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Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

I used to host an annual dinner during sales conference. About 40 people in a one-bedroom apartment. Not on my list of go-to books, but the main course was always Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce, Bolognese Style from Marcella Hazan. I'd prepare two of them over the course of a couple of days and then keep them, unbaked, in the fridge for another two days. I would joke that a dinner party for 40 was often easier than a dinner for 6.

Always worth keeping in mind that nearly any braise will be better after a night or two in the fridge. I've served the Short Ribs Braised in Porter Ale with Maple-Rosemary Glaze from "All About Braising" on a number of occasions. In fact, that book has headnotes for nearly every recipe that explains exactly what can be done in advance and how long it can rest before serving and quite a few recipes from that book have graced a dinner-party table at my place.

"All About Braising," by the way, has been COTM twice, the first time in October of '06 and again in Nov/Dec "09.

about 1 hour ago
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

July 2015 COTM: The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Chapters 9-13

Caucasian Marinated Pork [Lamb] Kabobs (page 333) and Burhan’s Onion-Parsley Salad (page 332)

In, just under the deadline, for my first recipe from this book. Not sure what took me so long. Bought a boned leg of lamb at Costco in anticipation even before I’d bought the book. But once I received it, I just wasn’t inspired. Had a lot of company, too, so I’ll use that as my excuse.

Anyway, finally descontructed the leg of lamb and marinated the cubes for about 36 hours. Agonized over how to cook them, always a problem for me when a recipe calls for outdoor grilling. Decided to go with broiling. Kabobs were overcooked and not, I didn’t think, particularly flavorful. Overcooked definitely due to cooking method, but I was going for at least hint of char. Obviously went too far. Not flavorful? Maybe because I used leg instead of shoulder? Whatever. In the end, a disappointment.

Not, however, the salad. Was surprised that a salad without a dressing could be so flavorful. And such a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meat. Will try to remember this one.

about 13 hours ago
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Oh, man!

about 17 hours ago
JoanN in Home Cooking

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Been thinking about this book ever since the two of you first mentioned it and just snagged a "scratch and dent" copy at Book Outlet for $14.99. (It must have been those Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops that I couldn't get out of my head.)

about 18 hours ago
JoanN in Home Cooking

August 2015 COTM Announcement: THE NEW SPANISH TABLE and MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN

Yes, please. I do it all the time when a well-loved book becomes COTM. Always happy to hear the favorites from someone who's cooked extensively from it, whether recently or not.

Go-to cookbooks for "must impress" dinner parties

"Sunday Suppers" is at the top of my list as well. But I'd also add "Ad Hoc at Home," "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook," and "All About Braising." I've cooked more from some than others, but not one of those has failed me yet. For pescatarians, you can't go wrong with "Fish Without a Doubt" and "Lobster at Home." And in the oldie but goodie category, dkennedy mentioned "Simply French" and it reminded me that recipes from that book have been a part of some pretty impressive company dinners as well.

1 day ago
JoanN in Home Cooking

June 2015 COTM: DEATH & CO

Made the martini with the Beefeater and Dolin, but not the house bitters. I'm not at all certain I'd be able to distinguish among the three different gins. Maybe if they were side-by-side, but that's unlikely to happen. I'm sure I'll switch back to Beefeater, though, when this bottle of Tangueray runs dry since I can get Beefeater at a good discount at Costco. The ingredients for these cocktails are *so* expensive and my storage space for liquor is limited, so I'm really just trying to improve the drinks I already make rather than adding to the repertoire.

1 day ago
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Agree completely it deserves it's own thread. Would you consider reposting, pp? With link here to the new thread?

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

"Sunday Suppers" is at the top of my list as well. But I'd also add "Ad Hoc at Home," "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook," and "All About Braising." I've cooked more from some than others, but not one of those has failed me yet. For pescatarians, you can't go wrong with "Fish Without a Doubt" and "Lobster at Home." And in the oldie but goodie category, someone recently mentioned having bought "Simply French" and it reminded me that recipes from that book have been a part of some pretty impressive company dinners as well.

Cookbook Challenge

How odd. The recipe you linked to is similar in some ways, but it's really quite different from the one in the book. The Food & Wine version is not only considerably simplified, but even some of the flavorings are different. There's no thyme at all in the book version, for example. Tried to find a link to the recipe as it appears in the book, but no such luck. The Food & Wine one does sound pretty good, though. And you're right, it probably would be good with tofu, too.

2 days ago
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

June 2015 COTM: DEATH & CO

Beefeater *is* one of the three recommended gins listed in the book for the martini. The third is Plymouth. I usually buy Beefeater but decided to try the Tanqueray, which I hadn't had in ages but was my mom's favorite for gin and tonics.

2 days ago
JoanN in Home Cooking

Cookbook Challenge

It’s a comparatively new purchase, but last night I made my first recipe from “Le Bernardin,” which I reported on here after my initial perusal: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1012...

I made the Spiced Tuna Salad with Curry-Peanut Dressing (page 74). It was bit fiddly, but not the least difficult. Tuna steaks are rubbed with a mixture of ground ginger, cayenne, ground coriander, curry powder and s&p then seared in hot oil about 1½ minutes per side and refrigerated for at least 2 or up to 5 hours. A salad is made with mesclun, bean sprouts, chopped coriander, and chopped mint and dressed with a combination of the Le Bernardin vinaigrette mixed with soy sauce, red curry paste, and chopped peanuts. There’s a garnish of peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes and sliced cilantro leaves (both of which I omitted for no good reason other than hunger). After plating, a mixture of fresh ginger, diced shallots, oyster sauce, sherry vinegar, soy sauce, and corn oil is spoon around the salad.

Yes, it’s a long list of ingredients, but it really does come together quite easily. And nearly all of it can be done in advance. The verdict? Outstanding! Definitely company worthy. Already planning the dinner party for a friend I know would just adore this, as did I.

August 2015 COTM Announcement: THE NEW SPANISH TABLE and MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN

I don't want another Spanish cookbook. I don't need another Spanish cookbook. Amazon has "The Heritage of Spanish Cooking" for 68 cents. I bought another Spanish cookbook.

August 2015 COTM Announcement: THE NEW SPANISH TABLE and MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN

I think the Casas is worth buying for the paellas alone. Her Paella a la Valenciana is a standard party dish Casa Nagy and it never fails to impress. And I nearly always serve it with one her flans; I'm especially fond of the Flan del Gran Flanero. Were you with us when Casas was one of a selection of Spanish books in June 2008? Might be worth taking a quick look at some of the reports to help you make a decision. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/524516

Jul 28, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

June 2015 COTM: DEATH & CO

Martini (page 145)

Been inching my way up to this. Started with Beefeater, Martini & Rossi vermouth, and regular Angostura bitters. Then I bought Dolin vermouth. Liked it even more. Then I discovered you could buy all three orange bitters to make the House Orange Bitters with a single click on Amazon. So, a week or two later (yes, that was a lot of martini testing; someone’s gotta take one for the team, right?) made the Martini, as it was written, this time with Tanqueray. Gotta say, that’s a damn fine martini. Not usually fond of orange flavors in things, outside of the fruit itself, but wouldn’t have detected it if I hadn’t made the house bitters myself. So. Two big successes for me. The Manhattan and the Martini. It’s encouraging me to expand my repertoire. Slowly. With the classics.

(And, yes, Blowfish. I CAN have two.)

August 2015 COTM Announcement: THE NEW SPANISH TABLE and MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN

A heads up for those of us who may be buying online. Von Bremzen recommends the paprika brand La Chinata. I just looked it up and see there's a recall of certain batches of this brand of paprika in the UK. Can't find any info on a similar recall in the US, but caveat emptor.

http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/n...

Jul 26, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking
2

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

The report that I saw, in "Bookseller & Publisher," phrased it as "Lantern imprint will reduce the number of books it publishes in 2016 and 2017," which doesn't necessarily mean they're closing down the imprint. Hard to believe they won't be reprinting some of the classics. I suspect they just couldn't justify continuing to publish many of the lavishly designed volumes they'd been producing under the current editor. Friend of mine is publisher of a Penguin imprint here in the States. I'll see if he has any info.

Jul 26, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking

August 2015 COTM Announcement: THE NEW SPANISH TABLE and MY KITCHEN IN SPAIN

Are you referring to this thread by any chance? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1015...

Jul 26, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking

What's the best thing to make with a sous vide machine?

Okay. Gonna give it another shot at those numbers before giving up. Thanks.

Jul 25, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking

What's for Dinner #375 - the Cornzapoppin! Edition [through July 19, 2015]

Wanted to thank you, td, for the heads up on the Melody Gardot concert. Wouldn't have known about it were it not for you. By the time tickets went on sale to the general public, Town Hall was more than half sold out, but I did manage to snag a few for me and a couple of other CHers. Anyone up for a CH meetup before or after the concert?

Jul 25, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Another truly outstanding recipe from"Simply French" is the Confit of Fresh Chestnuts, Walnuts, Fennel, and Onions." Also love the Glazed Spring Vegetables, especially fancy-dinner worthy when you can find the baby vegetables. And now is the perfect time for the Provencal Roast Tomatoes; so easy, so great for a large summer gathering. The Roast Leg of Lamb with Parsley Crust ain't too shabby either.

August 2015 COTM - Nomination Thread

So very sweet of you, Bc. The great thing about being retired is that it allows me to travel, and I do as much as time and bank account allow. I would never ask that a COTM be put off to accommodate my schedule since I can always catch up when I am home. That said, I should be around most of October. ;-)

And, by the way, I was just reading up on Sean Brock's "Heritage" and came across an interview with him about his favorite cookbooks on Serous Eats. Asked "What cookbook do you give as a gift?" he replied, "I like giving people A Gracious Plenty by John T. Edge. It's some of his earliest work, and I feel like people can get a good sense of where Southern food has been and is going. Southern food isn't a trend. We have always cooked and lived this way. I love that damn book."

site forgetting "read" posts

Agree completely with your point, just pointing out that the presumption was incorrect.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Site Talk

site forgetting "read" posts

That deleted post was not the least off topic, it was just loaded with heartfelt profanity, which we've been told over and over is perfectly acceptable on this site. I guess profanity is acceptable, but not when it's directed at those in charge.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Site Talk
2

What's the best thing to make with a sous vide machine?

You remind me that I was pretty flabbergasted to discover I could both hold and rewarm mashed potatoes at 150F and you wouldn't have known they hadn't been mashed minutes ago.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking

What's the best thing to make with a sous vide machine?

Gotta say, I haven't found the chefsteps temps and timing to be particularly reliable. Often too hot for too long for my taste. Much prefer J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on the Anova Web site. But then, I have a killer crush on Kenji and love just about anything he posts.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking
1

What's the best thing to make with a sous vide machine?

I used to hate white meat chicken but would eat it to keep calories down. Cooking it sous vide changed my mind. I sprinkle the chicken with s&p and add crushed garlic and sprigs of rosemary or thyme (or sometimes ponzu marinade) to the bag before vacuuming, cook at 149F for an hour, and sear for one to two minutes on each side with a combination of oil and ghee.

Pork chops are also the best I've ever had cooked that way. Same flavorings, usually, cooked at 138F for an hour and fifteen minutes, and seared similarly.

I'm not convinced about steak. I've read that it shouldn't be cooked at less than 129F, but that's not rare enough for me. And I'm not crazy about the amount of sear I get after only a minute or two. I still prefer my steaks, even rather thick ones, cooked stovetop and put in the oven if necessary.

Haven't tried inexpensive cuts because I'm not set up yet for lengthy cooking times, but most seem to agree that that's where sous vide really shines.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Home Cooking

site forgetting "read" posts

Whether you get an e-mail or not, if it's an older post all messages but yours will be expanded making it a major pita to try to figure out which was the new post. This is particularly vexing for those of us to who continue to post to older COTM threads and I think it's criminal that the needs of such an active and dedicated part of the community are simply being ignored.

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Site Talk
3

What cookware for a range with large burners?

Take a look at the de Buyer Mineral B pans. Heavy, and not cheap, but a truly extraordinary pan that will last a lifetime. In my experience, although I don't have that range, they heat very evenly. And the pans are used by many professional who I'm sure are cooking on similar ranges.

http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2...

Jul 24, 2015
JoanN in Cookware

What cookbooks have you bought lately, or are you lusting after? Roll out those lazy crazy days of summer, July 2015 edition!

Just bought a ticket to see J. Kenji-Alt and Ed Levine at the 92nd Street Y on October 1. My heartthrob! <3. Hope I have his book by then. Maybe I can get it signed?