Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Cottage Cooking Club - May 2017 Recipes

The month of May marks the fourth month of our second project for our international online cooking group, The Cottage Cooking Club. Presently we are cooking our way through a wonderful family-friendly cookbook written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, entitled „River Cottage Every Day". And the optional „Love your Leftovers“ by the same author.

This month I chose a theme for my blog post and prepared seven Breakfast recipes from River Cottage Every Day. I will write about each dish in the order in which I prepared them.

The first and second recipe for my May post are the Baked Breakfast Cheesecake (page 44) and Honey-baked Rhubarb (page 30), both from the chapter Making Breakfast. I chose to make these two recipes together as they seemed to complement each other perfectly when I looked at the recipes while browsing the book.

Although Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall writes that „ I know the idea of cheesecake for breakfast sounds odd…“ to me it does not. Not at all. My dad had a habit of eating a slice of cake for breakfast whenever there was some of the inevitable five-o’clock afternoon coffee cake from the previous day left. Most of the time it was a fruit tart or a Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake, sometimes even some German cheesecake.

We used to watch him, while he plunged his cake fork into a slice of leftover cake early in the morning. He enjoyed cake for breakfast and he always felt the need to explain to us that the cake that my mother had baked the day before was just as healthy as your typical German breakfast fare which, back in those days, consistesd of breakfast rolls, cheeses and assorted cold-cuts. Maybe some honey, jams or hard-boiled eggs as well. Or, if you were in a hurry, oatmeal-on-the-run.

So, I had fun trying out this, not so typical, breakfast cake recipe. The most tricky part here is to decide which cheese to chose. Hugh cites ricotta cheese or soft goat cheese – my cheese of choice here is „Quark“, the soft cheese that Germans use for their cheesecake more often than not. And it worked very well. The cake tasted familiar. A bit like German cheesecake. Tangy, not too sweet. Not too heavy. Just right. Not unlike your typical German baked cheesecake, sans crust.

Eating cake for breakfast felt familiar and then I made it again, for dessert. It makes for an easy, simple recipe that you can put together in no time and pair with just about any seasonal fruit. And I love that the recipe calls for oatmeal to thicken the cheese mixture, not flour – that adds a bit of a healthy breakfast feeling, if that is what you need as an excuse to enjoy this lovely treat first thing in the morning.

I know that the combination of rhubarb and cheesecake is popular around here and it is still rhubarb season, so I made the Honey-baked Rhubard (page 30) as a topping. Oh, my! Make this if you can still get your hands on rhubarb where you live or use frozen stalks instead.

I added lovely mild runny honey. The honey was made by the janitor of the school where my husband works as a teacher. The beehives are all set up close to the school and the honey tastes fresh and mild and harmonized so well with the rather tangy rhubarb. Add some orange zest and the scraped seeds of a vanilla bean and you are all set.

So, go ahead add fruit topped cheesecake bliss to your breakfast fare – and do not feel the need to apologize for enjoying it.

Recipe three is the Banana and Oat Thickie (aka Smoothie), page 29, from the same breakfast chapter. The base for this breakfast drink is simple, just two ripe bananas, ice-cold milk, quick oats and ice cubes. I added a pinch each of vanilla sugar and cinnamon. Since I had some raspberries that day that needed to be used up, I added them to one of the two shakes. Both versions were delicious and very filling. Perfect for a busy day – and a fabulous base recipe which works on its own and/or with add-ins. A keeper.

The fourth breakfast recipe for the month of May are the Honey and Peanut Butter Booster Bars (page 39), same chapter.

Hugh calls these "near realatives of the flapjack" and his "antidote to the devil`s work - those big-brand energy bars". Who would have thought making these Muesli Bars (as I like to refer to them would be so darn easy?! No-sugar added crunchy peanut butter, more of that local honey, brown sugar, butter, orange and lemon zest, oats, dried fruits (I used golden raisins, chopped plums, cranberries and dates) as well as mixed seeds (I used pumpkin and white sesame seeds and chopped natural almonds) are all you need for an on-the-go-breakfast treat that keeps well in a cookie tin for a few days. Again, a great canvas recipe that allows you to fashion it according to your personal preferences. Love at first bite.

Recipes number five and six were also a match made in foodie heaven. The Whole-wheat Pancakes (page 40) topped with some Two (or more) Fruit Salad (page 32), both from the breakfast chapter as well.

Our youngest chose these two recipes for her birthday breakfast and was quite delighted with the way they tasted, as were all her guests that had gather around the (late) breakfast table. The recipe also works with spelt flour, I tried, you can go with the self-rising flour or use regular flour and add a bit of baking powder. I am not so sure I know anyone who does not enjoy eating the occasional pancake.

For the Two (or more) Fruit Salad I used sliced apricots, nectarines, strawberries, then blueberries, raspberries and to sweeten the deal I added some lovely homemade elderflower syrup - the elders are growing out of control in our garden, so I have made a lot of syrup, lemonades etc. with the flowers. The syrup adds a sublime flowery note to this.

The last breakfast recipe I made for this post was the Nut Butter (page 52). I have made many nut butters and it is fun experimenting a bit with hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts or cashews. You can toast the nuts before or not, you can leave the skins on or peel the warm toasted nuts by rubbing them in a tea towel. You can add any kind of nut or vegetable oil to the ground nuts, you can add a pinch of sea salt, or cinnamon or other warm spices, you can add some runny honey or you can leave it out. Let you imagination be your guide.

And serve the nut butter on homemade bread, crackers as a dip or spread it on pumpernickel rounds (like I did here). Serve with or without the fruit - but whatever way you chose to make or serve it, try it at least once - you will be a homemade-nut-butter-addict before you know it.

Btw, it is a strangely satisfying feeling to be able to make your own nut butters, smoothies and Muesli bars... I still love cooking from the River Cottage family of cookbooks!

Please note, that for copyright reasons, we do NOT publish the recipes. If you enjoy the recipes in our series, hopefully, the very talented and enthusiastic members of #The Cottage Cooking Club and their wonderful posts can convince you to get a copy of this lovely book or both books. 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 make sure to take a look at their personal links and to do so, just visit here.