Tag Archives: cheese

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Dumplings

This is going to be a love it or hate it recipe! Cauliflower and parmesan are both strong flavours on their own but bring them together and you get a deep roasted richness with a kick from the black pepper. I have never made cauliflower soup before, but I have eaten the vegetable many times in my mother’s Indian food and my father’s Italian food. Back in December I was inspired by the Hairy Bikers to bring the British cauliflower back into fashion. You may have seen my Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry recipe, but at the time I also vowed to try and make my own soup with the beautiful, cheap and underrated vegetable.

Like most of my recipes, this totally reflects my cooking style. This is a cheap, nutritious and easy recipe which can be made in advance. You can also easily adapt this recipe if you don’t like certain ingredients. For example, feel free to use much less black pepper if you’re not a fan. Use pecorino or gruyère for the dumplings if you don’t like parmesan. *If you prefer a softer dumpling, use white bread; personally I prefer brown.

This makes a delicious starter or light meal.

Cauliflower Soup with Parmesan Dumplings

Serves: 4-6 as a starter
Takes: 1 hr 15 mins

Ingredients:

1 Cauliflower (medium-large), washed and cut up into florets
Leaves of 1 cauliflower, sliced
1 white onion, peeled and diced
1leek, washed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
700 ml vegetable stock (or boiling water and 1 stock cube)
3 tbsps creme fraiche
Pinch of salt
Knob of butter
Olive oil

For the dumplings:
2 slices brown bread*
25g grated parmesan
1/2 the cauliflower leaves, sliced
1 tbsp dried parsley (or small bunch fresh)
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 150′. Place the cauliflower florets, garlic and whole black peppercorns on an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the middle of the oven for a total of 45 minutes.

2. I recommend that you prepare everything else after you put the cauliflower in the oven. This shortens the cooking time. So – prepare the other ingredients.

3. In a large saucepan, warm up 2 tbsp olive oil and a knob of butter. When it is warm and clear, add the diced onion. Softly cook for about 5 minutes, then add the leek.

4. When the onion and leek have both softened, add the vegetable stock and half the cauliflower leaves. Stir the pot, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Put your slices of bread in the toaster or oven to dry out. Then, place them in your food processor with the other half of the cauliflower leaves, parmesan, parsley, and egg. Whizz it all up!

6. By now the cauliflower should have roasted for about 45 minutes. Check that it is cooked and softened. If not, leave it in the oven for 10 more minutes. If it is, you can now take it out the oven and add the cauliflower and garlic to the soup pot. Stir the soup and put the lid on. Save the peppercorns.

7. Grind the roasted peppercorns with your mortar and pestle and add a pinch to the soup and a pinch to the dumpling mixture.

8. Roll the dumpling mixture into little balls. You should be able to make 10-12. Lightly grease a tray and then cook the dumplings in the oven for 15 minutes.

9. Mash down, or whizz up your soup! Whatever machine you have to smooth it out will be fine! Stir in 3 dollops of creme fraiche and a pinch of salt to taste!

10. Serve hot with a swirl of creme fraiche and 2-3 dumplings per person.

Enjoy! I would love to hear your feedback if you try it!

Tip: If you like it spicy, add a pinch of smoked paprika to the soup. 

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Aubergine and Feta Tarts with a Tamarind Drizzle

Even though tamarind is usually used in asian cooking, I’ve used it here in a Mediterranean style tart. I really like the sweet and  tangy flavour and thought it would be perfect with cheese. I love all these ingredients separately but I’ve never used them together before.

As you may already know I love puff pastry for being delicious, easy to use, and amazingly versatile. It’s works so well with Mediterranean ingredients and especially cheese. I have previously posted a recipe for Mozzarella and Pesto tarts on puff pastry.

This is a simple recipe that makes a perfect starter or light lunch. Serve with a salad and some sliced meats.

Aubergine and Feta Tarts with a Tamarind Drizzle

Start to finish time: 45 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients

150g ready rolled puff pastry
1 aubergine, sliced about 5 mm thick
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
4 tsp  garlic oil
100g feta cheese
a few basil leaves

Salt & Pepper

For the drizzle:
1 tbsp tamarind paste
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
a few drops of lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

2. Lay the sliced aubergine over kitchen paper and sprinkle each slice with salt. Leave for a few minutes and then dab with more kitchen roll. Turn each slice over and do the same on the other side. Move the slices to an oven tray and drizzle with olive oil. Oven cook for 5 minutes on each side. If they start to crisp, remove from the oven.

3. Whack the oven up to 220 degrees. Cut the ready rolled puff pastry into 4 of your desired shape. Move to an oiled tray and put 1 tbsp of tomato puree and 1 tsp of garlic oil on each one. Spread with the back of a teaspoon.

4. Layer the cooked aubergine next, and then crumble the feta cheese on top. Sprinkle with black pepper and then finish with a few basil leaves torn over the top.

5. Oven cook for 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden and has risen.

6. In a bowl, add about 1 tbsp of boiled water to the tamarind paste and stir until it has all mixed. Add the sugar and honey and then put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice.

7.  When the tarts are golden and puffed, take them out the oven and drizzle the tamarind over them.

Serve hot or cold with a salad.

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Penne Funghi (and Hanukkah)

Hanukkah starts tomorrow, and many people know that Jews traditionally eat oily foods like doughnuts and potato latkes (a potato pancake made from grated potato and onion). I’m sure we will see many delicious recipes for latkes this week!

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks. Fried foods like potato pancakes (“latkas” in Yiddish and “livivot” in Hebrew) and doughnuts (“sufganiyot” in Hebrew) are traditional Hanukkah treats because they are cooked in oil and remind us of the miracle of the holiday. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

Another tradition which I had completely forgotten about (until my sister reminded me at our Christmukka themed food club evening) is that Jews often eat dairy at Hanukkah.

Dairy foods did not become popular on Hanukkah until the Middle Ages. The custom of eating things like cheese, cheesecake and blintzes emerged from the story of Judith. According to legend, Judith was a great beauty who saved her village from the Babylonians. The Babylonian army was besieging her village, when Judith charmed her way into the enemy camp with a basket of cheese and wine. She brought the food to the enemy general, Holofernes, who consumed increasing amounts of wine along with the cheese. (According to the story, the cheese was very salty, hence making Holoferenes very thirsty.) When Holofernes eventually became drunk and passed out, Judith beheaded him with his sword and brought his head back to the village in her basket. When the Babylonians discovered that their leader had been slain, they left. In this way Judith saved her people and eventually it became traditional to eat dairy foods in honor of her bravery. From: http://judaism.about.com/od/holidays/a/Hanukkah-Food-Traditions.htm

I personally think this tradition is all wrong and really we should be drinking more wine to remember Judith on Hanukkah! Oh well, there’s always Purim! (On the festival of Purim, Jews are supposed to get drunk.)

At Hanukkah, lots of Jews will eat their dairy in the form of cheesecake, or cottage cheese on their latkes, yum! Here is how I will be eating my dairy this year; it ties in with my pasta obsession and my love for savoury foods.

As you may have realised, I’m a big fan of easy, quick recipes. This is also a super simple and cheap recipe and works really well as part of a ‘pot luck’ dinner or buffet style lunch. And of course, it’s totally kosher. If you’re in a real rush you could get the pasta on as soon as the garlic is cooked. Make sure you give the mushrooms enough time to cook though. I personally don’t like half-cooked mushrooms as I think they can be a bit slimy that way and it gives them a bad reputation!

Penne Funghi

Takes: 35 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
300g penne pasta (or your favourite pasta)
100g button mushrooms, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried oregano
25g butter
3 tbsps olive oil
3 tbsps soft cream cheese

salt & pepper

1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan on a low heat. When melted, add the garlic and about 2 minutes later, the mushrooms.

2. Soften the mushrooms for about 10 minutes or until they are all cooked and soft and covered in the garlicy butter. Then add the herbs, and some salt and pepper, stir and continue to cook on a low heat. If the sauce starts to dry out, add a little water.

3. In a separate pan, boil your pasta in the usual way for about 12 minutes or the time stated on the packet.

4. About 2 minutes before the pasta is ready add the cream cheese to the mushrooms and stir though until melted. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

5. As soon as your pasta is sieved, stir in the sauce and serve hot!

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I would like to, once again, enter this recipe to Pasta Presto Nights, hosted by Ruth. The next post PPN will be in 2012!

2 Paneer Recipes For The Price Of Yum!

Paneer is a totally vegetarian Indian white cheese. I would say it has a texture similar to halloumi, (but without the salty flavour) and is delicious in Indian cooking.

Although I am half Indian, I can’t remember eating much paneer at home. Strangely enough, I fell in love with paneer in Vietnam. When I was travelling around South East Asia with my boyfriend, we met an interesting guy in a guest house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We discussed books, the best hotels and places to eat. He had been living in Ho Chi Minh City and drew us a map on the back on a receipt. He recommended an Indian restaurant called Mumtaz on Bui Vien (road) and said we had to order the paneer tikka (grilled paneer). So of course, a week later, after we took the $10 bus crossing over from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, Lewis and I went to try out this personally recommended restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious, especially the paneer tikka which was coated in spices, skewered and grilled.

Since then, I often choose the vegetarian option in Indian restaurants simply to eat paneer. I understand that the slightly rubbery texture is not for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it then here are two recipes for you to try. I can only hope that you like at least one of them!

You can buy paneer at most supermarkets (in the cheese aisle) and it is very easy to cook. Here are my two favourite ways.

Both my recipes are designed as side dishes. They are perfect served hot with rice, a chapatti and any curry or a lentil dahl.

Fried Paneer

Start to finish time: 15 minutes
Serves: 5

Ingredients:
250g cubed paneer
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the coating:
3 tbsps plain flour
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder

1. Mix all the coating ingredients in a bowl. Add the cubed paneer and stir it up so that all the paneer is covered in the mix.

2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and add the paneer. Fry on a high heat and keep tossing the paneer so that is doesn’t burn.

3. When the coating looks golden and crispy, move the paneer to a plate covered with a napkin and dry off any excess oil.

Yum no. 1, done!

Paneer with Spinach and Peas

Start to finish time: 40 minutes
Serves: 5

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g paneer, cubed
5 blocks frozen spinach
75g frozen peas
1 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp water
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
salt & pepper

Spices:
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander

1. Gently fry the onion, ginger and garlic in the oil until softened. Heat the spices in a separate pan and then add to the onion pan.

2. Add the frozen spinach and peas and stir through. When the spinach has started to cook, add the water, coriander and tomato puree. Stir through.

3. In a separate pan, dry fry the paneer until golden and then add to the main pot. Keep stirring on medium heat for about 10 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can also experiment with other vegetables, such as: cauliflower, tinned tomatoes, and cubed potato.

What is your favourite paneer recipe? Did you try my recipe? I’d love to hear from you.

‘The Summer Is Not Over!’ Salad

True to my blog name, I have eaten, and now I will talk about it. I cannot believe it is September tomorrow already. The sky is grey right now and schools starts again next week. I refuse to believe that the whole summer has gone and I didn’t even get a tan or visit Brighton!

One way I can cling on to summer on the last day of August is to have a yummy summery salad. I’ve just finished eating this and have the taste in my mouth that makes me want more. Alas, it is all gone. I’ll just have to have a banana instead.

My last day of August salad consists of some of my favourite ingredients, including goat’s cheese, and is a great way to eat a high fibre, low carbohydrate lunch. If you don’t like goat’s cheese, you could do this with cheddar or gruyère instead.

Goat’s Cheese Crostini Salad With Toasted Seeds

Start to finish time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
Romaine Lettuce
A handful of rocket
1 tomato
1/3 of a cucumber
1 slice of bread
3 tablespoons of mixed seeds (E.g. pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, pine nuts)
Hard goat’s cheese
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

For the dressing:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon English mustard

1. Turn on the grill to 200 degrees. Slice the goat’s cheese and place on the bread. Slice the bread into 3 rectangles. Place the crostinis on a tray and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Place under the grill for 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

2. Cut the lettuce, tomato and lettuce and mix in a bowl with the rocket.

3. Shake up the dressing ingredients and add to the salad. Stir it all up.

4. Toast the seed in a dry pan until golden and add to the top of the salad. Sprinkle salt and pepper, and then add the crostinis.

Enjoy! See you at the beach? Eh me neither.

Before going under the grill

Mozzarella and Pesto Puff Pastry Squares

I love puff pastry. It is so easy to cook with, you can do so much with it, and it’s tasty! Well, it’s not easy to actually make by yourself, but as I’ve said before, I’m not the amazing baker in the family! I’m the passionate amateur cook.

This is a really simple but tasty recipe for puff pastry squares with mozzarella and pesto. I  often make it with other toppings too, such as goat’s cheese and caramelised onion. You can serve it as a starter with a nice rocket salad, or as a part of a meal; a light lunch perhaps. Plus, it has that added bonus of being vegetarian, so a great dish to make for your veggie friends.

This has very few ingredients and takes hardly any time to cook. I recommend baking the pastry for about 10 mins before adding any heavy toppings, in order to let it puff properly! No one wants unpuffed puff!

Personally, I think it’s best served hot.

Mozzarella and Pesto Puff Pastry Squares

Start to finish time: 30 mins
Serves: up to 12 (as a starter)

Ready rolled puff pastry (if you can get the one on baking paper it’s easier)
Jar of pesto
1 big Mozzarella ball (or about 250g)
2 tomatoes on the vine
12 black olives
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or as per the instructions on the puff pastry. Cut the pastry into evenly sized squares, about 10x10cm. Spread the squares with pesto and place into the middle of the hot oven. While it’s cooking, cut the mozzarella and tomatoes into thin slices, and the olives into halves.

2. When the pastry has puffed and started to golden, take them out the oven and very quickly add the other toppings. 1 slice of tomato, a couple of slices of mozzarella and 2 olive halves to each square. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and put them back into the oven. The quicker you do this stage, the better.

3. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the pastry is perfectly puffed and golden and the cheese has melted. Serve with salad.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Any comments are very welcome, especially if you try out any of my recipes and have any feedback.