Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club - November 2015

November has come and gone very quickly and once again, our lovely Cottage Cooking Club founder and leader Andrea chose a great cross-section of recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book, River Cottage Veg. Some were quick and easy, some were more involved, but all featured a variety of seasonal produce. I made eight of the ten, plus one I wasn't supposed to. I was clearly a little distracted that day, which may also explain why my soup didn't turn out that well! 

Chile, Cheese and Rosemary Polenta with Tomato Sauce (page 58)
I love cheesy polenta and pairing it with tomato sauce seemed an excellent idea. I was right - this dish was a hit! I use instant polenta in baked goods calling for cornmeal when I want the corn flavour and some texture without the grit but I've never actually cooked it. It didn't seem as creamy as the regular but for the end purpose it worked very well, firming up nicely in the fridge and keeping its shape while I grilled it. It was wonderfully flavourful and the simple garlicky tomato sauce was the perfect complement. 

Celery, Orange, Pecans (page 116)
This was the last recipe to be made from my favourite chapter in the book, "Raw Assemblies", and we ended on a high note with this one. Incredibly, it took only three ingredients (and no dressing) to produce this lovely, bright and fresh tasting salad. A definite keeper!

Parsnip and Ginger Soup (page 157)
This recipe came as a surprise. I expect cream soups to be quite mellow but that was not so with this one. It was robustly flavoured with alliums, spices and ginger, and had a strong parsnip presence. I ended up adding extra milk and stock, not to intentionally thin the soup though that was one of the effects, but to dilute the flavour a little so family would eat it. I did like all of the spices and ginger with the parsnip but if I were to make this again, I would replace some of the parsnip with potato to subdue the flavours a little while retaining the soup's texture.

Squash and Walnut Toastie (page 204)
I had some leftover roasted squash and fennel and remembering that a squash dish from the "Bready Things" chapter was one of my choices for this month, I made these toasties to serve with the parsnip soup, only to realize later that it was the wrong recipe. We enjoyed these open-faced sandwiches of roasted herby veg, melted cheddar cheese and crunchy walnuts (added after the photo was taken because I forgot them) nevertheless. A tasty way to repurpose leftovers.

Hot Squash Foldover (page 189) 
This was the recipe I was supposed to make but having already made cheesy squash toasties, I changed it up a little. I roasted the squash with garlic and added hot chiles as per the recipe but finished with green onions, coriander and a squeeze of lime instead of cheese. Delicious as I'm sure the original recipe was, we loved this bright version.

Kale "Speltotto" (Spinach Farrotto) with Goat's Cheese (page 280)
Cooked like risotto, this dish wasn't nearly as creamy but it did have a nice texture and great flavour. The recipe seemed quite involved, with each of the components cooked separately, so I changed the method a little and cut back on the number of dirty pans produced by cooking the leeks with the onions and using fresh spinach added directly to the pan towards the end of the cook time. Hearty and delicious, especially with the goat's milk cheddar cheese I used, it was perfect fall weather fare.

Beet and Walnut Hummus (page 300)
This beet hummus was as vibrant in flavour as it was in colour. Made with roasted beets, it had a few unexpected ingredients along with the usual lemon juice, garlic and tahini: toasted walnuts and stale bread! As with most recipes for hummus that I've tried, I found that the flavour was better the next day. It became more savoury than sweet with the lemon and garlic receding to the background and the walnuts added a pleasant nuttiness. I did find the cumin to be a bit strong so would reduce that next time. I halved the recipe and enjoyed it over a few days for lunch and snacks.

Roasted Potatoes with Two Mojo Sauces (page 358)
What a fun way to dress up roasted potatoes! Both uncooked sauces complemented the roasted Yukon Gold wedges but one was a clear winner for us. 

The mojo picón, made with roasted peppers and dried chiles, (lots of) garlic, cumin and smoked paprika was quite complex with its layers of flavour: smoky, sweet, tangy. I used a Spanish sherry vinegar in this recipe, which I think produced a mellower tasting dip than intended. We loved this one.
I stuck to the recipe for the mojo cilantro sauce and used white wine vinegar. It was sharp and vinegary and dominated by the raw garlic so a very small amount went a very long way. I think if you like vinegar on your fries, you would be a fan but it wasn't a hit here, at least not with the potatoes. In considering the ingredients, I decided to use the leftover as a marinade for some boneless chicken breasts that were to be pan-roasted. Now they were a hit! 

Jerusalem Artichoke Frying Pan Gratin (page 382) 

I do like sunchokes as they're known here but they're quite expensive despite being indigenous to this part of Canada (they're considered more of a nuisance to farmers than a cash crop), so I don't cook with them as often as I would like. But this luxurious dish was worthy of the expense. Sautéed onion and thyme added lots of flavour to the thinly sliced tubers, and homemade crème fraîche and grated Gruyère added the decadence. Easy to make and fairly quick-cooking, this was company-worthy fare that the family enjoyed.

I'm now looking forward to December's choices. Until then, I'll enjoy reading about what the other members made this month.


  1. Wonderful results you got there, the colors are awesome!

  2. Hi Zosia, wow! you really went to town, I loved the risotto....sounds like I should of grilled the polenta, another great month.

  3. Dearest Zosia, I do believe you carried the group this month! What a spectacular array of dishes, most impressive, and I should like to enjoy each among your selections because they all look so appetizing I couldn't choose one! Wow.Thanks for sharing.

  4. Zosia, you made so many of the dishes this month, and made me sorry I didn't make the ones that we didn't overlap. You make the soup sound great as well as the polenta and the toasties. I joined Eat Your Books, but I still have to enter all my books. Tedious, though useful for what I've done so far!

  5. Dear Zosia, an outstanding array of Hugh´s recipes- I have read all your wonderful comments and I apprecaite all the great input - many great tips with respect to changing up or adjusting your recipes from Hugh´s book. I do have to make that polenta - yours loooks amazing with those grill marks and so does everything else! It makes me extremely happy to see that you and your family enjoys this experience so much!
    Thank you for being part of the CCC and for being such a wonderful partcipant!

  6. Wonderful interpretations of this month's recipes! I agree with Andrea, I really want to try the polenta now that I've seen yours. I enjoyed the soup, but will roast the parsnips first next time, to deal with their sharpness. And the mojo picón was our favourite, too. I might use the mojo cilantro to marinate some tofu, actually - thanks for the idea.


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