Caitlin McGrath's Profile

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Your Thanksgiving Menu for 2014

No, my mother's mincemeat is vegetarian, as you said, apples, raisins, spices, dark rum I think (she prefers that to brandy). No meat, and no suet.

Your Thanksgiving Menu for 2014

I am having dinner with my mother and her husband, a small party of just four, and she and I are sharing the cooking. She'll do the classics she always does: Dry-brined roasted bone-in turkey breast (she decided a whole bird is just too much), gravy, stuffing with apples and sausage made with multigrain rosemary bread, pumpkin pie, mince pie.

My contributions will include some new and some not:

Cranberry sauce; I may try the port-fig recipe people love, and if not, it'll be with red wine and candied ginger.

A baked sweet potato dish with orange juice, bitter orange marmalade, and bitters (a departure, as in the past I've always just baked the potatoes whole, as my mother always has).

Green beans with almonds in a Sicilian-style prep with garlic, raisins or currants, and anchovies.

Shaved fennel salad with oranges, red onion, pomegranate seeds, and a citrus dressing.

And I might need to make that fabulous ginger honey gelato from Dolce Italiano that JoanN introduced me to, to go with the mince pie.

Your Thanksgiving Menu for 2014

I have been eyeing that persimmon and pomegranate salad recipe. It won't be on the Thanksgiving menu, but a definite possibility for a holiday dinner next month.

Local source for Bulk Callebaut Chocolate

Yes, but it's 500g. They carry 72%, 54% (labeled "dark"), and milk, as well as the latter two with almonds. They're around $5 each.

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

This was another instance of a recipe where the instruction to season to taste with salt comes at the end of the preparation, so I did what made more sense to me, seasoning during cooking.

Your Thanksgiving Menu for 2014

The ones with dried cranberries and balsamic sound good, but maybe not for Thanksgiving, when there are already cranberries on the table?

The hash with caramelized shallots sounds great to me, and I think might hold okay if you packed the sprouts and shallots separately and topped the dish before serving. Or you could adapt and make the shallots but roast quartered Brussels sprouts instead of cooking as in the recipe, but still pack separately. In that case you could use olive oil instead of margarine (I think olive oil would work well for the shallots, too).

Nov 21, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

Warm Eggplant-Butternut Squash Salad, p. 86

Here in my household, we are deep in what I think of as the Great Winter Squash Onslaught, the time of year wherein the weekly CSA subscription we share seems to include some variety of winter squash in almost every box - so I'm always looking for something other than my fallbacks to do with it. (There is a springtime counterpart: the Great Potato Onslaught.) This recipe yielded a rather different winter squash dish than others I've made, and it is a delicious one.

I did make a few tweaks to proportions based on instinct, and instinct served me well. Squash (the remaining quarter of a small pumpkin and a smallish butternut) is cut into 1" cubes and tossed with olive oil and sumac (I added salt), and roasted. After 15 minutes, cubes of eggplant, also tossed with olive oil and sumac, go into the oven to roast until both are done. He calls for 2" cubes of eggplant, which I thought an awkward size (not bite-size), so I made them 1" also, and I did not peel. I used a good deal less oil than called for, 4 T total for roasting, rather than 7 T. Ginger, garlic, red chiles (I used fresno), and lemon (lime) zest are sauteed in olive oil until fragrant, after which honey and water are added and it all simmers for 5 minutes. Here I ran into one of those pesky editing issues: The recipe calls for a 3" piece of ginger, "peeled and sliced." As the ginger is cooked relatively briefly and part of the dressing, simply "sliced" didn't seem appropriate, so I minced, and I stopped when I had around 1/4 cup, which was not the whole piece. He also calls for 1/3 cup honey (along with 1/2 cup water), which sounded like an awful lot of sweet, so I used 1/4 cup honey and 1/3 cup water, which turned out to be just right. Once the squash and eggplant are done, they're tossed with baby spinach, parsley, the honey mixture, and lime juice. I used a lot more than the 1 1/2 cups spinach he calls for and because of timing issues the vegetables sat for a bit before I put it all together, so the spinach didn't thoroughly wilt. That was fine. I also used the juice of one lime only, not two; I tasted as I went and found the flavors well balanced, so I didn't add more.

It wouldn't have occurred to me to pair winter squash with eggplant, but this dish worked very well for me. Once roasted, the two vegetables have a similarly soft texture, but are different enough in taste (savory eggplant, sweet squash) that it doesn't feel like too much of one thing. The seasoning and dressing are really, really good - flavorful, spicy and savory from the aromatics, sweet from the honey, and tart/tangy from the sumac and lime. Ultimately, I found the combination of flavors complex and irresistible. It was great warm, but leftovers were also excellent at room temp.

Thanksgiving with Ottolenghi sides?

If you're looking for something green on your table, the baby spinach salad with dates and almonds from Jerusalem is a brilliant combination of flavors (everyone I've served it to can't stop talking about it), and would complement duck very well.

I also agree with smtucker that the snow pea and green bean dish with hazelnuts and orange in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is a bright, delicious dish that would supply some crunch and freshness.

Nov 20, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Spice Blends; Condiments; and Desserts

I made David Lebovitz's dukkah when My Paris Kitchen was COTM (his is made with hazelnuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and toasted spices, but without the fresh herbs), and used it on roasted cauliflower (a recipe in the book). I still have quite a bit of it, and based on some discussion in this month's threads, last night I used it to coat rock cod fillets, which I pan-seared and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. I'll definitely be doing that again with white fish, as it was delicious and almost no work.

What are you baking these days? November 2014 edition (part two)!

That looks tremendous. (I will be right over for my serving!)

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month December 2014

Definitely use the old threads. Even with books with already long threads, it's never been an issue when revisiting, but it would be problematic to have reports split up in old and new threads, when people want to refer to them later or add updates.

Nov 19, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving--how many side dishes do you make for small groups?

For four adults, we'll have stuffing (so integral I don't even think of it as a side), a sweet potato dish, and two vegetables, probably green beans and a fennel salad, plus gravy and cranberry sauce, of course. My family is atypical, in that we don't serve mashed potatoes (or any white potatoes) for Thanksgiving.

Nov 18, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Thanksgiving side: Not heavy, possibly acidic or citrusy?

Shaved fennel salad is my suggestion, as well. With orange or grapefruit, finely sliced red onion (soak in cold water for a half hour to tame its bite), nuts or no nuts, pomegranate seeds for pops of color and tart flavor. A citrusy vinaigrette is here, too. I skip the cheese for Thanksgiving, with all the other rich stuff.

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Fish; Poultry; and Meat

I had a similar reaction to the use of ground cumin paired with whole coriander and mustard seeds when I made the Spicy Tilapia Stew (and I ended up using cumin seeds, instead).

Nov 17, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Best Seasonal/Holiday Trader Joe's Items.... for 2014

I've tried two of the bars in the chocolate odyssey, as yet.

YAY: Almond ginger. The inclusions are in tiny bits (similar to the toffee pecan/walnut bar) and are well distributed. I love that the candied ginger has a good ginger bite.

NAY: Salt and pepper potato chip. Similarly well-distributed tiny bits, the salt and pepper (and especially the salt) are completely overwhelming, so much so that I can barely taste the chocolate. I won't be eating any more of this one.

Nov 17, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Chains

What are you baking these days? November 2014 edition (part two)!

Next door neighbors gave me a bag of pears from their tree, so I made a pear and pecan cake. Simple, homey, and delicious, and really easy, as the batter is mixed up in the food processor.

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

Pear and Pecan Cake, p. 166

My next-door neighbors gave me a bag of Comice pears from their backyard tree, and once they ripened up, I earmarked a few for this cake, which is simple and homey and delicious. It's also easy-peasy, as it's another one where all the batter ingredients are chucked in the food processor.

The recipe calls for toasted and finely ground pecans, so I started by grinding the nuts with the sugar, then added everything else (the usual: butter, eggs, milk, flour). I don't keep salted butter or self-rising flour on hand, so I used unsalted butter and plain flour, and added a teaspoon on baking powder and half a teaspoon of kosher salt. The cake is meant to be flavored with lemon zest, but as my kitchen was lemonless, I added vanilla, and I have to say, I think vanilla is a better choice with the pecans. After the batter is in the pan, sliced pears are arranged on top, and a tablespoon of sugar sprinkled over.

A perfect cake for fall, a homey dessert and perfect for having with a cup of tea. It doesn't call for much sugar but has just the right sweetness. She suggests you could use almonds or hazelnuts in place of pecans, and I can't imagine it being anything but good either way, but I'm glad I did it with the pecans because I loved their flavor paired with the pears and vanilla.

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? November 2014 edition, part 2!

Yes, Gourmet Today is the green one. Both are past COTM, so if you need some inspiration for cooking from the Gourmet Cookbook (the yellow one), you could look through the threads: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/815190

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

But, it looks like that link is for a different cookbook.

Nov 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? November 2014 edition (part two)!

Have you used Medrich's melted butter press-in tart crust? It similarly does not slump. It's so easy, and has a great, tender texture. I'm wondering how the recipes differ/compare in ingredients and method.

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? November 2014 edition, part 2!

That is one book that could really use some ribbon bookmarks.

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? November 2014 edition, part 2!

It really is a great book. I've made a number of things from it, but there is always more to discover. In fact, I used a new-to-me recipe last night (courtesy of an EYB search), with smashing results.

Nov 15, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
1

February 2011 Cookbook of the Month: THE ESSENTIAL NEW YORK TIMES COOKBOOK Chapters 9-12

Sauteed Trout with Brown Butter, Lemon and (Hazelnuts), p. 392

I had a rainbow trout to cook, and EYB led me to this recipe, for which I had everything on hand - staples, really - save macadamias (which I'm not crazy about, anyway). So I subbed hazelnuts, and what better to pair with beurre noisette than noisettes? My trout was whole but boned, so it was simple to cut into two fillets.

I'm happy to report that I had much better results, using true freshwater trout and hazelnuts, than did sarahcooks. In fact, this was flout-out fabulous! The browned butter and lemon with toasty hazelnuts worked perfectly with the more delicate fish, and made a luxuriously delicious dish that almost demands a crisp white wine to offset its richness. Absolutely company- or celebration-worthy. It does need last-minute cooking, but comes together in just a few minutes, so if I had everything prepped I wouldn't mind doing it for guests.

Personally, I can't see making this with macadamias, but that's my own bias. The recipe dates to 1940, and I'm sure that then, it would have had an exotic air.

Best Seasonal/Holiday Trader Joe's Items.... for 2014

If it is the same as in years past, it is lots of variations of little shortbread-type cookies, many with chocolate (assorted milk and dark). It is a big tin, with maybe a dozen different types, several of each in a sectioned insert, of which there are two layered in the tin.

Nov 14, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Chains

What cookbooks have you bought lately or are you lusting after? November 2014 edition! [old]

It sounds as if your TGC issues got half sorted, NCW. I guess that's better than none sorted. I'm knocking on my desk right now that I've never had any serious problems with it, after all these stories. The premium title designation is a recent introduction, I think. My impression is that it applies to some (especially new) books, and that it means a set-aside where you can only get it before a certain date if you pay the full club price.

Nov 14, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

I've always understood that 9x5=8 cups and 8 1/2x4 1/2=6 cups, so to me it doesn't sound unreasonable. I haven't tried measuring the volume myself, though I could try later today with the 8x4" pan, but here are a couple more sites that concur:

http://www.joyofbaking.com/PanSizes.html
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/ba...

Nov 12, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

I often throw (frozen, usually) corn kernels into cornbread, and they make nice little pops of flavor throughout.

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

Corn Bread, p. 140

This turned out to be a nicely flavored loaf of bread, and my dinner companions and I each enjoyed a couple of warm slices with butter alongside our soup. The remainder should be great toasted. HOWEVER, it took some on-the-fly tweaking to get there, because this recipe *does not* work as written.

This has ingredients typical of Northern-style cornbread - equal amounts of cornmeal and wheat flour, egg, milk, honey, plus corn kernels, and scallions and jalapeño sautéed in butter with chile powder - but it is a yeast bread. He has you bring the milk, kernels cut off an ear of corn, and its broken cob to a boil, then cool to lukewarm before adding the yeast to proof. I used a cup of (thawed) frozen corn and just heated it and the milk to lukewarm. This is mixed into a cup each of cornmeal and flour, and some salt, along with an egg and the sautéed stuff. *Editorial alert #1: He doesn't say to remove the corn cob (though that's a duh). I did this in my mixer with the dough hook, rather than by hand. At this point, you're meant to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. *Editorial alert #2 (the biggie): No way, not gonna happen, as the consistency was of a wet batter, not something remotely kneadable. I added another half cup each of cornmeal and flour, then another quarter cup of each, and finally achieved a dough that was sticky and elastic, but reasonably structured. Good thing, too, as I was out of cornmeal at that point. This bread gets a single rise, which I did overnight in the refrigerator, bringing it to room temp before baking. There was no way this sticky batter could be shaped, so I just tipped it into the pan. *Editorial alert #3: He doesn't tell you to grease the pan; I did.

After all that, it baked up into a beautifully browned loaf. Pursuant to the discussion loaf pan size upthread, I'll point out that, though I had increased the flours a whopping 75 percent over what the recipe indicates, the dough fit fine in the 8 1/2x4 1/2" pan called for. In terms of flavor, it's interesting; on one hand, it tastes as one expects cornbread to, while on the other it's unmistakably a yeast bread. Of the additions, the sweet corn kernels are the most prominent. The teaspoon of chile powder doesn't much register, but I used ancho, which is quite mild. In the end, it made a very good loaf of bread, but man, I feel badly for anyone without a lot of baking experience who tries this recipe and is flummoxed by it as written.

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

Spicy Tilapia (Cod) Stew, p. 127

This recipe would have you use a whole, 2 lb tilapia, fillet it and cut the fillets in chunks, and simmer the bones in water to make a quick fish stock with the dish's aromatics. In the headnote, MS suggests that all kinds of fish could be used (he mentions salmon, snapper, and catfish). I used a 1 lb fillet of wild Alaskan cod and in lieu of the bones, did a cheater fish stock by using a bottle of clam juice for part of the liquid, which produced fine flavor.

This begins with sautéing sliced red onions, garlic, ginger, chiles, cracked black peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and a cup of long-grain white rice. I omitted the rice. He calls for halving the garlic cloves, but I sliced them. For the chiles, instead of the Thai bird and jalapeños called for, a used a few serranos. The recipe calls for ground cumin, but I used cumin seeds (why not when everything else is seeds?), and I cracked the coriander seeds. Then the fish bones and water go in, or in my case, clam juice and water, and it simmers for 10 minutes. Sliced napa cabbage (I used a good bit more than the 2 cups indicated) and tomatoes go in for a few minutes, then the fish is added and the pot is covered and left to sit off the heat for 6 or 7 minutes, until the fish is cooked (7 was perfect). To finish, chopped parsley and cilantro (I only had parsley) and lime juice are added.

This is a light and flavorful soup (it's definitely a soup rather than a stew, and even with the rice I think it would still be soupy). Tart and bright from the lime, a bit spicy (and obviously, this can be manipulated depending on how many/which chiles one uses and whether they're seeded), and warming. Altogether a good dinner, definitely weeknight friendly, with less than 20 minutes of cooking, could be made with all kinds of fish, and if you included the rice, would be a one-dish meal. Instead of doing that, I served it with the Corn Bread on p. 140, which I'll report on separately.

(Apologies for the bad photo. Someone neglected to turn on the light over the stove, and by the time Someone realized it, the soup had been eaten.)

Nov 12, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2014 Cookbook of the Month, "The Soul of a New Cuisine", reporting thread for: Salads; Soups; Breads; and Vegetables

Ah, I see. Yes, 8 1/2x4 1/2 is common, 8x4 less so. Actually, those half-inch increases do make a significant difference in volume. Per the chart at this link, and 8x4 holds 4 cups, 8 1/2x4 1/2 holds 6 cups, and 9x5 holds 8 cups: http://www.craftybaking.com/howto/bak...

I have an 8x4, along with the two larger sizes, and also a stack of mini loaf pans. I tend to think of 9x5s as sized for loaves of yeasted sandwich bread, whereas I mostly use loaf pans for quick breads and cakes, which I like better in a smaller pan. If a recipe for such wants a 9x5 pan, I'll sometimes do an 8 1/2x4 1/2 and a mini, and I also just divide recipes into multiple minis, which are great for giving away or freezing in smaller units.

Nov 12, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking