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Feb 2013 COTM “Bistro Cooking at Home” Introduction recipes; The Art of the Salad; Soul-Satisfying Soups; Small Plates

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Introduction recipes 12 - 23
The Art of the Salad 25 - 48
Soul-Satisfying Soups 49 - 64
Small Plates 65 - 100

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  1. Mixed Greens with Fried Walnut-Coated Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette (page 34)

    This was the first course of an all-Hammersley dinner.

    Balls of goat cheese are dipped in egg, then in a mixture of finely chopped walnuts, bread crumbs, minced shallots, and s&p. The balls are flattened into disks, refrigerated until cold, fried until lightly browned, and served on hearty greens lightly dressed with a sherry vinegar and dijon vinaigrette. I made the cheese patties in the morning and kept them in the fridge until ready to fry and serve that night.

    The proportions in this recipe were all cockeyed. There was tons of the walnut/breadcrumb mixture, which made it very easy to coat the cheese but I have more than half of it in the freezer. (Hoping it might be good for coating fish.) And I had considerably more than half of the dressing left as well.

    This was outstanding, and very elegant. One of the out-of-town guests took one bite and said, “Do you know how much you’d have to pay for this in Aspen?!?” It really did look and taste like something you might find in a fairly high-end restaurant and will definitely be on a menu again--especially if I’m looking to impress.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      Stunning Joan, what an absolutely gorgeous looking dish - definitely restaurant quality! Goat & I don't get along at all, much to mr bc's dismay as I bet he'd love this.

      1. re: JoanN

        That does look fabulous! I am a sucker for anything with goat cheese.

        1. re: JoanN

          Lovely looking salad Joan, Must try that one next.

          1. re: JoanN

            Salivating here. This is one of my favorite salads when in France, and I have it on my list. Thanks for telling us about the excess walnut/breadcrumb mix.

              1. re: JoanN

                Back to report that the walnut/breadcrumb mixture perked up an otherwise boring frozen flounder fillet. And there's still some left. I think it might be even better on a chicken paillard. Coming up next.

                1. re: JoanN

                  Mixed Greens w/ Fried Walnut (hazelnut) coated Goat Cheese, pg 34

                  Joan N's report did it, I had to give these a try. We were having another salad with dinner, so I just made a half batch of the cheese to serve with drinks. Also, since I like walnuts, but they don't like me, I used toasted hazelnuts. the results were delightful, and now that I've given it a whirl, this will go into the appropriate for company file. But Joan N is right the proportions are all off--my 1/4 batch of the nut/breadcrumb mixture was still more than needed to coat 4 1+ oz cheese balls.

                2. Hearts of Romaine with Watercress and Creamy Parmesan Dressing, Pg. 35

                  The foundation of this dressing is more or less a basic Aioli using raw egg yolk. Not wanting to use the raw egg yolk I made my own egg-less aioli then proceeded with the recipe which calls for 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, Kosher salt, and pepper. The salad components are hearts of Romaine for which I subbed hearts of escarole, and a whole bunch of watercress w/o stems. Rinse the lettuce and toss with some of the dressing., add to each salad plate. Do the same with the watercress placing the leaves on top of the lettuce. Drizzle each plate with remaining dressing and sprinkle a little more cheese.

                  We both liked this simple salad. The tang of the watercress cut through the rich creamy dressing very well and the dressing was perfect with the bitter escarole.. The main dish was Walk-Away Chicken on page 181. We walked away from this meal quite satisfied.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gio

                    (Hearts of Romaine with) Watercress and Creamy Parmesan Dressing, Pg. 35

                    Since I didn't want 1.5 C of this dressing, I played pretty fast and loose with this one--using the egg yolk, but half the amount of shallot, garlic and mustard; then 1TBS lemon juice, and 4TBS olive oil, and a heavy 1/4 C parmigiana. I liked the results very well, Mr. QN was more so so about it. Served it over nice crisp watercress (including the stems!) as a side to steamed Maine shrimp, a nice little meal.

                  2. CLASSIC BISTRO VINAIGRETTE – p. 29

                    I found this recipe online here:


                    A classic French vinaigrette. Hammerlsey has you macerate the shallots in the vinegar prior to whisking in the oil and remaining ingredients. I have some amazing Pinot Noir vinegar that seemed perfect for this recipe. I love how mellow it is relative to other red wine vinegars and it really worked well to create a balanced and very versatile dressing.

                    I’d decided on the very rich Lulu’s Linguine as our main tonight so I wanted something w some bite to lead into that dish.

                    I ended up grilling some endive in my Panini press then drizzling this dressing atop along w a sprinkling of sliced Kalamata olives and grated Parmesan cheese. The cheese melted into the caramelized crevices of the endive and its sweet, earthy flavour provided a nice balance for the bitterness of the endive and the tartness of the dressing. A lovely recipe to have in your repertoire.

                    The author notes this dressing keeps for 3 days when covered and refrigerated. I’ll let you know!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Classic Bistro Vinaigrette, Pg. 29

                      We made this vinaigrette last night to dress a mixed hearty greens salad. The lettuces I used were heart of romaine, heart of escarole, and watercress. Loved the dressing... I learned a long time ago to let any allium soak in vinegar, in my case a Tuscan aceto, before adding to a dressing since it reduces the harshness of what ever onion you're using. The salad was served with an old fashioned linguine arrabbiata. As Breadcrumbs said, it is a very good salad dressing to have in one's repertoire

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        CLASSIC BISTRO VINAIGRETTE p.29

                        Not much to say here that others haven't. It was good, pretty much a classic mustardyish vinaigrette. I had on a baby spinach side salad. I only had a very cheap generic red wine vinegar on hand so I'd be interested in trying it with a nicer vinegar.

                        I have mine stored in the fridge in one of those salad dressing shaker jars and plan on having it again on Thursday.

                        And, if anyone cares, a 2 tbsp serving is 94 calories :)

                      2. Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, with Watercress Salad and Creamy Horseradish Dressing, Pg. 47

                        A slightly fiddley salad this but in the end quite a savory finish. The beets were roasted early in the day then sliced into thinnish wedges later when the salad was made. Walnuts are toasted either in a skillet or in the oven...I used the skillet. Directions for this are on page 4. Prep the watercress and lettuce of one's choice. A large shallot is thinly sliced lengthwise. The beets are then tossed with the shallot slices and dressed with walnut oil (EVOO). For the dressing combine prepared horseradish, Dijon, heavy cream (1/2 & 1/2), olive oil, lemon juice, S & P.

                        The watercress and lettuce (green leaf) are tossed with additional EVOO and lemon juice and seasoned with S & P. These are supposed to be portioned onto individual salad plates but I used a deep platter and lay a bed of the greens in the middle. The beet wedges w shallot were laid on top of the greens, drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle toasted walnuts over top and garnish with minced parsley.

                        The salad looked lovely on a white ironstone platter with the shallot picking up the beet color and the green against white. Quite festive. I thought the dressing lacked a little something and thought perhaps the horseradish I used wasn't quite as strong as it should have been but G liked it as is. The combination of flavors was a tangy lemony delight though. This was served with pan fried smelts and braised greens, a Jamie Oliver recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef.

                        1. Vegetable Stock, Pg. 20

                          Weekends are often the time I make stock for the week and I try to use a recipe from the current COTM. This recipe made only a quart but since I increased a few of the vegetables and included one or two not listed I also increased the amount of filtered water used and produced 1 1/2 quarts of stock.

                          So, the vegetables are: leeks, onion, carrots, celery, tomato, plus thyme, parsley, bay leaf. Omitted were turnip and parsnip; included were rutabaga and chopped chard stems. Add water to cover and a few inches over. Bring to boil, cover, reduce to simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Add marjoram, basil and tarragon to steep for 15 minutes. Cool then strain.

                          When I tasted the finished stock I thought it had a slightly sweet complex. flavor. Perhaps sweet from the basil? Anyway, I was too busy to re-taste the next day but when I use it this week I'll report back with the result...

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Gio

                            To me, It's much harder to make a good vegetable stock than a meat stock -- the last I tried was from the COTM Union Square Cafe -- I posted about it
                            It also was a little sweet. (Too many root vegetables seem to make stock *too* sweet,
                            but a little is OK.
                            )Are you going to use it for risotto, or ?

                            1. re: blue room

                              Actually, I don't know What I'll use the stock for just yet. But I always need a cup or two of stock during the week. I don't make vegetable sock very often, it's chicken or turkey stock usually. My morning oatmeal is savory rather than sweet, made with whichever stock is in the fridge. Rather than risotto, G likes to cook rice with stock instead of plain water...especially brown rice.

                              The Bistro recipe is very lean - no oil or soffritto - just everything into the pot at the same time. He does give a variation though of roasting the veggies then proceeding. I might do that just to see the difference. I roast the poultry bones sometimes and that produces a really full-flavored stock, as you would imagine.

                              1. re: blue room

                                Off the February COTM but you just gave me an aha moment! I made the veg broth from COTM Union Square Cafe and froze it for Thanksgiving. We hosted a very big group of people so I bought some gravy and made my own using the veg stock. There was a lot of my gravy left over so I froze it and just got it out this month and it was sweet and not very good. I couldn't figure out what happened but now AHA. I tasted the stock when I made it but I guess cooking it down in the gravy brought out the sugar.

                            2. Fiona's Hearty Lentil Soup with Bacon and Asiago Cheese, Pg. 55

                              A hearty soup indeed. A full flavored soup it is perfect for a snowy winter's night. No drastic changes were made but I did have to make a few adjustments. Namely, having just a little less than the required amount of lentils I scaled down, somewhat, a few of the other ingredients. I used olive oil not vegetable oil, used vegetable stock not chicken, and finally, used less water because I wanted to have a denser soup.

                              To make the soup bacon is rendered and left in the pot while diced onion, carrot, garlic, and chopped kale are added and cooked till tender. Next in are the lentils, herbes de Provence, water and broth. After bringing to boil the heat is reduced and the soup is simmered for about an hour or till lentils are tender. Crushed red pepper flakes and salt are then added. When ready to serve slices of crusty bread topped with grated cheese are broiled till cheese melt. The soup is served with the crostini atop.

                              Wonderfully delicious and warming. We both loved it and G had two large servings. Definitely a do-again recipe. I served a simple mixed green salad too.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Gio

                                Wow, this one is appealing! Thanks Gio.

                                1. re: blue room

                                  It was wonderful, BR. The additions of smoky bacon, melted cheese on broiled bread did wonders to what would have been just another lentil soup. Plus, the 'herbes' were muted and quietly discerned in the background.

                                2. re: Gio

                                  Love the sound of this soup Gio. I read GH's note about adding duck confit and was inspired. I have a smoked duck breast in the freezer and I'm thinking this would be lovely shredded and served atop the soup. What do you think? Maybe I should do a bacon pancetta mix or just pancetta so the smokiness isn't too overpowering?

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    <...."a bacon pancetta mix or just pancetta so the smokiness isn't too overpowering?">

                                    Gosh, that's such a subjective call, BC. I don't recall that the bacon contributed a terribly large amount of smokiness. 6 slices of bacon IIRC, diced. It was just There, you know, in the background. On the other hand, serving shredded duck confit atop would be so suave. I say nix the mix. That is, the pancetta and bacon. Use the pancetta instead of the bacon - or - vice versa.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I'll go w bacon then Gio, thanks. I think it just depends on the brand of bacon. I have some from the market that's lightly smoked and should be just fine. Thanks so much.

                                  2. re: Gio

                                    Fiona’s Hearty Lentil Soup with Bacon and Asiago Cheese – p. 55

                                    Big thanks to Gio for such an enticing review; we couldn’t wait to try this recipe.
                                    I’m also grateful for Gio’s advise on the bacon, I’m glad I used it vs the pancetta since we really enjoyed the smokiness of the dish and even with the shredded smoked duck we served atop, we didn’t find the smokiness overpowering.

                                    I too used olive oil vs the vegetable oil and I was disappointed that my supermarket didn’t have any kale so I used chard instead. My lentils were lenticchie; a small Italian green lentil that holds its shape nicely in soups and stews and adds a slight nuttiness to a dish. The Asiago toasts were a nice touch. I don’t believe I’ve ever broiled Asiago on bruschetta before but I’ll definitely do that again as it made for a nice change of pace.

                                    What I especially loved about this soup is that it was totally doable as a weeknight dinner. The soup comes together very quickly and makes for a hearty, satisfying meal.

                                    I'd like to try this again with a red lentil for a completely different textured soup.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I knew I'd try this too, and this soup was quicker than I thought it be! I had to use spinach instead of kale, and a pinch of cayenne instead of red pepper flakes, but otherwise followed the recipe. Asiago is a big favorite, I was glad to have an excuse to buy a li'l hunk. It is pretty salty, don't pile it up too high on the bread! I don't think I'd change a thing, a satisfying soup.

                                      (I keep looking at that wild mushroom and garlic sandwich in the book, but it isn't gonna happen!)

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Fiona's Hearty Lentil Soup

                                        I was enticed by the reviews and was able to find the recipe online here:


                                        I'm not sure it is exactly the same recipe since since Breadcrumbs talks about subbing olive oil for vegetable oil and this recipe doesn't call for oil. I rendered the bacon and then poured off a good bit of the rendered fat and sauteed the veg in the remaining bacon fat. I also reserved about half the bacon for a crispy topping. I didn't have asiago (which I will try to remedy for leftovers( but enjoyed this soup with the crispy bacon, Aleppo pepper and a bit of balsamic vinegar drizzled on top (I thought it needed a little acid).

                                        A very hearty and comforting soup. I think for me, I prefer Melissa Clark's red lentil soup a bit over this one. That one has become a regular for me. But I will certainly keep this one in the winter repertoire for when a heartier and more stew-like lentil soup would be welcome for a change of pace.

                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                          HI Green... The recipe you referenced does have most of the ingredients in the correct amounts except that Chef includes 1 teaspoon of "vegetable" oil in which to cook the diced bacon, I used olive oil. There is No water in the original recipe, just 4 cups broth. Four to six cups of water must have made her soup very ..watery. Also, original recipe has 6 slices bacon and 2 carrots but those additions I would have made as well.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Thanks for checking Gio!

                                            The extra bacon went over well as a topping and I often throw extra carrots into things to get a little extra vegetable matter into the family.

                                            I did cut back on the water a bit, although I added 4 cups of broth and at least 2 cups water (didn't really measure). My final result was pretty thick, but I must admit I didn't measure my lentils either so I may have had more than 2 cups lentil. A pretty flexible recipe I would say! I think the key component is the smoky bacon to complement the French lentils.

                                            1. re: greeneggsnham

                                              It Is a nice recipe and I'm happy you enjoyed it! I've been eating lentils all my life. There's just something about the earthiness I love. I usually make it with diced pancetta but the bacon in this recipe was lovely.

                                      2. Chopped Salad of Peas, Cucumbers and Radishes with Tarragon Vinaigrette (p. 46)

                                        A perfectly pleasant salad. I really love tarragon and thought having some of the fresh leaves in the salad was a really nice touch. The salad has all the titular ingredients plus 4 cups of mixed summer greens (obviously mine weren't summer, but I did do a mix), chopped along with the rest. This was refreshing; not earth shattering, but good. Recipe makes a huge amount.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          I liked the sound of that salad when I first read it. A couple of tarragon plants have been growing in my garden for years, under several inches of snow now however and due to get more today & tomorrow. But, come another season the salad will make an appearance on my table for certain..

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Lucky you, having tarragon on your doorstep! I had a plant for a year or two but my usual (opposite of green) thumb did what it always does to plants.

                                            I think one thing I'm taking from having made this recipe (and one of our favorites - the Salade Normande from Radically Simple) is that a few fresh tarragon leaves in a salad make a huge difference. I almost always put some of the dried stuff in my vinaigrettes, but it is worth putting those leaves in too.

                                        2. POTATO AND LEEK SOUP WITH TARRAGON AND FENNEL SEEDS – p. 54

                                          A really lovely soup! The combination of flavours was very appealing to me and when I read GH’s suggestion to serve the soup topped with shrimp or lobster sautéed w some fresh tarragon I knew I had to give this a try.

                                          Prep is very quick and straightforward. Cleaned, chopped leeks are sautéed in an evoo/butter mixture along with diced potato. Once the leeks are bright green, vermouth, chicken broth, tarragon, a bay leaf, fennel seeds, cayenne, S&P are added in. The soup is brought to a boil then simmered until the potatoes are tender (around 30 mins). The bay leaf is removed and the mixture is pulsed in a food processer until smooth then poured into a clean pot and light cream is stirred in. I did make a couple of minor changes. I dislike dried tarragon so I used fresh in the soup but I added it (chopped) right before I pureed the soup so the flavours would be brighter. I also used my Bamix right in the pot because: I’m lazy and didn’t want to drag out and dirty the blender, the Bamix does a good job and I didn’t want to dirty another pot!

                                          Immediately prior to plating I sautéed some lobster claw meat in butter along w some chopped fresh tarragon and placed this atop the soup.

                                          This soup was beautifully balanced, fresh, flavourful and very decadent. I love to make green pea soup topped w lobster in the spring. This is a lovely cold weather alternative.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Thanks for the report. This has just been added to my list! Quick question: was this a main course soup?

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Yes LlM, I served it as a main course w some warm crusty bread but that's it and it was quite substantial. A really lovely soup. Enjoy!

                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              With lobster! -- nothing less than spectacular soup, I'd say.

                                              I also hate that instruction: "Pour into a clean pot." Huh?

                                              1. re: blue room

                                                Thanks blue room and I firmly believe that he who says "pour into a clean pot" does not wash dishes!!!

                                            3. Avocado and Orange Salad with Honey and Ginger Dressing, pg 36

                                              This one is a bit fussy, but the results are very good, and the directions and proportions are all spot on. And quite a bit of the prep can be done in advance, so it would work for entertaining.

                                              Supreme oranges (I was using navels), keeping the juice and the orange segments separate. Make two dressings-first is a ginger, mayo, Dijon, honey orange juice combo; second is an orange juice, shallots, olive oil combo. Prepare the greens--mint, cilantro, Boston lettuce, red leaf lettuce (I didn't have the red leaf lettuce, so just doubled the amount of Boston lettuce). Cut an avocado into 1 inch chunks; toss it with the ginger dressing and the mint & cilantro. To plate toss the lettuce and orange segments with the oil dressing, plate, place the avocado in top, and garnish with reserved orange slices.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: qianning

                                                Beautiful! I have this one flagged, and with five avocados at the height of perfection it looks like this may make it sooner rather than later.

                                                1. re: qianning

                                                  Looks lovely qianning, I've been eyeing this one. Your comments on the directions and proportions are much appreciated too.

                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                    Lovely indeed, qianning. I'm not usually a big fan of avocado (weird, I know) but I think I could make an exception in this case.

                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                      Avocado and Orange salad with honey and ginger dressing - p 36

                                                      I thought this was a great winter salad, perfect for bringing some summary freshness to the table when oranges are at their peak. However, I had a few issues with the prep on this one.

                                                      First, the recipe calls for 4 oranges but I needed 6 in order to get the 3/4 cup of juice that are called for so it's lucky that I had some extras on hand. Second, the honey & ginger dressing didn't come together properly; in spite of a lot of whisking, my finished product was little lumps of mayo floating in liquid, which was unattractive (I'm really not sure what happened there... I used light lemonaise because Mr Geek hates the vinegary flavour of regular mayo. I had some kewpie mayo on hand too & wonder if that might have worked better, or maybe I should have made my own?)

                                                      The salad was tasty but extremely liquidy. As qianning describes above, you're supposed to toss your avocado in one dressing (the ginger/mayo/honey/juice dressing) and your lettuce and oranges in another (oil/shallots/juice). I used a slotted spoon to remove the avocado slices from the dressing when I served the salad onto plates, but even so they were absolutely swimming in the liquid and this translated into a very wet salad that, while delicious, was messy to eat. And when I went back to clean up after eating, I had to pour out a large amount of wasted dressing, which made my frugal heart very sad indeed (not to mention that it was a fair bit of work to put that dressing together... all those oranges to peel, segment, and squeeze!)

                                                      I'll definitely make the avocado & orange combo a fixture in my salads after this, because it was really delicious, but given how much work it was and the difficulty I had, I probably won't use this recipe.

                                                    2. Pasta with foie gras, page 81.

                                                      OK, so this is not really a recipe, but on the page about foie gras, he does spell out the method and the ingredients. And that is what inspired me to make this dish for my dinner last night.

                                                      Hamersley suggests using leftover bits of foie gras, searing them with onions, adding "booze" and chicken stock, and tossing with hot pasta. I had a couple ounces of leftover bits in my freezer, so I did as directed. I threw in a few oyster mushrooms along with the foie and the onions. I deglazed the pan with cognac, and only used a few drops of stock.

                                                      Rich and flavorful, easy and elegant! Of course it's only convenient if one has bits of foie on hand. It certainly makes it worth saving those bits when one is lucky enough to be trimming a lobe.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                        Wow, somehow I missed this. It sounds wonderful. I'm just kind of mulling the idea of "leftover foie gras" the way I mull "leftover wine". So ... there are people who have that kind of will power? I will *try* to be one just so I can try this (at least on the foie!).

                                                        I'm wondering how this would be with chicken liver? Obviously not as elegant but still ...

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          Well, you probably missed it because it's not even a recipe! It's just a sentence or two on the bottom of the page about foie gras. We bought a two pound lobe of foie, so it was easy to have leftovers. We used as much as our arteries could handle, sliced the rest, vacuum sealed and froze it. It's held up quite nicely.

                                                          I love chicken liver in pasta, but it certainly wouldn't be quite the same dish. The smaller pieces of foie almost melt away, then that pretty much makes up the "sauce" for the pasta. It was pretty amazing, I must say.

                                                      2. Mussels Steamed in White Wine with Saffron, p. 67

                                                        I never tire of seafood cooked with saffron, or mussels steamed in wine, and this is a very nice, if mildly flavored, version.

                                                        It's simple and quick to make, another plus with steamed mussels. Sliced onion and garlic and julienned carrot and celery are briefly sauteed in butter with saffron and pinches of fennel seed and red pepper flakes (salt isn't mentioned, but I added some here), then white wine and the mussels go in, the heat is raised and the pot is covered until the mussels are open. There is an option to swirl more butter in at the end, which I didn't do. It would make a more luxurious sauce, certainly, but I really don't need extra butter this week, as Tuesday is Mardi Gras and I will spend a couple of hours that morning socializing and eating crepes (cooked in plenty of butter) with whipped cream and strawberries.

                                                        This is in the Small Plates chapter, but I had it as a solo-diner's main dish. I used about 1 1/4 lbs mussels and half the butter and wine, but the full amount of vegetables. With carrot, a celery rib, and an onion in the mix, I could pretend it was a well-rounded one-pot meal (with some sourdough baguette for sopping up the liquid). I do think this could be improved a bit by a healthier dose of pepper flakes and by blooming the saffron in a bit of hot water before adding it so it would flavor the wine more thoroughly, but over all, the sweet vegetables and mussels and the savory wine sauce made a delicious meal.

                                                        1. Onion soup au gratin - p 56

                                                          Onions are slowly browned in butter, then a combination of either beef or chicken stock, water and sherry or port is added and the soup is simmered for half an hour. Meanwhile, slices of baguette are toasted and spread with garlic and olive oil. Each bowl of soup gets a layer of baguette and a sprinkling of gruyere before being finished off under the broiler.

                                                          I had some issues with this recipe which I can't say for sure are entirely down to user error. I do want to try this one again to make sure, but I will be quite interested to know how this turns out for any of you who end up making it.

                                                          I chose to use chicken stock, because one family member doesn't like beef stock, and I realized too late that I had failed to buy sherry so I substituted white wine instead. Although I caramelized the onions for as long as possible, they didn't really lend a strong enough flavour to the soup, and the result was not dissimilar to eating a bowl of chicken stock.

                                                          In the "bistro pantry" section at the start of the book, GH states that he doesn't salt his broths, so I know that the recipe was written with the expectation that we would use unsalted stock. I used a combination of salted and low sodium stocks, and did add quite a bit of salt at the end, and yet the soup was STILL pretty bland... so I wonder if I should have cooked my onions quite a bit longer (they were only lightly browned when I added the liquids - we were getting really hungry!) I also wonder if the white wine simply didn't give the recipe the punch that it needed to increase the depth of flavour.

                                                          We liked the soup (melted gruyere... yum yum) but it didn't wow us as much as we expected. This recipe needs further research and refinement, for me.

                                                          1. Puréed Beet and Ginger Soup P. 52

                                                            This soup's a little unusual, at least for me. It's not borscht, it's sweetish. The book labels the soups as "soul-satisfying" -- this one I think is more curiousity/palate tickling. Into it goes: olive oil, cut up beets, red onion, sugar, fresh ginger, fennel seed, dried tarragon. Chicken broth, water, orange juice, balsamic. Salt and black pepper.
                                                            Very simple to cook the onion & beets some, then add everything else and simmer until the beets are tender, which is more than an hour, no tending. I kept tasting the liquid and was pretty sure I wasn't going to like the finished soup, but after the immersion blender smoothed/changed it, I did! The book doesn't say whether it should be served hot or cold, it seemed fine both ways, actually. It would be a nice beginning for a (fussyish?) meal, like a little bowl of aspic or consommé, and of course there's that color!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                              This was a hit and definitely fit the soul-satisfying bill for me - found it deeply nourishing and very delicious. As recommended, I finished it with a good sprinkle of fresh tarragon and creme fraiche, which really made the flavours sing. I only put in one quarter of the suggester water and found the consistency perfect. Will be an annual winter treat for our household.

                                                            2. Creamless Yet Creamy Garlic Soup, p. 53

                                                              As a garlic lover, I have always loved the idea of a garlic soup, but a couple of recipes I have tried had disappointingly bland results. I am happy to report that this is not one of them. The long, gentle simmering renders the garlic mellow in the way roasting does, but the soup is packed with wonderful garlic flavor, yet not so strong that a vampire couldn't get pretty close before quailing. Not so surprising, perhaps, given that the solids are almost all garlic!

                                                              The cloves from four heads of garlic, still in their skins, are simmered for 5 minutes, rinsed in cold water, and skinned. After they go back in the pot and are browned in a bit of olive oil, in go the remaining ingredients: a diced russet potato, salt, dried thyme, white wine, chicken (vegetable) broth, and water. I messed with the liquid ratios, in that I used 4 cups of broth instead of 3 and 1 cup of wine instead of 1/2, so I used just 1/2 cup water instead of 2 cups, for the same total volume of liquid. All is simmered until the garlic and potato are very tender, then pureed.

                                                              There is an option to add a small amount of thinly sliced spinach at the end, but after tasting the pureed soup, I decided I'd prefer to simply have it smooth (and I was having salad alongside, anyway). In the head note, Hamersley suggests garnishing with thin slices of garlic crisped in oil, but in the interest of making my soup/salad meal more complete I topped mine with bite-size pieces of shrimp I sauteed with minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. The snappy shrimp and punchier minced garlic were a terrific addition to the mellow flavor of the soup.

                                                              I would recommend this soup to garlic fans.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                How did you find the texture? I just made this and found it very brothy, not at all creamy. I am wondering if my potato was too small...

                                                                1. re: Hadil100

                                                                  Mine was quite creamy and reasonably thick. I think my potato was about the size of a small fist.

                                                              2. Tomato Salad, Pg. 31

                                                                What a nice little relishey salad this is! Very simple and refreshing. It consists of a couple of diced fresh tomatoes (I used hot house vine tomatoes from Maine), chopped scallions, and chopped parsley. I included a small thinly sliced fennel bulb that I wanted to use up. The vinaigrette is a mixture of sherry vinegar, EVOO, S & P. I doubled the amounts. The salad was served as an accompaniment to the Penne with Walnuts et al on page 128. A lovely salad to have in the repertoire.

                                                                1. Open-Faced Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich with Black Olive Spread
                                                                  p. 98

                                                                  This is billed as "The perfect Provencal sandwich."
                                                                  From my Salt Lake City perch, I can't vouch, but it was good! I made half a recipe, and sliced the bread the conventional way, not horizontally.
                                                                  A black olive spread (I devised my own, his includes orange peel which didn't appeal) goes on toasted bread. Then just add arugula or watercress (I had the cress), roasted red pepper slices, dot with goat cheese (fine-chopped shallots in it), and drizzle with olive oil. Bake (450F) until the cheese is "very soft" -- 5 minutes.
                                                                  Good lunch! I wish I had roasted the peppers more -- they were sweet and plump though charred -- they would have been better almost crispy on this sandwich I think.
                                                                  The fine art of "drizzling" eludes me -- I get something between pouring and none!
                                                                  Green olives would certainly be good too.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                    Oh yum, I was just reading through this recipe last night in the book since I have lots of goat cheese to use up. Good to hear it was tasty, it might make for a good weekend lunch, or a light dinner w/ soup.

                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                      Oh man, I love goat cheese and olives together. Somehow I missed this one, but will have to put it on the list. Thanks Blue Room!

                                                                    2. BRANDADE WITH ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND TOASTS – p. 89

                                                                      Delicious! We don’t use much salt cod but happened to venture to our favourite Italian fishmonger on the weekend so I picked up some boneless Baccalà with this dish in mind.

                                                                      The dish comes together easily enough. Fish is soaked for 2 days according to the author. FYI, I’ve learned that the softer Baccalà from Europe isn’t as salty and doesn’t need to be soaked as long as the harder Bacalao from Latin America. That said, I soaked my fish overnight and changed the water once in the process. The fish had lost almost all its salty flavour at that time. GH has you place the fish in a sauté pan w fresh water and bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the fish flakes easily; about 6 mins in my case. While the fish cooks, a russet potato is peeled, chopped and boiled until tender. The drained fish and cooked potato are combine in a blender evoo and heavy cream that’s been boiled w some fresh, chopped garlic. The ingredients are pulsed to combine then seasoned prior to plating.

                                                                      Now, I’ve never been served brandade in the past so I took some liberties w my plating but GH has you spread the mixture on plates and top w thinly sliced roasted red pepper, some freshly ground pepper and some evoo.

                                                                      We served this warm, atop bruschetta and really enjoyed the dish as our antipasti this evening. The spread was nicely balanced in flavour and the flaked fish was still discernable in the mixture so it added a nice texture. The potato bound the spread and brought a creaminess without being gluey.

                                                                      This was a really nice appetizer that was quite different from other dishes we’ve tried. I’d definitely make this again. I was particularly impressed w how quickly it came together.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                        That looks heavenly. The first time I ate at HB, many moons ago on a very cold night, I had a brandade-like appetizer of cod and white beans. I can't remember exactly how it was plated, but it was hot and I believe toasted baguette slices were involved. I dreamed about that for years!

                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          I've only had brandade once (at Son of a Gun in L.A. -- same guys who own Animal but seafood-focused), but it was amazing. That one didn't have red peppers or any kind of garnish. Just the fantastic dip and (toasted?) baguette for dipping. I did find it really fascinating that among the 5 other women I was dining with (including one francophile restaurant owner who can usually outdo my culinary knowledge on anything), I was the only one who knew what brandade was. But we all swooned over it! I've been eyeing this recipe and hoping to replicate that swoon at home. Thanks, BC.

                                                                        2. Chicken Liver Pâté, p. 33

                                                                          I'm always up for trying a different pâté recipe. This one is much simpler than my current favorite (from former COTM "Union Square Second Helpings"), but, I'm happy to report, equally delicious, so I'll definitely make it again.

                                                                          You saute four livers (about 1/2 lb in my case), seasoned w/s & p, and finely chopped shallots (2; mine were on the large side) until livers are lightly browned (3 min.). Add 1/2 tsp. tomato paste and 2 T Madeira; cook another 2 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, and then give it a whir; I used my stick blender. That's it.

                                                                          I made this as a little app for Valentine's Day, so plated in a cutesy dish. It looks strange b/c I took the photo while it was frozen. The white stuff is duck fat, which I drizzled over the top prior to freezing it.

                                                                          1. Seared Foie Gras with Maple-Parsnip Puree and (Madeira) Sauce, page 86.

                                                                            This is a simple and surprising small plate, for anyone with the troubling problem of a couple small pieces of foie gras sitting around. Parsnips are sautéed in butter, then simmered in water and maple syrup. Once softened, they are puréed with a little cream, and seasoned with salt and pepper.

                                                                            For the sauce, shallots are cooked in a bit of oil, then port is added (I, once again, had no port, and used madeira). This mixture reduces, then stock is added, and it reduces again.

                                                                            GH calls for the foie slices to be cooked in oil, but I just cooked them in a hot dry pan, they produce plenty of fat on their own. The fat is poured off, and the sauce is added to the pan.

                                                                            A little mound of the turnip purée supports the foie slices on each plate, and the sauce goes around it all.

                                                                            Well, it took a lot of words to describe it, but it was very easy. And delicious. Never in a million years would I have thought to combine parsnips, maple, and foie gras. Which is part of the fun of COTM!

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                              Would I like a serving, you ask? Yes, please..

                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                Another stunning foie dish (and photo). I am so jealous!