Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | February Recipes

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

My recipe selections for February:

Avocado and Ruby Grapefruit with Chile
Roasted Beet Soup with Horseradish Cream
Winter Stir-Fry with Chinese Five-Spice
Roasted Squash and Shallots with Merguez Chickpeas
Potato Rösti
To see the complete list of recipes offered for January, click here.

Avocado and [Blood Orange] with Chile

How gorgeous is this?!! 

I so enjoyed this extremely easy and quick salad.

This simple salad consists of only an avocado, blood orange (the recipe calls for a ruby grapefruit; however, not only do my meds say no grapefruit, but I have a blood orange tree that was quite plentiful this year), a fresh red chile, cilantro, and olive oil.

The "dressing" is just spooning some of the citrus juice over the salad, with a sprinkling of salt & pepper, minced chile, and a drizzle of olive oil.

So simple. So tasty. So beautiful.

Roasted Beet Soup with Horseradish Cream

Whole beets, smashed unpeeled garlic, bay leaf, and thyme sprigs are tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish. A cup of water is added, the dish covered tightly with foil, and baked until the beets are tender.

The scent of the beets baking was sublime.

The cooked beets are coarsely chopped and placed in a blender along with the garlic (squeezed from their skins), and some vegetable stock. This is puréed until smooth, and then transferred to a sauce pan to be warmed up, and more broth added if needed, depending on how thin you like your soup.

The horseradish cream is made by mixing Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or crème fraîche) and grated fresh horseradish if available - otherwise use creamed horseradish. The fresh was available to me, and I would have preferred using it, but cost wise, I went with the jarred. The fresh would have cost over six bucks, and the jarred was only two something, and being I don't ever use the stuff, I won't feel as bad for tossing out the rest, after the expiration date.

Too bad the sublimeness did not carry over to the final dish. The flavor of this soup, I did not care for at all - I added some extra salt and dried thyme to punch it up a bit, but to no avail. Such a bummer, for we are beet lovers.

Winter Stir-Fry with Chinese Five-Spice

I love stir-frying! It's amazing that you can have a delicious and healthy meal on the table in no time at all.

 Mise en place.

Stir-frying is a quick process, so you want to have all the ingredients prepped and ready to go. 

One important note about stir-frying in general, is to make sure your ingredients are as dry as possible to avoid hot oil splatters when the vegetables are added to a hot wok.

This wokful of deliciousness is comprised of carrot, parsnip, mushrooms (I used shiitake), Brussels sprouts, noodles, shallots, chile, garlic, sugar (just a pinch), salt, pepper, soy sauce, rice wine (I use dry sherry), Chinese five-spice - which adds a warm, and slightly sweet flavor, and a splash of lime juice squeezed over just before serving.

This meal took less than ten minutes to cook! And the prepping of the vegetables wasn't much longer than that - using a food processor or mandoline will make shredding of the Brussels sprouts fast and easy, but I was too lazy to pull either piece of equipment out, so I just used my chef's knife. 

It's apropos that this recipe was included in the February line-up. February 19th was Chinese New Year, and certain foods have special meaning to the Chinese people; for example, noodles (uncut) stand for a long life, mushrooms signify longevity, and mixed vegetables mean family harmony, to name just a few.

Hope your Chinese New Year was wonderful!

Roasted Squash and Shallots with Merguez Chickpeas

No, there isn't any sausage in this dish (merguez is a small, thin, spicy sausage). Hugh takes the same seasonings used in the sausage to spice up the chickpeas.

First, butternut squash is roasted along with shallots and garlic until they are tender and caramelized.

While the vegetables are roasting, the chickpeas are prepared (if using canned as I did - otherwise using dried, they need to be cooked beforehand). Cumin, fennel, cilantro and caraway seeds are toasted until fragrant. The seeds are then transferred to a spice/coffee grinder to be crushed into a course powder. In a small pan, the ground seeds are mixed with some garlic, rosemary, paprika, cayenne, salt, olive oil, and the chickpeas, and cooked gently until heated through.

The squash mixture is plated and topped with the chickpeas, and is garnished with some parsley.

As pretty as this dish is, and as much as I love chickpeas and squash, this one just did not do it for me. My husbands comment was, "it's different".

Potato Rösti

Potato Rösti, as the Swiss call them, or here in the States, we call them hashbrowns.

Not much to them - shredded potato, salt and pepper. These can be made in small patties, as I have done here, or in one large pancake. I always like mini versions best - more fun that way.

Hugh suggests par-boiling the potatoes first (I skipped this), and allowing them to cool completely before shredding. I did place the shredded potatoes between paper towels to squeeze as much moisture from them as possible before cooking, though this was not in the instructions to do so.

The shredded potatoes are mixed with salt and pepper, then formed into patties and fried in oil until browned and crispy on both sides.

To try and pizazz them up  a bit, I added a dollop of Greek yogurt, and some sambal oelek for a little kick.

Hashbrowns have never really been my thing - and they still aren't. The hashbrowns I have had, have been a lot tastier. My husband informs me it is because of the melted butter that is drizzled over them while cooking - and we all know, butter makes everything better!

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the February 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!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Aromatic Potatoes

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

These may look like French fries, but they are way better, and better for you!

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic, ginger
Bowl 2: Potatoes
Bowl 3: Scallions
Bowl 4: Rice vinegar
Bowl 5: Salt, white pepper

The unexpected garnish! As I was shredding my scallions, this piece rolled away from me and curled up so beautifully. Couldn't have done better if I tried. ;)

These tasty morsels are made from new potatoes, rather than russets, which give them a soft, buttery like texture. They are stir-fried along with minced garlic and ginger until the potatoes are just crisp-tender, then the scallions and rice vinegar are added at the end, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and given a quick toss to mix everything together.

It's amazing that, that little splash of vinegar lends so much flavor to the potatoes. I really think it is the key indredient to this dish.

I was on the fence about cooking these just a little longer, for they were just shy of being al dente. But I did not want to overcook them either, for Grace mentions that they can turn mushy and fall apart if you do. So I erred on the side of caution, and left them with a bit more bite than I'm sure they were supposed to have.

Aside from just being a tad undercooked - these were delicious, and would make a wonderful side-dish to any meal.

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 210, of  Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge (and just so happens to be available on Google books), 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, February 11, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Malaysian- Style Stir-Fried Turmeric Shrimp

WW wokking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge

Background photo credit: JT Photography              

This wonderful recipe comes from Mei Chau of Aux Epices, a French-Malaysian restaurant in New York City's Chinatown.

She grew up in Malaysia, and at the age of thirteen began cooking for her family (she being the youngest of eleven siblings), while her mother worked several hours away, which kept her from coming home regularly. 

She is quoted in the book that she "felt pressure to make the food delicious" for her family. I'm sure she succeeded, for she certainly has today, with this recipe.   

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic, shallots.
Bowl 2: Shrimp, chilies, curry leaves, turmeric, pepper, sugar.
Bowl 3: Salt

My little bag of curry leaves.

The Malaysian influence in this stir-fry comes from the use of chilies, turmeric, and fresh curry leaves.  

I had never seen nor heard of fresh curry leaves before this recipe. When I read or hear of curry, I think of the dried spice, which is made up a combination of several different spices. After posting a quick question on the WW Facebook page, I found they are available at most Indian markets. Lucky for me, I recalled seeing an Indian market from one of my bike rides, just a couple of cities away - so I had my next bike ride planned out for me. 

The curry leaves have a wonderful scent, and impart an interesting flavor that I just can't describe. It is noted in the book that they infuse a fresh citrus flavor; this is not what came to mind. I was thinking more of an earthy flavor (dude did say they were curry leaves, when I asked about them).

The recipe calls for shrimp with the shells on, slit, deveined, and legs removed; however, I failed to read the recipe through (once again), and purchased peeled and deveined shrimp. I do have the tails on though!

This dish looks amazing when made with shrimp with shells. Check out my friend Karen's page to see how this dish is supposed to look. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. 

The shrimp marinates for a short time with the chilies, curry leaves, turmeric, and pepper, with sugar stirred in at the end. 

After a quick stir-fry of the aromatics, the shrimp is added and allowed to obtain a sear before tossing until they start to turn orange, sprinkled with some salt, tossed for another couple of minutes, the wok removed from the heat and covered, allowing the shrimp to sit for a half minute, and stir-fried again until they are cooked through.

I would love to visit Mei's restaurant in New York City. This tasting as delicious as it did, made by me, I can only imagine how amazing her food at the restaurant must be.

Thank you Mei, for sharing such a wonderful recipe, and Grace, for including it in you book!

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 153, 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!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Marquise au Chocolat

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan

This weeks installment is Marquise au Chocolat; a chocolate mousse. Dorie's version is frozen. I have made chocolate marquise in the past, and reviewing other recipes, this is the only one that I have come across that is frozen.

Dorie mentions this is exceedingly practical, for you can use what you need for one occasion, and keep the rest in the freezer for the next celebration (should it happen within a month or so). 

The recipe actually calls for the chocolate marquise to be molded into a standard loaf pan, and is served in fairly thick slices and adorned to your liking, if at all.

I had come across this cool idea for a chocolate doily, and just could not pass up the opportunity to make one myself. So fun!

I formed the chocolate mousse using ring molds that I had purchased for another dessert, that I made for an Oscar party a few years ago (it too, just so happened to be a chocolate tricolor mousse).

And, being I had some melted chocolate left over, I made this version. This did not turn out as planned. I actually had a lacy pattern (no white chocolate) extending above the chocolate mousse that I was going to fill with whipped cream and a strawberry or two. However, I should have made the bottom portion (with white chocolate) a bit shorter, so that the lacy chocolate would have a little bit of the mousse to stick to, and maybe I should have made the upper portion a bit thicker as well. This part just broke away - so I just broke it all up, and tossed it on top. The Mr. had no problem devouring it this way (nor would I).

This dessert when completed, is basically a blank canvass - you can decorate it to your hearts content; as I did here, or just with a dusting of cocoa powder, or my original idea, when I thought I was going to make the loaf pan form, I was going to put a line of chocolate leaves down the middle, dotted with raspberries. I also think that a tart raspberry sauce swirled on the bottom of the plate would be nice addition.

Your options are truly limitless. Let your imagination run wild!

If you would like to make a chocolate doily, or a chocolate wrap-around, click here for an awesome tutorial by Julia M. Usher of Recipes for a Sweet Life.

Note: Dorie's recipe does not use cooked egg yolks. If you do not have a trusted source for organic eggs as Dorie suggests, or just feel uncomfortable using raw eggs, click here for instructions for an egg-safe alternative.

I halved the recipe and it yielded seven ample servings (the dessert is on the rich side - small portions are a good thing here). The dimensions of the ring molds I used are 1-3/4 inches x 2 inches.

Do head over to the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the LYL link to see how my co-bakers styled their Marquise au Chocolate!

It is the rule of TWD not to share the recipe on our blogs. You will find the recipe on page 357 of Baking Chez Moi.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Book 118 | Taste: Recipes for Entertaining | Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Mushrooms

by Williams-Sonoma

This most delicious meal is comprised of stone-ground grits, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, hot sauce, bacon, shrimp, mushrooms, garlic, lemon, and scallions.

The cheeses, butter, salt, and hot sauce (I used Hunan Red Chili Sauce) are stirred into cooked grits, and while the grits were cooking, the topping of bacon, shrimp, and mushrooms is prepared.

According to the recipe, the grits should take about thirty-five to forty minutes to cook. Only, my grits were done in ten minutes!

That threw me into a whirlwind. I quickly had to shred the cheeses (for the grits), make a garlic paste (chop & mash garlic w/salt), slice the mushrooms, and cook the bacon, flour the shrimp, and still prep the topping!

Whew! I don't think I have ever shredded, sliced, and sautéed so speedily before. Since I was in such a hurry, I did not take the extra time to remove the tails from the shrimp. I definitely would have preferred them without.

This was a great meal to sit down to after that crazy episode - so warm and comforting.


The (updated) recipe can be found at the Williams-Sonoma website; click here to be taken there directly.