Thursday, November 27, 2014

CCC November

Last month I had an ambitious plan to make all 11 recipes, but things got busy and I only got about half of them made.  I had already purchased a lot of the ingredients, though, so this month I did a combination of 5 October recipes and 5 November recipes.  Over the next couple of months I'm hoping to finish out the rest of these recipes.  This was another fun month.  I'm especially excited about all of the new ideas for things to do with potatoes.  I tend to get stuck in a rut, always serving them either mashed or roasted.  In order of (weak, they were all good) preference, here are the recipes I made.

#1: Chicory, pears and salty-sweet roasted almonds

I'm still confused about what chicory is.  I thought it was frisee, but based on the picture in the book I decided it must be what I call (Belgian) endive.  I think I made the right choice, but I'll be curious to see what everyone else's dishes look like.  Frankly, I don't think it matters.  These salty-sweet nuts and the simple lemon vinaigrette would be delicious on anything.  This was a great winter salad.  One that I'll definitely be making again.

#2: Cannellini bean and leek soup

This was such a great surprise.  It seemed too simple to be very good, but I absolutely loved it.  I cooked the beans (from scratch) a couple of days ahead, made the chili oil early, and after that this was a relatively easy weeknight dinner.  I couldn't find red chilis, so I made a green chili oil.  Not nearly as pretty, but the flavor is great.  Another winner.

#3: Baby beet tarte tatin 

A few weekends ago I made "rough" puff pastry for this and "real" puff pastry for TWD (hopefully I'll get around to posting about it soon).  My technique on the "real" puff pastry was severely lacking, so this definitely wasn't a fair comparison, but given the time and effort I definitely think that "rough" puff pastry is the way too go.  It rose nicely and was buttery, flaky, and delicious.  I think anything would have tasted good on it, but it was a particularly nice way to serve beets.  I liked the vinaigrette--sometimes I find beets too sweet and it really cut through the sweetness--and added some blue cheese.

#4: Warm salad of mushrooms and roasted squash

(A quick digression.  When Paul and I were first dating he was not nearly the adventurous eater he is now, and used to spend a lot of time making fun of my "strange" eating habits--especially of all of the vegetables that I ate.  After reading about this warm squash salad I knew I just had to make it.  I waited for a night when Paul wasn't going to be around, and happily made my salad.  I was just sitting down to eat it--it was delicious--when he called.  His bus was caught in the snow (we were living in Chicago at the time) and he couldn't get home.  Could he come over?  I said okay.  I debated hiding the squash salad, but decided against it.  He ate it for dinner--with tuna fish that I made him so he could have more protein--and teased me about it for weeks.  Now, 9 years later, Paul doesn't even bat an eyelash when we have squash salad for dinner.)

I don't eat mushrooms, so I used some herbed tofu instead.  That probably disqualifies me from commenting on the recipe, but I will anyway.  It was delicious.  I loved the flavor the sage and garlic gave the squash (I used delicata and didn't even bother peeling), and loved the way the arugula cut through the richness of the blue cheese.  Paul didn't comment.  Probably not his favorite, but I also didn't hear any complaints.

#5: Crostini

I've made crostini many times, what a great way to use stale bread, but I liked the technique of this one.  The advice to slice them thinly was especially helpful.  I topped them with blue cheese, and put them on the squash soup I made for FFWD.  (Another one I'm hoping to finally have time to post about soon.)

#6: Twice baked potatoes

I haven't had twice-baked potatoes since I was a kid, but after this reminder we're definitely going to start eating them more often.  I love that most of the work can be done ahead of time, and they are definitely a lot more fun than plain baked potatoes.  Unless of course the baked potatoes have cheese sauce on them :-)

#7: Roasted brussels sprouts with shallots

I roast brussel sprouts often, but thought that the shallots were a very nice addition.  I'm not sure if I've ever had them roasted before, but they have a great sweetness.

#8: Pumpkin and raisin tea loaf 

I forgot to take a picture of this.  I told my mother I didn't really love it, so she tasted it.  She said the flavors were absolutely perfect, and it just wasn't what I was expecting.  She's probably right.  I think I didn't love the addition of lemon, and am more used to a pumpkin bread that uses pre-cooked pumpkin.  I might try this one again, though.  It was definitely interesting.

#9: Couscous salad with herbs and walnuts

I normally don't buy whole grain couscous--Paul complains--but I thought it went really well with the hearty flavors in this dish.  I also liked the addition of walnuts.  Charlotte enjoyed her couscous plain with butter and cheese.  This was good, if not overly exciting.

#10: Roasted parsnip chips

I was a little disappointed by this one.  When I saw "chips" in the title I was hoping for something exciting, but these seemed just like plain roasted parsnips to me.  Not bad at all, just not especially interesting.


  1. I love getting the reviews on the recipes I don't cook so I can decide which other ones to make next. I really need to try the cannelini and leek soup and the beet tarte tatin and the twice-baked potatoes. I love rough puff. If you are looking for more potato ideas, I chose the patatas bravas this month and liked it. I'm also a huge fan of the Brussels sprouts. I had already made them a few times, and like them so much that I added them to our Thanksgiving menu yesterday.

  2. Hi Jora, you have been very busy, all look delicious. I made the twice baked potatoes too and ate 1 whole potato by myself. Having fun cooking as a group, until next month!

  3. I too was amazed at how good the soup was, with it being so simple to prepare. The beet tart, I thought was great, as well as the squash salad. And really, who doesn't like baked potatoes? Can't go wrong here. Roasted Brussels sprouts are the best! I always used to steam or boil them. I made the patata bravas, they were the bomb! If you get a chance, make them. But from reading other posts, don't toss the potatoes with the sauce, they lose their crunchiness. Me, I just spooned the sauce on top. Happy holidays to you, Jora!

  4. Everything looks great! This was like a walk down memory lane featuring some of my favourites from last month: the soup, beet tarte tatin (his rough puff recipe works well, doesn't it), squash salad and Brussels sprouts. I can also recommend the patatas bravas, they were delicious.

  5. Jora, an amazing array of dishes that you prepared this month - I can proudly say that I "know" them all since I have made them all too - it makes my heart sing to see and read that you and your family really enjoy this cookbook - my family and I could not agree with you more on this - everyhing looks so lovingly prepared and explained with so much detail - thank you for particpating again this month - btw the whole grain couscous proved impossible to find around these parts but the salad was great with large pearl barley as well.
    Have a nice week,

  6. Hi Jora, an impressive month of shared foods. I love how you intertwined recipes of the past too. I tried the beet tarte tatin following that month- but it went over so well, I was not able to take a photo! I absolutely love the salad with the roasted butternut squash and it has been popular among guests as I've now prepared it a few times. Thanks for the fun overview.

  7. What a great selection, from both months! I've only made two of the dishes you did, so it's nice to get such a detailed account of what I missed.

  8. Am I ever impressed with your efforts, Jora. Like you, every month I begin with all the ingredients on hand and ambition. Unexpectedly this has been a busier Fall than I anticipated so I am looking forward to a slow, quite 4-months in California (with a gas stove and bigger kitchen) this Winter to catch-up and re-group. That's why I have liked your Posts so much the past few months. You have made many of the things I wanted to make and I appreciate your good reviews and tips to make them better. Although I did expect a different result from the Roasted Parsley Chips, I really loved how they turned out as did my two friends who shared lunch with me. And those twice-baked potatoes - I froze each individually and have eaten them throughout the past 4 weeks. Delicious. Like your Mom, I thought the pumpkin-raisin bread was delicious and those beets - wow. I will be making #2, 4, 5 and 9 in the future. Andddddd, will be posting my November and December results together this month. Happy Holidays to you and your family. So happy you got to meet Adriana.