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The Cottage Cooking Club: August

Roasted Carrots with Gremolata

Some of my cyber-friends participate in The Cottage Cooking Club, organized by my friend Andrea, the Kitchen Lioness. I’ve followed their cooking adventures for the past few months and have been tempted to join the party. This group is cooking vegetables in simple and delicious ways, as envisioned by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in River Cottage Veg. Andrea has kindly allowed me to participate as a guest this month, and try the group on for size.

I selected two recipes from Andrea’s August lineup: Quick couscous salad with peppers and feta (page 231) and Caramelized carrots with gremolata (page 355).

Quick Couscous Dalad

Quick Couscous Salad

In my typical fashion, I waited until the last minute to complete my challenge. When I picked the couscous, I didn’t realize that I would be making another couscous recipe last week. That’s a lot of couscous in the same week… This recipe (quick couscous salad) aptly named. It was very easy to make. The couscous takes just 5 minutes to cook. Then, you drizzle the hot couscous with lemon juice and olive oil. While it cools down, you chop roasted red pepper, a cucumber, and some red onion, mince some parsley, and crumble some feta. All the ingredients get tossed together, and you have the perfect salad for lunch! It was like sort of like a simplified Greek salad with couscous instead of lettuce. I enjoyed this couscous and look forward to trying the tomato-olive variation while I still have overflowing bowls of cherry tomatoes on my counter.

Caramelized Carrots with Gremolata

Caramelized Carrots with Gremolata

The carrots were completely different than the couscous. Young carrots (from my farm share) are roasted in butter and oil until they are tender and caramelized. The hot carrots are tossed with gremolata made from lemon zest, garlic, and a generous amount of parsley. I can’t believe that’s all there is to it. The presentation was gorgeous, so colorful! And, I had an excuse to pull out my carrot serving dish. I think this will make more appearances on my table, especially in the colder months. The carrots might not be as fresh in the winter, but the overall flavors will bring a needed ray of sunshine.

To see what other participants made this month, check out their links here. And, thanks, Andrea, for letting me cook along this month!

Soup Season

Soup Ingredients

The month of January has been filled with wild temperature swings. The past few days have been frigid, starting in single digits, but staying well south of freezing. And yet, we saw a balmy 50 just this past weekend and 60 one day last week. Climate change is in the air, and something needs to stabilize it.

I do love winter, though maybe not as much as I used to. I certainly prefer winter to summer. The trick is to dress properly. In winter, you can bundle up. In summer, you can only take off so many clothes. My mainstay has been my flannel-lined jeans. That extra layer helps cut the wind and generally keeps me warmer inside and out.

Another trick is eating soup. A bowl of soup is just what the doctor (or maybe the weatherman?) ordered. I’ve made so many delicious pots of soup this month; I just haven’t gotten around to sharing about them.

Here’s a little roundup of my favorites:

carrot soup with tahini and crisped chickpeas

This carrot soup is from Smitten Kitchen. The soup itself is nothing exciting, just a simple carrot puree. What makes this soup special are the garnishes: a lemony tahini sauce to swirl in, crispy chickpeas to sprinkle on top (though flavorful, mine were not very crispy), and za’atar topped pita chips (my new favorite snack). A bowl of this fully-adorned soup is a keeper!

cauliflower soup

This cauliflower soup was recommended by my Dorista friend Teresa from One Wet Foot. My previous go-to cauliflower soup starts with roasted cauliflower. This one does this same. However, Teresa’s soup is seasoned with curry powder. The curry powder also imparts a slight yellow tinge to the soup (you can’t really tell from the photo). This soup achieves a silky, creamy texture without any cream, so it will become my new go-to cauliflower soup recipe. Delicious!

turkey mushroom barley soup

Finally, drawing on inspiration from the freezer, pantry, and refrigerator, I created a pot of Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup. I thawed turkey bones from the freezer to make into rich stock in the slow cooker. To the finished stock, I added a complement of hearty vegetables (about 6 cups in all) and some barley and let it simmer until the barley was nearly tender. Finally, sautéed mushrooms and chopped turkey (frozen leftovers from Thanksgiving) were added to the pot. The result was a thick, hearty soup to warm us from the inside out.

Spring doesn’t usually arrive in these parts until April (optimistically), so there will be many more pots of soup in my future. Do you have a favorite recipe to recommend? Please share!

Turkey Mushroom Barley Soup
Serves 8

8 cups turkey stock (chicken would be fine)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, diced into ¼-inch pieces
2 turnips, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
1 cup barley
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, combine stock, onion, carrots, celery, turnips, and barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 40 minutes, until barley is nearly tender. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the mushrooms until they have given up all their liquid and the liquid in the skillet evaporates. The mushrooms should be tender at this point. When the stock has simmered for 40 minutes, the barley should be nearly tender. Add the mushrooms and turkey. Continue to cook the soup until the barley is completely tender and the turkey is warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.