For the second meeting of the Bowen Island Cookbook Club, we chose My New Roots Cookbook by Sarah Britton — and are we ever glad we did! The dishes and the evening were a huge success.
We met at Kate’s lovely cosy house a few minutes’ walk through the forest from Snug Cove, the hub of Bowen Island and the location of the ferry dock. The evening threatened snow, but we immediately warmed up with a cocktail that Kate created especially for the Cookbook. We decided that whomever hosts the Cookbook Club Dinner has the added responsibility of creating a special cocktail to be served before we get down to the business of eating.
Kate’s cocktail was made with grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, and Cava poured over a sprig of rosemary. Since the drink did not yet have a name, we decided to christen it Pink Lips in honor of Valentine’s Day a few days’ earlier. Tart and strong with peppery overtones from the rosemary, Pink Lips puckered the lips and tasted glorious!
After catching up over Pink Lips on our lives since the last Cookbook Club evening, we gathered at Kate’s large table, beautifully set with crystal glasses and square white plates.
Broccoli Soup with Cashew Cream
Jacqui served the first dish – Broccoli Soup with Cashew Cream accompanied by a thick country bread from the Ruddy Potato, Bowen Island’s health food store. The soup recipe was included on Sarah Britton’s wonderful blog accessible for free, although buying the book is definitely recommended. It only too a few slurps to get a unanimous verdict. Perfection! Smooth and onion-y with hints of jalapeno to give it a slight kick, the soup managed to make broccoli taste subtle and pleasing. I don’t particularly like broccoli, but I did love this soup. What really made the soup sing was the cashew cream swirled on top. Made with copious amounts of garlic, the cream added a beautiful layer of taste to an already tasty soup. Highly Recommended.
Savory Spring Hand Pies
Leeks, peas, caraway seeds, feta cheese, lemon, and garlic melded into a tasty stuffing for Helen’s Savory Spring Hand Pies. Unfortunately, the spelt flour and coconut oil pastry was, in her words, a bother to make, except she didn’t use the word bother. The pastry dried out and cracked while being rolled out and had a very chewy, heavy consistency. Helen recommended that the filling be cooled before attempting to wrap the heavy spelt pastry around it Cornish-pasty style. The pies were a mixed success with the group. Helen and I found them too dense, while the others enjoyed the crunchy texture provided by the caraway seeds. Helen served the pies with a relish of sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers of her own making (not from the cookbook), which provided much-needed moisture to the somewhat dry pies.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Grilled Haloumi and Duka on Massaged Kale
The name alone had a great deal to recommend it and fortunately, Becky’s creation of this dish lived up to its billing. The salty, creamy Haloumi cheese added pizzazz to the roasted squash and kale, and the Duka sauce brought everything together in a tasty sensation. Duka is an Egyptian nut, herb and spice blend–a definite “wow.” Becky made the Duka with raw hazelnuts, sesame seeds, fresh coriander seeds, and cumin. The Haloumi contained mint that gave it a nice kick, and the greens were indeed massaged after being freshly picked from Becky’s winter garden.
My contribution was Gado Gado poured over freshly steamed vegetables–crunchy red and savoy cabbages, sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots topped with fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and coarsely chopped roasted almonds. From Indonesia, Gado Gado is usually made from pureed peanuts (or peanut butter) mixed with garlic, peppers, a bit of brown sugar, coconut milk, and tamari soya sauce. The recipe in “My New Roots” called for almonds instead of peanuts because peanuts apparently have some serious fungal problems that are best avoided. I toasted the almonds and then pulverized them in the food processor for a good ten minutes before combining them with the other ingredients. The result was a sauce I would cross many, many streets to get to. Fortunately, everyone agreed, although by this point in the evening, stomachs were getting a bit too full to appreciate the full glory of the Gado Gado. I’ve made it three times since the Cookbook Club meeting which pretty much proves how much I love it.
Leeks Poached in Vegetable Broth with Chickpeas
Kate’s contribution was flavorful and bold with a satisfying texture from the chickpeas and a delectable lemony sauce mixed with olive oil, raw garlic, and dill.
Feta sprinkled on top gave the dish a luxurious feel.
Raw Key Lime Coconut Tarts
These little beauties made by Corinne stole the evening with their looks but unfortunately not their taste. The startling green filling made from avocado, lime, honey, and coconut oil tasted just the tiniest bit bland. Most of us agreed that more bold flavors and a bit more sweetening was needed. A drizzling of chocolate would also not have come amiss. The crust was made with dates and nuts that did add some needed sweetness but was a bit too heavy in comparison to the filling. We all agreed that the idea of using avocado as the base for the tart filling was good for texture but that bolder flavors were needed.
With full tummies and a sauce-splattered notebook, we ended the evening checking out cookbooks for our next meeting. We decided on Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. I’ve already picked out my dish — stay tuned!