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

Please use this thread to discuss the chapters in Cook This Now, Winter: January; February; March, pages 7 - 94.

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  1. Chile Coconut Braised Beef Short Ribs (pg. 46)

    This is one of the most visually unappealing dishes ever. When it's cold, it's dun brown. When it's hot, it's dark brown. It's all brown, all the time. But, it is the polar opposite in terms of taste. This is unbelievably delicious. Rich, creamy and just popping with flavors.

    To start, brown the cubes of meat in coconut oil (first time for me using coconut oil.). I think the meat did brown better with coconut oil and it smelled better then usual. I browned in two batches and added the chopped garlic, jalepenos, shallots, and ginger to the browned meat. I was supposed to add cumin seeds but totally spaced. I found the jar of cumin seeds later when I was putting everything away. After sauteeing the beef and aromatics for a few minutes, add a can of coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, salt/pepper and 1/2 cup of water. I may have also forgotten the s/p but I don't remember. Braise in the oven for about 2.5 hours.

    So, a few notes. The oven braise was at 325. After an hour, when I went to flip the meat, I noticed that it was bubbling a lot. So, I turned the oven heat down. I also braised for longer then the 2.5 hours (maybe 3 hours) since I turned the oven down to about 300. I made this the night before so I could skim off the fat before serving. I served this with jasmine rice and didn't garnish with the chopped cilantro or scallions. I served this with roasted cauliflower. Also, Clark recommends making this in a 5 quart dutch oven. I used a 4.5 Le creuset and had to brown the meat in two batches.

    So, the taste, the lime zest and lime juice subtley popped throughout the dish. It just gave the entire dish a little something extra. I highly recommend this dish before spring hits.

    27 Replies
    1. re: beetlebug

      Beetlebug, did you make short ribs from 150 Best and if you did, how do you compare the recipes? Did you actually make ribs? You said "brown the cubes" and this confused me.

      1. re: herby

        I didn't make the short ribs from 150 best. But, the recipes are different from each other. Clark's recipe is with boneless short ribs, cut into chunks. It's more beef stewish but with a coconutty goodness. It all became a melt in your mouth kind of dish.

        1. re: beetlebug

          I have some boneless beef stew meat to use up (not shortribs, I think it's cubes of chuck). Do you think that would work in this recipe? I am not in the mood for a classic beef stew at this time of year and have been trying to think of another way to use up the meat.

          1. re: Westminstress

            I think the boneless stew meat would work well. I usually use chuck for these stews but the boneless short ribs were on sale and about the same price as chuck. Maybe braise for a longer time to get the stew meat to be really tender?

            1. re: beetlebug

              Thanks, I think I'll give it a shot this weekend. One more question, what kind of chili powder did you use, and did you deseed your jalapenos? What was the spice level like at the end? I like spicy but my toddler doesn't so I'm trying to tone things down from what I would normally do.

              1. re: Westminstress

                I used some kind of Penzey's blend for the chile powder (chile 9000 maybe? or 3000?). Anyway, it had cumin in it which made my accidental omission of the cumin seeds less noticeable.

                I didn't de-seed my jalepenos and I didn't taste any spice. But, I also have a high tolerance for spice. I don't think it's a spicy dish though. That coconut milk kind of cuts through and melds everything together.

                  1. re: Westminstress

                    Keep in mind that seed have very little spice - whatever is rubbed onto them - the main hottness is in the flesh of the pepper.

                    1. re: herby

                      Wow, that is not my experience (nor what I've always read). Seeds and ribs seem to hold a lot of the capsaicin heat in my experience, and cookbooks routinely tell you to remove the seeds unless you want more heat.

                      And re jalapeños, unfortunately these days many are not spicy; I always taste them before deciding how much to use or whether to use the seeds and often as not, the flesh is as mild as a green bell pepper but if I use the ribs and seeds, I get some heat.

                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                        Totally agree on jalapenos. 10-15 years ago I would have used one and noticed it. These days I feel I have to use at least a serrano to get the level of heat I like.

                      2. re: herby

                        Forgot to mention that membranes have tons of heat - maybe this is why many cookbooks advise to take seeds out so that the membranes will come out too. Just rinse and taste a seed - super mild with unpleasant texture:) I almost always take seeds out because I do not want their texture in a dish leaving membranes in for the heat.

        2. re: beetlebug

          braised with the lime juice and lime zest already in the sauce? wow, that's different.

          1. re: qianning

            It really was and that lime quality definitely came through in subtle way. It just blended so well with the coconut milk and aromatics.

            1. re: beetlebug

              interesting, i would have thought the lime juice and especially the lime zest would get bitter with slow cooking.

              1. re: qianning

                Not a hint of bitterness, just tanginess. I think, in the past, I've put in long strips of orange zest in with braises. This lime zest I grated so it just disintegrated into the braise.

                1. re: beetlebug

                  Now that I think about it lots of Thai curry pastes contain lime zest, so I don't know why I thought it wouldn't work.

          2. re: beetlebug

            So I am finally reporting on the Chile Coconut Braised Beef [Stew], and I am happy to say that it was a huge hit!!! As beetlebug reports, really a great dish. And very nice for early spring in the NE, when the nights are still cool and spring veggies aren't ready yet, but you still want to eat something bright and fresh tasting.

            Beetlebug does a great job describing the technique so I won't repeat that here. I subbed boneless beef stew meat (which I had in the freezer and wanted to use) for the short ribs, and that substitution worked out great. I used ancho chile powder and did not deseed the jalapenos and the final result was just a little spicy, which was good for us. I used a 51/2 quart dutch oven and browned the beef in one batch in peanut oil. I was actually wishing I browned in two batches because the meat threw off quite a bit of liquid and therefore didn't brown that well, but in the end, I don't think the lack of browning made much of a difference, so I would say just go ahead and brown all the meat at once and don't worry about it.

            I made a couple deviations from the recipe, which I don't recommend. I didn't use a full can of coconut milk because I wanted to save a little bit for the peanut sauce which I plan on making next week. And I didn' t add the half cup of water because the beef threw off so much liquid during the browning stage that by the time the dish was ready to go in the oven, it looked like soup - literally drowning in liquid. I was worried that if I added more liquid it would never reduce. Like Beetlebug, I thought the braising temperature was a bit high and turned the oven down to 300, and I let it go for about 21/2 hours. Well, when I checked it at the 21/2 hour mark, all the liquid had bubbled away and the coconut milk was very thick and solid and almost burning! So I stirred in the 1/2 cup water that I should have used in the first place, and luckily I caught it just in time, so no harm done. At this point the beef was very, very tender so I decided to call it a night and put it in the fridge to have later in the week.

            I have to say that when I tasted the sauce upon pulling it out of the oven, I had my doubts. I found the lime flavor unpleasantly dominant, and I was thinking that I would need to add some brown sugar and fish sauce to balance the flavors. But when I pulled it out of the fridge a few days later, all the flavors had integrated and the dish was completely delicious with no brown sugar or fish sauce needed! I'd never braised beef in coconut milk before, and I just loved how tender and succulent the beef became. The stew was a bit dry so I ended adding back in the coconut milk that I had previously reserved, and I served it with cilantro but no scallions, and I would definitely add cilantro if you have it, both for flavor and for color. Also, if it isn't obvious by now, I would recommend using the full amount of liquid called for in the recipe, and watch the pot carefully near the end of the braising time. I had intended to serve the stew over rice, but it wasn't that saucy, so I skipped the rice and we had it with ovenbaked sweet potatoes and bok choy sauteed with garlic and ginger, and these were just fine as accompaniments.

            In the end, everyone loved this dish. My husband said that if he was served this dish in a restaurant, he would be very impressed, and he asked me to definitely keep the recipe and make it again. My toddler said that it was "too spicy" but that didn't stop him from eating two big bowlfuls of it. And I liked it a lot too.

            1. re: Westminstress

              Thanks for reporting on the stew meat substitution. I had skipped over this because I haven't had much luck with short ribs here. I think I'll save this for when I need a mood lift on a chilly, rainy April day.

            2. re: beetlebug

              OK all you experienced rib cooks... I have a question.
              In spite of many years of cooking, I have no familiarity with ribs. I hear ribs, and I imagine people gnawing on bones with fatty knobs at the end (something from childhood cheap Chinese restaurants, I think). So I have never cooked ribs. But I wanted to cook this dish, after reading the raves. We order meat from a local free-range ranch, I just checked the box that said "beef short ribs," no further info. They arrived yesterday, bone-in. Can I do this recipe with bone-in ribs, or should I save the ribs for something else, and pick up some other boneless meat for this dish?

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                I think it would work fine with bone in short ribs, since all braising-type meats are basically interchangeable (at least they are according to Tamar Adler, and believe me I have felt better since I read that!). When the short ribs get really tender they fall off the bone, so you could always remove the bones after cooking and chop the meat into smaller pieces before reheating and serving. Short ribs are quite fatty so I would definitely plan on cooking in advance so that you can skim the fat. Cooking time should be more or less the same, 21/2-3 hours.

                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  L.Nightshade, if you have not cooked your ribs already, please try the recipe from 150 Best on p.166 - I just had my last frozen portion (with mashed potatoes) last night and OMG delicious:)

                  1. re: herby

                    Oooh, thanks Herby, a wealth of riches now...
                    I got a note form Melissa Clark where she gives me some ideas about using the bone-in ribs, and also refers me to another recipe:
                    The ribs are currently frozen, and we've been working on the ducks, so I'll have some time to weigh the advantages.

                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                      Make sure to report on whichever one you make - I am standing by 150 Best as my go to ribs:)

                      I was considering making these ribs instead of brisket for this year seder but instead went with 150 Best pomegranate brisket - a disaster! I will never again deviate from my T&T brisket recipe but will make short ribs next year hoping that all meat eaters will rejoice:)

                      1. re: herby

                        What is your T&T brisket recipe?

                2. re: beetlebug

                  Chile Coconut Braised Beef Short Ribs, page 46.

                  I ended up with bone-in ribs instead of boneless for this recipe. With advice and encouragement from Melissa Clark (and Westminstress), we finally had these ribs last night. Beetlebug describes the process above, so I won't reapeat that. Here is the advice I received from Ms. Clark:

                  "So I think the recipe will work, but you probably don't have enough meat. The bones weigh a lot. How much meat did you get?

                  Also you'll probably have to use more liquid (water should do it) to fill the pot. For any kind of braised meat - bone in or out - you need the liquid to come about halfway up the meat (then you turn it so all parts get submerged in the simmering liquid at some point, and it all cooks evenly.

                  The amount of liquid I give is for boneless, which is flatter. Bones take up more space. Also they add some fat because of the marrow they leach (which is delicious). I highly suggest if you try this recipe, you make it a day ahead and let it chill in the fridge overnight so you can take off the fat, or it might be greasy.

                  Also if you add extra water to the liquid, you might have to cook the sauce down at the end. After the meat is done, remove it from the pot, then simmer the sauce on the stove until it reaches the right consistency (this is to taste so stop when it pleases you)."

                  I started the process the previous day, with an eye to lifting the solidified fat off of the liquid. My bone-in ribs were only two pounds total weight. But there were just two of us, so that was fine. I used the full amount of all the other ingredients, in a somewhat smaller pot, in order to bring the liquid up halfway on the meat as suggested. The only slight modification I made in the ingredients was with the chile peppers. The Nightshade house has a policy of mixing peppers. We feel that gives more depth and complexity to a dish, as opposed to the heat from a single chile. I used a combination of jalapeno, serrano, yellow, red anaheim, thai bird, and a smidge of habanero, to equal the approximate bulk of two jalapenos. All else went in as written.

                  The small amount of meat was quite done at the end of two hours. I separated the meat from the liquid and refrigerated both. The following day, the fat was lifted out in a smooth, hard disc, and the meat and liquid were reunited and heated. I probably could have reduced the sauce a bit more, or at least served it over rice, but I was carbed out from the prior night's pasta, so Mr. NS sopped the sauce with bread, and I happily ate it with a spoon.

                  This is a fine and fragrant dish, the chiles mingle splendidly with the lime and coconut. It is brown, as beetlebug states, but the red chiles, cilantro, and scallions livened it up quite enough. Definitely repeatable and guest-worthy.

                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                    Going to have to make this one LN... I get great shortribs from a butcher here, bone in, cause that is what I like (that marrow richness!).

                    Thanks for sharing. May get to this Friday. Will report back.

                    Love the idea of coconut and lime with beef. Intriguing. Thanks for sharing the mixed peppers philosophy. Makes much sense!

                  2. re: beetlebug

                    Chile Coconut Braised Beef [with Spinach] (pg. 46)

                    It's been a cold, wet weekend with a chance of snow tonight, so I thought this would be just the dish to lift our spirits given the raves so far. Following Westminstress's report, I used regular beef stew meat instead of boneless short ribs. I only had about a pound of meat, but kept everything else the same because I wanted plenty of sauce (my Dutch oven is also large, so I was worried if I cut down I wouldn't have enough liquid). After we tasted how good it was, I wish I had went ahead and bought another pound of meat. I followed beetlebug's suggestion of reducing the heat to 300F. I had a bag of spinach in the fridge from our CSA box that looked like it needed to be used, so after a little over 2 hours in the oven, I wilted the spinach in batches into the sauce on the stove top over low heat. I thought the spinach added a nice bit of color to the dish and gave plenty of extra opportunities to enjoy the sauce. My scallions were past their prime, so I only garnished with cilantro. This dish is a definite repeat and perhaps next time I'll be able to get some boneless ribs. I'd like to try it with the suggested garam masala variation as well.

                  3. Crispy Roasted Cabbage, Pg. 88

                    Made this roasted cabbage as part of a St. Patrick's Day dinner and I posted my report in Beetlebug's preCOTM thread:


                    Beetlebug made it first and her report is just above mine.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      Crispy Roasted Cabbage – p. 88

                      Oh so delicious!! Thanks so much to those who have covered this before me. Not much to add except my own experience. Tonight our protein of choice was MC’s Quick Grilled Flanken (or Flank Steak in our case). I took my inspiration from that Asian-inspired marinade and basted my Savoy cabbage with sesame oil that I’d infused with garlic and a little Sriracha. This made for such a perfect pairing. Truth be told I could have feasted on this cabbage alone. Totally tasty!
                      Or, as mr bc (aka mr cabbage-hater) said: this doesn't even taste like nasty cabbage and it doesn't smell like garbage either. I like it!

                      Steak review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8418...

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        So MC has converted cabbage and tofu hating husbands. Not bad work.

                        I love cabbage - going to have to try this one, and love your asian take on it.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          Thanks LM, we have 2 slices left over so I mixed up some soy sauce w a little sesame oil and some rice wine vinegar and we'll both be calling it salad for tomorrow's lunch! I honestly loved this and can imagine making it just to have for take-to-work lunch. So delicious!

                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                          That cabbage looks awesome, BC. I have been wanting spring and summery things to match our beautiful warm weather here, but I do have half a cabbage neglected in my crisper. I was thinking about a coleslaw, but your browned cabbage looks so savory. And an asian spin makes it seem more season appropriate to me somehow...

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            Crispy Roasted Cabbage

                            Your delicious pictures made me grab a cabbage when I was at the store this morning. Well, that and the fact I love any vegetable roasted, but am especially fond of roast brassicas. I bought a regular green cabbage and I'm sad to say mine didn't turn out like yours at all. I don't know if it was my oven temperature, a too light hand with the olive oil or what, but mine would not brown. It ended up only browning and burning around the edges where the thin leaves separated and were more exposed. I'm not saying it was bad, but it was just cabbage.

                            1. re: sarahcooks

                              Oh I'm sorry this disappointed sarah. I wonder what happened with the browning? The only thing I did that I don't recall whether or not the recipe directed me to do was to use parchment paper. I tend to use that when I'm roasting things w a potentially uneven surface since the paper tends to adapt whereas the metal pan does not.

                                1. re: sarahcooks

                                  I never thought of using parchment paper for roasting! You're saying that it facilitates browning? What a good idea. But I would worry about the paper potentially burning--or does this not happen because of the juices, etc.?

                                  1. re: Goblin

                                    I love it for browning because it does a good job of getting in nooks and crannies and simplifies clean-up. In my experience, most parchment has a heat tolerance of 450F and I have some that is 500F. I've never had an issue w it burning.

                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      I always use aluminum foil. Such easy clean up!

                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                              BC, that doesn't even look like cabbage anymore! I bet I could completely freak out the Frenchman by serving this for dinner. About as far from French treatments of cabbage as I could get.

                              Love it - going to look for my book in the kitchen, and buy a savoy cabbage:)

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Oh do it gs...I can't wait to hear what he thinks! mr bc even suggested it would be good when he grills his next steak! I hope it tricks the Frenchman....keep us posted!!

                          2. Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives over Polenta, page 76.

                            I made this yesterday, but we've been having internet trouble, so I'm posting today. When I woke up yesterday morning everything was white with snow! A good day for a braised dish.

                            beetlebug describes the process for making the dish and reviews the outcome here:

                            And the entire recipe is also available on Clark's blog here:

                            This was a simple one, and only one pot was used for cooking. The house filled with wonderful aromas while it cooked. I used green beldi olives, and the flavor of olives and rosemary predominated. The anchovies were not evident, but they lent their usual oomph to the other ingredients. The polenta is the perfect foil for the strong flavors. A lovely dish for a cold evening.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              Looks and sounds delicious LN. mr bc isn't a fan of polenta so perhaps I'll serve his atop mashed potatoes. Looking fwd to trying this one.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Not a fan of polenta, what a sad state of affairs! It would be OK on mashed potatoes, I think. Perhaps even over noodles. But I hope you make some on polenta for yourself!

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  I know, very sad isn't it. No grits either and I LOVE shrimp & grits. It's a textural thing for him. Such a shame. Luckily he has other redeeming qualities!! ; - )

                              2. re: L.Nightshade

                                Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Olives over Polenta, page 76

                                It's still not feeling like spring here, so I made this for dinner today. When the bf came home (poor guy had to work today), he was breathing in heavily due to the intoxicating aroma. He's not a huge tomato fan, but it went over well. I greatly enjoyed the dish as well. It's not quick, but it is easy.

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Olives over Polenta, p. 76

                                  I made this wonderful stew earlier in the week -- a fantastic warming dish for the waning days of winter/chilly early spring. I won't review the process for making the dish, which is well described above. This dish was good when first made, but wow! the leftovers were incredible. The brininess of the olives infused the whole dish after a rest in the fridge, and it was just very, very good. For dinner tonight I plan to shred the remaining meat into what's left of the sauce and serve it all over pasta -- and I'm sure it will be wonderful again.

                                2. Coconut Rice and Peas – p. 49 (February)

                                  I’m a sucker for anything coconut so this had immediate appeal. A very simple prep. Coconut milk and water are brought to a boil before adding brown rice and simmering until tender. Mine took about 50 mins. The idea is to add green peas at this point and stir in to incorporate and heat through. I made the rice on the weekend and left the “pea adding” for tonight so I just heated up the rice in a wok and tossed in the peas prior to serving. I should note that I couldn’t seem to resist my urge to add a little Thai flavour to this dish. I added 2 chopped Thai bird chilies to the coconut/water mix along with a little garlic and the zest of a lime. I spritzed lime juice over top prior to serving (alongside some grilled chicken). This was good but not outstanding. I found the rice to be a bit stodgy . . . even when it was freshly made. My coconut milk was very thick so this may have been a factor.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    Coconut Rice and Peas, p. 49

                                    I made this to go with the Vietnamese Steak and Cabbage Salad from the April chapter. I thought it was just OK. I used white rice instead of brown, about 13/4 cups water and 1 tbsp of frozen creamed coconut. Usually I cook rice covered by the absorption method or in lots of boiling water and I find both methods superior to this one, which resulted in some grains soggy and some crunchy at the time I expected the rice to be done. (Note I just added a bit more water and cooked it longer, and all the grains did eventually cook through -- but the rice was not as fluffy as I like.) I will keep looking for my perfect coconut rice. I have to say my spouse and daughter loved it though.

                                  2. Garlicky Broccoli Rabe pg. 328

                                    Not sure why but I hadn't bought broccoli rabe in ages, when marketing this week the broccoli rabe just looked fantastic, so into the shopping basket it went. What to do with it? The usual saute w/ garlic or the other usual saute w/ sausage and garlic and serve over pasta? Went flipping through this month's COTM's (and a few other books) and came up with, saute it w/ garlic or saute w/ sausage and serve over pasta!

                                    I went with the latter. MC's directions are clear and her timing is spot on, my only deviation was to drain the sausage before adding the garlic, chili flakes and broccoli rabe, and in place of her water I used white wine to de-glaze the pan. Perfectly nice quick dinner, sometimes you just can't argue with the classics.

                                    1. White Bean Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and Farro – p. 8

                                      Yuk…I really disliked this (and I never say that!). Here’s how it all fell apart:

                                      This sounded like the perfect dish to make-ahead for a weeknight meat-free meal. I have some wonderful Italian cannellini beans that I purchased at an Italian grocer and the dishes we’ve made with them thus far have been outstanding. I had high expectations for this stew that’s chock-full of ingredients we love.

                                      beetlebug did a terrific job of explaining how this all comes together in the CTN pre-COTM thread. Here’s the link to her review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8378...

                                      Like beetlebug, I too used the Parmesan rind in my beans. I did not add the salt to the cooking liquid prior to boiling although MC instructs you to do so as I’ve come to understand that early salting of beans toughens them. After an overnight soak, my beans took approx 90 mins to become tender. I wasn’t willing to part with my garlic, celery and onions so I removed them from bean pot and tossed them in my blender along w half the beans and cooking liquid I was to puree. Truth be told, I found the cooking liquid to be fairly bland, even with the addition of the Parmesan rind. Once I seasoned with salt and Aleppo pepper it was still flat. MC says “if the stew tastes a bit flat” (I wish I’d read that before I started!!) “…swirl in some lemon juice at the end to perk up the flavors” – Sorry MC, even doing this in conjunction w topping w parmesan being sure “not to skimp on the oil, salt and red Aleppo pepper” when serving couldn’t save this bor-ring dish for me. I’d even added the kale suggested in “What Else” but to no avail.

                                      I served this over whole wheat Israeli couscous (another What Else tip) instead of farro. On top of being uber-bland, I really disliked the texture of this dish, which reminded me of pabulum or some sort of baby food. Pretty disappointing. It did look pretty though!

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Wow, sad to hear that, as it does sound like (and look like!) a tasty meatless cool weather meal. Who would have thought with that list of ingredients it would be bland and boring? Thanks for taking one for the team hear Breadcrumbs.

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Thanks LN, it's still a mystery to me how this wasn't good with all those great ingredients. Especially since these were my special cannellini beans from Italy that have been such a success in recent dishes.

                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Sorry to hear the recipe was a miss for you. Reading your review reminded me of the Gourmet Yesterday COTM where I discovered the White Bean and Tuscan Kale soup (without Chestnuts for me). It was full of umami goodness. Here's a link to the review. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7055...

                                          1. re: BigSal

                                            Oh YUM BigSal. Now that's a soup I'd like. Especially with the tomatoes as well. Thanks, I've added this to my "To-Try" list for that book.

                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Oh, too bad! You might want to experiment with salting your cooking liquid in advance of cooking though. I started doing this recently after years of salting at the end, and I have not found that the beans are tougher as a result of salting early. In fact, I think they end up tastier because the beans absorb the seasonings as they cook. The cooking liquid is better too when the salt can mingle with the starch released from the beans.

                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                              I actually learned from a thread here on chowhound a few years ago that you can soak beans in salted water and improve their flavor when cooked: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619965

                                              Apparently, salt doesn't toughen beans after all, though acidic additions do.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                Very interesting Westminstress and Caitlin. I may have to try that, perhaps do an experiment as you suggest Westminstress...one batch w salt and one without. Funny about the beans I used for this dish though, I've had great success with other recent dishes w the same batch of beans - all soaked and boiled without salt. I do think it's telling though that Ms Clark anticipates the soup may be "flat" and even makes suggestions to remedy that. Unfortunately none of her suggestions helped in this case.

                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              While I still don't salt dry beans at the beginning of cooking, I learned from Jacques Pepin during his COTM month that most of the dry beans for sale these days are a relatively new crop - the turnover is pretty quick too - and really don't have to be soaked for such a long time before cooking perhaps, a couple of hours or so. Some of his recipes use dry beans right from the package without soaking, just a thorough rinse first. And, I learned on my own that his tip especially goes for cannellini. They seem to be a softer bean to begin with.

                                              It's too bad that after all the effort for an expected good result sometimes a recipe just doesn't work out. I've had That experiences many times. And yet someone will come along, make the same recipe, and it turns out perfectly... Keep on truckin', Breadcrumbs.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Thanks Gio and isn't that interesting. Tomorrow I'm going to a local market that has a wonderful rice and bean vendor. If the owner's there, I'll ask him about this. As a side note, this gentleman is such a delight. He celebrated his 90th Birthday last year and he's such an icon at the market there was a big celebration for him. In all the years I've been buying rice, beans and grains from him I've never once heard him say he doesn't have what I'm looking for and, he's always happy to share tips and recipes. We're so fortunate to share in his wisdom.


                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                White Bean Stew with Rosemary, Garlic and Farro (Wheat Berries), pg. 8

                                                Made this last week with excellent results. I used old navy beans I dug out of the pantry and a quick-soak method of first heating water to boiling, then adding beans and allowing to sit on the counter for several hours. Beans were then drained and added to my la chamba clay pot along with water, a generous amount of olive oil, 8 garlic cloves (mine were on the smallish side), celery, onion, clove, rosemary, thyme, bay, parmesan rind from the freezer, and kosher salt. This concoction was tossed into a cold oven and said oven was then heated to 350F. After 1 hour of baking, the beans looked much too liquidy still (about an inch of water above the beans), so I removed the lid and proceeded to bake until beans were tender. This had the pleasant result of caramelizing the tops of the floating aromatics and cheese rind, which no doubt enhanced the flavors of the final dish.

                                                Wheat berries were simmered separately in salted water until tender, approximately 45 mins for mine rather than the potential several hours the author warns it can take, and were then combined with the drained beans and tossed with the Tuscan Kale w/(out)Anchovies, Garlic and Pecorino (Parmesan) recipe from pg.12. A drizzle of high quality Tuscan olive oil was the finishing touch.

                                                I chose to bake the beans since I have a glass cooktop and am scared to use my clay pot on it, and I prefer my clay pot over any other for bean cookery--the beans seem to come out more flavorful and to hold their shape with greater consistency in the clay pot over other pots. Also, I was making osso buco at the time, so the oven was going to be in use anyway.

                                                Even before I added the farro and kale, the beans had excellent flavor, as did the cooking liquid, so I set half the beans and all of the broth aside for the freezer.

                                                I enjoyed this dish quite a bit, as did the hubby (which is saying a lot since he much prefers to have meat at supper time and generally misses it when it's not there), and will definitely be making it again. We are both bean lovers though, so I can't say how someone who didn't like beans would feel about this dish.

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Double Coconut Granola, pg. 37

                                                  Old fashioned rolled oats, pecans, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, coconut oil, brown sugar, kosher salt, cinnamon and nutmeg are tossed together in a bowl, spread into a shallow rimmed half-sheet pan and baked in a 300F oven for 45 mins. Every ten minutes the ingredients are stirred to encourage even toasting (and the stirring utensil is licked by the chef to ensure proper seasoning/mixing has occurred). When all ingredients are properly toasted, dried cherries are added and the granola is pronounced finished.

                                                  Coconut chips were a new ingredient for me, and I could only find pre-toasted ones at the grocery store I went to, so I added them with the cherries, rather than with the other ingredients. Let me just say, I'll definitely be buying more of these, as they're delicious whether eaten out of hand or in the granola!

                                                  As for the granola itself, about 10 mins. into toasting, as the aroma flooded the house and I got my first lick off the stirring utensil, I was asking myself why the heck I'd never made granola before. After the granola was finished, I was still asking the same question, half tempted to beat myself with said stirring utensil for not making it sooner. This stuff is great! And just like the author states, be prepared to share the recipe with anyone who tastes the granola, as I've already had two requests for it.

                                                  Simple ingredients, easy prep, and tasty results. This one is a keeper and I'm really enjoying cooking from this book (special thanks to Westminstress for recommending it to me last month.) Four-year old niece acted as sous-chef and highly approved of this recipe as well.

                                                  1. re: Blowfish

                                                    Hooray! Glad you are enjoying this book!

                                                2. Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons, and Carrots, with Parsley Gremolata, page 15.

                                                  I had to get out the turkey roasting pan for this one, as Clark stipulates the largest pan in the kitchen, and the use of a roasting rack. Instead of chopped carrots, I used a bag of baby carrots I had on hand. They went into the bottom of the roasting pan. Over the carrots sits the rack with the chicken. Before roasting the chicken is rubbed with salt, pepper, garam masala, and butter. Inside the cavity go thyme sprigs and two lemon quarters. I had a bit of difficulty with the prep, as the directions state to rub the garam masala, on the chicken first, and then rub it with softened butter. The garam masala coated the chicken beautifully, but when I rubbed on the butter, the spice and the butter just knobbed up in cold clumps. I ended up melting the butter lumps with garam masala mixed in, and brushing that on the chicken. 30 minutes into the roasting, chickpeas go in along with the carrots. The chickpeas had been tossed in thin slices from 1 1/2 lemons, oil, garam masala, salt, and pepper. While the chicken cooked, and the house filled with a delicious aroma, I prepared the gremolata used to finish the dish.

                                                  This was a perfectly cooked chicken! Crisp and golden brown on the outside, wonderfully tender and moist on the inside. The lemons in the cavity impart a lot of lemon flavor to the chicken. And the carrots and chickpeas were very flavorful. I could munch on them endlessly. This dish grew on Mr. NS. He started with "this is good." Moved to "I really like this." And ended the meal stating "make this again!"

                                                  I served Clark's Crushed New Potato and Pea Salad along with the chicken.

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    GORGEOUS skin!
                                                    (and the chicken don't look half bad either! ar-ar-ar-ar-ar....)

                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                      Oh my goodness LN, doesn't that just look tantalizing! Is this the dish where MC says the chickpeas are crispy?

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        Thanks mc and bc! And yes, in the text she says the chickpeas are crispy. Mine weren't really crispy, but they had a great texture and flavor. I wondered if they had gone in at the beginning, if they might get crispier. On the other hand, my chicken was done at the short end of here time frame, so perhaps if the chicken takes longer, the chickpeas get crispier. Either way, I'll be happy to eat the leftovers!

                                                      2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                        Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons, and Carrots with Parsley Gremolata, p. 15.

                                                        Made this yesterday for Easter Dinner just as L.Nightshade described it above. I agree that the method produces a very succulent and tender roast chicken and I love the gram marsala-butter rub. Taking L.Nightshade's advice, I melted the butter first and stirred in the gram marsala and s& p, then cooled it slightly and spread the mixture over the 3 1/2 # organic chicken. ( I did this some hours ahead and kept the chicken chilled.) I loved the way the chicken juices spread out from below the wire roasting rack onto the chickpea and carrots. I wondered why such a large roasting pan was necessary, but realized this was so the two cans of chickpeas and sliced carrots could spread out and get browned.
                                                        My chickpeas didn't get crispy either after an hour and a half of roasting until when the chicken was done, but they were certainly delicious. They functioned as a starchy "side" on their own. I stirred some of the leftover chickpeas into some hummus and had an instantly delicious spread with pita for lunch.

                                                        All in all, a very nice way to prepare a roast chicken and everybody loved the flavors. I'll do it again. It's easy and tasty.

                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                          Crisp Roasted Chicken with Chickpeas, Lemons, and Carrots, with Parsley Gremolata, page 15

                                                          I made this using just chicken thighs due to a CSA overload of carrots. I put the chickpeas in at the very beginning because my cooking time was going to be shorter. This was very good. The skin came out beautifully and the chickpea and carrots were excellent (although my chickpeas were also not crispy). In my mind though, I wanted it to be as an amazing a revelation as the mustard crouton chicken at the end of the book and the chickpeas just weren't at that level for me. It's worth making again though. Maybe next time with a whole chicken to compare.

                                                        2. Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, p. 73

                                                          I couldn't resist the bag of clementines on sale at the fruterie and adding brown butter and almonds to them seemed like a good idea. This is a great salad - tasty and visually appealing. The only things I'm not too sure about is the inclusion of mint. I'm not sure I wouldn't missed it if it hadn't been there. She provides alternative directions to use oil instead of brown butter, but the time spent doing that is minimal and the results were definitely worth it for me (I found it far more annoying to juice the clementine as the juice seemed to want to go everywhere but where it was supposed to!).

                                                          To make the vinaigrette, brown butter is mixed with clementine zest, clementine juice, lemon juice, salt (I omitted since the bf insists on half-salted butter and he bought it last), and pepper (also omitted because bf is out of town and I can't operate the peppermill with my fractured wrist). The salad is made up of butter leaf lettuce, clementines, toasted almonds, and fresh mint.

                                                          I'm quite glad I didn't have to share this salad.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                            Sounds good! In case anyone wants proportions/recipe guidelines, I found them here: http://thymeandreason.com/2012/03/13/...

                                                            1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                              Thanks for sharing that TxnInMtl, I've never had a brown butter vinaigrette before but can imagine it would be very tasty. I can see it being really nice over a salad w roasted squash too.

                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                I think it would go great with roasted squash (although I'm hoping we're done with those in the CSA box for a while!).

                                                                1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                  Here here TxInMtl!! I'm with you all the way!

                                                              2. re: TxnInMtl

                                                                Butter Lettuce and Clementine Salad with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, page 73.

                                                                TxnInMtl describes the salad and the dressing above. I almost made this with olive oil instead of butter. I am SO glad I didn't. What a compelling salad! The browned butter, with the almonds and oranges (I used Satsuma Mandarins instead of Clementines), creates such a rich flavor. The bright taste of the oranges and zest are a great complement for the buttery feel. Unlike TxnInMtl, I felt that the mint in the salad was quite pronounced, and it added a lot.

                                                                The only drawback to this salad is that you can't have leftovers. I know salad doesn't make the best leftover in any case, but I do usually manage to enjoy any remains for lunch the next day. In this case, the idea of hardened bits of butter on lettuce does not appeal. So just make the amount that you plan to eat.

                                                              3. Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons (p. 22)

                                                                Wow, we all loved this. My previously tofu-averse husband finally said "I guess I really do like tofu." And as we all ooh'd and ah'd over how good this was, and discussed how much we're enjoying this book, Lulu said "I know someone else who really likes it - my stomach!"

                                                                So, this is an incredibly simple recipe, but it felt like it took longer than it should have. Not sure if this was the Sunday blahs or that I had a lot of other things to do or what. Again, very easy to make. First you clean and slice 7-8 ounces of shiitakes, then roast those with sesame oil and soy sauce. Soba noodles are cooked - in the link below this issue is cleared up, but in the book is says under ingredients: 1/2 (12.8 oz) package soba noodles. Since my package was not 12.8 oz, I couldnt' figure out if I was supposed to be cooking 12.8 oz (is that what she's referring to as half?) or 6.4 oz. Anyway, looking up the recipe online helped, and I cooked 6.2 oz. I was nervous that this wouldn't be enough (hoping for leftovers for Lulu's lunch this coming week) but it was just right. Once cooked, run the noodles under cold water and drain, then add sliced, peeled cucumber, a sauce of orange juice, rice vinegar and ginger, the mushrooms, 2 thinly sliced scallions and some fresh cilantro. You are also supposed to add toasted sesame seeds but I realized that mine were way too old and could only take away from the flavor, and I didn't miss them one bit. You top this salad with tofu slices that have been fried and finished in the pan with tamari or soy and sesame oil. She calls for 1/2 lb of tofu, but I figured I'd just use the whole 14 oz. block, given that I was nervous about it being enough food (also doubled the soy/sesame mix). We all really thought it had lovely flavors, really fresh and great. I love spice but didn't feel it needed the sriracha she recommends in the "what else" section. Served with the green peach w/ lime and basil salad. A great meal. I'm thrilled wit this book so far.

                                                                A copy of the recipe for those without the book: http://www.foodonthefood.com/food_on_...

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons (p. 22)

                                                                  I wish I had seen your review before making this! I thought there were way too many noodles compared to the rest of the ingredients, but I see I totally missed the 1/2! What a horrible way to put how many noodles to use, packages come in so many different amounts, grrr... Okay, this is probably better than we thought, since I made it wrong. I loved the method for roasting shiitakes, definitely a technique to remember. The tofu took a lot longer to brown than she said (I was in a hurry and gave up before it was truly golden). In fact, the whole recipe took a lot more prep than I thought it would, and the kitchen was a disaster because I used so many dishes. I think wilted spinach would be a really nice addition. I added broccoli which was also good. My daughter who normally loves just about everything in this wouldn't eat it because she didn't like the bite from the vinegar. Oh well.

                                                                  1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                    From a smart seeming woman (MC), this really is a very odd, confusing way to put in the amount of an ingredient. Sorry it made it so bad for you! We really loved it, but that one caused definite confusion.

                                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                                    Sesame Soba Salad with Roasted Shiitakes and Tofu Croutons (p. 22)

                                                                    Loved this. Taking note of the reports about soba noodle proportions and prep time. I spread the prep out and doubled the sauce amounts. I also added more vegetables to fill out the dish. I used sliced radishes, cucumbers, upland cress (delicious), scallions and cilantro. I also used a whole block of tofu and some crimini mushrooms to add to the shiitake. The roasted mushrooms alone were addictive.

                                                                    My tofu did take longer to brown then written but I loved how it soaked up the sauce. This whole dish was just so darn tasty.

                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                      No need to peel or seed cucumber! So thinly sliced, you don't notice the peel. Might as well hold onto the fiber.

                                                                      One clarification ... "crouton" implies small cube, to me. Using the word "slab," recipe seems to call for long, rectangular pieces. Was delicious this way. I do think the extra-firm tofu, well drained, could hold up to cubing. Will try next time, for there will be a next time.

                                                                  3. Mallobars pg 34

                                                                    Somebody had to do it, right? It is as MC states a bit of a project, but I thought they'd be fun to take as an add on to the Easter dinner dessert selection, so why not. Except for making a half recipe, which btw fits perfectly in an 8"x8" pan, I followed MC's directions exactly and they worked perfectly.

                                                                    First a graham cracker dough is made (butter, b. sugar, honey, sugar, whole wheat) and baked. Then make the marsh-mellow, egg whites, sugar syrup, gelatin, which is the fun part (true confessions, I have a soft spot for making Italian buttercream, which is a pretty similar process, and probably why I was drawn to this recipe), that is spread on the base and allowed to set at room temp, in my case overnight. then a simple chocolate and cream ganache is spread on top.

                                                                    But alas the crowd at Easter didn't quite like these. Don't ask me why not, 'cause zumpteen years into this and I still never know what will be a hit with my extended family. Nonetheless, Mr, QN & I thought they were pretty good. Forgot to get a picture while they were still "pretty" but here are some of the leftovers.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                                      These were a big hit at the office. I found them to be very rich and could only eat very small pieces, so my husband and I saved a few for ourselves, then took the rest into our respective offices. They were a hit at both, and I even had a couple of requests for the recipe. I wish I had cooked the graham cracker layer a bit longer, I would have liked for it to have more crunch.

                                                                      They seemed to be a bit mysterious to everyone. We both got a lot of "what are these?" comments, but they were mostly followed by "whatever they are, they're delicious!"

                                                                    2. Buttery, Garlicky, Spicy Calamari with Israeli Couscous (p. 59)

                                                                      LulusDad was supposed to have a work dinner tonight, but it got cancelled, so I decided to go ahead with this today (I had planned to serve it Thursday). I was able to get calamari, and this is a very easy recipe. You make some israeli couscous and stir in a bit of olive oil and keep warm. You heat olive oil in a large pan, then when smoking add the calamari, butter, parsley, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes (I probably added a bit more of the last two than the recipe calls for). Cook, stirring, for about 3-4 minutes (or until the calamari is ready) and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the couscous to the pan and incorporate. Easy (although it felt like there was a lot to clean up after - the couscous pot, the bowl I'd kept it warm in, the strainer - since it was all sort of last minute I had no time to clean up while things were simmering away) and very tasty. Another hit with everyone, especially, somewhat surprisingly, with Lulu. My one mistake was serving it with roasted cauliflower - not a very pretty plate, with everything sort of off white. My fault.

                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                        for those of you without the book, here is a link to the recipe: http://www.scrippsnews.com/content/co...

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                          Buttery, Garlicky, Spicy Calamari (Shrimp) with Israeli Couscous p. 59 (half recipe)

                                                                          We made this with shrimp that was cut into bite sized pieces to ensure quick cooking. In an effort to cut a few calories, we did not add olive oil to the Israeli coucous and only used 2 t of oil (instead of a T) and used 1/2 T butter (instead of 1.5 T). Quick and tasty meal.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            A quick question for those who have made this dish ... I am planning on it for tonight but would like to serve it over quinoa instead of cous cous. I'm wondering whether I should leave the quinoa plain or dress it up in some way. Another option is polenta if you think the quinoa wouldn't work. What do you think? Thanks.

                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                              Embarrassingly enough, I haven't cooked with quinoa, so I have no thoughts on that. But I love polenta as a starch. I think it would be nice, especially with some olive oil stirred in, although you wont get the same mix of flavors, which was kind of nice. But heck, it has good flavors as is, and is easy, so why not try?

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                Having tried it last night, I actually think this dish would be very nice over polenta, especially in the fall/winter.

                                                                              2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                I think quinoa would work. It would be a different flavor profile but it would go well with the squid. I don't think you need to dress it up since you will be tossing it into the skillet with the squid and juices anyway.

                                                                                Hmmm. I thought reported this dish. Guess not. But, I really liked it and leftovers were also delicious.

                                                                              3. re: LulusMom

                                                                                My turn on the Buttery, Garlicky, Spicy Calamari. As others have said, this is a very quick and tasty dish. It turned out less garlicky and spicy than I would have liked, but I don't think that was the fault of the recipe. I made a few changes to the recipe that affected the overall flavor. I subbed mint for basil (this worked out fine). I subbed quinoa for the israeli couscous, and I decided to leave the quinoa plain rather than dressing it up, and this was definitely the right choice (thanks, Beetlebug!). The quinoa worked, though I'm sure the Israeli cous cous would have been more delightful. Still and all, the quinoa is healthier. I subbed green garlic for regular garlic due to a surprise garlic shortage, and even though I used an entire bulb and stalk of green garlic, the flavor was so mild that I wish I used even more, or perhaps I should have added it raw instead of cooked. The recipe made a large quantity so we have quite a few leftovers to enjoy. I loved how quickly everything came together, and I'll be making this again with more garlic and hot pepper.

                                                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                  I just wanted to add that I sampled some of the leftovers of this dish, and they were fantastic! I love that.

                                                                              4. Mustard Greens Salad with Anchovy Croutons and [] Cheese, p. 79

                                                                                Our CSA box keeps insisting on sending us the tiniest amounts of mustard greens which once you cook down really aren't enough to do anything with at all, so I decided to try this salad instead and was not disappointed. The flavors were strong, but worked for us. I did substitute anchovy paste for the anchovies and goat cheese for the Gruyere (although I don't think I'd recommend that substitution). To make, croutons are tossed with a sauce of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and anchovy and toasted for 20 minutes at 375. These came out perfectly. I just noticed that I was supposed to add cheese to the croutons, but forgot. I think this would've made them even better. Lemon juice is added to some of the sauce reserved from making the croutons and this is tossed with the greens. The remaining cheese and croutons are then added to the salad. I'd like to try this with arugula next time and think we may adapt the crouton mixture to go with our regular Caesar salads.

                                                                                1. Tuscan Kale with Anchovies, Garlic and Pecorino (pg. 12)

                                                                                  I really liked this. Fairly simple but the anchovy fillets really added that extra oomph to a typical kale and garlic stir fry. This would have tasted even better if I had pecorino at home.

                                                                                  Pretty standard prep. Remove the center ribs of the kale and chop into bite size pieces. Warm olive oil over medium heat and stir in the anchovies until they've dissolved. Add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic and then add the kale. Add salt and pepper (and cheese) and serve.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                    It was so odd to see this recipe in Clark's book, BB. Marion Morash, of the famed PBS Victory Garden, made it on one of the shows eons ago. On top of the kale, after cooking them for several minutes with those identical ingredients, she steams halibut fillets till cooked through. I've been cooking it like that for years. Absolutely delicious.

                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                      Tuscan Kale with Anchovies, Garlic and Pecorino (pg 12)

                                                                                      I made this dish as well as the Raw TUscan Kale Salad from ITKWAGA tonight for dinner. Whereas the Raw Salad wakes up your taste buds and made me see Tuscan kale in a somewhat new light, this one was more like a comforting old friend. I haven't cooked kale with anchovies before, but I felt like it added that same unami savory complement that I usually get from cured pork or a Parmesan rind.

                                                                                      Very, very good. Will add it into the kale rotation. My kids actually preferred this dish over the raw salad. A little easier on their tender jaws :)

                                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                        Very funny genh, perhaps I can tempt mr bc w this one as, like your kids, he felt the salad was tough to chew (or "gnaw on" as his kale-hating self said!) Undeterred, I'll carry on and the next time I get my hands on some Tuscan kale, I'll be making this dish. Thanks for your review!

                                                                                      2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                        Tuscan Kale with Anchovies, Garlic and Pecorino (pg. 12)

                                                                                        This was simple and satisfying. We have a giant block of raw milk parmesan in the fridge that's been sitting there too long, so I used that instead of the pecorino. I think I like this variation slightly more than the kale with hot pepper and cumin which I had previously tried. I paired this with the Quick Moroccan chicken in the bonus section of the book.

                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                          Tuscan Kale (Swiss Chard) with anchovies, garlic (and without the pecorino)

                                                                                          I had some leftover 4 cheese pasta (from Gourmet Yesterday) that I figured I'd serve Lulu and me for dinner, and figured it was the perfect time to experiment with a new side dish. We found nice looking Swiss Chard at the grocery store, so this came immediately to mind (she says it is a reasonable substitute for the kale). She also says the cheese is optional, and given the main I thought I'd drop it. Didn't matter at all - this was fantastic. I pretty much love anything with garlic and anchovies (and the garlic/ginger mix too) and this was no exception. Lulu also loved it. Now I really want to try the red pepper/garlic/cumin seed variation. For me, this book just keeps on giving.

                                                                                        2. Wilted Collard Greens with Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, p. 83.

                                                                                          We eat greens 3-4 times a week, but usually braised or sauteed with garlic. This was a fun and easy variation from our routine. As with most greens recipes, you could prepare just about any sturdy green this way (I used Couve Tronchuda from my CSA).

                                                                                          Cook the torn greens in salted water for 2-7 minutes, depending on how soft you like them. Drain, squeeze out the water, and toss with olive oil and lemon juice. I used enough salt in the cooking water that I didn't need to add more to the finished dish.

                                                                                          I didn't taste much lemon, but that is probably because I served these with the Pan-Roasted Pacific Halibut with Spring onions and Honey Balsamic (p. 132), and the strong balsamic sauce overpowered most of the plate. I'll definitely make a version of this again, maybe experiment with different citrus or vinegars.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Abby0105

                                                                                            Wow, couve tronchuda? I just saw that in a gardening program (Victorian Kitchen Garden on youtube, it's an awesome show).

                                                                                            1. re: sarahcooks

                                                                                              I have to admit that I had no idea what it was before it showed up in my CSA, but I really enjoyed it!

                                                                                          2. Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapenos (pg. 81)

                                                                                            This was excellent and delicious. The ingredients even smelled good prior to cooking. I did make some slight changes to the recipe. I doubled the recipe so that we could have leftovers. Instead of using 2 red peppers, I used one red and one poblano. Also, I used to habeneros instead of jalapenos. I also added an extra chorizo link because I wanted to use it up. Lastly, I added kale to the beans because I wanted some greens.

                                                                                            Overall, the prep was fairly straightforward. Chop up sweet onions, garlic, the peppers and chorizo. In a large skillet, fry the chorizo until brown. Add all the chopped vegetables and saute until softened (about 7 minutes). Towards the end of the this, I added the chopped kale and wilted those down. Add the drained black beans (I used 2 small cans), cumin, oregeno and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

                                                                                            Serve over rice and add a fried egg on top.

                                                                                            I don't know why this was so satisfying but it just was. There were so many flavors and textures going on. I think this would taste better with dried beans but that takes a lot more planning.

                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                              That sounds very good, I like your kale addition, and this line got a smile "I think this would taste better with dried beans but that takes a lot more planning", guess maybe I'm not the only one who is forever looking at recipes at 5 in the afternoon I want to cooked them, only to see that they call for beans soaked overnight.....

                                                                                              1. re: qianning


                                                                                                Let's face it. It's the beauty and ease of canned beans. And, this is an excellent fast dinner.

                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                  You are inspiring me. Canned beans have got to start making their way into my shopping cart.....I miss too many good recipes by not having them around.

                                                                                              2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                This is good to hear - I plan on making this next week. I like the idea of adding in some greens. I was thinking of skipping the egg; I'm not the world's biggest egg lover, and the last time I did something with an egg on top I felt like I didn't have enough hands. Do you think it would be a huge mistake to skip it?

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  I don't think it would be a huge mistake. I do think the egg added something though. It added enough that I thought next time, maybe I'll do 2 eggs per plate. But, the flavors of the beans and vegetables were really strong so the egg was a change in texture as well.

                                                                                                  Lastly, this is a very pretty dish. Lots of reds, greens, whites and the black beans. Very festive.

                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    This is going on my list for the last week of this April's COTM. Thanks BB. Sounds delicious, especially with your inclusions.

                                                                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                      That's the thing, isn't it? That the eggs add something special. Hmmm, I'll probably go ahead and do it. Have to see how stressed I'm feeling at the end of the day.

                                                                                                      I plan on using TJs soy chorizo, and since there will be some leftover I am wondering if it is time to try the chorizo and calamari salad in Might Spice. I seem to remember that greedygirl loved it.

                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                        Another option for using the chorizo is the tofu/shiitake/chorizo dish. It's in one of the Clark books and I posted about it recently.

                                                                                                        I'm going to look up the mighty spice chorizo one now.

                                                                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          That one sounds wonderful to me, but given that my husband (who has only *just* been willing to admit that tofu is actually kinda sorta ok) will be leaving for 6 weeks soon, I want to be able to serve him stuff that he loves. But once he's gone, Lulu and I would/could happily have a tofu/shiitake/chorizo meal.

                                                                                                  2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapenos – p. 81

                                                                                                    My turn with this dish and beetlebug had me w “an excellent fast dinner”. Prep is indeed quick and easy. In addition to the red pepper and jalapeno pepper I tossed in a poblano. I didn’t need to add any hot sauce as my chorizo was very spicy. I served this over steamed brown rice and opted to go with the egg but, to save having to dirty another pot, I just poached my eggs right amongst the beans. While there wasn’t much liquid, there was just enough for poaching. I liked this dish, mr bc LOVED it.

                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                      Wow, that looks delicious! I think I'll try it, but maybe served over corn tortillas crisped up in the oven.

                                                                                                    2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                      My turn on the Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapenos. We served it over grits, and I did end up doing the fried eggs on top. I doubled the recipe, except only one green pepper, but when I went to look for 2 jalapenos I only found one, so I used a serrano for the other. Holy cow, this was much spicier than the normal serranos I buy (which is nice - I like heat), and once I tasted it, I couldn't really imagine how Lulu, trooper that she is, was going to be able to eat it. She had a couple of bites, but it was just too much. Husband and I gobbled it up though. I used TJs soy chorizo and that worked well. I will say, for a supposedly quick recipe I felt like I was doing an awful lot of chopping, but that may be because I was doubling the ingredients (the recipe says it serves 2). It may also be because I had maybe just a little too much wine last night ...

                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Spicy Black Beans with Chorizo and Jalapenos

                                                                                                        This was very satisfying. My husband was very skeptical (not a fan of fried eggs or black beans) but he said it was delicious and we should have it again, score! I served it over corn tortillas I crisped up in the oven with a little cheese on them. Lots of flavor for little work, I'm a fan!

                                                                                                      2. Grilled Sausages with Celery Root Salad with Hazelnuts and Arugula, page 40

                                                                                                        This was a perfect dinner to whip up late last night, after my schedule ran far later than expected. Mr. NS did the sausages on the grill (instead of in a pan under the broiler as the recipe states). This made for an easier clean-up, so this dinner was even more ideal for the end of a long day. For the sausages, I chose half bratwurst, half Italian, from our great local deli. While they were on the grill, I grated celery root in the FP, then made the dressing with dijon mustard, garlic, sherry vinegar, and olive oil, and seasoned it with salt and pepper. The celery root was tossed with arugula and toasted hazelnuts, then dressed.

                                                                                                        This is basically a recipe for the salad that more or less states "add grilled sausages on the side." The salad would certainly be a nice standalone, or work with other meats, but it did go very well with the sausages, especially with the mustardy dressing. I don't think Mr. NS appreciated this as much as I did. He said I could make it "once a year" and it would be fine.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                          I really like the sound of this combination LN. I would think the mustard aspect of the salad would perfectly compliment the sausage. I am going to try it this weekend. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

                                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                            Grilled Sausages with Celery Root Salad with Hazelnuts and Arugula ( p 40)

                                                                                                            As LN pointed out, a quick and easy meal, and the salad is an unusual, interesting side with sausages.

                                                                                                            We used hot Italian sausages and had some bread on the side and it was a very nice meal.

                                                                                                            I did find the salad a little bland at first, however. The dressing was nice and creamy with the mustard, but not sharp enough (maybe because my mustard was too bland?). So I ended up adding more mustard, vinegar (I used red wine instead of sherry because that's what we had on hand), some lemon juice, and chives. It was better the next day, when I also added sorrel from my garden in addition to the arugula. So next time I would try making this at least a few hours ahead or maybe even the day before (without the nuts or greens stirred in of course, to keep them fresh).

                                                                                                            One note about the sausages – I did cook them under the broiler as the recipe states, which I had never done before. I was amazingly fast BUT I think I had the rack one rung too close to the heating element, so we had a little flamage. Very minor, but next time I will definitely make sure to have the sausages closer to the middle rack in the oven.

                                                                                                            1. re: GardenFresh

                                                                                                              Good point about the dressing. I should have mentioned that I used a very strong mustard, and a very aged sherry vinegar. Those two things probably added the necessary punch.

                                                                                                          2. Skillet-Roasted Potatoes and Golden Turnips with Smashed Garlic, p. 29

                                                                                                            This is a simple dish, but excellent. While I was out of town one weekend, my BF made this to go with the port-wine braised ox-tail in the book. I wasn't crazy about the ox-tail dish, but greatly enjoyed this one. I was convinced there must've been something else going into this dish, but no, it really is quite simple. I finally got around to making this to go with the roasted chicken over mustard croutons.

                                                                                                            To make, a pound each of potatoes and turnips (she calls for golden, I used regular) are cut into 3/4" cubes. They're tossed together with olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, 3 smashed garlic cloves, and 2 bay leaves in a cast iron skillet and cooked for 1.5 hours at 325, mixing every 20 minutes or so. The chicken needed to cook at a higher temperature, so I reduced the time and just let them cook until they seemed done.

                                                                                                            1. Sliced Oranges with Olives and Red Chile (p. 54)

                                                                                                              Yes, we've had something very similar before in Arabesque. But I really loved it, and figured I'd give this one a try. Sliced oranges with olive oil, sea salt, thinly sliced olives, chili powder, and chopped fresh herbs (I went with mint) if you want the color. Easy and delicious and it went perfectly with the Brown Butter Swordfish and Turkish Chili and Mint and some Israeli couscous. Here is a link (hope it works) for those without the book: http://books.google.com/books?id=cqO9...

                                                                                                              1. Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread


                                                                                                                In order to make banana bread around here, I have to plan ahead whenever I purchase bananas, making sure to stash several away out of the eyes of the constantly "starving" offspring. After several failed attempts, I finally succeeded in hiding them well enough until the coveted fruit reached the desired stage of decay--err, ripeness. Onward to the recipe.

                                                                                                                Ms. Clark's recipe contains an equal amount of whole wheat and white flour. The whole wheat gives the bread a faint nuttiness that pairs well with the grassy olive oil that is used in place of the standard butter. I'm sure that the brown sugar also contributed to the layers of flavour in the bread, along with the tangy yogurt. Bittersweet chocolate chunks added to the excellence. What really, to me, set the recipe apart from the others, is the addition of lemon zest. Merely a teaspoon, but just enough to really lift this potentially heavy bread and make it sing. Not something I ever would have thought up on my own. The baked bread is topped with a lemon juice/icing sugar glaze, which may be unnecessary, depending on one's love of sweet things.

                                                                                                                I loved this banana bread so much, this will be my go-to recipe from now on. You should try it.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                  I made this banana bread last week. To make it more healthful, I subbed walnuts for chocolate and left off the lemon glaze. This produced a tasty bread that was not too sweet (I actually thought the sweetness was perfect as I dislike overly sweet quick breads). I liked the whole wheat flour and olive oil components. The bread had a nice texture and kept very well wrapped in foil for the 2-3 days it lasted at our house.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                                                                    LEMONY OLIVE OIL BANANA BREAD WITH(OUT) CHOCOLATE CHIPS – p. 62

                                                                                                                    I’ve had this on my radar since the COTM. Finally we had some over-ripe bananas hanging around and I actually remembered this recipe!
                                                                                                                    Big thanks to Allegra for posting a link to the recipe online.
                                                                                                                    I decided to forgo the chocolate as I wanted to use this for weekday breakfasts to-go and we’re not big on chocolate in the morning. I used whole grain spelt flour in place of the whole-wheat flour and this imparted a pronounced nutty flavour. We were really impressed with how moist and light the loaf turned out to be. Not overly heavy like some banana breads. I also skipped the glaze as I didn’t see any need to add any further sugar to the bread. That said, the lemon was not discernable and next time I think I’ll use the zest of a whole lemon to up the ante. A nice, tasty loaf.

                                                                                                                  2. Baked Apples with Fig and Cardamom Crumble (pg. 31)

                                                                                                                    This was an excellent addition to Thanksgiving dinner. It was just enough of a twist to a traditional dessert. And, the big win was that I knew I could bake it at my friends' house in their big toaster oven (since the oven had the turkey).

                                                                                                                    What makes this different is the addition of dried figs with the apples. It just added something special. The crumble part can be improved upon. It wasn't crispy crumbly, just crumbly. The other thing that makes this dessert super simple is that you cut the apples into quarters so they retain the shape. Other than that, the prep is fairly standard.

                                                                                                                    We served this with vanilla ice cream. It's a keeper.

                                                                                                                    1. Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach (Chard) and Crispy Onions - p. 51

                                                                                                                      I think this might be my new favorite lentil soup.

                                                                                                                      Didn't have much of a plan for dinner last night, except that I new I had some chard in the fridge. Turns out I had all the ingredients for this soup (with the exception of garlic cloves, which I sadly did without).

                                                                                                                      The key to this soup is the charred onions. As expected, the 22 minutes of cooking called for weren't nearly enough, but that's ok because I just let them cook while I worked on the soup. She has you cook three sliced onions (mine were huge, so I used 1 1/2) in olive oil and butter until they start to sweat, then turn up to medium high to brown them, then add an extra tablespoon of oil and turn the heat to high to char them a bit. These onions really were the primary flavor in the finished soup, so don't skip them!

                                                                                                                      The soup was fairly straightforward, though with a different combination of spices than I'm used to. Start by cooking a chopped onion in some olive oil. Add garlic (as I said above, I had to skip the garlic), chopped fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, a bay leaf, cumin, and allspice and toast that for a minute. Add broth, water, salt, and rice (brown basmati) and bring to a simmer. Let the rice simmer for about ten minutes, then add the red lentils and cook for another thirty. Add baby spinach (I used my chard, which she suggests as a substitute in the What Else? section) and let it wilt. There's also an option to add fresh mint leaves here, but I didn't. The soup is served with a handful of the onions and a lime wedge.

                                                                                                                      As I said, this is my new favorite lentil soup. Maybe I'm burnt out of my old stand-by, which is heavy on cumin, ginger, and cilantro, because it was the more subtle cinnamon and allspice flavors that I really enjoyed. The addition of the rice makes it hearty enough for supper, but I bet you could leave out the rice and serve it as a first course. I tasted it before adding the lime juice and liked it, but the lime juice really did take it to the next level. Will definitely be making this again, especially since it uses ingredients I tend to have on hand (well, I don't always have limes, but I was sure glad I had some last night!).

                                                                                                                      Edited to add: this recipe is available in the google books version: http://books.google.com/books?id=cqO9...

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Abby0105

                                                                                                                        So good to read your report Abby. I was going to make a soup tonight but I changed my mind in favor of an Ottolenghi recipe. This soup will be perfect for tomorrow night!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Abby0105

                                                                                                                          This is one of my often repeated recipes since it is so good.

                                                                                                                          The gingery split pea soup wasn't as good as I was hoping but still good. :)

                                                                                                                        2. Whatever Greens You've Got Salad, p. 19

                                                                                                                          I made this last night to accompany the shakshuka from Jerusalem. I had been planning on making the spinach salad with dates and almonds, also from jerusalem, but when it came down to it, I was too tired to fuss with two dishes. Then I remembered that Melissa Clark had a recipe for a very simple salad -- this salad -- and she mentioned that in the winter she usually made it with spinach, so off I went to make it.

                                                                                                                          It is so simple that really, almost no recipe is required. MC instructs us to put the salad leaves in the bowl and dissolve salt to taste in one teaspoon of any kind of vinegar (I used a good quality sherry vinegar). Toss the salty vinegar with the leaves and taste them to make sure they are tart and salty enough (at this point I elected to add a bit more). Then add good quality olive oil and toss with your hands until every leaf is perfectly coated with the right amount of dressing. Delicious!

                                                                                                                          While I almost felt silly following such a basic recipe, I have to say that the results were superior to my usual method of tossing everything together willynilly, and it wasn't any more difficult. I was floored that a bowl of simply dressed raw spinach could taste so good. Thanks, Melissa, for another great (and easy) recipe!

                                                                                                                          1. Creamy Parsnip and Leek Soup [Without Pumpernickle Croutons], p. 56

                                                                                                                            I had completely skipped over this recipe in the book many times -- I just had no interest. However, this NYT recipe for Any Root Vegetable Soup caught my eye the other day, and I decided to make it. http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                                                                                                            This soup turned out great! It was very simple -- I sauteed a small onion and chopped fennel stalks (instead of celery), added garlic, thyme (instead of rosemary) and bay leaves, then 31/2 pounds of chopped mixed root vegetables. I used regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and turnips. When the vegetables were soft, I pureed them with my immersion blender, added a healthy dose of lemon juice and seasoned with s&p. This was a great soup! Soothing, creamy (but with no cream) yet with a refreshing tartness from the lemon. Comforting, but not boring. Everybody in the family liked it (even my son ate it, and he's usually not big on soup or root vegetables). I also liked her (untried) suggestion in the article to grate the veggies in the fp before cooking for faster weeknight prep and cooking, and I may try that next time.

                                                                                                                            Well, after making this great soup from the NYT recipe, I realized that the this leek and parsnip soup from the book is just a variation of Any Root Vegetable Soup, so I thought I'd post my experience here. If anyone is looking for something new to do with the last of the roots in these first chilly days of spring, I would suggest this soup, and if leeks and parsnips aren't your thing --- just substitute something else, I'm sure it will work out great.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                                              I love parsnips and probably had noted this but never made it. Bumping it up on my list - thanks for the report.