Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club | June 2014

The CCC is cooking their way through River Cottage Veg
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Here we are in our second month of cooking through this wonderful cookbook. As I mentioned in May's post, we get to choose to cook anywhere from one to ten recipes each month from the recipe list on the CCC website.

Reading through this month's recipes, it was hard to choose - they all sounded so wonderful. I was feeling quite ambitious as I read through the list, and decided on seven out of the ten choices. It makes for a long post, I know..

Here are my selections for June:
(Not necessarily cooked in order.)

New Potato, Tomato, and Boiled Egg Salad
Lettuce, Spring Onion, and Cheese Tart
Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise
Pizza with New Potatoes and Blue Cheese
Vegetable Tempura with Chile Dipping Sauce
Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Steamed Vegetables with a Hint of Garlic

Click here to see the full list of June's recipe options.

New Potato, Tomato, and Boiled Egg Salad:

This is not your typical potato salad that has been slathered in mayo, and has the over-powering taste of vinegar that you get at your local deli.

I love finding recipes that have a new healthier spin on them, and are still delicious - like the one in Food to Live By, the California Waldorf salad  - it's made with fresh spinach, and no heavy dressing or marshmallows! Check it out, it's delicious!

This is quite the easy one to put together. You boil your potatoes and eggs (separately of course), let them cool, and give them a quick chop.

The vinaigrette for this salad is made up of either canola or olive oil (I used olive), cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. This is then poured over the chopped soft-boiled eggs; stirring, the yolks mix in with the vinaigrette, making for a slightly creamy dressing.

Add the tomatoes and potatoes, stir, taste for seasonings, and top with chives (I added extra chives and mixed them in as well). Viola! Done.

This salad has great potential. It was good, it just needs a little something extra. Maybe a bit more mustard, or a pinch of (insert your favorite herb or spice here). 

I also felt there was a bit too much dressing, and I even used about a half pound more potatoes than the recipe called for - the picture in the book looks a lot drier than mine - still I did enjoy this.

Pizza with New Potatoes and Blue Cheese:

This pizza is similar to the one I made last month.  It uses the same dough and caramelized onions (which you can never have too much of in my opinion). Only this time, he as you add garlic and rosemary to the onions - which makes it tastes a little bit like Thanksgiving.

Here we replace the asparagus with potatoes, and the mozzarella and Parmesan with blue cheese.

Caramelized onions and blue cheese?!! I'm in heaven here.

My new potatoes were huge! It took only eight slices to cover my pizza. If you don't have access to the smaller new potatoes, I would crumble the cooked slices and sprinkle them over the pizza.

You may be thinking, potatoes on pizza? Believe me, it works - just like it does in the roasted vegetable quesadillas I make.

I think this would make a wonderful appetizer cut in small slices, served alongside a glass of Champagne of course.

Cucumber and Lettuce Vichyssoise:

Vichyssoise is a chilled soup made up of leeks and potatoes. Hugh has upped the ante by adding cucumber and lettuce to the mix, giving this soup its green hue.

There was not much labor involved in this recipe, as I'm finding out with most of the recipes in this book - which is nice. 

You start out by "sweating" (cooked in a covered pan on low heat) your leeks in butter for about ten minutes, or until the leeks have softened. Then the potatoes and broth are added. Once the potatoes are almost cooked, Hugh has you add the cucumbers and lettuce, and cook for a bit longer, then he instructs you to remove the potatoes to be pressed through a ricer, sieve, or food mill (I just used my wooden spoon to mash them), for they will become gluey if put in the blender with the broth mixture. I recommend removing the potatoes before adding the vegetables, for it was quite tedious to fish out the potatoes bits amongst the cubed cucumbers and shredded lettuce.

After the potatoes are removed and have been mashed, the soup mixture is puréed in a blender and poured over the mashed potatoes, then some cream, salt, and pepper is added - combine this together and leave the soup to cool, then chill for a couple of hours (longer the better).

While the soup is chilling, you can make some quick croutons to top your soup with. Take a couple pieces of bread, cut the crusts off, cube the slices, and fry in oil until golden (watch carefully - they brown quickly!)

My croutons look dark, not only because I may have cooked them a tad too long, but I used a winter wheat bread, that is full of seeds and nuts - which, by the way, made for some tasty croutons.

I thought this soup was just OK. To bad too, for it makes for a beautiful presentation. I may start serving my split pea soup this way.

There was not a lot of flavor going on here. I'm thinking maybe a little tarragon would brighten things up a bit; or using spinach in place of the lettuce, as Hugh suggests as an alternative, which also would give the soup a darker green color.

Honey-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

Well, it doesn't get much easier than this!

Slice a few tomatoes (cherry are called for, but I used a mixture of cherry and small tomatoes from our garden), top it with a mixture made up of garlic, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast till the tomatoes are juicy and bubbling.



My bounty. :)

 I had these tasty bites with the leftover soup - it made for a fine light meal.

I enjoyed the roasted tomatoes (I prefer them at room temp) over toasted baguette slices that were brushed lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with some salt and pepper before broiling. Make sure to spoon up the juices from the ramekin to spoon over the tomatoes - it's delish. I think the tomatoes would also be wonderful over scrambled eggs, or in an omelette the next day if you are lucky enough to have any left over.

Yep. The tomatoes were the favorite for this month.  

Vegetable Tempura with Chile Dipping Sauce:

Normally I would shy away from anything deep-fried; but the picture in the book looked so enticing, I had to give this a try, and I'm glad I did. :)

This is the beginning of the most tasty dipping sauce! At first taste, as it was cooling, I thought, ehhh. But after it sat for awhile, and the flavors melded, it was delicious!

To make the sauce, you combine red currant jelly, cider vinegar, soy sauce, fresh red chiles (my stores do not carry red chiles - I subbed serrano. I could have went to my local Asian grocery, but they sell them in a package of what seems like a hundred of 'em), garlic, and a bit of fresh ground pepper, and optional cilantro (I did not use cilantro [which I love] for I liked the look of the sauce on its own. The picture in the book, you really can only see a bunch of cilantro in sauce). I added some red pepper flakes, for I was disappointed with the heat factor of my serranos.

After simmering the sauce for a short time, remove it from the heat and bring it to room temp and it's ready to go. Easy peasy.

Like I said, the sauce develops a much better flavor after sitting for a time, so make it early on. Hugh says the sauce can be put into a sealed jar and kept refrigerated for up to a week.

In the not so distant future, I will have my own fresh Thai hot peppers!

I was a bit apprehensive making this in my flat-bottomed, carbon-steel wok (which is relatively light), the instructions say to use a heavy-bottomed saucepan (it would be safer). Seeing all that oil (about 24 oz., it only came up about an inch in the wok [which was plenty],  the instructions say to use about two inches of oil) in a not real sturdy pan, was a bit unnerving at first, but worked just fine - not to mention it did wonders for the patina on my wok.

The tempura batter is made up of flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and ice-cold mineral water. This is not prepared until you have your vegetables prepped, and the oil heated and ready to go.

Really any vegetable will work here. Hugh suggests asparagus, zucchini, broccoli/cauliflower florets, bell pepper, eggplant, scallions, red onion, mushrooms, or kale - is there much left?

He does not specify just how much vegetable to use. I went with about a pound of asparagus, and two zucchini and did not have enough batter to finish them all. I had about six slices zucchini and maybe five asparagus spears left. Oh, and I would double the sauce... it's that good.

I cannot remember the reason I did a quick search on tempura before getting started, but I found out that for a successful tempura, the batter needs to be very cold. This must be why the instructions say to mix the batter with an ice cube. I also read that all the ingredients should be cold before mixing. After mixing the ingredients, I kept a large ice-pack under the dish as well.

I used tongs to dip my vegetables in the batter and to transfer them to the hot oil. I would recommend having two sets of tongs (or one tong, and a slotted spoon) - one for dipping in the batter and one for removing the vegetables from the pan, for the batter will get caked on your tongs if you use them for both.

Once cooked, these need to be served immediately. Don't you hate it when a recipe says that - it always makes me nervous - and in the end, usually the food is just fine if not served asap. Here, you'll want to serve them immediately, or very soon, unless you don't mind a less crunchy coating; it becomes soggy after a short time, though still tasty.

These were fun to make, though not sure if I would make them again. It's a lot of oil wasted (I have read in the past that people reuse their oil - not me), and I did not care for the lingering scent of fried oil hours later - like when you come home from a Mexican restaurant, and your hair and clothes are permeated with the smell. Does that happen to you? Or should I be looking for a different eatery? Ha ha ha. 

These came in a close second to being the favorite of the month. :)

No fancy place settings here on Tuesday nights. Totally casual - it's puzzle night. My sis comes over and we eat, drink, puzzle, (or jumble, or scrabble, or watch a movie.. whatever we are in the mood for). This evening, it was relaxing in the backyard with good food (made the tomatoes again, and Laura brought stuffed mushrooms), good drink, and good company.

Well I guess I was a bit over-ambitious. I was only able to complete five of the seven recipes I chose for this month. I'm thinking my limit is around four or five - that's going to make for difficult choosing in the future.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for June on the CCC website, by clicking here.

We have been asked not to publish the recipes here on our blogs. We encourage you to go out and purchase the book and join us on this fun and healthy adventure!



  1. You made an amazing selection of the recipes, bravo. I think I need to try the potato salad and I loved the tomatoes on toast also with riccotta cheese.

  2. What a great selection of recipes! I didn't make the tempura bettered vegetables, but am delighted to know about the sauce!! I did make the salad and pizza, I thought they were both good. I love being able to read about some of the recipes that I did NOT try, as well as comparing my results with others who made the same things.

  3. Where do I start - they all look so delicious! I made the pizza and tempura vegetables (I share some of your feelings about deep frying) so I know how tasty they are, but those roasted tomatoes look particularly mouth watering.

  4. Wow, you've been super busy. Everything looks wonderful!

  5. Wow! you really were busy, love everything you did, your tempura looks and sounds amazing, now I wish I would have made that, though I still can. Beautiful pictures and presentation!

  6. Wow! You were a cooking machine! The dishes look fantastic and the way you presented them is beautiful. I must try that Pizza too! Love your selection and enjoyed reading your Post!

  7. Wow these all look amazing, I am really going to have to invest in a copy of this book all the recipes I have seen people posting so far look fantastic.

  8. Cathleen, you did an outstanding job in describing the different steps in the recipes, explaining the pros and cons and presenting the beautiful results in amazing pictures! Kudos for all your enthusiasm! And thank you for participating with such joy! Makes me quite happy to look at your wonderful post!
    Now onto the different recipes, the tempura looks terrific, and I agree, it should be served a.s.a.p. The vichyssoise did not make it yet onto our table yet but I was planning to make it this week - yours looks amazing, the color is gorgeous. We will see. The tomatoes are fabulous - agreed - we will make them again many times. The Pizza with the new potatoes looks crispy and perfect - aslo a big hit at our house and your potato salad has a wonderful, slightly creamy dressing. Getting hungry again by just looking at your post!
    Thanks again for being part of the group!
    Have a fabulous Monday!

  9. What a great month of cooking! I had a hard time picking a favorite this month. I would probably go with the tempura or the potato pizza, but the tomatoes were great too...I agree about the potato salad. It felt like it was missing something.

  10. Oh, Cathleen, I am totally impressed with your cooking prowess in CCC in June. I chose three recipes and got two made. You chose seven and made five. You win!!! I especially enjoyed reading your Post because you so clearly provided the pros and cons of everything you made. I am anxious to try the Vegetable Tempura and the Dipping Sauce that everyone, including you, is raving about. Even though I only got two recipes made, I know I will try others from this month's selection because of various Posts I've read. I am enjoying your Blog and your WW Blog. I'm a hiker also.


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