Cauliflower & Cheese Croquettes

They had me at croquette. And cheese. This recipe appeared in the May 2017 edition of delicious magazine and it immediately appealed to me. And boy was it good. The texture was perfect — crispy on the outside, soft, creamy, gooey on the inside. Sooo tasty. Serve with mayo or Greek yogurt dipping sauce. Serve with a side salad.

Here’s how to make them. This makes enough for 2 people for 2 meals, so quite a bit.

  1. Chop a head of cauliflower into florets. Preheat over to 200C, and roast florets with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, for 20 minutes.
  2. When the cauliflower is roasted, whizz half of them, with 150ml milk, using a food processor or stick blender. Roughly chop the remaining cauliflower and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: melt 50g butter in a saucepan and stir in 75g plain flour [I found I needed a bit more better]. Gradually whisk in 350ml milk and stir to make a smooth, thick sauce.
  4. Add the following to a mixing bowl: the sauce, 100g grated cheddar, a pinch of nutmeg, 2 spring onions (chopped), and 2tbsp olive oil, and all of the cauliflower. Cool, and then chill for 2 hours. The magazine recommends using cling film and allowing it to touch the top of the mixture to prevent a skin forming.
  5. Get ready to form the croquettas: in bowl 1, beat 2 eggs; in bowl 2, mix 150g Panko breadcrumbs with 30g Parmesan. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly, and then roll in egg and then breadcrumbs. I did this as I went, batch by batch.
  6. Time for frying: the recipe recommends 1L sunflower oil. I did not use that much (probably about half). You want the oil hot — 180C on a digital thermometer (or until a piece of bread turns golden in 30 seconds).
  7. Fry the croquettes for a couple of minutes on each side. Leave to dry on a paper-toweled plate.

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Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheddar Bake

Soon after I posted saying I’m not cooking much new…I have a couple of posts in the pipeline.

This is like a mac & cheese except solely with vegetables. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but cauliflower rice is everywhere here: even in tiny shops it’s available, pre-chopped. I picked some up on a whim and for a couple of days mulled over what to do with it. Since we all know that I love cheese…it had to be something cheesy in the end. I loosely adapted this recipe.

I didn’t have buffalo sauce (it doesn’t seem to exist here? Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough), so made the recipe a simple “mac and cheese,” with bechamel sauce, cheese (mature cheddar and Parmesan), and “pasta” (vegetables). The original recipe is with shrimp, but, again, I omitted this.

I won’t lie: this was not the tastiest or most thrilling dish I’ve ever made. In hindsight I would have added some sharp blue cheese to it, and if I make it again I think I’ll do that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t dull or bland — I had it with a side salad and they worked well together. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of mincing the cauliflower by hand to make this though — some shortcuts are worth it.

cauli cheddar bake

 

Cauliflower Pakoras with Tomato & Ginger Soup

Now that fall is here, sometimes you just crave a simple, healthy, fulfilling meal. That’s how I would describe this one. Both recipes come from Vij’s Indian Cuisine. The book says that they serve the two dishes together in their restaurant, so that is exactly what I decided to do as well.

We had this on a Monday and I made the soup the day before, so just had to warm it up. (This type of prep is something I am trying to do more of — I will get into it more in a future post). The soup is very gingery. It calls for 30g; I didn’t have quite that much so used around 25g. With 15-20 curry leaves, 1tbsp ground coriander, and 1 tsp cayenne as well, it’s pungent, but not offensively so. I liked it.

Onto the pakoras: I decided that pakoras for 6 would be too much, so modified the recipe to make enough for 4. Even so, I ended up with had a huge batch and was able to freeze 2/3 of them. You make them by combining chickpea flour, buttermilk, a potato (which I cut up and parboiled beforehand), cauliflower florets (most of a large cauliflower), hot peppers of your choice, ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and salt. What I liked about making these is that they were so easy to fry — I didn’t have to worry about them falling apart. As long as the oil is hot enough (a lesson I’ve learned the hard way over the past few years!), they are remarkably stable. You can also play around with the ingredients as well. As long as the flour/buttermilk ratio is ok, I think they are fine (the recipe calls for 3.5 cups gram flour to 2.5 cups buttermilk).

I served them with some plain Greek yogurt mixed with a bit of garlic and salt. These are so good — and freeze really well — that I am going to be making another batch very soon since cauliflower is so plentiful at the moment.

tomato-ginger-soup

Pakoras, anyone?
Pakoras, anyone?

Three Winter Soups

Winter is definitely the time for soup and I have been making a lot of it ever since we came back from North America last month. The weather we’ve had recently (cold, rainy, windy) has been calling out for warming meals! I tend to make a soup every Sunday, which lasts for a couple of lunches throughout the week. I decided to combine a few of my recent favourites into one post. All of these are winners in my book and definitely ones I will be making again.

Melissa Clark’s Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Lentils are not the most exciting ingredient but they are very dependable (and nutritious, and cheap!). I tend to buy them in bulk and am always looking for ways to use them up. This is more than just your regular ol’ lentil soup because of the amount of lemon juice (1/2 lemon + more to taste). Lemons are one of my favourite ingredients and in fact that is what attracted me to this soup. This soup will not win any prizes for sophistication but it is very hearty and warming with just the right amount of spice.
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Diana Henry’s Cauliflower, Cheddar, & Cider Soup
Aside from tom yum, cauliflower is my favourite kind of soup. I usually like it simply, with just cream (or milk) and a little grated cheddar. There is nothing more comforting to me. However, the addition of cider brings it to a whole new level — quite simply, this was the best soup I have had in a long time! Make sure to choose a dry cider — anything sweet will be too sweet I think. (Note to readers from  North America: “cider” here means alcoholic cider, not the non-alcoholic version, so make sure you’re using the right kind!). There is obviously a bit of residual sweetness from the apples but it is not overpowering. It’s hard to describe the taste of this one. It is rich and complex and really unusual, but it works.

A terrible photo of an amazing soup!
A terrible photo of an amazing soup!

Thomasina Miers’ Carrot soup with chilli and brown butter
I find that carrot soups can sometimes but a little dull, but not this one. The sweetness of the carrots really shines through and works really well with the chili, yogurt, and dill (sounds like an odd combination but it works). The ‘spiced butter’ is a luxurious addition, but I wouldn’t say 100% necessary. When I initially made this, I didn’t add it in, but the next day when heating some more up for lunch, I did try it. It does add a bit of richness but you can easily get away without it.

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I finally tried it. Cauliflower crust pizza has been featured on blogs for months now, and has absolutely taken off. I’ve been intrigued since I very first saw it.

H. was extremely dubious of my endeavour. He loves pizza and takes a lot of pride in making the dough (which he does very well!). But I had been wanting to try this for so long, and one should always try new things in the kitchen.

Making the crust: (See link to recipe below) Grating cauliflower is a lot easier than it sounds. After that’s done, it’s very straightforward to mix the ingredients together. Spreading the “dough” was a bit tricky (as you can see form the photo mine is not very neatly shaped!).

The toppings: We dressed ours a little haphazardly with olive oil (base), rocket, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and drizzled balsamic overtop.

The verdict: It was a success! Even H. admitted that it was better than he thought it would be. I really didn’t miss the traditional dough. And, although the recipe is for one pizza, we found it to be not enough. Next time, I would use about 180g of cauliflower and up the ground almonds and other flour (I used plain, not buckwheat) appropriately.

Apologies for the poor quality!
Apologies for the poor quality!

Spiced Cauliflower Fritters & Green Onion Chickpea Curry

My posts are so mixed up now, I can’t even remember when I made this. Sometime in early March, I think. The meal was inspired by the recipe for the fritters, found in my March delicious magazine. And yes, I’m fully aware that I’m using both metric and imperial systems. Sorry!

Fritters: I love fritters, cauliflower, and most things Indian so when I saw the recipe I knew it would be a winner. I can’t find the recipe online so will repost here:

  1. Boil a whole cauliflower head in water for 5-7 minutes, until just tender, flipping once to ensure the whole thing cooks. My tip:  place on a slightly dampened towel or paper towel to avoid the cauliflower drying off too much.
  2. Meanwhile, dry toast the following spices in a pan: 1/2 tsp chili flakes, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, & 1/4 tsp each coriander, cumin, & turmeric.
  3. Warm 300ml whole milk in a saucepan and then dissolve 3g (“scant teaspoon”) of yeast into it. *Don’t heat the milk beyond lukewarm otherwise it may kill the yeast.
  4. Put 200g strong bread flour into a mixing bowl and season. Then add the spices from step 2, along with the milk/yeast mixture, stirring the latter in slowly and mixing as you go. When it’s all combined together, set aside for 20 minutes.
  5. Next, the frying: we did this without a thermometer, but it says to heat oil to 170°C. To prepare the fritters, break the head of cauliflower into florets, dust them in plain flour, and stir into the batter. To form the individual fritters I simply spooned the batter out in chunks using a teaspoon and them dropped into the oil.
  6. I made the chili and coriander salsa that was suggested in the recipe, but found it way too acidic, so quickly whipped up some Greek yogurt with chopped coriander.

By the way, I think we’ve finally nailed deep-frying. Turns out it’s all about the pan! We used an enamel one which can take much more heat and it was perfect – the fritters were done really quickly.

Fritters
Blurry fritters

Curry: The curry is quite similar to a veggie version of this, with the addition of of quite a few green onions. The recipe is from Vij’s & I’ve modified it below for 2 people as opposed to the original 4.

  1. Heat 1/4 cup of rapeseed/canola oil and toast 1/2 tsbp cumin seeds, allowing them to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Then add 1/2 a large onion and saute 8-10 minutes.
  2. From there, stir in tomatoes. The recipe recommends 1 medium, but I used canned because I like a bit more sauce. In addition, stir in 3/4 tsp salt, 2.5 tbsp chopped ginger, 2 tbsp chopped jalapenos (or more/less as desired). Let this combination simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Then add in 1.5-2 cans chickpeas and 1/2 cup coconut milk and let that simmer for a further 5 minutes or so. Just before serving, add in the green onion. The recipe says 3.5 oz (100g). I didn’t use that much, so amend as desired. Enjoy 🙂
Blurry curry
Blurry curry

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower & Spinach

Another one of my great Christmas presents was the new Sprouted Kitchen cookbook from M. For those of you who are familiar with the blog, the book contains a lot of new material and is in general a great addition to any bookshelf. The book focuses on healthy whole foods, and while a lot of the recipes lean towards what I would call summer cooking, there are several in there that are good for this time of the year too (which in the UK so far this year can hardly be called winter, but rain and wind season I’ve decided).

Cauliflower may be becoming all the rage in 2014 (!), but I have been on a kick ever since I made this salad about 9 months ago. Roasted cauliflower is so tasty and healthy and can be added to a really wide variety of meals.

This pasta dish was adapted from the roasted cauliflower capellini in the cookbook. It is perfect for a filling weeknight meal. The main ingreidents are wholewheat pasta, cauliflower, and spinach (note the recipe calls for basil). These are added to a “sauce” of browned butter, salt & pepper, and balsamic vinegar, and topped with cheese. I even forgot to add the vinegar (whoops), and it was still delicious.

I was worried this would be a little too “healthy” for H. (he prefers his pasta with tomatoes and cheese), but it definitely got his stamp of approval. Definitely a new addition to the weeknight repertoire.

wholewheatspag (not the best photo!)

Tomato-Braised Beef Brisket with Roasted Cauliflower Salad

H. and I have now lived almost 7 months in north London, and we love our little corner of this massive and sometimes overwhelming city. The one main downside of living where we do is that we do not have a large supermarket near us (although have recently ‘discovered’ a closer Sainbury’s than the one in Camden we’d been trekking to for big shops). Because of this, we have started doing some of our shopping — especially for pantry items, i.e. not fresh food — online. This may seem weird to some/many of you, but it is extremely popular here in the UK, and, believe it or not, it is cheaper to get food delivered than 2×2 bus rides. I recently discovered that Ocado has a bespoke butcher service, delivered right to your door – who knew? I decided to give it a go and ordered Aberdeen Angus beef brisket as a test. It came perfectly wrapped and was very fresh.

Originally we were going to roast the beef per Martha’s recipe. However because we only have one oven rack, we decided to braise it on the stovetop and save the oven for roasting the vegetables. This worked extremely well (I have to give credit to H. for the idea and finding the recipe!). We modified Mario Batali’s recipe and braised it canned chopped tomatoes, red wine, onions, carrots, and seasoning.

I got the idea for the cauliflower salad from my friend M.’s post here. It was so good I made it again the next day for lunch – absolutely delicious. I could have eaten all of the cauliflower right out of the oven. She had it with lamb but it also paired very well with the beef.

This was a delicious meal that last us leftovers for the next day too. The long braise meant the meat was juicy and SO flavourful. I’d never braised beef in tomatoes before but this is my new go-to method – delicious.

ocado label

served with sweet potato fries
Braised beef brisket with tomatoes and carrots, cauliflower salad, & sweet potato fries

Sunday Pork Roast

The Sunday roast is a great British tradition. Pubs are usually packed on Sunday afternoons, filled with people indulging in some form of roasted meat and veg. With my dad recently visiting, I thought I would try my hand at making my own. I did this with some trepidation as, as I’ve said before, roasts are not my forte and aren’t really in my comfort zone.

I got the inspiration from an episode of the recent BBC series Food and Drink. The first episode featured Michel Roux Jr. and Tom Kerridge making their perfect pork roast (clip available here for those in the UK). I decided to test their method and follow it exactly.

We bought a 700g pork loin, with crackling, which was all the butcher had (note: will use different butcher next time), although it ended up being enough. As per Roux’s instructions, I ladled boiling water over the crackling at the beginning in order to shrink it. After seasoning, the meat is roasted for about ten minutes on high heat (210C), and then around 160C until done (mine was in for about 30 minutes. Parts were still pink and it was tender). Before resting the meat, Roux recommends taking off the crackling and putting it back in the oven for about 10 minutes. I did so, but was still not pleased with the result. In my previous attempt, the crackling was too hard, and it was this time too. I do not know where I am going wrong or if that is normal. It was certainly too hard for us to enjoy.

After some last-minute texting with M., I threw together a gravy, which turned out surprisingly well.

The roasted veggies (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower) were done to perfection I have to say. I did the potatoes Roux’s way: boiling, drying, sealing(?)/frying, and then roasting. I added garlic cloves to the mix of veg and they really did come out very well.

The only way to get better at something is to practice, so I will just have to start making more roasts. Next up will be Easter. 🙂

Roasted vegetables and crackling. Not pictured: pork loin.
Roasted vegetables and crackling. Not pictured: pork loin.

Cauliflower, Cheddar, & Bacon Risotto

The Saturday Guardian has a new section called Cook. It’s largely reader submissions, but it’s fun to thumb through and see if anything catches your eye, which this one did about a month ago. This recipe (originally “cauliflower cheese and bacon risotto” – I added a comma!) comes from Paul Harvey of Brighton.

As far as risottos go, this is probably one of the easier ones I’ve made. To make, you simply cook both the cauliflower and bacon before preparing a risotto as normal. Add in the cauliflower, bacon, and cheddar at the end, and top with some chives (my addition). Note: Paul suggests using milk in place of stock. I was dubious about this as I thought it would be creamy enough with the addition of the cheese. I ended up compromising and alternated between stock and milk. Contrary to what he says, I don’t think the milk is necessary.

Both H. and I loved the risotto. The combination is excellent and very addictive (it did feature in the moreish section!). It also would be, dare I say, an excellent way to ‘hide’ vegetables if you had veggie-averse children (I do not).

Paul suggests rolling balls of leftover risotto and frying coated in breadcrumbs for leftovers – if you have any. We didn’t but it sounds like a great idea for next time.

cauli risotto