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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cottage Cooking Club Month of January

January has been a month full of new beginnings and subtle changes. It is also the ninth month of the Cottage Cooking Club that is hosted by the talented Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. She is our fearless leader and has kept our little group going from month to month. I certainly appreciate all that she has done. We are cooking along with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookbook "River cottage Veg", I prepared 3 of the 10 selected recipes and was once again very pleased with the results.

The first recipe I prepared was the roasted potatoes and eggplants. It’s a very simple dish, basically potatoes and eggplants cut into 1 inch cubes.

This dish is easy to prepare and was by far my favorite. The smell of the eggplant roasting was truly wonderful and the taste was amazing. The next day I added the left overs to a frittata as suggested by Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall, and that too was delicious.

The artichoke and white bean dip was next. This too was easy to prepare, a quick stint in a skillet and then some time in the food processor and that was it. Most of the ingredients were from the pantry.

Lemon juice was added at the end to brighten it up. This dip is all about sharing and was fantastic served with flatbread bread.The end result was creamy and savory and had even more flavor the next day.

The third and final recipe was as simple as can be; Big Baked Mushrooms. Basically portobello mushrooms baked with butter, garlic, salt and pepper.

Once again proving that simple ingredients and preparation can be the best.

Recipes adapted from "River Cottage Veg" by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, first recipe cookbook chapter Roast, grill and broil, Roasted potatoes and eggplants, page 351. Second recipe cookbook chapter Meze and Tapas, Artichoke and white bean dip page 303. Third recipe cookbook chapter Side dishes, page 385.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for January on the CCC website, by clicking here.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coconut Milk Shrimp

We started the morning off with a strenuous hike at Piestewa Peak mountain. The trail we took is at the very north end of the park where the road ends. We climbed a rocky loop around the mountain top and hiked back on the other side. From the top we had a nice view of the taller buildings downtown Phoenix and the not so nice pollution.

Here is a quick and easy meal that you can throw together any night of the week. 20 to 40 minutes tops and the timing is based on the type of rice that you use. For this dish I used jasmine which is a long grain variety of rice that has a subtle nutty flavor and a soft, sticky texture when cooked. The shrimp I used was the Wild Argentinean red shrimp from Trader Joe’s, which are sold already prepped and ready to go. I switched out the full fat coconut milk to the light stuff and thought that this dish was still full of great flavor.


2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion (chopped)
2 to 3 carrots (cut into matchsticks)
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 can light coconut milk
2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1 pound Wild Argentinean red shrimp 20 to 25
Steamed rice, white or brown (2 cups)
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 limes (cut into wedges)

To prepare:

Heat oil over medium-high heat a large skillet, add onion, carrot and chili flakes, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk and tomato, cook about 2 to 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink, turn halfway about 4 minutes total.

Spoon shrimp mixture on top of rice and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Citrusy Winter Slaw

Arizona is a great place to live in the winter. Most days can be spent outside, hiking, biking, playing tennis or whatever it is that you like to do. In the month of January or close there after we literally have citrus coming out of our ears. In our yard alone we have a pink grapefruit tree and a lemon tree. Some neighbors have the same but others also have orange and pomegranates trees too. The unspoken system works like this, if you have extra you set some out in front of your house on the curb. Usually they are placed in a large box or crates with extra bags on the side so neighbors can pick and choose what they need. It’s a great incentive for taking a nice walk around the neighborhood.

Anyway when I saw this Winter Slaw recipe in my new cookbook "Make It Ahead" by Ina Garten; I ear tagged the page and waited until January. The salad is a wonderful combination of kale, Brussel sprouts and radicchio dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. The day I made this salad I added the dressing about 20 minutes before serving and just let the salad sit on the counter lightly wilting itself. The Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds were added in right before serving. I made extra of the dressing and the slaw veggies and stored them separately in the fridge for another meal the next day. This salad is a great combination of crunchy, tart, salty and sweet. Enjoy!


6 to 7 large kale leaves, stems removed (cut into thin slices)
6 to 8 Brussels sprouts (trimmed, cut into thin slices)
1/2 small head radicchio (cored, cut into thin shreds)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 depends on the lemon itself)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 to 4 ounces Parmesan cheese (shaved with a vegetable peeler)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Salt if needed

To prepare:

Place prepared kale, Brussels sprouts, radicchio and dried cranberries in a large bowl.

In a medium sized bowl add lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Whisk together. Pour enough dressing on the salad just to moisten it, set aside about 20 minutes. When ready to serve, add more of the dressing if necessary. Top with Parmesan and sunflower seeds.

*Because of the Parmesan cheese I did not add salt, thought that it was salty enough*

Recipe slightly adapted from the cookbook "Make It Ahead" by Ina Garten.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wild Mushroom Veggie and Farro Soup

My beloved mom is very sick. She is my rock and my world. My posts will probably be erratic for awhile, but the ones that I do make will be for me very therapeutic. I appreciate all the great people that I have met on-line and your wonderful support. Thank you for listening.

In a soup, mushroom and barley are a great combination, one that works very well together. Today’s soup is a hearty one, one with many layers of flavor. Basically you have fresh and dried mushrooms, pancetta and loads of veggies. Marsala wine is used to deglaze the pot and then added again at the end. Fresh thyme and parsley bring a wonderful freshness. This is a great soup to ring in the new year. Hope my mom likes it.


1 1/2 ounces dried wild mushrooms ( I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta (Trader Joe's, already diced)
2 small onions chopped (3 cups)
4 carrots cut into 1/4 inch pieces (2 cups)
4 stalks celery cut into 1/4 inch pieces (2 cups)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
3/4 cup pearled farro
12 ounces cremini mushrooms (cut into 1/4 inch slices)
1/2 cup Marsala wine, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
6 cups chicken broth
6 springs thyme (tied together)
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup minced parsley

To prepare:

Begin by placing the dried mushrooms in 4 cups of boiling water, remove from heat cover with lid. Meanwhile, heat olive oil, add pancetta, onions, carrots and celery and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender. Add garlic and farro and cook for a few  more minutes.

Add cremini mushrooms and the 1/2 cup Marsala wine, cook for another 5 to 7  minutes, until mushrooms have released some of there moisture.

In the meantime, drain the dried mushrooms through a cheesecloth, reserve the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot along with the strained mushroom soaking liquid.

Add chicken broth, bundle of thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat and then simmer for 45 minutes, until farro is tender. Remove thyme bundle.

Mash flour and butter together and stir into soup pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Marsala wine. Sprinkle with parsley. Taste for seasoning.

Recipe is from Ina Garten, "Make it Ahead, cookbook. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Crunchy Cashew Sesame Cardamom Bars

Man, oh man was I going to start the year off blogging with a vengeance. But life or shall I say this flu bug has really put a damper on things around here. Before I talk about the recipe I’m posting here today I would like to address New Year’s resolutions and my lack of any resolutions made. Years ago I would make heartfelt declarations and year after year most times in the very same month of January I would regress, yes fall back. Nowadays I make suggestions… I will be kinder to others and to myself, things like that. I will try and eat at least one green salad a day, things that I know that I will do, does this make me a good person for not trying to better myself, who knows…..but that is what works now. Happy New Year’s everyone, wish you all the best.

Now for these cashew sesame bars, they are delicious, my husband and I ate an 8” x 8” pan of these in one day. They are crunchy, perfectly sweet and healthy. The cardamom spice is wonderful with these ingredients. Also, you could change out many of the ingredients for different flavors, but according to Bon Appetite you want to have the same three basic building blocks. For example 1) a binder, like dried fruits for chewy or liquid sweeteners for crunchy. 2) Body; something to chew on, like nuts, oats, unsweetened coconut, wheat germ and bran. And last but not least 3) crunch, like seeds, nuts grains and cacao nibs. Be careful these are addictive…….


1 1/2 cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
5 tablespoons flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup maple syrup,
1 tablespoon coconut oil

To prepare:

Begin by coating an 8" x 8" pan with vegetable oil, line with parchment paper leaving overhang on all sides.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Toast cashews and sesame seeds in separate areas on a rimmed cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes stirring every 2 minutes. Let cool, set aside. Toast flax seed meal 6 minutes, stirring after 3 minutes, set aside. Place 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of the flax seed in a separate container to top bars before baking.

Process cashews and remaining seeds with wheat germ, salt and cardamom in a food processor until finely chopped. Place in a medium bowl.

Bring maple syrup and coconut oil to a boil in a small sauce pan, about 1 minute. Pour over cashew mixture and coat to stir. Press mixture firmly into prepared pan, with wet hands. (makes the process so much easier). Top with reserved seeds. Bake until golden brown 25 to 30 minutes.

Let cool, then cut into 12 bars. Enjoy!

Recipe from Bon Appetit January Magazine 2015.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cottage Cooking Club December Two Recipes

Today's post is the eighth installment of the Cottage Cooking Club a virtual cooking group started by the talented Andrea of The Kitchen Lioness. We are currently cooking our way through the River Cottage Veg, a cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This month I prepared 2 of the 10 recipes that Andrea chose, one from each chapter. The purpose of our group is to incorporate more local and seasonal veggies into our daily meals.

For the first recipe I prepared the Corner Shop Spanakopita which reminded me very much of a spinach pie. Caraway seeds were toasted, onions sautéed and then both were combined with spinach that has been wilted, drained, squeezed and then chopped. Thyme was added with a squeeze of fresh lemon, then goat cheese and pine nuts.

Puff pastry is rolled over the top of the dish and then into the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.

My husband and I enjoyed this dish very much and I thought that this would make a great dish to bring to a potluck as it was delicious warm and at room temperature.

The next dish I prepared was the Curried Red Lentil Soup. Garlic, fresh ginger, red chilies, garam masala and curry powder were the aromatics used in this recipe. I loved the way these spices warmed and brought flavor to this dish.

Vegetable stock was then added and simmered until the lentils were soft, about 25 to 30 minutes. I then used a immersion blender. It was creamy and thick, water was used to thin it a bit.

Since this was a variation of the original recipe, Curried Sweet Potato Soup I was not sure if I should add the coconut milk. At the last moment I decided not to and thought that it was fantastic. Served soup with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of cilantro.

Recipes have been adapted from the "River Cottage Veg" , cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. First recipe; chapter Comfort Food & Feasts, Corner Shop Spanakopita, page 54. Second recipe chapter; Hefty Soups, Curried Red Lentil Soup, page 166.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, head over to the LYL post for December on the CCC website, by clicking clicking here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rugelach and The Days Before Christmas

I’m sitting alone in my kitchen gathering my thoughts, it’s early in the morning. There a mental list playing around and around in my head; the last remaining details. It’s down to the wire and this post will be my last until after Christmas. Family members have arrived, and the celebrating is about to begin. On the counter is a plate of freshly made rugelach. Something that I always thought was too difficult to accomplish, but after combining Ina Garten's and Dorie Greenspan's recipes and techniques and I believe I have a winner. These delectable morsels are flaky and delicious. The cream cheese brings a tenderness to the dough and you will have a hard time eating just one.

Happy Holidays to you and your family!


For the dough:

4 ounces cold cream cheese
4 ounces cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1/2 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped, lightly toasted)
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
4 tablespoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

For glazing:
1 large egg beaten
Sanding or turbinado sugar for dusting

To prepare:

Cut the cream cheese and butter each into 4 pieces, let sit 10 minutes. Add to food processor with flour and salt and pulse until the dough forms large curds, about 12 to 15 pulses. Turn dough unto lightly floured work surface and form into a ball. Cut in half and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap forming a square. Chill at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filing. Mix the chocolate and walnuts together in a small bowl, set aside. In a separate small bowl and combine sugar and cinnamon together, mix well, set aside.

On a lightly floured surfaced roll out 1 piece of chilled dough. Flour rolling pin and top of dough and roll out in a rectangular shape as much as possible, lifting and turning dough frequently so it will not stick. Cut dough in half. Each half should be about 12 x 6 inches. Working with one piece of dough at a time, brush each half with melted butter and then cinnamon sugar mixture, leaving the edge free all around each piece.

Add one quarter of the chocolate mixture over the cinnamon mixture and gently press down. Roll each piece starting from the straggly edge to the straight cut edge. Place rolls into the freezer and start on the second piece.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.

Remove rolls from freezer. Cut into one inch lengths. Brush with egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar. Bake 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown. Turn pan halfway through baking time. Allow to cool on racks until room temperature.