Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club | November Recipes

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

My selections for November:

Rutabaga "Farrotto"
Twice-Baked Potatoes
Chestnut and Sage Soup
Patatas Bravas

Click here for the complete list of August's recipe options.

Rutabaga "Farrotto"

The actual recipe is named Rutabaga (or Swede - depending on if you have the US or UK version of the book) "Speltotto". It's a play on risotto, a rice dish - here Hugh substitutes spelt for the rice.

I could not find pearled spelt, so I opted for pearled farro. It is mentioned in the book that pearled barley could be substituted, but reading the packages, barley can take up to an hour to cook, as where the farro only takes about twenty minutes - this is why I chose the farro over the barley, and I was happy with the outcome.

Cubed rutabaga is mixed in with some sautéed onions and garlic. The farro (or spelt), is stirred in until it is covered in oil and butter from the onion mixture. As with risotto, warmed broth is added in next, about a cup at a time, and stirring until the grains have absorbed all the liquid, before adding the next cup of broth. After all the broth has been added and the grains and rutabaga are tender (al a dente), some parsley and cheese are mixed in along with some salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 

The Mr. deemed this "good & hearty".  He took the leftovers to work for him and a co-worker; who commented "this must be healthy. It's on the bland side." Just goes to show you, how individual tastes vary.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

Who doesn't love a good baked potato? Twice-baked or otherwise. 

For me, baked potatoes are an easy and quick comfort food. Twice-baked are a bit more indulgent and take a little longer - but not much, and are worth it. Served with a salad, you have an easy weeknight meal.

For twice-baked potatoes, you cut the top off of a baked potato and scoop out the flesh, mix it with some butter and sour cream (or Greek yogurt as I did), and add in your favorite fixings - this can be anything from bacon to broccoli - use your imagination. Replace the filling into the shell, mounding it, and bake again until heated through. 

For this recipe, scallions, smoked Gouda, and a generous dash of cayenne pepper where my choice of fixings. This would also be delicious with sautéed mushrooms added in, as I did with these potatoes in a previous post.

Add extra cheese and scallions (or chives) for garnish, just before serving. I added extra cheese on top, gave it another minute or two in the oven - just long enough for it to melt, then I added sliced scallions and some Gouda hearts.

Chestnut and Sage Soup

A lovely chestnut soup topped with crisp fried sage leaves, chopped chestnuts, and a spattering of yogurt.

The recipe states you can use vacuum-packed precooked chestnuts. I wanted to try my hand at roasting my own - though it is mentioned in the book to blanch, peel and simmer the chestnuts. But we all know roasting brings out a much deeper flavor in foods than boiling ever would.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..♪

Well not quite... these were roasted in the oven... and an electric oven at that. 

Before the chestnuts are roasted, they are first soaked in warm water for about half an hour. Then the flat side of the chestnut is scored with an X (the skins are tough - you will need a very sharp knife). They are then placed on a baking sheet, flat side up, and roasted until the skins curl back at the X, and the chestnuts are tender.

They are peeled while still warm for easier peeling- so it's said. It's a tedious job to say the least. It was not till I was just about done, that I found that if I squashed the chestnut with the palm of my hand, it helped release the skin from the meat.

I ended up having to make only half the recipe, for after the chestnuts were cooked and peeled, my pound of chestnuts yielded only seven and a quarter ounces of chestnut meat! The recipe calls for fourteen ounces.

Roasting and peeling the chestnuts was the hardest part - using precooked chestnuts, this soup will come together fairly quickly.

Onions are sautéed in a bit of olive oil and butter until soft, then some sage and garlic are added and cooked for another minute. Even though I halved the recipe, I used the full amount of sage called for in the recipe, and doubled the amount of garlic (the recipes in this book seem to need an extra boost when it comes to the herbs and spices).

Vegetable broth is added to the onion mixture, along with most of the chestnuts (a few are reserved for garnish), salt and pepper, and is simmered for about fifteen more minutes. The soup is cooled slightly, then transferred to a blender or food processor, and puréed. I prefer to use an immersion blender, for transferring hot liquids back and forth, to me, is an accident waiting to happen - and makes for less clean up! Crème fraîche is added to the purée with any needed additional seasonings. I liked the soup the way it was, so I omitted adding the crème fraîche.

The soup is garnished with fried sage leaves and sliced chestnuts. The recipe states to finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil. I used some non-fat Greek yogurt thinned with milk; though the drizzle of oil makes for a very pretty presentation.

I would make this one again - only using the packaged precooked chestnuts next time.


Crostini. It's just a fancy name for toast that is topped with your choice of deliciousness.

I make these often to go with a roasted butternut squash soup that I make. The recipe in the book has you drizzle olive oil over the bread, sprinkle with some salt, then bake until golden. Hugh lists in the book several toppings to choose from.

My version, I butter the bread and toast until golden (I did do one as Hugh suggests - the center one, with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt).

After toasting the bread, my version is turned over (Hugh's is removed from the oven and is spread with the topping of your choice), and is then topped with cheese, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. They are popped back in the oven just until the cheese is melted. I normally make these with Gruyère cheese. However, this evening I used white cheddar, for this is what I had on hand; either way, they are delicious.

Hugh suggests to top only one half of the crostini, leaving the plain half as a palate cleanser. I can't say how Hugh's version compares to mine, for my husband woofed it down - probably did not even notice that only half the bread was topped with the cheesy goodness. I'm confident that it was just as tasty.

Toasted bread and cheese. Need I say more?

Patatas Bravas

Wow. Incredible flavor. The Mr. even gave it an A+.

The book states that this is a classic Spanish tapa. We didn't go the appetizer route with this, we served it alongside our baked chicken and steamed broccoli; and the leftovers were great with our pouched eggs the next morning.

This dish consists of a homemade spicy tomato sauce (delish!) and fried potatoes.

The sauce is made from sautéing some onions, thyme, garlic and a hot chile pepper. Then a can of tomatoes, some paprika, sugar, salt and pepper are simmered together until you have a nice, rich, thick looking sauce. This is kept warm, while you make the potatoes.

Boiled (slightly undercooked) cubed potatoes are sautéed in oil until they are golden and crispy, and given a sprinkling of salt.

The potatoes are then placed in a serving dish and topped with the (out of this my world) spicy tomato sauce, and garnished with some parsley (or in my case, thyme).

This was the favorite of the month.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the November 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!



  1. You've been busy! Everything looks wonderful but I have to say, looking at that crostini has made my mouth water to the point of almost drooling!

  2. Great choices, Cathleen! Now I want to try the twice-baked potatoes and the speltotto. I enjoyed the sage and chestnut soup the best. I used vacuum-packed ones so it was super simple.

  3. Hi Cathleen, goodness you really went to town, your pictures are beautiful and presentation is spot on. I still want to prepare the sage and chestnut soup but I just have not had enough time.

  4. Everything looks fabulous Cathleen! That soup looks so silky and delicious - between your post and Betsey's I've decided that I'm going to have to make it (but I'll cheat and used vacuum packed roasted chestnuts!). The patatas bravas were a big hit for me as well and they went well with Ottolenghi's cauliflower cake (which was delicious). I haven't cooked much from the book Plenty More though I've had it since September but the few recipes I've made have been very good. They're just not quite as approachable as the ones in River Cottage Veg, the book I seem to reach for when I don't have much time but want a good vegetable/meatless dish.

  5. Dear Cathleen, the Chestnut and Sage Soup looks wonderful (plus I love all the pictures of your wonderful roasted chestnuts - so much work, I agree with you but, at the same time, so much depth of flavor to freshly roasted chestnuts). Lovely Crostini with white cheddar and thyme sounds too good not to try - I will be inspired next time I make them. The Patatas Bravas are wonderful looking too - I think my kids agree with your hubby on the "A+" for those - the only recipe I did not manage to squeeze in this month but will make - especially when looking at your pics, is the Speltotto - it looks fabulous!
    Thank you for participating again this month - these are a lot of wonderful dishes you prepared!

  6. Hi Cathleen, This is my second time around reading your post as I didn't have time to comment having to leave for a lunch with my mom and aunt. I really enjoyed your broad selection of choices, and I'd like to take a bite of that crostini right off the page, it looks soooo good! Nice photos. I'm intrigued with the Chestnut and Sage Soup, lovely, and really impressed on your fresh chestnut efforts! Looking forward to trying the Potato Bravas, this seems to be one of the months favorites.

  7. I have to agree with you, I loved the potatoes too!

  8. Beautiful photos! I especially love the plate you used for the twice-baked potato and those gouda hearts are so sweet. I'm a fan of vacuum-packed chestnuts, since roasting them and peeling them are so much work, but it's worth it once in a while, isn't it? The flavour is so spectacular.

  9. Great tour of these recipes - I love the way you write about them, and I really appreciate your honest reactions. I have some chestnuts in my cupboard now, so I think a batch of soup may happen this week. Have never had patatas bravas buy, with your recommendation, will definitely try them, too! ~ David


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