Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | January Recipes

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

My recipe selections for January:

 Kale and Mushroom Lasagna
 Spelt Salad with Squash and Fennel
Cauliflower with Toasted Seeds
 Curried Bubble and Squeak
 Pasta with Greens, Garlic, and Chile
 Artichoke and White Bean Dip
 Roasted Potatoes and Eggplants

To see the complete list of recipes offered for January, click here.

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

We enjoyed this lasagna, aside from the few mishaps I encountered while prepping this recipe.

Mishap number one. Don't you hate it when this happens? I promptly texted my husband to pick up another onion on his way home from work. I would just continue on with the recipe. Not so. The onion was for the béchamel sauce, the first component to be made, and I wanted the sauce to have time to infuse the flavors of the onion, bay leaf and celery - so... I waited.

OK. Back in business. Béchamel sauce infusing, mushrooms sautéing, kale blanching. Not shown, is the noodles soaking.

This recipe calls for fresh noodles, which I love; if you have never tried fresh noodles, your missing out, they are melt-in-your-mouth soft and tender, however I did not have time to make my own, so I soaked dry noodles in hot water while I prepped the rest of the recipe.

Mishap number two. "Stir about half of the béchamel sauce into the kale; put to one side. Spread half the remaining béchamel sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 11-inch ovenproof dish." I read it as, spread the remaining sauce over the bottom of the dish - which to me, sounded like a lot. Hello! Red flag!!

This meant there was no sauce to top the final layer of the lasagna noodles, which would not have been a problem if I had fully cooked the noodles; without the sauce on top, there was no extra moisture to bring the noodles to an al a dente texture.

Mishap number three. Miscounted the noodles. One short. OK, not a big deal..

The lasagna noodles on top were a bit tough, but this dish had wonderful flavor - and how could it not? Béchamel sauce, sautéed mushrooms, kale. Yum!

I would make this one again, only with fresh homemade noodles, or at least fully cooked noodles, and of course, with the appropriate division of the sauce.

Note: As is the norm with me and the recipes in this book, I upped the amounts of the seasonings; four cloves of garlic, as opposed to two, and two teaspoons of chopped thyme, in place of a few sprigs of thyme.

[Farro] Salad with Squash and Fennel

Wholesome goodness. That was my thought of this salad, while chowing down. It was the perfect ending to a tiring day.

The recipe consists of spelt (which I could not find when I looked for it for a previous recipe, so I once again used farro* that I had left over from that same recipe), butternut squash, fennel, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, Parmesan, and parsley.

The squash, fennel, garlic, and walnuts are roasted first, then tossed with the cooked spelt/farro, lemon juice, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and garnished with fennel fronds.

This salad can be served warm (which I preferred) or cold.

*Farro is not wheat, but a plant and grain all its own. A grain of farro looks and tastes somewhat like a lighter brown rice. It has a complex, nutty taste with undertones of oats and barley. But lacking the heaviness of many whole-wheat grains, farro tastes more elegant than earnest. - (source)

Cauliflower with Toasted Seeds 

Whether you artfully arrange the cauliflower..

..or toss it all together, it looks beautiful, and surprisingly has a lot of flavor thanks to the toasted seeds. 

I had it in mind that I would be cooking the cauliflower, not sure why. Andrea, our fearless leader of the CCC, lists the recipes along with what chapter they are from; this one being from "Raw Assemblies", so I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open the book to find that no cooking was involved, other than a quick toasting of the seeds.

The recipe consists of thinly sliced cauliflower, generous amount of toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds, parsley (which I forgot, and did not miss it - I made this again, and intentionally omitted it) and a sprinkling of sumac, salt, and pepper. The cauliflower is dressed with a vinaigrette made from canola oil (I used olive oil), lemon, and sumac.  

The sliced cauliflower is tossed with the vinaigrette and toasted seeds, and sprinkled with some salt and pepper. After plating, it is topped with a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch more of sumac. 

I wasn't expecting to like this as much as we did. This will be making a few repeat appearances here for sure.

Curried Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and squeak? It is a traditional English dish made up of leftovers - generally made from potatoes and Brussels sprouts, though any vegetable can be used, and is mixed together and formed in a large, thick, pancake shape, and fried until crisp. Here, Hugh has changed it up slightly, he uses potatoes and cabbage, and tosses it all-together and sautés it - he calls it "a rough-and-tumble approach" on the traditional pancake style.

Cooked potatoes and cabbage are mixed with onion, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper, and sautéed till everything is heated through.

We really enjoyed this one; and I can see how this would be great topped with a poached egg as Hugh suggests, and I was going to do just that for breakfast the next morning with the leftovers - only there weren't any.

You'll want to file this one under comfort foods. So easy and delicious.

Pasta with Greens, Garlic, and Chile

Apparently I cooked my greens longer than Hugh did. The picture in the book - the greens look so fresh and alive; no matter, this pasta dish has wonderful flavor.

This has to be the most beautiful Swiss chard I have ever purchased at the store. The stalks were bright white and blemish free, the leaves such a lively, deep, dark green; I almost felt they were too pretty to eat.

The chard is roughly torn (I roughly chopped) and placed in the pot with the pasta in the last few minutes of cooking. The drained pasta and chard are mixed with sautéed onion, garlic, and fresh red chile, then topped with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

This was pretty darn good. My husband even commented, "this can't be good for us it's so good; it tastes like it is made with a ton of butter." - which of course, it's not.

Artichoke and White Bean Dip

I chose to leave the dip on the chunkier side.

This dip consists of sautéed onion, artichoke hearts, garlic, fresh oregano, and cannellini beans. After everything is combined and heated through, it is transferred to a food processor, and some lemon juice, dried chile flakes, and yogurt are added and whirled until you have a course purée. Salt and pepper, and some reserved oil from the artichoke hearts (if needed to thin) are added and mixed until it achieves a texture to your liking. I finished by hand, to keep a rougher texture. 

Serve this dip topped with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of the reserved olive oil, alongside some warm flat bread, or as I did, with sliced baguette that has been trickled with some olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and broiled until golden. Hugh also mentions this is good served on a bed of crisp lettuce leaves.  

At first, I thought this to be not so great. It did grow on me, bite after bite, and good thing; it ended up being my dinner for the evening.

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplants

When it comes to roasted vegetables, what is there not to like?

Hugh has an interesting way of doing things. This is the second recipe where he has you heat up the oil in a non-stick roasting pan (in the oven), then toss the vegetables in the hot oil before roasting. I don't see why you could not toss the vegetables in (cold) oil first, then roast.

The only non-stick roasting pan I have is the one I use for my TG turkey. I felt it was too large, and with the high sides, the potatoes may not have browned fully, so I used a half-sheet pan - the one I always use when I roast vegetables.

Cubed potatoes and eggplant are tossed with salt and pepper, I also added some hot pimentón (Spanish paprika), then tossed in hot oil and roasted for about half an hour, at which time sliced garlic is added and roasted for another fifteen minutes or so, just until the vegetables are browned all over.

After the vegetables are removed from the oven, they are drizzled with lemon juice, and then finishing touches of your choice are sprinkled on top. Hugh gives suggestions of lemon zest, hot smoked paprika, or chopped herbs. I sprinkled mine with parsley and chives.

This was another favorable dish. 

The following recipe was one of my choices from last month that was not included in my December  post:

Roasted Baby Beets with Walnuts and Yogurt Dressing

Beets. We love beets in this household.

First the beets are roasted with some thyme, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, until the beets are tender, about one hour, depending on the size of the beets.

After roasting, the beets are peeled, quartered, and tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and a sprinkling of pepper, and set aside to cool while the dressing is made.

The dressing consists of yogurt, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper. The beets are tossed ever-so lightly with the dressing (to obtain a marbled look), along with some chives and toasted walnuts. The dressed beets are plated with some watercress and additional chives and walnuts.

I did not care for this recipe. I felt the dressing was too heavy for the beets to shine through. I prefer a light vinaigrette when I serve beets as a salad.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the January LYL post - you will be taken there directly 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. Everything looks wonderful as always! I too was surprised at how good the cauliflower salad and pasta with greens dishes simple yet so tasty. (and that is gorgeous chard!). Your beet salad is beautiful...sorry it disappointed but I liked the sound of just tossing them with lemon juice and olive oil.

  2. Wow, you had quite the month with Hugh. Thank you for telling me all the things that could possibly go wrong when I make the lasagna. That onion thing.....I get so mad when that happens. (More often than not these days) Because I don't have a "honey-do" anymore to run a last-minute errand, I buy onions (as well as Honey Maid graham crackers) before I even get near to running out of them. I did not get to the Pasta with Greens, Garlic and Chile this month, unfortunately but will make it in Make-up March. Definitely will make the cauliflower as everyone liked it and I adore cauliflower. It was that "thin slicing" that troubled me! I also like beets. Didn't the pizza intrique you? Nice job this month. You've encouraged me to get a few more of these made. I love cooking through this book.

    1. Oh, Mary, I should buy onions in bulk, I just know if I do, then I won't need them... or is that even possible? BTW, I love Honey Maid graham crackers! Been awhile since I have had them. Just may have to buy a box! The cauliflower dish, was surprisingly very good. And I don't know why I did not choose the beet pizza! We love beets!

  3. Lots of great choices this month! I didn't try it, but you are tempting me with the lasagna, despite your mishaps. I feel your pain. I hate when the onions do that. It always seems to happen when there aren't more in the pantry. And bubble and squeak seems like a "must try" as well. I enjoyed the artichoke dip and (warm) squash salad too.

  4. I hate when I get an onion like that... But the end results looked stunning, I think I like all these recipes a lot!


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