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COTM August 2013 MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST: Breads, Pizza & Panini; Sauces Dressings & Condiments; Starters, Snacks, Meze & More

Welcome to Cookbook of the Month for August 2013, which is MEDITERRANEAN HARVEST by Martha Rose Shulman.

This is the reporting thread for the following chapters:

Breads, Pizza and Panini
Sauces, Dressings and Condiments
Little Foods: Starters, Snacks, Meze and More

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.

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  1. Roasted Eggplant Salad with Feta and Green Peppers (page 109)

    The recipe calls for the flesh of about 2 medium roasted eggplants; lemon juice; an optional pinch of cayenne (I opted); s&p; red onion and green pepper (I had a yellow one), both finely chopped; a seeded, chopped tomato; one or two minced or pressed garlic cloves; and about three ounces crumbled feta. Mix together and serve.

    I made half a recipe using only about 1/3 the amount of Asian eggplant because that’s what I had and the full amount of feta because I adore feta. The feta, by the way, was Dodoni, a Greek import via Costco; not as crumbly or salty as many, but an outstanding feta. Hope it’s something they keep in stock. And I cut back on the olive oil and suspect I could have cut back even further.

    Half of the half was dinner for me one of those steamy, stultifying nights of a few weeks back and I enjoyed it very much. Even though the red onion is soaked in cold water and rinsed, it was still a little harsh; but that was a problem with the onion, not with the recipe. Very nice and unusual take on a Greek salad.

     
    5 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      This sounds excellent Joan. Like you, we love Feta and I'm wondering if we have the Dodoni brand at our Canadian Costco stores. Pity I didn't see your post earlier as we were there last night. I have some lamb chops on the menu this weekend so this salad would be a lovely accompaniment. We're heading to a farm market tomorrow so I'll keep my fingers crossed they have eggplant. Thanks for your review.

      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        This is the Greek feta that I buy as well. Generally, I purchase it at Costco, though they no longer carry it at my nearest one. I like this feta enough to drive even farther once a month to get a box. If your local Costco doesn't sell it, the info desk is always willing to help you locate an item nearby [if there is a nearby.]

      2. re: JoanN

        ROASTED (GRILLED) EGGPLANT SALAD WITH FETA AND GREEN PEPPERS

        p. 109 – Big thanks to Joan for highlighting this recipe. Also, Joan’s comment about the harshness of the onion flavour inspired me to opt for an alternate preparation. Instead of roasting the eggplant and using raw peppers and onions, I decided to grill all the veggies. mr bc isn’t a big fan of eggplant and in particular he dislikes its “mushy” texture (his words). My thinking was that grilling the eggplant would allow some of the moisture to evaporate and alter the texture of the veggie. I’m happy to report that this worked. Not only did mr bc like this salad, he loved it. He said it was one of his favourite non-lettuce salads ever! I’m not a fan of green bell peppers so I opted to use Italian frying peppers instead. I did use the raw garlic in the dressing.

        I’m happy to report that the dish is just as delicious the next day and we’ve been enjoying it for our workday lunches as it travels well and is good cold or at room temp.

        This is exactly why I love the COTM’s, I’d never have found this recipe, let alone make it if not for our little community here!!

        I served this with grilled fennel-rubbed lamb chops.

         
         
         
         
         
        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          What a GREAT idea to grill the veggies. Wish I could do that. Almost surprising how well the leftovers hold up, isn't it?

          1. re: JoanN

            You're right Joan, I'm amazed at how well this holds up. Undoubtedly I'll be making this all summer. It's a perfect dish for entertaining as well.

      3. Spicy Beet Salad, Pg. 95

        This is a Tunisian version of vinegared beets but includes harissa and minced garlic which makes up the spiciness of the finished salad. It's really quite simple. I used 3 beets I had roasted 2 days before and increased the amounts of garlic and harissa a tad. The roasted beets are diced then mixed with a dressing of the following ingredients: chopped scallions, garlic, harissa, parsley, red wine vinegar, olive oil, S & P. There it is. Pungent, spicy indeed, and punctuated the tasty turkey burger we made with a recipe from Julie Buiso's Never-ending Summer.

        12 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Lovely Gio, this sounds delicious and you know, like Joan's dish above, I'd bet this would be nice with my grilled lamb. Adding beets to the list with thanks!

          Not wanting to get too far OT but how are you enjoying JB's book?

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            We've liked everything so far. Made the ricotta and grilled peaches on thick sliced raisin bread and was quite surprised at how delectably tasty it was. I have to decide which book/or books I'll use this month to augment the Med. Harvest vegetables... I think one wall be the Buiso book.

            1. re: Gio

              Gio, what page is the ricotta and grilled peaches on?

              1. re: dkennedy

                DK... I'll have to tell you in the AM. The books and my computer are on two different floors... and I only go up and down once each day.

              2. re: Gio

                Oh my Gio, that grilled peach dish sounds sumptuous! I'm glad the book is working well for you.

            2. re: Gio

              This was on my to-try list. Sounds good. And I like the idea of accompanying turkey burgers. Will pick up beets and ground turkey at the farmer's market tomorrow and duplicate your dinner casa Joan.

              1. re: JoanN

                That turkey burger was originally "Best-ever steak and tomato sandwich with aïoli." The recipe includes sliced sirloin steak (grnd turkey w cheddar cheese slice), tomatoes (coated w panko & fried), lemons (omitted), caster sugar, aioli, tomato chutney (salsa), iceberg lettuce (romaine), sliced gherkins, arugula, sourdough. Lordy were they delicious!

                1. re: Gio

                  Oh, yes. I remember you mentioned that burger somewhere. I found a copy of it online and it seems to be the same recipe, but in the one I found the tomatoes are not coated with panko. Was that your innovation or is this recipe slightly different from the one in the book?

                  http://foodie.federationmedia.com/Rec...

                  1. re: JoanN

                    That's the exact recipe, Joan. I was worried that the raw tomato slice would not taste good with the salsa I used which was Green Mt. Gringo medium hot so I pressed the slices into panko and shallow fried them in an old Farberware fry pan. G cooked the burgers in the same pan which enhanced the dark meat turkey. This worked well and added to the general decadence.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Thanks, Gio. Headed off to EYB to see if there are any tomato chutney recipes that inspire me.

              2. re: Gio

                Spicy Beet Salad, p. 95

                I had a North African-inspired chicken dish on the menu, and one of those vacuum-packed packets of steamed, peeled beets from Trader Joe's in the fridge (my occasional lazy-woman's solution to having something easy on hand), along with the other ingredients, so this salad was the obvious answer. I used her alternative of sherry vinegar, and after assessing the volume of my ingredients, used 1 T vinegar and 2 T olive oil (instead of 1 1/2 T and 1/4 cup), all else more or less as written. Delicious, tangy, and a bit spicy.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  >> one of those vacuum-packed packets of steamed, peeled beets from Trader Joe's <<

                  What a genius idea! I so wish we had TJ's in Canada.

                  Thanks for the reminder about this dish Caitlin, we still don't have fresh beets at the market but I mustn't forget this dish. I really enjoy the earthy, spiciness of harissa an expect it pairs perfectly w beets.

              3. Deep-Fried Cauliflower

                I wanted to try this recipe because the cauliflower isn't battered, but I think steaming the florets prior to frying might be the way to go (rather than parboiling) as in the end, even though the pieces browned well and looked attractive, they were soggy. Or maybe I just parboiled them a bit too long (?). Anyway, It's a simple enough snack to prepare - the head of cauliflower is broken into florets, parboiled, then deep-fried. Tahini-Garlic Sauce (my choice, which was also easy to put together) or Parsley Sauce are the suggested dipping sauces. I'll probably try it again, (using the steaming method) to see if I can get that crispy exterior/tender interior that I was hoping for.

                 
                4 Replies
                1. re: lesliej

                  Fried cauliflower was one of my favorite foods when I was kid. I always used to ask my mother to make if for me. I'll never forget coming home late from school one day because I had band practice. My family was at the dinner table and I was informed they'd finished all the fried cauliflower as a lesson to me never to be late for dinner again. When I told them where I'd been, they were totally abashed and after that I could get fried cauliflower whenever I wanted it.

                  I'm not sure, but I think my mother did steam the cauliflower first. Whatever she did, it definitely was not soggy.

                  The Tahini-Garlic sauce sounds like a perfect accompaniment. The minute I get back to frying again, this will be first on my list.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Thanks for sharing that great story, Joan (especially since both my kids ended up becoming musicians!). I'll make sure to report back when I (hopefully) have better results.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      There's a little restaurant in Turkey we go to which does the best fried cauliflower. I don't know how they do it but it's so delicious I could eat it every night.

                    2. re: lesliej

                      Deep-Fried Cauliflower, p. 101 (revisited)

                      Much better results steaming the florets for about 2 minutes rather than the parboil/ice bath method...the pieces don't need more than a dab from a paper towel prior to frying and the whole process is faster. I also didn't use that much oil this time around - I filled my 3 1/2 qt. heavy saucepan with about 2" of oil and that was fine for generous handfuls of florets. With the oil temp at 375 they were a deep golden brown within three minutes. Slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. Just for the heck of it I fried some raw florets, and they were done in the same amount of time, but to me they weren't as flavorful as those which were steamed. A sprinkling of salt and a dusting of cumin powder this time around, rather than a sauce, was a nice finish to these tasty bites.

                    3. Beet and Yoghurt Salad, p 94

                      I love Turkish salads with yoghurt and this is a great rendition.

                      Roast your beetroot in a tightly covered casserole or pan with a quarter of an inch of water. Mine were small so they took maybe half an hour. When cooled,peel and slice and marinate in olive oil, sherry vinegar, sugar and seasoning for 3 hours at room temp or in the fridge. I left mine overnight.

                      When ready to eat, crush two cloves of garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar. Combine with half a cup of strained yoghurt - I used Turkish yoghurt instead,which is similar to Greek. The recipe then says to drain the beets and add a little of the marinade to the yoghurt to taste (I found the beets had absorbed quite a lot so I didn't bother draining the beets). I just combined the yoghurt and beets, to make a beautiful pink streaked salad which was just delicious, with nice acidity from the vinegar. Actually the marinated beets on their own were also good. I love beetroot so can see me making this often when I can get nice ones from the farmer's market. I also liked the method of roasting the beets with a little water. I used my Le Creuset and it worked well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: greedygirl

                        Just popping back to say this held up very well in the fridge. I had the leftovers for dinner and they were delicious.

                      2. Grilled Eggplant w/ Hot Red Pepper Flakes, pg. 108

                        A simple and tasty twist on the usual grilled eggplant. Mint doesn't appear in the dish's title, but it is at least as important to the flavor as the pepper flakes. Resting the eggplant off grill for 15 minutes after the seasoning has been added, really does improve the flavor. One note, I made a half batch using 1 lb very tender Asian eggplant, and found that the recipe called for way too much olive oil for us, in total 1~1.5 TBS, was more than enough rather than the 3(!) in Shulman's recipe.

                         
                        8 Replies
                        1. re: qianning

                          [Roasted] Eggplant w/ Hot Red Pepper Flakes, p. 108

                          I elected to make this last night based on the fact that it looked like one of the simplest eggplant recipes in the book! I had two largish Italian eggplants that I sliced into rounds. Lacking a grill, I roasted them in a hot oven. My eggplant slices looked a bit dry coming out of the oven, but after steaming in a covered dish with a bit of extra olive oil, these were downright luscious! I added a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt along with the chile pepper and mint. We really enjoyed these flavors with the eggplant. While I'm sure they would have been even better if grilled, it didn't take long for two pounds of eggplant to disappear with nary a trace. Good dish.

                          1. re: qianning

                            Grilled Eggplant with Hot Red Pepper Flakes, page 108.

                            Well, this is just the quickest, easiest eggplant dish ever. I had a regular eggplant, sliced it into rounds, brushed with olive oil and popped it on the grill. A couple minutes each side and they're done. These had a wonderful texture, I almost want to describe them as pancake-like. Agree with qianning, the mint makes a big difference, and I think it's funny that it's not in the title of the dish. Delicious! Leftovers for lunch today were not too bad either!

                             
                            1. re: qianning

                              Grilled Eggplant w/ Hot Red Pepper Flakes

                              I don't have the book, so I was guessing, using the reports here. And I guess I guessed correctly (and know the reporting was good), because these were phenomenal. Even my husband who generally will eat eggplant only if it's fried or in a parm prep, loved this.

                              I have tried this prep and failed so many times that I'd given up. (They were always either dried up, almost cardboard-ish or not cooked thoroughly but too done on he outside.)

                              But this time I sliced a lovely lavender-and-white striped eggplant into thin rounds, brushed those generously with OO and grilled them on the Weber, set at medium, for a couple of minutes per side. Perfect: nice grill marks on the outside and a creamy interior. And, yes, the mint makes all the difference. So good. Since mint grows like a weed in my little garden, I rushed out to get more eggplants so I can make these again.

                               
                              1. re: qianning

                                Grilled Eggplant with Hot Red Pepper Flakes - p. 108

                                I made this last night, using two small, white, Italian eggplants. I sliced lengthwise, and cooked on my Big Green Egg. I went pretty heavy on both the chile flakes and the mint. The covered resting time at the end was key. We thought this was good, but needed a bit of acid. A squeeze of lemon over the top did the trick and made this very simple dish even better.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Could you tell me about the covered resting time, please? I'm getting ready to prepare this again, and I don't want to skip this step if it makes it even better. Thanks.

                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    After you take it from the grill, and toss with olive oil, the recipe has you put the eggplant in a covered bowl for 15 minutes. The eggplant steams a bit and it keeps the outside from being dry.

                                  2. re: MelMM

                                    I like the lemon idea, will definitely have to try that.

                                2. Marinated Carrots, page 99

                                  This recipe is an odd choice as my first recipe from this book, but sometimes a donated CSA bunch of carrots happen. These carrots were small and thin. Just babies. I modified the preparation just a bit to account for their size.

                                  A pound of carrots are quartered and cut into 2-3" lengths. This is what I didn't do. Instead, I only cut the larger ones end-to-end once. The carrots are steamed until tender, 5-6 minutes. Mine took 9 minutes since I hadn't cut them to size.

                                  Once the carrots are cooked, refresh with cold water. At this point, the instructions say to toss in the dressing, but I dried the carrots first. The dressing is simple. Just some sherry vinegar, oil oil, salt, garlic, and chopped mint.

                                  As her header states, this is a cooked carrot dish for people who don't like cooked carrots. It was lovely. Light... a perfect dish to serve with dinner.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Marinated Carrots, page 99

                                    Ditto to everything SMT said. I had 4 smallish carrots and so made a half recipe, cutting them as written. Thanks for the tip about drying the carrots after refreshing -- I think that's an important step so as not to dilute the flavor. I dressed them with only sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and mint (no garlic). We loved them. And I am not normally a cooked carrot person. (I don't mind them mixed in with other things, but I don't usually make dishes where cooked carrots are the star.)

                                  2. Grilled Eggplant Puree with Mint and Almonds, page 110

                                    Somedays, the kitchen gods decide to show you that you are not as competent as you might think. Tonight was one of those nights. A phone call while kneading the dough made it hard to concentrate and nothing went quite right afterwards. Dinner tonight was supposed to Turkish, but turned into a bit of a mess culturally speaking. We had broiled salmon with dill, Grilled Eggplant Puree with Mint and Almonds [page 110], Pasta with Tomatoes, Beans and Feta [page 219], with Soft Turkish Pocket Bread [page 50.] Even though the timing of the items was totally off, we had some really nice dishes served at the wrong temperatures.

                                    The header notes indicate that this is a very unusual puree and she wasn't lying. Eggplants are grilled or broiled until they are soft. You then scoop out the inside of the eggplant and puree in a food processor. Garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, pomegranate mollasses, toasted almond and chopped fresh mint are then added and "whizzed." Salt and Pepper to taste.

                                    I am always leery of the pomegranate mollasses and reduced this amount which was the right choice. Much more and that would have been the only flavor for me. I made the puree in the afternoon and per her instructions, slipped the dip into the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

                                    This had some big flavors, and to be honest, a little bit goes a long way. In the future, I would include this with a full meze table where the texture and flavors would have some counterpoint.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      Wow, this sounds very unusual and I'm having a hard time totally imagining it, but I sure want to taste it.

                                      I hear you on those kitchen gods.

                                    2. Soft Turkish Pocket Bread, page 50

                                      This bread was not what I was expecting at all. It was far more naan than pita for me. The first step is to create a sponge that rests until the mass is getting bubbly. The sponge has water, yeast, yogurt, olive oil, and flour. Then more flour and salt are added before the final rise of about 1 1/2 hrs. The dough is divided and then manually stretched into ovals, brushed with egg, and sprinkled with nigella seeds. The breads then bake at 450º until done.

                                      I made a half recipe, assuming 5oz per cup of flour, in a stand mixer. It is possible that I added too much flour to the sponge. Since I had made mayonnaise earlier in the day, I had an egg white in the fridge, and used that instead of a full egg for the wash. And finally, sesame seeds were used instead of nigella.

                                      This is a fairly low temp for a flatbread and they took longer to bake than my usual pita breads. There were some bubbles in the bread, much like a pizza dough, but no pocket formed.

                                      The flavor was quite nice and it served its purpose well-- eggplant puree delivery system. The instructions don't give much indication of what kind of dough should be the goal. Though she indicates 5-6 cups of flour, never does she say when you might add more than 5 cups of flour or what texture would indicate you need more. This is a consistent problem with Shulman's recipes I have read over the years. For a bread newbie, this lack of "expectations" could be the difference between success and failure.

                                      1. Purslane Salad, p. 118

                                        Purslane starts showing up in my farmers market every year around this time. I always try to experiment with it (not always successfully, I might add!) so I was excited to see this recipe for purslane salad. This was the best way yet that I've found to enjoy this green.

                                        Purslane leaves are picked from the large stems (I left the small stems in) and mixed with a small cucumber, diced, and chopped kalamata olives. A viniagrette is made with lemon juice, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, a bit of olive brine, s&p and olive oil. The ratio of olive oil to acid is quite low (3 tb acid to 1/2 cup of oil) and the dressing tasted off to me when tested on a leaf prior to tossing with the salad. However, once mixed with the purslane -- which is itself quite tart -- it was perfect. I've never eaten purslane raw in a salad before and I found the texture absolutely fascinating and somewhat addicting. (It is a bit succulent, and eaten raw it is juicy, crisp and quite bouncy in the mouth).

                                        I had about twice as much dressing as I needed, though, so I'd make a half recipe of the dressing next time.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                          Gosh that sounds good. I love purslane, but nobody around here sells it, mooch-oh jealous of your source.

                                          1. re: qianning

                                            Is there a farmers market in your area that serves a Mexican community? You might find it there....

                                            1. re: qianning

                                              Last year I bought some purslane seeds to try for the first time. Didn't realize that it was the very same weed I have been trying desperately to rid my patio bricks of for the past six years....ever try foraging?

                                              1. re: Allegra_K

                                                We foraged at my family home when I was a little girl: dandelion greens, purslane, etc. I was so happy to see the same purslane weeds growing at the house my husband and I bought when we married.

                                                1. re: Allegra_K

                                                  That's funny, A-K.

                                                  I used to have a garden that was inundated with wild purslane....that's how I got to love it, kind of if you can't beat 'em join 'em. But alas no longer have that plot and for some reason I rarely see purslane around here.

                                                  The farm where I pick strawberries thought I was pretty much a nutcase when I got all excited about their wild chamomile and asked if I could pick some....so, that's to say foraging is certainly OK with me.

                                            2. Stewed Peppers and Tomatoes (Peperonata), p85

                                              I've made peperonata loads of times, and this recipe doesn't really deviate from my usual method.

                                              Sauté a chopped onion in olive oil, add sliced red and/or yellow peppers (I used one of each) and minced garlic and cook until the peppers are tender. Add a can of diced tomatoes, lightly drained (oops - only just noticed this instruction - I used the whole thing!) and simmer until the tomatoes have cooked down a little, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until "thick and fragrant".

                                              Nothing earth-shattering, but we enjoyed this with some venison sausages and roasted new potatoes with rosemary. I just ate the leftovers for lunch and I think the peperonata tasted better for a couple of days in the fridge.

                                              1. Fattoush, p. 128

                                                Finding myself with an unanticipated load of stale pita bread, I had no choice but to make Fattoush. I'd been planning to make Na'ama's Fattoush from Jerusalem, but forgot to prep the buttermilk, so I turned to Ms. Shulman's version instead. Absolutely delicious!

                                                The salad is comprised of a mix of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, radishes, parsley, mint and dried sumac. It is mixed with greens, for which Shulman gives an array of options -- I used the remains of my bunch of purslane and a few handfuls of arugula. The salad is tossed with a lemon, olive oil and optional garlic dressing -- I used my leftover dressing from the purslane salad (which included garlic already) and added extra lemon juice, After tossing the salad with the dressing, crumble in your stale pita (I crisped/dried/toasted it in the oven first), toss again, and serve.

                                                I just loved the big, fresh flavors of this salad, and with so many ingredients, there was something different and wonderful going on in every bite. The sumac really makes this salad. Also, since I ended up eating this as a main dish salad for dinner (we also had some leftover grilled turkish meats, but there wasn't enough to go around), I added a bit of crumbled feta halfway through to make it more substantial. That was excellent too.

                                                One note -- this salad makes a huge quantity! I made a half recipe which was a giant bowlful, enough for two people to eat as their main course.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                  Fattoush, Pg. 128

                                                  This is quite a tasty version of the well loved Middle Eastern salad. G made the dressing first so the flavors would have a chance to mellow while the vegetables were prepped. It consists of: garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, S & P. The salad vegetables were: Romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, lots of scallions, parsley, mint, radishes, and another leafy green - I used red leaf lettuce. Assemble the salad, pour the dressing over, then sprinkle with sumac which enhances the lemony flavor. Traditionally stale pita is crumbled into the salad but since I had none G toasted some crusty bread cubes and they absorbed the dressing beautifully.

                                                  Full of flavor and crunch, essence of lemon, we enjoyed it immensely. As Westminstress said, "big, fresh flavors." Served with a few slices of roast chicken and a more or less dessert salad of watermelon dressed with vodka and creme de cassis from Virginia Willis's Bon Appetit Y'All.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Isn't it good, Gio? So glad you liked it too!

                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                      Oh yes, WM. Definitely delicious. And, I was glad to be able to use some of the sumac that just sits in the cabinet till I pull down one of the Ottolenghi books from the shelf.

                                                2. Quicker Basic Tomato Sauce, p79

                                                  This is a variation of the Basic Tomato Sauce on the preceding page and I've made similar sauces before. It's very easy - fry sliced or minced garlic in olive oil, add canned tomatoes, a touch of sugar, salt and a few springs of fresh basil and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until "thick and fragrant".

                                                  Basic but good. It makes loads. I made a half a recipe or so I think. When she says 2 cans (28 oz) of diced tomatoes, does she mean 2 x 28 oz, or 28 oz in total? My inclination is for the former but I'm really not sure.

                                                  We tossed the sauce through some shop-bought tortellini for a quick and tasty dinner.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                    I think you're correct that she means 2 x 28 oz, though it would be clearer if it simply read 2 28-oz cans.

                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                      Not sure I agree. In her recipe for Catalan Ratatouille, for example, on page 72 she calls for "1 can (14 ounces) tomatoes, drained" although in yet another she calls for "1 can (28 ounces) tomatoes, chopped with juice." Although there are some inconsistencies in the editing, I think the number in parentheses is meant to be the total amount.

                                                      ETA: In yet another recipe I see "2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained." Would have better if she'd chosen that style and stuck with it.

                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        But if she meant 28 oz, wouldn't she have specified 1 can (28 oz)? I looked at other recipes too to see if I could figure it out, but just got more confused. I'm glad you found it confusing too!

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          You're right. She should have. Either that, or 2 cans (14 ounces each). Let's hope we don't find too many more of these confusing inconsistencies in the ingredients lists.

                                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                                      I made this too. I agree that it's simple but good. I cooked it in my big frypan with a splatter cover thing over it.

                                                      1. re: ecclescake

                                                        How many cans of tomatoes did you use?

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          Sorry, I didn't see this question until now.

                                                          I used the version of this recipe that was published on the NYT website. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/13/hea... There she calls for 1 (28-ounce) can of tomatoes. So I used an 800 g can.

                                                      2. re: greedygirl

                                                        Quicker Basic Tomato Sauce, Pg. 79, Hot Red Pepper Flakes Variation

                                                        This is a tomato sauce that we've been making since forever. It's funny to see it in a cookbook because many people consider this a family recipe. Olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes, salt, basil. Ms Schulman's recipe calls for 2 - 28 oz. cans of tomatoes. I used only one can, as I do, and kept the other ingredient amounts as written.

                                                        This usually makes just enough sauce for us to mix with 1 pound of pasta. Last night I used it to top Pan-Fried Zucchini with Mint and Pepperoncini on page 292.
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9114...

                                                        The sauce was a tasty addition to the zucchini and some cubes of feta over top gave the dish an extra dose of deliciousness. This would also make a great crostini.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          I realized reading your report, Gio, that this is essentially the same tomato sauce she uses in the recipe for Eggplant Parmesan except that in the EP recipe she uses fresh tomatoes (canned are a second choice). I guess that's why she says to put the EP sauce through a food mill, although I didn't bother since I used canned tomatoes. Interesting that you say it would make a great crostini. Mine was definitely too saucy for that. Maybe I just didn't cook it down enough.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            Actually, Joan, I meant the zucchini topped w the sauce and feta on a slice of grilled bread would make a great crostini. Or a tartine.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Gotcha. Reading too quickly yet again.

                                                        2. re: greedygirl

                                                          Quicker Basic Tomato Sauce, Southern Variation, p. 79

                                                          This is a variation of the quicker basic tomato sauce with hot red pepper flakes thrown in. I made a half recipe with one box of Pomi chopped tomatoes. I thought this sauce was fine, but I don't like it as much as my two favorite basic tomato sauces, Marcella's butter and onion sauce and Rosetta Constantino's sauce with garlic and basil from My Calabria. In particular, this sauce has almost identical ingredients to the My Calabria sauce, with the differences being in the MC version, you use more oil, you brown whole garlic cloves in the oil before adding the tomatoes, and you use 5 basil leaves torn in half. In the MRS version, you use less oil, mince the garlic, and I just threw in a whole large sprig of basil including the stem and lots of leaves. MRS also includes a bit of sugar, which MC does not (and the pepper flakes of course - but I don't think that made much difference in the overall flavor). I used Pomi tomatoes in both sauces, and I think the MC sauce has a truer garlic and basil flavor, possibly because there is more oil in the sauce or maybe it's the slightly different technique. It's interesting how such similar recipes can produce different results.

                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                            I appreciate the comparison to the other sauces, which I (and probably most others on this thread) am familiar with. That sauce from My Calabria has become a standard at my house. So simple and minimal, and yet the flavor is perfect.

                                                        3. Panzanella, Pg. 129

                                                          Let me say at the outset I love bread and tomatoes. I especially love them with olive oil and vinegar. Also, for some reason I love soggy bread. The kind of bread that's all soaked with savory juices of either say grilled meat or in this case, ripe garden tomatoes. So it strands to reason that I'd like panzanella and. I do, having made many different versions over the years. This recipe is right up there as one of the best tasting, full bodied salads I've eaten. All the usual ingredients are incorporated here with a feisty vinaigrette to bring it all together.

                                                          Because the sourdough bread cubes I used were more than a day old the full 20 minute soak in cold water was perfect. I usually don't soak them that long. The odd part of that step is that thin red onion slices are placed on top of the bread before pouring the water over. This not only diminishes the onion's bite but infuses the bread with a pleasant onion flavor. After the soak the onion slices are removed, the bread is drained and squeezed. Ii will fall apart and that's what you want.

                                                          Into a large bowl go bread and onions then chopped tomatoes, basil, parsley. A vinaigrette consisting of red wine vinegar, pressed garlic, EVOO, and S & P are whisked then poured over the salad ingredients. This is mixed carefully, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated for about an hour or longer. This gave us plenty of time to roast some eggplant and cook Pork Tenderloins in Port from Essential Pepin. Altogether a very satisfying and tasty meal.

                                                          1. Turkish Cucumber & Yogurt Salad (Cacik) pg. 106

                                                            The "Turkish cousin" of tzatziki, this. Both the recipe and the preceding one for the Greek spread were so similar that I wasn't quite sure just what the differences were. Enter wikipedia to the rescue ('cause that's always accurate, no?)...apparently cacik is more diluted, unless served as a mezze, then the two are indistinguishable.

                                                            This is a pretty standard version: strained yogurt, garlic, mint, cucumber. It had a good balance of flavours, but I added some of the variations to make it a little different: dill was added along with the mint, and I also stirred in some lemon juice. I may be the only person on the planet who isn't fond of red wine vinegar in tzatziki, but I found that the addition of lemon really heightened the flavours of this dish without being too overpowering and it is a step I will definitely be using again. Walnuts are also suggested as an interesting change, and that sounds different enough for me to give it a try next time.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Allegra_K

                                                              Dill sounds interesting, never done that before, i dont add Vinegar, but i use lemon juice, lemon peel, add a generous splash of very good EV olive oil, very fine dried oregano, a slight pinch of cumin powder and maybe a touch of sugar if it was a bit acidic.. and the cucumber i grated, squeezed dry before putting it in. I normally make it a night before for the flavors to come out too! Photo is of My dinner last night.. Charcoal grilled Lamb Sirloin Souvlaki with this extreme Garlicy Tzatziki sauce on a Pita Bread with the Lettuce tomato onions .

                                                               
                                                            2. Romesco Sauce, page 71

                                                              I really wanted to make Romesco sauce during Spanish month, but never got a hold of the right kind of peppers. So I was happy to see a very attainable Romesco is MH. MRS in fact says in her side note that the correct peppers are hard to find so she adapted her recipe with roasted red peppers and chile powder and paprika to simulate the sweet/hot flavor.

                                                              This sauce was in fact very easy. Especially easy since I took the shortcut of buying pre-roasted red peppers. In addition to roasting the red pepper, you also roast tomato (I did do that, using a nice heirloom) and toast bread. She says the normally the bread is fried in oil, but she toasts to lighten it. I decided to go ahead and fry the bread in olive oil since low-fat is not really my thing.

                                                              You then add into your food processor garlic, nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), toasted/fried bread, chili powder and process to a paste. Mine never made a paste but really just looked like very delicious bread crumbs. To this you add your roasted pepper, roasted tomato, parsley, paprika, salt and pepper. Process this and then add sherry vinegar and olive oil. That's it! Taste and adjust seasoning.

                                                              On tasting mine, I though the sherry vinegar was a little out of balance and overwhelming. I ended up adding more salt and olive oil. I thought the sherry vinegar was still a little strong and would cut it back to 1 T (or even 2 tsp) in the future. That may be the fault of my supermarket Sherry vinegar though which is a little harsh de novo. Of course this did not stop me from making a lunch out of bread dipped into the romesco sauce. I have never had Romesco sauce before, so little basis for comparison, but I though this made a really nice dip/spead/condiment. I imagined something a little more garlicky and oil-rich than this is. But the combo of nuts, garlic and peppers is a great one in any iteration!

                                                              After sitting a couple hours in the fridge, I thought the flavors melded a little better too. I served this as a pre-dinner nibble with bread. I will try to grill some veggies to eat with it later in the week. In the meantime, I think it will be great with poached egg on bread for breakfast tomorrow!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                Nice report! I have to say I always think of romesco going with seafood, but I absolutely love your idea of having it with egg for breakfast. I'll have to try that.

                                                              2. Pizza with Tomato, Eggplant, and Mozzerella, p-59 (plus Zucchini Variation)

                                                                I had some par-grilled pizza dough hanging out in the freezer (recipe from Batali's Italian Grill) that I made last month, and settled upon this recipe to use up some of the eggplant and zucchini surplus. What a great use of these ingredients!

                                                                Eggplant is sliced thinly and salted, then patted dry after a half-hour or so. The slices are fried in a bit of olive oil until golden. Tomato sauce (I used the basic sauce on p.78) is spread atop the dough, along with sliced fresh mozza, then the pizza is topped with the eggplant slices, grated parmesan, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. I opted to grill the pizzas instead of baking them, and would do so again, weather permitting.
                                                                For the zucchini version, no need to salt the slices, just fry to golden and proceed with the recipe. I topped that pizza with fresh mint after cooking, and it was super.

                                                                I may have cut the eggplant pieces too thin, maybe 1/8", as after salting and pressing, they were greatly reduced to nearly nothing. Next time I'll do 1/4" or larger for a more substantial bite.

                                                                These were lovely and flavourful pizzas using toppings that I have never associated with this dish before, and ones I would absolutely use again. Even those who claimed not to like either vegetable eagerly tore into the still-sizzling slices.

                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                1. Pizza with Tomato Sauce and Potatoes p-62

                                                                  Another carb-heavy dish that I was curiously drawn to. This one uses sliced, boiled potatoes sitting on tomato sauce (p.78), topped with parmesan, chopped fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, and olive oil. I used a Mario Batali dough recipe from Italian Grill that I had stocked in the freezer, and grilled the pizza to finish cooking.

                                                                  I used russian blue potatoes and some white creamers, thinking that it would be a really interesting-looking dish, but its appearance ended up being, quite frankly, kind-of weird. Live and learn!
                                                                  The pizza itself really just tasted like potatoes on flatbread. Nothing earth shattering, in fact, the potato pizzas sat forlornly on the corner of the dinner table while the tastier, greener offerings were gobbled up.
                                                                  The leftovers were eaten for lunch today, and I shredded some mozzarella cheese over it all as per the variation, and it was much more enjoyable. Goes to show that everything is better with a bit of extra grease!

                                                                   
                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Allegra_K

                                                                    All three pizzas look wonderful, Allegra. I have read that blue colored food is off putting to begin with, so that might explain why the potato pizza was lonely. It's a rare color in nature even though we do see beautiful blue garden flowers. Here's a site that can explain it better than I can..

                                                                    http://www.colormatters.com/color-and...

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      Thanks, Gio, and what an interesting article! I remember having a similar reaction to papas a la huancaina using blue potatoes; even though it was tasty, it went unloved....maybe I should just stick with the standard colours from now on.

                                                                  2. Apricot Yogurt Dip. p. 91

                                                                    I was curiously drawn to this recipe on my first pass through the book, so I wanted to give it a try. Greek yogurt is mixed with chopped dried apricots, a bit of garlic (I used half a clove grated through the microplane) and salt. That's it. I made a half recipe with a cup of Total full fat yogurt. 2% could no doubt be used as well. MRS suggests that this dip be used to enhance grilled meats, as a sauce for rice pilaf, or to be served with flatbread as part of a mezze. I served it with lamb chops and the eggplant pilaf on p. 327. I thought it was a bit too dominant in both those contexts, though I do think it could make a nice enhancement to a plainer pilaf (or a stronger tasting lamb -- my nz loin chops were pretty mild). My toddler did not like this dip (the apricot-garlic-salt combo was just too much for him) but my baby loved it, especially when mixed with the rice. I liked it but, as I said, I'm not sure I liked the pairings. I think I would like it best served as one of multiple dips for flatbread.

                                                                    1. Tabbouleh, page 96

                                                                      I had this idea. I wanted to grill ratatouille vegetables and then add them to a bulgur tabbouleh using up the huge quantities of eggplant and zucchini hiding in the fridge. Though I was going to start with my "standard" tabbouleh, I convinced myself to try the one in the book for the good of the group. And so my meal prep began.

                                                                      The recipe calls for 6 cups of parsley and 1 cup of mint. Do you have any idea how long it takes to wash, stem, and chop 7 cups of herbs? I do. 1 hr, 20 minutes from start to finish including time in the garden picking the stuff. Soak the small amount of bulgur [1/2 cup] in boiling water for 20 minutes. Now add garlic, the herbs, the juice of 3-4 lemons, a bunch of scallions and a pound of tomatoes, both very finely chopped. Now the salad is supposed to sit for 2-3 hrs. Just before serving add 1/2 cup [1/3 in my case] of olive oil. The salad was not allowed to rest for 2-3 hrs. I would say it was about an hour and the bulgur did plump up further. The other casualty of the herb time warp was there was no grilling of all that eggplant and zucchini. We had just gotten too hungry and wanted to eat before 9pm!

                                                                      This salad is REALLY lemony as she describes in the header notes. I ended up making a little yogurt-cucumber dip so we had somewhere to get relief. The other primary flavor of the salad is the parsley even though I ended up using 4 cups of parsley and 3 cups of mint. She doesn't include draining the tomatoes before their addition so the tabbouleh became very "soupy"; too wet to scoop with bread.

                                                                      This recipe makes a huge amount so maybe tomorrow I can grill those vegetables and add them. There is certainly enough dressing.

                                                                      We both liked this tabbouleh a lot but thought that it needed to be one of many dishes on the table. As a stand-alone salad it was very acidic and green.

                                                                      [Small ASIDE] Why give a weight for the tomatoes and then use the imprecise "a bunch of" for all the other things? I don't get it. My scallion bunches are sized differently depending on when during the year I buy them and where I buy them from. Heck, she even gives cups for the herbs, why not the scallions?

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                        It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about cutting all those herbs. One hour and 20 minutes - Wow. And then to not have it be perfect.

                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                          Maybe she doesn't mean a bunch as in tied with a twistie or elastic but, you know, a "bunch" as in a vague amount? Just a thought. The scallions we got in our CSA this week are huge. All thick and the freshest I've ever seen. Other times of the year they are skinny, less than half the size.

                                                                          I have to say a tabbouleh with a vast amount of herbs and lemon juice isn't very appealing to me. Thanks for the report SMT.

                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            Isn't traditional tabbouleh meant to be mostly herbs with just a little bit of bulghur?

                                                                            smtucker - were your lemons particularly big? Maybe cutting back on the oil threw the balance off a bit?

                                                                            I was excited to see she has a recipe for the French interpretation - which is the first time I ever ate tabbouleh back in the mists of time when I was a callow teenager. I must try that one.

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              These were actually very small lemons from Spain. And she did state that it should be very lemony so I had added that fourth lemon. As I said, we actually like the tabbouleh but thought it would have benefitted from having a full meze table so that our mouths had some different flavors for the lemon to play with.

                                                                              I believe that this was a very traditional tabbouleh. Certainly was very similar to the ones I have eaten at Lebanese houses [my pianist's Mom] and restaurants.

                                                                        2. Mushroom and Celery Salad, p. 121

                                                                          This could hardly be simpler to throw together: A half pound of cremini mushrooms and four inner celery ribs are sliced very thinly and tossed with 2 T chopped parsley (mine was a little tired, so I subbed tender celery leaves), S+P, lemon juice, and olive oil (I used Meyer lemon juice and used only half the oil called for). Right before serving, shaved Parmesan is added, and all is tossed again. She calls for 2 oz parm, but I used far less, as I was serving this along with another dish with cheese.

                                                                          This was fresh, earthy, and savory, and is one of those rare salads that would do almost as well year-round, offering some crunch and brightness in the cold moths.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            That sounds fabulous, and I never even glanced at it, even when I looked up "mushrooms" in the index! Thanks for pointing it out.

                                                                          2. Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina) - p. 72

                                                                            I'm going to put the bottom line on top: Make this!

                                                                            Yesterday I had the unusual (and somewhat unsettling) experience of a cold, rainy day in the South in August. Here I was with all this peak summer produce - the heirloom tomatoes, the perfect eggplant, peppers, zucchini. And the weather was feeling anything but summer. It made me want to have a long-simmering stew on the stove. A search through MH gave me this dish, which called for a full three hours of simmering, and used a nice medley of summer vegetables, all of which I had in my CSA box.

                                                                            First, eggplant is peeled, diced, then salted and drained on paper towels. I kept the eggplant in long slices for the salting and draining, and finished dicing after. Two red and one green bell pepper are peeled, seeded, and diced. I didn't notice the "peeled" part until I had the red pepper diced, so in my dish, only the green was peeled. The remaining ingredients are finely chopped onion, finely chopped zucchini, minced garlic, and "very ripe" tomatoes (mine certainly were), peeled, seeded, and chopped (I peeled, but did not seed).

                                                                            In a dutch oven or earthenware casserole (I used an Emile Henry flameware dutch oven), you put 1/4 cup of olive oil, all the vegetables except the tomato and 1/4 cup of water (I omitted the water), along with salt and pepper. This is cooked covered on low heat (the recipe says to "reduce heat to low", but never told you to heat it to begin with) for an hour. Then the tomatoes are added, and the mixture is cooked for another two to three hours, until it reduces to a "thick relish". Water can be added by the tablespoon if needed if it becomes to thick before the vegetables are done. Shulman notes that this is never necessary for her, and that the vegetables give out a lot of water. She says that at the end of cooking, you can increase the heat to boil off any excess liquid. I found that by the time I added the tomatoes, the mixture was pretty soupy, so I cooked it uncovered for the entire next two plus hours.

                                                                            What I got at the end of all that simmering, was a thick sauce, jam-like in consistency. I made some rosemary flatbread to go with it, and we just spread the samfaina on it and ate. Now, I have to admit here than I've never been a big fan of ratatouille. But this samfaina, it was a revelation. It was so sweet, you would swear there was sugar in it. It is really amazing stuff!

                                                                            I got curious about this recipe and did some hunting around both on the Web and on my bookshelves. What I found was that all the other recipes I saw called for a much shorter cooking time. Colman Andrews however, in a note at the end of his recipe, says, "If you are preparing samfaina for use as a sauce, cook longer, adding water if necessary, until the mixture has attained a marmaladelike consistency, and the vegetables have lost their form." So that's the closest I could find to a recipe like Shulman's. In the headnote to the recipe, Andrews also makes a case that Samfaina might actually be a predecessor to ratatouille, so instead of calling it a "Catalan ratatouille," perhaps we should be calling ratatouille a French samfaina.

                                                                            Whatever the origin, this is a truly remarkable dish, that I am glad to be able to add to my repertoire.

                                                                            21 Replies
                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                              This sounds perfect Mel. I have everything except the peppers, but I do have a couple of poblanos in the freezer looking for something to augment. Today might just be the day! I've been casting around for a recipe such as this. Thanks.

                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina), Pg. 72

                                                                                Well, we did make this recipe last night and although the outcome wasn't exactly as Mel described the finished dish was quite flavorful and we enjoyed it immensely. I used tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, along with the necessary onions and garlic. Water was added with the wine and I wish I hadn't because as Ms Shluman states the vegetables do throw off a lot of water.

                                                                                Our stove holds a very low flame quite well. So well in fact that after about 40-ish minutes G decided the vegetables were not cooking so he raised the flame. Our big mistake, though, was not simmering the stew uncovered, after adding the tomatoes, for the final two plus hours. By the time we were going to eat the stew was still a little soupy.

                                                                                No matter, it was still very nice and went well with roasted Cornish game hens and wax beans that I dressed with EVOO and S & P. Tonight we'll have macaroni with a marinara sauce and I think I'll reduce the samfaina and add it to the pasta plate when I serve.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Too bad, Gio! I think the key is the description of the sauce as being marmalade-like, so I just did what it took to get there. However, I see no reason at all why you couldn't put the leftovers back on the stove today, and reduce them down like you plan. Just call it the two-step variation.

                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                    Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina), Pg. 72 - Take 2

                                                                                    <"I see no reason at all why you couldn't put the leftovers back on the stove today, and reduce them down like you plan.">

                                                                                    And that's exactly what we did. In a medium size stainless saucepan heated a few tablespoons of EVOO, added the remaining Samfaina, simmered for about 2-ish hours, stirring occasionally. The result: collapsed, condensed, caramelized vegetables with a classic sweet tomatoey essence that was absolutely delicious. I particularly liked the additional olive oily flavor and the texture of the vegetables.

                                                                                    It was served atop minimally sauced penne rigtate with fresh ricotta, grated Romano Reggiano, and a chiffonade of basil.. I would definitely make this again.

                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                      Yes! Glad that worked. And this description -
                                                                                      "collapsed, condensed, caramelized vegetables with a classic sweet tomatoey essence that was absolutely delicious" -
                                                                                      is one I plan to steal. You put it so much better than I did.

                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                        Thanks Mel. BTW; It's not a steal it's a gift to you... and thanks for your report and encouragement.

                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                    For those of you following the thread who don't have the book, the New York Times published this recipe (or something very, very close to it, by the same author). I'm giving the link to the full article, because I think it's interesting and gives more of the author's insights about the recipe than are in the book. There is a link to the recipe on the left-hand sidebar:
                                                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/din...

                                                                                    Note that the picture at top looks nothing like this dish, but the smaller one further down on the left if pretty representative of what you're going for.

                                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                                      The article is very informative. Many thanks for linking it, Mel. Three quotes that are meaningful to me are the one about the sauce being used for "rabbit, chicken or salt cod." I have eaten rabbit and salt cod with the vegetables. Another is "can also be classified as a sauce, to accompany gnocchi, pasta or fish. ." Which we'll do tonight.

                                                                                      Lastly, "Sometimes the stews can be watery at the end of cooking. One solution is to wait; time and again, I’ve left turlu or ratatouille overnight to find the juices reabsorbed, the stew thick and satiny the next day." I haven't check yet but I'm anxious to see if the liquid has been reabsorbed. Surprisingly, the second photo looks like the vegetables we made, however, the sweet, caramelized element was absent.

                                                                                      This ratatouille is very similar to a southern Italian dish called Giambotta, or Ciambotta that all my Italian family cooked not just at end of Summer, but Winter as well adding or subtracting ingredients such as beans, potatoes, or various meats as the seasons passed. I've only ever made the meatless stews which are slightly soupy and very hearty.

                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                        Another quote in the article specifically on samfaina, "The ingredients are chopped very small, tossed with olive oil and cooked for hours until the mixture is so thick and caramelized that it’s described as a vegetable marmalade."

                                                                                        I think my one beef with the recipe as written is that she has you cook it covered, and yet is telling you to cook it down to the consistency of marmalade. Now, in my cookware, at least, that is just not going to happen if it's covered, because the moisture does not escape. Mine was pretty soupy when I added the tomatoes, so I decided I'd have to take matters into my own hands if I was going to get a marmalade outta this. In the book she does mention that you might have to increase the heat at the end to reduce it, but in the NYT recipe, that comment is not included. So to me, there is a bit of disconnect between the recipe and the desired result.

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          Oh good to read your comments, Mel. I used a Dutch oven, what we call The Small Mario. It's 4 quarts and cooks just as you describe.

                                                                                          The trouble with our cooking here, as you probably know, is that G is doing the actual cooking while I'm sitting in the very next room prepping the vegetables, near the door so he can hear me read out the directions. So rarely can he actually show me how the cooking is progressing. We've become excruciatingly verbal. LOL Anyway, it kinda sorta has been working so far, and he's become rather good at the interpreting the procedures I describe. We must look a very comical pair, though.

                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                            I think the way you two pull off your cooking is pretty amazing, and indicates a very special relationship. I'm sure it would be a blast to cook with the two of you.

                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                              Maybe we need to move a couch into their kitchen ... just sayin'.

                                                                                      2. re: MelMM

                                                                                        This article was quite interesting, so thanks for the link. The turlu recipe looks like one I need to make!

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina), NYT version

                                                                                          I bought an eggplant at the market the other day and didn't really know what to do with it as I had never cooked an eggplant before but then I remember you all talking about this dish back in the middle of winter and thinking it was something I'd like to try.

                                                                                          My eggplant was small rather than medium and I only had one onion and one clove of garlic, but otherwise I left the proportions unchanged. I didn't peel anything, nor did I salt and squeeze the eggplant; instead I gave it a light coating of salt and olive oil and roasted it at 180 degrees Celsius for about 10 minutes until it started to get brown. I took note of the issues some of you had with reduction and cooked the Samfaina in my large frying pan. I did cover it for the first part of cooking with the lid from my stock pot which left a small gap around the edges. I left it uncovered after adding the tomatoes and it still took the full three hours to reduce. The canned tomatoes had extra water though as I didn't drain them.

                                                                                          I was a bit surprised that the recipe didn't include any herbs but in the end it didn't need them. I will definitely be making this again.

                                                                                          1. re: ecclescake

                                                                                            I thought I should update that I have made this recipe more often than any other this summer (apart from my default dinner).

                                                                                            I now don't do anything else to the eggplant, I just leave out the salting and squeezing step. I no longer cover the pan at any stage and I speed up the process sometimes using higher heat and deglazing with water as describe here http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/01/th... I also often just rely on my memory, rather than looking a the recipe, so I usually have different proportions or add something that's not in the original but it's always good.

                                                                                      3. re: MelMM

                                                                                        Mel, thanks for this report and link. I've been fascinated by the different variations of ratatouille in this book, and I've been wanting to make some, though so far I've been a bit put off by all the chopping and oven time required (waiting for the weather to cool down a bit). I think I'm most intrigued by the Turlu myself but I go back and forth on which one to try.

                                                                                        (As for actual ratatouille, it's hard for me to stray from melissa clark's, which is at the top of my list simply because it's the quickest, easiest version ever).

                                                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                                                          Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina) - p. 72

                                                                                          As a fan of ratatouille, ciambotta and pisto, I couldn't wait to try this recipe. We only made half a recipe and made it the day before we planned to eat it so the flavors could meld.

                                                                                          This dish required a goodly amount of peeling, seeding and chopping. It was ambitious of me to undertake on a work week, but I powered through. When the dish was complete, I did not need to boil down the mixture nor did I have to add additional water (maybe because I only made half a recipe).

                                                                                          This vegetable marmalade was so good, I could have eaten it all up with a spoon, but ultimately we served it with grilled chicken. Thanks MelMM for bringing this to our attention.

                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                            Catalan Ratatouille (Samfaina), Pg. 72

                                                                                            My house smells of samfaina, but let me tell you, I am really pleased that I read your reviews. The samfaina began to "simmer" at noon, four hours ago, and isn't even CLOSE to being a marmalade. I keep moving the pot from the fire-tamer which means very low heat, to a simmer burner, to convince it to reduce. Part of the problem might have been that I remembered 2lbs of eggplant, so I have made a double batch. Will post back later.

                                                                                            I hope we eat before 9!

                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                              The good news is that it keeps well in the fridge, so you should have tasty leftovers.

                                                                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                At 6:30, it was time to start finishing up our dinner. I had braised lamb riblets with apricots and onions in the oven getting closer and closer to ready-to-serve. Though I had planned to make tortos de maiz from Made in Spain, I decided I didn't want to fry. The samfaina still had quite a bit of liquid so I made a left turn and decided to toast up some filini pasta, and add the samfaina to that for the simmering "thing." What a good idea this was!

                                                                                                What a delicious dinner this was. I have 9 cups of the samfaina left. I think some of it may head to the freezer so I can have some "summer" during the cold winter months.

                                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                  Over the past few months, I have pulled out these packets with great regularity. Favorite uses have been mixed into some cooked bulghar served with Merguez sausages. The bulghar-saimfana mixture is great as a take-to-work lunch the next day as well.

                                                                                            2. Tapenade - p. 121

                                                                                              The author has a short discussion about olives in the headnote to this recipe. I was frustrated in the grocery store, because all the black olives, both in the olive bar and on the shelves, were kalamatas. What's with that? We have gone too far in our love affair with the kalamata. The headnote says that the recipe should be made with Nyons olives, but since they can be hard to find, Amphissa olives from Greece would be the second choice. After that, any black French or North African olive. What I ended up doing, and I feel kind of bad about this, is pick through the "Greek Mix" and "Tunisian Mix", and I tried to get mostly black, non-Kalamata olives. In the end, that's mostly what I had, of mixed variety, but probably still a few Kalamatas mixed in, and also a few green olives.

                                                                                              The olives are pitted and mixed with garlic, fresh thyme, capers, fresh rosemary, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and black pepper. This is mixed to a paste in a food processor.

                                                                                              This makes a perfectly decent tapenade. For my taste, a bit salty, but that is a factor of the olives I used, not the recipe, as there is no other salt called for. I used fresh herbs from my garden and would have liked to see their flavors shine through a bit more.

                                                                                              I used this to make the eggs and vegetables stuffed with tapenade on p.130.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                i love this on Garlic bread!!!

                                                                                              2. Eggs and Vegetables Stuffed with Tapenade - p. 130

                                                                                                You start this by making the tapenade on p. 121. Then you boil eggs (I steamed them), cool, peel, split in half, and mix the yolks with the tapenade. The recipe calls for six eggs. I only made three, as it was just two of us for dinner, and mixed less than half of the tapenade with them. This "fortified" tapenade can then be used to stuff the hollowed out eggs, and some vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, strips of bell pepper, or boats of hollowed out zucchini. I only stuffed the eggs and the zucchini boats, which I grilled instead of blanching as specified.

                                                                                                Now, I love deviled eggs. Love them. This is kind of like a deviled egg, except that the tapenade completely overwhelms the egg yolk in the filling (and the filling, in turn, completely overwhelms the egg white). So personally, I would rather have a regular deviled egg over this version.

                                                                                                On to the zucchini boats. These were better, but not a standout. I had scooped out the seeds, cut the zuccini into 3" lengths as specified (this was just cutting it half, and my boats may have been shorter than 3", as the zucchini wasn't all that long). Since Mr. MM is not an olive fan, I made extra zucchini boats, which I filled with leftover samfaina from a couple nights ago. Well, all parties agreed the version stuffed with samfaina was better than the tapenade-stuffed version. This is not something I would make again.

                                                                                                1. Provencal Bread with Olives, p. 44

                                                                                                  I haven't done any bread-baking in awhile so it was kind of fun to put together these loaves. I stayed with the original recipe, using rinsed Kalamata olives (and probably closer to 1 1/2 cups), and even though I didn't use a baking stone the exteriors formed a nice, crisp crust. The crumb was moderately dense, but not chewy like foccacia, and the olives were beautifully distributed throughout. I do think dried thyme might be a really nice addition, kneaded in with the olives, so I'll probably try that next time (or after I make the walnut variation, because that sounds interesting, too!). I also may try misting the oven with water just before the loaves go in, to see if I can get an exterior that's even more crispy. We ate one of the loaves that evening, and the other was successfully reheated in the oven the next day after being stored in a plastic bag (I just placed the loaf directly on the oven rack for about 8-10 minutes at 325 or so).

                                                                                                  As you can see in the photo, I was a bit hesitant to separate the bread too much at the slashes (which should have been done, I believe), but I'll be less timid when I bake these again.

                                                                                                   
                                                                                                  1. Roasted Pepper Salad with Lettuce and Tomato, pg. 124

                                                                                                    The sweetness of the roasted lipstick peppers really are perfect for this little salad; wonderfully foiled by the sherry vinegar and tomatoes. Nothing snazzy or unexpected here, just a lovely late summer salad.

                                                                                                     
                                                                                                    1. Beet and Beet Greens Salad, p. 94

                                                                                                      We loved this. Beets are roasted in their skins, then peeled, sliced, and tossed in a viniagrette consisting of red wine or sherry vinegar (I did some of each), a bit of balsamic vinegar, a mashed garlic clove (I grated on microplane), s&p and olive oil. Separately, the greens are stemmed, blanched, then tossed with lemon juice, s&p and olive oil. She instructs to place the greens on a platter and top with the beets, but I served the beets in a bowl, surrounded by the greens. The salad as a whole was good but the truly delicious part was the beets with viniagrette. All I can say is YUM. The mix of vinegars, the bit of garlic -- it is perfect with the beets. The greens were fine, but I have other uses for them that I prefer, so in future I will skip that part of the recipe and make just the beets.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                        Beets (and Beet Greens Salad), pg 94

                                                                                                        PIcked up some great-looking golden beets at the store and quickly sauteed up the greens to eat the day I brought them home. I had the beets to cook still and was looking for something different to do with them. Mediterranean Harvest has a number of good-looking beet recipes but I ended up going with this one, the first of the bunch.

                                                                                                        Delicious! The dressed beets were great immediately after making them and also tasted great after an overnight marinade in the fridge. I had already eaten my beet greens so skipped that component, but didn't miss them at all.

                                                                                                        Now I want more beets so I can try the Spicy Beet Salad and the Yogurt Beet salad.

                                                                                                        1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                                          I've made this beet salad a few more times since first posting my review. Now I usually save the greens for something else, but I love this dressing with beets.

                                                                                                        2. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                          Beets and Beet Greens Salad - p. 94

                                                                                                          I'm adding to the general praise for this recipe. It's easy and, once the beets are roasted, pretty quick (I cheated a bit and halved my beets to make them roast more quickly - I put the cut side down, into the water, and it didn't dry out), and the dressing is really lovely with the roast beets. Mr. Geek was late getting home from work and I had to work to restrain myself from eating everything on the platter.

                                                                                                          I do agree with those who've said that the greens tossed with lemon juice, s&p are skippable - the beets are the star of the show here - however, if you have no other use for the greens, it does add a nice earthy and slightly acidic element, and a bit more colour to the plate.

                                                                                                        3. Olive Oil Béchamel

                                                                                                          http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/28/hea...

                                                                                                          My husband made this for our lasagne the other night. We have never cooked a bechamel for anywhere near 10 minutes before. the recipe made a nice light smooth sauce with a delicate flavour. Overall I'd say this is a good recipe though we'll probably go back to making bechamel without referring to a recipe, however we might start letting it cook longer.