Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club - October 2015

Once again, our lovely group leader Andrea selected some wonderful recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book River Cottage Veg for us to make this month. I chose five: 

Roasted Parsnip, Green Lentil, and Watercress (Arugula) Salad (page 90)
One of these days, I hope to find watercress that I actually want to eat rather than the sad little wilted bunches that are widely available in the grocery stores around here. Until then, arugula will be my go-to substitute. Apart from that one change, I made the recipe for this terrific salad as written.
We really enjoyed this dish of sweet, caramelized roasted parsnips that contrasted so nicely with the tangy dressed lentils, crisp, peppery greens, and sharp cheese. I'll definitely make this one again.

Beets with Walnuts and Cumin (page 113)
I've become quite adept at making beet recipes for one but I really wish I had made the full amount of this one....it was so good, I could have happily eaten it all.
I've made raw beet "slaws" before, even ones that included cumin and walnuts which go so beautifully with beets, but it was the orange and lemon juices in this recipe that really enlivened this salad. I loved it! I have two beets left from the bunch and I know what I'm doing with them.

Porotos Granados (page 146)
This dish was chock full of good things, and hearty but not as heavy as one might expect from the ingredients. We loved the smoked paprika and oregano flavours but between the squash and the corn it was just a little too sweet for the family so I added some passata to create a better balance. Interestingly, some recipes I found online for this Chilean stew included tomatoes so I don't think my adjusted version was too far from traditional. It did get eaten but it's not something that will be repeated any time soon.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes (page 304)
Field-grown Roma tomatoes were still available at the farmers' market early in the month so I took advantage and made these. I baked them for 5 hours as directed, then left them in the oven as it cooled to dry out a bit more. The flavour was spectacular with this method intensifying the vibrancy and zing of the tomatoes. They would be delicious in so many applications but for this post, I combined them with some Fiori di latte (fresh cow's milk mozzarella) to top some crostini. The rest I froze to brighten some future dishes with a little taste of summer once we're in the midst of the deep-freeze that is surely coming.

Broiled Eggplant with Chile and Honey (page 340)
Sweet, tangy and a little spicy, this was much more delicious than I anticipated. And, I discovered with this recipe that broiling is a great alternative to frying, browning and crisping the eggplant slices brushed with minimal oil. I mixed the lemon juice with the honey for a more even distribution of the flavours and served the dish as a side with some broiled fish. Eggplant is not a favourite around here and I generally have to hide it amongst other ingredients but both the dressing flavour and the texture of the broiled vegetable made this a surprise hit.

Visit here to see what everyone else made.

Apple Pielettes - Tuesdays with Dorie

The Tuesdays with Dorie project this week was little fruit-filled pastries that were as delicious as they were cute.
The recipe called for a double batch of galette dough, a food processor pastry that was a dream to work with. I used the recommended sizes of biscuit cutters for top and bottom crusts but found that the dough circles were too small and needed to be rolled out a little more after cutting. 

For the filling, I used dried cranberries in place of raisins and apricots,  omitted the sugar but included the apple jelly, and added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the Honey Crisp apples, finely diced to fit into the dough-lined muffin tin.

My pastry lids didn't adhere very well and juice bubbled out of every pielette so I was reluctant to invert the pan when they were done; a small offset spatula worked perfectly in loosening, then removing them from the tin. Everyone loved them.

The recipes for Apple Pielettes and Galette Dough are from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi. Visit here to see all of the other apple treats.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Bacon

This is an easy way to enjoy breakfast for dinner. Use your favourite bacon and serve with toast points to help sop up the golden egg yolk.
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Bacon
adapted from Bon Appetit magazine
serves 2

Prep and baking time: 45 minutes

4 slices/100g bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
227g fresh spinach leaves, washed and spun dry, or a 300g pkg frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove excess liquid
4 large eggs
4 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp/15g grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper 

1. Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F. In a large fry pan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until crisp, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare 2 gratin dishes (or 2 shallow, ovenproof dishes with a 480ml capacity) by greasing them lightly with some of the rendered bacon fat. Place them on a baking sheet.  

2. Once the bacon is cooked, remove the strips from the pan and drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off the remaining fat and add the garlic to the pan. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes until it's wilted and any liquid has cooked off. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. To assemble, divide the cooked spinach evenly between the prepared gratin dishes. With the back of a spoon, make 2 wells in the spinach in each dish to hold the eggs.
Carefully crack 1 egg into each well, keeping the yolk intact.
Drizzle 1 tbsp whipping cream over each egg. Season lightly with pepper. 
Sprinkle 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese evenly over each dish.
Put the baking sheet with the gratin dishes in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Crumble the bacon and scatter over each of the 2 dishes. Bake for an additional 4-6 minutes or until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny, or until the eggs are done to your liking. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tiger Cakes - Tuesdays with Dorie

Tuesdays with Dorie's group baking project this week was a riff on a financier, a little French cake traditionally baked in the shape of a gold ingot. These Tiger Cakes had the characteristic chewy crust, golden, crispy edges, and moist, nutty interior of financiers I've had before, but also had the added deliciousness of chocolate, used in two ways, no less.
First, finely chopped chocolate was added to the batter. Then, the cooled cakes were dipped in a chocolate ganache. I used bittersweet chocolate for both (72% cacao) to complement the sweet little almond treats. 

The pattern formed by the chocolate bits in my cakes was spotty rather than stripey - more cheetah-like than tiger-like - so the moniker didn't quite fit but this made no difference to everyone who enjoyed them. 

The recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi. Visit here to see what everyone else thought of them.