The October 2003 issue has so many incredible sides. This is a summary of the ones I enjoyed the most.
The first I want to discuss is this mushroom ragout. I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was! The shallots and thyme are perfect in it. When making the recipe I did run into one slight mishap… I had bought all the ingredients but failed to notice that it called for a dry red or white wine. I was fresh out. What I did have was dry vermouth! G and I were both unsure about the substitution until I found this extremely helpful discussion on the subject by Smitten Kitchen (she’s so good!). The vermouth tasted so incredible that I don’t think I’ll even bother with wine the next time I make this and yes, I will be making this again.
Next, I want to tell you about the beauty of braised leeks.
I love leeks, but I have never braised them. They are incredible as the base of a chicken (along with some carrots) and they are awesome in a Vichyssoise soup (potato leek soup for those of you without the Joy of Cooking). This dish almost combined the two flavors. You use chicken stock as the braising liquid so it reduces and gets super flavorful. You add butter at the end so it brings in the richness of the Vichyssoise. I was literally ready to lick my plate the sauce was so delicious!
Luckily, I served the braised leeks with twice-baked potatoes, so I just used the starchy goodness of my potato to soak it up instead.
It was my first time making twice-baked potatoes so I wouldn’t say the outcome was perfect. They were a little lumpy and not fluffy and light like the ones I’ve eaten before. I think I should have used a mixer to do the mashing instead of a potato masher to get the perfect texture. The flavor, however, was without fault. Yum!
And finally, that brings me to roasted pears and sweet potatoes.
I cannot say enough good things about the spice mixture on these. First of all, it’s super simple. Just ground mustard, ginger, and cayenne. But it works so wonderfully together and really complements the sweetness of the potatoes and the pears. This makes a pretty big batch, but we finished the entire thing that night. We couldn’t keep our hands off it. If we hadn’t been using forks, I would say it was finger lickin’ good. Well done, EF! Well done!