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Cookbook of the Month July 2013 BIG SMALL PLATES: Chapters 5&6

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 5 and 6 of the book. They are:

Knife and Fork, p246
Something Sweet, p314

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. Spicy Lamb Burger served with Tamarind Vinaigrette, p. 232-33

    Another winner. Really great flavors going on here. My only complaint is that the burgers tended to fall apart so I had to cook them in a pan instead of on the grill. Next time I will double the meat ratio. I think increasing the meat ratio may help with the burgers staying together. The recipe only calls for 1 lb. of meat and this is scarcely enough to make 4 good size burgers. I opted to make these full size instead of as sliders.

    This vinaigrette is intended to top the salad/lamb burger. Like most vinaigrette recipes, it makes way too much so you will have plenty left over. I really enjoyed this with the lamb. I used the left overs to dress cabbage I served with my chipotle brisket soft tacos (Smitten Kitchen). This evocative dressings coaxes out the flavors in both the meat and the leafy greens and you end up with something really special. Both are really solid recipes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dkennedy

      DK, did you use already ground lamb or did you grind your own? I have a large leg and looking for ways to use it in different dishes. Might be too lean for burgers, though.

      1. re: herby

        I bought it ground from a fabulous butcher we have here in town, Lindy and Grundy.

    2. Grilled Scallops Amandine, p. 274

      This is a wonderful recipe which takes the simple almond garnish and elevates it using a luscous combination of zesty and savory flavors. Scallops are grilled with a citrus glaze, then topped with a mixture of toasted almonds and roasted shallots.

      The orange glaze and amandine sauce are easy to put together and each could be made ahead and rewarmed, making this a nice recipe for entertaining. When making the orange glaze, don't be afraid of the heat (I used a dried red chile, including the seeds) because it does a nice job of balancing out the richness of the sauce. I didn't have mirin, so I substituted dry sherry, and I was probably generous with the fresh ginger.

      The sauce (which is actually a "topping" due to the small amount of liquid used) consists of sauteed scallions and shallots, to which toasted sliced almonds are added. I did roast my shallots beforehand, then caramelized them a bit more when sauteing with the scallions (keep the heat closer to medium - I started out at med-high but the scallions cooked too fast). Toasted almonds are then added, along with a few tablespoons of the glaze.

      The glaze is brushed onto the scallops before grilling but I'm now thinking the seafood (which could be swordfish, halibut, etc.) could marinate in a bit of the glaze for awhile to infuse the pieces with even more citrus flavor.

      I served this as our main course, using four scallops per serving, over jasmine rice. ( I threaded two scallops on each bamboo stick). Two scallops would work nicely as a first course, as well as among a selection of small plates. The finished dish, in addition to being delicious, is also very pretty!

      3 Replies
      1. re: lesliej


        Question: you roasted the scallops ahead of time--for how long? And do they hold up well that way, to be seared/caramelized at the last minute?

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          Thank you, nomad! It took about 30 minutes for my fairly large shallots to soften and for their skins to become a little charred. I let them cool for a few minutes before peeling and slicing, then let them sit on the counter for at least an hour (probably closer to two) while I did other things. They still caramelized further when adding them to the scallions (you could saute them longer than a minute, which the recipe states). I would think they could easily be roasted a day ahead and refrigerated, whole, then peeled and sliced just before adding to the sauce.

        2. re: lesliej

          This scallop dish looks heavenly; I think I'm going to have to buy more scallops! Such an appetizing photo.

        3. Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Chantilly Cream and Berries, p 344.

          This is a simple dessert and very nice for anyone who likes tart lemon desserts. I skipped the Chantilly cream and just served mine with some fresh berries. The cream would probably balance out the tartness a bit, but since I like all things lemon I didn't miss it. There is one mistake in the recipe. You need to butter the ramekins.

          When I saw this recipe in the book, I thought it looked similar to one that I had made before. I have a cookbook that I really like called "The Secrets of Success Cookbook: Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco's Best Restaurants". Everything I have made from this book has been a winner. It turns out this book has the exact same recipe without the Chantilly cream and fruit listed as "baked lemon pudding" from the Buckeye Roadhouse and attributed to Cindy Pawlcyn. Two key differences are that they butter the dish and they bake it in a 1.5 quart casserole for 50 minutes rather than in individual ramekins.

          2 Replies
          1. re: stockholm28

            Thanks for the tip about buttering the ramekins; this looks like the perfect dessert. I'm also a lemon lover and would be more than happy w/just berries as an accompaniment.

            1. re: stockholm28

              Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake with Berries, p 344

              I love lemon desserts, love lemon pudding cake, lemon soufflé, etc. so I decided to jump off the low-carb wagon last night and make this in individual custard cups (6).

              It's pretty simple: whisk 2/3 c sugar and ½ c flour in a bowl; add lemon zest (I could only get about 1 ½ T from my lemons, rather than the 2 stipulated), ½ c lemon juice, 1 ½ c buttermilk. In another bowl, whisk 3 egg yolks with melted butter (4 T), and then whisk it into the buttermilk mixture. Whip 3 egg whites, gradually adding ¼ c sugar, to soft peaks and then fold that into the rest. Pour into prepared (buttered) dishes set into a water bath, and bake at 350F “until slightly brown and beginning to crack.” By the time that happened, I had overcooked them slightly, and they weren’t very “jiggly.” But they were still quite good.

              I heated some of the last of our local blueberries with a little sugar and lemon juice and spooned them over the plated cakes. I didn’t make the Chantilly cream, but my husband probably would have liked some to balance out the tartness. I personally am good with tart.

            2. Grilled Goat Cheese-Stuffed Gypsy Peppers with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette - p. 304

              These were a winner. I served these with the chile relish burgers and these stole the show. They're a great mix of salty cheese with a little bit of sweetness from the golden raisins and cherry tomatoes. The Mr. is not a fan of raw tomatoes at all and even he appreciated them in this dish.

              To start with, the gypsy peppers are treated like pumpkins with stems and seeds removed. The peppers are then blanched, shocked, and drained for stuffing.

              The stuffing is made by beating cream cheese and slowly adding crumbled feta. Cooked rice, golden raisins, and chopped mint is then added. I had 4 peppers instead of 6 and accidentally cut the stuffing amount in half. Half the amount of stuffing just barely fit in 2/3 the amount of peppers, so you might consider scaling back slightly. One other quibble with this step is it would've been very convenient to have weight on the cheese amounts instead of just volume. The stuffing is rolled into logs and stuffed into the peppers. The tops are placed back on. I was a bit concerned that I had cracked one of the pepper down the side, but luckily it didn't cause too many issues while grilling.

              A vinaigrette is then made mixing halved cherry tomatoes, minced basil, and minced parsley with rice vinegar, lemon juice, s&p, and olive oil.

              The peppers are grilled until caramelized on all sides and served with vinaigrette on top along with toasted sliced almonds (I used chopped whole) and a drizzle of creme fraiche.

              These were very good, came together fairly easily, and made good use of summer produce. It is a lot of cheese per serving and I'm glad I accidentally scaled back on the stuffing. I was surprised by how much the texture of the rice and raisins disappear into the dish. The Mr. didn't even realize there were raisins in the dish while eating and thought all of the sweetness was coming from the tomatoes. I'll be making this one again.

              2 Replies
              1. re: TxnInMtl

                What are gypsy peppers - I've never heard of them?

                The dish sounds good!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  I'd never seen them before moving to the Bay Area. They're sweet peppers and just a bit smaller than small bell peppers with thin skins. Pawlcyn recommends canned piquillo peppers as a substitute (cooked in the oven instead). Small bell peppers seem like they should work as well.

              2. Glazed Scallops with Almond-Caper Butter Sauce, page 273.

                Last night I was torn between several scallop recipes in the book, ended up with this one because I had the ingredients (well, except that I had slivered almonds instead of sliced).

                The glaze was made of Madeira, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and fresh ginger. I know it sounds odd. CP even admits it's weird. But it works. The scallops are generously basted with the glaze as they grill.

                Before the scallops go on the grill, the sauce is made with butter, shallots, capers, almonds (I accidentally threw in too many, as you can see in the photo), black pepper, and parsley. The scallops grill up quickly, then are topped with the sauce.

                I served this as a main course, with three scallops per person. It was quick and easy enough to pull together after work, pretty and tasty enough for a dinner party.

                3 Replies
                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  Ooh, those look utterly fabulous! I'm salivating just a bit....

                  1. re: Allegra_K

                    Thanks Allegra! We definitely enjoyed them.

                  2. re: L.Nightshade

                    Glazed Scallops with Almond-Caper Butter Sauce, p. 273

                    L.Nightshade's review and photo enticed me to make this dish. I was intrigued by her comment that "even CP admits [the sauce ingredients] are weird. But it works."
                    And indeed it did. The glaze has a savory Asian flavor, and the sauce itself is pleasantly crunchy with the almonds. The butter, capers, shallots, and chopped parsley go very nicely when spread over the final dish. All my guests liked it, including the two children. Well, the kids eschewed the sauce, but the glaze itself was appreciated!

                    I made it as advertised with two changes: first of all, I was caught without any Madeira, so I subbed some dry sherry as recommended on the Internet. Second of all, I did not use a grill, since we do not have one, but rather seared the scallops in a hot frying pan as recommended in such a case. Pawlcyn had warned that the glaze might smoke in a hot pan with too liberal a hand, so I restricted my usage there but did make some extra glaze available at serving time. It really does go well with the butter-caper-almond sauce!

                    All-in-all, a very nice dish. I served it as an entrée with rice.

                  3. Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Crabs with Ginger-Garlic Butter, p. 270

                    After spotting soft shells as the FM, I had to buy a few since I haven't had my fix this summer. I fried them per CP's instructions--after a quick soak in buttermilk followed by a dredge in 50-50 mix of flour and cornmeal (with cayenne and black pepper and salt), the armor-less crustaceans are quickly deep-fried (peanut oil, in this case) and then doused with a "sauce" of melted butter, julienned ginger, sliced garlic, chopped parsley and chives. I forgot about the basil, but spritzed everything with fresh lemon. I liked these pretty well, but found the crabs a tad too crunchy, from the cornmeal, for this type of sauce. Just personal preference, but with crunchy seafood, I want tartar or remoulade sauce. (DH wasn't crazy about this at all, but he starts w/ a prejudice against soft shells--and he's definitely in the tartar sauce camp with fried seafood.)

                    I think I'll try this again with grilled crabs. I also think the buttery garlic-ginger topping would be excellent on grilled or broiled shrimp or lobster--or fin fish.

                    1. Crêpes "Croque-Monsieur" with Horseradish-Mustard Cream, p. 261

                      What a deliciously decadent dish! And a surprisingly easy one, too.

                      Although I rarely do anything very elaborate for breakfast around here, I'd been eyeing this recipe so I asked my mom to come over for "brunch." I made crêpe batter (1/3 c corn flour, 2/3 c AP flour, 1 T sugar, ½ tsp salt, 3 lg. eggs, 1 ½ c milk (I used 2%), 1 T melted butter) as soon as I got up and let it rest for a few hours before making the crêpes. I've only done this a few times, and I'd forgotten how really easy crêpes are. As always seems the case, the first one failed, but I quickly got the hang of it and ended up with a nice stack.

                      I put a half-slice of Black Forest ham and a little mound of grated gruyere on each crêpe and folded them over and put two each into individual gratin dishes. The sauce (1 ½ c cream, 3 T Dijon, 1 ½ T horseradish, simply whisked until smooth) is poured over the crêpes, and a bit more grated cheese is sprinkled on top. Into a 375F oven until the crêpes are bubbly and lightly browned on top; this took about 15 minutes in my oven. Just before serving, I gave each plate a few grinds of pepper and a sprinkle of chives.

                      This with a fruit salad of peaches, blueberries, cherries, chopped mint (and some finger lime "bubbles") and we were all transported to some heavenly state. Oh, and did I mention mimosas?

                      These were soooo good. Mom ate every bite, and DH said, "you can make these for dinner anytime"--and then suggested trying a "Madame" version, with an egg. I'll definitely grant that wish . . . in the interest of marital bliss.

                      I'm grateful to this recipe (I think!) for re-introducing me to crêpes, for which there are infinite possibilities . This was one that worked for us.

                      Pre- and post-oven pics:

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        Crêpes "Croque-Monsieur" with Horseradish-Mustard Cream, p. 261
                        Ah! I was just coming here to post on these, and here they are! I won't go into any more detail as nomadchowwoman does such an excellent job above. We had these as dinner, but I think they'd make an excellent brunch. I folded them in quarters to bake in small rectangular pans. (My first crepe failed too, I think that's the norm. The rest came out beautifully.) Tomato salad on the side (from Fog City Diner), and it made for a lovely summer dinner. I had a pastis while cooking, and felt quite transported.

                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            Thanks ncw; I was thinking the same about yours! And those gratin dishes are perfect for this.

                            I had some of the sauce left over. I used it today for lunch, on some sliced beef. Delicious!

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              That's exactly what I was thinking for the leftover sauce!

                      2. Oysters Pablo, pg. 278

                        Generally half shell quality oyster get the less is more treatment around here--maybe a pinch of wasabi or a light grating of fresh horseradish, no more. But for some crazy reason Mr. QN was intrigued by this mish-mash of a recipe, and I figured what the heck it might be naughty and irresistible in the way say of an oyster poorboy.

                        Ultimately we gave it an "8 out of 10"; and I think with home-made mayo and a better grade of cheese (strictly supermarket this time around) it could be bopped up to 9 out of 10 and become very company worthy.

                        A few points on the recipe & execution. 1) I made an exact 1/4 proportion of the mayo and the spinach, after filling 12 oysters there was still some left over. 2) Even using a broiler at the end they never got too brown, but better moist than brown so I pulled them at 7-8 minutes total cooking time. 3) I completely forgot to add the chipolte to the spinach, and by the time I'd realized my mistake was halfway done with the filling, so we had some with chili, and some w/o. I slightly preferred the ones with chipolte, Mr. QN strongly preferred the ones without.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: qianning

                          My son loves baked oysters - I'll try making these for him over the holidays. Thanks for the advice regarding the cheese & mayo.

                        2. Salmon Cakes with Corn-Mushroom (and) Piquillo Pepper Sauce(s), p.284

                          I had to fiddle with the punctuation in the recipe name, because the way it's rendered in the book is so strange, with an em-dash between Corn-Mushroom and Piquillo, and Sauce, singular, when in fact, it's two distinct sauces. That's probably just me. Anyway, this is another multi-part dish that involves several pots and pans, but some of it can definitely be prepped ahead of time. A good candidate if you have an herb garden, too!

                          First, the piquillo pepper sauce, which I made a day ahead. It begins with a sauté of shallots, garlic, bay leaves, and sprigs of fresh oregano and tarragon. Dry sherry is added and reduced, then cayenne, stock*, and chopped piquillos go in and it's simmered for a bit. At this point, I departed from the instructions, which are to cool, puree in a blender, strain, and cook till a bit thickened. Instead, I opted to buzz with an immersion blender until smooth and leave it at that. *The ingredients list clam juice, vegetable, or chicken stock as choices, but since in the head note she says it's best made with fish stock, I opted for homemade shrimp stock.

                          Next, the corn-mushroom sauce (which is more of a juicy sauté than something with sauce consistency). Sliced mushrooms are sautéed (she calls for chanterelle or porcini, which would be lovely, but finances dictated cremini), along with minced shallot and Fresno chile (jalapeño), then corn kernels cut from the cobs and white wine, butter, and chopped chives to finish.

                          Then, the salmon cakes themselves. These are made from sautéed minced fennel bulb or celery (celery), scallions, dill, grated fresh ginger, some mashed potato, and cooked salmon (I sautéed a skinless sockeye salmon fillet the day before). With only the called-for 1/2 cup mashed potato as a binder I just didn't see this holding together once I'd mixed it up, so I added an egg yolk, and that did the trick. The cakes are sautéed a few minutes per side to brown; meanwhile, the two sauces are reheated. The cakes are served atop the piquillo sauce, with the corn-mushroom mixture spooned over them.

                          This all came together in a quite wonderful and delicious way. The salmon cakes themselves were very nice, with the other ingredients enhancing the fish's flavor while letting it shine. I wasn't sure how the ginger fit in there, and it wasn't readily discernible, but possibly added some complexity. The piquillo sauce was piquant and savory, while the corn-mushroom sauce was fresh and light, with a bit of earthiness from the mushrooms, and both married well with the salmon.

                          There was a lot of both sauces (seems to be a theme from the reports this month), but all the corn-mushroom was eaten up at dinner, and I froze the remaining piquillo sauce, which I'll probably use somehow with shrimp at a later date.

                          TL;DR: A bit of a production, though several parts can be done ahead, with delicious results. Well worth making during corn season, even more so if you've got fresh chanterelles hanging around, I'd say.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Thanks for the great write-up. I don't know how I missed this dish, but it's on my radar now!