Hello, everyone! Someone recently gave me a HUGE head of cauliflower and I couldn’t think of anything to make with it- until a hint of scandal entered my brain from a recipe we learned at the Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris:Crème Dubarry (or Cream of Cauliflower Soup). You might ask, “How could a scandal be attached to a simple Cauliflower soup?”
It turns out that Madame du Barry of France had many lovers and eventually became the mistress of King Louis XV. Decked out in jewels and fancy clothes, she led a pampered life until she was finally forced to leave Versailles upon the King’s death. Eventually she became a victim of the Reign of Terror and was beheaded in 1793.
Madame du Barry
But not to worry. Madame du Barry’s spirit lives on through this soup named after her: Crème Dubarry, or Cream of Cauliflower Soup. It’s a pretty easy recipe and I’ve added a little Gruyere cheese to give the soup more body: I’m sure Madame du Barry wouldn’t mind!
A creamy Cauliflower Soup named in honor of Louis XV mistress!
2 tbsp. butter
300 g (11 oz) cauliflower
120 g (4 oz) leeks, white part
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
5 cups chicken stock or water
Salt/white pepper to taste
½ cup thickened cream
¼ cup gruyère or parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup small cauliflower florets
¼ cup small broccoli florets
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chopped shallot, leeks and cauliflower; sauté for several minutes until the vegetables soften a little. Add the flour and stir. Add the chicken stock and cook for about 15 minutes until the cauliflower softens and is fully cooked through. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for several minutes until smooth. Transfer mixture back to the saucepan, add the cream and cheese and stir until thickened. Add more salt and pepper if required.
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the cauliflower and broccoli florets. Cook for several minutes, then remove. To serve, add soup to bowl, place several cauliflower and broccoli florets in the center of the bowl and sprinkle with some chopped chives.
Have you ever heard of a Brookie? I’m sure it’s the newest craze- a moist brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie- two of the most delicious things on earth stacked together.
I first heard of a Brookie on last year’s Master Chef TV show. After looking through several recipes, I became embroiled in a philosophical quandry: should I put the cookie on top of the brownie or the brownie on top of the cookie? This became an important question because after all, you don’t want to display any favoritism towards our two most favorite desserts!
After experimenting, it turns out that this dessert looks best with the chocolate cookie on top. Some people cut their Brookies into squares, but I wound up baking mine in a cupcake pan since I didn’t have a square baking pan.
Whatever shape you decide to use, you’ll love these Brookies!
A moist brownie topped with a chocolate chip cookie
Pre-heat oven to 375 F (175 C). Grease 8 wells in a cupcake tin with melted butter.
Prepare the brownie mixture. Combine the white sugar, melted butter, vanilla and 2 eggs and melted chocolate. Mix well with electric beaters. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry flour mixture into the melted chocolate mixture until well-combined. Pour the brownie mixture into the cupcake pan, filling each well ½ full.
Prepare the Chocolate Chip cookie dough. Beat the softened butter, light brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla extract and egg together until creamy.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually combine the butter mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Take about one heaping tablespoon of the chocolate chip cookie mixture and smooth it onto the top of each brownie, making sure the mixture comes to slightly below the rim of the cupcake pan to allow for some rising of the dough during the baking. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the ‘Brookie’ comes out clean. Let cool for several minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each Brookie and remove from the pan.
I love pork belly and the crackling sensation of biting into that crispy layer of fat! For this recipe, the flesh side of the pork is seasoned with a rub of pomegranate molasses and various spices – which after baking for several hours, ‘blossoms’ into a wonderful gravy for the roast.
In order to get the crispy texture of the pork fat, you need to first coat it generously with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt- that helps to draw the moisture from the fat and get it crackling. I know I’ve used the word ‘fat’ quite a few times so far- there’s nothing wrong with fat- it’s what gives food so much flavor!
Some recipes call for slow-roasting the pork belly for many hours and then turning the heat up for the last 10 minutes to make the fat nice and crispy. However, I found that roasting it at 170 C (340 F) for two hours was enough to cook the meat to a tender stage followed up with a short blast of heat to crackle the top layer of (yes) FAT.
I’ve also included a recipe for a Pear and Walnut Salad which pairs nicely with the pork belly.
Happy Easter everyone! We’re all enjoying a real 4-day week-end here in Australia- everyone gets off both Good Friday and Easter Monday as a holiday- most stores are genuinely closed! (I just spoke with my daughter in New York and she said “What holidays?”)
Crispy Pomegranate-roasted Pork Belly
What could be better than biting into a crispy layer of pork fat seasoned with the flavors of pomegranate molasses
Pre-heat oven to 170 C (340 F). Score the fat side of the pork belly in a criss-cross pattern with the cuts spaced ¼ inch apart. Set aside.
To make the spice rub for the pork belly, add the garlic, thyme leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, dried rosemary and salt to a mortar and pestle; grind all ingredients together. Transfer to the bowl of a blender, add the pomegranate molasses and pulse until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
Rub the flesh side of the pork belly generously with the paste. Transfer the pork to a baking dish with skin side facing up. Drizzle the skin generously with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt, making sure the salt is rubbed into the cuts. Pour the water around the edge of the pork. Bake for1 ½ to 2 hours until the meat is tender, then increase the temperature to 210 C (410 F). Cook for approximately 10 more minutes until the skin becomes crisp and brown. Remove from oven and let the pork rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To serve, place meat on cutting board with skin facing down and slice into square pieces to serve. Drain the juices from the roasting pan and drizzle over the meat to serve.
For the Pear and Walnut Salad
Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, water, olive oil, cream and salt. Place the mixed salad greens in a large bowl and toss with the salad dressing. Add some chopped walnuts and thinly-sliced pears as garnish and serve.
I thought I would be clever and post a recipe called ‘Crab-filled Fish Paupiettes with White Wine and Butter Sauce.’ Photographing fish on a plate can look quite bland, so I decided to add a Tomato Rose to the plate to add more colour. I wound up liking the Tomato Roses so much, I decided to forget about the fish (for awhile) and instead feature these little roses.
Tomato Roses are so easy to make- all you do is peel the tomato skin (like an apple) and wind the peel up tightly to form a ‘rose’ (see directions below). These roses are so versatile, you can use them for just about anything. After I made the roses, I started walking around the house saying to myself, “Hmmm, what else could I use a Tomato Rose for?”
Well, you could place one in the middle of a salad as a centrepiece feature:
Or, you could use the roses as a table centrepiece for a more formal dinner. Here, I placed three tomato roses on a glass cake stand. I think the arrangement looks quite nice and a tomato rose is a lot cheaper than buying real roses!
The more I look at these roses, the more I think they look real! What do you think?
Now back to my original recipe- ‘Crab-filled Fish Paupiettes with White Wine and Butter Sauce.’ This recipe involves rolling a piece of flat fish around some crab filling, poaching it in liquid on the stove top, then finishing it with a white wine and butter sauce. The crab stuffing is easy to make, but you do need to make sure you don’t overcook the fish. For the wine/butter sauce, you need to gradually whisk in the cold butter pieces to ensure that the sauce thickens properly.
The recipe often uses Sole fish since it is flat and thin, making it easy to wrap around the stuffing. However, I haven’t seen Sole where I live, so I use either Flake fish or Red Snapper.
Crab-filled Fish Paupiettes with White Wine and Butter Sauce
A few pointers before we begin:
1. Flatten the fish before adding the filling; shape it so that a wider end is nearest to you and the farthest end tapers into a narrower point.
2. Spread the filling on the fish, leaving a margin of about 1 inch around the edges. Roll up the fish, starting with the wider end nearest you.
3. Poaching liquid for the fish should cover at least 1/2 of the fish.
Crab-filled Fish Paupiettes with White Wine and Butter Sauce
Author: Fran Flint
Recipe type: Main Course
Fish pieces rolled in a crab filling and cover with a rich white wine and butter sauce.
4 fish pieces (Sole, Red Snapper or Flake)
For the Filling
2 shallots, diced
2 - 3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
125 ml (1/2 cup) heavy cream
8 ounces crab meat
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
For the Fish and Sauce
2 shallots, diced
2 - 3 tbsp. butter
200 ml (~ ¾ cup dry white wine)
200 ml (~ ¾ cup chicken or fish stock)
80 g cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste
For the Filling
'Sweat' the chopped shallots in butter under medium heat until they are translucent in colour. Add the flour and stir.
Add the dry white wine and stir until the liquid has reduced ⅓ in volume.
Now add the heavy cream, crab meat, lemon juice, chives and seasonings.
Prepare the fish- flatten each fish piece and shape so that the fish is widest at the part nearest you and tapers off to a point.
Spread the filling on top of each fish piece, leaving a 1 inch margin around the edges. Roll up each fish piece, starting with the wide part nearest you. Each piece should not be too bulky, but should be rolled rather tightly. Set these aside while you prepare the poaching liquid.
'Sweat' the chopped shallots in butter over medium heat in a large skillet until translucent in colour. Add the wine and stock and then place the fish pieces in the skillet with the seam side facing down. Cover and poach until the fish are cooked (around 10 minutes).
Remove the fish pieces and place in a casserole to rest while preparing the sauce. Cover the fish with a little of the poaching liquid to keep moist.
Transfer 1 cup of the poaching liquid to a smaller saucepan and bring to a medium heat. Now gradually add one cube of butter at a time and whisk until the sauce gradually thickens. Add the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the fish on a plate and cover with the sauce. Add a Tomato Rose as a garnish, if desired.
How to Make a Tomato Rose
1. Starting on the bottom of the tomato, cut a circle with a knife, to begin the paring of the tomato skin.
2. Continue cutting the skin of the tomato with a width of about 1/2 inch, as if paring an apple. Cut in a circular motion while turning the tomato.
3. When you get towards the end of the tomato, reduce the width of your paring cuts. After you have finished, the tomato skin should look like a long snake. With the shiny side of the tomato skin facing outward, start curling the skin into a tight rose shape, finishing with the base of the tomato.
4. When you get to the end, tuck the base of the tomato under the rose. Finish by adding several basil leaves for decoration.
What is a picture of Shepherd’s Pie doing on a post entitled “Meals on Wheels – I Love the Grub?” Well, I’ve been volunteering at Meals on Wheels for the past six months and Shepherd’s Pie is often served on the MOW menu- food that is tasty, gives you an ‘all-in-one’ meal with veggies and meat, and, of course, is easy on the teeth.
When volunteering, we meet at the MOW headquarters in Glenelg, South Australia and pick up the hot meals, all packed in warming containers, double-counting our meals to make sure we haven’t forgotten anyone. Then we’re off to deliver around 15 meals to people (mostly elderly) who find it difficult to shop and cook for themselves. We normally don’t have enough time to stop and chat with our customers, however once in awhile we hear their stories that are sometimes moving and sometimes funny. My favourite story is the one told by a woman who was once stopped for routine breath-testing. When she blew into the ‘breathalyser,’ her false teeth flew out of her mouth onto the floor. (She tested negative, of course!)
The one thing that strikes me is how good the food smells as we make our deliveries. The aroma from the meals, packed in the back of our station wagon, travels forward towards the driver’s seat and makes me yearn to have a taste. However, my delivery partner must know what’s on my mind; as I give him a knowing look, he says, “Don’t even think about it!”
Preparing MOW- I wish my kitchen were this big!
Delivering my Meals on Wheels
A Happy MOW client
Meals on Wheels started in Britain during WW II, when meals were delivered to returning soldiers whose homes had been destroyed during the war. In South Australia, Doris Taylor founded MOW in 1953, the first MOW to be incorporated in Australia.
So, in honor of Meals on Wheels, here is my recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. To make the meat more flavorful, I use a combination of beef and lamb mince, but you could use all beef if you wish. I’ve added two egg yolks to the whipped potatoes to give them a more solid consistency.