Monday, 8 October 2012
There are some lovely looking cauliflowers in the shops at the moment. This is the season when those lovely tightly knit curded plentiful heads are in abundance, fresh and localy grown. A member of the Brassica family, it is one of my favourites and is at it's very best at this time of year. You can also get the Italian variety, or Romanesco, which whilst green in colour and very ornamental looking, is quite similar in flavour and texture.
You want to look for nice, heavy heads of cauli's, with fresh green leaves, not leaves that look wilted, yellowing or dry. Your cauli's should have fresh looking white or cream coloured curds, with no sign of mildew or rot, and the buds should be tight and crisp, and not at all rubbery. A rubbery cauliflower is one that's been picked for some time and not been kept properly stored! Pass any that are not perfect by! (I'd ruther have frozen cauli's than one of those!)
Cauli's can be kept loosely wrapped and stored in the refrigerator. A relatively fresh one from the garden or market will keep for up to two weeks, properly stored in the refrigerator, whole . . . or about a week, if broken up into florets.
Sweet and nutty we just love this vegetable. We have it in soups and curries, lovely cauliflower cheese's and gratins, stir fries, and raw with creamy dips. In any way shape or form, if cauliflower is on the menu, that is a happy day for us! I've never tried to grow my own, but may do one year, you just never know!
This is a lovely soup which perfectly showcases the lovely flavor of this beautiful vegetable. If you are a fan of cauliflower, then you will love this. It's easy to make and also freezes well, without the brioche crumbs. In the freezer it will keep well for up to 3 months. (Defrost completely and then re-heat. You can make fresh crumbs while it is heating up.) The crumb topping adds a delicious crunch, but you must eat it right away before the soup makes them sog up.
*Cauliflower Soup with Brioche Crumbs*
Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main
This is a very simple soup which really showcases the lovely flavour of Cauliflower. I think the Brioche Crumbs are the perfect topping. It is quite simply, a lovely dish.
50g butter (1/4 cup)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
500ml hot vegetable stock (2 cups)
300ml whole milk (1 1/4 cup)
300ml single cream (1 1/4 cup)
sea salt and white pepper to taste
1 small brioche roll
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 TBS finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
First make the Brioche Crumbs. Pre-heat your grill to high. Place the torn Brioche roll into the food processor along with the garlic. Blitz to form bread crumbs. Spread the crumbs out on a baking tray and then place under the grill. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring from time to time and keeping a close watch on them, until toasted and golden brown. Remove from the grill and toss together with the chopped parsley in a bowl. Set aside while you make the soup.
Place the butter in a large saucepan. Melt over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute for several minutes, stirring, until softened. Do not allow to colour. Add the cauliflower florets and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the hot stock and the milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Using your stick blender, if you have one, blend until smooth. Otherwise you will have to use either a food processor or a regular blender. (Be very careful as hot things in blenders and food processors can be quite explosive! I always cover mine with a towel to be on the safe side and also only blend in small batches.) Return the soup to the saucepan, stir i nthe cream and then heat through. Season to taste with some sea salt and white pepper.
To serve, divide equally amongst heated soup bowls, and sprinkle with the Brioche Crumbs. Serve immediately.
This soup was the perfect way to test my new Breville 2 in 1 hand blender which was sent to me from Littlewoods. I have long been a fan of the hand held stick blender and when I was asked to test this one out I jumped at the chance. Stick blenders are so much more convenient to use than regular blenders, and a lot easier to keep clean.
This Breville 3 in 1 hand blender is like the Cadillac of hand blenders. With a powerful 400w motor, it has the oomph and strength of a professional model hand held blender. It has two speeds, and with it's professional quality stainless steel leg it's very hygenic.
It comes with a nicely sized 500ml plastic beaker, which is ideal for blending smoothies and liquids and making salad dressings. Today I used it right in the soup pot to blitz my cauliflower soup to an ultra smooth puree, lickety split.
It also comes with a 500ml chopper attachment, which is perfect for chopping meats, herbs, nuts and vegetables. This is going to be a real favourite of mine. I have been wanting to buy myself a small size food processor for a time now, for when I only want to chop an onion or a few odd bits, without having to drag out the whole huge food processor.
This nice piece of kit came in very handy the other day when I was making my cookie crumbs for the parsnip tarts I made. It worked like a dream and in no time at all and with very little hassle I had perfect cookie crumbs. And it was a breeze to clean up after.
I also used it today for the brioche crumbs for the soup and the garlic.
Another wonderful feature is the stainless steel whisk attachment which is perfect for whipping up some cream or egg whites. Not strong enough to beat cake batters I don't think, although it would probably also work very well with pancake or Yorkshire pudding batters as they are quite thin. Just make sure you do them in a deep bowl, or you will end up with it all over the kitchen (as I did today). It's a pretty powerful little whisk!
The handle is very easy to hold onto as well, with a comfortable rubber grip. Easy to operate and comfortable to use, this Breville hand blender has a powerful 400watt motor, two speed levels and a detachable end for easy cleaning. I give this a 10 out of 10 for ease of use, performance, looks and ease of cleaning.
Many thanks to Littlewoods for having sent me this beautiful piece of kit!
The Breville 3 in 1 hand blender
selling for £89