Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | April Recipes

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

My selections for April:

Pasta with New Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pesto
Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange, and Dates
Chiles Stuffed with Beans
Upside-Down Onion Tart
Celery Gratin
Click here to see the complete list of recipes offered for April.

Pasta with New Potatoes, Green Beans, and Pesto

This is a quick and easy dish to toss together any night of the week. Made even easier if you use your favorite store bought pesto as I did, rather than make your own as the recipe instructs.

I just wasn't in the mood to make my own pesto - though it's relatively easy - and maybe I should have - it may have given this dish a brighter flavor. Along with the pesto, we have green beans, new potatoes, and green olives. At serving, the pasta gets a dusting of Parmesan cheese, and if you like, drizzled with a little olive oil to finish it off.

This wasn't a favorite of mine, though it was enjoyed by Andy.  (I did not care for the pesto; I used a different brand than I normally buy.)

Red Cabbage, Parsnip, Orange, and Dates

This is one of those dishes that grows on you. You take a bite, and think, ehh, Its OK. Then after a few more bites.. you're thinking it's pretty good.

It certainly is a pretty salad.

Super simple to make too. Shred some cabbage, grate or julienne a parsnip (I used a kinpira peeler), toss with olive oil, orange juice, salt, and pepper. Top with chopped dates, supremed* (sectioned) oranges, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. 

I preferred my second helping over the first, where I put less thyme and added some cayenne. I think the cayenne definitely brought this up a notch.

*Supreme - learned a new word today! ;)

Chiles Stuffed with Beans

These peppers are stuffed with a mixture made up of shallots, garlic, grated fresh tomato (I used petite diced canned tomatoes), canned borlotti beans, cilantro (I grabbed parsley in error, used that, plus a teaspoon of ground coriander), cumin, hot smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. I added some grated cheddar cheese to the mix, and added a bit more cheese after the peppers were stuffed.

The recipe calls for six large peppers (I swear I placed six peppers in the bag). I had two small peppers, and three medium-to-large peppers, and I barely had enough stuffing to fill the last one.

The peppers are broiled until blackened and blistering.

The peppers are peeled and seeded (the skins slip off pretty easily - for stubborn spots, take a parring knife and gently scrape off). The tops are cut off, leaving a bit of flesh to form a "lid". I find that gently running the peppers under the faucet, helps remove the seeds easily. As you can see, one of my peppers split completely open - no worries.

Stuffed and ready for the oven.

The peppers are baked for about twenty minutes, just until heated through.

The split pepper I mentioned earlier, I stuffed and left open-faced (the way I normally make stuffed peppers). I placed another pepper snuggly against it to keep it from spreading out flat.


Certainly not as attractive as the red poblanos shown in the book - however, taste trumps appearance.

I really enjoyed these. My husband thought they were a bit on the spicy side, and they were, more so the following day I thought. Maybe I should have served it with the garlicky yogurt as suggested in the book, to help cool things down a bit.

I have made a similar recipe stuffed with chicken and rice (shown above), where you leave the pepper whole, and split it down the middle to remove the seeds, and to stuff it. If you are using green peppers, I would recommend serving them open-faced for a prettier appearance, should red peppers not be available.

Upside-Down Onion Tart

Oh man. This is good. Out of the ballpark good.

Caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, puff pastry... how could it not be?

Whole onions are sliced into six or eight wedges, depending on the size of the onion, root left intact - I cut more off the root end than I probably should have. The wedges are placed in a decorative pattern over melted butter and oil, in an oven-proof pan. The onions are sprinkled with some salt and pepper (I also added a little bit of thyme), and cooked until they begin to caramelize.

The onions are then carefully turned over; not an easy task. My onions kept wanting to separate as I flipped them. This is where I knew I cut off too much of the stem end; but I really didn't want the hard stem end attached - it seems it would be unpleasant to bite into.

After all the onions have been turned over, they are allowed to caramelize on the other side, then some balsamic vinegar is drizzled over the top, and cooked just long enough for it to reduce slightly.


A round of puff pastry is placed over the cooked onions and baked until puffed and golden, then inverted onto a serving platter.

My most delicious tart looks a little misshapen. For some reason my puff pastry kept wanting to shrink down to more of a rectangular shape. So after placing it on top of the onions, I filled in two spots with extra dough. It does not quite work like pie dough, where you can piece it together. The extra dough pieces cooked up and stayed separate. No biggie. As I said earlier, taste trumps appearances. I still thought it was pretty.

Definitely company worthy!

Celery Gratin

Finally, a recipe that calls for more than a stalk or two (or less) of celery! I hate it when a recipe calls for like, two tablespoons of diced celery (a soup recipe, that I make often). I always end up tossing out a whole lot of celery.

I know, I can slice up the extra, slather it with peanut butter, or cream cheese, and send it with the hubby for a work-week snack, and I always think that I will, but never do. By the time I'm done with dinner and clean-up, I'm too tired to do anything else.

Here we use the whole bunch of celery! I will never need to toss out any unused celery again. So very exited to have this recipe.

You take the bunch of celery, trim it of its leaves (they will burn - save them for stock, if you make your own), place it in a shallow pan, add some water, fresh thyme, a bay leaf, salt, pepper, and dot with a bit of butter, cover with foil, and cook until the celery is tender.

The scent of this while baking, was so enticing. 

Once the celery is cooked, the thyme branches and bay leaf are removed, and the liquid that has accumulated in the pan is mixed with some heavy cream, and some additional salt and pepper if needed. I also added a bit of nutmeg, and some extra grated Gruyère cheese to the mix (unfortunately the cheese just clumped together), this is then poured over the celery.

A mixture of fresh bread crumbs and grated cheese (again, I used Gruyère) is sprinkled over the celery, and baked until the crumbs are golden brown and crispy. A grind of fresh black pepper is sprinkled over the top, just before serving.

This was amazing! I only wish I had gotten a better picture.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the the CCC website and look for the April LYL post for a list of their links - or click here to be directed automatically.

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. Oh my gosh... that pasta and the cabbage salad look amazing. And yes, Taste always trumps appearance!

  2. Dear Cathleen, thank you for your wonderful post with all the amazing pictures and explanations - so nice to read that you also enjoyed the wonderful Onion Tart - amazing taste, I agree and so very photogenic. Same holds true of your Chiles stuffed with Beans - they sound amazing and even spicy - so many steps to this recipe but certainly worth the effort. The Pasta is a dish we really all enjoyed at home - I did make the pesto myself since it is so easy and since I always seem to buy way too much basil and parsley - a homemade pesto might add a bit more flavor (who knows) - but you certainly presented it very nicely. The Celery Gratin looks fabulous as well - some of us seem to have liked it others not that much - but overall this was a good month and I appreciate your continued support of this group and all your enthusiasm!

  3. What a fantastic post. I also made the pasta, the salad and the onion tart and agree that all of them were delicious. How easy is that onion tart but it looks so fancy-schmancy. I love that. My onions got a bit darker than your but I felt that was from the balsamic vinegar. They were not burned. I hope my readers do not think that. That pasta can be made quickly and I also used Pesto from a jar. Loved the salad, a strange combo. I didn't have the nerve to try the chiles. I just have never been able to get "stuffed" right. Yours do look very, very tasty. I would have liked spicy. I wasn't at all interested in the celery gratin until I saw yours. Have all the ingredients on hand so I will make it this week-end. Cathleen, you did a marvelous job this month and are a talented lady. Your post was fun to read. I will post mine tomorrow morning - it's all set to go.

    1. Well, Mary, I'm a minority in the celery gratin arena. I think only I, and one other member liked that dish.

  4. What a great selection, Cathleen. That onion tart looks amazing. I will have to try that. And the stuffed peppers. I wasn't as wild about the celery gratin as you were, but it was very pretty. I really enjoy seeing what everyone makes each month since I can't try them all. It helps narrow down which other ones to try first.

  5. What a beautiful collection of dishes - I especially like the orange and cabbage salad.

  6. What a beautiful array of dishes! I didn't make the onion tart but seeing yours, I wish I had. Gorgeous! Adding cheese to the stuffed is inspired - I'll have to remember for when I make them again. The celery gratin wasn't my favourite but it certainly does look pretty and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    BTW, thank you again for the stir-fry book recommendation. I ended up buying a copy and am really enjoying learning proper techniques. Grace's instructions are impeccable and the food is fantastic.

    1. Zosia, I'm so glad you are enjoying Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge! I love, love, love her book. If you are interested, she also has a Craftsy class that other members of Wok Wednesdays says is really good. I'm hoping to check it out myself soon.

  7. When I commented on Andrea's post, my two favorites by far were the celery gratin and the onion tart. I am glad your reactions validated my hunches. I can't wait to try them both. (I also told her that I am annoyed with myself - I loaned the book to a friend and cannot remember to whom. I hope I get it back!) ~ David

    1. David, if you make the celery gratin, do let me know what you think. There was only myself, and I think one other member that liked it! I hope you recall soon who you lent your book to! If not, maybe you could get a copy at the library in the interim?

  8. Oh my, your dishes look so wonderful. I made the same pasta/pesto dish - with home made from the freezer. It was just ok, but filing when you need a meal! I sooo very much wanted to make the onion tart, and I thought long and hard about the celery - that is so good to know! I have the same problem. Now I want to try it! How exciting!!!


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