- Three Kinds of Mushrooms served atop Pan-Fried Noodles and some marinated tofu. I could not find fresh lo-mein noodles for the noodle recipe, but used Korean fresh noodles of a medium width, and they seemed to work fine, although I think I overcooked them a bit. My family really liked the slightly crispy nest of fried noodles as a starch base instead of rice. I would do this again (and probably will-- the noodles come in a big package). For some reason, out of the Three Kinds of Mushrooms called for in the recipe, Jaffrey specified for two to be canned (the oyster mushrooms and the abalone mushrooms). Since I am not crazy about canned mushrooms, I was also not wowed by this dish. It was okay.
- Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Bean Curd, served with Simple Pumpkin Soup and Artichoke Heart and Fresh Fava Bean Salad. I will say, this was an impressive dinner: a kind of vegetable tapas, light overall, but each component requiring extensive crafting. Especially the salad-- prepping fresh artichoke hearts and fresh fava beans for one dish that ends up making enough to serve two fleas? But oh, it was a delicious small plate. The pumpkin soup, strangely thin even though I put in about twice as much pumpkin as called for, tasted much, much better than it looked. I would suggest a creme-fraiche-and-herb garnish, and maybe a bit more potato to thicken the soup. It is an easy soup, though-- recommended with the above tweaks. The stuffed portobello mushrooms, supposed to be the star of the meal, ended up being the least interesting of the three dishes. The bean curd filling was bland unless you poured a bunch of sauce all over it, in which case you had sauce running all over your plate and into your fava beans, so serve this on a separate plate if you make it. I've just realized I missed Jaffrey's instruction to toast the sesame seeds immediately before adding them to the sauce, so that they are still hot and sizzling. Perhaps a more intense sesame flavor might have made a big difference to this dish (but I doubt it).
- Mushrooms with Coriander and Cumin , served with pita bread, cheese, and spinach salad. My family loves mushrooms, and these were both easy and flavorful. I used white mushrooms. As usual with Indian vegetable recipes, there is no skimping on the aromatics and spices. A very satisfying meal.
- Mushroom and Potato Stew (I can't find a link to this one), with tofu added, atop white rice and with spinach-and-avocado salad. This stew-- no cuisine listed, so probably one of Jaffrey's personal recipes-- was pretty bland, even though it smelled great, what with all the mushrooms, aromatics, rosemary, and wine. It also needed a longer cooking time than specified and more salt (but I have already commented many times about the apparently random salt quantities called for in this book's recipes-- the cook should always follow their instincts rather than the recipe here, especially if the amount of salt seems too much. It often is, spoiling the dish).
- Karahi Chicken with Fresh Fenugreek, with rice. I have no photos of this dish or its prep, but I can tell you it was boring. I did use dried fenugreek, which the recipe suggested as an option, and perhaps fresh fenugreek would have been more flavorful. As it was, the chicken was perfectly edible but not interesting in the least. It also featured, again, the technique in which the chicken is boiled first before stir-frying, a method which makes the chicken dry and flavorless. That's recipe four from this book. I announced afterwards that Baljekar has two more chances to impress me: if those recipes fail too, I am giving up.
- Chicken Tikka Masala (this link is a slightly modified recipe, but close), with naan from the store and steamed broccoli. Baljekar wins herself a reprieve. This dish was actually quite good, despite the fact that I don't have a grill and my broiler (located underneath the oven, practically on the floor) is too dusty and gross to use, so I roasted the chicken pieces in the oven before adding them to the sauce (no pre-boiling, though!). However, the recipe called for a packet of Chicken Tikka paste (like this) from the Indian grocery store, which I bought, and perhaps it was this packet that was responsible for the positive results. Actually, previous recipes had also called for such packets, I think, but I was unable to find the right ones, so tended to try and improvise my own. Basically this seems like buying a packet of taco seasoning to make your tacos-- it tastes good, but can you legitimately put it in a recipe? Anyway, we liked the Chicken Tikka Masala. I'll give the book a little more time.
- Gluten-Free Chocolate Tea Cake (November 2015). This cake tasted good-- very chocolate-y-- but had very little structural integrity. The whole thing began to crumble into pieces as I removed it from the pan. On the other hand, my cream of tartar proved to have expired 8 years ago, and my egg whites didn't want to whip properly, so... readers, would this account for the problem? I don't know, and it never occurred to me that cream of tartar might expire. I'll give Bon Appetit the benefit of the doubt... but I do see that some others had the same problem. We certainly ate this cake anyway.
- However, the Seeded Whole Grain Soda Bread (November 2015) also fell apart coming out of the pan, due to sticking on the bottom (this despite the fact that I'd greased the pan with a lot of butter). I'd recommend a piece of parchment paper for this one. The bread-- which contained millet, quinoa, amaranth, oats, flaxseeds, and sunflower seeds, as well as lots of whole wheat flour-- was very hearty and tasty. We tried it with various accoutrements, but decided that cream cheese and lingonberry jam was the best topping. Served with some baked apple slices and currants (for the purpose of using up a bag of mushy, not-really-autumn-fresh apples from the Whole Foods).
- Whole Grain Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Smitten Kitchen. I was impressed with this bread purely because it was a 100% whole-grain bread that actually rose properly and worked effortlessly. That is to say, I would have considered it a major success even without the cinnamon swirl. The kneading technique was much different than I am accustomed to-- a lot less kneading, a lot more resting-- and (besides being great for lazy people) this reduced the need to keep adding extra flour. So the dough was wetter than I am used to, and it was so much better. I may need to rethink the way I usually make bread. That said, the cinnamon-and-currant swirl was nice too. I think I would have preferred to go all out and add more of the filling-- it was kind of only half-sweet. Great for buttered toast, though.
- Pork Sausage with Coconut-Chile Sauce and Lychees from Epicurious (although apparently this also derives from Bon Appetit, September 2014). This dish was... interesting. The recipe doesn't call for any kind of starch base, even though you'd think it might be served with rice, so I cooked some more of my fresh Korean noodles from the refrigerator to create a noodle bowl. On top were spicy ground pork, fresh herbs from the Thai palette, roasted peanuts, onion, lime, and... canned lychee fruit? All served with a really delicious spicy coconut sauce. Oddly, like the reviewers on Epicurious, I found that I liked this dish but would not necessarily make it again. The lychees in it were good, but strange. The pork sausage was tasty, but did not seem to belong in the Thai-ish dish-- chicken or shrimp would have clashed less with the other flavors, I think. I do love a noodle bowl, though.