Cottage Cooking Club: January

Big Baked Mushrooms

Another month has gone by, and it’s time to share the recipes I chose to make for the Cottage Cooking Club. If you don’t already know, the Cottage Cooking Club was started by Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness, with the goal of cooking all the recipes in River Cottage Veg, a cookbook by British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in one year. It’s a little more relaxing than other cooking groups because, in this group, all of the recipes are be cooked across the entire group, not by each individual participant.

I always find it hard to choose from Andrea’s selections for the month, but I try to pick recipes that I know I can work into the month’s cooking. This month, I made three of the ten possibilities, more than I’ve taken on in previous months.

Farro, Squash, Fennel Salad

First up, I made the Spelt Salad with Squash and Fennel. This is a warm salad combining chewy grains with roasted vegetables and toasted walnuts. Trader Joe’s sells a parboiled farro that can be cooked in 10 minutes, so I used that instead of spelt which takes much longer. There’s a lot of confusion about the differences (or similarities) of the available heirloom grains on the market. According to Wikipedia, the Italians call spelt farro grande but technically (and genetically) they are different heirloom grains. I’m not going to sweat the difference because what matters to me is the flavor and texture. The quick-cooking TJ farro works for me.

Roasting Squash and Fennel

While the farro cooked, I roasted chunks of butternut squash and slices of fennel until tender. A handful of walnuts are added to the pan for the last few minutes of cooking. Cooked farro and the roasted ingredients are tossed together with a lemony vinaigrette to create a hearty salad that could either be the centerpiece of a meal (large portion) or a satisfying side dish (smaller portion). We liked this, but felt it would have been even better with more walnuts.

Artichoke White Bean Dip

We had some friends over for a schnitzel and spaetzle dinner. I made the Artichoke and White Bean Dip for our guests to enjoy while I was frying the schnitzel. The dip came together quickly. Chopped marinated artichokes and canned white beans are heated up with sautéed onion and garlic. Then, the mixture is coarsely pureed in the food processor with a touch of yogurt, lemon juice and oil. It’s reminiscent of a hummus in texture, but without the strong tahini taste of hummus plus it’s served warm. I served the dip with pita chips and crudities. It got high marks from Howard and the guests.

Sauteeing Artichokes and Beans

Finally, I made the Big Baked Mushrooms. I do not like raw mushrooms, and I always forget how much I do like cooked ones. Portobello (aka “big”) mushrooms are dotted with butter and garlic and baked until tender. As a finishing touch, grated cheese is melted on top. I used an aged Gouda which added a nice nutty flavor. These mushrooms are so easy to put together that, in many ways, they make a nice side dish to round out a meal.

Dotted Mushrooms

I would make all of these recipes again, but the mushrooms is the one most likely to reappear on my table first.

You can find the recipes in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg. To get reviews of other recipes the Cottage Cooking Club made in January, check out other posts here.

For anyone who enjoys “snow pictures”, a little storm named Juno visited us on Tuesday. According to my snow gauge, she dropped about 2 feet of snow. As I always say, “If it’s going to be cold, it might as well be pretty!”



Posted on 29 January 2015, in Cottage Cooking Club and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. They look delicious Betsy! I made these dishes as well and quite enjoyed them. I used farro also since it’s much more readily available to me than spelt but I’ve yet to come across a parboiled version. And I love the idea of a schnitzel and spaetzle dinner with friends – sounds like fun!

  2. peggygilbey814628432

    Hello Betsy, I’ve been looking forward to your Post. The mushrooms were good though I did not prepare the dip but plan to this month. I like your use of the quick cooking farro and perhaps may give this a shot as well considering your tweaking on the walnuts. It seems you got a fair amount of snow, I agree, when you can’t control it anyway, may as well be pretty. (My thought when we didn’t get all our expected snowfall- if its going to snow- let it be pretty- and let there be a snow day from school- of course, none of this happened this time around.)

  3. Dear Betsy, wonderful salad – it has become one of the staples at our house because it is easy to vary the “grains” and the vegetables with this recipe – it is also amazing with summer´s roasted cherry tomatoes and tons of basil…but I digress – your salad looks amazing and I could not agree with you more about the confusion with respect to the grains available these days. The dip was my favorite and there I agree with you again, I can never really get used to the tahini taste in hummus – I much prefer this dip, now my favorite – to be served soon with lovely spring veg. And then the mushrooms, I am so glad we were not the only ones to be totally crazy about these! Sooo good. Dear friend, all the dishes you made look wonderful and it is fun to agree with you on all of them!
    Thank you for participating again this month – I certainly appreciate all your support,
    P.S.: nice snowy picture too!

  4. All three dishes look wonderful! I especially want to try the artichoke dip. I hope the snow has slowed down for you. We’ve been having weirdly early spring weather here (not that I’m complaining).

  5. Hi Betsy, love all 3 of your dishes, after seeing yours I wished I made the spelt and fennel salad, looks delicious!

  6. My first question, Betsy. When did the weather reporting community begin “naming” snowstorms? Thank you for the picture. It reminds me to be appreciative of warm weather but that’s difficult because the California drought is a disaster for this state. Now, on to my comments. Thank you for telling me about TJ’s farro. I didn’t know that but have a TJ’s available here to get some this week. I also made the mushrooms and dip. I would make both again but absolutely loved the Portobellas. On pizza, also. Glad that all three of these worked for both of you.

  7. I absolutely loved the spelt salad. I also used farro. I always love the look of snow – it does make everything beautiful, doesn’t it? I am thankful I don’t have to live in it though.

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