Spicy cauliflower soup

I put together this recipe because I’d heard so much about the wonders of roasting cauliflower before you use it in a soup that I wanted to try it for myself, but I’m afraid to say its not worth it. It did nothing for the flavour and was just a waste of time and electricity. On the other hand the soup itself was good and so I’m going to share the recipe anyway. This makes a lot of soup, I think its at least six servings, possibly more.

 

Medium sized cauliflower

One bunch of spring onions

Two white onions (though any cooking onions will do)

One large head of garlic

Two inches of ginger

Four handfuls of green lentils (sorry this isn’t more exact but I measured this one by eye)

One can coconut milk

Four tea spoons Panch Phoran

One tea spoon of dried Piri Piri chili’s (you can substitute this for any other kind of chili if you like)

Two tea spoons coriander seed

Two tea spoons yellow mustard seeds

Two or three bayleaves

Three or four portions of stock (again I use knorr vegetable stock pots but this is a personal preference)

Vegetable oil

 

Start by frying the dried spices and chop the onions, garlic, ginger and spring onions before adding them too. You can chop them roughly because we’re going to be blending the result and this part is just to bring out the flavour. While doing this I roasted the cauliflower at 260º C (that’s 500º F) having rubbed it in oil, for twenty minutes. Again, I found this step completely pointless but if you’re someone who can taste the difference between roasted and un-roasted cauliflower in soup then go ahead. When ready to add the cauliflower, roasted or not, cut it into small chunks and add them to the pan, cover with water and add the stock and ground coriander (if the stock is liquid stock only add enough water to make sure the cauliflower is covered). If the cauliflower is not pre-cooked then simmer until its soft first, and then blend with a hand blender until the soup has a smooth consistency. Add a tin of coconut milk, the bay leaves and as many green lentils as you judge necessary to get the right consistency (I used four handfulls) and cook on high heat for ten minutes to denature the enzymes before simmering for at least half an hour. If you want you can wait until the entire soup is cooked before blending if you don’t want the texture of the lentils in the soup, you can also add extra liquid and more lentils if you want to stretch the soup.

I find this is an excellent cold cure.

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Medievalish Honey Cakes

As a medieval historian and someone who is a little obsessed with food I’d always wanted to try making the kind of cakes that people would have made before refined sugar, and a couple of years ago (after binge reading a bunch of Marianne Zimmer Bradley, hush, I know, I know) I gave in. I tend to only make this for Samhain and Beltaine when I make pseudo-medieval party food (I say pseudo because I love potatoes too much to leave them out) because one cake takes an entire jar of honey and to be honest the flavour isn’t that different from an ordinary cake. But its the novelty that’s the point here anyway, so without further ado you will need:

 

8 oz of flour

8 oz of butter

4 eggs

one jar of honey

cinnamon and nutmeg or allspice

 

Start by mixing the flour and the spices together, as this is the best way to make sure the flavours are evenly distributed throughout the cake. I add one teaspoon of cinnamon and another of nutmeg but you can use allspice instead and vary the amounts according to taste. Be careful though, if you add too much allspice it will smell fantastic while cooking but taste absolutely awful, so only vary the amount of spice if you have some idea of what it will do. After that mix in the butter, which you can leave to soften up first, and then when you’ve got an even consistency beat the eggs and stir them in too. Finally add the honey. You really do need the whole jar. No, I promise, you do. This is going to have a less solid consistency than ordinary cakes for obvious reasons but if it looks too liquid add some little pinches of flour until it holds together better. Finally bake for around forty minutes at 180 C. The result should be dense and very moist. I prefer not to glaze mine or just spread the top with raspberry jam but feel free to do anything you like and tell me about it in the comments!

Red Dahl

I think everyone who cooks lentils has their own Dahl recipe that they’ve perfected over the years. This is my current favorite and will feed at least four people.

 

400g red lentils 

2 brown onions

1 head of garlic (yes a whole head)

2 inches of ginger (more if the ginger root is narrow)

Panch Phoran (or yellow mustard seed, fennel seed, fenugreek, black onion seed and cumin if you can’t get the mix)

2 bay leaves

3 measures of your preferred stock (I use knorr vegetable stock pots)

one scotch bonnet chili or chili powder

nutmeg

1 tin coconut milk

vegetable oil

 

Chop the onions, ginger, garlic and chili and fry them in the oil with the Panch Phoran (I use about four or five tea spoon fulls but this is something you should adapt to taste) and when the onions have started to brown a little add the lentils and water to cover them, the three measures of stock and the nutmeg, bay leaves and chili powder if that’s what you’re using. Make sure that the lentils boil for at least ten minutes to denature the enzymes and then turn down slightly and add the coconut milk before leaving to simmer until you get the required texture. This can either be eaten as a soup or with rice and its really good.