September 29, 2013 by Meg G.
Our second Cookbook Club potluck was an even bigger success than our first. Really, how can the thing not be a success when it involves friends gathering around the dining room table? We stuck with Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors, but this time around, several of the cookbook clubbers tweaked the recipes to their own liking. Here’s the roundup, along with some links from around the internet, so you can play at home!
Steph whipped up the penne with green and gold zucchini and ricotta. Though it’s a simple dish with minimal ingredients, the flavors of fresh in-season zucchini go a long way. Plus, there’s ricotta involved. Enough said.
Sarah and Spencer brought the butternut squash rounds with dates and pistachios. Wow! This was the most surprising dish for me. The squash was tender and sweet, the citrus added a lovely bright note, and the date and nut topping added a crunchy, salty-sweet layer of goodness.
Heather made the mustard greens braised with ginger, cilantro, and rice, but she substituted chard for the mustard greens. While this dish is perhaps more time-consuming than you’d expect, the flavors were great! I love the ginger-cilantro combination.
Lindsey and Bob cooked the corn and squash simmered in coconut milk with Thai basil (see a version of it here) and served it over some basmati rice. I loved the combination of flavors in this hearty, summery dish – sweet corn, squash, coconut milk, cilantro, basil, and scallions. Plus there’s some tofu in there, helping provide some extra protein.
Last, but not least, I made this lovely caramelized apple tart, which was topped with cinnamon custard. I was pleased with the outcome and happy (as always) to provide a sweet ending to our meal. Here goes!
Caramelized Apple Tart topped with Cinnamon Custard – via Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors
- 3 apples (we used Galas)
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 Tablespoons sugar (we used brown)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for the tart pan
- 1/2 cup sugar (we used sugar in the raw)
- 3 medium eggs, at room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg yolk
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 9-inch tart pan (we used a pie plate).
- Core the apples (peel if desired; I didn’t), then slice them into 1/2-inch wedges. Melt the butter in a wide skillet, add the apples, and sprinkle with the two tablespoons of sugar. Cook over high heat, occasionally flipping the apples until they start to caramelize, then reduce heat to medium. Keep a close eye, turning the apples frequently so they don’t burn. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
- To make the batter, cream the butter and sugar in a mixer with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and salt, then stir in the flour. Smooth the batter into the pie plate with an offset spatula, pushing it up the sides to make a rim. Lay the apples over the batter.
- Mix the cream, cinnamon, and egg yolk together, then pour it over the apples. Set the pie plate on a sheet pan and bake until the crust is golden and starts to pull away from the sides, about 35 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
This was pretty easy to make and the result was sort of a mix between a cake and a pie. Somehow, I managed not to take a photo of the finished product, but the crust cooked up into a spongy cake-like consistency. Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious! We served it at room temperature with some vanilla ice cream. Yum!
While we savored the varied and tasty dishes, we also shared some critiques of the book. (What would a book club be without some healthy critique?) While there are some lovely photos of whole food and farmers markets, there is almost no photography of the finished dishes to inspire and guide the home chef. The portions also seem to be off; in several instances, they produced far less than expected. (We wound up with about 4 side-dish portions of the braised greens, for example.) Finally, Deborah presents several different options for fresh herbs in many of her recipes. This seems a bit strange, since they are not necessarily interchangeable. The addition of basil instead of cilantro may make a significant difference in the overall flavor of a dish. While substitutions and variations are always appreciated, some feel that the role of the cookbook author is to suggest one of those ingredients. But perhaps you feel otherwise, Supper Clubbers?
Inspired by the gorgeous food photography and fabulous reviews, we chose Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi as our next cookbook.
Stay tuned for more delicious recipes!