Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Autumnal Cauliflower, Chestnut & Portobello Soup

Now that I've discovered the joys of cauliflower it's really turning into an Autumn staple. This soup has a lovely, earthy flavour and is so creamy you'd swear there was cream in it. I've used my blender which makes the texture of the soup as smooth as velvet, but a hand blender would do the trick too. This recipe would serves 4 as a starter, or 2/3 as a main.

My obliging husband picked up a good load of Chestnuts at the weekend - coming to a forest floor near you - and while chatting over their potential uses this (rather delicious) idea cropped up. I love using foraged food in my kitchen - i've utilised Nettles, Blackberries and Chesnuts in the past, but I'm not convinced enough of my (very limited) Mushroom knowledge to use those just yet. But the best bit about foraging is that it's basically free produce, and I'm not one to pass up a freebie. 

 For this recipe you will need:

1 head of Cauliflower
2 x Portobello Mushrooms
Approx. 160g Chestnuts 
500ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Coconut Oil
Salt Flakes
Black Peppercorns
Dill (to garnish)

Firstly set your oven to 200c and score the skin of your chestnuts one-by-one down the middle. Put them in a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. The skin will start to curl up as they are cooking. Once roasted, you will need to peel away and discard the brown outer, keeping the cream-coloured innard for the soup.

Line a large tray with foil and break up the whole Cauliflower, discarding the leaves and breaking the florets into manageable pieces. Lay these out on the foil and drizzle with approximately 3 tbsp Olive Oil. Season generously with Salt flakes & coarsely ground Black Peppercorns and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until tender. If at any point during roasting the edges are starting to blacken I would suggest covering with foil and lowering the heat to 190c. You want them to end up golden rather than charred.

Slice up your Portobello Mushrooms, and keep 2 (or one for each serving) slices to the side for garnishing later. Heat 1 tsp Coconut Oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Keep moving the mushrooms around the pan while they fry, around 10 minutes, until the edges are browning nicely.

Once you have cooked all of the ingredients, put them all in the blender with another teaspoon of coarsely ground pepper and a sprinkle of salt. Add a little of the vegetable stock at a time, 500ml should do the trick if you like a thicker, velvety soup but by all means add more if you like - it will certainly make it go further.

Heat the soup gently in a pan until piping hot but not bubbling and season to taste - I like mine super-peppery. Fry the 2 remaining pieces of mushroom using Coconut Oil until they are crisp & golden. Use as a garnish to top the soup with a sprig of Dill.

Enjoy & Happy Halloween all!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Cauliflower Curry with Mint & Green Chilli

I'm rather new to this Cauliflower thing. I didn't really think it was good for anything other than being smothered in cheese... until now. My husband on the other hand is an avid fan so this recipe was created to satisfy his craving for this bulbous old veg. And it turned out to be quite something. 

A common addition in most of my curries is a fairly ridiculous amount of garlic. It never occurred to me that you might leave the garlic out. I'm what you might refer to as a garlic fiend. But as it turns out removing the garlic really lets the other ingredients shine and this curry in particular, with the addition of mint, has a wonderfully refreshing, almost zingy flavour. 

Firstly I made up a curry paste in a small food processer, you will need:

2 small white onions finely chopped,
1 sliced green chilli,
1 tsp ground turmeric,
1 tsp ground cumin,
1 tsp garam masala,
½ tsp ground coriander,
¼ tsp hot chilli powder,
2 sprigs of mint leaves, ripped.

​Mix together until you have a coarse paste then heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a heavy based pan. With the heat at medium add the paste to the pan, let it sizzle lightly and release its aromas for a minute or two. Prepare 250ml vegetable stock in the meantime. Add the florets from a full head of a medium-sized cauliflower, to the pan and coat with the paste. Pour in your vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Mix together well, turn down the heat to medium then simmer for 30 mins until the sauce has reduced / thickened. While this is cooking, bring a small pan of salted water to the boil and cook your basmati rice, as per the instructions on the packet. I like to make sure my rice is only-just cooked, keeping to the minimum cooking time to prevent it turning to stodge. Taste along the way to be sure.

​Once you feel that the sauce of your curry is thick enough and your cauliflower tender enough, remove from the heat. Rip up another handful of mint leaves and mix into the curry with 1 tbsp black onion (or Nigella) seeds. 

I love the simplicity of a recipe like this. Relatively short cooking time and a great return in terms of flavour. You can adjust the amount of chilli powder and/or chillies to your taste but the overall flavour is gorgeously aromatic.