food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘cauliflower

black truffle

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When in France I spent some time in the Dordogne, the home of the Périgord Black Truffle. I felt compelled to bring one home and here’s what I did with it.

60º eggs on potatoes fried in duck fat with shavings of black truffle.

Actually, these were really 62.8ºC (145ºF) eggs as I prefer my whites a little opaque. They need to be cooked in a water bath at this temperature for at least an equal number of minutes to their metric weight. That means an 58g (2oz) egg will take 58 minutes to cook. While the eggs are cooking, dice some potatoes and cook them very slowly in some duck fat until they are golden brown then season with salt. When the eggs are ready, place the potatoes down first then very carefully peel the eggs and place onto the potatoes. Season to taste and top with shavings of black truffle. A truly delicious combination!

How about a truffled cauliflower gratin?

Preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a sauce pan, then stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Stir and cook for a few minutes making sure there are no lumps. Whisking constantly, slowly add 2 cups of heated milk. Bring to boil and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, ½ a cup of grated Gruyère, ½ a cup of grated parmesan, some shaved black truffle to taste and a little freshly grated nutmeg. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Cut the cauliflower into florets and cook them in some boiling salted water until just al dente. Butter your oven dish, spread the cauliflower evenly on the bottom and cover with the sauce. Finally, top with a mixture of grated Gruyère, grated parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden brown.


Written by michelle picker

October 4, 2017 at 12:16 am

saffron cauliflower + tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad

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Here are 2 salads from the master of salads, Yotam Ottolenghi. Serve them as part of a mezze selection or as side dishes.

Cauliflower is so versatile. In this recipe from PLENTY it’s paired with raisins and olives.

Preheat your oven to 200ºC (390ºF). Soak 1½ teaspoons of saffron strands in a little boiling water and allow to infuse. To a large salad bowl add a medium cauliflower (broken into florets), 1 large sliced red onion, 100g (3½ oz) of moist of sultanas, 90g (3¼ oz) of pitted green olives, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 bay leaves and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add the soaked saffron and toss everything to combine. Transfer to a baking tray, cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. I uncovered the tray for some of the cooking time to allow the cauliflower to brown a little more. Allow to cool a little and stir in 4 tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley.

This unusual tomato, onion and roasted lemon salad was published by bon appétit.


Preheat your oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Halve and thinly slice 1 small lemon and cook the slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, pat dry and toss with 1 tablespoon of finely sliced fresh sage leaves, ½ a teaspoon of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Spread them onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake until they are dry and slightly coloured. Allow them to cool. Meanwhile, whisk 2 teaspoons of pomegranate syrup with ½ a teaspoon of ground allspice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add 700g (1½ lbs) of mixed tomatoes, ½ a finely sliced red onion, generous amounts of roughly chopped fresh parsley and mint and the cooled lemon slices. Season again to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss gently.

Written by michelle picker

August 7, 2017 at 5:44 am

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wood-roasted vegetables

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I’m staying at Robert and Miranda’s farm in New Zealand where this magnificent pizza oven is a feature.


After the obligatory pizza, we were inspired by the cookbook The Kiwi Pizza Oven by Alan Brown and decided to try cooking some vegetables.

Whole roasted cauliflower, pre-boiled for 10 minutes then drizzled with oil and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the cauliflower was al dente and nicely browned, we smothered  it in cheese sauce and baked a while longer.


A ratatouille of sorts. On a bed of finely sliced onions and garlic, alternate slices of eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgette) and tomato all drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with dried basil leaves and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Potatoes, peeled and almost sliced through, with the addition of rosemary and thyme, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzled with melted butter. These were cooked upside down and turned halfway through cooking.


Written by michelle picker

January 29, 2017 at 5:43 am

Posted in vegetables

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cauliflower pilaf + fried root veg + spinach and yoghurt

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This vegetarian meal is loosely based on a Jordanian Maqluba which normally includes meat, rice, and fried vegetables placed in a pot, which is then flipped upside down when served. The recipe is adapted from one by Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter which appeared in The Guardian. 


Preheat your oven to 200ºC (º400F). Heat 1 litre (34 fl oz) of vegetable stock until just boiling. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of chilli paste, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and a pinch of saffron and set aside. Wash 350g (12.3 0z) of rice well in cold water and leave it to drain. Cut 400g (14 oz) of cauliflower florets and slice an equal amount of butternut pumpkin. Toss them in a little olive oil and season well. Flash fry them to colour them but don’t cook them through. In a large pan, gently heat some olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of rice and arrange 1 onion and 3 leeks all cut into thick slices. Mix together a pinch of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground fennel, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, ¼ of a teaspoon of ground cardamom, ½ a teaspoon of ground allspice, a pinch each of cumin and coriander and a good pinch of salt. Sprinkle ⅓ of this spice mix over the leeks and onions. Now layer the cauliflower, squash, rice and the rest of the spice mix. Finish with a layer of rice, whisk the stock well and pour it over the pan contents. Shredded kale can also be layered with the vegetables.Turn up the heat for 2 minutes, cover the pan and turn the heat down to low. Leave the rice to cook for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for a further 15 minutes. Traditionally now is the time to invert the contents of the pan onto a large plate but I chose to leave mine in the pot. Garnish with a handful of toasted pine nuts, a pinch of dried chilli and 1 tablespoon each of chopped coriander and mint.

These quick-fried root vegetables are almost like a pickle.


You can make this with whichever root vegetables you have to hand. We had carrots, parsnips, turnips and fennel. Celeriac and beetroots would be good too. Peel and cut all the vegetables into thin matchsticks or julienne. Sprinkle with a little salt and leave in a colander for about an hour. Squeeze out any excess moisture. Heat some olive oil in a large pan. Add 1 teaspoon of roughly crushed cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute before adding the shredded vegetables. Stir-fry for 5 minutes then add the juice and zest of 1 orange, 2 teaspoons of honey, 1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

This spinach and yoghurt dish adds creaminess and a bit of crunch.


Cook 250g (9 oz) of spinach leaves in a little olive oil until wilted. Drain well, allow to cool and squeeze out any excess moisture. Chop roughly and mix with 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1 chopped red chilli and 1 cup of yoghurt. Season well and serve sprinkled with a pinch of dried mint, and 50g (1¾ oz) of toasted walnut pieces.

Written by michelle picker

June 15, 2016 at 6:02 am

buffalo cauliflower and butternut

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Vegetarian and spicy, this dish uses the fabulous flavours normally reserved for chicken wings.


Preheat your oven to 230ºC (450ºF). Cut half a cauliflower into florets and some butternut pumpkin (squash) into chunks. Melt some ghee (clarified butter) and toss the vegetables in the ghee, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven until soft and slightly charred. Meanwhile make a blue cheese sauce by combining ⅓ of a cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream, ¼ of a cup of buttermilk, 1 small clove of crushed garlic, ½ a teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, ¼ of a teaspoon each of freshly ground black pepper, dry mustard powder, salt and sugar plus a pinch of cayenne pepper to taste. Whisk well then grate 50g (1¾ oz) of frozen blue cheese into the sauce (easier than crumbling fresh cheese) and mix it in a little at a time so that it doesn’t clump. When the vegetables are cooked put them in a bowl and toss them with 2 tablespoons each (or more to taste) of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (cayenne pepper sauce) and Sriracha Chilli Sauce. Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter, drizzle with the blue cheese sauce and garnish with some chopped spring onions.

The sauce recipe comes from Chef John at Food Wishes.

Written by michelle picker

November 16, 2015 at 5:50 am

cauliflower ricotta frittata

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Here’s a different version of cauliflower and cheese.


Heat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Divide a small cauliflower into florets and slice 1 onion. In an ovenproof dish, toss them in some olive oil and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some grated fresh nutmeg. Add a bay leaf and roast in the oven until brown around the edges. Meanwhile, in a food processor blend 500g (17½ oz) of fresh full cream ricotta with 2-3 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sour cream, 50g (1¾ oz) of ground pecorino or parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. When the cauliflower is cooked, remove it to a bowl and discard the bay leaf. Sprinkle some almond meal over the bottom of the oven dish. Place the roasted cauliflower and onion over the almond meal then spread the cheese mixture over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with another layer of almond meal and top with a tasty or easy-melt cheese. Bake in the oven until set and golden brown.


Written by michelle picker

January 18, 2015 at 6:09 am

lamb meatballs with eggplant and tomato + couscous with cauliflower

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Here’s a hearty meal with North African and Middle Eastern influences.


To make the meatballs combine lamb mince with finely chopped parsley, ground cumin and ground cinnamon to taste and season well with salt and pepper. Form into small meatballs and set aside in the fridge. Dice a large eggplant (aubergine) and fry gently in some olive oil until it begins to soften. Add a large diced onion, 2-3 cloves of finely diced garlic and a diced red pepper and continue to cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Next add 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 2-3 teaspoons of cumin powder and a cinnamon quill. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a fry-pan and brown the meatballs a little to seal them. Add them to the sauce and continue to cook until the meatballs are cooked through and the flavours are well combined.


For this couscous you will need to cut ¼ of a cauliflower very finely until it resembles couscous – this is most easily done by pulsing pieces in a food processor. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Put the cauliflower together with 1½ cups of couscous into a shallow oven dish, season with salt and drizzle with olive oil and melted butter. Stir to coat everything with oil and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until a little toasted. Add 2½ cups of boiling water and return to the oven until all the water is absorbed and the couscous feels quite dry and separate. This should only take 10 minutes or so. To make the sauce combine ⅓ of a cup of tahini paste with ½ a cup of greek yoghurt, 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a little lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Add ½ – ¾ of a cup of water, enough to make the consistency like thin honey, and mix well. I garnished my cauliflower couscous with steamed green beans and fried shallots.

Written by michelle picker

October 2, 2014 at 5:25 am