Cottage Cooking Club: November 2015

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I’ve really fallen down on the job as a blogger. I cook daily, delicious things, but so often I neglect to take photos and then it’s all gone, or I take photos, but don’t sit down to write about my latest favorite dish. I’m promising myself to get back to a more regular schedule of posts in the new year, or before. In the meantime, my participation in the Cottage Cooking Club provides an occasion for sharing my thoughts on a few new recipes I tried this month.

If you don’t already know, the Cottage Cooking Club is an on-line group of bloggers who, under the leadership of the lovely Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness, has been cooking recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg. Each month, Andrea selects one recipe from each chapter, each participant chooses the ones she wants to try, and at the end of the month, we share our experiences. I usually pick the ones are the most appealing to my palette. It’s great fun to read everyone else’s posts, and based on their reviews, add additional recipes to the never-ending list of ones to try.

Here are my thoughts on the recipes I chose, in the order I prepared them.

Potatoes with Green Mojo Sauce

First up, I made the Roasted Potatoes with Two Mojo Sauces. I actually roasted potatoes on two separate occasions and each time served the potatoes with a different mojo sauce. Roasting potatoes is a straightforward thing, but these instructions resulted in a crispier exterior than I usually get, so I was delighted to have a new trick up my sleeve. I made a half batch of each sauce because I could tell each made a large quantity. We enjoyed both the red and the green sauce which had a (American) Southwest flavor profile – a bit surprising from a British cookbook. The sauces went well with the potatoes and also on top of simply roasted chicken. (Can I say that when this book is supposed to be about the vegetables?) This was my favorite of this month’s recipes.

Next, I made the Kale Speltotto, though it would be more accurate to say I made Kale Farrotto. This recipe is similar to risotto, using spelt (or in my case, farro) instead of Arborio rice. Hot broth is gradually added to the grain, letting it absorb completely between batches. I made a squash stock from seeds I’d scooped from a winter squash earlier in the week.

As for the grain, I had whole-grain spelt in the pantry, but was worried that, because it wasn’t pearled, it wouldn’t cook in time for dinner. I couldn’t find any pearled spelt at the store. After reading the package of the brand of farro I had at home, it seemed like its cooking time would work. Of course, when I got home, I found that I didn’t have nearly enough farro OR pearl barley on-hand. I did have plenty of parboiled farro, which typically cooks up in 10 minutes. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but it was a success. It took longer than 10 minutes to cook, but was done when pearled spelt would have been. I used kale I had picked myself after a volunteer shift at the farm.

Kale Farrotto

The combination of kale and leek was delicious. I was also out of goat cheese (normally a staple), so I topped this with grated Parmesan.

Lesson learned: Take a better inventory of what you have before deciding what to make for dinner, though if you misjudge, it almost always works out with whatever you have.

The final recipe I prepared from this month’s choices was the Beet and Walnut Hummus. I love beets. Beet-Walnut Salad is one of my favorite ways to eat roasted beets. This dip had similar ingredients, but the final result wasn’t a favorite. The beets overpowered all the other flavors except the cumin. And it was extremely sweet – too sweet for our taste buds. The sesame flavor of the tahini didn’t stand out at all. We prefer either the creamy texture of hummus made with chickpeas or the chunkier texture of my usual beet salad.

BeetHummus

In addition, I finally made the Twice-Baked Potatoes the group made last November. They were fabulous. My mother used to make a simpler version of this, simply scooping out the potatoes, mashing the innards, refilling the potato shells, and generously sprinkling the top with paprika before rebaking. Hugh’s version is much more decadent. The filling is like a loaded baked potato, mixed with sour cream and cheddar cheese and studded with scallions. This is a vegetarian cookbook, but crumbled bacon would be at home in the filling. These are a new favorite, and they were perfect to serve to company!

Our Thanksgiving table wouldn’t be complete without roasted Brussels sprouts. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is Hugh’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Shallots. Since the group first made this last October, I frequently revisit this recipe, and I baked a batch to bring to the Thanksgiving feast we attended with friends.

I hope all of my American Cottage Cooking Club friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, sharing good food and company with family and friends. I look forward to catching up with all of you again in December.

To find out what the other Cottage Cooking Club bloggers thought of their selections this month, follow their links here.

Cheers! (P.S. WordPress tells me this is my 500th post! Hard to believe…)

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Posted on 30 November 2015, in Cottage Cooking Club and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, I always enjoy reading your posts and open assessments. Your potatoes sound quite good with the crispy outer coating and the sauce choices. We already make twice baked potatoes with sour cream and cheese, including even scallions, and yes bacon sometimes too, so this one wouldn’t be one of my picks. I had planned to make the spelltoto even as late as today but with my grandsons cross country banquet this evening I thought the decorating and food preparations quite enough for closing out the busy fall season and decided to just let it go for this month. Hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving among friends, and I’m sure they enjoyed your Brussels sprouts as much as you do! P.S. I also know what you mean about cooking everyday some very nice things that get eaten up before photographing, it happens to me all the time!

  2. Great Post, Betsy and I am thrilled to read that you are determined to return to a more regular posting in the new year. I miss reading your posts with your good thoughts and ideas and recipes. Squash stock? Whoever heard of that? All your recipes look and sound delicious. Sorry the beet hummus wasn’t a hit. I love beets but am pretty traditional in how I serve them. Brussel sprouts, love, love, love. I remember making the twice-baked potatoes. I made two and ate the 4 halves over a period of a few days. My, they were rich but very tasty. Nice job. Enjoyed your post.

  3. Enjoyed your post, I must read that instructions for the roasted potatoes again. I grilled my par-boiled potatoes instead of roasting… (cos I did not like the time it takes to roast!) otherwise followed the recipe closely. I was going to try beet hummus but did not get to it, personally (like you) I prefer my beets chunkier and pickled!

  4. ps: Happy 500th Post!

  5. 500! Wow. All of your recipes look interesting Betsy, I especially like the one with the Farro.
    For some reason I took a liking to farro, it is delicious and a nice change. I almost have Jim
    convinced that he really likes it. I did buy this book and should start cooking from it as
    all the recipes I see on FB look great.

  6. Congratulations on your 500th post!
    It looks like it was a great month for you. I made some of the same dishes and enjoyed them too. I particularly liked the mojo picon with the potatoes (and I hope it’s ok to mention chicken because I did as well!). Hugh’s chickpea alternative hummus recipes have been hit and miss with me. I didn’t mind the texture of the beet hummus but I added extra lemon juice to cut the sweetness.

  7. thekitchenlioness

    Dear Betsy, congratulations on your 500. post! And I hope that you and Howard (and all your family) spent a wonderul Thanksgiving!
    The dishes you made look wonderful – I must admit that the beetoot hummus was not my favorite this month either but the rest of the taste testers liked it. The potatoes with the sauces are indeed wonderful with chicken (!) and from my own experience, I think I can safely say that the salad seems to work with all kinds of grains (parboiled or not) – I have tried it a few different ways and we were always happy with the end result. The roasted Brussels sprouts are a regular here as well – so nice ot read that we both love preparing that recipe again and again.
    I took the liberty of down-sizing to 5 recipes this month – in order to make things a little less stressful for everyone in December.
    Always nice to read your posts and see you participating in our lovely group!
    Andrea

  8. Don’t feel bad – I have been so bad about posting that its almost criminal.
    Congratulations on reaching 500 – that is a HUGE accomplishment.
    Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  9. Hi Betsy, wow 500 posts, that is amazing! there have been many times when I forget to take pictures for a post and try and do the best I can with the leftovers. I love his brussel sprout recipe as well. Happy Holidays!

  10. Congratulations on your 500th post! What a milestone. :)

    I’m intrigued by squash seed stock – it sounds wonderful. And Brussels sprouts anything is a favourite for me. I made the potatoes with mojo sauces, as well. I made both sauces at once, but cut the quantities down by 2/3rds. It was still too much for two people, but they were delicious.

    It sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope the run up to the new year isn’t too hectic.

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