CCC – September – a month of make-ups and re-visits!

This month for the Cottage Cooking Club, we had another “make-up” or even “revisit” month. I ended up doing a little of both.

To start, I was so inspired by my fellow club members who raved about last month’s Summer garden lentils niçoise, that I decided I just had to make it. Well, I did. And it was fantastic. And I didn’t take a photo. Hmm. I loved the dressing on the lentils – and will definitely make that again.

Another recipe that I was supposed to make was the Tomato and mozzarella risotto. Others who made the recipe weren’t extremely excited about it, but I wondered if I could change the method just a little and make it a bit more interesting and less pizza in a bowl. I had just gone to the farmstand and purposely bought 3 lbs of tomatoes so that I could make the roasted tomato sauce again. This time – it turned out better – I think I roasted the tomatoes longer. But it still made all of 2-1/2 c of sauce. Not sure it was worth it. But we will see when it gets a bit later in the year and I pull out a bag from the freezer – it might just brighten up whatever I’m making.

Anyway – I decided that I would make the risotto without the tomato sauce, just adding fresh mozzarella at the end, and add the tomato sauce on top.

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Well, it was tasty – but not even close to my favorite. Still and all, a fun process.

Another recipe that I wanted to try was the Leek and cheese toastie. This one was a huge hit with others, and I had every intention of making it before. But. Well. This is a super simple recipe. The leeks are cooked until tender, cream is added, then cheese. It all gets piled onto the top a substantial piece of toast, topped with a bit more cheese and broiled until browned and bubbly. Some fresh herbs are added – thyme in this case.

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I also had some cherry tomatoes from the garden – a few of which were starting to be a little sad. So I also prepared the Honey-roasted cherry tomatoes – one of my favorites. I made a “toastie” with those as well and it turned into a very festive, colorful and flavorful lunch! I used a combination of swiss and gruyere for my cheese. I’m certain other cheeses would be terrific too. This is definitely one to make again (and again!).

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Finally, I had a small dinner party. The goal was to serve vegan. As it turned out, the friend that practices a vegan diet isn’t all that strict, but it’s always a fun challenge. While the Mushroom “risoniotto” isn’t strictly vegan, I just eliminated the butter, didn’t add any cheese (just at the table), and would have left out the cream – but was told I should just go ahead and add it. I’ve made this before and it’s delicious! To go with that, I made the Grilled asparagus spears with lemon dressing. To be honest, this is a pretty typical offering, so instead of the skewers, I just used my grill pan.

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The spears get “dresssed” with some lemon juice and a little shredded fresh mint.

IMG_4638For our salad, I decided to make the Tahini-dressed zucchini and green bean salad. I thought it was interesting that the dressing was at least inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. Because of Andrea, our Lioness, I have his latest book on order. But aside from that, this just looked and sounded good to me.

The salad calls for grilled zucchini and oven-dried cherry tomatoes – I decided to just grill the tomatoes along with the zucchini on my grill pan – I’ve done them that way before and they are delicious. The green beans get blanched. And the dressing comes together easily. It has the juice of half of an orange in addition to the lemon – an interesting combination. And quite yummy too!

IMG_4640The dinner was a huge success. I had some fresh baked bread to go along with. A delicious, healthy evening!

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And what better for dessert than an apple pie? IMG_4634

So despite being late to the party for posting (and only iPhone photos!), it was a delicious month with the Cottage Cooking Club

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!