Bear with, bear with, bear with….

It might appear to the casual observer that I’ve abandoned this blog. Far from the truth but like a lot of you out there, I was busy with Christmas, then just plain lazy about updating the page. It takes time to write the posts and at the moment, I prefer just cooking, gobbling and crafting.

I have had some fun though. I do get stuck in a rut cooking the same-o, same-0 stuff. So I’m going to try to challenge myself this year to try new foodstuffs, budget and availability permitting. So far I have had a successful experiment with a chayote which I cooked using my dudhi shak recipe. If you are going to try it, then I recommend wearing gloves when you chop it as some people have written up about their adverse reactions to the juice. Funnily, once cooked, it’s fine and causes no reactions. I did like the smell of it when chopping which is reminiscent of raw mango.

DSC01760 Chayotet

Next came the hachiya persimmon which was on sale in Morrissons 3 for a £1. How could I refuse. I love the bright orange colour and really enjoyed the fruit which has a taste a bit like a dry canteloup melon. Heartily recommend this to you all and if any of you have a good bake recipe using the fruit, please share.

I’ve found a new love in the shape of Cauliflower cheese. Now I know that’s not new or novel to many out there but it is to me. Cauliflower used to be for shaaks only but I do like the cheesey dish now too. The trick is to boil the cauliflower before you cover it in sauce and bake in the oven. Only problem with this one is that it’s very fattening. Fear not though and turn instead to the incredibly simple but delicious Oven Roasted Cauliflower  from Emeril Lagasse. Even though I used cheddar and didn’t have chives, the result was so very delicious. I will be doing this one again very soon.

CPC Roasted cauli IMAG0826

The latest experiment was in the form of oven roasted beetroot and some red brusselberry sprouts – the latter are actually purple and green and come on a stalk from Asda. I tried cooking sprouts on Christmas day – they were hard little balls of yuk. Luckily, the brusselberry has revived my love of the sprout. I’ve never ever done beetroot so it took ages until I cut it up into wedges. Very tasty with some roasted walnuts. The only downside of the dish was the goats cheese which was vile. Next time I’ll use feta. The dish looks very empty as I cooked the stuff on a pizza night so the rest of the household got fatter while I tucked into natural goodness.

DSC01772 DSC01768 DSC01773

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Spicy cauliflower cheese

This is an alternative recipe to my normal one for cauliflower cheese. It’s odd as I’m not a huge fan of cc but hubby is so that’s why it features on our menu from time to time. He was having gammon tonight and apparently, cauliflower cheese is a perfect accompaniment. However, I was in the mood for a bit of spice so here is what I came up with. It was not sock-it-to-you spicy but delicate with an afterpunch courtesy of the mustard…all in all it was rather delicious 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • Enough water for cauliflower
  • 1 small white onion chopped very finely
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbs groundnut oil (though any would do methinks)
  • 25g butter
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Generous dose of freshly ground pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Coleman’s mustard
  • 75 g cheddar cheese grated
  • 100 ml low-fat creme fraiche

Cooking:

  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees (fan oven)
  • Trim all the green leaves off the cauliflower, give it a wash and then cut up into large florets
  • Place in boiling water and simmer for five minutes. The idea is to blanch the cauli – it should still be quite firm. If you have time, you could steam instead. Once blanched, drain and set aside
  • While cauli is blanching, heat the oil and butter in a large pan then add the onions, garlic and bayleaf. Cook until onions are caramelised.
  • In a large bowl add the creme fraiche, 50g of cheese and spices, seasoning and mustard. Combine well.
  • Add the cauliflower and onion to the bowl and mix until the cauliflower is well coated
  • Place the mixture into a baking dish and then cover with the remaining grated cheese
  • Cook until the cheese is browned and cauliflower sauce is bubbling
  • Serve with gammon, or for Vegies with fresh crusty bread.

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!!!!

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