Dear Members of the Cottage Cooking Club - after a few months hiatus, we will be resuming our online cooking club activities on February, 1st, 2017. We will be cooking from River Cottage Every Day - "RCED" (for all) and River Cottage Love Your Leftovers - "RCLYL" (optional).
The rules for the cooking club will be easy and rather more like "non-rules". We will cook as many of the recipes from the book as we will manage during a six-month period - so no matter whether we have cooked all recipes from the book or just a fraction, we will conclude our activities at the end of end of July 2017.
While the official starting day will be February 1st, all regular or occasional "guest" members (if I may call them that way) will only be asked to post once a month (six times in total) on the 28th of each month. The Cottage Coooking Club therefore will only have six posting dates Feb. 28th, March 28th, April 28th, May 28th, June 28th until July 28th when we will conclude our activities.
The recipes will not be chosen by me, you choose as many OR as little as you want each month, make one soup or ten dinners or three desserts, whatever you can. Then put together one post at the end of the month and let all of us know what you think of the dishes that you prepared. Are they worth trying? Does the recipe work? What would you change?
When chosing the recipes that you prepare each month, I ask you to let yourself be guided by seasonality and availability - what are the foods that YOU can find in YOUR area?
To get started and to get a feeling for the RCED cookbook, I made two recipes - the "Beet and Cumin Soup with Spiced Yogurt" (page 274) and the "Honey Whole-Wheat Cake" (page 386).
While I will not go on a length about those two recipes, I will say so much. They both definitely taste like true River Cottage recipes - the flavors are familiar and comforting and we enjoyed both.
If you like beets, you should try the soup while beets are now widely available and reasonably prized in winter (at least around here). The Spiced Yogurt is a wonderful element of the soup but you should not limit its uses to this soup, drizzle it on rôtisserie chicken or serve with pita bread and veggies.
The cake is a must if you are looking for a comfort-style cake with the definite taste of honey. Make sure to use a mild variety of local honey (if possible) that you enjoy, or it will overpower the cake. It is worth noticing that the recipe calls for whole-wheat flour and ground almonds (I left the skins on) and according to my experience if you want a more pronounced taste of almonds, you could toast them before you process them to make your own almond meal. You can also make this recipe with spelt flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder as well - I tried it and it works. What I really liked was serving this cake warm, with some Greek yogurt and fruit (whatever is in season) alongside. You can re-heat a slice and enjoy it as breakfast cake (very fashionable these days) as well. The almonds keep it moist for a day or two.
I sincerely hope that I have managed to inspire you to cook along with me for the next six months. It is lonely cooking through all these cookbooks on my own...and I would LOVE to have some lovely company! So, dust off the covers of your RCED and perhaps the RCLYL and let´s start cooking as many of Hugh´s dishes from them as we can fit into our lives and share with the ones we love.