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Mar 31, 2012 10:28 PM

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

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

                    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:


                            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.