Cottage Cooking Club – February 2016

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What do you turn to when you’re trying to get through the last weeks of winter eating? Before the celebration of rhubarb and asparagus, radishes and new potatoes, how do you make the last of the cold weather staples more interesting?

I love dried mushrooms (especially porcini), citrus fruits, and the herbs that grow year-round in my garden. Along with pulses, winter greens, and high quality canned or frozen goods, they make these weeks of waiting for new growth bearable. Actually, with a little attention to detail, our meals are rich and delicious.

Potatoes and “Deconstructed Pesto”

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This potato dish is a good example. The basil and lemon were imported, but everything else was local. We roast vegetables often, usually with rosemary and thyme from the back yard. This variation was a treat, especially with shredded Daiya vegan mozzarella. It would have been equally good with a vegan Parmesan (DIY Vegan‘s Garlic Parmesan Shaker is a good place to start, if you’re interested). It’s nice to know that we can have cheesy goodness that satisfies both the vegan and non-vegan members of our household.

White Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Red Onions

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Though tomatoes are best in the summertime, I don’t always say no to the hothouse cherry and grape tomatoes that can be found alongside greenhouse-grown peppers at the fresh markets. It’s hard to turn down jewel-toned vegetables consistently in the name of seasonal eating, isn’t it? Especially when they’re a component of a treat like this. Creamy cannellini beans, tomatoes, and parsley in a lemony mustard dressing. A simple side or healthy winter lunch that’s bright on the tongue and cheerful on the plate.

Chickpea, Chard, and Porcini Soup

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This wasn’t a pick for this month, but one I missed when it came up in the rotation for August, 2015. I couldn’t resist catching up on it this month. As I said at the beginning of the post, I love using dried porcini mushrooms throughout the winter. They make their own stock when you rehydrate them and they lend a rich, meaty undertone to soups and stews. I also keep organic frozen spinach on hand, so when the greens at the market were underwhelming, I pulled some out for this soup. With extra chickpeas and plum tomatoes, it was a truly hearty soup. Next time, I’ll add some sautéed fresh mushrooms, too. Rainy February days call for stick-to-your-ribs fare, don’t you think? This one didn’t need any cheese, vegan or otherwise – it was perfect on its own. It’s also one that can be varied throughout all the seasons, which we’ll certainly be doing.

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The weather’s warming up here, though there’s still lots of rain. I can’t believe we’ve only got two more months’ worth of recipes before The Cottage Cooking Club moves on to two more River Cottage cookbooks!

At the end of the month, you’ll be able to find the rest of the group’s posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

12 thoughts on “Cottage Cooking Club – February 2016

  1. Teresa, your dishes look wonderful! None of those were my selections, but your photos are so great, now I have to add them to my list! And I agree with you – cherry or grape tomatoes are still too hard to resist!

  2. Everything looks wonderful! That potato dish was one I eyed for a bit this month, but since I was making the gratin I put my potato focus there.🙂 Also that soup on a cooler morning (when I’m writing this) looks really warming and comfy. I totally agree with you about tomatoes during the winter! Even though I now live where I can technically say that they’re local year-round (within 100 miles local), I still buy them from time to time. My husband won’t eat fresh tomatoes, though, so any salad with them is all on me to eat, which is mostly fine. 🙂 Looks great, Teresa!

  3. Your write-up was especially good this week and I know expressed what all of you who are seeing the end of winter feel. (bad sentence structure) My friends in Colorado who have already had lots of snow and cold are chomping at the bit for a little Spring. However, I have had the luxury this year of sunshine mixed with a little rain (for which in California we beg ). Although I erroneously made the white bean salad with roasted artichokes (TJoe’s sells wonderful roasted artichokes), I can easily put together the tomato and red onion salad. What I liked the most was the lemony/mustard vinaigrette. Your first potato photo is my favorite. Nice post this week, Teresa.

  4. Everything looks so delicious Teresa. I love the flavour that dried mushrooms bring to a dish and that soup is a good example; I’ve made it several times since first trying it in the summer. I, too, couldn’t last the winter without hot house produce, especially cherry tomatoes.

  5. Hi Teresa, I can’t beleive we only have 2 months left either, are you going to cook from the next Hugh’s book? I hope you do, I am. Anyway agree, summer tomatoes would be the best but I loved the bean salad the way it was even with hothouse tomatoes, very delicious. Take care!

  6. Just two months? That went fast. I didn’t make any of the same recipes you did, but I like hearing about what you made. The potatoes look especially appealing. You will have spring produce in BC much sooner than I will even if it was 58F today, at the end of February. My snowdrops and hellabores are blooming — most unusual this early, normally they’d be buried under snow waiting. I hope you have a great week. “See” you again soon.

  7. Hello Teresa, creative post, and so warming in your literary including the continued delicious dishes in the chilly months, and as we transition to the season ahead. Really one cannot help but appreciate the newness and variety that seasons provide us. Definitely a porcini fan as you are, and for its liquid broth provided too. Your potatoes look scrumptious, as does your white bean salad- love this combination for antipasti platters (and tailgates too!) Your soup looks so hearty and delicious, I’d like a bowl should we not live so far a part! A fitting end in the beauty of purple flowers, soon emerging beauty. See you soon!

  8. Such a nice read, Teresa. My in-laws grow their own garden in the summer and they freeze quite a few things. So in the winter we can still have greens (spinach, chard, rapini), peppers, green beans. To that we add potatoes, cabbage, pulses, mushrooms. I am so happy spring is on its way, though!

  9. Teresa, sounds like three wonderful choices for those last days of winter – we are all very much looking forward to spring an dit snew produce – we will get there soon. Great idea to make that wonderful Chickpea, Chard, and Porcini Soup this month – I would not mind a bowl right now. The Potatoes and “deconstructed Pesto”are a great recipe to keep in mind for a very flavorful side dish- Glad you both seem to have enjoyed those February dishes ver ymuch!
    Thank you for a very lovely post and your continued support of The Cottage Cooking Club!
    Andrea

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