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.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Fujianese-Style Stir-Fried Fish with Peppers

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



This stir-fry consists of fish that has been oil blanched before stir-frying. Grace herself is not a fan of this type of preparation, but included it in her book because it is so popular with Chinese restaurant chefs, and for us to experience what it is like. She even states this method is not practical (using and discarding two cups of oil) or healthy for the home cook.

I took a cue from Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories, and placed the oil blanched fish on a plate lined with paper towels, and dabbed the top of the fish with another paper towel to help soak up some of the oil before proceeding with the recipe.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Codfish, egg white, salt
Bowl 2: Garlic, ginger
Bowl 3: Bell pepper
Bowl 4: Scallion
Bowl 5: Chicken broth, dry sherry, cornstarch, sugar, salt
 

The recipe calls for fish with the skin on; this is to help keep the fish from falling apart when (ever-so-gently) stir-frying. However, the cod from the fish market was skinned, hence the broken pieces of fish.


I always seem to mutilate my fish when I remove the pin bones. Maybe using pliers instead of tweezers might help. I was able to get out all of the bones! And that is a good thing.


This would be a great stir-fry for those with a tame palate. Me, I prefer more bold flavors - I'm thinking a bit of soy sauce added to the broth mixture and some Thai red pepper would be a tasty addition to this dish.

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 176, 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.



 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Chili Bean Sauce

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



This is a very simple and tasty side-dish. Andy said it would make a complete meal if I just tossed in some diced chicken or beef - and that it would.

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Garlic
Bowl 2: Bean sprouts, carrots
Bowl 3: Scallions
Bowl 4: Salt
Bowl 5: Dry sherry, bean sauce, sambal oelek, soy sauce

The recipe calls for chili bean sauce which I did not have - so I mixed equal parts of ground bean sauce and sambal oelek. Next time I will reduce the salt by a quarter teaspoon, for I felt it was just a tad salty.


Prep of this stir-fry is pretty minimal and cook time is almost non-existent, maybe two minutes - if that. Just a quick rinse and spin-dry of the sprouts, julienning of the carrots and scallions - which is a snap if you have a kinpira peeler and a negi cutter (shown below), mincing a couple teaspoons of garlic, and mixing up of the sauce.

The garlic gets a quick stir in the wok before adding the vegetables, which get cooked for only a minute or so, just until the sprouts start to wilt. The scallions and salt are added along with the sauce and stir-fried for less than a minute more - and your done! You have yourself a delicious stir-fry.



Kinpira peeler on the left - negi cutter on the right.


Not only is this a healthy stir-fry (well, they all have been healthy), but Grace mentions, "when the weather's hot, it's important to eat more yin, or cooling vegetables like bean sprouts to restore balance to your body."

I read that cooling vegetables cool and calm the blood, and help remove toxins as well. For a list of other cooling (and warming [yang]) foods, head over to Ping Ming Health's website. I found it to be quite interesting, you may as well.

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 200, 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.



 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Cottage Cooking Club | June Recipes

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



My choices for June are:

Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta 
Macaroni Peas 

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



Quick Couscous Salad with Peppers and Feta


Oops! I made the wrong recipe - as I was at the store, I realized I had not written down the ingredients on my shopping list - I ran home, threw the other groceries in the garage, grabbed the book, and went back. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me) I read the ingredients for the main recipe; this salad was already in the line-up back in August of last year. This month's recipe was a variation on that one, using fresh tomatoes and olives.

The salad I made, uses jarred roasted red peppers (I used sweet cherry peppers - so good), cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, parsley, and of course, couscous. I added some spring onion from my CSA box, in addition to the red onion; and to the leftovers a couple days later, I stirred in some fresh corn kernels from the leftover corn on the cob we had the night before - it was really tasty with the added corn.



I ended up using pearl couscous, which is a lot larger than your regular couscous. I remember when I first came across a recipe calling for the pearl, I could not find it. Now, when I wanted regular couscous, all my local store had, was the pearl couscous. Go figure. I actually ended up liking it with the pearl couscous, which I will use again the next time I make this - and there will be a next time.

The salad has a very light dressing made up of just olive oil and lemon juice, which is tossed with the warm couscous - I'm thinking this is Hugh's favorite.. he uses it often. However, I felt it could have used a little more dressing.

I may have made the incorrect recipe, but this was darn tasty - so light and refreshing; and it tastes just as good days later. This would make for great lunchbox fare (Ash!). 




Speaking of corn....  I received in my CSA box, corn on the cob, that the tops were lopped off! A third to half of the cob! Am I wrong to be disturbed by this? The company I received my box from, commented (on their FB page) that they cut just the tops off (ah, more than just the tops!) because they were unsightly looking. "Unsightly looking" to me, construes that maybe the corn isn't as fresh as I thought. It did still taste good, and that is what counts, but I felt this was just plain wrong.  Sorry to digress - had to vent a little. (Update: Received a phone call from my CSA - the reason for the tops being cut off, is due to WORM problems. The corn had worm holes... yeah, that would be unsightly.)



Macaroni Peas


Time was not on my side this month. I only completed two of the five recipes I committed to making. I almost did not get this one made - for I knew I would not be going to the farmer's market, and really did not want to make this recipe with frozen peas.


I got lucky - there was a whole bin of fresh peas at my grocery store. So I grabbed a bunch with hopes I would be able to get around to making the recipe - and I did!


This was a simple recipe, though it does require quite a few dishes to prepare - three pots and a blender. In the old days, it never, ever, crossed my mind as to how many dishes a recipe would use - and I used to prepare meals that would take a good four hours or so to complete! I guess I'm getting lazy in my increasing years...


The sauce for this dish is made up of fresh peas, garlic infused butter, and cheese; all is whirled together and then tossed with the noodles, along with additional (cooked) fresh peas, salt, and pepper. Just before serving it is topped with grated cheese and shreds of basil. The more cheese you use, the tastier the dish will be.

I found this to be pretty bland, even though I used three garlic cloves, to Hugh's one. I thought the sauce tasted pretty good on its own, and was looking forward to dinner, but the flavor was lost once it was tossed with the noodles. The bites with the most cheese tasted best, but I was trying to keep this on the healthy side, so I refrained from adding more.


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!





 




Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wok Wednesdays | Taiwanese-Style Stir-Fried Scallops and Shrimp with Yellow Chives

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




Wow. Wow. Wow. On cloud nine...


Bowl 1: Ginger
Bowl 2: Scallops, shrimp, dry sherry, ginger, salt, pepper
Bowl 3: Ginger
Bowl 4: Ground bean sauce, sambal oelek
Bowl 5: Yellow chives
Bowl 6: Dry sherry
Bowl 7: Salt

I have never really cared for scallops. No - let me rephrase that. Before this recipe, I have not cared for scallops.


Once again, I am amazed that with so few ingredients, you come away with a dish that has such amazing flavor.

The seafood is marinated for half an hour in a simple mixture of dry sherry (or Japanese sake if you have it), ginger, salt, and pepper (white pepper is used in this dish, but I used black pepper by mistake).

The scallops and shrimp are stir-fried in a garlic infused oil (oil is heated in the wok along with some smashed garlic) just long enough for the seafood to obtain some color, then it is removed from the wok, and fresh oil and garlic are added and heated again, before returning the seafood back into the wok along with the bean sauce, chives, dry sherry (or Japanese sake), and some salt, and stir-fried just until the seafood is cooked through.

I had issues with some of my scallops breaking apart while stir-frying, as well as my friend Karen, of Karen's Kitchen Stories, and she mentioned this on the WW FB page; another member stated that she lets them sear on one side, then turns them over, and just kinda shakes the wok when they are done - great tip! Thanks Peng!


This recipe alone is worth the purchase of Grace's book, not to mention the rest of the recipes!

I can't stress it enough - GO GET THE BOOK ALREADY!!! Seriously. You'll be happy you did.




Yellow chives (aka golden chives, gau wong, albino chives), have a delicate garlic flavor, with a warm gentle "bite" to them. They are also a lot larger than your typical western chives.


photo credit: specialty produce




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 178, 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!





golden chives, Gau wong and albino chives
golden chives, Gau wong and albino chives
golden chives, Gau wong and albino chiveshave a delicate garlic flavor, with a gentle "bite" that you get from garlic

Friday, June 12, 2015

TWD | Baking Chez Moi | Chocolate-Cherry Brownies

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking Chez Moi
by Dorie Greenspan




Hello, deliciousness...


This is a pretty basic brownie recipe, aside from the addition of a little black pepper, extra chopped chocolate to stir in at the end, and dried cherries that have been reconstituted in simmering water and port (or another sweet wine), which I did not have either of, so I used a dark crème de cassis.

There was a lot of chatter about the recipe taking far longer to cook than the twenty-seven to twenty-nine minutes in a 325°F oven as instructed - so I set my oven at 350°F and they were done in twenty-five minutes, and were perfect.

These brownies turned out deliciously gooey, full of chocolate flavor, with a slight tartness from the cherries. They also were pretty sweet. I'm thinking next time I'll cut back on some of the sugar.

These were really, really good. I made sure hubby took them to work the next day so I wouldn't pig out on them - which I definitely would have.

Well, I went into work two days later, and there were still some left over?!! How can that be? So of course I had to try another one (or two, maybe three... um yeah..) to see how they fared two days later. They were not as gooey, a bit more dense, fudge like - so very good still! I don't think the guys cared for the cherries... oh well, their loss, my gain - literally, unfortunately.


We have been asked not to post the recipes here on our blogs. You can find the recipe on page 322 of Baking Chez Moi.

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