Cottage Cooking Club: December 2015


I’ve been cooking with the Cottage Cooking Club since last summer as the group collectively makes their way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s vegetarian cookbook River Cottage Veg. This month, our “chief chef” Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness, offered us half the number of selections to be sure we could fit some Cottage Cooking into the busy month of December.  I was up for the challenge and incorporated a few choices into the menu.

Every month (week, day, etc.), so many new recipes catch my eye.  The source is varied, perhaps one of the many cooking magazines that arrive in my mailbox each month, a cookbook on my shelf, a recipe card at the grocery store, an email newsletter in my inbox, a stack of torn out or printed out recipes in one of my numerous piles (my sisters better not laugh) or just browsing the internet.  I never lack inspiration, but I have a hard time keeping track of what I want to make.  This month, I’m trying a new tactic to help myself.  You might already do this, but it’s new for me.  I’m keeping a running list on the refrigerator.  At a glance, I can be reminded of appealing recipes and plan to make one.  The satisfaction of checking off what I’ve made helps me resist making the list pages and pages long!  Adding the Cottage Cooking recipes to the list ensured that I made them well before the end of the month deadline.  If you have a technique for keeping track of recipes you want to make, please share!  I’d love to improve on my organization.

This month, I chose two recipes from Andrea’s selection. The first one I made was Chachouka, a North African tomato and pepper stew served with eggs cooked right in the stew.  I had a nearly-full jar of roasted peppers in the refrigerator, so I used them instead of fresh ones – the tomatoes were canned – so this became a pantry meal as well.


I love eggs for any meal, and though this was suggested for an easy supper, I served it as a lazy weekend morning breakfast (two mornings in a row).  I made the stew the night before, then reheated it before adding the eggs and popping it in the oven.  I found that it took about 15 minutes for the egg whites to set.  My mother-in-law has made us the Israeli version (shashouka) before.  Once she adds the eggs, she just covers the pan and continues to cook it on the stovetop.  Honestly, that seems simpler.  As far as I remember, both recipes are equally delicious, the main difference being the toasted cumin seeds in Hugh’s.  I would make this again, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, though I would definitely double the stew base next time.

Pepper Sauce

My other choice this month was the Mushroom “Stoup” – stoup being something between a stew and a soup.  As much as we liked the chachouka, this was even better.  This “stoup” was a simple and hearty vegetable soup with the emphasis on mushrooms.  There are two kinds of mushrooms, fresh button mushrooms and dried porcinis.  The recipe called for 2 ounces of porcini.  At $6.50 per ounce, I opted to use just one ounce, and it was fine.  I used vegetable stock made from Hugh’s recipe, intending to add mushrooms to turn it into his mushroom stock variation, but I forgot to add them in.  I was surprised at the depth of flavor of the soup as the other ingredients (onion, garlic, carrot, celery) were the typical workhorse accompaniers, but nothing special.

Mushroom Stoup

Turning this into a meal were the herby dumplings that cooked in the soup.  I never made dumplings before.  They are similar to matzo balls, which I make often, though a tad more delicate.  I don’t know if that’s because I substituted vegetable oil for the shortening or for another reason.  Regardless, they tasted delicious, and I’ll continue to experiment with dumplings to get it right.


I hope all of my Cottage Cooking Club friends had a wonderful holiday season and Christmas.  To find out what they thought of their selections this month, follow their links here.

Happy New Year to all!  I hope 2016 will be filled with delicious food shared with those you love.


Posted on 28 December 2015, in Cottage Cooking Club, Eggs, Soup and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Betsy, your dishes look delicious! I didn’t get to these, or much of any recipes. This has become my most stressful December in memory, though to be sure, I was able to count so many blessings on my drive to Sedona today that I had to give up!!

    I think your idea of keeping almost is perfect. I’ll be switching to being more responsible about cooking, so I’ll try to keep up! I’m excited to see what everyone else in the group made. Your choices look great!!

    Happy New Year!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. With so many endorsements, I’m convinced that I must try those dumplings! The chachouka looks delicious also – I’d love that for breakfast if I could ever get organized enough to make the stew ahead of time! I look forward to cooking with you in the new year. Happy New Year!

  3. Happy New Year, Betsy and Howard. It’s fun to visit everyone’s CCC site this morning. After two months of non-participation, I am ready to get back in the kitchen and begin cooking. Both of your recipes look like something I would enjoy. Andrea and you both liked the Chachouka so that’s enough of a recommendation for me. Mushroom soup, always. Although I keep a running grocery list (as you do, I remember), I never have keep a running “recipes-to-try” list. A good idea. I often pull “out” or “up” good recipes that I want to cook, eat, blog about but they never get made, always on the back burner.

  4. peggygilbey814628432

    Happy New Year Betsy. Your dishes look lovely and I too made the Chachouka which I thought was lovely, I like the idea of cooking the eggs on the stove. My eggs were very overcooked at 8 minutes, goes to show you stove variations! I like your recipe list on the frig, nice idea, and for CCC. Typically I’ve tried to do my CCC choices early in the month but that hasn’t been possible but otherwise it works out much better for me. I wanted to prepare the Mushroom Stoup and have a bunch of mushrooms in my frig for making but I’ve been a bit ‘un-balanced’ and dizzy with infections in both ears so today was the best I can manage. See you soon and wishing you the very best in the year ahead!

  5. The chachouka sounds wonderful – just my kind of thing. It looks a little like Spanish eggs. Happy New Year Betsy!

  6. Hi Betsy, I love the chachouka that you made, I can eat eggs anytime of the day as well, forgot all about making that one. I should probably try your method of reminding myself what recipes I would like to prepare. Happy New Year’s to you, and it has been wonderful cooking with you in our CCC!

  7. TheKitchenLioness

    Dear Betsy, how delightful to see those two dishes here! I like the idea of covering the stew with a lid as opposed to transferring the whole dish to the oven – I will try that next time I make the Chachouka. Unfortunately, I did not get a chance this month to make the Mushroom Stoup but reading your comments and looking at your wonderful pictures, I will make sure to include it in my personal “have-to-make-up” list!
    Thank you, again, for being such a wonderful participant in the CCC, for all your wonderful comments, delightful posts and all!
    As far as the list for recipes is concerned, I also glue one to my fridge door at the beginning of each week, plus I add a few copies of recipes and as I make them, I leave comments on the copies and then file them away if we really enjoyed them.So next time I pull a recipe out of its binder, I can look at my notes and speed up my cooking process…
    Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year! And “see” you very soon!

  8. Betsy, I’ve missed your blog! It’s fun to read about what you’ve been up to. I love your idea of keeping a list of recipes to make on the fridge. I try to keep them all in my head but I’m constantly forgetting. I’m glad you enjoyed both of the recipes you tried this month. I’m not a mushroom person, but the chachouka sounds excellent.

  9. I also love eggs anytime of the day! The Chachouka sounds delicious…I really have to pull out my cookbook and start cooking again! Wishing you and Howard a Blessed and Happy-Healthy New Year!

  10. Happy New Year to you and family! I was thinking of finishing the eggs on the stove top… so now I know I can!

  11. Happy New Year! I love your idea of writing recipes on a refrigerator pad. There are so many good recipes to try, I agree it’s hard to keep track.

    I like the idea of making the chachouka a pantry meal and simplifying it by cooking it entirely on the stove. And I’m going to have to try the dumplings some time. Maybe I’ll make this for my parents next time I visit – they’d enjoy dumplings. I thought the porcini mushrooms were a bit pricey. If I’d bought the whole amount, it would have come to eighteen dollars. I think I have to find a better source.

  12. How does one become a member of The Cottage Club? I’m thinking of cooking and blogging again. Thanks!

    • It’s been a long time, Heidi! Nice to hear from you.

      To join Cottage Club, check out The group is smaller than French Fridays, but they are all lovely. Getting close to the end of this book but I hear that Andrea is planning to move on to another of the River Cottage books, so you aren’t jumping in too late. Plus the GROUP is cooking all the recipes, so you don’t have to feel like you need to make every single one. I like that. Hope you join us!

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