Friday, January 13, 2012

Saintly Cauliflower Soup – with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto Sinners

Pin It

Sometimes stuff doesn’t make sense to me, like the greengrocer explaining I could have two cauliflowers or none, when I wanted just one.  It was a ‘take it or leave it’ situation, but what’s a girl to do with two cauliflowers? Everyone to whom I offered the spare had already either been to the shop and either purchased two or temporarily sworn off cauliflower in protest at having a brace of anaemic brassicas foisted upon them.

Too much of a good thing?

One cauliflower was dispatched into a relatively saintly, healthy New Year’s resolution soup which I topped with sinful blue cheese and prosciutto croutons. One cauliflower down, one to go. Got any ideas?

For 6 - 8 servings you will need...
25g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, peeled of stringy bits, roughly chopped
200mls dry white wine
600g cauliflower broken into florets
900mls good quality chicken stock (homemade if possible)
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled
Salt and ground white pepper to taste

1           Melt the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and celery. Lower the heat and fry gently for about 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent but has not taken on any colour. Add the wine and let simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
2          Add cauliflower and chicken stock to the saucepan (you could use vegetarian stock if you prefer). When it has come to the boil, lower the heat, add the clove of garlic and ground white pepper, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Blend to a smooth liquid – a stick blender is the perfect tool for this. Taste and add salt and more white pepper only if necessary. The soup is pretty saintly so far. Be a devil and add these sinful croutons.

Blue cheese and prosciutto sinners!

4 slices French bread, each about 1cm thick, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
20g blue cheese, crumbled
20g prosciutto, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 180°C  
(War on Waste note: I try to make these croutons when I have something else baking in the oven to avoid using a whole heap of energy for a few croutons)

3          Place the croutons in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the blue cheese and prosciutto pieces. Scatter on a shallow baking tray and bake for about 5 minutes or until golden and the cheese has melted. Set a timer and keep an eye on them because they go from golden to charcoal in a flash.

Instead of the croutons you could add a swirl of fresh cream, or sprinkle with a little crumbled blue cheese before serving.

p.s. If you enjoy reading Alchemy in the Kitchen please consider nominating it for the Bloggies!
Click the link before Monday 16th January - - and scroll down to the Food or Writing sections - depending on which aspect you like best and nominate Alchemy as follows:

Nominee: Alchemy in the Kitchen     URL:
Pin It

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Coffee Mille Feuille – child’s play!

Pin It
Naughty breakfast!

When I was a child, my cousin Pamela had what I considered to be one of the best jobs in the world – right up there with ballerina, stunt pilot or zoo keeper. She sold pastries from a little bakery close to where my mother shopped. It would have been just plain rude not to pop in and visit when in the neighbourhood.

Pamela always had a cake for me and my brother when we stopped by to pester her say hi. Oh such agonising over what to choose! My favourites were crackly chocolate ├ęclairs, squidgy cream doughnuts, and coffee slices, which I could separate into a thousand puff pastry layers, having licked away the vanilla cream and the coffee icing. You’ll be glad to know I’ve developed manners since and no longer dismantle my food before consuming it (well not much). Although, I did have these for simple little mille feuille for breakfast...

For 12 pastries (6 portions) you will need...
1 sheet decent quality puff pastry (250g)
icing sugar to dust

Hidden potential...

That's more like it!

For the coffee cream you will need...

250mls fresh cream
25g icing sugar, sifted
2 heaped teaspoons instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk, dissolve, sift, swirl, sigh!

Preheat the oven to 200°C
1                 Trim the edges of the pastry sheet with a sharp knife so that they are straight. Cut into 12 equal rectangles approximately 5cm (2 inches) by 10cm (4 inches). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking parchment.
2                 Dust generously with icing sugar and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 8 – 10 minutes or until the pastry is well risen and golden brown and the sugar has caramelised. Transfer to a cooling rack.
3                 For the coffee cream, simply whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks when you lift the whisk out. Whisk in the icing sugar, the dissolved coffee, and the vanilla extract until combined.
4                 Split the cooled pastries and fill with the flavoured cream. Dust with icing sugar before serving with a decent brew.

Variation: Coffee is great with orange or blackcurrant. Add another flavour dimension by spreading the pastry with good quality marmalade or homemade blackcurrant jam.
Pin It