It is a wrap. We finished cooking our merry way through Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall´s „River Cottage Everyday Veg“ last month. Together we made about two hundred and twenty recipes . Quite the task and I am proud of having cooked all those months alongside all those talented fellow food bloggers. Now has come the time to venture further and look for new challenges on the horizon.
As a Food Revolution Ambassador for Germany for the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (for moe info, please go here) one of my tasks is to share and teach cooking skills to youngsters and all those that would like to broaden their cooking skills and "to improve the health and happiness of future generations, through the food they eat".
I always believed that when it comes to teaching cooking and baking skills to our children, you should not restrict your time in the kitchen to decorating muffins, cookies and cakes. Get kids learning the key skills of cooking and making dinner, lunch and snacks at the same time with healthy and child-friendly recipes.
I was fortunate to have been able to spend Food Revolution Day on May 20th in Amsterdam at Jamie Oliver´s Fifteen Restaurant where some of my fellow Food Ambassadors had organized a pop-up cookery school.
About a month ago, I asked my fellow members of The Cottage Cooking Club to choose from one (1) to ten (10) recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall`s River Cottage Everyday Veg that they believe is(are) „must-know“ recipe(s) from the book. I asked members to cook as little or as many recipe(s) from Hugh's book and share the technique and cooking skill(s) they learned from making their chosen recipe(s).
For my part, I decided to feature one „key“ recipe form every chapter in the book. Let´s get started with „Comfort Food & Feasts“. The Cauliflower and chickpea curry (page 27) ranks as one of my personal favorites for no-fuss healthy cooking. Fresh cauliflower is widely available and popular with kids, canned chickpeas and plum tomatoes are a staple in just about every cupboard I have had the pleasure of peeking into and the combination of those veg with the spices, alongside some rice makes for a wonderful, popular and doable dinner.
Recipe number two is from the chapter „Hearty Salads“ – the New potato, tomato and boiled egg salad (page 76) is so easy, basic, yet so delicious. Really a crowd pleaser that any aspiring homecook can and should manage. Got new potatoes, fresh eggs (maybe from the farmers´ market), cherry or other heirloom tomatoes (that are everywhere these days), a few herbs, and the standars like black pepper, salt, oil and vingar, and you are all set. It is always a good idea to start planting loads of herbs in spring – got a balcony, a garden, a kitchen…what are you waiting for?! Plant those herbs and harvest them all year round. And always make sure to stock up on condiments, always. And oil, good oil, one for dressing salads and one with a high smoking point should be in your cupboards.
The third recipe hails from the chapter „Raw assemblies“ and this one proved to be an easy choice – „Radishes with butter and sea salt“ that basically can be put together in minutes and are always a huge hit with grown ups and kids alike around here.
A fun appetizet to put together. And if you feel like splurging a bit, go for that farm fresh butter and that English Maldon sea salt (which is a dream) but if not, good butter and sea salt from the supermarket will do nicely – as long as you got fresh radishes. Go ahead and try different varieties of radishes, the round cherry ones, the long white and red ones, go visit a farmers´market and indulge in seasonal veggies. And bring a basket for shopping...
The fourth recipe is a rather obvious choice. Absolutely everybody should know how to prepare stocks. Vegetable stock, mushrooms stocks, whatever stocks… do learn them all! The basic skills from page 130 in the chapter „Hefty Soups“ are a great way to get started! And once you have got the stocks, you can graduate to more elaborate soups like cream of everything…or go for the River Cottage summer garden soup (page 132).
Onto recipe number five from the chapter „Bready Things“. Another easy choice. Everybody should also learn how to make a basic bread dough. For pizza, flatbreads, pittas, breadsticks etc. The recipe that Hugh has put together on pages 172 to 174 will be a great starting point. And then you should move on to ALL the bruschetta recipes that you can get your hands on. Pile those veggies high on toasted, roasted or grilled bread, drizzle your favorite high quality olive oil over the whole lot and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. You could not ask for a more satisfying, easy, delicious and crowd-pleasing recipe than bruschetta and while you are at it, why not try Hugh´s Celery and blue cheese (feta) bruschetta on page 199.
The next recipe is from the extremely helpful chapter called „Store-cupboard suppers“. The obvious choice here would be the Tomato, thyme ´and goat´s cheese tart or the Basil and mozzarella tart (page 216), Blue cheese and chives tart (page 216) or Rosemary and pecorino tart (all on page 216).
Take some high-quality puff pastry, fresh summer tomatoes, cheese and herbs – then some olive oil, pepper and salt and you are all set! One basic recipe with many variations that I have prepared countless times with and without the help of my aspiring sous chefs.
The chapter on Pasta & Rice is another very good one to know. There I would pick a classic, the „Pasta with raw tomato“ (page 254) is a great way to get started on making your own pasta dishes. With a no-cook pasta sauce that is fresh and bright with just the right amount of acidity, you are well on your way and you will be encouraged to go the pasta route with different veg during the different seasons.
The chapter of „Mezze & Tapas“ will open up a whole world of possibilities to you. Once you have tasted your way through a few of these recipes, you will never go for store-bought antipasti again.
There is nothing like performing a mircacle with those bumper-crop zucchinis or aubergines or tomatoes, go ahead and indulge but do get started with something more simple like the Oven-dried tomatoes (page 304). This method of roasting tomatoes will turn even the out-of-season ones into flavor wonders.
The next recipe is another basic one you cannot live without. Once you have tried your hand at roasting, grilling and bbqing your way through all those veggies that will come your way, go for those that are less present in peolple´s minds like those lovely Brussels sprouts. Roasting those together with lemon and shallots will turn even those last doubters into fall veggie lovers. Follow the rcipe on page 352 and you will be in for an unexpected treat.
Let´s turn to the „Side dishes“ of this book. Potato rösti (page 391) are everyones favorite simple side dish from this chapter. Got a frying pan, a sharp grater, oil, potatoes and salt – you will be able to make one of the most sought-after side dishes of all times. Crispy, salty, satisfying, and affordable. What more could you ask for.
At the end of our journey as The Cottage Cooking Club we had the privilege to celebrate Food Revolution 2016 together! I owe a BIG THANKS to all those members that stuck it out `till the very end with me! We will see each other soon!