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!



  1. What gorgeous pictures, all giving clear visual explanations of these five dishes. I especially appreciated the beautiful photos of the beets. The second photo of the beets, with the root curled upward is fabulous. Thanks for the blood orange idea. My meds are not grapefruit friendly either but I veer off the path every so often. Your idea is a good one and a nice alternative to the "forbidden fruit". The Winter Stir Fry is a must try.

  2. This is a gorgeous post, Cathleen! Truly stunning.

    Okay, I think we must be on the same med (so sad) but I want to try it with grapefruit just once. My standby is avocado, mango, and chile with lime juice. The winter stir fry is so appealing - and the roasted with the chickpeas really makes me want to get some squash now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and gorgeous photos.

  3. Hi Cathleen, first, I love your photo on the beet soup, so lovely and artistic. Really enjoyed your cooking processes. The grapefruit and avocado was unique and quite pretty to look at. Intrigued by your rosti process, though I did not have time to prepare this, it is on the plan for March, though what appeals to me is precisely Hugh's cooking process- par cooking- thus preventing the stress of rapid shredding to prevent discoloration, and later having to squeeze out the liquid. Sorry you didn't care for the beet soup flavor, I thought the horseradish and sour cream topping really brought it together like a different version of a borscht. The stir-fry was quite good, and you are right, a nice timing for the Chinese New Year! Happy Lunar New Year to you and yours!

  4. Dear Cathleen, stunning photography, wonderful and clear descriptions of all your cooking and your thoughts about them. I had the same idea with the blood oranges but for another reason - just could not find any nice pink grapefruits around here. Your Beet Soup looks way more elegant than mine - my least favorite recipe of the month. I just knew you would ace the Stir-fry. The final dish as well as your mise en place look simply divine! I made it only today as part of my personal make-up for March, we loved the veg in there, especially the Brussels sprouts. You did an outstanding job on all your dishes with your impeccable presentations!
    Thank you for participating again this month,
    P.S.: As I am planning to send you all a little token of my appreciation for having reached the one hundred recipes in Hugh´s book, I am putting together a mailing list for the CCC. Would you be so kind as to send your mailing address to me, please: - Thanks! Or leave me a message on fb, of course

  5. Hi Cathleen, love the way all your dishes looks especially the winter stir fry, I wish I had made that one. Also I bet the blood oranges were delicious with the avocado.

  6. You have a blood orange tree! I'm so jealous. I loved that salad with the grapefruit but it would be just as good with the orange. That's too bad you didn't care for the beet soup, but it does look awfully pretty. I've never had hash browns and thought the rosti tasted like latkes/potato pancakes without the onion, always a hit around here.

  7. Oh my goodness. What Zosia said! You have a blood orange tree???? Dang! All of these dishes look amazing. I'm not a big beet fan myself, but it's still gorgeous. Wow.

  8. Oh my goodness. What Zosia said! You have a blood orange tree???? Dang! All of these dishes look amazing. I'm not a big beet fan myself, but it's still gorgeous. Wow.

  9. All of your selections look delicious! Your photography seems even better than usual! I have a grapefruit and an avocado in my fruit basket and think I'll give this one a try for lunch! Also, love the sounds of the potato rosti. I have this cookbook and I haven't made as many of the recipes as I planned to! I am extremely jealous of your blood orange tree!

  10. Everything looks fantastic, but I'd have to start with the avocado and orange salad :)


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