The month of November marks the nineteenth 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".
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.
This month I prepared six of the ten designated recipes, plus one extra. I will write about each dish in the order in which I prepared them.
My first recipe for this November post is the colorful Beetroot and walnut hummus (page 300) from the chapter "Mezze & Tapas“.
With toasted fresh walnuts, dry-fried and ground cumin seeds, bread crumbs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and tahini (that versatile sesame seed paste) - to lend an extra layer of flavor – this was certainly a different kind of hummus.
I chosse to serve the Beetroot and walnut hummus as a starter, dip-style, with warmed tortilla triangles. If you are a beetroot lover and if you are looking for a different and eye-catching recipe to try, then this hummus is for you.
For the second recipe this month I chose the Celery, orange and pecans (page 116) from the chapter "Raw Assemblies".
I decided to serve this dish on individual plates as I was thinking this would be a perfect fresh starter for a festive dinner. And I was not disappointed. I arranged a few slices of celery, bright orange segments and freshly cracked walunts (instead of the pecans) on the plates and added just a few drops of the „barely dressing“ (orange juice, zest, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper).
A very nice wintry combination of fresh, bright and slightly bitter flavors that works - perhaps not only as a starter to a substantial meal but also as a in-between course, to re-frehen your taste buds. A great recipe to keep in your repertoire of elegant winter salads.
The third recipe that go my attention this month was the Kale speltotto with goat´s cheese (page 280), from the chapter „Pasta & Rice“.
This recipe requires a few steps more than some of the others but it is well worth it. First you prepare the pearled spelt or pearl barley (which is what I used). Then you prepare the onions (nice and translucent and soft). And stir it all together with some nice white wine (not unlike preparing a classic risotto, hence the name of this dish). You add the stock and cook and stir some more. Then you sweat the leeks and wilt your greens and once the barley is all cooked and creamy, you add the greens and the leeks to the dish.
Instead of adding the goat´s cheese on top as extra cheese, I decided to grate more for the finished dish and leave it at that – the cheese gave so much flavor to the dish, that it was not really necessary to add some more.
The fourth recipe was the one with the biggest fun factor. Roast new potatoes with two mojo sauces (page 358) from the chapter „Roast, Grill & Barbecue“, was the kids` favorite this month, hands down. Mojo originated in the Canary Islands, where the main varieties are red mojo (mojo picante oder mojo picón) and green mojo (mojo verde).
In the Canary Islands, these sauces are served with small local potatoes, the papas arrugadas or are simply enjoyed with country-style white bread.
You start Hugh´s variation of the Mediterranean recipe by preparing the two sauces. The „mojo picón“ was up first – using dried chilies, roasted red peppers, lots of garlic, ground cumin, sweet smoked Spanish paprika, white wine vingar and olive oil – the resulting sauce was bright red and spicy and full of smokey flavor. While Hugh calls for a coriander version of the green mojo, I opted for an Italian parsley version instead – coriander being the one herb that he kids do not really enjoy. So, more garlic again, cumin, white wine vingar and a rather big handful of fresh Italian parsley plus some more olive oil turned into a bright green, garlicky sauce.
Once the sauces are done, it is a good idea to let them sit on the counter or fridge for a while – to allow the flavors to develop properly. And the right time to prepare those potatoes, lots of them – dipping is always received rather enthusiastically at our house and this recipe was no exception – we really enjoyed the big bold flavors of the sauces that played so nicely against the crunchy, salty potatoes with their creamy interiors.
The fifth recipe was Parsnip and ginger soup (page 157) from the chapter "Hefty Soups". Another one of those wonderful soup recipes from this book that I so enjoy.
Creamy parsnips are abundant at this time of year and when paired with onion, garlic, fresh ginger, and lots of spices (cardamom, cumin, cayenne pepper) plus milk and vegetable stock (page 130) - make a lovely, velvety soup that is sure to warm you from the inside out – perfect after skating maybe…as a finish I added a few drops of lovely hazelnut oil from my local oil mill as well as slithered hazelnuts – perfect.
Recipe number six this month was Lentil and tomato salad (page 237) from the chapter „Store-cupboard suppers“.
This was my personal favorite this month – what is not to love about a lovely lentil salad made with French Puy lentils that keep their shape so well in a salad and some fabulous honey-roasted cherry tomatoes (page 343).
The nuttiness of the lentils, the sweetness of the roasted tomatoes, the tanginess of the dressing – this is my idea of a perefct hearty fall/winter salad – loved it!
As a little encore I made the Roasted parsnip chips (page 357) from the chapter of „Roast, Grill & Barbecue“ again that we made back in November 2014. Always such a delightful side dish, always much appreciated by the crowds – creamy, crunchy and very tasty.
In summary, another month full of wonderful vegetable dishes – this month we were delighted to enjoy a number of hearty fall recipes, main courses as well as side dishes or appetizer for lunch and dinner. What can possibly be better than to cook with seasonal ingredients even 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.
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!