Romanesco cauliflower cheese

We went along to a local Xmas fair on Sunday and I bought a normal cauliflower, a Romanesco one and some parsnips from the Kelsey Farm stall. We gobbled the normal cauli the same day and today I decided that the snow hitting London today with a passion justified more comfort food.

It’s such a pretty looking vegetable which makes it a hit with the tot, and as it’s packed full of vitamin C, it’s a hit with mummy too.

I used the same sauce as the Baked Mac and Cheese that I posted in October. To prepare the cauliflower, remove all the leaves and the hard white stem at the bottom. You should be left with the parts shown in the picture above.

Steam it for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Keep an eye on it as it goes from hard to soft VERY quickly

Take off the heat and set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.

Place cauliflower in an oven proof dish and stir in the sauce. Cover with a small amount of cheese and bake until the top browns lightly and the sauce is bubbling.

Hubby says it would make a good accompaniment to gammon but we just had it with garlic bread. Yum, yum, yum!!!!

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Chili and colour

I have not posted any recipes lately. We have been a germ filled house which makes cooking less than fun and eating a chore. So there has been very little exploration of new recipes. I did make the Quorn Chili Recipe last night which wasn’t bad though next time, I will up the ante on the chilies (I added one huge green chili) as it wasn’t hot enough for me. We had it with taco shells and huge dollops of guacamole. I’ve frozen half of it to enjoy later…hubby said that things get spicier once frozen so maybe when it’s thawed it will be just right for my taste buds.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying some colour in my life. My beautiful Christmas cactus is in my porch and makes me very happy every time I walk in or out of the house. If you could love an inanimate object, then I would love this little plant as it hardly needs any care and rewards me twice a year with a magnificent display.

I’ve also been busy working away at various craft projects in time for Xmas. I hope the recipients appreciate them. Here is a granny blanket for tot  which just needs the ends woven in.

Baked ricotta pudding (Faux rasmalai)

Rasmalai is a gorgeous Indian dessert which is made from balls of curds (paneer) which are soaked in a delicious sugar syrup enhanced by cardamon, saffron, pistachios and almonds. BUT and this is a bit BUT, it’s a huge faff to make. A tasty substitute can be achieved using ricotta.

You can find a few ricotta rasmalai recipes online but where’s the fun in that? I completely ignored those and invented my own. The biggest challenge is that ricotta is made from whey which is the liquid discarded when making paneer. But the clever cheese makers out there have found a way to take the whey and make a nice cheese/yoghurt type concoction.

This is an experiment and I hope to perfect it in future but as a first attempt it was bloody tasty so I urge you to try it. The whole thing took less than an hour to make. I hope you enjoy it and if you can suggest improvements, then please don’t be shy, speak UP!

Ingredients:

  • 250g ricotta cheese
  • 50g caster sugar (could be reduced to 40g if you are watching your waist as it was a bit sweet)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 pint full fat cow’s milk (the ordinary stuff you put in your tea)
  • 1 tbs pistachios
  • 4 or 5 strands saffron
  • 7 0r 8 almonds

Preparation:

  • Ricotta cheese: the normal rasmalai has a spongy consistency. To emulate that, I took the ricotta cheese and smoothed it out in a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar and mix well.

  • Cardamom: Dry heat (i.e. without oil) the cardomom seeds in a frying pan or tawa for a few minutes…the kitchen will be filled with this delicious aroma. Then grind the seeds in a pestle and mortar. I was lazy and just picked out the pod cover afterwards (it’s so light you can blow it out but you could lose some of the seeds too). You may prefer to open the pods out and just takes the seeds out for grinding. Mix the ground seeds in with the ricotta and sugar.

  • Pour the mixture into either a flat baking tray (has to be quite small) or into a muffin pan. Only fill to have the height as they rise in the oven
  • Cook in the oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes until the mixture sets. Watch out for the mixture burning. Remove and let these cool.

  • Blanch the almonds by soaking them in hot water for 20 minutes. Then remove the skin and chop the almonds into slivers. Set aside.
  • Crush the pistachios and set aside.

Cooking:

  • In a heavy non stick pan, heat the milk over a medium heat. Add the pistachios and saffron. This is going to be the liquid that the ricotta will soak in. In normal rasmalai a sugar syrup is used which absorbs milk from the paneer and goes milky. To emulate the same effect I reduced milk down so that it thickened by boiling it and stirring continuously for about 15 minutes. It’s important to keep stirring the milk to prevent it sticking to the pan and burning.
  • Once it’s reduced, pour over the set cheese and garnish with the almond slivers.
  • Chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Mushroom, cauliflower and potato shak (khumbi, phool khobi and bateta nu shak)

What do you do if your supermarket delivers a cauliflower that looks promising but when your remove the leaves, turns out to have a dolly sized head? Well, first I vow not to get my caulis delivered anymore (stupid store shoppers), and then put my thinking cap on, peer into the fridge and come up with a new recipe that worked out remarkably well. I hope you enjoy it too.

The preparation of the veg looks like a faff but trust me, it took less than 5 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs ground nut oil
  • 1/2 tbs ghee (optional)
  • 1 large dried bayleaf
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 180 g onion diced finely
  • 1 tbs grated ginger
  • 1 green chili chopped finely
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 200g cauliflower(this was my silly doll’s head. If you have a full head, use it all)
  • 200 g mini new potatoes (if you don’t have mini don’t worry but do not substitute with non new potatoes)
  • 200g mini portabella mushrooms (about 9 mini mushrooms or 3 large flat mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (lal murcha)
  • 1.5 tsp salt (nimak)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
  • 1 tsp cumic / coriander seed powder (dhana jeeru)
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 2 firm red tomatoes cut into quarters
  • Coriander to garnish

Preparation:

  • Cauliflower: cut this in small florets and then blanch. To blanch you boil your kettle, fill a large pan with the boiled water and let the cauliflower sit in it for 5 minutes. This slightly softens the veg. With a spoon carefully lift the cauliflower from the hot water and put aside. Don’t ditch the water as you need for the next step
  • Potatoes: Scrub your new potatoes, if they are large cut them into 1/2 inch pieces and put them into the hot water to par boil – that is they are still firm but a knife should be able to slip in easily.

  • Mushrooms: wipe the dirt off and slice thinly. I wanted to remove some of the moisture so I decided to sweat the mushrooms. Pour a tsp of oil into a frying pan and then throw in the mushrooms. Keep stirring and you will see lots of water/steam start to emerge. Pour this water out and set mushrooms aside.

Cooking:

  • In a large pan, heat the oil and ghee
  • Add cumin seeds and bayleaf. When the seeds start to sizzle and brown slightly, add the onions and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes stirring frequently
  • Add the ginger, chilies and peppercorn then cook for 1 minute
  • Throw in the cauliflower and new potatoes. Stir for 2 minutes
  • Add the mushrooms and spices. Combine all very well and then turn heat down to low, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Stir every few minutes to stop it sticking to the bottom
  • When the cauliflower and potatoes have softened so that you can easily slip a fork in add lemon juice to taste and the quartered tomatoes.
  • Cook for a further one minute ONLY. Turn off and let it cool slightly.
  • Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with plain basmati rice