CtBF – Potato, feta and basil tortilla

Not something I make often, but I did enjoy the versions I made with French Friday’s. I wasn’t sure about the basil. Well, and not the feta. I’ll admit I did look back at the other recipe, you know, “just in case”.

Easy enough! Potatoes diced. Cooked to barely tender in some good olive oil, and then the green onions added.

I used 8 eggs because they were very large, and my potato was just under a pound. These get whisked with the pimente de esplette, salt, and the chopped basil. Isn’t this so pretty out of the garden? Surprisingly the only basil still here are the purple varieties. Gardening?

The egg mixture gets poured over the top, and then gets topped with some feta crumbles. Cooked fairly gently on the stove for about 20 minutes to create a bottom crust and so that the tortilla is almost set.

Popped into the oven for about 5 minutes at a high temp or under the broiler to just get the top set. Once out of the oven, it gets flipped over (or alternatively slide out of the pan).

This can be served hot, warm, room temperature or cold. Though my preference is warm or room temperature. As part of a tapas spread, or with a glass of crisp rosé.

I’d forgotten how good this is. And makes for lovely leftovers as well.

You can find out what other cooks thought about the recipe here.

CtBF -Scalloped potatoes with blue cheese and roasted garlic

Wow, these may have been the best scalloped potatoes I’ve ever had!

Today, I thought I’d use a BLUFbottom line up front. Bottom line – these are amazing! And to be fair, I think that this is one of the times when an amazing-quality ingredient really was worth it.

To back up, there are plenty of French recipes that have you add a blue or roquefort cheese to a dish. I think there are mixed results. Sometimes it’s overpowering, others simply discordant. For this recipe, I decided that I would try to get around all of this – and went to the cheese counter. They were very helpful in providing descriptions. The one I bought said that it was creamy and smooth – wonderful melted. Seemed the perfect cheese for my dish.

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The cheese, if you’re interested is “St Agur Blue”, and is French in origin, though the helpful label says simply that it is made from Cows milk, penicillium roqueforti, salt and rennet. If you’re familiar with the recipe, you can see that I’ve also cheated with the garlic. This is remarkably delicious when added to recipes – and this was to be a week-night meal. I really didn’t have time to roast more garlic – and decided not to use the leftover roast garlic that likely remained tucked alongside the roasted beets from earlier in the week. And no – I didn’t even peel the potatoes! I did, however harvest some chives from the garden!

Simply put, layers of thinly sliced potatoes lay the groundwork for the chives, cheese, salt, pepper and roasted garlic. I made three layers. And then poured the half & half (with a dash of cream, yes) on top. I skipped the heating of the cream – it was going into the oven.

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I covered mine for about half of the time. The dish was pretty deep, so I think it took a bit more than the hour at 375 degrees. I uncovered it to get the nice crust – pushing the potatoes under the cream as I did so.

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This creates a dreamy dish of terrific flavors – all blend well, but have their subtle counterpoints in the dish. To say we loved it would be an incredible understatement. I served it with a simple, perfectly-grilled steak. Yes, I should have had a salad, and it would be terrific with this too.

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This is such an incredibly simple and fast dish to prepare – all of the time is spent while the potatoes bubble and simmer away in their cheesy-creamy bath. So while decadent, this is an easy dish for a show-stopping weeknight meal, or of course a special occasion. Not for everyday, but certainly is simple enough that it could be so.

To find out how others made their potato recipes, you can check the links out at Cook the Book Fridays.

CCC – March Recipes (lentils, potatoes and another “spouffle”)

This month with the Cottage Cooking Club offered up some great recipes, none of the dishes I chose were completely new to me, but it still made for a great array of recipes.

As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog, I have grown to love the French green lentils (Puy). They are pretty, retain their shape and have a lovely substantial flavor that holds up with other flavorful ingredients, and also provide a great base. This particular recipe is the “basic” one in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book River Cottage Veg. There are variations offered for using the lentils in different salads as well. This recipe is a bit simpler than others, but essentially the same. Wash lentils, bring them to a boil, drain and rinse them, cook them with seasonings, enjoy!

These are delicious and easy. And even better when paired with other ingredients. I particularly like roasted vegetables and pesto, but very much enjoyed the optional Lentil and parsley salad which relies on a mustardy vinaigrette.

Next up was the Zucchini “Spouffle”. The spinach version is a favorite, and I was certain that this one would be as well. My only knock on this dish is that it takes a lot of different dishes, even if you combine steps. That said, it’s terrific. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures… until after we had eaten most of it.

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The final recipe was Potatoes dauphinoise. This classic French dish is essentially scalloped potatoes baked in cream. For such a rich, and even fancy, dish – this is incredibly easy, particularly when you have a mandoline. I have something like that. It’s French, and it slices… anyway! I made this to accompany a simple ham for Easter. It’s a great foil, since it’s rich, creamy and yummy – and a perfect accent to the smoked ham.

I actually put together the cream mixture before I left – cream, salt, crushed garlic and black pepper – oh and  bit of nutmeg. Once at my destination, I quickly peeled and sliced the potatoes, covered them with cream, dotted with butter – and into the oven they went. It was a double recipe, but still only took just a bit longer than the 1-1/2 hours at 325 degrees.

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Not at all surprisingly, these were a huge hit. A “feast” dish for sure. We enjoyed a wonderful day with family and friends. Gorgeous weather, great company and wonderful food on such a celebratory day!

I hope everyone enjoyed their dishes in March! If you’d like to see what others thought about their choices, you can find them here.

CtBF – Belgian beef stew with beer and spice bread

This is a tale of two recipes. The first recipe is for pain d’epices, which is a honey-spice quick bread. And that is then sliced and slathered with mustard – and is put on top of the beef stew stew to thicken it.

But I digress, the first step is really to make the bread. It’s a simple honey-spice bread. The recipe talks about different honeys creating different flavors. I had a jar of very-flavorful Manuka honey, and used that, supplementing with a bit of mesquite blossom honey. The unusual piece about this bread is that the honey is heated with water, salt and brown sugar, then 1 cup of flour is added and the mixture cooled. Then the remainder of the ingredients (including a healthy amount of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves) are combined and baked into a loaf. The recipe says it’s better over time. What I can tell you is that it was delicious when I made it, for sure. It did get a little dryer, but is a really nice tea bread on its own.

The stew itself is fairly straightforward. At least to begin with. The beef is browned – really to caramelize the surface. This is done in a few stages in a large pan. Once that’s done, the vegetables and quite a large amount (2 c!) of bacon are sautéed as well.

The pan then gets deglazed with water, scraping up the browned bits. And the amber ale added. The beef, along with the bacon and onions are added back. Adding thyme, bay leaves cloves and salt, this is all allowed to simmer for an hour or so.

Finally, the semi-crazy part (for my western sensibility). 4 slices of the spice bread are lightly coated with dijon mustard and then laid on top of the stew. Covered and allowed to simmer for another couple of hours (with a stir or two along the way), the stew gets thickened and flavored with all of the spices from the bread. (and of course, why would I take a photo of the most unusual part of the recipe?). The result is an aromatic and flavorful stew with a bit of an unusual flavor combination.

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I served it with a mash of cauliflower and potatoes, some more Belgian lager and of course, some bread – both a crusty loaf and the spice bread.

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I have to say, this was a popular dish. Different for sure, but warming and tasty. Everyone enjoyed the spices in the dish, and the texture of the meat and sauce appealed. With the somewhat lighter mash to go with, it really was a great combination.

I’m not certain that this will replace my “go-to daube” a la Dorie Greenspan, but it was very good, and I wouldn’t mind having it again. Thought the added step of the bread might make it tricky for someone with my lack of meal planning.

I know there are others that have made this dish and posted about it. You can find their links at Cook the Book Fridays!

CCC -a ragout, a toastie, and a gratin

This month’s Cottage Cooking Club selections included quite a few yummy-sounding dishes. I have to say, I’m a bit proud of myself, since I committed to two, but made three. And I’m so happy I did!

Just as I am getting settled in to my house in Sedona, it’s the time of year when work starts ramping up as projects must get started – so that we can “deliver Christmas”! Of course, just when I thought things were cruising along at the beginning of the month, and I was enjoying the gorgeous snow storms that are so beautiful against the red rocks, I totally forgot about snow=cold=freezing temperatures=frozen sprinkler pipes. Oops!IMG_0113

The doorbell rang at 7am one morning, and my neighbor informed me that I had a huge water leak! Yikes. I also found out that my storage building had flooded – and it was completely stuffed, with stuff! Luckily, I have a good support system, and by 7:51, I had a crew arranged to come and completely pull everything out of the building, sort it out, clean it up and put it the remaining items back. They actually had it all done over the course of 2.5 days, with one day for the room to dry out a bit. Whew!

These guys were so awesome, that I ended up having them do a full clean-up of the yard, new sprinkler system, and a general overhaul! They are about to finish today, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Moral of the story – sometimes bad things happen and it turns out for the best. A couple of overly daunting projects behind me, and a new wonderful crew of guys that I know. Best disaster ever! (I am knocking on wood!)

A few other things went right this month too! The first recipe I made was the Mushroom ragout with soft polenta. This is the kind of warming, nice recipe that makes for a terrific vegetarian meal. I’ve made other versions. This was a bit simpler – the ragout is really some well-seasoned sautéed mushrooms in a wine reduction. And the soft polenta is a bit different version than I’ve made but delicious. I didn’t have quick polenta on hand, so it took a bit longer, but that really wasn’t a problem.

I used Parmesan and smoked gouda in the polenta, then topped the ragout with some additional shredded Parmesan. This was yummy, something that I liked pretty well, though other recipes I like a bit more. But for a quick dish, very tasty.

I also made the Apple and blue cheese toast. It was on my list of “want to makes”, though not on my actual list. But I found myself with some nice home-baked bread, some Stilton and apples, and since I needed a quick lunch this seemed to be the ticket.

This doesn’t look like much – I thought I had better photos. Not, but it was delicious, and I will make this again. Perfect for a quick meal. This happened to be the same day that I was first treated to a big family of deer making their way on the path outside my office window.

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My final recipe for the month of February was Sweet potato gratin. I happen to love sweet potatoes, and was looking forward to this recipe. I love Thai flavors too, so I was intrigued by the peanut and lime layer. But, then I went to the grocery store. And they had gorgeous poblano peppers… so to go with my grilled-corn & shrimp chile rellenos, I made the gratin sans peanut better, and used some chipotle chiles in place of the fresh red chiles. I’ve made a similar recipe before, and I was certain that it would be great.

This was a great meal, and we loved the sweet potatoes along with the rellenos.

All of my dishes this month were terrific. I will certainly make some again when I get the chance. So February turned out a lot better than it started, all the way around!

I’ll be excited to see what the other members of the Cottage Cooking Club thought about their selections.

CCC – the April Recipes

As you can see, this is being posted in May. Really? I couldn’t take the time to post on time? With only two recipes completed? Well, things do happen. The last couple of months have been super busy. Mainly with work, but also with family events, so I had to take a delay! Oh well!!

In April, I was only able to get two dishes completed. I was soooo very excited about making the Upside-down onion tart. But, it didn’t happen. Who knows what came up. I was, however, able to make a recipe that I didn’t actually sign up for. Pasta with new potatoes, green beans and pesto. I made it for my Book Club. We meet (almost) each month to discuss our books and our lives, hosted by the person who chose the latest book. One of my friends had a baby within hours of our previous meeting!! Obviously we knew the event was upcoming, so I decided to choose an electronic version of our book as a test, since with her first child, the only way she could read was on her phone or reader. It seemed a good idea. I also decided that I should choose something relatively easy, since she might be putting it down at a moment’s notice, so it should be something easy to pick up again. We all like mysteries, and I like them set in the UK even better, so I looked online and decided that since this was a “test”, I’d pick something inexpensive – in this instance $0.01. I could certainly afford to completely host it, and if it was bad, well, no harm done. I chose Silent Scream: An Edge of Your Seat Serial Killer Thriller by Angela Marsons.

Well, one of the reasons I don’t read as many mysteries is that so many are about super-creepy serial killers – I didn’t realize I’d picked one! It’s really the only thing that really scares me in life. Yikes! But, I am happy to say that this was a pretty good book! Great value for a penny, and it worked well to gift my friends with an electronic book. So while I had started buying books (or anything) on Amazon because of these same friends, they also got me going on electronic ones as well (this should seem a bit ironic, given who I now work for!!). I will read more of Angela’s books. So simple – I always want a book with me, this way all I really need is my phone.

On to the recipe!! I was running behind for probably a typical reason. This dish was one on our list of possibilities for the month, and since I had home made pesto in the freezer, I decided that this was the one! I also decided that I would actually weigh the ingredients! Something I never do. So I thought I might actually learn something along the way!!100_3980

I realized that I wasn’t actually all that good at guessing at weights! Pasta, potatoes, green beans.

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The veggies get prepped, and then added to a large pot of boiling water in succession along with the pasta to produce the perfect degree of doneness of each item.

All of this gets drained well, then tossed with the home made pesto. The recipe in the book calls for lemon in the pesto as well, so I added a good amount of fresh lemon as well, since I thought it would brighten things up. Then the olives were scattered, some additional Parmesan added, then it’s ready to serve!!

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Served with a bit of crisp white wine, and some good conversation – it was a nice, filling meal. I’ll have to admit, maybe not quite up to my usual, but was fun – and good for the day. I have no idea – did I serve bread too? Dunno. I’m pretty sure that I did make a lemon icebox pie for dessert that was tasty, and accented the lemon in the luncheon.

This was not the favorite of the recipes I’ve made from Cottage Cooking Club, but it was a good lesson in measuring, as well as a great lesson in combining ingredients you might have on hand for a delicious meal.

The other recipe I made was the Lettuce, egg and fried bread salad. This is another recipe that takes advantage of what’s on hand. I’d planned on making it a different day, but ended up with it as a delicious middle-of-a-workday lunch! IMG_4053

I was able to use some home-made bread for the “fried bread” part – really, just freshly made large croutons. I love any salad with a softly boiled/poached egg. And the dressing was another of the simple ones that come together so quickly with just a bit of Dijon, garlic olive oil and vinegar. Hugh typically calls for cider vinegar, but I usually just use red wine vinegar – but either will do. You just need to ensure you season it with salt and pepper before using, since it needs to be pretty flavorful before it gets to the salad.

I also assembled this in one of my favorite bowls. I made it years and years ago when I spent a few years throwing pots in my free time. Hope to get back to it someday!

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This was a fabulous salad! A great use for that last bit of wonderful bread that you hate to waste, but really, is a bit past its prime. And a healthy, filling lunch.

I’m sure that the others in the Cottage Cooking Club made some amazing recipes. You can find their April recipes here. And if you’d like to join us – check out the site and the rules. You can even join as a guest blogger!