This was NOT how I wanted to celebrate reaching the halfway mark of The A-Z of Cooking. Because that’s where we are – M is for Meatless Mains! I decided to use the current darling of the vegetable world, the cauliflower to make the intriguing sounding Cauliflower Basket. Here’s what it looks like in The A-Z:
Hmm…you say. Not very basketlike you say. Well, you’re both right and wrong. Wrong because hidden in that seemingly normal cauliflower is a whole melange of….well…more cauliflower with cheese and eggs and capers and pickles.
On the other hand, you’re absolutely right because in terms of being a good material for a basket, cauliflowers SUCK. It probably explains why someone had to invent wicker. So, what happens in real life when you try to make a basket out of a cauliflower? Well, you get something that looks like the creature from the Black Lagoon and / or something the creature from the Black Lagoon vomited onto a baking tray.
There are so many flaws in this recipe that I don’t even where to start.
Cauliflower Basket – The Good
So, I’ll start with the ONE overarching positive.
This tastes DELICIOUS. No, really. It does. Stop laughing.
I’ll just wait shall I?
Cauliflower Basket – The Bad
Okay…you might want to go grab yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit. We might be here a while.
You need to cook a whole cauliflower. Do you have any idea how long this takes? Which may have been fine in the 1970’s when I’m guessing utilities cost nothing but nowadays? That cauliflower is going to end up costing you more than caviar!
Next. The actual premise of the recipe is fundamentally structurally flawed. Once you have spent an hour cooking it, you then need to cut a piece out of the top of the cauliflower so ideally you now have a U-shaped hole in your cauliflower. Here’s the thing. This doesn’t work. Because the minute you start to cut down into the cauliflower, you are cutting away the support for the sides of that U. So the walls of your basket start to fall away.
So then you make a very tasty cheese sauce, chop up the bits of cauliflower that you have cut out of the middle and pile it all back into the U. Except of course, you don’t have a U so it falls all over the baking tray.
This recipe is found in the Meatless Mains section. This meal is by no means a main dish. It is a side dish. A very tasty side dish. A delicious side dish. But not a main. This would be great with steak or chicken. It is not enough in itself to make a meal. Look how lonely it looks on the plate. It’s almost crying for a little bit o’ roast chicken to keep it company!
Because you are using a whole cauliflower you end up making a TON of this, so unless you are planning on serving it for a large gathering of people, you will be eating Cauliflower Basket for a week.
If you were planning on serving this to large gathering, be prepared at best to have raised eyebrows and at worst to be publicly mocked. This is one fugly looking dish.
Here is the original dumbarse recipe from The A-Z of Cooking:
A much more sensible way to make this would be to cut the cauliflower into florets, par boil them and just pour the sauce over top. This would keep the flavour but remove all of the annoying things about it. And eat it as a side!
There’ll be more celebrating next time, it’s been my birthday and I made cake!
“Hey mambo, mambo Italiano hey, hey mambo mambo Italiano Go go go you mixed up Siciliano All you Calabrese do the mambo like-a crazy”
This week’s dishiest dish has us going to Abruzzo for a Pizza Rustica con Bietola. AKA a savoury tart with chard . But Pizza Rustican con Bietola sounds so much more Italian and glamorous doesn’t it? And it will have you dancing the mambo because it is super tasty!
The recipe comes from Made in Italy by Silvia Colloca which was my choice when we did Italian in the Tasty Reads book club a few months ago.
Before I looked inside this book I had my hater face on. As if some B grade actress was going to have any cooking chops – and bear in mind the Claudia Roden book was one of the other selections. This was going to have to be pretty damn impressive to rival that!
Then I started flicking through and ye-es there were several pictures of Silvia looking both incredibly beautiful and impossibly thin. But it was also filled with what looked like some fabulous recipes and things that were not run of the mill. And everything I have made to date has been delicious.
This has included:
Calimari with Tomatoes and Wine
Herb Frittata with Goat’s Curd
Noodles with Zucchini Blossoms and Saffron Sauce
No Knead Spelt Pizza with Soppressata and Potatoes
Pasta Strips with Slow Cooked Goat Sauce
So, this is proving a pretty solid choice. Yay me! Well, really yay Silvia! But you know, I write a blog and it doesn’t get much more totally self obsessed than that so I guess yay me is valid.
Six Week Challenges – Update
I am still on my 6 weeks of no alcohol although I did take last weekend off! Saturday night we were having lobster – OH. MY. WORD. So good!!!! And there was no way on God’s green earth that I was not having a glass of sparkling with that! And Sunday we went out for a Valentine’s Day dinner to our favourite local Greek restaurant. And again – it would have been churlish not to have a glass of vino! But on the whole it is going well . I haven’t really missed it. I also haven’t felt many of the supposed benefits – weight loss, sleeping better, greater productivity etc.
I have been struggling with the daily meditation. I don’t think I have found the perfect time to do it. In the mornings I am usually too rushed and if i try to do it at night I fall asleep. Two places it did feel “right” were one day I did it as soon as I got home from work so it was a bit of a chance to decompress. The other was one morning when I had parked m car at the station, i just stayed in it and did my ten minutes there.
My new one, started February 15th is a flexibility challenge. Every day I will do a short workout designed to improve my flexibility. I am using the program from Fitivity. I have only done a couple so far and they have been fine but a bit boring. I’m sure they will get more challenging as I progress!
I have been thinking of more that I can do over the next few weeks /months:
No processed food
No Candy crush
Are all on the list.
Room – Emma Donoghue
I have had this book on my To Be Read shelf for YEARS. And finally now I have taken the plunge and have started it – simply because I want to have read it before I see the film. I am probably 2/3 of the way through and I think it is very well written. There are certain parts that I have found quite confronting and other parts that have annoyed me but once I start reading it I find it difficult to put down. I am still having some problems with starting picking it up and starting it each day though…..
The Apologist – Jay Rayner
This is my current audiobook. Marc Bassett is a merciless restaurant critic. One day a chef commits suicide by roasting himself in his bread oven, leaving Bassett’s review taped to the outside. And so begins his career as the apologist.
I am not very far along with this but I am enjoying it so far.
My Kitchen Rules
I can’t help myself. I am utterly addicted to this. And the commentary on Flawless Vision.
I have only listened to one episode of this but they hated Girl on The Train almost as much as I did so it’s definitely worth another listen.
From time to time I’ve decided to list a few pet peeves on here. Things that I would like to see banished to Room 101. Starting with:
Gluten Free Everything
When you label your bread, cakes and cookies gluten free you are doing a good service for those people who cannot tolerate gluten. When you label products that would never have contained gluten in a pink fit “Gluten Free” you are indulging in a cynical marketing ploy. STOP IT. I swear I saw water labelled gluten free recently. It made me want to break things.
Has no one else noticed how bad this smells as it is cooking. I made some the other day and the smell of it made me gag. I”m never cooking it again.
I took out an annual subscription for cooked.com. This, for those of you who may not have heard of it is kind of like a netflix for cookbooks. Does anyone else have one of these? Do you find it useful? how long have you had it. Does it help you to choose which cookbooks to buy or do you not buy them anymore? I have not actually cooked anything from the site yet. I guess I’d better start! Stay tuned!
I had one kitchen nightmare this week. I was all set to make Vitello Tonnato for bookclub only it was a new style “healthy” VT. So, instead of that gorgeous tuna mayonnaise, my tonnato was made out of tofu, anchovies and parmesan cheese. And it was rank! I have never been one to complain about the smell of parmesan cheese. I remember even in primary school when people would say “Yuck, it smells like sick”, I always thought they were nuts. This abomination of a tonnato not only smelt like but tasted like vomit. It was so bad I couldn’t even give it to the dogs.
Now though, I am craving a proper old school Italiano Vitello Tonnato. It’s a shame Silvia’s book does not have a recipe. However, The A-Z of Cooking does. There will be 1970’s Vitello Tonnato on here very soon. I just have to allow the memory of the horror that was that tofu tonnato to subside a little!
What Silvia’s book does have is this recipe for Pizza Rustica con Bietola. I am obsessed by those words. I keep repeating them in an increasingly bad Italian accent! If you would also like to become obsessed with this lovely tart here is the recipe:
This week I am looking forward to cooking…nothing. Because I have been really busy and not done a single bit of menu planning. However, we have a new Tasty Reads book so I might crack this open and give something a whirl:
Oh and this is is my new favourite you-tube. I have watched it about a million times since I found it.
What was the best thing you’ve made this week? What are you looking forward to cooking? Have you read anything interesting? I would love to hear from you!
+Hello and welcome to a very special history happy hour.
Because today, December 17, not only do we have a super fruity and delicious cocktail to celebrate today’s event but also two yummy recipes courtesy of one of my (and hopefully your) favourite bloggers, Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers. Jenny is also making the same trio of recipes so when you have finished here, please head over there to have a look.
But what, and how are we celebrating?
On The Beach – The Film
December 17, 1959 saw the première of the film On The Beach. And just look at this for a cast list – Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Anthony Perkins. There’s galaxies that wish they were that star studded!!!! Oh and just for fun, Frank Sinatra came along too. Not to be in the film, Just to hang out with Ava. On the beach.
And that beach was in my home town of Melbourne! Or in a place called Frankston on the outskirts thereof. In fact, for many a year, there was a scurrilous rumour that Ms Gardner had made the snarky comment that Melbourne was “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.” Not true my friends, not true. Said quote was totally invented by a junior reporter from a Sydney newspaper, obviously miffed that we got Ava, Gregory, Fred, Tony (and Frank) and all they got was a bridge and an Opera House.
On The Beach, based on a novel by Nevil Shute (which I have not read but now really want to) is a post-apocalyptic romance in which Australia is the only country to survive a nuclear war. However it is only a matter of months before radiation clouds doom the survivors to the same fate as the rest of the world. Unless…Dah dah da dah….
This is a film worth seeking out. A stellar cast, some superlative acting, and an engrossing story line, which although somewhat dated has much to speak to us about our current situation. And, if you can watch the scene with Tony Perkins and Donna Andrews without welling up? You’re already a little dead inside.
On The Beach – The Drink
What more appropriate way to celebrate the release of On The Beach than with the classic cocktail Sex on The Beach! And it’s so good. Peach schnapps where have you been all my life?
This is fruit, fruit and more fruit – peach from the schnapps, cranberry, orange juice and pineapple juice all playing a role. With a hit of vodka to give it some backbone.
This is the best summer you have ever had, in a glass. And unlike its namesake you don’t have to worry about getting sand in your privates if you have one. And you can have two, maybe three in one night with lots of different people without anyone looking askance at you!
On The Beach – The Food
Jenny (this woman is a marvel!!!) sent me a host of recipes by the stars of On The Beach but there was one that stood out for me above all others.
Gregory Peck’s recipe for Happy Pappy Eggs. Oh my…..it’s not often that words fail me. But….first up how you could you not love something called Happy Pappy eggs and second…the recipe came from Gregory Peck. AKA Atticus Finch (pre Go Set a Watchman). And then I also chose a Gregory Peck recipe for ratatouille.
The Happy Pappy Eggs were scrambled eggs with some slow cooked onions. Simple and delicious!!! But oh man, that rataouille was amazing!!! I have no idea why I don’t make it more often. It went really well with the eggs. And together they would make a super brunch dish after a long night of Sex on The Beach (either way).
I also ate the rataouille for lunch for a few days with some cheese in a toasted turkish roll and OMG…it was a revelation! So good!
On The Beach – The Recipe
There were some rather frightening copyright restrictions on the Gregory Peck recipes so we decided not to print them. However, I’m sure if you asked Jenny very nicely she would send you a copy. For personal use only. Don’t let us find you in a dingy alley handing out illegal copies of the recipe of Happy Pappy Eggs!
There are also a myriad recipes and variations for the Sex On The Beach Cocktail. This is a fairly classic take on it.
Next up in the Old Bay October Parade are these Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas.
And although it is a little early in the early in the year, I think it only appropriate to quote that modern-day philosopher Billy Joe Armstrong, speaking of the Macy’s Day Parade:
“Give me something that I need, satisfaction guaranteed.”
Ok Billy Joe, here they are. Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas. Satisfaction guaranteed indeed. Although I have it in my head that he’s a vegan so maybe not. How I know anything about Billy Joe Armstrong’s eating habits is beyond me.
Yeah baby, corn and prawn = food porn!
OMG, this was good. This is the type of food that makes me glad my partner works nights. Because it means I get to eat it all!
I had a left over ear of corn and a couple of prawns (shrimp) from the Shrimp Fest so in a Maryland meets Mexico (via Melbourne) move, I used them to make these super tasty tostadas.
Start by barbecuing your corn. First melt some butter and add some old Bay and brush this mix over your corn before popping on the barbecue. Or, if it’s cold and dark outside, like it was when I made this, put your corn under the grill and let it roast away.
Roasting corn smells wonderful – like summer and fairgrounds! I like to get mine with some kernels quite charred:
After you have grilled your corn, make it into a salsa with red onions, chilli, lime juice, avocado, tomatoes and coriander.
How pretty is the salsa? So summery!
Now, you could just load this salsa onto your tostada and have a perfectly delicious meal (and keep Billy Joe happy).
But as you know, we here at casa de la retro food believe that you can gild a lily. There’s not even a hint of minimalism in this neck o’ the woods.
So, we are going to sauté some shrimp with garlic butter and Old Bay and pile them on top of our tostadas to make food worthy of the Aztec Gods. I would quite happily throw a few people I know into a volcano if it meant an endless supply of these tostadas…are you listening Quetzalcoatl? Because I have a list.
The perfect summer accompaniment to these would be an ice-cold (preferably Mexican) Beer. Or a mojito. Whatever you do, do not make the mistake I made last summer and combine the two into a Beer Mojito. DO. NOT. Erggghhhh. I can still taste it. But, DO make the Barbecued Corn and Prawn tostadas today! Or as soon as you possibly can. And then invite me over. For QA purposes only…gotta make sure you’re doing this right you know!
Barbecued Corn and Prawn Tostadas
Maryland meets Mexico in these delicious appetizers. Easy to make and a fabulous addition to your next cocktail party or snack time!
You know the day…its when all the vegetables that you bought on the weekend start to look a little drab and tired.
Plus you’re starting to run a bit low and really just have bits and pieces left over from the things you have made in the week. A few beans, a small wedge of cabbage, a measly carrot….
Well here is my new standby which not only gets rid of all of those oddment vegetables but looks pretty, smells great, takes no time to prepare and tastes fab.u.lous.
World, meet my Thursday Night Noodles.
We had our first taste of these with some delicious confit duck breast but you could equally have a salmon filet, a chicken breast, some prawns, some steak or marinated tofu or you know what? The noodles are super tasty just as is.
The recipe is one that you can flex as you want. I had cabbage, carrots, red onion, coriander and snow peas and mushrooms. But you can throw in any veg you have.
I used the super yum Spice Peddler Balinese Spice Rub as my spice blend – the mix of white and black peppercorns, nutmeg, lemongrass, garlic, sugar, turmeric, sesame, onion, chilli,ea sea salt, galangal, ginger and mace is the perfect match for the South East Asian flavours I wanted this dish to have.
As in all great standby’s you can vary this in as many ways as you have imagination – the mix of veg, the spice blend, the type of noodles, the protein…use what you have; smoke ’em if you got ’em!
Speaking of which…am I ever going to be over this song? Apparently not.
So summer, so fun!
I’m going to be spending my week shakin’ it like a bad girl; have a great week whatever you do!
Oh I’ve started using the Ziplist recipe software. It should make it much easier for you to print, save and shop for the tasty delights you find on here. Use it now and make the noodles tonight…whatever night it is!