This month of June with the Cottage Cooking Club has been a great one! So many delicious recipes, and not nearly enough time. But! We were offered many great selections from Hugh Fearnely-Wittingstalls’s River Cottage Veg. I feel like I’ve fallen down on the job recently – but I’m really the one that misses out!
My recipe choices for June included a Beet Green and Ricotta Tart. I was fortunate enough to be able to find beet greens when so many of my fellow participants could not. They were, also, attached to beets! So that meant that I would also be making an earlier favorite – beet soup!
We were definitely looking forward to the tart. It has the same sturdy crusts as Hugh uses, which makes it both delicious, and a great casing for fillings, since once served, the slice can be picked up – no wimpy falling-apart crust here. I did decide to save time and try pressing it into the shell. Well, not the best idea I ever had. It looked great, even par-baked, but it leaked… Surprisingly, it still held together once cooked though – so good lesson learned! The filling is the sauteed greens along with onions, garlic and fresh herbs. Then with ricotta salata (delicious!) and an egg and cream custard. This was fantastic, and held up well as a leftover. I would maybe use more greens next time, but it turned out great – so maybe it was perfect as is!
I did make the beet soup again, this time roasting the beets attached to the greens. The ratio of greens to beets was high – lots of greens left over from the tart. But we decided that we liked the soup made with baby beets as I had before better than this time. I loved the roasted garlic, but the beets just weren’t as sweet – in fact a bit bitter. So. Note to self!
Another recipe I made this month was Macaroni Peas. A very simple macaroni pasta recipe with a “sauce” made from green peas. There’s a little butter and Parmesan in there as well. Of course you can imagine the recipe. Cook Pasta, saute peas in butter, smash or blend some of them, add a bit of the pasta water and drained pasta – throw in cheese. Season with pepper (and herbs if you have them). This made for a quick dinner one evening after work. And it was ok. My peas ended up being a bit sweet for the dish, I thought. The Parmesan just didn’t add enough of a counterpoint. But I will likely make it again, since these ingredients are almost always on hand.
The New Potato Salad “Tartare” was one I made for a quick lunch one day. I am pretty sure that this was really popular with the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club. Not so much for me – which was a surprise because I love the New Potato, Tomato and Boiled Egg Salad. It was probably me. Too much of a hurry, oh who knows? But this one didn’t work for me. Maybe I had the wrong expectations.
Tomatoes with Herbs – another easy assembly of wonderful ingredients. Cherry tomatoes, fresh chives, a bit of olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Oh, and maybe a grind or two of fresh ground black pepper. This is always just shockingly good. The chives and balsamic really add to the dish. It really does scream summer!!
The final recipe I completed this month was Halloumi, New Potato and Tomato Kebabs.
Early in the month, I had despaired of nice grilling weather getting here (What was I thinking??), so didn’t know if I would be able to make these. But I love Halloumi cheese, so was looking forward to it. This recipe was a case of some things going spectacularly well, and a couple that I will change when I make this again (yes, it will happen!).
The marinade makes this recipe. I used meyer lemon olive oil, lemon thyme and orange mint from my garden. That’s mixed along with a bit of honey, and I did add a splash of lemon juice. A few dried red chile flakes are added. The herbs of course get chopped up, and this is used to marinate the cheese, the tomatoes and boiled new potatoes prior to grilling. That was the super-fantastic, never-to-be-forgotten part. The not-so-much part was the cooking of the potatoes. What was I thinking? When the recipe said slightly under done – I took it a bit too seriously. They needed to be cooked longer. And I forgot that the Halloumi that I get from Trader Joe’s is already “conveniently sliced”. That doesn’t work very well for skewering. Skewered it was, and marinated along with the potatoes and tomatoes. Knowing that the cheese would indeed melt a bit, I wanted to put something under the kebabs. Instead of using foil on the grill top, I used another handing screen that helps with veggies and other things falling through. Hmmm. Again, I should know better (but in truth, I was a little seduced by the photo in the book). So, it all started well, The cheese in places getting a bit brown, the tomatoes getting cooked and even the potatoes toasting in spots. But perfection was not to be. At least not in the grilling department.
Perfection of another kind was, however. I was told to put a huge star on the page! While the potatoes could have been cooked a bit more, and the cheese could have held together better (and in truth, like all kebabs, putting each ingredient on skewers themselves would likely work better), this was delicious!! The marinade was amazing. The tomatoes were perfect – just a fabulous flavor combination. I’m actually happy that there are corrections to be made – since that requires I make it again – and soon!
There were other recipes to be made this month – a total of 10 to be exact! You can find out what all the others thought of these recipes by visiting the Cottage Cooking Club.