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February Cottage Cooking Club, avocado and ruby grapefruit with chili

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Welcome to our February gathering of Cooking Along with the Cottage Cooking Club where our international online group monthly prepares dishes from the cookbook “River Cottage veg everyday! ” by British author and television host, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall.

Our fearless leader of the Cottage Cooking Club, Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness, notes from a very small German Kitchen, monthly provides a list of choices from among an extensive selection of seasonally inspired vegetable dishes, (great way to eat plenty of veggies, right?!) Members of the group pick what they plan to prepare from among the recipe selection, then, at months end we come together sharing our cooking experiences, outcomes and flavor observations.

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Well, oftentimes we come together in between time too, chatting, or reading each other’s blogs. So besides becoming acquainted with a terrific bunch of gals, The Cottage Cooking Club really has been a good way to also expand one’s repertoire in diverse vegetable preparations.  Some of the dishes are common, those that one might already similarly prepare at home. Other dishes, prove to be unique, such as the above salad, Avocado and ruby grapefruit with chili. Topped with some fresh cilantro leaves, this beautifully colored dish, finished with sprinklings of salt and pepper and some drizzled olive oil is interesting. Being a guacamole traditionalist, I almost felt guilty not smashing up the edible bright green flesh and squeezing in my usual fresh lime juice, still, I really appreciated this creative combination, and, the chance to stuff my face with fresh grapefruit, something I don’t do too often. On second thought, something I never do.

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 Some of the months “River Cottage veg everyday” recipe selections are comforting, as this Winter stir-fry with Chinese five-spice. With a typical abundance of Asian noodles in my pantry, the simple combination of soy sauce, rice wine, and Chinese five-spice powder mixture worked perfectly tossed throughout with cooked fresh Chinese fettuccine style noodles and the stir-fried vegetables; onion, carrots, parsnips, shitake mushrooms, shredded Brussels sprouts, chopped red chili and garlic. I also added some fresh chopped ginger, it’s a force of habit, and so couldn’t keep my paws off from breaking a small piece of gnarled beige outer skin peeling, chopping, and setting to it. The dish was the perfect fix on yet another of the bitter cold days we’ve experienced over the season. And the good news is that yesterday, I saw a robin. Today, birds seemed to be chirping everywhere. Are they signaling to us?

 

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Well, if the birds aren’t signaling us, then our calendars are, along with the daily pleasures of a little more daylight each day, Spring is on its way. And among our winter selections, a signal to our culinary flavors, we are inching toward the close on the seasonal peak of root vegetables, including Celeriac, and so, the perfect occasion to take advantage preparing the still seasonal salad, Celeriac with apple, raisins and parsley. A lovely dressing whisked between tart mustard, sugar, apple cider vinegar, oils, and seasoned with salt and pepper, captures a perfect blend with the crisp, julienne celery root strips and tart red apple slices. The recipe called for peeling the apple skin, there was no temptation on this bright red fruit, except to admire it fully clothed, sorry raisins, not for your eyes only.

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Over the years I have stuffed puff pastry in many, many ways, served as hors d’ oeuvres, luncheon dishes, desserts, main courses, and pot pies, but never in my life have I ever considered filling a puff pastry triangle with green peas and cheese. Yes, you are reading correctly, bright green peas and cheese. Named the Cheesy peasy puff turnover, from the “Store-Cupboard Suppers” chapter in the cookbook, this dish left me with one big ole smile on my face, and my grandson, the J-Dude’s, oh, and I did I mention Bob and Sooky too? This recipe saved me as a quick, almost decadently delicious dinner one night when I was just plain worn out. Upon my usual daily seeing the Dude to the school bus stop in the morning, in a different twist of things, from there had to go straight to the hospital and spent the day with normally healthy as a horse, 88 year old, Conga Line Aunt Betty, before going back to the school bus stop at days end, resuming the homework and activity and bathing routine before getting up the next day and repeating the whole routine. This went on for a week until I could finally bring Aunt Betty back here for a couple days before her return home.

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Now my friends, normally my mother, who is also generally healthy as a horse, and would have always have also been at the hospital too, unbelievably and concurrently had a temporary illness. So, after the week at the hospital this then set in a whirl of cooking foods for all of the family elders at once. There were pots of beef stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock, tomato sauce, bean soups, vegetable soups, stews, lasagnas, meatballs, enchiladas, burritos all packaged and dated. Did I mention, I also prepared this lovely beet soup with the horseradish cream sauce? Quite good, though in this exhaustion I simply couldn’t bear to bring out the blender before photograph time as called for in the recipe and so just used the food processor on my counter before blending it again the following day once I had some cleared counter space and completed all the proper packaging for deliveries.

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Now while having the equivalent of the back of a restaurant kitchen going on in my house, it also turned out, the only weekend the son of one of my dearest friends who had been keeping all of her favorite stuff in my basement while waiting to move into her new home was able to come down from Boston to help move boxes, paintings and mirrors was guess when? You got it, in the midst of the school bus and after school daily routine, the hospital daily routine, the extreme cooking routine, yes, up and down the steps, we filled 9 car loads of favorite stuff transporting to its newest home. After such a month, with everyone’s freezers now filled with healthy foods for easy heating, me, I cannot think of anything better than sitting down for just a bit, with a good book, some warm roti, and a bowl of my final River Cottage veg everyday recipe for the month, Baba ganoush.

Thank you to Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness for her leadership and committed coordination of our lovely Cottage Cooking Club. February provided continued excellent selections for eating among a broad variety of vegetables each day.

Extending Big Hugs out there to all of the group. Looking forward to seeing you in March. 

If you are a food blogger and would like to join our group, please contact Andrea: andrea@kitchenlioness.blogspot.com

To see what other members of the Cottage Cooking Club prepared this month click here.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    What an incredible month that you had. It sounds absolutely exhausting, but so great that it was filled with so many delicious meals. I really liked all of the CCC choices this month. Especially the flatbreads and cheesy peasy turnover. I remember thinking that I should have added ginger to the noodles–I’m glad to know it worked. I hope you have a calmer March!
    jora recently posted…FFWD Riviera Fish SoupMy Profile

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jora! Yes I agree, the CCC choices of the month were all quite good, and I’m happy for the breather of a make-up month to prepare a couple of the other dishes that I had planned but time did not permit, such as the Rosti, and the flatbreads that seemed to work well for all, and suited to the colorful toppings. The fresh ginger really does work well with the stir fry, as with most in the Asian genre, I particularly liked using the Brussels sprouts to mix it up a bit. I’m hoping for a calmer month of March as well. Thanks again and see you soon!

  2. Posted March 1, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    You’ve had so much going on, Peggy. There’s certainly a lot of delicious and healthy food coming out of that busy kitchen of yours. I hope everyone is on the mend. I’m sold on that easy peasy turnover. I think I’ll do that for March makeup month. And maybe the noodle stir fry too. I’m so glad to get to know you during our monthly CCC catchups and in between. Take care of yourself.
    Betsy recently posted…Cottage Cooking Club: FebruaryMy Profile

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Hello Betsy, thanks so much for dropping by! Yes, there sure has been quite a lot of delicious and healthy food coming out of my kitchen over the month. And thank you for your well wishes, and we look to my mom being back to her old self shortly but for now we are making our visits down to the Jersey shore where she currently lives- hopefully someplace closer in the future! I read most of your post last night but was so tired after yesterday’s trip decided to re-visit everyone after a good nights sleep! I do believe you will love the Easy Peasy Turnover! I may make it for a neighbor stopping by tomorrow too. I’m so glad to know you too through CCC and really enjoy reading your overviews on the Doristas over the month too! See you soon and thanks again! PS! Keep warm!

  3. TheKitchenLioness
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Dear Peggy, I agree with Mary, I am completely exhausted just reading through your post – if I lived any closer to your home, trust me, I would drop by and help you cook, prepare, chop, shop, etc. I cannot believe that you got all those chores done and still managed to make so many of this month´s dishes and write such a wonderful post – love all your pictures but the one of the Grapefruit and Avocado Salad looks even more pretty than the rest – I think I will try blood oranges and avocado tomorrow – I loved that salad with the grapefruit but could not really find juicy ones. The Stir-Fry was done today, as part of my personal make-up for March, loved it and there is still lots of Brussels sprouts available these days. The Soup was my least favorite – yours has such a wonderful color and your Turnovers look wonderful – we loved, loved them too – a great recipe to have in one´s repertoire “for one of those days” . I sincerely hope that your mothere is feeling better by now and that things will calm down somewhat in March – you are truly a generous soul, dear friend.
    All the very best to you and all of your family memebers – hang in there-
    Andrea
    P.S.: To celebrate our milestone of one hundred recipes, I am putting together a mailing list of the CCC members (please make sure to mail me your postal address – you know my email) so that I can send a little token for “encouragement and thank you” your way.

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Dear Andrea, Thank you so much and I’ve no doubt you would be a wonderful ally to help if you lived nearby, it would likely make the task much more fun too! This months CCC picks were quite good and I enjoyed everything, with everyone’s top favs of the month seeming to me the Cheesy Peasy,avocado and grapefruit, and the stuffed foldovers, whose flatbread I was not able to prepare due to timing though I had contacted Cheri early in the month for the exact American cookbook version flours and amounts. I look forward to this make-up month and think it is quite a good idea, along with the new food sourcing concept, and am thrilled on a little celebration toward our one hundred recipes! Thank you for the well wishes, and on my mom who is an extraordinary kind person, and one who never likes to inconvenience others- displaying just how much she was struggling there. Hopefully, this month she shall resume towards her usual self. I’ll send along my address, and see you soon on the Kitchen Lioness! Big Hugs, Peggy

  4. Mary Hirsch
    Posted March 2, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Peggy, I didn’t realize I posted my comment on Facebook instead of on your Blog. Nevermind. You did receive it. I will do better next month. And, I know that we have been blogging together for ten months, with Betsy, seven months. Okay, now I’ve got things right. You take a deep breath, I’ll take a deep breath, and let’s soldier on.

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

      Hi Mary, Thanks for writing! When I saw your comment much later, I was so upset I hadn’t seen it and hadn’t responded. Funny and no matter, nothing to soldier!!! Very excited on the enthusiasm surrounding the one hundred recipes, and ten months of CCC, and looking forward to the next one-hundred, and ten months. Talk to you soon! Breathing in!

  5. Posted March 3, 2015 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    You have incredible energy, Peggy, to have survived a month like that – I hope a reprieve is in store for you in March. All of your dishes look beautiful as always. I loved the grapefruit salad which for me was a novel way to enjoy avocado. And I’m sorry now that I didn’t add ginger to the stir-fry. The celeriac salad sounds wonderful – I too wouldn’t peel a beautiful apple – and if I find a nice one, will give that a try this month. Happy cooking!
    zosia recently posted…Chile-Ginger Stir-Fried Squid – IHCC Heaven ScentMy Profile

    • Posted March 3, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Hi Zosia, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, the grapefruit salad is novel way to enjoy avocado, and perhaps next time around preparing the stir fry you could add in the fresh chopped ginger, it definitely brings the flavors all together. The celeriac and apple salad was yet another of Hugh’s creative recipes combining simple ingredients together with good flavor and taste. I look forward to a bit calmer month ahead! See you soon, and Happy Cooking to you too!

  6. Posted March 4, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    After this long winter I am definitely looking forward to more Spring -like lighter fare foods.

    Would never have thought to combine avocado and grapefruit.
    Phil recently posted…The Great Big Bacon Picnic in NYC. Pork it up in Brooklyn!My Profile

    • Posted March 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      Hi Phil, yes me too, I cannot express how much I am looking forward to some simple and easy food preparations shortly! I know what you mean on the avocado and grapefruit, an interesting dimension definitely.

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  • Hi, I'm Peggy. Welcome to our Shared Table at Spiced Peach Blog!
    Subscribe here for my fresh, seasonal recipes with an international twist.