Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club - February 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club, organized and led by the fearless Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness, has reached a huge milestone this month: as a group, we have cooked our way through half the recipes in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's fabulous book River Cottage Veg. I've had so much fun cooking and sharing and reading about everyone elses experiences, the time has just flown by. This month, the recipes I made were as delicious as usual:

Avocado and Ruby Grapefruit Salad (page122)
This was a refreshing salad that couldn't have been simpler. The creamy avocado provided a flavour and textural contrast to the segments of juicy ruby grapefruit with added brightness from fresh coriander and a little chile heat. I loved it and thought that with its lively flavours it would make a great starter to awaken the palate. I was alone in this opinion since I'm the only one here who likes grapefruit...that was all right though, it just meant that there was more for me!

 Nachos with Refried Beans (page 190)
Now this recipe was met with a completely different reaction from family! I had made flatbreads with the Magic Dough for CCC in September so decided to make the Nacho variation of the Refried Beans Foldover instead. Made with white beans and tomatoes, this dish of refried beans flavoured with onions, garlic and oregano had an almost Italian spin on it. I used frozen cooked white kidney beans and canned tomatoes and used the mixture to top some baked whole wheat tortilla "chips", finishing with Monterey Jack cheese, Greek yogurt and a tomato-kumquat salsa. Without the traditional black beans and cumin, the flavour of this was totally unexpected but really tasty. A new family favourite that will definitely be made again.

Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnover (page 220) 
We all need recipes like this in our lives: fun and very quick to put together with pre-rolled frozen puff pastry and frozen peas. The recipe calls for strongly flavoured cheese but I used a last bit of Gruyère I had in the fridge and since it didn't have a very strong flavour it really allowed the sweetness of the peas to come through which, baked from frozen, were bright green and fresh tasting. This made a really delicious snack that was a huge hit with family but I think it would make a nice lunch with a salad as well.

Winter Stir-Fry with Chinese Five-Spice (page 288) 
Simply fabulous! Including parsnips and brussels sprouts certainly set this stir-fry apart from anything I've ever made before but it was the Chinese five-spice that was responsible for the dish's heavenly aroma and complex flavour. I particularly loved how it played off of the sweetness of the carrots and parsnips - such a great combination. I think I'll use it to season my next batch of roasted carrots and parsnips.

Roasted Squash and Shallots with Merguez Chickpeas (page 365)
Loved this! Consisting of squash roasted with garlic and shallots, and chickpeas flavoured with myriad spices, many of which were first toasted, then ground, each of the components was delicious on its own but together they were fantastic! I did cook the chickpeas for this dish as per the recipe which took considerable time but next time, I'll just use some of my frozen stash. Another success!

Potato Rösti (page 391)
What's not to love about potatoes fried until golden and crisp? Nothing! I doubled the recipe to feed five and since I was dealing with a kilo of potatoes, used the food processor to make the job of grating them a little quicker. Since they were partially cooked, I was concerned about them disintegrating, so used the coarser shredding disk. Big mistake! Relying only on the starch from the potatoes - there's no binder in the recipe - I had a lot of difficulty in keeping the little cakes together while they cooked. I think finer shreds with their much larger surface area would have held together better. Of course they still tasted as good as I and everyone else anticipated, especially served with Hugh's Honey Roasted Cherry tomatoes, page 343 (fantastic in summer but still pretty good in winter) and Poached Egg, page 210 (I still aspire to make one as perfect as Mary's).

Next month, Andrea is giving us the chance to play catch-up and make recipes that were featured in previous months. There are so many I wish I had made - we'll see how many I can squeeze in! In the meantime, visit CCC to read all of the February entries.


  1. You made my day, Zosla, by referring to my Perfect (in my opinion) Poached Egg. Quite honestly, yours looks quite perfect also. And, with the Potato Rösti hiding under it, very tasty also. You did a bang up job this month. I'm a grapefruit fan also so I would have wanted my share. Your take on the Foldover is completely different from mine. That's why I like cooking together with this group. Like you, I thot the filling (the mixture) was so delicious. I have all the ingredients on hand for the Cheesy Peasy Puff Turnover now. It looked good. I wanted to make it. I'm a stir fry fan but it isn't winter where I am (California). The roasted squash, shallots and chickpeas ingredients are sitting in my pantry now. I just wish I had more mouths to feed. Nice job. And, like you, I cannot believe we're halfway through this book.

  2. SO many lovely recipes this month, Zosia! I really loved the chickpeas myself, and the rosti. Everyone's easy peasy turnover is tempting me to add to my March makeup list. It looks great! And the winter stir fry. Nice job!

  3. Zosia, all of your six dishes look wonderful - weren´t these great recipes - I particularly like your sentence that "we all need recipes like this" with respect to the Cheesey Peaasy Puff Turnover - the kids went crazy over them and this is a really keeper of a recipe, that´s for sure. The salad was a bit a grown-up taste but most of our taste testers liked it - the Refried Beans were also amazing (so were the Rösti) - love all your pretty presentations and write-up. I am all set to make the Winter Stir-fry today (as part of my personal make-up month list) - might as well get a head start.
    Thank you for participating agian this month,
    P.S.: Please make sure to send me your mailing address, so I can send a little "motivation" your way and as a thank you for making it half-way through the book as a group (not that anyone needs motivation...your all are incredibly motivated already) to

  4. Hi Zosia! Your dishes look spectacular, and I really enjoyed hearing your assessment on those recipes I did not prepare- and now plan to! Your poached egg looks beautiful on the potato rosti, and I love how you combined the dish with the roasted cherry tomatoes, another of our former dishes from River Cottage veg everyday last summer! Agreed on Andrea's comment too- we all need dishes such as the Easy Peasy... a superb standby for anytime! Lovely photography too Zosia. See you over the month and sending hugs out your way!

  5. Hi Zosia, your presentations are always so beautiful along with your photography. This next month will be fun, can't wait to see what everyone will be making.

  6. All your choices look fantasic! The nachos sound delicious, and the turnover... wow. I'm making that for March makeup - and Gruyère is one of my favorite cheeses. Love the bowl you have your stir-fry in! And that potato rösti!! Perfectly golden, and looks amazing served with those tomatoes (another favorite) and the egg. Well done, Zosia!

    1. Had to take another look through all your dishes. Your photography is amazing also.

  7. You were busy this month! All of the recipes you made looked excellent. I especially liked reading about your take on the refried bean nachos. Tomato-kumquat salsa sounds delicious.


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