Wednesday, March 1, 2017
The Cottage Cooking Club - February 2017 Recipes
With some delay we are breathing new life into The Cottage Cooking Club. Over a period of six months, once a month 8on the 28th), members and guest bloggers will post their pics and comments of and on the food that they cooked from River Cottage Every Day – "RCED“ (for all) and/or River Cottage Love Your Leftovers - "RCLYL" (optional). Both cookbook are by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The recipes will not be chosen by me, participants will choose as many OR as little as they want each month, make one soup or ten dinners or three desserts, whatever they prefer. Then they put together one post at the end of the month and let the rest of the group know what they think of the dishes that they prepared. Are they worth trying? Do the recipes work as written? Any suggestions on changes?
Together, as a group, we will cook as many of the recipes from the book(s) as we will manage during a six-month period - so no matter whether we have cooked all recipes from the book(s) or just a fraction, we will conclude our activities - as far as these two book are concerned - at the end of July 2017.
For my February post, I started with one of my favorite light lunches – a quiche/savory tart. There is one on page 328 called „Gill´s poached Leek and Blue Cheese Tart“, and Hugh names this tart to be a „River Cottage classic“.
Other than switch to goat cheese, I did not tinker with the recipe. Make this one, it is a winner, we loved it. The leeks are available year round but are particularly nice during the colder months and they become really tender and sweet when cooked with butter and water prior to being added to the pastry shell. Other than the cooked leeks, there is cheese and eggs and cream – what is not to like about that?! Oh, I did add some of my beloved herbs, chives and Italian parsley to the filling.
The second recipe had to be a treat, of course, for some reason February was the month of treats. On page 384 there is Hugh´s recipe for „Easy Rich Chocolate Cake“. And what an indulgence that is. I love what Hugh says about this cake „Everyone should have a little black cake in their culinary wardrobe, and this is mine“. Now this is mine too.
With 8 ounces (225 grams) of deep dark good-quality chocolate (70%), same amount of butter, eggs, sugar, ground almonds and very little flour (I always use spelt flour), this is a wonderful recipe. I have made it three times since I first laid my eyes on it and every single person that tried it, loved it.
The third recipe is nothing spectecular but I like the fact that it was included in this book. On page 339 there is a rather simple recipe for „Apple Compote“ or apple sauce that we should all have in our recipe repertoires. With just two ingedients, this is ceratainly a great way to use those apples that have been lingering in your fruit bowl or in the fridge or wherever you keep them for a while now – personally, I like to add a healthy dose of Ceylon cinnamom to mine and if the apples are not too juicy to begin with, I also add a generous splash of natural apple juice. Other than that – this is a nice recipe to know.
The fourth recipe has become a staple in our house ever since I have made this (identical recipe) for the first time from River Cottage Every Day Veg. The recipe for „Beet and Walnut Hummus“ on page 127 is perfect this time of year with beets being widely available.
With toasted fresh walnuts, dry-fried and ground cumin seeds, bread crumbs, garlic, lemon juice, a mild olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and tahini (that versatile sesame seed paste) - to lend an extra layer of flavor – this is certainly a different kind of hummus. So vibrant, so delicious and one of my favorites. I like to serve the beet 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.
The fifth recipe for this month were the „Green Beans and Tomatoes“ – another recipe that is identical to the one found in River Cottage Every Day Veg. My kids adore this dish – in winter I always use good-quality canned tomatoes, in summer fresh garden tomatoes that I will peel beforehand. And I like to always add a good pinch of Italian peperoncini to the olive oil – to give this dish that extra kick. A bit of spice never hurt green beans and tomatoes.
Recipe number six is another treat and THE reason why one should not hesitate to buy this book. I know there is a ton of red beet chocolate treat recipes out there but this one is simple and utterly delicious, our kids love these „Chocolate and Beet Brownies“ on page 397.
Moist and with a slight tinge of burgundy, not too sweet and a never-fail-recipe that is wonderful as is but made even better (if I may say so myself) with the addition of a thin layer of unsweetened crème fraîche and poppy seeds.
Go ahead, make it, you know you want to.
My seventh recipe for this post was the "Beet and Cumin Soup with Spiced Yogurt" (page 274). This comfort-style soup definitely tastes like a true River Cottage recipe - the flavors are familiar and comforting and we enjoyed this burgundy, earthy winter soup.
Again, if, like us, you enjoy beets in every imaginable way, you should try the soup while beets are widely available and reasonably prized in winter (at least around here). The Spiced Yogurt is a wonderful element of the soup but you should not limit its uses to this soup, drizzle it on rôtisserie chicken or serve with pita bread and veggies.
Last but not least, the "Honey Whole-Wheat Cake" (page 386) is a must if you are looking for a comfort-style cake with the definite taste of honey. Make sure to use a mild variety of local runny honey (if possible) that you enjoy, or it will overpower the cake.
It is worth noticing that the recipe calls for whole-wheat flour and ground almonds (I left the skins on) and according to my experience if you want a more pronounced taste of almonds, you could toast them before you process them to make your own almond meal. You can also make this recipe with spelt flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder as well - I tried it and it works.
What I really liked was serving this cake warm, with some Greek yogurt and fruit (whatever is in season) alongside. You can re-heat a slice and enjoy it as breakfast cake (very fashionable these days) as well. The ground almonds keep this teatime treat moist for a day or two (well, if it lasts that long).
In conclusion, I hope that my post will convince you to join us for a month or two or even the remainder of the six-months, who knows, there is still time...For more info, pls go to The Cottage Cooking Club site here.
So far, I (family also) have enjoyed cooking from RCED - the tastes feel comforting as many of the flavor compositions are similar and identical to the RCEDV that we cooked from what now seems like a lifetime ago.
To me, springtime always feels like the right time for new hope and fresh projects!