Tag Archives: hazelnut

cauliflower soup with toasted hazelnuts

26 Dec

cauliflower, whole

The pile of books by my bed is getting dangerously high. Possibly because I am ignoring the worthy French literature in favour of Nigel Slater’s ‘The Kitchen Diaries II.’ If I am too tired to actually cook, reading his simple prose is a comforting substitute. His are recipes of happenstance, of successful improvisation. He knows food well enough to play with it, to strip it bare and  build it back up again.

I want to say it is “real food” but that carries shades of judgement, like “real women have curves.” Slater is honest: though he admits that there is a better flavour in soaked beans, he cheats when he is hungry after a day in the garden. (Girls come in different shapes and sizes and food is always real, whether you have the time and energy to kill and pluck your own pheasant, or you just want to trick out a can of beans.)

It is earthy practical writing, punctuated with the odd hymn to the perfect wok, to the spurtle (a porridge stirrer) that is delightful to read. Also, I adore his grumpy “the world doesn’t need another cupcake recipe.”

Though his baked potatoes with rillettes are high on my list, the book ribbon is marking his cauliflower soup. It is pure and hearty – no cream, he insists, as it masks the shy flavour of cauliflower, which is supported by bacon and bay leaf and pepper. To decorate, he saves a few florets before blending the soup smooth and toasts some hazelnuts with oil and salt.

I do not have any stock in the freezer – rarely ever do, since it is Parisian pocket-sized – but improvised with a few dried porcini slices and a parmesan rind. I think Nigel would approve.

cauliflower, halved

Cauliflower soup with toasted hazelnuts

serves 6 – from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

1 enormous cauliflower

3 rashers good-quality bacon

1 onion

1 clove garlic

1.2 litres stock (or water + porcini + parmesan rind)

2 bay leaves

100g hazelnuts

1 tsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut bacon small and fry in its own fat until crisp and golden. Dice the onion and cook with bacon until translucent. Finely chop the garlic and add at the last minute so it does not burn.

Cut cauliflower in half, cut out the middle stalk and break the florets into small pieces with your hands. Chop the stalks small as well. Add cauliflower, stock and bay leaves to the pot and allow to simmer until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove bay leaves and a few florets for decoration. Let cool a little while you toast the hazelnuts in a small frying pan with the olive oil. When they start to smell toasty, go brown inside, they are done. Add a generous pinch of sea-salt.

Blend the soup perfectly smooth – be careful with hot liquid in a blender! – and add generous pinches of salt and pepper. Taste. Serve with the remaining whole florets and a few hazelnuts sprinkled on top.

homemade nutella

5 Apr

How do you know when you have a problem?

When you make two jars of homemade Nutella in a week, supposedly for “presents”?

When you spread the warm chocolate onto rye crackers to make it “healthy”?

When you use a spatula to do so because its more “convenient”?

Chocolate crack, people. Be warned. It tastes like Nutella with all its senses enlightened, buzzed, the colours sharper and the sounds louder. With more real chocolate, more nuts, more milk than the shop stuff, you may have to hide the spoons. And the spatulas. Especially when it is still warm from the melted chocolate, scenting the house with toasted caramel.

My little brother (not so little anymore) and I have been known to buy the promotional kilo of Nutella, capped with a shiny gold lid. A trophy in the cupboard. It fell victim to a tragic accident, smashed, left shards of glass speckling the rich chocolatey ooze.

Years later, for his 21st birthday, I made him this adult-only version. Already much more responsible than I am – determined, talented and kind – he has no need of advice on how to be a grown-up. But maybe a reminder of how to be a child: a little red glass jar full of homemade Nutella.

Homemade Nutella

(adapted from David Lebovitz)

Makes one fat jar

Depending on your sweet tooth, you might want to add more or less milk or dark chocolate. 100g dark + 50g milk chocolate made a sophisticated bittersweet version, while 100g milk + 50g dark chocolate gave a smooth sweet taste more like the original.

200g hazelnuts
150g chocolate – mix of milk and dark
180ml whole milk
75g powdered milk
1 ½ tbsp mild honey
pinch of salt

Roast the hazelnuts for 5 minutes in a hot oven (200C). They should be light brown and smell toasty. If they still have their skins on, tip them into a clean tea towel and rub until most of the skin flakes off. Blend the hazelnuts with a food processor or a hand blender to a fine oily sludge.  (May take a few minutes depending on the strength of your blender.)

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave on low heat. In a separate bowl, stir the milk, powdered milk, honey and salt together. Microwave the mixture on high until just about to boil.

Add the melted chocolate to the hazelnut paste and blend it all together. Gradually add the milk and continue to blend to a Nutella-like consistency. It may seem a little runny, but when it cools it should be just right.

(Supposedly keeps in the fridge for a couple of weeks.)

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