October is one of my favorite months – perhaps my actual favorite. Not just because it’s my birthday month, but because I think it’s the perfect month of the year to travel anywhere in the world, it’s either spring or fall wherever you are, so it’s usually beautiful and the weather is inviting. Plus the added advantage of kids being in school. Lovely.
Of course, this October, while I did do a lot of traveling, it was generally all to one area for work. But I am fortunate to split my time between two destination spots (Scottsdale and Sedona Arizona), so at least if feels like a holiday sometimes!
I had great plans this month for my menu of recipes to complete from River Cottage Veg, the book we are cooking through as a group at the Cottage Cooking Club that is lovingly shepherded along by the immensely talented Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. I ended up making a few, and adding a couple – not really completing my list, but it was a fun, delicious month of cooking more vegetables.
One of my choices was Roasted Brussels sprouts with shallots. I never really ate Brussels sprouts as a kid – they weren’t a favorite with my parents (lest you think that I was deprived, we had plenty of asparagus, avocados and artichokes – things not typical in a small midwestern town), and typically they were boiled (and boiled some more). Bah! But with the resurgence of this vegetable, I knew that they were much more likely to be delicious than in that preparation. Simply enough, the sprouts are cut in half, mixed along with the peeled shallots, a bit of fresh thyme, olive oil and salt and pepper – then roasted until nicely caramelized. I served them with a baked potato and the lovely roasted cherry tomatoes I’ve made before from the same book.
Another recipe for this month was Baby beet tarte tatin. I’ve been wanting to make this from the first time I opened this book. It consists of small beets roasted with some vinegar, brown sugar and some seasonings. This is then covered with puff pastry and baked, then topped with a vinaigrette. I was quickly running out of time on this – I had planned on making it one time, then had to switch to another. A regional market carries very good quality pre-roasted baby beets, so I decided to switch to that. But still roasted them for a bit with the seasonings, then topped it with the puff pastry. I did keep the vinaigrette as well.
I enjoyed this dish, but would do things differently next time (and there will be one)! I didn’t bake it long enough – the puff pastry wasn’t really as crisped as I would like – and I would consider making a few slashes so that the center would puff more. This did reheat remarkably well in the toaster oven, so even though the pastry was a bit soggy, it was still delicious.
What I would really like to do is make individual servings. Place 1/2 of one beet in a muffin tin (with all of the seasonings, etc.), and cover with a puff pastry round. I’d then serve it with the vinaigrette, but with a side salad of fresh greens dressed the same way, and a medallion of goat cheese with it. I wish I had time to make this again immediately, but I think this would be a very fun, elegant presentation for a starter course.
The other scheduled recipe I completed was the Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf. This is another recipe I was excited to try. Grated raw pumpkin! It sounded fun and the picture in the book looked delicious. Others who made this loved it. Finally, I had the chance to try it out. The batter was yummy, and the smell as it baked was divine. I served mine with some ice cream and a baked apple. Fall in a dish.
I’m afraid though, that it was not my favorite. It could have been my pumpkin – I used a “pie” pumpkin, but the flesh wasn’t particularly orange. Or who knows? But it was pretty dense and dry. Not like what I had been expecting (and I was already intrigued by the variations – like beets!). I know that others really enjoyed this recipe, so it will be fun to read how theirs turned out.
I also made a couple of other items this month, though not officially part of the line-up. I used the leftover Brussels sprouts and beets for a fall frittata. I actually used the “summer” method for this, as it seems to work better for me. The only thing I wished? I didn’t have any goat cheese on hand, Parmesan had to stand in. I’ll admit – I also added some bacon – a perfect non-vegetarian addition. But this was delicious.
Finally, I had wanted to make the Zucchini and rice filo pie when it was on the list a couple of months ago. So, I ended up making it one weekend. It’s certainly beautiful. I think it would be fun to do as individual pockets for a beautiful presentation as well. I did get sidetracked, so this wasn’t as good as it could have been. I missed the onions (!), and I think I could have used more cheese and generally more flavoring. But I loved the concept and it was still quite good.
I wasn’t able to get to a couple of other recipes that I had wanted to, but things happen. This was a delicious month of recipes though, and as always a great push to try new things. You can find out what other members made this month by clicking on the Cottage Cooking Club link.