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March 2014 Cookbook of the Month - Stir: Mixing it up in the Italian Tradition: From the Sea (175-204), Chicken, Duck, Goose (205-232), Beef, Pork and Lamb (233-260)

Greetings all!

Please use this thread to post your reviews of the following:

From the Sea Pg. 175-204
Chicken, Duck, and Goose Pg. 205-232
From the Butcher: Beef, Pork, and Lamb Pg.233-260

Remember to review the thread in order to ensure you reply to the original post on any recipe you are reviewing to make sure all the comments are grouped together.

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  1. Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets Pg. 208

    I got a tiny bit of a headstart as I made this for dinner this past Thursday along with the Braised Tuscan Kale. There were only 3 of us for dinner so we went with a half recipe, which came together quite quickly and easily.

    Essentially you make an herb butter (chives and parsley in my case) which you then set aside while you pound, season, and flour your breasts. These then get pan fried a few minutes per side and then set aside. Meanwhile you reduce chicken broth by about two thirds and preheat the oven to 375. You then melt the herb butter (in the microwave in my case) and add it to some panko which gets pressed onto the breasts before they go into the oven for about 10 minutes until browned. Lastly, you whisk in the remaining butter piece by piece into the reduced stock and drizzle in a bit of lemon juice to finish your sauce. Once your breasts are ready you drizzle the sauce over and serve with lemon wedges on the side. The only detail I left out is that Ms. Lynch has you season at every step, how very chefy of her.

    The end result was good, not all that different from other preparations I've applied to fish and chicken in the past, but still very solid and flavourful. I did have to turn the broiler on for the last few minutes of cooking, but overall the timing for the cooking of these breasts was pretty spot on. The results were very juicy and nicely browned. As for the herb butter and the panko crust, it looked very nice coming out of the oven but I found it softened immediately once I had sauced it. Mind you, the sauce was very good so I might serve on the side next time to try and preserve the crust. Otherwise a very nice weekday dish. My only other suggestion is to make sure you are conservative with your salt as you are salting at several stages.

    A good start to the month for me.

    10 Replies
    1. re: delys77

      Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets, p.208

      I've now made this dish twice - the first time following the recipe pretty closely and heeding the advice from delys regarding the sauce. It will indeed soften the nice panko crust if too much is spooned over the chicken so I was judicious when drizzling it. On the other hand, the crust does benefit from a dressing (and all the lemon flavor comes from the sauce). So, the second time around I made the sauce a bit more lemony by decreasing the amount of stock and increasing the amount of lemon juice, and adding lemon zest. I also roasted cherry tomatoes and topped them with more lemon zest, spooning them over the finished chicken along with a small ladle of sauce (a bit of a deviation, but it worked well, and I love lemon!).

      As delys mentioned, the recipe is quick and easy to put together (the herb butter could be made ahead) and the cooking time given for the breasts was quite accurate as my chicken was very juicy as well. I used parsley, tarragon and chives for the herb butter, which was a nice combination.

      1. re: lesliej

        That sounds excellent Leslie, if it wasn't for my tomato hating husband I would likely follow suit. I will however make note of your upping the ante on the lemon as that also sounds like a good idea.

      2. re: delys77

        Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets, p. 208

        My husband loves breaded cutlets of any stripe, and I'm quite fond of them myself--if someone else is preparing them. To me, they are a royal pain to make. Ever armed with an ulterior motive, I promised him these one night recently in exchange for an onerous yard chore.

        Delys77 has already covered the process (and turned out a lovely plate) so I won't repeat.

        The cutlets were delicious; we especially loved the lemony sauce (although it seemed really thin). But I won't be doing these this way again as I found them slightly more a PITB than my/the usual method, and they did not brown well in the oven during the suggested time, except around the edges, and then there was the previously mentioned softening.

        I get better results frying pre-breaded cutlets in clarified butter (as my adopted Oma taught me): they're crunchy, brown, and I've never had trouble with burning of thin cutlets. (Of course, I've never tried doing very many at once.) I will do a variation on this sauce, adding the herbs to it, because we both agreed it kicked these up a notch.

        1. re: delys77

          Lemony Breaded Chicken Cutlets Pg. 208

          My turn! After reading your reports, I made a few modifications. Mr. SMT wanted our usual Chicken Forrestier, but he is flexible, and I didn't give him a choice.

          I added some lemon zest to the breadcrumbs which I had flavored with chives and thyme. Where is that parsley? Not in the crisper. I had to cut the whole breast into two. They were just too big for our frypans. I thinned them to about 1/4" thick.

          For the sauce, I used homemade, but not roasted, chicken stock. This was a lot of sauce!

          To serve, I put some of the sauce on the bottom of the plate which did spread as I expected. I then added the roasted mushrooms, used the rest of the sauce to "dress" the orchiette, and then the chicken propped up to the side with the crispy side up.

          I got a crispy chicken, with a nicely sauced dinner. Salad was served on a separate plate.

          I liked this prep and can imagine pulling it out when I am feeding a full table. Just being able to prep the chicken in advance is enticing.

            1. re: delys77

              Your notes were essential to my dinner. Thanks!

              1. re: smtucker

                Great, I'm glad I could be of help. That's the best part of COTM.

            2. re: smtucker

              The three pieces of chicken leftover from last night's dinner went into the toaster oven,resting on the rack to rewarm. Pulled out some homemade rolls, slathered them with pesto and topped with some bibb lettuce. When the chicken was warm, they were added and a sandwich was born.

              A very good sandwich at that!

              Forgot to mention last night that in the future, I would add some grated garlic to the breadcrumbs and more garlic to the sauce. The whole dish just screamed "I need some garlic."

                1. re: smtucker

                  Oh yes, garlic - that would have been a great addition!

            3. Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Thyme

              I didn't get pictures - by the time it was ready I was starving!

              I followed the recipe for the beef and it was succulent and tasty. I wasn't quite on the same page as the Red Wine Sauce because I didn't have any shallots or onions, so I just omitted them. It was still really tasty.

              Instead of standard potatoes and spinach to accompany the beef, I made a mushroom and garlic couscous. The Red Wine Sauce was excellent with this as well.

              3 Replies
              1. re: malleechick

                Mushroom and garlic couscous, sounds like a nice pairing.

                1. re: delys77

                  ... and easy AS! I fried the garlic and mushrooms in butter until they were soft and then added the couscous. Poured in the right volume of water and waited two minutes. There was a little run off juice from the resting beef, so I poured that in as well. So I had a touch of the thyme in with the mushrooms. I love it when something ad hoc turns out to be just the right thing.

              2. So, I'm on a roll ... and want to do the Chicken Meatball Lasagnettes

                But ... a question for someone from 'down under' ... what is 'panko'??

                Is that breadcrumbs?

                5 Replies
                1. re: malleechick

                  Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs that are very light in texture and super crisp when used as topping or coating and baked or fried/sautéed. You should be able to find them in a well-stocked market in AU or NZ, I'd think, though they may be with Japanese or Asian foods rather than where dry breadcrumbs are kept. If you can't find them, fine dry breadcrumbs would be the best sub.

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    Thank you ... that's what I thought, but also thought I should check up before I do anything silly.

                  2. re: malleechick

                    Panko is/are Japanese breadcrumbs. They are neutral in taste, but become very crunchy when fried.

                    1. re: malleechick

                      I have my eye on this as well malleechick! I cheated and had my butcher grind the chicken for me. Unfortunately time got away from me today so I froze the chicken and will make this next weekend. Can't wait to read your review!

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        I should always remind myself that I don't always share other people's raves. That said, I enjoyed the dish, but not as much as some reviewers.
                        I chopped the chicken mince up by hand (I wanted that sort of job so I could continue to listen to an audio book) so it wasn't finely minced. I found that the meatballs were a little dry.
                        I liked the creme fraiche / sour cream in the bechamel sauce - and will probably do that again some time.
                        And by the time I got to assemble it all, I was OVER the fiddling so I used sheets of lasagne and baked it in my normal lasgane dish.
                        Hubby quite liked it too. He saw all that jus on the plate and 'drank' it straight away ... and I scolded him for doing it in the worng order. He thought that it was escaped juice from the baking!

                    2. Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples, Celery, and Spiced Walnuts, Pg. 249

                      This recipe actually has 5 separate but simple components. We only cooked the chops and the celery and parsley salad, more like a gremolata. The other 3/5 are caramelized apples, spiced walnuts, and pureed turnip. The chops start out on the stove top then are moved into the oven to finish. For the celery and parsley only 2 small stalks thinly sliced with a few leaves as well, and chopped parsley dressed with S & P & EVOO w lemon juice.

                      The 2 components complimented each other deliciously. The thick bone-in chops were tender and juicy. Two of my favorite words. The timing for stove top and oven was perfect and I'll continue to use that method from now on. The simple but flavorful celery and parsley salad spiked with lemon juice was perfect with the chops. This was a quick meal that's very good for a weeknight.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        Hey there Gio, did you bribe your chops?

                        1. re: delys77

                          She bribed them with apples! :-)

                          1. re: delys77

                            I'm guessing you meant to type "brine". No, the chops went from wrapper to skillet w/o brining just seasoned w S & P right before cooking.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Ha ha yes you inferred correctly, my bad on the typo

                          2. re: Gio

                            Sounds wonderful Gio. I have this tabbed as well. Glad to hear it was a hit. I can imagine the lemon really finishing this perfectly.

                          3. Cornish Game Hen Cacciatore P. 218
                            I didn't have Cornish hens but had nice organic chicken sitting in the fridge without a purpose. So, I made half of this cacciatore using chicken legs. I followed recipe exactly but made one mistake - measured wine and chicken stock into one cup and instead of reducing wine first, adding stock and reducing it, I poured combined wine and stock and reduced. No matter, the resulting dish is superb - perfectly cooked chicken, slightly spicy and not soupy at all which is always my beef with braises. I didn't make polenta and had cacciatore on its own but will make polenta tomorrow to have with leftovers.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: herby

                              That sounds great herby! I'm not a big fan of small birds so your chicken sounds perfect to me. I'll have to add this to my list.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Curious to hear your opinion, BC :) I think legs or just thighs (I do prefer legs) are much better in this dish than breasts.

                                1. re: herby

                                  Only because I'm not a big fan of the cartilage in the legs, but I'd go with bone-in thighs herby. I agree, breasts are a bit bland and don't lend themselves well to a dish like this...IMHO.

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                    For me, cacciatore has to have bones :) But whatever works, right?

                                    1. re: herby

                                      I agree herby. The bones add flavour.

                              2. re: herby

                                This is on my list so I'm happy to read your report. G doesn't like Cornish hens and I have 4 fat thighs in the freezer. (that doesn't sound right) Not reducing the wine and stock separately will save some time so I'll note that ASAP. Thanks Herby!

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I know what you mean - good and plumb but not fatty :) I reduced wine-stock somewhat and then put chicken back in and cooked till done uncovered all the way.

                                2. re: herby

                                  Cornish Game Hen Cacciatore, Pg. 218

                                  We made the Cacciatore last night for Sunday dinner and it was absolutely one of the best caacciatores I've ever eaten. This in spite of the fact Chef Lynch omits most of the traditional ingredients like mushrooms, carrot, celery, olives, capers that Batali, Bastianich, and Hazan use. She manages to create a complex dish that is evocative of Old School Italian country food.

                                  I did make a few adjustments, such as using only 3/4 cup of stock, 4 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, boxed Pomi tomatoes, and instead of using a fresh red bell pepper I used 1/2 cup of TJ's frozen tri-color sliced peppers. I find I can digest these better than fresh so from now on I'll be doing that.

                                  The key to this dish I think is in reducing the sauce to concentrate those wonderful flavors. While this was cooking the aromas from the kitchen reminded me of my childhood when grandmothers and aunts cooked Sunday dinner and the rest of us waited not so patiently until we were called to the table.

                                  Baked polenta was served as suggested: polenta in the middle of a flat-rimmed bowl, sauce on top, chicken on top of that, with minced parsley sprinkled over all. A tossed salad was all we needed to finish. I enthusiastically recommend this recipe!

                                  1. re: herby

                                    Cornish Game Hen (Chicken) Cacciatore Pg. 218

                                    My turn for this lovely dish last night. I was drawn to it because my spouse isn't a huge fan of cacciatore, but this recipe looked different enough that it might please us both. I believe his aversion stems from his grandmother's version that often had soggy chicken skin and bad olives. Since this version would consist of neither of those I thought it might be able to convert him.

                                    As mentioned by Gio, many of the usual suspects are omitted from this rendition. Essentially we have onions, peppers, chiles, tomatoes, garlic, wine, and stock. This recipe however is much more than the sum of its parts. The sauce cooks down to a luscious jammy consistency which is just packed with flavour. Also, in my case I used it to sauce the chicken, vs my usual experience for cacciatore where the chicken is usually swimming in sauce. This allowed my braised chicken to retain more of its lovely texture and crispy skin, while still offering plenty of sauce to enjoy.

                                    As evidenced in the title I used chicken thighs and I went with about 2.5 lbs (7 thighs). I did cook them partially covered for about 20-25 minutes and they were just right after spending a minute of so under the broiler to re-crisp the skin. I served with celery root and potato puree (not a fan of polenta).

                                    I will definitely be making this again.

                                    1. re: delys77

                                      I'm one of those who has never been a fan of cacciatore--I guess I've never had a really good one--but all these reports have me re-thinking my prejudice.

                                  2. Blue Cheese Butter p.242
                                    I have a chunk of old-ish blue cheese in the fridge which I am trying to use up and this butter sounds like a good idea since I have a friend for dinner on Friday and will be making steaks. I made much smaller quantity but followed BL proportions using green part of green onions instead of chives. It taste very nice and now I wish that I made bigger log for the freezer but who knew :) Will update after Friday dinner.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: herby

                                      I saw this in the book and tabbed it immediately. Years ago I had some blue cheese butter on a steak and I swooned. I preferred the butter to the meat!! Can't wait to try this. Thanks for the review herby!

                                      1. re: herby

                                        That sounds wonderful ... can't wait til my book arrives ... I hope it is soon.

                                        1. re: herby

                                          BLUE CHEESE BUTTER – p. 242

                                          Oh my goodness this was delicious! Big thanks to herby for drawing our attention to this recipe. Prep is very straightforward. The recipe yields about a cup and I halved the recipe. Room temperature butter is mixed with finely chopped chives, salt, pepper and good-quality blue cheese, which in my case was a creamy Gorgonzola. Since mr bc and I are garlic heads, I couldn’t resist the urge to toss in a little finely chopped garlic as well. The mixture is then rolled and refrigerated until needed.

                                          I’ve used the butter in two applications. mr bc grilled some lovely porcini crusted veal chops and we served a pat of this atop each to the delight of our guests. I’d highly recommend adding the garlic. Somehow the combination of butter, salt, chives and the cheese just screamed steakhouse. It really did take the grilled meat from good to great. I also used some of the leftover butter to coat some freshly made (at a local Italian market) porcini ravioli. Both were excellent. I’m with herby, we love this stuff!!

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Happy to hear you enjoyed it, BC! But what's not to love, right? We enjoyed it on the steaks - the blue cheese butter melted all over the steaks as they were resting and made delicious sauce. I still have a piece sitting in the fridge and love your ravioli idea, maybe even to top mushroom ragu. Yum! I am getting hungry just thinking about the possibilities:)

                                        2. Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Garlic, Pg. 213

                                          Sunday night dinner: Wonderful! Using a combination of ordinary pantry ingredients coupled with a pretty straightforward method produced chicken that was simply perfect. The two descriptors I seem to use often "tender and juicy" applies here. The directions are well known for a braise like this, it's the fresh and pungent ingredients that make the difference. We halved the recipe.

                                          After seasoning with S & P bone in/skin on chicken thighs are first seared all over then removed from a skillet. Heat is reduced, chopped garlic is cooked, chopped rosemary is added, pour in a dry white wine (chardonnay for us) and reduce, add chicken stock. Return chicken to skillet, set cover slightly askew, and cook about 30 minutes. You want the liquids to reduce considerably during this phase.

                                          Remove the chicken and keep warm while a sauce is made, in the remaining pan liquid, with chopped parsley and lemon juice. This is poured over the chicken, then either fleur de sel or Maldon salt (we used Maldon) is sprinkled over all. Serve.

                                          We enjoyed this immensely and would gladly cook it again.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio

                                            My copy of "Stir" just showed up today--this is one of the recipes that caught my eye, glad to hear it works well. Did you serve it with a starch? Or just veg sides?

                                            1. re: qianning

                                              I served the braised chicken with Ben's Wild Rice Salad. found on page 287 but I'm not sure it was the best combination to be honest. There's so many flavors with each dish that we may have been over loaded. But each was really delicious in it's own right. The remaining wild rice salad was served tonight with a basic roast chicken and it was a Great dinner.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Garlic, Pg. 213

                                              http://issuu.com/welcomebooks/docs/pr... (search for barbara lynch


                                              We also made a half recipe of this. We used the legs (thigh and drumstick) left over from making the roasted chicken stock and an extra thigh from the freezer.

                                              Gio's descriptors of tender and juicy were spot on. We made the recipe with Lynch's roasted chicken stock. The stock has a deep brown color making it look more like a roasted veal stock. The roasted stock added a depth of flavor and savoriness to the sauce. This made for a comforting meal on a cold, winter's night.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Garlic, p. 213

                                                What a great recipe! We had this for dinner tonight, and it is going into the regular rotation. Since I had five chicken thighs, I made 2/3 recipe, using BL's roasted chicken stock and an inexpensive Spanish white wine. And I was happy to have a reason to use the rosemary and parsley from my garden.

                                                Deceptively simple, with, as Gio has pointed out, ingredients many are likely to have on hand, it makes for a perfect week night meal, but I wouldn't hesitate to serve this (indeed tender and juicy) chicken to guests. This reminded me a lot of a local restaurant's "rosemary chicken," which my sister adores (so I know what I'm cooking next time she comes over).

                                                We had this with a side salad and farro tossed with sauteed mushrooms, over which we spooned the lemony, garlicky pan juices. So good.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Garlic, p. 213

                                                  I would not have made this dish but for the positive reports here, and believe me I was grumbling and complaining the whole way through the recipe, as the preparation seemed much more fussy than necessary. In order to streamline the prep for a weeknight, I used two skillets to brown the thighs and combined the wine (vermouth, in my case) and chicken stock (1 cup of water plus 1 tsp Better than Bouillion -- I added less stock than called for so as to spend less time reducing the sauce) rather than waiting for the wine to reduce before adding the stock. If I have one complaint about these BL recipes, it is the cheffy touch of adding so much liquid to the recipes, and then you have to spend so much time reducing it. When you have two hungry young kids and a hungry husband all waiting for dinner, life is too short! All carping and complaining aside, I have to say that after cooking the chicken, further reducing the sauce, and adding the lemon juice and parsley, I was singing a different tune. The sauce was so luscious and delicious! We loved it. I served this dish with a barley, spinach and mushroom salad from Diana Henry, and the two paired well together.

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    I think this is my favorite recipe in the book.

                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                    Braised Chicken Thighs with Rosemary and Garlic - p. 213

                                                    All the recommendations here made me choose this dish to cook. The prep time as a weeknight dish was fine for me (though I no longer have hungry children impatient for dinner). I thought it was OK as an everyday chicken dish but I don't think of it as guest-worthy. It may be better using her roast-chicken broth as I had to use stock from a carton. I served it with the Tuscan kale on p.276

                                                  3. SALMON WITH ROASTED RATATOUILLE AND SAFFRON AIOLI – p. 182

                                                    We usually have salmon at least once per week so I decided to make the Aioli and Ratatouille for this dish the day ahead so all I needed to do on a work night was to cook the salmon. The dish was light and flavourful and with much of the work done in advance, it made for a quick and satisfying weeknight meal.

                                                    Prep is fairly straight forward. My zucchini were very small so I opted to simply slice my vegetables rather than squaring them off and making more visually appealing batons as Ms Lynch suggests. Vegetables are brushed w evoo and layered on a parchment lined baking sheet then seasoned with salt and a little pepper. The recipe calls for summer squash in addition to zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes however I wasn’t able to find any at my local grocers so I doubled up on the zucchini. Tomatoes have their tops and bottoms removed and are then topped with slivered garlic before drizzling w evoo as well. All veggies are roasted. Mine took double the amount of time suggested in the book and, I roasted them at 400℉ vs 375℉.

                                                    The saffron Aioli is a separate recipe and I’d normally cover it separately but we had a bit of a prep-day accident where mr bc mistook my saffron soaking in a tiny amount of water in a small pan for “just another dirty pan” and quickly gave it a rinse and tossed it in the dishwasher! Needless to say we were destined to settle for plain Aioli so I decided to perk it up a bit by mixing in some lemon rind and a couple of cloves of roasted garlic I had on hand. Btw..I suspected BL meant it to be a tbsp of water and a tsp of saffron so I went w that. A tablespoon of saffron seems excessive IMHO. It was very good in any event.

                                                    Salmon is cooked by searing in grapeseed (I used olive) oil in a hot pan for 3-5 mins before flipping and repeating the process.

                                                    This was a lovely dish and we were particularly impressed with the salmon. I haven’t cooked it stovetop in quite a while and it was a nice change of pace to do so. The salmon was sweet and extremely moist. Even though I was only preparing 2 salmon filets I did prepare the full quantity of vegetables. We both ate quite a lot of the veggies but there were a few left over for mr bc’s lunch the next day. While we thoroughly enjoyed the roasted vegetables I do think its quite a stretch to call them “ratatouille”.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      She says elsewhere (possibly mussels with creme fraiche) that she is not "half-assed" about using saffron so it could be 1Tbsp....

                                                      Salmon looks lovely.

                                                    2. Braised (Goat) Shanks with Winter Root Vegetables - p. 255

                                                      Last month, our CSA gave us a lone goat foreshank, but this month, they finally decided to send its match, so I thought this might be a good candidate for using them. It's a fairly standard shank recipe. The shanks are browned and removed, then aromatic vegetables are added (carrot, celery, and onion). Red wine is used to deglaze the pan and make a base for the braise. Then chicken broth, bay leaves, rosemary, and peppercorns are added along with the shanks. When the shanks are done, skim the fat, strain, and reduce the braising liquid to a glaze.

                                                      The meat came out moist and full of flavor. The rosemary was a very nice addition to a standard braise. I didn't follow her suggestion of making it ahead of time, so skimming the fat wasn't terribly successful. It was also just a lot of liquid, so it did not want to reduce to a glaze very quickly. I may've cheated a bit and added some cornstarch.

                                                      The most unique thing about this recipe is that instead of braising the vegetables with the meat, she chooses to cook them separately (fried in butter with a bit of water) to retain more of their "individual character." In theory, this sounded like a great idea. In reality, they ended up just seeming like an after thought. I cooked a mix of beets, potatoes, and celery root (ignoring her suggestion to separate the beet so the other vegetables wouldn't turn pink). Perhaps I've been spending too much time with AOC and its intricate pairings, but they just didn't seem to add much to the dish. I think I would've preferred the same vegetables roasted with some rosemary and garlic or else some creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. Overall, a very good dish, but next time I'll skip the vegetable preparation is favor of something else.

                                                      1. OLIVE-LEMON RELISH – p. 187

                                                        I’d defrosted some snapper and needed something to perk it up a bit so when I came across this recipe and had almost all the ingredients on hand I knew I’d found my solution. We loved this relish!

                                                        BL suggests this relish be served with a salmon dish on the preceding page and I can certainly see the brightness and acidity of the lemon working beautifully with the richness of salmon. I dusted my snapper with seasoned flour and fried it in a little olive oil to give it a little extra richness and to compliment its sweet nutty flavour. I always associate snapper with Caribbean vacations so I thought this citrusy relish would pair very well and in fact it did.

                                                        The relish is prepared by combining chopped green olives, lemon segments (Meyer lemon preferred and I did happen to have some), evoo, parsley, shallot with a little honey, white wine vinegar (preferably Chardonnay…yup, I had that too) along w some S&P to taste. As you might imagine this relish had a nice balance of sweet and salty flavours. Of all things I didn’t have Italian parsley (well I did but it was brown!!) so I brightened the otherwise olive-coloured mix with a combination of chopped chives and fennel fronds. I have to say that the fennel was really nice with the lemon and complimented the fish as well. We especially liked the subtle sweetness of this recipe. It’s definitely something I’d make again. I can imagine it would be lovely atop some smoked salmon in an appetizer course as well. Delicious!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                            Olive-Lemon Relish - p 187

                                                            I have been AWOL for some time so I'm glad to be back (and with a book I've been meaning to use more).

                                                            Breadcrumbs did a great job describing the recipe above. I made this to go with the Seared Salmon with White Beans and Spinach (though I used cod). I didn't have any green olives so used black Kalamata but everything else was as the recipe though I used regular lemon rather than Meyer. It had a good combination of flavors and would work with any fish. BL also suggests using it with roasted chicken, grilled eggplant of lamb and I could see that working too.

                                                          2. Spicy Clam Stew

                                                            I love the combination of clams and beans, and with a canned bean shortcut on offer by Ms. Lynch, I thought I'd give this dish a try. It was good, of course (aren't clams always good?) but I thought the recipe was not very well thought through. A couple of cloves of chopped garlic are sizzled in olive oil, then you add 11/2 cups of white wine and 3 dozen clams. She instructs you to reduce the white wine by half, then add 2 cups tomatoes, hot chile flakes, and a drained can of white beans, cover and steam the clams for 15 minutes until they open. You then remove the clams, reduce the sauce, return the clams to the pot to warm. Serve garnished with olive oil and chopped scallions.

                                                            The clams were delicious, really wonderful with crusty bread to mop up the juices, but I had some issues with the recipe. First, I had trouble reducing the wine by half as instructed because my clams started to open, which upped the liquid levels in the pot and prevented the reduction from happening properly. If reducing the wine is important, it should happen before adding the clams to the pot. Second, with 3 dozen clams, 2 cups tomatoes, and 11/2 cups wine, there was way too much liquid in this recipe. It was really more of a soup than a stew, even after LOTS of reducing. And with all the wine and clams, the recipe ended up much more expensive than it needed to be. I think 2 dozen clams and 1/2 cup of wine would have been sufficient with the given proportion of beans and tomatoes. Third, and I think this goes back to having too much liquid in the dish, the beans never really amalgamated with the rest of the dish. They were kind of lost amongst the liquid. When I think back to the last clam and bean recipe I made -- from Claudia Roden's Food of Spain -- that one was much more successful in terms of integrating the clams and beans in a single dish.

                                                            So anyway, as I said, the dish was delicious so it wasn't a fail. But I won't be repeating it either.

                                                            1. Seared Steaks with Cheese Sauce and Roasted Onions, p. 244.

                                                              This was an easy and terrific Saturday night supper (and I'm actually getting hungry for it again just typing the review). Juicy steaks share a plate with not only those classic sides of mushrooms and onions, but a simple cheese sauce as well...total bliss for the steak lover in me!

                                                              It was just my husband and I so I loosely halved the main ingredients of the recipe: two eight- ounce top sirloins (although any cut of steak will do), one sweet onion, half the recipe of cheese sauce, the full four ounces of mushrooms (all shittake) and a whole shallot. The cheese sauce, which I made early in the day, is simply grated cheese melted with heavy cream (I used aged Gouda which I found in small quantities at Costco- imagine that!). Then, about an hour before cooking the steaks, I prepared the onion by first browning the cut halves in butter and a pinch of thyme, then placing the skillet in the oven to braise them with additional water. The onion did take much longer to cook than the recipe stated, maybe closer to forty minutes rather than twenty, but I did baste it frequently. While the steak pan preheated I sauteed the mushrooms (skipping the final glaze of chicken stock this time around), sliced the shallot, re-warmed the cheese sauce, and dried and seasoned the steaks. Mine were almost an inch thick so they did need a full eight minutes to develop a deep brown crust and baste in the butter, shallots and thyme to reach a perfect medium-rare.

                                                              The steaks rested while I gave the onions a quick drain, then I plated them with the mushrooms and ladles of cheese sauce (which doesn't, by the way, sit perfectly still like the photo on pg. 234 but instead meanders around the dish, mingling with the pan juices and basting liquid from the roasted onion to create the ultimate steak sauce). Every bite was fabulous - and what an easy way to make a simple steak dinner a little extra-special.

                                                              1. Seared Salmon with White Beans and Spinach - p 185

                                                                I made this with cod rather than salmon. I think the recipe would work with any fish that can be pan-fried. I think without the Olive-lemon relish this would be rather dull - there isn't any added flavor in the recipe - just fish, spinach, white beans, salt and pepper. I added some garlic to the spinach which boosted the flavor too.

                                                                The relish is really what makes this dish - BL says it "adds an exclamation mark to each bite" and she's right. I had the relish already made and used canned white beans so this dish took about 5 minutes to make.

                                                                1. Lamb Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Barley Pg. 251

                                                                  I spent a good part of Sunday afternoon with this recipe, letting it bubble away on the stove top while I did other kitchen tasks. We let it rest for a few days as it was planned as dinner for last night.

                                                                  I'll give you a quick run down on how it all comes together before jumping into my thoughts. First you combine all the spices (ginger, cinnamon, cumin, chile flakes) and set aside. Second you brown off a few lbs of cubed leg of lamb, and then set this aside before adding the diced mirepoix and garlic to the pot. This gets cooked slowly until you add the spice mixture, followed by some wine to deglaze, which then gets simmered down until pretty much completely absorbed. Then you add the stock and the meat and let it simmer slowly partially covered for about an hour. Lastly in goes some water, barley, prunes, and diced sweet potato, which then simmers for another hour or so.

                                                                  In my case I followed the recipe very closely except that I halved the sweet potato and added an equivalent amount of diced parsnip. Also, I cut the water back a bit as it seemed like it would be far too soupy with the full 3 cups of water. The parsnip worked very well, but cutting the liquid wasn't as wise.

                                                                  The end result was super tender lamb with an extremely flavourful and thick stew. Almost too flavourful, and too thick. It isn't too say I didn't enjoy it, but I regretted my decision to cut back the liquid, I think the 3 cups makes it look soupy but the barley will absorb a lot of that liquid and I think the end result would be better if it had been a touch looser.

                                                                  In terms of flavour she also suggests serving with a salad of micro greens atop the stew. I didn't do this as it was listed as optional, but I think it would have helped as the acidity might have cut through a bit of the heavy spice flavour. I would also suggest serving with something like couscous. Originally I had thought I wouldn't need a starch as there was already barley in the dish, that said, I think the dish would have been slightly less overpowering had it been a smaller portion cut with a bit of couscous, rice, or possibly orzo on the side.

                                                                  On the whole I'm not sure I would make this again, but if I did I think I would make sure to follow the recipe exactly in terms of liquid quantities, opt for the option of the micro salad as a must, and add some sort of accompanying starch.

                                                                  1. SEARED SEA SCALLOPS w/ SAUCE VERTE and TOASTED HAZELNUTS, p. 198

                                                                    As much as we love scallops, I rarely try them at home; for me, getting the proper sear without overcooking them is really tricky. But with careful timing (I went for 1 1/2 minutes per side on medium high heat in a large skillet slicked with grapeseed oil), it worked.

                                                                    What made this dish was the sauce verte and hazelnuts (six minutes in the toaster oven, rubbed in a towel to--mostly--remove the skin, and chopped).

                                                                    Although I was using only 1/2 recipe and thus 1/2 pound large sea scallops, I made about 3/4 recipe of sauce as experience has taught me that it's difficult to make small batches of pureed herbs in oil.

                                                                    I blanched a couple of bunches of chives and parsley, the only fresh herbs I had on hand, and shocked them in ice water and squeezed dry (much less onerous than it sounds). Chopped coarsely, they went into a a container with a garlic, anchovy fillet, capers, chopped shallot, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Everything was whizzed to emulsify and the sauce was spooned over the seared scallops, which were then garnished with the hazelnuts.
                                                                    Delicious. As BL suggests, the herbal zing of the sauce counters the richness of the scallops for a perfectly balanced dish.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                      That looks and sounds fabulous. I completely missed it when I read the book. Thanks for pointing it out.

                                                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                        Beautiful ncw & I love the tip on removing the hazelnut skins.

                                                                      2. FRITTO MISTO WITH CARAMELLO SAUCE

                                                                        Page 188

                                                                        This recipe is a bit difficult for me to review. In the first place I substituted liberally on the vegetables that I used. The second difficulty is that there are two major components to the recipe: the fried fish and vegetables and a sweet-sour dipping sauce.

                                                                        The mixed fry came together easily and well. As fritto misto is a free form collection of items, I used different vegetables: half a dozen very thin asparagus tips, some butternut squash cut into thin baton, peppery mustard greens cut into inch wide strips, slivered red onion, and a crimini mushroom. For the fish I used thin slices of sole. Batter is simple flour and mineral water + S&P. At the specified ratio the batter is very thin and a lot slid off prior to making it into the oil.

                                                                        Frying was about how one would expect. The picture on page 190 nicely illustrates my outcome. The batter ended up too thin for the mushroom which came out drenched in oil, so I recommend sticking with denser vegetables. The batter was light with a nice crisp texture - very enjoyable.

                                                                        The caramello sauce was a different story. The specification is 2 cups of sugar, 4 fl oz of water, and 6T vinegar. The sauce hardened into a solid as it cooled. Possibly I botched it but I suspect the quantities listed are wrong. I did a little research on the measurements:

                                                                        2 cups sugar = 400 grams
                                                                        4 oz + 6T = 7 oz = 207 ml

                                                                        The solubility of sugar is according to the infallible Internet, 211 grams per 100 ml. In other words the liquid in the recipe would be just about barely able to accommodate all of the sugar, before factoring in the evaporation while the sugar carmellizes.

                                                                        I couldn't use the sauce, but I'm not sure what I intend to do with it. It's still in the kitchen in a sort of rock candy form. I have to say it tastes good, and I expect it would make great lollipops or hard candies. It also sounds like more effort than I care to undertake.

                                                                        So I ended up just dusting the fritto misto with salt and squeezing lemon atop. It was a very nice crispy and delicate rendition, and I would make again. On the other hand there is nothing unique about Lynch's version, either.

                                                                        One final thing: the picture does not quite match the directions. The directions include optional parsley or other herbs. The instructions are that these do NOT get battered, yet the parsley in the photo was clearly battered. This is not the only instance of photos not matching the recipe and it's a peeve of mine.

                                                                        1. Braised Lamb Shanks with Winter Root Vegetables Pg. 255

                                                                          This has been on my radar for much of this month as we love braised lamb shanks, but I hadn't had time to get out to the butcher until just this past Saturday.

                                                                          The process for the lamb is what one would expect. You brown the seasoned shanks in a bit of neutral oil and then set aside before adding a mirepoix and a bit of garlic to the pan. This gets cooked till softened and you then add some wine, which is reduced before adding quite a bit of stock, some bay leaves, peppercorns, and rosemary. You simmer this for 2.5 to 3 hours before removing the lamb and straining out the other solids. You then let the jus cool before degreasing, and subsequently reducing it.

                                                                          Vegetable wise she suggests you braise them in a bit of water and butter in two separate pans to speed things up, plus she suggests you cook the vegetables separately to preserve their texture and unique flavour. When the veggies are braised you simply toss with some parsley and plate your meal with the shank resting a top the veggies with a bit of jus drizzled over all of it.

                                                                          I will say that I really liked the final dish. The lamb was falling apart and succulent, the jus was delicious, and the braised veggies were homey and very much a comfort food (rutabaga, potato, carrot, and celery root in my case).

                                                                          My quibble is with the chefy nature of this recipe. She suggests a cooking time of 2.5 to 3 hours, plus cooling and degreasing, followed by yet another reduction. This means you spend about 3 to 4 hours with your lamb, but suddenly with the veggies we need to get out multiple pans and speed things.

                                                                          I suppose this makes sense in a restaurant kitchen where the lamb would have been done way in advance and the vegetables would be the last minute piece, but in a home cooking context I have hours to cook my lamb I'm not suddenly going to be pressed for time and have to start braising several pans of veggies independently. I have to admit I think the editor let the book down a bit by not spotting some of these commercial chef peculiarities. I might be being a bit hard on the author and editor as I liked this recipe, but I am starting to find some of these commercial kitchen issues a bit annoying.

                                                                          I must also say that she suggests cooking them independently to preserve their appearance. Texture wise my base of veggies was a little less than perfect due to the cooking en masse, which bruised my celery root a bit, but the flavour was excellent and the presentation still appealing.

                                                                          On the whole a lovely dish that I would likely repeat, but following my approach for the veggies and not the suggested one.

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: delys77

                                                                            I love lamb shanks with polenta and was thinking about this recipe for the two of us for Easter. However, my thought was to roast the vegetables w a simple EVOO and sprinkling of salt so as not to interfere with the flavor of the shanks. Now that I read your report, Delys, I think that's what I'll do.

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Sounds like a good plan. The butter braising was nice, but the jus is quite flavourful so the simple roasted veg will likely work just as well.

                                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                                Well good then! I can keep the vegetables separated in the roasting pan so their integrity won't be compromised. LOL

                                                                                Your plate of shanks and veggies looks very appealing, BTW.

                                                                            2. re: delys77

                                                                              Great review, and the your shank looks fantastic.

                                                                              1. re: delys77

                                                                                Vegetable Integrity sounds like a punk rock band. I too have eyed this recipe and knew I would never follow all that fussiness. Sounds like you found the perfect balance.

                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                  lol that's true, for hard core vegans.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                    Vegetable Integrity would be a hard core band, for sure. I'm deeply amused that this has come up on a food thread.

                                                                                  2. Scallop and Pureed Celery Root Gratinee, p. 196.

                                                                                    I love pureed celery root and always make some variation of it to serve with short ribs, but this was the first time I paired it with scallops (although I've actually seen a similar recipe in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks which I've always meant to try). And each of the components can conveniently be made ahead, allowing you to focus on searing the scallops and plating the dish.

                                                                                    I followed the recipe exactly, except for straining the finished celery root puree (I even made the Celery Emulsion on p. 25, which does need straining, but isn't really necessary unless you have an hour or so to kill as what you are left with after skimming the frothed foam is thin, bland celery soup.). The verdict? An elegant dish, with great textures playing off each other (the panko crumbs and the sweet/sour diced apple provide great contrast to the rich and creamy bites of puree and scallops, and the minced chives give it color). But oddly enough, I still thought it could have used a bit more flavor (btw, keep checking the seasoning because salt is your friend in this dish). So, I googled Ina's recipe and noted that she pureed her celery root with potato and leeks. Potato might be too heavy for this, but I think some sauteed leeks might enhance the flavor of the puree and compliment the scallops and apples. I also think this dish would be a lovely first-course for a dinner party (or as the entree for a special luncheon) because of its visual appeal (and ease of prep), which is what I will most likely keep it in mind for.

                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: lesliej

                                                                                      Stunning looking dish! It would definitely impress visually at a dinner party.

                                                                                      1. re: delys77

                                                                                        Thank you, delys; I would have plated it prettier, as is shown in the book's photo, but we had larger servings :)

                                                                                        1. re: lesliej

                                                                                          Don't think you could improve that visual much. Gorgeous.

                                                                                    2. Oops, I accidentally posted my review in the wrong section. I can't figure out how to delete it, but if you want to see my thoughts on the lobster bolognese, go to the pasta section!

                                                                                      1. TALEGGIO STUFFED PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED CHICKEN WITH TOMATO AND OLIVE SALAD

                                                                                        PAGE 210

                                                                                        Stuffing BLSL chicken breasts used to be in my regular bag of tricks. I haven't done this in a long time, but it's as good as I remember it.

                                                                                        This version calls for slitting the breast and inserting cheese. I made two, one with the specified taleggio and the other with jack for the kid. My first attempt was simply to make a slice down the side of the chicken several inches long. For the second, I got a little smarter and cut a deep pocket with a rather small opening. The first piece leaked cheese.

                                                                                        I've never wrapped chicken with prosciutto. It worked well although it made judging doneness difficult. I went by feel although on corner of my chicken ended more done.

                                                                                        I did the salad pairing as well. I figured the olives were a star player and so drained them a few hours in advance and let them marinate in EVOO and fresh thyme. Not only did the salad pair up nicely with the chicken, but I really liked it on its own merits. I would make it again with this chicken, but might make it with other dishes. It's got a great balance of flavors. The astringency of the celery was a great foil to the olives, which were great complements to the parsley and tomato. And it's a very pretty dish.

                                                                                        I partnered it up with asparagus and fresh baked focaccia, and some Manzanilla sherry.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                          That looks lovely. I so want to make this salad but have the unfortunate problem that no one but me in this house likes olives!

                                                                                          what is BLSL mean?

                                                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                                                              I bet you could successfully do the salad with summer tomatoes reserving olives and celery for yourself. Your dinner partners would have a salad of parsley, onion, and tomato.

                                                                                            2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                              What a lovely looking plate. I think you've inspired tonight's dinner.
                                                                                              I've had this recipe tagged and not gotten around to it, but since I have prosciutto and chicken breasts, maybe I'll go out for taleggio and give this a go!

                                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                                Always happy to help ;-), I hope you like it as much as we did!

                                                                                              2. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                Taleggio-Stuffed Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken, p. 210

                                                                                                These made for a lovely dinner last night--as well as a trip down food memory lane. When I first started cooking, I often prepared chicken "Cordon Bleu" or "Kiev" or chicken stuffed with goat cheese and basil or with a mushroom mixture, but like ChrisOfStumptown, I had not done so in a very long time. This revisit was quite successful.

                                                                                                Following ChrisOS's tip, I made a short incision and then a deep pocket into each breast and then inserted batons of taleggio into and laid a couple sage leaves (no tarragon on hand) across each before wrapping each one in a couple of slices of prosciutto. I seared the packages, which held together very nicely, in a slick of grapeseed oil and then veered off the recipe a bit by deglazing the sauté pan with a little white vermouth and then adding a little chicken stock. (This resulted in a very nice light pan sauce for the stuffed chicken.) Then I put the pan into the oven (375F) until they reached about 145F.

                                                                                                Slightly crisp prosciutto, tender chicken, + oozing cheese=delicious! Amazingly easy and quick too.