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August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

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Pure Simple Cooking by Diana Henry

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  1. Zucchini with Ricotta, Mint and Basil, p. 120

    This is a really delicious -- but rather rich -- treatment for zucchini. Zucchini coins are pan-fried in batches until golden on both sides. The batches are layered in a shallow bowl with ricotta salata, pecorino romano, olive oil, lemon juice, fresh mint and basil. This dish is just as marvelous as it sounds! Very fresh and lively from the herbs, cheese and lemon. A great way to use up some of the zucchini glut. There are a few similar recipes in Plenty that I am also looking forward to trying this month as I have lots of zucchini on hand. Also, I think these recipes would work very well with grilled zucchini which would reduce the fat content somewhat without sacrificing flavor. Bring on the zukes!

    2 Replies
      1. re: Westminstress

        Also made this, but changed the recipe a little bit. I used less oil and omitted the ricotta salata since I had none. I liked it. Easy to make and a bit different way to serve zucchini.

      2. Rhubarb cake, page 183

        This is one of my favourite cakes which I've made quite a bit. The last time was on Tuesday using rhubarb from my colleagues allotment. DH says you can also use nectarines, peaches, plums etc.

        It's very simple - equal parts of butter and sugar beaten until light and fluffy. Add three beaten eggs bit by bit, then vanilla extract (a must, IMHO) and fold in sifted self-raising flour. Scrape into a buttered 20 cm springform tin, and top with the rhubarb tossed in sugar. Bake at 190C for 40 minutes.

        In the past I've made this with the early, bright pink forced rhubarb, which goes very soft and melty. The more mature rhubarb kept its shape and a certain toothsome quality. It also gave out a lot of juice! I prefer the early rhubarb, but a colleague at work (it was a cheer us up on night shift treat) messaged me to say " this is incredible. What is it?". Er, cake, with rhubarb! I think it was a hit...

        Must try with peaches next!

        4 Replies
        1. re: greedygirl

          I've made this cake, though not with rhubarb. I did it with apples. Anyway, concur that this is a great and easy cake that would work with any fruit. I think apricots would be very nice!

          1. re: greedygirl

            I made this cake with peaches last night (I peeled them first). It was easy and delicious. It is a rather similar recipe to the "galley girl pear cake" that has made the rounds here years back.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Rhubarb Cake - p. 183

              Those of you in the "Cooking From..." thread may remember my delight in finding this recipe last year. I have baked it countless times, not just with rhubarb but with apples, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, you name it. A truly wonderful, versatile cake recipe.

              1. re: geekmom

                I am now wondering why it took me so long to get off my butt and make this (Rhubarb Cake, p.183). It was ludicrously easy to make, and got rave reviews (LulusDad "This is better than any cake I've gotten at any restaurant!"). Seriously, I took the butter out to soften before doing a few things around the house, and then once I started it took probably 10 minutes (if that) to put this together. Delicious. I'd love to try it with apricots, and the pear idea is intriguing too. I see what the fuss is about! Definitely agree that the vanilla is a must.

            2. Turkish Baked Aubergines with Chilli, Feta, and Mint - p. 112 (UK edition)

              Every summer I get bombarded with eggplant, and every summer I look for new ways to prepare it. This recipe immediately appealed to me because I had all the ingredients, especially lots of homemade feta sitting in the fridge.

              The recipe has you halve eggplants and then score them. I cut each eggplant into four lengthwise slices instead. You are then supposed to pour on 10 Tbs of olive oil. I didn't measure. I was pretty liberal with it, but I doubt I used 10 Tbs! The eggplant is seasoned with salt and pepper, then gets roasted in a 400-degree oven. Meanwhile, onions are sautéed in more olive oil until golden, then some sliced garlic and red chiles are added in (I used fresno chiles).

              The cooked eggplant goes onto a serving platter, lemon juice is squeezed over, then the onion mixture goes on top. Feta gets scattered over that, then the yogurt is dabbed on top, and the dish is finished with a scattering of mint leaves and some more olive oil.

              Hard to see how this could fail to be delicious, and indeed it was. Definitely will be a repeat around here during eggplant season. Served with some lemon roasted potatoes, it made for a nice vegetarian meal.

              11 Replies
              1. re: MelMM

                So this was your main? Somehow in reading the recipe I never got that it was supposed to be a main, and it always sounded like it could be overkill with most of the main courses I go for. It *does* sound absolutely delicious.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Yes, it was the main for two of us, and we had a little left over. With all the dairy, it would be a bit heavy for a side, to my taste.

                  1. re: MelMM

                    I think that is why I've skipped over it. I got the impression it was a side (and if it fed 2 of you, that may be part of why I thought this), and I agree - I usually don't want that much dairy in a side - too rich. But as a main it sounds really good. The lemon potatoes sound like they'd be a nice go-with.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      In the headnote, she says it serves 4 as a starter or side. She mentions that it is substantial enough for a main, but doesn't give servings. I'd say it would serve 2.5-3, depending upon how much else there is to go with it.

                2. re: MelMM

                  Glad to see this enthusiastic report. I have a huge globe eggplant from this past week's CSA haul, and when I looked through the Diana Henry books I own, I lit on this one, and plan to make it later this week...though undoubtedly, I'll use less oil than she calls for!

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    I got a great tip about eggplant today from a Chinese guy I met at a party. He'd made a delicious Chinese-style aubergine salad and he told me he microwaved the eggplant for six minutes before slicing and frying. Absorbs way less oil that way apparently, and his aubergines weren't remotely oily.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Nice tip; unfortunately, I don't currently have a microwave. I also once read, I think on a thread on CH, a tip to pour boiling water over cut eggplant (really, the barest of blanching), with similar results.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I always salt cut eggplant for 1/2 hour or so, rinse and dry. It looses its sponge qualities and absorbs much less oil after this treatment

                    2. re: MelMM

                      Oh , thanks for your report ! I've had my eye on this one for ages.

                      1. re: MelMM

                        How do you make your feta? I am impressed that you are making that at home!

                        1. re: MelMM

                          Turkish Baked Eggplant with Chile, Feta, and Mint, p. 112 (US)

                          Funny that chile and mint, which serve as grace notes, made it into the recipe title, while onions, which are really key to the deliciousness of the dish, did not! My feta wasn't homemade, but Bulgarian and made from sheep's milk, and I had but one eggplant (albeit a large globe variety weighing in at around 1.5 lbs), but I can only concur with MelMM that this makes a splendid centerpiece for a vegetarian meal.

                          I sliced my big eggplant lengthwise into four thick slabs, which I scored on one side. I probably used a couple of tablespoons of oil on them, aided by a brush, with more on the scored side. Despite this reduction, they baked up perfectly tender and not at all dry. I also used rather less than 1/4 cup oil for the onions. Like Mel, I used Fresno chiles.

                          I served my eggplant with leftover Greek herb pilaf from the CWPL recipe (I had plenty of rice and feta left, but no more shrimp). I guess by serving Greek lemony roast potatoes and Greek pilaf with our Turkish eggplant, both Mel and I respectively achieved something like diplomacy on a plate! As far as determining how many main dish servings the recipe makes, just for reference, my 1.5 lb eggplant works out to two good servings (for me) with the rice as a side, and could easily be supplemented with a green salad.

                        2. Swedish Baked Beets with Onions, Sour Cream, and Dill, p. 126.

                          The title says it all, with a very short list of ingredients that together create a delicious side dish. You just oven-roast the beets till tender ("try to get small ones" says DH and I did) in little foil jackets at 350 F, cool them and peel them. I love this method of cooking beets because it is essentially no-mess. DH did suggest something new (to me): add some s, p, and a little olive oil into the packets before you seal them completely. Never thought of that before. Seemed to make the peels slide off more easily afterwards.

                          Meanwhile, slice red onions "into half moons, " season with s & p and a bit of olive oil and roast them in the same oven for 20 to 30 minutes until "tender and slightly singed at the tips." Mine took 40 minutes to achieve this state.

                          Halve or quarter the peeled, roasted beets and place them with the onions on a serving dish, and dab them with sour cream mixed with coarsely-chopped fresh dill. Season gently if necessary once again with s & p and serve. Can be served hot or at room temperature; I made the beets and onions ahead, refrigerated them, and then rewarmed the platter slightly in the microwave before garnishing with the sour cream and dill.

                          The finished dish is unashamedly deep-red in color but the dabs of white sour cream mixed with tiny sprigs of green dill provide a very pretty contrast. The sweetness of the beets was nicely balanced by the sour cream and dill. DH suggested serving this dish in the Swedish way with smoked fish like trout or salmon. I accompanied it with my Rozanne Gold speciality: fresh organic salmon filets enrobed with a slice of smoked salmon ("Wild Alaska Sockeye Salmon," Echo Falls brand ) at 475 F for 12 - 15 minutes. I love this simple technique because it keeps the salmon filets moist and contributes an elusive smoky taste without being at all overpowering.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Goblin

                            Great to read this Goblin. We roasted beets last night, will roast red onions tonight, tomorrow will assemble the salad.

                            1. re: Gio

                              I hope you like the dish, Gio! To me is was a simple, classic combo. Tell us what you serve it with.

                            2. re: Goblin

                              Swedish Baked Beets with Onions, Sour Cream, and Dill, Pg. 126

                              Lovely, tasty salad. Sweet beets, softly charred red onions, chopped dill, sour cream equals quintessential Swedish cuisine. The beets and new onions were fresh from the farm as was the dill so the ingredients were at their best and the final dish proved it served at room temperature.

                              I served this with a roast chicken sandwich on freshly baked rye from the FM layered with sweet onion, tomato, and crisp cold lettuce. It was a very good pairing but I completely forgot there is a package of smoked trout in the freezer. I think there's enough left to remedy that oversight. Thanks for your report, Goblin !

                            3. Chicken baked with red onions, potatoes and rosemary p. 15
                              This was a very quick and easy meal made with chicken thighs. The oven is preheated to 400. Two red onions are cut into 10 wedges each and spread on the bottom of a roasting pan along with 1 1/4 lbs of new potatoes, unpeeled, and 2 bulbs of garlic unpeeled but separated into cloves. The vegetables are seasoned with S & p, olive oil (1/2 c is called for, I used less) and 2 T balsamic vinegar. 5 sprigs of rosemary are added (some stripped and some whole, use your judgment) and everything is mixed together by hand and topped with a 4lb chicken cut into 8 pieces or 8 chicken thighs. I cut the amount of chicken in half to no ill effect.
                              The whole thing is baked for 45 minutes or until baked through.
                              This is not really a new or exotic recipe - though the use of balsamic was new for me. I think I might chop the rosemary more finely if serving to company. Overall this was fast, easy, inexpensive and satisfying.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: Blythe spirit

                                Chicken baked with red onions, potatoes, and (thyme) - p. 15

                                Thanks to Blythe for the summary of this recipe. I used thyme, because I was cooking for someone who doesn't like rosemary. The substitution worked extremely well. The flavours are simple and appealing.

                                This was ludicrously easy, and I was able to make it as a weeknight meal - I preheated the oven when I walked in the door, quickly chopped everything up and "bunged it in the oven" as the book says. The aroma coming from the kitchen was absolutely wonderful as it baked! We all thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

                                I did find that my chicken was thoroughly cooked through well before the veg had reached the level of caramelization I wanted, though, so if possible I'd recommend you use chicken with the bones and skin still attached.

                                1. re: geekmom

                                  I had a problem with my potatoes not cooking through when I did this one. I make a similar dish fairly often and never have that problem, so I'm guessing the potatoes were weird. The recipe on the same page with sweet potatoes is also dead easy and very tasty.

                                  1. re: geekmom

                                    :-) 'ludicrously easy' is a very apt description!

                                    1. re: geekmom

                                      We cooked this recipe for that "Cooking From" thread and absolutely loved it. I used the tiny marble potatoes from TJ's left whole, and they worked perfectly. I used bone-in chicken thighs which also cooked as we like them, juicy and tender. Sometimes I lay a whole branch of tiny tomatoes on the vegetables. Thanks for reminding me about this recipe.

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        I picked up the book earlier this morning-
                                        I found so many good recipes that I am looking forward to trying.

                                        a chicken breast is marinating in the garlic, evvo,lemon.
                                        will then place on a bed of cut potatoe, sweetpotato,
                                        red onion and mini peppers.

                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                          Love that combination jpr. Perfect meal, chicken and vegetables.

                                      2. re: geekmom

                                        so good to see you back, geekmom! missed your posts....

                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                          Thank you :-) I'm glad that I've found time to contribute this month!

                                      3. re: Blythe spirit

                                        Add us to those who've made and loved this dish (both variations). I used bone in skin on parts and cooked them with the veg on a baking sheet, everything in a single layer. Cooked through very well that way. The balsamic vinegar in this recipe really elevates the flavors and the sea-salt rubbed chicken skin gets nice and crispy.

                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                          Yes, that balsamic (I had white balsamic on hand) really adds a nice touch.

                                      4. Fettuccine. With goat-cheese pesto and roast tomatoes, p92 UK Edition

                                        We enjoyed this as a hearty supper after a long walk a couple of weeks ago. It's fairly straightforward. Roast cherry toms in a little olive oil until soft and a little charred. Mine took the suggested 20 minutes. Make a pesto with basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan and seasoning in a food processor, gradually adding EVOO to get the required consistency. I made a half recipe and used a bit less than the 3 fl oz specified (6 for the full recipe). Break up soft goat cheese and gently mix into the pesto, with more S&P if you think it needs it.

                                        Toss the cooked pasta with your pesto and tomatoes.

                                        This was as tasty as you'd expect, but quite rich. Good for a day when you've walked 10 miles! I liked the pop of the tomatoes with the creamy, slightly tart pesto.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                          Fettucine with goat-cheese pesto and roast tomatoes - p. 92

                                          The first time I tried to make this dish, I was in small-town Ontario and could not find fresh basil anywhere, even though it was the height of summer(!), so I used a jar of Jamie Oliver pesto and mixed in goat cheese (which turns out to be a very easy way to add dimension to a bought pesto). I didn't feel like that would be worthy of a proper write-up here, though, so yesterday we repeated the recipe.

                                          When I was able to make the pesto according to DH's instructions on this page, I found myself agreeing with GG - it really is very very rich, and quite filling. We loved it, and even put a little plate of crumbled goat cheese on the table to sprinkle over top. And the roast cherry tomatoes are a great, sharp addition to this creamy dish.

                                          Thumbs up from everyone here. We will definitely be making this again.

                                        2. Potatoes with olives and lemon, p 115, UK Edition

                                          This one's a keeper. Basically, new potatoes crushed with olive oil, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, parsley and pitted black olives. I used the oil-cured ones from the Turkish supermarket I've just discovered a couple of miles away. I served this as a side with salmon baked in newspaper from ACOA (spectacular) and the Persian salad from the same book. My guests gobbled this up with alacrity. Job's a good 'un, as we say in Blighty.

                                          1. Potatoes with Shallots and Capers, p. 114

                                            For this simple yet winning potato salad, new potatoes are boiled until tender. Meanwhile you saute sliced shallots until tender but not browned, and put them in a serving bowl with capers and chopped parsley. When the potatoes are done you drain them, add them to the bowl, and dress them while hot with olive oil, white wine vinegar, s&p. So, not a complicated dish, but we all really enjoyed these potatoes. I never would have thought to cook the shallots before adding them to the potatoes, and I was dubious when adding the pale, limp cooked shallots to the bowl. But they turned out so delicious when combined with the other ingredients, acquiring a bit of a pickled flavor from the salt and vinegar in the dressing. DH says that this version of potato salad is especially good with fish, and I served it with Melissa Clark's roasted blackfish with olives and sage (a family favorite) and a green salad. This was a really nice meal that felt perfect for summer, but you could do it any time of year.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                              I haven't even noticed this one! Sounds really good and perfect for the delicious new potatoes we're getting at the moment.

                                            2. Arroz con pollo y chorizo (p. 18)

                                              I've made the Caribbean lazy chicken and rice on this page many times (which we love but feel needs *lots* more hot sauce than 1/2 tablespoon), but had never gotten around to the main recipe, the arroz con pollo. Typical prep, and typically delicious. I subbed TJs soy chorizo. Lulu said "is there something smokey in this?" With a bit of trepidation I said "yes, smoked paprika. Do you like it?" She did! Not much to really say about this recipe. If you have made this dish before you'll know what to expect. This was very good, perhaps not the best one I've made/had.

                                              1. Salmon Fillets with sauce messine (p. 79)

                                                This is old school French cooking, struck me as a very 70s dish (and very caloric!) but also pretty darned tasty. Roast salmon (she calls for 12 minutes, but since all I could get was Pacific I went with 9 and that was plenty) and make the sauce. Butter, finely chopped shallots - once shallots are softened a little flour, then cream, let that lightly boil down then add dijon mustard, parsley and chervil (I didn't have any chervil), tarragon, lemon juice, S&P. I loved the strong taste of tarragon in this. Lulu's in her week of Provencal cooking camp, and was responsible for the side: a salad of swiss chard, zucchini, sweet onion, grape tomatoes, white beans, mint and tarragon with a dressing of balsamic, dijon, honey and olive oil. Darned good! And she stood there telling me about all the different cuts she was making on her zucchini. She came home with a small cut on her finger on Monday and I high fived her and told her "Now you're a REAL chef!" Suddenly she wasn't sad about the cut : )

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  Provencal cooking camp? ! Lulu might be a better chef than me!


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    She's got a LOT of advice for me all the sudden.

                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                    Do they offer an adult version of that camp? It sounds awesome!

                                                    1. re: geekmom

                                                      They do have adult classes, and I think they're going to France with a group to eat and cook - wish I had the time to join them. Today was her last day - she loved it and can't wait to go back next year.

                                                  3. Pomegranate and Honey Glazed Chops with Radish and Cucumber Tzatziki, p. 26

                                                    These didn't have quite the pop I was expecting, but I think it was my fault. Lamb chops (I had slices of tenderloin which were significantly cheaper) are marinated in pomegranate molasses, garlic, honey, olive oil & chili (I subbed aleppo pepper). The chops are briefly pan-seared (3 minutes a side) and served with the tzatziki on the side. The tzatziki is just sliced radishes and diced cucumbers in yogurt, seasoned with olive oil and garlic and fresh mint, and I also added s&p. I really enjoyed the flavor of the tzatziki with the lamb, but I thought the lamb itself could have used a bit more kapow. The instructions were a bit odd in that they listed s&p in the ingredients but they were not called for in the instructions. I ended up not adding salt to the marinade, then salting the chops as they cooked, but I think this led to a bit of a blander result. Also, I ran out of olive oil and could only use 1 tbsp as opposed to the 5 recommended for a half recipe. Now 5 really does seem a bit excessive but I'm sure I lost some flavor not having more olive oil in the marinade.

                                                    That said, I may try again with this one as it was SO easy. Took about 10 minutes in the morning to get the marinade together and another 15 in the evening to cook - and that's including the tzatziki. I served it with fresh sweet corn on the cob, which was lovely with the meal.

                                                    Would appreciate any thoughts as to how I could punch up this dish a bit more and get more of the lovely flavors of the marinade onto the meat.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Westminstress

                                                      Just as you are, I'm thinking the salt was the culprit.

                                                    2. All-in-one Chocolate Cake - p. 178

                                                      When I realized that this book was going to be a COTM, I decided it was time to branch out a bit and try some of the other dessert recipes in Cook Simple. ("Other" meaning other than the rhubarb cake, which many of you know has become a staple at my house.) After all, dessert recipes are often underrepresented in COTM reports, and someone needs to balance things out, right?

                                                      Like many of the recipes in this wonderful cookbook, this cake is so simple - a quick assembly job. All the ingredients are whizzed in a FP, thinned out with a bit of water, poured into your cake tin and away you go. Even the icing thickened up very quickly so that it didn't drip off the sides of the cakes (as you see in the photo, I opted to make individual cupcakes rather than one large cake). This cake was rich and chocolatey, and not too sweet - particularly since I used a 70% dark chocolate for the icing. If you'd like a sweeter cake you could use milk chocolate instead.

                                                      What's not to like about this recipe? I will definitely be making this one again!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                        Never even noticed this recipe. Looks wonderful!

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          I noticed it and have it marked as one of the ones I want to try. :) So glad it's a winner!


                                                      2. Tagliatelle (fettuchine) with wild mushroom sauce (p. 90)

                                                        Apparently when making up this week's menu plan I decided I wanted to look as bad in my bathing suit as I possibly could. As I was putting this together I was laughing to myself at just how heavy and non-summery this meal was. That said ... it was delicious. Dried mushrooms are put in boiling water and left to soak while button mushrooms are sliced and added to butter and sauteed. Wild mushrooms are drained and added, then a bit of chicken stock with (as she recommends if not using homemade) some marsala and the soaking water from the mushrooms. This is cooked down and then cream is added and simmered, then seasoned with S&P and tossed with the pasta. I need to remember this one in the dead of winter.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          That's funny, LLM. I tend to avoid lots of cream and butter on general principle, but sometimes you just have to taste something that appeals at that moment. The mushrooms sound wonderful on their own.

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            So sensible to avoid lots of cream and butter, but sometimes you just gotta have it. But that time isn't usually mid-summer. Really, very odd thing to make in warm weather, but what the heck - we've got a/c and it was delicious. LulusDad is leaving town today, and he loved it, so it was a good meal to serve your special guy when you won't see him for 10 days (see how I'm trying to convince myself this was a good idea??).

                                                        2. The Nominations Thread for September 2014 is up:


                                                          With the new site format, not sure how obvious this will be, so I am posting the link on several other COTM threads. If you think there is some spot I've missed, or a better way to get word out, please let me know.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. Trofie (tortiglioni) with prawns, lemon, feta and parsley, p88 UK edition

                                                            This is a ridiculously easy, tasty midweek dinner (I know it's Sunday but I was at work today and very tired after a late, boozy night with friends which seemed like a good idea at the time).

                                                            The recipe calls for raw prawns (shrimp) but I had some peeled, cooked king prawns that needed using. Consequently, I deviated slightly from the instructions by warming the garlic first, then adding the prawns to heat through (for uncooked prawns sautée them briefly before adding the garlic). Add grated lemon zest (omitted), lemon juice, pepper then combine with your cooked pasta, some crumbled feta and chopped parsley. That's it. It takes 20 minutes from start to finish, if that.

                                                            Lovely, summery flavours. Mr GG raved. I'd say the parsley is pretty essential. I might add chilli flakes next time.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              Prawns have been hibernating in the back of our freezer since Lord only knows when. This just might be the recipe to break them out once and for all and give up their valuable real estate for something more impotent... er... important. Trouble is I have to clean them. Dang.

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                Oh good, I have this on my list. Trofie is hard to find here so like you I'd probably sub something else.

                                                              2. Roast Potatoes and Tomatoes with Spices - p. 115

                                                                A simple side dish, consisting of 1kg cut-up waxy potatoes and 500g whole cherry tomatoes, spread in a roasting tin, and coated with olive oil which has been mixed with smoked paprika and toasted, crushed coriander and cumin seeds. This is baked at 350F for around 40 minutes, then served with fresh chopped parsley or coriander.

                                                                I'm afraid this one was not a winner at the Geek house. The flavour of the spices did not penetrate the potatoes at all, so the whole dish was disappointingly bland. I used a new tin of paprika and top-quality potatoes and tomatoes from the farmers' market, so I am not sure if there was anything I could have done differently here. I will not make this one again, but happily, there are many other promising potato recipes in this book.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: geekmom

                                                                  oh, thanks for the review. this one was on my list, but i will now cross it off.

                                                                  1. re: geekmom

                                                                    Well, that's a bummer. I've made this a few times with really nice results (I posted in the cooking-from thread last year: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8959...). I wonder why things turned out so differently for you, gm.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Thanks for the link, Caitlin. I wonder if I should have left it in the oven longer? Your description of the potatoes crisping up on the outside doesn't sound anything like our result. The tomatoes cooked through and were splitting open, and the potatoes were soft and cooked through, but not crispy. Hmm.

                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                        Thinking about my experience, there are two variables that may have made a difference. One is that each time I made this I made a half recipe or so, and used a pan where the potatoes were pretty much in a single layer. The other is that my oven is fast, by virtue of being small and having an electric element at the top, so things are often done to a greater degree in the same or less time, and I will sometimes reduce the heat to compensate. Since this recipe calls for a moderate 350F, it might help the potatoes to raise the temperature a bit (unless you're using my oven, that is).

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          Oh, that's a great idea. I'm going to try again with a higher oven temp. Thanks!

                                                                  2. Roast Cod with Smoked Bacon, Pg. 69

                                                                    This recipe produces a Great tasting piece of fish. In our case it was a gorgeous large fillet of Cusk, a fish in the cod family often referred to as Ling Cod. It was catch of the day from our CSF share therefore fresh off the boat. I had never eaten Cusk so was surprised at the heft and meatiness of my portion. G sliced the 1 1/2 pound fillet into two pieces, his being the larger. My portion was a little over 2" thick, about 4 1/2" long.

                                                                    The cooking procedure is dead simple. A short pan roast to sear after seasoning with S & P and EVOO. G used the cask iron skillet since the pan is put into a pre-heated 475F oven to finish. The recipe calls for cooking the fish between 7 - 10 minutes. Ours needed an extra 5 minutes to reach perfection. While the fish was cooking a sauce was made with bacon (prosciutto slivers for us), butter (ghee), lemon juice, and minced parsley.

                                                                    LORdy! Was this delicious. Cusk, IMO, has all the sensations of a finely rendered filet mignon. A juicy piece of fish with no idea that it's fish. Just a mouthful of voluptuous food. For me the tasty sauce remained in the background because I was so enamored with the dang fish. A short braise of Chinese broccoli was the side dish along with corn on the cob.

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      This sounds amazing! I love ling cod for its substantial meaty texture. I think I'm going to bookmark this recipe.

                                                                      1. re: geekmom

                                                                        Geekmom, how do you usually cook ling cod?

                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                          Similar to this, Gio - seared, then roasted in a hot pan in the oven. That seems to work better than pan cooking only.

                                                                          1. re: geekmom

                                                                            Thanks so much. That was the first time I had eaten this fish and wonder if I'll ever have it again.

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              I was curious about your fish, Gio, as ling cod is something that's considered local here on the Pacific coast, but this was obviously fished in your locale. I looked up cusk, and found that it is a North Atlantic member of the ling family that's completely unrelated to the Pacific fish known as ling cod (which is apparently neither ling nor cod!). However, the ling cod I get (and I'm guessing geekmom in BC also gets the Pacific variety) is also a nice, firm, and versatile white fish.

                                                                              The one recipe I've used most from this book (to the point where I don't actually refer to the recipe anymore) is the baked cod with zesty crust, which is easy, delicious, and works with any fish of similar flavor and texture, such as seem common to your CSF. I don't worry about the exact proportions in the topping, and I use a lot less oil than DH specifies, and it's all good.

                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                        Gio, I'm considering this recipe for future CSF pick-ups as I suspect there is quite a bit of whitefish in my future. But I've found myself totally stymied by the lack of direction in this recipe!

                                                                        1. She calls for 8 oz smoked bacon which seems like a lot. Did you use the full amount called for?

                                                                        2. There is no direction as to what kind of bacon - slices, slab -- or how to prep it.

                                                                        Wondering if you could share some recommendations for success?

                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                          Hi Westminstress... my notes tell me that we had no bacon that week so we used pancetta, and since G usually buys 4 oz. at a time I remember slicing the piece in half which would give me approx. 2 oz. which I diced. If I were to use bacon I'd make an informed judgement (based on likes/dislikes/ experience) and use less than 4-ish oz. of regular applewood smoked bacon slices cut crosswise in less than 1/2" pieces for 16 oz. of fish fillets. But that's just me.

                                                                          For this recipe I used 1/2 t sea salt and 1 t FGBPepper. Lately I've been using ghee instead of unsalted butter and I find the flavor of the food is somehow "cleaner", for lack of a better word. The ghee does flavor the dish but does not overpower whereas I find that butter has an oily aspect that I don't like. Additionally, I routinely reduce the amount of fats in a dish. So here I used 2 T EVOO and 2 T ghee. Lastly, I used 1/8 c freshly squeezed lemon juice and the 1 T minced parsley. G did the cooking and adhered to the written instructions.

                                                                          Congratulations on your CSF. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as we do. We were in at the beginning years ago when the plan first started in the Boston area. Yes, we mostly do get white fish but it's a decent variety so we don't feel as if we're eating the same thing every week. Lastly, I really don't mind cookbooks with minimal direction. After working with 4 Nigel Slater and 2 River Cafe books I like filling in the blanks, so to speak. It gives me more leeway than most other recipes. Good Luck with this recipe!

                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            I really love the idea of a CSF, for a whole host of reasons: freshness, supporting local fishers, sustainability (something I always try to honor in my seafood choices). For similar reasons, I like buying fish at the farmers' market from a local fishing outfit. I've discovered that there is a CSF making deliveries in my area, and that they have a couple of share size options. I'm going to ask on my local board and see what people have to say.

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Just to correct a faulty memory, I used prosciutto not pancetta for the sauce.

                                                                              Caitlin, I think you'd like having a CSF share. Not only for the benefit of knowing exactly where your fish is coming from but knowing you're supporting local fisherpeople. Plus countless other reasons as you suggested.

                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                Thank you, Gio. Your recommendations jibe with my instincts, so I think I'll try it your way next time. Maybe next week!

                                                                                I had previously been buying fish from a vendor at our farmer's market, so I hesitated on the CSF for a while, as I am pretty passionate about supporting my neighborhood farmers market with as many of my food dollars as possible. But the fish from the CSF is likely a bit fresher and guaranteed to be sustainably caught, which I like. Also I really like doing fish as a weeknight meal because it cooks so quickly, and it simplifies meal planning to know that wednesday night is fish night. I can still buy shellfish and squid at the farmer's market from time to time, so it's not like I have to abandon my former fish vendor completely.

                                                                                1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                  You're Welcome WM! If your CSF is similar to ours, and I suspect it is, not only is the fish "a bit fresher" it's probably the freshest fish we can buy. It's caught from a day boat that leaves the harbor very early in the AM and returns late AM. Our boats leave from Gloucester which is about a 30+ minute ride from our house. We're even told the name of the fishing vessel in the email announcing what we'll pick up that day at our in town pick-up center.

                                                                                  The fish are sustainably caught, that's one of the purposes of this whole endeavor. And, you'll be supporting local fisherpeople, just as you support local farmers. I think you'll be happy with your decision.

                                                                          2. Chicken and Chorizo in Rioja - p. 12

                                                                            Eight chicken thighs are seasoned and quickly browned in olive oil, then set aside while a mixture of onions, celery, carrots and chunks of smoked chorizo are cooked in a large casserole until the vegetables are softened. Flour is briefly stirred into this mixture, and then rioja and chicken stock are poured in. At this point the chicken goes back into the pan, thyme and a bay leaf are tucked in, and the pan goes into the oven for 35 minutes at 350F. Occasional basting is all that's needed from this point on. The dish is served topped with chopped parsley; I added wedges of homemade foccacia, since I had it around, and it soaked up the juices very nicely.

                                                                            This was a very easy dish with a lovely rich gravy. There isn't a whole lot of variety in the flavour, but I liked that it was easy and quick enough to be a weeknight meal (especially if you prep the veggies beforehand). The leftovers reheated very nicely, too.

                                                                            This would make a perfect dinner on a miserable winter day, accompanied with a big glass of wine. :-)

                                                                            1. Grilled Chicken with Thyme and Sea Salt, p. 17

                                                                              Chicken pieces are marinated in olive oil and an ample amount of fresh thyme. When it's time to cook you season with s&p, grill, and serve with lots of lemon juice. I departed from the recipe by using bone in thighs (she calls for boneless but skin on, which is not an option readily available to me) and cooking on a charcoal grill. These thighs were salty, herby, smoky, juicy, and happily devoured by all. A winner!

                                                                              1. Pork Chops with Plums and Chinese Spices p. 34
                                                                                I own only “Plenty”, so looked around for online recipes and found this winner. It's from Pure Simple,

                                                                                I had both purple and yellow plums and 3 fat (¾ inch) chops. One note, I made my own five spice powder and probably will do so from now on. Found how-to here: http://www.food.com/recipe/five-spice...
                                                                                It had a brighter taste than my jar of dull and dusty, now discarded.

                                                                                I'd say make this and enjoy.
                                                                                Oh – I always brine pork chops now, these were in a plain salt and sugar brine for 1 hour.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                  I have this one flagged due to an unfortunate shopping-while-hungry mishap that somehow left me with five pounds of plums (now patiently waiting in the freezer). Looking forward to it!

                                                                                2. Roast cod with anchovies and bean purée

                                                                                  In a word, yum!

                                                                                  For the bean purée, you sauté half an onion in olive oil then add garlic, water or stock, beans and S&. Cook for a few minutes then process with EVOO and lemon juice.

                                                                                  For the sauce, which is a kind of salsa verde really, chop anchovies with parsley and add more EVOO and a squeeze of lemon.

                                                                                  For the fish, lightly season your cod and pan-fry in olive oil skin side down for a couple of minutes, flip and cook for another minute before transferring to a 200C oven for eight minutes. I'm not particularly experienced at cooking fish - this gave me perfectly cooked cod which was firm yet flaked to the fork.

                                                                                  This was ready in less than half an hour, but was an elegant plate of food. The interplay of flavours really worked, and the punchy anchovy salsa stopped the dish from looking too "beige"! We don't eat as much fish as I'd like, because Mr GG is a bit fussy (mustn't have bones - drives me potty). He loved this, and so did I. The liberal amount of oil gave the dish richness, yet it still felt relatively light and healthy. Which after pizza for lunch, was a good thing!

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                    Roast Cod with Anchovies and Bean Purée, Pg. 71

                                                                                    When I read your report, GG, it was so familiar and indeed we made this last month 7.15.14. Made 1/2 recipe, used hake instead of cod, and dry beans, yellow-eyed peas, that I soaked over night then cooked in the slow cooker during the day with seasonings for flavor. Because the hake fillets were thinner than cod G finished the dish stovetop in a cast iron skillet. Worked perfectly. We elected to simply mash the beans rather than puree since we like a more textured feel. We loved it too and intend to make it again. I find that her fish recipes are most delicious.

                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                      This was one of the first DH recipes I made, and we loved it. Love that bean puree.

                                                                                    2. Tagliatelle with lemon, parma ham and peas

                                                                                      I liked this, but didn't love it as I found it a little dry. But I think this was user error because I definitely reduced my cream by too much (which DH warns against so totally my fault!).

                                                                                      To make, add lemon zest and juice to double cream and reduce by a third. I also forgot to add my lemon juice until I'd already reduced the cream quite a bit - another rookie error on my part. I think I must have forgotten to switch my brain on or something.

                                                                                      Cook your pasta, then add cooked peas, parmesan and seasoning to the cream. Drain the pasta and add to the pan along with shredded parma ham and chervil (parsley). I actually just dumped all the ingredients in to the pasta, as the pan I'd used to reduce the cream wasn't very big. You can use fresh or frozen peas - it's pea season so I used fresh ones which I'd cooked. In hindsight, I should have just added the peas in with the pasta for a couple of minutes. As I said, no brain was engaged in the cooking of this dish.

                                                                                      Nice flavours. Mr GG scarfed it down approvingly. He is not a very harsh critic. Although he still talks about a bland white bean soup I made once about ten years ago (with a whole head of roasted garlic in it, god knows how it was bland but it was).

                                                                                      DH says you can also make this with cooked salmon instead of the ham, and with asparagus when it's in season. Just be careful with the cream!

                                                                                      1. Hot and Sweet Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables with Tahini Dressing, p. 118

                                                                                        This is a super dish, and it all comes down to the seasoning for the vegetables and how well it works with the sauce. I made it once a while ago with a somewhat different assortment of vegetables than what's in the recipe (though I don't remember exactly what), but this time, thanks to the CSA/farmers' market haul and its being August, I had what was specified: eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers (gypsy, in my case), tomatoes, and red onion.

                                                                                        The vegetables are sliced and tossed with a mix of olive oil, lots (a tablespoon) of ground cumin, cinnamon, harissa, brown sugar, and S&P and roasted for about 25 minutes. Then raisins (golden, in my case) are added and everything's tossed and roasted for another 20 minutes (15 was all I needed). Toasted pine nuts go in, and the vegetables are spread in a serving dish and drizzled with a sauce made from yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and water and sprinkled with chopped cilantro (basil). I had noted that I cut the sauce ingredients in half, after realizing that the full amount would be around 2 cups' worth, and did the same this time. That amount was just right for me, giving a nice coat on the vegetables but not drowning them. (For reference, I took the photo here after pouring on no more than half the half portion I made, and then added the rest.)

                                                                                        This is a great treatment for this typical assortment of Mediterranean summer produce, though would work well with all kinds of vegetables, I'm sure and this is something I think I'll keep coming back to. The slightly spicy/slightly sweet, cumin-spiked seasoning of the vegetables is delicious, and is very well complemented by the creamy/nutty/lemony tahini mixture. DH suggests this will serve four as a main dish or six as a side, and I served it as a side, but three of us kept wanting more and easily ate more than two-thirds of what I made. Leftovers were great at room temperature.

                                                                                        1. Baked Cod with a Zesty Crust, p. 69

                                                                                          I just joined a CSF and picked up my first catch last night ... a pound of fresh pollock. Recent discussion/raves by Caitlin inspired me to revisit this recipe. It's pretty simple. A zesty topping is made by mixing breadcrumbs with parsley, lemon zest and juice, garlic, s&p, olive oil and parmesan. The topping goes on the fish, which is baked until done. I had made this one time previously and enjoyed the flavor but my bread crumb topping never got crispy. This time I used Panko, thinking it would help me achieve a crispier crust. My crust was crispier than last time but still not crispy enough for me. (I really think this is an issue with my idiosyncratic oven, not necessarily the recipe). I do however, enjoy the fact that these crumbs have A LOT of parsley in them, I think this makes them nutritionally superior ... or at least that's what I tell myself!

                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                            I've got these on next week's menu (also thanks to Caitlin). I will try panko too, although my oven has definite problems so it won't really be the best test.

                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                              I have always used fresh breadcrumbs (in fact, my MO has become: grate cheese in FP, switch out the blade and throw the bread and parsley in per her instructions, etc.), and the topping has never become super crispy despite the fact that I usually do it in the toaster oven, so it's closer to the element than it would be in a regular oven. I think part of what prevents that may be the inclusion of the lemon juice in the mixture, which adds some dampness to it that probably inhibits crisping. At the same time, I would not want to skip the lemon juice because it adds such nice, bright flavor. But the lack of crispiness has not bothered me.

                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                Do you think just using the zest might be enough of the lemon to bring that brightness?

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  For me, I wouldn't want to skip the juice and just use the zest, because I really love the flavors of the crust (almost) as written (I use substantially less oil than indicated), and am satisfied with the outcome. If you're not happy with breadcrumbs unless they're ultracrisp, maybe it's a tradeoff that would work for you, if it helps with crisping. FWIW, I don't know that that texture is really the aim of this prep, vs. being "fresh and zingy," as she says in the headnote, so not achieving it may not be a problem of execution if using the recipe as is. That's my sense, anyway.

                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                    I'll sleep on this. I have a feeling that there would be a mix of votes on the lemony vs. crunchy thing.

                                                                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                    I made this recipe for the second time tonight and didn't have a problem with soggy bread crumbs either time. My topping consisted of the listed elements: lemon zest plus juice, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and fresh white bread crumbs that I had whirled in the FP, plus slightly less oil than the recipe noted. In both instances, by the time the fish was cooked the bread crumb topping was flavorful and nicely crisp, and only slightly browned. I really liked the flavor of the topping.
                                                                                                    Maybe the reason was that my topping did not completely cover the fish and was more a sprinkling than a blanket? I had slightly more cod (in my case, haddock) that the recipe called for, but I did not increase the amount of topping. Maybe this was why the crumbs crisped well? They weren't particularly thick on top of the filets. My pan was in the exact center of my oven, at 425 F.

                                                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                                                      I could see that making a difference, as mine have never been as sparse as a sprinkling. At the same time, while, as I've said, mine has never been super crispy, as in crunchy, it's certainly never ended up wet or soggy. (I'm glad your post led me to clarify that, in the event it wasn't clear.)

                                                                                                  3. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                    Thank you for all these clarifying posts re: the texture of the crumb topping. I think I just had a wrong idea about what the end result was intended to be, which may have influenced my feelings about this dish. I guess I'll just have to make it again....

                                                                                                  4. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                    Thanks to Caitlin pointing out how many of the flavors in this are big at chez Lulu, I finally got around to this (Baked Cod with a Zesty Crust). And we loved it! After all the discussion about whether the crust is crispy or not I decided to put together all the other ingredients in the FP and then add the panko at the last minute. I only used the juice of half my lemon, and maybe 3 tablespoons of the oil. And ... it was crunchy. Not very very crunchy, but definitely enough that there were some browned and crunchy bits. Easy and very very good. This will definitely be done again. Served with roasted potatoes from Avec Eric, a lightly dressed salad, and the rhubarb cake from this book for dessert, and a darned good meal, if I do say so myself.

                                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                      Glad you finally tried it! It's my most-made Diana Henry recipe, and probably my most-often-repeated fish recipe since I first made it (I don't even look at the book anymore) - I'll likely be doing it again this week. It's easy and always goes over well.

                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                        Yep - you are so right on all counts. I can easily see being able to just zap the stuff together in the FP without even bothering to look at the book. Very tasty. I feel disappointed that it took me so long , but thanks for the nudge.

                                                                                                  5. Spanish Sweet Potato with Chorizo, Peppers, and Fried Egg, page 46.

                                                                                                    This book came into the library just as we finished making 5 pounds of bacon. Since the recipe calls for bacon, I jumped on it. Diced sweet potatoes, sliced red onion, and sliced bell peppers are tossed with olive oil, Spanish paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper, then roasted until soft and slightly charred. Bacon and Spanish chorizo are sautéed until colored, and garlic is added for the last minute. The bacon and sausage are stirred into the vegetables with a bit of parsley, and the mixture is topped with a fried egg.

                                                                                                    This recipe makes a lot more than the stated two servings, which I knew as soon as I saw that it called for two sweet potatoes. I used the smallest potatoes I could find, but perhaps they are even smaller in Diana Henry's neighborhood. But I'm fine with having tasty leftovers. Our bacon was smoked, and I used smoked paprika, so no surprise it had a nice smoky flavor. The chorizo and spices flavor all the ingredients very well. If I make this again, I might dice the vegetables smaller, make it more hash-like. But we very much enjoyed it as written.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                      Appetizing photo! Again displaying a liking for fried eggs, too.
                                                                                                      And I love this word picture "...just as we finished making 5 pounds of bacon...I jumped on it."

                                                                                                    2. Greek Baked Chicken in Yogurt (p. 13)

                                                                                                      I never even looked twice at this recipe for a long time because I find the title so incredibly boring sounding. But ... once you actually look at what is involved you see the potential. And I absolutely *loved* this chicken (although it didn't totally love me back). You take bone-in (skinless)chicken breast (couldn't find a bone-in breast to save my life so went with boneless) and lightly brown them on each side. Then saute a cut up onion. Put all into an oven proof dish and cover with a sauce made of yogurt, a little flour, 2 eggs, feta cheese, chopped dill, mint, and garlic. Then sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes. This was sooo tasty - it sort of reminded me of the cheesy, puffy bits of a moussaka, except over chicken. Lots of flavor from the feta, garlic and dill. I served with orzo and some oven roasted tomatoes (this worked well because it seemed to cut the richness). My only issue is that this was so rich (yogurt/two types of cheese) that I felt a bit overwhelmed in the middle of the night. And you know, the other time I had this feeling was when I made the pasta from Jerusalem with yogurt and feta. Hmmm, maybe as much as I love that combination it doesn't do my stomach any favors. Anyway, this is tasty, and yet another quick chicken recipe from this book.

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                        That's funny - the yogurt and feta pasta from jerusalem is on my menu for tonight! I'll have to check this one out, I've looked at it from time to time but have never been able to imagine what it would taste like so I've always shied away.

                                                                                                        1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                          So ... how did the yogurt and feta pasta turn out for you??

                                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                            It was delicious! This was the second time I've made this dish, I liked it both times. The only problem was the prep time. I looked at my previous review in which I seemed to find the dish to be quick and easy, this time it seemed to take forever! I guess two cranky kids one hanging on each leg will do it every time.

                                                                                                            1. re: Westminstress

                                                                                                              The kid hanging on your leg (and/or asking a different question every 2 minutes) can add a LOT of time to dinner prep. Glad it was a hit again. I think you should give the chicken a shot. Oh, and my husband said "next time do this with boneless thighs" so that would be totally doable, and more to your (and our) tastes.

                                                                                                        2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                          I've looked at this one, too, and never felt inspired by it - somehow it couldn't imagine being super flavorful, but glad to hear I was wrong! But I think I'd go with low-fat yogurt to counteract some of that richness.

                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            I went with 2% yogurt. Still, awfully rich. But very good! Because let's face it, the two are definitely not mutually exclusive.