This balmy weather is clearly part of a little joke that the weather gods are having at our expense.
Helius (he’s the dude on a fiery chariot drawn by four winged steeds) has obviously popped over from wherever he’s been hanging to give Zeus (as the ruler of the heavens, he’s the one who kindly answered all of our hosepipe ban prayers) a temporary break from being an arse. And the two of them are effectively saying
‘δούμε τι θα έπρεπε να έχει για τους τελευταίους δύο μήνες, και κοιτάξτε αυτό που δεν πρόκειται να πάρει, ενώ το υπόλοιπο της παρατήρησης του κόσμου.’
Which according to Google translate means
‘Look what you should have had for the last two months, and look what you’re not going to get whilst the rest of the world’s watching.’
Nice one lads. Hilarious.
Maybe I’m being overly skeptical. But just look at how that 5 day weather forecast is tailing off … I can’t help but think this is retribution for us stealing and commercialising their sports day.
Anyway, the short and probably temporary heatwave we’re having has caused me a couple of fridge management conundrums – the specific conundrums being two cauliflowers: a standard white one, and one of those funky green Romanesco ones. It’s all very well having a cauliflower or two to play with when it’s comfort food time. But what do you do if, because of the weather, it doesn’t feel right to simply boil it, puree it, make it into a soup, or cover it with cheese?
Well, I decided to make a couscous salad; a little trick I picked up whilst doing about one hundred things with a cauliflower in the early days of my chef’s course.
The trick is that there is no couscous: by shaving the ends of cauliflower florets you can basically create little couscous like beads that have a lovely crunchy texture and hold typical couscous salad dressing flavours really well.
It’s proper champion, like, and I’m sure you could pass loads of sweet, sharp and herby things through to create all sorts of interesting and refreshing variations on this side dish.
Because of the Romanesco, though, I decided to keep my one simple and green – adding a decent amount of cucumber and parsley (and just the smallest hint of red chilli). I used maple syrup and a tangerine (mandarin? Satsuma? Clementine? Dunno) to make the dressing a bit different too. It was sehr gut.
There’s a recipe at the bottom of this post. Do give it a go if the weather holds – it was spot on with some stunning lamb chops from the Elwy valley in Wales, and was also great as part of an open sandwich bruschetta thing, on top of some adzuki beans and a cold cauliflower puree I knocked up with the otherwise unused white cauliflower innards (boil cauli in milk with a bayleaf, salt and pepper. Then blitz with 25% of the vegetable weight milk stock, and 10% of the vegetable weight butter. Add the butter and milk gradually).
Alternatively, if it’s more appropriate, I’ll stick a winter warming cauliflower cheese recipe up next week – for munching whilst watching highlights of the ‘beach’ volleyball.
Did you notice a little bit of German creeping in just then? Mein Gott, it must be because of all the time I’m spending at the moment in the Goethe Institut in Kensington.
Confused? Well, if you didn’t already know, I’m helping to put on a pop-up event there called ‘the Supperclub Summit’. It runs throughout August, and we’ve a host of great supperclubs lined up who’ll all be hosting some really fun evenings. Have a look here for more details of the event and what’s on offer – something might take your fancy. Maybe even one of my nights:
(a) I’m collaborating with a Berlin supperclub called Rollin Restaurant on 10 and 11 August. The 10th is sold out, but a few tickets remain for the 11th.
(b) I’m now also cooking next Wednesday (1 August), which is the first night of the whole thing. I’ll be doing it on my tod, so it’ll be a slightly more relaxed affair than the two evenings later on. That said it’s still 4 courses, a gin cocktail, and Kraftwerk and David Hasslehoff blasting out the stereo … you should definitely come. Click on this link to see the menu and to book.
Cauliflower ‘couscous’ salad, maple and tangerine dressing
A whole white cauliflower or two halves of different coloured cauliflowers will form the basis of a side salad that serves 3-4 people. Feel free to improvise on what you mix it with.
For the couscous1 whole white cauliflower / two halves white and Romanesco cauliflower 3-4 inches cucumber, peeled, de-seeded (with a spoon), diced Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
For the dressing2 dessertspoons of maple syrup 2 dessertspoons of olive oil 1 dessertspoon of cold water Juice of 1 tangerine (about 3-4 dessertspoons) 1 dessertspoon of lemon juice Salt Pepper
Separate the cauliflowers into florets. Slice the outside of the vegetable off to create couscous like beads. Don’t be too precious – irregular sizes are fine and add character. Mix in a bowl with the cucumber, parsley and chilli.
Put all the liquid ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl and jam jar and whisk or shake to emulsify. Season to taste.
Mix the dressing with the cauliflower. Leave for at least half an hour. Taste, season again or add more constituent parts of the dressing if necessary