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Mar 31, 2012 10:31 PM

April 2012 COTM: Melissa Clark Month, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: Chapters 1 and 2

Please use this thread to discuss chapters 1 and 2 fron In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite: Waffling Toward Dinner; The Farmers' Market and Me, pages 5 - 76.

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  1. Pomegranate Roasted Carrots, p. 71

    Lately, really nice organic carrots have been on special at Whole Foods, so I've been buying and preparing them as a side or inorporating them into other things. I usually find carrots rather boring so when I find a tasty recipe that's easy, too, I bite.

    Tasty--check. Easy--check. I made less than half a recipe, I guess, as MC calls for 1 lb. I put several whole carrots (MC says to halve or quarter, but my carrots seemed thin enough, and I really wanted to serve them whole) on a baking sheet and eyeballed the olive olive, just enough to roll the carrots around to coat, sprinkled them with kosher salt and a generous pinch of Aleppo pepper and popped them ino a 425F oven for 10 minutes (MC says 15) and then gave them a stir; I realized they were starting to turn golden, so decided to go ahead and drizzle them with the pomegranate molasses (so glad to find another reason to use this!) and put them back into the oven for the final 5 minutes (and not roast for the additional 10 minutes before drizzling as the recipe directs). They came out nicely roasted and glazed. I sprinkled them w/cilantro (MC suggests it, basil, or parsley). The result was a tender carrot, w/a lovely sweet-sour flavor and a burst of feshness from the cilantro. DH managed to look up from the basketball game he was watching just long enough to say how much he liked the carrots, and that I "can make these anytime," high praise indeed from someone who can usually take them or leave them.

    The recommended cooking time (30 min. in a 425 oven) is just too long, esp. if you cut the carrots as MC suggests. My whole carrots took only 15. (Older carrots probably would take longer.) Since I was using the oven at a high temp anyway, I did these in the oven. Next time I would just roast them stovetop, in a skillet over low heat, for about 20 minutes (the technique used in Mario Batali's roasted carrots recipe in 150 Best American Recipes)--easier to keep watch over and not heating the oven for a few carrots.

    But I will make these again. They were really delicious. For carrots. : )

    9 Replies
    1. re: nomadchowwoman

      My turn for the pomegranate roasted carrots. I don't have much to add to the excellent review above. This was delicious and different. Just be cautious with the pomegranate molasses. I was a bit too cavalier and it has pucker-power ( think lemon juice on steroids). I love anything sour but next time I'll be more careful to actually measure carefully, as I should have.
      And this may be due to the product I purchased at my local market; it has citric acid listed as a major ingredient. Nonetheless , this is a definite 'keeper'. It might even be a good Christmas dinner side, with a few pomegranate seeds on top for the full 'red and green' effect.

      1. re: Blythe spirit

        I mixed some pomegranate molasses with balsamic and a bit of honey, and the result was super. Roasted medium carrots, quartered lengthwise at 425 for 15 minutes, tossed with just enough glaze to coat, and back into the oven for 5 minutes. Best carrots ever!

        1. re: pikawicca

          What a great idea! I wish I had thought of that... I'm trying that next time.

      2. re: nomadchowwoman

        Pomegranate Roasted Carrots

        I was looking for a way to turn a partly eaten bag of baby carrots into a side dish and stumbled upon this simple gem. It was so good! Great combo of flavors that will be repeated.

        1. re: Westminstress

          I'd forgotten about these--about the book, for that matter. Reading through this read has made me pull it off the shelf again. So many nice recipes to revisit.

          1. re: nomadchowwoman

            I wasn't as taken with this book as I was with Cook This Now when these books were COTM, but now looking through the threads, I can see there are so many gems here. I just reserved the book at the library so I can give it another look.

            1. re: Westminstress

              After your reminding me of the book's existence, I pulled it out yesterday and made for dinner last night the roast chicken w/lemon, garlic, and thyme on croutons that we loved so much when it was COTM. It was pretty easy, but seemed very special on an average Wednesday night. Now I've retagged a whole slew of recipes I want to try or revisit.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                Those croutons are *killer*.

                Another really easy, very good dish is the brown butter Turkish swordfish.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Thanks, LLM. I'm always looking for new swordfish ideas.

      3. Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Almonds p 70

        I've been making this for a couple years now, it's the first thing I think of when I see cauliflower at the grocery store. Well, okay, I first think cauliflower cheese, dismiss it, then think of this. I have a well stocked Indian box in my kitchen, so I always have the whole spices on hand. I use black mustard seeds rather than brown. I bang them up a bit in my mortar and pestle, mix up the cauliflower pieces, spices, oil, salt and pepper on a big rimmed baking sheet (not the almonds!! I've made that mistake a few times). Roast 15 minutes, stir it, roast 10 more, add the almonds and stir, 5 more minutes. Very very good. My husband likes this, and he doesn't generally care for cauliflower.

        For those who don't have the book, the recipe is available here:

        5 Replies
        1. re: sarahcooks

          Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Almonds, page 70.

          Ever since trying Batali's cauliflower dish with agruumato, olives, and capers, I'm a total convert to roasting cauliflower. His dish tastes very Italian, so it's great to have another recipe that works with a different theme. Sarahcooks describes the simple instructions for preparing this dish above. And it is simple: a few seeds, a few florets, some oil, pop it in the oven and enjoy the spiced aroma. I served this with a steak marinated with Asian flavors, and it was a great side dish. But I think this could also be my new favorite snack food.

          1. re: sarahcooks

            Roasted Spiced Cauliflower [with Almonds], p. 70

            Very easy and tasty, even though I forgot to crush the spices, and I totally forgot about the almonds. Also, I subbed fennel seeds for the coriander seeds, which worked fine. I made it as a side dish to a quicky version of chicken marbella, and the combination of flavors was great.

            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

              I used the leftovers as a topping for a green salad, which was great. All of the seeds provided great bursts of flavor with the salad greens.

            2. re: sarahcooks

              We loved this as well. A really nice prep for cauliflower.

              1. re: sarahcooks

                Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Almonds p. 70

                I made this last night to go with the Brown Butter Swordfish and liked it a lot. It's not so very different from other spiced roasted cauliflower dishes I make regularly at this time of year, but I enjoyed the addition of almonds. I think my 2-year-old daughter enjoyed it the most. I was a bit nervous thinking that the spices would put her off since she's been rather fussy about food lately, but she loved it and ate a lot.

              2. Red Lentil Soup w/ Lemon pg 75

                Having this for lunch as I type. This one totally beat my expectations, in truth I only made it because I wasn't in the mood for Indian style dal & rice, but have a plethora of red lentils, some opened and needed to be used tomato paste, and a box of TJ's veg stock that needed to be used. This was the best "use things up" lunch I've made in a long time.

                Its pretty quick, just saute some onion and garlic, then add tomato paste, ground cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, once those are blended in add lentils, stock (veg or chicken), water and diced carrots, simmer for 30 minutes or so.

                When the lentils are soft, use an immersion blender to puree some of the soup. She has you add lemon juice at the end, but I just used a wedge of lemon right in the serving bowl, her suggested garnishes are cilantro, mint or parsley, and a dash of olive oil. Mint was very nice with this soup, as was the splash of olive oil.

                23 Replies
                1. re: qianning

                  My turn for this soup. I love lentils - and this recipe couldn't have been easier. I added cilantro as well as a bit of mint and fresh lemon juice at serving. I'm not normally a huge fan of the flavor of cumin but this was good :-). It is easy for a weeknight, it's healthful, and its inexpensive.

                  1. re: qianning

                    Another vote for this soup! qianning does a great job of explaining how it all comes together. I made per MC's directions veering off the path only when it came to garnish as I topped w some Aleppo pepper. I tasted this before adding the lemon juice and it was delicious. So much so that I hesitated as to whether I should bother but then I remembered MC commenting that this is one recipe that she always makes to her own specifications each time she prepares it so in went the lemon juice. It really takes the soup from good to great. I found the lemon really made the flavour of the carrots pop. We just loved this. I'll be happy to make it again!

                    1. re: qianning

                      I have some red lentils that have been moldering in my pantry for longer than I'd like, so I am wondering if you could provide some quantities or a link to the recipes. I have Eat This Now, but not this book. This soup sounds awesome.

                      1. re: roxlet

                        There are so many recipes of Clark's online, if you google the name of the recipe and "Melissa Clark" you're almost certain to find it:

                            1. re: roxlet

                              You need 2 cups lentils, 2 large onions chopped, 4 garlic cloves minced, 2 quarts broth (chix or veg), 2 teas. cumin, 2 Tablespoons tomato paste, 2 carrots diced (I didn't bother to peel but the recipe says to do so), plus juice of one lemon (more to taste if desired), 1/3 cup cilantro , mint or parsley. You begin by cooking the onion and garlic in 4 TBS EVOO, then add pinch or more chili powder and/or cayenne, cumin and tomato paste. Cook a minute or so. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the lemon and herbs. Simmer till cooked thru and tender. Taste for seasoning. Purée the soup leaving it half chunky and then add the herbs, lemon, a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of chili powder (optional).

                              1. re: Blythe spirit

                                Thank you all very much! With unusually SEASONABLE (read chilly and wet) April weather promised for this week, I will definitely make this. And, inspired by what seem to be some very usable and interesting recipes, I went ahead and ordered the book. But I'm making this tomorrow for sure!

                            2. re: qianning

                              Red Lentil Soup with Lemon p. 75

                              Made this for lunch today with the plan of having leftovers for my husband and I through the week. This soup is great! And addictive. I was intrigued that MC chose this as one of her favorites and as BC mentions, the only recipe she follows faithfully. This recipe manages to be interesting and comforting at the same time and I really ate way more of it than is reasonable for a "light lunch." The bad news is, I only have one portion left for leftovers because I ate 3 bowls at lunch! The good news is the soup is so healthy and easy, we will repeat soon.

                              1. re: qianning

                                Red Lentil Soup with Lemon p. 75

                                I thought this soup was pleasant enough, but needed more oomph. I make a similar dish that's a bit spicier, and I serve it with yogurt. So I added more chili powder and some buttermilk to this one, which bumped it up a bit. I think I'm going to add cooked greens to the leftovers, and possibly additional seasoning, which means I'm essentially turning it into my other recipe. Ah well, I guess I already have a favorite red lentil soup.

                                1. re: qianning

                                  This is a great recipe. For how simple it is, it has a big flavor pay off. My son, who says he doesn't care for lentils, came back for a second ladleful.

                                  1. re: qianning

                                    Red Lentil Soup w/Lemon, p. 75

                                    This was one of the recipes I made when I first got this book last year, and I recall thinking at the time that, though it was good, I liked better the curried red lentil soup I usually make. But after reading all these reports, I knew I wanted to revisit it. Downed by a bad cold the past few days, I wanted soup but no more of the take-outs DH has been so kindly getting for me. I wanted something a little heartier, something spicy, and definitely something easy. Since I had everything on hand, I decided to drag myself into the kitchen and make half a recipe so I could have some for lunch. And it really hit the spot.

                                    Others here have described the process well, so I'll just add that I used aleppo pepper instead of cayenne and finished it with cilantro and some lime juice in addition to lemon juice as well as additional salt. I thought about stirring in some yogurt, decided against it, and then forgot the olive oil drizzle I had decided upon. No matter. It was delicious. I really appreciated the kick of citrus.

                                    So easy and quick that I'll surely make it again.

                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                      My turn for the lentil soup! It's rained for the whole month here - ever since an official drought was declared and a hosepipe ban imposed - and today was particularly nasty with hail for a time. So I hunkered down and made soup.

                                      I made this as written apart from it was too cold, dark and rainy to go in the garden to get some mint so I didn't add any herbs at the end. I enjoyed the soup anyway, but I think it would be better with the herbs. This reminds me of a Turkish soup I've enjoyed many times on holiday - the lemon juice really lifts it. I think yoghurt or spinach would be good additions too. I'm interested in making the version on the following page too - has anyone tried it?

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Glad you liked this gg and I love the idea of adding spinach...I think that would be wonderful!!

                                    2. re: qianning

                                      My son wanted me to make this again tonight, which I am not doing. This from someone who claimed he didn't like lentils! I would say it was an unqualified success!

                                      1. re: roxlet

                                        Don't know what it is about this little soup, but abashedly have to admit I've now made it three times, including for a quick solo dinner tonight. Quick definitely has something to do with it, plus the ingredients are things I always have on hand. Other than veg stock vs. chix stock (I prefer the veg), I haven't experimented;although the lime/cilantro combination sounds good, as does a spinach/yogurt option.

                                        The bulgur variant on the next page doesn't call to me personally just because it takes an additional half hour to cook, and I do think quick is one of the key reasons I'm so infatuated with the original.

                                        1. re: qianning

                                          I made it with our own homemade chicken stock. I'm resisting making it again tonight since my houseguest is excited about the possibility of pasta for dinner, but it will definitely show up on the dinner menu again within the week.

                                        2. re: roxlet

                                          roxlet congratulations, that is most definitely a breakthrough!

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            He's a very adventurous eater, but for some reasons, lentils never did it for him -- before now!

                                        3. re: qianning

                                          Red Lentil Soup

                                          On a drizzly and blustery April afternoon, one craves a hearty meal to warm the belly. A little lentil soup really was the perfect pick-me-up for such a grey day.
                                          Lunches really aren't my thing. I like lunch to be quick and simple, preferably delicious, though I do admit to throwing up my hands and reverting to boxed items when inspiration doesn't come. This day, I knew that I wanted lentils, but I did not want dal, thank you. So as I added the cumin and tomato paste to the pot and was rewarded with a distinct dal-like aroma, I started grumbling to myself that this was going to be a lame version of that Indian staple that I just wasn't in the mood for.
                                          Well, I sit here eating my words as a side dish to my soup. I opted to use mint as the finishing herb, and that musky fragrance along with the bright lemon really took that soup in a new direction. There was a distinct Middle Eastern flair in my bowl that begged to be lapped up with some floppy warm pita bread and a side of fattoush. Even Mr. Allegro went nuts for this dish, and he is not a red lentil fan at all. I was extremely impressed with the simplicity and overall deliciousness of this soup, and will be putting this into my lunchtime rotation (maybe even tomorrow!).

                                          1. re: Allegra_K

                                            So glad you enjoyed this Allegra, reading your review made me crave it all over again!

                                          2. re: qianning

                                            Per a request from my son, I made this again last night, following the recipe online as opposed to the one in the book, which is slightly different and larger. I prefer the one online, but in any case, it turned out very well, and was a hit with everyone again.

                                            1. re: qianning

                                              Yesterday was a rainy day -- perfect for lentil soup! Like others, we enjoyed this soup. I used the recipe from the NYT and doubled it. We garnished with cilantro and mint. I used an entire lemon for the double batch of soup and could have used even more, but I am a fiend for lemon in my red lentil soup and always add a lot. I stashed half the soup away in the freezer pending baby's arrival, and I'm sure we'll be glad to pull it out again even in the middle of summer. I too am curious to try the alternate version with bulgar and mint -- sounds like a Turkish-style lentil soup which I usually love - but will probably wait until fall for that one.

                                            2. Spinach and Avocado Salad with Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette, p.50

                                              First a vinaigrette is made with the standard french ingredients: garlic, dijon, lemon juice and olive oil. The garlic was scraped into a paste with salt which I think really helps to temper the harshness of raw garlic. This vinaigrette is pored over spinach (we used baby) and cubed avocado then lightly tossed.

                                              In a word, this salad was delectable. We all gobbled our portions and then I hovered over the salad bowl with a fork annihilating the leftovers. We doubled the avocado, because the recipe only calls for a half and I didn't want to waste the other half and we also doubled the vinaigrette because the amount the recipe called for didn't look like it would be enough.

                                              This salad was so simple and yet I loved it!

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: michaelak79

                                                Broiled Striped Bass with Brown Butter Corn Sauce, p. 53-55

                                                This is a wonderful fish dish that can be as simple or complicated as you like. The fish itself is seasoned and then smeared with a compound butter. Then it is roasted at 500 degrees for 7-12 minutes. On its own, this fish has perfect texture and the subtle sauce resulting from the compound butter makes for an ideal weeknight dinner.

                                                If you choose to make the brown butter corn sauce, the dish becomes a little more complicated. You can prepare the corn in one of two ways: as a side dish or as a sauce. In either case, I would characterize the corn as being more appropriate as a side dish and serve it as such rather than preparing it as a sauce for the fish. The corn makes an amazing vegetarian entree or a wonderful addition to a summer picnic menu.

                                                1. re: michaelak79

                                                  Spinach & Avocado Salad w/ Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette, p 50

                                                  M79 has given a great description above, so no need to repeat here. Funny thing is Mr. QN loved this and like M79 thought the garlic was just right; I on the other hand found this way too raw garlic-y. And so it goes.

                                                  1. re: michaelak79

                                                    Spinach and Avocado Salad (with Garlic Mustard Vinaigrette), p.50

                                                    It's sort of silly for me to report on this, since the recipe is basically about the vinaigrette, which I didn't make, but my lunch was inspired by this, so here I am anyway. I had baby spinach in the fridge and a ripe small Hass avocado on the counter, but I was too lazy/busy (mostly lazy, to be honest) to make the vinaigrette, so I just dressed it with olive oil, Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper. I had some feta left after making the Shrimp for a Small Kitchen the other night, so I crumbled it and threw it in, as well - it worked well with the spinach, avocado, and lemon and the whole was a satisfying quick lunch, with a hunk of whole-grain bread.

                                                    1. re: michaelak79

                                                      Sausage Salad with Radicchio and Frisee (variation on Spinach and Avocado Salad with garlic mustard vinaigrette, although I'm not sure why) ps. 50/51

                                                      I'd bought some vegan sausages at TJs and wanted to do something a little different with them. I figured making this as our main course, along with a baguette would do the trick. Unfortunately I think you really need meaty sausages to really get the flavor of the fat in the dressing. Still and all, I enjoyed this, and husband went back for thirds. Lulu complained that it didn't have enough dressing. That child has never met a sour flavor she doesnt' want more of. I doubled the recipe (tripled the dressing - at least - to make up for the lack of fat in the sausages), using 2 heads of radicchio and a package of baby arugula in place of the frisee. Once that is in your salad bowl you make a paste of garlic and salt, then start sauteing your sausages in olive oil. Once they are getting browned you add the garlic mix, and some red wine vinegar to the pan and scrape up the brown bits (of which there were none, given the vegan sausages). Put the sausage mixture onto your vegetables and check for seasoning (including more olive oil if necessary). Very simple, and I liked it. I'm SURE that it would be better with real sausages, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                        Sausage Salad with Radicchio and Frisee, Pg. 50-51

                                                        I'm not sure this was better "with real sausages" as LLM said, but we liked this salad very much. I used the spicy hot pork sausages I sometimes get at my local salumaria, doubled the dressing ingredients, used both radicchio and frisee, increased the garlic from 1 large clove to 3, and added 3 chopped scallions just before putting the sausage meat into the skillet. I followed the recipe directions and it produced a tangy, spicy, pretty (green & white frisee, purple and white radicchio), main course salad. This was served atop a soft pocketless pita (a new item from the farm bakery) with dressed chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions on top of that. Quite filling and satisfying. Gorgeous whole strawberries with a dollop of TJ's Cool Whip simulation was dessert. That stuff tastes for all the world like the Real Thing...

                                                    2. Roasted eggplant with basil green goddess dressing , page 72.
                                                      This was a winner! I especially loved the dressing. The anchovy was un-detectable to my guest.
                                                      The two of us polished off the whole thing. This is a definite repeat for me.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                        Good to see you liked this....I have it tagged for later in the month. What did you serve it with?

                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                          It was very rich - so I just served it with a salad of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. Plain grilled chicken or fish would work well too.

                                                        2. re: Blythe spirit

                                                          Roasted eggplant with basil green goddess dressing , page 72

                                                          I made this last night and it was a hit. Super easy as well.

                                                          Note: it makes a lot of dressing, I probably didn't use even half of it. But, on the plus side, I used it as a dip for carrots and pita chips.