Thursday, 2 February 2012

Roasted Cauliflower & Squash with Spiced Bulgur

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that has always failed to inspire me. I'm not talking about the fractal beauty that is the romanesco cauliflower, but the common or garden white variety. In my kitchen they usually find their way into cauliflower cheese or curry (there's something about cauliflower and spices that works so well), but overrun with them as I was just before Christmas I decided to try something new.

I've fancied Denis Cotter's recipe for cauliflower with green peppercorns for a while, but a lack of green peppercorns in my cupboards put paid to that plan! Here I was looking at a rather large cauliflower that really was ready for eating and to be honest there wasn't a fat lot else in the fridge. Aren't the best recipes always the ones that come out of nothing?

You could add some cooked chickpeas to the squash and cauliflower 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time to make this a more nutritionally balanced vegetarian dish.


1 small cauliflower
1/4 of a crown prince squash or 1 small butternut squash
1/2 to 1 red chilli (sliced)
3 cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper

For the spiced bulgur:

1 tbsp olive oil
6 cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole cloves
150g bulgur wheat
350ml water (approx)
salt & pepper
1 tbsp toasted nibbed almonds

For the caramelised onions:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions (sliced)
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp good sherry vinegar
salt & pepper


Preheat your oven to 190 C.

Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into thick slices. Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower, wash the cauliflower and then cut into thick slices (rather than breaking it into florets). Put the squash and cauliflower into a roasting tin with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the red chilli and whole cloves of garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Put into the oven for around 40 minutes until the cauliflower and squash are tender and beginning to crisp and brown at the edges.  Remove the garlic cloves.

In the meantime prepare the spiced bulgur and caramelised onions.

For the spiced bulgur, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pan (which has a tight fitting lid) over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a minute stirring often, then add the cardamom and cloves. Stir in the bulgur and reduce the heat. Continue to stir over a low heat until the bulgur has turned from a golden to a nutty brown (without letting it catch or burn). Season and add the water. Bring to the boil, stir, put the lid on the pan and immediately reduce the heat to very low. Cook for approximately 15-20 minutes until the bulgur is tender but still with a little bite.  Fluff the bulgur with a fork, remove the whole spices and then stir through the toasted almonds just before serving.

For the caramelised onions, put the oil and onions into a heavy based pan over a low heat. Cook the onions very slowly, stirring often, until they begin to turn golden brown (this will take around 30-40 minutes) and then add the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook for around another 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid has disappeared. The onions should now be caramelised and a rich brown colour.

Serve the roasted squash and cauliflower on top of the spiced bulgur and finish with a spoonful of the caramelised onions.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Smoked Mackerel with Celeriac & Beetroot Remoulade

The root vegetable mountain that grows in my kitchen at this time of year can become a little tedious after a while. Don't get me wrong, I love root veg, but if I see another beetroot or swede this month I might just scream. Devising ways to make it feel like we're not eating the same root vegetable stews, soups, gratins and mash for the seemingly endless winter months has become a bit of a challenge.

Caramelised swede, onion & thyme tartlets, beetroot carpaccio with goat's curd & honey roasted walnuts, mini cheese & celeriac scones, beetroot, red quinoa & feta fritters and spiced roasted carrot houmous have all made an appearance but I'll be needing a bit more inspiration to see me through to spring!

This recipe made me feel like I'd been transported out the depths of winter - a little seasonal salad to accompany the smoked mackerel that was lurking in the fridge.

My wonderful fishmongers (Moxons) sell the most amazing whole smoked mackerel which I used for this recipe. It has a gentle smokiness, silky smooth texture and would easily feed 2 (gluttonous) people all for around £3. If you can't get hold of this sort of smoked mackerel it will work just as well with smoked mackerel fillets.


1 whole smoked mackerel
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tsp Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
1 tbsp small capers (rinsed)
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 medium raw celeriac
1 small raw beetroot


Put the lemon juice into a bowl. Either grate or finely chop the celeriac into thin matchstick sized pieces and coat immediately in the lemon juice to prevent it from discolouring. You don't want the celeriac grated too finely - it still needs to have some crunch. I use my trusty old handheld moulinex which I brought back from France a few years ago. Set the celeriac to one side.

In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise, crème fraiche and mustard together. Strain any excess lemon juice from the celeriac and discard. Stir the celeriac into the mayonnaise mixture. Add the capers and set to one side for up to 20 minutes.

Prepare the smoked mackerel - remove the head and tail and then slice through the body to make 2 or 3 large steaks.

Stir the chopped parsley into the celeriac remoulade, reserving a little to garnish.

Peel the beetroot and then grate or chop in the same way as the celeriac. Add to the celeriac remoulade. Do not stir it in or you will end up with pink remoulade! Just fold it through once or twice very gently.

Serve immediately with the smoked mackerel and some brown bread.