Cauliflower soup with caramelised butter

Cauliflower has become such an on-trend ingredient it makes me wonder how long its popularity streak will last. I think it will eventually die down (perhaps it has already) but there are a few devout cauliflower fans out there. My mum was one, having always preferred it on the overcooked side; most-often simply steamed with Thai chilli dipping sauce or in a stir-fry of noodles laden with soy sauce. I have always been a bit ‘meh’ about the veg myself, being a bit prone to the side effects of crop dusting (who isn’t when it comes to cauli?!). But then I had it roasted with loads of spices and tossed with savoury, zingy herbs like tarragon and parsley … and there was no turning back.

This soup is pretty much a throw-it-in-the-pot dinners, and it does help to already have a jar of pre-made dukkah already lurking in your storecupboard. When I was in the coromandel in summer I went a bit mad and bought a lot of macadamia products (my favourite nut and also very commonly grown in the area). One of said delights was a bag of macadamia dukkah. Oh it’s just so good. And because dukkah doesn’t last forever, I had to generously sprinkle this soup with all that and then some. (Oh, and apparently the addition of a little turmeric in this soup will help with the smelly side effects mentioned earlier.)

Cauliflower soup with caramelised butter

Serves 2

1/2 head medium cauliflower, broken into small florets

knob of butter

1 teaspoon dukkah, plus extra to serve

large pinch ground turmeric

350–450ml unsweetened almond milk

pinch coconut sugar or brown sugar

lemon juice, for squeezing

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the caramelised butter

40g unsalted butter

First, get your butter caramelising. Heat the butter in a small pan over the lowest heat. The whey will begin to separate. Cook until the white solids start to turn golden brown, shaking the pan from side to side every now and then. It should take 10–15 minutes but keep your eye on the butter otherwise it might burn.

Meanwhile, make the soup. Melt the butter in a pan until foaming. Add the cauliflower pieces and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the dukkah and turmeric and let it fry for another 2 minutes over medium heat.

Pour in the almond milk to cover the cauliflower, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is nice and tender. Use a hand-held stick blender to blitz the soup until smooth (or if you like it chunky, then chunky). Add the sugar and season to taste, adding a bit more dukkah if you like. Just before serving, squeeze over a little lemon juice, sprinkle with plenty of dukkah and drizzle with the caramelised butter.

(Recipe adapted from Magic Soup, Orion, 2015)

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Toast can be pretty posh

Forgive me if I seem to be doing a bit of shameless advertising for a cookbook that I worked on, but Posh Toast (Quadrille) is one of those hands-down must-rave-about books. We may all moan at the thought of a ‘toast’ cookbook, thinking it a bit boring or just plain old been-there-done-that, but oh how wrong we are. As this book shows (you really should get a copy) toast is brimming with possibilities. Here is a really simple idea, turned into something altogether new and ultimately original. I truly think I could live off the dishes in this book for a year and be perfectly happy and, dare I say, healthy.

While editing the book, it was just glorious recipe after glorious recipe. They were all so well conceived and really different yet most importantly, drool inducing. I think I almost fell off my seat when I read the one for avocado, tahini and spiced toasted chickpeas. I needed it right then and there and had to go and find a ripe avocado (in late winter) to satisfy my craving. Similar reactions were had to buttered leeks and parmesan pain perdu, the walnut brittle, roasted grapes and ricotta on sourdough and the sweet ones, too (including brioche toast, peaches and cream, stop it you say, I know, I know!). I haven’t put the book on the shelf yet since I got my copy because I’ve just been using it all the time so it has pride of place on my dining room table. Come to think of it I was actually tucking into a Posh Toast dish while reading the book and planning my next venture, crazy lady, yes indeed. But I mean, who doesn’t love carbs with tasty stuff on it? Don’t hate on the carbs people.

There are so many variations of what you might originally think of as ‘toast’. As it says on the tin (or the blurb on the back) ‘It’s everything good. On toast.’

12006463_10153060495721498_1956820922286674129_oAvocado, tahini & toasted spiced chickpeas

Serves 4

210g/8oz tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

few pinches allspice

2 tbsp unhulled tahini

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 slices seeded bread

2 ripe avocados, peeled, destoned and sliced

½ small red onion, finely chopped

few sprigs dill, roughly chopped (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Pat the chickpeas dry and tip onto a baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with ½ tbsp of the oil. Scatter over the spices and season with salt and pepper and toss. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, giving them a shake halfway through.

Next, make the tahini dressing. In a bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, remaining oil, a little salt and 2–3 tbsp cold water, to make a dressing the consistency of thick cream.

Toast your bread. Add a spoonful of the dressing onto the toasts and spread. Top with the avocado slices, a little red onion and toasted chickpeas. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and scatter over the dill if using.

(Recipe from Posh Toast, Quadrille, 2015)