My husband cannot stand cauliflower – so when we went to a lovely little restaurant and the waiter generously offered a taste of the chef’s soup as a little appetizer – I thought there was no chance he’d put the cauliflower-filled substance to his lips.
He snarled at it … like a child who’d been given Brussels sprouts for the first time. I tasted it, keen as mustard – I love cauliflower of all kinds – in curries, with cheesy white sauce – I don’t mind! When he saw my eyes light up with pleasure – he was tempted to give it a try.
He put the little shot glass of hot soup to his mouth, and sipped the tiniest amount he could … but as he started to make a repulsed face – you could see his eyes light up too and he no longer hesitated in taking in the entire shot. He loved it so much he wanted more and we spent the rest of the delicious meal talking about that soup. How could a vegetable someone loathes turn into something so pleasurable?
So, I made it my life’s work to recreate that soup – I researched recipes, trying to remember all the flavours of that one, tiny little shot – until I came across Neil Perry’s version. It seem to have all the right ingredients – and so I tried it. With a little tweaking – it was absolutely perfect – creamy, bursting with earthy flavour, but with a lovely bite from the Parmesan cheese. There was nothing boiled, bad smelling or unappetizing about it. It’s actually quite a decadent soup – and very silky on the palate – I’m salivating just writing about it. Now you can substitute the chicken stock for vegie if you want a vegetarian soup. But, if I’m totally honest, the chicken stock really adds depth of flavour. Just sayin’
Creamy Cauliflower Soup
- 2 tbs butter
- 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 brown onions, diced
- a few good pinches of sea salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 whole cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 5 cups of the best chicken stock you can get (or make it if you’re super keen!)
- 1 cup of cream
- 2 tsp of Dijon mustard (or to taste)
- a handful Parmesan cheese, finely grated (or to taste)
Heat butter in heavy-based pan and as soon as it has melted add garlic, onion, salt and pepper, and cook gently for 10 minutes.
Add cauliflower and sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes or until florets are soft and golden (the browning of the cauliflower is essential for the flavour of this soup).
Add stock, bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is very soft.
Remove from heat, process in the food processor or with a stick blender until the soup is very smooth.
Return to pan, place over low heat, stir in cream.
Add mustard and cheese in batches tasting soup each time to judge whether more is needed. This is important to get it just right.
Add more chicken stock if necessary to give the desired consistency, or water if preferred.
Got hunger pains and don’t want to cure them with a piece of chocolate, biscuit or some other naughty treat?
Well, I have been using vegies to pad out my meals. They are totally guilt free and really delicious. So I thought, why not make them into a really yummy snack or light lunch? This dish has no guilt – but is full of delicious Thai flavours like fish sauce, soy and lime. It also takes less than 10 minutes to make. What could be better?
I think this is also a lovely entrée to have before heading out to a restaurant. It fills you up enough where you won’t go and order the biggest steak on the menu and then eat a whole dessert to yourself – but you’ll still want to eat – and hopefully make good choices.
Asian Vegetable Broth
- 4 brocoli flowerets
- a handful of green beans
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- half a red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tbs of chopped, fresh coriander
- the green leaves of 1 head of pak choy, sliced
- 1 tbs of soy sauce
- 1tsp of fish sauce
- the juice of half a lime
- 1/2 a tsp of brown sugar
In a small frypan add the brocoli, beans, stock, soy, fish sauce and sugar. Bring stock to the boil and simmer everything for one minute. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until pak choy is wilted – this should only take 20 or 30 seconds.
Serve garnished with some chopped pieces of red chilli, if desired.
This dish really is fantastic. Feel free to substitute any of the vegies with whatever you like – and leave the chilli out, if it’s not to your liking.
I have had quite a few people ask me how I find the time to cook healthy food.
Sure, I work full-time, go to the gym three days a week, I’m planning a wedding (including lots of DIY stuff) and Matt and I spend the week travelling to his parents place, or to my family’s fruit, vegetable and gourmet food shop, Anglesea Fruitz. We love spending time with our families and I’m never happy unless I’m busy.
But, the idea that healthy food is somehow hard and time consuming is just simply untrue.
In fact, healthy food, as far as I am concerned, is fast food! How hard it is to spice up some chichen breast with garlic, lemon and salt and pepper and grill it quickly until it is tender and juicy. It’s perfect served over a Greek salad.
Or how about a nice steak over a green bean salad? I’m not opposed to carbs – but it’s potato and rice and pasta that can be time consuming. It’s also cakes and muffins etc that are also time hungry – you have to get all the ingredients, get the food processor, the mixer, bowls etc out, make it, bake it, then clean up. Now that’s hard work!
This green bean salad dish requires a chopping board, knife, pan, bowl, and spoon – that’s it. And, it takes about 15 minutes to whip up. Thinking it must be short on falvour? Most defintely not! This is one for all mustard lovers out there – and we all know that little condiment isn’t lacking in that department!
Green Bean Salad with Mustard Vinegarette
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
400g green beans, trimmed
The juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
Cook your steak to your liking and set aside, wrapped in some foil, to rest.
Trim the beans and place into a microwave safe container with a few tablespoons of water. Zap on high for 4 minutes, or until tender.
While the beans cook, add the tomatoes to the pan you used to cook your steak. Cook them over a high heat, flesh slide down, until they are hot and have some colour, but still hold their shape. Remove them to your serving bowl.
In a small bowl, mix the mustard, a few glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper together and season to taste with the lemon.
Pop the cooked beans into the serving bowl, drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat.
Place the beans into a pile in the middle of a plate and top with rested steak. Drizzle juices over the top and serve.
Do you think cooking healthy takes longer than cooking something unhealthy, and if so, what makes you feel this way? I would argue you could whip this up in less time it would take you to jump in the car and go to your local KFC. It’s certainly quicker and cheaper than ordering take-away Indian or Chinese food – sometimes the wait on that stuff is ages … especially if you’re getting it some delivered.
The other thing I like about this dish is you don’t need 24 ingredients to pull it off. I love Jamie Oliver – but to accomplish his 30 Minutes Meals you’d need a trolley full of stuff – and there’s nothing light about serving up three-course meals every night. To his credit though – if you just make the main part of the feasts he suggests – many are quite healthy and quick too.
Simple really is best when it comes to healthy eating, and for people with busy lifestyles – you’ll save time too!
The meat component of most dinners is normally the feature of a dish – and the side-dish is something that just goes along for the ride.
However, this corn, tomato and chilli dish is that good, that it is the perfect foundation. Simple add some grilled meat, and you have a dinner full of great flavour, that took no time at all to put together!
Corn with tomato and chilli
- 4 corn cobs, husks removed and kernels cut from the cob
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 400gm can of chopped canned tomatoes
- 1/2 a cup of chicken stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove the outer husks from the corn cobs. Stand the cob on its end, and using a sharp knife, cut the kernels away from the cob.
In a large frypan, add some olive oil, the onion, garlic and chilli with a pinch of salt and fry gently, over a medium heat. Fry for 3 minutes, then add the corn.
As for a groovy tune – I highly recommend this rocking track my the Kaiser Chiefs. I got into this English indie rock band after the AFL started using this song for their footy promos. Love it!.
Check it out!
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