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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.

                        Thanks!

                        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:
                  http://books.google.com/books?id=oRzo...

                  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.

                           
                          1 Reply
                          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! :)

                          2. A New Way to Cook Broccoli, p. 256.

                            So broiling or oven-roasting cut-up pieces of vegetables is not particularly new these days--but I decided to try this particular recipe to see if it made broccoli seem fresher/different. It turned out to be a very tasty recipe.

                            First broccoli florets with 2-in. stems (my florets were sliced in half if they were more than approx. 2 inches in diameter) are parboiled for 2 minutes, then dried, then tossed with olive oil, and then arranged in one level on a pre-heated pan. Broil for approx. 7 minutes until broccoli is lightly charred and crisp-tender.

                            Meanwhile, heat more olive oil in a small skillet with several thinly-sliced cloves of garlic and sliced, seeded Thai bird chilies until the garlic is crisp and golden--doesn't take too long. When the broccoli is crisp-tender and charred, toss with the hot oil, garlic, and peppers plus a teaspoon of Thai fish sauce. Season with s & p, and serve.

                            I did not have Thai bird chilies, so I subbed a pinch of red pepper flakes. The fish sauce made the broccoli very savory; and the crisply-sauteed garlic slices provided a nice texture. Red pepper flakes gave a boost of heat. Probably the best technique I derived from this recipe is how effective it is to par-boil the broccoli first to make the broiling faster and more efficient.

                            I'll make broccoli this way again.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Goblin

                              That's so funny, goblin! I also made this broccoli tonight, but the ottolenghi version, which she says was her inspiration. And I also used red pepper flakes instead of fresh chilies. I did mine on the grill (great char!) and used lemon instead of fish sauce. I think fish sauce would have been very good. Anyway, I agree this is a good method for broccoli. (Though with the high dry heat of the grill I could have parboiled a tad longer).

                              1. re: Goblin

                                A New Way to Cook Broccoli

                                We made this last night to go with the blistered chicken and we liked it very much. I proceeded similarly to Goblin except that I cooked the broccoli at the same time as my chicken. Which means that it cooked at 550 on the top rack instead of directly under the broiler. As a result it took closer to 12 minutes and it may not have charred quite so much, but it was still very good and saved me having to make it separately from the chicken.

                                I also steamed my asparagus in plastic wrapped covered bowl in the microwave. Just placed the florets in a large bowl and added a bit of water, then covered and microwaved for about 2.5 minutes.

                                Lastly we did use the thai bird chillies and they were just the right level of heat for our tastes.

                                Great little side!

                                 
                              2. Sauteed Peppers with Golden Raisins & Arugula - p 270

                                Thumbs down in our household for this one. "Too many notes", as the line from the movie Amadeus says.

                                Assorted colors of bell peppers, cut into strips are sauteed in olive oil. Then fennel seeds and golden raisins are added, cooking continues until the peppers are soft. Balsamic vinegar and arugula are stirred in at the end, cooked briefly to barely wilt the arugula.

                                All cooking is supposed to be done over high heat, butsome of my peppers and raisins started to char so I reduced the flame and shortened the suggested 6-minute cooking time by 3 minutes. The balsamic spattered when added to the pan - perhaps remove from heat or be cautious as you stir that in.

                                For us, including only one of the 3 accent ingredients - fennel, OR raisins OR balsamic - would probably have been OK.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                  Sorry this didn't work out for you. I've made it a couple of times and enjoyed it, but obviously tastes vary.

                                2. Steamed Asparagus with Wasabi Miso Butter

                                  Another exceedingly easy dish from this great book. I must say I am very happy with this month's choice, it is proving to be flavourful and easy, which is definitely a winning combination.

                                  For this one she has you trim and peel your asparagus and then steam still tender. In my case I just trimmed them as they were quite delicate already. You then mash together some softened butter with white miso and some wasabi paste, drizzle with a touch of lemon and then some black sesame seeds (omitted). Once the asparagus is ready you sprinkle with salt and then dot with the butter. In my case I simply tossed the asparagus with about 2/3 or the butter and then plated.

                                  The flavour of the miso and butter combo was lovely. Much like soy sauce and butter, I really like the silky smoothness and umami hit that one gets from the these kinds of combinations. The wasabi was also nice, although I might cut it back a little next time and perhaps increase the lemon a touch.

                                  On the whole though a very good little side.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: delys77

                                    Maybe this butter would be nice on a piece of roasted fish??

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Could very well be. In that case I think I would stick with the amount of wasabi as I suspect it would have been less distracting on fish.

                                    2. re: delys77

                                      I heartily agree with delyss77 - "I must say I am very happy with this month's choice, it is proving to be flavourful and easy, which is definitely a winning combination."

                                    3. Asparagus, Bol Choy, Radicchio Salad, Pg. 48

                                      An odd assemblage of ingredients you say? Why yes it is. And, with the inclusion of shaved Provolone forgoodnesssakes, a more peculiar finish. But it works, strangely enough. The correct ingredients are a must, I think. Thin asparagus, a small head of radicchio which I have never seen around here but G was able to find one about the size of a softball, large baby bok choy, and a really aged spicy semi-soft provolone (I pronounce the 'e').

                                      The asparagus is sliced into small diagonals, sauteed for a minute in EVOO, then tipped into a bowl. Press the garlic over the asparagus. The cute little white balls of bok choy are sliced, the leaves are torn. Radicchio is sliced into small pieces. Everything is tossed in the bowl with the asparagus then dressed with rice vinegar and S & P. G served the salad in individual bowls and shaved 1 ounce of provolone on top of each.

                                      It was a pretty bowl of vegetables and cheese. The vegetables tasted fresh, vibrant, and crisp since the asparagus was only cooked for a minute. My thought was the dressing needed more oomph. With strident flavors of asparagus and radicchio the rice vinegar just didn't sing to me, the great flavor of that cheese notwithstanding. However, I did enjoy the salad as a whole and would make it again with a different vinaigrette. G? He didn't like at all. There's some left over that I'll finish off tonight.

                                      1. Grilled Romaine w/ Rouquerfort & Deviled Pecans pg. 58

                                        Every few years we go on a grilled romaine kick, but usually dress it with some sort of vinaigrette. This blue cheese twist was a nice change of pace. Also interesting that the dressing is made in the MFP and with water and hot sauce. An approach and two ingredients I'd never think to use for Roquerfort dressing. But you know what, at least in this application, it worked really well. My "hot-pepper sauce" was peri-peri sauce, for most salads that would probably have been a mistake, but with the grilled lettuce it worked well. And my deviled pecans were actually deviled walnuts--discovered while making this that I somehow have two bags of walnuts in the house and no pecans--pecans would be better, but walnuts were fine. And the "deviling", cook walnuts/pecans in a bit of Worcestershire sauce for 2 minutes, really does dress them up with little effort. Overall a hit for us.

                                         
                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: qianning

                                          I really like the sound of that salad Q. Especially the deviled nuts! Do you think almonds would work too?

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Probably. But even if it doesn't you'll only be out a few almonds and two minutes effort.

                                        2. Moroccan Carrots pg 63--Steamed Marinated Carrots with Basic Moroccan spices--

                                          Very pleased with the carrots-- Was concerned when making the marinade that it would have to much acid- and was surprised there was no honey/ sugar in the recipe--
                                          After 2 hours in the marinade the sweetness of the carrots came though and complimented the acid.

                                          I would suggest a longer marinade time-- Gold recommends up to a day- and possibly a few extra minutes on the steaming.

                                          I served with lamb and the Saffron rice from the Ottogeleni book(I think its Jerusalem)
                                          A definite redo-- I doubled and we had none leftover-- somewhat addictive.

                                           
                                           
                                          3 Replies
                                              1. Beets with Balsamic Syrup, (Basil) & Walnuts, p. 46

                                                I don't think a balsamic reduction can be called radical in the 2010s, despite what she says in the head note (I certainly made/used them 20 years ago, at the height of the balsamic craze). However, radical or not, it does work very well with the ingredients in this salad, though I made a couple of subs based on what I had.

                                                She calls for canned beets here, but I used fresh, both red and gold, which I roasted the night before. The dressing is made by boiling balsamic vinegar and a pressed garlic clove until reduced to a few tablespoons (I started with 1/3 cup rather than the 1/2 cup called for), plus olive oil, and another clove of garlic. I probably used only 1 T of oil, and the volume of dressing was generous for the salad. The beets are joined by toasted, chopped walnuts, crumbled goat cheese (feta), and chopped mint (basil). Overall, a very nice dish. Though this combination isn't novel, there's a reason similar beet salads have become a menu cliché: they're delicious.

                                                 
                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  Beets with Balsamic Syrup, Mint, and Walnuts, p. 46.

                                                  Made this again last night. I concur with Caitlin; beets 'n basalmic vinegar plus feta and toasted walnuts has stayed popular just because it is such a delicious combo. And it was as good last night as it was when I made it for the "Cooking From. . . )" thread a few years ago.

                                                  I oven-roasted my wrapped-in-foil beets at 425 F--ever since I discovered this simple and delicious (if time-consuming) process I can't seem to bring myself to use any other method, including buying beets in the can or jar.

                                                  The last time I made this I reduced my 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar down to 3 TBS as per recipe instructions and it rapidly caramelized into delicious little chunks--not quite what I had in mind. Probably started with too syrupy a vinegar in the first place. This time I just used 3 TB of a good but not terrifically syrupy balsamic--"Champagne Balsamic" from the Olive Press folks--and didn't bother with reducing. It was delicious and quick.

                                                  So: not a terrifically original recipe anymore, but a very good rendition of it. I loved the pressed-garlic and mint overtones as well.

                                                  1. re: Goblin

                                                    Sounds good. I'm an oven-roasting person myself but this time of year I can't bear to turn the oven on, especially not for the length of time it takes to roast beets! I have found that if I cut the beets into little wedges I can steam them in about 15 minutes. To prep for steaming, I scrub the unpeeled beets, top and tail them, and cut off any rough patches. Otherwise I do not peel. This method of preparation is very fast and easy for summer and works well if you have farm fresh beets with thin skins. The flavor of steamed beets is lighter, less sweet and concentrated than roasted beets, also fresher and a bit earthier. For me, this is fine since it's summer. I kind of enjoy the seasonal variation in flavor.

                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                      Westminstress, thanks for the useful information on steaming beets. I appreciate learning about it. Are you saying that your lovely farm fresh beets didn't need peeling at all? My beets were burly ones with no leaves attached, no doubt from storage somewhere, and they had tough skins that I had to remove with a combination of rubbing with a paper towel and using a peeler. And you're right: oven-roasting them took over an hour on a hot day!

                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                        Yes, no peeling! I discovered this by accident (was in a rush and forgot to peel ... And nobody noticed!). I did it again on purpose and once again it was fine. A few of the skins did start to come off after steaming so I removed those but most of the skin wasn't noticeable. This only works if you have freshly harvested beets with thin skins. I think you would need to peel storage beets.

                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                          Thanks, Westminstress--I love learning something new! Especially when it involves saving time and effort!

                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                            If you try it, let me know how it works for you :)

                                                2. Blasted Green Beans and Tomatoes, p. 265

                                                  I've done this before, and so I'll repeat what I said in the cooking-from thread: Another basic recipe, but how can you go wrong with roasted veggies? Trimmed green beans are tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted 8 minutes at 450F, then halved cherry tomatoes [mine were pretty small this time, so I didn't bother halving them] and dried oregano are added, and all is roasted a few minutes more, until tomatoes are shriveled, then pepper flakes are tossed in. No going wrong with roasted green beans, and the juicy softened tomatoes and spices liven them up.

                                                  Apologies for the washed-out photo.

                                                   
                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    I made this last week. I had heirloom tomatoes so I cut those in quarters. I didn't think the dish would be anything special but I really liked the way it turned out. I served it with pan-fried, skin-on chicken breasts and some garlic bread.

                                                  2. Salade Normande, pg. 50

                                                    Take some Boston lettuce--mine was the red tipped variety, very pretty in this. Toss with a whisked dressing of cream and lemon juice. Add s&p, and chopped fresh chive and tarragon toss again.

                                                    Quick & elegant.

                                                    I'd've liked a little more tarragon, but then I love that flavor. For anyone who doesn't either some fresh parsley or dill would probably do nicely here.

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: qianning

                                                      I love this recipe. I made it several times back when there was beautiful butter lettuce at the farmers market. One thing it really taught me is how a few herbs can really dress up a salad. It is such a simple recipe, but the chives and tarragon (and cream) really add a lot.

                                                      1. re: qianning

                                                        Yep, one of our favorites too. Lulu and I fight for the ends of it.

                                                        1. re: qianning

                                                          Do you think butter lettuce is absolutely necessary? No butter lettuce at the FM right now, but I'd like to try this salad.

                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                            No. We had some just a night or so ago with all the oriiginal ingredients + a combination of leaf lettuce + small local cukes + parsley, tasted great to me. And BTW, I've been using a ratio of 2TBS cream to 1&1/2 tsp lemon juice, and it has been plenty to dress a salad for the two of us.

                                                            1. re: qianning

                                                              OK great! I am going to try it with my mixed local baby greens. They are hearty enough I think to stand up to a creamy dressing without being too crunchy. Stay tuned!

                                                            2. re: Westminstress

                                                              We had this salad last night. The recipe calls for Boston, and the only ones they had in the store were small as tennis balls, so I went with butter, which was the softest seeming thing I could find. I think any fairly soft (so no iceberg or romaine) greens would be fine.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                Totally agree--a tender leaf lettuce is key, cos or iceberg wouldn't work.

                                                            3. re: qianning

                                                              Doesn't the cream curdle when you whisk it with lemon juice?

                                                              1. re: ltsering

                                                                Do it just before you dress the salad. Not a problem.

                                                                1. re: ltsering

                                                                  No it doesn't curdle, the ratio is such that what you get is a lemony flavored sour cream.

                                                              2. Chilled Asparagus Tonnato with[out] “Confetti” (page 46)

                                                                Cook, shock, drain, and dry medium asparagus. Plate and drizzle with oil. Combine canned tuna and it’s oil with garlic, more oil, and two thin slices of lemon in an FP and process, adding lemon juice and water as necessary, until sauce is very smooth. Pour sauce over asparagus and sprinkle with mesclun “confetti” and capers.

                                                                My version: My asparagus was quite thin. To make the dish Weight Watcher friendly I used tuna in water, added only 1 tsp of oil to the food processor, and no oil to the asparagus. What is called mesclun in the ingredients list looks like tiny flower petals in the photo. I was fresh out of tiny flower petals, so skipped it. Fresh out of capers, too. (And in BIG letters on the photo it says “don’t forget the capers.” Oh, well.

                                                                So after all those changes, it almost seems unfair to review this. But I will anyway, because it was pretty damn good. Certainly quick to prepare (maybe 12 minutes) and quite a satisfying dinner on a hot, steamy night. I have some excellent, imported Spanish tuna in oil in the cabinet. Talk about restraint! I can only imagine how much better it will be when I can make it with that tuna. With the oil.

                                                                 
                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  You're a saint. I Love tonnato with almost anything.

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    Hardly. Just someone with way too much extra luggage around the middle who will be in a bathing suit, in Hawaii, in front of other people, in three months. Just about the best incentive there is.

                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                    Yeah, what IS it with the flowers in the pictures?? There was something I made in the past week or two that also had flowers in the photo but not in the recipe list (which was a darned good thing as my crisper was fresh out of edible flowers).

                                                                    Anyway, back to this dish ... wondering if I would get away with serving this as a main course. Hmm, maybe with a sliced baguette on the side (which hardly makes it bathing suit ready, but still).

                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                      I think it's a little iffy if a family would consider this a full meal on its own. Perhaps if the baguette contained something a little more substantial? a bruschetta, perhaps? Or if it were preceded by a cold soup? On the other hand, using tuna in oil might make it feel more filling. I'll be curious to read what you decide and what your family thinks.

                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                        I know I could get away with it if it was just Lulu and me. LulusDad's next trip isn't until mid-late August, but I'd love to try this then. I think I'll put it on my calendar (novel idea!).

                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                        I thought it was very good, even with the tuna in water. I'll be eager for a report on it with tuna in oil. And capers. It can only be even better.

                                                                    2. Carrot-Ginger Dressing (p. 66):

                                                                      I probably used more like 1 tbsp ginger, because I love ginger. The dressing was very flavorful, but I had trouble getting it sufficiently smooth in a food processor. I might use a blender if I try this recipe again. Also, it might do well with less sugar.

                                                                      1. "Green" Corn

                                                                        I was so intrigued by this recipe, I had to try it. Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as I hoped. Basically you shuck and boil corn, then you rub it with basil leaves that have been sprinkled with coarse salt. After that you add butter and lime juice. I think the idea is that the salt breaks down the basil leaves, and the basil juice perfumes and flavors the corn (and I was kind of expecting the corn to turn green, based on the title). What happened was, my basil leaves quickly turned black and wilted from the heat of the corn, and the corn didn't pick up much basil flavor. Fresh, sweet summer corn with butter, salt, and lime juice was mighty tasty, don't get me wrong. But I was a bit disappointed that this cool-sounding trick with the salted basil rub didn't work for me.

                                                                        1. I tried the Heirloom Tomatoes with Lemony Tahina and it was delicious and simple!

                                                                          1. Creola Rice (iPad Edition)

                                                                            Ok, I am not one for cutesy names for recipes so I almost skipped this one, but upon further reading it sounded pretty good so I decided to give it a try as we were looking for something that could be a main dish that was light on meat. I took her suggestion of adding chorizo (but not shrimp as we were out) to try and round this out into a main. Following this approach we ended up with 3 good dinner portions.

                                                                            The instructions are quite simple, you saute minced onion and green pepper with some salt in a bit of oil, then add the rice and saute for another 5 minutes or so. I cut the saute on the rice to 3 minutes as it was starting to burn and stick (she has you do all this on high). In go some crushed tomatoes, water, thyme, chipotle chile powder, rice vinegar, and garlic. Once this come to a simmer you cover and turn the heat to low for about 20 minutes. Mine took closer to 25 minutes. Once the rice is ready you take it off the heat and let it steam for about 10 minutes before adding some parm and a bit more thyme.

                                                                            In my case I followed as directed, except for the slightly longer cooking time, and then topped with some parsley and chorizo (which I had sauteed separately). The last touch was a bit of fleur de sel and some of the chorizo oil drizzled over the dish.

                                                                            On the whole this was pretty good, but I think it could be great. I think the seasoning is a bit too tame and I'm not sure the parm did anything for it at all. I would add more garlic and onion, a little less tomato and possibly some stock to replace it, some serrano chile, and likely I would start by browning my sausage in the pot, then reserve them and proceed to add my aromatics etc... I might also deglaze with some white wine instead of adding the rice vinegar which also got lost a bit.

                                                                             
                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: delys77

                                                                              Thank you so much for your review and tips/change ideas. I have this on my maybe list, but kept thinking it didn't sound totally right. Sounds like maybe with your changes it would be worth it.

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                Thanks LLM, let us know if you give it a try.

                                                                            2. Roasted Asparagus with Bay Leaves and Crispy Capers (page 252).

                                                                              This vegetable side was very easy to put together and had good flavor. Remember to line your roasting pan with parchment paper! It just makes clean up easier. Also, I used dried bay leaves and I didn’t feel they added anything to the dish. In her picture it looks like she uses fresh. Maybe the fresh bay leaves impart more flavor? Also, I did not find the need to add salt to the dish, I felt the capers added sufficient salt but I did crack a little pepper over top! ..you can always add salt if you feel it needs it.

                                                                              I served this with the Halibut in Prosciutto Wrappers, Red Onion and Crispy Basil (page 156).

                                                                               
                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. Bay-smoked potatoes - p. 276 - A new family favorite. I made a 2/3 recipe, using a pound of well scrubbed new potatoes. Those got put in a small roaster, rolled in 2 T. olive oil and 1 tsp. kosher salt. 8 dry bay leaves (recipe calls for California bay - I used standard) placed on top, then the roaster, closely covered, baked at 400 for 55 minutes.