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Cookbook of the Month April 2013 AD HOC AT HOME: Soups, Salads, Veggies and Sides

greedygirl Mar 31, 2013 05:27 PM

Welcome to Thomas Keller month.

Please post your full-length reviews of recipes for soups, salads, veggies and sides in AD HOC AT HOME here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread is for the following chapters:

Soups, p108
Salads, p130
Veggies and sides, p184

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

I can't wait to see your reviews - happy cooking!

  1. q
    qianning Apr 1, 2013 12:56 PM

    Romano Beans with Mint, pg. 203

    Preface: Looking for an easy way to get a toehold into Mr. Keller, this recipe leapt out at me because I happened to have the ingredients in my fridge. So far so good.

    Contents: Romano type flat beans are blanched in boiling salted water, then immediately plunged in an ice-water bath, drained, cut into sections on the diagonal, set aside. In a saute pan with a little veg oil, cook diced shallots, add some chicken stock, reduce a bit, add butter to make a pan sauce, add back the beans to warm, toss in some chopped mint. Season & serve.

    Conclusion: I love this type of flat green bean, and even the off-season ones I had were tasty, and the mint accent which was a new twist for me, worked well (less so for Mr. QN, who's not as much of a mint fan). But while I grew up on vegetables cooked or served in butter, with certain notable exceptions--potatoes, yellow turnip, first-of-the-season corn or peas--I seem to have out-grown that affliction. The stock/butter sauce was just too heavy for my taste these days.

    1. geekmom Apr 2, 2013 09:02 AM

      Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup - p 121

      Cut 8oz of slab bacon into lardons and render them in 3tbsp canola oil at a low heat in a large stock pot for about 20 min, until the bacon has coloured but not crisped. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and set it aside. Then add 2c each of sliced carrots and chopped leeks and onions, add some salt and ~1tsp curry powder and cover the pot with a parchment paper lid. Allow the veg to cook at a low heat until tender, then remove and discard parchment. While your veg are cooking, peel 1.5lb sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2" dice, then place in a large saucepan along with some salt and a sachet, then cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Drain the potatoes and spread them on a tray to cool while you proceed with the soup. Add 8oz Pardina or Puy lentils to the pot along with 8 cups of chicken stock and another sachet. Simmer this until the lentils are tender, 30 to 40 min. At this point you can refrigerate the soup for a day or two, or you can add 1-2tbsp red wine vinegar (to taste) and the cooked sweet potatoes, then heat through while you crisp your bacon lardons & prepare a garnish of cilantro leaves.

      This was a lovely, hearty soup with a lot of layered flavours. I did make a few changes from the recipe. First of all, I used Chinese leeks. I'm sure TK would have turned pale over my choice to use a combination of boxed chicken stock topped up with Better than Bouillon rather than making my own stock. I also didn't go out and buy a slab of applewood-smoked bacon, since I had some already-sliced bacon in my freezer that needed to be used up. So my lardons weren't really lardons, they were little 1" chunks of thinly sliced bacon. I also had a tiny bit of English-style Madras curry powder from "660 Curries" in a bag in my cupboard so I used that rather than mixing up TK's version from the back of the book.

      In spite of these changes, the soup tasted great and it's nice to think that it could actually taste even better if I used nicer ingredients. The addition of the crispy bits of bacon and the fresh cilantro leaves at the table added so much to this simple bowl of lentils and vegetables in broth, so don't leave them out. The curry powder as a flavouring element is a little unusual but totally works - there's a bit of heat at the back of your mouth in each bite, and very subtle curry flavours in the background of the soup. Totally delicious, and I will definitely make this again.

      PS About that parchment-paper lid -- the instructions as written make me want to use a word that would probably have my post flagged. I had to throw out my first attempt, and parchment ain't cheap! If you've ever made a paper snowflake, you know that you have to fold your paper in half TWICE before you start. Keep that in mind if you want to follow the instructions in the book.

      5 Replies
      1. re: geekmom
        ellabee Apr 2, 2013 07:59 PM

        The lentil and sweet potato soup is is on my list to make tomorrow for COTM. Tonight while the lamb was roasting I looked at what I could do ahead for it, and so glad I read this thread: I made the parchment circle. No folding to speak of -- I outlined the lid of the soup pot I'll be using for the veg's.

        Somewhere in the mists of cookbooks past I once read a clear demonstration of making parchment lids; I'm thinking it was in Jacques Pepin's La Technique.

        1. re: geekmom
          ellabee Apr 4, 2013 04:58 PM

          What a perfect day for this soup. It was chilly, but still, and predicted to rain in the afternoon, so my s.o. worked outside burning some brush while I cooked. Instead of rain, though, it was so cold that we got a dusting of snow!

          The bacon and cilantro garnish provide the perfect sharp and fresh notes against the smoky, bacon-fat-suffused broth and the sweetness of the potatoes.

          Halved the recipe, and still have two generous servings left. Used squares of already sliced (but local and excellent) bacon rather than lardons from slab, otherwise pretty much exactly as written. I'd already made up Keller's curry mix for the sauteed chicken breasts (see poultry-meat-fish thread for details), and I had a quart of my own chicken broth in the freezer.

          I've been out of cheesecloth for a couple of weeks, hoping to find a reasonable bulk quantity I can order and split up with some cooking friends. So for the two 'sachets', the seasoning bundles this recipe calls for, I used #4 cone coffee filters folded firmly over like an envelope. If I'd been worried about their busting open, I'd have tied unwaxed dental floss around them (my sub for the twine that SOMEONE took out of the kitchen drawer and misplaced).

          This is a recipe among several from Ad Hoc at Home I'll be saving in my kitchen notebook -- where they'll be easier to get to than in the big shiny tome.

          1. re: ellabee
            geekmom Apr 5, 2013 07:32 AM

            Sounds like a great result, ellabee! I think I will always make the full recipe in the future because the leftovers tasted wonderful for lunch the last couple of days.

            I had run out of cheesecloth too, so I used tea balls for my sachets. I will find out if that was a bad idea next time I go to make loose-leaf tea, I suppose, if it ends up tasting of lentil soup. ;-)

            1. re: geekmom
              ellabee Apr 5, 2013 11:11 AM

              Boy, you're right about the leftovers being wonderful. Soups are often better the next day, but I was concerned that the sweet potatoes might soften too much; nope, even better than day 1, with another round of chopped cilantro and bacon crumbles.

              No question that the sloooow rendering of the bacon, with later crisping in the skillet, produces a better texture than the microwave BaconTree -- but for a quick garnish for lunch, who's complaining?

          2. re: geekmom
            Gio Apr 7, 2013 05:41 AM

            On-Line Recipe for Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup


            (Since I found it I think I should cook it...)

          3. ElsieB Apr 2, 2013 11:28 AM

            leek bread pudding (page 211)
            For Easter dinner. I think this is one of the easiest recipes in the book - saute the leeks, toast the bread cubes, grate the cheese and mix the cream/milk/eggs. I did double the amount of leeks with no bad effects. I love leeks and 2 cups sauteed down seemed skimpy to me in such a large dish (9x13). I used the comte cheese which I don't normally have and the flavor was excellent. I doubt I would make this very often as it is very very rich but for the Easter meal it was perfect.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ElsieB
              nomadchowwoman Apr 7, 2013 11:32 AM

              Leek Bread Pudding, p. 211

              Like ElsieB, this was on our Easter table. It was not nearly as good as the last time I made it. My SIL and I worked on this together, and we noticed that although TK suggests 1 1/2 hours of baking, it was completely cooked at the one-hour mark (despite baking at 325F instead of the recommended 350). Since nothing else was ready, I held it in a warm oven--mistake, as it really dried out. I think I should have just taken it out and let it sit until we were ready.

              I had made this once before, and it was fabulous, but I suspect I took it out when I thought it was ready that time. I just don't remember--and don't remember any other tweaks.

              This time I used perfectly cubed (by SIL) lovely brioche, 12 c as recommended. If I were to make this again, I would reduce that amount to 10 c. I agree completely with Elsie that this needs more leeks! We used the called-for 2 c, but I would up that to 4c next time, and I'd double the amount of chopped chives to 2 T. I couldn't find Comte so I used Emmentaler, which was delicious.

              As to the parchment round used for sweating the leeks, I laughed when I read another poster's complaint about trying to make that. It took my SIL two tries, and believe me, it was far from a perfect round. I'm sure I didn't do that the last time; I'd remember.

              The flavors here are wonderful, but as it was pretty dry and not very leek-y, the leftovers were not in high demand. The cooking time just seems to be too long. (When I make sweet bread pudding, albeit a smaller portion, it bakes for about 30 minutes.) I'd love to kinow your thoughts on that, Elsie.

              1. re: nomadchowwoman
                ElsieB Apr 7, 2013 02:39 PM

                I def baked it for less time but I had assumed that was bc I used a Pyrex dish. I baked it Saturday and took it to my sisters. It was left on a trivet on the pretty warm grill on her stove top. She says she uses the side griddle more for heating than grilling. It was perfect and not dried out. Sorry yours was not perfect after all the work and all that cream!

                1. re: ElsieB
                  nomadchowwoman Apr 8, 2013 10:50 AM

                  Exactly--who wants to waste all those cream calories on something less-than-perfect? (I did stick the leftovers in the freezer, and I'll see if I can come up with some use. I hated wasting all the cream and the brioche I purchased from a bakery.

                2. re: nomadchowwoman
                  ellabee Apr 7, 2013 05:58 PM

                  I had success just outlining the lid of the pan and cutting that for the parchment lid -- then folding in four, or eighths, to cut the little center steam hole. The folding helps keep the lid flattened onto the sweating veg, rather than just curling up.

                  1. re: ellabee
                    nomadchowwoman Apr 8, 2013 10:48 AM

                    Duh. That would be the obvious way to do it, wouldn't it? We were so busy hanging on TK's every word (and overly complicated instructions for the parchment round) that we didn't think of the simple solution!

                    1. re: nomadchowwoman
                      ElsieB Apr 8, 2013 03:16 PM

                      and I never noticed the instrux for a 'little steam hole'...
                      I just shoved a slightly round piece of parchment down onto the leeks. I am guilty of not thoroughly reading the recipe!

              2. a
                Abby0105 Apr 4, 2013 04:29 PM

                Heirloom Bean and Escarole Soup, pg. 115

                LOVED this soup. To make it, there's a bit of pre-work. Namely, cooking beans and making stock. I used the Rancho Gordo Borlotti beans that Keller mentions, and they were awesome. These beans would make any soup taste good. They're pretty large, which made the whole soup feel hearty and substantial.

                So once you have your beans cooked and your stock ready to go, you first cook carrots, leeks, and onion on low heat under a parchment lid for 30-35 minutes. Add the stock and a ham hock, and cook for another hour. While that's going, blanch your escarole. Once you're ready to finish the soup, pull out the ham hock, then shred the meat once it's cooled and add it back to the pot. Stir in the beans, season with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar, then the escarole.

                If your beans and stock are done ahead of time, this soup is easy enough to put together, though I have to admit I'm not sold on the parchment lid thing yet. I did not plan well and stayed up until midnight the night before to cook the beans, then started the broth at about 3pm on soup night. Between making the broth and the actual soup and trying to work from home all at the same time, we didn't eat until 10pm! I used a ham shank instead of a ham hock and omitted the leeks, but otherwise followed the recipe.

                This is a really good, hearty soup for a cold, rainy night. We had this for dinner with just a loaf of rye soda bread. I would definitely make it again, especially if there's a magical day in the future where I have a freezer full of homemade stock and a pot of beans ready to go!

                1. biondanonima Apr 4, 2013 06:18 PM

                  Sauteed Red and Green Cabbage, pg. 198. I made this tonight to go with the lamb meatballs on pg.176. Green and red cabbage are cut into 1/2 inch ribbons and sauteed in oil or duck fat in two separate skillets until lightly colored. Then you add some chopped shallots and chicken broth to each pan and simmer until the liquid cooks off, then continue to cook on low (if necessary) until the cabbage is tender. Combine the two colors, add some toasted pistachios, season with salt and pepper and serve.

                  I made a couple of small changes - first, I used bacon grease, since I didn't have duck fat and I love the flavor of bacon with cabbage. Second, I accidentally bought something other than regular green cabbage - it was green, but much less sturdy than regular cabbage, so it cooked WAY faster than the red (he warns this may happen even with regular green cabbage), and was a little limp when fully cooked. Nonetheless, I really liked the finished product. The dish looks beautiful with the contrasting colors, and the pistachios really complement the sweetness of the cabbage.

                  I chose this recipe because I enjoy cabbage but don't cook with it frequently, so I don't really know how it holds up to various types of cooking. This seemed like a recipe/technique that would be endlessly adaptable if I ended up liking the finished texture/flavor - and it is. I can definitely imagine this using other nuts, braising liquids or additional herbs/seasonings. It is delicious in its simplicity as written, though.

                  1. biondanonima Apr 4, 2013 06:37 PM

                    Lamb Meatballs, pg. 176. I really have NO idea why this recipe is included in the salad section, but as I was flipping through recipes I had tagged, I saw that it called for both preserved lemons (of which I currently have a plethora) and oven-roasted tomatoes (I had a pint of cherry tomatoes that were looking a little old), so I figured why not.

                    Anyway, you start by sauteeing a little onion and garlic in some oil, then you add some diced zucchini and cook until tender. Toss in some diced preserved lemon and transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool. When cool, add ground lamb, an egg yolk and some breadcrumbs, mix, shape into 12 1" balls and bake at 450 on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 12-15 mins. Sprinkle with mint and serve with roasted tomatoes.

                    A couple of changes: I tripled the recipe (it only calls for 8oz of lamb, and if I'm going to the trouble of making meatballs, I want lots!), rolled my meatballs about 2" instead of 1" (I ended up with 18-20 of them) and baked at 400 instead of 450 (to accommodate the tomatoes I was making simultaneously). I also used panko instead of the homemade breadcrumbs the recipe calls for and used one whole egg instead of three yolks.

                    These were quite good - tender and moist, although I think that was partially due to the fact that I reduced the oven temp and enlarged the meatballs (mine were done in 15 mins despite their size). I probably should have cut my zucchini a little smaller (the recipe just says "finely diced," and I went with about 1/4"). I was worried that the flavor of the preserved lemon would overpower, but it was nicely balanced and went really well with the tomatoes (I did my own thing there as well, instead of following his recipe). The dish went well with the cabbage on pg. 198, too. Very nice meal, all in all!

                    1. Blythe spirit Apr 4, 2013 07:41 PM

                      Summer vegetable gratin p, 200-202
                      I followed the recipe with a few small departures. I used a rectangular pyrex dish because I don't have the metal gratin dish he calls for - and I subbed Panko crumbs for the dried bread crumbs - just too tired to make homemade...
                      I could only find Italian eggplant, so I cut it into quarters and used just one of the quarters; I sliced it and the zuchinni and yellow squash with the mandoline to get uniform 1/4 inch slices. 2 1/2 cup coarsly chopped yellow onion is sauteed slowly with 2 grated garlic cloves over low enough heat not to color - for about 20 min. This is mixed with 1 T of chopped fresh thyme and spread on the bottom of the gratin dish. The vegetables are put into rows and sprinkled with a portion of the breadcrumb (1/2 c) parmesan(1/2 c, grated) thyme ( 1 t. chopped) mixture. A row of zuchinni, a row of yellow squash, a row of tomato and then the eggplant.The slices in each row are overlapping and then the rows also slightly overlap each other. The whole thing is put into a preheated 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours till very soft. As my dish was pyrex, I skipped the last broiling/ broiling step! The pyrex also caused the dish to dry out - well before the end of the cooking time. I had to very carefully drizzle droplets of water over the vegetables halfway thru. This is NOT recommended with pyrex - lucky for me the dish is fairly new and it did not break.
                      Overall, this was a bit fussy for a weeknight but I'd definitely make it again; it was delicious. And though it was a bit dry - this was my fault for using the wrong equipment (pyrex) and the Panko rather than homemade breadcrumbs. Would definitely try to use the recommended metal gratin dish if making this again.
                      This pictures in the book are beautiful...but jeezaloo, I wish this book was not quite so unwieldy!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Blythe spirit
                        Njchicaa Apr 19, 2013 05:39 AM

                        I made this last week with zucchini, tomatoes, and onion I received in my organic produce box. (skipped the eggplant) It was easy to prepare and both my husband and I enjoyed it. Will definitely make again and again. I bet it would be great with leftover white or brown rice underneath the vegs.

                      2. Njchicaa Apr 6, 2013 02:43 PM

                        Chicken Soup with Dumplings p. 122

                        I had some chicken that I didn't know what to do with and had everything I needed to make this soup, so that was Thursday's dinner. WHAT. A. PAIN. IN. MY. BEHIND.

                        You sweat chopped carrots, celery, onions, and leeks for almost an hour. You make a pate a choux dough for the dumplings (involving both cooking on the stove and mixing in the mixer) which then have to be cooked in salted boiling water. You add chicken stock to the cooked vegs and simmer for another 30 minutes or so and then strain and reserve the broth, discarding the cooked veg.

                        Then you peel, slice, and boil celery until soft, shock, and drain it. THEN you cook chopped carrots until soft (with honey, bay leaves, thyme, and garlic), and drain them. AND THEN you bring the stock that you cooked the veg in to a simmer and add roux (that you had to make in another pot at some point along the way) and simmer that for another 30 minutes. FINALLY you add the second batch of cooked celery/carrots, the dumplings, chopped chives, and a finish of champagne vinegar, salt, pepper, and parsley leaves.

                        This soup is very good. Truly, it is probably the most flavorful chicken soup I've ever had but it took me FIVE HOURS (3.5-4 of which involved actively cooking) to make it and I'm not a total novice in the kitchen. I also went through so many pots that I had to hand wash and reuse them in order to continue with the various steps of this recipe.

                        The only way I'd make this again was if I was snowed into my house, had all of the ingredients on hand (which I probably would except maybe the leeks) and had absolutely nothing else to do for the day. I'd also skip the dumplings as they seemed to be dense little things without much flavor.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Njchicaa
                          greeneggsnham Apr 6, 2013 06:07 PM

                          Thanks for taking one for the team. Glad it was flavorful. I looked at that recipe and immediately realized it was never going to happen in my kitchen.

                          1. re: Njchicaa
                            qianning Apr 7, 2013 05:32 AM

                            Thank you for making this....I was really curious about the dumplings made with pate a choux, and now it seems I can rest easy with my more "traditional" dumpling recipe.....sorry, though that it was such a chore.

                            1. re: Njchicaa
                              Aravisea Sep 12, 2013 08:06 AM

                              This recipe is our chicken & dumplings standard. I take little shortcuts here and there, but mostly follow the directions as written. The pate a choux dumplings are the best! Sometimes I'll double that portion of the recipe so that we have a ton of them. Given the recipe's time intensive nature, I only make this once or twice a year.

                            2. s
                              smtucker Apr 7, 2013 04:31 PM

                              scallion potato cakes, page 230

                              I am hoping that all the bad things that defined March are firmly behind me, and it was time to cook from Ad Hoc. I had some leftover grilled lamb chops so a side of potato seemed like a good plan.

                              To begin with I sliced all the scallions I owned and weighed out my cornstarch. Potatoes are shredded using a large food processor disk and immediately dunked into a bowl of cold water. The potatoes are lifted into a salad spinner. Spin until the potatoes are dry. Then mix in the cornstarch, trying to coat evenly. In a fry pan, heat "some" oil. Place shredded potato into the pan in a circle, top with scallions, salt and pepper, and then cover with more potato. When the bottom is browned, flip carefully to brown the second side.

                              I used the medium shredding disk since I can't find my large one anywhere. This was sufficiently large however. The salad spinner to dry the potato worked! What a great trick this is. Though he uses weight to describe the potato, he uses volume for the cornstarch. Since I only had one pound of potato [and aging ones at that], I weighed the 1/2 cup of cornstarch in grams, and then divided in third. 25 grams at home for one pound of potato. I didn't use canola oil. Instead I subbed sunflower oil. Wish I had measured how much, but I could have used a bit less. If I had to guess, I used 2 teaspoons. The oil is heated and then he says lower the heat and cook for 7 minutes. Mine took a bit longer, but I didn't want to achieve crispy before cooked. To serve, you cut into sections and top with additional scallions.

                              This was really good! It reminded me of Swiss Rotis. The outside of the potato cake was crispy while the inside was almost creamy. Certainly not a fussy meal to make, especially if you already have your salad made. He does suggest serving immediately, and I would agree.

                              online version: http://momofukufor2.com/2010/07/thoma...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: smtucker
                                ellabee Apr 7, 2013 05:54 PM

                                Thanks so much, smtucker. I have this on my list, and will be doing one potato cake with a pound of potatoes also -- so the cornstarch ratio is hugely helpful. I'll be grating by hand with the big hole on the box grater, and am glad to hear the salad spinning works; confidence that it's worth it helps when getting out another piece of equipment.

                                Will report back later in the week on my results -- aiming for crispy and creamy!

                                1. re: smtucker
                                  Aravisea Sep 12, 2013 08:06 AM

                                  We loved these! Should make them again soon...

                                2. m
                                  moreace01 Apr 7, 2013 05:11 PM

                                  Grilled asparagus w/ prosciutto, fried bread, poached egg and aged balsamic vinegar p 156

                                  This one is pretty straightforward - grill some asparagus, poach an egg and serve with some garlic croutons and aged balsamic.

                                  The bread is fried in copious amounts of garlic oil and butter. Mine wasn't super garlicky - I might not have cooked the garlic for long enough.

                                  The real reason I am posting is for the poaching method. Keller recommends the whirlpool method - which I've always been skeptical about - I always thought the egg would end up in ribbons like it does in hot and sour soup. I was wrong. He has you add 2 T of vinegar to the pan which helps coagulate the egg. Then take a wooden spoon and give the water a couple of stirs. Add the egg into the center of the whirlpool and the force of the water helps make a perfect poached egg. My only criticism is that you can only poach one at a time. And also, Keller has you poach for a minute and a half which isn't quite enough time for me. Anyway, overall, I am converted to this method for poached eggs.

                                  While this recipe was good, I still felt like it was missing something. Maybe a little shaved parmesan. Or maybe I just hadn't seasoned enough.

                                  1. s
                                    smtucker Apr 8, 2013 10:27 AM

                                    simple vinaigrette, page 179

                                    This is hardly a recipe for anyone that doesn't own bottled dressing, but since I made it, I might as well report.

                                    Combine 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard [fallot] with 1/4 cup of red wine. I used a low acid greek vinegar. Add 3/4 cups canola oil slow to emulsify with salt and pepper.

                                    Foolishness! I subbed extra virgin olive oil [2/3] and regular olive oil [1/3.] Threw everything into a jar and shook. This was heavier on the mustard than my normal ratio, but lighter on the vinegar. Strangely, my husband commented on how good the salad dressing was.

                                    Not sure if it was this ratio or a new olive oil that elicited the response, but I will take it. When I want to bother measuring for a salad vinaigrette, this will be on the list.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: smtucker
                                      Gio Apr 8, 2013 10:35 AM

                                      Love that! "Foolishness" indeed. The man can't get enough canola oil in his recipes... I'll sub EVOO too.

                                      1. re: smtucker
                                        Blythe spirit Apr 11, 2013 02:06 PM

                                        Simple vinaigrette, p. 179
                                        Needed a quick dressing for a salad and this was the ticket. I make vinaigrettes often, though I rarely measure out the ingredients.
                                        I followed the recipe but used grapeseed oil. The proportions were very nice - my guest asked for a copy of the recipe. I suppose there is a time and place for exact measuring - (not usually in my kitchen!). Am looking forward to trying some of the other dressings too.

                                      2. geekmom Apr 8, 2013 01:12 PM

                                        Caramelized fennel - p 194

                                        Trim 2 medium fennel bulbs and cut into 1/4" wide wedges, then cook till crisp-tender in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain & pat dry on paper towels, season with salt & pepper, then set aside if necessary. When it's time to serve the fennel, put a frying pan over medium-high heat, add canola oil (there's that canola oil again!) and cook fennel wedges 2-3min per side (for me it was more like 5 min per side!) until caramelized.

                                        I made this as one of several side dishes to go with a roast chicken dinner. This is a very basic and straightforward recipe, so if you've caramelized fennel before there's nothing new here at all. However, it was quite easy and you do get a big payback in terms of flavour versus time invested. Personally I prefer Ottolenghi's presentation of this dish (p 172, US edition of Plenty) with a bunch of extra seemingly random flavours thrown in that totally work, but then, that's not really the AHAH style.

                                        It was especially nice to realize that two of my dinner guests had never eaten fennel before. My friend said, "I have no clue what this is, but it looks delicious!" I like that sense of satisfaction when I can introduce someone to a new ingredient and cook it properly so that they can get a chance to really enjoy it. They loved it and were politely arguing over the last few pieces.

                                        1. geekmom Apr 8, 2013 02:18 PM

                                          Butter-braised radishes, kohlrabi, and brussels sprouts - p 196

                                          Adapted and halved but fairly faithful recipe here: http://nycsliceofrice.blogspot.ca/201... (scroll down a bit to find the recipe).

                                          This is fairly complicated for a vegetable side dish, but I have never cooked radishes before so I figured I'd give it a try. The result was an unusual and very nice (but not spectacular) side dish to go with roast chicken.

                                          There are quite a few recipes in this book where the instructions as written don't necessarily have you do things in the order that would be most efficient for a busy home cook, and this is one of them. I'm supposed to prep and blanch my sprouts, set them aside, prep and cook my radishes, then set them aside, and then prep and blanch my kohlrabi and set THAT aside before finally bringing all of them together in a pan. To me it makes a lot more sense to do ALL of the prepping and blanching at the beginning and then braise all of it at once in one pan - but what do I know? :-P

                                          Oh, and also, don't be like me and forget to halve your sprouts. They will end up not absorbing any of the braising liquid and will just taste like water.

                                          Anyway, tasty, pretty, and a nice change from the standard chicken accompaniments, but I probably won't make this again because it was a time-consuming dish to make and didn't wow us enough.

                                          1. s
                                            smtucker Apr 8, 2013 06:31 PM

                                            puree of garlic potatoes, page 223
                                            garlic confit and oil, page 266

                                            To start you make a garlic confit. You peel garlic and cook in oil just under a simmer for 40 minutes and then let cool.

                                            The potatoes also use the simmer method of cooking. Yukon gold potatoes are place in a pot with lots of salt and enough water to cover plus 2 inches. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes. put the potatoes in a colander and let steam for a few minutes while you warm the cream on the stove. Remove the potato skins and place 1/3 of the potato in a food mill with a medium disk. Top with 1/3 of the butter and 1/3 of the garlic. Repeat until potatoes are gone.

                                            Potatoes can be kept warm like this for a bit. When ready to serve, whisk the warm cream into the potatoes and serve.

                                            I made a half recipe of the confit. Since my garlic seems to have green germs this time of year, I removed the germ before steeping. Though he called for that nasty canola oil, I used olive oil [not extra virgin.]

                                            I only made a 1/4 recipe of the potato. The potatoes were actually really good. I did sub half and half and milk for the cream. [My cream had turned solid.] I also doubled the amount of confit of garlic. NO garlic taste was to be found. Well, maybe there was just a hint in the background. I wanted more garlic flavor! To be honest, I never measure ingredients for something like mashed potatoes, but maybe I should. The potatoes had a lovely texture and tasted a bit better than potatoes that have been boiled hard and much better than ones that have been cut up before boiling.

                                            Next time, I will taste and keep adding garlic until I can actually taste it.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: smtucker
                                              geekmom Apr 8, 2013 06:39 PM

                                              I suspect that it's the quality of the garlic that really controls how strong the garlic flavour is going to be in this recipe. I'd been planning on trying this particular recipe in the fall when the Red Russian garlic is at the farmer's market. The garlic available at this time of year in my part of the world is terribly disappointing, and once you get that green shoot it basically has almost no flavour left.

                                              1. re: geekmom
                                                smtucker Apr 8, 2013 06:43 PM

                                                I used this garlic just last night in last night's dinner and it was very present. I think I just wanted more garlic!

                                                1. re: smtucker
                                                  geekmom Apr 8, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                  I'll admit that, having access to truly excellent, very potent garlic from my CSA for about half of the year, that garlic I have to buy the other months of the year just doesn't taste like much any more. So you're probably right!

                                              2. re: smtucker
                                                smtucker Apr 13, 2013 07:41 AM

                                                The leftover puree of potatoes were calling me last night as I roasted a chicken. I used a bunch more garlic crushed, sliced up some scallions, and mixed these into the potato with one egg. I dropped 1/3 cup of the mixture into a fry pan with oil and flattened into a round-ish shape.

                                                I kept the heat low so that a good crust could develop; then flipped. Ah, garlic! There was garlic flavor! These were really delicious though I won't ever make extra potatoes in order to have these. More like, they were delicious and I didn't throw out any food.

                                                The garlic confit oil has more garlic flavor than the remaining cloves. I used a bit of it to roast some green beans and the flavor was mild, yet distinct.

                                              3. Allegra_K Apr 11, 2013 07:43 AM

                                                Nantes Carrot Stew p-190

                                                This recipe I'm sure has potential to be much better, but unlike Mr. Keller, I am unable to trot out to the garden at this time of year to pull sweet young carrots from the earth. So for me this was more of a "best-carrots-I-could-find-at-the-end-of-a-long-winter stew". That being said, I don't know if I would want to use my precious bounty for this selection even if I did have the goods.

                                                2 lbs of peeled carrots are cut to 'obliques', which seems like the Japanese 'rolled-cut' style. Not wanting to be that fussy (there was already more than enough to do for an all-Keller dinner) I sliced the carrots thickly on the diagonal, using sweet-ish baby-cut carrots, also electing to cut the recipe in half. The carrots cook with butter and salt until giving off their juices, at which point dry sherry is added in and cooked down. Carrot juice (I shredded, blended, and squeezed through a dish towel to get the liquid), a pinch of curry powder, and a sachet of coriander and caraway go into the pan and cook for the remaining couple of minutes. Carrots are removed and juices reduced to a glaze, wherein more butter & salt is swirled around the pan, and all is tossed together to serve.

                                                This wasn't extraordinary-it was just carrots with butter and curry powder to me and my unsophisticated palate. Not much curry powder, at that. I used a freshly made curry blend, and could hardly tell it was in there. Would add more for next time. The coriander and caraway were only in the pan for 2 minutes-not long enough to give off their flavours. I would lightly crush them for next time. I really liked the addition of sherry to the mix and would do that again for sure. The recipe says that it serves six. Cut in half, with four diners, I have plenty of leftovers.

                                                1. Allegra_K Apr 11, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                  Asparagus Coins p-192

                                                  A seemingly simple recipe and a serve-with suggestion brought me to this page, and I just happened to have some slender asparagus in the fridge. This ended up being quite a bit more work than at first glance, but it was a lovely and elegant way to enjoy the spring vegetable.

                                                  Start off by slicing the trimmed asparagus into thin coins, leaving a couple inches of the tips. Into a pan add tips and chive oil (What? The chive oil has to be made 24 hours ahead of time? And I could have sworn it called for scallion oil!) . So oops, impromptu scallion oil it is. Cook until sizzling, add the rounds, then some parsley water (another recipe that involves wilted parsley with caramelized honey, ice water, a blender, and a sieve) and cook to tender, adding more parsley water to finish. Parsley water is a bit of a misnomer-parsley gel is more like it, as it had firmed up when it cooled and I had to spoon it into the pan.

                                                  Anyway, this turned out to be lovey, with simple flavours elevated by the additional mild ingredients. There was a nice fresh tasting 'sauce' for the coins to soak up, and it was all eaten with pleasure. I bit more effort than I bargained for but very nice in the end.

                                                  1. L.Nightshade Apr 11, 2013 04:09 PM

                                                    Valencian Salad, page 135.

                                                    Well, not even close, really, but I tried. This simple little recipe highlights a couple factors about this book. One, is that he has some really good ideas, so even if you make a lot of substitutions, you can end up with an interesting dish. And two, no recipe here is as simple as it looks.

                                                    The "recipe" is just a list of ingredients, which include frisée, watercress, Marcona almonds, Spanish olives, Valencia oranges, and piquillo peppers. What I was able to come up with from my kitchen and the market was baby greens, watercress, Marcona almonds, Moroccan olives, clementines, and peppadew peppers.

                                                    Once those ingredients are assembled, you are referred to the Roasted Garlic vinaigrette on page 179. That recipe calls for garlic puree on page 266, which in turn refers you to a recipe for garlic confit.

                                                    Well, I just mashed up some garlic, mixed it with the champagne vinegar and olive oil called for in the dressing recipe.

                                                    And in spite of all my substitutions and shortcuts, this salad elicited raves well into the next day.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                      Westminstress Apr 11, 2013 08:24 PM

                                                      Lovely colors!

                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade
                                                        MelMM Apr 12, 2013 12:21 PM

                                                        Lovely picture, and I am going wild about that plate! Do tell where it came from...

                                                        1. re: MelMM
                                                          L.Nightshade Apr 12, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                          Thanks to both of you!
                                                          Re the plate, a neighbor gave a few of them, some off-white, some black, dinner plates, salad plates and a couple bowls. I'd love to find more to make up a set, but I don't know what they're called, and they don't have a mark!

                                                      2. w
                                                        Westminstress Apr 12, 2013 07:29 AM

                                                        Smashed Roasted Marble Potatoes, p. 224
                                                        Recipe here: http://foodiemcfooderson.wordpress.co...

                                                        Marble potatoes are those super tiny little ones you sometimes see at farmers markets, just about the size of a nut. We have a new vendor at our local farmers market who happens to grow a lot of potatoes. When I saw he had a bunch of teeny tiny guys at the bottom of the bin, I immediately thought of this recipe and snapped them up.

                                                        I'd seen these little potatoes before but never cooked them, as I always felt exhausted just thinking about cleaning/scrubbing each tiny little thing. In the end, I decided to soak the potatoes for a bit in a bowl of water, drained and rinsed a couple of times, and dried them in a towel. They seemed clean enough after that. And, actually, it was so easy that I would not hesitate to do it again.

                                                        So, the marble potatoes are tossed to coat with thyme branches, salt, and canola oil (i used olive oil). Melt butter in a pan that can later go in the oven (I used a cast iron skillet), stir in potatoes to coat, and pop the pan in the oven. He recommends 375, but I used a hotter oven because my oven is slow and because I was also making another dish that was supposed to cook at 475 -- I decided to split the difference. The potatoes should cook in 15-30 minutes depending on their size. Once the potatoes are roasted, turn them into a bowl and toss them with butter, garlic confit (oops! no time to make garlic confit. i used a small clove of garlic grated on the microplane) and finely chopped chives. You then smash them with a fork to mix all the ingredients together. YUM!

                                                        TK does say in the headnotes that they sometimes just roast the marble potatoes and call it a day, without the extra smashing action. And I can attest that these little guys were delicious both ways. (He also has another recipe in which the potatoes are slow cooked in two cups(!) of melted butter.) The whole potatoes look like tiny little easter eggs and burst in your mouth when you bite into them. You also get a lot of crispy oily salty potato skin with each bite, which is both tasty and nutritious. On the other hand, who is to complain about some extra butter, garlic and chives? You can't go wrong. Delighted to have discovered this new kind of potato, and they will be making another appearance on my table for sure.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Westminstress
                                                          qianning Apr 12, 2013 07:49 AM

                                                          Sounds great. I totally missed this recipe, thanks for pointing it out.

                                                          1. re: Westminstress
                                                            biondanonima Apr 12, 2013 08:08 AM

                                                            I saw both of these recipes - I'm afraid to make either, though, for fear that I will never be able to stop eating them. I may take my chances if I spot some nice tiny potatoes, though - they sound marvelous!

                                                            1. re: biondanonima
                                                              Gio Apr 12, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                              Trader Joe's sells a 2 lb bag of tiny red potatoes. Some are not as teeny tiny though but they are small. I used some last night in a roast veggie and chicken dish. This almost sounds like a similar method.

                                                              I wonder if the butter can be reduced... (well, of course it can but probably wouldn't have all those luscious flavors.)

                                                              1. re: Gio
                                                                Westminstress Apr 12, 2013 08:41 AM

                                                                I think you could reduce the butter Gio. I made a half recipe w about 11/2 pounds of potatoes and 2 tbsp butter - 1 to roast and 1 to finish. I think you could easily cut this amount in half and still have some tasty potatoes.

                                                              2. re: biondanonima
                                                                Westminstress Apr 12, 2013 08:44 AM

                                                                Yes, I always have this problem with potatoes! So many delicious ways to prepare, they are too addictive! Just like pasta! I usually try to have lots of other veg on the table to balance it out.

                                                            2. q
                                                              qianning Apr 13, 2013 06:22 AM

                                                              Peperonata Rustica, pg. 208

                                                              So I made this as one of the components of the pan-roasted chicken and sausage. But I did save a little out to taste and hopefully make the eggs flamenco, more on that if I get to it.

                                                              Meanwhile, once the soffritto is made (separate recipe/write up) this is easy. Roast and peel sweet red peppers, and sweet yellow peppers. I grill roasted the red peppers (we like the smokey flavor of grilled pimento), but followed TK's directions oven roast the yellow peppers, and it worked fine. Tear the peeled roasted peppers into strip, do the same to some piquillo peppers (my fist time with this ingredient, really tasty), put the pepper strips in a sauce pan with some drained soffritto, some stock (I used my own stock not TK's version), simmer for half an hour. Sprinkle with chives to serve. The combination of the soffritto and the piquillo peppers, gives this dish incredible depth of flavor. Really pretty amazing. Not the best pictue, but here it is in the pan simmering.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: qianning
                                                                Allegra_K Apr 13, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                This sounds so lovely; I simply adore roasted peppers. It's definitely going on the list! Did you use the piment d'Esplette? I'm unable to locate it so may have to sub...

                                                                Thanks for pointing out the Eggs Flamenco-I completely overlooked that 'recipe', and it seems like the perfect use for leftovers of this dish, especially with the influx of farm-fresh eggs I've been getting lately.

                                                                1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                  qianning Apr 13, 2013 11:11 AM

                                                                  I should have mentioned that I'm not using piment d'Esplete; mine is a Spanish origin "pimenton de la Vera".

                                                                  1. re: qianning
                                                                    Allegra_K Apr 13, 2013 11:15 AM

                                                                    Ahh, perfect. That is exactly what I was going to use...

                                                                2. re: qianning
                                                                  biondanonima Apr 13, 2013 09:49 AM

                                                                  I picked up the ingredients for this myself today, with an eye to making that chicken and sausage dish. Glad to know it's worth the effort! I'm going to try to make the soffritto tonight so I can have the peppers tomorrow!

                                                                  1. re: biondanonima
                                                                    qianning Apr 13, 2013 11:04 AM

                                                                    Good luck! Once you get through the soffritto, it is all fairly straightforward and quick. If you do make the chicken, I'll really be interested to hear how the timing on browning/pan frying the chicken works for you.

                                                                    1. re: qianning
                                                                      biondanonima Apr 18, 2013 07:25 PM

                                                                      I'm glad I made a full recipe of the soffritto - though I agree with you that it sort of tastes like oily onions by itself, I think it will be a useful thing to have in the freezer. It will also make it quick and easy to make the peperonata again - and I'm sure I will. I agree that this version, with the piquillo peppers, soffritto and touch of piment d'esplette, has a lovely depth!

                                                                  2. re: qianning
                                                                    qianning Apr 15, 2013 05:30 AM

                                                                    Eggs Flamenco, sort of.

                                                                    Did a riff on this adjunct recipe this morning for breakfast. Instead of mixing in the whites (per TK) while trying to keep the yolks unbroken, I separated the whites from the yolks at the get-go, fried the whites, lightly poached the yolks on the peperonata, and served by putting the whites on toast, the peppers and yolks on the whites. Very nice. Mr. QN said "better than Shakshouka", personally I wouldn't go that far, but still very nice.

                                                                    1. re: qianning
                                                                      Gio Apr 15, 2013 05:40 AM

                                                                      "better than Shakshouka" ? Boy, that's huge praise. Nothing is better than Shakshouka... IME. LOL I've made several different versions of Peperonata over the years and with the L/Os have added poached eggs so I can see how he'd say that, though.

                                                                  3. q
                                                                    qianning Apr 13, 2013 07:07 AM

                                                                    Buttermilk Dressing, pg. 182

                                                                    I had some trouble with his Mayonnaise/Aioli recipe,a component of this dressing, but soldiered on and made this dressing anyway. It is pretty standard, but I have to say not my favorite Buttermilk dressing, it just didn't pop for me.

                                                                    But that may be because I used grated garlic rather than garlic confit oil in my aioli, or maybe because I used Greek yogurt to replace the creme fraiche. Anyway, the one thing about this dressing that I did like was the addition of mint to the herb mix. I'll be doing that again, just not with this recipe.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: qianning
                                                                      nomadchowwoman Apr 13, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                                      Blue Cheese Dressing, p.182

                                                                      A variation of the buttermilk dressing is all, but a tasty one. My husband loves blue cheese dressing so I thought I'd indulge him and try this, somewhat similar to my usual BC dressing (though I don't usually use creme fraiche), but better.

                                                                      I made "aioli" by simply stirring some of the garlic confit oil into some jarred (Duke's) mayo to make 1 cup, then added 1/2 c buttermilk, 1/4 c creme fraiche, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 3/4 tsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp. ea. minced chives and parsley. I didn't think mint would go with blue cheese so I omitted it. Absent onion powder, I grated in some onion w/its juice, about a tsp. I happened to have Pt. Reyes blue cheese so added all I had, crumbled, (a scant 1 1/4 c) to the dressing, stirred, and added a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.

                                                                      No wedges so we just ate it with baby romaine, slivered red onion, cherry tomatoes, and some crumbled bacon.


                                                                      1. re: qianning
                                                                        qianning Apr 15, 2013 05:25 AM

                                                                        Famous last words.....we had some of the remainder of this dressing on a mixed salad, an boy did it taste better. Maybe because the grated garlic had mellowed, maybe because it was better on a mixed sald, maybe because I'd gotten over being annoyed at TK's mayo recipe....who knows.

                                                                        1. re: qianning
                                                                          qianning May 19, 2013 12:24 PM

                                                                          I seem to be obsessed with this recipe....this round it was commercial mayonnaise but with real creme fraiche---what a difference, now I get it.

                                                                        2. Allegra_K Apr 14, 2013 03:04 PM

                                                                          Split Pea Soup with ham hock, fresh peas, and mint, p-118

                                                                          I had the best of intentions to make this soup over half a week ago, when it was cloudy, snowy, and miserable outside. It turned out that of the nearly twenty varieties of colourful jarred legumes on my shelf, split peas failed to be included in the ensemble. That plus making the chicken stock and all the other lengthy steps ensured that when we finally got around to eating this meal, the weather was much more conducive to barbecuing than lengthy stove-top simmering.

                                                                          To start, carrots, leeks, and onions are cooked with a parchment lid for 3/4 hour until very soft and sweet, and placed into chicken stock along with a ham hock. I used a meaty ham bone that I had snagged from Easter dinner with this recipe in mind. The veggies simmer with the meat for another lengthy amount of time. At this point the stock is to be strained, the veggies discarded, and the stocked cooled in an ice bath. Starting the dried peas in a cold stock is supposed to ensure even cooking.
                                                                          I made an executive decision at this stage. Since the soup is supposed to be pureed in the end anyway, WHY would I throw out the vegetables? They stayed. And for the same reasons, what does it matter if the peas cook evenly or not--as long as they are done!? I skipped the stock-cooling as well. Utter blasphemy, I know.
                                                                          After the peas are cooked, the ham is cut off the bone and the soup is seasoned with a touch of red wine vinegar. Puree in a blender until smooth and add fresh (frozen for me) peas to the mix. To serve, top with more fresh peas, the ham, creme fraiche, and mint leaves. I ended up pureeing only half the soup, as I wasn't sure if we would be fond of the silkiness. We ended up preferring the soup prior to meeting the blender, and kept adding extra peas to our bowls to make up for the lack of texture.

                                                                          This was certainly an upscale and time-consuming version of what I often think of as a rustic dish. There wasn't much smokiness from the ham , though the stock was rich from the flavourful chicken stock and surprisingly sweet with the nearly-caramelized veggies. What really heightened this soup was the vinegar addition-it really rounded out the flavours in such a way that one couldn't discern just what the magic ingredient was, only that it was better for it. The mint was an interesting twist in the soup, and though I enjoyed it, it wasn't an imperative component. This was a very nice dish, and I'm glad to have tried it.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Allegra_K
                                                                            smtucker Apr 14, 2013 04:11 PM

                                                                            You are living on the Edge! However, the end result is lovely and this is the kind of soup I would and will love. I have just discovered vinegar as a finish for soup and can't believe that it took me this long.

                                                                            1. re: smtucker
                                                                              Allegra_K Apr 15, 2013 05:28 AM

                                                                              I figure that if I want to cook any Keller dishes this month at all, I'd better be willing to do a few shortcuts...

                                                                              That vinegar trick is definitely something I'll be keeping.

                                                                          2. oakjoan Apr 21, 2013 03:31 PM

                                                                            I have made a few recipes from this book. I was originally skeptical about it because I am prejudiced against Keller and his first restaurant in Napa which seemed really precious and snooty and realllly expensive.

                                                                            I actually ended up really liking a couple of things I made from Ad Hoc. I must admit that I changed the curried cauliflower-chickpea salad quite a bit due to lack of ingredients at hand. I didn't cook the cauliflower and I used (gasp!) canned chickpeas. It turned out to be a really good salad. So partial thanks to Keller.

                                                                            I also sort of made the Tomato and Handmade Mozzerella Salad....I didn't hand make the cheese. I used what Berkeley Bowl calls "persian" cucumbers which I figure should be pretty close to "Armenian" cukes. This is a recipe I'll use often.

                                                                            I also made the Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon.
                                                                            Very nice. I will also make this again.


                                                                            1. s
                                                                              sir_jiffy Apr 22, 2013 07:51 AM

                                                                              Cream of Cauliflower, p.127

                                                                              Made by SO for my birthday. Silky and Oh-so-good. Balance of flavours is extraordinary, such that you almost forget that it is a Cauliflower soup. Not even in the same ballpark as other cauliflower soups/creams that I made/tasted before.

                                                                              Only modification was the un-buttered croutons. Beet chips were a very nice (visually, texturally and tastewise) counterpoint to the white soup. The curry powder (as on p.336) complements perfectly the cauliflower and makes the show IMHO.

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