Monday, July 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club | July Recipes

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

My selections for July:
(Not necessarily cooked in order)

Shaved Summer Vegetables
Tomato, Thyme, and Goat Cheese Tart
Pasta with Raw Tomato
Marinated Zucchini with Mozzarella
Chocolate-Beet Ice Cream

Click here to see the complete list of July's recipe options.

Marinated Zucchini with Mozzarella: 

This dish consists of only a few ingredients, yet it is full of flavor. 

To begin, you thinly slice your zucchini - we are talking 1/16 of an inch here. If you want beautiful wide zucchini ribbons as shown in the book, I would suggest slicing them a bit thicker, for after they are cooked and mixed with the rest of the ingredients, they pretty much shriveled up; nevertheless, I was happy with the outcome.

The instructions say to put the slices into a bowl, and using a pastry brush, coat them all lightly with oil. There was no way they would all be coated evenly if tossed into the bowl, so I took the tedious route - lined the bowl with the slices, coated with oil (just one side), then added another row of slices, oiled, and so on, until all the slices were lightly coated.

Once your zucchini is coated with oil, you sauté the slices until tender and golden. Hugh recommends about two minutes per side. However, I found some of the slices were tender and the brown spots showing through to the other side before turning, so I only cooked those on the one side.

The marinade is made up of olive oil, garlic and lemon zest, which is briefly heated in the pan to take the raw edge off the garlic, and to infuse the flavors into the oil. The marinade is then poured over the zucchini, and some salt, pepper, lemon juice, and basil are added. This is all mixed together, and left to sit at room temperature for one hour.

Just before serving, coarsely torn or sliced mozzarella is added to the zucchini. I used burrata, which if you haven't tried burrata, you are missing out on something wonderful. It looks like your typical ball of mozzarella, then you cut into it to reveal its creamy softness in the middle, which is made up of mozzarella shreds and cream. Sublime.

I wish this did not take so much time to make. This would be an elegant first course to serve to company. Cooking the slices was a bit laborious - imagine cooking like sixty pieces of bacon..

It just occurred to me, that you could speed up the cooking process by using one of those griddles that fit over the two burners of a cooktop. Wish I had thought of this before - I could have cooked more slices at one time. There just may be a next time after all.. :)

Aside from the amount of time it took, I really enjoyed this recipe, and I just may revisit it sooner than later.

Hugh suggests serving this with some good bread or warm flat breads. I served it as a side dish to our dinner of beer butt smoked chicken.

Have you ever made a beer butt chicken? I used to roll my eyes at this fad. Andy finally got around to making one. Wow! does it turn out incredibly tender and moist. He also used for the first time, the smoker box attached to the grill - a winner! We'll definitely use this technique again.

I really thought this was going to be the favorite of the month - but it has been bumped to second place. Continue reading for the winner!

Pasta with Raw Tomatoes:

How pretty is this?

I was just looking for a recipe like this a few weeks ago to use our bounty of fresh tomatoes in. The recipe calls for one and a half pounds of tomatoes - I was lucky enough to have just that amount ready (at one time!) from our tomato plant from my last picking. I have never had a tomato plant give off as many tomatoes as this one has.

For this recipe, you start by marinating the peeled and seeded (I did not do either) chopped tomatoes and their juices, with some garlic, capers, fresh red chili pepper (I used died red pepper flakes), basil, oil, salt and pepper; this then sits at a cool room temperature for about one hour, before being added to a bowl of cooked pasta, along with some additional fresh basil shreds and a few grinds of fresh ground black pepper.

Hugh mentions he sometimes uses mint in place of the basil, and suggests you may also add some chopped red onion or fennel, or replace the capers with sliced olives, even add some Parmesan or goat cheese. 

I had to up the seasonings, for I found this to be rather bland; which could be the result of using a pound of pasta, whereas the recipe calls for only twelve ounces. I added extra salt and pepper, more red chili flakes, and added some feta cheese (it really is better with cheese), and I think Hugh's suggestion of red onion would be really good in this. It could have used less oil however - even using more pasta than the recipe called for, I felt it was a little too oily for my liking.

Shaved Summer Vegetables:

Eating foods in their natural state (raw) will always be more beneficial than when cooked. I was excited to try this recipe for we love the Raw Kale Coleslaw I make (often).

I had this together in no time at all. Take a variety of vegetables - I used zucchini, carrot, turnip, and radish - Hugh also suggests beets and kohlrabi, slice them as thinly as possible - using a mandoline if you have one is the best way.

The dressing is made up of canola (I used olive) oil, lemon juice, honey, English mustard (I used a sweet hot mustard - I did not need yet another type of mustard opened, sitting in my fridge), salt and pepper.

I preferred the vegetables tossed with the dressing and allowed to sit for a few minutes, rather than having the dressing just drizzled over the top as instructed. Allowing it to rest, the vegetables become softer, making it more manageable to pierce the vegetables with your fork.

I found this recipe to be just OK. 

Tomato, Thyme, and Goat Cheese Tart: 

I can sum this up in one word:  F A B U L O U S ! ! !

The recipe calls for thirteen ounces of puff pastry to be rolled out rather thinly, and trimmed to the size of a ten by twelve rectangle.

My package was fourteen ounces, and I had the measurement in mind, and found the sheet was almost the recommended size. I completely spaced on the rather thinly part, and rolled it out to the specified size, not paying attention to the thickness of the dough. It turned out just fine, other than the edges appear to be higher than the picture in the book.

My plan was to have a picture showing only a third of the tomatoes layered, so you can see the fresh minced garlic sprinkled over the dough, under the tomatoes - however, the doorbell rang and when I returned I went into automatic mode and finished placing the tomatoes on top. Oh well.

This was incredibly easy to throw together, and made for a delicious weeknight meal served with a simple green salad.

All you do is - roll out the pastry, cut off about half an inch from the edges, brush them with some beaten egg and place on top of the rectangle - this will give it a rimmed edge when baked. Sprinkle on some minced garlic, layer tomatoes on top, season with salt and pepper, and give it a drizzle of olive oil, and bake for fifteen minutes before adding the cheese and thyme leaves, continue baking until golden and bubbly (mine never bubbled).

This is one you will want to make for company or bring to a potluck; it comes together quickly and can even sit for an hour before serving, as Hugh prefers it that way. I wouldn't know how it holds up - Andy and I polished this off in no time, straight out of the oven. Yep, the whole thing (cover your ears eyes, Kelley!) - and the recipe states it will serve four to six... it was that good. Andy even gave it an A+.

Convinced yet?

If not, one word: Puff Pastry. OK two. What doesn't taste great when made with puff pastry?

This, was by far the favorite of the month. :)

Whenever a recipe calls for puff pastry, I have always reached for Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry. Then this box caught my eye - I will a lot of the time, choose my books and wine this way - by the label. :)

I was however, curious as to why this brand was twice the price for less product.

Pepperidge Farm:


Well there you go, it's safe to say I didn't mind paying the extra money.

Chocolate-Beet Ice Cream:

I have a tendency to lean toward the unusual - and ice cream is no exception. I had never really been into ice cream, until I started making my own. My first flavor was coffee, and boy was it good. Then I ventured out and made strawberry-basil - d e l i s h! I also have made orange- Szechwan peppercorn, and cinnamon, both of which were darn tasty too.

First, melted chocolate is stirred into a custard mixture which is made from whole milk, heavy cream, and egg yolks. Next, puréed roasted beets that have been mixed with some of the milk is added, the mixture is then strained into a bowl and left to cool, then chilled.

After the mixture is chilled completely, it is processed in an ice cream machine until it is soft-set, then transferred to a freezable container and frozen until firm.

The beets give the ice cream a beautiful, bright, deep-pink hue. It tricks the brain into thinking you are about to indulge in a sweet, tart, berry flavored ice cream.

This really should be called Beet-Chocolate Ice Cream - not the other way around. All I could taste was beet; the chocolate wasn't discernible at all.

At first bite, my brain said definitely not - not liking this - it tastes like... beets.

With each consecutive bite, it does start to grow on you. But you have to like beets. Though the ice cream is soft, and seems creamy at first, it has a sort of rough texture to it - imagine running your tongue along a piece of suede (not that I have..) - soft, but not smooth.

I would have liked a stronger chocolate flavor with a slight beet undertone; this is what I was expecting with chocolate being first in the name.

I'm still undecided about this one. Like I said, it starts to grow on you.

No... no, I'm not. You either like it, or not. I wanted to like it. I really did. It's barely OK, definitely not worth the fat and calories; and the texture is weird.

They say you can't win them all. Excited for my next (and last) recipe - panzanella!

(Update: My sister was over for dinner, and just before she had to leave, [I completely forgot about wanting to serve the ice cream!] I asked her to try the new ice cream flavor I made. I did not tell her what it was made from. When she saw it, she thought it was going to be raspberry flavor. I gave her a small taste, and her first reaction... I taste chocolate! Gave her another taste - grass! Ha ha ha. Grass. Beets. Close enough. She actually liked it.)


Every time I came across a recipe for panzanella, I would say to myself, I want to make that.. and never did. So I was excited that it was a chosen recipe for this month!

I had panzanella once before, long ago; I think it was my sister-in-law, Darc, that made it, and I do remember liking it - a lot. Why it has taken me so long? Who knows..

Panzanella. A good recipe to use up some stale bread. As much as we love bread, a whole loaf of French bread is just too much for us to consume in one sitting; we could - it's just not a good thing.

I had a whole loaf of French bread in the freezer that needed using up (next time - I'll use a better quality of bread than the store brand), and it was Saturday - farmer's market day! Tomato season!

This lovely salad is made up of stale bread, tomato juice (crushing & straining fresh tomatoes), olive oil, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, Kalamata olives, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, capers and basil.

I stayed true to the recipe, with one exception - I added two cloves of garlic to the dressing; I so wanted to use my favorite Cabernet vinegar, but refrained, and used the cider vinegar that was called for in the recipe.

This was a wonderful salad, aside from my not so great bread. The bread was, I think, a bit too airy for this dish. I think a more dense bread would work better here.

I'm going to make this again with a different style bread; maybe cube it, toss it with some olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast it until it is dry. I think it will be even better this way.

(Update: We ordered a panzanella salad at dinner from a fancy restaurant when we went out; I was curious to see the difference; even with the less than stellar bread I used - Hugh's recipe was way better! It rocked!)

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for July 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. Wow. That's a lot of cooking!!!! The chicken photo cracks me up.

  2. I also made the Beetroot ice cream and ended up throwing it out! Not a hit in this house...

    Your food photos are amazing - it all looks so delicious. Better not show my family your blog, they'll want to come over to your place for dinner :-)

    1. Thank you! Sorry you tossed the ice cream. Mine is still in the freezer - I so want to like it! My sister does - so I will serve it to her when she comes again. :)

      Thanks for the info about Eat Your Books!

  3. Dear Cathleen, so many wonderful dishes - so let´s get started with the comments: your ice cream has an amazing color - I will have to make this after all, I opted for the pea ice cream - very intriguing recipes indeed. The panzanella did not make my list but your looks absolutely outstanding. The Tart is my one of my personal favorites as well - a true winner, I agree! The shaved veg look as crunchy and as delightful as can be. The courgettes are my go to side dish and have been for many years - they can take a bit of time to prepare. Deliciousness on a plate! And the pasta with raw tomato screams summer - your presentation is picture perfect!
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos, your insightful comments and your joy of cooking along with us!

    1. Thank you so much Andrea for your kind words. I am having a wonderful time cooking through this delightful book.

  4. I made two of the same recipes as you. I tried the zucchini on a cast iron skillet and it just wasn't cooking. I ended up putting in the broiler as for the raw tomato pasta dish I added anchovy paste and it made all the world of difference in flavor. Impresssive array of dishes, nicely done.

    1. That surprises me, that the cast iron did not work for you - you would think you would get a better sear than a regular pan or non-stick. Placing them under the broiler was probably way quicker anyway!

  5. All of your dishes are so beautiful! I made a few of the same recipes - I think I'm the only one who liked the chocolate-beet ice cream - but I'm sorry now that I didn't try to squeeze in the raw tomato pasta and marinated zucchini.

    1. Thank you Zosia. If you get a chance, do try the marinated zucchini - it really was wonderful.

  6. Hi Cathleen, you went all out, and they all turned out so wonderful. Each one is equally impressive. Even the beet ice cream. Well done.

  7. Now that's a wonderfully written post. I liked reading all your constructive comments. My husband and I made beer can chicken several times and it was always good. Quite an undignified pose for the poor chicken but very tasty. While I will try several of your recipes that I didn't make this month, the one I will make Sunday for dinner guests is the Tomato, Thyme and Goat Cheese Tart. I'm with you with the Dufour - it's the one to use. Also, buratta. After you find a stellar product, it's hard to return to mediocre. A delightful post and a good month of eating healthy foods.

    1. Thank you, Mary. I'm sure you and your guests won't be disappointed with the tomato tart. I found it to be, dare I say it, out of this world.

  8. First, gorgeous photos! Everything looks like I want to eat it! Second, I think the tomato tart would be my favorite, too, big I adore panzanella, so there would be some competition. Finally, I have railed against Pepperidge Farms puff pastry for a while now. Full of chemicals and NO butter!! What is that about? Yes, Dufour is expensive, but it is the only one I will use other than my homemade. Thanks for your wonderful CCC post! I hope to do a guest post with you all this fall! ~ Davis

    1. Thank you, David! I really enjoyed the panzanella as well - it certainly was a toss-up for a favorite this month. I did add some garlic to the tomato juice, which I think added a just the right punch. I was truly shocked by the ingredient list of the puff pastry - one really must read labels! Looking forward to your guest post!

    2. Cathleen - I also meant to comment that I have just had my first beer can chicken, too, and am hooked. I want to test it with other things, too... like cream soda, ginger ale, or maybe even root beer! It is a shame that the cans for Coppola's Sofia champagne are so tiny!

    3. Oooh. I like the sound of trying out root beer!

  9. You made such a nice range of this month's recipes! The tomato tart is especially beautiful. I really enjoyed the marinated zucchini salad - my zucchini is taking off in the garden, finally, so I'm going to be having that one again soon.

    1. Thanks, Teresa! The tomato tart was my favorite, though the zucchini was right there behind it.

  10. Hi Cathleen, A most impressive month of very lovely looking dishes prepared! Your beet ice cream looks positively spectacular, love the tomato tart too! Great month, thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Peggy! The ice cream was a beautiful color. I'm still picking at it, and I think I am liking it more with each bite.

  11. Stunning, all of it, Cathleen. I love the artistic way you present the steps and the finished product. Your ice cream in that antique dish and beaded spoon....such a beautiful way to wrap up a lovely post!

  12. Great assessment. I loved the marinated zucchini, but puff pastry tart is really hard to beat. Thanks for sharing the comparison of the Pepperidge Farm and Dufour packages. I usually buy Dufour--my store--doesn't carry Pepperidge Farm, and it's nice to know what I'm paying the extra money for. I found the pasta bland too, and I used the amount the recipe called for. Ditto on the beet ice cream, too. I wouldn't make it again, but it does seem to grow on you.


Thanks for visiting! Would love to hear from you - feel free to comment.