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Cookbook of the Month July 2013 BIG SMALL PLATES: Chapters 1&2

Welcome to Cookbook of the Month for July 2013, which is BIG SMALL PLATES by Cindy Pawlcyn.

This is the reporting thread for recipes from Chapters 1 and 2 of the book. They are:

Sticks, Picks and With Fingers, p6
Dressed Not Naked, p106

Please remember 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.

Happy cooking, big and small!

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  1. Thai style fish cakes with Erasto's Nuoc cham and Sriracha Sauce, p. 54-55

    This recipe caught my eye because my son is gluten intolerant and these fish cakes don't contain any flour or other binder. Both the fish cakes and the sauce come together very quickly so they are perfect for a weeknight dinner. We enjoyed these, but they didn't make it to the "oh mom, can you make these again" category. Though tasty, they weren't as crispy as I like, probably because they don't contain flour. Perhaps next time I will try dredging them in a GF coating.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dkennedy

      I almost made these cakes yesterday but because we had somewhat picky guests I opted for a crab cake recipe using flounder. They were tasty but loose and used GF breadcrumbs as a binder. How was the dipping sauce? I actually thought that the recipe will take a while to make and glad to know that they are not too time consuming.

      1. re: herby

        The sauce is really nice, I think what put me off was the lack of crunch.

    2. Black Pepper and Garlic Chicken Wings, p. 105

      As described in her intro, these wings are very easy to make. They would make a great addition to a 4th of July BBQ spread. My son is always up for a plate of wings, and so these were one of the first recipes I honed in on. He really enjoyed them, and the rest of the family agreed. Still won't replace our standard hot wing recipe, though it is a welcome change.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dkennedy

        Black Pepper and Garlic Chicken Wings, p. 105

        Made these last night for an easy dinner. I added some drumsticks to the mix because we only had two wings on hand and just let the drumsticks start cooking a bit earlier. I didn't get nearly as much pepper and garlic from them as I was expecting, but they were very good. I paired with the shaved fennel salad from Cook This Now.

        1. re: dkennedy

          Black Pepper and Garlic Chicken Wings, p. 105

          Not much to add to the two reports here except to say that these will become our standard wing recipe. I'm not a fan of overly sweet, sticky wings, and DH does not like when hot sauce is the predominant flavor. These were neither, a delicious alternative to the wings we've tried.

          I followed the recipe, marinating a full 24 hours, except that I had to bake them considerably longer than the prescribed 18-20 minutes to get them "dark brown and crispy"--probably 30 minutes. I loved the real bite of black pepper and undertones of garlic and soy sauce. Served these as an app for a casual dinner when my whole family was in town last week, and they were a hit with everyone.

        2. My Very First Beef Satay - p. 102

          I had planned on making the chicken wings that dkennedy reported on for dinner last night, but forgot to start the marinade early enough, so I decided to go with this one instead. This dish is very simple.

          Beef and mushrooms (if you're using) are marinated in a mixture of tamari, sugar, sherry (or rice wine), minced ginger, minced garlic, and sesame oil. I substituted for half light and half dark soy sauce per her suggestion and went with the rice wine suggestion. Meat and mushrooms are cooked on the grill until caramelized.

          The satay isn't as complex in flavor as those that I've made before (from Cradle of Flavor), but it's a good, easy dinner. I very much liked her suggestion of adding shiitake mushrooms to it. They absorbed the marinade and were very flavorful. We skipped on the mustard sauce, so I can't report on that portion. I assume it would add a bit more to the dish.

          1. Dungeness Crab-Sweet Potato-Corn Fritters, page 48.

            Dungeness crab season is just getting rolling here, so this was a natural choice. I made half a recipe, for a pre-dinner cocktail accompaniment for our July 4th dinner last night.

            The dipping sauce (I would really call it more of a spooning sauce) is made by stirring together lime juice, minced jalapeño, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and a lot of chopped cilantro.

            The fritter batter is made of flour (the recipe calls for cake flour, I used all-purpose), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, turmeric, salt, pepper, water, grated sweet potato, fresh corn kernels, and crab meat. (No eggs! these are the first fritters I've made that use no eggs.) The batter is spooned into hot peanut oil. The recipe calls of an inch, but I couldn't bear to use that much. I probably used less than half an inch!

            In the oil these went from a pale yellow batter to a very bright red fritter! It took a couple of test fritters for me to get the insides done, I think I was just removing them too quickly because of the bright color. Once I got it down, these were great! I could definitely make a big plate dinner out of these. Wonderful flavor.

            I actually have batter left over; I'm going to make a couple more fritters in the morning and top them with an egg!

            2 Replies
            1. re: L.Nightshade

              ...and the leftover batter did survive to make breakfast fritters. I made them bigger, and topped each one with a fried egg. These were delicious! Mr. NS liked them even better than the evening version!

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                [Blue] Crab-Sweet Potato-Corn Fritters, p. 48

                I'd been intrigued by these since reading LN's report, so when I had crab left after making a salad one night, I decided to try half a recipe of fritters the next. I wish I'd remembered that LN used her leftover batter successfully, because even half a recipe made a boatload of fritters--16 or 17! While still delicious reheated the following night, they seemed greasier than when fresh.

                I followed the recipe, used cake flour as well as all the exacting measurement amounts (half of 1 3/4 tsp, etc--what is up with all those 1/4 and 3/4 tsp measures?), except that I upped the amount of crab to about 2/3 c. (I actually thought they could have used even more crab.) Although I probably slightly overcooked these--the corn kernels were almost crunchy--we really enjoyed them, especially with the dipping sauce. And they're quite pretty--as LN's photos, and not mine, attest.

                This was the last recipe from this book for a while, as I'll be travelling for the next few weeks. And while I found many of the recipes to be a lot more involved than I want to be during the summer, I've found a few treasures so I have no regrets about adding this book to my collection.

              2. Serrano Ham Wrapped prawns with Piquillo Vinaigrette and Living Watercress, pg. 50

                This is a three part recipe, but not particularly difficult, and quite a bit can be done ahead. We had this as part of a tapas spread for 4th if July company, and it went over pretty well. That said, if I were to make this again, I'd use the concept, but change the dressing, which was good, but not great.

                So, part one make the dressing--sherry vinegar (ooops--my preferred bran of sherry vinegar is out of stock right now, I used a good red wine vinegar instead), sherry, s&P, shallots, garlic, evoo, piquiilos torn into strips. Easy enough, and good, but it just didn't sing for me. Next time I make this salad, I'll use P. Casas's vinaigrette for watercress, 'cause I like it much much better. Also, I made a half batch for 1 large bunch of watercress (approx. 2 cups), and that was way too much dressing--I've got half of it leftover.

                Part two-wrap prawns (shrimp in my case) in serrano ham, and put them on skewers. Brush, liberally it turns out is better, with oil and grill over charcoal. Worked a treat. Very nice and very easy.

                Part three--assemble salad by dressing watercress (a very fresh, but standard supermarket variety in my case) with the dressing, plate the cress, and plop the shrimp off the skewers onto the top of the cress.

                9 Replies
                1. re: qianning

                  OOOps, forgot to attach the picture.

                  1. re: qianning

                    Which vinaigrette of Casas are you referring too? I'm planning on making this tonight.

                    1. re: BigSal

                      just saw this big sal, probably too late, but the Casas dressing I was referring to is the one from Watercress and Carrot Salad w/ Anchovy dressing, pg 108 F&WOS.

                      Anyway, I'll look forward to hearing your opinion on this dish/ We really thought the grilled shrimp + ham on top of cress was a tasty combination.

                      1. re: qianning

                        Thank you. We had a change of plans, so we'll try and make them tomorrow.

                    2. re: qianning

                      Serrano Ham-Wrapped Prawns with Piquillo Vinaigrette and Living Watercress p. 50

                      This made for a delicious, summer dinner. We loved the sweet shrimp enveloped in the crispy, nutty ham. The peppery watercress salad was a great match for the richness of the shrimp. We ended up using the Casas vinaigrette (thanks qianning for the suggestion).

                      1. re: BigSal

                        Funny, I just made that Casa vinaigrette yesterday and used it on a simple arugula salad. Hope you enjoyed it.

                      2. re: qianning

                        Q, what is your preferred brand of sherry vinegar? I'm just about to polish off the last of my mediocre bottle and would love to have some guidance for the new purchase...

                        1. re: Allegra_K

                          Sorry, just saw this.....here's a picture:
                          I used to be able to buy it locally, avoiding the shipping rigamarole, but haven't seen it since my last bottle ran out.

                          1. re: qianning

                            Oh, my. Does that look and sound good. I use Unio brand Moscatel vinegar as my everyday wine vinegar, but will keep an eye out for this. I wonder if Fairway carries it. Will check it out next time I'm there.

                      3. Grilled “Street” Corn p. 26

                        We made this as part of our 4th of July menu. Unhusked corn is grilled for 12-15 minutes. We made this on the Weber rather than over fire (so this may have affected the results). The result was a very moist and juicy ear of corn that was easy to peel. In spite of the husk not being soaked, it did not burn too badly. The corn is brushed with a mayo/garlic mixture, seasoned with a salt and cayenne mixture, then rolled in cheese (we used cotija instead of parmesan) and finished with a squeeze of lime.

                        I will use this method again to make corn when I want to enjoy the simple taste of corn (maybe with a touch of butter), but for elote, we prefer the recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table. http://www.patismexicantable.com/2012...

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: BigSal

                          I've been eyeing this recipe, but haven't felt in the mood to make mayo, and hate the store-bought stuff. Did you make your own? If not, did the store-bought mayo taste come through? I love your switch to cotija; great idea.

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            I used Duke's mayo. The taste of mayo does come through, but isn't the dominant flavor. I used a light touch when brushing it on and then the cheese, cayenne pepper and lime add quite a bit (especially the lime). I've seen other elote recipes that use crema or sour cream thinned with milk that might be a better alternative for you (maybe even creme fraiche).

                          2. re: BigSal

                            so you leave husks and silks both on the corn?

                            1. re: girlwonder88

                              Yes, very easy. The corn cooks for 12 to 15 minutes and the husk and silk is removed easily. Even though I prefer to have my corn grilled without the husk, this technique did make nice steamed corn.

                            2. re: BigSal

                              Grilled “Street” Corn, p. 26

                              I fell in love with this preparation the first time I tasted it. On the few occasions when I've done it at home, I have used crema and cotija. But I decided it to try it CP's way last night, with garlic-spiked mayo and grated parmigiano. Like Big Sal, the corn went on to the gas grill for 12 minutes or so and was quite easy to husk. And I agree with Big Sal--the lime always "makes" this.

                              Despite its looking like a mutant Twinkie in my photo, this was a very tasty alternative to the usual crema-cotija version, great if one doesn't have those on hand.

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                I actually think it looks good, however, "mutant Twinkie" is the best phrase of the month.

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  Agree, mutant twinkie cracked me up! Actually, when I saw the small picture I wondered why you posted a photo of the cob after the corn was eaten. I had to look at the enlarged photo to see what it was!

                                2. re: BigSal

                                  I also tried this ... nothing more to add, but I loved that you just stuck the corn on the grill, husk, silks, and all. I'll be grilling corn this way from now on.

                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    Grilled "Street" Corn, page 26.

                                    Made as written, with parmesan and homemade mayonnaise. We liked the ease of grilling the corn this way. We've always pulled back the husks, removed the silk, and replaced the husks, or dampened the husks, or just pulled everything off and set the corn on the grill. This is really much easier. The husks got pretty burnt, but who cares? The corn cooked perfectly.

                                    This was very good, and I had no trouble eating an entire ear (which Pawlcyn seems to think is two servings!). It doesn't beat the Batali corn for me however. That is still my favorite to date.

                                  2. Avocado - (Mango) Salad with (no Papaya seed) dressing, page 116.

                                    Mr. NS found the papayas at the market to be hard as rocks, and came home with a mango instead. So the dressing had no papaya seeds in it. (I don't think a mango seed dressing would have worked!) Otherwise as written, quick and easy, as a summer salad should be.

                                    The dressing is made by blending (papaya seeds), lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, olive oil, garlic, toasted cumin seeds, paprika, salt and pepper. It's drizzled over greens, slices of avocado, and slices of mango in this instance. The salad is topped with toasted, chopped hazelnuts, and served with lime wedges.

                                    A fresh, bright salad that was a fine prelude to our seafood kebabs. I'm glad I made a full recipe of the dressing, even though I only made two salads, as it will be nice to have it on hand.

                                    1. Chicken "Satay" in a Lettuce Cup with Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, p. 90

                                      This is a tasty and attractive dish which would be fun to serve at an outdoor gathering. Bites of chicken are grilled after marinating in a hoisin-based sauce, then served in salad-lined lettuce cups.

                                      The components are fairly quick to assemble and can be easily "tweaked" based on your taste. I thought my jarred hoisin was on the sweet side, so I added a bit more rice vinegar and upped the amount of ginger & garlic to 1-2 teaspoons. I then marinated the chicken pieces (thighs) for four hours, which worked out well for flavor and tenderness.

                                      The remainder of the recipe can be made while the chicken marinates - for the lemon vinaigrette, I combined a splash of Boyajian Pure Lemon Oil (which is very concentrated) with plain olive oil before whisking it into the remaining ingredients (again, adjust to taste, but my dressing ended up "quite" lemony which was provided a nice balance to the marinade and zesty greens). I was able to find a lovely bunch of baby red mustard greens at the farmer's market, and tossed them with arugula and shredded romaine. I didn't measure the amount of the greens and probably ended up with double the amount, but it really wasn't too much for 6-8 lettuce cups (and there will be enough dressing for this much salad).

                                      For the toppings, my only substitution was using toasted slivered almonds rather than macadamias, although peanuts, cashews, etc., would also work well. Toasted coconut and pineapple slices completed the accompaniments. I didn't think the extra step of brushing the cooked chicken with extra vinaigrette was necessary - the pieces looked nice enough when they came off the grill!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lesliej

                                        Chicken "Satay" in a Lettuce Cup with Lemon Olive Oil Vinaigrette, p. 90

                                        I made this last night, and I have to say I was not as much of a fan of this recipe as lesliej. First off, there is a reason the "satay" is in quotes. This recipe is nothing like a satay. The only common element, as far as I can see, is that the chicken is cooked on skewers. But to me, that is not sufficient to call something a satay. People cook chicken on skewers all over the world.

                                        I made the marinade as written, but went a bit heavy on the ginger. The total volume of marinade is about 3/4 cup, and recipe calls for 1/2 tsp each of garlic and ginger? The quantity of marinade is a lot, more than you really need. I used a bit more chicken than called for, and all the marinade, but could have gotten by with less. The marinade is an odd mix of ingredients. Dijon mustard and hoisin sauce dominating. And yes, you can taste the mustard in it, there are a full two tablespoons of the stuff.

                                        I made the vinaigrette as written. I bought a lemon olive oil at the store, Lucini brand, Italian, $17 for 8.5 fl. oz., 3 oz of which would go into the vinaigrette. Tasted it straight and realized it was a big mistake. Not much lemon flavor at all, and the oil itself was far inferior to what I usually use. Still, the vinaigrette was plenty lemony from the lemon oil and lemon zest. My advice: skip an expensive lemon olive oil, and use a good quality fruity olive oil and plenty of lemon zest. Yet another tablespoon of mustard in the vinaigrette. I usually put some mustard in my vinaigrettes, but this author is heavy handed with the stuff.

                                        As for the rest of the wraps, I used arugula with some basil and mint for the salad. I toasted unsweetened coconut and chopped macadamias, and included the fresh pineapple as specified. I did add a little extra vinaigrette to the chicken as suggested in the recipe.

                                        It became clear early on that there would be nothing particularly Asian about these wraps, much less Thai. That was good, in a way, because it freed me up to make a more European dish to go with them. As for this dish, well, I thought it was a hodgepodge of ingredients that did nothing for each other. Less than the sum of its parts. The toasted macadamia nuts were so flavorful that Mr. MM gobbled down the leftover nuts plain, but in the wraps, they were lost, as was the coconut.

                                        This was a fairly expensive recipe to make, and was very much not worth it. It's not that it was bad, because it wasn't. If I ordered this in a restaurant, I'd be happy, although unimpressed. But at home, I have higher standards, and this didn't measure up.

                                      2. Mustards' Vietnamese-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps p.95

                                        These excellent wraps were a perfect meal for a day when cooking indoors just wasn't going to happen. There are a few different components to this fresh recipe, but nothing very daunting or time consuming, and the results are wonderful.

                                        A highly aromatic marinade is made up of kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chile, and thinly sliced pork pieces are stirred in to sit for 20 minutes to overnight. I let mine go for about an hour. Meanwhile, a rice noodle salad is made up of finely julienned carrots and mint, basil (a combination of thai, lemon, and genovese in my case) , and cilantro. I spent a good portion of my prep time meticulously slicing carrots into thin slivers, and then when I turned my back for a mere second, a very hungry and impatient boy snatched up my precious pile of orange veggies and crammed them into his mouth. Arrg. It was then that I decided to add cucumber to the mix (easier to shred!) and put a mandoline on my birthday wishlist. The pork goes on a hot grill to cook through, and all is plated with one placing the noodle mix, the meat, and some sauce on a lettuce leaf, with extra sauce for dipping, if desired.
                                        The dipping sauce that goes with these is a pretty potent mix of fish sauce, lime, chile, scallions and sugar. I made a half recipe and had plenty, though I found I had to play with the balance a bit for my tastes and added more lime juice and sugar.

                                        We really enjoyed these, all the better after I adjusted the sauce ratio. The pork by itself was just spectacular and could easily stand up on its own; in fact, I will be making these again just as skewers one day soon. The lemongrass flavours that so often get lost in a mix were the highlight in this marinade and paired perfectly with the pork. The noodle salad part was okay, but I found I liked it more when I tossed it with some of the dipping sauce and let the flavours mingle a bit before adding to the lettuce cups. I bet this would also make a fabulous rice roll. A big win for dinner tonight.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                          Mustards' Vietnamese-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps, Pg 95

                                          We made these last night as well, however, G stir-fried the pork indoors in a wok in air-con comfort. He wasn't keen to stand over a hot Weber in our 3 H weather outside, not even for such a short cooking time. There were a few alterations to the recipe apart from the cooking method: instead of rice noodles I used steamed brown basmati rice, shaved the carrot, used Romaine not butter lettuce, and omitted the kaffir lime leaves from the marinade. The pork was marniated overnight.

                                          All in all, it was a pretty tasty, if pungent, finished dish and I liked everything about it. The Thai bird chilies in both the marinade and dipping sauce brought the heat up considerably and balanced out the sweet salty flavors. I did have to add a bit more sugar than called for to the dipping sauce, though. The lettuce was perfectly cold and crunchy. G, on the other hand, was less than enthusiastic. He liked the meat well enough but the dipping sauce didn't thrill him. I think he'd prefer a sandwich rather than a lettuce wrap. I also served a quick stir-fry of beet greens and stems which was enhanced by a bit of the dipping sauce.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            "I think he'd prefer a sandwich rather than a lettuce wrap."...Hah! My husband felt the same way and I found him placing the remainder of the meat between bread slices, with a bit of the noodle salad "just for the record"....I on the other hand really liked the crisp leaves (which were romaine, too, btw) as a light summery meal.

                                            ETA: It just struck me that this pork would go amazingly well in banh mi form! Must get on that.....

                                          2. re: Allegra_K

                                            I liked the grilled pork, but thought the dipping sauce was entirely too salty. In my first wrap, the salt just overpowered everything.

                                            I went back and adjusted the flavors in the dipping sauce. I had to add a lot more lime, and then more sugar. If I did it again, I'd start with about half the quantity of fish sauce in the dipping sauce, taste it, and then add more if it were needed.

                                            Once I adjusted the dipping sauce, I really liked this recipe. It was very good as leftovers the next day. I just cooked some fresh rice noodles.

                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                              Mustards' Vietnamese-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps, page 95.

                                              I didn't read the posts here before making this dish, it's funny that some of the comments echo our reactions to the dish. I loved the marinade, and had the pork in it for several hours before grilling. I used the lime zest option, as I don't have access to kaffir lime. Everything in the marinade is so aromatic; the combination is great.

                                              I made the dipping sauce in proportions just as written, but a half recipe, which was quite enough. I think the proportions are going to be dependent upon the taste of your fish sauce. I just finished up a quart bottle that was overwhelmingly salty. The new bottle, a different brand, had the same taste, but is far, far less salty. So it worked for me in the proportion given. As usual, I couldn't find Thai bird chiles, so used a mix of habanero, Serrano, and red fresno. The noodle, carrot, and herb salad seemed a little dry, so I tossed it with some of the dipping sauce, as Allegra did above. I used butter lettuce as recommended.

                                              We liked this dish quite a bit, but were both a little disappointed in the lettuce texture. This lettuce was very crisp for butter lettuce, with a big rib, which I tried trimming out. Although I'd like it better with a softer, more wrap-able leaf, we both decided that we'd like all the ingredients better in a rice paper roll. And also thought the pork would be good in banh mi. But I'm being picky here, it was really a lovely dinner, and so pretty to serve!

                                            2. Miso-Glazed Beef in Lettuce Cups - p. 98

                                              I'm not sure I should be reporting on this one given we had a few omissions for the recipe where I thought I had things on hand, but they were mysteriously missing. Overall, we both liked the elements on this one and the meat was quite good, but something was missing and I'm not sure the lack of vegetables explains that. My other quibble with this recipe is just how many pans it dirties. Making it again, I'm not sure the I would bother with boiling either of the sauces to dissolve the sugar.

                                              To make, the beef is marinated in a mixture of sake, mirin, sugar, and miso. She calls for shiro miso, I had brown, so that's what I used. It seemed salty enough already, so I didn't add additional salt. We both agreed the beef was very nice.

                                              She then has you blanch asparagus or green beans and cut into bite-sized pieces. It's past asparagus season here, so I went with green beans, although I think I would've liked asparagus here a bit better. The vegetable is then mixed with watercress and shiso. I didn't see shiso at the farmer's market, so I skipped it. She also calls for shredded daikon. I thought we had daikon and lettuce, but sadly we did not.

                                              A vinaigrette is then made of rice vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, peanut oil, and sesame oil. It packs quite a bit of flavor and we both enjoyed it.

                                              The beef it then grilled, cut into bite-sized pieces and everything should be served in lettuce cups with the vinaigrette for dipping. Lettuce was mysteriously missing from our home despite being there the last time I checked, so we just ate the beef with the greens as a side salad.

                                              We enjoyed all of the components, but it was missing something. Maybe the crunch of daikon and lettuce would've pulled it a bit more together, but I'm not sure.

                                              1. Chorizo and Goat Cheese Half-Moons, pg. 73

                                                These are party food. We served them last night to a group of friends who were over for drinks and snacks, and they were a definite hit with the crowd. I couldn't find the right type of chorizo, so made them with a nice capicola.

                                                Also, CP says that after breading they shouldn't be held for more than 30 minutes, which may be true if you leave them out of the fridge or cover them. But I wasn't going to try and bread these after the company arrived, so I did them ahead and put them on a fine mesh cake rack in the fridge un-covered, and they held perfectly for over four hours before frying. I'll definitely be making these again for finger food at parties.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: qianning

                                                  Never got a picture of them cooked, but here they are after filling before breading.

                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                    Wow, nicely done! They really look great.

                                                  2. re: qianning

                                                    Good to know they can be put together that far in advance - that does make a big difference! I will have to try these the next time I entertain.

                                                  3. Papas Bravas p. 24

                                                    Always on the search for the best version of some of my Spanish favorites, I had to give this one a go. The sauce is different from other recipes in that it requires no cooking and features dried ñoras (which I use for salsa romesco and fideuà). Combine dried ground ñoras, garlic, pimentón dulce, sherry vinegar, cayenne, pinch of cumin, chopped, peeled tomatoes, salt and olive oil. Served with fried potatoes (I oven roasted my potatoes).

                                                    I really liked how quickly it came together and the addition of ñoras adds a different flavor, but I found the raw garlic a little harsh and my favorite sauce still comes from Teresa Barrenechea.

                                                    Picture attached makes the color of the sauce looks surreal. Will have to work on the lighting. :)

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                      Looks lovely! You had me at "quickly"...that's my style these days. Maybe I'll have to give them a go. I don't have any ñoras, though, do you think another dried pepper would work okay?

                                                      1. re: Allegra_K

                                                        Yes, before ñoras were available to me, I followed Penelope Casas's suggestion of using New Mexico dried peppers. I've also seen ancho peppers suggested, but have not tried it myself.

                                                        It really was a cinch to make. Just toss everything into the blender and voila.

                                                      2. re: BigSal

                                                        Papas Bravas p. 24

                                                        Huge points go to this recipe for its ease of preparation. I remembered BigSal's notes and reduced the garlic by about half, and even then it was rather pungent. Since local tomatoes aren't ready here yet, I used some grape tomatoes, opting out of peeling them! Also used anchos in place of ñoras, and my sauce had a slight bitter background note , but it sure did have a lovely brick-red colour to it. I grilled the potatoes on skewers instead of frying. This isn't my favourite rendition of this sauce--I wonder if cooking it would have given better results?

                                                        1. re: Allegra_K

                                                          Sorry that you came to the same conclusion I did. What's your favorite version of bravas?

                                                          1. re: BigSal

                                                            I haven't found a "go-to" recipe yet, but did enjoy the versions from Moro and The New Spanish Table--the latter the most--both of which I have made a few times. That's all I've done in recent memory, but I think I'll have to seek out the one you mentioned in your notes.

                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                              I've not tried either of those...will have to change that. :) Jose Andres's version might be another option. It was pretty quick to make (sometimes I make it without the aioli)and tasty too. http://www.oliveoilfromspain.com/OOFS...

                                                      3. [Seared] Asparagus with [Brown Butter Vinaigrette], p. 136

                                                        Early in the day, I made the base of the vinaigrette: one teaspoon each of Dijon mustard, minced garlic and shallot, three tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I opted for 2 T balsamic and 1 T red wine vinegar), salt and pepper. Just before dinner, while pan-searing the asparagus (not pencil-thin, but not super-thick), I browned the butter (4 T) whisked in 1 T lemon juice, and then whisked it and 5 T EVOO into the base and poured about half of this over a pound of asparagus. (I skipped the capers since we had them in our roasted pepper bruschetta starter.)

                                                        This is a nice way to eat asparagus, especially out-of-season asparagus (it's never in season here). It would also be delicious on Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, probably even green beans. But I think this warm nutty-flavored vinaigrette is better suited to late fall or winter. Not sure I'd go to this little extra effort for asparagus again since I love them best simply grilled, but I'd definitely like to try it on roasted Brussels sprouts (maybe with bits of crisp pancetta).

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                          Seared Grilled Asparagus, page 134, with Brown Butter Vinaigrette, page 136.

                                                          nomadchowoman nicely describes the brown butter vinaigrette above, so I won't go into any detail on that. Suffice it to say that this dish worked very well. Mr. NS usually makes an anchovy vinaigrette for grilled asparagus. The capers used here supply a similar salty addition. I like the crunch they add when fried. Agree with ncw, that the brown butter vinaigrette would be great on Brussels sprouts or other roasted vegetables.

                                                          Before you look at the photo, I should warn you that I consider capers a green vegetable. The "3 teaspoons" of capers would have been about 6 of the giant capers I prefer. So I just fried up a big bunch of them. It's true. I'm a caper addict

                                                        2. Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops (page 86)

                                                          These were absolutely outstanding! Right up there among the best lamb chops I’ve made. And as some of you know (Hi, bb; how ya’ doin’?), I’ve made a lot of lamb chops in my day.

                                                          Rib chops (I cut mine from a Costco rack and didn’t bother to French) are marinated in hoisin sauce, sugar, tamari, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar, scallions, Tabasco sauce, black bean chili sauce or hot garlic sauce (I used the latter), grated ginger, minced garlic, and freshly ground white pepper. This, by the way, is the marinade used in the recipe for Ken Hom’s Pork Riblets on page 76.

                                                          The chops are marinated for 24 hours and grilled over high heat. Since charcoal grilling is not an option for me, I cooked them in a screamingly hot cast-iron grill pan on the stovetop. When finished, you’re supposed to drizzle them with mustard sauce, and sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds. I didn’t bother and don’t think any of those garnishes the least bit necessary.

                                                          She says in the intro to the Ken Hom recipe that there are “about ten thousand really tasty things you could do with any extra marinade” and I believe it. She suggests brushing it on beef, pork, or chicken satays as they’re grilling or on grilled eggplant or portobello mushrooms as they’re finishing. Her list goes on, and every one sounds yummy.

                                                          Good as these were, I’m sure they’d be even better on a charcoal grill. Baby lamb chops, Frenched, on a grill? As an hors d’oeuvre? She says she served these at a charity event several years ago and people are still talking about them. I’m not the least surprised.

                                                          45 Replies
                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            I have had this marinade on my short list for a long time. You got it first and now I know I have to make it. Thanks for the inspiration.

                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                              Mentally, I'd already given up on making anything else from this book, but your review has me questioning that decision. My in-laws are coming to visit and this sounds like the perfect recipe to make for them. Thanks for keeping us inspired.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                Joan, I have these marinating and ready to go on the grill tonight...I am planning to make the mustard sauce, so I will let you know how that works out (but maybe I won't use the cilantro & sesame seeds based on your review). I'm really glad you enjoyed them - I knew when I tasted the marinade they would be a success!

                                                                1. re: lesliej

                                                                  Great. Will be most curious to hear about the mustard sauce. Had planned on making it originally, but then decided I just didn't want to bother. And wasn't sure about all that sugar, either. Are you planning on using creme fraiche or sour cream?

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    I'm using homemade creme fraiche (which, as warm as my house has been, thickened up faster than ever this time around!). I just took another look at the recipe and you're right - the 1/4 cup of sugar does seen like a lot. Maybe I'll start out with less and see how it tastes with the mustard before I start cooking it with the egg, etc.

                                                                    1. re: lesliej

                                                                      Ha! Yeah, great weather for homemade creme fraiche--if nothing else. I'll be looking forward to your report. Hope you like the chops as much as I did.

                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                  I had planned to make these, then ditched the idea in favor of a fabulous sounding lamb recipe in "Smoke and Pickles" (which I am loving reading). After reading your review, these are back on. Sending my husband out for a rib rack shortly!

                                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                    Lots of great looking lamb recipes in "Smoke & Pickles," aren't there? Which one caught your eye to try first? I made the Vietnamese Lamb Chops and thought they were terrific. But I liked these even more.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      Great minds, Joan . . . The Vietnamese chops were exactly the dish I was planning to make. But I'll try the Mongolian first.

                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                    Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops, p.86

                                                                    So delicious - just as Joan described. We cooked ours outdoors on a (gas) grill but I can see myself searing these in my cast-iron pan as well and having them turn out just as tasty. The marinade really is wonderful; however, I'm never as meticulous as Ms. Pawlcyn when measuring certain ingredients and in this case I was more generous with the garlic, ginger and black bean sauce.

                                                                    I accompanied the chops with the Chinese Mustard Sauce, and after noting the amount of sugar in the recipe (thanks, Joan!) mixed only a scant 3T with the dry mustard powder. This adjustment, along with folding in only about 3-4 T. of creme fraiche, preserved that nice "bite" , and it turned out to be a nice complement to the flavors in the marinade. My finished sauce did end up with a few tiny lumps-sifting the mustard powder could have remedied this, I suppose, but they were hardly noticeable. I also whisked the mixture constantly while it was on the heat (due to the egg) and it did thicken in only about 10-15 minutes. This turned out to be quite a tasty mustard sauce which could also work as a nice condiment for spring rolls, etc., by eliminating the cream entirely.

                                                                    1. re: lesliej

                                                                      Looks great, lesliej. And thanks for the tips on the mustard sauce. Adding your notes to my copy of the recipe right now.

                                                                      1. re: lesliej

                                                                        A question for you or Joan: is chili bean paste or hot bean paste the same thing? what brand of chili black bean sauce did you use?

                                                                        1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                          I think they are the same thing, but I used the alternate hot garlic sauce just because it was the first jar I came across as I was rummaging through the back shelves of my refrigerator. ;-)

                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                            I found "Chili Black Bean Sauce" by Lee Kum Kee at my Asian market, but it was surrounded by many types of similar sauces (garlic chile black bean sauce, black bean chile sauce, etc. etc) . It's rather chunky rather than smooth, as the chiles & beans, I suppose, are kind of minced in the oil. But any kind of hot chile sauce would definitely work - I found myself adding more anyway, as 3/4 tsp. didn't really register.

                                                                        2. re: JoanN

                                                                          Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops, p. 86

                                                                          Another thumbs up for these delectable chops.

                                                                          As I put together the marinade, I knew we couldn't go wrong. After the 24-hour bath, DH grilled these perfectly, for just a few minutes until they were lightly charred on both sides and medium rare. We had these with the "Burma" long bean salad and another salad of avocado, tomato, and onion.

                                                                          Yes, I can think of a slew of things this marinade would make delicious. And I'm glad to have some use for all these jarred and bottled sauces hanging out in my fridge (in the recesses of which I did find a jar of LKK Chili Black Bean Sauce--thanks JoanN and lesliej for your responses).

                                                                          I made the mustard sauce, but we decided we didn't really need it. (It will be good, though, with my neighbor's egg rolls, which I'll now be tempted to liberate from my freezer.)

                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                            Gorgeous looking platter of meat. I barely finished the leftovers and now I want to make it again. Really (really!) wish I had a grill.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              Joan, the deck in NH is available anytime you need a Webber (charcoal) grill.

                                                                              1. re: qianning

                                                                                My favorite state in the union. (UNH Wildcat here.) I'm on my way to go get my car.

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    Seriously. UNH. But won't tell you which year. ;-)

                                                                                    Haven't been up that way in six or seven years and miss it something awful.

                                                                              2. re: JoanN

                                                                                Joan--I am so glad you recommended these. Although I had marked them, I never dreamed the marinade would be so delicious. I was afraid be sweeter than it is, but its complex layering of flavor--subtly smoky, barely sweet, muted heat--was perfect. This will be my new go-to BBQ sauce. Can't wait to try it on pork ribs.

                                                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                  I (actually Mr. QN) have the pork ribs tabbed--is it the same marinade?

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    Yes. The marinade is given in the recipe for Ken Hom's Pork Riblets and referenced in the recipe for the Mongolian chops. I'll bet it would be just great on ribs.

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      ribs now firmly on the grocery list....we'll see if they make it to the table before the end of the month....

                                                                                    2. re: qianning

                                                                                      The Mongolian marinade is also used in the mini duck burgers.

                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                        And That one is on my list, Caitlin... I better hurry up though, there's not much time left and I actually have a couple of others marked as well... the ribs for one.

                                                                                    3. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                      I was a bit concerned about the sweetness factor as well. Until I took my first bite.

                                                                                  2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                    What a beautiful plate of food! And the platter is pretty as well.

                                                                                  3. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Could someone post quantities for this marinade - sounds amazing!

                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                      I don't have a copy of the book but found a version of the marinade here: http://mom.me/food/2699-ken-homs-pork...

                                                                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                                                                        Note that in the recipe Gretchen linked to it seems as though they're calling for whole scallions in the marinade. In the book, it's "1 to 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced."

                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                          Joan, I am separated from my book and wonder about on-line recipe that Gretchen posted. Could you have a quick look at quantities? Lots of 2 1/4 teaspoon of things which is kind of weird, isn't it? Why not 1 tablespoon?


                                                                                          1. re: herby

                                                                                            I checked the link when Gretchen first posted it and all ingredients and quantities, except for that oddity on the scallions, were as they are in the book. And, yes, there's one 2-1/4 teaspoon measurement after the other. I guess he figured 3 teaspoons of each threw off the balance? Whatever, I used the measurements he gave and wouldn't change a thing.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              I was going to round them up: 3/4t to 1t and 21/4 t to 2 and a bit or 1T. I do not even know how to accurately measure 3/4t ... Oh, well. Will do my best since you say it is worth it :)

                                                                                        2. re: GretchenS

                                                                                          Thanks to everyone for bringing these to my attention. We've been trying to eat less red meat, but we're treating ourselves to lamb chops tomorrow. I just made this marinade for our little choppies and looking forward to some grilled lamb tomorrow.

                                                                                          I must admit to being loosey goosey with the measurements, a scant Tbsp for all the 2 1/4 tsp, plus I used both Chili Garlic sauce (a vietnamese product) and Black Bean Sauce with Garlic in small amounts, since I think neither of them is exactly right. I guess I am testing the resiliency of this marinade. Tastes pretty good, nonetheless. Will report back on the finished product.

                                                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                                                        Wow, those look positively sinful. I'm going to have to re-request the book from the library.

                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                          Joan, these look great. Just curious, what grill pan do you use? You have some great grill marks there!

                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                            Just a regular, old, round, cast-iron grill pan. Mine happens to be a Wagner. I knew the chops would have to cook quickly if I wanted them no more than medium rare, so I preheated the pan over a high gas flame for at least five minutes, maybe even seven or eight, before plopping the chops in. Other than that, I did nothing special to enhance the aesthetics. The grill marks happened naturally.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              Thanks, I don't actually have a grill pan but have contemplated getting one from time to time (don't have a grill either), but I'm never sure what exactly to buy or if I really need this item. On another subject, I picked up my new bottle of Kimlan soy sauce yesterday, thanks for the rec!

                                                                                              1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                Must say I don't use my CI grill pan with anywhere near the frequency I use my other CI skillets, at least in part because until it's fully seasoned (which took me a lot longer than with any of my other iron or steel skillets or woks) it's a pain in the neck to clean. The real advantage, other than pretty grill marks, is that it hold the food above the floor of the skillet so the food is really being grilled rather than fried in it's own fat. On the other hand, although you get nice grill marks, you can't really sear so you don't get the overall caramelization with the grill pan that you do with a skillet so, for instance, I prefer to cook a steak in the skillet rather than the grill pan.

                                                                                                Short form of that dissertation? You don't really need one, but they can be fun to have on occasion.

                                                                                                Hope you like the Kimlan. Still haven't tried the Kimlan dark yet.

                                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                                            Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops, p. 86

                                                                                            Long day and didn't get home until late, fortunately we had the rib chops in the fridge. What a delicious dinner that was ready in no time.Thanks to JoanN and everyone else that highlighted this recipe. I look forward to trying the marinade with chicken, eggplant, etc.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops (page 86)

                                                                                              Add me to the list of admirers of this dish. Even with loose measurements, these were fabulous. Grilled over charcoal and served with rice and a lettuce/avocado salad with a carrot-ginger dressing, this made for a fabulous meal. The crisp and fresh salad was a perfect complement to the smokey, rich, slightly sweet meat.

                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops, page 86.

                                                                                                My turn with these lovely chops. Our town finally has a butcher! And he supplied us with wonderful chops from Oregon lambs. The techniques and ingredients are all well described in posts above. I used a blend of chile-garlic sauce and chopped fermented black beans in the marinade, everything else as written. I also made the mustard sauce as written, even though it seemed to call for a lot of sugar.

                                                                                                Great dish, great marinade. Definitely many flavor notes in the finished product, and they all work well together. I think I'll use the marinade next on a pork tenderloin.

                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                  Mongolian Barbecued Lamb Chops, page 86

                                                                                                  I was at a cottage last week with my family and brought a few Costco racks of lamb with an intention to finally make these chops. I had everything but cilantro, Tabasco and white pepper. No measuring spoons and so no 1/4t and even full teaspoon measurements were loose. Regardless, these were voted the best chops ever and now have to replace my usual lamb chops at my daughters annual BBQ for 100+ people! Mind you, my usual chops (simply marinated with rosemary, garlic and olive oil and grilled) are very popular and people expect them to be there every year. Not sure what I got myself into and how well marinate will quadruple...

                                                                                                  Thank you JoanN and others for highlighting this recipe - I would not have noticed it without you!

                                                                                                  Very curious to try the marinade with eggplant. If anyone has made it, please share your experience.

                                                                                                2. Hard-Boiled Eggs with Best Ever Tapenade, p. 33

                                                                                                  Well, my tapenade might be the Second Best (or Third) because I didn't use Empeltre olives, and I served it with bruschetta, not eggs, but it was still very good! And also quite fresh-tasting, due to the fact that I've only had jarred tapenade so making it from scratch really allows the taste of the olives to shine through. I used a combination of Cerignola black olives and Castelvetrano green olives (hence the "calico" look) from Whole Foods. Each were fairly mild and buttery, and not briny, so they didn't need rinsing. I really loved the taste of orange zest and ended up using the entire orange, and also used more olive oil as it did seem a bit dry (Kirkland's Toscano worked very well). Another taste-as-you-go recipe which I enjoyed; I may even seek out the Empeltre olives just for curiosity's sake someday.

                                                                                                  1. Summer King Salmon Kebabs - p .66

                                                                                                    We received some beautiful King salmon in our fish box this week, so I decided to give this recipe a shot. Compared to some recipes in this book, this one's quick and easy. A champagne vinaigrette is made with champagne vinegar, olive oil, and chopped dill and used to dress mizuna (or arugula which I used and she suggests as an alternative). Sesame seeds and mustard seeds are toasted. She recommends a mixture of yellow and brown mustard seeds, but I only had yellow, so that's what I used. Half of the seeds are ground and half are reserved for garnish. Salmon is then smeared with Dijon and coated with the ground seeds. The salmon can be cooked on the grill or in a cast iron pan. I opted for the pan. The salmon is served atop the greens, drizzled with a little extra vinaigrette and garnished with the remaining seeds. It was a nice, light, summery dish.

                                                                                                    1. Buckwheat Blini with Caviar, page 68.

                                                                                                      We had a celebratory dinner last night, and I thought this would be the perfect kick-off.

                                                                                                      I messed up the first batch of blini (actually, I'm going to lay that at the feet of the airline baggage handler that ransacked my suitcase and stole my Rx glasses along with all my electrical gadgets) with the wrong amount of flour, and they came out like lumps! Not the fault of the recipe. The redo came out fine. The blini contain buckwheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, an egg, buttermilk, beer, and melted butter. (And I bet you could make these with all buckwheat if gluten was a concern.) They're cooked in a brush of butter, then topped with chopped shallots, crème fraîche (or sour cream in my case), and caviar. I did some with caviar and (and, as I had the teensiest amount of caviar) some with smoked salmon. Then a few chives and black pepper are sprinkled on.

                                                                                                      Quite lovely. Mr. NS is now enamored of buckwheat blini, and wants to try them with different toppings. Pawlcyn has several ideas about that. I tried one for a lunchtime nibble, with bacon and tomato on a blin (is that the singular of blini?), and it was very nice indeed!

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                        Now that is a gorgeous looking tidbit! Congrats on the food, and etc.

                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                          So sorry you experienced such rampant theft, LN. The blini looks wonderful. I do love caviar and blini. The buckwheat flour must have given the blini a richer, nuttier flavor?

                                                                                                          BTW: Blini is singular - the plural is blini or blinis.

                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                            Actually, in Russian blin is singular and blini - plural :)