Welcome to the January 2016 gathering of the Cottage Cooking Club, our 21st month cooking through the cookbook, “River Cottage veg everyday!” by British cookbook author and television personality, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall.
The significance of this month as we make our way to completion in April, makes me recall the overwhelming popularity at the onset of the book, followed by the movie, “Julie and Julia.” I thought to myself something like- what an interesting idea, followed by thinking to myself, ugh, cooking through a whole cookbook would be so boring to me. I think I might clang myself over the head with a fry pan even contemplating making it through even one whole chapter of one cookbook. Yes. And here I am in the twenty-first month cooking through the same one cookbook, “River Cottage veg everyday!”
What can I say? Indeed we do have a fabulous, talented, and fearless leader, Andrea, of The Kitchen Lioness, Notes from a Very Small German Kitchen, and, a lovely, diverse, group of members in our online international community with something uniquely special about each. And then, there have been the recipes, a monthly list of choices with beautifully photographed pages inspiring us to incorporate more vegetables into our everyday cooking in more creative ways, especially utilizing lots of fresh and locally grown produce wherever possible.
My favorite fresh selection pick among these vegetables in the month of January was the Swede with onion and sage, that is, the Rutabaga. Buttery, delicious, and pretty with its lovely orange golden color as shown above, the combination, worked remarkably well with the bold herb, sage, giving thought to the idea that sage offers more flavor uses than just it’s more obvious suspects as with poultry dishes, varied stuffings, or fried as garnish.
Having already purchased the fresh mushrooms for preparing last month’s Cottage Cooking Club list selection of Mushroom stoup, I needed to use them up, and so I cooked up this dish shortly after our December posting. Making Mushroom stoup also in some way coincided with simmering a beef broth from the cookbook, Brodo, as my Blogging for Books post selection, so you’ll likely gather how these two transitioned together. The word stoup, is a bit of a take on a soup being nearly as thick as a stew, hence the made up word, aptly named, I think, along with being quite excellent blended with homemade beef ‘brodo’ provided an even denser, more richly flavored dish, especially combined with the dumplings. The stoup was well received by its taste testers, including my grandson, the J-Dude whose least preference among his sophisticated for a kid palate is mushrooms.
Next up we have the Squash and walnut toastie. This sort of reminds me of the pamphlet currently sitting on top of my desk table labeled, “Scarborough.” “You can make a difference in television.” Yes, I suppose on account of agreeing to a phone interview on my radio preferences last week somehow then threw me into the bucket of more public research receiving in the mail this 8 day diary where I write down every show I watch along with its associated channel during said time. In order to be honest, I’ve had to admit that I daily watch the children’s PBS program Wild Kratt’s with the Dude before school. Hey, it’s part of our morning conversation, discussing facts on the animal of the day. I’ve also had to fill out this survey about myself where among the questions I gave myself a “Mostly Agree” high score on ‘liking to try new things,’ I’m not sure this coincides exactly accurately when it comes to television, where thus far, I seem to have rather limited and narrow viewing preferences among a few genres. Same with the Squash and walnut toastie, I liked it, but not so much as I like other more common bruschetta types. On the other hand, I did love Hugh’s Leek and cheese toastie and Celery and blue cheese, so I’m now talking myself into citing these other more open minded flavors as some justification that unlike television viewing, I still do possess lots of open minded views on tasting and determining new flavor experiences.
Moving along, we have the Winter kale and potato curry. I prepare a spinach version of this Indian inspired dish at home and I very much enjoyed switching it out with the kale.
Sticking with the curry theme, we have the Curried red lentil soup, which while reminding me of a thinner version of a lentil dish one of my Indian friends prepares, I thought quite delicious. As with many recipes in River Cottage veg, especially those with Indian inspired influence I right from the start increase the indicated spice amounts for bolder flavors, it does provide for a tastier outcome, in particular, if you are accustomed to these spice flavors.
Last but not least, I fried up some Flat onion bhajis, a sort of curried onion pancake which was delicious served right alongside the Curried red lentil soup, quite a good dinner match I’d say.
Wrapping up month twenty-one then and countless recipes prepared from one cookbook. One single cookbook. I’ve still not clanged my head against a fry pan. Yet. Just in time, Andrea has this week announced that beginning in May we shall move to not one, but two new cookbooks; “River Cottage Every Day,“ and, “Love Your Leftovers” both of these also by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Hey, I never said I didn’t like keeping with the same friends, I just said I liked variety. Besides, moving along with these two new books through the Cottage Cooking Club enables me to fulfill another item on my television viewing survey checklist box where I also gave myself a ‘Mostly Agree’ high score on “I like the challenge of doing something I have never done before.”
To see what other Cottage Club Cooking members have prepared over the month click here.