Recipe: broccoli cheese

 

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We all know cauliflower cheese, right?! The lovely side dish almost mandatory at any British Sunday lunch.

Now just substitute the cauliflower with broccoli. Why? Well, mainly because then I can eat it. My stomach rules my life and has decided cauliflower is out of the question. Obviously I obey, as it’s pretty painful not to.

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But, I also discovered that using broccoli instead of cauliflower made the whole dish a lot lighter, even though the brassica is more or less covered with a heavy and delicious cheese sauce. And, served on it’s own with either some wild garlic bread, a few slices of prosciutto or a salad to make it more of a meal, it’s a perfect summer supper. Satisfying, healthy-ish (thanks Bon Appetit for coining this term) and lovely.

 

Broccoli cheese, serves 2 as a main course

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s excellent cauliflower cheese recipe.

2 medium heads broccoli

4 tbsp butter

4 tbsp plain flour

2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder

salt and black pepper 

475 ml milk, whole milk or semi-skimmed

155 g grated strong cheddar

Pre-heat oven to 200C.  Trim broccoli and remove the core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. Par-boil for 6 to 7 minutes until firm but tender. Drain and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and black pepper. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer while stirring with a whisk. The mixture should thicken. Reserve 2 tbsp of the cheddar and add the rest to the sauce a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Place the broccoli florets in an ovenproof dish. Spoon over sauce  and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. 

 

 

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Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies

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Recently I’ve been ordering Abel & Cole’s vegetable boxes on a regular basis, and although I love the fresh organic produce, sometimes I find myself wondering what to cook with certain vegetables.

Sure, I have a few butternut squash recipes up my sleeve, but sometimes you just want to try something new, without knowing what that something new would be… That’s when I’m grateful for my (rather large) cookbook collection. I love to grab a pile of cookbooks and search through them looking for that something I didn’t know I was looking for. This last time it was this wonderful recipe by Sabrina Ghayour from Persiana that caught my eye and I absolutely love it.

I had half of it for dinner the same night and the rest for lunch at work the day after (and received lots of envious looks from my colleagues), but it would work just as well as a starter or a side dish.

Za’atar roasted butternut squash, spiced yoghurt and chillies, serves 4 as a side dish

Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe in Persiana.

1 large butternut squash

3 tbsp za’atar

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt

Yoghurt sauce:

200 g Greek yoghurt 

a bunch of mint, finely chopped (I didn’t have any mint at home and therefore omitted it)

2 tsp sumac

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tbsp olive oil

zest and juice from 1 lemon

black pepper

To serve:

1 bunch parsley

Pickled red chillies (I couldn’t find any and so brought fresh one, sliced them and covered them in lime juice for approx 20 minutes, then chopped into smaller pieces) 

nigella seeds

Pre-heat the oven to 240C. Line a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper.

Cut the squash horizontally in half at the point of the bulge. Now halve each portion vertically. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard, then halve each piece vertically again until you have 8 pieces. Peel the squash and cut the pieces into any shape you wish. 

Make a paste with the za’atar and olive oil in a small bowl and rub the squash pieces all over with paste until every piece is well coated. Place all the pieces on to the prepared baking sheet. Season with sea salt, then roast for about 40-45 minutes (depending on the size of the pieces of squash), or until the edges start to brown and almost char a little. 

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix the yoghurt with the fresh mint, sumac, coriander, olive oil, lemon zest and juice and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  

Remove the squash pieces from the oven and place them on a serving platter. Liberally dollop or pour the yoghurt over the wedges, then sprinkle with the parsley. Follow this with a scant scattering of nigella seeds. Lastly scatter over the pickled chillies.  

Confit garlic bread

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I found a recipe for confit garlic in an issue of Bon Appetit and I liked the idea, but thought using butter as the recipe suggested seemed a bit risky so I did it my own way, with oil.

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It still amazes me how different garlic can taste depending on how it’s prepared. I love the sweetness from caramelised garlic and the punch of frying fresh chopped garlic with mushrooms for example. The confit garlic is somewhere in between the two; it’s less sweet than caramelised garlic but a lot softer in flavour than raw. I used the confit garlic to make garlic bread and it was, as I suspected, absolutely delicious!

Why not try wild garlic bread or cheesy garlic bread next?

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Confit garlic

1 whole garlic

approx 100 ml neutral oil

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Peel the garlic and place the cloves in a ramekin. Cover with oil. Place in the oven until the garlic is soft, approx 30 minutes. Leave to cool. Remove the garlic. Save the oil for roasting potatoes and vegetables in the oven. Keeps in the fridge. 

Confit garlic bread

the confit garlic above

100 g salted butter, softened 

a bunch of parsley, finely chopped 

1 baguette or other preferred bread

Remove the garlic from the oil and mush into the butter. Add parsley and mix well.

Make slits in the bread and spread with the butter. Wrap in tin foil and bake for 10 minutes in 180C until the butter has melted. 

Place the remaining butter on a sheet of cling. Shape into a roll and place in the fridge or freezer. Use for garlic breads or as a flavoured butter for fish or meat.