Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | May Recipes

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

My choices for May are:
(not cooked in order listed)

Grilled Aspargus Spears with Lemon Dressing
 Spicy Merguez Oven Fries with Yogurt Dip
Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
Cambodian Wedding Day Dip
Pearled Barley Broth 

Pearled Barley Broth

From the title of this recipe, I wasn't expecting such a substantial soup.

This wonderful creamy soup (without any added cream!) is made from onions, bay leaf, thyme, celery, carrot, parsnip, pearl barley, vegetable stock, and parsley; with added spices of coriander, nutmeg, and cayenne (the recipe calls for mace as well, which I thought I had...).

There were three topping alternatives to adorn this lovely soup: croutons, sautéed mushrooms, or simply drizzled with some cream, and sprinkled with a bit of parsley.

I chose the mushrooms. An excellent call, if I may say so myself. Not only visually, but flavor-wise as well.

The soup thickens up considerably as it cools, so it needs to be served soon after preparing. We had leftovers the next day, and I had to add quite a bit more broth to get it to the consistency I liked, which of course dilutes the flavor somewhat.

I also had extra sautéed mushrooms that I stirred into the leftovers. This added an extra delicious dimension to the soup. Next time, I would definitely add mushrooms to the broth in addition to the topping.

Spicy Merguez Oven Fries with Yogurt Dip

These tasty fries are made by cutting potatoes (I used yukon gold) into thick batons, and parboiled for about a minute (personally, I don't think this step is all that necessary), then drained.

The drained potatoes are then tossed in a spice mixture made of cumin seed, fennel seed, coriander seed, caraway seed, peppercorns, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. The seeds and peppercorns were to be crushed using a mortar and pestle. However, if you have ever tried crushing caraway seeds, you know it is an almost impossible task. You will want to use a spice grinder (I use my coffee grinder) if using them.

The seasoned potatoes are tossed in warm oil (which was heated on the baking sheet itself in the oven while prepping the potatoes) and baked until tender, golden, and crisp. The recipe called for one-third cup of oil, which I found to be too much. Next time, I would just drizzle oil over the potatoes and toss - even skipping the warming of the oil.

The accompanying dip consists of yogurt that is mixed with some of the spice mixture mentioned above, and some crushed garlic. Just before serving, the dip is sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper.

The fries were not as spicy as I was expecting; next round, I will add extra cayenne.

These made a great side, along with the asparagus below, to our grilled market steak.

Grilled Asparagus Spears with Lemon Dressing

This is one of those easy, peasy recipes, that looks so elegant when served. Don't you love those? All you do is grab some asparagus, toss it in a little oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until tender.

Grilled asparagus is a common side-dish here. We love it. I also make a roasted version. The difference with this recipe is, Hugh drizzles over a lemon vinaigrette, which adds a nice bright touch to the asparagus.

The vinaigrette is made from olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper. Shreds of mint is also added, however, I did not want to buy any for only a few leaves (I don't really ever use mint), so I omitted that ingredient (only to find out it is also called for in the noodle salad recipe.. oh well.)

The grilled asparagus is plated, drizzled with the dressing, and sprinkled with a little salt and Parmesan. Delish.

Cambodian Wedding Day Dip

I had my doubts about this one. As I was preparing the dip, thoughts of "this is a total fail" "I'm so not going to like this" were running through my head.

I couldn't believe that this soupy looking mixture would turn into the chunky dip shown below.  It seemed like it took a very long time to go from liquid to solid (longer than the thirty minutes stated in the recipe), and I was even tempted to stop at one point and just pour it over some rice - but I pressed on. 

The dip is made up of cremini mushrooms, oil, hot fresh red chile (I used an ají amarillo pepper), garlic, curry powder, crunchy peanut butter (I only had creamy, so I added some chopped peanuts), coconut milk, lime juice, soy sauce, and cilantro.

The mushrooms are diced and cooked until they have released their liquid, and all has evaporated - at which time the chile and garlic are added and cooked for about a minute. The curry powder and peanut butter are stirred into the mixture, then the coconut milk. The recipe states to let it bubble rapidly, stirring occasionally. I let it simmer, rather than boil rapidly, otherwise I would be scraping splashes of it off the ceiling (this may be why it took longer to reduce down). Once the liquid is reduced and thickened, the lime and soy sauce is stirred in. The dip is transferred to a serving bowl, and topped with extra chiles and cilantro if desired.

Hugh mentions that this would also make a great meal, serving it warm over some rice, alongside some steamed vegetables.

I'm glad I persevered. This turned out pretty darn tasty!! I would make this one again.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

This recipe came just at the right time. Our lovely daughter had just challenged me to get five servings of fruit and vegetables everyday for a week; and this one was chock-full of vegetables.

Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables was not as easy as I thought. I love fruit and vegetables, and thought I ate a fair amount. However, keeping a food diary showed me that I was not eating as much as I thought I was.

Sorry to digress, back to this lovely salad with an Asian flair.

As I mentioned, this one was full of vegetables. I added plenty of hericot verts, cucumber, snow peas, scallions and cilantro (mint is also used in this salad, but I omitted it). The recipe calls for fine egg noodles or vermicelli; I used whole wheat thin spaghetti, which I thought was great.

The cooked noodles are rinsed in cold water, then tossed in a bowl with the dressing, which is made of rice vinegar, zest and juice of a lime, fresh red chile, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. This is allowed to rest while the vegetables are prepared.

Everything gets tossed together, and the salad is topped with a scattering of unsalted peanuts. Hugh suggests rinsing off the salt and drying the peanuts if you only have salted nuts on hand - which is what I had, but I did not bother with rinsing them.

It was a successful month! Enjoyed each and every one of these recipes.

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


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Chinese Peruvian Stir-Fried Filet Mignon ~ Lomo Saltado

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

Matt Lardie and Grace Young, our incredible, amazing leaders, picked a special celebration stir-fry to mark the third year anniversary of stir-frying through this wondrous book!

I can't believe it has been three years already, and our 70th recipe (if I counted correctly) to date! It seems like we just begun.

This recipe is a bit more indulgent then past recipes we have made, and takes a bit more preparation time. But, oh so worth it!

There was one elusive ingredient for this recipe. The ají amarillo pepper. It's a sweet, hot yellow pepper, favored in Peruvian dishes.

You may be thinking what does a popular Peruvian recipe have to do with a Chinese stir-fry? Lomo Saltado was actually created by the Chinese who immigrated to Peru.

I did an online search and found a store a few cities over from me that said they carried them. However, when I arrived, they only had dried peppers or paste, and so that is what I purchased - originally.

A few days later when I was reading the recipe again, Grace mentions that Luis, the chef who showed her how to make this recipe, uses frozen peppers from a local Mexican market. She also mentioned he lived in a city that was just a hop, skip, and a jump away from me! Once again, I was on a mission.

I found a store just five minutes away from me that carried the frozen peppers! Score!

Bowl 1: Filet mignon
Bowl 2: Garlic
Bowl 3: Salt, pepper
Bowl 4: Tomatoes, red onion
Bowl 5: Soy sauce, red wine vinegar
Bowl 6: Sugar
Bowl 7: Ají amarillo peppers
Bowl 8: Cilantro
Bowl 9: Potatoes (the recipe calls for russet - I used yukon gold - I also did not peel them.)

This is a most delicious stir-fry, made with filet mignon and French fries. Yes, you read that right. Fries. It really works. Trust me. I only wish I had more fries at the end, to soak up what little sauce that was left at the bottom of the bowl. This dish is often served with rice - I thought that would be a bit much with the French fries. This on it's own was plenty.

In past recipes, we have marinated the proteins; but since we used filet mignon, it being such a tender cut of beef, there was no need to marinate it, and it came out tender and delicious.  The flavor of this stir-fry was amazing.

Thank you, Grace and Matt, for picking such a wonderful recipe to celebrate our 3rd anniversary with.

 Happy wokiversary to Matt, Grace, and to everyone in the WW family!

(I saw this beauty, swaying in the breeze outside my kitchen window, as I was waiting for my beef to sear.)

The one drawback of the frozen peppers, is that they come in a one pound bag - this recipe only called for up to a tablespoon of sliced pepper.

I did a search and found these recipes that I thought sounded quite good, where you can use up those extra peppers, if you are so inclined:

Lomo Saltado Tacos

Ají de Gallina (calls for 4 peppers!)

Papa a la Huancaína (calls for 6 peppers!)

And if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, here is a list of Peruvian ingredients, and where you can find them (if only I saw this beforehand):

Pisco Trail

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 92, 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, May 12, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Nutella Buttons

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan

Nutella buttons. Mini Nutella filled cupcakes. 

I know, we just made filled cupcakes last month. However, these were chosen by popular vote.

These are made with a white cake batter (which Dorie has an interesting way of making, and too much work in my opinion), where a small amount is placed in the depressions of a mini muffin tin, then a dollop of Nutella is added, then topped with the remaining cake batter.

I swear I had mini tins...  no where to be found. I had to place the liners in a regular size muffin tin. Of course the batter stretched the cups outward and they appear to be full size cupcakes. Not nearly as cute - or bite size.

I chose to fill half with Nutella, and the other half with lemon curd.

According to the recipe, these can be served as is, or dipped in chocolate. I chose to make chocolate ganache and have a little piping fun. I even dipped one of the cakes in the melted ganache before piping more on top.

For the lemon curd filled cupcakes, I made a white chocolate ganache, which I over-heated; so suffice it to say, they did not turn out as expected; hence no photos.

I didn't care for these. The cake was too dense and dry. Even with the ganache, they were not worth the fat and calories. I ended up tossing them out. :(

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 188 of Baking Chez Moi.

Do check out my fellow bakers results, by clicking here for a list of their links.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Peppery Vegetarian Rice

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

Spicily delectable!

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Egg
Bowl 2: Ginger, red pepper flakes
Bowl 3: Carrots, mushrooms
Bowl 4: Vegetable broth
Bowl 5: Rice, scallions
Bowl 6: Pepitas (recipe called for pine nuts)
Bowl 7: Soy sauce
Bowl 8: Salt, white pepper

This recipe is actually made with brown rice, not white, which lends a nice earthy flavor, and the red pepper flakes gives it that spicy warm feeling. The recipe called for a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes to give it that peppery taste - I used a heaping quarter teaspoon, and thought it was the perfect amount. I also cooked my rice in vegetable broth rather than water, and subbed out the pine nuts for pepitas (I had them on hand). I was not shopping at the store that carries pine nuts in bulk, and did not want to buy more than I needed. The pepitas added a chewy texture, as did the brown rice.

My fried rice looks to be on the moist side. That would be because I did not read the recipe first. I'm so bad, I never really read a recipe until I'm starting to cook.

I quickly glanced at the ingredient list and saw that it called for one cup of rice. So when I was ready to make this, I went about making rice according to the package directions - not Grace's. She uses half cup less liquid, which would make for a drier rice, resulting in the grains being separated more.

I couldn't start over, for the secret to great fried rice, is using cold rice that was made the day before (though I always end up not making it till that morning... like I said, I'm so bad).

Did I say, this is delicious?!!! Hubby enjoyed this as well, and excited he was able to eat rice with chopsticks - a benefit from the stickier rice. :)
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 256, 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.  

The recipe is also available on Grace's friend's website, Sara Moulton dot com

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!