cook This Now, Spring: April; May; June, pages 95 - 192.

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  1. Quick Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies pg. 123

    Fabulous! Bone-less center cut pork chops were on sale, so I used those rather than the prescribed bone-in, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly, and it worked perfectly. Brown seasoned pork chops in some olive oil, remove from the pan, add some butter, add chopped shallots and anchovies, quickly saute, add arugula and some stock, snuggle the browned chops in this, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Lickity split, and darn good.

     
    5 Replies
    1. re: qianning

      Quick Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies pg. 123

      This jumped up the list after family packs of pork chops were on sale and I noticed that she suggests you can use pea shoots instead of arugula. The chops I had were a bit on the thin side and we weren't paying close attention to cooking, so the meat dried out a bit. The sauce was excellent though (I used anchovy paste instead of anchovies) and I liked the pea shoots with it. Overall, a solid quick and easy weeknight meal that I wouldn't mind making again with a thicker chop.

      1. re: qianning

        Quick Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies pg. 123.

        This was super easy for a weeknight meal. My pork chops were closer to 1" than the 1 1/2" in the recipe, so I simmered for 10 minutes instead of 15. Even keeping in a warm oven almost 30 minutes (had to wait until the end of the basketball game), the chops were moist. The anchovies add a really nice flavor to the arugula. I almost left them out, but after reading the post-recipe note that said "if you don't like anchovies, use them anyway," I gave it a shot and wasn't disappointed.

        Served with mac and cheese and a salad of seared hearts of little gem lettuce drizzlzed with buttermilk dressing.

        1. re: qianning

          Quick-Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies, p. 123

          Delicious! I used two four-ounce pieces of pork tenderloin that I had in the freezer, which worked beautifully. I had to cook them a little longer because they were so thick, but it was still a quick & easy dish. I was using up the last of some anchovies that I had put in a small jar in the fridge, so instead of the olive oil or butter, I used the anchovy-infused oil! It spit and spattered a lot because it isn't pure oil, but it tasted great. I only used about 2 tbsp total instead of 2 tbsp oil plus 2 tbsp butter.

          1. re: qianning

            Quick braised pork chops- these were quick and delicious! I added just a couple drops ( literally) of fresh lemon juice and low sodium soy sauce - to get the full flavor from the sauce. Of course I also added an additional smidgen (1tsp) of butter as a thickener to the sauce once I 'offed' the heat. I served it over fresh arugula and felt that this made it 'low carb' :-). This was so easy, it's a definite repeat. Nothing to do with this recipe in particular, but I remember when I was a little girl in the early seventies, and pork was naturally tasty and tender - no matter how you cooked it. I wish I could get the same pork I remember.

            1. re: qianning

              Quick Braised Pork Chops with Spring Greens and Anchovies, Pg. 123

              Add G & Me to the long list of lovers of these pork chops. Used 1 1/2 inch chops right from the farm from which I had to trim some of the fat and subbed baby spinach plus chopped garlic scapes for the greens. Everything cooked in the times stated in the recipe. The aroma was enticing and the chops were full of flavor. Served with Tiger Salad from Fuchsia Dunlop's "Every Grain of Rice", and steamed brown rice. Absolutely Fab meal.

            2. Barley w/ Carrots Scallions and Maybe Parmesan pg 125

              This is one of those funny certain things I loved certain things I didn't like at all recipes. On the love side, unlike a lot of contemporary cookbook authors Ms. Clark is one of the few writers who seems to know that barley takes a while, 60-75 minutes, and that jives well with both my personal experience and taste. I also like the grated carrots and the final addition of sliced scallion.

              But, on the other hand, maybe NOT parmesan, in fact for us definitely not parmesan, it just didn't seem like the right flavor for the nutty barley, at least not for us. I would/will make this again, but I'll be trying some different cheeses. Not sure which one yet, maybe aged gruyere or an aged gouda? Anyway something that compliments earthy flavors and isn't quite as assertive as a good Parmesan.

               
              5 Replies
              1. re: qianning

                Good to read your report, qianning. I planned to serve this next Sunday with her Lamb Tagine and now I know Not to use the parmigiano. Those two different flavors would definitely not go well together. It was iffy in my mind when I first read the recipe anyway.
                Thanks for confirming my suspicions...!

                1. re: qianning

                  Barley [Arborio] w/ Carrots [Parsnips] Scallions and Maybe [Not] Parmesan pg 125

                  I was glad to see qianning's report because it supported my initial inclination not to use parmesan. I could've sworn I had barley in the pantry, but when I went looking, I realized that was not the case, so instead I used arborio rice. Instead of the carrots, I wanted to use parsnips because the CSA box keeps sending us those and I prefer those cooked to carrots. In this week's box, we also had the thinnest spring onions I've ever seen, so I doubled the amount called for. The end result was just okay. We ended up pouring extra of the pork sauce on top to give it more flavor. I think it would've been better with barley (although I'd still stick with parsnips), but I'm not sure even with the proper grain that it would deserve a repeat.

                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                    Barley with carrots, scallions and Parmesan p.125

                    I did think it needed the Parmesan as I thought without it the flavor was a bit flat. I liked this but not enough to rush to make it again, when there so many grains recipes in the world I want to try. I served it with 'My mother's garlic and thyme-roasted chicken parts' on p.373 in which I skipped the croutons as I wanted to serve the barley.

                    1. re: JaneEYB

                      An update on my report above. I had the leftover barley yesterday and today and I liked it much better. It had a lovely creamy taste which is interesting as there is only a little Parmesan cheese in it.

                  2. re: qianning

                    Barley with Carrots, Scallion and Maybe (Not) Parmesan, p. 125

                    Made this last night to go with a Diana Henry fish preparation. I chose this recipe because I had carrots and scallions in the fridge that needed using. I used pearled barley and only needed to cook it for about 25-30 min. After tasting the dish with and without the parmesan, I elected to leave it out, though I did add extra olive oil to enrich it a bit. This was an easy, tasty dish. Not the star of the show by any means, and I wouldn't make it for a dinner party, but nevertheless it made for a very serviceable weeknight side dish that the whole family enjoyed.

                  3. Crushed New Potatoes and Pea Salad with Mustard Seed Dressing, Pg. 171
                    http://www.melissaclark.net/blog/2011...

                    Well of course there are no new potatoes to be had this time of year where I live so I used the ubiquitous thin skinned little red potatoes and they were a very good stand in till the real thing comes along. The same with the peas, so I used frozen petit pois and they were quite a good substitute too.
                    For the dressing there's a choice between black or brown mustard seeds and brown: I chose black. The yogurt is optional but I included it. And, since the chives in my garden are very short I decided to use thinly sliced scallions instead.

                    The procedure is very simple as the link shows: Cook the potatoes, cook the peas, make the dressing and combine all. Make sure you taste for seasoning. We found that even though we had incorporated S & P with the other dressing ingredients we still had to add additional seasoning. This is a very nice salad, although I served it as a side dish and was a good accompaniment to the roast chicken with croutons from In The Kitchen with a Good Appetite...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      Gio describes the procedure and the dish above. Like Gio, I used frozen peas for this one, and probably tossed in a few more than the recipe called for. I made the dressing as written, with yogurt (Greek) included. I used a combination of mint and chives for the herb addition. I loved the toasted mustard seeds in the salad, they add extra oomph to the mustardy flavor. I'll probably make this again when I can get fresh peas, but it was very nice with the frozen also. The only thing I might change would be to add a little squirt of red wine vinegar, but even that would depend on the taste of the prepared mustard in the dressing; mine seemed to want for a bit of acidity.

                       
                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                        Crushed New Potatoes with Pea Salad, etc., p. 171

                        My turn for this one, served as a side for another chicken dish from this book (Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, p 15.) I concur with Gio and L.Nightshade that it is a delicious and easy dish. The flavors of yoghurt, chopped shallots, Dijon mustard and chopped mint tossed with gently bruised boiled potatoes produce a very high-class Spring-y version of warm potato salad that all my guests loved! It's easy to throw together, and the flavors are lightly piquant. As LNightshade suggests above, a dash of wine vinegar would add an extra depth of flavor and I'll do this next time.

                        I did not have the recommended brown or black mustard seeds. I used extra Dijon in the dressing to compensate, but I would have liked their added flavor and texture. I was able to find red, white, yellow, and blue baby potatoes, and that was fun.

                        The only thing I have to add to this is that I sliced my sugar snap peas into thirds and then microwaved them for about a minute, rather than boiling them in the potato-water. I was afraid all the little peas inside the pods would fall out in the rapidly boiling water. Microwaving worked fine--the sliced pods were just al dente and added crunch.

                        We liked it warm with dinner yesterday, but I'm going to serve the chilled leftovers for lunch today. I will let them come to room temp, and then toss in more yoghurt and S & P and a squirt of wine vinegar.

                      2. re: Gio

                        Made this salad last night, using tiny fingerling potatoes from the farmers market. I used frozen peas, black mustard seeds, included the yogurt, and subbed green shallots for regular. For the herbal garnish I used finely chopped shallot greens, which taste a lot like chives. I think the mint would have been good though. We liked this salad but weren't in love. It was actually perfectly good potato salad, but since there are a million and one potato salads in this world to try, I'm not sure I'll get around to this particular one again. Mustard lovers will definitely want to give it a try.

                      3. Pan-Roasted Radish and Anchovy Crostini, - p. 254 (iBook, page numbers may not match hard copy)

                        This recipe is obviously supposed to be made with regular round radishes, sliced fairly thin. I had long, white, icicle radishes, which wouldn't make sense sliced as described in this recipe, so I just diced them. So a little texture difference between what I made and the recipe in the book. Other than that, made pretty much as written. You heat a skillet, add some olive oil (I used part olive oil and part butter), and cook the radishes, seasoning with salt and pepper, until "fork tender". Then you make an anchovy sauce, by heating butter, olive oil, anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a saucepan, then stirring in some lemon juice. To assemble the crostini, you simply brush toasted bread with the anchovy sauce and then top with the radishes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

                        Not sure what to make of this really. I mean, it was good. Quite good. But I'm not sure it would have general appeal. And even though it was good, I think I could come up with better ways to serve up some radishes. So, it's in this in-between place - Mr. MM and I both liked it, and enjoyed eating it, but I'm not sure I'd bother to make it again. I can see that there might be other applications for the anchovy sauce, though, so I'll keep it tucked in my back pocket.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: MelMM

                          This is one that very much entices me. At the same time, I am having a hard time figuring out what to follow it with ... maybe a pasta with strong flavors? It just seems like as a starter it might blow away everything that comes after it. Still and all, it sounds really good to me. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this. MelMM, did you have this as a stand alone, or did you follow it with something (or serve it with a salad, etc.)?

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            You know, I had a hard time remembering this, as I actually made this recipe a week before the COTM started. But, I'm pretty sure it was alongside salmon fillets with a raita made from lamb's quarters (not to be confused with lamb's lettuce or mache - the lamb's quarters are a native weed and not related). The raita was from 1,000 Indian Recipes. So, pretty strong flavored stuff.

                            But, I think I need to point out - and this is really my problem with cooked radish recipes - that the radishes lose every bit of their pungency when roasted. And the thing is, I really like hot radishes. That's what disappoints me with this recipe and every other I've tried where the radishes are cooked. The very thing I look forward to most is gone. I can't help but think, I might as well have used a turnip, or even a parsnip, because that's what they taste like. So if you are thinking about radishes, and their raw flavor, and that is what makes you think you need a strong-flavored follow-up, turn those thoughts off. The anchovy sauce is the dominant flavor here, but it soaks into the bread, and really just means you have an especially savory toast.

                            Well, that's just my perspective. It all depends upon what you like and what you're expecting.

                            1. re: MelMM

                              I agree with you Mel, I'd definitely compare the flavour of roasted radishes to a mild turnip. I guess MC's going for earthy flavours w this Crostini. I like your idea of following w a salmon dish. I think a salad w grilled shrimp would be nice too or even a pasta w a puttanesca sauce or what about a fish stew or soup....

                              1. re: MelMM

                                Thanks to both MelMM and BC for their thoughts on this. I think salmon or puttanesca would be perfect. It isn't so much the radishes I was concerned about, because as you say they tend to become blander with cooking, but the anchovies - which I love - can dominate. I think using a turnip would work perfectly, and probably be a lot easier when it came to chopping time.

                          2. Bulgur (Quinoa) Pilaf with Swiss Chard and Dried Apricots – p. 120

                            It was beetlbug’s review of this dish in her “Cooking From” thread that enticed me to make this dish. MC does note that Quinoa is an alternative preparation and since I happened to have both red and white quinoa on hand, I was looking forward to trying this dish.

                            Since beetlebug did such a great job of explaining how this comes together I’ll take the liberty of linking to her review here:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8378...

                            I made this precisely as set out in the book with the exception of the inclusion of cinnamon. mr bc is not a fan of cinnamon in savoury preparations so I left it out. I chose to drizzle the final dish with pomegranate molasses.

                            Big thanks to beetlebug for reviewing this dish as we loved it. I prepared the quinoa yesterday so all I needed to do tonight was toast the nuts and sauté the veggies. There’s so much going on in this dish. The flavours blend together beautifully. The sweetness of the dried apricots contrast nicely with the tart pomegranate molasses. The toasted cumin enhances the flavour of the nuts and is subtle in the finished dish. I’ll definitely be making this again. I imagine it would be delicious hot or cold and I’d love to try it topped with some pomegranate seeds and/or some feta cheese as well. Delicious!!

                             
                             
                             
                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Bulgur Pilaf with Swiss Chard and Dried Apricots – p. 120

                              I made this as a side with the Roast Chicken Legs with Smoked Paprika, Blood Orange and Ginger (pg.117). At the last minute, I decided to use half the amount of bulgur and keep everything else the same. I really liked my ratio of stuff-to-grain, and hubby and I still had leftovers for lunch. I could have just eaten a big bowl of this for dinner, it was that good. I really liked the constrasts in the dish: sweet and salty and cumin-y; soft and crunchy and chewy. A lot going on, but it all works together very nicely.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Bulgur Pilaf with Swiss Chard and Dried (Cranberries) – p. 120

                                This was fantastic. I made it with bulgur and dried cranberries (one of the suggested substitutions). I served it with the roasted chicken with chickpeas, carrots, and parsley gremolata (which I'll report on when I have the book in front of me!) and the side overshadowed the chicken. The pomegranate molasses was a fantastic addition to the dish. I would make this again and even serve it on its own for a quick dinner.

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  Bulgur Pilaf with Swiss Chard and (Golden Raisins), p. 120

                                  I made a couple of changes. These may have affected my reaction to the dish, or it may be a case of YMMV.I didn't have pistachios or other appropriate nuts to use, so I skipped the butter/cumin/nuts part (though had I done it I would have substantially reduced the amount) and just went on the the oil-in-pan part, but added a tsp. or so of cumin seeds along with the shallot and garlic. Instead of cooking the bulgur per the recipe, I boiled 1.5 cups salted water, added the bulgur and raisins, covered and took off heat, letting it sit for 20 minutes. This works wonderfully to rehydrate bulgur without sogginess. Anyway, I ended up feeling it was fine, but not special. Perhaps butter, nuts, and pom molasses (pom didn't make sense w/the other flavors of my meal) would've turned me more. I'm willing to believe it, so I may try it sometime.

                                2. Vietnamese Grilled Steak and Cabbage Salad with Peanuts, Mint, and Chiles, p. 114

                                  This dish had so much potential, but just didn't do it for me. I'm also a bit perplexed by the title. The recipe doesn't have mint (except as an alternative to cilantro and parentheses) or chiles (except for a pinch of cayenne). I stuck faithfully (maybe a little too faithfully) to the recipe, except for switching to pre-cut stir-fry meat because I was frying and not grilling and still can't cut meat with my fractured wrist.

                                  The meat marinades in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice and zest, ginger, sesame oil, and garlic for 1 - 12 hours. I marinated overnight and found the lime a bit overpowering after cooking the steak. If I were to make it again, I think a little bit of honey might help balance the flavors more. For the salad, shredded cabbage is mixed with shredded carrots and cilantro and tossed with a vinaigrette of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, olive or peanut oil, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne, or garlic. The dressing all seemed a bit one-note for me. Mostly the saltiness of the ingredients overwhelmed everything else for me. Her suggestion to add mangoes would've probably helped this out. The steak is broiled (or in my case stir-fried) and everything is topped with chopped peanuts.

                                  I served the dish to 3 other people and no one complained (the cabbage-averse even seemed pleasantly surprised by the cabbage dish), but I don't think I'd repeat this without adding some sweetness and a bit more heat to balance the dish. I'd also like to know how the calculation ended up with 10 cups of cabbage serving 4 people! I scaled the cabbage in half and still had leftovers.

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                                    Vietnamese Grilled Steak and Cabbage Salad with Peanuts, Mint and Chiles p.114

                                    I liked this more than TxnlnMtl. I marinated the steak for 24 hours (not intentionally, just found out my daughter was going out after I'd already started the marinade) and I thought it had great flavor. We didn't get a strong lime flavor though it could have lessened over time.

                                    I also enjoyed the cabbage salad. I made it with regular green cabbage though I would like to try it with napa. And I would definitely like to try it with mango chunks as that would break up the rather repetitive flavors of a lot of cabbage. I also had a lot leftover though I have kept the dressing and cabbage separately in the fridge so should be good for re-runs during the week.

                                    1. re: JaneEYB

                                      I'm glad this worked better for you. I think the overwhelming lime may have been due to my making it more of a stir-fry dish to accommodate my injury. As for the cabbage salad, we've been making so many of them that I had fairly high expectations. (In particular, there's one in 660 Curries that I loved.) Glad you had a better outcome!

                                      1. re: TxnInMtl

                                        Oh, please, oh please. Can you direct me to the page or exact name of the cabbage salad in 660 Curries that you love? I love cabbage salad and am always looking for a new one.

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          I don't have the book, but would add my voice to Rella's in wanting the recipe. Maybe a paraphrase?

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Here's the paraphrase, LLM.

                                            1 small head cabbage, thinly shredded
                                            1 large English cucumber, ends trimmed off, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out, thinly sliced crosswise.
                                            1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut or 1/4 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut, covered with 1/4 cup boiling water, soaked for 15 minutes, and drained
                                            1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
                                            1 tbsp sugar
                                            1 tsp coarse salt
                                            1/2 cup peanuts, toasted and pounded to breadcrumb consistency
                                            2 tbsp canola oil
                                            1 tsp black or yellow mustard seeds
                                            1/4 tsp ground asafetida (I subbed lime zest)
                                            juice of 1 lime

                                            Combine cabbage, cucumber, coconut, cilantro, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Add mustard seeds, cover, and cook until seeds have stopped popping, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle in asafetida. Add to cabbage mixture. Add lime juice and stir salad well. Serve cold or at room temperature.

                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                              Cabbage and Cucumber Slaw with Roasted Peanuts pp 741-742.
                                              I have never appreciated peanuts in a dish, roasted or not, and would probably never make this except for the fact that it also calls for asafetida (which I am crazy about). I will have to make this because I just cannot even imagine them used together, and curiousity rules.

                                              I'll bet he uses plenty of peanuts in this book, as well. The last time I bought peanuts, I bought a load of them, all organic, kept them until I knew that I'd never use them again and tossed. Since then, I have used almonds to make almond butter and wonder at my ignorance/stupidity in not roasting and using these tossed peanuts to make a great peanut butter. I must deja vu this whole process.

                                              1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                Thank you so much, TxnInMtl. It sounds great, and we love sides I can do ahead. I love the idea of lime zest for the asafetida.

                                            2. re: Rella

                                              It's "Cabbage and cucumber "slaw" with roasted peanuts" according to EYB. If I recall correctly, it's in the curry cohort section. I'll post the page number when I do the paraphrase for LLM either tonight or tomorrow.

                                        2. re: TxnInMtl

                                          [Vietnamese Grilled Steak and] Cabbage Salad with [Peanuts, Mint and] Chiles, Pg.114

                                          Last night I made only the salad component of this recipe to serve with the Crispy Tofu with Chorizo and Shiitakes on page 174, In the Kitchen, etc. I used 1/2 of a green cabbage, 1 large carrot that I shaved instead of shredding, and chopped cilantro. After reading TxnInMtl's accounting of how she thought some sweetener would be a useful addition I used Kecap Manis instead of regular soy sauce so that immediately changed the flavor of the dressing. Along with the rice wine vinegar I added some dark sesame oil. Peanut oil was used, fish sauce, the lime juice, 1/4 t cayenne, and finally 2 minced fat garlic cloves. The peanuts were omitted. When everything was tossed together we tasted a bit of cabbage and decided no further sweet need be added; I had kept a package of brown sugar at the ready. The finished salad was really awfully tasty...tangy, spicy, slightly sweet. We both liked it and it went very well with the tofu/sausage/shiitake main dish.

                                          1. re: TxnInMtl

                                            Vietnamese Grilled Steak and Cabbage Salad with Peanuts, Mint, and Chiles, p. 114

                                            Like JaneEYB, I liked this dish. We're about cabbaged out from the winter, so I took MC's suggestion in the "What else?" notes to serve the steak over arugula instead. I did make the spicy vinaigrette to lightly dress the arugula, and thought this was a nice combination. I marinated the steak for about an hour, and I thought the flavors were well balanced. The mango would probably be too much for this arugula version, but I can see it being appealing with the cabbage version.

                                            1. re: Abby0105

                                              Sounds really nice Abby, thanks for the reminder about this one!

                                            2. re: TxnInMtl

                                              Vietnamese Grilled Steak and Cabbage Salad, p. 114

                                              Wow, we liked this a lot. I ended up marinating the steak for about 36 hours, and the steak was nicely flavored. Definitely not too limey or salty for us. I made the cabbage salad as written but I wasn't too fussy about proportions -- I used about 3/4 of a very small green cabbage and half of a huge carrot. My salad ended up more carrot than cabbage. We just loved the dressing. It was salty, garlicky, tart and tangy! Leftovers held up well also. I used cilantro and skipped the peanut topping. Served as suggested with the coconut rice and peas from the same book. My spouse loved this but I will probably do plain steamed jasmine rice next time.

                                            3. Clams with Peas, Pea Shoots and Israeli Couscous (Remix) p. 174

                                              This dish was so simple, but really hit the spot. Minced shallots and garlic (instead of green garlic) are sautéed with butter until soft (we used 2 T instead of 3T), add red pepper flakes and cook for a minute. Add white wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add peas (we used frozen instead of fresh) and clams until they begin to open, add pea shoots (we used pea tips instead of pea shoots) and cover until clams are open and pea shoots are wilted. Stir in chopped mint. We ate this with orecchiette instead of Israeli couscous.

                                              This made for a quick and delicious meal. Even though the dish was not as delicate as intended because of the substitutions we made, I think the essence of the dish still came through and can't wait to try this as written. I am crazy about clams (and have been ever since I was a child) and this dish is very clam rich. I would have been happy to have had the clams without the pasta and actually ate my portion of clams first and then ate the pasta. The briny, sweet sauce with a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes could have easily been sopped up with bread, but the pasta added heartiness and resulted in a wonderfully briny/sweet taste with every bite.

                                              I was a little skeptical of the clam/mint combination, but the mint delivered an unexpected freshness in aroma and taste. I’d make this again as written, with our substitutions, and maybe even with a little pancetta to really put it over the top.

                                              23 Replies
                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                Clams with Peas (pea shoots) and (linguine) p.174.

                                                I will start be saying that this is the first time I've cooked clams. I am slowly trying to break out of my feelings that shellfish is only for eating out. Unfortunately, this didn't go terribly smoothly. I think the main problem was my clams. They were fresh looking Littlenecks from Costco. 5 lbs and when I counted there were just over 4 dozen-- enough for a double recipe. Unfortunately, they were really gritty. I guess maybe clams are always that gritty, but I scrubbed them twice to remove all the grit from the shells, but they still had a tiny amount of grit in their hinges. Based on the cooking instructions in the original recipe, you are supposed to cook the clams in the sauce. I was really worried about doing this because I imagined a lot of grit inside the clams and I didn't want a gritty sauce.

                                                So, despite total lack of clam cooking experience, I decided to modify the recipe and steam the clams first and then add them back in to the sauce just to heat. When steamed they all opened but some of them were really gritty inside, like you could just see dirt inside the shells. For these I actually rinsed off the clam body. As you can imagine, these 4 dozen clams became very high maintenance.

                                                The sauce comes together easily. I subbed wild garlic foraged from my yard for the green garlic and left out the pea shoots because I didn't have any. I also served on linguine instead of couscous. I think by the time i was serving and eating this I was kind of put off by the dirty clams and although objectively I think it tasted good (the clams actually surprised me with how good they tasted) I didn't really enjoy eating this. My husband gobbled it up. Kids wouldn't eat the clams although they were all fascinated with watching them cook.

                                                This one was a bit of a misfire for me, but I don't blame it on the book. Are clams always so gritty? I don't think of myself as a squeamish cook, but this was just too much work for me.

                                                1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                  I've had this problem with clams sometimes but not always. They're definitely one of those things you have to scrub and scrub (at least for me - maybe it's the ones we get down here?). The last mussel dish I made, which was from 150 Best Recipes, I had the same experience, and it has put me off making mussels, which I used to cook on a regular basis. Such a bummer when you look forward to something and put your heart into it.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    Yes, definite bummer. Oh well-- I guess maybe there was a reason why I left shellfish preparation for the restaurants.

                                                    Interesting about the mussels-- I was thinking about trying a mussel dish this month too. I have heard that farmed mussels are generally easier to deal with because they are already debearded. But these clams were farmed and I am not up for another shellfish scrubbing experience in the near future.

                                                    1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                      My mussels were farmed and they were just awful. I got them at HT, instead of WFs, I think. And I bet that had something to do with the poor quality, although I'd never had a problem with HT's mussels before.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Interesting-- I have noticed that the clams at WF look cleaner than these were. Probably worth a few extra bucks if it prevents the gritty meal or all that time spent scrubbing shells.

                                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                          Just a warning though - I got clams at the CH WFs a year or two ago and they agreed to scrub them for me in advance (nice touch) but even so I still scrubbed myself and they were *still* gritty. I love shellfish; wish I felt like I could do so without the grit.

                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                            Thanks for the warning! Maybe it's back to the original thought of letting the professionals in the restaurant do it! Save my pennies for a babysitter instead :)

                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                          A question: Is "HT" Harris Teeter?
                                                          I shop there when I am in Virginia visiting my daughter. Love the store, generally!

                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                            Yes, HT is Harris Teeter. I loved the one in Charlottesville, but the ones in Chapel Hill seem much more dowdy (the nicest way I can put it), and I'm always having to toss produce after only a day or two.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              Thanks, LulusMom. The HT that I go to is in Tyson's Corners, near McLean. It's relatively new and quite spiffy. A lot nicer than the supermarkets I go to here on Cape Cod.

                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                Aha - yes, Tyson's would definitely have a very fancy one (I grew up and spent most of my life in DC, so I know that area well). We do have one very polished one here. I call it the Taj MaTeeter. But it is a pretty long drive (along a road with lots of speed traps) to get there, so it isn't by any means my local. When they're nice, they're definitely nice.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  Where's the taj ma teeter? Great nickname!

                                                                  1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                    Out MLK Blvd (old Airport Rd.) at just about 40; near Weaver Dairy. I'm right near campus (UNC) so it is a trek for me (which means it takes maybe 15 minutes instead of 7).

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Gotcha-- never been to that one. Have lived in Durham, Raleigh and now Cary, but never in CH. We now live within a mile of both Whole Foods and Trader Joe's so I never go to "regular" grocery stores anymore. I love a nice supermarket though. Hoping Wegman's will eventually make it down to NC. Love shopping there when visiting MD.

                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                        My mother is crazy about Wegman's. It would be fantastic to have one here. The produce at the CH WFs is definitely lots better than at HT, but it still isn't really up to WFs usual standard.

                                                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                          In Gainesville, VA, HT and Wegman's are about a mile apart. Wegman's is the one I go to. Even though HT is quite modern physically.

                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                            You live in Gainesville? Used to drive through there when my husband and I had a commuting relationship. I was working in DC and he was teaching at UVa. I hear it has been very built up in the past 5 years. Are there any decent restaurants there? My mother just loves going into Culpepper - says there are tons of good ones there.

                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                              No, I don't live in Gainesville, but I go there for dental work and shopping at Wegman's (about 57m one-way). A new BJ's opened a few months ago, so it has really grown, and is growing more at the Hwy 66 & 43/44 exit. The construction is horrific.

                                                                              There's not much eating going on since most of the trips involve dental work, but I have noted yesterday a good review for a Middle Eastern restaurant "Nora Taste of Lebanon"
                                                                              http://www.norarestaurant.com/
                                                                              that we will try sooner or later.

                                                                              UVa is south of us and we've not been there for years except for a 6-weeks stint for spouse to serve on the grand jury. That was a lot of fun.

                                                                              The traffic is, as you know, soo bad from Manasses Exit 47 on to D.C. and even though we moved here years ago thinking of the cultural aspects (On topic - food included) the only trip to D.C. in the last 14 years has been to Georgetown University Medical Center.

                                                                              I've not been to Culpepper save a very few times. Many people come from Culpepper to shop at Costco, Winchester, which is where I do my weekly shopping - in Winchester, some 25 miles north of where I live.

                                                                              I will have to remember your recommendation of Culpepper. That's astounding, I would never have imagined that. I may get that way this summer for some genealogy research in the Louisa County area. Thanks.

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                Interestingly, yesterday I was shopping at Wegmans and chatting with a woman who out of the blue said she liked the restaurants in Culpepper; her daughter came up and confirmed that she did, as well.

                                                                                Since I was only having 'impressions' made yesterday, I was able to eat in Gainesville at "Nora Taste of Lebanon." It was the best pita chips (on a sample plate) I've EVER eaten. I asked how they had done that - he brought me the large thin pita to demonstrate (their hand-made ones) which had been pulled apart (I understand this is the way one normally makes thin pita chips). But the pita was sooo light and feathery, not leathery. The topping was a LOT of zatar and what else, I don't know.

                                                                                I had an appetizer of hummus - A nice Lebanon olive on top. Along with a Lebanon Noir glass of wine that he recommended instead of my order of an Argentinian Malbec. The Lebanon Noir was more appropriate with the food ordered.

                                                                                The 'side' salad (or the salad that came with a kabob type of thingie) was also the best I've EVER had. No clue as to how it was dressed except he said sumac was used.

                                                                                The dental receptionist said that she had a couple of friends of this restaurant who recommended it. (Belly dancers there at night sometimes, I guess. - but it certainly doesn't look like a place that would have belly dancers.- whatever that connotates.)

                                                                                Thanks again for the Culpepper town restaurant recommendation.

                                                        3. re: greeneggsnham

                                                          Sorry to hear about your clam experience. We cook clams and mussels frequently, haven't had the grit problem that some people complain about. I used to do the cornmeal treatment on clams, where you soak them in water with cornmeal dusted on top. It supposedly causes them to open up and release the grit. I stopped doing that once I realized the ones we buy locally aren't gritty, but you might try that if you dare to attempt them again.

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            Thanks for reminding me of that tip, LN. I'd definitely be willing to give it a shot. I really do love clams, and would love to cook with them.

                                                          2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                            Sorry to hear that your clams were terribly gritty. There are many ways to encourage clams to purge their impurities. We just put the clams in heavily salted water for about 30 minutes.

                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                              LN and BigSal, Thanks for the tips! Will file that away and try that on the next mollusk go around. The clams really did taste good, so there is motivation to try again.

                                                        4. Roasted Asparagus, with Gingered Rhubarb Sauce (except I didn't) p. 143.

                                                          I probably wouldn't feel right about reviewing this recipe, since I did not make it with gingered rhubarb sauce but rather with one of the variations listed under "What Else?" --except I really liked the asparagus as I made them. Sans rhubarb-ginger sauce, but avec a good handful of stemmed and sliced shitake mushrooms, also tossed with EVOO and s & p, plus a sprinkling of grated parmesan added 3 minutes before all was done. Thus simplified, it was an uncomplicated side dish for the fish I made, on p. 132: Pan Roasted Pacific Halibut (I substituted swordfish) with Spring Onions and Honey Balsamic. And so easy. I roasted the asparagus and mushrooms on a baking sheet at 450F for 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, adding the Parm cheese (could also be crumbled feta) after about 12 minutes, and then served.

                                                          I just don't think I will ever bother to roast those pencil-thin asparagus spears again. They get limp and wrinkly too soon. I loved how the the thick spears turned out and that is what I am glad to have learned from this recipe.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                            I agree with you, Goblin. I think it was a roasting recipe in the Essential NYT Cookbook which turned me on to roasting plump asparagus stems in a hot oven. Loved it and have never wanted those pencil thin stems anymore.

                                                            I often roast them with just EVOO and S&P. Adding shitake and parmesan sounds like it could only make it better! Maybe I'll try it that way next time.

                                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                              GG&H, that's exactly what I served for a last-minute simple side yesterday for Easter dinner--just fat roasted asparagus spears with EVOO and S & P. If people wanted some acidity, I had lemon slices available, but people seemed to be perfectly happy just with the simplicity of the basic roasted spears-flavor. I don't even peel them anymore; just rinse, snap them in half, toss the tops with the oil and seasonings, and stick them in the hot oven. So good!

                                                            2. re: Goblin

                                                              Roasted Asparagus, with Gingered Rhubarb Sauce p. 143

                                                              Asparagus and rhubarb are FINALLY starting to come into season here and I couldn't wait to make this recipe. My bf's mother gifted us both asparagus and rhubarb from her garden, so I was quite happy that this recipe turned out so well. Goblin describes the roasting above, the sauce comes together very quickly while the asparagus roasts. After browning butter in a skillet, you add minced garlic and grated ginger and cook for a minute. Rhubarb is stirred in and the pan gets covered for it to melt into the sauce (5 minutes). Then you stir in honey to taste and pour over the aspargus. You're supposed to also add chives, but I didn't have any. As Melissa warns, it's not a beautiful dish, but it's so tasty that it doesn't matter. This is on the list to repeat. I just wish rhubarb stayed in season longer!

                                                            3. Pan-Roasted Pacific Halibut with Spring onions and Honey Balsamic, p. 132.

                                                              I really wanted to like this, especially since i had splurged on some gorgeous wild-caught swordfish (halibut was not available today). First a sort of confit of caramelized onions is made from olive oil, sliced sautéed spring onions, (I used the alternative of Vidalia as suggested) and fresh thyme branches, with balsamic vinegar and honey added to simmer down gently. When done, this mixture is removed from the pan and the fish filets or steaks are browned in the same skillet until done. Then a bit more balsamic vinegar is added before the fish is topped with the caramelized onion mixture and served. More thyme leaves and chopped chives are sprinkled on as garnish.

                                                              The result is nicely browned fish filets/ steaks topped with a sauce made up of the sharpness of briny vinegar and the mellow sweetness of the honey. The browned onions add sweetness as well. My husband loved it; I wasn't totally impressed. It just didn't seem right with fish--more appropriate for pork or another meat. I did add several drops of lemon juice to brighten the flavor.

                                                              But I must admit the confit was a pleasant augmentation to the roasted asparagus I served as a side, as well as the simple pilaf of Arborio rice.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                Pan-Roasted Pacific Halibut with Spring onions and Honey Balsamic, p. 132.

                                                                Our grocery store had some really fresh halibut this week, so I gave this recipe a go. The balsamic flavor was a bit overpowering for me, but overall this was a quick and easy dish. I served it with couscous and the Wilted Collard Greens with Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil on p. 83.

                                                                1. re: Goblin

                                                                  Pan-Roasted Pacific Halibut with Spring onions and Honey Balsamic

                                                                  This didn't hit the mark for me. I used haddock, my store never has halibut, and if they do I make a favorite recipe from 660 Curries using it. They both start with H, that's close enough, right? I also used vidalia onion. I love onions. I love caramelized onions. These are not what I'd consider caramelized. It takes way longer than 3 minutes to caramelize onions properly. So it cheats, using balsamic and honey to sweeten them up. I thought they were way too sweet and just overpowered the fish. The fish cooked in the pan with the leftover balsamic and onion bits was very good though. It was just enough to flavor it, without adding the splash of extra vinegar at the end.

                                                                  1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                    I find it really funny that I posted this just a few days before this was published: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/sc...

                                                                    1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                      Hah! So very true. And the writer's conclusion is spot on. Caramelize your onions in advance, while doing something else (like preparing a different dinner). Then you'll have them ready. Slow caramelization gives better results anyhow.

                                                                      1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                        Great Article - thanks for posting - a fun read.

                                                                        I've not looked on youtube, but I wonder how many cooks will post in 'real time' their method of carmelizing onions. A pretty boring cooking technique/ lesson, heh?

                                                                    2. re: Goblin

                                                                      I made this recipe last night with quite a few modifications, and we enjoyed it very much! For the fish I used a pound of ling, which is like a very small cod, and also similar to flounder. For the spring onions I used a large bunch of red scallion-type onions, including the green parts, along with a half bunch of green shallots (bulbs only). Because it seemed to make more sense with the shape of my onions, I thinly sliced the whites and cut the greens into one-inch lengths.

                                                                      I'm not sure where I found the recipe, as I have been cooking from recipes found on-line, but the version I used was called Pan-Fried Halibut with Balsamic Glaze and did not call for honey. Additionally, I opted to replace a bit of the balsamic vinegar with red wine vinegar to cut the sweetness further. (My balsamic vinegar is aged and quite sweet, it's more the "finishing" type of vinegar.) This is what I did:

                                                                      Sauteed my onions with thyme branches and s&p (I used extra thyme) for three minutes covered, three minutes uncovered (I actually let them go a bit longer to make sure they were soft enough for my son to eat). Then stirred in 1T of balsamic vinegar, let it reduce briefly, and turned the onions into a bowl. The onions were quite sweet done this way and I think adding honey would have been overkill. Added more olive oil into the pan, browned the fish (which took just a few minutes as my fillets were very small), and added 1T of balsamic and 1T of red wine vinegar to the pan. Plated the fish, poured pan juices on top along with the onions.

                                                                      I thought this was a very nice dish and not too sweet at all. It was a good use for spring onions, quick and easy, and I would definitely make it again. Served with the Quinoa with Brown Butter, Garlic and Arugula (reviewed separately), and the two went together nicely.

                                                                    3. Green (regular) Peach Salad with Lime and Basil (p. 180)

                                                                      I just have to see the words lime and basil together for my mouth to start watering, so this was a must for us. I got the hardest peaches I could find, and still they weren't really very hard. Didn't matter. Really pleasant salad. I think mango would be great in this too, and maybe some other fruits. Basically just sliced peaches with salt, pepper, olive oil, lime juice and basil. Served it with Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons. The meal was thoroughly enjoyed by the family.

                                                                      1. (Whole Wheat) PIzza with (the very first cherry tomatoes, olives and tuna) p. 182

                                                                        So with the number of modifications I made, its hardly fair to review this recipe, but I really liked it, so I'll write it up anyway. This is a pretty simple yeast dough for pizza with the notable details being that it uses part whole wheat flour and that she instructs that the dough must be refrigerated overnight to develop its flavor.

                                                                        I actually was drawn to this recipe because I had some whole wheat flour that had been in the pantry for too long and I am in a use it or lose it type of mood. I have never made a whole wheat bread that I really liked, but pizza with a part whole wheat crust seemed like a pretty palatable introduction to whole grains for the kids. Well, unfortunately, when it came time to make the dough, my whole wheat flour actually had a use by date in 2010 and smelled very musty. So that got thrown in the compost, and I forged ahead with all purpose flour.

                                                                        The crust is easy to make-- I put it together in a stand mixer with a dough hook. My only change (aside from the lack of whole wheat flour, was I cut the salt back slightly from 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp to just 1 Tbsp-- I thought that was plenty.) She says not to knead, but just mix until supple and smooth. So once this came together I put in an oiled bowl and into the fridge.

                                                                        I actually let my dough rest 36 hours and then 3 days to make pizza on 2 separate occasions. After coming up to room temp for 30 minutes, the dough was pretty easy to work with. I just cut it into pieces and let the kids shape it into circles. No kneading needed. She has a recipe for toppings, but I was in a clean out the fridge mood and wanted the kids to make their own pizzas so I just put out what we had and let everyone make their own.

                                                                        The first night I put a cast iron skillet on the Weber and did grilled pizzas which worked out well. Tonight, I just baked them in the toaster/convection over which was pretty easy and worked well. She has directions for baking at 500 then broiling which seems like a good idea. Because I made 5 small pizzas in succession and only 2 would fit in the oven at one time, I just put the toaster on convection roast at 450 (as high as it will go) and let them cook about 6-8 minutes.

                                                                        This was a lot of fun and the pizzas were really good. Especially tonight, the dough did have a very nice complex flavor. I was gathering up all my kids crusts to eat myself. Will make this again-- I may even have to resupply myself with whole wheat flour to try the healthy version.

                                                                        1. Green poached eggs with spinach and chives p.112

                                                                          I loved this. It felt very healthy and virtuous but satisfying at the same time. I over-cooked the eggs (I like mine runny) as they looked very liquid after 3 minutes poaching so I did them a bit longer, but after 3 more minutes off the heat they were overcooked. So take them off the heat when they still look very undercooked. But I still enjoyed it very much - the lemon zest, chives and scallions with the spinach gave it lots of flavor.

                                                                          1. Garlicky Mussels with White Wine and Ramps (p. 138)

                                                                            I love ramps. I try to eat a lot of them during their short season, and so of course I am always looking for new ways to cook them. When I saw that my farmers market had ramps AND green garlic AND mussels, I had no choice but to try this recipe! It was a winner. It was also dead easy.

                                                                            Sautee finely chopped green garlic and ramp stems in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add 1/2 cup white wine, let it reduce by half, dump in your mussels, let them steam for 5-10 minutes until done. At the end, you scoop the mussels out with a slotted spoon and add 2 TB butter to the juices along with the finely chopped ramp greens and s/p to taste. In my case, I followed the recipe as written, except that I cooked 4 pounds of mussels instead of 2 pounds (I did not double the broth).

                                                                            This was so good, and did I mention quick and easy? Served with crusty bread (so good dipped into the ramp broth) and the Frisee Salad with Bacon and Eggs, review to follow.

                                                                            About the ramps: ramps are a wild onion that grow in the NE -- I'm not sure how big the range is but I've never seen them on the west coast. They are fairly pungent and taste like a cross between leeks and garlic. They are one of the earliest fresh vegetables to come up in the spring, and their season is fleeting. If ramps are not available to you you could just use extra green garlic or chives or any other kind of wild spring onion-type thing that grows in your neck of the woods. This recipe is a good use of ramps, but the flavor is a bit muted by the mussels, butter, and green garlic. For more intense rampiness, you could omit the garlic entirely and use a few extra ramps, or make ramp pasta or pesto or soft scrambled eggs instead.

                                                                            1. Frisee Salad with Bacon and Eggs (p. 135)

                                                                              I decided to make this delicious salad to go with the mussels with ramps (reviewed above), for a classic spring bistro meal. Great combo! This is basically a traditional frisee au lardon, I'm not sure there are any special Melissa Clark touches to the recipe, but it is a good one nonetheless. Make a quick viniagrette with a smashed garlic clove, mustard, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Crisp and crumble some bacon, and thinly slice a scallion. Toss it all with frisee and top with poached eggs and optional blue cheese. In my case, I chose to leave out the blue cheese as I felt our meal was decadent enough already, and I soft-boiled the eggs and cut them into wedges, as I have yet to overcome my fear of poaching eggs at home. I also decided to toss everything together in a big salad bowl, rather than plating individual salads. I found the salad a little underdressed as written (maybe because my boiled eggs were less runny than a poached egg would have been), so I added a bit more olive oil and vinegar, and also ground quite a bit of black pepper on top of everything. Wow, it was a great salad! Just loved it, and I'm sure it would be even better with the blue cheese. If you are a blue cheese lover and feel you can spare the calories, I would say go for it.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                Frisee Salad with Bacon and Eggs (p. 135)

                                                                                I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this salad. Frisee is not my favorite, but I got a huge head in my CSA box last week, and I decided to give this recipe a go since I love runny egg yolk and blue cheese. Yum. I am not normally a salad-as-a-meal person, but between the bacon, two eggs, and pile of blue cheese this salad was filling and satisfying on its own. I didn't think the salad was dry at all, but I did have very rich, runny yolks from my poached eggs so maybe that's the difference.

                                                                                1. re: Abby0105

                                                                                  Salade au lardons is one of my all time favorite salad meals. I won't be making her particular version because I don't have any frisée left in the garden, but the only real twist on the classic is the blue cheese. I do wish she had at least mentioned the original French name, though. Leaving it off seems to deceptively imply that it's an entirely new salad she created.

                                                                              2. CHICKEN WITH GREEN GARLIC AND LEMON THYME

                                                                                This was officially my first meal from my garden this year. My lemon thyme came back this spring and even though it is still very small, I've had my eye on it for a while and decided I could get enough from it to make this. I used regular garlic - the farmers market doesn't open until May 1 and I'm not even sure if I've ever seen green garlic there. I'll definitely look because this was very good! French inspired recipes like this are probably my weakest area in terms of cooking skills, but it turned out very well (just not as pretty as the picture). I actually skinned the chicken -probably a mistake, but we don't usually eat it and I like maximum flavor in the flesh, not the skin. It didn't stick too much, though it didn't brown as nice as if it had skin. The sauce was to die for, it had so much flavor. It was delicious spooned over the chicken and the quinoa. I would definitely make this again, but for our small family I'd probably do thighs, or even (sacrilege, I know) boneless skinless breasts.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                  I'll have to take a look at this recipe. I *do* have green garlic in the garden, and I think my lemon thyme is big enough to spare a few sprigs. Thanks for reviewing it.

                                                                                  1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                    We're making this skillet chicken recipe tonight and I'm going to leave the skin on,,, cuz,,, we love crisp skin. The quinoa in my pantry is old and should be tossed so I'll have to decide what to cook in its stead. Maybe brown rice. Thanks for reporting on it Sarah.

                                                                                  2. QUINOA WITH BLACK PEPPER, BROWN BUTTER, AND ARUGULA

                                                                                    I served this along with the skillet chicken with lemon thyme. The recipe suggests boiling the quinoa in lots of water and then draining it. I tried it, but I think I prefer my usual method of making quinoa - just putting the exact amount of water in and putting it over very low heat. I've never had it not turn out that way, and I don't have to pay such close attention, or try and judge when it's cooked perfectly. My grocery store didn't have arugula, so I took a page from Melissa Clark's book, so to speak, and used escarole. As an aside, I really wish I had the confidence and inventiveness she has when adjusting recipes to fit what she has on hand, but I guess that's why she writes cookbooks and I buy them! I'm not sure what I'd think of this recipe as written - not bad, nice way to slip a few more greens and whole grains into our diet, that's about it. But with the sauce from the skillet chicken poured over it, it was just to die for. I never would have thought of that combo, and I wasn't sure it would be good, but it was beyond good, an excellent side for the chicken.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                      Sounds like you did a great job of adapting w that recipe sarah...forging ahead w escarole. It's funny you just posted this because I'd just flagged this for dinner tomorrow night but I think I'll pass now because I was hoping for something really flavourful and it sounds like it was your sauce that really brought the party to life. Thanks for posting!

                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                        I made this a while ago Breadcrumbs and I really liked it. The brown butter flavor really shone through and against the peppery arugula it was a well balanced side. I ate leftovers for lunch the next day and loved it on its own too.

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          I think if you want to really up the flavor you could cook it in chicken broth using the steaming method.

                                                                                        2. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                          I served this along with the Pan-Roasted Halibut with Spring Onions and Balsamic, and it was a pleasant side. I was short on arugula and wished I had the full 4 oz called for, or even more, because it really cooks down a lot. I also subbed green garlic for regular garlic, used a whole bulb added to the brown butter at the same time as the arugula, and as usual I could barely taste the garlic at all. This dish would never be the centerpiece of a meal, but it is a nice side. The flavors went well with the fish, and I could imagine this dish going well with any number of other kinds of sauteed or roasted proteins. It is super quick and easy, healthy, and the ingredients are available year round, so I can imagine repeating this one quite a bit.

                                                                                        3. Seared Wild Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers, p. 168

                                                                                          I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I don't cook seafood nearly often enough. I should really make it more often because this dish was quick, easy, and delicious. We've been doing a lot of salads with cucumbers lately and even some brief stir-fries with them, but the cucumbers in this was something different after absorbing the brown butter. They were probably my favorite part of the dish. We tend to do small protein portions, so I had scaled the recipe in half and was a bit worried that 1 tbsp of butter wouldn't be enough, but the cucumber released enough moisture to keep the dish saucy without being overly greasy. To make, butter is browned in a skillet. Salmon is cooked skin-side up for a couple of minutes and then diced cucumber is added around the fish, stirring to coat with the delicious butter, and everything is cooked for a few more minutes. The fish is flipped and then chopped garlic is added to the cucumbers and everything is cooked until the fish is done. Basil or mint (I used basil) is added to the cucumbers and the salmon is served topped with the herb-cucumber sauce and lime wedges.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                            Mmm that sounds truly scrumptious TxinMtl!! Your description of those cucumbers coated with the brown butter had me salivating!

                                                                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                              I was looking at this one the other day. Sounds like it was a hit. Those cucumbers really make me so curious. And I liked her idea of serving soba noodles with sesame oil as a side - nice and simple.

                                                                                              1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                Seared Wild Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers, p 168

                                                                                                This one got mixed reviews with us. I followed the recipe pretty faithfully using previously frozen wild salmon and both basil and mint for the herb finish. My one substitution was lemon for lime. The salmon was delicious seared in brown butter. Timing was pretty accurate and the salmon got a beautiful golden sear on it. I wasn't totally enamoured of the cucumbers though. I wanted to try it because I have never cooked cucumbers before. But I probably won't cook cucumbers again. Just wasn't really my thing. Certainly not bad, but not really what I wanted out of a vegetable or a cucumber. My husband actually somewhat disliked the cucumbers and refused to eat them. Salmon was all gone, but cucumbers left behind on every plate.

                                                                                                I did follow MC's suggestion and serve with soba noodles with soy and sesame oil. A nice quick and simple side dish which would complement many things. I'll have to remember that because soba noodles often languish in my pantry.

                                                                                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                  Seared Wild Salmon with Brown Butter Cucumbers, p. 168

                                                                                                  Made this on Friday with a gorgeous piece of wild salmon. The salmon itself came out well, but I thought the dish was only OK. Served with suggested accompaniment of soba noodles tossed with a bit of sesame oil and salt (and I added a spash of rice vinegar as well). I have to say that my toddler loved the fish and the noodles. We didn't save him any cucumbers, but he probably would have liked those as well. For me, the brown butter cucumber sauce was lacking a bit of excitement. Although in re-reading the recipe I now realize that I completely forgot to add the lime, and MC does say that the dish needs an acid component to bring it together. I'm sure it would have been better with the lime, but with lots of salmon recipes out there to try, I'm not sure whether I will be returning to this one.

                                                                                                2. Coconut Fudge Brownies (pg. 127)

                                                                                                  LOVED this. It was a huge hit with book group and with C. This is more of a fudgy brownie (duh, given the name) and I was always more partial to cakey brownies. Well, this brownie may have changed my mind. It's a layer of brownie, a layer of sweet coconut flakes, a layer of brownie, topped with sweet coconut flakes and a sprinkling of fleur de sel.

                                                                                                  The slightly different thing in this recipe was the oil. It's a combo of melted butter and coconut oil. That coconut oil just gave it the extra coconutty goodness.

                                                                                                  Note: this brownie recipe is for a 9 x 13 pan. There isn't a lot of batter. I put too much on the bottom layer. After I sprinkled the middle with coconut, I tried to add the top layer. I didn't have enough. So, instead of having a coconut layer sandwiched between the brownie layers, most of my coconut was on the top part. It didn't matter though, it was still delicious.

                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    These are definitely on my list. Thanks for letting us know they're as good as they sound!

                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                      Would anyone who has this book be willing to paraphrase this one? I've got bake sale duty tomorrow and this sounds like a hit. Gonna have to make an extra batch for home though! TIA.

                                                                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                                                                        Sorry to reply to my own post, but belatedly realized that most Melissa Clark recipes are online. Found this link for anyone else interested -- appears to be accurate as far as I can tell. My 7 y.o. just looked at the recipe and gave his wide-eyed approval -- the fleur de sel took it over the top for him oddly enough.
                                                                                                        http://relishingit.com/2011/10/12/coc...

                                                                                                        1. re: mebby

                                                                                                          Here's the recipe; I have the book from the library, and the link doesn't have any changes other than slightly paraphrasing the instructions. If you sub butter for the coconut oil, the butter should be melted, per Clark.

                                                                                                          http://relishingit.com/2011/10/12/coc...

                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            Thanks, Caitlin!

                                                                                                            1. re: mebby

                                                                                                              Funny, we posted at exactly the same time, but glad I could confirm your impression of the link's accuracy.

                                                                                                        2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          Made these for a 6th grade bake sale and they were a big hit with young and old. The fleur de sel on top was great and I'd probably even add a bit more next time around . I did use the coconut oil as well and agree that it's a nice touch -- subtle but another layer of flavor. I will definitely repeat.

                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                            I recently made these, too. Love, love, love! Except that I couldn't keep my hands off of them, so I shan't be making them regularly.

                                                                                                          2. Honey-Roasted Carrot Salad with Arugula and Almonds, p. 177

                                                                                                            This salad was good, but not quite as outstanding as I was hoping for. Part of that was due to a technical error on my part. She suggests using butternut squash as a substitute for carrots and as much as I'm loathe to admit it given the winter's squash overload, I think I would've enjoyed that variation more.

                                                                                                            To make, 1/2" rounds of carrots are roasted after being tossed with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper for 25 minutes. While it roasts, a mixture of honey, oil, water, and salt is whisked together. Some of the mixture is tossed with almonds and the rest is reserved to go with the carrots. I knew when I was putting the almonds in that I was going to burn them in the 5 - 7 minutes suggested for roasting. Did I watch them more closely? No, I still got distracting by preparing the shrimp for the main dish. 7 minutes later, I had burnt almonds and un-caramelized carrots that were not fully tender. We both like carrots with a bit of a bite left to them, so that worked out more or less okay, but I felt like we were missing some of the sweetness. The few almonds that were salvaged were very nice. Once the carrots and nuts cool, they're tossed with arugula and a vinaigrette of oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. I like the idea of peppery arugula with the sweetness of carrots and almonds quite a bit and it was a very pretty salad, but the taste seemed to be missing something. She suggests adding some Dijon mustard to the dressing to tart it up a bit and I may try that next time (along with pulling the nuts out sooner and leaving the carrots in longer).

                                                                                                            1. Pan-fried Asparagus with Ramps, Lemon and Fried Eggs (p. 141)

                                                                                                              This is an easy and tasty dish. Of course I had to try it because it features some of my favorite ingredients - I love just about everything that goes into this dish. To start, sautee chopped ramp stems and lemon slices in butter. Add a little more butter, asparagus (cut into 2 inch pieces), and finely chopped ramp greens, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes until the asparagus is done. Top with a fried egg. It all sounds pretty good, and it is, especially when you can get a lot of the sauteed ramps in a bite with the asparagus. However. One of my favorite ways to cook asparagus is to pan-roast it, then top with a fried egg and parmigiano reggiano. And I think I like that very simple dish even better than this one.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                Pan-fried Asparagus with Ramps, Lemon and Fried Eggs (p. 141)

                                                                                                                This dish was an introduction to ramps for me. Before today, I'd never had them. I saw them at the farmer's market yesterday. This was a great lunch and a great introduction to ramps. It is super easy. I used preserved lemon as she suggested it as an option.

                                                                                                              2. Roast Chicken Legs with Smoked Paprika, Blood Orange and Ginger (pg.117)

                                                                                                                I probably won't make this again. It was ok, just not my favorite. I had the same issue as Karen_Schaffer with flabby skin.

                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8378...

                                                                                                                I thought a decent amount of flavor made it into the meat (especially the orange and ginger), though I didn't taste any heat. I did sub smoked sweet paprika for hot because that's what I had on hand, but I also used a good size jalapeno, so I was surprised. The recipe definitely gets points for ease of execution - I got the chicken marinating while hubby did dishes the night before, so all I had to do for dinner was pop it in the oven. I'm sure with some tweaking I could get a result I liked better, but with so many other good recipes for roasted chicken thighs out there, I probably won't bother.

                                                                                                                1. Curried Coconut Tomato Soup, p. 106

                                                                                                                  I had high expectations for this recipe because the combination of curry seasoning, tomatoes, and coconut milk (all things I love) sounded divine, but this just didn't live up to the dish I had created in my mind. The curry and coconut flavors weren't present enough for me and I like my tomato soups to be a bit thicker, although to be fair she did warn that it was a brothy soup. I did make some changes so perhaps those are to blame and a lot of this is just my personal preference, so I'd be curious to hear other opinions.

                                                                                                                  To make, sliced onion is cooked until tender in melted butter with a bit of salt. Curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chili is added and they cook for a minute. I think I should've doubled all of these to give the soup more oomph. Canned tomatoes (I used fresh due to a CSA overload) are added and then she calls for 4 cups of water. I put in 2.5 (my tomato measuring may've been a bit higher than it was supposed to be though). It's then simmered for 20 minutes. The soup is blended (I used my immersion) and you whisk in 1 can coconut milk and 1/2 cup of cream from the top of a second can. I didn't have a second can and skipped this. It might've accounted for the difference in the coconut flavor, but I don't think it's to blame for the soup being too brothy for my taste given how much I cut back on the water. More salt is added to the dish and the soup is cooked for another 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

                                                                                                                  The final result wasn't bad, it just wasn't what I wanted for this dish. I was fortunate enough to be able to work from home today, so when I reheated the leftovers, I simmered the soup for about 30 minutes until it was quite thick. It was much closer to what I crave in a tomato soup. I just wish I had added some extra curry powder to it.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                                                                    I made this soup last night, primarily to use up some old bits of onion and leftover coconut milk that were languishing in the fridge. I used the recipe posted here, which may not be exactly like the original: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                                                                                                                    I basically halved the recipe, using a smallish onion, a box of Pomi tomatoes, and half the butter and spices. I added just a tiny bit of water (maybe 1/2 cup) and 3-4 oz of coconut milk (what I had leftover from a 5 oz can). I think more coconut milk would have been nice, but I didn't have it. Before blending, I was pretty doubtful about the soup (it seemed thin and bland) but after whizzing in my immersion blender and adding a bit more salt, it turned out to be pretty good. This was very easy to put together and would make a great lunch, especially if combined with a grilled cheddar and chutney sandwich.

                                                                                                                  2. Rhubarb Ginger Compote, p. 145

                                                                                                                    This recipe is a variation of the asparagus with gingered rhubarb sauce on p. 143. I made a half recipe by combining 1 pound of chopped rhubarb, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, and about 1/4 cup of water in a small pot and simmering, covered, until the rhubarb collapsed. I have really been enjoying this. My version is very gingery and quite tart, and I like to eat it straight with a spoon! I've also been stirring it into Greek yogurt with a bit of extra honey. I think it would be fantastic with pancakes or French toast or on top of vanilla ice cream.

                                                                                                                    1. Pasta with Garlic Scapes Pesto, Sugar Snap Peas, and Ricotta, p. 165

                                                                                                                      Wow, we just loved this dish. A simple pesto is made with cilantro, garlic scapes, parmigiano, toasted pine nuts and olive oil. The pesto is tossed with pasta and thinly sliced sugar snap peas (snow peas in my case) that have been sautéed in butter. The whole thing is topped with a dollop of fresh ricotta. She recommends using cavatelli for the pasta. I used small shells instead, but I would go for the cavatelli if possible. So this cilantro-garlic scape pesto is probably the best pesto I've ever made. It was really, really good. I highly recommend making this dish before garlic scapes go out of season.

                                                                                                                      21 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                        This sounds amazing. Do you think you could substitute chives or green onions for the garlic scapes?

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          Hmmmm, I'm not sure. Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but fresher/greener/milder. I think I would be inclined to just sub garlic, the younger the better, or maybe a combo of chives and garlic so you get a bit of that young green flavor mixed in. I wouldn't do green onions. She says that you can use basil instead of cilantro for the herb component, so as an alternative you could try making a regular basil pesto and combining it with the sugar snaps, ricotta and cavatelli. I'm sure that would be delicious also.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                          Every summer I preserve scapes by running them through the FP with a bit of oil, freezing in ice-cube trays and once frozen, storing in freezer bags. I have not tried making pesto but usually add some to the hot pasta or soup or stew or scrambled eggs or to anything that could benefit from bright garlicy flavour of the scapes.

                                                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                                                            DH says that scapes should be taken off to preserve the energy for the growth of the garlic. So I have a few in my refrigerator that I 'was' going to make a scape pesto out of, but I think I'm going to do it your way. And, I'm going to add a few today in a vegetable beef soup.

                                                                                                                            My thoughts on the MC recipe calling it Garlic Scapes Pesto, whereby it only has 1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic to the other greens, that perhaps it would be better named - at least to me - Pesto with Garlic Scapes, or something to that effect, because the other green ingredient is the main ingredient - perhaps one could argue the point regarding weight, vs. volume.

                                                                                                                            However, a Scape pesto recipe I have used calls for all garlic scapes to "about" the same amount of oil and seeds/nuts of her recipe.

                                                                                                                            I noticed that the garlic scapes that DH picked from the garden this year might be not 'young' enough to make the scapes pesto, the reason I'm hoping to preserve them per your helpful hint.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                              Rella, process them well and they will be fine. I usually buy scapes at a farmers' market and they are not all the same age even if picked from the same farm.

                                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                In the food processor, my scapes with Spanish EVOO, and I was so frugal that I added a little water to my fp bowl to save what I couldn't scrape out - will add to my beef-vegetable soup today.

                                                                                                                                It looks like I could after processing this well, as you suggested, made a scape pesto as well, or instead, by adding some nuts and cheese and more olive oil.

                                                                                                                                Thanks again for your suggestion!

                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                  You are most welcome:) It looks beautiful! I need to find some scapes but it is too early in the season.

                                                                                                                            2. re: herby

                                                                                                                              That seems like a good idea. I love garlic scapes, but I have to admit that until now a substantial part of the appeal for me has been their appearance! I just love the curly shape. I often struggle with using scapes appropriately, though, because like green garlic they lose a lot of flavor when cooked. I think pesto is a great application because the scapes are uncooked, so the mild garlic flavor can really shine. Something else I've done this year that worked out really well was to fold lightly sauteed scapes and fresh goat cheese into soft-scrambled eggs.

                                                                                                                            3. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                              Pasta with Garlic Scapes Pesto, Sugar Snap Peas and Ricotta p. 165

                                                                                                                              Westminstress, thank you for highlighting this recipe. Truth be told, I was not smitten with this book and would probably not have taken another look it.

                                                                                                                              The pesto was absolutely delicious! We made this with peas instead of sugar snap peas (did not saute them in butter) and jamon Serrano. This was my second time cooking with garlic scapes (a couple days ago I made one of the new Fucshia Dunlop recipes using scapes too) and I can't wait to find more recipes that use them. The pesto was a big hit and I plan to try the basil variation too.

                                                                                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                BigSal, I'm a huge fan of garlic scapes too! I'm making a garlic scape pesto for some pasta tonight! Since you said you're going to be on the lookout for other recipes, here's one that we love. It originally appeared in a local magazine however I found it online. If you like salmon, I'd highly recommend this dish:

                                                                                                                                Spinach and Garlic Scape Salsa with Salmon:

                                                                                                                                http://www.thegarlicbox.com/products/...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                  I had just a bit of scapes and evoo (maybe 3 or 4T) left from yesterday that I thought I'd make a touch of pesto this evening, but then realizing that I'm having salmon fillets tomorrow, I decided to use it on the salmon. Not as a salsa or pesto, just smear it on top of the salmon after it is done.

                                                                                                                                  Your recipe link Spinach and Garlic Scape salsa look very good, thanks.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                    Thanks, Breadcrumbs. The recipe sounds great!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                      Bc,

                                                                                                                                      I just wanted to report back that we tried a modified version of the recipe (omitted the parmesan and butter from the pesto). We ate the spinach and garlic scape salsa with Copper River Salmon and enjoyed it quite a bit. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for reporting back BigSal, so glad you enjoyed it. Your variation sounds lovely.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the report, my son has been asking for more salmon so I think I will give this recipe a try, probably with your variation, BigSal. Though I have to say that I am confused by the recipe where it says to "slice salmon scallops off the skin" -- do they just mean to remove the skin and if so did you do this? I have never cooked salmon without the skin in my life (and I grew up in Seattle - we ate a lot of salmon!). I'm also completely confused by the direction to "place scallops on a plate and make slices about 1 to 2 inches apart" - what does this mean? BigSal/BC, how did you cook your salmon?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                            Westminstress I checked the original recipe in the magazine and the instructions were more clear. All you want to do is to slice the salmon into approx 4oz pieces which she imagines will be achieved by spacing your cuts 1 - 2 inches apart depending on the thickness of your salmon. FWIW, I never remove the skin from my salmon.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                              Thanks, that is much clearer! I will give this recipe a try and report back.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                              I hope you enjoy it. We just grilled the fillet (skin-on...I love the skin!) outside and then served it with the scape pesto. Because we omitted the cheese and butter in the pesto, I suspect our pesto tasted *stronger *(which we didn't mind).The cheese and butter would lend a welcome richness to the pesto (just trying to cut back a little on fat).

                                                                                                                                              I'm on a scape kick and will be using herby's tip to process with olive oil and freeze in cubes to use later in the year. Thanks everyone!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                          Oh, yay, I'm glad you liked it BigSal!

                                                                                                                                        3. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                          Pasta with Garlic Scapes Pesto, Sugar Snap Peas, and Ricotta, p. 165

                                                                                                                                          I saw garlic scapes at the farmer's market this weekend for the first time this year and immediately thought of the discussion here. I used walnuts in place of the pine nuts and added some sliced prosciutto per her suggestion. This was excellent. Thank you for pointing out the recipe.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                                            Pasta with Garlic Scapes Pesto, Sugar Snap Peas and Ricotta - p. 165

                                                                                                                                            I have a couple of variations of this dish to report on. The first time I made the recipe I substituted almonds for the pine nuts since we're a bit nervous about the latter w all the cases of pine mouth being reported. This pesto is almost identical to another I've been making for the past few years and we really enjoyed it on the pasta.

                                                                                                                                            Last night I decided to use the garlic scape pesto recipe from The Farm instead of MC's. I also added some shell peas (suggested in "What Else?") and, since I had 4 big cremini mushrooms to use up, those went in as well. The main difference between MC's pesto and that in The Farm is that the latter calls for pistachios which I would never have considered otherwise. In any event the garlic scape pistachio pesto wins out in our view and was absolutely fabulous. We served this pasta as a side w some grilled chops which I'd coated w some of the pesto.

                                                                                                                                            I think this pasta would be just fine without the ricotta btw.

                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                          2. Pot Roasted Lamb with Meyer Lemon, pg. 103

                                                                                                                                            What a hit! I was a bit skeptical, because hubby and I aren't always big on lemon and I really wasn't sure how we would react to lemon with red meat, but this was yummy.

                                                                                                                                            To make, mash two cloves of garlic into a paste, season a lamb shoulder roast (I used boneless leg of lamb) with salt and pepper, then rub in the paste. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight (mine actually sat for 36 hours or so, no problems there). Bring the lamb to room temperature.

                                                                                                                                            Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven and sear the lamb on all sides. Add the juice of two meyer lemons and enough water to come halfway up the roast. Bring the liquid to a boil.

                                                                                                                                            Transfer to a 325 oven and roast for 45 minutes. Flip the roast, add 3 cloves of minced garlic, and cook 15 more minutes. Stir in the zest of the two lemons you juiced, uncover, and cook 15 more minutes. Take the roast out and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.

                                                                                                                                            That's it! So simple that I was nervous it wouldn't be exciting enough to serve to guests, but it got rave reviews. Would make it again in a heartbeat. Served with a green salad and some roasted potatoes.

                                                                                                                                            1. Creamy Leek Gratin with Parmesan, pg. 100

                                                                                                                                              Blech.

                                                                                                                                              To make this, first boil 4-5 medium leeks in salted water for about ten minutes. Drain and pat dry.

                                                                                                                                              To make the sauce, start with a roux. Melt 3 Tbsp butter, then stir in 3 Tbsp flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in 1 cup of warmed half and half or milk (that's pot #3 so far!!), and cook for a couple minutes more. Add salt, pepper, and a pinch each of nutmeg and cayenne. Wisk in 1/2 pound of Gruyere cheese. I thinned mine a bit with milk at this point because it was the consistency of paste.

                                                                                                                                              Put the leeks in a greased 9x13 pan, cut side up. Pour the cheese sauce over the leeks, then sprinkle with parmesan. Bake at 400 F about 40 min or until bubbling and golden.

                                                                                                                                              What a gooey glob of cheese! I admit, my leeks were a bit small, so my 5 probably weren't the two pounds she called for, but I just don't know if that would help. I plopped some goo on a slice of multigrain bread and ate it like an open faced sandwich with a green salad. On the plus side, all you can really taste was the Gruyere, which I love, but for three pots plus a baking dish, I wanted more. Not even curious enough to try again with larger/more leeks.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Abby0105

                                                                                                                                                Oh I'm sorry to hear this Abby. I'd tabbed this as well and almost made it last weekend as a matter of fact because mr bc asked for leeks w his steak. Thanks for taking one for the team.

                                                                                                                                              2. Obsessive Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie, p189

                                                                                                                                                I'm glad she is obsessive because this was the best cherry pie I've ever made.

                                                                                                                                                First, the pie crust stayed crisp. The crust is made with 1 3/4 C + 2 Tbsp flour, 3/8 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp lard, 13 Tbsp butter, and ice water. This is the first time I've used lard in a pie crust (I generally do all butter) and just that small amount made the dough easier to handle and yet I still had the taste of butter. She first blind bakes the pie crust(using 2/3 of the dough) at 425 F for 30 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                The filling uses 3 Tbsp of instant tapioca. She grinds it in a coffee mill and mixes with 1 cup sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. The sugar mixture is tossed with 2 lbs cherries and 1 tbsp kirsch (I used Gran Marnier).

                                                                                                                                                The filling is placed in the baked shell. The remaining dough is rolled out and cut in circles using a round cookie cutter. The dough circles are arranged on top of the pie, brushed with cream, and sprinkled with demerera sugar. The pie is baked for an hour at 375 F.

                                                                                                                                                In the past, my cherry pies have been too liquidy and the bottom crust has gotten a bit soggy. This one had a nice crisp crust that stayed crisp the next day. The pie filling set up really nicely with the ground tapioca.