Monday, 26 November 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Now HERE is a new one!  Making a wheat-free pizza crust from cauliflower, egg and cheese.  If you are gluten-intolerant or just have a cauli to use up, this is an intriguing idea.  You won't get the same texture as a bread crust but it is worth trying.  My sister makes a flour-free souffle using pureed cauliflower, so this is on the same lines.  First, you have to blitz a raw cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like rice - you can include some of the stalk, too, which is a bonus.  Steam the cauli over a little water for about 6 to 8 minutes, then cool.  Now, for each 10" base, you need a cup of cooled cauliflower, half a cup of grated cheddar and an egg.  Mix together well and season with lots of pepper - you don't need salt because of the cheese.  Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, and set the oven to a high 220C.  Spread the cauli mix out to a rough 10" circle and spray with a little olive oil (or brush lightly with oil using a pastry brush).  Bake for 20 minutes until brown and set.  Now top with your favourite pizza toppings (don't go mad, and be stingy with the cheese, given the amount in the crust) and bake again until the topping is done to your liking.  Serve asap.  This isn't a low-fat option but is a good way to get loads more veg into kids - don't tell them it is cauliflower!  Tasty too, and certainly a novelty.  I found you can make the base in advance and it reheats really quickly with the toppings on, but it is a bit more fragile than a wheat base, so not easy to pick up in large wedges - hence my advice to not over-load it with toppings.

Sausage, Cannellini Bean and Pumpkin Stew

Sometimes, when it is cold and rainy and you feel under the weather, it HAS to be a stew - or soup - or something in between the two, as this is.  Essentially, this is good pork sausages, browned, then braised in herby stock with cannellini beans, carrots and chunks of squash and potato.  Lovely served in a big bowl with crusty bread, and under a fiver if you are careful with your shopping - don't skimp on the bangers, though, they should be the best quality you can afford.  For 4, take a pack of 6 or 8 bangers, halving them if you like, and brown a little in a tablespoon of olive oil in a casserole or ovenproof pot.  Remove, then add an onion, chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of rosemary, a large potato, cut into chunks (peel if you like), a couple of carrots, also cut into chunks and a wedge of pumpkin or squash of similar quantity to the potato and carrots, peeled and cut into chunks.  Stir this all together in the fat in the pan.  Whilst this is happening, dissolve a chicken stock cube in a pint of boiling water with a tablespoon of tomato puree and a good splosh of Worcesterrrrrshire Sauce and pour over the veg.  Bring to the boil, then tip in a tin of drained cannellini beans (or any other tinned bean of preference, rinsed too) and then place the bangers back on top.  Cover, and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or so until the veg is soft and the liquid has reduced a little - a temperature of about 180C should do nicely.  Sprinkle over some chopped fresh parsley and dish up the soupy beany stew with thick hunks of crusty bread to dip into the herby broth.  Then go back to bed and feel sorry for yourself, albeit on a full tum.  That's what I did.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Mexican Shepherd's Pie

I have no ide whether a Mexican Shepherd would eat this!  It just seemed like the best name for an improvised dish that will be cooked again and again, it was so delicious (and simple and cheap, other qualities to recommend it by).  It is, essentially, chickpeas, tomato and spinach or kale cooked with chilli, cumin and paprika, then topped with a coriander and Parmesan mash - great for veggies if you use a suitable cheese alternative.  All you do is saute an onion, chopped (I used a red one, but go with whatever you have) in a tablespoon of oil until softening, then add 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a finely chopped red chilli, a heaped teaspoon each of ground cumin, sweet paprika (not the smoked kind) and dried oregano.  Stir for a moment then add a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of drained, rinsed chickpeas.  Season,, bring to a simmer and let it cook and reduce a little until thick - around 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, boil or steam about 750g to 1K of mashing potatoes (Maris Piper of King Edward's for me).  When the chickpea mix has reduced, cram in either a 200g bag of spinach or in my case, a head of Cavalo Nero kale that had just arrived in the Riverford box, well washed and thinly shredded.  Allow this to cook and wilt - a matter of moments for spinach but for around 5 minutes if you use the kale.  Tip the saucy mixture into a pie dish (see photo).  Now, mash the spuds, and mix in about 30g of butter and a couple of tablespoons of milk, and season well with salt and pepper.  Grate 50g of Parmesan or veggie equivalent, and stir 30g into the potato, along with some chopped coriander leaf - about 20g should do.  Don't miss this bit out, the flavour combo is divine!  Spread over the chickpea mix.  Now, mix the remaining Parmesan with a tablespoon or so of breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top.  Bake at 180 for 25-30 minutes until piping hot, crisp and bubbling.  This was soooooo good and would easily feed four with a salad, some extra veggies on the side or even some crusty bread and butter for a carb overload!  Qualifies for Under a Fiver easily.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Persimmon Pudding

I am sorry.  I have been very lazy about both cooking and blogging and a ticking-off from a friend last week made me get back to both.  It isn't that I haven't been cooking, just not doing anything particularly spectacular.  But let's kick off November's entries with a new dessert for me - Persimmon Pudding.  This pud is very popular in the States, where the persimmon tree is often found in people's back yards.  For this pudding, you need the Hachiya Persimmon variety, also known in Europe as kaki - NOT the Fuyu or Sharon fruit, which will never ripen to the correct jellied pulp that is needed for this pud.  Luckily, Riverford have been supplying the Hachiya variety, and careful nurturing to bring them to just the right stage of readiness (borderline suppurating foetidity) meant we were ready to try this dessert, a favourite of the peerless Alice Waters in her Berkeley, CA restaurant, Chez Panisse.  Essentially, you puree the fruit, mix it with flour, milk, eggs, nuts and spices and bake into a sticky pudding, and serve with Cognac-flavoured cream.  The easiest thing is to link to a recipe on the Bojon Gourmet blog.  A really interesting flavour, sweet, honeyed but with a hint of tannin from the fruit - if you like pumpkin pie, you'll like this one, an early nod to Thanksgiving.