Cottage Cooking Club – December 2014

Wow, oh wow there was a delight in this month’s offering. In the hectic December feast month I managed to squeeze in two recipes from the list, Skanakopita and Curried Sweet Potato Soup. Both were a hit with my family and both were easy to make.

1. Corner Shop Skanakopita (p.54)

I especially liked the store cupboard challenge that prompted Hugh to create this easy version using frozen spinach and ready-made puff pastry. I love the way he provides options in his recipes, in this instance I chose fennel seeds – I had all three in stock but fennel is a favourite. I also opted to increase the feta cheese. Firstly, I didn’t think I would use the small amount leftover from the carton and secondly, when I spread it over the spinach it didn’t seem like a lot. Definitely a make again recipe.


2. Curried Sweet Potato Soup (p.166)

This was delicious and probably our favourite recipe in this book so far. The only change I made was to omit the fresh chiles so that my children would eat this, oh and I didn’t have any cilantro – I don’t think it was a big loss, it still tasted fantastic. Incredibly fragrant and a great combination of flavours with the ginger, coconut milk, curry spices, sweet potato and squeeze of lime at the end. I am definitely adding this to my favourite recipes.

Sweet Potato Soup

Check out what the rest of The Cottage Cooking Club made in December here.


The Cottage Cooking Club – November

This month wasn’t a great month for River Cottage Veg. Not that there was anything wrong with the selection or the book, but rather I didn’t get round to making the dishes I planned.  I have no excuse and can’t explain the reason but the only thing I whipped up was the Twice-Baked Potatoes (p. 226). The Stuffed Cabbage Leaves and Patatas Bravas were the things I most wanted to try but it just didn’t happen – they are definitely going to be on my catch-up list (which embarrassingly seems to be getting longer and longer).


The potatoes scraped in probably because they were easy and a kid-friendly dish. Although, ironically I could have made life even easier for myself and skipped the twice baked part as both my children only ate the filling! My other half really enjoyed this although I thought it could do with  something more – paprika? Mustard? Or a leek and bacon and cheese combo? Hugh does provide alternate fillings and this is a recipe that could lend itself to all sorts of combinations and really could be whatever you have in your pantry.

My potatoes weren’t the best. I used local (from Lebanon) and the skins were very thin which made it difficult to scoop and they didn’t retain their shape well; I had to cram them together in the pan so they could stay upright and not collapse.

Will definitely make these again although I will tweak the filling and choose a different potato with a sturdier skin.

To see what recipes the other members chose for this month, check out the Cottage Cooking Club website.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

After the very successful apple cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan, I didn’t expect to find another cake that was so easy to make yet produced such wonderful results. Yet here it is…

Fresh raspberries in Abu Dhabi are on a par with gold prices. So, when my local supermarket had a special offer I bought two punnets on the spot. After agonising over what to do with this precious ingredient (this is where EatYourBooks is a godsend), I decided to make this gorgeous Raspberry Buttermilk Cake from “The Epicurious Cookbook”.

It is one of those recipes where it almost looks too simple, that perhaps the quantities are incorrect – only 1 egg? I feared it was not going to produce enough cake to satisfy my hungry hoard but it does, and it does it beautifully. This is a fuss free cake that is light, has just the right subtle vanilla flavour along with the lovely raspberries to add tartness. The sugar sprinkled on top just before it goes in the oven leaves a lovely crunchy, shimmery top to counterbalance the glorious soft texture of the cake – ah, the wonders of buttermilk.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

My two year old helped make this cake by adding the raspberries to the batter in the tin. The idea is to randomly drop the raspberries not push and squish them – the latter action means the batter rises around the raspberries too much and you don’t see them in the finished cake. The taste is the same, it’s purely a looks thing. We also had some sugar sprinkling issues but we lived.

A note in the cookbook mentions that tart cherries and almond extract in place of raspberries and vanilla is delicious too – sounds divine. Cherries are on a par with oil prices so I am on specials standby for this version.

I can see why this is a “four forks” recipe – I have already made it twice this week.