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Jul 31, 2014 03:47 PM

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: A Change of Appetite

Greetings all!

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

A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry

Remember to review the thread in order to ensure you reply to the original post on any recipe you are reviewing to make sure all the comments are grouped together.

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  1. Spiced Pork Chops with Ginger and Mango Relish (page 320)

    The chops are marinated (she says for a couple of hours; I marinated mine for more like six) in peanut oil, lime juice, red chile, garlic, and ginger. The marinade is scraped off, the chops are cooked over high heat until browned then over low heat until cooked through. Just before they’re done, you add the marinade to the pan and reduce it a bit to glaze the chops.

    For the mango relish, you sauté grated garlic and ginger in peanut oil and add whole grain mustard. Lime zest and juice are tossed with sliced mangoes, then the garlic/ginger/mustard mixture is stirred in along with shredded green and red chiles (I used jalapeño and banana), sugar, s&p, and coarsely chopped cilantro.

    My changes: I used less oil and eliminated the sugar, but otherwise followed instructions. Or tried to. There were some things I just didn’t understand, and some things that just didn’t work. The ingredients list for the relish calls for “10 garlic cloves, grated” and “1¼ cups peeled and grated ginger root.” I was making half a recipe, but that’s a helluva lot of ginger. Grating all that on a Microplane was a PITA. I thought about using the larger holes on a box grater, but in the instructions she says to “heat the oil in a skillet and add the grated garlic and ginger pastes.” So I assumed the finer grating, which did create a paste, was what she was calling for. Then you sauté the two pastes until “it smells cooked and no longer raw.” Maybe it was because I used a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of oil, but my pastes clumped and when the clump began to stick to the non-stick pan, I removed it from the heat. When I added the mustard and then put it in the bowl with the mangoes, it pretty much stayed in clumps. Stirring didn’t help; I had to get in there with my hands to try to mix everything up.

    Another problem: in the ingredients, she says the chiles for the relish should be “shredded.” Frankly, I’m not even sure exactly what that means. I sliced them very thinly, tasted one, realized the jalapeños were too hot, and minced the chiles for better disbursement through the relish.

    After all that, the garlic and ginger still tasted raw, the ginger was overwhelming, and the relish was harsh and unbalanced. She says in the intro that guests gobble this up and go back for more, so clearly I did something wrong. I hope anyone else who tries this has better luck with it than I did. In the meantime, I’ll stick with the mango relish from “Thrill of the Grill” that I’ve been making for years.

    The chops, by the way, were just fine. I had frankenchops from the butcher (couldn’t even eat a whole one) and they took 15 minutes after searing to reach the 145F I was aiming for.

    Not an auspicious intro to this book for me, unfortunately. (Looks pretty good, though, doesn’t it?)

    ETA: Subsequent to my writing of this report, there has been a discussion on the voting thread of the perhaps incorrect conversion of ginger from the UK to the US editions of this book. The UK version of this recipe calls for 120 grams (4.5 oz) of ginger for the relish. That’s still an awful lot, but probably not 1¼ cups shredded. I’m not going to be in a hurry to try the relish again, but will be eager to read about it if anyone figures out a way to make this palatable.

    4 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      The plates looks delicious! This is my first DH cookbook. I haven't cooked anything yet, but I wonder by your description if there will be some conversion and "lost in translation" issues. It will be interesting to follow along, regardless.

      1. re: JoanN

        Thank you for the great review. I will be cooking from the same book and will pay attention to quantities specified in recipes and hopefully there will be few conversion issues. Good to know.

        1. re: JoanN

          It does look beautiful! Bummer that it was such a difficult recipe to follow and the results were disappointing. Hopefully this is an outlier.


          1. re: JoanN

            Your photo does make me want to try the recipe--especially after a disastrous pork chop dinner last week (read: I can't cook friggin' pork chops 90% of the time, even with "heritage" pork!). But I will definitely be mindful of the amounts and instructions with this book, and when things sound screwy, default to my instincts. (It took me a long time to get to the point where I'm comfortable doing that.)

          2. There is an interesting review of the cucumber and yogurt soup on the Serious Eats website:


            1. Teriyaki Salmon [minus pickled vegetables] and Sesame Seeds, p. 60

              So the fish component is especially quick and easy: salmon fillets are marinated for a half hour in soy sauce (1/4 c), mirin (2 T), and 1 T ea sugar and dry sherry. Nothing to grate or mince. Then you're meant to bake the salmon in its marinade for about 12 minutes at 350F. Since it's sweltering here, we used the gas grill, with the temp controlled at 350, and these fillets (which weren't very thick) were done in more like 8 or 9 minutes. I then sprinkled on the black sesame seeds I miraculously had on hand.

              Nice and not all that different from the typical salmon in soy sauce-based marinades. Nothing spectacular but perfect for a quick dinner. I'm sure the pickled veggies would have elevated this dish a notch or two, but as this dinner was truly thrown together at the last minute, I opted instead for a quick stir fry of the napa cabbage (recipe courtesy of "Burma") languishing in the crisper.

              1. Scallops with Ginger, Soy, and Scallions (page 209)

                This is a variation of the Porgy with Ginger, Soy, and Scallions on the same page.

                A few matchstick slices of ginger are placed in the bottoms of scallop shells, scallops are placed on top of the ginger, sliced scallions are scattered over the top, and soy sauce is poured over all. While the scallops are steaming, you fry up the rest of the ginger matchsticks along with thinly sliced garlic. This is drained on paper towels and scattered over the finished scallops. A drop of sesame oil is added at the end.

                I used Costco frozen scallops and although I dried them well, they did exude some liquid, clouding the sauce. Doubt it made much of a difference in flavor, but I suspect it would have been more attractive with dry scallops. The timing on steaming the scallops, 6 to 8 minutes depending on size, was spot on. Mine were on the large side, and 7 minutes was perfect. The crunchy garlic and fried ginger was a lovely addition. This isn’t going to replace seared or butter-basted scallops for me, but it was an agreeable change of pace and could be an impressive first course for an Asian meal. I served it with stir-fried lettuce and pea shoots. A very satisfying dinner.

                5 Replies
                1. re: JoanN

                  Porgy with Ginger, Soy, and Scallions, Pg. 209

                  Except we used striped bass, the catch of the day from our CSF. All I can say is that it was delicious and we enjoyed it. The timing was off for us, though, because the large fillet was thicker than the one DH had I guess. Ours took closer to 11 minutes to just come to translucence. I honestly think the jullienned vegetables and the finishing hot oil would be good with any steamed fish. I served it with a simple saute of Summer squash and Vidalia onions, along with corn on the cob. Sunshine on a plate.

                  ETA: I served the fish on a bed of arugula and that gave the dish a little bit of zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

                  1. re: Gio

                    I had to look up porgy (only known to me from the musical) - which is sea bream, apparently. You learn something new every day. Sea bream and Bess doesn't have quite the same ring to it...

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Well I did know what a porgy is but when I looked at the EYB index it listed Bream, w ginger, etc. Looking for that title in the book's index gave me apoplexy. No Such Listing. If I hadn't read Joan's preview we'd have made another recipe. So thank you, JoanN!

                    2. re: Gio

                      Porgy (Rockfish) with Ginger, Soy, and Scallions, p. 209

                      I scored a very fresh rockfish fillet at the farmers' market today, and used it to make a reduced portion of this. Soy sauce, rice wine, and superfine sugar (I skipped the latter) is mixed, and some is poured over the fish, along with slivered ginger, which is left to sit for 15 minutes. The plate of fish is set in a steamer basket and steamed for 7 minutes, then left covered off heat for another minute. More ginger and slivered red chile (I used a Fresno) are sizzled in oil. The fish is topped with julienned scallions, the hot oil and ginger and chile, and more of the soy mixture.

                      My fish would have been better with a little less time in the steamer (or skipping the minute off heat) because it was a bit overcooked, though not fatally so, but perfectly enhanced by all its additions. Photo shows half the large fillet and accoutrements.

                  2. Salmon barbecued in newspaper with dill and cucumber sauce, p 122, UK Edition

                    Wowser! This is very good, looks amazing, is relatively easy and your friends will think you're a top chef!

                    I managed to find exactly the size of salmon requires - a four pounder - at a local fishmonger. It wasn't wild, sadly, but farmed in Scotland. This dish would obviously be better (but way more expensive) with wild fish, or even better, sea trout.

                    Anyhow, you rub your big fish with olive oil inside and out, season well and stuff the cavity with slices of lemon, chopped spring onion and soft herbs (coriander and parsley). Lay the salmon on eight double pages of broadsheet newspaper, with more lemon, spring onion and herbs on top and underneath, then wrap the whole thing up in the newspaper and tie with string. Put the whole thing under the tap so it's soaking wet and lay on your hot and smouldering grill. Cook for 20 mons each side - I let mine go a little longer because by the end ithe coals weren't terribly hot in my little Weber. It was perfect - very moist as she says with a delicate flavour from all the herbs and spring onion, or scallions as I believe they're called in the US of A.

                    The sauce is perfect with the fish - Greek yoghurt (or Turkish in my case) mixed together with olive oil, shallots, finely chopped, de seeded and peeled cuke, dill, capers, gherkins (cornichons) and a squeeze of lemon.

                    Definitely event cooking, as the note says. My friends think I'm a genius! And perfectly cooked leftovers for weekday lunches (although not as much as there should be given this serves ten and we were only five). Try this while it's still summer!

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Sounds wonderful! We call them spring onions, too, I think. And, yes, scallions. Or green onions. Or, weirdly, I've recently heard them called table onions.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I've heard everything except table onions.

                        gg - sounds like an amazing meal. Just read about the ice cream (which i assume went with these other things) and all of it together sounds perfect.

                      2. re: greedygirl

                        gg, your meal sounds stupendous. lucky guests!

                        1. re: Westminstress

                          Thanks all. Two of them were newish friends who hadn't been over for dinner before. They were almost embarrassingly complimentary!

                        2. re: greedygirl

                          Why, oh why, can't I have a little Weber in my NYC apartment? I want to make this!

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Joan, do a house swap with me and you can make it in my garden while I drink cocktails in NYC!

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              Sigh. If only one of you were obsessed with college hoops and I could get in on this ...

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Long way to go to get access to a grill, but very appealing nonetheless.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  New Orleans during the winter anyone? Grill included!

                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                    I can definitely be persuaded! Love that city. London in the winter, not so nice.

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      Well, I love yours too. I've been in January once and summer a few other times. Summer's definitely better, but I found lots to do--and eat--in January! (On the other hand, I wouldn't wish New Orleans in summer on anyone.)