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Cooking from “The A.O.C. Cookbook” by Suzanne Goin

Quite a few of us preordered this, it seems to be on a number of Christmas wish lists, and at least a couple of us have begun cooking from it. So, what have you made? How did it turn out?

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  1. Chopped salad dijonnaise with apples, bacon, roquefort, and walnuts (page 86)

    Toast walnuts and chop roughly. Cut a slab of bacon into ½-inch dice and sauté until “tender and lightly crisped.” Radicicchio, endive, romaine, and 2 apples are also cut into ½-inch dice. All are tossed together with crumbled Roquefort and a vinaigrette made from an egg yolk, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and evoo. In other words, a pretty straightforward chopped salad with a pretty straightforward Dijonnaise. Only caveat: be sure to trim the bacon well since not all of the fat renders (at lease, mine didn’t).

    It was really, really good. Great way to start a winter meal. And, as she says, with the addition of chopped roasted chicken or steak, could be a meal unto itself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JoanN

      Joan this looks and sounds sensational and since Turkey is a Christmas tradition here, I think this salad would be a fabulous way to re-purpose our leftovers. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I'm very excited about this book.

    2. Grilled orata with cauliflower, fregola, and persimmon-pomegranate salsa (page 134)

      One recipe; many components. Although she doesn’t say so, I discovered that many parts of this dish can be prepared an hour or hours ahead of time. And you need to.

      You start off by seasoning the fish fillets (my fishmonger, much to my surprise, had orata, but you can substitute branzino or black sea bass) with lemon zest, thyme, and parsley and refrigerating it for at least four hours. Mine was in the fridge more like eight.

      Next up, make half the recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Red Vinegar on page 274. I love roasted cauliflower, and this was a terrific variation. I made the full recipe knowing I’d be happy to have leftovers, and I was. In addition to the named ingredients, it has toasted and ground coriander and cumin seeds and bittersweet paprika. She also tosses in a small onion cut into sixths. And in addition to the evoo, she adds a little melted butter to it all before it’s tossed and roasted. Will definitely be making this again as a standalone.

      Cook the chickpeas. Of course, she has a recipe (page 135). Diced onions, garlic, 1 chile de arbol, thyme, bay leaf, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, 1 cinnamon stick. She says it should take about an hour and a half. I think I cooked mine for nearly three hours and I still wasn’t sure they were sufficiently tender. Loved the flavor; wasn’t at all sure about the texture. She says you can just drain good-quality canned chickpeas (how does one know if they’re good quality or not?) and sizzle them in some olive oil with the same seasonings. Would definitely go that route next time, if I hadn’t discovered that I really do not like chickpeas.

      Next, cook the fregola (or you can substitute Israeli couscous), drain, and spread out to cool.

      At some point, make the Persimmon-Pomegranate Salsa on page 136. Diced shallots, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, diced persimmons, cilantro, s&p, and what I thought was way too much oil for a salsa. I ended up draining off as much as I could. But this was just great. And she has a number of other suggestions for using it.

      Penultimately, cook the cooled fregola in olive oil with s&p until it starts to crisp, stir in the chickpeas and chopped cauliflower and onions and cook another five minutes or so to combine, and keep it all warm in the oven while you cook the fish. I kept it in a warm oven for probably two hours and it seemed none the worse for it.

      Finally, grill the fish. Since I don’t have a charcoal grill, I used Rick Moonen’s killer hot cast-iron skillet under the broiler method and cooked the fish for a bit less than two minutes. Worked perfectly. Crispy skin, marvelously flaky and flavorful fish.

      My guests were gaga over this. I hated the chickpeas. I thought they still weren’t cooked enough. But one of my guests who loves chickpeas said they were perfectly cooked and went back for seconds. The salsa was simply brilliant with the dish. But, damn, it was a time-consuming pain to put together. If I make this again, and I might once I’ve forgotten how much time it took and how many pans were required, I’d definitely try to simplify it. And for me, I’d leave out the chickpeas. Wonder if it would work if you cooked the fregola with the chickpea spices?

      35 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        Looks gorgeous and sounds very tasty (I'm in the pro-chickpea club). But didn't I read someone (maybe dkennedy?) say that this book was supposed to be a more home-cook friendly sort of book; one that she wrote after realizing that with children she couldn't spend as much time in the kitchen? Sort of makes me nervous about how much time she spent in the kitchen *before* the kids.

        1. re: JoanN

          In my first test of this book, I made a VERY reduced version of this menu for a vegetarian weeknight meal. Over the weekend, I made the chickpeas according to her recipe. My unsoaked chickpeas cooked up nicely in about 3 hours. (As an aside, what possesses her to think that an unsoaked chickpea would cook through in 1.5 hours.) Like Joan, I was a bit unsure when I took them off the heat if they were completely done. But I let them cool in their broth (which takes a few hours) and refrigerated them, and when I took them out of the fridge a few days later, they were perfect. The broth was outstanding. I loved these - but I love chickpeas.

          For dinner last night I cooked basmati rice pilaf style with a mix of chickpea broth and water, then stirred a lot of chickpeas into the finished rice. This turned out very good and was very easy! Lovely flavors in the rice from the rich bean broth. I served the pilaf with the Roasted Cauliflower with Curry and Red Vinegar on p. 274. This was a nice version of roasted cauliflower, though I took the weeknight shortcut of using preground spices, plus I subbed regular pimenton for bittersweet paprika, which I think took some of the oomph out of the dish. I liked the cauliflower but I think I was expecting something a bit more special out of this dish. At the end of the day it was just spiced roasted cauliflower.

          1. re: Westminstress

            I think it may have been your spices. This is one of my favorite menu items at AOC. When I've made it at home, it's come out wonderfully.

            1. re: dkennedy

              I have a feeling you are right, and I might be willing to give it another go following the directions exactly. One thing that was a little weird was the dish was a bit dry despite 4 Tbsp of fat plus the vinegar. I expected a more unctuous texture somehow.

              1. re: Westminstress

                I don't know. I made the cauliflower with fresh spices, exactly as directed, and I really didn't like it either. Odd, because that mix of spices would usually produce something I like. I think the vinegar just tasted wrong in that dish.

          2. re: JoanN

            Wonderful review/report Joan. Confession: I've leaned, after all these years, I do not like chickpeas.

            I'm living this cookbook through all the marvelous reviews. Thanks All!

            1. re: Gio

              gio, sigh, FINally someone else who doesn't like chickpeas. i wish i did, but it's the mealyness that puts me off. if hoomus is plain, i feel the same but if it is spiced well, i like it.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Yes, along with the mealy texture to me chickpeas have very little flavor. I used to make hummus regularly but a few months ago I decided I'd had it with chickpeas after I used up the last bit of dried ones. I love all beans except chickpeas.

                1. re: Gio

                  Isn't that funny how tastes differ? I love chickpeas the best of any bean. Both the nutty flavor and the firm texture (I wouldn't call them bland or mealy).

                  1. re: Westminstress

                    Love them too and for the same reasons. Also love black and navy and beluga lentils the best.

                    1. re: Westminstress

                      I love them too, but usually end up having to sub something in recipes because my husband is in the anti-chickpea crowd. The only beans I don't like are lima beans, and I've found that made into a spread even they can be appealling.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        Sunday Suppers has a recipe involving lima beans that is very tasty. Have you tried it?

                        1. re: herby

                          *shuffling feet* erm, no. I have to say that I haven't gotten to the point yet where I actually want to make lima bean recipes. But ... I'll give it a look.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            She used fresh lima bean, maybe that made a difference. I don't think I ever used dry or frozen.

                            1. re: herby

                              now herby, i thought we were FRIENDS....!?
                              But ya gotta stop using that L word. yuckola! in VA they call them 'butter beans' and they are my HATEST vegetable.
                              they are famous in Brunswick stew, a VA/NC specialty(liked the stew but always picked out every single one of those little L beans....) and succotash. Edamame make a delicious substitute imo!

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I shudder at the thought of the succotash my mother used to serve us. And I like almost everything (at least vegetable wise).

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  We are, we are just do not like the same bean :))

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    This thread has me laughing. I always HATED lima beans/butter beans as a child and I just have never eaten them as an adult. I decided that maybe this year I should give them a try so I bought some freshly shelled ones from the Farmer's Market. I put them in the freezer and they are still there ... I just have not been inspired to try them.

                                    1. re: stockholm28

                                      well stockholm, if , one day, someone steals all the food out of your freezer exCEPT the butter beans, you'll know it was Lmom or me!

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        Good to have you back , chef! Looking forward to some interesting recipes from you. In the mean time I should make your eggplant soon :)

                                  2. re: herby

                                    Fresh Lima beans are totally different. My kids love them freshly cooked.

                              2. re: LulusMom

                                And I Like lima beans and G doesn't. As Westmistress said, "tastes differ".

                                1. re: Gio

                                  You sure we're not sisters, Gio? Like limas, dislike chickpeas. In fact, I loooove limas. And beg to differ with oc that edamame makes a delicious substitute. I like edamame well enough, but when both limas and corn are in season, nothin'--but NOTHIN'--beats freshly shelled limas in succotash.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    I'd love it if we were, Joan! I guess I just love beans that are creamy. Cannellini hold the same attraction.

                            2. re: Gio

                              Chickpeas' mealy texture puts me off, as well, and just plain cooked, they taste chalky and underdone to me because of it. I like the flavor just fine once the texture's transformed, so I'm A-OK with hummus, falafel, or roasted chickpeas, but otherwise not a fan. There's something textural that gets me with limas and favas, as well (though I know an anti-fava stance is downright heretical to some!).

                        2. re: JoanN

                          Interesting to read your account of chickpeas' cooking. I do not have the book and do not intend to buy at this time but curious to follow the cooking adventure :) Back to chickpeas. I love them in many incarnations and last night decided to make some and soaked a bunch, whatever was left in a jar. This morning put them to boil and cooked for about 45 min before leaving for work. Usually this is enough time to make nice tender beans but I got home tonight they were still a bit tough, not exactly crunchy but not tender either. These were a mix of chickpeas from the back of the pantry and some must've been old. I put them back to cook and an hour later they were still the same. Then I remembered that Ottolenghi put a bit of baking soda in water and decided in desperation to add some to the pot. Viola! Half an hour later I had a pot of wonderfully tender chickpeas. I am going to try it with other beans. My guess is that slight change in pH makes a huge difference in bean cookery. Who knew!

                          1. re: herby

                            But, be aware that using baking soda destroys important nutrients and vitamins. It's really best to soak older beans for a longer time to ensure the beans will be cooked well..

                            1. re: Gio

                              Really? How would it happen with a touch of sodium bicarbonate? Gio, do you have a reference for me to read up on it? Very curious...

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Thank you, Gio! These are just opinions, you know, and my science background does not lend itself well to unsupported statements :) I found an interesting site - http://beaninstitute.com/ - associated with North Dakota State University but nothing there. Going to check Art of Fermentation tonight - it is well researched and documented book. I am very interested in beans and grains and want to know more about them. There is so much hype and I wonder is there any value to sprouted flours, for example, or is it just a marketing ploy.

                                  1. re: herby

                                    You're welcome Herby! I agree with your further investigation. It only makes sense to do that. I soak dry beans before cooking them sometimes using the over night method and sometimes by the quick stove top method. In either case I've not had a problem with older beans at all. In fact for one of Jamie Oliver's bean recipes he adds a chopped tomato to the initial cooking which is a no-no for some. Jacques Pepin doesn't soak them at all, just like MelMM.

                                    I have read that if baking soda is to be used at all it shouldn't be more than the tiniest amount, then as Mell said, drained but more importantly rinsed very well before well cooking.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I added baking soda last night in desperation because the beans would not soften, left them cool in the pot since it was getting late and stuffed them into the fridge in their pot still in the liquid this morning. I might find a disaster on my hands when I get home and need to start from scratch. But I have no chickpeas left...

                                      Usually, I soak beans over night changing water at least once and sometimes twice. Then cook them in fresh plain water. 98% of time this works great.

                                      1. re: herby

                                        While we're discussing bean-cooking lore, I thought I'd also mention that the old-wives' tale about not adding salt is just that. In fact, when put to the test, it has been found that beans cook up better with salt added in from the start. Plus, they come out seasoned all the way through. Cook's Illustrated also recommends putting salt in the soaking water.

                                2. re: herby

                                  My problem with baking soda in beans is the taste. As you can see in the links Gio posted, it can impart a soapy taste. I would only use it if you plan on discarding the cooking water, and I would only use a tiny amount. Personally, I do not use it.

                                  I am a non-soaker where beans are concerned. The trick to me is to get fresh beans, which means buy them at a place with a high turnover, and don't keep them around too long. I cook them on low heat in a clay pot, and allow plenty of time.

                                  1. re: MelMM

                                    Gio and Mel, I had to come back and confess what a disaster that baking soda has created - never again! Crunchy beans are much better than mushy ones a bit on a slimy side. So I froze two cups, made one cup of humus and thrown the rest out. I probably will throw out the frozen ones too. Humus was my pathetic attempt to salvage chickpeas and is probably no good - I'll taste before serving. My original plan was to roast chickpeas with some warm spices for a before dinner nibble. I do have nice crackers and tapenade and a few pickles - we'll be fine. But what a disaster!

                          2. Roasted pear crisp with cranberries and yogurt sherbet (page 339)

                            Another multi-component dish. I made the sherbet (page 341) a few days ahead of time. Plain whole milk yogurt (I used TJ’s), a tablespoon of vodka (to keep the sherbet from becoming too icy), vanilla, agave syrup, whole milk, sugar. This was wonderful; so refreshing; not too sweet; perfect complement to the crisp. One guest asked for seconds of the sherbet without the crisp.

                            Cranberry compote (page 340): frozen cranberries, dried cranberries (for texture), sugar, cinnamon stick, grated zest of half an orange, seeds and pod of half a vanilla bean. Dump it all together and simmer until thickened. She says 15 to 25 minutes and mine took the full 25 at least.

                            For the topping, pulse flour, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a processor with cold butter until it resembles coarse meal. Squeeze it into clumps and refrigerate until you need it.

                            Peel 5 pounds of ripe but firm Comice or D’Anjou pears (I used Comice) and cut into one-inch wedges. Caramelize them in batches in butter and sugar until browned but not too soft on each side. (This was a major PITA! I used my large CI skillet, it still required four batches; and they all caramelized at different times depending on where they were in the skillet. I thought I was going to get repetitive stress syndrome in my wrist turning and checking on them with a pair of tongs).

                            To assemble: lightly butter an 8 X 10 baking dish (I don’t have one; I used something a bit smaller and only needed about three-quarters of the cooked pears and less than half the streusel topping) and put half the pears on the bottom; top with a layer of Cranberry Compote, then another layer of pears, the rest of the compote, and top all with the streusel. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. It took closer to an hour for my topping to get golden brown, but that may have been because I kept opening the oven to check. Serve warm with a scoop of yogurt sherbet.

                            This was a lovely winter dessert. And the yogurt sherbet, as I said was a perfect accompaniment. But the pears were such a pain and the streusel wasn’t anywhere near as good as the one in Carole Walter’s coffeecake book. I’d make the sherbet again in a heartbeat. Not the crisp. Gotta be easier recipes out there that would pack the same punch with considerably less effort.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: JoanN

                              Thanks for the review of this. I thought it sounded good for a potluck in a few days. The heads up about the pears is helpful. And I'm going to look for that other streusel recipe.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Is this the coffee cake recipe with streusel you are thinking of? From Carole Walters? I think I have the book, but deep in storage. This streusel has pecans and some dark sugars and cinnamon. No butter.

                                What you are thinking you preferred to the AOC pear crisp streusel?

                                1. re: karykat

                                  Carol's Favorite Streusel, on page 350 of her coffeecake book, was the one I was thinking of and it does have butter. It's really quite an extraordinary streusel, and has left me disappointed with any streusel I've had since. Walter's recipe contains a small amount of nuts, which I probably wouldn't bother with if I were substituting hers for the Goin in this recipe. And one could add the bit of nutmeg called for in the Goin and replace some of the white sugar with dark brown, although I doubt either change would make that big a difference.

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      Thanks for the streusel recipe. I made a cranberry streusel coffee cake on Monday but I didn't like how the streusel came out. I will try this the next time.

                              2. What a feast, JoanN! It sounds just the thing for a complete Holiday menu. I'm glad you started this thread so I can live vicariously till I'm convinced to buy the book.

                                1. In the midst of finals here ( my kid's, not mine) will post starting next week.

                                  1. Grilled Arctic Char with Arugula and Cherry Tomato, p. 116

                                    This is the first recipe I tried out of A.O.C. and I was very impressed.

                                    The arctic char (this is my first experience cooking this type of fish) looks a lot like salmon. The fishmonger described it as on the oily side but mild in flavor. I was wary, I don’t like oily fishes. Bought it anyway and made it as described in the recipe. Perfect results. The fish grills beautifully. The butter sauce, salad, and vinaigrette all played nicely against each other. One note: if using canned anchovies (which I did) omit any additional salt from the sauce. Other than finding time to go to the fishmonger on a weekday, this recipe is a good candidate for a weeknight meal.

                                    1. The Young goat cheese with dried figs and Saba, p. 26.

                                      This is the second recipe I tried in this book. We had this with dinner on Tuesday served alongside pasta. The only cooking involved in this recipe was caramelizing the shallots. More a technique than a recipe, I loved the way these shallots came out. It made the salad.

                                      1. Grilled chicken with fresh garbanzos, corn and chile cumin butter, p. 187.

                                        I had to modify things for this recipe so my results may be a little off. I took chicken out of the freezer to defrost and proceeded with the other prep. I had fresh garbanzos in my freezer. When the chicken was defrosted, I realized it was a boneless pork shoulder so I adapted. I seasoned the pork and served in the style of this recipe. The chile cumin butter is outstanding on its own and I think it really takes the results over the top. The pork shoulder was outstanding. Put this one on your list of recipes to try but make sure you buy chicken.

                                        1. Skordalia, p. 186.

                                          I have been looking for a Skordalia recipe for some time because my local Greek restaurant serves it as a warm dip and I devour it every time I go there.

                                          I made this to serve alongside the Arctic char the other day for my cooking class. For those of you who are not familiar, this is variation of mashed potatoes made with olive oil, raw garlic, and blanched almonds. I liked this Skordalia but it does not come close to the one served at my favorite Greek restaurant.

                                          1. Sweet Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach and Romesco, p. 253

                                            I made this for Thanksgiving where it got rave reviews from some of my guests (and two requests for the recipe.)

                                            Roast the sweet potato chunks with reduced sherry, some brown sugar and browned butter (8 oz!) with sage and thyme added. Meanwhile mix up a batch of romesco and fry up a fairly large quantity (3/4 lb bacon per 4 lb sweet potatoes) of lardons. This is not a low-fat recipe. The romesco is the same wonderful version that's in Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

                                            When the potatoes are finished, toss in the bacon and a hefty quantity of baby spinach. Spoon the romesco over and around - I stirred it in.

                                            I loved this. But bacon? Butter? Romesco???? Of COURSE I loved it! It was really over the top fabulous to me.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: mirage

                                              I LOVE this dish at the restaurant - I order it every time I go.

                                              1. re: mirage

                                                HMMM.now that sounds pretty darn fantastic.

                                              2. Beef Brisket with Slow-roasted Romano Beans and Black Olive Aioli, p. 201

                                                This is a twist on Suzanne's brisket recipe from her first book. The 1/4 c. of balsamic vinegar really distinguishes the end result from other brisket recipes I have tried. Her tip to caramelize the top also makes for a beautiful presentation.

                                                I really enjoyed this brisket recipe but it will not replace my go to recipe, http://saramoulton.com/2011/04/red-wi... which is by far the best brisket recipe I have ever made and I get rave reviews every time I make it.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                  I'm so glad you mentioned the Sara Moulton recipe. I think you must have told us about it before, because I copied it to Pepperplate but never got around to trying it. Afraid now I'm going to try that one instead of the A.O.C. which I'd tagged.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    Sara's recipe is hard to beat. Try both.

                                                  2. re: dkennedy

                                                    I made the brisket with roasted beans and black olive aioli too. My guests and I thought it was fabulous. I couldn't find Romano beans and used green beans instead, I thought they got a tiny bit leathery, but they were still good. I don't remember the brisket in the first book tasting this good.

                                                    The recipe is on epicurious for those who don't have the book.

                                                    I've got to try that Sara Moulton recipe now. I wonder if gluten-free water crackers would work in place of matzo meal.

                                                    1. re: amoule

                                                      You can just omit the dumplings part of the recipe. The rest of it is gluten free and worth the effort.

                                                  3. Looking for some sides to serve for dinner with family that will be out of town on X-Mas day, we turned to The AOC Cookbook. We made the potato puree (p. 208) and the long-cooked cavolo nero (p. 255).

                                                    The potato puree (the same recipe as Sunday Suppers at Lucques) is rich and creamy (even without using the tamis), but it was the cavolo nero (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...) that stole the show.

                                                    Rosemary and chile de arbol are sautéed in olive oil, then sliced onion and garlic are cooked until the onion is soft and begins to color. Add the cavolo nero (blanched in salted water and removed of excess water) and additional olive oil and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. The result was addicting. Most leafy vegetables are ignored at our family dinners, but this was a hit with my husband and nephew wishing I had made more.

                                                    *the recipe calls for 2 dried chiles, but only mentions sautéing one. I just added the 2nd crumbled chile to the finished dish.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: BigSal

                                                      BigSal, I clipped the G&M article and have tucked it in my book. Thanks for the rave endorsement of the cavolo nero, I can't wait to try it. I've been travelling for the better part of the past 2 months (but for 5 days) so it's nice to be home. Once I have Christmas out of the way, I'm keen to tuck into all the great recipes I've flagged with wonderful reviews such as this one. Thanks & happy holidays!

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        I hope you enjoy the cavolo nero as much as we did. Enjoy the holidays and hope your travel schedule lightens up soon-- as we miss your contributions. Have a great holiday!

                                                    2. Bass with Roasted Beets, Cress and Blood Orange Butter - p. 151

                                                      So this is wild bass served over a beet puree, with a roast beet, watercress and mint salad and blood orange butter over the top. Really liked the combo of flavors. Be very careful with the chile d'arbol in the orange butter. It can go wrong very fast. It is a relatively short recipe for Goin but still took a little long. Will have to think about how to cut it down.

                                                      Chocolate mascarpone mousse tart - p. 297
                                                      This was very interesting with the pistachios over top. I got a little overzealous with the seasoning on the pistachios so probably put on twice as much orange zest. Still, very good. No issues. Just realize that it takes a long time for all of the individual parts to set. I didn't let it set long enough but it didn't matter.

                                                      Parsnips and turnips with sage and prunes - p. 250
                                                      I didn't have turnips, only parsnips. This was only ok for me. I thought the preparation of the parsnips was interesting - they got really crispy. But again, not sure I loved it.

                                                      1. Pink Snapper with Coconut Rice, Peanuts, and Kumquat Sambal - page unknown (iPad ed.)

                                                        I used red snapper for the fish, which I grilled on a mini green egg at high temp. The sambal was made according to the recipe. In the last steps, where you sauté more shallots and the ginger, then the recipe calls for the sambal and kumquats to be added together, I changed the order and added the kumquats, then the sambal, mainly because the headnote described "sizzling slices of kumquat", and I couldn't see how they were going to sizzle if they were sitting in a bunch of other ingredients. I didn't have mizuna, so I used the option of scallions, plus some extra cilantro. For the coconut rice, I cooked the rice in the coconut milk, which is how I usually would cook a coconut rice, instead of cooking rice and then pouring coconut milk over it and letting it absorb.

                                                        Hmmm. The wine pairing note talks about choosing one that won't be overwhelmed by the sambal's heat. What heat? There was none. The kumquat came through loud and clear, which was fine, but the sambal itself was pretty bland. This looked lovely on the plate, but the flavors did not wow me. I actually bought more kumquats (having already preserved the large quantity I brought home from Texas) to make this. I don't know how to describe it, but this just seemed a bit off to me. Didn't love it. It was darn pretty on the plate, though.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                          Hmm....this has been on my list for sometime. Will have to review the recipe.

                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                            Part of the problem here was that compared to the fish dishes from Isabel's Cantina that I made last week, this one was more work, but not any better. Actually, not as good. I'm really talking about the flavor of the sauce here, as opposed to the fish itself or the rice.

                                                        2. Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Parmesan

                                                          Interesting little things, these. Very easy to make. You take a pitted date, put a little slice of good parmesan cheese where the pit would be, and wrap it in a thin-cut piece of bacon. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or so, until the bacon is crisp, and there you have it. Oh, you can serve with some parsley.

                                                          I think a lot of people will love these. Mr. MM being one of them. They are kind of sweet, and a whole lot of savory. I liked eating one, but not too many of these for me. This is a great cocktail nibble for entertaining, because they can be assembled in advance, and cooked very quickly just before serving. It's probably important to use the thin bacon as called for, because it will get completely crisp, which really makes the dish.

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                            These have been on the menu since AOC started and are hugely popular. I have been known to make them and serve them to my guests at my temple progressive dinner (shhh - don't tell them about the bacon.....sometimes I use turkey bacon, but sometimes I don't).

                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                              A local shop carries duck bacon. They might be fun to try with that.

                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                Oh, I've been looking for duck bacon forever and have not seen it yet. Who makes it, Mel?

                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  I get it from a local market that is owned by a local farm. I'm not sure who makes it, and the label isn't giving away any secrets. I'm attaching a picture of the label in its entirety. They do have a butcher shop, so maybe they are making it in house, but they are selling it frozen, so I think it may be coming from some other local source, and they are selling under their own name. They do carry eggs, raw milk, and such from other local farms.

                                                                  The duck bacon flies off the shelf (pun intended).

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    Thank you, Mel, very kind. You just gave me an idea. There is a duck farm about an hour drive from me. We go there for brunch from time to time - they only serve weekend brunch. They raise ducks and sell all kinds of dusck products but I have not seen bacon. However, I have not been there in two years and things do change - I am going to call them and inquire.

                                                                    1. re: herby

                                                                      Good idea. Maybe they will start making it, if you ask.

                                                                  2. re: herby

                                                                    D'artagnan also makes a duck bacon. I believe you can mail order it, but you could also ask at your local WFs.

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      Thank you for the suggestion!

                                                                      We do not have WF yet - it is coming soon. I have not seen D'artagnan products in Canada but have not looked for them either. Will check, good to know that they sell duck bacon.

                                                                      I looked at the local farm web page; didn't find duck bacon but found out that they are offering a duck cooking class around my friend's BD. I am going to round up a small group and take the class which will be a present for my friend. Quite pleased with self :)

                                                                      1. re: herby

                                                                        <" Quite pleased with self ...">
                                                                        And well you should be, you Dear! How I wish I could be there too!

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          And I think you would love it, Gio. The farm is large but family run - there are horses and chicken and ducks, mainly ducks. The kitchen is open to the dining room with wood-burning grill. It is in the old barn with large windows cut into the walls. There are a couple of swings outside and a maple shack. Have a pick: http://www.mariposa-duck.on.ca/defaul...

                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                          oh mannnnn, d'artagnan, are they dangerous or what?!! fantastic smoked duck and goose years ago. one of the food highlights of my life!

                                                                2. Alaskan Black Cod with Kabocha Squash, Golden Raisins, and Pedro Ximenez - p. 128

                                                                  I've resisted buying Sunday Suppers at Lucques over the years, but so far I'm really enjoying this book, so I might have to cave and add it to the collection as well.

                                                                  The timing on this recipe wouldn't be bad for a weeknight if the squash puree was made ahead of time. The recipe does call for a ridiculous amount of butter and cream though, so perhaps it's best if it doesn't become an every day meal. The components of this dish include a squash puree, wilted Swiss chard, fried cod, and a sherry raisin butter sauce.

                                                                  To make the squash puree, kabocha squash is roasted with thyme until tender and pureed with brown butter, heavy cream, and sage. She calls for peeling the squash before roasting, but I found it much easier to do so after it had roasted. She also calls for pureeing in a food processor in batches, but our food processor is on the small side, so I used the blender instead. I had no difficulty pureeing in the blend and as a bonus, I was able to do it all in one batch.

                                                                  For the fish, you're supposed to marinate it with lemon zest, thyme, and parsley for at least 4 hours or overnight. I missed that and was only able to marinade for an hour. After marinating, the fish is seasoned with salt and pepper and fried. Sadly, I lost most of the skin when I flipped the fish.

                                                                  For the Swiss chard, the chard is sauteed with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper until tender.

                                                                  Finally, for the sauce, golden raisins are soaked in boiling water, drained, and then soaked in a mix of Pedro Ximenez and dry sherry for half and hour. I just used sherry. This mixture is then combined with brown butter and a bit of salt and pepper and cooked until the sauce emulsifies and a bit of sage is added.

                                                                  The sage in the sauce and puree really helped to balance out the sweetness of the dish, but the dish overall is a bit on the sweet side. The squash puree is incredibly rich. My husband, who is not a fan of squash at all, complimented it many times. The puree and greens also make for a nice color contrast on the plate.

                                                                  1. (Petrale Sole) with Saffron Potatoes and Blood Orange-Meyer Lemon Salsa - p. 143

                                                                    Goin suggests that sole is a good substitute for scallops in this dish and our seafood box gave us an abundance of sole, so I decided to test it. Although the salsa requires a bit of chopping, this recipe is doable on a weeknight. The components include a citrus salsa, boiled potatoes, and grilled scallops.

                                                                    For the scallops, she calls for skewering them on rosemary sticks and seasoning with meyer lemon zest and chopped rosemary. If you're using fish, you'll only need a branch of rosemary to have enough for the marinade. She suggests calls for grilling the scallops, but my sole was so thin that grilling was not an option, so I pan-fried.

                                                                    For the salsa, finely diced shallots are soaked with champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar) and salt. Meanwhile, 2 meyer lemons are cut into a 1/8" dice. Despite her very detailed instructions for cutting the lemons, she doesn't mention anything about the seeds. I did my best to remove those as I went. My lemons were not nearly as precisely diced as she outlined. Two of the blood oranges are cut into segments with the third retained solely for its juice. The citrus is mixed with the shallot along with olive oil, mint, salt, and pepper. 1/2 cup of olive oil seemed like a bit much and I think it would've worked fine with only half as much. I really liked the mint in the salsa when I found it and would've also been happier with significantly more mint in the mixture as the 1 tbsp just didn't seem to go very far.

                                                                    For the potatoes, saffron is first soaked with warm water. Meanwhile, olive oil is heated in a large Dutch oven. Onion, thyme, crumbled chile, salt and pepper are then added and cooked. Chopped potatoes are added to the mix and left to sear in the hot oil. After the potatoes are nicely coated with the onions, the saffron water is added and the potatoes are cooked until tender and the potatoes are glazed. Mine may have been a little more towards soupy than perfectly glazed. Mine also were not as beautifully yellow as the photo. The red onion darkened the color to a less attractive brown.

                                                                    To assemble, the potatoes are placed on the plate. Followed by a scattering of dandelion greens or arugula (I used arugula). Those are them topped with fish and then the salsa. On their own, the potatoes were a bit heavy, but the salsa and peppery arugula really brightened them. I was a little skeptical about having the lemon rind in the salsa, but I didn't mind them at all in the finished dish. I would happily repeat this dish, cutting down a little on the olive oil in the salsa and maybe increasing the mint.

                                                                    1. Balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts with pancetta - p. 245

                                                                      This is a relatively simple side dish compared to the other dishes I've made so far in the book. The balsamic vinegar adds a nice depth of flavor to the dish and sets it apart from other brussels sprouts recipes. I wish I'd had just a slightly higher quality for the dish though as some bites were just a bit too vinegary.

                                                                      To make, brussels sprouts are browned in olive oil and butter with a bit of salt and pepper. Diced pancetta is then added to the pan and cooked until the pancetta starts to crisp. Then diced shallots and garlic are added. Next balsamic vinegar joins the mix. Finally, veal stock is added until it is reduced to a glaze. I used duck in place of the veal, but chicken is also suggested as an alternative.

                                                                      1. Albacore crudo with avocado, cucumber, and ruby grapefruit - p. 137

                                                                        For AOC, this was a pretty quick dinner and no cooking was involved. The avocado puree was excellent and a nice contrast to the grapefruit-cucumber salsa. I was a little concerned the grapefruit would be too sour, but it really worked in the dish.

                                                                        To make the salsa, grapefruit is mixed with diced shallots and lime juice. After those flavors have time to mix, olive oil and diced jalapeno and cucumber are added to the mix. I think I would've been okay with only 1/2 or 2/3 of the amount of olive oil.

                                                                        An avocado puree is made of avocado, lime juice, salt, and a bit of oil.

                                                                        To plate, the avocado puree is smeared on the plate and topped with watercress (I used arugula because I had some that was on its last legs in the fridge). Sliced tuna seasoned with lime zest, salt, and pepper is spread on top, then topped with the cucumber-grapefruit salsa. The final garnish is a bit of sliced cilantro which I forgot on the cutting board, but I'm sure would've been a nice addition.