Claud’s Cauliflower Couscous

It’s August and I am back in the Hamptons, living with my “second family” – a family whose 3 children I have tutored for the last 2 and a half years. Going away on a tutoring job abroad is always an odd experience. Even when tutoring at home, there is an odd dynamic – you are invited into a family’s home and become a fly on the wall; you are trusted and embraced, and yet you are still an employee and so there is a divide. When you go abroad on such a job, the lines are even more blurred – There are times when life is incredibly stressful, and times when I am insanely bored! Generally though, the trip is a wonderful experience and with a family like this one, who I care about so much, the pros definitely outway the cons.

One of the best things I remember from last summer, and which I anticipated with great relish in the lead-up to my trip this year, was the absolutely delicious food. Two chefs, Claudia and Jack, take over the kitchen for the duration of the summer and prepare all meals for the inhabitants of the house. These guys are seriously talented makers of scrumptious food and the quantities I consume can hit a rather extreme level, even for me.

So for the remainder of the month, my blog entries will be “guest recipes” of Claudia and Jack’s. They cook such a wonderful array of very fresh, healthy meals and I think they deserve to be shared with you. The recipe today reminded me of my Cauliflower Egg-Fried Rice, and is a great summer version of that. It’s a perfect side-dish for a bbq, and is astoundingly filling, despite being comprised of just raw vegetables!

 

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Claudia’s Cauliflower Couscous Salad

1 cauliflower head (grated)

Cherry tomatos

Red onion

Chick peas

Fresh coriander

Fresh mint

Olive Oil

Lemon

Cayenne pepper

Cumin powder

 

I haven’t added amounts to the above ingredients list, just because it’s up to you! Who am I to tell you how many cherry tomatoes are enough, or whether the salad is minty enough. Add or remove ingredients as you wish.

Firstly douse the chickpeas in olive oil, cumin powder and cayenne pepper and roast them until they are a nice brown colour. Then mix the grated cauliflower, chopped cherry toms, chopped red onion, chick-peas and chopped herbs in a big bowl. Dress it with olive oil and lemon (again adding sufficient amounts to please your palate).

Serve and enjoy. And think of us enjoying it over here!20140811_122957 20140811_123021

 

Festive Cosy Health

Whenever December hits I get incredibly excited. I know a lot of people get excited by Christmas, but I am particularly strict about festivities not seeping into November or, god forbid, October. So when December 1st hits, I go at christmas full throttle. Everything must have a christmasy twist to it, and appropriate music should be continually playing in the background. Right now, Frank Sinatra is singing “I’ll be home for christmas” to me with his dulcit tones.

Yesterday my very good friend Tom came for dinner. You haven’t met him yet, but he’s very important and deserves a mention. In January he is getting married! And I am reading at the wedding. I have written a poem for the event and I’m hoping it goes down well.

Tom is an ex-rugby playing, proper lad’s lad of a man when it comes to food. It was his stag doo a couple of weekends ago, and one of his primary requests was that they dine at one of these brazilian all-you-can-eat meat feasts. That gives you an idea. So I wanted to cook him something suitably full-on (would I ever do anything different?) but also healthy, and now also festive. This is what I came up with:

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Large lamb meatballs

served with tumeric cauliflower egg-fried rice

and cranberry brussell sprouts

The large lamb meatballs were basically just lamb burgers, but cooked in delicious tomatoey juices. I fried up an onion and a handful or 2 of cranberries (festive – boo ya!) in a splash of good old olive oil, then added garlic (as much as you wish) and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. When this mixture had begun to thicken, I added the burgers, turning occasionally. Once they seemed brown on both sides I placed the dish in the oven at 200 degrees C for about 15/20 minutes while I prepared the sides.

The cauliflower egg-fried rice I served with the lamb was a much simpler version than that which I wrote about earlier in the year, because this was a side rather than a full meal. I just grated up a whole head of cauliflower and then fried it in a little sesame oil, before adding a tsp of tumeric, a tsp of cumin seeds, a tsp of paprika and half a tsp of black onion seeds (I love these little fellas). Be sure not to cook the cauliflower gratings for too long – it is nicest when still a little crunchy.

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For the cranberry sprouts, I took a very little bit of advice from the notoriously un-healthy american holiday of Thanksgiving. I haveheard tales of brussell sprouts dripping in oil, and sweetened. This sort of sounds fantastic, but slightly defeats the object of serving this incredibly nutritious vegetable! So I didn’t go quite so far. I steamed my brussell sprouts, then tossed them around in a pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil and another handful or 2 of cranberries. Cranberries are a beautiful and nutritious festive addition to any meal. Read all about them here.

It certainly created a very colourful plateful, which Tom subsequently cleared away. Must have been alright then!

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Home-made Soups

Making home-made soup is one of the most notoriously easy but underdone cooking activities. I owned a blender for over 2 years before I made my first home-made soup, but I have never looked back. All it involves is bunging together various vegetables/stock/spices/herbs, and stewing them for a while, before liquidizing! It really is that simple. And they are brilliant when trying to eat healthily or trying to lose weight. They feel substantial and filling, because when you make it yourself it is often thick and chunky. And they are full of nutritious vegetables. This is very appropriate after my last post – home-made soup is actually good for you.

My flatmate and I are now huge fans of home-made soup (it’s rare for there to not be a random coloured concoction brewing on the stove), and I’ve been meaning to do a soup post for months. Here it finally is. This is the first, but it will definitely not be the last. Here is my recipe for Courgette and Pear Soup. (The amounts are estimates, and as with all home-made soup, a little freedom to experiment is always allowed).

Lucy’s Courgette and Pear Soup

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130g sliced courgette

40g spring onion

150g pear

160g cauliflower

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

A sprinkling of tumeric

1/2 a chilli pepper (if you want it spicy)

1 chicken stock cube

Simply fry the courgette and spring onions with the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, tumeric and chilli. Then add about a cup of hot water with chicken stock dissolved. Finally put in the cauliflower and pear and let it all simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the pan, and pour the stew into a blender to liquidise. Once it has all been blended put the soup back in the pan and add water as necessary, until it is the consistency you prefer.

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Delicious Things in Bowls

I have been inspired by my new favourite food-porn website (see last entry)!

 

2 photos in particular excited me beyond belief and inspired me to hunt down the recipes and make my own version, and I would like to share them with you now. Let’s start with breakfast:

 

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

This is basically porridge with vegetables included – double whammy of brilliance. As my nutritionist/personal trainer friend texted when I sent him a picture: “Oh Sh*t!!! Love that!!”

 

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To make this marvel, I used 50g porridge and one medium-sized carrot grated up. I added to this mixture about half a teaspoon of ginger (maybe use a little less, as the ginger taste was a bit too strong) and a sprinkling of cinnamon. For liquid, I used 100ml soy milk and 100ml water, although apparently adding a bit of orange juice works well. Finally when the porridge was just about ready I added about 20g of raisins. When serving, I put a small amount of golden syrup on top (no more than a teaspoon).

It was absolutely delicious and so filling.

Now, moving on to lunch/dinner!

 

Cauliflower Egg-Fried Rice

This is basically egg-fried rice, but instead of rice we use finely grated cauliflower. Both these recipes seem to involve grating a vegetable. And decanting into a bowl. Who knew I was so unimaginative…?

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Yum yum yum. This is amazing! So how to? Well firstly I grated about half a raw cauliflower and put it aside in a bowl. Then I picked some random vegetables and a bit of meat. Anything will do (this is a good way to use leftovers) but I selected: an orange pepper, an onion, some mushrooms and chorizo. I chopped up the aforementioned ingredients and fried them in a bit of olive oil with lots of garlic. I then poured the bowl of grated cauliflower into my wok of ingredients, and added some soy sauce. I stirred all of this around for a few minutes then finally cracked an egg into the middle and continued to stir. When I was sure that all the egg had cooked, I poured the mixture into a bowl and garnished with a couple of basil leaves and a drizzle of some chilli-olive oil that I had leftover from a delicious jar of olives. Perfection. And really just a massive bowl of vegetables with a bit of protein bunged in there from the meat and egg. Absolutely nutritionally divine. And it also looks good on camera!

 

Tomorrow I am off to join my parents in Greece for 4 nights, so you can be sure that a post on Greek food will accompany my return at the weekend. Until then, have a wonderful few days.