Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cottage Cooking Club - February 2016

The Cottage Cooking Club may be close to the end of cooking its way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's book River Cottage Veg but some fabulous recipes still remain. I tackled four of them this month.  

Rutabaga and Potato Pasties (page 52) 
My family is usually quite receptive to hand pies regardless of their filling but these were not among their favourites. Of course, if I'd followed the recipe, they might have felt differently!
I thought Hugh's method of finely dicing vegetables and cooking them raw inside a turnover was an interesting one, but having neither the time nor the inclination to brunoise over a half kilo of root vegetables, I cut them into a much larger dice and partially cooked them in the microwave instead. 

Potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, onions, thyme and a bit of sharp cheddar in a flaky pastry package sounded delicious but I failed in my execution of it: having omitted the powdered vegetable boullion and butter, I think I omitted much of the flavour as well so these ended up a little bland. The consensus was also that they were too large and quite heavy - smaller pasties would have been preferred.

Mushroom Ragout with Soft Polenta (page 57)
This ragout more than made up for the vegetable pasty "fail". The ingredients were simple but the dish was incredibly flavourful thanks in part to the red wine and mushroom stock at its base. I served it over instant polenta and though it was a good vehicle for the saucy mushrooms and did make for a fairly quick meal, I think I'll stick to regular polenta in future as the instant didn't seem to retain its creaminess for very long.

Apple and Blue Cheese (Cheddar Cheese) Toastie (page 204)
Since apple and cheddar is a favourite combination here, and apple and blue cheese is not, I substituted sharp cheddar for the recommended blue. Mounded on crispbreads and slipped under the broiler until the cheese was bubbly and the fruit was slightly softened, this made a quick and delicious snack. We loved the salty-sweet topping with the crisp rye cracker.

DIY Pot Noodles (248)  
This was a cinch to make, easy to customize, and better still, could be assembled the night before for a quick school/work lunch next day. Best of all, with only a 10-minute "cook time" in boiled water, it resulted in a wonderful meal of al dente noodles and tender-crisp vegetables in flavourful broth.
The first time I made it, I used the ingredients listed (those pictured) but since then, I've discovered that the pre-cut vegetables in grocery stores, especially the vegetable slaws, reduce the prep time and work equally well with just a few extra ingredients: hot chiles, green onions, edamame.... 

My daughters in particular were quite taken with these so they are now in regular lunch rotation.

Visit here to see what the other group members made this month.


  1. That's great that your daughters loved the pot noodles - they look so healthy, flavourful, and fun. And yours is the second gorgeous rendition of the polenta that I've seen so far. I'm starting to think that it was a mistake to skip this one. The same goes for the toasties, too. I haven't made any of those from the book yet, but this one seems especially tempting. I'm sorry the pasties didn't work out.

  2. Oh my gosh, I totally agree with you that the pasties should have been smaller! Your pastry looks great, mine was a bit flat, but hey I made rough puff pastry! yeahh! Your polenta and mushroom is a winner! I did not get to the toasties and the DIY fast noodle pot as I run out of time and sitting on my behind debating which ones to make. You did amazing in February for CCC, Zosia!

  3. Yeah, those pasties were huge. I didn't use as much filling as you did, but I agree that all that chopping of the veggies was...not a great use of my time. Sorry you didn't like it. The toastie looks fabulous and I'm so glad to hear that the DIY pot noodle works for someone as it didn't for me, for whatever reason. I was wondering if I did something wrong and I may have to try again. Great month, Zosia!

  4. Wow were ambitious this month...and successful, too! I am truly kicking myself for not making the polenta and mushrooms. That really looks wonderful. I've yet to tackle polenta & I think that's what held me back. And those pasties! I could eat those for lunch for a month! So glad to be participating and looking forward to cooking with you next month! : )

  5. Don't you hate it when you're ingredients and techniques are a bit off. Sorry about the pasties. I also made the polenta and mushroom ragout and loved it. I agree with you about instant polenta so I didn't use it. Making it the "long" way is not much of an effort and it's fun to watch it come together. Your toastie looks fun and delicious, by the way. And, if I had a child that needs to take lunch to school I would make DIY Noodles for them every single day!

  6. I was hoping to get to the pasties, but ran out of time. Now I'm not so sure. Thanks for saving me from a miss. I made the toasties with blue cheese (which I didn't love) and then cheddar which I did. Yum! And thanks for tip on precut veggies for the DIY pot noodles. That's one that I really enjoyed for lunch! Have a great week. See you next month.

  7. Hi Zosia, will have to try the pot-noodles, sounds like it was a hit. Your toastie look delicious. i was going to make the pasties but did not have enough time. Cannot believe there is only 2 months left. Take care!

  8. Hi Zosia, will have to try the pot-noodles, sounds like it was a hit. Your toastie look delicious. i was going to make the pasties but did not have enough time. Cannot believe there is only 2 months left. Take care!

  9. Hi Zosia, great post. The mushroom ragu on polenta looks wonderful and it seems was popular all around. I see what you mean about the quick cook vs. regular polenta which I too prefer. I used Cheddar as well for the toastie with the apple and absolutely loved it, it was a hit at my house too. I'm totally into the DIY noodle jars, and especially with ramen noodle crazed fans in my home and shall give your version a go on my own perhaps in March.

  10. Zosia, as always, you did an outstanding job with the presentation of all the dishes that you made and explained very well the pros and cons of each of Hugh´s lovely recipes. I really do enjoy your input on everything you cook. Froma ll the other posts, it seems that the "DIY" pot noodles went over extremely well with all the daughters this month - what a fun and versatile dish indeed! And they are indeed a wonderful lunch for school.
    Thank you for your participation again this month - I do appreciate it very much!
    "See" you soon!

  11. Zosia, your dishes looks so good! I like hand pies, but didn't make these ones. And your pot noodles look delicious. Great suggestions!!


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