CCC – January re-set

The latter part of December was surprisingly stressful, so while 2015 was ok, I was ready for a new year. That also meant that I would be trying to re-set and get back to my blog, as well as cooking along with my friends in the Cottage Cooking Club. We have been cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg. 

Each month, our Kitchen Lioness Andrea chooses 10 recipes from the book and we each choose which of those we want to make, some ambitious members cooking all of them. This month, I chose Squash Stuffed with Leeks and Curried Red Lentil Soup. 

I started with the stuffed squash. It looked so cute in the picture, and the cheesey leek filling sounded delicious. I really should have known better, but my mom was enthusiastic, and so I thought I’d try it. I’m one of the only people I know who did not like Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpiin Stuffed with Everything Good. This was a simpler, vegetarian version. 

This version suggests smaller winter squash. I was able to find a nice acorn squash that would be able to stand up in the baking dish. Judt like carving a pumpkin, the top is cut out, and the seeds and membrane removed.

   

The sliced leeks are cooked in butter until soft.

Then mustard, creme fraiche and shredded Comte cheese are added and generously seasoned with salt and pepper.  

  

This mixture gets all melty and delicious-looking.

  

The leek mixture gets put into the squash, along with a little thyme. Unfortunately at this time of year, no fresh is avaiable, so I used dried. 

    

The squash gets it’s top back on, and then baked for about 50-60 minutes until the squash is soft and everything is bubbly.
 

The filling ends up beautifully melted and looks just delicious.

  

The squash was on the large side, so was cut in half for serving. 

 
It really is a spectacular presentation, and I thought that it was a beautiful dish. That said, not so popular. As I mentioned, not really a flavor combination that really worked for me (or Mom, she didn’t eat it at all after the first bite). I thought that the squash was good, and the filling was good. Just not together. Too many decades of acorn squash filled with butter, brown sugar and maple syrup – or just plain with salt and pepper. It was a very fun project though.  And the filling reminded me that I need to make the leek and cheese toastie again!

My other recipe was Curried Red Lentil Soup. This was a version of a soup I missed in the original plan – made with sweet potatoes. I’ve never made anything with red lentils before. I’ve undoubtedly blogged about how I discoved loving French green lentils – but that love just never transferred. I was looking forward to trying them. I expected that they would hold their color for the soup. Um…

This version has chopped carrot, celery and a bay leaf in addition to the onions, fresh ginger and chiles from the original recipe. It became evident quickly the red of the lentils would be overcome by the other colors, particularly when the garam masala and curry powder were added to the mix. This is all simmered with vegetable stock. And smelled lovely.

  
I was confused by the recipe. One of the things I thought would make it so good was the coconut milk mentioned in the original version. No mention of it in this one. But I decided that I would add it – after I whirred it with my hand blender. 

 
This made a pretty, though not really red, soup.  

 
Apparently I messed up with I took the photo of the finished bowl of soup! I served it simply with the suggested chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. It was certainly delicious. It was described as “elegant”, and had a wonderful velvety texture. 

It was fun getting back into my blogging, and even though there were mixed results. I’m looking forward to more cooking adventures, and now that I’m more settled, it should make it easier. 

9 thoughts on “CCC – January re-set

  1. I was so glad to see your blog show up on Facebook but I had forgotten what beautiful food pictures you take and how well you write up your recipes. I look forward to your ongoing and regular posts. Although I realized that December was especially stressful and knew it would take some time for you to be up and running, I glad you are. I hope you’re good with the decision to move. I thought your acorn squash write-up was leading up to a big finish. The dish looks absolutely stunning. Sorry it got a thumbs down. As far as the red lentils go, I couldn’t even find them. Three grocery stores in Paso Robles and Cambria, no. So I skipped it. I did use the coconut milk I had on hand for another soup and it’s a good addition. Although I think the soup is supposed to be red, I just re-read the recipe and it isn’t clear to me either. Still, I am happy despite the color that it was good. Welcome back.

  2. Candy, Happy New Year and many good wishes for an easier start to this year than was the close of last year. It’s so nice to “see” you here! I can see not liking the squash, particularly if you didn’t like the pumpkin stuffed with everything good! The filling is fabulous, though, like you said! I chuckled at the lentils–they are so pretty at first and then, well…

  3. Dear Candy – the acorn squash looks very pretty with that lovely filling spilling out – makes me a bit sad to read that you ended up not liking the flavor combination though and neither did your mother – we are a little bit less used to eating squash and/or pumpkin in EU, so maybe that´s why we loved it, especially the kids (but I did cheat and make an open-faced butternut squash). The Red lentil soup is definitely meant to be prepared with coconut milk – sorry the recipe is not all that clear on that and I know that Teresa prepared some of it with and some of the soup without the milk – both versions were received well.
    Thank you for taking the time to participate in the CCC in January, at this very busy time in your life – I do hope that all is going well with your mum!
    Take the best of care possible and PLEASE do not forget to link your post to the CCC!
    Thank you and have a good weekend!
    Andrea

  4. Happy New Year Candy, Sorry you and your mother didn’t care for the squash – I’ve never had it with sweet toppings only savoury so I may still give this one a try – but it sounds as though the lentil soup was to your liking. It certainly looks deliciously velvety.

  5. Happy New Year, Candy! I loved the leek filling. It reminded me of the toastie topping too. My squash was mealy, so the combo wasn’t the best. I did eat all the filling though! I haven’t tried the soup yet. It appeals to me, but Howard doesn’t care for curry flavors. I’m always surprised by red lentils because they fall apart and lose their lovely color. I hope that 2016 is calmer for you, and that you keep up with your blogging as much as you want too. I have certainly fallen down on job since FFWD ended. My best intentions each week never seem to pan out.

  6. Looks so good!!!!!! Interesting!
    I will keep the recipe and find a time to try this 🙂

    Please visit and follow my blog (www.lazymomcooking.wordpress.com) or my Instagram (lazymom_cooking) for some recipe ideas 🙂

  7. I thought the leek filling sounded wonderful, though I didn’t choose it as one of my dishes for the month. Sorry it wasn’t a hit. I really enjoyed the soup – it will be one we make regularly. I’m glad you’re back to blogging! Here’s to a good year.

  8. Hi Candy, i was not sure whether to add the coconut milk either, but it looks like you and everyone else did, next time I will do that, your squash looks delicious, too bad the flavors did not meld. Happy week-end to you!

  9. Interesting comments on the squash. The filling sounds delicious and I do like squash, but they sound like such an odd combination. I’m sorry they didn’t work together for you. I’m glad you liked the soup better. (And yes, it does seem like such a shame that the lentils don’t retain their color.)

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