Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Cottage Cooking Club…Asparagus Pizza…and Arugula, Fennel and Lentil Salad

Join us! 

Awhile back (I think is was March), Andrea at The Kitchen Lioness asked our French Fridays group, to join her in cooking through River Cottage VEG, by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  He is a well-known British chef, TV personality and food writer. I wanted to join the group, mostly because I have such a fondness for Andrea, and wanted to support her in this endeavor. She is sweet, thoughtful and writes a terrific blog. I also thought it would be great to incorporate more veggies into our diet! 
I signed up for the group, and went immediately to Amazon to order the book. That was way back in March. I waited about two weeks, and decided to check the status of my book.  At that point, I realized the book was coming from the U.K. Ok…no big deal!  It should be here soon. We weren’t starting the cooking until May, so I had plenty of time, right? 

Arugula, Fennel and Lentil Salad
Days came and went and still no book! I decided to send the seller a note. She asked me to hang in there, assured me it had been shipped, and should arrive "any day now". That was about three weeks ago. I finally canceled the book from that seller, and ordered another one from a seller in the U.S. It should be here this week, however not in time for this post. I was quite fortunate to have one of my blogger friends send me the recipe for Asparagus Pizza. Thank you, Mary!

 Just plain delectable 
Quite a few of the recipes that were picked for our first month, have been published and are available online.  I found a wonderful recipe for Arugula, Fennel and Lentil salad while searching.  I adore lentils and this sounded incredibly delicious to me.  Once the lentils are cooked, you could enjoy this salad for several days.  That’s what I did!  The dressing is a very simple mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and Dijon mustard…soooo good! A handful of arugula, some chopped fennel and the lentils. A wonderful lunch or side! I even added some avocado to the mix. I loved it!  

The Pizza is quite easy, whether you opt to make your own dough, or buy it from the store. My grocery sells fresh pizza dough that is not frozen. Sometimes I opt for the easy way out! If you have the time, home made dough is a wonderful option! Once the dough is made, it takes little time to put together this amazing pizza! Caramelize the onions, sprinkle them onto the rolled out crust, and layer on the asparagus and cheeses. Pop it into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes! This was an extraordinary pizza! I’m looking forward to making it for my friends!  My hubby does not do asparagus, so this one was all mine. I had a piece for lunch today! Delicious!

I’m looking forward to receiving my new book, browsing all the wonderful recipes, and checking out some great new ways to serve my veggies! Whether it will be salads, pies or pizza; I think this book will be a winner in my house. So why not go over to Andrea’s blog and check out some of the other recipes? Think about buying the book and joining us at  "The Cottage Cooking Club”!!  

Asparagus Pizza…so good!

OMGosh the caramelized onions…heavenly!
I ate this salad three days in a row and each time enjoyed it more!! 


 Arugula, Fennel, and Green Lentil Salad from 'River Cottage Veg'
2/3 cup (125g) French green lentils
1 bay leaf
1/2 small onion
A few parsley stems (optional)
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
2 to 3 ounces (75g arugula) or arugula mixed with a few other peppery leaves such as mizuna
For the dressing:

1/2 cup (120ml) canola or 
olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
A pinch of sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the lentils in a saucepan and add plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute only, then drain. Return the lentils to the pan and pour in just enough water to cover them. Add the bay leaf, onion, and parsley stems, if using. Bring back to a very gentle simmer and cook slowly for about half an hour, until tender but not mushy.

Meanwhile, to make the dressing, put the oil, lemon juice, mustard, lemon zest, and sugar in a screw-topped jar, season with salt and pepper, and shake until emulsified.

When the lentils are done, drain them well and discard the herbs and onion. While still warm, combine with a good half of the dressing. Leave until cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning; you could add a little more salt, sugar, pepper, or lemon juice if needed.

Trim the fennel, removing the tough outer layer (unless the fennel is young and very fresh). Halve the bulb(s) vertically, then slice as thinly as you can, tip to base. 
Divide about two-thirds of the lentils among wide serving bowls. Scatter over the arugula and fennel and trickle over the rest of the dressing. Scatter the remaining lentils over the top and serve.                                 

Asparagus Pizza 
Recipe from River Cottage Veg by the author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Makes 3 pizzas, each serving 2 or 3

1 recipe of magic bread dough or you could buy pizza dough already made
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra to trickle                                                                                                     2 onions halved & thinly sliced                                                                                                                     Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 12 ounces slender asparagus spears, trimmed
2 balls of mozzarella (about 4 ounces each)
A little grated Parmesan, hard goat cheese, or other well-flavored hard cheese
Prepare the dough, leave it to rise, then punch it down according to the magic bread dough recipe.
Preheat the oven to 500°F, if it goes that high, or to at least 425°F. Put in a baking sheet to heat up.
While the dough is rising, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onions. Once sizzling, decrease the heat to low and cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
After punching down the risen dough, leave it to rest for a few minutes, then cut it into three. Roll out one piece as thinly as you can.
Scatter a baking peel ( if you have one) or another baking sheet with a little flour and place the rolled out dough on it. Spread one-third of the onions over the dough, then arrange one-third of the asparagus over the top. Tear up the mozzarella and distribute one-third of  it over the asparagus. Scatter over a little grated cheese, some salt and pepper, and add a generous trickle of oil.
Slide the pizza onto the hot baking sheet in the oven if formed on a peel, or, if formed on a baking sheet, simply lay the baking sheet on the hot one in the oven. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is crisp, the edges browned, and the asparagus tender. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping. Serve hot, cut into slices or wedges.

Friday, May 23, 2014

FFWD ~ Smoked Salmon Waffles

FFWD ~ Smoked Salmon Waffles

This week, for French Friday, our pick was Smoked Salmon Waffles. Frankly, I love waffles. I even love smoked salmon. In fact, I usually have a package in my fridge because Bill loves it with his eggs. Waffles are always a favorite choice for breakfast in our house.  We love them smothered with fresh fruit and maple syrup. We also love them with ice cream but honestly; I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about waffles with smoked salmon incorporated into the batter.  Ahhh…waffles with smoked salmon…and no syrup! Could I convince Bill to eat this for lunch? I knew they would make a great appetizer yet, I made a whole batch of batter and had no party planned.  So lunch it was! 
These would make a wonderful addition to any appetizer table
The waffle batter is simple, basic and easy to throw together. No sugar is added; these waffles are flavored with scallions, chives and slivered salmon. Dorie tells us that in Paris, waffles are usually snack food and sold by street venders. However, in restaurants they serve mini waffles as starters.  I made most of the batter full size, except for a handful that I decided to make into minis, by dropping a dollop onto the center of each waffle segment of the iron. I loved how they looked in appetizer form. Perfect served with some creme fraiche, chopped scallions, and Salmon roe if you happen to have it!  
I thought these were delicious, and would definitely make a great addition to any appetizer table! Bill enjoyed them too. Though he couldn’t quite get his head around the fact there was no syrup! He ate the last one for snack today. Would you believe he added syrup?  I am starting to think that the adage is can’t teach an old dog new tricks!! Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s cookbook “Around My French Table” or it can be found    here, where it has been previously published.  
Savory not sweet…but oh so good

Friday, May 16, 2014

Food Revolution Day~French Friday….Gougeres

Making food from scratch seems like such a simple thing to me. I’m from a generation where grandmothers cooked all day, to put a meal on the table. Soups and stews were started early, and simmered throughout the day, ready for the hungry family in the evening. My mother’s generation was given a bit more help…you started to see them use some prepared foods to make their meals. My mom had a grocery store that she owned and managed. So dinners were usually quick and easy, but always homemade. Times change! More and more, women are working full time. Evenings are filled with school activities, homework and sports. Standing over a kitchen stove all day has given way to crock pots, semi-prepared foods, and dinner out. However, learning your way around the kitchen and making great home made meals is still so important, and easier then one might think, once you learn the basics. All kids should know their way around the kitchen. My adult children are really good cooks, and usually involve their kids in the process!  I love to see kids excited about what they eat and helped prepare! Thanks to Mardi of  we are participating in another year of Food Revolution Day! It’s also French Friday! So, we’re combining the two to bring kids into the kitchen!

My little food photographer…taking photos of pies she made

My grandsons enjoying FF crepes for breakfast and they helped!
Decorating Gingerbread cookies and house…all hands on deck

I love cooking with my grands! We have explored and made many great things together! Pies, cookies, King-cake, muffins, crepes, ice cream, and an annual Ginger Bread House. However, my grandkids live in Atlanta and Long Island, so cooking with them today was not going to happen.
After giving this topic some thought…I found something that I thought my grandkids would love to learn.  At least my older ones! Choux pastry or cream puff dough! Think of the possibilities! They would love the idea of making profiteroles! Just the name would peak their interests. 

FFWD ~ Gougeres
I recently hosted a wine tasting party at my home, and one of the things I made were Dorie’s Gougeres. Although I started French Fridays from the beginning, I missed the Gougeres because we were traveling. Not only is this something I would love to teach my grands…It’s also a make-up!  Finally!!  I have been making Choux pastry forever, and it’s still one of my favorite things to whip up! Choux pastry is quite magical! Little balls of dough get placed onto a cookie sheet and baked! They then become a light and wonderful puff, that is ready to be filled with wonderful things like ice cream, pastry cream or chicken salad! Gougeres are a choux pastry with cheese folded into the batter…then baked! Choux Pastry…a technique I think all good cooks should know!  
Happy Food Revolution Day everyone! 

The recipe for Choux Pastry and Gougeres is posted here by Dorie Greenspan. It can also be found in her cookbook “Around My French Table”. To see what the other Doristas did for Food Revolution Day check it out  here.
Please visit Jamie Oliver’s official Food Revolution Day recipe site and find something wonderful to cook with your little chefs!

Gougeres just out of the oven
Bon Appétit 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa ~ FFWD

FFWD ~ Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa

I’ve never eaten leeks as a vegetable! Although, they add exceptional flavor to soups and stews, I have never thought of serving them as a side dish.  That is until this week! Our FF pick was Leeks Vinaigrette with Mimosa. According to Dorie, this dish is a classic, served at the hippest places including the wine bar/wine shop "Le Verre Volé".

As I read Dories description of this dish, it transported me back to my very first, short visit to Paris years ago. We spent the morning touring the Louvre, and stopped at a very cute cafe along the Seine, to have lunch. I felt so chic and sophisticated. After we ate, we took a stroll along the river. That’s when I realized I was anything but worldly. I noticed many sunbathers soaking up the sun…all of them with little or no clothes on. Funny how fast that Catholic schoolgirl came out…and how unaffected I would have been by that same site today. C'est la vie!

This was an unusually delicious dish

Back on track...Dorie’s recipe for this dish is quite simple to make. The hardest part for me was finding very young tender leeks.  The only leeks I could find were pretty thick. I bought enough for half the recipe…no way was my hubby going to try this one. As I read the recipe through, I was baffled by the word Mimosa. I had never heard of such an ingredient. In actuality, it refers to the grated hard cooked egg that resembles the yellow mimosa flower.  This dish would make a wonderful light lunch, accompanied by some rustic bread, or as an attractive starter for a dinner party. I would even add it to a brunch menu.

The recipe calls for a very tasty vinaigrette, made from a combination of walnut and olive oil, sherry vinegar, and Dijon mustard whisked together until the dressing is emulsified. It is then poured over the leeks, that have been simmered until fork tender. Sprinkle on your grated hard boiled egg, and serve!
I really enjoyed the flavors of this unusual dish, and would definitely make it again! I already knew Bill wouldn’t touch it.  He walked into the kitchen wondering what that awful smell was…referring to the vinaigrette…somethings never change!  Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Mother’s Day to all the  moms out there!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook “Around My French Table” or here where it has been published. Check out how the other Doristas did with this one here.

Very tasty vinaigrette
Cooking the bundled leeks till fork tender
Leeks Mimosa…a winner for me
Bon appétit

Friday, May 2, 2014

FFWD ~ Tuna Rillettes

FFWD ~ Tuna Rillettes
Well, here it is friday again! French Friday to be exact! Not only has this week been quite busy for me, it’s gone by so fast. Sprucing up my yard and house for spring has been monopolizing my time; along with hosting a wine tasting party last weekend. Therefore, I am grateful for an easy recipe today. A recipe that would have been a wonderful addition to our appetizer table for our wine tasting party! Next time! 

Dorie offers us three Rillettes in her cookbook “Around My French Table”…this is the first one that I've tried! It was easy to put together. Sardine and Salmon are the other two. No sardines for me, but why didn’t I make the salmon? A soon to be resolved problem! Rillettes is a pâté like spread traditionally made with pork. Dorie’s seafood rendition is scrumptious. Who would think you could turn two cans of tuna into such a delicious seafood spread? 

Surprisingly easy and so good
Surprising to me was how quickly this recipe came together. Place two cans of drained oil packed tuna into your food processor along with a shallot, a little curry and a pinch of quatre-epices or allspice, salt, pepper, a few dollops of crème fraîche and a splash of lemon juice. Give it a whirl in the food processor! Let it cool in the fridge at least an hour, to meld the flavors. That’s it folks!! You now have a wonderful spread to serve at your next get-together!   

I made this late yesterday afternoon, thinking it would be a good snack to serve while my sister-in-law and her husband are visiting this weekend.  While taking my photos, my husband grabbed a slice of french bread smeared with the spread…and then another…and another etc.! Needless to say, he loved it! This was a very quick, easy and delicious recipe! Definitely added to my playbook! Happy Friday everyone!

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s cookbook “Around My French Table” or here, where it was slightly adapted. 

I will be adding this one to my “go to” recipes
A simply delicious appetizer!