Cauliflower and walnut soup

It’s that time of year… when a bowl of soup is always welcome.  This recipe is a firm favourite in our household. It is one of the easiest soups to make.

20171203_180925

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower – separated into florets            2 cups of stock – vegetable / chicken

1 large onion – coarsely chopped                                    2 cups of milk

1 large handful of walnut pieces                                     2 tsps paprika

Black pepper

Method:

Put the cauliflower florets, chopped onion   and stock into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Add the milk, paprika, black pepper and walnuts and

20171203_175209

simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, blend and serve.

I serve with a sprinkling of black pepper and a dash of tabasco.

 

Kefir – an acquired taste

My friends are probably tired of me ‘banging on’ about the wonderful benefits of kefir … but I won’t stop because more and more research is highlighting the health benefits of eating / drinking fermented foods. Dr Michael Mosley has been in the press recently talking about the importance of a healthy gut and the links with depression and anxiety . Kefir and Kombucha (future post) may be a recent health craze but have been drunk for a very long time…before trendy was even a word!

I have passed both milk and water kefir grains to many of my friends for them to start fermenting their own kefir.

Milk kefir is definitely an acquired taste and I recommend to all of my friends that they will drink it much more easily if they increase its palatability (not sure if that is a word but I like it!).  In fact people’s comments have ranged from hmmm…? to yuk! and…how do you drink that?!

So to ensure that they do benefit from the wonderful bacterial cultures I do say, ‘Disguise it!’  My husband is my barometer. I can drink it neat but I have to completely disguise it for him. So, for him, when each batch is strained I add coconut milk and a generous dollop / or two of a flavoured organic yoghurt / coconut yoghurt / soya based yoghurt. This ensures that he has a glass every day 🙂  The adult equivalent tactic to hiding vegetables in food for fussy children!

If you really cannot enjoy the milk kefir then water kefir is a really good runner up. Not as diverse a range of beneficial bacteria but still very good for you.

How do you flavour your kefirs?

Blackcurrant cassis 

Ingredients:

650 g blackcurrants -washed and drained

750 ml red wine

500 g sugar

100 ml brandy

Method:

Put the blackcurrants in to a large bowl and partially mash them. Add the red wine. Cover the bowl and leave for 2-3 days at room temperature. Stir and mash each day.

Strain the liquid through a colander and then a sieve and place the liquid in to a large saucepan. Add the sugar and warm to dissolve stirring continuously. Allow the liquid to heat up but  do not boil. Keep the liquid hot for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the brandy. Stir. Bottle and seal.

Enjoy – this is delicious on its own, with a sparkling wine or drizzled over vanilla ice cream.

What to do with all this produce…fruit liqueurs

There is only so much fruit that I can freeze – the new additional freezer we bought last year for the bumper crop of gooseberries, plums and pears was only half empty and this year’s bumper harvest of rhubarb, blackcurrants and redcurrants have filled it completely again. I am now faced with 5 full tub trugs of apples and a couple of tub trugs worth of damsons still on the trees! I am, however, not complaining and I will manage to find space in the other freezers for most of the produce.

It does however mean that I the liqueur making season is upon me ! People who know me always find it amusing that one of our cupboards is filled every year with an array of fruit liqueurs…amusing because I very rarely drink alcohol. There is little I enjoy more than being able to offer a tasty fruity tipple to accompany the food I make when visitors around.

The selection in the picture is my array of blackcurrant liqueurs – vodka, liqueur, cassis and gin. If you were to rummage in the cupboard you would also find: redcurrant cassis, rhubarb and orange liqueur, damson gin, sloe gin, gooseberry vodka and pear vodka.

All the fruit used, once strained from the liquid is put in to a pie or crumble – a deliciously warming dish that I call my drunk fruit desserts. Always a favourite with my husband 🙂

I will put all my recipes on my blog over the next few weeks.

Changing tastes

I have been informed that when I start chemotherapy food just won’t taste the same. Now for a food lover, I find this prospect quite unnerving. Talking to other people who have undergone the same therapy, I have been warned that sometimes taste preferences change from day to day, or the desire for sweets goes – not a problem for me..phew, or I will have a bitter or metallic taste in my mouth, or I will no longer enjoy red meat – again…phew -don’t eat it any way.

This all got me thinking about how my taste buds have changed over the years and foods I once enjoyed I now know longer eat or vice versa. I distinctly remember when I started to enjoy ‘grown up foods’ – in my early 20s. Until that age I couldn’t bear foods such as parmesan or blue cheese or very oddly – kedgeree!. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I could eat and enjoy olives – I frequently tried as they always looked so delicious. As I have got older my once ‘sweet tooth’ has gone and I will choose savoury over sweet every time.

I understand the medical reason – I was born with approximately 10,000 taste buds that are replaced every two weeks or so but over time they aren’t replaced and the numbers start to decrease and so flavours that were once too intense are now more palatable. I ‘get’ this but still find it fascinating.

What foods did you dislike as a child and now enjoy?

Water kefir

I am really enjoying drinking / eating milk kefir in smoothies or smoothie bowls every day. My husband hasn’t taken to the flavour in the same way as me – if I mix in Greek yoghurt he will then consume it! He does however act as if I he is being punished!!

So…I decided to start fermenting with water kefir grains as well.

Step 1: live grains ordered  from Crave Longevity (conversation point at work when they arrived!)

20160628_155045

Step 2: let the grains settle in – 500ml of boiled and cooled water with 2 tbsp sugar.Left in warm dark place for 24 hours.20160628_192347Strained and process repeated 2 x more.

Then 1L of boiled and cooled water and 4/5 tbsp of sugar.

Step 3: second fermentation. Drained liquid put in to a glass jar with sealable top and left in a warm dark place for 72 hours.20160702_190654I put a couple of prunes in the jar – created a ‘cream soda/ Dr Pepper type flavour.

Step 4: put the drink in to the fridge

Result: a delicious mildly effervescent drink 🙂   – which I am delighted to say my husband seems to enjoy.

20160705_215817

He particularly enjoyed the batch I made without any additions of flavours at the second fermentation stage but instead added a slice of lemon and a couple of drops of vanilla prior to serving.20160709_091829