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August Cottage Cooking Club, Caponata, Chard and new Potato Curry


Late August and this weekend ushers in the unofficial last week of the summer on the East Coast. Where has the time flown? It’s been a busy Posting week on Spiced Peach Blog. We’ve had our 200th published post, a 2nd ‘Blogeversary’, and today marks the due date on our third month Cooking Along with the Cottage Cooking Club joining in with other food bloggers from throughout the world and sharing the cookbook, River Cottage veg everyday, written by British author, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This month on Spiced Peach we feature two recipes from among the selection chosen by our fearless leader (and amazing photographer) Andrea, from The Kitchen Lioness, Notes from a very small German Kitchen.


With recipes of my own to share on some of this months choices, ultimately I opted for two recipes providing their own specially unique twist. First, the Caponata.


Italian in origin, Caponata is a versatile eggplant dish that boldly plays a balance of sweet and sour tantalizing the tongue between its flavorful combinations of ingredients. In the tart/sour category we always have vinegar as a component and from there forks a diversity of choices in varied ingredients of preparation, though despite slight variations, mostly being similar.


Along with the usual Caponata suspect ingredients: cubed and sauteed eggplant, onion, garlic, celery, and plum tomatoes, it’s the secret ingredients bringing forth the mysterious depth of dimension to Whittinghall’s  recipe that really make it pop: finely grated dark chocolate, along with the additional sweet touches of brown sugar, and sultanas (white raisins.) Using balsamic vinegar rather than wine or red wine vinegar provided a good balance of the desired tang blending well the subtle sweetness.


Elated upon neighbors returning home from vacation destinations, I actually prepared triple the Caponata batch keeping a third and sharing the other two thirds. As it turned out one of these neighbors was having unexpected company and needed an appetizer. The timing was good. The critics cheered. Yes. Success.


Dishes from River Cottage Veg have now impressed neighbors and other guests on a few occasions, showcasing the point that just on their own, vegetable dishes can be quite creative, tasty, and filling.


Caponata is a dish that presents diverse possibilities in it’s use. It may be served on crusty bread as shown in this Post and it also makes an excellent accompaniment with fish, chicken, pasta, or salads. It’s all up to your hearts content.


Bulging with large leaves of Swiss chard in my backyard garden, and always game for preparing a new curry, my second choice of the month included, Chard and New Potato Curry.


The challenge with this dish, unlike the Caponata, was that I had not also prepared three batches worth.


For those food bloggers who have eager taste testers to feed at dinner, getting so much as a portion left to photograph for something as flavorful as this dish is nearly impossible. Or you know how it goes, alternatively, the ole’ no one may eat until you have photographed first. Yes, these occasions cause all sorts of pressure trying to get a good shot quickly. I try to avoid them. Things happen. On second take, I would have opted for a plain white plate featuring this dish. Sorry. All gone.


The sound choice of spice combination along with the garlic and ginger similarly used in Indian cuisine was delightful, especially with the addition of the hot pepper, in my case using a jalapeno, as that is what I had freshly on hand. While I sometimes prepare a spinach and potato curry at home, using Swiss chard provided good use of a currently seasonal green, while also maximizing the dish specifically separating the green leaves from the pink ribs, each providing their own distinct range of flavors and highlighting them. Swiss chard, the vegetable of two vegetables.


 Pleasantly temperate weather conditions this summer did affect the ripe abundance of some warm weather favorites, including the tomato, causing me to forgo one recipe I had planned among this months Cottage Cooking Club selections, Roasted Tomato Ketchup, which looks incredibly good and especially that I have never prepared this before. Another time.

It’s the beginning of the unofficial last weekend of summer. And then. Bring on September. Meanwhile you can check out what some of the members of the group are Posting here. See you next month on The Cottage Cooking Club sharing more River Cottage veg everyday!


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