Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | August Recipes

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

My choices for August were:

Tomatoes with Thai Dressing
Chickpea, Chard, and Porcini Soup
Leek and Cheese Toasties
Fava Beans with Herbed Goat Cheese
Cheat's Cauliflower Cheese 

To see the complete list of recipes offered for August - click here.

I was only able to complete three of the five recipes I chose this month. It was just too hot for the soup - I hope to make it once the weather cools. As for the leek and cheese toasties, I just did not get around to it, though I will eventually! They sound and look delish.

Andrea, our fearless leader has been assigning themes to each month. And I have to say, I have not been on board with that aspect, and thought I better get on it this month.

This month's theme: To incorporate our favorite herb or spice into the recipes - couldn't be easier!

One of my favorite herbs is thyme. As you can see, I happened to use it in all three recipes! It was just too easy to walk out back and cut a few sprigs. I do have basil and rosemary as well, but it was the thyme I grabbed each time as I was prepping each recipe.

Cheat's Cauliflower Cheese

This is a lighter version of your typical gratin recipe - here Hugh omits the cream sauce, and tosses the cauliflower with some butter and an optional tablespoon of cream.

If you like the idea of a lighter gratin recipe, which I do, I think this would benefit from some added sautéed shallots and lots of your favorite herb(s), and you will want to use a strong cheese here. I used a white cheddar, but I think a pecorino romano would have been better.

I have to say, the best part of this dish was the topping made of breadcrumbs & cheese, and the addition of my favorite herb, thyme. If I try this again, I'll double the topping.

Tomatoes with Thai Dressing 

I was excited to have homegrown tomatoes to use for this easy recipe.

The tomatoes are sliced and plated, sprinkled with some salt and pepper, and drizzled with the dressing, which consists of a fresh red chile, garlic, salt, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey. Hugh suggest sprinkling with some shredded mint leaves, which I subbed out for, you guessed it, thyme.

There is something about tomatoes, they are always so photogenic; they make any dish look delicious. 

We served this tomato dish alongside some grilled chicken and artichokes. 

Sorry to say, I was not a fan of this recipe, though my other half liked the dressing. I thought the dressing, mainly the sesame oil, was too overpowering for the tomatoes.

I think it would have been fine for the tasteless store-bought tomatoes, but it was just too strong for my homegrown tomatoes to shine through. I'll stick with a lighter dressing when I use tomatoes from the garden.

Fava Beans with Herbed Goat Cheese

It just so happened I received fava beans in my farm box this month; the timing was perfect.

I almost took the lazy route, and purchased herbed goat cheese, but that would so not have been fair. I thought about using both thyme and rosemary, but ended up using only the thyme - with the addition of some chopped garlic, salt and pepper, this made for a tasty spread. This would be good even if you did not have the beans.

Adding the beans gives the spread a healthy twist, makes you feel a little less guilty eating it.

Hugh recommends serving this with hunks of bread or oily toast. I went with the oily toast - drizzled some olive oil on some winter wheat bread, and popped it in the toaster. Made for an easy and quick solo dinner.

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


Friday, August 28, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Tofu with Pickled Ginger

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

Tofu. What is it? Basically, well actually, it is the curds of coagulated soy milk that have been pressed into an unappetizing looking block shape. It is low in calories, yet high in protein, iron, and calcium (depending on brand/type - read the label).

Those who are not vegetarians tend to shy away from it. After all, tofu is tasteless on its own. I've had tofu and thought, um, no thanks, I'll pass - other times, it was pretty good - as in this instance.  It's all in how it is prepared. So give it a chance - you may find it not as bad as you thought it to be (Bob/Patti).

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Firm tofu
Bowl 2: Carrot, ginger
Bowl 3: Scallions, pickled ginger
Bowl 4: Dry sherry, soy sauce
Bowl 5: Salt, white pepper

Very simple dish to prepare. The tofu is cooked until it browns (mine may not look so brown, because the tasty - I'm sure - browned bits stuck something awful to my wok - not sure why), then removed, while the fresh ginger and carrots get a quick stir in the wok. The tofu is returned to the wok along with the pickled ginger and scallions and given a toss to mix everything together. In goes the broth mixture and seasonings, and stir-fried just until the carrots are crisp-tender. Three to four minutes, tops. Bam. Dinner is on the table. Gotta love stir-frying!

We had this with jasmine rice and steamed zucchini, and keeping with the ginger theme, I consumed it along with my favorite ginger beer.

Yes, there was a small amount left over, which I re-heated in the microwave the next day - still was tasty - the flavors being a little more pronounced even. 

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 203, 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.

This stir-fry just so happens to be available on the Orange County Register's website. Click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Cherry Crumb Tart

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan

This tart was an all day affair to put together - but with a little advanced planning it can be made over a few days if need be.

There are several ways to pit a cherry if you don't have a cherry pitter - from using a knife to using a paperclip - just do a Google search. Here, I used a decorating tip. Worked great - took me about twelve minutes to pit a pound of cherries. Next time I would pit them inside of a bowl to capture the juices.

Pitting cherries can be quite messy - this method seemed to have minimal squirting when done slowly.

If you want a less messy and faster way to pit cherries, you can lay the cherries out on a rimmed cookie sheet or on a board, and place a piece of parchment over them, and tap them lightly with a mallet, as shown in this video. Your cherries won't stay whole (many of mine did not anyway) as Dorie prefers, but for this dessert, I really don't think it would matter all that much.

After partially baking the crust, and letting it cool to room temperature, it is filled with an almond or hazelnut filling made from butter, sugar, nut flour (I just ground up some hazelnuts), cornstarch, egg, and kirsch (or vanilla extract) - I subbed cassis. The pitted cherries are placed atop the filling and baked until the filling puckers up all around the fruit.

If cherries are unavailable, I'm sure any fruit, from blueberries to peaches would work here. 

A streusel topping made from sugar, orange zest, flour, salt, cardamon, butter, and vanilla extract, is sprinkled over the top and baked once more until lightly golden.

Dorie recommends serving this at room temperature the same day it is made. Her husband however, prefers it cold from the fridge, and I agree with him. I thought it was really good cold - so this would make a good candidate for a make ahead dessert.

We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 148 of Baking Chez Moi, or over at Google Books.

You can check out my fellow baker's results, by clicking here for a list of their links.