SPEEDING THROUGH JULY

Posted on 22nd July, 2019

I rather cleverly scheduled this post after writing it on a Sunday-however the weather gods intervened so bear with me until the end of the piece as it’s been amended accordingly.

 

 

We’re speeding through July at a rate of knots, yet it feels as if summer has passed us by. Earlier in the year we had scorching temperatures but since then it’s been a combination of dull, almost chilly, days and plenty of rain. I hear a rumour this will change for a few days next week but as it stands it’s just a ‘meh’ day here. This state of affairs can play havoc with meal planning, although let’s be honest here I am no planner when it comes to food. I’m lucky in that the choice is generally mine so what I fancy usually goes.

 

One of the most common questions I get asked when people discover I’m vegetarian is ‘what do you have for Sunday dinner?’ I’m sure I’ve blogged this before but the answer invariably is ‘whatever I like’. Of course I’m not bound by the vagaries of feeding a family, my brood fledged many moons ago, so I’m not governed by who will eat what, who doesn’t like this, that or the other. I cook, serve and we eat. Simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On that note, under miserable grey threatening skies, I decided to use up half a cauliflower and make soup. Soup is simple and not just for Winter, I’ve shared several soup recipes on this site before. We always have onions in our larder don’t we? If not why not (unless you’re allergic of course). Onions are always a basic ingredient in any soup I make, I’m sure there are exceptions but I can’t remember what they are. So onions, cauliflower, a few potatoes (remember how I’ve said before they act as a good thickener to most soups. Then the only other thing I had to hand was celery. A great choice to add a depth of flavour to soups and stews. So far so good. Just a case of chopping all of these ingredients up (including the cauliflower leaves), sautéing them off in a little olive oil (or oil of your choice) in a large saucepan, adding enough water to cover plus a little more. Add 2 bouillon cubes of your choice, or home-made stock if you’re that organised and simmer until everything is al dente, not so soft it falls apart but not hard either or it won’t liquidise well. When cooked, allow to cool a little and either hand liquidise or use a blender. Remember the trick I’ve mentioned before, which is to set aside around a third of the soup and blend the other 2/3rds, this adds a little texture. Add the 1/3 back in before seasoning to taste and serving. Don’t like texture? Liquidise it all. Don’t like smooth soup? Make sure your vegetables are chopped fine enough and don’t liquidise at all. Before serving mine I crumbled in a handful of cheese that had been sitting in the fridge, in this instance Stilton, but any hard cheese will do but obviously omit this step if you’re vegan or have vegan guests.

 

Pesto Bread

Nothing goes better with soup than fresh bread, I have a bread machine if the urge comes along to make a quick loaf, although I just as often make bread by hand. Today there was no time for that. I’ve had a jar of Genovese pesto sitting, opened, in the fridge so remembering a basil bread I’d had years ago I experimented with pesto bread. How hard can it be? Very easy as it turned out.

For a medium loaf I used

240ml warm water

460g mixed bread flour (as always there’s never enough of one type so this was a mix of French Bread flour, rye flour and spelt flour-approximately a third each)

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. sugar

Around 85g pesto

2 1/4 tsp dried yeast

 

In a bread machine the ingredients are placed into the bowl in this order and I used the ‘rapid’ programme which is 2 hours start to finish. (I planted shrubs while it was doing its thing).

 

Enough soup for 3 days although I doubt if any of the bread will be left given it has already had a chunk cut off and devoured.

 

So here comes the weather related amendment, I can almost here your screams of horror that I should blog about soup on what is potentially going to be the hottest day of the year, not quite that hot here but hot enough. The good thing about this soup is that it’s just as lovely when chilled, so if you fancy chilled cauliflower soup my suggestion is-

Let it cool completely, place in the fridge for a couple of hours, swirl in some ice cold cream or if you need it vegan try a dairy-free plain yoghurt, silken tofu or full fat coconut milk, bearing in mind it has the distinct smell and flavour of coconut. To chill quicker place the soup in a large bowl and stand in a bowl of ice. Sprinkle the soup with chopped herbs or finely chopped wild rocket.

 

Serve with any bread, or try making corn muffins follow the link to a great site I've found. This is a simple conbread recipe so do have a go. You could also serve crackers, open sandwiches, oatcakes etc. A chilled soup is a wholly different experience to hot soup. Experiment, try your own combinations, roast the cauliflower first, add a little spicing, the possibilities are endless

 

Happy days, I hope the sun hangs around for a few days so I can make a fresh salad with the lush salad bowl lettuce from the garden. Let me know what you think. Happy cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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