Food Revolution Day 2016

Food Revolution 2016

Since 2013, I’ve been celebrating Food Revolution Day with a group of bloggers that met when we worked through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. We’ve all moved on to other projects, together and separately, and added new blogging colleagues along the way.

Today, we’re convening again to contribute our voices to Food Revolution’s mission: to talk about how “children access, consume and understand food” and to ensure they have “access to good, fresh, nutritious food for generations to come.”

Our celebration is taking place across two cook-along groups started by alumni of French Fridays with Dorie: Cook the Book Fridays and The Cottage Cooking Club. We have one Food Revolution Ambassador in each group, Mardi of eat. live. travel. write and Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness, and each had a unique take on this year’s Food Revolution Day theme, which is #FeedtheFuture. Jamie Oliver released ten recipes to learn and share that he believes can teach you all the skills you need to feed yourself for the rest of your life. Using this as a template, each of our Food Revolution Ambassadors came up with challenges appropriate to the book their group is working with.

Cook the Book Fridays: Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche

Ham, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche

Mardi has taken the lead on Food Revolution Day, first in French Fridays with Dorie and now in Cook the Book Fridays. She chose David LebovitzHam, Blue Cheese, and Pear Quiche from My Paris Kitchen for the group to prepare this week, as a “must know” recipe. Quiche is almost infinitely variable, and can accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, and even vegan diets, with some simple ingredient substitutions.

It’s a dish that highlights a skill that’s just as important for a healthful diet as the ones covered in Jamie Oliver’s “starter pack” of healthy recipes – baking. Knowing how to make your own crusts, breads, and pastries can empower you to choose the best ingredients and use them in delicious and healthy proportions.

Quiche is also a great dish to help you avoid food waste – nearly anything in your fridge that needs using can be put into a quiche. And if you get into the habit of keeping savoury tart doughs in your freezer, it’s easily a weeknight meal option or a last minute potluck solution. I’m exemplifying this tonight – the quiche is in the oven while I’m writing this post.

I decided to follow Mardi’s lead and “minify” this recipe. I made muffin-tin servings of quiche, which are easy to share. I made the full recipe of tart dough, freezing half. My quiche crust is an interesting colour – I used organic blue cornmeal in place of yellow cornmeal, as that’s what I had on hand. It’s ground to a fine texture, which is a plus for a crust. Cornmeal can often lend a gritty texture to doughs like this.

I halved the quiche filling, though. I’ve only got so many taste-testers available this weekend. I didn’t vary David’s recipe and I’m glad. This is a rich, sophisticated quiche. Ham, blue cheese, and pear are classic flavour partners. That said, I’ll use this quiche recipe as a jumping off point whenever I have some cream cheese hanging out in my refrigerator. As I said before, a world of possibilities can be contained in the crust of a quiche.

You might notice there aren’t any photos of my quiches. It was dark by the time I finished my post, so I’ll add some tomorrow, so you can see them at their best.

Three mini quiches

You can read through the Cook the Book Fridays crew posts for this Food Revolution Day here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David LebovitzMy Paris Kitchen.

The Cottage Cooking Club

Since we just wrapped up cooking our way through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s River Cottage Veg, Andrea took a different route for this group’s challenge. She asked us to choose up to ten recipes from the book that qualify as “must know” dishes and to share the techniques and skills we learned in making them.

My mind turned to categories, rather than specific dishes, so I’ll share a few of the things that River Cottage Veg helped improve in my own kitchen.

Roasting deepens flavour

Roast until fabulous

If you were brought up the way I was, most vegetables got roasted alongside cuts of meats or as a part of stews. Otherwise, they received a stove top or steamer treatment. But, roasting brings out the best in many vegetables and several of Hugh’s recipes are oven-roasted improvements on stove top staples.

Oven Roasted Roots Frittata

Oven Roasted Ratatouille and Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted Roots with Apple and Rosemary

Homemade sauces and condiments are easy and delicious

Dressings and Condiments

You really don’t know how good something can be until you’ve eaten it fresh out of the kitchen. Condiments and dressings are easy to make and so much better than the ones you can buy at the supermarket. Besides, you’ll improve your knife skills when you process all those beautiful aromatics.

Lemony Guacamole

Mojo Sauces

Tomatoes with Thai Dressing

Great flavour starts at the base

Depth of flavour

When you work at creating a delicious flavour base, whether that’s a scratch curry paste or an infusion of dried mushrooms, your dish will be more than the sum of its parts. It doesn’t take long to add flavour, so there’s no reason to skip steps.

Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

Mushroom “Stoup”

Over the last two years, our group picked up or refined cooking skills, encountered new ingredients, and learned new approaches to familiar ones. However, the greatest gift that working through this cookbook gave us was to reinforce the truth that vegetarian and vegan eating can be flavourful, varied, healthy, and more than enough. I think that qualifies as a Food Revolution, don’t you?

You can find the rest of the group’s Food Revolution posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for healthy, delicious eating.

And you can join in on the Cottage Cooking Club’s next adventure, cooking through one or both of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s River Cottage Every Day and Love Your Leftovers – you can find the details, here.

World food waste statistics

I believe that people need access to safe, affordable, whole foods; access to the skills and techniques to prepare foods; and access to the housing, income, and safety that will allow them to cook. This will ensure the health of future generations and the planet, reducing the waste of food, packaging materials, human potential, and environmental resources that an industrial, processed food system can enable. Participating in initiatives like Food Revolution Day can only help those goals along.

You’ll find plenty of posts, photos, videos, and more if you search the #FeedtheFuture and #FoodRevolution tags on your social media channels, encompassing a huge range of perspectives on what it means to bolster food security for coming generations.

Cottage Cooking Club – April 2016

Cherry Blossom Snow

It’s hard to believe we’ve come to the end of our time with River Cottage Veg. Collectively, the bloggers of The Cottage Cooking Club have worked through every one of the 200 recipes included in the cookbook.

This cook-a-long came at a fortuitous time for me. My partner was moving toward veganism and I wanted to build some plant-based cooking into my blogging routine to support him. We’ve always eaten a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals, but ensuring variety is a great incentive to keep going when you’re changing the way you eat.

It was also a chance to keep cooking alongside one of the talented bloggers I’d met through French Fridays with Dorie. Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness posts wonderful recipes with gorgeous photography, in a blog full of family adventures, travel tales, and explorations of her city and region. She’s been a terrific leader, from the structure she devised that allowed the group as a whole to complete the book in two years, to her always supportive comments on every participant’s blog.

My last month didn’t go as planned. I’d promised to blog about three recipes this month, but only managed two – one of which was the wrong variation of the dish. I guess it goes to show that improvisation is as much of a kitchen skill as any of the others that everyday cooks perform.

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

I made this recipe in March, as I’d gotten a great deal on eggplant and bell peppers and was looking for a tasty way to use them. As luck would have it, this dish was due to come up in our very last rotation.

This is one of the dishes I hadn’t noticed while paging through the cookbook and it’s another one that Kevin wishes I’d made much sooner and often. Oven-roasting brings out the flavour of all the vegetables beautifully. We’ll be making this one as often as we can get our hands on good eggplants – I can hardly wait to try it again in high summer.

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplant

Roasted Potatoes and Eggplant

Another eggplant dish and another recipe in Kevin’s Favourites column. I was supposed to make the spiced eggplants with chickpeas, but when it came time to make my shopping list, I looked at the wrong recipe. We’ve got more eggplant in the refrigerator, so I’ll probably correct this error soon. At least it was a delicious mistake.

Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions

Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions

Speaking of delicious mistakes, this dish was supposed to be quinoa with leeks and squash, but once again, I looked at the wrong recipe. Kevin was pleased with this mistake in particular – he loves zucchini and tolerates squash. I’m happy with either. I skipped the nuts and doubled down on the lemon in this dish. It makes a great side, but a bowlful made a satisfying lunch, too.

That’s it for this month’s selections – I was supposed to make Spiced Spinach and Potatoes as well, but every time I set aside some cooked potatoes for the dish, they ended up being used for something else. I suppose I’ll have to plan to make another dish that uses leftover potatoes, then perhaps I’ll make this dish instead.

The rest of the recipes I tackled this month were from previous months’ selections. I go through periods of focusing more on ingredients than recipes I’ve undertaken to make. It always leads me to recipes I might have overlooked otherwise.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

This sauce is a component of several of Hugh’s recipes, so when I picked up a big bag of hothouse tomatoes, I decided to give it a try. Hothouse tomatoes need help and roasting is the best way to get the most flavour out of them. I added some grape tomatoes I had on hand, as well. The sauce is seasoned only with garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper, but it is rich and delicious on its own and even better as the base for soups or stews.

You’re supposed to seed and skin the tomatoes when they’re roasted, but I threw them into the food processor whole. I like using the whole vegetable when I can and there’s pectin in the skins, which helps to thicken the sauce. I know it’s less refined, but for my purposes it worked beautifully. I used it in two more of Hugh’s recipes and had enough left over to enjoy on its own.

Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

Eggplant and Green Bean Curry

It’s been an eggplant kind of month around here, hasn’t it? This dish would be good even with store-bought sauce, but Hugh’s roasted tomato sauce made it fantastic. I especially appreciated that the dish included a homemade curry paste – that’s often the difference between delicious and mediocre with Indian-inspired dishes.

Mexican Tomato and Bean Soup

Tomato and Bean Soup

Hugh’s sauce went to good use in this soup, too, a Mexican-inspired dish that is just fiery enough to wake up the palate without drowning out the other flavours. It should be called double tomato and black bean soup, because there is quite a lot of fresh, diced tomato along with the roasted tomato sauce. This one was a hit at home and then again for my parents. Their only complaint was that the container I’d sent home with my mother was too small.

Cambodian Wedding Day Dip

Cambodian Wedding Dip

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to make since I got the book, but I’ve not gotten around to it until now. The combination of cremini mushrooms, coconut milk, curry, and peanut sounded intriguing. Kevin said it put him in mind of a vegan version of chopped liver. It’s certainly meaty enough to use as a sandwich filling, as well as a dip. I’d like to serve it at a tapas party. I think it would be one of the dishes that gets everyone talking.

So that’s it – the last of my posts for this cookbook. While our group may be finished with River Cottage Veg, our household certainly won’t be leaving it on the shelf. There are too many pages marked with notes, variations, and exclamation marks. And there are plenty of bookmarks for recipes we haven’t yet gotten around to trying.

I am excited to see what Hugh has on offer in River Cottage Every Day. I’ll continue cooking along with the group, but I’m going to stick to vegetable-based selections, as I’ve found that this monthly date with plant-based cooking has been great for our diets and palates.

You can find the rest of the group’s wrap up posts, here. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

And you can join in on the Cottage Cooking Club’s next adventure, cooking through one or both of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s River Cottage Every Day and Love Your Leftovers – you can find the details, here.

Cottage Cooking Club – March 2015

Stir fry

We’ve reached the halfway point of the Cottage Cooking Club’s exploration of River Cottage Veg and the group is taking this month to catch up on recipes they may have missed in previous months. As for me, I’m just glad my new copy of the book has arrived. Inexplicably, my first copy of the book disappeared during the great re-piping project in January and no amount of looking has turned it up. I suspect that I will find it, now that I’ve got another copy. At least I hope so, because I have a lot of notes in the margins of the original.

As a result, I missed last month and this month I’ve only got one recipe on deck – Winter Stir-fry with Chinese Five-spice. This is the sort of recipe I’d like to say that I make regularly, but really need a reminder to undertake. I used to make stir-fries all the time in my youth. Now I spend so much time exploring new recipes, that I forget about the kitchen skills I’ve carried for years. To be fair, in those days I also spent a lot of time on political marches, taking university courses, and dancing in clubs.

Things change, though perhaps we shouldn’t leave so much behind. There are political matters that are just as urgent today, life-long learners get more satisfaction from their lives, and those who dance into their twilight years seem happier than the rest of us. Stir-fries, too, shouldn’t become just the stuff of dinners out – they are the epitome of the healthy, well-seasoned home cooking that’s being encouraged by food advocates everywhere.

Seasoning is the key, along with paying attention to how much cooking each vegetable requires. Some of my youthful attempts at stir-fry were a little ham-fisted and needed a little more care than the lashings of soy sauce and lemon they suffered. It took time and practice to get the hang of it and I think that helped me to become a better cook overall.

This stir-fry is simple, relying on five-spice powder, soy sauce, and rice wine for flavour, with a finish of fresh lime juice. It’s also a good choice for that in-between season when spring gardens are only just being planted. Carrot, parsnip, and mushroom give substance to the dish, while shredded Brussels sprouts are nice alternative to the usual wilted greens.

Easter

I’d also like to say thank you to Andrea, our fearless and talented leader, who blogs at The Kitchen Lioness. She was kind enough to send participants an Easter gift and you can see some of the lovely ornaments she included, above. This group has been a wonderful way to connect with more talented and interesting bloggers. It’s also been a great way to explore my partner’s newly-vegan diet with him. We choose from each month’s offerings together and the group’s recipes have become staples in our everyday eating.

I’m looking forward to cooking through the rest of the book, barring any more disappearing cookbooks.

Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

Cottage Cooking Club – July 2014 (with some June catch ups)

I missed last month’s Cottage Cooking Club, so this month I decided to take on only one new recipe and try and catch up on the June recipes I’d chosen.

Marinated Courgettes (Zucchini) with Mozzarella

Zucchini

My pick for this month was one I knew Kevin and I would both like. Zucchini is one of our favourite vegetables and this marinated salad is perfect for a hot summer’s evening. Even if it requires turning on the stove for a short while. The zucchini is supposed to be cut into long, thin strips, but I picked up some zebra-striped courgettes at the market and didn’t want to lose the stripey effect, so I cut them into thin medallions instead. My favourite part of this salad was how intense the lemon zest and garlic become once infused into the olive oil. Those flavours permeate the zucchini, along with the basil I’d picked from my garden. I also enjoyed the contrast of the cold bocconcini (in place of buffalo mozzarella) against the room temperature salad.

Once my own zucchini moves beyond the blossom stage, I’ll be making this salad often.

My June was busier and more eventful than I’d like, so cooking and blogging had to take a bit of a back seat. I didn’t have time to make all of the dishes I thought I would, but here’s a short round up of the ones I did get to try.

Vegetable Tempura with Chilli Dipping Sauce

20140712-233427-84867503.jpg

First up, gluten-free vegetable tempura. I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for tempura, substituting a gluten-free flour mix, and then served the tempura with the River Cottage dipping sauce. You can read about my mishaps in this post, but the tempura, once we were able to sit down to it, was a hit. I loved that Kevin had an opportunity to eat something he hadn’t had since having to go gluten-free, but I’m not a fan of deep-frying, so I don’t think we’ll be revisiting it any time soon.

Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Tomatoes

I’m a huge fan of simple treatments for summer produce. It comes and goes so quickly, why hide its flavour? That said, I can always get behind a technique that doesn’t mask flavour so much as intensify it. Roasting tomatoes does just that. The River Cottage method is simple, tomatoes tossed in a bit of honey, olive oil, and garlic, then cooked in a slowish oven. But what you get is even more amazing than the tomatoes straight off the vine. I used cherry tomatoes, unseeded, and got a lot of delicious juice with my roasted tomatoes. That’s something you might want to avoid with bigger tomatoes, but here it was a gift.

I made these for my parents, taking a little taste for myself. The tomatoes reminded me of a honeyed sauce and that’s how Mom and Dad used them – they made a big pot of pasta and tossed it with the tomatoes, juice and all. A heart-healthy, flavourful meal.

Frittata with Summer Veg and Goat´s Cheese

Frittata

This is my favourite dish from River Cottage Veg so far. I used a big pile of spinach, along with radish leaves, garlic scapes, thinly sliced radishes and green onions, and fingerling potatoes. I added some rosemary and thyme, then finished it with goat cheese. There’s nothing better for brunch than frittata, as far as I’m concerned. This one was so full of vegetables, it didn’t need any accompaniment, really, but I served it with salad from the garden, anyway.

I love how easy it is to eat healthily in the summertime, don’t you?

Intrigued by this month’s recipes? Buy the book and join us.

Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.

Cottage Cooking Club – May 2014

Today brings something new to my blog, which will be happening monthly over the next ten months or so. I’ve teamed up with a few of my favourite bloggers to cook our way through River Cottage Veg. Our little group has been organized by the wonderful Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness and you can join us at the Cottage Cooking Club. Each month, we’ll be cooking up to ten recipes from the book and sharing our versions of the dishes. What we won’t be sharing is the recipes, unless there they’ve been shared online by the author or publisher. Some of us may also provide recipes inspired by the month’s choices.

This group came along at the perfect time for me, as my partner is moving toward vegetarian, and ultimately vegan, eating. I’ve always incorporated a lot of meat-free meals into my life, but it’s great to get some new recipes into my repertoire right now and see which ones appeal to Kevin the most.

This month, I chose six of the recipes to try. I probably won’t make that many of them every month, but there were a lot of favourite ingredients on this month’s list.

Arugula, Fennel, and Puy Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad

First up is a salad so good that I couldn’t help but share it with the group of bloggers who participated in the Canadian Lentils #LentilHunter Twitter chat that happened a few weeks ago. I loved the vinaigrette that was mixed into the lentils and then used to dress the greens. Kevin’s not a salad dressing fan, though, so I just squeezed lemon on his. We were both happy.

This is the sort of recipe I’ll revisit often, changing the ingredients according to the season. I used the organic French green lentils that I always have on hand, but this would be really special with authentic Puy lentils.

Try it for yourself – you can find the recipe here.

Quinoa with Zucchini and Onions

Zucchini and Quinoa

Not a hit for Kevin. I liked it, but would use less onion and perhaps a wider variety of veggies. I sauteed the garlic in butter before adding it, added a bit of balsamic at the end, and forgot the nuts. I think with a bit more experimentation, this could be a better dish for us.

Radishes with Butter and Salt

This one is a summer tradition for me. The bite of raw radishes is a perfect match for the soothing creaminess of butter. And salt just makes everything better. I did this with the first radishes from my garden and completely forgot to take a picture. I’ll add one the next time I do it. Shouldn’t be long.

Asparagus Pizza

Asparagus Pizza

I didn’t get a pretty photo of this one, but I loved it, ugly or not. I used a frozen gluten-free crust instead of the homemade pizza dough made with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Magic Bread Dough. Next time, I’ll make it for gluten-eaters and use the dough, as Kevin wasn’t that keen on this dish. He would have preferred a traditional, tomato-based pizza with steamed asparagus on the side.

Roasted Eggplant Boats

Eggplant

I was surprised that Kevin didn’t like this one more – eggplant is one of his favourite vegetables. One of the things we came up against in a lot of the recipes I’ve been trying lately is that he’s not a big fan of sauces or dressings. The plainer the better is his motto. So, I finished this on my own. I enjoyed it, but it won’t be replacing Ottolenghi’s roasted eggplant as my go to any time soon.

Stir-fried Cauliflower

Cauliflower

This dish was the winner of this month’s selections. We both loved it. This time, it made a great late night snack. Going forward, I think it will be a nice side for almost any Asian-influenced fare. I skipped the cilantro and added a little five-spice, but I would have been just as happy with the recipe as written. It’s easy to put together and I would be lying if I said I won’t be making this again for a lazy lunch or snack, all on its own.

Intrigued by this month’s recipes? Buy the book and join us.

Here are the links to the rest of the group’s posts for this month. I encourage you to check them out – you’ll meet some wonderful bloggers and get some great inspiration for vegetarian eating.