Friday, November 28, 2014

Cottage Cooking Club - November 2014

November was a really busy month for me as I'm sure it was for many, but we did have to eat. One of the things I love about the recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book River Cottage Veg is that they fit in nicely with my regular meal plans; I'm usually buying the same ingredients I normally would, but doing something a little different and more exciting with them. This month, I made four recipes.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (page 38)
I regularly make Polish meat and rice stuffed cabbage rolls but I've failed in my attempts to develop a vegetarian version - the filling is often bland, too dry, over or undercooked...the list of problems goes on. I hoped this recipe would be the solution.
Stuffed with crunchy walnuts and chewy farro and barley (I omitted the fruit), and topped with a chunky tomato sauce, the flavour of these was really very good, and even better the next day. But I had issues with the cabbage. I used green cabbage since it looked far better than the savoy the day I went shopping, and more than just blanched the leaves before filling, cooking them until they were pliable. They didn't cook any further during baking. In my opinion, there's a time and place for crunchy cabbage, in a cabbage roll is not one of them. Perhaps the savoy cabbage called for in the recipe would have been better.

Couscous (Freekeh & Brown Calrose Rice) Salad with Herbs and Walnuts (page 89)
This hearty salad that I made with a mixture of freekeh and brown rice had wonderful texture: the grains were chewy, the walnuts crunchy and the vegetables still had a little bite to them after sautéing. My initial reaction to the flavour was very positive; I loved all the anise notes from the celery, fennel and fennel seed in the dish but after a few bites it didn't seem quite as exciting. I thought it was okay but not something I'd make again. Surprisingly, it was a hit with the carnivores (I've given up trying to predict what they'll like) who enjoyed it as a side to their grilled Italian sausages!

Patatas Bravas (page 322)
I didn't realize I was in a tomato sauce rut until making some of the River Cottage Veg recipes this month! First the cabbage rolls smothered in a chunky sauce flavoured with thyme and bay and now this one with paprika and hot chiles! Served with fried potatoes, which retained their crisp crust and flavour, this was a delicious dish, a little sweet and spicy and tangy. Traditionally served as tapas, Hugh mentions that it would go well with frittata so I served it as a side dish to the Cauliflower Cake from Yotam Ottolenghi's newest book, Plenty More, for a simple vegetarian meal.

Roasted Parsnip "Chips" (page 357)
As with some of the other roasted vegetable recipes in this book, this one was more a technique than an actual recipe, and it was a technique that worked. The parsnip spears did resemble "chips", crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and roasting brought out their sweet, earthy flavour. It was a great way to serve this vegetable that's often overlooked in my kitchen. Definitely something to make again.

I don't own another cookbook that I've wanted to cook from as much as this one or one with the same success rate: I've made over half the recipes chosen so far and enjoyed most of them (there are only a few I wouldn't repeat). So even in a month that wasn't quite as successful as some of the others, I still enjoyed cooking from the book and am looking forward to December's selections.

Visit the Cottage Cooking Club to see what everyone else made. 


  1. I love seeing what you made, Zozia. I know it's not from this book, but I really want to make that cauliflower cake! Also, I have some freekah in the pantry and I'm not really sure what to do with it,so I will try that salad with some. I am also enjoying this book. The recipes are simple and yet so full of flavor. I agree, high success rate! Sweet!

  2. Hi Zosia, you sure were busy last month. All your recipes look wonderful. I made the stuffed cabbage as well and used the savoy cabbage even though it was a little dull in color. I enjoy this cookbook as well!

  3. Everything looks fabulous, Zosia! I really enjoyed the patatas bravas too - the sauce was amazing. I too am interested in the cauliflower cake! It looks delish. I just ordered that book this evening - not sure if I am keeping it, or giving it as a gift yet. I'm leaning toward keeping it...

  4. Hi Zosia, your months selections look lovely, and I am intrigued by the stuffed savoy cabbage. The roasted parsnip chips look quite good. Though I frequently use parsnips in winter soups and stews, I generally would not think to serve it roasted singly, another dish to try in the future. The Patata Bravas looks so bright and colorful, and in about another couple months as the holidays fade, I do look forward to trying this recipe out. Enjoyable Post, and well done.

  5. Zosia, wonderful pictures of all your lovingly prepared dishes - I used Savoy cabbage for the stuffed cabbage rolls and I could not believe that the kids loved them...I agree that the patatas bravas were delectable and so were the parsnip chips and the salad - so wonderful to read that you keep enjoying to cook from this vegetable cookbook as much as the other members of the CCC and I do.
    Thank you for participating again this month - I am quite aware that it is a very busy time of year for all of us and I certainly appreciate your continued enthusiasm.

  6. We picked a few of the same we picked a few of the same recipes! I didn't get around to making the stuffed cabbage, next time. Your pics look so delicious!

  7. You picked some great recipes from this month's selections and I like your description of how this group gets us trying new things with many of the ingredients we're already using. I feel I've stretched a lot in this group. Plenty More is on my Christmas wish list. Now, seeing that cauliflower cake, I want it even more!


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