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Jun 30, 2014 03:17 PM

July 2014 COTM: Radically Simple - 10 Minute Salads, Vegetables and Side Dishes

Greetings all!

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

10 Minute Salads
Vegetables and Side Dishes

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  1. Apple Cider Cucumbers (Ipad version)

    As I was planning our meals for the week I new I was keen on some of the simple salad and pasta dishes from this book. The first pasta dish I chose was the baked ziti with fontina, which I new was going to be relatively rich and dense so I chose this little side salad in the hopes it might lighten the meal and cut through some of that richness, and that it did.

    As the books title suggests the dish is radically simple, consisting simply of peeled sliced cucumber swimming ina bath of apple cidre vinegar and maple syrup, accented with a fair amount of dill and some salt and pepper. You are meant to chill this between 1 hour to 1 day and you are good to go. I didn't expect any great revelations as I have had similar dishes before with sugar instead of the maple syrup, but I have to say I think the maple syrup was much better than the usual touch of sugar. Plus it went very well with the apple cidre vinegar and the healthy dose of dill from the garden at my husband's office.

    This would be great fare for a BBQ or any simple picnic meal.

    While I enjoyed June's book, My Paris Kitchen, it is nice to have some lovely summery options in this month's COTM.

    17 Replies
    1. re: delys77

      This doesn't sound appealing on first read, but you make it sound very good. My kids love pickles so maybe I'll give this a try.

      1. re: Westminstress

        I hope you like it, the syrup really ends up just adding some sweetness to the brine, which is typical enough of a quick pickle.

      2. re: delys77

        I don't have the book. Looking forward to getting an excuse from this thread, for buying it. Pickles get me 30% there.

        1. re: delys77

          Happy Canada Day, delys!

          Quick question - do you think that cider vinegar makes a big difference? Would maybe white wine vinegar do just as well? Cider vinegar turns me off.

          1. re: LulusMom

            Thanks LLM!

            I'm at a family gathering and the weather is great, so far so good. I just had a quick taste test of vinegars from my sister's cupboard and the flavour profiles are different but not worlds apart. The apple cidre vinegar seems slightly less acidic with a touch more sourness than the generally sharper white wine vinegar I sampled (maille brand).

            I would guess it will still be good, but the amount of vinegar called for will likely yield different results. That said since you don't like apple cidre vinegar I'm sure your better off trying it with the white wine vinegar.

            1. re: delys77

              Thanks so much delys. I'll take a taste and add approach with this one using white wine vinegar.

              Great weather in Van? The gods must know I'm not there. We're on vacation and saw a man in a Canada t-shirt yesterday - Represent!

              1. re: LulusMom

                lol represent indeed. Yeah the weather has been lovely.

          2. re: delys77

            Loved the crunchy Apple Cider Cucumbers - p 64

            As delys77 states, the cucumbers swim in the slightly sweet vinegar/syrup mixture. I think the liquid could be reduced by a third and would still be plenty, depending on the shape and depth of your serving dish.

            Although these are supposed to chill 1 hour to 1 day, we ate them only 15 minutes after prep (failure to read the ENTIRE recipe, again). Liked them so well that I've got another batch chilling in the fridge for tomorrow - I just sliced more cucumbers into the liquid that was left. I used dried dill weed, teaspoons instead of tablespoons.

            1. re: delys77

              Apple Cider Cucumbers

              My turn for this dish. Not much too add to prior posts. I served this as a side with brats. Super easy. What surprised me most was the maple syrup. I thought it might overpower the cucumbers but it was quite subtle.

              1. re: delys77

                Little late on this, but this cookbook looks up my alley (I usually at best just lurk a bit on COTM).

                If any of you see this, since I've got a bunch of cucumbers as well as apple cider vinegar and some maple syrup brought back from Canada, would like to give this a try. Since I don't have the cookbook (yet), if anybody can give me a heads up about proportions of each ingredient? I know you can't post the recipe itself, and don't want to impose -- figure I could eyeball it, but thought might as well ask.

                Sounds simple and really good for a summer snack! I almost live on cucumber salads in the summertime, anyway, so this one piqued my interest.

                  1. re: Gio

                    Well shoot, I should have figured that out myself! Thanks, Gio, for indulging my internet laziness, appreciate the link.

                    1. re: mselectra

                      We look forward to your report.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Thanks to Gio for pointing me to googlebooks (which I should have checked myself first).

                        Made this very simple cucumber salad last night. I'd say it was a success since my partner ended up finishing the liquid with a spoon after the cucumbers were gone. (We both tend to do that with salad dressings, actually, when we're at home and no one can see, but he seemed especially enthusiastic with this one.)

                        The ingredient list did sound sort of odd, but made a nice sweet and sour, sweet pickle, sort of taste.

                        Note that I did not have fresh dill, so used dried which I do think really made a difference -- didn't have enough dill flavor. Also did not have seedless cucumbers. Salad did seem a little watery, which I think might be because I lazily didn't seed the cukes. Wondering if I should have salted them first, perhaps.

                        Am looking at other recipes from the googlebook version -- does look like a nice cookbook.


                        1. re: mselectra

                          Nice report. Thanks. Because I really dislike extra salt in my salads I've taken to deseeding cucumbers then tightly wrapping each long half in a paper towel making sure to get the paper into the "seed gully". I do each half as I work so the paper absorbs piratically all moisture. Yes, it's a small extra step but works very well..

                          1. re: Gio

                            Nice tip, thanks -- as I think I said earlier, we do practically live on cucumber salads in the summertime, so I appreciate all the help I can get!

              2. Watercress, Endive & St, Agur Blue Cheese, pg. 53

                Toasted walnuts, endive, watercress, walnut oil, rice vinegar, and St, Augur. Lovely combination; made for a nice lunch yesterday.

                1. Pistachio-Coconut Rice, p. 274.

                  Made this to accompany the Korean-style salmon on p. 147. I really liked the way the slightly sweet flavor of the coconut milk-curry-rice combo complemented the flavors of Gold's Korean salmon recipe. In the interests of full-disclosure I have to admit that I changed the recipe's method following another Chowhound's (Picawicca's) recommendation on the 2011 adjunct thread.

                  Because I really like what a preliminary sauté in fat does to create separate kernels of cooked rice, rather than simply simmering the rice in the coconut milk as directed, I first sautéed the 1cup of basmati rice and the 1/2 tsp of curry powder together in some fat (butter and olive oil) for a few minutes until the rice was translucent and the curry powder had bloomed. Then I added 1 cup of coconut milk plus 3/4 cup of water to the pot. I brought the mixture to a boil, than simmered it covered for 18 minutes, then tossed the finished dish with the 1/3 cup finely chopped and toasted pistachios before serving. The rice turned out perfectly cooked.

                  Here's the recipe from google books:

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Goblin

                    Pistachio-Coconut Rice

                    I am a big fan of my rice cooker as it always seems to do a better job than me when it comes cooking rice. I simply added the suggested coconut milk and enough water to bring the liquid level up to the appropriate line for my rice cooker, and then let it cook away. The rice came out fluffy and rich from the coconut milk. I transferred the cooked rice to serving bowl with the requisite curry powder, butter and seasoning and tossed together. In went the pistachio's and there you have it. Lovely little rice dish that would go well with many things. I especially liked the combination of the butter and the curry, a little different and very tasty.

                    1. re: delys77

                      Delys77, this sounds like a very easy and tasty way to make this nice rice dish, and I will try it this way next time in my rice cooker!

                      1. re: Goblin

                        Hope it works well for you. I've resigned myself to the fact that the rice cooker is much better at cooking rice than me.

                    2. re: Goblin

                      Pistachio-Coconut Rice p. 274

                      Very nice as full-flavored side for the Galic-Miso pork chops p 212

                      I increased rice/water quantities to match the entire (1 2/3 C.) of coconut milk in my 13.5 fl oz. can., but left the salt at 1 tsp and would reduce to 1/2 tsp. next time.

                      I varied from recipe's cooking method. Brought the liquid to simmer, added the rice,stirred, and brought back to simmer. Tight fitting lid, lowest heat, for 15 minutes, no stirring, and checked for rice tenderness. It was, indeed, done despite the package-directions that said simmer for 35 minutes. Then no heat for 15 minutes, lid on, while I finished cooking the meal.

                      I removed the extra 1.5 - 2 C. of the cooked rice and stored it un-spiced for later use.

                      Butter and garam masala got stirred into the remaining rice, along with toasted pistachios - I used salted/roasted, chopped them then toasted.
                      The recipe says 1 C. uncooked rice for 4 servings. I think it probably made 6 generous servings.

                      1. re: Goblin

                        Pistachio Coconut Rice

                        I concur that this rice is easy and delicious. Following suggestions here I sautéed my curry powder in the butter before adding rice. Then cooked the rice with 1.5 cups water and 1/4 cup very thick coconut cream (from my freezer). It turned out perfect, though next time I may want to add a bit more coconut. Loved the pistachios in this rice.

                        Served with the garam masala lamb from this book, but there were so many user errors involved in that dish that I will not report on it.

                      2. Whole Cauliflower, Ras-el-Hanout Crumble, p. 262.

                        Couldn't be much simpler. A cored, whole head of cauliflower is steamed over boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. One needs to take a bit of care while coring the cauliflower so the large florets don't fall apart, but even if they do you can reassemble the head successfully (can you tell that this happened to me?)

                        While the cauliflower is steaming, a cup of panko is sautéed in 1 TBS of oil and 1.5 TBS of butter until golden. Then 1.5 tsp of ras el hanout plus a pinch of salt is added and the mixture is cooked very briefly together. The hot cauliflower is placed on a platter, scattered with the crumbs, drizzled with a few TBS of oil and some salt, and served.

                        The ras el houout provides a very nice flavor to the crumbs and it sure is simple just to toss it with them. But to me, the panko crumbs were almost gritty. I will do this again, but with bread crumbs that I have whirled in my mini FP to make slightly larger, crispier crumbs.

                        1. Spooned Avacado, Lime & Smoked Paprika, pg 38

                          Not sure if we've ever tried the avacado + arugula + lime dressing before, but anyway, we liked it. My 1/4 recipe was in exact proportion, but I did sub adult arugula for the infantile variety. It comes together in a few minutes--washing the greens was the only thing that took effort--and went well with a simply grilled smallish piece of meat. Quick and easy summer supper, and just right for a meal without a starch.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: qianning

                            I was all set to make this when I realized, gasp, that I was out of smoked paprika! I had to substitute Trader Joe's Smoked African blend of spices that includes flakes of paprika but I will be hunting down another tin of smoked paprika in the next day or two! :)

                            1. re: qianning

                              We really enjoyed this here, too. My husband said it was like eating guacamole in a salad format.