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Mar 25, 2014 07:20 AM

COTM (Cookbook of the Month) Recipes So Good You've Made Them at Least Three Times: Quick and Easy/Weeknight Edition

About a hundred years ago, I posted this thread, "Recipes so good you've made it at least 3 times--COTM Edition* " asking for everyone's "tried and true" favorites from our growing archive of Cookbooks of the Month (see COTM archive here:

Now I ask the same question, years later with many more COTMs under our collective belt, with a wrinkle:

Which COTM recipes are your tried and true WEEKNIGHT FAVORITES? Those you can get out on the table quickly?

Please mention the name of the recipe, the cookbook, and anything particularly memorable about the recipe including the secret, if there is one, to getting it out on the table quickly. Pantry stocked a certain way? Marinate in advance? Start with certain leftovers? That sort of thing, if applicable. Links to recipes, previous COTM reports, photos, whatever entirely welcome but not in any way essential.

I've been paging through my old COTM notes and I realize that when I started participating in COTM 6+ years ago (sadly I was not a COTM'er from inception), I had oodles of time to shop for ingredients, prep, whatever. That was before I became a Mom. And cooking was really my primary hobby. Now, looking back at my favorites, I realize I often tackled a recipe specifically because it was a challenge and I wanted to learn. My husband and I could sit down for dinner at 9pm and it wouldn't be a problem. This kind of leisurely cooking just doesn't suit my lifestyle at the moment as keeping my child from bouncing off the walls during the coldest winter on record is my current hobby. (Someday I can do more leisurely cooking again, I hope?)

Anyway, please help me look at my cookbooks in a fresh new light. Which COTM recipes have become a part of your weeknight repertoire?

Also, for your reference just because I worry about losing track of these kinds of round-up threads, BigSal has been soliciting everyone's favorite COTM recipes annually since 2011:

And EAH recently asked everyone to chime in with their top five cookbooks from COTM.

* My original query of "recipe so good you've made it at least 3 times" was inspired by Katie Nell's non-COTM-edition query here and here which are two of my all-time favorite chowhound threads, even though not COTM related.

As for me, I remember having particularly good luck with Vietnamese month, lots of Casas recipes, Italian Easy, and Gourmet Today. Several of Grace Young's recipes, too, though I'm a person who is slowed down by a lot of chopping sometimes. I'll have to dredge my mind for favorites from those books and report back.


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  1. Upon reflection, my list is so much shorter than I hoped and not necessarily drawing from the books I expected. Plus, I'm finding so many "quick and easy " favorites are concentrated in the summer when we can use our grill and when local produce is abundant. I guess this is partly why I can never think of anything to cook this time of year.

    Anyway, I need some more inspiration and am hoping the rest of you have a chance to chime in with your favs.

    FOREVER SUMMER-- The watermelon, feta and black olive salad is a summer staple at our house: Can't get quicker than a no-cook recipe, I say and I love the sweet/salty/briny combo of the ingredients of this dish.

    THE FLEXITARIAN TABLE-- Tofu with Lemon, Soy, White Wine, and Butter Sauce. Tofu is always speedy. This dish requires a little stove-top time (enough to bring your pan to a boil) and 10 mins oven time. At our house, the time to heat the oven is the most significant.

    INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, Grilled Garlicky Five-Spice Pork Steaks, marinate in advance, but otherwise super fast on the grill.

    OTTOLENGHI Crushed new potatoes with horseradish and sorrel, No tricks or tips, just deliciousness.

    COOK WITH JAMIE; Proper Blokes Sausage Fusilii No secrets, really, except this comes together quickly partly because the proportions are very forgiving. You just "bash" it out and it's going to be delicious either way.

    ITALIAN GRILL Italian Grill - Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar--The key here is parboiling the potatoes before grilling them.

    Corn as Italians Would Eat It --grill the corn, then add the delicious toppings.

    MOLTO GUSTO-- Broccoli with Pecorino Romano The only hitch with this one is that you chill it for 1/2 hour afterwards. We often just dig in right away anyway.

    IN THE KITCHEN WITH A GOOD APPETITE: Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp love this sheet pan recipe!

    EVERY GRAIN OF RICE Silken Tofu with avocado. Healthful and delicious and no cooking!


    4 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      I'm a VERY sporadic COTM participant, but I do have a few that fit the mold.

      JERUSALEM: I make the Shakshuka (I slightly prefer this version to the one in Plenty), the Turkey Zucchini Burgers (these are a real favorite), the roasted cauliflower salad and the spinach and date salad.

      HOW TO EAT: I used to cook out of this more than I have recently, but the Sugar and Spice Salmon (a marginalia recipe), the Beef Stroganoff, and the Sunday Night Chicken Noodle are all go-to recipes for me.

      AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE: The Cauliflower Soup! Oh, the cauliflower soup. That might be my favorite soup recipe. The Supermarket Garbure is great - not last minute, but it does reheat well. The Cinnamon Crunch Chicken is another favorite (and the kids love it)

      ZUNI CAFE COOKBOOK: The roast chicken (duh), the eggs fried in breadcrumbs, and Madeleine's omelet (or something like that - omelet with gruyere and mustard croutons).

      FOREVER SUMMER: Love the zucchini fritters, and I've made the Thai Style lettuce wraps loads of times.

      I love that broccoli and shrimp recipe, too.

      1. re: Savour

        Those all sound great. We're always looking for more ways to use zucchini in summer, so glad to hear about the turkey zucchini burgers and the zucchini fritters. I'm so glad someone finally mentioned AMFT and Zuni!

        Must investigate the Cinnamon Crunch chicken.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Cinnamon Crunch chicken is basically chicken cooked with butter and cream and those speculoos biscuits, but it's SO good.

          I forgot - I also make the Corsican omelet from Forever Summer all the time.

          We eat a lot of eggs, if you can't tell.

        2. re: Savour

          Had to go look up the Cauliflower Soup after your raves. Definitely going on my list!

      2. Great idea for a thread. I'll come back later today, when I've had time to think about the recipes that fit.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Thank you! It was harder to come up with a list than I thought, although my participation has been pretty minimal lately so maybe, in my imagination, there are more opportunities for me to have discovered "quick" dishes than is realistic...


        2. Great question. I'm going to just go with a few off the top of my head and come back to add to it.

          Flexitarian - has a recipe that calls for bulgar, but he says you can substitute couscous, which I always do - it is basically couscous, red onion, chickpeas, parsley (this is just from memory - it may well have more). It is so easy, and has so many pantry staples (yes, I've made it without the parsley and it is still really tasty).

          In the same book the fennel salad. Huge favorite, and easy to make. We happen to love fennel, but of course not everyone does. If you do, this is worth making again and again.

          The Italian Easy/Two Easy books - That roast chicken with the lemon and thyme (or rosemary) inside. This one means you need to have 90 minutes to put it in the oven, but aside from that there isn't any work involved. You put it in, turn it over an hour later and then let it go another 30 minutes. My favorite roast chicken. Gets made fairly often around here.

          Radicchio, walnut and gorganzola salad. Penne, tomato and dried porcini penne. Orecchiette, tomato and ricotta. Savoy cabbage, parsley and caper salad.

          Jamie Oliver: I echo your love of Proper Bloke's pasta, and add the pasta with pangritata (sp?).

          Forever Summer - The Za'atar chicken and fattoush, and her rhubarb fool.

          The Complete Asian cookbook - Indonesian grilled chicken (I don't think this is the exact name for it, but that is what it is and it should be fairly easy to find in that chapter in the chicken section). This one is really easy - marinate the night before and then put on the grill the next evening. And so much flavor.

          Into the Vietnamese Kitchen - The ginger chicken. Sometimes I sub tofu for the chicken.

          Vegetarian cooking for Everyone - I'm a broken record on the pasta with tomatoes (can be canned), capers, olives but that is because we really do have it probably once a month. Lulu's absolute favorite pasta (bloke's is a close second). In the past year I've also become very fond of the pasta with salsa verde with zucchini (the zucchini is a variation she suggests, and it makes it into a one dish vegetarian meal.

          Gourmet Today - the one that immediately springs to mind is the Southeast Asian Turkey burgers. Oh, and the chocolate whiskey bundt cake.

          I'll be back ...

          15 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            Awesome list, especially off the top of your head! I remember how much everyone raved about the ginger chicken from ITVK, how could I forget! (and why haven't I tried it yet?!) The burgers from Gourmet Today, too!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I can't recommend those turkey burgers highly enough (especially if you do the whole thing as written with the fresh herbs, etc.).

              I want to make the point that everything on this list is really pretty easy and high in flavor. Some of it takes planning (as in marinating the night before) but not a single thing on the list (so far) is in any way difficult.

            2. re: LulusMom

              LLM, I'm working on the excel spreadsheet, but I'm unsure which Indonesian chicken you mean!

              Can you please have a peek when you have a minute? There's one called Grilled Chicken with Hot Spices? (Ayam Panggang Pedis) that is salt, pepper, sambal ulek, grated onion, garlic, dark soy sauce, palm sugar, lemon juice, peanut oil. Is that the one?

              Here's the complete asian cookbook chicken thread...

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                Not LLM obviously, but yes that's the one -- a huge favorite around here as well.

                1. re: mebby

                  Thanks mebby - I was out of town and not around a computer.

              2. re: LulusMom

                Just popping in to say that we found rhubarb at the market this week, and so made our annual batch of Nigella's rhubarb fool. And it was every bit as delicious as we remembered. Decadent and fattening, and worth every bite.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  That sounds great. Totally off-topic of COTM but I love this rhubarb crisp. Although not from a COTM, it is quick and easy and I have made it more than three times, which brings it remotely within the bounds of this thread.


                  1. re: Westminstress

                    OK, that looks super easy and delicious. Have you ever tried doing a half rhubarb/half strawberry? We don't eat all that much dessert around here, maybe twice a month max, but this looks so good, and rhubarb season is so short. I had sort of figured my next dessert would be that cardamom cake. Decisions, decisions.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Yes, I've done it with rhubarb and strawberry and that's good too. I tend to add strawberry for color if the rhubarb doesn't have enough red. But my preference is for pure unadulterated rhubarb. It's a bit scary putting it together because the rhubarb is completely unsweetened. But the topping has quite a bit of sugar, enough to sweeten the rhubarb deliciously as it cooks.

                      1. re: Westminstress

                        I was wondering about that, thinking, really, no sugar in the rhubarb? But sounds like it works.

                        1. re: Westminstress

                          Funny - my rhubarb this time around for the fool was weirdly unred (in the store it looked fairly red, but by the time I cleaned and cooked it not so much). I missed the red in the fool.

                        2. re: LulusMom

                          Yeah I hear you on the dessert. I enjoy baking but rarely do it. Having too much dessert around is not good for my waistline! But every now and then I do make a treat.

                          1. re: Westminstress

                            Exactly. I find baking to be so calming, and I really enjoy it. One piece of cake is great, but when it sticks around for a couple days I start desperately passing slices along to delivery men, babysitters, etc.

                        3. re: Westminstress

                          Of all the weird things, I found frozen, pre-cut rhubarb at my local grocery store. How do you think it would do in this crisp? Crisps seem so autumnal to me, so perfect for the next month or two.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            I've never used frozen rhubarb so I'm not really sure. But the fresh rhubarb basically cooks down to mostly mush anyway. So I'd say give it a try!

                    2. The only COTM recipe I've made multiple times is the Marcella Hazan tomato butter onion sauce for pasta. Online copy of the recipe is here

                      It's ready in under an hour, most of that simmering-time while you prep anything else for the meal, is excellent even when made with canned tomatoes, and uses ingredients readily on-hand.
                      My comments on the reporting thread for Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking during the November 2013 re-visit are here

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                        So nice to find reliable recipes that work with canned tomatoes!


                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          I've also made this one a couple of times and it is FABULOUS. One of my favorite tomato sauces ever.

                        2. Shakshuka from Plenty- I probably have this for dinner at least once a week in summer when tomatoes and peppers are abundant. With some crusty bread, it is a great meal.

                          Gong Bao Chicken from Land of Plenty - a favorite

                          Beef with Cumin from Every Grain of Rice - there is something addictive about the cumin

                          Camargue Red Rice and Quinoa with Orange and Pistachio from Ottolenghi - Not quick, but this is good made ahead (only add the arugula at serving time so it doesn't get soggy)

                          Provencal Vegetable Soup from Around My French Table - another dish that makes good use of summer vegetables. Not so quick to make on the first night, but great the next day.

                          Roast Chicken from The Barefoot Contessa - stick lemon, garlic, and herbs in the cavity and roast

                          and kind of embarrassed to admit this last one...

                          Kentucky Mule from Smoke and Pickles

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: stockholm28

                            Oh honey, don't be embarrassed about that Kentucky Mule - I've gone through at least 3 makings of the ginger syrup for that, and am desperately in need of another one. That is one fine drink. And it works well with vodka and tequila too.

                            1. re: stockholm28

                              I love that Beef with Cumin recipe from Dunlop, too, great reminder. And I keep meaning to try that quinoa recipe from Ottolenghi!


                              1. re: stockholm28

                                For those who don't have the Ottolenghi cookbook handy, here's a link to the Camargue red rice and quinoa recipe:

                                (I am one of those who don't have the cookbook, so please correct if needed!)

                                1. re: stockholm28

                                  Ha ha you shouldn't be embarrassed about that. If it's right, it's right!