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July 2014 COTM Voting Thread

Wow what a busy round of nominations! Over 20 separate books were nominated, some garnering just 1 or two votes, while several others peeked the interest of several nominators. In the end however two books led the pack. Making yet another return is The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, and a returning contender from some time ago, Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease: 325 Inspiring Recipes from Award Winning Chef Rozanne Gold.

Our friends at Amazon summarize the two works as:

The New Persian Kitchen
"In The New Persian Kitchen, acclaimed chef Louisa Shafia explores her Iranian heritage by reimagining classic Persian recipes from a fresh, vegetable-focused perspective. These vibrant recipes demystify Persian ingredients like rose petals, dried limes, tamarind, and sumac, while offering surprising preparations for familiar foods such as beets, carrots, mint, and yogurt for the busy, health-conscious cook. The nearly eighty recipes—such as Turmeric Chicken with Sumac and Lime, Pomegranate Soup, and ice cream sandwiches made with Saffron Frozen Yogurt and Cardamom Pizzelles—range from starters to stews to sweets, and employ streamlined kitchen techniques and smart preparation tips. A luscious, contemporary take on a time-honored cuisine, The New Persian Kitchen makes the exotic and beautiful tradition of seasonal Persian cooking both accessible and inspiring."

Radically Simple
"Throughout her culinary career, chef Rozanne Gold has given much thought to the notions of simplicity and sophistication in cooking. Now, after years of experimentation, she has come to this conclusion: Simplicity is the art of combining a few essential ingredients with a minimum of effort in order to create food that neither looks or tastes like a shortcut; food that is authentic enough to serve with pride and savor with pleasure.
In Radically Simple, Gold demonstrates this art to its fullest, manipulating the interplay of time, technique, and number of ingredients to create bold, sophisticated dishes bursting with global flavors. She offers an entire chapter of elegant 10-minute salads; delectable soups that take less than 5 minutes to prepare and others with such depth of flavor they taste like they’ve been simmering all day. Her opinionated take on roast chicken yields a peerlessly moist and tender bird without so much as a sprinkling of salt and pepper, while her recipe for pineapple flan transforms sugar, eggs, and bottled juice into a creamy and decadent taste of the tropics. From a 1-minute mustard sauce for her last-minute gravlax to a “Peking” pork shoulder that slow-roasts under a savory blanket of hoisin and scallions, these dishes are truly stunning in their ease of preparation, yet never sacrifice on flavor or presentation. Even Gold’s procedures are revolutionary: All are conveyed in 140 words or less."

Please click on the recommend button next to the relevant posting below to vote.

Edited by the Chowhound Team: Voting will be open till Friday the 20th at 4 pm pacific time. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9790...

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      1. Here's hoping that the third time's the charm for Radically Simple and COTM (meaning that Rozanne Gold's friends and followers now know better what it's all about) so that July 2014 sees a fair contest with nothing but sincere votes cast, whether by old hands or posters just joining in on the fun, whatever the outcome.

        For my part, I'm holding off on voting.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I have Radically Simple and cooked from it now and then - all dishes turn out well; it would be great to find some gems that are there for sure and to read about everyone's experiences with the book. Not my favourite book but I would like a chance to live with it for a month and it very well may change my mind :)

          I actually bought The Persian Kitchen after all the hype when it first came out. For me, it was underwhelming and not as much Persian as Mediterranean; I did not try many recipes but everything I tried, there was a better recipe in my collection for the same/similar dish. So, I returned the book.

          1. re: herby

            I've had mostly very good experiences with Radically Simple, and haven't used it much lately. For those who are curious, here is its cooking-from thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786040

            I took a pretty thorough spin through New Persian Kitchen in a bookstore last month and wasn't terribly impressed with it as a Persian resource, though if it wins I'll definitely try to get it from the library and cook the dishes that are appealing.

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              My Canadian library does not have The New Persian Kitchen - wonder if there is an ebook at my US library; would definitely borrow and cook from if it wins; not excited though :(

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I have quite a few Persian cookbooks and am Iranian, and the New Persian Kitchen is definitely not a Persian resource. However, I think it is very contemporary cookbook inspired by Persian cuisine. It's not the place to begin.

                My thoughts on the two choices echo what others have said. I am not thrilled about either but as a newcomer to COTM, I will participate no matter who wins. I'm voting for NPK because I think COTM will force me to make stuff out of it and other book is not at all exciting to me.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  My experiences with both books pretty much mirrors yours Caitlin. I have gotten good use out of Radically Simple, but haven't picked it up in probably a year. And while I was awfully excited about New Persian Kitchen, after taking it from the library I found a few but not tons of things that I wanted to make. I'm sure I'd find stuff that I'd love if I cooked from it - could have just been my mood at the time.

              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                To be honest I'm voting for it because my library has a copy. I've been waiting for the current COTM since it was nominated May 9 and it doesn't look like I'll be getting it anytime soon. The Libraries in the system only ordered one copy and are just getting it distributed.

              3. Oh, hey, delys77, I just noticed that your OP is missing an end date for voting.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Ha ha, guess I was too fast for my own good. Voting will be open till Friday the 20th at 4 pm pacific time.

                2. Have The New Persian Kitchen, and don't think it's the best of its genre. RADICALLY SIMPLE, is, however, one of the best cookbooks of hundreds that I own. Regardless of tasteless attempts to stuff the ballot box in the past, it deserves to be COTM.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pikawicca

                    You have a good perspective. I've had nothing but great luck with this book, but I feel so annoyed with the prior attempt at self-promotion, I'm not certain I can endorse it. I will cook from it if it wins, though.

                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                      I think if after the incident Ms. Gold came to our thread and apologised we would all feel very different. The book is good and I will cook from it if it wins; however, if I didn't own it already, I would not be buying the book but would've cooked from on-line recipes or borrowed from the library.

                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                        Totally agree. Lulu had a playdate here this afternoon, and it gave me about an hour to go through the book (Radically Simple) again. I only made it to the start of the chicken dishes and was shocked how many really great sounding things I haven't made, and reminded of how many great things there are that I have made. I'm very excited to cook from it again, despite the ugly business.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I am 100% onboard for cooking from this book. It's a perfect choice for summer, with so many easy options. Hopefully that will translate into good participation.

                    2. I think Radically Simple will work well for how I cook in the summer. There seem to be a lot of dishes that either use summer produce or could accompany a vegetable side. I also like the fact that a lot of dishes are lighter dishes.

                      Even though I was anxious to do the Lebovitz book this month, it has not worked so well with the veggies that are currently available at the farmer's market.

                      1. delys, brilliantly done! This was a month of meandering thoughts for sure.

                        I want to echo what others have said. I sincerely hope that the people who vote actually plan to cook from the book and then post their results. This isn't a popularity contest; it is a month that people use their hard-earned money to buy the book, the ingredients, and then use their time to prepare food for their families. I certainly hope that this is respected.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: smtucker

                          Thanks very much smtucker. I echo your sentiment.

                        2. I nominated and will vote for Radically Simple. Like others, I checked The Persian Kitchen out of the library this past month, when it was also up for consideration, and never book marked anything. A very bad sign for me. If TPK wins, I probably won't bother checking it out again but will happily read along with all of you.

                          Contrast with RS. Have had it since its last nomination, and cook out of it often. I know there are a lot of tried and true dishes I haven't discovered yet, and would love an opportunity to focus on it.

                          1. Wow I was definitely going too fast, I entered the name of one of the nominees incorrectly. I meant The New Persian Kitchen, sorry all. I have a house full of guests this weekend and was too rushed.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: delys77

                              We've made the change to "The New Persian Kitchen" for you and appended the close date of voting to your OP. Enjoy your house full of guests!

                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                Thanks so much chow hound team. Will do.

                            2. Mt vote is going for NPK. If it happens to win I'm planning to take a look at the Najmieh Batmanglij (New Food for Life & etc) books at the same time. Maybe an adjunct thread or a "cooking from" thread ? If folks don't mind too much.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: qianning

                                I'd participate! The local library doesn't yet have NPK so it would be nice to have an option.
                                (not that I've been participating very much as of late, but I have been faithfully and lustily reading and taking notes!)

                                1. re: qianning

                                  I've owned New Food of Life for years, if there is thread I'd be interested. I'm not buying another Persian/Iranian cookbook at this time.

                                2. Rather shocked to discover there's not a single copy of "Radically Simple" in the NYC library system. Had absolutely no intention of buying it, but found a used copy on Amazon for $1.25+ shipping. What the hell. (I just cleaned out two shelves of novels I'll never read again and we all know how that space will be filled, don't we?) NPK was in the system and should arrive soon enough to review before I need cast a vote.

                                  1. Haven't participated in forever so will refrain from voting. Both look interesting. Camping out to see what happens.

                                    1. I voted for Radically Simple--I own it, and had cooked about 10 recipes (eight of them were very worthy of repeating) when it was a "cooking from" thread starting in 2011. I also just reviewed that same thread this morning and found many more dishes that I want to try this summer.

                                      Also, a few months ago I checked out TNPK from the library when it was being nominated for COTM and didn't find that many recipes that appealed immediately to me.
                                      However, if it IS chosen by a majority, I will happily cook out of it. Always ready to learn more from my fellow 'hounds!

                                      1. Another skip month for me.

                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                            To vote for it you need to go up to the reply at the top with the name and hit recommend.

                                          2. I voted for NPK: I have both cookbooks. We are finally starting to get settled in our home; and I hope to start participating more.

                                            I own a few Persian/Middle Eastern cookbooks; so if NPK wins; I thought I could pick and choose from all of those books to create different meals based on what I think will go together.

                                            I will still participate if Radically Simple wins; as I have a list of things I have wanted to try since I bought the book. Can't wait to see what wins.


                                            1. We have a whole week of voting to go, but I'm starting to think I'd better dig out my copy of Radically Simple!


                                              1. Such a hard choice this month! I have them both and would be happy with either. But for now, I'm voting for Radically Simple. I think it will fit my needs and cooking style better this summer. Plus, I've had it longer, and never cooked from it.

                                                I'm wondering how many people have the author's other books (such as the 1-2-3 series), and if there would be interest in an adjunct thread for them, should Radically Simple be selected.

                                                19 Replies
                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                  I have 123 and make my favorite chocolate pot de cremes from thi book.

                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                    I have Recipes 1-2-3, Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook, Entertaining 1-2-3, Healthy 1-2-3, and Desserts 1-2-3. Whew! I haven't cooked from them in a long time, because these books have been out for 10-20 years now. But they aren't dated at all, and from what I can recall, whatever I've cooked has been very good. I think there is a reason they have survived many cookbook purges. It would be fun to revisit, and they are appropriate for summer, because the recipes really demand high quality ingredients.

                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                      Wow! You're a real fan!

                                                      Can you please describe the 1-2-3 premise?


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Three ingredients. But unlike what you might think, these are not "quick and easy" recipes. Some might work that way, but the idea is not to be quick or easy, but to pare down each dish to its very essence and to showcase each ingredient to the fullest extent. I think salt, pepper, and water are the only "gimmes" that are not included in the ingredient count.

                                                        So for example, from Recipes 1-2-3 a recipe calling for a whole chicken, dried porcini mushrooms, and butter, will have you soak the dried mushrooms, then drain them, sauté them in some butter, and stuff the chicken with them, then roast the chicken. Meanwhile, you are making a stock from the mushroom soaking water and the chicken gizzards and neck, then reduce that stock. When the chicken is done, you unstuff it, and put the mushrooms, which were cooked inside the chicken, into the roasting pan with the reduced mushroom/chicken stock, and reduce that even more. Season with salt and pepper, and finish with cold butter to get an emulsified sauce.

                                                        So, minimal ingredients, but really using each one to the maximum extent possible. I think the most interesting dishes are what she does with vegetables and fruits. But the whole concept is very interesting, to me.

                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                          Very cool! Yeah, probably not suited to my lifestyle at the moment, but really an interesting concept!


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            It's a great book when you don't have a lot on hand. I only have Cooking 1-2-3.

                                                            I went to pull my copy down from the top shelf (its never been a go to one for me) and next to it I found a copy of Joy of Cooking I inherited. I have been meaning to ask this question forever so I think I'll just post it here. Do any of you have the second printing of the 1975 version of this book? If so, my copy is missing the index pages from 887 to 914. I know it is a lot of pages, but if anyone who has it could xerox and mail to me (or pdf) these pages, I would be so very grateful. I know it is a lot of pages. The book is really unusable without a complete index and mine is missing from mid M to mid W. (I am referring to the Joy of Cooking Here, not 123).

                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                              Can't help you with JOC, alas, but funnily enough, the 1-2-3 concept appeals to me even though they aren't quick recipes. I tell you, recipes with a ton of ingredients are daunting for me. I seldom seem to have time to put together a proper shopping list and I'm often shopping from memory. Or, I'm shopping with a toddler and am really distracted. Plus, then having to keep track of it in the fridge and cupboards in my small kitchen... (and God help me if my husband--bless his helpful heart--puts the groceries away)

                                                              Maybe I'll see if I can get my hands on healthy 1-2-3 should R.S. win.


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                !!! Lulu and one of the babysitters started playing some sort of cooking game a summer or two ago. Lulu would take down different spices (or ask the babysitter to do so) and when it was time to put them back up they went up in completely different places than I keep them. Drove me absolutely nuts. I had to say "sorry, I'm all for you cooking, but this game cannot go on for my sanity's sake." I'd spend 5 minutes looking for my cumin (normally right in front on the right).

                                                              2. re: dkennedy

                                                                I'm pretty sure this went out with my purge. If I happen to run across it I'll get in touch.

                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                  I meant to add that I would happily pay for the cost of mailing and xeroxing. Just would love to be able to find the recipe when it is one that is brought up on EYB.

                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                    Sorry dKennedy I just checked and I only have the most recent edition.

                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                      I have the '75 edition, but the 7th printing. What's the last entry on page 886 of your edition?

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        The last entry on page 886 is for Menagere Stew, 469 and the first entry on p 915 is for Wedding buffet menus, 33. My copy doesn't seem to reflect the edition - or if it does, I don't know where to look for that edition.

                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                          Bingo! Sending you an e-mail.

                                                                          ETA: I just meant that I have the 1975 version (edition) of the book, just a different printing.

                                                                      2. re: dkennedy

                                                                        Looks like you have been helped. If you need more, I am pretty sure that I have this edition [amongst others] as well.

                                                                        Doesn't JoanN rock?

                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                          Aw, shucks. Taint nothin' fer a COTM bud.

                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                            Yes, Joan does rock! Thank you so much for your help. It's wonderful to be part of such a giving community.

                                                                        2. re: dkennedy

                                                                          Dkennedy, after reading your post I immediately went to examine my copy of JOC, hoping to help you. It had the number "75" prominently printed on its cover, and I couldn't figure out why none of the pages matched and there wasn't even an index entry for "Menagere Stew" anywhere inside.

                                                                          Finally I realized that this was the 75th Anniversary Edition, published in 2006, not the 1975 work. So that led me to look up the history of JOC publications--fascinating reading. I also own the 1997 "New Joy" and like it quite a lot--I think this might be a defining difference between those like me who did not grow up with JOC (my mother didn't own it) and those who did and enjoyed/revered the "voice" of the previous editions.

                                                                          Anyway, I'm glad JoanN has come to the rescue! And thanks for inspiring me to learn more about JOC!


                                                            2. Hi-- I recommended both-- completely by accident-- a big Sorry... trying to see who was voting for which book--I own them both-- would be happy with either-- but will go in and vote again for radically simple-- mine just came in the mail yesterday and i think it will be good for summer-- with all of the easy ingredients and schedules.