Cottage Cooking Club: March 2016

Zucchini Spouffle

It’s time again for a recipe review for the Cottage Cooking Club.  This group has spent nearly two years collectively cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg, a vegetarian cookbook filled with recipes for flavorful and relatively simple ways to enjoy your vegetables.  For March, Andrea, The Kitchen Lioness and leader of the Cottage Cooking Club, selected an assortment of recipes to use up the last of the late-winter while getting ready to welcome the produce of early spring.

I’ll admit that I fell down on the job this month.  I selected three different recipes to make, but was only able to manage two.  I have ingredients for my remaining selection (vegetable biryani), so if I fit it into our menu, I will share the results next month.

The two recipes I made this month got top marks.

First up, I made “Vegiflette” Toastie!  I love the toasties (open-faced sandwiches) in this book.  The topping for this one is inspired by the French dish Tartiflette, a gratin of potatoes, onions, bacon, and Reblochon cheese, though in vegetarian form.

Reblochon is currently banned for import into the United States.  As a result, I discovered a substitute that might become my new favorite cheese.  Reblochon is a washed-rind raw milk cheese made in the French Alps.  After a thoughtful discussion and some tasting with the cheesemonger at Whole Foods, I settled on her recommendation of Oma, a similarly pungent washed-rind raw milk made in Vermont.  The cheese is made by the von Trapp family and aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill.  We had a little laugh about whether we’d sing better (think The Sound of Music –the same von Trapp family) after eating this cheese.  In my case, it didn’t help.


The toastie topping was simple to throw together for a decadent lunch.  You need a little advanced planning to have cold cooked potatoes on hand.  While slices of rustic bread (I made a loaf of no-knead whole wheat) toast, thickly sliced cooked potatoes are pan-fried in some olive oil.  Once they’re browned, slices of bitter Belgian endive are added until they soften up.

Potatoes and Endive

The vegetables are piled on top of the toast, sprinkled with a generous grind of black pepper, then covered with a few pieces of cheese.  A few minutes under the broiler melts the cheese and you have lunch.

I loved this.  I’m also intrigued to try the original dish, with bacon or without, though with the cold weather on its way out, that kitchen experiment might need to wait until next year.

I also made zucchini penne spoufflé.  I’d been wanting to try this recipe ever since the group made the spinach version last May.


Spoufflé is a cross between mac-and-cheese and a soufflé.  It starts with a roux made from milk infused with onion, bay, and peppercorns.  I loved learning this infused milk trick when making the fennel and squash lasagna last month.  It’s amazing how something so simple adds an unexpected dimension to the finished dish.  The roux is enriched with grated cheddar cheese and a healthy dose of nutmeg.  Then egg yolks are whisked in to further thicken up the sauce.  It wouldn’t be mac-and-cheese without some pasta, plus a chunky puree of sautéed zucchini adds color.  Finally, it wouldn’t be soufflé without folding in some stiff egg whites to lighten it up.

Spouffle Before

The whole concoction is transferred to a buttered dish and baked until it’s puffy and golden.  My soufflé dish was a smaller than I expected, so I made a mini-one with what didn’t fit in the larger vessel.

I ate this hot from the oven, but the leftovers, slightly deflated, are good too.

Spouffle After

The toastie was my favorite this month, but I’d definitely make both of these recipes again.  I would like try the spinach version of the spoufflé too.

Next month will be the final month devoted to this cookbook.  Andrea has plans in the works for the group to continue the adventure, cooking through more of Hugh’s books.

This month, check out my fellow Cottage Cooking Club member’s blogs to read their reviews of March’s recipe selections.


Posted on 30 March 2016, in Cheese, Cottage Cooking Club and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. That spoufflé looks beautiful! I made the vegiflette, too, and loved it. I think ‘Sound of Music’ cheese is a much better choice than Reblochon. It makes for a great story and sounds like it was delicious, too.

  2. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, great post and terrific story. Enjoyed your selections, vegiflette toastie sounds delicious, as does the Oma cheese by the Von Trapp’s.

  3. I only managed two recipes this month, too, Betsy. But boy….am I sorry that the toastie wasn’t one of them. It looks awesome and everyone seemed to enjoy that. But wow…that spouffle…..what a great recipe! I bet spinach would be great with that, too! : )

  4. Well, I am going to have to find out about Oma cheese.That whole scenario was fun to read and resulted in a delicious result. There are so many recipes that I haven’t made from this cook book that I want to make. Just added the “Vegiflette” Toastie. I had scheduled to make the Spinach Spoufflé but never got it made when Andrea offered it as a choice. If nothing else I like the sound of the dish. Both of your choices looked tasty, Betsy. Must try.

  5. Dear Betsy, how wonderful that you enjoyed both your dishes this week – your Spoufflé looks extraordinary – just perfectly risen, golden and a true treat. The choice of cheese for the Vegiflette sounds like fun Oma (or grandma) cheese is not a cheese that you would likely be able to find around here but it sounds like an absolutely wonderful alternative to the Reblochon (which we can still buy at specialty cheese stores around here) – I truly enjoy when you all interprete Hugh´s recipes the way you do!
    Thank you for your continued participation in the CCC & a wonderful post!

  6. Hi Betsy, we used to have some neighbors we nick named the von trapps as they sang and danced, there were 6 kids. Great neighbors, anyway that Oma cheese sounds delightful, will have to give it a try. Really wish I would have prepared the Zucchini “Spouffle”, yours looks wonderful. Another, great month…….

  7. Your spouffle looks fabulous!! It’s one of our no-fail recipes – always seems to suit. I’ve made the spinach one before several times – I really liked this one, though it’s a lot of dishes! I agree the toasties are great. I didn’t make this one, but it looks wonderful – and had to be on your bread!

  8. Your spouffle is so puffed and golden, just gorgeous. Much as I enjoyed my vegiflette toastie, i think I would have preferred it with the von Trapp family cheese!

  9. Oh my, that spouffle is enticing indeed. It will definitely be on my make-up list. Interesting write up on the cheese, good to know!

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