Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club | October Recipes

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

October Recipe Choices:

Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash
Cannellini Bean and Leek Soup with Chile Oil
Carrot, Orange, and Cashews
Baby Beet Tarte Tatin 
Pumpkin and Raisin Tea loaf 
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots
Broccoli Salad with Asian-Style Dressing
White Beans with Artichokes
Kale and Onion Pizza

Warm Salad of Mushrooms and Roasted Squash

Close your eyes, and imagine little cubes of blue cheese scattered throughout this most delicious salad of roasted squash, sautéed mushrooms, and arugula, that has been dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.

I was lucky I had enough roasted squash for the salad, for I could not stop picking at it while it cooled; I'm a sucker for anything roasted, especially squash.

Cooled? - you may be asking. This is supposed to be a warm salad... The squash cooked quicker than expected and I could not resist sneaking a few bites (OK, a lot) while prepping the rest of the salad.

This is the second recipe in as many months that we used roasted squash in a recipe. I truly am amazed at just how much flavor the squash picks up from the herbs (sage) that are left whole, and the garlic (in this recipe) was thickly sliced, though left whole (with skin on) in a previous recipe.

No cheese? No worries! I had maybe three or four bites left to eat before I realized I forgot to add the cheese! Dang! As much as I love a creamy blue, this salad tasted great without it.

Throughout the rest of the evening, I kept thinking to myself, mmm - that was really good.

Cannellini Bean and Leek Soup with Chile Oil

So excited to see new buds on my Thai hot pepper plant. :)

The chile oil is made from simmering chile peppers, thyme, and garlic in olive oil. The instructions say to remove the membrane and seeds from the pepper and slice. I sliced horizontally, so it was more minced than sliced. I think Hugh must have meant to slice the peppers lengthwise for my peppers (and everything else) charred. My oil never turned red and had a burnt taste to it. Total fail on the oil part of this recipe. It was not a good day in the kitchen for me, as you may know if you read my post on French bread (the bread, shown below).

This soup is made up of leeks, thyme, bay leaf, garlic, vegetable stock, cannellini beans, oregano, and parsley. It comes together rather quickly (no long simmering times) and makes for a delicious weeknight dinner.

The leeks, thyme, and bay leaf are sautéed first until the leeks are tender, then the garlic is added and cooked for just another minute or so. The broth is added along with the oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper, and simmered gently for twenty minutes. Bam! Done.  The soup is now ready to be served with a trickle of chile oil - if it had turned out.

The soup, it was a success - and it tasted even better the following day.

Carrot, Orange, and Cashews

I knew I would like this - I love anything citrus.

This salad of sort, is made up of oranges, carrots, toasted cashews, and cumin seed, with a splash of oil and vinegar, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. I did not have cumin seed, so I subbed celery seed.

I will make a couple of changes the next time a make this. I would pass on toasting the cashews - I prefer them raw; and I would julienne the carrots finer using a kinpira peeler, for the thick carrots were awkward to eat - this would not be a good choice for a first date meal!  I took the leftovers to my sister and she said the same; she liked the salad, except for the thickness of the carrots.

 The kinpira peeler - awesome tool.

This was a wonderful dish, and can only be made better by using oranges that are in season.

Baby Beet Tarte Tatin

They say you feast with your eyes first...

It may not look like much in the beginning, but once it is turned out and dressed with the vinaigrette, it is absolutely gorgeous.

Hugh has a recipe for a "rough puff pastry" that is a cheater version of true homemade puff that you can use. I opted for store-bought - and by store-bought I mean this brand - it is as close to homemade as one can get.

This was a first for me, eating the skin of the beet. I have always skinned them. I must have re-read that recipe again and again, looking for when the beets were to be skinned - peeled before cooking, or slipped off afterward. I tried slipping them off after they were roasted, but it was not happening. And after a quick Google search, there really is no need to peel your beets if they are young - older beets, the skin can be a little tough.

The beets are first roasted until tender in a mixture of butter (I used all oil, for I thought I was out of butter - gasp! though I did find it a day later - in plain sight of course), oil, cider vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper. Once the beets are ready, they are arranged cut side up and covered with the puff pastry and returned to the oven until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Once the tarte is cooled, it is turned out onto a serving platter. 

I wish I had left the tips on a few of the beets - it would have made for a more artistic design - and I'm thinking, using red and golden beets would be beautiful too. Next time - and I do hope there will be a next time.

After the tarte has been placed on its serving platter, it is dressed with a vinaigrette made of shallots (or scallions can be used), English mustard, cider vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and parsley.

We had this for dinner alongside a basic green salad. This would also make for a fun and delicious appetizer or light lunch.

Unfortunately, it cannot be made ahead of time for the bottom crust will become soggy. We had leftovers the next evening, in which I warmed it in a 350°F oven for about half an hour. Aside from a soggy bottom (despite being re-heated on a rack that was placed over a baking sheet), we thought it tasted even better the next day.

Beets and puff pastry - enough said.

Pumpkin and Raisin Tea Loaf

So much for my thinking this was a quick-bread, that I was going to whip it out in no time in between my morning workout and a bike ride. One should never assume... it was a little more involved than I realized:

1. Grinding the almonds
2. Separating the eggs
3. Juicing and zesting of a lemon
4. Making my own self-rising flour (flour/baking powder/salt)
5. Whipping of the egg whites and folding the egg whites into the batter
6. A longer baking time (18 minutes more)

So much for that one bowl recipe I was thinking of too.

It's all good though - it was worth it.

This delightful bread is made from muscovado sugar (I used dark brown sugar), eggs, raw pumpkin flesh (I used canned), lemon juice & zest, raisins, ground almonds, self-rising flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

I do like Hugh's idea of lining the loaf pan with parchment - something I had never thought to do when baking bread; it made for easy removal.

I'm glad I decided to use the raisins I had on hand - Sunmaid Mixed Jumbo Raisins - I think it made for a very pretty raisin-studded loaf.

This bread turned out quite moist despite not having any added oil or butter, and quite tasty; and is so frigging good toasted and buttered - maybe the only way it should be eaten.


Vegeree - you may be thinking it sounds familiar. This is actually a take on kedgeree, the curried rice dish made with fish, cream, and hard-boiled eggs. Here Hugh omits the cream, swaps out the fish with eggplant, and has added some zucchini as well.

I had some butternut squash I needed to use, so I tossed that in too, along with some garlic. The vegetables are tossed together with oil, salt, pepper, and curry powder (I also added a bit of cumin), and roasted until the vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are roasting the rice and hard-boiled eggs are cooked.

Hugh has an interesting way to cook the rice. First it is boiled uncovered until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, a damp kitchen towel (I used strong paper towels) is placed under the lid and cooks for ten minutes more on the lowest heat setting; then off heat, is allowed to sit for another five minutes.

I found all this fuss unnecessary. Cooking the rice according to the package directions would work just as well. 

After everything is cooked, the rice and vegetables are tossed together, and then topped with the eggs and some fresh ground black pepper. 

Traditionally, kedgeree is eaten at breakfast; I however, chose to serve our vegeree for dinner.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots

As I have said before, I love any and all roasted vegetables. So there is no surprise that this was a hit we me - hubby seems to have an aversion to anything onion, or anything that even resembles an onion..

As all roasted vegetables are, this was easy and quick to make. Just tossed the prepped vegetables with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a few sprigs of thyme, and roasted until tender - around a half hour or so, stirring at least once half way through.

The recipe calls for a drizzle of lemon juice and fresh thyme before serving. However, The Mr. also is not a fan of citrus used in this way. So instead of squeezing lemon juice over the roasted vegetables as the recipe calls for, I served the vegetables with wedges of lemon alongside. The lemon adds a lightness, and bright taste to the dish.

You can't go wrong with roasted vegetables of any kind. It's amazing how vegetables are transformed when roasted. They caramelize on the outside while becoming soft and tender, and develop a concentrated and sweetened flavor. If you haven't tried roasting your favorite vegetable, you're missing out.  

 Broccoli Salad with Asian-Style Dressing

I think this as more of a side-dish than a salad. The only ingredients are broccoli, green onion, sesame seeds, and a vinaigrette made from garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, pepper, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

The broccoli is first blanched to soften it slightly. The vinaigrette is added to the still warm broccoli and allowed to sit until cooled. Just before serving, toasted sesame seeds (as you can see, I did not toast mine) and sliced scallions are scattered over the top.

This was OK. The vinaigrette has good flavor. I think I would have preferred this served warm as a side dish, rather than at room temperature as a salad.

White Beans with Artichokes

This would have been a lot more visually appealing if I did not forget to scatter over the cheese! Gahhh! I can't believe I forgot - again!

For this salad, slivered garlic (as usual - I doubled up on the garlic) is sautéed in a tablespoon of oil from the marinated artichoke hearts, then the hearts themselves are added and cooked for a very short time before the beans are added, and everything is heated through.

After removing the pan from the heat, lemon juice, salt, and pepper are added and combined, then this mixture is placed on top of salad greens.

The forgotten cheese.

Wait a minute.. what about dressing for the salad? This would make for a rather dry salad with no dressing. Was the lemon juice supposed to stand in for a dressing? The beans pretty much soaked the lemon juice all up. I made a quick, light vinaigrette - I mixed up some olive oil, champagne vinegar, lemon juice, and a dash of salt.

Again, another OK recipe. The cheese was my favorite part. To my surprise, The Mr. said he liked it - he does love his beans.

Well, I made nine out of the ten recipes I committed to this month- time just got away. With the holidays upon us, I don't see myself committing to ten each month until at least January. 

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the September LYL post 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! (Some of the recipes from the book are posted on-line on Hugh's website [and others], just do a Google search.)


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TWD: Puff Pastry Pizzettes

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Michel Richard

Have you ever had bits of puff pastry dough left over from a recipe and did not know what to do with the scraps? So you either tossed it (gasp!), or thrown it in the freezer, where it ends up banished to the back not to be found for months, or maybe even years later? Well, we have a solution for you.

October was "puff month" for us TWD bakers - and this week's recipe uses those scraps that we had left over from the sunny-side-up pastries we made two weeks ago.

These are so uber easy to make, you may not want to wait till you have scraps. You may just want to go out and get yourself a fresh box right away!

There's really no "recipe" to make these. You just take your leftover scraps, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch and cut out circles to the size of your liking. Add your favorite topping and bake in a 350° oven for about fifteen minutes, until puffed and golden. You do want to make sure to press the toppings into the dough a bit, so they do not slide off when the dough puffs up. 

I topped a few with tomato and blue cheese, some with sautéed mushrooms, and the others with tomato, and just a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Out of the three, the tomato with just a dash of salt and pepper was my favorite. I took some to my sister, and she enjoyed the other two flavors (I ate all of the tomato with s&p).

You can also go with a sweet version if you like - like a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, jam, or berries, the options are limited only to your imagination.

As usual, do check out what my fellow bakers have come up with. You will find their links on the TWD website, under the LYL: Puff Pastry Pizzettes link.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to The Sky's Edge
by Grace Young


I'm late posting this recipe for I did not even make it until the Wednesday it was due. Argh. Hate that. Not that it happens often - I'm just a stickler for being on time.

 Mise en place.
(Very few ingredients this round.)

Bowl 1: Carrots
Bowl 2: Onion
Bowl 3: Flank steak, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, oil
Bowl 4: Hunan chili garlic sauce (recipe calls for Matouk's Calypso Sauce)
Bowl 5: Salt

The other reason I am late posting this, it's hard to write a story on something you're not gung-ho about (sorry Grace!). This stir-fry did not have the knock-your-socks-off flavor so many of the other recipes have.

There was no ginger or garlic used in this recipe (both of which I love).

The only aromatic is the onion, which is stir-fried along with the carrots, and then transferred to a bowl while the meat is added to the wok and seared, but not cooked all the way through. The carrot mixture is then added back to the wok with the meat, along with the hot sauce and a dash of salt, and stir-fried for a short time, just until the beef is done - and that's it.

No mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, fish sauce, or hoisin, to throw in at the end of the stir-fry. I think that is what I enjoy in most of the recipes, that and starting the recipes out with some garlic and ginger.

Maybe it would have tasted better if I had the right hot sauce (Matouk's Calypso Sauce) - sometimes that one ingredient is what pulls it altogether and makes the dish. However, I have told myself I need to use up what I have before purchasing new; and I have a few bottles of different hot sauces that need to be used up first. 

Please don't let this post sway you from not wanting to try it yourself. You may like it, as other members of Wok Wednesdays did. It just wasn't my style - and for once, I'm not sounding like a broken record - saying how simple and fabulous these recipes from the book are - and they have been!! So go get the book already!! :)

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 78 of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book 117: Everyday Tapas | Fresh Salmon in Mojo Sauce

by Parragon Books

This was not only easy and delicious, but it's healthy to boot! What more can one ask for?

Salmon is my favorite fish, and this was a nice change from the ordinary. Normally we bake or grill it with a little olive oil, smoked salt, and some pepper.

As I mentioned above, this is healthy. The sauce has no cream, butter or mayonnaise. It is made up of olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, and white wine vinegar, processed in a food processor (easy part - no mincing of the garlic). If you have a choice between a small or large food processor, use the small! I was not paying attention to the volume of ingredients, and there really was not enough for the large bowl to get it all thoroughly mixed. I had to finish the sauce by hand.

When you purchase your salmon, ask your fish monger to skin and debone it for you. This will save time and less mess to clean-up later.

The fish is cut in half widthwise, and then again lengthwise in three-quarters of an inch pieces, and sprinkled with some salt and pepper. The fish is cooked for about ten minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish) in a frying pan with three tablespoons of oil, until the fish is cooked through and browned on both sides.

Serve the fish drizzled with some of the mojo sauce, and place the remaining sauce in a small bowl to accompany the fish - it's really good - you will want more than just a drizzle.

Click here for the recipe.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book 116: The Sweet Potato Lover's Cookbook | Iberian Sweet Potatoes

by Lyniece North Talmadge

Sweet potatoes or yams? Oh the controversy. It is my understanding that the sweet potato is the firmer, stringy, lighter skinned potato, and the yam which cooks up softer, has the purplish hued skin. The book's cover shows what I thought was a yam.

After the potatoes have been par-boiled and cooled, they are cubed and simmered with sautéed onions (shallots would be good too), bay leaf, chives, salt, lemon pepper and sherry for about forty minutes - just until the potatoes have finished cooking. I did not have any lemon pepper, so I added a small amount of lemon zest.

Ready to be served! Easy peasy.

Sweet potato or yam, no matter really - they were delicious, and I so welcomed the leftovers the next evening when I got home late and did not want to make dinner.

This would be a welcome change (or lovely addition) to your Thanksgiving menu.

You can find the recipe by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TWD: Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastries & Classic French Bread

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Michel Richard (pastries) / Danielle Forestier (bread)

Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastries

These cute pastries are a breeze to make when you take the short-cuts I did.

I had every intention of making my own puff pastry, but it has just been too warm to attempt - and I wanted to get these made pronto. I'm feeling so behind in my TWD participation. Hence the double post this week.

Not only did I use store-bought puff pastry (Dufour brand - the closest to homemade as one can get. It is made from only butter, flour, water, salt and lemon juice), I also used canned apricots, where the recipe calls for fresh, and to poach them. However apricots are no longer in season in California - just as well, for it saved me an extra step.

All that was left to make was the pastry cream. This pastry cream was OK. It had an odd after-taste after-feel, kind of powdery. I did add too much vanilla extract, but I don't think that would have given it it's odd texture; the good thing is, it wasn't noticeable after baking. Though next time, I'll use the recipe from Stars Desserts, by Emily Luchetti.

The dough is rolled out on a sugared work surface, then placed sugar side up on a baking sheet, the pastry cream and apricots are placed on top. They are baked for about thirty-five minutes in a three hundred and fifty degree oven until puffed and golden.

An apricot glaze, made from apricot jam and water that has simmered until syrupy, is brushed over the warm pastries. I think it is best to brush them after they have cooled, for the glaze seemed to just soak into the pastry, as well as the apricots. Brushing them again after they cooled gave them a shinier appearance.  

You may have noticed in the first picture, one pastry is smaller than the other. The first pastry I rolled out the dough according to the recipe, and thought it was awfully thin, and was afraid it would not have much of a rise, so I rolled the second one a little thicker and shorter; as you can see they both turned out fine. Though neither puffed as much as in the photo shown in the book. 

These were fun to make, and pretty tasty for how easy they were to prepare. I would like to make them again when apricots are in season - I think poached apricots might be a bit firmer, whereas the canned were quite soft.

I don't know what I like best - warm from the oven, or cold, straight from the fridge. I only made two of these and place one in the refrigerator overnight. The pastry still had some crunch to it, and there was a stronger apricot flavor when eaten cold. The pastry reheats nicely too. I placed half of the cold pastry in a three hundred degree oven for about five minutes.

Click here for the link to the recipe if you would like to make these yourself.

Classic French Bread

Well. The day I chose to make the French bread, the baking gods were busy, and not with me this day.

This recipe was scheduled for September. I did not get around to making it then, and we were having soup for dinner, and I thought it would be great to have some bread to go along with.

Reading the recipe, it sounded easy and doable in time for dinner. No matter that it was ninety-four degrees outside, and I would be preheating my oven to five hundred degrees.

I had my doubts from the very beginning. The dough just did not have the soft and supple feel to it as it looked in this video of Danielle making this very recipe. My dough was quite dry and firm. I added extra water, but that did not seem to help any.

After the dough has been formed into batard shapes (mishap number one: dropped one on the floor), it is placed on a floured linen or cotton towel, and the towel is pleated to help hold their shape. The picture above shows the dough after it has risen. Mishap number two: apparently I did not seal the seams tight enough - they started splitting. At least I knew my yeast was working.

These are then turned out onto a baker's peel, seam side down and slipped onto a baking stone or baking tiles (I used the back of a cookie sheet that was placed in the oven while it pre-heated). Then the oven walls are spritzed with water (alternatively you can pour water in a broiler pan that has been placed on the lowest rack) to create a moist environment. This is what gives the crust its characteristic crunch.

From the look of the slash marks, which I thought turned out so pretty - you can see the bread has an airy look to it. I couldn't wait to slice into it to reveal that airy, holey crumb that French bread has.

Did you know, that in France, it is a law that you have to wait twenty minutes after baking, before the bread can go on sale to the public? Also, no cornmeal is allowed on the baking peel or sheet either (some people use cornmeal for easy transfer and for extra crunch), for French bread is only made from flour, water, yeast and salt - nothing more.

No tunneling holes whatsoever. My crumb is tight as can be. Hmph. Looks like a flat standard white loaf, that also did not have any flavor to it. It did have a great crust though! Oh well. Maybe I'll try again when the weather is cooler.

If you would like to give this a try, click here for the recipe. Do visit my fellow baker's sites to see how they fared with this recipe and the pastry recipe. You will find their links on the LYL: Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pasties link and the LYL: Classic French Bread link on the Tuesdays with Dorie website.