Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cottage Cooking Club - October 2014

It's time again for the monthly round-up of recipes I made from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg cookbook for the Cottage Cooking Club, a group founded by Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness, determined to cook its way through this book. I must admit that I was a little distracted this month with lots of planning, cooking and baking for Thanksgiving (second Monday in October in Canada), but I did manage to make twelve recipes, including two of them as part of our holiday dinner.

Baby Beet Tarte Tatin (page 48) 
I thought I was being very clever when I chose lovely golden beets with their pretty autumn hue for this recipe, best described as an upside down tart, only to realize that they only look that good when they're raw. Cooked, they look like baked apples, don't they? Family wondered why I was making a vinaigrette as a dessert topping!
My beets were small, but not baby, so in pre-cooking them, they did take an extra 15 minutes to roast; covered with the pastry, my baking time was also longer by about 10 minutes before the pastry was puffed and browned. I missed the instructions to cool the tart for 15 minutes before inverting it and did this as soon as I removed it from the oven, but it seemed to work fine.

I had really high expectations for this dish and I wasn't disappointed; the sweet beets nestled on a crisp pastry bed and glazed with a sharp, mustardy dressing was a really spectacular way to serve this vegetable. My family aren't fans of beets so as you can see from the photo, I made a baby tarte tatin just for myself, baked in a brioche mould. I did roast the full amount of beets and enjoyed the rest of them warm with that delicious vinaigrette....excellent even without the pastry. 

For the tarte's puff pastry, rather than using store bought, I thought I'd try my hand at Hugh's Rough Puff Pastry (page 52). A simple mix of butter, flour and water, it's all about the rolling and folding of the dough, a step that's repeated several times to create the layers, something I've done before for this quick puff recipe. It's quite easy to do provided your kitchen, work surface and dough remain cool, and the weather was co-operating with me. I did need to refrigerate the dough after the 4th turn since it was becoming a little resistant to rolling; an hour in the fridge relaxed the gluten enough that the final 2 turns were very easy.  

You can't really see the layers in the tarte tatin photo, but I baked a scrap, so if you're wondering if Hugh's recipe works....
.....it does

Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash (page 94) 
Caramelizing vegetables, whether it's by oven-roasting or sautéing stove-top, concentrates their flavour and brings out their natural sweetness. This recipe uses both of those techniques to help create a hearty fall salad.
Red kuri squash roasted with garlic and sage, combined with sautéed baby bellas made a worthy side dish on their own. The author's simple twists of serving them warm on a bed of peppery arugula, binding everything together with a balsamic vinegar dressing that echoed the sweet, caramel flavours of the cooked vegetables, and adding some cheese for extra tang (I used family-friendly goat's cheese) transformed them into a delicious meal.

Carrot, Orange, and Cashews (Almonds) (page 107)
This was a good take on a Moroccan raw carrot salad that relied on the naturally sweet-tart juice of the fresh oranges to dress it, and earthy toasted cumin seeds to keep it on the savoury side. It was perked up with a few drops of vinegar - though I may have added a little more than that of the white wine vinegar I used for more flavour. The finishing touch for added crunch was some toasted nuts but since cashews aren't a favourite here, I used whole almonds instead.

Sweet and savoury, and quite refreshing, I didn't think it had enough flavour or made enough impact to be a starter, but it made a very good side.

Cannellini Bean (White Kidney Bean) and Leek Soup with Chile Oil (page 165) 
This was a very herby, flavourful soup that came together quickly enough to be well suited for a busy weeknight's meal.
Simple to make, it started with cooking the leeks until they were meltingly soft then upping the flavour a couple of notches with thyme, a bay leaf, oregano and garlic. Canned or cooked beans (I used white kidney beans I'd cooked and frozen) added some heft to the soup and after a short time simmering in some vegetable stock, it was ready for the the final touch, a drizzle of chile oil. Hugh included a recipe for this but I had some store bought that I didn't use often enough to warrant making a new batch. The soup was good without it but I really enjoyed that little bit of heat with every spoonful. It was a great use of the product as are some of the other suggestions in the book....I may be out of it and ready to try Hugh's recipe soon.

Kale and Onion Pizza (page 186)
Roasted kale chips are a favourite snack around here (for some), so I was sure this pizza would be a hit. It required cooking the kale for the topping first with some caramelized onions (I used only one) and garlic. I made a point of under-seasoning the kale a little since I knew the flavours would concentrate during baking but apart from that one moment of clarity, I don't know what I was thinking when I made this: I had twice the required kale and I was using only half the dough to make one large pizza, yet I put all of the kale on the pizza! Sad math skills aside, Hugh's Magic Dough crust (recipe page 172) came through for me and even overloaded, was able to support the amount of topping, baking up with a crisp bottom as usual!

Only the surface layer of kale browned and crisped and acquired that salty, briny flavour you expect; it worked really well with the cheddar cheese, and the sweet onion was a good foil for the salty ingredients. This was even better than I expected and will be a topping I make again but maybe next time, I'll use the right proportion of ingredients!

White Beans with Artichokes (page 240)
Using canned beans (I used cooked white kidney beans I had in the freezer), and jarred grilled artichokes, this salad took about five minutes to put together and with the (optional) Parmesan cheese and a slice of crusty bread, made a delicious meal. Using the oil from the jar of grilled artichokes and warming the ingredients before topping the greens was a quick way to add great flavour and take the edge off the raw garlic at the same time. I included some of the bell peppers strips that were packed in the jar with the artichokes as well. 

This was excellent served warm as suggested but also very good at room temperature, and made a great boxed lunch with the salad greens packed separately and mixed in just before eating.

Broccoli Salad with Asian-Style Dressing (page 316)
Now this is what the Asian coleslaw (page 115) should have been: crisp and fresh and lively in flavour! Interestingly, the dressing of garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil (which I reduced by half) and soy sauce was almost identical, but somehow, where it merely flavoured the cabbage a little in the other dish, it made the blanched broccoli come alive. Toasted sesame seeds were a nice, nutty addition. I had a 750g bunch of broccoli, which once trimmed barely served 4 so I suspect the recipe amount would only serve 2-3.

Broccoli is one of the family favourites so it's always fun to discover a new and delicious way to serve it. 

Roasted Squash (page 346) and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots (page 352)
I usually serve squash and brussels sprouts at our Thanksgiving dinner but I'm not attached to any particular recipe so I turned to this cookbook to provide some ideas for this year's side dishes. Since both the roasted squash (from last month) and roasted brussels sprouts could be prepped in advance and required just an occasional stir while cooking, distinct advantages when you have so many other dishes on the go, I added them to the menu.

I peeled and cubed the butternut squash so it would cook in the same amount of time as the brussels sprouts (and make serving easier). Though I had over twice the required amount of both vegetables, I used the recipe amount of oil and substituted olive for canola.
When the turkey came out to rest, I popped them into the oven. They seemed to take about the same time to roast as the recipe stated, about 35 minutes, though to be honest, with so much else going on, I really didn't notice....I was just happy that they were done at the same time as everything else!

Both were big hits! The roasted garlic and sage (my fresh herb of choice) perfectly complemented the squash and the brussels sprouts didn't have that cabbagey flavour and bitterness they sometimes do but instead were quite sweet and delicious.

The recipe for the squash was more of a technique than a recipe but worth revisiting for the serving suggestions, and the brussels sprouts will definitely be made again. (And no, I didn't hold up Thanksgiving dinner to take pictures...this was all that was left from a huge serving platter!)

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Paprika (page 352)
More roasted veggies, this time cauliflower, both regular and golden.
Apart from fried in a pakora, roasted is one of the only ways most of my family will eat this vegetable. Though a departure from my usual cumin, I thought that the smoked paprika and fresh lemon juice in this recipe worked really well with it. Not everyone agreed, particularly in regards to the lemon. In addition to the juice that's tossed with the cauliflower before roasting, I squeezed the juice from the roasted wedges on it before serving. I enjoyed it, but everyone else thought it too astringent. It would have been better to serve those wedges on the side and allow everyone to add the juice to taste.

Pumpkin and Raisin Tea Loaf (page 394) 
I don't usually bake from UK books since our flour, a key ingredient upon which the success of the cake, tea loaf, etc often hinges, is not comparable to "plain flour", but this recipe, with no added fat and raw winter squash used as you would carrot or zucchini intrigued me.  

This loaf ended up being a little more work than most, with separate bowls needed for wet ingredients, dry ingredients, whipped egg whites......and then there was the grated raw butternut squash. 200g was such a small piece - deceptively so I soon discovered - so I turned to my box grater to grate it manually. That is one, dense vegetable! It took a while to work through that little piece producing a huge mound of shavings!
In place of the self-raising flour, I used 1 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp table salt and made up the rest of the weight with a cake and pastry flour blend that's a better match than our high protein Canadian all-purpose. I must have done something right because the loaf rose nicely and had that lovely split on the top though it did take an extra fifteen minutes to bake. 

This was a sturdy little cake that was quite moist and sliced beautifully with a show of pretty little orange speckles in every piece. The flavour was wonderful, surprisingly fruity given the amount of spices, but they took a back seat to the raisins and the lemon zest. I'd make this again but I'd let the food processor do the work with the squash! I wonder if anyone tried the beet variation.....

Visit here to see.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Soy Mushrooms with Egg Ribbons and Black Sesame - IHCC What came first? The chicken or the egg?

Cooking for a family of five that has varied likes and dislikes uses up most of my cooking mojo so it's very rare that I cook a dish just for myself. In reading Diana Henry's A Change of Appetite, Soy Mushrooms with Egg Ribbons and Black Sesame caught my attention and fit this week's I Heart Cooking Club's theme of chicken and/or eggs. The caveat: it was intended to serve only one. I considered making a larger batch to share. Alas, I had only enough mushrooms for a single serving ;).
For this recipe, sautéed mushrooms flavoured with soy sauce were made a little richer with a small amount of crème fraîche and were topped with strips of a one-egg omelette and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Diana describes this dish as a "lip-smacking serving of umami". I describe it as a delicious way to spoil oneself!
The recipe for this easy breakfast for one - or lunch/dinner with a salad - is from A Change of Appetite and can also be found here.

Check out IHCC to see the other chicken and/or egg themed dishes (what did come first??) from Diana Henry.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spicy Grilled Chicken with Cumin Carrots, Peas and Potatoes - IHCC Potluck

It's Madhur Jaffrey's turn in my kitchen for this month's I Heart Cooking Club's potluck theme. I made two dishes from her book Madhur Jaffrey Indian Cooking: Spicy Baked Chicken with Carrots, Peas, and Potatoes Flavoured with Cumin.
The weather was sunny and mild when I made this a few weeks ago so though the recipe for the main was for oven-roasted chicken pieces, I decided to grill it. I used 1kg boneless, skinless chicken breasts and about half of the marinade recipe, which was more of a paste really, made with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, garlic and lemon juice. I left it to marinate all day and cook in the evening. The meat was tender and juicy and very flavourful. Unfortunately, cooking it this way meant that the spice mixture wasn't able to mix with the pan juices to create a lovely sauce, so I will definitely make this again, roasting bone-in chicken pieces.
As a side, I made a colourful vegetable dish that was simple to put together and quite quick to cook provided you had some cooked potatoes on hand. I didn't so boiled some in the morning while I prepped the chicken and marinade. The carrots and peas were cooked with fried cumin seeds, hot red chiles, and sautéed onions (I used only 1), with the potatoes and some scallions added at the end to warm through. This was a great way to add some interest to the typical peas and carrot combination. The recipe says it serves six but that depends on what else is served - if it's the only vegetable on offer it serves 3-4.
With just a little advance preparation, this became an easy and tasty meal for a busy weeknight.

Visit IHCC to see the other chefs featured this month.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maple Yogurt Cake

If you love pancakes with maple syrup, you'll love this cake!
An adaptation of the classic French Yogurt Cake, where the container from the yogurt is used to measure the flour, sugar and oil, this easy-to-make cake will fill your kitchen with the most heavenly aroma as it bakes. And it tastes as good as it smells!

Try it and enjoy!

Maple Yogurt Cake
adapted from Food52

100g/3/4 cup all-purpose flour
100g/3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
120ml/1/2 cup maple syrup, preferably grade B
120ml/1/2 cup plain yogurt (0-3.2% fat)
3 large eggs
50g/1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp maple extract (optional)
120ml/1/2 cup flavourless vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease and flour a 21cm x 11cm x 6cm/8-1/2" x 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" loaf pan (or lightly grease the pan, line it with parchment paper and grease and flour it).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, yogurt, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and maple extract if using. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Pour in half the oil and fold it into the batter until it disappears. Add the remaining oil and repeat. Don't over mix. The batter will be smooth and glossy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack for 50-55 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack in the pan for 10 minutes; turn the cake out onto the rack and invert or lift out by parchment handles. Cool completely before slicing. The cake is very moist and will keep well wrapped for a few days.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turkey Tetrazzini, or What To Do With Leftover Thanksgiving Day Turkey!

I've had years of practice now at using up the turkey that remains after our Thanksgiving Day feast  - the second Monday in October in Canada - and the dishes I make have become almost as much a tradition as the main dinner itself: Day 1 is turkey sandwiches; Day 2, when the pretty slices are gone and I'm left with odd shaped pieces of mainly white meat, is Turkey Tetrazzini, a comforting pasta dish that's also a great vehicle for leftover steamed or roasted vegetables (cubed squash, and broccoli are particularly good) and the half glass of white wine left in the bottle.
This year, I decided to try Giada de Laurentiis's recipe for Chicken Tetrazzini from her book Giada's Family Dinners. Flavoured with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and garlic, sauced with a white sauce (béchamel) that included stock, and baked with a crisp Parmesan cheese crust, it was one of the best versions of the dish I've ever made.
Perfect with a green salad on the side. I'm ready now for Day 3 leftovers....soup!

I made some adjustments to the recipe, partly based on what I had, and partly by choice since the recipe looked a little too rich and saucy for me. Even with my modifications, the recipe still served 6. This is what I used:

- 350g cooked, cubed turkey breast for the chicken
- 1 tbsp butter to cook 227g mushrooms, 1 small onion and 3 cloves garlic; 1-1/2 tsp fresh thyme; 60ml white wine
- for the sauce (a half recipe), 1-1/2 tbsp butter, 2-1/2 tbsp flour, 480ml 1% milk, 240ml turkey stock, pinch nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste
- 375g whole wheat fusilli; 125ml green peas; 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- for the topping (full recipe), panko crumbs in place of Italian breadcrumbs; 100g Parmesan cheese

The recipe is available online here but note that the book version does not include the butter topping.

I'm sharing this post with Cook-Your-Books hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours. Please visit and take a look at all of the wonderful dishes prepared this month.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Citrus Compote with Ginger Snow - IHCC Icy Cold!

Fresh fruit is always my first choice for dessert, sometimes just a piece eaten out of hand, or if there's time, a medley cut up in a salad. For this week's I Heart Cooking Club's theme of "Icy Cold", Citrus Compote with Ginger Snow, a chilled fruit dessert with an icy topping, was an easy pick for me. 

I used a combination of ruby grapefruits, oranges and a pomelo for the fruit salad. Delicious though they would have been served with just their juices, I decided to fancy them up a little and transform those juices into the syrup as per the recipe, cooking them with sugar and lime juice.
The compote made a wonderful dessert on its own, but the ginger-lime granita topping took it into the realm of spectacular! The simple syrup of water, sugar, lime (zest and juice), and grated ginger was placed in the freezer and worked over with a fork as it froze to create miniature icy shards. I'm not quite ready for the snow that requires shovelling and often wreaks havoc with traffic in these parts, but I'll gladly take this snow any day!
In eating the dessert, you're first struck by its refreshing tartness and iciness, and once the chill subsides, you're left with the warmth of the ginger. A really wonderful dessert!

This fantastic recipe is from the book A Change of Appetite and can also be found here.

Visit IHCC to view the other icy concoctions as we cook with featured chef Diana Henry.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Feta and Orange Salad with Honeyed Almonds - Welcome Diana Henry IHCC

In the fall, along with shorter days, cooler weather, and the changing leaves comes another inevitability, a moratorium on my cookbook purchases. Since my birthday is in the fall, followed shortly by Christmas, my family prefers that I don't buy myself cookbooks from my wishlist, but with so many fantastic new ones released and still to be released this year, not to mention older books I would like, my list is really very long. I didn't think they'd notice if one suddenly disappeared from it: Diana Henry's newest release, A Change of Appetite. I had the best of reasons for the purchase after all, since the author is our newest featured chef here at I Heart Cooking Clubs for the next six months and I needed to start cooking now(!)
To welcome her, I made a starter from my newest acquisition. This was a lively salad of shaved fennel, peppery greens, fresh mint, and juicy oranges, dressed with a sweet-tart dressing made with the juice of the oranges and white wine vinegar.
Topped with toasted sweet and spicy almonds and tangy feta, the salad was bright and refreshing with a great variety of textures. I particularly loved the freshness of the mint and the crunch of the almonds. Diana and I are off to a delicious start!

If you would like to try it and don't yet have the book (which is absolutely gorgeous!), the recipe for Feta and Orange Salad with Honeyed Almonds can be found here.

Visit IHCC to see the other welcoming posts. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pear and Chocolate Oat Crumble - IHCC Cheerio Nigel!

It's our last week cooking with Nigel Slater at I Heart Cooking Clubs. For my final farewell, I made a seasonal fruit crumble with local pears that Nigel manages to make very special with just a few twists.
I love a good crumble....sweet baked fruit, crunchy topping....the pie experience without having to make a crust....perfect for the pastry challenged like me. Most recipes call for the uncooked fruit to be chopped, then baked with the topping. It's here we encounter the first twist: Nigel has you caramelize pear halves stove top in a sticky butter-brown sugar mixture before baking.
The second twist: adding bittersweet chocolate to the oatmeal topping.
This was a fantastic combination of sweet, juicy pears and a chocolate chip cookie crumble that married beautifully with the fruit. A wonderful end to what's been a delicious journey with Nigel Slater.

The recipe for the Pear and Chocolate Oatmeal Crumble is from Nigel's book The Kitchen Diaries 2 and can also be found here.

Visit IHCC to see how other members have said "cheerio" to Nigel! Next week, I Heart Cooking Clubs welcomes Diana Henry as the new featured chef.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cinnamon-Apple and Nutella Twist Breads - Avid Baker's Challenge

This month's ABC challenge was Cinnamon-Apple Twist Bread from the King Arthur Flour website, a recipe that made two breads. I made one as written, and one with a little twist of my own.

From the options available for the sweet yeast dough, I used half each (by weight) of unbleached all-purpose flour and Cake & Pastry flour (a blend that's available here), potato flour, and Princess Cake flavouring, omitting the optional lecithin. Once baked, the crumb was fine and quite dense, but soft and moist, and the bread was very flavourful.
I used only half the sugar (and flour) in the apple filling, and Granny Smith apples which held their shape and retained their sweet-tart flavour after baking. And for the chocoholics, a schmear of Nutella (about 125ml) went into the second braid. In place of the glaze, I brushed a simple syrup on the hot loaves to give them a little bit of a sheen.
These breads were just lovely, not just because they looked and tasted so wonderful, but because the apple-cinnamon flavour in particular reminded family of an Apple Roll my grandmother-in-law, who has long since passed, used to make that no one has been able to reproduce.

Definitely a recipe that will be made again.