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

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!

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  1. 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. 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

        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

          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

            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

              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

            On-Line Recipe for Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

            http://newfinmysoup.blogspot.com/2010...

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

          3. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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. 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.