Welcome to our March gathering Cooking Along with the Cottage Cooking Club, a place where our online international cooking group monthly prepares foods from the cookbook: River Cottage veg everyday! by author and British TV cooking entertainer, Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall.
At the close of February our group had collectively reached the 100 recipe mark preparing dishes over the past eleven months from this vegetable centric cookbook, and as you might imagine, that’s a heck of a lot of vegetables! To celebrate this special occasion, our fearless leader, Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness, Notes from a very small German Kitchen sent unique boxed gifts, specially delivered from Bonn, Germany to each of our members. I was so excited and just so loved and appreciated each of the special items contained within. As another special treat in the month, Andrea also announced that March would be our “make-up” month meaning that in March we could choose to prepare any recipes from among those over this past ten months that perhaps we had not had a chance to give a try on any given month.
So I set to it, Bruschetta with broad beans and asparagus. However, with no fresh broad beans available at the market, these delicious bites were prepared simply using the other called for recipe ingredients: asparagus, scallions, and goat cheese. Delicious. With a quick text to my next door neighbor to open her garage door, this little board of colorful tasty appetizers made a nice little delivery surprise. The tasty bites were a hit among all.
Be-bopping along in the Bruschetta preparation, I then began thinking on the dish selections earlier contemplated for the month. What had I decided? Well it was anyone’s surprise on that count, for it was then that I realized in the midst of taking care of and preparing food for so many people over the past six weeks that I had literally forgotten to write in on our monthly CCC list-up, oops. Well, even that wasn’t as bad as the lovely 50th birthday card I sent to my youngest sister in Florida last week- including an expressed tender sentiment, and forgot to sign my name! OMG. I so need a break.
So after a call from the little sis, and her further inquiry on my earlier promised visit to Florida since the first try got a bit triangulated, I set to checking the calendar on open dates, easily readjusted dates, how could Easter come upon us so quickly this year? There is no easy magic on this one, but there is on another of this months River Cottage veg selections called the Magic Bread dough. This time around, formed and fried up as flat breads, this dough also has the magical properties of serving as pizza dough, pita bread, white bread, bread sticks, or soft bread rolls. Fundamentally, this makes me give thought to the miracle of bread and its place in history, flour, water, salt, yeast, in this case a bit of oil.
The image of the Magic Dough in it’s flatbread form took me back to a place in time, perhaps instilling a bit of homesick sentimentality for those years I lived in Arizona. The dough giving a similar appearance though puffy versions prepared by the Native American women throughout the state from Indian reservations to many daily local venues. With this thought in mind, when preparing the Refried Beans Foldover, rather than cannellini beans, I chose small pink beans, smashing at least half of the mixture during cooking to sort of resemble a more AZ-Mex version of re-fried beans. The combination with jalapenos, red onions, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado provided a simple but big comfort.
I kind of felt as if I were cheating by preparing the White beans with artichokes mainly because this combination is one I have presented out of my own kitchen for many years, in warmer months setting out antipasta trays or large salads topped with these both ingredients. The variation of preparation was in warming the beans and artichokes, for otherwise I always serve these room temperature, separately seasoned beforehand with olive oil, salt, pepper, and additional chopped garlic and parsley in the beans. Hugh’s version was really tasty, assuring us that same as in all things, it never hurts to keep an open mind, try something new, and explore, so I am pleased I did so.
Speaking of keeping an open mind, I wasn’t sure the Spring onion galette was going to be a fav of mine among the River Cottage veg recipes, and after giving it a try, it wasn’t. Being a scallion/small green onion lover and constantly using this ingredient in everything from Tex- Mex chopped, to Asian dishes sliced lengthwise, one question I pondered was the scallion standing alone on the puff pastry, well, along with some shredded cheese.While the lovely cookbook photo displays fuller pieces of finished whole bright green scallions, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the needed cutting once baked, and perhaps a stronger intensity of flavor in its just picked state. On the flip side, I’m still in awe of February’s Store- Cupboard Suppers selection: Cheesey peasy puff turnover also using puff pastry, and the brilliance of using peas and cheese in its combination. To date I’ve prepared the ‘peasy puff’ at least a half dozen times, giving it a special status of hardly any recipe, ever. But alas when it comes to the galette, though preferring other ingredient versions than the scallion, I’m still happy to have given it a try.
In concluding March, and our make-up selections from the cookbook River Cottage veg everyday, I extend a big thanks and shout out of appreciation to our talented, and fearless leader, Andrea, of The Kitchen Lioness for all of her hard work and thoughtfulness in monthly coordinating the many details involved, and for her generous spirit that insures each of our group members to have a lot of fun while developing friendships at this unique shared table.
Wishing Happy Spring and a Blessed Easter or Passover to all those in the group and their families as we share this month’s selection. Big Hugs to all and I’m looking forward to seeing you again in April. To see what our Cottage Cooking Club members have prepared this month click here.