A few months ago, we got “The Little Paris Kitchen” cookbook by Rachel Khoo and after a long summer of not feeling terribly interested in spending time in the kitchen, I’ve finally gotten around to cooking from it – Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust.
I like the simplicity of her recipes and the French flair (Khoo is a Brit who now lives in Paris and adds some Britishness to her French dishes). It’s seasonal, fresh and easy and the results speak for themselves – my cauliflower bake was gone in a day and it was a great recipe to get the kids to eat their veggies.
If you haven’t seen Khoo’s show before, it’s currently on the Cooking Channel in the states, showing every Friday at 12:30 p.m. EST.
Cauliflower bake with hazelnut crunch crust
3 lbs heads cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets
1/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped
1 slice of extra crunchy toast, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, slightly warmed
1/4 onion, skin removed
1 bay leaf
1 pinch salt and pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
7 ounces gruyere cheese, grated (can also use Comte or Parmesan)
To begin with, steam the cauliflower in a colander fitted inside a pan. Steam for around 15 minutes so the cauliflower still has some bite left in it.
For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add the flour and stir hard until a smooth paste is achieved. Take off the heat and leave for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the milk, mixing all the time. Place it back on the heat and add the clove, bay leaf and leek. Simmer for 10 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove the leek, bay leaf and clove. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the cheese into the warm sauce, saving a bit to sprinkle on top. Mix the cauliflower into the sauce and give it a good stir. Pour into a baking tin.
Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and top with the crushed hazelnuts and broken up pieces of toast. Bake for 20 minutes and then place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a golden and bubbling crust.
We dug in so quickly after I took it out of the oven that I later realized that I had forgotten to take a photo of this golden brown and bubbling goodness! Trust me when I say it looked and tasted divine!
Maybe it was hearing this story on NPR’s “Fresh Air” last week, but I’ve had “America’s Test Kitchen” on the brain and wanted to test drive one of their recipes.
This weekend, I decided to try a new current scone recipe and why not see WWATKD (What Would America’s Test Kitchen Do?)
Their cream scone with currants recipe proved to be ridiculously amazing and even better than the Epicurious recipe that has been my go-to scone recipe for the past year. Scone agnostics need to check this out.
The secret ingredient? Cream. I know. It’s not very British. But tasting is believing!
Cream Scones with Currants
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
1/2 cup currants
1 cup heavy cream
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 6 pulses. Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps, about 12 pulses.
2. Add the currants and quickly pulse once to combine. Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Stir in the cream with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.
3. Turn the dough and any floury bits out onto a floured counter and knead until it forms a rough, slightly sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Press the dough into a 9-inch pan. Unmold the dough and cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet.
4. Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Did anyone else hear the summer trifle story that was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” this week?
As part of their Taste of Summer recipe contest, they asked readers to submit their favorite “found recipes” and Indiana resident Susan Jones submitted this recipe for strawberry trifle, which she found on a country walk one day. (Presumably someone had thrown out lots of recipes and this was among the stack). It turned out to be a winning recipe for Jones.
One look at the recipe would make any Brit shudder. It’s a completely Americanized version of trifle, made with – horror of horrors! – Cool Whip and cream cheese. And having said that, I should add that I haven’t made it, but I can also nearly guarantee that it is absolutely delicious. Cool Whip + strawberries + angel food cake = an instant winner, no matter how you cut it. Blasphemous but true!
Recipe: Strawberry Trifle
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
12 ounces whipped cream or Cool Whip
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 angel food cake
3 quarts fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until creamy. Add whipped cream and vanilla. Cut angel food cake into small squares. Slice all but 3 or 4 strawberries. Gently mix sliced berries in bowl with 1/4 cup sugar; let sit for 15 minutes. Cover the bottom of a large trifle dish (clear, stemmed bowl) with a layer of the cake squares. Follow with a layer of cream cheese mixture, then strawberries. Alternate, ending with the cream cheese mixture on top. Garnish with reserved whole strawberries and mint leaves. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
When we visited my mother in law in Devon, she made a lovely pie for dessert and had some extra pastry. What did she do with it? She whipped up a batch of jam tarts!
The kids loved them. All you need is some pastry and a dollop of strawberry jam (or really any flavor you like). Easy peasy! Aren’t they pretty?
This week, I had an excess of slightly over ripe bananas and the desire to do some baking. What to do?
That same day, Ally from A Girl and Her Fork blogged about a recipe for banana bread that she had tried and loved. Simple ingredients, straightforward instructions. Bingo! I was sold. I made it the very next day.
The banana bread was legendary. Super moist, lots of depth of flavor, crispy on the edges, just delicious! If you’re in search for a go-to easy banana bread recipe, here’s the one!
Julia’s Best Banana Bread (Bon Appetit, March 2013)
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, bananas, and oil in a large bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and stir just until combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
3. Bake until a knife inserted into the center of bread comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let bread cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan to release the bread. Turn out onto rack and let cool completely.
In honor of Pi Day, I wanted to share with you my favorite fast pie recipe, courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s “Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast.”
For chicken pie:
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
A pat of butter
A bunch of scallions
6 ounces button mushrooms
1 heaping tablespoon all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons English mustard
1 generous tablespoon heavy cream
1-1/4 cups organic chicken broth
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1/3 of a nutmeg for grating
1 large sheet of all-butter puff pastry
Turn the oven on to 400ºF. Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and slice into 1/2 inch strips. Put a lug of olive and a pat of butter into the hot large, wide pan. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile, quickly trim the scallions and wash the mushrooms then slice together in a food processor. Add to the pan with 1 heaping tablespoon of flour and stir. Add 2 tablespoons of mustard, a generous tablespoon of heavy cream and 1-1/4 cups chicken broth. Stir well. Pick the thyme leaves and stir into the pan with a few fine gratings of nutmeg and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Leave to simmer.
Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pastry. Use a small kitchen knife to lightly crisscross and score it. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pastry (approximately 9×13 inches). Cover the filing with pastry sheet, tucking in at the edges. Quickly beat the egg then brush it over the top of the pie. Put into the oven and cook on the top shelf for around 15 minutes or until golden and gorgeous.
BTW, this cookbook has a lot of great shortcuts for preparing a full meal (starter, main course and dessert) in under 30 minutes. I’ve timed a few of these meals and it always takes me a while longer than that (I’m a slow chopper!) but turns out beautifully!
Is it just me or is this cold/flu season hitting particularly hard?
I suffered the better part of November with a lingering cough that I couldn’t kick (although I would’ve kicked it hard, wearing a pair of steel-toed Doc Martens, if I could) – and the more people that I talk to, the more I realize that this is one monster of a cold going around. But never fear … there are remedies! Good ones! In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal, a suggestion for an outstanding one went something like this:
In a large cup, combine 1 spoonful honey, juice of 1/4 lemon, 1 cinnamon stick, small dash of cayenne (optional but recommended) and the tea bag of your choice. Stick 3 cloves into 1 small lemon wedge and add to the cup. Pour in a slug of bourbon, as much or as little as you like. Fill cup with boiling water, stir well and let steep 5 minutes. Savor slowly; repeat as necessary.
Yes! Cayenne and tea jazz up this classic recipe. The writer suggests Earl Gray, Chai, ginger tea or, indeed, chamomile, if you’re seeking a little sleeping solace. I have whiskey in the house, but no bourbon (and I do think that Jim Beam would be a delightful choice in this scenario), but now have a good (and health-giving) reason to buy some.
If you try this recipe, please tell me what you think!
I have fond memories of a Thanksgiving dinner celebrated in London so many years ago. One of my managers at the time was American and graciously hosted a spectacular dinner at her home near Marylebone for her American friends and a host of curious Brits.
I was vegetarian at the time and my contribution to the feast was a roasted butternut squash and caramelized onion tart, a recipe I found on Epicurious.com. It was a terribly involved recipe (at least for me, at the time) and required pastry (which I avoid like the plague), but the results were so festive and delicious, I hardly missed the turkey.
These days, I am back to eating turkey but I still like to make this tart at least once a year during the holiday season. This year, I made it the day before Thanksgiving as a tasty reminder of that one Thanksgiving meal so many years ago. If you’re looking for a pretty dish to please vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, try this! Read the rest of this entry
I realize that Gwyneth Paltrow is not actually British, but she’s British enough (married to a Brit, raising two half-Brit sprogs, speaking in that often strange, Madonna-esque English).
I bought her cookbook “My Father’s Daughter” last year and every once in a while, I will dip into it and have been rather successful. Her father’s pancake recipe is legendary in our house. I like her best stir-fried chicken recipe and her ten-hour chicken recipe. She’s got some great simple pasta dishes. But there’s one recipe I’ve eyed from the start – her mother Blythe Danner’s blueberry muffin recipe – and I finally made it on Saturday.
It’s a basic muffin recipe. You mix dry ingredients in one bowl. Wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix them together and then fold in the blueberries. It was straightforward, except the results were more like a drop scone batter than a cake batter.
And the final results:
Not very pretty, and not like the photos in the book, but it was as she described. Tart and sweet. It tasted wholesome and even a little nutritious. The kids actually ate around the blueberries (which were the tart component) and the cat wouldn’t leave us alone once the muffins came out of the oven. She didn’t eat them but lingered like she had hoped a piece of muffin might be in her future (as it turned out, I did offer her some and she smelled it longingly but didn’t go for it.)
Here’s the recipe:
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 organic large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers.
Whisk the butter, eggs and milk together in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the flour, the 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold in the blueberries. Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle the muffins with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake until a toothpick tests clean and the muffins are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Best to eat these warm.
Yield: 1 dozen muffins. Active preparation time: 15 minutes. Total preparation time: 45 minutes.
First things first, a very happy birthday to my lovely husband (who hates to be blogged about so will refrain from saying any more here).
Well, except one thing. The cake.
I find it so challenging each year to move seamlessly from Halloween to his birthday. No matter how much I prep ahead of time, there’s always the issue of the cake (which I simply cannot bake, after a long night of trick-or-treating and merriment making!).
Here’s the goal:
It’s his favorite cake in the whole world. So very British that I just can’t buy it off the shelf. It’s nothing like American coffee cake, all streuseled and cinnamon-specked. Pillsbury has no idea WTH this cake is and neither do any of our local bakeries and so I usually go with his second favorite cake in America: A fruit basket cake (a buttermilk cake filled with fresh strawberries and bananas in whipped cream). No less delicious, I might add.
But this year, oh this year. I’m going to attempt the coffee and walnut cake. Yes, it will be late. But I hope it will be worth the wait!
If it is, I’ll post the recipe I used – I’m debating between BBC and Delia Smith right now. If it’s not, well, let’s never discuss this matter again (and will bribe a baker friend next year, perhaps, willing to make a cake on Halloween night).