Friday, 22 October 2010

Colourful Cauliflower and Comforting Rice Pudding

Yesterday I decided to delve into my new Ottolenghi cookbook. Actually it’s two months old but I just haven’t been tempted to cook very much from it, as, although the recipes look delicious, they are all vegetarian (a hard concept for some members of my family to grasp) and include exotic ingredients that are hard to find. However, I had a cauliflower knocking around and luckily found this recipe which involves exotic but accessible saffron and green olives. The addition of the jewel like colours and the sharp v. sweet pairing of the acidic green olives and soft red onions elevate the humble cauliflower and produce a dish more elegant than the oft cauliflower cheese. I served it with some pilaff rice and pan-fried salmon. For pudding I made Leon’s deliciously creamy cardamom rice pudding with flecks of vanilla running through. I used to despise rice pudding (due to the out-of-the-packet, wallpaper paste affair that they served at school) but this has defiantly redeemed it for me!

Saffron Cauliflower from Yotam Ottolenghi, ‘Plenty’
Serves 4 as a side dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 200˚C
  • Put 1½ tsp Saffron Strands in a small bowl and pour over 75ml Boiling Water.
  • Leave to infuse for a minute, then pour the saffron and water into a mixing bowl.
  • Add 1 Medium Cauliflower, divided into florets (parboiled for 5 mins if you prefer it well cooked), 1 Large Red Onion, sliced, 100g Sultanas, 90g Green Olives, pitted and halved lengthways, 4 tbsp Olive Oil and 2 Bay Leaves. Season with Salt and Pepper and mix with your hands to combine.
  • Place in an ovenproof dish, cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender but firm, not soft. Halfway through cooking, stir well then cover again and return to bake.
  • Once cooked, remove the foil, allow to cool slightly and then stir in 4 tbsp Parsley, roughly chopped. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cardamom Rice Pudding from the Leon cookbook
Serves 4

    • In a heavy based pan (I used a small casserole pot), melt a tbsp Butter and then stir in 150g Risotto, Paella or Pudding Rice, making sure to coat each grain in butter.
    • Pour on 350ml Full-Fat Milk and 400ml Double Cream and stir well.
    • Scrape the seeds out of ½ Vanilla Pod and add the seeds and pod to the rice.
    • Do the same with 3 Cardamom Pods but don’t add the husks.
    • Continue to cook slowly, uncovered, stirring a few times to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom. Let it cook for 30 minutes like this.
    • Then turn the heat down to minimum for a final 20-25 minutes.
    • Eat it hot or cold. 

    Thursday, 14 October 2010

    Chilli for the Chileans!

    I couldn’t resist. Actually, I’d like to say that I made this South American feast of a meal in celebration of the amazing feat that getting those poor miners up and out was, but it was more a case of greedily salivating over a recipe shown on ITV’s ‘This Morning’. How embarrassing! Lisa Faulkner who won Masterchef was on the show cooking Chilli with Chocolate (as it is national chocolate week – who knew?!) and I felt I had to try it as I love anything that cooks for a long enough time to completely forget about it, as the meat gets so tender. Also I have never tried savoury in chocolate so thought I’d give it a go. It’s absolutely delicious and very rich, mainly from the addition of balsamic vinegar, sugar and ketchup rather than the chocolate which I think serves to give the dish depth and glossiness (does that make sense?) rather than sweetness as it is dark chocolate. As she suggested I served it with tortilla chips and soured cream and also made an avocado salsa with 1 chopped avo, 1 finely chopped shallot, 1 tsp rock salt, a squeeze of lime and a dash of Worcestershire sauce – I like to think this made it more celebratory! 

    Autumn is here!

    I say this merely because it is cold and crisp today which means an end to the very welcome but disconcerting Indian summer we've been having. What to eat in October is often easy: slow cooked stews, roasted squash and apple pies are what I would usually be cooking but the warm weather has made me less inclined for heavy food (actually less inclined to cook at all as you can see by my lack of posts!) so I compromised last night with a coconut squash soup which was light and comforting served with some homemade soda bread.

    Coconut Squash Soup
    Serves 4
    • Chop 1 Butternut Squash into large chunks, reserving the Seeds. Drizzle the chunks with Oil and roast at 200˚C for 20-30 minutes until soft.
    • Meanwhile, cook 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped, in a large casserole dish over a medium heat until golden.
    • Add 1 stalk of Lemongrass, split down the middle, 1 Red Chilli, seeds removed and chopped, 20g Fresh Ginger, finely grated, 2 tsp Ground Coriander, to the onion and stir.
    • When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and add to the pot.
    • Add 1 400g tin Coconut Milk and 500ml Vegetable Stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Liquidise and return to the pan to warm. Season to taste.
    • Heat a non-stick pan and add the Seeds. Sprinkle over a large pinch of Sea Salt and a tsp Dried Coriander. Cook until the seeds are crisp but be careful they don’t burn.
    • Serve with a dollop of Crème Fraîche and a sprinkling of the seeds.