All posts by Becky Herrmann

About Becky Herrmann

Becky has been the Library Director since March of 2001. View Becky's complete profile.

Everyday Dipping Sauce(NOUC CHAM)



This traditional sauce appears on the table at most Vietnamese meals. Add a small handful of shredded carrots and you have a vegetable relish.


Makes ½ cup


1Tablespoon chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon chili-garlic sauce or finely chopped hot red chilies or 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (recommend using the chili-garlic sauce, found in an Asian market or Asian section of grocery stores)

3 Tablespoons fish sauce

3 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice


Combine the garlic, sugar and chili paste in bowl of a mortar and mash to a paste. (Or combine them on a cutting board and mash to a coarse paste with a fork and the back of a spoon).

Scrape the paste into a small bowl and stir in the fish sauce, water and lime juice. Transfer to small serving bowls for dipping. Or transfer to a jar, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.


From: Quick and Easy Vietnamese, 75 Everyday Recipes by Nancy McDermott

Submitted by Carole

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp



2 ounces rice vermicelli

8 rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)

8 large cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half –optional for vegetarian spring rolls

1 1/3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil

3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro

(or use 2 whole fresh Thai basil or mint leaves on top of filling)

2 leaves lettuce, chopped

4 teaspoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)

¼ cup eater

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons white sugar

½ teaspoon garlic chili sauce

3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon finely chopped peanuts



  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice vermicelli 3-5 minutes, until al dente and drain.
  2. Fill large bowl with warm water. Dip one wrapper into water for 1 second to soften.
  3. Lay wrapper flat. In a row across the center, place 2 shrimp halves (if using), a handful of vermicelli, basil, mint, cilantro and lettuce, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward, and then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce, water, lime juice, garlic, sugar and chili sauce
  5. In another small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce and peanuts. ( or use crunchy peanut butter and hoisin sauce, thinned with a few splashes of water if too thick)
  6. Serve spring rolls with the fish sauce and hoisin sauce mixtures.


NOTE: In addition to ingredients listed you can add or substitute: shredded carrots, long thinly sliced pieces or cucumber, sprouts or other fresh vegetables of your choice.


Hoison peanut Sauce

½ cup hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 Tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon rice or white vinegar

Crushed roasted peanuts for garnish (optional) – use as garnish

Bring to boil over moderately high heat, then immediately remove from heat. Transfer to bowl.

submitted by Carole.

Vegetarian Fresh Spring Rolls


2 large carrots, julienned

2-3 julienned green onions

½ sweet red pepper julienned

1/3 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage (or substitute iceberg lettuce)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup mince fresh cilantro (or to taste)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 (3 ounce) package dried bean thread noodles

16 rice paper, rounds softened (8-inch, see note)

1/8 cup slivered fresh Thai basil or 1/8 cup fresh mint



1 Tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil or ¼ cup soy sauce

2 Tablespoons rice vinegar

½ teaspoon hot sesame oil (I would omit rather than buy for 1 recipe)

½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 pinch sugar



  1. In a large bowl, combine carrots, green onions, cabbage, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper
  2. Let marinate at room temp for 10 minutes, stirring frequently
  3. Meanwhile, place the noodles in a medium bowl.
  4. Cover noodles with boiling water and soak 10 minutes, or until noodles are softened
  5. Drain well and snip into 2-inch pieces and set aside
  6. To soften rice-paper rounds, fill large bowl with warm water and dip each rice-paper round in water for 10 seconds or until softened and translucent
  7. Remove and let drain on a clean dish towel (Do not stack as they will stick together)
  8. Place about 2 Tablespoons of the noodles and 2 Tablespoons of the vegetable mixture about 1 inch from the lower edge of the rice paper round
  9. Sprinkle with basil/mint leaves
  10. Fold the bottom edge over the filling; fold in both sides and roll tightly. Press to seal.
  11. Place on plate, seam side down, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10 minutes
  12. Two quick sauces: in small bowl combine soy sauce and sesame sauce.
  13. Or combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut oil, hot sesame oil, garlic and sugar.

Shared by Carole

Beef Enchiladas

1 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. boiling water
1 pound ground beef
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 oz.)
¼ cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup dairy sour cream
1 Tbs. parsley flakes
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
1 cup water
2 – 3 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano leaves
¼ tsp. ground cumin
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Stir baking mix and 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. boiling water to a soft dough. Gently smooth dough into a ball on floured cloth-covered board. Knead 5 times. Divide dough into 10 equal parts. Shape each part into a ball. Roll each into a 5 inch circle on board dusted with cornmeal. Bake on hot ungreased griddle about 1 minute on each side. Place tortillas between folds of damp paper towel to keep them from drying out,.

Cook and stir ground beef in 10 inch skillet until lightly browned; drain. Stir in ¾ cup of the cheese, the onions, sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside. Heat remaining ingredients to boiling in 2 quart saucepan, stirring occasionally,. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes. Heat oven to 350. Spoon about 1/4 cup beef mixture onto each tortilla. Roll up; place seam side down in ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan. Pour sauce over tortillas; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered until sauce is hot and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. 5 servings.

Note: Chicken (rotisserie) may be substituted for the beef. A jar of your favorite tomato sauce maybe used instead of making the original.


Submitted by Dottie

Bibliobites in December: No Cookie Left Behind


Cookie KAcookiesR

cookiesMH cookiesV







There was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as Bibliobites book group members set their plates and plastic tubs of cookies on the table near the fireplace. What kinds of cookies did folks make? What would become a new holiday favorite? More importantly, when could we start eating them? As one group member said – “There is a lot of butter on that table – time to bring out the SPANX!”

But before the tasting– came the book discussion.

Thoughts on the King Arthur book

  •  It was a solid cook book with familiar, reliable recipes for the most part. Many tried and true –
  • One baking glitch though – One member tried the two-bit monsters recipe which was a mix of condensed milk and coconut. Unfortunately the doorbell rang and then the dough stuck to the cookie sheet. The second batch never firmed up – nix on that recipe
  • Apparently if you have a kitchen question you can call or email the King Arthur website and they will troubleshoot the recipe with you – good to know.
  • You can also order parchment paper from King Arthur and it comes as pre-cut sheets
  • One member had their daughter bake the fudge coated dip sticks – they found the chocolate hard to work with for dipping.

Thoughts on Rosie’s cookie book:

  • It included good tips on how to modify a recipe
  • It had very detailed instructions
  • Good recommendations on equipment and supplies
  • Negatives- not enough pictures
  • Recipes made were: Pecan Crescents and Peanut butter topped brownies – (A new favorite dessert!)

Thoughts on the Maida cookbook

  • Very good recipes but again – not enough pictures
  • Also the pages did not lay flat and often were continued onto a page that had to be turned
  • The layout seemed dated and the table of contents was sparse
  • Did include the famous Nieman Marcus cookie recipe – (a large chocolate chip cookie version with a combo of regular and oat flour)

Thoughts on the Vegan cookie book:

  • Graham cracker recipe was great and they proved addictive
  • The homemade fig bars were also delicious and fought over
  • Many of the recipes substituted ground flax seed for the eggs and used rice milk instead of regular etc.

Other topics that came up:

There was some reminiscing about the Boston Globe Confidential Chat column and the shared recipes – one group member remembers the Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins highlighted there. For an article about those famous muffins – click here and scroll down the page –

The group discussed the benefits of using the website as a convenient collator of recipes. One member commented that she used to subscribe to Bon Appetit but now all of the magazine recipes are online as part of epicurious. Folks thought the online comments from cooks who had tried the recipes were both helpful and flabbergasting. There was some joking about the cooks who drastically changed a recipe when they test it and then rate the recipe low or wonder why it did not turn out.

Some folks really enjoy Christopher Kimball’s emails from Cook’s illustrated- others think he is too pedantic – but most think his radio show and TV show are enjoyable – check all three out if you have not! – scroll down to bottom and you can sign up for the free newsletter by entering your email. The radio show is on WGBH radio 89.7 on Sundays from 3-4 PM – and the TV show is also on WGBH – channel 2 on Saturdays at 3 PM – you can also watch the show or listen to the radio show on the test kitchen site.

Penzey’s website was mentioned again as a fun place to visit– the closest one is in Arlington but has short hours- and limited parking –

*Side note from last meeting – one member did try the recipe recommended at the last meeting – the Apple-Berry Galette from “Baking with Julia” and said it was a great success – highly recommended.

Baking/cookie tips –

  • Some non-bakers were fans of the efficiency of the “slice and bake” or ice box cookies. They don’t spread much and you can bake lots at a time so that means less time in the kitchen.
  • Talked about cookie scoops- Pampered Chef has a nice one and the cooking store in Acton – Kitchen Outfitters in Acton – has a nice selection of all sizes.
  • Silicone cookie sheets were not that revered but the silpat for rolling out pie crust is awesome- 1st and 2nd place pie winners both use one.
  • When you make thumbprint cookies – you make an indentation with your thumb – but one member said – what if you have man-thumbs? 🙂 It only makes sense to use another smaller finger tip – but an even better way to save your hands from getting dirty is to use a ¼ tsp measuring spoon to make the thumbprint.
  • The group discussed freezing cookies and unfreezing them – many have had good luck with baking at Thanksgiving time or a little later and freezing cookies for several weeks in tightly closed containers layered between wax paper or parchment. One member says she even refreezes with no significant detriment to the cookie.
  • Tip for gifts- as you make cookies – freeze 8-10 balls of the cookie dough – give parents small batches so they can have a warm cookie when they want but don’t want the fuss of mixing up dough or ending up with too many cookies. (Is that possible? To have too many cookies???)

In addition to recipes made from the featured cookbooks, recipes shared were family favorites or made from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen website ( – Better Homes and Garden Magazine, Betty Crocker Recipe Box File, the Penzey’s website and Relish Magazine – an insert in the Lowell Sun.

Here are some recipes that were brought for this month’s meeting:

Apple Walnut Cobbler

Aunt Lucy’s Cookies

Dark Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Italian Chocolate-Spice Cookies

Pistachio Thins

Slice-and-Bake Cookie Palette

Tiny Almond Biscotti Cookies

If you do not see yours posted, please be in touch and we will add.

In addition, there was some talk of an excellent chocolate covered cherry cookie recipe – can the member who was raving about it share it with us? In the meantime, perhaps this one will do.

Our next book is Love Soup by Anne Thomas –

love soup

Winter is a great time for cooking up a bowl of comfort.


Bibliobites in September: What’s for Lunch….and Dinner!

lunchIn Beating the Lunch Box Blues J. M . Hirsch recommends  “leftovers by design”.   Cook extra for dinner and you’ll have the makings for some quick and delicious lunches.  If you like this concept, and/or are looking for lunch inspiration, the author also has a blog by the same name:

Some dinner ideas suggested by the author and enjoyed by the group were:

Lemon- Paprika Roasted Salmon        p. 56
Bacon- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese    p. 120
Hoisin-Raspberry Pork Tenderloin      p. 90 – “really good”
Baked Breaded Haddock                        p. 60
Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken       p. 36


High Flavor





Some group members explored J.W. Hirsch’s other cookbook, High Flavor Low Labor and all gave it excellent reviews. Everyone found many recipes to try and people who hadn’t previously checked out the book  took it home with them.


Recipes tried were:

Stir-Fry Ravioli with Ground Turkey and Peppers    p. 175
Chili Balsamic Marinated Sirloin with Fettuccine and Sun-Dried Tomatoes pp. 92-93
Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato and Thyme Soup  p. 62   –  “family loved this soup”
Child’s Play Spice and Brown Sugar-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin pp. 78 -79 – “good cold”
Chinese Pie (Shepherd’s Pie) pp. 133 – 34
Brown Sugar and Ginger Pumpkin Bread   p. 250
Ginger Fig Crumb Bars     p. 245


As an extra this month we shared: What’s your favorite kitchen gadget?  There were a great variety of answers!

Super Peel – Great for transferring any dough from one place to another.



Corningware handle
corning handle














Y-shaped potato peeler

Y shaped potato peeler







Grapefruit spoon: it’s not  just for grapefruits! They are great for removing seeds from a cucumber or zucchini or any member of the squash family.

grapefruit spoon

BIBLIOBITES IN MAY – Eating and writing!

May’s Bibliobites group read Garlic and Sapphires by bestselling author and former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl.

Everyone said they loved the book and many revisited her two memoirs – Tender at the Bone and Comfort me with Apples. Some even went on to read her new fiction title Delicious – published in May.



It was great fun to read about little-known and soon to be discovered restaurant gems in the Big Apple along with tidbits about famed restaurants such as Daniel’s and Tavern on the Green – Many of us were fascinated by the NY food scene where restaurant critics are celebrities and recognized on sight. Reichl’s undercover disguises and her zany methods to remain undetected added to the fun as she chronicled her dining adventures in the city for us. We were all drooling over the food descriptions and eager to test our new-found critic’s eyes as we tackled our “homework” visiting both new and familiar restaurants. Some of us stayed in the area, others ventured as far as Maine to sample the culinary fare. We heard a variety of opinions as we ate our way across New England — some glowing, some so-so and some positively negative. But one thing was crystal clear from the discussions – this Bibliobites group likes to eat! And we like to talk about what we eat too!



Group members visited and reviewed the following restaurants:

Good for Lunch:
110 Grill – Chelmsford
Family Affair Restaurant & Catering located at The American Textile History Museum in Lowell

Family and Comfort Food
Aldo’s Café – Stoneham
Bonefish Grill – Burlington
Centro –  Lowell
Evviva Cucina –  Westford
Not Your Average Joes –  Acton
Red Heat Tavern – Wilmington

Specialty Restaurants
Bison County Bar and Grill – Waltham
Fishbones – Chelmsford
Margaritas –  Nashua

Out to Dinner
80 Thoreau – Concord
Earth at Hidden Pond– Kennebunkport, ME
Season 52 – Burlington
Sportello – Boston

Some of the group members’ restaurant  reviews are available in the comments section.  Do you have some restaurant suggestions or comments?  Add them in the comment section. – Bon Appetit!



Book Discussion – Nigella Lawson

April’s Bibliobites group focused on the Italian-inspired cooking of Nigella Lawson. Lawson is homegrown chef with no formal training. She has worked as an English journalist, broadcaster, television personality, and food writer. She is known for her flirtatious way of presenting recipes and has affectionately been dubbed the “Queen of food porn.” Our group members had a chance to look at two of her cookbooks: Nigellissima and Nigella Kitchen

Of the twoNigellissima books Nigellissima was by far the favorite, as it was more conversational, the recipes were straightforward and the photographs were appealing. Yet those great full page photographs did not inspire us to immediately begin cooking. Many shared that if it hadn’t been for the book club they would have moved on to a different cookbook. When we did try a recipe though, we were often pleased. After our group shared their experiences, others were inspired to check the book out again to try new recipes. Nigella Lawson intentionally crafted simple recipes to accommodate a busy lifestyle. Her friendly writing style and her practical cooking hints empowered the cooks to adjust a recipe when needed or desired. Once we got cooking we found many recipes that were keepers.

Not as many tried cooking from Nigella Kitchen as it was a larger text-filled compendium of recipes without the great photographs. It was difficult to get inspired by this book.


Here are comments on the recipes we tried from Nigellissima:


Pork Loin with Parma ham & oregano – pg 62 Very good cold

Meatzza – pg 72   Nigella posted that this was the most requested recipe from the book and it was a favorite in our group also.

Roast chicken with bell peppers and olives – pg96   Excellent

Tagliata for two – pg 70   “This only took 15 minutes and was really, really good.”

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs pg. 75 – Simple but not inspiring. Tasted better on the second day.



Curly edged pasta with lamb ragu – pg 9 –Pasta was expensive but good. Well-Liked.

Farro risotto with mushrooms – pg 44-47   (2 tried) Very good – a lot easier to make than regular     risotto. It does not require constant attention and the farro has a nice nutty flavor.

Gnocchi Gratin – pg 131 – Some felt it was heavy – others suggested gnocchi is best when it is fresh

Quick Calabrian lasagna – pg 16 Liked a lot – but it is an unusual lasagna – using the strained tomatoes gave it a fresher taste.

Mini macaroni & cheese All’Italiana – p.15  Made with a twist on the traditional roux- grated cheese is mixed with constarch and then whisked into chicken broth. A real time-saver.

                Do not make ahead – as the pasta will absorb all the liquid – and you will have to reconstitute with scalded milk or cream…


Broccolini with parmesan & lemon – pg 123 – Simple but tasty

Green pasta with blue cheese – pg 10   Very good

Gorgonzola &cannellini dip with a tricolore flourish – pg. 200 – This was fine but not one that we would repeat.

Sicilian cauliflower salad – pg 124   (2 liked)

Spinach baked with ricotta and nutmeg pg 115 – Mixed reviews – one person liked it a lot and even ate leftovers cold ( like a quiche ) — another found it bland.

Roast red onions with basil pg. 112 – Onions were tasty but the amount of basil was overwhelming.



Parmesan shortbreads – pg. 204 – Very buttery with a nice bite of Parmesan – but heavy on the calories…

Chocolate olive cake – pg 186 – Two people brought this for sampling. Some thought it needed something else. Suggestions were: raspberry sauce, coffee in lieu of water in the recipe- and of course everything is better with ice cream. Others thought it was good as is – not too sweet and very satisfying chocolate ending.

Yogurt Carton Cake – pg 182 – Yum! A big hit. Good for children – it has a lovely texture, almost velvety because of the cornstarch – you can really taste the lemon zest. Would be a great base for strawberry shortcake.


Recipes tried from Nigella Kitchen were:

Butternut, arugula and pine nut salad. — Pg 94 —A nice side salad for a meat meal. Nigella suggests leaving the peel on – our recommendation is that it would have been better without.

Chicken with Greek herb sauce – pg 102. The chicken is a simple cut up roasted chicken. The Greek sauce (Tzatziki) is excellent and a recipe keeper.

Irish oaten rolls – pg 86. – Quick and easy – baked for 15 minutes. Froze well and makes a great snack on the go.

Swedish summer cake – pg 264

Places to find more about Nigella Lawson and her recipes on the web::

Pinterest pins: you can access some of the recipes mentioned above by following links from Nigella Lawson’s Pinterest site.

Book Discussion – Bread Baking

Becky Bread



The third meeting of both our morning and evening Bibliobites group found many of us leaving our comfort zones and trying new things. Bread baking is not part of every cook’s repertoire and some of us found it intimidating. “Why is that so?” asked a new member who joined us on Thursday night to share his expertise and experience. He owned and worked at a bakery in the North End and also taught classes at the Le Cordon Bleu – (He also brought sourdough flax seed bread and wonderful baguettes featuring masa harina plus an amazing braided bread sculpture to share with group members.)

Group members explained that bread baking seemed more hit or miss than other cooking projects. One loaf will not rise, one will be perfect, and one will not taste as good as the last time. It is unpredictable and it can take up your whole day. If the results are less than stellar, it isn’t an experience you are apt to repeat.

But it is the practice that makes it perfect. The feel of the dough, the correct kneading techniques, how to know when the dough has doubled in bulk, recognizing when a dough could use an extra turn – this is all knowledge that comes with trial and error. So we encourage everyone to practice, again and again and fill your homes with the heavenly aroma of warm, baked bread.  And if you bake too much bread, you can always start bringing it to the library – the staff will be happy to eat it up!

Initial conversation in the evening group centered on the time-honored tradition of creating bread before the advent of commercial yeast. There are many traditional techniques methods that aid in the dough rising – Italians use the biga – Polish the poolish and the French are fond of the pate fermentee. Sourdough starters such as what they use in the famous Boudin bakery in San Francisco are so valuable that they are sometimes kept in a large vault.  When the original Boudin bakery was affected by the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, Louise Boudin saved the original “mother dough” by placing it in a bucket. We talked about the value of using a Banneton for shaping and molding when making a sourdough bread and the importance of using the right amount of salt in a bread recipe. It was mentioned that the Italian make a Tuscan bread pane toscano or pane sciapo that is traditionally made without salt as a staple for the poor.

We also discussed what and when our first attempt at baking bread was – One of us recalled using Beard on Bread to make a classic French-style loaf – another remembers a Pillsbury prize-winner with poppy seeds, cheese and onion (could it be this recipe? and another member recalled a Portuguese sweet bread made with cinnamon as her first attempt.

Here are the books we took a look at along with some comments in red:

From the basics:

  • Beard on Bread by James Beard
    Becky’s favorite bridal gift to give, a real primer

To ethnic breads:

  • The Italian Baker  by Carol Field
    The whole wheat bread did not rise on the second rise but still tasted good with soup.

To artisan loaves:

To cooking flat breads –

  • Flatbreads and Flavors: a Baker’s Atlas by Jeffrey Alford
    The reviewer enjoyed learning how to make flatbreads and about the many different cultures where flatbreads are cooked. Also enjoyable were the side dishes suggested to go along with the breads.

To cooking gluten free breads:

  • Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts.
  • Gluten-Free on a shoestring Bakes Bread by Nicole Hunn
  •  The gluten-free gourmet bakes bread: more than 200 wheat-free recipes  Bette Hagman
  • Healthy Bread in five minutes” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francoi
    Gluten free bread baking requires special flours and has a different texture from wheat breads. The breads tried were tasty.  The person who baked the gluten-free loaf found in “Healthy Bread in five minutes” was pleased with her loaf and thought you might not notice the difference if you didn’t know it was gluten free.  She also tried the basic recipe in this book which makes enough dough for four loaves which can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.  The first loaf she made was good and as the flavor changes as it ages, she has promised to tell us how the next loaves turn out. Hint: you can store the batter in plastic bags in the refrigerator so it doesn’t take up so much room.

To quick breads:

Some of us pulled out our old favorite cookbooks :

The best find was:

  •  The Carriage House Cookbook compiled by the Chelmsford Library staff in 1979 as a fund raiser. (Available only in the history room at the Chelmsford Library. )
    The highly recommended recipe for Julie’s Irish Soda Bread will be posted in the comment section of this blog, along with Dorothy’s beer bread and any recipe you would like to add.

Some bread baking websites, stores and resources mentioned were:

For Middle Eastern Products:

Armenian market and Bakery  in Watertown
Olive Tree at 1270 Westford St. Lowell (near Drum hill) a local source


Ken Haedrich’s website on pie making including lots of how-to videos
National Honey Board,  for tips on storing and substituting honey in recipes.
Penzey’s spices catalog.   for unusual spices

Book Discussion – Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman

smittenThe second meeting of our two Bibliobites groups discussed Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman.


People in general enjoyed the book, and we were impressed with how many recipes people made from it.  Many seemed to enjoy the author’s way of writing (with the long head-notes), though some thought it was a bit much.  One complaint was that using a recipe involved a lot of page flipping—everyone wanted to have a recipe on a 2-page spread.  Some also thought the red typeface on some pages was difficult to read. Consensus seemed to be that the book could have been a bit better designed to be more user-friendly, but the food photographs were gorgeous.  Some people thought the recipes had too much butter or cream in them, and a few wished there had been nutrition information included.

Some recipes that people made and liked: Mushroom Bourguignon, Chocolate Silk Pie, Feta-Scallion Frittata, Grilled Emmentaler on Rye with Caramelized Onions, Squash Galette, Leek Fritters, Cinnamon toast French toast, Gingerbread spice Dutch baby, Whole wheat raspberry ricotta scones, Almond date breakfast bars, Short Ribs with Beer and Balsamic, Chocolate Chip Brioche, Mustard Milanese chicken, sesame spiced turkey meatballs, Mom’s apple cake, the French onion toasts  and the Fruit Crisp – (made with apples and pears instead of apricots.)

Recipes that were disliked: Whole Lemon Bars (hard to make, didn’t taste good), Broccoli Salad (OK but nothing to swoon over, similar to other broccoli salads).

The Pancetta, White bean and Swiss chard pot pies felt like they took all day to prepare. There was too much chopping but the crust was amazing – it dripped butter onto the pan and was more like eating a croissant than a pie crust. The filling was not worth the effort but the crust is definitely recommended.

The Rhubarb Hamantaschen was tried by one member, she used a berry jam instead of the rhubarb but felt that the dough was almost unusable till she and her son added another 4 tablespoons of butter to the dough.  The Buttered Popcorn cookies were addictive but not inspiring – they might be better with a drizzle of chocolate . One problem with the recipe was that it made too much popcorn. As it had the perfect proportion of butter and salt – one member had to eat the extra. L

One group discussed the value of having a good potato masher – some used food mills for great potatoes, some liked ricers and others liked a good old fashioned hand-masher. One member wished she could find a twisted wire kind that her grandmother had used  – they don’t seem to make that type anymore.  Could it perhaps have looked like this?
Potato Masher

We also talked about how useful an immersion blender is, safety using mandolins – and we remembered the precursor to the mandolin or food processor — the vego-matic.






Vegetarian dishes were creative and interesting –  we wondered if that was because Deb Perelman was a vegetarian for so long.

In a general discussion of websites that people liked to use to find recipes, the following were mentioned: King Arthur Flour –


and Cook’s Illustrated – ( a subscription is needed to have access to everything.)