Blog Archives

Cottage Cooking Club: March

Beets

The Cottage Cooking Club is halfway through their journey of cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cookbook, River Cottage Veg. To mark the milestone, our fearless leader Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness declared March a makeup month. As a farewell to winter and storage vegetables, I chose a couple of recipes that looked very appealing when my colleagues made them during the cool-weather months.

First, I made Roasted beet soup with horseradish cream which was in the lineup last month. Beets are one of my favorite vegetable. I never ate them until I was an adult, but once we were introduced, the love affair never stopped. I nearly always roast them, which makes them extra sweet, and I was excited to learn a new trick for roasting beets with this recipe. A few crushed garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf are added to the roasting pan and everything is tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before covering the pan to go in the oven. I didn’t expect it to make much of a difference from my usual method (which is to just roast the beets plain), but let me tell you, the house smelled amazing while they cooked.

Beet Soup

Once cooked, cooled, and peeled, the soup practically makes itself. Coarsely chopped beets are processed in the blender with just enough stock to get a smooth puree. Then, more stock can be added to get the desired thickness. I left it on the thick side, adding only about half the liquid called for. Howard was very excited that we were starting our meal with “borscht”. Even though he looked up and read me the definition of borscht from Wikipedia, I’m not sure this simple soup fits the definition. Regardless, with very few ingredients, this soup tasted of pure beet. All it needed was a dollop of crème fraîche mixed with horseradish and a sprinkle of dill for a gorgeous starter. We loved it.

I still had a few random root vegetables from my farm shares languishing in the vegetable drawer since fall. With winter officially over, it seemed time to use them up and get ready for greener times. The Oven-roasted roots frittata that the group made back in September was the perfect vehicle. I chopped a daikon radish, a kohlrabi bulb, and some carrots, then added a sliced shallot and roasted them until they caramelized. Before adding the eggs, I added some leftover roasted broccoli. I also steamed and chopped the beet greens from the soup beets and added them to the mix along with thyme and rosemary. Topped with some grated gruyere, the frittata was ready to pop in the oven.

roasted vegs

Another success! I frequently make frittatas as a way to use up leftovers, but this recipe used a slightly different technique. I usually start it on the stovetop in a cast-iron skillet and finish it in the oven. Howard thinks the edges get too browned and take away from the dish. Cooking it entirely in the oven, as this recipe does, in a square pan, yielded an easier and more attractive result. This will be my new go-to technique! The only adjustment is added cooking time. Though it appeared the eggs were set, when I cut slices to serve, the middle was still a little runny. We were eating the outer pieces, so it was fine. For next time, I will raise the oven temperature, or it bake it longer, more like 30 minutes.

Frittata

To see what the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club chose to make this month, check out their links here.

It’s March 28 and snowing outside. I know it won’t stick around long but, please, bring on springtime!!!!!

My backyard this morning...

My backyard this morning (March 28)…

spice-crusted tuna and mango chatini {ffwd}

DSC06495

We enjoy eating fish, any variety, but I usually prepare it very simply and then fancy up the side dishes to make an interesting plate. Most of the fish we eat are heftier ones that lend themselves to grilling in summer and broiling in winter. Others, such as cod or halibut, I typically bake. Only fillets of lighter white fish, such as flounder, sole, or tilapia, are cooked on my stovetop. This week’s recipe for spice-crusted tuna pushed me to mix up and cross over my known boundaries. That’s part of what French Fridays with Dorie is all about, right?

I’ve discovered that frozen ahi tuna steaks are a regularly-stocked item at Trader Joe’s, so I only had to plan ahead for thawing. Fragrant spices are pounded with a mortar and pestle (so satisfying) to coarsely crush the peppercorns, cardamom and coriander seeds and turn the fresh ginger into a paste to loosely glue it all together. The tuna is lightly rubbed with oil, coated in the spice mixture, and seared in a hot skillet. The whole process from pantry to plate takes less than 10 minutes.

spice coated tuna

The mango chatini was a little more time-consuming because it involved a lot of chopping. It was not onerous, and it was definitely worth it. The chatini is like a salsa. In fact, it is very similar to the mango guacamole that Howard makes when Champagne or Ataulfo mangos are in season. His concoction includes avocado, which would have been at home in this chatini, and doesn’t use any ginger. Otherwise, they’re pretty much the same.

The chatini was the perfect topping/garnish for the spice-crusted tuna. I really liked the way the ginger flavors in both the chatini and the spice crust pulled the meal together. We ate the leftover chatini with tortilla chips, just like we do with guacamole.

Spices to Grind

Tuna is one fish that I’ve only cooked at home for French Fridays. I really enjoyed the spiced crust in this recipe. Even though I was the one who prepared it, the flavors popping in my mouth still surprised me. However, as much as I do like tuna, honestly, I prefer it as sushi (or canned, which is its own thing) rather than cooked.

This week, I’m enamored with this recipe for roasted root vegetables. I served the tuna with jasmine rice and these vegetables. To me, the key parts are the roasted vegetables and the honey topping. The honey topping makes more than you need for one batch, so I’ve already made it again. The bacon adds great flavor (of course), but I made my second batch without and it was equally delicious. Winter squash isn’t a root vegetable, but it would be perfect in your custom vegetable medley. As Mikey always said, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Dinner Plate

I invite you to check out my friend Lisa’s new blog Hawley’s Food Path. Lisa is my (in-person) friend who I met at a Nantucket basket weaving class at least a decade ago. We also belong to the same local garden club. Lisa loves to cook, and recently, we were talking about French Fridays. She was inspired to order the book, create a blog, and jump in with us this week. She’s really excited. Please visit her blog and give her a warm welcome to our group! I know you’ll enjoy her warmth and humor as much as I do.

To see how the other Doristas’ tuna came out, check out their links here. We don’t post the recipes, but you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.