For reasons I can't remember I hadn't made a single CCC recipe when we left for a week at the beach July 12th. I was planning on making some of the recipes while I was there, but vacation laziness got the better of me. It was so relaxing to let my mom and Laurie cook, eat out, and cook simple things without recipes. So, when I get back from vacation I had a little more than a week to make the CCC recipes. Luckily, I also had a double CSA share (because we missed a week while we were away) and Paul's garden is producing, so I had lots of vegetables to use up. We had a largely meat-free week (we had chicken one night and trout another), and managed to eat up all of our vegetables!
This was another great month for CCC recipes. We're both big fans of this cookbook. Summer was definitely the right time to start a vegetable cooking club. There are just so many delicious produce options to choose from. I wonder if I'll be quite as excited about this book in February, when I've grown quite bored of the seasonal vegetable options. My favorite discovery this month was fava (broad) beans. I once had a fava bean puree as a crostini topping at an Italian restaurant and loved the flavor, but I've never cooked them by myself. They're expensive and a bit time consuming, but in small amounts they are completely worth it.
The Bruschetta with Broad Beans and Asparagus was my favorite recipe this month. I used the favas, gorgeous red spring onions from my CSA, green beans in place of the asparagus (asparagus season is long over around here), a delicious goat cheese with hot red pepper, and a whole grain sourdough bread that my mom bought at the farmer's market. After the favas were prepared the recipe came together quickly and easily, and it was delicious. This is definitely going to become an annual treat for me.
I served the Bruschetta as part of our welcome home from the beach celebratory meal on Sunday night. It was a bit silly because it was after 9 o'clock and neither one of us was especially hungry, but there's just something so nice about spending the evening in the kitchen after having some time away. We just ate small portions, and were happy to have left-overs for a few days. Shaved summer veg was the second part of this meal. This was relatively easy to prepare--thank goodness for my mandoline--and was quite refreshing. As we continue to shift towards eating more seasonally we end up eating fewer lettuce salads in the hot summer months, and it's nice to have a crisp salad full of other seasonal vegetables.
The main course of our meal was the Aubergine Parmigiana. As a child, eggplant parmesan was one of my very favorite meals. I'm not sure if I'd still call it a favorite, but I do love it. I've tried making many, many versions. I've tried some that start by deep-frying the eggplant (Marcella Hazan's and Carmine's), some that start by breading and baking the eggplant (Moosewood's low-fat version), some that start with no instruction at all (my mother's!), and some that start with baking the eggplant (My Calabria). I think this is the first version that I've tried that starts with pan-sauteing the eggplant. I'd say that this version was good, but not great. Taking time, health, and taste into account I think that My Calabria's version is my favorite. The first step of baking the eggplant softens it nicely, is healthier than deep-frying, and is much quicker and easier than sauteing. When I really feel like indulging, Marcella Hazan's is my favorite. So, I don't regret making this at all, but I don't think it's a recipe that I'll be repeating.
I made the Panzanella the second night we were home from the beach (Monday night), to accompany the Provencal Vegetable Soup that I made for FFWD. This wasn't my favorite panzanella. I liked the flavors, but it was pretty soggy. I think there was probably too much dressing for the amount of bread that I used (which I weighed).
The Pasta with raw tomato, like the panzanella, was something that I liked just fine, but i think I've had better versions of. Served with sliced cucumber it was a perfectly fine Tuesday night dinner, but I don't think I'll repeat this one either.
We love to grill in the summer (Paul has two grills and still tries to talk me into buying a third!). When we grill vegetables I almost always just slice them, throw some olive oil, salt, and pepper on them, and hand them to Paul to grill. This Chargrilled summer veg recipe wasn't much more complicated--just a lemon vinaigrette--and had really great flavor. I also loved the suggestion of grilling spring onions. They were absolutely delicious, and will definitely make a repeat appearance on our grill. Served with grilled corn and trout, it was a delicious Wednesday dinner.
On Thursday night I made the Tomato, thyme, and goat cheese tart. On the side we had romano beans with marjoram (does anyone else think marjoram tastes like soap?) and sliced cucumbers. I've said it before and I'll say it again, everything tastes better on puff pastry!! This was delicious. It was quick and easy and the flavors were outstanding. Definitely a great use of summer tomatoes. I only wish puff pastry had a couple fewer calories :-)
We got home last from our play date on Friday night so we made a meal of leftovers and some beans that I cooked up. I had some time Saturday afternoon, so I roasted a chicken and made the Marinated zucchini with mozzarella. This was another winner in my book. I love when summer squash is grilled, roasted, or pan seared for long enough that it takes on some color. I think it really improves the flavor. The lemon marinade, basil, and mozzarella made this the perfect summer salad. This would be perfect for a picnic, because it's so great at room temperature.
On Saturday night we had (over-priced, delicious, bakery) cupcakes for dessert, so even though I churned the ice cream on Saturday we didn't taste it until Sunday. The jury is still out on the Chocolate and beetroot ice cream. We both agree that it's absolutely gorgeous, and that we liked it more than we thought we would. We also both kind of wished that we were eating chocolate raspberry (or just plain chocolate) ice cream instead. This would be very interesting in small portions for a dinner party, but as a stand-alone dessert it probably isn't something that I'd make again.
Last, I made the River Cottage summer garden soup on Sunday, but Paul and I went out (on a date! a very rare occurrence) on Sunday night, so I brought some for my lunch on Monday so that I could taste it before writing my post. I enjoyed this soup. It had a nice simplicity to it, and was a good combination of vegetables. I think, though, that I prefer the Provencal Vegetable Soup as far as summer vegetable soups go.
And that's it. Ten River Cottage Veg recipes in ten days.