Tuesday, September 29, 2015
The Cottage Cooking Club - September Recipes
The month of September marks the seventeenth month of our international online cooking group, The Cottage Cooking Club. As a group, recipe by recipe, we are cooking and learning our way through a wonderful vegetable cookbook written in 2011 by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, entitled „River Cottage Everyday Veg".
The Cottage Cooking Club is meant to be a project aimed at incorporating more vegetable dishes into our everyday cooking, learning about less known, forgotten or heritage vegetables, trying out new ways to prepare tasty and healthy dishes, and sharing them with family and friends.
One of the declared aims of our cooking group is to make a decided effort to use as much regional, organic and also seasonal produce as is reasonably possible.
Since I cooked eight recipes, I will write about each dish in the order in which I prepared them.
My first recipe for this early fall post is the colorful Chard and new potato curry (page 24) from the chapter "Comfort Food & Feasts“ that we made back in August 2014 and that I had missed.
Every time I cook with bright colored veggies, like the amazing rainbow chard I came across the other day, I realize how much I really enjoy preparing vegetables in all kinds of color and how much they enhance my dishes, not only by adding tons of flavor but also by appealing visually to all, making them all enjoy the dishes I prepare even more.
This is a hearty variation of a curry with chard, onions, garlic, ginger, chili, and new potatoes and with spices such as garam masala, mustard seeds, cumin, tumeric, cardamom, and then some tomato purée and yogurt. I topped it all with my current favorite cress form the Netherlands – the red beet cress which has a rather earthy sharpness and add another layer of flavor to this already very flavorful fallish curry.
For the second recipe for this month I chose is the forever delightful Leek and cheese toastie (page 202) from the chapter "Bready Things", again. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes this leek-based, cheesy topping as „the simplest and most midweek-friendly“ of his leek toppings and right he is.
As I mentioned before, the delicious and easy topping consists of but a few ingredients, namely some good quality butter, sliced fresh leeks and fragrant thyme - cook gently for about 10 to 15 minutes and then all that is left to do is to stir in some double cream, simmer some more, fold in some grated cheese such as Cheddar, add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then toast a few slices of sourdough bread (or other bread that you prefer), spread with the still warm topping and top with more cheese, then grill until golden - pure midweek deliciousness if you ask my family and me.
Fresh thyme grows in my garden, fresh leeks can be easily found locally, the bread is from my favorite bakery nearby and the cheese I used was Emmenthal. We were all more than pleased with this with its sweetness from the leeks, creaminess from the cheese and cream and just the right amount of woodsy herb flavor from the fresh thyme.
This time I served the toasties with a autum pear and rocket salad on the side – not too shabby! And I am presently rather delighted with the quality of the local rocket – it is sharap and mustardy and just plain delightful!
The third recipe that go my attention, again, this month was my personal favorite soup from the book, the Chestnut and sage soup (page 158), from the chapter „Hefty Soups“ that we made back in November 2014.
There is a chestnut tree in our garden and every year I look forward to the harvest season. I use the chestnuts for baking my favorite chestnut cake, make this amazing soup and keep the remainder for roasted chestnuts.
This is such an elegant and velvety soup, I cannot get over the taste – the finished soup got a nice garnish of sage leaves from my garden, fried in some light olive oil, a tiny trickle of oil, chives and foamed milk, cappucciono-style – serve this soup nice and hot and you will know what I mean – it is absolutely fabulous and perfect for serving to guests. Make sure to make some „Vegetable Stock“ (page 130) beforehand and serve some nice bread alongside.
And, yes, this time I could not help myself and served the chestnut soup in these „seventies soup bowls" that I found at a tag sale. These kinds of props just make my day!
Recipe number four is another perennial favorite at our house, the New potato salad „tartare“ (page 79), from the chapter „Hearty Salads“ that we made back in June 2015. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall describes this salad as "a simple, deconstructed version of good old tartare sauce" that is used "to dress freshly cooked, earthly little new potatoes".
Since I have written about this salad at length before, I will keep it short this time – this is now our favorite way to enjoy potato salad and I even served it as part of our „Oktoberfest spread“ – I believe that says it all!
The fifth recipe was semi-new for me. The Quinoa with courgettes and onions (page 279) from the chapter „Pasta & Rice“ that we made back in May 2014 – is a fabulous recipe that I have made with couscous and white quinoa before but never with red quinoa (my newly discovered favorite grain to use in our salads).
With the tender courgettes, the sweet onions, some lovely thyme from the garden and a bit of young garlic, this is such an unbelievably tasty salad. It even becomes nore flavorful if it had a few hours "resting time" in the fridge prior to serving.
The recipe calls for flat-leaf parsley, I also added some fresh cress and basil and left out the pine nuts – my taste testers do not really like nuts in their salad – but other than these minor changes, I stayed true to the recipe and really enjoyed it.
Just remember if you are planning to make this salad a few hours ahead of serving it, you will have to taste for seasoning again just before serving. I ended up re-seasoning with some freshly ground pepper and fine sea salt and a lot of lemon juice – and I always served some fresh lemon wedges on the side with this salad – it really tastes fabulous with a last-minute squeeze of lemon juice.
My sixth recipe for this September post is the Pearl barley broth (page 160), from the chapter "Hefty Soups“ that we made back in May 2015.
Again, the base of this soup is Hugh´s Vegetable stock (page 130). This soup recipe is one of those recipes in this book that I keep coming back to on a regular basis. The finely diced vegetables in this pearl barley broth include onions, celery, carrots, and parsnip. The spices used are ground coriander, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and mace. Then as herbs some fresh thyme and a bay leaf from the garden and, of course, medium sized pearl barley. Around here, the stores carry pearl barley in three different grades, the medium one being my favorite to use in substantial soups like this one. There was lots of flavor from the spices, the veg and the soup base. Just remember that the pearly barley will absorb quite a bit of liquid and you will end up with a rather thick soup if you prepare it in advance.
This time when I made this comfort-style soup, I decided to add the tender leaves of some lovely „butter cabbage“ or „Butterkohl“ as we call this around here – a regional specialty that I come across but once a year at the agricultural fair that we attend in September.
The second to last recipe for this September post is the Curried Bubble and Squeak (page 228 ) from the chapter „Store-cupboard Suppers“ that we made back in January 2015.
The name refers to the appetizing sound this stir-up of cooked potatoes and greens makes as it cooks. As kitchen recycling goes, this is probably the most useful of all, neatly dispensing with those most difficult of leftovers. I used cold cooked potatoes and Brussels sprouts as the main stars of this dish – then some finely sliced onions, salt, pepper and a mild curry powder. Kids loved this, it is not unlke the pan-fried potatoes (sans curry) that we make around here, except that you can add just about anything edible to it that strikes your fancy. Delicious. Easy. Fool-proof.
The last September recipe is the Roasted brussels sprouts with shallots (page 352) from the chapter „Roast, Grill & Barbeque" that we prepared in October 2014.
What is not to love about this hearty dish – Brussels sprouts and shallots seem to be a match made in heaven, roasted with tons of fresh thyme from my herb garden, lemon juice, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt and olive oil, these tiny cabbages turn into a sweet delight that everyone gobbled up.
In summary, another month full of wonderful vegetable dishes – this month we were delighted to enjoy a number of early and hearty fall recipes for lunch and dinner. What can possibly be better than to cook with fresh ingredients at this time of year.
Please note, that for copyright reasons, we do NOT publish the recipes. If you enjoy the recipes in our series, hopefully, the wonderfully talented and enthusiastic members of The Cottage Cooking Club and their wonderful posts can convince you to get a copy of this lovely book. Better yet, do make sure to join us in this cooking adventure! There is still time!
To see how wonderful all the dishes from my fellow Cottage Cooking Club members turned out this month, please visit here. They would all appreciate a visit!