Hello everyone, I am currently in a field in Shropshire doing some archaeological digging. Therefore, Gary from Grubblog is looking after you today. Thanks for doing a guest post Gary and I hope you all like it. See you soon. Happy Cooking! Jo
First off, thanks to the effervescent Jo for giving me a spot on her blog. Jo was one of the first food bloggers I got to know fairly well, swapping recipes and ideas on Twitter. I maintain Grubblog, literally somewhere I can keep a note of things I’ve made, good or bad. It’s a way I can save all those messy bits of paper scribbled with hasty notes getting lost. I saved something a little special for Jo:
A trio of canapés
One of the drawbacks of being a foodie is the heady prospect of cooking for other foodies. While all of my wonderful friends would be perfectly happy if I served up a bowl of salad, a lasagne or a roast chicken, I see it as a personal challenge to offer something a little different.
Cathy (of http://comedinewithcathy.wordpress.com/) was on her way round and I wanted to serve something fairly sophisticated. I have these beautiful china spoons that are perfect for the occasion. That said, I didn’t have an awful lot of free time so I needed impressive starters that could mostly be prepared in advance and relatively low-maintenance.
I settled on a cauliflower puree, broccoli with pine nuts and a chilli and orange sorbet. I was very pleased with the results, both in preparation and the flavours as well. You can be a little heavy-handed with the flavours as they are in such bite-sized portions, yet they can also be scaled up for a full size course. Don’t let the pretentious presentation put your off, they’re all dead easy and two of them can be made well in advance. The cauliflower puree makes a lovely side with grilled red meat and greens, the broccoli can be grown into a rich side-dish and the sorbet is refreshing at any time.
Cauliflower puree (makes about 500g):
- 1 cauliflower head, broken into florets
- ½ onion, diced
- Vegetable stock
- 100ml double cream
- A knob of butter
- Dried onions (come in a tub for use on salads)
1. Put the cauliflower in a saucepan and add enough vegetable stock to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Remove the florets from the stock but keep the liquid for now.
2. Meanwhile in a frying pan, fry the onion in a little oil until browned.
3. Put the cauliflower in a blender and blitz with a little salt and pepper. If the mixture is looking a little thick add a couple of tablespoons of the stock. When it reaches a smooth consistency add the cream and butter and whiz a little further. Check for seasoning – it should taste rich and very cauliflower-y! At this point you can refrigerate the puree for up to 48 hours.
4. Serve on porcelain spoons or as a side dish with grilled lamb. Top with dried onions.
Broccoli with pine nuts:
- 1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 5g comté cheese
- A few drops of white truffle oil
1. Simmer the broccoli in water until knife tender. Place some nuts on a porcelain spoon, top with a broccoli floret, grate over some cheese and add a drop or two of truffle oil.
Orange and chilli sorbet (makes about 500ml):
- 300ml water
- 150g sugar
- Zest of 1 orange, sliced into very thin strips
- ¼ red chilli, finely diced
- 300ml fresh orange juice
- Juice of ½ lemon
1. In a saucepan bring the water and sugar to the boil. Add the orange zest and chilli and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Strain the zest and chilli off and keep for garnish. Add the orange and lemon juices to the syrup and freeze in a suitable container.
3. When required put the frozen juice into a food processor and blitz to a slush. Serve immediately and garnish with the orange and chilli pieces.