Caitlin McGrath's Profile

Title Last Reply

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry: Pure Simple Cooking

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.

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 2

I have some maple sugar I have been saving for just the right use (because, as biondanonima says, it's so damn expensive), and I decided a while ago that flour frosting might be it, when the right cake occasion comes along. At the same time, I bet making it as she did with grade B syrup gives the frosting more maple flavor than the sugar would.

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

White Fish, Saffron, and Dill Couscous Pilaf, p. 54

This lives up to the head note's claim in terms of being quite fast and easy, but I found it underwhelming. Onion, garlic, and a few crushed cardamom pods are sauteed, whole-wheat couscous is stirred in, and the pan set aside. In another pan, fish stock and a small amount of saffron are brought to a boil and reduced to bare simmer, then white fish fillets (ling cod) are added and poached very briefly before being removed and broken into bite-sized chunks. The stock is brought back to a boil and poured over the couscous. The fish is placed on top, and the pan is covered with foil and a lid and left to sit for 15 minutes. To finish, lemon juice, fresh dill, and chopped pistachios (sliced almonds) are added. And the whole is strewn with rose petals if you're following the recipe, which I did not in this respect. I did include some minced preserved lemon peel, one of her suggested variations.

This wasn't bad; it was perfectly all right, but not very exciting. The mild flavor of the firm white fish called for gets a bit lost in all the couscous, which itself isn't highly flavored. The recipe includes a quarter cup of dill, which sounds like plenty, but could easily have been doubled as it didn't stand out, either. DH suggests making this with mackerel, hazelnuts, and cilantro instead, and also adding dried fruit in place of rose petals (which themselves I don't see adding much but prettiness), so there are ways the dish could be punched up, but there are better combinations out there, so I doubt it's something I'll bother to make with tweaks.

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month September 2014

Disappointing, but I'm glad to see that you and a couple other CHs replied to counter her shortsighted attitude.

Two unrelated questions -- grammar and photos

But as before this change to first-uploaded photo appearing large in thread-starting posts and replies to the OP, the small photos are thumbnails, and clicking on them will enlarge them (which I very often do, now that it doesn't take you out of the thread, which was a great development!). I realize I'm not likely telling you anything you don't know, but just in case...

Best one-stop supermarket?

Is TJ's organic butter 86% butterfat European-style? Because hat's the only butter Straus sells, unless they're running a special product for TJ's, about which I'd have my doubts.

The best way to find out what dairy private-label milk is from is to use this site: http://whereismymilkfrom.com/

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

It certainly would! I do find it much easier when moving; I guess I just adopt a certain, more ruthless (or maybe just honest) mindset as part of the process that I have a hard time reaching at other points. I've been pretty good about not acquiring a lot the past year or two, because I have a finite space that's already filled. Now I need to lose some of what I have to make way for the new or upcoming acquisitions, and I've been dithering.

Aug 25, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Best one-stop supermarket?

In the Bay Area, I believe the non-cream-top organic milk at TJ's is Clover. Not sure on sources of other organic dairy there, except that the "European-style" yogurt is clearly Straus.

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? August 2014 Edition!

Moving is the very best thing for culling, in my experience. You have to pick up and pack every single object you own, so it's the perfect opportunity to ask yourself whether you need each thing, whether it's of use to you, whether you want to be unpacking it at the other end. I've done two major moves in the past 10 years, and in each case I did a pretty major culling of books (cookbooks and others).

Oakland CSA rec

They still list a yearly option at $768 for 48 consecutive weeks, or $16/week, with no option to skip or collect every other week.

http://fullbellyfarm.com/join-our-csa/

Oakland CSA rec

I'm pretty happy with Full Belly. The fruit can be iffy (though also good sometimes), but it's a minor percentage of the box when included. Definitely recommend a quarterly subscription over yearly so you can skip weeks if traveling and so on, and can start anytime; cost/week is only 50 cents more than yearly.

Oakland (Adam's Pt, Lakeshore) Birthday Dinner Rec?

Front page of Penrose's website says no reservations.

Best one-stop supermarket?

Where in the Bay Area will you be living? The best answer to your question will vary depending on your location. And I do agree that you're probably better served by hitting a drugstore for things like diapers (based on availability, price, and/or selection) if you also want the best selection, quality-wise, in groceries locally.

My answer would also be Berkeley Bowl (and there are drugstores within a block of both stores), but whether it's a practical place for regular shopping depends on where you will live.

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 2

Yes, rose as in the flower, not rosé wine. I did a bit of a cheat (but an effective one), and just stirred rose water into raspberry jam, to taste, for spreading on the cake. And I also used raspberry jam and rose water to flavor the icing, adding and tasting until it seemed right. The raspberry-rose combo really works well, and I knew that it's one that buttertart especially loves.

What does your cookbook collection look like?

pistachio peas, you might enjoy a spin through this similar thread from a couple of years ago. Lots of great bookshelf photos!

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/863403

Aug 21, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 2

I had the pleasure of making a (surprise!) birthday cake for our baking pal buttertart, who is visiting her old haunts here on the left coast this week. She was kind enough to include me in her blowout birthday feast for nine at a renowned local Chinese restaurant, where we had a parade of 27 unique and wonderful dishes, followed by cake.

I made two Golden Almond cakes from RLB's Cake Bible (recipe slightly tweaked), and split them to make four layers, which I brushed with amaretto. Between the layers, raspberry-rose jam, fresh raspberries, and raspberry-rose-flavored cooked flour frosting, with more of that covering the cake. Definitely a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts flavor combination (if I do say so).

Chowhound Cake Day 2014!

It's from the cookbook Cake Simple, so the answer is yes, in a way - I looked up Spiced Life, and the blogger used the Cake Simple recipe. I don't have the cookbook in front of me, but the only things I think the blogger changed were adding white pepper where the book sticks with pink, and I'm pretty sure the book only uses two vanilla beans. Pink peppercorns aren't botanically related to the pepper tree that gives us green/black/white, but they do taste peppery, and also floral, and they're great in the cake.

Here's a photo of the one I baked: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8259...

Aug 19, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 2

I use a very similar all-cream recipe for scones. I use a fork to mix the cream into the flour mixture, then knead two or three turns to bring the dough together, very, very gently, being sure not to compact the dough, and then gently pat it out, again being sure not to compact it. They come out very light. It should be noted that, used for biscuits, this style won't please everyone because while they're light and tender, they're not flaky.

Aug 19, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Chowhound Cake Day 2014!

Tell me about the black pepper buttercream, please! What style of buttercream, how much black pepper and in what form (crushed, ground, etc.), and what was your inspiration? It sounds great, and I can imagine how well it worked against the chocolate. I've had black pepper ice cream with a fruit dessert, and it was a super combination. I also baked a great vanilla bean-pink peppercorn cake once, which I definitely need to repeat...

Aug 19, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

August 2014 COTM - Diana Henry Month: Food from Plenty

That looks scrumptious.

Aug 18, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month September 2014

Weird, looks as if little squares are replacing all the buttons on your CH page. Everything appears as status quo for me - hearts, photo icon in the upload field, 'x' to delete, etc. - all the places you've got squares. So many variables (OS, browser, extensions, versions, etc.) seem to affect appearance and functionality on CH, especially in the midst of all these ongoing tweaks.

Aug 18, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

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

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.

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

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

Japanese Eggplants with Miso, p. 188

I made a half recipe, using only white miso (had it on hand, but no brown), mirin, and sherry instead of sake. Because I was using only the sweeter white miso, I skipped the sugar. The result was deliciously salty-sweet-savory, with tender and creamy flesh as nomadchowwoman says.

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

November 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, Marcella Hazan Month: Vegetables; Salads

It is (I actually posted about it further up the thread during COTM).

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Nominations Thread: Cookbook of the Month September 2014

I like your green frames!

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 1 [old]

Michael's craft stores that have a cake/candy supply section carry it (every one I've been to, but I recall on a previous thread that you said your local one doesn't), and perhaps other places with lots of Wilton. And naturally, you can get it through Amazon.

I sometimes have had to hunt for the flour/oil sprays, and generally buy whichever brand I find (they're pretty equivalent in my experience).

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking
1

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 1 [old]

Baking spray (have used Pam, Baker's Joy, Spectrum variously) has been my go-to for years and is still my usual, however Wilton Cake Release is absolutely superior for fancy pans with a lot of detail. I actually bought it before using the heritage bundt pan TorontoJo used for the first time, and it has made a huge difference in how cleanly cakes release from my few detailed pans (not to mention how much easier it is to get them clean after baking).

I do agree that the baking spray coats more evenly if you hold it a distance from the pan, but it's also true that you get a much thinner coating after brushing on the Cake Release.

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

Chowhound Cake Day 2014!

Even just a good dusting of powdered sugar will go a good way in disguising the broken bits, or a thick chocolate glaze will distract the eye (along with upping the anticipation).

Voting Thread: Cookbook of the Month September 2014

Aw, then it's a shame you didn't look into it, back in 2008 or so, when oakjoan instigated Dessert Cookbook of the Month(s), because as I recall the books I was familiar with had plenty of homey and simple offerings, not just fancier things. But as smtucker noted, ultimately there wasn't enough sustained interest for constant regeneration.

Aug 16, 2014
Caitlin McGrath in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? August 2014 Edition, Part 1 [old]

For dark cakes in that pan, I think a light sprinkle of powdered sugar highlights its shape really well.