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.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | January Recipes

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

My recipe selections for January:

 Kale and Mushroom Lasagna
 Spelt Salad with Squash and Fennel
Cauliflower with Toasted Seeds
 Curried Bubble and Squeak
 Pasta with Greens, Garlic, and Chile
 Artichoke and White Bean Dip
 Roasted Potatoes and Eggplants

To see the complete list of recipes offered for January, click here.

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

We enjoyed this lasagna, aside from the few mishaps I encountered while prepping this recipe.

Mishap number one. Don't you hate it when this happens? I promptly texted my husband to pick up another onion on his way home from work. I would just continue on with the recipe. Not so. The onion was for the béchamel sauce, the first component to be made, and I wanted the sauce to have time to infuse the flavors of the onion, bay leaf and celery - so... I waited.

OK. Back in business. Béchamel sauce infusing, mushrooms sautéing, kale blanching. Not shown, is the noodles soaking.

This recipe calls for fresh noodles, which I love; if you have never tried fresh noodles, your missing out, they are melt-in-your-mouth soft and tender, however I did not have time to make my own, so I soaked dry noodles in hot water while I prepped the rest of the recipe.

Mishap number two. "Stir about half of the béchamel sauce into the kale; put to one side. Spread half the remaining béchamel sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 11-inch ovenproof dish." I read it as, spread the remaining sauce over the bottom of the dish - which to me, sounded like a lot. Hello! Red flag!!

This meant there was no sauce to top the final layer of the lasagna noodles, which would not have been a problem if I had fully cooked the noodles; without the sauce on top, there was no extra moisture to bring the noodles to an al a dente texture.

Mishap number three. Miscounted the noodles. One short. OK, not a big deal..

The lasagna noodles on top were a bit tough, but this dish had wonderful flavor - and how could it not? Béchamel sauce, sautéed mushrooms, kale. Yum!

I would make this one again, only with fresh homemade noodles, or at least fully cooked noodles, and of course, with the appropriate division of the sauce.

Note: As is the norm with me and the recipes in this book, I upped the amounts of the seasonings; four cloves of garlic, as opposed to two, and two teaspoons of chopped thyme, in place of a few sprigs of thyme.

[Farro] Salad with Squash and Fennel

Wholesome goodness. That was my thought of this salad, while chowing down. It was the perfect ending to a tiring day.

The recipe consists of spelt (which I could not find when I looked for it for a previous recipe, so I once again used farro* that I had left over from that same recipe), butternut squash, fennel, garlic, walnuts, lemon juice, Parmesan, and parsley.

The squash, fennel, garlic, and walnuts are roasted first, then tossed with the cooked spelt/farro, lemon juice, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, and garnished with fennel fronds.

This salad can be served warm (which I preferred) or cold.

*Farro is not wheat, but a plant and grain all its own. A grain of farro looks and tastes somewhat like a lighter brown rice. It has a complex, nutty taste with undertones of oats and barley. But lacking the heaviness of many whole-wheat grains, farro tastes more elegant than earnest. - (source)

Cauliflower with Toasted Seeds 

Whether you artfully arrange the cauliflower..

..or toss it all together, it looks beautiful, and surprisingly has a lot of flavor thanks to the toasted seeds. 

I had it in mind that I would be cooking the cauliflower, not sure why. Andrea, our fearless leader of the CCC, lists the recipes along with what chapter they are from; this one being from "Raw Assemblies", so I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked open the book to find that no cooking was involved, other than a quick toasting of the seeds.

The recipe consists of thinly sliced cauliflower, generous amount of toasted pumpkin and sesame seeds, parsley (which I forgot, and did not miss it - I made this again, and intentionally omitted it) and a sprinkling of sumac, salt, and pepper. The cauliflower is dressed with a vinaigrette made from canola oil (I used olive oil), lemon, and sumac.  

The sliced cauliflower is tossed with the vinaigrette and toasted seeds, and sprinkled with some salt and pepper. After plating, it is topped with a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch more of sumac. 

I wasn't expecting to like this as much as we did. This will be making a few repeat appearances here for sure.

Curried Bubble and Squeak

Bubble and squeak? It is a traditional English dish made up of leftovers - generally made from potatoes and Brussels sprouts, though any vegetable can be used, and is mixed together and formed in a large, thick, pancake shape, and fried until crisp. Here, Hugh has changed it up slightly, he uses potatoes and cabbage, and tosses it all-together and sautés it - he calls it "a rough-and-tumble approach" on the traditional pancake style.

Cooked potatoes and cabbage are mixed with onion, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper, and sautéed till everything is heated through.

We really enjoyed this one; and I can see how this would be great topped with a poached egg as Hugh suggests, and I was going to do just that for breakfast the next morning with the leftovers - only there weren't any.

You'll want to file this one under comfort foods. So easy and delicious.

Pasta with Greens, Garlic, and Chile

Apparently I cooked my greens longer than Hugh did. The picture in the book - the greens look so fresh and alive; no matter, this pasta dish has wonderful flavor.

This has to be the most beautiful Swiss chard I have ever purchased at the store. The stalks were bright white and blemish free, the leaves such a lively, deep, dark green; I almost felt they were too pretty to eat.

The chard is roughly torn (I roughly chopped) and placed in the pot with the pasta in the last few minutes of cooking. The drained pasta and chard are mixed with sautéed onion, garlic, and fresh red chile, then topped with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

This was pretty darn good. My husband even commented, "this can't be good for us it's so good; it tastes like it is made with a ton of butter." - which of course, it's not.

Artichoke and White Bean Dip

I chose to leave the dip on the chunkier side.

This dip consists of sautéed onion, artichoke hearts, garlic, fresh oregano, and cannellini beans. After everything is combined and heated through, it is transferred to a food processor, and some lemon juice, dried chile flakes, and yogurt are added and whirled until you have a course purée. Salt and pepper, and some reserved oil from the artichoke hearts (if needed to thin) are added and mixed until it achieves a texture to your liking. I finished by hand, to keep a rougher texture. 

Serve this dip topped with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of the reserved olive oil, alongside some warm flat bread, or as I did, with sliced baguette that has been trickled with some olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and broiled until golden. Hugh also mentions this is good served on a bed of crisp lettuce leaves.  

At first, I thought this to be not so great. It did grow on me, bite after bite, and good thing; it ended up being my dinner for the evening.

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplants

When it comes to roasted vegetables, what is there not to like?

Hugh has an interesting way of doing things. This is the second recipe where he has you heat up the oil in a non-stick roasting pan (in the oven), then toss the vegetables in the hot oil before roasting. I don't see why you could not toss the vegetables in (cold) oil first, then roast.

The only non-stick roasting pan I have is the one I use for my TG turkey. I felt it was too large, and with the high sides, the potatoes may not have browned fully, so I used a half-sheet pan - the one I always use when I roast vegetables.

Cubed potatoes and eggplant are tossed with salt and pepper, I also added some hot pimentón (Spanish paprika), then tossed in hot oil and roasted for about half an hour, at which time sliced garlic is added and roasted for another fifteen minutes or so, just until the vegetables are browned all over.

After the vegetables are removed from the oven, they are drizzled with lemon juice, and then finishing touches of your choice are sprinkled on top. Hugh gives suggestions of lemon zest, hot smoked paprika, or chopped herbs. I sprinkled mine with parsley and chives.

This was another favorable dish. 

The following recipe was one of my choices from last month that was not included in my December  post:

Roasted Baby Beets with Walnuts and Yogurt Dressing

Beets. We love beets in this household.

First the beets are roasted with some thyme, garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, until the beets are tender, about one hour, depending on the size of the beets.

After roasting, the beets are peeled, quartered, and tossed with some lemon juice, olive oil, and a sprinkling of pepper, and set aside to cool while the dressing is made.

The dressing consists of yogurt, sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper. The beets are tossed ever-so lightly with the dressing (to obtain a marbled look), along with some chives and toasted walnuts. The dressed beets are plated with some watercress and additional chives and walnuts.

I did not care for this recipe. I felt the dressing was too heavy for the beets to shine through. I prefer a light vinaigrette when I serve beets as a salad.

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