Caulifornication

Please excuse the pun. I’m tired and I can’t think of anything else right now.

I was looking for an accompaniment to some plain old roast chicken and had a cauliflower and a leek in the cupboard so I adapted a potato and leek al forno recipe. The resulting dish, however would probably serve as a main dish on it’s own (vegetarian if you omit the lardons)

  • Half a cauliflower, broken up into florets
  • 1x leek
  • 2tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 rashers of thick cut smoky bacon (optional if vegetarian)
  • 500ml double cream
  • 2 slices stale bread
  • grated parmesan

I blanched the cauliflower florets in boiling water and turmeric for about 5 mins then cooled them rapidly under the cold tap. When cooled, slice thickly.  The leek was sliced, blanched for 3 mins and drained.

Meanwhile the anchovy fillets and the garlic were chopped and heated in the pan until the garlic had softened. Then add the bacon chopped into small pieces if using. Cook until the lardons are starting to get a bit crispy then add the leeks and sliced cauliflower florets. Cook covered for a further 5 mins on a medium heat. Add the creams, stir, and cover tightly with foil. Place in a hot oven (200C) for 30 mins.

After half an hour, remove from the oven, uncover and sprinkle the parmesan and the bread (crumbed in the food processor) over the top. Return to the oven for 10 mins or until the top is browned.

I served it up with roast chicken and pickled carrots. The carrots were dead easy and took about 5 mins to prepare: Add 1 cup of white or apple cider vinegar, one cup of water, 1 tsp salt and 3 tsps. sugar to a pan. Bring to boil so salt and sugar are dissolved. Using a peeler, cut a couple of carrots into ribbons and place in a bowl with dill and garlic. Pour the vinegar over the carrots and allow to cool. When cold, discard the liquor, dill and garlic and serve.

Shoots of Spring

This time of year sees the homegrown crop of asparagus hit the shelves.

Usually asparagus just gets a quick steam or boil, a knob of butter and served as an accompanimaent. Leftovers tend to end up in an omelete or salad.

However of late, I’ve been cooking and eating asparagus as a dish in it’s own right as a quick and tasty snack

  • 1x bunch of asparagus (12 spears)
  • Parmesan
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Couple grinds of salt & pepper

Trim the bottom 2cm or so off each spear as it tends to be a bit woody. Peel the bottom third of each stalk to remove any tough skin.

Blanch the spears in boiling water for no more than 1 minute then cool rapidly in cold water, iced water is good.

Pat dry and preheat the oven to 200C.

Arrange the spears in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Shave strips of parmesan and lay on top of the asparagus.

sparrowgrass

Pop into the oven for 5-10 mins until the cheese has melted.

Serve immediately.

Spiced Caulistilton soup

Some weeks ago I bought what I thought was a bargain. 500g of Stilton for a pound. There was a reason it was a pound: it was almost runny. I didn’t discover this until I opened the cheese one evening. It was also a bit too mature, even for me.

Nevertheless I didn’t bin it I just did the usual and put it back in the fridge. Yesterday I noticed there was a cauliflower lurking in the veg drawer so today I’ve made a sort of cream of cauliflower and Stilton soup which we’ll have for tea tonight.

Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower

500g Stilton (or other blue cheese)

3 shallots

bunch of spring onions

1tsp each of coriander seeds, cumin seeds and turmeric

1/2tsp black peppercorns

1 litre chicken stock (or veg stock)

knob of butter

300ml double cream

Finely chop one shallot and the spring onions. Sweat them off in the butter. Meanwhile toast the coriander, cumin and peppercorns and grind. Add the turmeric and add to the shallot/spring onions.. Stir well to combine then add the cauliflower florets and the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Meanwhile slice the two remaining shallots and shallow fry until crispy. Set aside, pat dry and allow to cool.

Add the cheese and the cream and bring up to the ‘almost boil’. Use either a stick blender or food processor to blitz the soup until it’s, er, soupy.

Serve with warm crusty bread and crispy fried shallots.

Curried Veggies with Paneer

We’re off on holiday to France on Saturday so this week is a week of using up the odds and sods in the fridge.

I had a few pints of milk in the fridge so last night I made fresh paneer.

Here you go:

  • 4 red onions (sliced)
  • 4 mushrooms (rough chopped)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1tsp chopped garlic
  • 1tsp chopped ginger

All of the above are cooked together for about 10 mins.

  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2tsp turmeric
  • 1/2tsp ground coriander
  • 250g cubed paneer

Add the spices and cook for a minute.


Then add the cheese.

  • Spinach
  • 1/4tsp garam masala
  • 1/4tsp ground fenugreek
  • 150ml double cream

Add the above and pop a lid on until the spinach has wilted. The spinach puts a fair bit of liquid into the sauce so you may want to cook it separately and add it in at the end.


Served with brown rice steamed in lime juice. Also great in a pitta/flatbread with fresh coriander and yoghurt.