September hasn’t been my best blogging month. To be sure, not a bad month all around, but I have missed out on more than I’ve participated in. And that’s not good. And maybe because I was so scattered, none of the recipes turned out as well as I expected. I know from experience, that “it’s not you, it’s me!”.
For me, this has typically been a busy time of year for the last 20 years. I am a construction manager in the retail industry – so everything has to be completed in the early fall. It can get a little stressful. I have two huge projects going live this coming week, and for a new company. The odd thing is, I totally love it. But. It does get in the way of my cooking right about now. A bit later in the year and through the holidays, I will be more relaxed than others, simply because I’m already kind of done! It all works out. But, alas, that means that my month has been a bit hectic – and I have fallen behind.
I love so many recipes in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg. It’s really encouraged me to think differently about the meals I put together. Though I am not a vegetarian, I know that it’s a good idea to have a more plant-based diet. With his meals, I never feel like I’ve been short-changed. And of course, The Cottage Cooking Club is a wonderful group of cooks who are learning and sharing together. What could be better?
On to the recipes! I only complete three of the recipes that I signed up for this month. The first – Roasted squash – is something that I often make, though not exactly per “Hugh”. I wished that I had remembered to bring some rosemary from my garden up north. I think it would have made this even more wonderful. Sage too. Those herbs mean fall to me, and while it was probably 100 degrees (F) at the time, well, it’s still September and our habits need to change. This is super-simple, something that I would do with any winter squash, or a combination of vegetables. In this instance, an acorn squash, some smashed garlic cloves, some fresh thyme and a bit of olive oil (along with some course salt and tellicherry pepper). This gets baked at a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. I like my roasted vegetables a bit caramelized. This would be terrific with a combination of squash as well.
I served mine with some lentils, other roasted vegetables and fresh pesto (including the honey-roasted tomatoes from the same book). (my ffwd friends will likely recognize this dish as presented with the French lentils!). Surprisingly, this wasn’t my favorite actual instance of roasting winter squash (though now that I think of it – using the same treatment for the squash as the tomatoes sounds pretty good!). But it was likely that actual squash – just not a particular flavorful specimen. But how pretty!
I have to come clean, I planned to use some of the same roasted vegetables for the Oven-roasted roots frittata. So, I gathered my roasted vegetables (the afore-mentioned squash and tomatoes along with red onions and celery root). The original recipe calls for root vegetables to be roasted in the pan that the frittata will later be cooked in. That ends up meaning that the eggs can be added and then just quickly baked for 10-15 minutes to get the eggs to set. The fact is, either method, it’s still a quick dish to prepare.
This wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, mainly because the squash I’d roasted (see above) was surprisingly flavor-less. Not bad, just not as good as I know it could be. I need to make this again with the squash, but also some beets and maybe sweet potatoes. I could certainly have used more herbs as well. Poor execution, not the recipe. (again)
Finally, I made Mushroom “risoniotto”. I had a combination of shitake, crimini and white mushrooms. These get sautéed and caramelized. While all of that is going on, the orzo pasta is cooked. Once the mushrooms are browned, garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar are added to cook for a minute or two. Next, a bit of white wine is added and reduced. Then, cream is added and the mixture is seasoned. Finally, the pasta is added, and fresh parsley is thrown into the mix.
I served this dish with steamed artichokes, a perfect accompaniment. This was pretty tasty. I’m not sure that I’ve every had anything with too many mushrooms. This was getting close to that line. Since it already had cream, it wouldn’t have been too far of a departure to add some cheese. Parmesan would have been really good – though I’m sure others would have even better choices. But I did think it needed something else. I also enjoyed the leftovers (with a little cheese). This is a really good dish, just something that for my taste, could have used something else.
Alas, I did not get to the salad I’d chosen for this month. I hope to get to it soon. I’ve heard from my friend Andrea that it’s fabulous, and you can see her amazing writing and photography here.
So, all in all, I was a little disappointed this month – mostly in my execution of these recipes. But there was nothing that I wouldn’t make again, particularly if I had an extra 5 minutes to devote to the process. The truth is, none of the recipes that I made are difficult or time-consuming. Just not my best effort. But then again, there’s October? Right?