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“A Cookbook a Week” Challenge (CAWC) – Thread #3 - Will you join me?

At long last I’m back in Canada and here to post Thread #3!! Thanks so much for your patience!!

It was so much fun catching up on all the great books reviewed in Thread #2. Believe it our not, in the few weeks since we first started this thread we’ve now reviewed a grand total of 52 books!! Thank-you so very much to all of you for joining me in this adventure.

For those of you that are new to this thread, welcome…please join us. Here’s some basic info:

GOAL FOR THREAD: Get to know our cookbooks better. Keep the good ones, toss a few duds along the way.

HOW IT WORKS (the condensed version):

- Pull a book off the shelf, dust it off and have a look through

- Post your impressions here. Is it a keeper? Any recipes that appealed?, have you ever cooked from it or might you now?

***Please start your post with title of your book in BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS***

- If you make a dish at a later date, come back and post your review
beneath your original post. Review the dish as you see fit. Some folks will have lots to say, others won’t. This isn’t at COTM so it doesn’t have to be detailed but if someone wanted to do that, great.

• If others have the book and/or have cooked from it they can add their reviews beneath the first post about that book.

• BEFORE POSTING ABOUT A BOOK - PLEASE do a search of the thread (“Ctl F” w a
pc, “Command F” on a mac) to see if someone else has posted about it. If so, add your post beneath theirs. If not, hit “Reply to original post” and post to this OP.

If you want more info on How It Works, please click here for the OP in Thread #2: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8699...

Here are the 52 books we’ve reviewed so far:


If you chose one of these books, please add to existing reviews here:

















660 CURRIES (Oct 2012 COTM),






If you chose one of these books, please add to existing reviews here:


TASTE OF HOME SPECIAL EDITIONS: 72 Tasty Recipes shared by real people,
DINNER: A LOVE STORY, by Jenny Rosenstrach
The Book of New New England Cookery
formerly known as The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery
Judith and Evan Jones,
THE SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE by Marcus Samuelsson
THE BOOK OF KALE, Sharon Hanna,
Sarah Leah Chase’s Open-House Cookbook (1987) and Cold-Weather Cooking” (1990
GOOD FOOD FAST by Anne Walsh with help from the editors of Food & Wine magazine
ROBIN RESCUES DINNER: 52 Weeks of Quick-Fix Meals, 350 Recipes, and a Realistic Plan to Get Weeknight Dinners on the Table, Robin Miller
THE BRISKET BOOK, A Love Story With Recipes by Stephanie Pierson
A TASTE OF SHAN by Page Bingham
THE ESSENTIAL MEDITERRANEAN: How Regional Cooks Transform Essential Ingredients into the World's Favorite Cuisine, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
PARISIAN HOME COOKING, Conversations, recipes, and tips from the cooks and food merchants of Paris, by Michael Roberts
COOK ONCE A WEEK, EAT WELL EVERY DAY Make-Ahead Meals that Transform your Suppertime Circus into Relaxing Family Time, Theresa Albert
WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT from Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
How to Pick a Peach, (The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table) by Russ Parsons
In the Kennedy Kitchen, Neil Connolly

Also, Mr. Bigglesworth shared a link to his thread where he undertook a similar challenge and shared book and recipe notes:

As the holiday season approaches I’m guessing we’ll see some seasonal books pulled off the shelf and dusted off and I can’t wait. I sure could use more space on my shelf and I’m betting there are some holiday-themed books that could use a new home!!

Let the fun begin & welcome to Thread #3…I’ll post a new thread once we hit approx 300 posts (I promise!!).

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)

    I have an extensive collection of Italian Cookbooks and have come to rely on this book for inspired, delicious dishes. I’ve selected this book for my CAWC since I know it well enough to provide a quick review and I know it’s a keeper. I’m hoping this post will be useful to anyone considering adding a Tuscan-inspired book to their own collection.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: You may know of Pino Luongo already. He’s a restaurateur famous to many for the delicious dishes produced at Coco Pazzo, Le Madri, Tuscan Square or Centolire. Chef Luongo has penned a number of cookbooks including Simply Tuscan and, A Tuscan in the Kitchen…also excellent books IMHO.

    ABOUT THE BOOK: In this book the author takes Old World Classic dishes and shares his own variations. In fact, each recipe starts with a description of “Il Classico” the original recipe and “La Mia Versione” a short description of the riff which sometimes includes suggestions for serving or accompaniments. Many of the recipes are accompanied by large, enticing photographs of the finished dish and I’m happy to report that the photographs accurately depict how the dish actually turns out if you make it at home. Recipes are laid out sensibly with ingredients listed on the left and instructions on the right. Generally instructions are clear though improvements could be made (eg. Specifying a quantity of juice vs juice of ½ an orange). Though this is far more critical in baking, I find such specificity is often a sign that recipes are well tested. I have found one error in the book so far, an oven temperature that was not accurately converted to Fahrenheit. The chapters in the book are organized by main ingredient (eg. Bread, Grains and Legumes, Mushrooms, Spring or Autumn Vegetables, Poultry, Pork, Fish and Shellfish etc). The author explains that this approach was taken to encourage cooks to put their own menus together and not be restricted to a starter, main course etc. Also, each recipe is accompanied by a recommendation for wine. In my experience these recommendations have proven to be quite reliable though in some instances, more obscure wines are not widely available here in Canada where the Government likes to make all the decisions about what we should and shouldn’t be drinking!! (no, I’m not bitter!!) Because this book was written with an American influence the ingredients are readily available in most supermarkets.


    What I love about this book is the wide variety of dishes and ingredients used. Frequently the recipes from this book appear in EYB searches where I’m looking for a recipe for certain ingredients I have on hand. The author does provide recipes for core elements of dishes so if folks are inclined to make their own pasta for instance, Chef has you covered. Of course you don’t have to make your own pasta and I haven’t found any dish I’ve made to have suffered for the use of the purchased fresh or dried pasta I’ve used. Generally speaking, I’ve found the recipes to come together pretty quickly and there aren’t many complicated steps or instructions. So far I’ve made the following dishes:

    Spiral Pasta with Lentils, Shrimp and Bacon
    Roughly Cut Pasta with White Bean Sauce
    Tagliarini with Small Veal Meatballs, Mushrooms and Sweet Peas
    Garganelli and Chicken Ragout with Saffron
    Orecchiette with Dandelion, Sausage and Lemon Zest

    I’ve reviewed all these recipes in EYB and if anyone is interested, you can read my notes here:


    Last night I made the Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash Crumbled Sweet Sausage and Sage and I’ll review that dish in this thread.

    So far I’ve only ever used this book on a “spot basis” meaning a recipe suggestion came up in EYB and I’ve made the dish. In the days ahead I hope to go through this book page by page and record dishes I hope to make or that just didn’t appeal here along with any other points that may be of interest.

    It’s good to be home and back on track with this thread!!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      LA MIA CUCINA TOSCANA - Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash, Crumbled Sweet Sausage and Sage – p. 121

      Classically the ingredients used here come together in a zuppa but this version, a riff, pairs the sweetness of the squash w sausage and the earthiness of sage to produce a delicious pasta perfectly suited for a crisp fall evening.

      I find it easier to peel squash if it’s slightly softened so to achieve this I score the skin and place the whole squash in the microwave, covered w a piece of paper towel and microwave on high for 5-7 mins. Once the squash cools, I peel it w a y-shaped vegetable peeler.

      ¾ of the squash is roasted along w some garlic cloves, sage and bay leaves. The remaining squash is simmered w some sautéed leek and stock then pureed to make a light sauce. Mine was quite thick so I thinned it out w some water when pureeing in the blender.

      Once the pasta is cooked it is combined w the roasted veggies, sauce, sautéed sausage and leeks. Parmesan is grated atop. We didn’t have the suggested Sfurzat red wine to serve alongside so instead we went with a Shiraz. A delicious but very rich pasta that is best enjoyed in moderation. Definitely a dish I’ll make again.

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        LA MIA CUCINA TOSCANA – Review Con’t:

        So in my initial post above I admitted to only having used this book on a spot basis without ever flipping through it to get to know it better. Well now I’m back to report that I’ve taken a full look through this book and I’ve learned something important.

        If I’d looked through this book in a store before purchasing (I ordered it online from a re-seller, sight unseen) I likely would never have purchased it!! Of course, that would have been a HUGE mistake because I’ve made some absolutely fabulous recipes from this book. So, I suppose you might be wondering what turned me off? Well, it’s the photography. There are a number of recipes and photos in the book that I would never make. These dishes appear too “artistic” or composed. These contrived concoctions make for better art than food in my view. The first thing I did on discovering these photos was to flip to the front of the book to see if it was published in 90’s where there seemed to be an abundance of stacked/piled food appearing in magazines but in fact, this book was published in 2003. I’ve also dined in a couple of the author’s restaurants and can’t say this type of food is typical of what I’ve found on his menus so I’m not sure what’s up w this book. So silly were some of the recipes/photos that I’ve posted a few photos here for you to see.

        So, now I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me tell you what else I discovered as I looked through the book. Mushrooms! I’d highly recommend this book to folks who love mushrooms. The recipes where this famous funghi played a starring role were plentiful and enticing. I also noticed a number of seafood and fish recipes which, in my experience, don’t normally figure prominently in Tuscan books. Despite the number of “artistic” dishes that didn’t appeal, there were still a number of recipes that did. Here are some of the dishes I’ve flagged to try at a later date:

        Hot Salad of Mushrooms, Spelt and Arugula
        Peas in a Light Tomato Sauce w Scrambled Eggs
        Spring Stew of Monkfish, Fava Beans and Italian Bacon
        Roasted Asparagus and Spelt Omelet
        Halibut Steamed with Lemon Leaves and Asparagus
        Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Shrimp, and White Wine
        Rigatoni with Chicken, Peas and Prosciutto
        Spicy Cornish Hen (he uses jalapenos however I’d go w Serranos)
        Prosciutto with Roasted Pears
        Pork Chops with Mortadella, Fontina, and Sage

        I especially found the two seasonal chapters (Spring & Fall) to appeal. The downside of the mushroom recipes for me is that I don’t have regular access to a good variety of wild mushrooms and while the recipes in this book would work w the basic varieties, I do think they’d be much better with wild mushrooms.

        I’m glad I had the opportunity to take a closer look at this book and I’ve learned an important lesson. As someone who is quickly drawn to photographs, I shouldn’t place too much weighting on them, as it’s really the recipes that matter. In this case I’ll happily put La Mia Cucina Toscana back on my shelf. Everything we’ve made so far has been a big hit and, I’m now looking forward to some new dishes as well.

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          It's food sculpture! How very funny. You are right. If I flipped through this book in a store I would giggle and move on.

      2. HOW TO EAT, Nigella Lawson

        This is another book that I acquired shortly before my son was born and have never really used.

        This is an idiosyncratic, very personal book. It represents the way the world should work according to Nigella (food wise), and for this reason I find it hard to settle on any recipes for actual cooking, though I do find the book interesting.

        There is a lot of text and the recipes are set off within the text with blue type. I find this a bit hard to follow and it doesn't help with the problem of choosing recipes.

        I suspect that this book would make a good COTM as it could really benefit from crowd sourcing. There is also a good variety of recipes, which makes for a good COTM as well.

        The book is not organized in any typical fashion (seasons, ingredients, courses, etc) but rather is divided into 8 sections as follows:

        Basics etc.: contains recipes for roast chicken, a few viniagrettes and sauces (hollandsise, bearnaise), some basic desserts, holiday cooking (including the clementine cake)
        Cooking in Advance: soups, stews, vegetables and desserts best prepared in advance and later reheated
        One and Two: things to cook when dining alone or with one other person (linguine with clam sauce, steak bearnaise, blini with caviar, quail)
        Fast Food: things to cook quickly after work, including general strategies and some fast dishes to make for weeknight company
        Weekend Lunches: vaguely seasonal menus for casual lunches with friends. Usually consisting of entree and dessert
        Dinners: dinner party menus
        Low Fat: recipes nigella likes when on a diet (mostly Asian influenced dishes, lots of fish and veggies)
        Cooking for Babies and Small Children: general discussion and recipes for things kids like.

        I have made one recipe from this book: Anna's chickpea and pasta soup on p. 79. I liked it, however there is a very similar recipe in Marcella's essentials, which I think i prefer, though I don't recall why. I'd like to try more things from this book. One recipe calling my name is chicken from the Venetian grotto (a Claudia Roden recipe). Other than that I am having trouble getting inspired. I would be very curious to hear if others have favorites from this book.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Westminstress

          I've got the book too but haven't used it much. I've heard many many people raved about it. I've made a couple of chocolate puddings from it, iirc. I think it'll make a great COTM too, for the same reason as you say.

          1. re: lilham

            I've nominated Nigella's HOW TO EAT for December COTM over in this thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8770... Nominations end today so scurry over there to add your voice to the nominations thread if you wish.

            I was thiking this would be a good book for January (due to the low-fat options), but a) why wait until January to get started on good habits and b) it's got some Christmas recipes in it that might be put to good use sooner rather than later!


          2. re: Westminstress

            I'd love for this book to be COTM in January (I think I actually nominated it this past January) because it has that "low fat" section that appeals to those of us about to launch our annual diets...and something for most everyone else, too. But, I've only read it like a novel, never cooked from it, so it's a little hard to recommend it or push hard for it. I read the cooking for babies section when my son was an infant and would like to re-read it now that he's older. Maybe in January 2013. ;-)


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Cool - I will try to use it a bit over the next couple of months and will nominate it if I have good luck with the recipes.

            2. re: Westminstress

              I'm a big Nigella fan and have this book (gift of a very kind chowhound) and would love to cook more from it. It's the same old story - so many cookbooks, so little time.

            3. So good to be back home and get back to my CAWC! Here's this week's book:

              MUFFIN TIN CHEF By Matt Kadey

              I purchased this book during the summer and discovered it during a web search for portable food/recipes that I could use for weekday breakfasts. Of course I looked through it at the time, tabbed some appealing dishes and then forgot all about it!! Well thank goodness for this CAWC since a quick scan of my bookshelves this weekend lead me to this book. I quickly pulled it off the shelf to re-discover it. Unfortunately I didn’t get to it soon enough to shop for grocery items I might need to prepare any recipes but I’ve definitely discovered some really appealing dishes and look forward to trying a couple of recipes out next week. So, here’s a little more info:

              ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matt Kadey is a registered dietitian and food writer. He develops recipes and has a website dedicated to…you guessed it, muffin tin cooking! Here’s the link…there are lots of recipes online: http://www.muffintinmania.com/p/recip... According to the author, he originally became interested in this type of cooking after taking on an assignment to develop some recipes to be prepared in muffin tins but “NO MUFFINS”. Clearly he was onto something as it seems he’s developed a good fan base. Oh and by coincidence, he’s a Canadian too!!

              ABOUT THE BOOK: Much like the dishes it promotes, the book itself is small in size, just 158 pages. I believe there’s a full page dedicated to each recipe and many of the recipes are accompanied by a clear and appealing photograph. The recipes are divided into 5 categories that cover breakfast/brunch, starters/appetizers, main dishes, side dishes and dessert. In addition there is a resource section at the back of the book. Somehow I find this book incredibly appealing. I love the clear photographs of the various recipes. I found myself wanting to make and eat almost everything. I was also impressed with how clever the ideas were and there is quite a variety of recipes. Everything just looks so “cute”. I can certainly see these dishes appealing to kids and adults alike.

              ABOUT THE RECIPES: In the book’s introductory pages the author makes a compelling case for muffin tin cooking. Some points of note: Time savings – obviously because you are cooking in smaller quantities, things cook faster. Not only does this speed up your meal prep time but also it uses less energy. Portion Control – a great way to ensure folks get an appropriate serving size…no more, no less than they need. Great for Kids. Portable – great for meals on the go. Easy to freeze and defrost pre-portioned amounts. Recipes are accompanied by notations to indicate whether they are “Vegetarian”, “Gluten-free” or can be “Frozen” for a later date. One thing that surprised me, given that the author is a dietitian, was that no nutritional information was provided with the recipes.

              Here are some of the recipes I’ve tabbed to try:

              Baked Eggs in Prosciutto Cups
              Huevos Rancheros with Salsa Verde
              Spanish Omelet
              Bacon and Eggs (looks great w tomato, onions, mushrooms and arugula mixed in


              Egg and Sausage in Polenta Cups
              Baked Oatmeal…if I hadn’t needed to soak the oats overnight I’d have made these today as they look so good!
              Peach Oatmeal Bake
              Parmesan Hash Browns – these look like cute little nests!!
              Turkey Parmesan Muffins
              Granola Rounds – honestly the title doesn’t do these justice w their chia seeds, dried blueberries, cranberries and coconut…they sound amazing!
              Fruity Energy Bites
              Almond Protein Bites
              Curried Shrimp Cups
              Spinach Dip Bowls
              Caprese Cups
              Crustless Smoked Salmon Quiches
              Falafels with Asparagus and Hummus

              Honestly I marked so many this is getting a bit ridiculous!! I’ll share just a few more to give a sense of the main dish items:

              Turkey Pot Pies
              Lasagna Rolls
              Meatloaves w Chimichurri Sauce
              Eggplant Parmesan
              Mini Mac & Cheese!!
              Curry Tuna Noodle Casserole
              Pork Cakes w Apple Plum Chuteny
              Quinoa Mushroom Cakes w Sriracha Aioli

              Needless to say I’m quite smitten with this book and I’m crossing my fingers that the recipes work. If they do, I’m imagining this book inspiring many meals to come. FYI, I did manage to rustle up enough ingredients to make a variation on a dish this evening and time permitting, I’ll report back after dinner.

              28 Replies
              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                I'm looking forward to hearing more about this book. It sounds like the perfect book for someone looking to fill a lunch box 5x a week. Lulu's not big on sandwiches, which can make that iffy once the leftovers run out.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  I'm not big on sandwiches myslef LlM and that's one of the reasons this book appealed to me. I've now posted my first recipe review below btw. I think this is a great book.

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Thanks for sharing this. Sounds perfect to me too as I'm not a sandwich fan at all. And the first thing that pops to my mind when I hear muffin food is freezing too!

                  1. re: lilham

                    So right lilham, this is the perfect "freezing food" and makes it super-easy to pull out just enough for your meal...no waste!

                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                    After reading your description of this book, Breadcrumbs, I was so intrigued that when tonight I found myself near a bookstore I just had to go in and see if it was there...and it was! Looking through it I saw so many things (many of which are on your list above) that I had to buy it.

                    I'm looking forward to trying many of these and will spend some time tabbing ones to try first.
                    I also look forward to reading your recipe reviews!

                    1. re: poptart

                      Oh I'm so excited to have some company in the Muffin Tin kitchen poptart!! Looking forward to reading your reviews. I just posted my first one below.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Thanks for your pork cakes review! I tried the baked oatmeal this weekend; will elaborate more below!
                        Also I tagged many recipes to try.

                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                      BC--I've always wanted to do more toaster oven cooking and figured a half (six) muffin tin would be the way to go. Does he address toaster oven cooking at all? This could be just my speed...


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Hi TDQ, no he doesn't address toaster oven cooking but you are so right, these recipes are ideal for the the toaster oven. Though I didn't use it this time, I'd definitely consider it in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.

                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                        MUFFIN TIN CHEF - Pork Cakes with(out) Apple-Plum Chutney – p. 88

                        After reviewing the book I was so keen to cook from it but I hadn’t taken any recipes into account when I did my grocery shopping the day before so I was limited to finding something that worked with ingredients I had on hand.

                        Fortunately I did manage to unearth some ground pork from the chest freezer so this recipe was on the menu…without the chutney that is.

                        I found the recipe online so I’ll paste the link here to save getting into how this all comes together:


                        I did make a couple of changes. I went with chopped Thai bird chilies instead of the jalapeno and while the recipe suggests a yield of 12 pork cakes, I had 10 since I feared that portioning the meat any smaller would just entice folks to eat more. As it was mr bc ended up eating 3! The recipe also allows for a couple of choices. FWIW, I went w the dry breadcrumbs vs the oatmeal and dried sage vs fresh since the frost got the last of my fresh stuff!

                        Since I didn’t have the chutney I decided to glaze the tops of these cakes w some sweet Thai chili garlic sauce. This turned out to be a terrific option and everyone just loved these little meat cakes. What really impressed me was how flavourful and juicy they were. As you can see in the photos below, the meat must have been fairly lean as the cakes didn't shrink much at all in the cooking process.

                        Everyone raved about these and next time I’ll definitely make a double batch so we have leftovers for weekday breakfasts or lunches. This was a big hit!! Can’t wait to try another recipe!

                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          MUFFIN TIN CHEF - Baked Oatmeal

                          This was easy and I made them to have for breakfasts and snacks during the week.

                          It takes a little planning in that you have to soak the steel cut oats overnight before mixing up with other ingredients to bake.

                          I made several substitutions; using dried cranberries for the raisins, omitted the cinnamon and used nutmeg only, and used soy milk for regular milk.

                          I liked the "moist muffin" texture very much and they are indeed filling and nutritionally dense.
                          So far, I've tried some at room temperature, and toasted. I've frozen a bag full and defrosted/toasted this morning for breakfast and they were fine.

                          These are not very sweet, which is fine for me. It's easy to add sweetness by putting on some honey, or maple syrup if you prefer. I like that they are not overly sweet, so that the taste can be varied. That said, I bet if using cinnamon they will seem sweeter.

                          I'll make these on a regular basis, as they are handy for breakfast on the run and for a late afternoon snack to help stave hunger pangs before dinner.

                          1. re: poptart

                            So great to read your review poptart, I'm glad you're enjoying the book so far. I also made the baked oatmeal and like you, we really enjoyed it. I'll post my review and would be very interested to hear if your batter was thin like mine before baking. As I've noted below, I did use flax seeds vs ground flax so I'm not sure how much of a difference that made.

                            1. re: poptart

                              MUFFIN TIN CHEF – BAKED OATMEAL – p. 22

                              Terrific! The head note for this recipe asks: “Why just eat your oatmeal from a bowl?” and it was the notion of having a portable oatmeal breakfast that attracted me to this recipe. I loved the variety of ingredients it included and wish I’d been able to find chia seeds at the supermarket as I’m always happy to add them to our meals. I used flax seeds instead and though the author suggests that ground flax seeds be used, mine were whole and the dish didn’t seem to suffer for it.

                              Here’s how it all comes together: As poptart notes, steel cut oats are soaked overnight then drained and combined w raisins, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, the flax or chia mentioned above, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In another bowl eggs are beaten along w milk and peanut butter. The egg mixture is combined w the oats then the mixture is divided into muffin cups. I must say, at this point I truly had my doubts as to whether this would turn out. My batter was watery. I figured something must be wrong and after checking back w the book and seeing I’d added everything I should have, I decided to forge ahead. I used a ladle to portion out the batter and even snapped a couple of photos to share here so you could get a sense of how wet the mixture really was.

                              What I appreciate in this recipe is the opportunities it provides for variations. I elected to skip the walnuts as I had some dried cranberries to use up. I also had a handful of dried chopped apple that went into the mix as well. Almond butter could easily be used in place of the peanut butter and any milk would do. I’d like to try soy milk next time around. The author suggests you top these w an apple cinnamon mixture but since I’d added some dried apples, I opted just to top w some cinnamon-flavoured maple sugar.

                              FYI, I used muffin tin liners and gave them a quick spritz w butter-flavoured cooking spray. Nevertheless, the mixture did stick to the liners somewhat and certainly didn’t plate like a very similar dish photographed on the author’s website. I’ll share a link below.

                              The finished oatmeal cakes were a delight. Sweetened only by the fruit and the dusting of sugar atop they were definitely not overly sweet like so many oatmeal breakfast breads or muffins. The author does suggest that these could be served w some maple syrup atop but that’s not practical for a portable meal and, I liked this just the way it was. The cakes are quite dense and filling.

                              I loved the variety of textures in the dish was surprised about how moist they were. The egg mixture provides a custardy flavour and textural element to the dish, somewhat l like that in a bread pudding. I suspect if I’d used ground flax vs the seeds my mixture would have been a little drier. I like poptart’s idea of toasting them and would definitely try this at home sometime.

                              Here’s a link to a recipe by the same name on the author’s website. Please note while this dish is similar, this is NOT THE SAME RECIPE that’s in the book:


                              Like poptart, I’ll most definitely make this again. I totally agree that this makes for a perfect, healthy weekday breakfast or snack and I can see us having this frequently. It’s great to hear they freeze well too!!

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Breadcrumbs, I think you are right that the batter might have been stiffer with ground flaxseed. Reading your description made me realize that I didn't have flaxseed so used extra chia instead. Perhaps this is why my batter was stiffer? I'd say it was stiff enough to have used an ice cream scoop.

                                I have a lot of chia seed, having purchased a few bags awhile back when they were on sale at Whole Foods for a very good price, so I'll be utilizing them in this recipe for awhile.

                                I often have stirred chia gel into cooked oatmeal for extra nutrition (and staying power) so may use some chia gel in place of some of the milk to see what happens.

                                This may be one of those recipes that morphs to something slightly different every time, depending on tweaks as you mentioned (different nut butters, dried fruits, etc.).

                                Thanks for the pictures, what a great idea!

                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  I made these recently using the linked recipe. I thought they were ok, but I don't love them. I was a bit surprised by the texture - somehow I was expecting a more muffiny or cake-like texture (not sure why since there was no flour or leavening in the mix.) My cakes are like very dense oatmeal hockey pucks. I subbed chia for flax meal, maybe that's why? The texture is not that bad, as it's pleasantly chewy from the oats, pumpkin seeds and apple, but it is not what I expected. Also, I didn't realize until too late that there is no salt in the online recipe. I would definitely add salt if making these again. I do agree that these are a handy healthy snack to have around, very healthy and packed with protein and fiber. I wish I'd had these a few months ago bc these are just perfect for nursing moms during the first few months. Lots of nutrition in a small convenient package, plus oats are good for milk supply.

                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                    Mine were not cake-like either; I was looking for something like an bowl-of -atmeal replacement though so it wasn't too far off from that.
                                    I did try them cut in half and toasted, with plum jam on them and that was pretty good! Another day I did the same but used almond butter and honey instead of the jam.

                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                              MUFFIN TIN MANIA : KALE CUPS


                              I made these in the weekend for lunch today. (And more for the freezer). I mixed everything in the food processor, instead of a large bowl. I also used less kale but kept the amount of cheese the same as in the recipe. It came to 7 regular sized muffin 'cups'.

                              I don't like this. It's ok enough for lunch but I wouldn't make it again. It tastes quite dry. I don't think me doubling the cheese would make it drier than it should be. Also it has a very strange after taste to it, I think it tastes like I've overdone the ginger, but it doesn't have ginger in the mix.

                              I think I'll give the muffin tin mania another go because I really like the premise. But I'll stick with something safe like meatloaves or lentils.

                              1. re: lilham

                                Weird! I wonder what combination of ingredients mimics the experience of "too much ginger"? We might need a food scientist to step in! Thanks for reporting back on this one as this is one I was drawn to.


                                1. re: lilham

                                  That's too bad lilham. Interestingly, I don't see this recipe in the book but I've also learned that the Index isn't terrific in this book since it's organized by dish name but not by ingredient so if he re-named the dish, I wouldn't see it anyway. Fingers crossed that you'll enjoy your next dish more.

                                  FYI, I made the Baked Oatmeal yesterday and unfortunately I forgot to bring one w me today so I can't report on how they turned out yet but stay tuned!! They looked and smelled great though!

                                  1. re: lilham

                                    KALE CUP & MINI MEATLOAF


                                    The mini meatloaf is part of a recipe with a rhubarb sauce, but I only made the meatloaf. It's a very interesting meatloaf in that it's half mushroom by weight. Rolled oats is used instead of breadcrumbs (supposedly it's healthier but I don't know why). I like to make my meat go further for lunch because of both cost and health issues. I've previously used tofu to pad out burgers, but never tried mushrooms before. The recipe has you fried the onion and mushrooms first. Instead I took a shortcut and simply chop both very finely in the food processor, then add to the rest of the ingredients. Pour into muffin tray and bake. I made the full recipe, and ended up with nine meatloafs, same as the author.

                                    I have one for lunch today, together with a kale cup, and also a quick toss noodle from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. Both kale cup and meatloaves are DIVINE with the noodles. It's a packed lunch so everything is reheated through the microwave at work.

                                    The meatloaf is very soft and porous as you'd expect from the amount of mushrooms in it. It's also a bit bland on its own but you are supposed to have a barbecue sauce with it. But the noodle is very very flavourful and with one mouthful of noodle and a mouthful of meatloaf, I don't need a separate sauce at all. I suspect the meatloaf acts more like a flavour sponge here, similar to tofu. But I'll make it again because the noodles will become a regular in my bento, and the meatloafs go so well with it. And they are healthy and easy to make.

                                    Previously I thought the kale cups are a bit gingery and bitter. Now I think about it, it could be because I served it with
                                    which has ginger in it. And the two just doesn't go well together. But with the noodles, the kale cups are much much tastier. It's such a nice freezer staple, and a good way to eat more kale. It could be the noodles making everything taste nice though!

                                    PS. The noodle recipe is a non recipe in the One & Two chapter (iirc). I'll review it when the COTM threads are up.

                                    1. re: lilham

                                      Heh. A "non recipe" from HTE. I know exactly what you mean--buried in the text somewhere. I look forward to your review. Am especially encouraged by the word divine.

                                      DId you say these kale muffins are supposed to be served with a rhubarb sauce? (oh, sorry, I see you said the mini-meatloaves). We get tons of rhubarb in spring...

                                      Am I going to have to buy this ding dang book?


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Don't TDQ. I'm not that impressed by the Muffin Tin Chef. (Unless you are talking about HTE, then you need to get it). I was simply following the recipes online. I found both recipes I've tried just ok. I only like the site because this kind of cooking is perfect for packing my bentos. Everything is in muffin portions, so for example for this lunch, I just make a noodle, and then add one frozen muffin of kale cup, and another muffin of meat loaf. I don't think I'll be cooking from this site if I'm a sandwich person.

                                        I found the recipes on Just Bento a lot more to my taste. But I get bored of the same old same old easily.

                                        1. re: lilham

                                          I'm glad you told us because in theory this book sounds good and useful. But I have to say that a lot of what people have reported on doesn't totally appeal to me, and if what you've made isn't even very tasty, then I can nix this one.

                                          1. re: lilham

                                            OK, whew, thank you. I did mean MTC.

                                            I am already the proud owner of HTE.


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I must have missed the reference. What is HTE?

                                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      MUFFIN TIN CHEF - Quinoa-Mushroom Cakes w Sriracha Aioli – p. 100

                                      This is the recipe that first drew me to the book and I’ve been itching to give them a try. This week the stars were aligned. I remembered to buy mushrooms and walnuts so I was good to go. I used a tri-colour quinoa mix so mine may not look like the author intended them but they certainly tasted wonderful. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of texture. Obviously it’s the eggs that act as a binding agent but there really isn’t that much egg relative to the other ingredients. I believe this led to the only issue I had with this recipe. While the cakes emerged from the oven (and their cupcake wrappers) in good form, it only took one pass of the fork to cause the portion of quinoa to fall apart. I suspect this is why the author suggests that the Sriracha aioli be served atop. I’d elected to serve it on the side so folks could take as much or as little as they pleased but it was almost futile trying to scoop and dip a forkful in the sauce and most folks opted to pour the sauce on their cakes. That said, the flavours were great. The earthiness of the quinoa and mushrooms were balanced by the sweetness of the onion and carrot. We all agreed that the sauce worked really well with the dish and I especially liked the textural contrast the walnuts brought to the mix. They also echoed the nuttiness of the quinoa. I’ve frozen the remainder and will report back on how that works out. I’d absolutely make these again but I don’t think they’re idea for work lunches as I’d worry about how well they’d travel given their propensity to break apart. Btw, I used lime juice vs lemon as it seemed like a natural fit to me for an Asian-style aioli. We loved it!

                                      The first pic is before baking but it really doesn't look that much different than the cooked version. The tops actually do get golden!

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Thanks for this review; I was also interested in trying to make them. Perhaps I will consider using 2 eggs? Did you feel that the batter texture needed more to bind it and do you think an extra egg would do the trick?

                                    3. GEORGIAN BAY GOURMET ENTERTAINS by Anne Connell, Helen Gibson, Mary Hunt and Jean Leavens

                                      I’m now several weeks into my CAWC and though I’d hoped this exercise would help me purge some dud cookbooks from my shelves, to-date I’ve found nothing but keepers. So this week I decided that I haven’t been trying hard enough to unearth books that may be in need of a new home and I headed upstairs to a bookcase that holds what I call my land of misfit cookbooks! These are books that haven’t earned a spot downstairs. I’ve usually inherited them from someone who was doing their own clean-out and passed cookbooks along to me because a) I like to cook and b) they know I don’t have the willpower to pass up a cookbook! This bookcase also holds old cookbooks I collected in my youth but I haven’t looked at in years and books I’ve bought as part of a box lot at auction or at “fill-a-bag” type charity book sales. So now you get the idea.

                                      I pulled this book off the shelf because it had an “entertaining” theme so with the holidays approaching; I thought I’d give it a fair shot at earning its keep. Also it’s over an inch thick so it was taking up a decent piece of shelf real estate!

                                      ABOUT THE BOOK: My first impression was “this book has never been opened!” For those who haven’t heard of it, Georgian Bay is a picturesque area in Ontario, Canada well-known as a prime cottaging destination. My best guess is that someone purchased this as a souvenir for themselves or someone else and eventually it was donated to charity. Evidently the authors wrote 2 (self-published) books prior to this and it would seem no books have been written since…my first clue on the road to discovery! On the plus side, the book is organized by season and sub-divided by seasonal events or holidays. Interesting that athough the book does contain a number of colour photographs, they’re of the region vs food! (yes, you guessed it, another clue!!)

                                      ABOUT THE RECIPES: Recipes are provided for each occasion. I suspect the book is targeting the cottage chef as it seems to make use of many pantry ingredients. For example, the “In the Pink Potato Salad”, a summer dish, calls for 3 x 14oz cans of beets. Some recipes do tend to yield enough for a crowd. This doesn’t seem like a book where you’ll unearth a new recipe, rather it seems like a collection of family standards and perhaps favourites of someone's family. I suspect there may be a few gems in here but it’s one of those books that doesn’t offer anything appealing to someone with a large collection of cookbooks. I’d never find myself pulling this off the shelf to see if there’s something that appeals when I have so many books from chefs and author’s who I know and trust. Some recipes are, well, not really recipes at all. Take “Frozen Green Grapes” for instance. Yup, you guessed it, just one ingredient on the list…a bunch of grapes. Instructions are in two steps. The first has you remove grapes from their stems then place on a sheet pan to freeze (oops, they forgot to tell you to wash them first!!) Step two is to serve them in a glass bowl!! Then there are recipes I’d never have any interest in making like the “Date with a Salad” that combines yogurt, grated raw turnip, sugar, pitted dates (and more!) or the “Slender Escargot Pate” where margarine canned escargot and other ingredients are pitched into the blender. Though I was fairly certain I’d be sending this book off to a better place, it was the “Souper Toot Soup” that really sealed the deal for me. Honestly, what were these ladies thinking?!!

                                      Needless to say, I’ve managed to clear a small place on my bookcase and The Georgian Bay Gourmet Entertains will be on it’s way to the thrift store next weekend. Important lesson learned as well. If I ever get invited to a cottage at Georgian Bay, I’ll be sure to ask what’s on the menu first!!

                                      1. TEACHING DAD TO COOK FLAPJACKS by Miranda Gardiner

                                        This book just made its way to my shelves but since I am excited about it, I am going to christen it by making it my challenge book. The author has a lovely voice and her recipes are homey and inviting. Other than learning the "Cornish" lingo, there is nothing remotely challenging about the recipes in this book. Any home cook should be able to replicate them. Having said that, the recipes appear to be entirely original, at least to this non-brit.

                                        I have picked 5 recipes to try:

                                        Chewy flapjacks, p. 12 (a cookie of sorts, not a pancake like I originally thought)
                                        The shepard's cottage, p. 16 (a very simple stew)
                                        Swedish berry crumble with vanilla cream, p. 40 (ok this one is more familiar but I like how simple her instructions are so I am going to give it a go)
                                        `Roasted beetroot, feta cheese and clementine salad, p. 87 (the picture of this recipe is awe inspiring)
                                        Honied figs, p. 106 (if I can still find fresh figs)
                                        Salmon and lemon thyme fishcakes with brioche crumbs, 114 (these remind me of my mom's cooking)
                                        Jam tarts with orange drizzle, p. 120 (again, the picture got me)
                                        Blackberry and sour cream clafoutis, p. 150 (an intriguing variation)
                                        Cliff cake, p. 160 (not sure about this one....)
                                        Rocket and buttermilk soup, 165
                                        Zanzibar fish soup, p.167 (again, the pictures)
                                        Provence on the rocks, p.176 (where will I find lavender cordial)
                                        Rose petal and buttermilk cake, p. 182 (I do like me some buttermilk!)
                                        Chocolate bark, p. 183

                                        O.K. that was more than 5, wasn't it? I'll be back in a meal or two to report on how well the recipes work. But if you are looking for a nice book to curl up with, buy it!

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                          So the Chewy flapjacks are now in the oven. Perhaps someone who is familiar with flapjacks can help with this, I get the impression this is supposed to be a subtly sweet treat to have with afternoon tea. Am I right? Super easy to prepare, butter and various sugar forms are melted together on the stovetop, then oats are mixed in, spread in a pan and baked for 15-20 minutes. We will see....


                                          They are yummy, but they haven't firmed up as well as I had hoped so I have them back in the oven to get a firmer texture. They are sweet buy not cloyingly so. They have a sort of fall apart texture, chewy but not at all crunchy. It may be because I converted all the measurements to US measurements and didn't use a scale, but this doesn't seem to be a true baking recipe so I would be surprised if this would make such a big difference. In any case, I've had it back in now for 10 more minutes (a total of 25) and still not firm. I just had a bite with tea and tea would definitely be the right accompaniment. Took them out after a total cooking time of 30 minutes at 320. They were sizzling and crispy when I removed them from the oven, with the butter almost separating from the bars. Still have a fall apart texture but as I said, very yummy.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            I've had these a few times and I seem to remember that they should be quite crumbly but should hold together well enough that you can cut them into squares and put them on a plate without them falling apart. How does Miranda Gardiner's recipe differ from this one (for example)? http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/me...

                                            1. re: geekmom

                                              Her recipe is for twice the amount of oats thanJaime's. Even factoring that in, Jaime's recipe calls for far less sugar.

                                              150g butter
                                              75g Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Light Brown soft sugar
                                              3 rounded tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup
                                              250g rolled oats (porridge oats)

                                              300 g butter
                                              4 T. golden syrup (I used molasses)
                                              170 g. raw sugar
                                              170 g. superfine sugar
                                              200 g. condensed milk
                                              500 g. porridge oats

                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                Wow, Miranda's version is QUITE sweet! Holy cow! three different kinds of sugar, AND condensed milk. How can it not be good? Will try this as soon as my copy of this book arrives.

                                                I would urge you to look for some real golden syrup - molasses is so different. Do you have a World Market near you? I've heard it's a good place to find things like that.

                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                  I do have a world market nearby, I will look for golden syrup. My whole family really liked the bars. I think I just needed to let them cook for a lot longer than what the recipe suggested. I baked them at 320 as the recipe called for 160 c. I think I adjusted correctly. Next time I won't take them out until the pan is sizzling. That was when they solidified for me.

                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                    Thanks, that's good to know for when I try them myself -- I will watch for a sizzling pan :-)

                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                      Just catching up on this thread. I loved eating flapjacks when I lived in t he UK, but for some reason have never been successfully able to make them,, they always fall apart on me.

                                                      1. re: rstuart

                                                        Funny I was doing the same thing today rstuart. (catching up on this thread).

                                                        I fell off track after the CH upgrade because I couldn't spend more than 10 mins on the site without feeling ill.

                                                        Subsequent changes seem to have helped so I'm looking forward to picking this up again and hopefully finding some cookbooks I'd be willing to part with.

                                                        As for flapjacks, they're not something I recall eating when I lived in the UK. I have a very old BeRo recipe book that's been handed down and I'll have to take a look to see if there's a recipe in there.

                                                        dk, this book sounds wonderful, I'll be keen to hear more about your experiences with it.

                                        2. PURPLE CITRUS & SWEET PERFUME, Silvena Rowe

                                          This is one that I believe has been mentioned a few times in COTM nomination threads and other discussions. I visited with family the weekend before Thanksgiving, and was at home with Mr. MM for the actual day. Both of us agreed a non-traditional menu was what we wanted, so I decided to make a variety of mezze, several of which were from this book. I had not cooked from the book at all prior to Thursday.

                                          About the book: It's a very attractive book, not overly large, with lovely photos by Jonathan Lovekin, who also photographs for Nigel Slater and Diana Henry. My pet peeve on cookbooks is dust jackets - I hate them. This book has one, but it has all the cover photography and text also on the hard cover, so you could discard the dust jacket and wouldn't be missing a thing. I was drawn to this book because it seemed to contain Middle Eastern recipes that were more modern and creative than traditional.

                                          Recipes I've tried:

                                          Syrian Za'atar Bread with Thyme Flowers - I didn't exactly make this recipe. I have to eat gluten-free, so I used my own dough recipe. I didn't use the Za'atar recipe from the book either, because I had some already on hand from a recipe by Claudia Roden or Paula Wolfert, I can't remember which. I shaped the dough into flatbreads, let rise, then brushed with olive oil. Over half of them, I just sprinkled some coarse salt, and over the other half, I sprinkled the Za'atar. I cooked the flatbreads at 465F, which is the temperature recommended in the book, for 10 minutes, which is about twice as long as recommended, but what it took for them to be done. They were delicious (not much credit to the book here), and we both liked the version with the Za'atar on it much better than the plain ones (credit to the book). So I will be making flatbreads with Za'atar again. Unfortunately I can't really tell you whether the recipe in the book is a good one or not, since I deviated so far from it.

                                          Lamb and Pistachio Kofte with Tahini and Pistachio Sauce - Remember when we had the Batali books for COTM and one of my complaints was that the photographs did not match up with the recipe per directions? Well, this book also has that problem. But that is the least of the problems with this recipe. Let's start with the sauce. It is pretty simple. You whisk up some tahini, lemon juice, "crushed" garlic cloves (I would normally take that to mean smashed but still whole, but who would want that in a tahini sauce? I minced to a paste.), and water. This was supposed to come out the consistency of double cream. It took about twice the amount of water called for to achieve that consistency. Then add 200 g pistachios that have been toasted and ground fine. Now, this is a lot of ground pistachios, and this is supposed to end up being a drizzle-able sauce. No way. This was a thick dough-like consistency. So much more water needed to be added to get anything close to a sauce. There was no salt called for, but tasting the sauce, it needed some, so I added to taste. The resulting sauce was good. The recipe made way, way more than you would need for the kofte. As for the kofte, this was ground lamb, with currants, pistachios, onion and spices added. Once again no salt. Also no egg to bind it, which I found odd because there was enough stuff added to the meat that it didn't want to hold together. I added the salt, but gave the author the benefit of the doubt on the egg. My mistake (on the egg). The instructions have you shape these into balls and fry them, but the picture shows a flattened patty shape that looks to have been cooked on a grill pan (it has indentations from the ridges). I grilled these outdoors over charcoal. There was indeed a tendency for them to fall apart (should have added an egg). The final dish, kofte plus sauce, was good. But this was definitely a problematic recipe.

                                          Crunchy Red Swiss Chard Falafel - This is getting lengthy, so I won't go into the details here, but where a "medium pan" is called for, you need about a 2 qt saucepan. It doesn't need to be nonstick as the author claims. Once again, no salt called for specifically. At one point it does instruct to "season" the mixture, so I added salt at that point. Getting the chard to mix with the paste made from chickpea flour and milk and the cooked chickpeas takes some doing. I recommend using a fork. These were fine, but nothing stunning.

                                          Fennel and Feta Kofte with Walnut Tarator - I was planning on making the walnut tarator to go with these kofte, but the pistachio tahini sauce from a previous recipe made so much, that I decided to serve it with all the kofte and skip the walnut tarator from this recipe. So I just made the kofte. There isn't much binding these together, so they are very loose as you spoon them into the hot oil. It helps to keep stirring the mixture to make sure you have egg evenly distributed throughout. Once again, no salt called for, but here the feta adds saltiness, so I didn't add any. Next time, if there is one, I would add just a bit. These were pretty good, but a bit fussy and difficult to handle because of the coarse, loose texture. I think I might pulse these in a food processor to get the fennel more finely chopped. I sliced thin on a mandoline as instructed, but I think the pieces were still too large.

                                          A couple recipes I wanted to make but didn't get to (frankly had too much food for two people so I just stopped cooking and started eating):

                                          Courgette Moutabel - very thin slices of zucchini fried in oil, then mashed with tahini and yoghurt.

                                          Vine Leaves Stuffed with Smoked Haddock and Tarragon - I'm thinking of making this with smoked trout, which I have in the freezer. It just sounds like an interesting variation on the typical stuffed grape leaf.

                                          My impressions: It is clear to me that these are not well-tested or well-written recipes. I have no problem with recipes being vague, as I know how to cook, and I was able to rescue these and had a good meal. In every case, my instincts proved better than the author's, and I do find that disappointing. I am undecided as to whether I will keep this book. It could be useful for some interesting ideas, but I will approach it with the understanding that I will need to stay on my toes and adapt as needed to make the recipes work. That is not necessarily a deal-breaker for me. As far as recommending the book to others goes, I would say that if having well-tested recipes matters to you, this is not your book.

                                          21 Replies
                                          1. re: MelMM

                                            Sorry to hear about the shortcomings of this book. I am also a huge fan of Za'atar flatbread. I have a very simple recipe that is pretty easy.

                                            Start with any pizza dough recipe (TJ's premade pizza dough works fine).

                                            In a small pan warm 1/4 olive oil, add to this 1 clove smashed garlic, 1 sprig thyme, 1 sprig rosemary. Allow the flavors to marry.

                                            Pour this scented oil over the pizza dough and allow it to come to room temperature.

                                            When you are ready to eat, rip the dough into hand size pieces then flatten into odd shaped flatbreads.

                                            Grill the dough on very hot grates (either on your bbq or on a grill pan). Turn the dough often, using tongs.

                                            As they cook, baste the dough with the oil marinade, season with salt, pepper and za'atar.

                                            Cut into wedges and serve.

                                            1. re: MelMM

                                              I've discussed this with Brits here, because "crushed garlic" appears in lots of books by British authors (including in their American editions), and it's understood that it means crushed with a garlic press. "Pressed" would make more sense to me, but there you have it. I don't have a garlic press, so I just mince fine.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                We say crushed in Canada as well Caitlin. You're quite right, we crush our garlic in a garlic press.

                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  When I read 'crushed' I take it as read, unless specified otherwise, that it means crushed to a paste, either with the flat side of a knife and a little salt, or in the mortar and pestle. If a recipe means whole crushed cloves, there are usually additional instructions ("crush lightly with the flat side of a knife, leaving whole" etc)

                                                  1. re: limoen

                                                    I noticed this distinction too! I figured it was a language thing but I can see the confusion.

                                                2. re: MelMM

                                                  Thanks very much for this report MelMM. I took this book from the library and it is, indeed, beautiful. And there was a lot in there that I wanted to eat, but a lot of the recipes seemed dauntingly long and involved. The fact that they don't seem well tested makes me wonder why that is. Maybe I gave it too cursory a look, but in the end I decided that I'd skip buying it. Thank goodness for libraries and other chowhounds.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    I have another book by the same author called "Feasts", and it is similarly beautiful and the recipes look just as intriguing, but now I'm wondering if they will be as poorly written as the ones in Purple Citrus. I think I need to make a new rule not to buy another cookbook by an author until I've made some things from the one I already own.

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      Probably a good rule. Sad though. The book is truly lovely and so many things in it sounded good (if labor intensive).

                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                    Thank you for this review. I live middle eastern food and have a lot of books on the subject. This was on my wishlist with a few other middle eastern books but I was on the fence. Maybe I'll hold off

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      Mel, I know that you've written this report a while back but if you happen to see this, could you share your recipe for GF bread dough?


                                                      1. re: herby

                                                        It's different every time I make it, as I kind of like to make it up as I go. But the basic formula would be as follows:
                                                        1/2 cup tapioca starch
                                                        1/2 cup polvilho azedo (see note)
                                                        1/2 cup expandex (modified tapioca starch)
                                                        1/2 cup chickpea flour (see note)
                                                        1/2 cup whole grain flour, such as brown rice flour or millet
                                                        1.5 tsp SAF Red yeast
                                                        1 tsp salt
                                                        1/2 cup very finely grated parmesan cheese
                                                        2 eggs
                                                        water as needed

                                                        Dry ingredients (including cheese) go into stand mixer. Then I add the eggs, and slowly add water until I get the right consistency. For this amount of dough, it should be roughly 1/2 cup, I think. The consistency you want is a very slack dough, more like a batter - it should be pourable. The dough will look wetter when the mixer is stopped than it will when the mixer is running, so to check the consistency, stop the mixer.

                                                        I cut a piece of parchment to fit my baking stone, then put the parchment on a pizza peel. Pour the batter onto the parchment. Let rise. I preheat the oven, or more typically, my big green egg, with the pizza stone inside, and let the oven or Egg heat up for quite a while to make sure the stone is hot. Before baking, I will very carefully (because the dough is very soft), drizzle on some olive oil, and spread it around with my fingers. Sprinkle coarse salt or za'atar on top, and bake. This dough also works for pizza, and poured into a loaf pan, makes a pretty good loaf (double it).

                                                        Note: Polvilho azedo is a type of tapioca starch used in Brazil, and found in Brazilian markets or online. It's also labeled "acid starch", and has a tang to it. If you don't want to get it, you can substitute regular tapioca flour, but the flavor won't be as good. If you do not like chickpea flour or other bean flours, you can use a grain flour in its place.

                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                          Many thanks, Mel! I saved it to my pepperplate and will send it to my daughter who almost gave upon finding a recipe for a decent GF bread, etc.

                                                          Two questions: (1) what is SAF stand for? and (2)is expandex widely available, i.e. health food stores or is hard to find?

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Thank you, Caitlin! We just have F-something brand in all stores here and I never looked further :)

                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                If F-something is Fleischmann's (this is the most common brand in the US, the packets/labels are bright yellow), just buy their rapid-rise yeast, which is instant yeast.

                                                            2. re: herby

                                                              Yes, SAF is a brand of yeast, and I specify red, because they have a red and gold variety, which are used for different purposes. It's an instant yeast, so you can use any instant yeast you prefer.

                                                              Expandex is not generally available in health food stores, so it's a mail-order item, for me at least. It is modified tapioca starch. You could use a regular tapioca starch in it's place, but the texture will be better with Expandex.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                Thank you!

                                                                So, both Polvilho azedo and Expandex are tapioca starches but not the same and I need to get both of them? I am going to try your recipe, Mel, to the letter since nothing else has worked well and I am not at all knowledgeable in GF baking.

                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  I'll clarify a bit on the starches. In Brazil, there are two kinds of tapioca starch commonly sold. "Polvilho azedo" will have a sharp smell to it, and is also labelled "acid starch". "Polvilho doce" is regular tapioca flour just like what you would normally use in the US. I order both of these from http://sendex.net , but you can also find them at Brazilian groceries, and I can find povilho doce at certain supermarkets.

                                                                  Expandex is a modified tapioca starch made by a company called Corn Products International. They sell it in bulk to retailers who then repackage it and sell under their own name (but still call it Expandex). The last time I bought it, it was packaged by Allergy Free Foods Company. I can't recall where I ordered it (have never seen it in a health-food store), but if you put "expandex modified tapioca starch" into Google, you will come up with some places that sell online. Unfortunately, it is expensive. If you don't want to order it, you can just use 3/4 cup of the the other two tapioca starches instead of 1/2 cup.

                                                                  Good luck with the bread. I'm sorry I couldn't be more specific with the amount of water. Usually I just measure out more than I need and add until I get the batter to the right consistency. I need to get better about keeping notes. I do think this recipe is very forgiving.

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Just ordered all the necessary ingredients from Amazon

                                                            3. re: MelMM

                                                              Thank you for sharing the GF bread. I am looking forward to trying it out too.

                                                        2. I haven't done one of these in a while, might as well break a streak.

                                                          "THE SRIRACHA COOKBOOK - 50 ROOSTER SAUCE RECIPES THAT PACK A PUNCH" by Randy Clemens
                                                          Why? Because everybody loves the hot cock.

                                                          This was a 2011 release that I sorta found by accident on Amazon one day and impulse bought, as it was only 3 bucks including shipping. Retailed for $17. It's one of those half-size books that gets lost when sandwiched between 2 regular books on your shelf.

                                                          Theme of the book is, obviously, the celebration of the world's finest condiment: Sriracha. This is by no means a complicated book - it's target audience is the "OMG Rachael Ray is such an awesome cook!" crowd, so don't buy it looking for a challenge.

                                                          As to the recipes: the author, who's profession appears to be "blogger" does step out of the box on occasion with some of these recipes - sometimes a little too far (Peach Sriracha sorbet?! Sriracha butter w/ popcorn?). On the whole, however, he colours within the lines for the most part. Honestly, a lot of these recipes are "take basic food that you can probably already make; add Sriracha". The Sriracha ranch dressing falls right into this category.

                                                          I've made a number of recipes in this book. Most of them have been what I would term "fair-to-good". There's been nothing that has made me incapable of feeling my legs. I'm able to improve upon them without too much thought or effort, but the creations as-intended are generally solid and will be crowd-pleasers. Of particular note are:

                                                          -Honey-Sriracha Glazed Buffalo Wings (p. 40)
                                                          -Turned-up Tuna Tartare (p. 49)
                                                          -Thai chicken-coconut soup (p. 65)
                                                          -Sesame-Sriracha crusted Ahi tuna (p. 85)
                                                          -Ultimate Sriracha burger (p. 97)

                                                          Swing-and-misses include the above mentioned sorbet (which I made out of morbid curiosity), the kimchee, the Sriracha Tzatziki, the Sriracha salt, the Cheddar-Sriracha swirl bread, the tropical fruit salad w/ Sriracha-sesame vinaigrette, and the piquant pulled pork, which I found to be damn near inedible.

                                                          Recipes that look interesting but I haven't had opportunity to make yet include the maple-Sriracha sausage patties, the bacon-Sriracha cornbread, and the Camarones ala Diabla. I might make the Sriracha carne asada and the Sriracha and Spam fried rice one day (the former, if I get a wild hair, the latter if my morbid curiosity strikes again).

                                                          All-in-all, it's not a bad book. I don't regret spending the few bucks to get it, though I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to find it again. It's earned a spot on the bottom shelf of my bookcase - eventually it'll find its way to the Goodwill pile, but for now, I like knowing it's around.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Quintious

                                                            Besides all the recipes that call for the bottled sauce, there is this one for making your own version at home. Available online here: http://leitesculinaria.com/67202/reci...

                                                          2. I've decided to join in with the fun! Actually, I forgot about this thread and only remembered it when I was staring at my cookbooks thinking some of them hadn't really been test driven.

                                                            So, today marks the first week for me. I am starting with my "Kitchenaid Recipe Collection" (http://www.amazon.com/KitchenAid-Coll...). On my menu this week;

                                                            Beer brined roast chicken with orange and maple roasted beets.
                                                            Spicy thai coconut soup.
                                                            Hoisin beef stir-fry.
                                                            Asparagus and parmesan risotto.

                                                            I will also be baking coconut scones from the book too, and possibly one of the bar recipes if I feel like baking on my day off.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Musie

                                                              Those all sound delicious! I hope they are!


                                                              1. re: Musie

                                                                So far I have made the beer brined chicken and the spicy thai soup. Unfortunately my timing was pretty poor and the roast beets never made it on time to be eaten with the chicken.

                                                                The chicken was very tasty. I used a nice stout as my beer and I found it added a little more depth to the flavour of my chicken. I would certainly make it again if I had the ingredients on hand.

                                                                The soup was delicious and was a great way to use up my chicken from the previous evening. I found it to be a nice chicken soup with a bit of asian flair thrown in. I will paraphrase the recipe.

                                                                Spicy Thai Coconut Soup

                                                                Combine 2 cups of chicken broth, 400ml (one can)of coconut milk, 1 teaspoon of curry paste (give or take, depending on your tastes and the spiciness of your curry paste) and one generous tablespoon of grated ginger in a large saucepan.

                                                                Add 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken, one 15oz can of straw mushrooms (I used a 200g pack of button mushrooms and thinly sliced them) and one 8.5oz can of baby corn (again, I used peas instead. My husband doesn't like baby corn). Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

                                                                The recipe never specified how long you should simmer your soup for, but I simmered mine gently for about 20 minutes.

                                                                In the last 5 minutes add 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice and a 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro.

                                                                I served mine up with some homemade garlic and cilantro flat bread.

                                                                1. re: Musie

                                                                  Hey, fantastic. I'm going to put this recipe in pepperplate right now. I'm always looking for delicious ways to use rotisserie chicken or leftover roast chicken!


                                                                2. re: Musie

                                                                  So I have completed my week with this book. Overall, I thought it was decent for making quick meals. The instructions were good, but could have been a little more detailed. The recipes were good, but not show stopping.

                                                                  I will likely make the risotto again, although I will have to reduce it as it yielded far too much for a couple. The scones were also nice and I will likely make them if I need an on the go lunch option or a last minute bake sale donation.

                                                                  My favourite recipe, by far, is the spicy thai coconut soup. That I will likely make plenty of times over the years. So, until I go for round 2 with this book, this recipe is the shiny gem among the minerals.

                                                                3. BAKE UNTIL BUBBLY – THE ULTIMATE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK BY CLIFFORD A. WRIGHT

                                                                  Like many books on my shelf, I’m not quite sure how and when I came to own this cookbook but I do know when I pulled it off the shelf to look at a recipe that came up in an EYB search, it didn’t appear to have been opened before.

                                                                  After I decided I’d make the recipe, I thought I’d have a look through the book and on doing so, I decided I’d use it as my CAWC book because the book wasn’t what I was expecting. I’d actually started working my way through another book (Big Small Plates by Cindy Pawlcyn) but I’ll save that for another week.

                                                                  ABOUT THE AUTHOR: It seems that Mr. Wright is a cookbook-writing machine with 16 books under his belt, 5 of which I have on my shelves unbeknownst to me. Evidently in 2000 he won a James Beard award for cookbook of the year for A Mediterranean Feast. His website describes him as a cook and author specializing in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. No mention of any casserole expertise….

                                                                  ABOUT THE BOOK: As I said, the book wasn’t what I expected it to be. I was surprised to see so many basic recipes. It reminded me of the type of cookbook I was drawn to when I was first married and experimenting with a variety of recipes that were easy enough to put together pretty quickly with ingredients we’d typically have on hand. Nothing too exotic, not too many herbs or spices. Herbs are primarily dried. The book is divided into sections by types of casseroles (Breakfast & Brunch, Meat Casseroles, Poultry, Dairy and Game…ending w Veggies and Dessert Casseroles). There are no pictures. There’s a short section on the “History of Casseroles” …I missed that in school!! ; - ) Ideas for leftovers accompany some of the recipes.

                                                                  ABOUT THE RECIPES: The recipe I selected to make was called “Mexican Turkey Hash Casserole” though the recipe isn’t really Mexican and without a potato in sight, it isn’t really a hash either but in the spirit of my CAWC, I decided to give it a try. More on how that worked out shortly.

                                                                  As I said, the recipes seem very basic to me. Examples are: Crescent Roll Casserole, Frankfurter Casserole with Sauerkraut, Frankfurter Casserole with Macaroni, Chorizo Sausage and Hominy Casserole (made w lard, canned hominy, chorizo, jack cheese, a can of evaporated milk and sour cream), Widower’s Casserole (1.7lbs chx w 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of sour cream and some mushrooms), Sausage and Potato Pie, Casserole of Red Potatoes, Onions and Garlic. I think most experienced cooks could figure out how to make many of these recipes (if they were so inclined) without actually using this book. While I think the book might be suited for a beginner cook, I don’t feel it has a lot to offer an experienced one. Admittedly, I didn’t get through the entire book and there may be some gems in there but on first quick pass, nothing really jumped out at me. The recipe I made was quite under-seasoned as written and without modifications, would have been very bland. The author does suggest you drizzle the casserole w hot sauce before placing it in the oven…perhaps that’s intended to compensate for the lack of flavour elsewhere in the dish. The casserole was ok, but nothing special and definitely nothing I’d make again.

                                                                  So, suffice to say I think I’ve seen enough of this book to know it’s not for me. It doesn’t happen often but I’m happy to report I’ll be able to purge a cookbook without any regret!!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                    Thanks for this report. I remember when this book came out and it was on my radar way back then. Fortunately I resisted temptation... unusual for me. It is clear from your write-up that it wouldn't have been a good fit then, and it wouldn't be now. So many thanks for keeping a book off of my shelves!

                                                                  2. Last week I cooked from;

                                                                    ANNUAL RECIPES 2008 - FAMILY CIRCLE

                                                                    I bought this book for $2 from a local dollar store last fall. It's a hard back book, 336 pages long and full of lovely pictures. A bargain just to peruse through.

                                                                    I tried 4 recipes in total from the book, although I did have 5 planned originally.

                                                                    Cod Veracruz
                                                                    Salmon burgers
                                                                    Plum glazed pork loin
                                                                    Cookies n cream mini cupcakes

                                                                    Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the end results.

                                                                    The salmon burgers were something I could have conjured up without a recipe. Tasty, but they could have been more flavourful. It's likely that I will make these again, but not using the cookbook.

                                                                    The cod veracruz was ok. Again, I thought it lacked a bit of flavour. I think had the recipe called to roast the tomatoes, jalapenos and peppers first, then it would have elevated the overall flavour.

                                                                    The pork loin was my biggest disappointment, mainly because I had high hopes for this one. It was just a bit blah. I have better recipes for pork loin, so I can't see me trying this one again.

                                                                    The cakes were nice. I think I will have to give the bakery items in this book a good try before this book gets used for looking at and not cooking from.

                                                                    1. FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS - COMFORT FOOD TO GIVE AND SHARE

                                                                      This thread series has stayed in my mind and I am looking at my cookbooks differently.

                                                                      I had a hambone in the freezer and a EYB search reminded me of this cookbook which was compiled to benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco.

                                                                      I largely followed the recipe for Double Split Pea Soup, p. 30. It was originally published in the book Lauren Groveman's Kitchen.
                                                                      My changes were to half the recipe, used all yellow split peas rather than yellow and green, decreased the carrots, and subbed edamame for peas.

                                                                      I only had yellow splits plus wanted a cheerier color since it was a dismal, grey rainy day. I was leery of an overly sweet soup re the carrots so didn't add the extra cooked carrots at serving. I don't care for regular peas and routinely sub shelled edamame for them!

                                                                      This recipe has a wonderful creaminess coupled with just enough textural contrast from the peas and chopped meat. The ham's smokiness paired nicely with oregano - which I wouldn't have thought to use in a pea soup.

                                                                      The surprise was how much broth is left over. You strain the soup after removing the bone. Solids are pureed (I used an immersion blender rather than the mess of f.p. or regular blender as directed). Broth is then added until desired consistency is reached.

                                                                      The left over broth is wonderfully flavored and highly gelatinized. It will become the basis for a vegetable soup later today!

                                                                      This recipe is a keeper! This is the best split pea soup I've had. It reheats nicely. Half is in the freezer but I'm sure it will fare well. The silky richness from the homemade chicken stock, ham bone goodness and butter elevates the dish from the mundane - it would shine as a company dish.

                                                                      Looking forward to a closer look at the rest of the book.

                                                                      xxoo to Breadcrumbs for reminding me about this thread!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                        Oh wow, not only have you got me craving that soup meatn (one of my favourites!) but now you've got me wondering if I "need" that book!!

                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          I was drawn to it for potluck ideas. As you would expect from the title there is an abundance of soups, casseroles and braises. What had really interested me were the salads:
                                                                          *Green bean with yellow pepper, jicama and tomato
                                                                          *Warm Moroccan beet salad with tangerines
                                                                          Tailgate salad - sweet pot., Yukon golds & butternut squash, nuts, dried cranberries, oil/vinegar/mustard dressing

                                                                          One dessert is calling me:
                                                                          *Chocolate bread pudding with sun-dried cherries

                                                                          There are lots of nice photo's of the finished dishes. The majority of the recipes are by published cookbook authors.

                                                                      2. I was wondering where this thread went to! I got a Ricardo Larivee book on Crock Pot cooking called La Mijoteuse. He is supposed to be putting this out in English as well. His first chapter, Recipes for busy People,the other chapters; Recipes for a Summer Day, Recipes for Special Ocassions, The Best Pieces of Meat to cook in the Crockpot, The Sugarshack, Vegetarian Cooking and Desserts. I bought this as he often cooks with the crockpot on his show and it all looks good. I will try to cook something this weekend, it has been hectic.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                          I've been remiss in posting here Ruthie so I'm really glad to see there's interest in this threat.

                                                                          Big thanks to you and meatn for inspiring me to get back at it!

                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            I don't think you have been remiss, I think this type of thread is a whole lot of work. Thank you for doing it and I love the concept of cooking with the books we have. I discovered Chicken Marengo because of this thread.

                                                                            1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                              Thanks Ruthie that's very kind of you.

                                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              The new format on CH causes things to fall off the radar much easier too!

                                                                          2. ONE PAN, TWO PLATES - MORE THAN 70 COMPLETE WEEKNIGHT MEALS FOR TWO by Carla Snyder

                                                                            I was inspired to purchase this book based on a review over on the blog TheKitchn. I only cook for two, and often when my SO is traveling, for one, so I was wanting to find some new ideas for complete weeknight meals that don't make 4+ servings, because, well, eating the same thing 3-4 days in a row gets old. I also wanted to learn more about pairing dishes together... ie this main goes nicely with this side. This book does that. And, well, I thought the picture on the cover was pretty :)

                                                                            ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I've never heard of this author before, but according to Amazon she has written a handful of other books, including The Big Book of Appetizers which was nominated in 2007 for a James Beard Award. The photos in the book are done by Jody Horton and they are gorgeous.

                                                                            ABOUT THE BOOK: The title is pretty self explanatory. All of the recipes are for main dishes meant for two people, all cooked in one skillet. Also all of the recipes have listed cook times of under an hour, which of course makes it ideal for weeknights. There aren't tons of photos, but the ones that are in here are really beautiful. The book is organized by "type":

                                                                            Chapter 1: The Carbohydrate Cure Pastas, Grains & Hot Sandwiches
                                                                            Chapter 2: Hungry for More, Meat Dinners
                                                                            Chapter 3: Poultry with Soul, Egg, turkey, and chicken dinners
                                                                            Chapter 4: Angling for More, Fish Dinners

                                                                            There is the traditional ingredient index in the back. There is also a really helpful "find it fast" index where it lists the recipes that fit into different categories, 30 minutes or less, spring, summer, autumn, winter, vegetarian, and easily adapted to vegetarian.

                                                                            Each recipe has a "it's that easy" tip... which might be a tip on a prep item, or a tip on where to find certain ingredients. There are also wine pairing suggestions and ways to beef up the meals more by adding additional components, although I think the portion sizes are very generous to begin with. Each recipe spans 2 facing pages and it sits nicely on the counter so it's easy to read.

                                                                            Overall none of the recipes are ground-breaking... just sound like good flavors with fresh ingredients. The prep doesn't look too difficult either... so again, good for weeknights.

                                                                            I have a number of recipes tabbed to try:

                                                                            Three Cheese Mac with Crispy Prosciutto
                                                                            Barley Risotto with Sweet Potato and Andouille Sausage
                                                                            Lemony Risotto with Asparagus, Carrots, and Chives
                                                                            Tuna Burgers with Wasabi Mayo and Quick Cucumber Pickle
                                                                            Golden Corn Cakes
                                                                            Creamy Yukon Gold Potato Gratin with Ham
                                                                            Thyme Dusted Pork Medallions with Pear-Rutabaga Mash
                                                                            Crispy Sage Pork Cutlets with couscous, peas, figs, and pistachios
                                                                            Sauteed Pork Chops with Sweet Potato, Apple, and Mustard Sauce
                                                                            Herb-Rubbed Pork with Honey-lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower, and Major Grey's Chutney
                                                                            Spicy Pork Stir-Fry with lime, cashews and noodles
                                                                            Spicy Orange Beef Stir-Fry with Snow Peas and Carrots
                                                                            Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry with Beef, Broccoli and Mango
                                                                            Skirt Steak Fajitas with Pico de Gallo and Avocado
                                                                            Flat-Iron Steak with Green Beans, Chili Hoisin Sauce and Sesame Seeds
                                                                            Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Summer Squash Hash
                                                                            Lamb Kebabs with Harissa, Chickpeas and Summer Squash
                                                                            Lamb Korma
                                                                            Cornflake-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Rosemary-Sweet Potato Pan Fries and Chutney Dipping Sauce
                                                                            Herbed Chicken Paillards with Zucchini Pancakes and Cherry Tomato Pan Sauce
                                                                            One-Pan Roast Deviled Chicken with Carrots, Turnips and Parsnips
                                                                            Yellow Curry Chicken with Green Beans and Potatoes
                                                                            Thai Red Curry Chicken with Bell Peppers and Broccoli
                                                                            Balsamic-Braised Chicken Thighs with Figs and Creamy Polenta
                                                                            Rosemary Chicken Leg Quarters with Orange Gremolata
                                                                            Flash Roasted Tilapia with New Potatoes, Peas and Pesto Mayonnaise
                                                                            Baked Halibut with Warm Fennel-Zucchini Chopped Salad

                                                                            Tonight I made the Spicy Orange Beef Stir Fry. Other than all the chopping (which is inevitable with any Stir Fry), this was a very easy prep. The stir-fry sauce consisted of zest and juice from 1 orange, white wine, hoisin sauce, sugar, cornstarch, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce and soy sauce. I accidentally grabbed a cara cara orange out of the fridge instead of a navel, so I skipped using the sugar. Once all the prep was done (stringing the snow peas, peeling and chopping carrots, peeling and mincing ginger and garlic) the meal came together very quickly. It was tasty, but not groundbreaking. I'm not sure if I'd think about this recipe later on and think "Oh I want to make that again NOW".... but I tend to have recipe ADD, I like to cook new all the time. This was a solid tasty recipe, and it was well written and easy to follow.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                              Recipe ADD... yes, that would describe me too. I love it!

                                                                              1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                ONE PAN TWO PLATES - Flank Steak with Chimichurri and Summer Squash Hash p. 97

                                                                                So I ended up making this for four since we had a last minute guest for dinner. I did not double the chimichurri ingredients though since my SO can't handle the parsley with his stomah issues.

                                                                                For the hash, I used both summer squash and zucchini, and just used red potatoes instead of the new potatoes. I also left out the green onions since they bother SO, and the peas called for, since SO doesn't like him (gosh he's a pain... good thing he's cute).

                                                                                This was a very delicious recipe, and my friend who came for dinner was impressed. This is something I would actually make again, which is saying a lot, and I like that you can mix and match the veggies in the hash based on what's available. And again, I love the "one pan" concept... there were very few dishes to do after dinner. This was also a nice dish to do for company, because I was able to do all the prep work before my guest arrived, and the cooking part is basically "throw everything in and stir".

                                                                                My only, minor, complaint, is that in the ingredient list, it didn't indicate if an ingredient needed to be split. So, for example, it calls for 2 cloves of garlic to be minced, but down in the instructions it says to only use half. Same for the olive oil. If someone wasn't reading the instructions carefully, that could cause some issues.

                                                                              2. MEDITERRANEAN LIGHT - Martha Rose Shulman

                                                                                I received my first delivery from the seafood CSA! Part of my motivation for signing up was to expand the fish varieties I prepare.
                                                                                Which dovetails nicely with my ongoing goal to utilize EYB to explore what's on my groaning bookshelves.

                                                                                Sea Mullet was one of the fish delivered. I've just returned from a trip so the fridge is bare. I'm tired, I'm hungry, cranky is not far behind.

                                                                                Grilled Red Mullet with Cumin was a perfect choice! This is about as easy peasy as you can get.( Oops - just realized I made it even easier by leaving out the lemon juice!) Marinate the fillets for 15 minutes in a mix of lemon juice, olive oil, s/p*, ground cumin and garlic (crushed or pressed). Grill or broil. *I used white pepper for aesthetics.

                                                                                Even with my screw-up (thank you martini) this was delicious! I've enough fish that I think I'll make this again correctly.

                                                                                *The recipe calls for 4 small to medium fish. I used 3 medium filets and there wasn't much marinade left - I would double it if cooking the full amount of fish.
                                                                                *Timing - I find timing fish to be tricky so I always refer to my bible, Timing Is Everything. Had I cooked according to the recipe it would have been over cooked. The thickness of fish is so variable that I never completely trust the times in most recipes, especially if the method is frying or grilling.

                                                                                Overall: The recipes are clearly written, easily read, steps are logical. Nutritional info per serving is given (cal., fat, sodium, carbs, cholesterol, protein) so the book is helpful for many diet needs. She addresses which steps can be made ahead of time, how long the dish will keep, handling of leftovers, suggested accompaniments, visual cues to assess doneness.

                                                                                I'll definitely be spending some time taking a closer look at this book!

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: meatn3

                                                                                  I've had this book for a while but never used it.. I should really crack it open. Would love to read more reviews if you post them..

                                                                                  1. re: rstuart

                                                                                    I'd never heard of this book somehow, but that one review made me check it out on amazon and put it in my wish list for when I'm feeling flush.

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                      Your Raleigh connection would be happy to lend it if you like!

                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                        Maybe we could do something like I lend you something, you lend me this, and then swap them back a month later? That would be good - think about what kind of thing you'd like to borrow. I like this idea - thank you!

                                                                                        However this will probably have to wait until July since I'm not going to have much cooking time in the next couple of months.

                                                                                    2. re: rstuart

                                                                                      Ditto. I've had this book forever and really should cook from it more.


                                                                                    3. re: meatn3

                                                                                      I have now made the recipe as written. Pretty good! I got to say, I liked it a little more without the lemon juice. The cumin had a bigger focus and I really like cumin.

                                                                                      This is one application where I prefer using a garlic press to mincing. I decided to experiment didn't trim/skin the garlic first. It still goes through the press fine! There is a smidgen of waste but it was nice not having to wash up a knife and cutting board for just a few bits of garlic.

                                                                                    4. PROVENCAL LIGHT - Martha Rose Shulman

                                                                                      Stewed Chicken with Pastis

                                                                                      I had such success last week with the cumin fish from her Mediterranean Light book that I was pleased when my EYB search came up with a recipe from this book.

                                                                                      I was looking to cook a chicken and use up some potatoes and chicken stock. This recipe also provided an opportunity to use the ouzo I purchased for COTM Jerusalem!

                                                                                      With advanced preparation or time saving choices this could be a reasonable week night dish:
                                                                                      *Breakdown and skin a chicken - do ahead or go with precut/skinned pieces. Don't use boneless - I think it would not fare well.
                                                                                      *Marinate - calls for a few hours or overnight. I think the flavor would be about the same so don't hesitate to go for the shorter time frame.
                                                                                      *Spicy Garlic Puree - a separate recipe added to taste by the diner once served. Easy to make, but it takes over an hour so make ahead.

                                                                                      Skinless chicken pieces are marinated with a mix of olive oil, ouzo(etc.), saffron, s/p.

                                                                                      Sliced onions are cooked until softened in olive oil. Peeled, seeded & chopped tomatoes, garlic, s/p are added and cooked down a bit. Then the chicken, marinade, fennel (branch or crushed seed), parsley is added plus boiling water or stock. Cover, cook a bit then add sliced waxy potatoes. Cover, cook until chicken & potatoes are cooked through. Uncover, add more saffron and parsley and boil for 5 min.

                                                                                      Serve with thick garlic croutons (recipe provided) and stir in garlic puree to taste.

                                                                                      My changes were just dark meat chicken since my bird was ginormous. I used undrained canned, peeled Italian tomatoes. I used a variety of little potatoes from TJ's - purple, Yukon Gold and red. I used crushed fennel seeds. I skipped the garlic croutons - felt the potatoes were enough in the carb department for me. I went with chicken broth rather than water.

                                                                                      The pace of the hands on cooking suited me. There is enough time between steps to prepare for the next procedure or to wash a few dishes, set the table, etc. Time ranges from 5 to 20 minutes between steps, so you can't really go far from the kitchen. That said, the author says this can be held on the stove for several hours prior to serving.

                                                                                      I was really pleased with the flavor. It is more broth than sauce. I ended up removing the chicken and potatoes to cook the broth down further. If I had not used the canned tomatoes I don't think it would have been a problem. The potatoes were too sweet in the dish for me - but that is most likely due to the types I used.

                                                                                      The dish is full of flavor but light and bright. The flavor is nicely layered and I suspect will improve the next day. The broth would be a wonderful base for a turkey meatball soup with zucchini and white beans! The garlic puree is delicious and a handy thing to have on hand.

                                                                                      I'll make this again. I may sub Jerusalem artichokes for the potatoes though. I'm pretty motivated to use the broth as a soup base.

                                                                                      So I guess I am 2 for 2 with this author!

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: meatn3

                                                                                        Glad to read this, since I also have this cookbook!

                                                                                        1. re: rstuart

                                                                                          It's even better the next day!

                                                                                          I fished out the potatoes from the portion I reheated and served it over polenta (the cheating sort in a tube). To my taste the polenta was nicer than the potatoes.

                                                                                          I've had these two books forever. I think perhaps the "Light" made me rebel a bit and not really give the books a fair shake.

                                                                                        2. re: meatn3

                                                                                          Roast Potatoes filled with Slivered Bay Leaves p.329

                                                                                          This is a very simple side dish. The flavor of the bay perfumes the potato to the extent that it would be a nice dish for someone wanting to reduce salt. I mention this because I always like salt with potatoes and I was surprised to find I could have eliminated it completely!

                                                                                          The recipe calls for medium waxy potatoes which have had slivers of bay inserted. Place the potatoes in an oiled gratin dish just large enough for them to fit. Add a little stock, drizzle potatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with s/p. Bake 425 for 50 - 60 minutes until tender and the stock has just about evaporated. Baste every 10 min.

                                                                                          I used a baking potato that I needed to use up and turkey stock. I basted perhaps 3 times. I let it cook a bit longer to reduce the stock to the described state.

                                                                                          The slivers of bay push out a bit during cooking so they are easier to spot and remove. I sliced the potato in half and poured the reduced stock over it. This was very satisfying. The bay is noticeable but not over powering. It was a nice change from the autopilot usual baked potato!

                                                                                        3. A NEW WAY TO COOK - Sally Schneider

                                                                                          Clams Steamed in Sake

                                                                                          My seafood CSA had clams this week! This would be a terrific weeknight dish provided you have time to soak the clams first.

                                                                                          1.5 cups of sake is brought to a simmer and reduced by half. Add scrubbed clams, cover. In 3-4 minutes remove the opened clams from the liquid and place into soup bowls. Add minced shallots, 1 Tb. unsalted butter and a pinch of salt to the liquid and boil hard for 30 seconds. Pour liquid over clams, garnish with chopped herbs. Voila!

                                                                                          This was very good. The sake provided a nice fresh flavor. I used parsley as the garnish since I had it on hand. I think Thai Basil would be interesting though. The author suggests serving this over egg noodles. I had it with a nice artisan loaf to soak up all the brothy bits.

                                                                                          I would skip the pinch of salt in the future - completely unnecessary.

                                                                                          I am embarrassed to say that I had purchased this book during the frenzied buying of the local library sale and it was promptly tucked away and forgotten. Thanks to EYB's I pulled it off the shelf since the book kept coming up in my seafood search.

                                                                                          My paging through the book left me impressed. Very clear directions, darker print used for the ingredients is handy, lots of variations are offered - really nicely done.

                                                                                          There are several colors of ink used for the print, helping to spot notations, etc. easily. Most of the print is brown on a cream stock. Looks lovely but my older eyes find it a little fatiguing. Not a problem when cooking, but it is taxing when trying to curl up with the book. I also find the method used for grouping the recipes odd. Fortunately the index is good since the organization doesn't lend itself to a casual flip through for me.

                                                                                          I'd love to hear about recipes others have made from this book! It looks very promising.

                                                                                          BTW, this thread is really helping nudge me out of the massive cooking blahs I've been in the last few months!

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: meatn3

                                                                                            Hi meatn3 - this book was a COTM many eons ago (at least in COTM years). You can find the master thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/592560 and maybe find some gems from reports.

                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                              Thanks LLM! I'm looking forward to the read.
                                                                                              Edit: Ahh - that was before I knew what COTM was.

                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                it was a loooong time ago. And big thanks for the recipes!

                                                                                          2. Baked meatloaf in a pan (Kafta bi'l-siniyya)
                                                                                            from A Mediterranean Feast: The Story of the Birth of the Celebrated Cuisines of the Mediterranean from the Merchants of Venice to the Barbary Corsairs, with More than 500 Recipes by Clifford A. Wright

                                                                                            Ingredients: ground lamb; breadcrumbs; parsley; cumin seeds; allspice berries; potatoes; peas; tomatoes

                                                                                            I used frozen peas and omitted the potatoes.

                                                                                            The meatloaf is in the oven-the spicy aroma in my apt. is delightful

                                                                                            1. I've been wanting to post about a few cookbooks, and as far as I can tell, this thread is the best place to do it. They aren't new, so the buying thread (otherwise known as the enabling thread) doesn't seem appropriate, and these are books that do not have "cooking from" threads. So here goes:

                                                                                              RED VELVET & CHOCOLATE HEARTACHE, by Harry Eastwood (UK ed.)

                                                                                              This is a book of cakes and cupcakes, from UK author Harry Eastwood, that I just haven't seen getting any attention in the US. It was published in 2009. The book is arranged - perhaps annoyingly, but I'm over it - by color. So you have a pink chapter, a yellow chapter, an orange chapter... you get the idea. Even more annoying, the recipes don't even seem to line up with the colors. And there are no chapter headers. the only way you can tell you are in a new chapter is that the color of the recipe headers changes. Whatever. I suggest using the index, rather than the table of contents.

                                                                                              The cakes themselves are interesting. Almost all of the recipes are gluten-free, using just rice flour and ground almonds. And they almost all include a vegetable in the batter, such as zucchini (courgette), butternut squash, carrot, turnip, beets. There is quite a bit of vegetable matter, in fact, but if you grate it very finely, as instructed, you do not know it's there in the final product. The few recipes that are not gluten-free are those that call for spelt flour. There are very few in number, but all the scones (three recipes) are in this category. The author says that the cakes will work with all purpose flour or cake flour substituted for the rice flour, and I believe her, but I haven't tried it.

                                                                                              Recipes I've tried:
                                                                                              Ginger Millies, a mini cupcake containing butternut squash and a hint of ginger. With a lemony glaze for icing.

                                                                                              Orange Blossoms, another mini cupcake, again with butternut squash, this time flavored with orange zest and orange blossom water. I took these and the Ginger Millies to work one day and they were a big hit.

                                                                                              Pistachio Chocolate Cake - this is a rich, deeply chocolate cake, with zucchini in it, with a chocolate buttercream icing and pistachios on top. Delicious.

                                                                                              Light Chocolate Cake - this is perhaps my favorite chocolate cake, ever. I happen to like a less-intense chocolate flavor, and that is what this gives you. It has butternut squash in it, and a chocolate buttercream icing (but I like to serve this one un-iced).

                                                                                              Birthday Cake - This yellow layer cake has zucchini (I used yellow squash instead) and a lot of lemon zest. The icing on top is a lemon buttercream, and between the layers it calls for strawberry jam (I used homemade blackberry jam instead). The lemon comes through strong in this, and along with the jam, it makes an intensely sweet cake that is balanced by the strong tartness of the lemon and the fruity jam.

                                                                                              The recipes may seem odd, but every one has been a success and a big winner. This has become my go-to book for cakes.

                                                                                              Attaching a picture of a slice of the birthday cake.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I have a GF son, so I am going to try to get my hands on a copy.

                                                                                              2. WILD GARLIC, GOOSEBERRIES... AND ME, By Dennis Cotter

                                                                                                Dennis Cotter is the chef/owner of Café Paradiso in Cork, Ireland, an acclaimed vegetarian restaurant. This book is a vegetable book, and also vegetarian. Not always the same thing, but in this case they are. He has three other cookbooks out, which are all good. But this one is special to me because it, on one hand, the most nerdy vegetable book I've ever come across. It is also the most passionate and personal. The book is about the chef's relationship with the vegetables. It is not a gardening book, as he doesn't grow his own, but he does work closely with his grower, so there is a lot about the farmer and their relationship. There is a lot of text in this book.

                                                                                                The recipes are a chef's recipes, plus a chef in Ireland, so they may not be the most practical for American home cooks, but what I have made is wonderful (this actually goes for all of Mr. Cotter's books).

                                                                                                One recipe I have made again and again is the Aubergine Parcels of Haloumi and Rocket with Roast Garlic and Shallot Raita. The name most says it. Thin lengthwise slices of eggplant are roasted, then folded up with a sun-dried tomato and caper pesto, arugula, fried haloumi (or grilled), then baked (or grilled), and served with a sauce of yoghurt, lime zest and juice, roasted garlic and shallots, and black mustard seeds. In the attached picture, I have substituted goat cheese for the haloumi, which is still very good, but I think the haloumi is better.

                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                  MelMM, thanks for these two reviews. I have another book by Denis Cotter, "Vegetarian Recipes from the Heart", and I haven't cooked enough from it but I felt so drawn in by the recipes that I simply had to have it. That recipe you posted sounds, and looks, SO GOOD!

                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                    At first, I thought you had a Dennis Cotter book I didn't know about, but now I realize that is the subtitle of "For the Love of Food", which is his newest book, and I do have it. That is more of a home cooking book than the previous ones. But seriously, everything this guy does is brilliant. He understands (and loves) his vegetables probably more than any chef alive (just my opinion, of course).

                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                      Aha, yes, you're right - the full title is "For the Love of Food: Vegetarian Recipes from the Heart". That's what I get for posting when I'm away from my cookbook shelves :-) BTW, I think Yotam Ottolenghi would give Cotter a serious run for his money in the "loving and understanding vegetables" contest.

                                                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                        If you read the book I review above, you might change your mind on that one. Cotter is the ultimate vegetable nerd. I mean that in the best possible way...

                                                                                                2. I really want to resurrect this thread. Should I start a Part #4 or just post my new entry here?

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                    Hi dk, since we're only at 100 posts let's keep going. I have more reviews to add as soon as time permits and, this thread partners perfectly with my cookbook culling initiative/thread.

                                                                                                    Can't wait to read what you have to share.

                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                      BC, your culling seems to have spurred my collecting. But it has also motivated me to take a look at my shelves. I am (attempting to) cook more out of my existing cookbooks. The two I will be reporting on are not indexed on EYB and so are in great danger of remaining underutilized.

                                                                                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                        It's those non-indexed ones that are the most problematic, I agree. So I look forward to your post. Maybe the books you report on will be ones I have!

                                                                                                        I also want to see this thread continue (and a new one start once we've reached enough posts). In my mind, we now have a culling thread (Good-bye Cookbooks), a keeping thread (Hello Cookbooks), and this thread is for books that are on the fence, and how we figure out if they stay or go. I want to utilize all three threads as I sort through my books.

                                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                          I also like to see this thread continue. I recently received a gift of Indian Vegetarian Feast by Anjum Anand and noticed that only UK edition is indexed (and listed) on EYB. Anyone has this book? I will review it as soon as I have time to cook as I am pleased which will be most likely later in September.

                                                                                                  2. STIR by Barbara Lynch

                                                                                                    I am thoroughly enchanted by this book. While not a comprehensive tome of Italian food, (some would debate it should be classified as Italian at all), I still feel it has a place on everyone's Italian shelf. I get the feeling that Ms. Lynch hand picked the recipes she wanted to go in this book - and only her favorite ones made the cut. So, for example, the dessert section only has 9 recipes in it, and none of them are your typical Italian ones. But who cares when the recipes are this good?

                                                                                                    Simplicity comes to mind when thinking of a way to describe this book. She focuses on the commonplace and makes it special. Baked Cheese and Tomatoes with Black Olive Crisps on p. 5 calls for all of 6 ingredients, including the olive paste and the rustic bread! Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry p. 7 is equally easy and equally impressive. And on and on it goes.

                                                                                                    So far I have made three recipes out of this book. Each one was memorable, easy to prepare, and will be made again.

                                                                                                    Slow Roasted Clams with Spicy Tomato Sauce, p. 38

                                                                                                    If you have time to stop by the fishmonger on your way home from work, then you have time to make this dish. Utter simplicity. Toss together a tin of tomatoes, wine, onion, garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes, scrub your clams, and dinner is in the oven. Her technique for make roasting the clams on a baking sheet is one I have never tried before this, and I would make it this way again. I served it with the grilled cheese (below).

                                                                                                    Crispy Grilled Cheese, p. 91

                                                                                                    If you want to light up your kid's faces, make these grilled cheese sandwiches. I can't say enough good things about them. Again, her technique for crisping the bread is not something I have tried before, but I think it is a wonderful method, especially, if you want to make a lot of sandwiches at once. She has you line a cookie sheet with parchment, butter the outsides of the sandwiches, then another parchment paper on top with another cookie sheet above to weight it down. Cooked to perfection in 20 minutes @ 400. Caraway seeds and a high quality cheese such as Mimolette make all the difference. I mixed 4 types of cheese in mine.

                                                                                                    Peaches and Cream, p. 310

                                                                                                    Super easy and quite decadent, especially factoring in the tiny amount of effort needed to throw this one together.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                        I have not made any recipes that DK made but made a couple of which I remember this one with great fondness:

                                                                                                        Roasted Eggplant with Golden Raisin - Pine Nut Vinaigrette and Feta, p.75. It is involved and consists of several steps but definitely worth the time spent.

                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                          This is one of the books on my shelf that I read, drooled, and haven't actually cooked from. She is a local chef which was why I bought the book originally. Thanks for spurring me on!

                                                                                                        2. THE NEW WINE COUNTRY COOKBOOK, Recipes from California's Central Coast by Brigit Binns

                                                                                                          In June, my mother, daughter and I went on a three day farmstay at the Rinoconda Dairy Farm in Santa Margarita, California. We woke to the sound of the rooster crowing, helped with the farm chores (feeding the pigs, lambs, and goats), made our own goatachinos by milking fresh goat milk straight into our coffee, and even observed some of the cheesemaking process. Our hosts, Jim and Christine McGuire, couldn't have been more welcoming or more interesting, for that matter. At night, we gathered around their rather large kitchen island, shared a drink and listened to their fascinating stories.

                                                                                                          Thoroughly enchanted by everything I saw, touched, and ate, I was anxious to take some of it home with me. Through our convesations, I found out that a new cookbook had just been released featuring several of Christine's cheeses, so of course I asked to see it. Once I had it in my greedy little hands, I knew I would have to buy it. It is a compilation of recipes and ingredients found and/or made on California's Central Coast. For anyone on the west coast, you will probably recognize many of the wines, farmers, and products. Each section starts with a back story about a local icon, most of whom I know or at least know of from my visits up and down the coast. Every recipe had me saying oh and ah. If you live in Southern California, you likely know most of the wineries, farmers, and other food professionals featured in it from your trips to the farmer's markets.

                                                                                                          I'd like to say what really swayed me were the recipes. But really I scarcely scratched the service before blurting out, "can I buy it?" because I thought it would make a wonderful keepsake. It was not until I brought it home and started looking through it that I realized what a treasure I had found. The recipes all sound outstanding. The photos are gorgeous, and the backstories are comprehensive and really well written. So, let's get to the recipes, shall we? It is already indexed on EYB so you can judge for yourselves, but here are a few that really caught my eye:


                                                                                                          Radicchio and Monterey Jack Quesadillas with Fresh Fig Salsa, p. 37
                                                                                                          Pinquito Bean and Farro Soup with Arugula and Pancetta, p. 58 -you should see the picture!
                                                                                                          Rose and Lemon Verbena Granita p. 69
                                                                                                          Dandelion Salad with Soft Boiled Eggs and Crispy Bacon, p. 82
                                                                                                          Fennel and Garlic Crusted Roast Chicken, p. 104 (dry brined in the style of Zuni Cafe)
                                                                                                          Skewered Tuscan Cowboy Quail with Red Grape Jus, p. 108
                                                                                                          Muscat Zabaglione over Fresh Berries, p. 119
                                                                                                          Red Wine Risotto with Scallops and Bacon, p. 127 or Bucatini Simmered in Sangiovese with Aged Parmesan, p. 236
                                                                                                          Steamed Mussels with Goat Butter, p. 137 (I bought goat butter at Sprouts today
                                                                                                          )Three Hour, Bone In, Berkshire Pork Shoulder with Brandy and Black Pepper Apples, p. 174
                                                                                                          Brined Pork Porterhouse with Smoky Lentils and Vineyard Dried Tomatoes, p. 178
                                                                                                          Spicy Sausage on a Bed of Braised Red and Green Grapes, p. 181
                                                                                                          Vine Leaf Wrapped Sheep's Tomme with Roasted Olives and Lemon, p. 273

                                                                                                          What I've made:

                                                                                                          Fennel and Garlic Crusted Roast Chicken on p. 104

                                                                                                          This chicken is dry brined in the style of Zuni Cafe, seasoned under the skin, then roasted at a high temp (450) for the first 20 minutes (turning it over after 12 minutes) and then reducing the temperature to 300 for the remaining cooking time. I was skeptical that the chicken would be cooked in the recommended time, so I ended up with dry chicken breasts, but otherwise, the meal was delicious.

                                                                                                          Rhône Wine and Fig Braised Pork Chops on p. 170

                                                                                                          I bought 2 gorgeous heritage pork chops at the farmer's market which were marinated for 6 hours in a fig wine puree. A 1/2 hour before cooking, the chops were dried off, then a pork fat, salt, rosemary, garlic puree was spread over both sides of the the chops. They were grilled in a smoking hot pan for 2 1/2 minutes per side. The fat causes the meat to get an incredibly yummy looking crust. Next, the marinade is adding to the pan, and then the chops are finished in the sauce.

                                                                                                          Penne with Wine Braised Chicken Sausage, Pancetta, Kale, and Carrot Sugo, p. 112

                                                                                                          This one is dinner tonight. Fresh sausages are sautéd in red wine until plumped. Pancetta, shallots, garlic and carrots are browned until golden and then added to the sausage pan. More wine, tomato paste, sage, and s and p come next. Finish with a tin of tomatoes, kale, and red wine vinegar. The sauce is then married with the pasta, some pasta water, and parm cheese. Results on this one are pending.

                                                                                                          Muscat Zabaglione over Fresh Berries, p. 119

                                                                                                          My Supper Club will be making this one for dessert on Sunday so I will report back.

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                            So many dishes sound wonderful but Fresh Fig Salsa really got my attention! Could you, please, paraphrase the recipe?


                                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                                              Of course, will have to wait until kids go to sleep - first day of school at our house!

                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                Already back to school ?! Wow, sort of signals the end of summer, doesn't it? Absolutely no rush on the recipe and thank you for sharing.

                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                  Fresh Fig Salsa:

                                                                                                                  Herby -

                                                                                                                  1 c. fresh Ca. figs, diced
                                                                                                                  1/4 c. red bell pepper, finely diced
                                                                                                                  1 scallion, finely chopped
                                                                                                                  1 T. lime juice
                                                                                                                  Dash tabasco
                                                                                                                  1/4 t. sea salt
                                                                                                                  black pepper

                                                                                                                  Combine in a bowl. Adjust seasoning. That's it!

                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                    Thank you, DK! Looks simple but interesting combination of ingredients. Will let you know how it turns out when I make it and if I remember which thread we were talking on...

                                                                                                            2. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                              Penne with Wine Braised Chicken Sausage, Pancetta, Kale, and Carrot Sugo, p. 112

                                                                                                              Update: Fantastic! Exceeded all my expectations. Would make this one again in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                            3. EAT YOUR VEGETABLES by Arthur Potts Dawson

                                                                                                              For those of you who don’t need another cookbook, please avert your eyes!! This book is truly a gem. It was recommended to me by the owner of a cookbook/kitchen shop in Toronto. I also read a review where someone compared it to Ottolenghi’s Plenty. For me, this book holds even greater appeal because of the ethnic diversity of the recipes. I’ve now made a few recipes from the book and all have been tremendously successful so I thought it was time to post a review here. I’m declaring this to be my Summer Cookbook of 2013 and now our growing season is at its peak, I’ll be making many more dishes from this book in the weeks ahead.

                                                                                                              ABOUT THE AUTHOR: APD is a London chef. From Wikipedia:

                                                                                                              >> He started with a three-year apprenticeship with the Roux brothers, worked with Rowley Leigh at Kensington Place for two years, with Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers at the River Café for four years, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall and Pierre Khoffman both for a year. He worked as head chef at the River Café and went on to restyle Petersham Nurseries Cafe, re-launch Cecconi's restaurant, and to work as executive head chef for Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant. <<

                                                                                                              In the book he describes himself as being passionate about good food, eating well and making the most of what is fresh, local and seasonal.

                                                                                                              ABOUT THE BOOK: >> The more of the rainbow you eat, the better you’ll feel << says APD in the book’s intro. His philosophy is to elevate veggies so that they play a leading role in your meal vs seeing them as a side dish or accompaniment. His goal is to entice you with delectable looking dishes that taste even better than they look.

                                                                                                              The book dedicates a small section to discussing seasonality and pantry items and then jumps right into the recipes. The book is divided into the following sections: Roots & Tubers, Bulbs & Stems, Leaves & Flowers, Fruits and Funghi (this combo struck me as a bit odd but but perhaps these were simply categories without partners otherwise!), Beans & Pods.

                                                                                                              The book is not vegetarian but I would say it is “almost vegetarian” with very few dishes calling for meat, fish, seafood or poultry.

                                                                                                              Within the chapters are special features such as skill building techniques where processes such as Pickling and Gratin are depicted in thumbnail-sized photos that are accompanied by detailed text explaining the feature. Following the photos are two-page spreads of a variety of recipes highlighting the applicable technique. The other feature in the book is what APD calls “Feast” where he hones in on a particular type of cuisine (eg. Mediterranean, Tex-Mex Grill) and provides a series of recipes that one can use to produce a feast. I loved this idea since I like to do this myself and I thought it was great to have all the recipes together in one place vs having to flip back and forth throughout the book. The recipes are all accompanied by photos.

                                                                                                              The book’s index is detailed and well cross-referenced, something I truly appreciate. I also love the layout. In the majority of the book there is only one recipe per page and often a full page photo to accompany each recipe. All recipes have head notes and some have tips and variations. Steps are numbered and serving quantities are provided. Total prep time is not provided unfortunately.

                                                                                                              ABOUT THE RECIPES: The recipes captivated me from the moment I opened the book. Most recipes are fresh and innovative. They cover the global gamut so there’s plenty to choose from. The author likes to make use of fresh herbs and relies on them for flavour vs a healthy salting which is where I fault many other vegetable books. We don’t use a lot of salt so I really appreciated this aspect of the book. When salt is used, APD usually suggests seasoning “lightly”. I love that a large variety of vegetables are covered in the book and that the author has recipes for using veggie parts that are often overlooked such as spinach stalks and asparagus ends.

                                                                                                              The photos and dish descriptions are drool-inducing! I’ve made the following dishes so far:

                                                                                                              Devilicious Potatoes With Fresh Chili & Capers
                                                                                                              Shrimp In Potato Vests
                                                                                                              Fennel & Potatoes al Forno
                                                                                                              Asparagus al Forno with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil
                                                                                                              Leek, Scallion & Potato Gratin

                                                                                                              Tabbed for making asap are:

                                                                                                              Sweet Potato Pancakes (think crepes) with Chili & Lime
                                                                                                              Radish Salad with Pomegranate & Cannellini Beans
                                                                                                              White Garlic Soup with Almonds
                                                                                                              Leeks on Toast with Cheese & Worcestershire Sauce
                                                                                                              Bread-Crumbed Fennel Slices with Lime & Chili Dressing
                                                                                                              Kohlrabi Pie with Root Vegetables
                                                                                                              Cream of Celery Soup with Smoked Cheese
                                                                                                              Spinach, Mushroom & Ricotta Rotolo with Sage Butter
                                                                                                              Spinach Soup with Nutmeg
                                                                                                              Sorrel & Egg Yolk Soup
                                                                                                              Endive & Shrimp Cocktail Boats
                                                                                                              Braised Curly Kale with Garlic & Soy Sauce
                                                                                                              Creamed Purple Kale with Pepper & Lemon
                                                                                                              Red Cabbage Stew with Red Wine, Pears and Brown Sugar
                                                                                                              Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese au Gratin
                                                                                                              Stir-Fried Sprouts & Broccoli
                                                                                                              Avocado Salad with Wild Arugula & Pea Shoots
                                                                                                              Stuffed Red Peppers with Thyme, Garlic & Anchovies
                                                                                                              Eggplant Ratatouille with Basil & Extra Virgin Olive Oil
                                                                                                              Lentil Tart with Sweet Potato & Sour Cream
                                                                                                              Yam & Coconut Curry
                                                                                                              Falafel, Pita Bread & Cucumber Salsa

                                                                                                              …and so many more!

                                                                                                              Needless to say, I’m declaring this book a keeper!

                                                                                                              ETA: I've recorded all my recipe reviews in EYB. Here's a link to those if you are interested:


                                                                                                              23 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                Breadcrumbs, you are evil!

                                                                                                                I'm a sucker for vegetable/vegetarian books. And this one is only £5.99 on ibooks.

                                                                                                                1. re: lilham

                                                                                                                  Wow lilham, that's a bargain! I'm going to look and see what the Cdn price is. If it's comparable, I'll load it on my ipad as well. I'd love to have it with me when I travel. It would be ideal for self-catering vacations as we always find our market visits are a highlight of our trips. Thanks for the tip. Oh, and sorry about tempting you!! ; )

                                                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                  OMG. BC. I should not read this thread. MUST. BUY. BOOK.

                                                                                                                  I also see he's the head chef at Jamie Oliver's new pop-up diner in London, which just shot up near the top of my restaurant list for next time I'm in London.

                                                                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                    Sorry geekmom but if it makes you feel any better, you really won't regret this purchase! mr bc declared the potato leek dish to be "the best potatoes" he'd ever eaten!

                                                                                                                    If you have a moment, could you share the name of the London restaurant? I'll be heading to the UK shortly and will definitely add this to my must-visit list too.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                      With a dedicated potato fan in my family, how can I NOT try that recipe? :-D

                                                                                                                      I'm off to the UK myself on Friday. I think I'll eat there this weekend. Whoop! It's called, imaginatively, "Jamie Oliver's Diner". http://www.jamieoliversdiner.com/

                                                                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                        Ooh, please report back on your dining experience if you do go geekmom, I'd love to hear about it. The menu looks wonderful! Thanks for that link.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                        If (and I'm assuming you are) you are an Ottolenghi lover, you need to try Nopi while in London.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          How did I miss that last year?!!! Thanks so much LlM...I won't make that mistake again! I'm very excited to go here!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                            Seriously. We had so much fun there and the food is wonderful. Just drink a sip for me and I will feel it was fair trade.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                              Oh I'm pretty sure I can manage a sip or two LlM...thanks again!!

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                I'm seriously bummed but my picky eater has vetoed Nopi because there is pretty well nothing she would eat on their sample menu online. Even the breakfast menu doesn't appeal... I'm just not willing to shell out that much for a meal to have her sitting there with a sad, long face while the rest of us chow down.

                                                                                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                  The good thing is that it is all small plates, so there can be *lots* to try. I believe they usually have specials, so there may end up being something that appeals after all. Can the picky eater maybe just sit there with bread and whatever ends up actually looking good to him/her?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    You're right, LLM - we can probably figure this out because there is such an interesting selection. I've made a reservation for noon - that way she can hopefully pick from the breakfast or lunch menus so there will be more to choose from. And I don't see why anyone would feel sad about eating really nice bread at breakfast time. :-)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                                      Yay!!! I'm sure there is a Pret a Manger close by if she ends up leaving feeling hungry. And you'll get to try it! I'm thrilled for you.

                                                                                                                      3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                        BC - do you have the North American edition? Does it include measurements by weight? I've got an Amazon.ca gift code that I've been hanging on to, but I'm tempted to wait till I can get the UK edition if I am going to have to deal with things like "4 cups of broccoli" and such.

                                                                                                                        1. re: geekmom

                                                                                                                          I do have the NA edition gm. Weights are provided in pounds and ounces for things like potatoes, carrots etc. however cups are used for other measures for oil, flour etc. Unfortunately the conversion in grams is not provided so you may wish to hold off. I wonder if your gift card would work on Amazon UK?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                            Thank you -- that's exactly what I was wanting to know. I will pick up the UK edition. I wonder if I should plan to bring an extra suitcase just for cookbooks?

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                Totally agree. I always post things back when I travel. I print address labels before I leave because inevitably I purchase something I don't want to schlep home and I have other things that I'd much prefer to take up valuable real estate in my luggage.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                  Intriguing idea! Thanks BC and LLM.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                          BTW you know you need to repost this to the 'what books i bought' thread to enable more chows ;)

                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                            BC, you didn't happen to get this recommendation from the owner of Good Egg, did you? Your pictures look so tempting!

                                                                                                                            1. re: rstuart

                                                                                                                              sorry I didn't see your post sooner rstuart...yes, indeed I did!

                                                                                                                          2. OK, Happy New Year Y'all! After allowing myself to fall off the wagon for the past two months, I'm happy to report that I purged a couple of cookbooks today and, I have another two books to report on as keepers. I also managed to get rid of a couple of food-related novels which I'll report on here as well. It's time to make more space on my bookshelves as I have a couple of "piles" of new or new-to-me books that need a home and after a post-Christmas clean-up, I've concluded there just isn't a good spot for yet another cookbook shelf in the house.

                                                                                                                            Stay-tuned for my update and in the meantime, have you discovered a keeper or dud on your shelves?

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                              Glad to see you reactivating this thread BC. I have several books I want to post about here. It has been a very busy time for me lately (we have a Bat Mitzvah coming up next weekend) but I hope to have time starting the following week. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing about your endeavors.

                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                How exciting dk, enjoy the Bat Mitzvah...a very special time. Can't wait to have your company here and looking forward to reading about your endeavours as well.

                                                                                                                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                Thanks for getting this thread back up and going. I need to get back to testing and culling my books.

                                                                                                                              3. ISABEL'S CANTINA, by Isabel Cruz

                                                                                                                                I bought this book a while back based on a recommendation from dkennedy, but hadn't cooked from it at all. Upon flipping through it, my first reaction was disappointment. I had expected something more like upscale restaurant Latin cuisine. These recipes are very simple, and more of a Latin/Asian fusion. On my first look, I didn't see anything much that interested me.

                                                                                                                                The book has recently been nominated for COTM, and dkennedy still raves about it, so I thought I should reconsider and try actually cooking from the book. For last night's dinner, I made three recipes:

                                                                                                                                STEAMED RED SNAPPER IN FOIL WITH TOMATOES, HEARTS OF PALM, AND GINGER, p 83
                                                                                                                                This is one dkennedy recommended. It's about as easy as it gets. You make a topping out of diced tomato, canned heart of palm, ginger, shallots, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. You put each snapper fillet on a sheet of foil. The instructions don't tell you to grease the foil, but I did rub some oil on there, especially as I was using skin-on fillets (the recipe called for skinless). The fish is seasoned with salt and pepper, then you spoon the topping over it. Close up the foil packet, and bake for 10-12 minutes (my fillets were small, so I went with 10). When you serve, garnish the fish with some chopped mint.

                                                                                                                                You get a lot of bang for your buck (or I should say, minute) with this recipe. About 10 minutes prep, 10 minutes baking, and you have a really impressive fish dish. I was a bit skeptical about how the flavors would mesh, but they went together beautifully. Mr. MM was thrilled with this one.

                                                                                                                                QUINOA WITH GREEN OLIVES AND RED ONION, p. 128
                                                                                                                                I made this as a side for my fish. The first thing I noticed was that in the picture, there are clearly some capers in the dish, but there are none in the recipe. I decided to add some. You start by cooking the quinoa - 2 cups water plus 1 cup quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer 10-15 minutes. After it is cooked, you are instructed to stir in salt and pepper.

                                                                                                                                In a separate pan, you sauté some diced red onion, then add some red bell pepper. To this you add sliced green olives (and capers, in my case). You stir the sautéed vegetables into the quinoa, then stir in some lemon juice, ground cumin, and cilantro. Can be served warm, cold, or room temp.

                                                                                                                                This an interesting choice for me to make. Mr. MM claims to dislike green olives and capers. However, he gobbled up the quinoa and had seconds. I enjoyed the flavors very much as well, but if I make it again, I'll make some changes to the technique. I thought the amount of water called for was too much, and the quinoa did not come out as fluffy as it usually does when I make it. I also thought the recipe would come out better if the quinoa were salted from the get-go, and if the pepper and cumin were added to the sautéed veggies. All this repeated stirring in of things to the cooked quinoa didn't do anything for the texture of the dish. All in all, I'd say a good dish that could be great with a few tweaks.

                                                                                                                                AVOCADO SALSA CRUDA, p. 143
                                                                                                                                This one caught my eye for its extreme simplicity, and slightly odd ingredients. The recipe is just this: You mix together diced tomato, diced avocado, cilantro, and soy sauce (that's right, soy sauce, and quite a lot of it). The soy sauce is the only seasoning. No chiles. No onion. Huh.

                                                                                                                                So I served this as a side on my plate of fish, quinoa, and beans, and it was really good. It is very Japanese in it's taste and simplicity. To me, this is more of a salsa to be served with or on food, not eaten with chips. I actually did eat some of the leftover with tortilla chips, and it was a bit salty and really just didn't go with them. But it was great alongside our food, and would be fantastic over a grilled skirt steak.

                                                                                                                                I served this meal with black beans, but used my own recipe for those. I did look at her bean recipes, and wasn't crazy about them, although I might try them with tweaks (for one thing, she doesn't salt the beans until after cooking, while I think it is much preferable to salt them early. The other thing is that she soaks her beans, and I do not). Her rice cooking instructions also look problematic to me. The proportion of water to rice is too high, just like with the quinoa. You could use less water and a shorter cooking time, and get better rice.

                                                                                                                                We were very happy with our meal from this book, so I think it's a keeper. There are a number of other dishes I have found that I want to make. For example, a grilled tofu recipe that calls for that avocado salsa cruda. A recipe for halibut with a cucumber-cilantro sauce. And turkey albondigas in broth.

                                                                                                                                28 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                  Made another from the book for my lunch today:

                                                                                                                                  BUDDHA BOWL, p. 63

                                                                                                                                  This is one strange dish. To make the broth, you start by sautéing onion, then some carrot and celery, until soft. Then you add some lemongrass, ginger and garlic that have been pulverized in a food processor. To this, you add some coconut milk, white miso, and water. This is heated gently (no boiling) for about 30 minutes. You cook up some rice noodles. To serve, you just pile the noodles in a bowl and ladle the broth on top.

                                                                                                                                  This one didn't quite work for me. It wasn't bad, but it was pretty bland. Some might find it "comforting", but that wouldn't be me. Squeezing in some lime juice helped. Some chopped cilantro or some other herb would have helped as well, as would some minced chiles or maybe just some chile oil drizzled in. For me, the fusion thing just wasn't happening here.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                    I've made two recipes from the book.

                                                                                                                                    LENTIL SOUP with RED BELL PEPPER, BASIL, and CHIPOTLE
                                                                                                                                    This is not the kind of recipe I'd typically make but they are calling for a foot of snow here.

                                                                                                                                    The recipe is super easy.

                                                                                                                                    1 diced yellow onion, 4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 diced red bell pepper are sautéed in 2 T of olive oil.

                                                                                                                                    1 Tbsp of chipotle chili powder, 1 Tbsp of paprika, and black pepper are then mixed in for about 30 seconds

                                                                                                                                    Add 1 lb lentils, 4 oz shiitakes (stemmed and sliced), 8 cups chicken broth, 2 bay leaves, and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil and simmer for 35 - 40 minutes.

                                                                                                                                    At the end, you puree about half the soup and add it back to the pot. It is a very ugly brown soup.

                                                                                                                                    The soup has a mix of ingredients that I would not necessarily associate with lentil soup. She says the soup has "very delicate, subtle flavors that get a jolt from chipotle chili powder." This soup is anything but delicate and subtle. I thought the chipotle completely dominated. It was very thick and reminded me of a vegetarian chile, albeit one made with lentils. I liked it and it was a very satisfying dish on a very cold night; however, I'm not sure if it is something I will make again.

                                                                                                                                    STRAWBERRY-MANGO COBBLER
                                                                                                                                    A friend of mine made this for a dinner last spring and it was absolutely amazing. I asked for the recipe and he gave me a photocopy of this and I made it about a week later. I didn't recognize the name of the cookbook at the time.
                                                                                                                                    It is really good ... 2 layers of fruit (strawberries and mango tossed together with sugar) and 2 layers of dough (butter, flour, salt, sugar,eggs). It is delicious when served right out of the oven.

                                                                                                                                    I got the cookbook out of the library based on dkennedy's recommendation. When flipping though the book, I came upon this recipe that looked very familiar ... it was the recipe that my friend gave me.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                      Made another from this book last night. Halibut with Cherry Tomato-Habanero Salsa and Cucumber-Cilantro Sauce. This recipe looks more complicated, but is really extremely simple. I made the cucumber-cilantro sauce first, as the recipe says it can be made up to 2 days ahead. You just take a cup of diced, peeled cucumber, a cup of cilantro, a little olive oil, and 1/2 cup (!!!) of lemon juice, and whiz it in a blender.

                                                                                                                                      Next up was the cherry tomato salsa, which is equally simple. Halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced habanero, thinly sliced red onion, chopped mint, a little olive oil and salt all get tossed in a bowl. I let mine sit at room temp for a couple hours for the flavors to meld, and the onion to mellow.

                                                                                                                                      To make the fish, you cook in a hot skillet for 2 minutes per side, then transfer to the oven to finish (8-10 minutes, per the recipe, but I only did 6, as my fillets were on the small side).

                                                                                                                                      To plate, you put down some of the cucumber sauce, lay the fish on top, and spoon the tomato mixture over that. I found the cucumber sauce to be a bit on the runny side, so I spooned it over and around the fish, then topped with the tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                      This was very good. The cucumber sauce comes out more lemony than anything, and a bit too soupy. Next time I will reduce the amount of lemon juice (perhaps cut it in half), to allow the cucumber to shine. It seems like she was imitating a tomatillo sauce here, which begs the question, why not just use tomatillos? But then, the cucumber does give it a bit of that Asian feel, so maybe that's the point. All in all, it was a very easy and interesting dish, and attractive on the plate.

                                                                                                                                      Served with rice, seasoned with grated fresh turmeric and ginger and cooked in coconut milk (it seemed appropriate to give my rice an Asian twist), with some purslane leaves as a garnish. And some black beans. (None of those from the book).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                        damn you Mel. I'm going to end up buying this book.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                            Don't blame me, blame dk. She started it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                              I am so glad you are enjoying the book. I always worry that people will not share my taste. Remind me again, are you gluten free? If not, you must make the Mex. Choc. bread pudding. It is by far the best recipe in this book, imo.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                Yes, gluten-free. At some point, I will make the flourless chocolate ginger cake, but it may be a while, as I don't eat dessert very often.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                  I am also GF but cheat every so often.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                    I can't cheat. I have celiac disease. GF for over 13 years now.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                      Yes, that is a very different story. I am off gluten due to my Doctor's recommendation. I am currently reading Grain Brain which has convinced me he is right. Plus, I've lost 10 lbs. since giving it up.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                OK, damn you dkennedy! (or thank you to both of you...)

                                                                                                                                            2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                              Grilled Tofu with Avocado Salsa Cruda, p. 115

                                                                                                                                              One last dish from here, and I'm putting it aside for a while. After making the avocado salsa cruda, described upthread, I wanted to make this tofu dish that called for it. For the tofu, you cut it into 1-inch cubes, and dry it on paper towels. Toss in a mix of ground cumin and "chile powder". The latter, for me, was just ground ancho chiles. I don't keep the stuff that has cumin, garlic powder, etc added in my pantry. Sauté some onion and garlic until soft, then remove from pan. Add more oil, then the tofu. You pan fry the tofu until it starts to crisp up on the sides, then add the onion and garlic back in.

                                                                                                                                              This is served with the avocado salsa cruda on top. The tofu has no salt added (unless you use a "chile powder" with salt in it), but that is not a problem, because as I noted above, the avocado salsa cruda is quite salty from the amount of soy sauce. The overall effect is well-balanced. This is a very savory tofu dish. And interesting. You have a Japanese ingredient (tofu), seasoned with Southwestern spices, topped with Southwestern ingredients seasoned with a Japanese condiment. Somehow, it all works. Not going to say this will make a tofu-lover out of a tofu-hater, but if, like me, you like tofu, this is a pretty nice way to have it.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                Aspirations (broccolini) with Red Bell Pepper and Chile Flakes - p. 137

                                                                                                                                                Said I was done, but I lied. One more last night. Looking for a quick vegetable side to go with my beef chow fun, I recalled the picture of this from the book, and the bright colors were just what I wanted to go with a mostly brown dish.

                                                                                                                                                I had noticed this recipe looking through the book, but mostly for its looks. The recipe itself is so simply seasoned, I kind of dismissed it as being more about color than taste.

                                                                                                                                                Well, I was wrong. It can be wonderful to be proven wrong. I did adapt the recipe a bit. It calls for sautéing the broccolini in olive oil on the stove. I did this outside in my wok, and switched to peanut oil because of the high heat. My cooking times were shorter, as you might expect.

                                                                                                                                                The recipe is the definition of simplicity. You sauté (in my case stir-fry) the broccolini, then add red bell pepper, and finish by seasoning with a generous amount of chile flakes and some salt. That's it.

                                                                                                                                                There are enough chile flakes in the dish to give it a bit of a kick. This was not the under-seasoned vegetable dish I was expecting. Plus, the simplicity of the dish, allowed for the wok hei to shine through. You would get that in the stovetop version in the book, but in that version, you'd be using a flavorful olive oil, which could also shine.

                                                                                                                                                If you want to see what it looked like, it can be found sitting behind my beef chow fun in this post:

                                                                                                                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                JALAPENO SHRIMP, p 87
                                                                                                                                                I've got a couple of dinners planned this week from this book. This was the first one. It is an incredibly simple dish. It took me less than 20 minutes to prep everything and under 10 minutes to to cook. This would be an easy weeknight dish.

                                                                                                                                                You sauté red onion, garlic, and jalapeno in a little olive oil for 2 minutes. You then add white wine and cook another 2 minutes. You add the shrimp and when they begin to turn pink, you add lemon juice and chopped tomatoes. Cook a couple of minutes until done and season with salt.

                                                                                                                                                I served this over brown rice.

                                                                                                                                                This was a good dish. It is not particularly remarkable and reminds me of some of the Mediterranean shrimp dishes I've had, except with a slightly different flavor from the jalapeno. The jalapeno was milder than I expected. It is such an easy dish, I'll probably make it again. It is also very Weight Watchers friendly - 1 serving calculates to 10 points.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                  I don't have the book in front of me right now but I do remember having marked this down as one to try. Did she suggest serving any of the salsas with it? Maybe that would make it a bit more interesting/different?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                    She suggests steamed white rice and the avocado salsa cruda to go with it. The latter would have a significant impact on the overall taste of the plate, because of the soy sauce used and high umami of that salsa.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                      I cannot wait to make that avocado salsa. I imagine I could stand and eat it out of a bowl all by itself.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                                        I'm sure the avocado would have amped it up. I'm not a big avocado fan (plus I'm trying to keep the calories down), so I didn't follow the recommendation. However, don't get me wrong... this was a good dish. I said that it wasn't remarkable because the flavors (wine, onion, and tomato) seemed very familiar with just a bit of heat from the jalapeno.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                  TURKEY ALBONDIGAS in BROTH (page 66)

                                                                                                                                                  This is definitely a keeper. I love chipotle in adobo and this is a delicious spicy broth with tasty turkey meatballs.

                                                                                                                                                  The meatballs are made with 8 oz ground turkey, 1/2 red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 T fresh mint, 1 egg, 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, and 1 tsp salt. Make 12 meatballs and roll them in flour. Cook in a 2T of peanut oil. The meatballs were very wet, but they cooked up fine.

                                                                                                                                                  For the broth, sauté 1 chopped onion and 3 garlic cloves in 2 T olive oil for 3 minutes. Add 2 diced carrot and 1 diced celery stalk and cook a couple more minutes. Add 1 C white wine and simmer 5 min. Add 3 T tomato paste, 2 chppped chipotle chiles in adobo, and 6 cups of chicken broth and simmer 20 minutes. Add 1 diced zucchini and cook 5 minutes. Add the cooked meatballs to the broth and remove from heat.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                    Fantastic - this is on my list. I was looking longingly at this one last night.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                      That's on my list too. Glad to hear you liked it.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                        Thank you for paraphrasing! Will definitely make it - it is going into my pepperplate immediately.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                          You're welcome. If you want a better version of the recipe, check here:

                                                                                                                                                          I'm not the "crappy cook" (well, at least I don't think I am :)) , but I did a search on this recipe after I made it last night and stumbled on the blog.

                                                                                                                                                          I went ahead and ordered the book today. I see enough recipes that I am interested in to get a copy for myself. There seem to be a lot of dishes that are on the light side and would work well on weeknights.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                            Well, this is very promising. With so many of you buying the book, it may make it to COTM someday!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                        Mel, I took an inspiration from your quinoa dish and made what I thought was the same dish with tweaks but re-reading your post again I realize that my dish is very different from yours but it turned out delicious :) It all started with a large zucchini that needed using up. So, I chopped it and a carrots into bite-size pieces and roasted at 450F along with a bit of chopped inion, 2 large cloves of garlic, a few springs of thyme and a couple of fresh bay leaves. While veg was in the oven I cooked 1 cup quinoa in 1.25 cups of water flavoured with salt, a couple of dry red chiles and a fresh bay leave. Then I made a dressing of sorts with lemon juice, capers, olives, cumin, and black pepper. Once quinoa and vegatable were done I mix all ingredients together adding 2 chopped roasted peppers from a jar. Took this to lunch with a few slices of feta and it is filling and delicious. Lots of leftovers at home.

                                                                                                                                                        Thank you for an insipation and a new quinoa salad to add to my rotation :)

                                                                                                                                                      3. CRAZY GOOD ITALIAN - Mike Isabella

                                                                                                                                                        I have been dying to join in on this thread. As my cookbook collection is now spilling off of all available bookshelves, the time has come to start culling in earnest.
                                                                                                                                                        I'd like to begin with a few 'impulse' purchases. I bought Mike Isabella's" Crazy Good Italian" with the best of intentions, but have yet to cook a thing.
                                                                                                                                                        I usually steer clear of celebrity type cookbooks - but I was intrigued by the promise of the pepperoni sauce which the author prepared on Top Chef. It is the first recipe in the book (accompanying chicken wings) and I have yet to try it. The octopus sauce for pasta is also supposed to be fabulous - and I have yet to try that.
                                                                                                                                                        Although I live in an area where you would think there'd be access to anything and everything, the fresh fish available locally is not always the best. And this highlights one of the things that is not so practical about this book - more than a few recipes call for many ingredients that are not that easy to source. I am still not sure where I might find fresh octopus (or octopus at all).
                                                                                                                                                        Sometime in the next week or two, I hope to try the aforementioned recipes and see whether or not to keep this book, and try additional recipes. In the meantime, it would be great to hear if anyone else has cooked from this book.

                                                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                                                          I've made the pasta in red wine with octopus sauce, and I absolutely loved it. I used frozen octopus, so great fresh seafood is not really an issue with that recipe. I'd like to do more from this book, so I'll look forward to hearing about what you try.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                            Thanks, MelMM,
                                                                                                                                                            I'm more excited than ever to try it now. Will probably report on the pepperoni sauce first, while I seach out the octopus!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                                                              You people are killing me! This is the one book I have managed not to buy (yet) and it is currently in my wish list based on MeIMM's wonderful description of the octopus ragu - which I have yet to make, btw. Now, I am sure, once you start to review it, I will end up buying it as well. Sigh.....

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                Not that this is helping; but I got a good used copy for about $7 on Amazon a few months ago. We are in the middle of moving so I haven't had a chance to cook from it yet; but remember seeing some stuff that looked really good.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JulesLP

                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, I fear I will be able to get it at a good price too! I think I have bought somewhere around 20 cookbooks this month, 7 of which are still in transit. I am in the throws a serious binge and I can't seem to stop!!! The library hasn't been much help because the books I have checked out also often end up in my cart (most recently, An Everlasting Meal). My daughter commented today that she noticed the gap area in my only remaining 1/2 full bookshelf recently has been filled up! Yikes!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                    Good prices at Amazon are a double-edged sword for sure. I've been on a bit of cookbook-buying-frenzy myself, and its so easy to keep filling up that 'shopping cart' without consideration for storage space!

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                                                            CRAZY GOOD ITALIAN - chicken wings with pepperoni sauce p. 12
                                                                                                                                                            So..... I made this for just myself the other night. You begin by marinating chicken wings for 21/2 hours in EVOO, garlic, rosemary and lemon peel.
                                                                                                                                                            While they marinate in the refrigerator the sauce comes together in about an hour. 1/4 cup diced yellow onion and a thinly sliced garlic clove are sweated in olive oil for a few minutes till translucent. Six ounces of thinly sliced pepperoni is added to the pan. You then add toasted fennel and red pepper flakes - (this was done in a separate dry pan).
                                                                                                                                                            Then stir in a 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. At this point, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock goes in, everything is brought to gentle boil, then brought back down to a simmer - for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. off the heat, and the mixture cools for a bit. the sauce is pureed in a blender for 2-3 minutes until smooth, then passed thru a fine-mesh strainer. At this point, you have strained out quite a bit of the solids - and there is not that much sauce left. The sauce is finished with 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.
                                                                                                                                                            When the chicken is done marinating, it is brought to room temperature and one half teaspoon of salt is added.
                                                                                                                                                            The instructions make it clear not to rinse the marinade off the chicken, but to definitely remove any bits of garlic, rosemary and lemon peel so that they do not burn. The wings are roasted on a baking sheet for 25 minutes or so until golden. The wings are mixed with 3/4 cup pepperoni sauce in a mixing bowl, with the remaining sauce on the side.
                                                                                                                                                            This recipe was a lot of time and work for what is essentially Italian-esque 'buffalo" wings! The sauce itself was delicious but after the solids were strained out, there really was not a whole lot of it - maybe just under a cup.
                                                                                                                                                            So this is not the type of thing that would be good for feeding a crowd.
                                                                                                                                                            And though the sauce was delicious ( I ate every last bit with a spoon) I would only make it again if I were entertaining a friend I wanted to impress - and time and dirty dishes were no object. And, speaking just for my taste, chicken wings were just not the ideal accompaniment. Not sure what would be, though. MI serves it on chicken thighs at his restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                            I have a few more recipes to try before the verdict is in on this book.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Blythe spirit

                                                                                                                                                              So my copy crazy good Italian just came in to the library. I started combing through it and made it about a third of the way through the before I decided, okay nothing special, I'm not going to buy this book. Then I turned the page and started the seafood recipe section and quickly change my mind.

                                                                                                                                                              ETA: My only hesitations are that it is not indexed on EYB and I have bought so many books lately I really need to not buy any others. (Another one today, though this one was not my fault - more on that on the appropriate thread). I have a few weeks to decide in any case.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                I haven't quite decided if I'm keeping my copy either - I agree with you about the book - I had the same reaction when I first perused it (after buying!!) I'd be curious to hear which seafood recipes you are thinking to try.

                                                                                                                                                          3. THE GEFILTE VARIATIONS by Jane Cohen.

                                                                                                                                                            I came across this book when reading through The 150 Best American Recipes. Her pomegranate braised brisket with onion confit is included at page 161 of BAR. Being the addict I am, I had to look up this previously unknown to me title and then of course buy it.

                                                                                                                                                            My copy cost me exactly $4.00 including shipping. It is an ex library copy and in very good shape, though I can see the binding may give way after some additional use. The book has a beautiful dust jacket with an artist rendered menorah on the cover but that is the only picture of any kind found in the book, with the exception of few tiny black and white renderings of Talmudic pieces scattered here and there. This would usually be a turn off for me, (the no pictures), but not in this case.

                                                                                                                                                            Jayne Cohen is a smart, well read and articulate woman and this comes across in her introduction as well as her personal stories. She makes a disclaimer, "you won't find every delicious Jewish dish here or its reinterpretation. Fort that, many excellent, authoritative books on Jewish cuisine already exist....This is instead that other kind of cookbook: a highly subjective selection."

                                                                                                                                                            Each chapter has its own little intro, followed by a list of recipe (and their page numbers) found in other sections of the book that might also apply to this chapter. So for ex. the brunch chapter contains matzoh brie but the list make references to mamaliga, blintz, and kugels that you might also consider as brunch fare. Each of the recipe within the chapter identifies it as either dairy, pareve, or meat. Additionally, many recipe has a quote underneath it, a story, or both. I knew I was going to love this book when I saw she had included a quote from one of my favorite books, Life is with People.

                                                                                                                                                            This book is a treasure, lots of yiddish and custom stuff thrown in here and there. She clearly is very well educated but I also get the sense that she is secular - I could be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                            Now, on to the recipes:

                                                                                                                                                            If you are Jewish or well acquainted with Jewish cuisine, you already have your own arsenal of recipes for matzah ball soup, gefilte fish, roasted chicken and the like. But if you are a practicing Jew, who observes Shabbat every Friday and the high holidays and not so high holidays with your family, you have probably found yourself looking for ways to jazz up what you are serving, make it a little different, but not too different. For me, that means going through my 300 non-Jewish cookbooks with an eye to "what can I make that will work for this holiday but is still in keeping with the theme?" This is where this cookbook will be a fantastic resource, in my opinion.

                                                                                                                                                            Instead of matzoh brie, she offers Savory Artichoke Matzoh Brie, (p. 36). Her potato kugel calls for wild mushrooms (p. 167). Her rugelach is made with Kraft's caramels, (p. 194). Another kugel variation is for Bombay Pineapple Coconut Milk Kugel, (p. 239). There are, of course, quite a few traditional offerings, but I already have great versions of these so I probably won't be trying those. I mentioned above if you are Jewish, this might be a great resource. I'd like to clarify - this is not to say it wouldn't be a great resource for everyone, I think the recipes sound wonderful and delicious and yummy and I think anyone who frequents this board and considers them a chow hound would welcome this one to their shelves.

                                                                                                                                                            Here are the recipes I have earmarked to try right away:

                                                                                                                                                            Smoke Whitefish and Fennel Salad, (p. 249) served over Celery Root Potato Latkes, (p. 276)
                                                                                                                                                            Fish in Potato Latke Crust with Horseradish Cream, (p. 288)
                                                                                                                                                            Mango and Sour Cherry Macaroon Crumble, p. 346)
                                                                                                                                                            Old Country Cottage Cheese Cake, (p. 359)
                                                                                                                                                            Hungarian Chocolate Walnut Torte, (p. 337) - I think I will be making this one tonight.

                                                                                                                                                            I thought this book was so well written and inspirational I went right back onto Amazon the day it arrived and ordered 3 more copies to give away as gifts. Will report back later in the week with my results.

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                              What a wonderful review, DK! You have certainly piqued my interest. I have "Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking: Yiddish Recipes Revisited", and four books by Claudia Roden including "The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York". I love both of them and wish specialized cooking like this would become COTM so we can enjoy other focused cuisines like we do Asian foods and the like.

                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for calling our attention to this book.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                Hungarian Chocolate Walnut Torte, p. 337

                                                                                                                                                                Off to a good start. Made the torte last night for dessert and I was very pleased with the results. This is just your typical flourless chocolate cake, which we eat a lot of in our house because we try to eat gluten free. This one is made with walnuts, eggs and no dairy. The recipe does call for 3 T. flour, for which I used a GF flour, but you could easily use an almond meal or coconut flour if you wanted to make this grain free.

                                                                                                                                                                In the interest of full disclosure, this is one of those recipes that is easy to put together but dirties a lot of dishes. There is the pan used to make the simple syrup and then melt the chocolate in. There is the food processor for grinding the nuts and sugar in, then adding the yolks. There is the mixer from whipping the egg whites. Plus the various spoons, spatulas, and cutting boards so by the time you finish making this you are left with quite a stack. But then you fold it into the pan and all is forgiven. Hopefully I'll get around to making another recipe soon. I really want to devote myself to STIR this month so it may take me a while to get back to this.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                  DK, I do not remember which thread it was that you praised Homemade Life but wanted to come back to you to say that I bought Kindle version and reading it on the bus which takes a while. I am about half-way into it and what a delight this book is. Many thanks for introducing me to it!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                    I'm so glad to hear you are enjoying it!

                                                                                                                                                              2. HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT... Marcus Wareing
                                                                                                                                                                I bought this book after watching Master Chef Professional and watching this perfectionistic Michelin- starred chef in action. The book itself contains simple recipes, geared for the home cook, with the emphasis on techniques to achieve perfection. Last night I tried Mum's Pork Chops. There were metric weight and temp conversions to do (it is a European cookbook) and my old gas oven is not that reliable for temperatures. The goal of this recipe is to make modern, lean pork chops tender. They are essentially braised @ 325 for 75 minutes or so - covered with a pile of sliced onions, thyme, sage and some butter. I just loved the flavors, but the pork was not as tender as I had hoped - though I think this had more to do with my oven and timing issues than the recipe. If I had not been so hungry I would have let them cook another 15 minutes or so. They were still pretty tender considering the leanness of modern pork - which is almost always a disappointment, no matter what you do. It would really be worth the time for me to search out a source for better pork - I'm sure its out there somewhere.
                                                                                                                                                                I would definitely try this again, perhaps with chicken.
                                                                                                                                                                There are quite a few other recipes I'd like to try from this book (I've always wanted to know how to make a perfect French omelette) so it's staying on my sagging bookshelf for now. So much for this ruthless shedding of books that was supposed to happen!
                                                                                                                                                                I pulled out all my 'celebrity' type cookbooks that are untried and there were way more than I thought!! What was I thinking? I hope I can keep up the momentum and try at least one recipe from each...
                                                                                                                                                                In the meantime, I'm still looking for octopus to make that ragu from CRAZY GOOD ITALIAN.

                                                                                                                                                                1. DIVA COOKING: Unashamedly Glamorous Party Food by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Jennifer Joyce

                                                                                                                                                                  I would have never bought this book based on the title alone. However, I lived in London for a year and during that time I took a number of classes at the Books for Cooks shop in Notting Hill. A couple of the classes I took were taught by Jennifer Joyce, one of the authors of this book. I just loved her food, so when this book was published back in 2001, I jumped on it. I’ve probably made about a dozen dishes from this book over the years and all have been winners. A few months back, I requested this be indexed on EYB and much to my surprise, it was recently indexed. So I thought it merited a revisit by me.


                                                                                                                                                                  The book is geared towards dinner party dishes and most of the recipes are for 8 servings. Despite the “party” focus, I’ve found a number of the dishes are delicious weeknight meals. The chapters are Canapes, Tarts, Meats, Birds, Fish, Veggies, Salads, Extras, Puddings, Breads, Cooking, and Parties. The authors have various “diva dos and don’ts” with tips on what you can prepare in advance or how to choose ingredients. Many of the recipes have great, bold flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                  I chose three recipes to make from it this week.

                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                                    VIETNAMESE GRILLED PORK in LETTUCE PARCELS

                                                                                                                                                                    This is in the Canape section, but for me it is a great main dish (4 servings of 6 meatballs). I love these flavors. These are pork meatballs with lots of Vietnamese flavors (shallots, lemongrass, fish sauce, cilantro, mint) served in lettuce topped with sweet thai chili sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                    The recipe in Diva Cooking is made with minced pork, but Jennifer Joyce has another cookbook that does these with chicken and the recipe is here:


                                                                                                                                                                    This recipe is the basically the same. I cook them on parchment which keeps the sugar from burning on the tray.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                                      SMOKY BLACK BEAN TACOS with CHERRY TOMATO SALSA

                                                                                                                                                                      These are a good weeknight meal. Healthy and flavorful. They are tacos with a black bean filling with great flavor from cumin, apple cider vinegar, and honey topped with a cherry tomato salsa and a little crème fraiche (I used light sour cream instead). She says the filling can also be used as a dip or made into bean cakes. It is very good, although I might cut back slightly on the honey.
                                                                                                                                                                      The recipe below serves 8. I cut the recipe in half.

                                                                                                                                                                      For the black bean filling:

                                                                                                                                                                      Soak 500 g or dried black beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 1 hour.

                                                                                                                                                                      Heat 6 Tbsp of olive oil (I cut this down to just 2 Tbsp to make recipe lighter). Add 2 chopped onions, 2 chopped red peppers, 2 chipotle chillies in adobo, 8 garlic cloves, and 2 tsp sea salt. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                      Add the drained beans, 5 oz cider vinegar, 4 oz honey, 2 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp cumin. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                      Puree in a food processor.

                                                                                                                                                                      For the Salsa - Mix 500 g cherry tomatoes, 1 chopped red onion, 1 small bunch of cilantro chopped, juice of 2 limes, salt, and pepper.

                                                                                                                                                                      She fries corn tortillas to make the taco shells. To keep the meal light, I just used Ortega Whole Grain corn taco shells which are only 3 weight watchers points for 2 shells.

                                                                                                                                                                      The tacos are composed of the warm beans, salsa, and a little crème fraiche or sour cream.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stockholm28

                                                                                                                                                                        Get thee behind me Satan. I'm trying to swear off new cookbooks. Hah!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                          Good Luck with That :)

                                                                                                                                                                          I've been trying to check books out of the library, but I keep finding ones that I like which I end up buying.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. BABY & TODDLER ON THE GO: Fresh, homemade foods to take out and about by Kim Laidlaw

                                                                                                                                                                      Took this book out of the library as it's nominated for an IACP award in the "family" category. The Chapters are:

                                                                                                                                                                      A Homemade Start--where she tells you how to choose, store and pack foods and some tips for feeding your child "on the go."

                                                                                                                                                                      SECTION 1: Baby 4-12 months--Introducing babies to solids:

                                                                                                                                                                      Purees and Chunks--more on storing & thawing--cooked fruit, raw fruit, roasted vegetables, steamed vegetables, sauteed greens, combos, grains, ground or braised meats, homemade yogurts, smoothies,

                                                                                                                                                                      SECTION 2: Toddlers 1-3 years--Ideas about feeding toddlers on the go, introducing new foods, dealing with that independent streak. Precooking ideas, including making and doubling the mini meatloaves or meatballs recipe and freezing half or making a batch of "Master Muffin Mix" to have on hand for quick baked goods (I'm totally trying this!)

                                                                                                                                                                      Minis--Muffin tin meals: mac & cheese bites, plus mix-in ideas; pasta primavera bites; mushroom penne bites; spinach & cheese frittata bites; other mini frittata bites; spanish tortilla bites; mushroom bread tartlets; mini quiches (using frozen pie dough); salmon cakes; mini (tablespoon sized) meatloaves; curried lentil rice cakes; several varieties of fruit, vegetable, grain, cheese muffins as well as a gluten-free blueberry almond one.

                                                                                                                                                                      I'm definitely going to try some of these, probably the meatloaves and some of the frittata and grain cakes.

                                                                                                                                                                      Heres' the one I love: master muffin dry mix. Keeps for a month and makes 5 batches. So you can just whip up muffins, choosing from a variety of recommended "wet mixes" ( banana, blueberry, and apple) to make when you have a little time.

                                                                                                                                                                      Pinwheels, rolls and sammies--nothing earth shattering here, but good ideas nonetheless; goat cheese & veg, hummus & veg, almond-banana, etc. I do like her "fun with pinwheels where she recommends cute ideas to package or present them to make them more appealing, including using paper bands and wax or parchment. paper & ribbons. She also has a mini pita pockets including a baby banh mi, meatball, caprese, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      Dips & Dippers--she tells you which ones keep in the fridge for 3- 7 days and which ones freeze well up to 3 mos (black bean, white bean, hummus, roasted pepper & goat cheese, ranch-style, creamy onion, and spiced nut butter). She's got grain, fruit, and vegetable (cooked a little to soften them) ideas to use to dip with such as pitas, toast sticks, cooked polenta, peaches, etc. Dip recipes include various bean dips, cuke-yogurt, red pepper & goat cheese, ideas for cottage cheese mix-ins (applesauce, fresh or dried fruit, ham, cucumber, roasted bell pepper, cooked spinach), etc.

                                                                                                                                                                      I've seen a million of these kinds of books and somehow this one seems more appealing to me. I don't know if maybe I'm more open to it right now or what.

                                                                                                                                                                      It's not currently indexed on EYB and her website isn't very helpful, but you can look at the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Toddler-On...





                                                                                                                                                                      1. CHOPCHOP: THE KIDS' GUIDE TO COOKING REAL FOOD WITH YOUR FAMILY by Sally Sampson

                                                                                                                                                                        Another one nominated for an IACP award this year, by the founder of CHOPCHOP Magazine. All of the recipes have been approved by the Academy of American Pediatrics.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not going to go into this book too extensively (haha and yet, I see I go on and on) because it's for kids older than I have, but I would say this looks like an EXCELLENT first cookbook for kids. All of the basics without dumbing down. I really hope this book wins.

                                                                                                                                                                        Intro includes: Kids start here!, Parents start here!

                                                                                                                                                                        CHapters are

                                                                                                                                                                        breakfasts (oatmeal, eggs, smoothies, and "no cook" ideas);

                                                                                                                                                                        lunches (sandwiches, eggy things, dips and spreads, and cottage cheese or grain "lunch bowls");

                                                                                                                                                                        soups (chicken, matzo ball, vegetable, gazpacho, bean soups, and breads to go with the soups);

                                                                                                                                                                        salads (tons of salad dressings, croutons, then the salad itself);

                                                                                                                                                                        dinner (whole roasted chicken, chicken pieces, chicken stew five ways), various burgers from various proteins, tofu recipes (including sesame-crusted tofu and curried tofu fingers, both of which I intend to try), pastas, make it your way meals including chili, tacos, fajitas, potato bar, roasted veg

                                                                                                                                                                        desserts (applesauce, crisps, froyo, fruit tart, brownies, banana bread, pb cookies, choc chip cookies,etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                        drinks including fruit spritzers, lassi, agua fresca, cider, hot cocoa.

                                                                                                                                                                        Each recipe tells you whether you need an adult (nearly all say yes, I guess if you need a knife or any kind of heat or some kind of special equipment that requires supervision), hands on time, total time.

                                                                                                                                                                        Lots of great side bars such as how to use a can opener or "why whole wheat?" in the pasta section, "how to drain tofu" in the dinner section, "hate soggy sandwiches?" in the sammy section, and "did you knows" such as very short (sentence or two) blurb of the history of mixing beans, peppers and spices by the Incas, Aztecs and Mayan Indians, lots of variations mentioned for most recipes for instance "Not Your Grandma's Fried Chicken" (which I'm probably going to try) is an oven fried chicken recipe that offers variations chicken fingers, herby chicken, corny chicken, cheesy chicken, zesty chicken and nutty chicken (playing with cuts of chicken and toppings).

                                                                                                                                                                        Some recipes like matzo balls, lasagna, mayo/aioli are labeled as "expert."

                                                                                                                                                                        Lots of nice, appealing photos.

                                                                                                                                                                        This one is indexed on EYB: http://www.amazon.com/ChopChop-Kids-G...

                                                                                                                                                                        With tons of online recipes: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r... But if you're buying this for a kid, go ahead and buy it.




                                                                                                                                                                        1. BALABOOSTA by Einat Admony

                                                                                                                                                                          I checked this book out of the library after hearing many controversial reviews about whether or not the recipes actually work. There reviews on Amazon were not that helpful because many of the reviewers have not actually cooked from the book. So far I have had the book for less than a week and have made 3 recipes and 3 additional sub recipes. So far, so good. Right now I have the Oxtail Soup on the stove top.

                                                                                                                                                                          The book itself is very visually appealing. Lots of pictures, lots of personal details and narratives. That usually works in the author’s favor but in this case, I didn’t love the author’s voice so I am not sure how to rate this aspect of the book. The chapters are broken down in a cute way, which I think makes sense for marketing, but it will make it hard for me to find what I am looking for when trying to refer back. For ex. the Yemenite Oxtail Soup on page 182, is in the chapter titled When Dinner Can Wait. The Not So Jewish Chicken Soup on p. 96 is in a different chapter, First Cut is the Deepest, and the Kibbeh Soup on p. 207 is in a third, Thinking About Home.

                                                                                                                                                                          Contrast that with a great Table of Contents, that lists every recipe with its page number, which I think is essential and every table of contents should include this feature. Re the index, I haven’t worked with it too much yet but I did have a hard time finding the Oxtail Soup because I couldn't remember if it was a soup or a stew, and I couldn’t remember the name. It is not listed under beef, but it is listed under O for Oxtails and S for Soup and Y for Yeminite so it seems to be pretty thorough.

                                                                                                                                                                          Re the recipes, I also noted a couple of oversights, here and there. Again, in the Oxtail recipe, it lists 1 medium yellow onion as one of the ingredients. It instructs you to add it to the soup but nothing else. Was I supposed to cut it in half, add it whole, or chop it up? Is it intended to flavor the broth or be a component of the soup? Do I fish it out afterward? This same recipe lists 1 head garlic, ends trimmed, unpeeled as an ingredient. It does not instruct you to fish it out afterwards but I am assuming at some point you at least fish out the skin. The celery and carrot are cut into large chunks. So from the context, and from my experience making soup and stews these oversights are unimportant. I was able to move forward and do what I though would work best. But these are the kinds of oversights I would expect to see in a homespun cookbook, not a professional one. Several reviewers commented the salt recommendations are way off. I never pay attention to the salt in recipes so I can’t really speak to this. For this soup, it calls for 3 T. salt for 12 c. of water. Is that a lot? I salt the meat when I brown it, then I add a little more salt when the broth gets going. Then again at the end, if needed. Would that amount to 3 T? Maybe, it is hard to say. She suggests adding all at once along with the veggies and other seasoning. Again, I think that is very much in keeping with what I would expect from a Community cookbook, not a professional one.

                                                                                                                                                                          Now, onto the recipes:

                                                                                                                                                                          EGGPLANT SLATHERED WITH TAHINI, LEMON, AND HERB SALAD, p. 236

                                                                                                                                                                          Made this last night for dinner and it came out perfectly. I used 4 small eggplants instead of 1 large one and it made for beautiful plating. The tahini sauce was perfectly balanced and the herb salad added a fresh mouth feel. I loved it and would eat this as a Vegetarian main dish in a heartbeat. The tahini sauce made about 1 1/3 cup so there is plenty left over for falafels, veggies or more eggplant later in the week.

                                                                                                                                                                          TAHINI SAUCE, p. 218

                                                                                                                                                                          I was worried about this one when I first made it but after sitting at room temperature for an hour it set up nicely and was fantastic. It’s going into my EYB index as a go to recipe. Loved it! Note that she does not tell you the sauce needs time to marry.

                                                                                                                                                                          YEMENITE OXTAIL SOUP, p. 182

                                                                                                                                                                          As I said above, it is on the stove right now so I can’t speak to the end results yet but so far I am loving it. Despite all the flaws noted above, the photo featured next to the recipe was too much to resist. Her recipe calls for 2 1/2 lbs of oxtails. I bought 1 1/2 lbs of Angus oxtails and just under 1 lb. of bison oxtails from the farmer’s market. I browned them all over, seasoned with s and p, and then added 12 c. of water to the pot. At this point I was supposed to skim off the muck but I skipped this step. I added the rest of the ingredients except for the butternut squash and tomato paste(which I didn’t have on hand) and brought it all to boil. I then allowed it to cool and put it in the fridge overnight. This morning, I put it back on the stovetop and warmed it up over medium heat. I went to TJs and got a bag of cubed butternut squash (the recipe called for 1/2 lb lb. butternut squash, cubed but skin on). I then cooked it over med heat for 2 hours. The recipe doesn't tell you if you are cooking with lid on or off but I assumed off since you want the broth to reduce. FYI- my meat took way longer than 3 hrs to fall off the bone so maybe I was supposed to have left the lid ajar? By this point the veggies were fall apart tender, the sauce had reduced to about 1 c. and the meat was beginning to pull away from the bone. I took the veggies and meat off, took as much meat as possible from the bones, and returned the bones to the broth (adding another 2 c. water) to continue to pull the rest of the flavor from the bones. In an hour or so, the stock will have reduced again and I can discard the bones. I will then add the veggies and meat back in or I might try to quick freeze the broth so I can defat it before serving tonight. It would really be ideal to serve it tomorrow so it could be properly defatted, but I have a sick child at home so soup is on tap for tonight, along with grilled cheese. So, based on this recipe, I would have to say that some important info is missing. It does not tell you to defat the stock. It does not tell you to strain out the skins. In addition, there is a beautiful bowl of something green (a sauce, to finish the soup, I am guessing) that is not mentioned in the recipe or the side note. I looked through the pantry recipes and nothing popped out so I won’t be finishing with it. It also shows a lemon so I will serve wedges alongside. A shame. Having listed all these complaints, the broth is divine so I would say the recipes are pretty forgiving. A lot of places to get stuck but if you know your way around the kitchen, you should be ok using this recipe. Amended: I just found out what the green sauce is: it is HIlbe (p. 195) made with fenugreek. She describes it as a gel like paste that goes beautifully with the yemenite soup so this must be it! Again, terrible proofing by someone!

                                                                                                                                                                          HAWAIJ (Spice mixture) p. 182

                                                                                                                                                                          A component of the Yemenite soup recipe. Very flavorful and well balanced. Makes a ton. I made 1/5 a recipe and still have some left over.

                                                                                                                                                                          ADOBO STEAK, p. 143

                                                                                                                                                                          This was dinner last night. I used two grass fed t bones from the farmer’s market. Tender and beautifully marbled. The recipe calls for marinading in olive oil, garlic and rosemary overnight, then season with the Mexiterranean Adobo and grill. We grilled one with grey salt and pepper, the other with the seasoning mix. Both were delicious. I was worried that the seasoning mix would be overwhelming (it was when tasted on its own) but it is subtle, almost too subtle on the steaks. I might use more next time.

                                                                                                                                                                          MEXITERRANEAN ADOBO, p. 272

                                                                                                                                                                          A seasoning mix to use on grille meat, chicken or veggies. I used it on the steak. I did not have one of the ingredients, hickory seasoning, so I substituted smoked paprika in its place. The recipe yields about 5 cups. I cut it down to 1 c. I can’t imagine wanting that much seasoning on hand unless I was having a BBQ!

                                                                                                                                                                          MY HOMEMADE KIT KAT, p. 37

                                                                                                                                                                          A few people have made this and reported their successful results online so I think it sounds promising. She mixes 1 oz. chocolate and 1 T. butter over a double boiler and then stirs in 3/4 c.nutella. To this she adds 2 c. crushed cornflakes (off heat). I will substitute rice crispies instead. This is poured into a 9x13 in pan and refrigerated. Next, 13 ozs. chocolate and 1 3/4 c. heavy cream are heated over double boiler. This poured over the crispy layer. Again, return to fridge and allow to set. Cut into kit kat like slices. I plan on making this on the weekend and bringing it to a family gathering. Will report back.

                                                                                                                                                                          Overall Impressions:

                                                                                                                                                                          Despite all my complaining, I am impressed with this book. It is filled with the kind of recipes I like to make. A lot of simple fare that is just different enough from my comfort zone that I feel like I am being creative and just familiar enough that I don’t feel like I have to keep checking the steps so I don’t screw things up. Kind like Barefoot Contessa feels to me. Other recipes I have tabbed include Sinya (Palenstinian layered eggplant/lamb/tahini dish), lamb chops with persian sauce, aleppo chocolate truffles (see, familiar but different), Turkish brownies (cardamon, expresso), Hilbe (see above), falafels, crembo (these look like homemade malomars but she says they are homemade Krembos). Note that there are only a few dessert recipes in this book, I just happened to like most of them!

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for posting detailed and thoughtful review, DK! I bought the book and returned it - didn't like her voice, didn't think that there are many recipes that are different from what I already have. The Oxtail soup sounds great and though I have six oxtail soups in my collection, the ingredients are very different from the one you made.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: herby

                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks herby. I'll report back after I serve the soup tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                              I just caught an error in my report above. I did not cut the Hawaij to 1/5, that was the other spice rub. The Hawaij makes just enough for the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. It's that time again. I'm just bookmarking so I can come back later and post a new report.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                                              I was really good last year about purging cookbooks. And I've been good about very much limiting what cookbooks I buy. So now the project is working through the books I have (and making everyone else in the house go through their stuff!).

                                                                                                                                                                            2. AFRO-VEGAN, by Bryant Terry

                                                                                                                                                                              I got this a few months ago, but haven't had a chance to cook anything. Looking through it, it's one of those books where I want to make everything. I finally took the time to make a meal from it tonight.

                                                                                                                                                                              Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens - I had a ton of mustard greens from a local farm, and was looking for something new and interesting to do with them. I found this recipe, and then decided to cook my whole meal from the book. Tofu is tossed with oil and salt and baked. It gets crisp, as if it were fried, and stands up well to being put in a stew. For the stew itself, mustard seeds get popped in hot oil in a large sauté pan, then cooked with onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Cumin and cardamom, that have been toasted and ground in a mortar, get mixed in, along with some garlic powder, ground ginger (grated from dried whole roots in my case), and black pepper. Peanut butter and tomatoes go in, with some jalapeño, and then some vegetable broth and a bunch of mustard greens. That simmers, then the baked tofu goes in, and it simmers some more. This dish made the kitchen smell fantastic, and the stew itself was just delicious. Since I get a lot of mustard greens around here (hey, I live in the South), this will be a definite repeat.

                                                                                                                                                                              Blackened Okra - the recipe is for blackened okra with red rice, but I just made the okra. It starts with a blackening seasoning, which involves toasting and grinding spices (a theme of this book). He calls for blanching the okra, a step I skipped. The okra is then tossed with oil and the blackening seasoning, put on skewers, and then grilled. I roast or grill okra quite a bit, so this wasn't anything new for me - it's one of my favorite ways to have okra. The blackening seasoning was a new twist, and it went well. Next time I might go to the trouble of blanching it to see if it makes a difference.

                                                                                                                                                                              Spicy Mustard Greens - he calls this a "green harissa", and that is not a bad description. Blanched mustard greens are blended with green chiles, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, and other spices that have been - you guessed it - toasted and ground. There's also some garlic and herbs in there, as well as lemon and vinegar. This is some good stuff! Reminds me a bit of the Zhoug from Jerusalem, but even more complex. It's definitely spicy. I mixed some of this with yogurt to make a dip for the blackened okra (thus making my meal non-vegan, oh well). I can see putting this on my morning eggs, on rice, and so on. Love it!

                                                                                                                                                                              Three recipes, three winners from this book. It's a keeper.

                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                I took note of this book when it was presented on EYB. The dishes you made certainly sound interesting, Mel. But I must confess they don't look very appealing to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, they might not appeal to everyone. First there's the vegan part. I'm always happy with a vegan meal. Then there's the ingredients. Being a Southerner, I have a taste for okra and mustard greens. And I like a lot of spice, which this food has. Still, I have to think that if anyone could make mustard greens palatable to a larger audience, it would be this guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Stay tuned, I intend to cook some more out of this book.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                    Oh I'll definitely stay tuned. I meant the finished dishes were not all that appealing visually, but the seasonings definitely are. I actually l love mustard greens, and cook them often. Either vegan or vegetarian is fine with us for at least two or three times a week lately so going meatless is not unknown here.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                      All I can say is it tasted better than it looked! The flavors were well developed.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually think that blackened okra looks very tasty! The stew too -- it looks very zesty and full of flavor. I would totally eat this food!