Roast Cauliflower

Roast Cauliflower

The print had barely dried on Domini Kemp`s recipe in last Saturday`s Irish Times, before I`d a fine head of cauliflower in my hot little claw. She wanted me to roast it and I could barely wait to try it.

Caulis are a much neglected veg in the Chook House. There is hope for Teen girl, but alas, it will take the urgings of a better woman to convert her brothers. No problem. That meant, when I`d get to try this recipe, there`d be all the more for me. Greed is good . At least when it comes to scoffing cauliflower.

Confession: I replaced the basil with parsley, as that was all I had to hand. No whole wheat spag in the Chook House either. I made do with ordinary
Boast: I actually had a splash of wine left, after last Friday`s and Saturday`s adventures with a dubious white.

So here it is then. I give you…

Roast Cauliflower Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Scrape of nutmeg or pinch of chilli flakes
  • A couple of knobs of butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Splash white wine
  • Basil leaves
  • 250-300g whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 50g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • Hard goat’s cheese or Pecorino to garnish (optional)

Method:
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Cut the cauliflower into florets, give them a little rinse and shake off excess water (you don’t want them steaming). Put them into a roasting tin, sprinkle with half the olive oil and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg or chilli. Roast for 20-30 minutes. You want a little char and crunch. Don’t fret about turning your oven up full blast and tweaking cooking times. You can toast your hazelnuts while your oven is preheating – but keep an eye on them. They won’t take kindly to a temperature of 200 degrees, so catch the oven on the way up.
Meanwhile, heat up the butter, add the garlic and then the white wine and roughly chopped basil. Season and set aside. Cook your spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water, drain, then add the two tablespoons of olive oil and mix with a pasta spoon or tongs so the oil coats the spaghetti. Season with some salt and pepper. Put it back in the big saucepan and add the butter sauce and roasted cauliflower and toss. Spoon into bowls, and top with the hazelnuts and some grated cheese.

More Chook Notes:

I roasted the hazelnuts in a frying pan because I`ve a predilection for burning things so I could keep a better eye on them that way.And  I checked and tossed the cauliflower, as Domini suggested, just to make sure they were roasting nicely.

I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in this dish and am looking forward to seeing how it copes with reheating for lunch at work today. The garlic should keep my colleagues at bay too.

Five Chook Stars then, for this very useful recipe.

Falafel

Falafel

Falafel

One of my Saturday pleasures is perusing through The Irish Times. No, not the online edition, the old-fashioned paper version. A pot of strong coffee, something to nibble on and the IT are my idea of heaven.

I`ll wade swiftly through the national and world news sections. On then to soak up the best of the Weekend Review section-I particularly like Michael Viney`s column there. I`ll leave the Sports section to the Teen boys and then, saving the best pleasures til last, I`ll leaf through the magazine section.

My favourite section there-and in all of the newspaper-is Domini Kemp`s food column.

I just love her recipes. They`re generally fusion of tastes, but with strong middle eastern and mediterranean influences. She often plays with vegetarian options too.

She did all of those things last week with her recipe for Falafel.

I`d eaten this dish before in a middle-eastern restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I`d no idea the main ingredient was chickpeas. Or that it was so easy to make.What`s nice about this Domini Kemp`s recipe is that she has offered gluten free flour in it so that coeliacs can enjoy this falafel too. I made mine with ordinary plain flour though,

Falafel

  •  500g dried chickpeas
  • 100g flat leaf parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Few glugs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few tbsp spelt or gluten-free flour
  • Sunflower oil

Method:

Soak the chickpeas overnight in salted water. Drain, rinse and then blend in a food processor until they resemble fine ground sawdust. Put them in a bowl and then process the herbs with the olive oil and garlic (which you need to crush first). When it resembles green sludge, mix with the chickpeas. The chickpeas should take on a nice green colour. Season well and add enough spelt flour so that when you make a ball between your fingers, it will just stay together, not as well as small meatballs will, but they should be strong enough to be shaped and then put on a plate, carefully.

Heat up the sunflower oil and cook off a batch of balls at a time, carefully turning them over when they are crisp and golden brown on one side. They don’t take too long to cook. Basically, once they are golden brown on all sides, they are done. Drain on kitchen paper, season with more salt and keep them warm in a low oven while you finish the others off. They are lovely cold, and can be re-heated, but taste best when they are eaten soon after frying.

Since the Teens refuse point blank to eat anything that`s both ball shaped and vegetarian, I ended up having this delicious treat all for myself. It`s perfect running recovery food, with all those protein-dense chickpeas. I also ate them cold, and enjoyed them. Then I froze the remainder and ate some more during the week.

I really should do a DNA test and see if I`ve any Middle Eastern leanings as I seriously love that kind of food.

At the very least though, I should have gone the whole hog and made tzatziki. After all it`s just a blend of yoghurt, mint, cucumber,garlic and seasoning. But I dunked in Gardini`s Caesar Salad Dressing instead. Tzatziki will wait till next time. And there will definitely be a next time, as this is perfect running recovery food.

Week seven of Hal Higdon`s Marathon plan done! I did pretty well this week too. Actually began to feel like a runner again on Wednesday`s seven mile run. This weekend is a tad running heavy with a seven mile run today and a gasp! fourteen mile run tomorrow.

So with  seven miles to run and a whole newspaper to read, and tzatziki to make, I`d  better get moving!

 

 

 

Chickpea, Feta and Herb Salad

The Chook House has cupboards full of canned chickpeas. Obviously I must`ve been on a hummus kick some time ago. Well, I got over it, apparently, and still have enough chickpeas to keep me and the chooks going right through Armageddon and beyond. So what` s a red hen to do with such a bountiful store?

Domini Kemp has the answer in last Saturday`s Irish Times.

Ta-da!

Chickpea. Feta and Herb Salad

Chickpea. Feta and Herb Salad

Meet Chickpea, Feta and Herb Salad.

Okay, I know I scratch about in the dirt most of the time, and will eat almost anything, but seriously folks, you MUST run out and buy yourself one can of chickpeas, feta and herbs and throw this dish together. I promise you, you will get up in the middle of the night to eat it.

Oh, I can see it all now…You`re staggering in the door from the nightclub, you`ll be begging to slip into something more comfortable and relax with….

Chickpea Salad! Yay!

Domini has the proper recipe here. But I am only a little red hen and I really am birdbrained when it comes to measuring everything out accurately, so here`s the quick fix version of the recipe

Sweat three red onions in a pan, with six cloves of garlic and 220 mls olive oil. Remove from the hob and bung in one finely chopped red chilli and the zest of two lemons. Let it cool, then add the juice of two lemons.

Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas. Leave in a bowl. Throw the cooled onion mix in with the chickpeas and let it marinate. Toss in three spring onions, and a big bunch of chopped parsley and coriander and crumble 220g of feta over the lot. You can also add chopped cherry tomatoes, which I did, since I`m a tomato addict. Oh, and the usual S & P seasoning.

I ate it yesterday. And it was even yummier today for lunch. Kinda wanted to cube up some beetroot and throw it into it too but I`d left it at home, damn. And now I still have a whole beetroot mountain to work through.

Hopefully Domini will come up with some solution there, if she`s reading this blog. And I`m sure she probably is….

Do go read her recipe though. You can compare her food photography to mine. But please, no comments on my attempts. I`m an L-plater, see? I`m just happy I have a photograph of my own and haven`t succumbed to grand photography theft on google image.

Meanwhile, all I can do is drool when I study other food photographs. Like Rachel Allen`s Bake book. It`s great: you can`t actually hear her annoying D4 oxcent but you know she can seriously hire somebody who really knows how to take the best arty farty food photographs in the whole planet.

By the way, anyone know when Rachel`s gonna knock off playing the Nigella on screen? It`s seriously grating. And the smiling thing when she`s cooking? I`ve become seriously aware of my facial expression when I`m pouring cake mix into a tin and I swear I am NEVER smiling. Concentrating, maybe. Grimacing, probably. Looking seriously old and haggard,definitely. But never ever smugly smiling with every blond wisp in place, perfect arty gleaming kitchen in the background and ne`er a hungry child in sight.

Anyway, all the hungry chooks came out when I tossed that salad. And all declared it possibly edible. Yes! Success!

They also ate an entire Rachel Allen/Red Hen Orange Madeira Cake in one sitting. But I`ll save that recipe for another day.

Ok, back to scratching in the dirt….

Eats, Runs, and Leaves Again

Lamb Balls and Pistachio Aioli resized

Eats: Meat Balls and Pistachio Aioli.

This recipe has been shamelessly fliched from one of my fav food writers, Domini Kemp. It actually should be lamb skewers. But my skewers were too big for the pan so I turned the meat mix into balls instead. Still equally scrummy though. And the aioli? Well, neither my presentation, nor my pic do it justice here. Believe me, it is truly, truly delish.

The recipe for both the lamb skewers and the aioli can be had here, on the Irish Times website. And Domini`s pic is so much better than mine too. So, go on, take a peek.

You`ll be back in time for my running and photography news…

Runs:

Beautiful spring morning in this neck of the woods. I could hear the birds calling to me. So I jumped out of bed, and donned my marathon finisher t-shirt.

dublin-marathon-tshirt Ooohh, I just love to brag!

Oh, and capri pants and runners of course. But no thermal underlayer! Yay! So good to see sunnier days again.

Wore my Garmin 405, of course, but didn`t fret about the time. Really bothered about my feet holding up and, while the first five miles were pain free, after that I could feel the familiar old achiness setting in on my left foot. Damn. But I ploughed on. Just took it carefully, tried to relax the foot as best I could. Stop and stretched for a bit. Widened out the top of the runners at the laces. The pain wasn`t unbearable, mind. I just don`t want to compound any damage. And yet I was gonna push on for ten miles if I could help it at all.

Usual Sunday mix of cyclists, and runners on the road. And, charmingly, a trail of vintage cars on their way to some meet or other. I`m a sucker for classic cars.

By mile nine I was contemplating walking. But I suddenly thought of dropping my heel to the ground. I know this is a debatable point-landing on forefoot or heel striking. Well, heel striking hugely eased the pressure on my feet.(Yep, right one acting up by then.) And I shuffled home, quite happy with the distance. Didn`t care about the pace.

Just need to keep buildling on these longer runs to ensure I`m half marathon ready by June and marathon ready by October. I`ve given up on the orthotics. Did nothing for me, I`m afraid. But am stretching my feet and toes whenever it`s convenient and also going barefoot at home.

Happy to have done the run though. Psychologically, and in terms of the mileage, it sets me up for a good running week.

Leaves:

Yep, it`s the Leaves thing again. The challenge,as set out on the blog Ouch! My Back Hurts! is to take pics on a different theme each month. April`s theme is Leaves. So, I nipped into the Botanical Gardens in Dublin yesterday and snapped these.

Bromeliad Hothouse Botanical Gardens April 2013 Fronds Hothouse Gerania Canopy Hothouse In the hothouse

The challenge really opened my eyes to leaves. I never knew, for instance, that the humble perlagonium held such beautiful shades of green within it. Or that palm fronds were so huge.All of these pics were taken indoors, of course. The palm house, in fact, had quite a good deal of Asian folk wandering about in it yesterday. Feeling homesick, I am sure, surrounded,as they were by such familiar foliage, and basking for a short while, in the muggy heat.

Yes, Spring is a-springing, as best she can. Wandering around the gardens, after my little session in the glasshouses, I could see buds only dying to unfurl their precious green cargo. Any day now, and all those naked branches will be doing the decent thing and getting their clothes on.

Bring it on!