Thing 2 of my 21 from 2021 list is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. Some of these cooking adventures have been long enough to make a whole post about them rather than talk about them in my regular weekly 21 for 2021 posts.
This was definitely the case with last week (week 14).
I had planned to cook two recipes on Tuesday. Originally, I was going to cook the One-pot Whole-roasted Cauliflower (page 84) but I didn’t know what to serve it with so I thought the Not Mushroom for Error Pie with Duck Fat Pastry (page 318) would be a nice side dish. It’s not really a side dish. It’s a main course that you serve with a side dish like, say, salad leaves. Not an entire roasted cauliflower.
I’m glad I read the recipe earlier in the day so that I knew to start the duck fat pastry in the afternoon. It is by no means true that I picked this recipe simply so I could have some duck fat at home to cook potatoes in at some point down the track. Besides, you don’t have to use duck fat. You could use extra butter, or you could totally cheat and buy a shortcrust pastry. Not for me, I love smearing my hands with duck fat. Really. Gross. I think this is the first time I’ve ever cooked with duck fat. So many firsts with this book!
I had a combination of button, swiss brown, shiitake and oyster mushrooms for the dish, as well as dried porcini mushrooms, which I decided to soak and throw into the mix rather than grind up to have porcini powder, which is the actual ingredient in the recipe.
At the same time as I was doing this, I was getting the cauliflower ready for roasting. I had a similar dish at the Agrarian Kitchen a few years ago. It was the first time I’d ever been served an entire cauliflower and, after that, wanted to make it myself. It’s really not difficult. The recipe calls for par-boiling the stem and base for 10-15 minutes so that you can cook it for less time in the oven and not overcook the top, which is a problem I always have with things like cauliflower and broccoli.
Undercooked stems or overcooked tops. What’s worse?
The main thing I hadn’t planned for was that the cauli needed 30 minutes at 240 degrees and the pie needed 45 minutes at 200 degrees.
I ended up setting the oven at 220 degrees and cooking the lot for 45 minutes, which cooked the pie nicely (though I had forgotten to allow for pastry shrinkage), and then I cranked it up to 250 for a few minutes to try and get some more heat into the cauliflower. The leaves were beautifully charred, as was some of the top, but it probably would have benefited from the higher heat for the whole time.
Next time, I’ll make this with something else that doesn’t need an oven and do it properly. And I’ll probably make a salad to go with the mushroom pie.
On Saturday, I made Seventies Dinner Party Sprouts using Brussels sprouts (page 440). Alice says that this dish is highly unlikely to have ever featured at a 70s dinner party, since back in those days, green stuff was “boiled into oblivion”. I despise the vile things. Probably a hangover from my 70s upbringing and the aforementioned boiling. Kramstable, on the other hand, loves them (I blame Andy Griffiths), and so there are dinner nights when everyone else gets broccoli and he gets sprouts. At least he knows no one is going to steal them, and he can have them all to himself.
This recipe involves a marinade that Alice says is genuinely handed down from the 70s as a lamb marinade, so I decided to make a lamb dish to go with the sprouts. In this case, a lamb shank shepherd’s pie from Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar for Life book, which involves slow cooking lamb shanks all day and then making up the pie, topped with puréed roast sweet potato, to go in the oven just before dinner time.
The sprout recipe was easy. Make the marinade, trim and halve the sprouts and drop the into the marinade, then roast them for about ten minutes until the outer leaves are a bit charred.
I still don’t like sprouts but these were much nicer than any other way I’ve had them.