Cottage Cooking Club – March 2016

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Like a horse as it nears the barn, I seem to be speeding through recipes as we reach the end of our time with River Cottage Veg in this group. This month, I managed seven recipes, two of which were ones I’d missed when they’d come up in previous months’ selections.

It’s made for a delicious March.

Nachos with refried beans

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There are as many recipes for refried beans as there are cooks that make them. Hugh’s version is a pantry cupboard wonder, using things I always have on hand. I like the chunky texture, the gentle heat from the fresh red chile and hot smoked paprika, the smooth taste of the cannellini (or borlotti) beans, and the use of grated fresh tomato. I made this twice – once with cannellini beans and once with borlotti and they were equally good. My only change to the recipe was to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste along with the fresh tomatoes. That might not be necessary at the height of summer, when tomatoes are at their best, but it really helped bring the flavours together for this late winter version.

As for the nachos, I made a vegan version and a conventional one. I have two small ceramic baking dishes that are about the same size – one got lashings of old cheddar cheese and the other got a generous sprinkling of Daiya cheddar shreds. We finished them off with sour cream (vegan and conventional – it’s our version of his and hers) and some of Hugh’s lemony guacamole.

Lemony guacamole

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This recipe was tackled way back in May of 2014, for our very first Cottage Cooking Club round of posting.

Kevin’s a bit miffed that I overlooked this recipe until almost the very last post for this cookbook – it would have become a staple in our kitchen much sooner, if I hadn’t.

It relies on lemon, cilantro, and fresh red chile to complement the avocado. I skipped adding oil, as it seemed unnecessary, and threw a bit of chopped red onion into the mix. It was perfect with our nachos and adds great flavour as a sandwich spread, too.

The vegiflette toastie

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This one was just for me – I couldn’t resist putting aside a few of the baby potatoes we’d had for dinner so that I could have this toastie for an indulgent Saturday lunch. The topping consists of sliced potatoes heated with a little wilted endive and some heavy cream and I would have enjoyed this if the sandwich had stopped there. The final step is to melt some cheese on top (old cheddar, in this case) and it made the dish absolutely perfect for a rainy day. It was more of a knife and fork affair with the split baguette I used, but that was fine. Not every sandwich needs to be portable.

Dressed Puy lentils

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I make Hugh’s lentils, with their mustardy dressing, at least once a week. We stir them into bowls of roasted potatoes, wilted greens, freshly roasted or steamed vegetables, cold salads, or grains hot or cold. These become one bowl lunches or side dishes at dinner.

There are plenty of other ways to dress lentils, but don’t you find you look back on a period of time and remember a dish or two that kept coming up over and over? It’s been that way with these lentils this winter. It’s not repetition so much as punctuation.

Roasted new potatoes with harissa

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We ate our lentils with these potatoes one night, but it took several tries. The first step in making these is to roast the potatoes with salt and pepper. I usually roast potatoes with herbs and garlic, or onion, or spices – it depends on what I’m serving. These come out of the oven with the more-ish quality of French fries. And we discovered, salt and pepper potatoes go so well with Hugh’s lentils, that you might forget to add harissa altogether. Twice.

With the harissa, they’re good, but honestly, not as good as the plain potatoes. I love harissa as a condiment for soups, stews, and other dishes with a Middle Eastern bent, but I think in this dish, it’s a little wasted.

Vegetable biryani

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I wish I could say we loved this one, but we only liked it. We probably won’t be repeating this version of biryani, but I was especially appreciative of the flavour the brown onions brought to the dish.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

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Finally, there’s a treat that came up in the rotation in November of 2014. I had some beautiful crème fraîche and cultured butter on hand, that I was reviewing for another post earlier this month. This recipe seemed like a perfect way to enjoy it.

I made these potatoes two ways – a vegan version for Kevin, with vegan sour cream, Earth Balance, and Daiya cheddar shreds, and a conventional version for me, with crème fraîche, cultured butter, and old cheddar.

We won’t be having these often, but not because we don’t like them. We loved them. They’re just an indulgence that should be an occasional treat. Although, you can put spinach in them – that makes them good for you, doesn’t it?

As I said, it was a delicious month. I’m looking forward to what April brings.

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.

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14 thoughts on “Cottage Cooking Club – March 2016

  1. Way to go, Teresa. I congratulate you on the efforts you go to provide what Kevin can eat, what you want to eat and what Hugh wants you to cook. You are very imaginative in the substitutions you to to turn our this wonderful and delicious-looking food. Well done. Amazing, really.

    1. Thanks so much, Mary! There are so many great gluten-free, vegan products available now, it’s easy. Almost too easy now, for comfort food substitutions…

  2. Teresa, I am in awe that you managed to make so many dishes this month – even as we have almost reached the end of this cookbook – great substitutions for all those ingredients that Kevin cannot eat. I know that all of these recipes taste wonderul as I have made all of them except the Biryani – but from your comments, I gather that I should probably go for a different recipe instead.
    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful pictures, your great comments and your enthusiasm even at the end of this book!
    Andrea

    1. I’ve been quite pleased with how many new dishes I’ve been able to try lately. Kevin has some favourites that we go back to again and again, but I’ve been slowly getting him excited about trying new things more often.

  3. Wow Teresa! You did an amazing job!!! I wish I could have made a few more recipes. It’s such a great book. You’ve got me hooked on that lemony guacamole. You’ve inspired me to try that for sure and I bet it will become a staple in my kitchen as well. Interesting your take on the biryani, that was one I was hoping to make. Yours looks beautiful, actually. And I’m definitely going to try the toastie……I’m loving these toasties! : )

    1. Thanks, Anne – we’re pretty hooked on this guacamole! I need to compare this biryani recipe to some others. I really expected to enjoy it. And the toasties – I need to make them more often!

  4. Wow! Teresa, looks like you really went to town, everything looks delicious. Love your guacamole, looks so fresh and delicious. Another great month, cannot believe we are almost done.

  5. What a delicious array of food! I should have eaten something before visiting here – now I’m craving the vegflette toastie, the lentils, and particularly the nachos with guacamole.

  6. You and Hugh spent a lot of time together this month! I’m going to have to try the nachos and lentils. I adored the vegiflette toastie! The toppings are piled so high, it was a knife and fork affair for me too. The twice-baked potatoes were a favorite too, but you’re right. They are too decadent to eat very often. I love the way that you make the his-and-hers versions so you can both enjoy these recipes.

  7. Hugh was in your kitchen a lot this month! First time ever I truly enjoyed the guacamole… cos its lemony! I made some of your recipes too!

  8. Hi Teresa~ Quite an ambitious and productive month you had with River Cottage veg last month. Photos are beautiful as is your broad selection. The Toastie looks delish. Loved your lentils and I am about to be on a lentil kick after some of the dishes enjoyed at the IACP conference in Los Angeles where Canadian Lentils was one of the sponsors. Sorry I’m running so late but wanted to say hi after being away and not being able to read and comment on everyone’s post until now who was in my inbox. See you on CCC, last month too!!!

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