Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club - June 2015

It's that time again when I do a roundup of the dishes I've cooked throughout the month for The Cottage Cooking Club as group members collectively cook their way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book, River Cottage Veg. Our theme this month: "Be Seasonal"

Beet Greens (or Chard) Ricotta Tart (page 47)
Young beets with pristine greens have started to pop up at my local farmers' market and though my family rather like their leafy greens, only I like beets. Instead of having to eat all the beets attached to those lovely leaves myself, I opted to use Swiss chard for this recipe.
Flavoured with onion, thyme and feta instead of ricotta salata, this custard filling had great flavour. It was quite soft out of the oven but I preferred it at room temperature once it had had a chance to set. 

This was my first time making Hugh's all butter tart shell and the dough was very easy to handle. It baked up very crisp, a great textural contrast to the creamy filling. Trimming the dough after pre-baking was new to me but it worked just fine.

This was a very versatile dish that could be made with whatever greens and cheese you had on hand and would be great at brunch, lunch or supper but be sure to serve it the day it's made as the crust suffers a bit with overnight refrigeration. 

New Potato Salad "Tartare" (page 79)
I loved this! It was tart and tangy with flavours so vibrant they sang. Even better, they didn't remind me at all of mayo-based tartar sauce (thank goodness) which served as inspiration for the recipe. The cooked eggs were a nice addition to take it into main course territory but really not necessary. I served them on the side since not all family like them. This is now my new go-to potato salad recipe and will be making several appearances throughout the summer.

Ribollita (page 151)
Redolent with olive oil and rosemary, this slowly simmered vegetable-bean soup filled my house with a heady aroma as it cooked and tasted even better than it smelled. 
I made it early in the month during a bout of cool, non-seasonal weather when a hearty soup was welcome. I added a Parmesan rind to the herb bundle for extra flavour and used white kidney beans I'd cooked and frozen. The soup was thickened with a purée of half the beans, a technique I'll use again since it added such a nice creaminess to the base while maintaining the integrity of all of the chopped vegetables. Locally grown kale was the final addition.

We really enjoyed this soup served over a slice of garlicky sourdough, and Hugh was right, good as it was freshly made, it was even better the next day.

Macaroni (Gemelli) Peas (page 264)
In my family, there's a fine line between a savoury dish that's pleasantly sweet and one that's too sweet, a line I've crossed many times eg Carrot Hummus that my dog and I ended up sharing. With a concern that this dish might fall into the latter category, I added 150g steamed baby spinach and a handful of fresh basil to the peas and garlic. After blitzing, just a little extra Parmesan was all that was needed to make it really savoury and delicious and a hit with family.

Pistachio Dukka (page 294)
Salty, savoury, nutty, and with a little bit of heat, this traditional Egyptian blend of toasted nuts and spices was the perfect complement to sweet potatoes roasted with a little olive oil and lemon. I did think the mix was a little too salty for me to be used as suggested, dipping bread first in oil then the dukka, but as the only seasoning on the vegetable, the salt level was fine. Until I make the next batch with a little less, I'll continue to use this one as a way dress up cooked vegetables simply and easily.

Halloumi, New Potato, and Tomato Kebabs (page 334)
After complaining about the saltiness of the dukka, here I am admitting I like halloumi, a particularly salty cheese. But it's all about balance and in combination with sweet new potatoes, even sweeter cherry tomatoes, and a herbed honey marinade, the flavour of these little kebabs was just right. I cooked them on the outdoor grill so they picked up the smokiness of that as well. These were delicious little starters that I'll make again, perhaps with a combination of vegetables that cook at the same rate since the little tomatoes were done before everything else.

That's it for this month. Visit here to see what everyone else made.


  1. What a great assortment of dishes for you this month. Most of the crew made Macaroni Peas this month. I like the additional flavors you added. I'm not a pea lover so passed on that dish. I did like both the New Potato Tartare and the Pistachio Dukka. Although I mentioned that the dukka is also good on veggies, I haven't used it that way yet, Yotam Ottolenghi uses dukka in many of his recipes. (No reason to add that fact but just thought you would like to know that!!!) Almost everyone also made the Ribolitta which had been on my list. June got too busy but since we have cool nights every night, I still intend to get it made. Your Halloumi presentation was lovely. I had never heard of that cheese until two years ago and liked it a lot. Unfortunately I cannot have a grill where I live. Such is Life! It appears that you thought the recipes this month were as tasty as I did. Great Post.

  2. Oh my! You have lovely results for all six recipes! Scrumptious!

  3. Hi Zosia, Terrific overview for the month. Your kabobs look quite excellent with the halloumi cheese which I have had in restaurants but have never purchased, perhaps this is the opportunity. The dukkah looks excellent and in combination with the veg as you presented. The Macaroni Peas was a dish I enjoyed perfectly as is, and so did my family so no changes on that front for me. Love your tart (and the one I prepared too, same as you, thought it quite lovely too!) And finally, I do believe I must make the potato salad since everyone seems to have both prepared and enjoyed it with most excellent outcomes, I'm in your court on not too much mayonnaise base so I tend to the oil and other wise ingredients in general for potato salad. Thanks so much for sharing! See you soon.

  4. Zosia, the colors in all your photos are just gorgeous! It really captures the vibrant produce for this time of year! I totally agree that the peas were borderline too sweet. I can see the dukka being a tad salty as written as well. Again, just gorgeous colors that look so yummy!

  5. Hi Zosia, all your photos turned out so nicely and your presentation is beautiful. I love the way your tart looks, makes me wish that I would have prepared that as well. Take care!

  6. Zosia, this is a wonderful time of year to be making all those lovely veg dishes - you presented all of them in a picture perfect way and although, of course, they all look very enticing, my favorite is the tart - just fabulous with Swiss chard and the feta instead of the ricotta salata!
    Thank you for participating again this month - recipes for July are coming up tomorrow!

  7. What a great roundup, Zosia. You cracked me up about the beets. I'm a huge fan of beets myself. I loved the tart which I also made with chard. I agree with you about the crust. Very easy to work with. I'm also glad to hear it works well with feta. I used manchego, couldn't find ricotta salata. I made the potato salad too and agree with you 100%. I've never tried haloumi, but because cheese is my favorite food, I'm intrigued about grilling cheese and want to try it. Have a great July!

  8. I was trying to decide what to do with my leftover dukka. Thanks for the reminder about using it as a vegetable topping. That sounds perfect! Everyone seems to agree this month--the potato salad really is a winner.

  9. I have got to make the potato salad! All your dishes look lovely, Zosia. The tart looks amazing, and what a great idea to used the dukka over sweet potatoes - I can just imagine how delicious that would be.

  10. Great round up, Zosia! Your tart looks fabulous, I didn’t use beet greens either…they didn’t look very good at my grocery. I choose to use baby kale and spinach. Loved the tart! Your Ribollita looks mouthwatering…a must try!


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