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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To see what other members of the Cottage Cooking Club prepared this month click here.